With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA:
WAUKEE, Iowa – Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s political hero is Paul Wellstone. Her campaign bus is green because his campaign bus was green, for example. When Wellstone was facing a tough fight in Minnesota to keep his Senate seat in 2002 after voting against the Iraq War, Klobuchar was unopposed for reelection as the district attorney for the county that includes Minneapolis. That allowed her to travel around the state with him. You probably remember that Wellstone died in a tragic plane crash weeks before the election, but he was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in that final year of his life.
“He would always run back and forth in parades, but that last year of his life he couldn’t run anymore because of the M.S.,” Klobuchar recalled during a town hall meeting here on Sunday night. “He would just stand on the back of his bus and wave. Here’s the amazing thing: He had energized so many people in those green shirts to run around that bus, hundreds of people, that you didn’t even notice that he wasn’t running himself. That’s what I’m asking you to do for me.”
Klobuchar asked the crowd of 140 people to do that for her because the Minnesota senator needed to leave Iowa to serve as a juror in the impeachment trial of President Trump. With some momentum, and an impressive list of endorsements, Klobuchar said she “would like nothing more” than to keep barnstorming the state. “But it is my lot in life,” she said.
All four of the senators still seeking the Democratic presidential nomination scrambled over the three-day holiday weekend to talk with as many voters as possible. They each campaigned in Iowa on Monday before flying to Washington, where they’re required to be for the impeachment trial. Proceedings commence this afternoon, with a floor fight over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed ground rules for the trial.
The 100 senators won’t be sequestered in a hotel for this jury duty, but they’ll be functionally stranded in the capital six days a week – they get Sundays off – until, potentially, even beyond the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
“I’m going to be stuck in Washington for God knows how long so we need you to take my place,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told 750 supporters on Monday night at the end of a 50-minute speech at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines. “Give two-hour speeches like I do, you know,” he joked. “Do whatever you can do!”
The independent senator from Vermont hoped he might be able to fly back to Iowa tomorrow night for a late-night rally at the University of Northern Iowa after the trial wrapped up for the day, but McConnell’s proposed rules mean that arguments could drag on past midnight, so the campaign just announced that it’s nixed that event. Instead, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will headline events on Sanders’s behalf later in the week.
Sanders noted that “Us, not me” has been his 2020 slogan. “Ironically, the ‘us, not me,’ is becoming very much of a reality in the last two weeks of this campaign because I am not going to be able to be here as much as I would like, so you guys are going to have to carry the ball,” he said.
It’s undeniably terrible timing for jury duty, and Chief Justice John Roberts wouldn’t excuse the senators, even if they asked. To be sure, none of the four would dream of making such a request. They all insist that their day jobs, and sworn oaths, are their top priorities.
“There are things that are more important than politics,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said when initially asked about impeachment on Sunday afternoon at Weeks Middle School in Des Moines, repeating a talking point she’s used for weeks. When asked again, after finishing her 106th town hall in Iowa, the senator from Massachusetts took a wistful turn as she mused about how her time on the ground here has “changed” her. The former law professor said she’ll miss fielding questions from everyday people.
“I’ll also miss the babies and the pinkie promises,” Warren said. “I really have loved this part of the campaign. And I hope I’ll be able to come back more to Iowa. … They talk about the issues that matter to them. This is the give-and-take that should really be at the heart of our democracy. We can't have a democracy that’s all about TV ads and billionaires and sucking up to billionaires. We need a democracy like the kind I’ve been able to experience with the people of Iowa in the last year. It’s really important. It’s changed me. And it’s really strengthened my faith in what we can do in a democracy. So I hope we're going to be able to keep this movement going, even if I have to be in D.C. I'll do my best.”
Polls show impeachment is not top of mind for most caucusgoers. All the Democratic candidates are on the same page that Trump should be removed from office, so there’s no contrast to highlight. But that does not mean voters don’t care or aren’t paying close attention. Michael Marcheck, 31, a grad student who wants to become a social studies teacher, drove from Nebraska to volunteer for Warren. He wore a button at her rally that said “Merry Impeachmas” with a picture of Speaker Nancy Pelosi clapping at Trump during last year’s State of the Union. “Please let everyone in the East know that we do care about impeachment here in the Midwest,” he said.
Later in the day, Warren used a candidate forum to emphasize her pledge that she would not appoint anyone as an ambassador who contributes to her campaign. She singled out Gordon Sondland as the poster boy for why. Trump picked the Oregon hotelier to be U.S. ambassador to the European Union after a million-dollar contribution to the president’s inauguration committee. Sondland became one of “the three amigos” in Trump’s campaign to allegedly coerce Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden. “Ambassadorships should not be for sale,” Warren said. “It’s Washington corruption at its worst.”
Warren’s closing argument is that she’s the candidate most committed to, and capable of, fighting political “corruption,” which she says is at the heart of every problem in Washington. She’s promised for over a year to enact the biggest set of ethics overhauls since Watergate, but she’s put extra emphasis on the theme as the impeachment issue ripened over the past few months. Warren’s campaign has aired two anti-corruption ads in Iowa, including one that features clips of Sondland testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in November.
Warren unveiled her latest plan this morning, pegged to the impeachment trial, to address “the corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration.” In it, she says she will ask for the immediate resignations of all Trump political appointees on the day she becomes president, including U.S. attorneys. Warren proposes the establishment of a Justice Department task force that would have “independent authority” to “investigate corruption during the Trump administration and to hold government officials accountable for illegal activity.” She pledges to review the performance of independent agencies in order to “remove leading officials for cause where there is justification to do so.” And she promises an investigation into “federal contracting arrangements that arose as a result of corruption in the Trump administration – and end them.” (Read Warren’s eight-page proposal here.)
Klobuchar declines to rule out giving ambassadorships to her major donors, but she often cites Marie Yovanovitch on the stump as a model for the kind of person she’ll appoint to top jobs if she wins. Trump allegedly recalled Yovanovitch, a career Foreign Service officer, as ambassador to Ukraine at the behest of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, an episode at the heart of the impeachment trial. “I personally know her and got to spend time with her out in Ukraine,” Klobuchar said.
The Minnesotan has perhaps the most to lose in Iowa from impeachment. She needs to garner 15 percent in a precinct to be considered “viable” enough to receive delegates. Klobuchar is straddling that threshold in the polls, trailing in fifth place behind Warren, Sanders, Biden and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Klobuchar is a grinder. During a recent three-day stretch, she visited 27 counties. “I would love to do 10 counties a day, but I am going to be there,” she said, referring to Washington.
Her town hall in this Des Moines suburb had a somber vibe. Bob Dylan’s downbeat “Girl from the North Country” played before she took the stage, far from the typical musical fare at political events. She began her remarks by noting that the Green Bay Packers were getting blown out in the NFC Championship game. “But as a Vikings fan, I can relate,” she said.
Speaking at an “innovation center” in an office park, with an icy parking lot and subzero temperatures outside, Klobuchar expressed confidence she can still campaign while serving as a juror. “I always tell people that I’m a mom, and I can do two things at once,” she said, adding that her daughter will hold events on her behalf. “You will enjoy her.”
In the coming days, Klobuchar promises to push hard for the Senate to call witnesses. “If they are not going to allow us to have witnesses, we may as well give the president a crown and a scepter,” Klobuchar said, repeating one of her lines from last week’s Democratic debate.
Supporters hope that Klobuchar can use the national platform to bolster her standing. “I have mixed feelings about it,” said Klobuchar supporter Margo Marks, 74, of Waukee. “How much it would help her to be here, I don’t know. But I’m glad to have her out there as a juror. She’s a great representative who will ask the right questions and hopefully influence people.”
Dan Looker, 72, said after listening to Klobuchar’s speech that he will heed her call for help and sign up for extra door-knocking shifts over the next two weeks. The retired business editor of Successful Farming magazine, who lives in Des Moines, has believed Klobuchar was presidential timber since she questioned Brett Kavanaugh about his drinking. Looker thinks the senior senator from Minnesota proved her mettle by not getting rattled when Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – fighting allegations of sexual assault – asked her if she’s ever been blackout drunk. Kavanaugh subsequently apologized for his emotional outburst. “I’m sure impeachment is an added challenge for her, but anyone who lives in Iowa has seen lots of ads for all the candidates,” he said. “If she can afford to run ads, I think she’ll be okay.”
Sen. Michael Bennet has mostly focused on New Hampshire, but he was in Iowa on Monday for a Brown and Black Forum that drew all the major candidates. The senator from Colorado said he’s not raised enough money to pay for the private planes that give the top-tier candidates more scheduling flexibility. “If they’ll let me get on their charters, I might go with them, but I can’t afford one myself,” Bennet joked after the forum. “We all have an important constitutional responsibility to fulfill, and I feel like we’ve got to make sure we take the time to take it seriously and we cannot let the campaigning distract us.”
Bennet emphasized that he’ll “mostly” be in the Granite State when the trial is not going on, which is easier to fly to than Iowa. “Whatever it takes, we’ll make it work,” he said. “I hope this may turn into a more interesting trial than people thought it would be.”
Before he headed to the airport yesterday afternoon, I asked Bennet how impeachment shapes his closing message. “Some people say, ‘Well, if you know the guy’s going to be acquitted, why would you go through this?’ First of all, we don’t know that he’s going to be acquitted. It’s likely, but we don’t know that,” he answered. “Second, I think this is a real opportunity for us to reestablish a standard of what we expect out of the president of the United States and our elected leadership generally, and I think he’s failed that test miserably.”
To be sure, being absent from Iowa is not necessarily a death knell. Consider the inverse: No Democratic candidate has spent more time in the Hawkeye State this cycle than former Maryland congressman John Delaney, who continues to register at zero percent in the polls. As Delaney spoke during that forum, almost all the reporters in the filing room got up to go ask questions of Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur who has never held public office and whose big idea is to give every American a thousand-dollar check each month. Yang didn’t qualify for the last debate, but he’s planning a bus tour to take him all over Iowa. He expressed condolences to the senators who are waylaid by impeachment. “I feel bad for my competitors because I wish they were out campaigning too, sharing their visions, but the circumstances are what they are,” Yang said.
Impeachment is shaping up to be an early test of Sanders’s theory of the case for 2020, which is that he can expand the electorate by exciting millions of people, thereby engaging them in the political process, who won’t support an establishment candidate.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sanders recalled taking a bus from Chicago to Washington in 1963 to watch King deliver his “I have a dream” speech. “Sometimes the media kind of sanitizes what Dr. King was all about,” Sanders said. “He was a political revolutionary. … In the spirit of Dr. King, what this campaign is about and what makes this campaign different than other campaigns, is that we are not just here to defeat Donald Trump. We are here to transform the United States of America. That’s what political revolution is.”
Sanders’s microphone cut out a dozen times during his stump speech at the historical museum. After the seventh time, he quipped: “Donald Trump stops at nothing!” Perturbed, the senator kept talking without the speakers on. His supporters quieted, straining to listen as the senator raised his voice to promise he will disrupt the power structure. “As president, I intend to not only be the commander-in-chief of the military,” he said. “I intend to be organizer-in-chief, as well.”
He emphasized that his volunteers have a duty to step up in his absence because the future of their “revolution” depends on it. “If we win here in Iowa, and with your help I believe we can, then I think we’re going to win in New Hampshire,” Sanders said. “And if we win in New Hampshire, we’re going to win in Nevada. And if we win in Nevada, we’re going to do very well in South Carolina. And then we’re going to win in California. … Four years ago, Iowa started the revolution. Let’s complete the revolution in Iowa.”
Shari Hawk, a retired nurse who lives in the suburb of Ankeny, will be a precinct captain for Sanders on caucus night. She’s been door-knocking, phone-banking and even got asked to leave a shopping center a few days ago where she was canvassing for Sanders. Hawk told me with great pride that she converted a handful of undecided voters into Sanders supporters before management told her to skedaddle. She acknowledged feeling some stress that the trial will keep Sanders away, but she said that the drawbacks of his absence are obviated somewhat by the work she and other volunteers have done over the past five years, dating to the 2016 campaign, to build up a winning organization in the state. “It still bothers me, though, because nobody excites people like Bernie himself does,” said Hawk, 69. “We all know that. But we also know his surrogates can raise the roof.”
Brit Voss, 30, is less worried about the politics of the impeachment trial than the bottom line. She and her girlfriend live in New Mexico but follow Sanders around the country to sell merchandise at his events. She said they give some of their proceeds as a donation to the campaign. “Impeachment will affect our sales because he’s not able to have rallies,” Voss said. “It means we’re not going to have rallies to go sell our merchandise, so it is affecting us financially. I want Trump to be impeached, but what does that mean? At this point, it seems like it’s all kind of a facade because Republicans are never going to remove him from office. So, personally, I feel like it’s just a waste of time.”
THE LATEST ON IMPEACHMENT:
-- Trump’s defense team is working behind the scenes with Senate GOP allies to ensure former national security adviser John Bolton does not testify publicly if Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses. Robert Costa and Rachael Bade report: “One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public. To receive the testimony in a classified session, Trump’s attorneys would have to request such a step, according to one official, adding that it would probably need the approval of 51 senators. But that proposal, discussed among some Senate Republicans in recent days, is seen as a final tool against Bolton becoming an explosive figure in the trial. First, Republicans involved in the discussions said, would come a fierce battle in the courts. ... Trump has said he would assert executive privilege if Bolton were called to testify … And the White House has indicated in conversations with Republican lawmakers that it could appeal to federal courts for an injunction that would stop Bolton if he refuses to go along with their instructions."
-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't release the draft ground rules that will guide proceedings until late yesterday afternoon, and they're clearly written to wrap up the trial as quickly as possible. Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian report: “McConnell’s organizing resolution … offers each side 24 hours to make its opening arguments, starting on Wednesday but compressed into two session days. It is unclear whether Democrats would press to use all their time, which could push testimony past midnight. After the House managers and Trump’s lawyers make their case, senators will be allowed 16 hours to question the opposing sides. After that, the sides will debate for a maximum of four hours on whether to consider subpoenaing witnesses or documents at all, followed by a vote on whether to do so. If a majority of senators agree, then there will probably be motions from both sides to call various witnesses, with subsequent votes on issuing subpoenas.
“The resolution also allows Trump’s team to move to dismiss the charges at any time — although it is not explicitly mentioned in the four-page measure — because doing so is allowed under standard impeachment trial rules. The Senate trial also won’t automatically admit evidence from the House process, according to GOP officials, a key difference from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton ... Though the material will be printed and made available to senators, it won’t be automatically admissible unless a majority of senators approve it. The resolution infuriated Democratic senators, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling the document a ‘national disgrace’ and accusing McConnell of shrouding testimony and rushing the trial. ...
“The proceedings Tuesday will formally begin with a debate over the McConnell resolution. The impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers will have an opportunity to debate the proposed rules, while Schumer is expected to offer changes to the measure that would allow the Senate to call several witnesses desired by Democrats at the outset. Democrats could also push for more than one vote on witnesses and documents. But all 53 Republican senators are expected to support the rules as written by McConnell. Once those parameters are set, the formal arguments will begin."
-- A CNN poll finds that 69 percent of Americans want to hear from witnesses during the trial. A slight 51 percent majority says the Senate should vote to convict and remove Trump from office, with 45 percent say senators should vote against conviction and removal.
-- An NPR poll shows that 51 percent of Americans think Trump has personally encouraged election interference in 2020. Additionally, 41 percent said they believed the United States is not very prepared or not prepared at all to keep November's election safe and secure.
-- Dueling filings: Trump’s legal team argued in a 171-page legal brief that the two articles of impeachment are “structurally deficient” and urged senators for an acquittal in a “rigged process.” In their own 111-page brief, the House’s seven impeachment managers laid out their case against Trump. The White House says there was no underlying crime. Democrats point to the Government Accountability Office opinion last week that Trump withholding aid appropriated by Congress broke the law. The new Republican talking point is that senators should only pay attention to evidence the House had when it voted to impeach on Dec. 18.
-- Both sides did walk-throughs of the Senate chamber on Monday, and the White House announced the names of eight House Republicans who will be part of Trump's defense. They will make his case on cable news, not the Senate floor, but as official representatives of the president: Reps. Doug Collins (Ga.), Mike Johnson (La.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), John Ratcliffe (Tex.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.).
-- A lawyer for Rudy Giuliani’s former associate Lev Parnas said Attorney General Bill Barr has a conflict of interest and should recuse himself from Parnas’s criminal case. Joseph Bondy cites references to the attorney general in Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Shayna Jacobs)
-- The trove of messages released in recent days from Parnas reveal his wide reach among Ukraine’s oligarchs and political elites. Robyn Dixon, David L. Stern and Natalie Gryvnyak report: “The connections read like a who’s who of Ukraine’s political elite: members of [Zelensky’s] inner circle, the country’s head police officer, the chief of security services, two former top prosecutors and one of Ukraine’s richest men. Parnas’s messages showed how he ping-ponged around the globe, jetting to Warsaw, Kyiv, Vienna, Israel, Paris and Madrid, always, he has claimed, with Giuliani’s consent and Trump’s knowledge … At times, Parnas showed frustration when efforts to get Zelensky officials to cooperate stumbled. Giuliani and Parnas struggled and failed to get a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky in April and May. When his texts to members of Zelensky’s administration went unanswered, Parnas, left hanging, responded with double question marks.”
-- Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims during his first three years in the White House, according to the running tally from The Post’s Fact Checker team.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS THAT SHOULDN'T BE OVERSHADOWED:
-- Thousands of gun rights advocates descended upon the Virginia Capitol carrying weapons, flags and threats of insurrection. But no violence erupted. Greg Schneider, Laura Vozzella, Patricia Sullivan and Michael Miller report: “Armed militias carrying assault-style weapons marched in formation until the crowds grew too thick. Protesters without firearms filed through 17 metal detectors at a single entrance to Capitol Square, where Gov. Ralph Northam had temporarily banned weapons, and cheered fiery speeches about the Second Amendment. … Intelligence from law enforcement about outside threats had put Virginia officials on edge and led to a massive police presence. The crackdown also made Northam (D) a symbol of the country’s cultural and political divide — as evidenced by harsh signs Monday depicting him as a ‘tyrant,’ ‘radical Ralph’ and photoshopped into a Nazi uniform. … Inside the white-columned Capitol, the halls were strangely quiet as lawmakers went about their business. Young pages had the day off for safety; there was a skeleton staff but a beefed-up police presence. …
“Public safety officials said there were about 16,000 people, based on how many blocks of street and sidewalk were filled, while rally organizers said they believed there were twice that many. Authorities reported no major incidents and only a single arrest — of a 21-year-old woman charged with wearing a mask in public — despite the presence of numerous out-of-state militia and extremist groups that had threatened violence online and in social media. … Officers did remove a homemade guillotine that had been set up on the street, inscribed with the words: ‘The penalty for treason is death.’ … Militia members began arriving from other states the night before the rally, with more than 100 gathering for dinner and prayers in a remote part of Henrico County. Vehicles in the parking lot bore license plates from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and more. … There were almost no signs of counterprotesters. In a rare clash, a man who said he was a shooting survivor confronted a teen carrying an oversize long gun. ‘Why do you need to have that gun?’ the man demanded. A small contingent watched the two argue; they eventually shook hands and walked off peacefully.”
-- The rally followed a weekend of gun violence across the nation:
- In Hawaii, a shooting left two officers dead at a Honolulu home that went up in flames with several others, leaving the suspect and two others unaccounted for, officials said. (Marisa Iati and Hannah Knowles)
- In San Antonio, an assailant shot and killed two people and wounded five others inside a club. A 19-year-old suspect was later arrested and will be charged with murder, police said. (Michael Brice-Saddler)
- In Kansas City, Mo., a gunman opened fire on a line of people outside a bar, killing a woman and wounding 15 others before an armed security guard shot and killed him. (Michael Brice-Saddler and Reis Thebault)
-- As Virginia grapples with the gun control proposals that drew such crowds to its capitol, Maryland is quietly trying to further tighten regulations that are already some of the strictest in the nation. Bills that face favorable prospects include a ban on untraceable “ghost guns” and a requirement for all private sales of rifles and shotguns to be subject to background checks. (Erin Cox)
-- Secretary of the Navy nominee Kenneth Braithwaite may have had an undisclosed contract with Cambridge Analytica, documents suggest. From CBS News: “Braithwaite … made no mention of an agreement in his required government disclosure form, and says he never entered one. Braithwaite was required to disclose every paid and unpaid position he held outside government within the two prior calendar years before the Senate confirmed him to be ambassador.”
-- The religious-schools case is heading to the Supreme Court, testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from the government funding available to others and further escalating the debate on school choice. Robert Barnes reports: “The issue rests on whether a scholarship fund supported by tax-deductible donations can help children attending the state’s private schools, most of which are religious. Arguments are scheduled for Wednesday. … Montana told the court that, as in 37 other states, it is reasonable for its constitution to prohibit direct or indirect aid to religious organizations. … But Montana is being called before a Supreme Court increasingly skeptical of such stark lines between church and state. A majority of justices in 2017 said Missouri could not ban a church school from requesting a grant from a state program that rehabilitated playgrounds. … The Montana case is prompted by a 2015 decision by the state’s legislature to create a tax-credit program for those who wanted to donate to a scholarship fund.”
-- State senators in Oklahoma want “Make America Great Again” license plates, a move that could violate federal campaign finance rules. The Trump-themed licenses would, if approved by the state legislature, be added to a list of 98 other specialty designs Oklahoma drivers can choose to purchase for $35. Of that amount, $20 goes to the designated organization that matches the theme of the plate, although two senators claim the money collected from the 'MAGA' plates would not go directly to the president’s reelection bid but would instead be split between two veterans groups. The Oklahoma Tax Commission, which handles the plates, would enter a licensing agreement with a corporation designated by Trump. (Katie Mettler)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- U.S.-bound Central American migrants clashed with Mexican forces at the Guatemala border after Mexico’s authorities rejected their request to transit north. Kevin Sieff reports: “Mexican National Guard troops deployed along the banks of the river tried to repel those who waded across and pursued others who reached Mexican soil. The caravan, which formed last week in Honduras, presented a new test for the Mexican government, which promised the Trump administration last year that it would step up enforcement, even as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would respect the rights of migrants. … The group waiting at the border on Monday appeared to be the largest in more than a year, and its size has posed a particular challenge for Mexican security forces."
-- Trump arrived in Davos overnight and immediately took a victory lap, taking credit for a soaring stock market, low unemployment and a "blue collar boom" in jobs and income. Heather Long reports: “Trump ran through economic statistics with a salesman’s delivery, crowing about growth during his three years in office that he said bested his predecessors and defied his skeptics. .. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, did not directly address the theme during his 30-minute address here, though he did call for rejecting ‘the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.’ He also made no mention of impeachment or U.S. politics, though he took a swipe at ‘radical socialism,’ his term for Democratic ideas about health care, education and other issues. … Forum founder and chairman Klaus Schwab thanked Trump ‘for injecting optimism’ into the discussion. … Trump got a polite but not enthusiastic reception in the hall, though a few in the audience slipped out well before he wrapped up.”
-- The global economy is likely to rebound in 2020, but the International Monetary Fund warned of eerie parallels to the 1920s. Long reports: “Global growth is expected to hit 3.3 percent this year, the IMF predicted. That is up from 2.9 percent last year, which was the worst year for the world economy since the Great Recession. … But [at the World Economic Forum], as top business and political leaders gather in this ski chalet town in the Swiss Alps, uncertainty remains high … [IMF Managing Director Kristalina] Georgieva warned that the record or near-record levels of wealth inequality in the United States, United Kingdom and many other parts of the world, combined with the rapid advancement of technology, feels a lot like the 1920s, which ultimately led to financial disaster. … The IMF is urging countries to use this time now, while unemployment is low and growth is decent, to address bigger problems in the economy.”
-- Sanders and Warren are not attending the annual gathering of global elites and billionaires at Davos, but the two are hot discussion topics. So is climate change. Long reports: “Leaders of large corporations are eager to show they are doing something about the world’s biggest problems and do not need the sweeping policy changes that Sanders and Warren are proposing. … For the first time, ‘climate action failure’ was the No. 1 risk in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report, which is based on a survey of more than 1,000 key business and political figures. … As candidates like Sanders and Warren keep the spotlight on billionaires and protesters take to the streets in Switzerland holding signs that say ‘Eat the Rich,’ there’s an awareness that giving to foundations and charities is no longer enough. But few here are committing to concrete solutions.”
-- At Davos, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg said “pretty much nothing has been done” to tackle climate change. “Without treating this as a real crisis we cannot solve it,” she said. “It will require much more than this, this is just the very beginning.” (Bloomberg News)
-- Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, facing extradition to the United States, argued that the charges against her aren’t crimes in Canada. Amanda Coletta reports: Under Canadian law, to ‘commit’ Meng for extradition, the allegations must meet the test of ‘double criminality,’ meaning that the charges of which she is accused in the United States must also be considered crimes in Canada. Meng’s legal team told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that the alleged misrepresentations do not amount to fraud, and that the case is really about the United States trying to enforce its sanctions against Iran — sanctions that did not exist in Canada at the time Canadian officials agreed to begin extradition.”
-- Iran has asked the U.S. and French authorities for equipment to download information from the black boxes of the Ukrainian airliner that was downed nearly two weeks ago. (Reuters)
-- The Brexit deal has received a setback in the House of Lords after three amendments to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bill were passed. (The Guardian)
-- China is trying to close the city at the center of a mystery virus that has claimed six lives. Chinese officials have confirmation that the pneumonialike coronavirus can be spread from person to person, so they’re trying to limit travel in and out of the city of Wuhan, where the vast majority of disease cases have been reported. (Anna Fifield)
-- Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg lost her parliamentary majority after the right-wing Progress Party withdrew its ministers from the government coalition. Rick Noack reports: “The right-wing protest move came in response to the controversial repatriation of a suspected Islamic State member and her children from a Syrian camp. … The unnamed 29-year-old suspect was arrested upon her return but is denying the accusations ... If prosecutors are unable to prove she had ties to the Islamic State, it could put Solberg’s government at further risk of accusations that she handled the case recklessly, as right-wing critics allege.”
-- Seven members of a hiking group are still missing after an avalanche hit the Himalayas, and 200 others have been rescued. Hannah Knowles reports: “Military and government officials have joined tourism groups, locals and others to look for the four South Korean hikers and their three Nepali guides, and to bring scores of others ‘whose lives were in jeopardy’ to safety, Nepal’s tourism department said in a statement. But avalanches and heavy snowfall have thwarted those operations ... Poor conditions kept a military helicopter with rescue teams from landing Monday..."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump’s legal team took a tour of the impeachment battleground:
The WH defense team leaves the Capitol after a final walk-through ahead of tomorrow’s Senate impeachment trial: pic.twitter.com/YoRKEnKX4m— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 20, 2020
Alan Dershowitz, the liberal lawyer Trump tapped for his defense team, didn't represent Clinton 21 years ago because he was too toxic:
From 1999:— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) January 20, 2020
CNN: How would you conduct defending Bill Clinton in the Senate if you were in charge of it?
Dershowitz: "Well, the first thing I would do is say, 'Fire Dershowitz.' We don't want to get involved with people saying, 'O.J.'s lawyer is representing the president.'" pic.twitter.com/BTeRSbzQne
The Office of Legal Counsel has become more politicized than ever under Barr, coming up with often dubious justifications for Trump's most brazen conduct. Many lawyers noticed that Trump’s team wasn’t particularly careful about details in its brief:
The Trump / Barr OLC doesn't even bother with the pretense of lawfulness. OLC's memo, dated yesterday, supposedly "memorializes" how in Sept, Oct, & Nov 2019 they advised Trump to ignore subpoenas based upon... Judge Rao's dissent in an unrelated case issued on Dec 13, 2019.🙄 pic.twitter.com/JOW2UFMRWE— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) January 20, 2020
A former House speaker warned fellow Republicans to take Klobuchar’s candidacy seriously:
Senator Amy Klobuchar is the most dangerous candidate for the GOP. She is calm, pleasant, rational and has a history of working with Republicans. The NYTimes endorsement means much more to her than the joint endorsement means to Elizabeth Warren.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) January 20, 2020
Joe Biden didn't get the Times endorsement, but his campaign highlighted the support he received from an African American woman in the elevator on his way to sit down with their editorial board:
Honored to have won Jacquelyn's endorsement. pic.twitter.com/tGpNZjXacu— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) January 20, 2020
The FBI shared a message honoring MLK, prompting a CNN anchor to recall the bureau’s not-always-great history:
The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had a completely different approach to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of course.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 20, 2020
It smeared him, wiretapped him (signed off by Attorney General Robert Kennedy), and encouraged him to commit suicide. https://t.co/ftWYryRY7M
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) could have been one of the contenders in Iowa this weekend if he had run for president. Instead, he went shopping in the snow of Ohio. From his wife:
He’s off to Washington, but yesterday my guy was all about the Costco. pic.twitter.com/yaykDr5mEe— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) January 21, 2020
|QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was awful because it was my life’s work and I’m good at it, and there’s no reason in the world that the president shouldn’t trust me," said Sue Gordon, the former deputy director of national intelligence, of her dismissal by the president. (InStyle) |
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trump received a mixed reaction when he visited the MLK memorial:
Stephen Colbert broke down Trump’s lawyers' appearances on the Sunday shows:
And he sat down with Tom Steyer:
Seth Meyers took a look at the Lev Parnas evidence: