🚨: "The United Nation’s top court on Thursday ruled that Myanmar must implement emergency measures to protect Rohingya Muslims against violence and preserve evidence of possible genocide," The Post's Shibani Mahtani reports.
- "The decision from the International Court of Justice on a request filed by Gambia, represented the first reckoning against Myanmar’s military and its civilian government, run by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, more than two years after the beleaguered Muslim minority was driven out to neighboring Bangladesh amid charges of indiscriminate killing, torture and rape."
BIDEN'S DILEMMA: Joe Biden is campaigning in Iowa to unseat President Trump. But the former Delaware senator's presence is being keenly felt here in Washington where Senate Democrats yesterday firmly quashed the idea that Biden and his son, Hunter, could be swapped for GOP witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.
- “I think that’s off the table,” Schumer said of the Hunter Biden-for-John-Bolton witness trade proposal. “First of all, the Republicans have the right to bring in any witness they want. They haven’t wanted to. And that trade is not on the table.”
The dust up shows just how much of an impact the trial could have on Biden, who is locked in a tight race in the Feb. 4 Iowa caucuses with a suddenly resurgent Bernie Sanders. The behind-the-scenes discussions also illuminated the two-front war that Biden singularly faces as he simultaneously competes with other Democratic candidates for the nomination and against Trump and a Republican Party that have embraced unfounded arguments to discredit Biden and his son.
- “The guy is punching in two different directions — everyone else in the Democratic field is trying to jockey for position but he has to fight internecine and up against the commander in chief,” a Senate aide said of Biden's candidacy.
- “It is extremely important for Democrats to take a strong stand against calling Biden as a witness,” Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told Power Up. “The impeachment trial is about Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and Biden obviously has no firsthand evidence to provide about Trump’s conduct. If the Republicans’ point is that Biden somehow justifies corrupt abuse of his office or his blackmailing of Ukraine, Democrats should not dignify that in any form or fashion.'
After the witness trade idea gained steam earlier in the week, Democrats and Biden himself yesterday swiftly rejected the idea of either Biden testifying.
- “The reason I would not make the deal, the bottom line is, this is a constitutional issue,” Biden told a voter at an event in Osage, Iowa, according to our colleague Matt Viser. “We’re not going to turn it into a farce or political theater. I want no part of that.”
- Biden added: “There’s nobody that’s indicated there’s a single solitary thing he did that was inappropriate or wrong — other than the appearance. It looked bad that he was there,” Biden said, referencing his son's former position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
- “I’m not going to play his game,” Biden added. “The Senate job is now to try him. My job is to beat him.”
- “This isn't like some fantasy football trade,” impeachment manager Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters earlier in the day. “Trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”
Irrelevant: Democrats argued that even if Biden were to be called to Washington to testify, he is fully able to defend himself.
- Republicans “know Joe can defend himself. But at the same time, putting himself into the spotlight dignifies the smear campaign that the commander in chief is trying to perpetrate,” the Senate aide argued.
- “If you want to give Joe Biden an opportunity to sit in the well of the Senate and answer the question, ‘Do you think the president acted appropriately?’ go right ahead,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Md.) told The Post on Tuesday before the Biden surrogate and friend took to Twitter to definitively declare the two Bidens “are not relevant witnesses.”
- “Reflecting some of the tension within the Democratic Party over how the Bidens should fit into the impeachment hearings, the voter said he wished that Biden would testify,” Viser reports. “He thinks that if Biden were to testify, it might help Democrats secure the testimony of Trump officials and give Biden a prominent platform to rebut Republican attacks.”
- “It would clear the air,” he said. “The people would get to see what a good, decent man he is. ”
Back in Iowa: Biden still has problems on the campaign trail. Numerous recent polls show Sanders surging — he topped a national CNN poll conducted by SSRS, joining Biden. But observers say there's little suggesting the impeachment drama is having much of an impact on the former veep's numbers.
- Garin told Power Up there isn't “much evidence that impeachment is having much impact on Biden’s poll numbers,” which have been fairly stable since before the Ukraine story broke into public view.
- “I don’t think that’s what voters are basing their vote on,” a Biden campaign source said of the former vice president’s role in the impeachment trial. “It’s who is the guy or woman who can beat Trump and the past four of five polls — the numbers on who is best to beat Trump all point to Biden.”
GOP senators, for their part, vacillated on calls for new witnesses in the impeachment trial while Trump's defense team would not say whether it plans on calling witnesses or will seek to limit testimony.
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told reporters after a long day that Schiff's opening argument made Hunter Biden's testimony “critical” and “directly relevant.”
- “You cannot have a pass, at least to the point where you don’t look into it,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said. “When I hear things like ‘conspiracy theory [that’s] been debunked,’ that’s a good sign that you need to look further.”
- “We’re not making any determinations on what witnesses we may call … we don’t even know yet if there will be witnesses,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's lawyers, told CNN's Manu Raju.
- “There will be no witnesses,” Jonathan Kott, a former senior senate adviser to Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). “Republicans can play this dance for as long as they want. But there will be no witnesses. They've already shown that. [Mitch] McConnell will end this trial before the State of the Union. Anything short of that is just vulnerable Republicans who need to make it seem like they are trying. Bu McConnell knows where his votes are. ”
DEMS START OPENING ARGUMENTS: “The House Democratic impeachment managers began formal arguments in the Senate trial … presenting a meticulous and scathing case for convicting President Trump and removing him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” the New York Times's Michael D. Shear reports.
The case came with a more subdued presentation: “House Democrats charged with prosecuting the impeachment case against [Trump] scaled back their fiery language following a rare scolding from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., as they began laying out their case for Trump’s removal from office for pressuring Ukraine to help him win reelection,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck and Colby Itkowitz report.
- Trump didn't get the memo: The president “and his fellow Republicans dialed up their partisan rhetoric, with GOP senators largely ignoring Roberts’s admonition and leveling scathing attacks against the trial’s prosecutors,” our colleagues write. Trump set a record for “the most tweets of any day of his presidency, with 142 as of 10 p.m., according to Factba.se, a website that tracks Trump’s tweets and speeches."
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Gordon Sondland remains in Brussels: “As his name surfaced again and again this week during the start of the impeachment trial of [Trump], Gordon Sondland carried on here, almost 4,000 miles away, as if nothing unusual was underway,” our colleagues Michael Birnbaum, John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Aaron C. Davis report.
- What the lone amigo is thinking: “They say Sondland’s gamble appears to be that if he carries on, he might survive long enough to recast his brief and so far scandal-ridden record as ambassador, a role the longtime hotelier hoped would serve as a distinguished capstone to his successful career in business,” our colleagues write of what associates and diplomats have told them.
- They don't talk anymore: “Trump has not spoken with Sondland in the two months since the explosive testimony, according to two senior U.S. officials … Sondland’s severed tie to the White House has diminished the ambassador’s swagger, but it’s not gone, several associates said.”
Prison break: “Senators are being warned to keep silent 'on pain of imprisonment' at the start of every impeachment trial day — but those rules are not being very strictly enforced. On the second day of arguments, some senators have begun occasionally whispering in twos — and getting away with it,” our colleague Karoun Demirjian reports.
- Left to their own devices: " … One Republican senator was caught with a phone when it began to ring. Other lawmakers glanced around to see where it was coming from, and the person immediately silenced it,” our colleagues Elise Viebeck and Colby notes.
DiFi with the Irish goodbye: At least one senator was caught snoozing yesterday, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) just walked out. She said 'good night' to two reporters standing nearby, and left the Capitol,” our colleague Paul Kane reports. She is the chamber's oldest member at 86.
Have a cow, man: Twitter couldn't get enough of the strict beverage limits required by Senate rules, which allow for only water and milk to be consumed in the chamber. Frankly, we find the reaction to be utterly over the top. Our colleague Tim Carman has the details.
- Milking his moment: Not so subtly noting the hubbu over the rules, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) had himself some.
TOM COTTON HAS MILK! This is not a drill. He has a glass in addition to his glass of water. He is the first senator I've seen to request and get milk. I repeat, Tom Cotton has milk! 19/— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) January 22, 2020
CHINA TRIES TO STOP CORONAVIRUS FROM SPREADING: “Chinese health authorities are trying to lock down Wuhan, the metropolis of 11 million people that is at the heart of a spreading coronavirus outbreak, in an extraordinary effort to stop new infections during the busiest travel period of the year,” our colleagues Anna Fifield and Lena H. Sun report.
What you need to know:
- What is the coronavirus?: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses whose effects range from causing the common cold to triggering much-more serious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which can affect humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization,” our colleagues write. “China has confirmed that the new strain is being transmitted between humans.”
- Is it in the U.S.?: Yes. A Washington-state man was diagnosed with the virus after returning from China. His condition is stable, but he's being monitored for further developments.
- What is the federal government doing?: The Centers for Disease Control tested and confirmed the man's diagnosis within 24 hours. The National Institutes of Health and other agencies are already working on a vaccine and treatments. In short, the United States has made major progress in how it responds to viral outbreaks, but experts tell our colleagues Lenny Bernstein and Lena H. Sun that there is a long way to go.
There's probably never been a quarantine for a city this large before: “The scale and complexity of Wuhan’s quarantine is probably unprecedented, said Howard Markel, a professor of history and medicine at the University of Michigan,” our colleagues Marisa Iati and Reis Thebault report.
- Key quote: “This is just mind-boggling,” Markel told our colleagues. “I’ve never read about or seen a bigger one than they’re proposing.”
The scene in Wuhan: “All outbound trains and bus services from Wuhan — larger than any city in the United States — were suspended starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, causing chaos for some of the 400 million people hitting the road for the Lunar New Year holiday, which officially begins Friday,” our colleagues write.
- Armed police guarded the city's largest rail station. “Health workers in hazmat suits checked the temperatures of passengers driving out of the city, while 200 of the 600-odd flights scheduled at Wuhan's international airport were canceled."
KOALAS FIGHT TO STAY ALIVE IN AUSTRALIA: “Before the fire, an estimated 50,000 koalas lived on the island. Today, there are fewer than half that,” our colleague Scott Wilson reports from Kangaroo Island, Australia. “There is something poignant about a small animal dying, and trying so hard not to.”
These are the largest fires in the nation's history: “The fires that roared through southeastern Australia for months razed hundreds of houses and killed more than 20 people, including several firefighters,” our colleague writes. “A scar the size of Portugal now marks the land, a varying mix of tropical forest, eucalyptus and red-earth plains.”
- What's happening to the koalas: “Georgie Dolphin, the program manager for animal welfare at Humane Society International Australia, estimated that at least half the koala habitat was destroyed, killing the vast majority of the animals as the fire crackled through it.”
- Gut-wrenching quote: “When you see them on the ground, that is not normal behavior,” Dolphin told our colleague of the koalas forced to find makeshift watering holes given the dearth of leaves on trees. “They look sad, defeated, but we’re happy with every one we save.”