Trump Administration, Week 155: Friday, 3 January – Thursday, 9 January 2020 (Days 1,079-1,085)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


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Friday, 3 January 2020, Day 1,079:


U.S. and Iran Exchange More Threats as Democrats Question Timing of The Killing of Major General Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Peter Baker, Edward Wong, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The United States and Iran exchanged escalating military threats on Friday as President Trump warned that he was ‘prepared to take whatever action is necessary’ if Iran threatened Americans and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed to exact vengeance for the killing on Mr. Trump’s order of Iran’s most valued general. Although the president insisted that he took the action to avoid a war with Iran, the continuing threats further rattled foreign capitals, global markets and Capitol Hill, where Democrats demanded more information about the strike and Mr. Trump’s grounds for taking such a provocative move without consulting Congress. Democrats also pressed questions about the attack’s timing and whether it was meant to deflect attention from the president’s expected impeachment trial this month in the Senate. They said he risked suspicion that he was taking action overseas to distract from his political troubles at home, as in the political movie ‘Wag the Dog.'” See also, Congressional Leaders Call for Details After U.S. Airstrike on Suleimani, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The top Senate Republican said on Friday that the administration would brief all senators next week on the United States drone strike ordered by President Trump that killed Iran’s top security commander. The morning after the strike on the powerful commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, lawmakers divided sharply along party lines over a move that could escalate United States tensions with Iran, which Mr. Trump undertook without authorization from Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, lauded the strike as long-overdue justice…. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on the administration to ‘immediately’ provide answers to lawmakers, chiding Mr. Trump for failing to consult with congressional leaders on its rationale, strategy and plans for the aftermath before launching the strike.” See also, The Killing of General Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike, The New York Times, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in the Mideast, The New York Times, Tim Arango, Ronen Bergman, and Ben Hubbard, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated, The New York Times, Sarah Almukhtar, Falih Hassan, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Lauren Leatherby, Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi, and Jin Wu, Friday, 3 December 2020. See also, Iranian General Suleimani Traveled With Impunity, Until U.S. Drones Found Him. Trump’s decision to kill General Suleimani was one that his predecessors, Bush and Obama, had rejected, fearing it would lead to war. The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Friday, 3 January 2020: “[E]arly Friday, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone … — operating under President Trump’s orders — fired missiles into a convoy carrying General Suleimani as it was leaving Baghdad’s international airport. What remained unclear is why Mr. Trump chose this moment to strike the top military leader of Iran, after two presidents before him opted not to do so, out of concern that killing the general could incite a wider war with Iran. National security experts and even officials at the Pentagon said there was nothing new about Iranian behavior in recent months or even weeks; General Suleimani has been accused of prodding Shiite militias into attacking Americans for more than a decade. American officials have also blamed him, for more than a decade, of working with organizations in other countries, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel as well as the Houthis in Yemen, to attack American allies and interests. Senior Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, repeatedly said on Friday that new attacks under General Suleimani’s leadership were imminent. But one Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, said that there was nothing new in the threat presented by the Iranian general. And critics of the strike questioned whether its timing was meant to influence public opinion as Mr. Trump faces impeachment.” See also, What to Know About the Death of Iranian General Suleimani, The New York Times, Karen Zraick, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, With Suleiman Assassination, Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington’s Most Vile Cabal, The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill, Friday, 3 January 2020: “There’s no justification for assassinating foreign officials, including Suleimani. This is an aggressive act of war, an offensive act committed by the U.S. on the sovereign territory of a third country, Iraq…. Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton’s firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration’s Iran policy at the State Department.” See also, Targeted Killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani Puts U.S. at Crossroads in Middle East, The Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon, Nancy A. Youssef, and Vivian Salama, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Trump’s plans to reduce military footprint in the region are now at risk after the airstrike that killed Soleimani…. Last month, the Pentagon began considering whether to send yet more forces—potentially as many as 14,000 additional troops, which could include sailors aboard ships. The promise of additional forces doesn’t guarantee that Iran won’t retaliate, Pentagon officials conceded. ‘They are going to respond. They have to,’ said a defense official.” See also, The Dangers Posed by the Killing of Qassem Suleimani, The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The killing of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian commander targeted by an American strike Thursday night, is the most consequential act taken against the regime in Tehran in thirty years—even if we don’t know what those consequences will be. One thing is clear: we’re entering a dangerous period, in which the conflict between the two countries could easily spin out of control.” See also, The Killing of Qassem Suleimani Is Tantamount to an Act of War, The New Yorker, Robin Wright, Friday, 3 January 2020: “On orders from President Trump, the United States killed Major General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s élite Quds Force and the mastermind of its military operations across the Middle East, in an overnight air strike at Baghdad’s International Airport. The assassination was the boldest U.S. act in confronting Iran since the 1979 revolution, tantamount to an act of war. A brief statement from the Pentagon described it as a ‘decisive defensive action’ designed to protect U.S. personnel abroad. But the strike represented a stunning escalation between Washington and Tehran, and it may well have the reverse effect. Iran almost certainly will want to respond in some lethal form, whether directly or through its powerful network of proxies in the region. U.S. embassies and military bases—and thousands of American personnel across the Middle East and South Asia, and potentially beyond—were instantly vulnerable. On Friday, the State Department ordered all Americans to leave Iraq.” See also, Iran vows revenge for U.S. killing of top commander as Trump sends more troops to the region, The Washington Post, Louisa Loveluck, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Iran vowed revenge on Friday in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed Tehran’s most powerful military commander, sharpening tensions across the Middle East as the Trump administration said it was sending thousands of troops to bolster security in the region.” See also, U.S. strike on top Iranian commander sharply divides Congress, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Hours after ordering a lethal airstrike against an Iranian leader, President Trump endorsed a tweet comparing the top Senate Democrat to longtime adversary Iran, suggesting that neither could be trusted, as Democratic leaders criticized the White House for acting without congressional input. Amid a flurry of reactions from U.S. lawmakers on Friday, Trump retweeted conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who in response to a headline about Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) not receiving advance notice wrote: ‘Neither were the Iranians, and for pretty much the same reason.'” See also, How Trump decided to kill a top Iranian general, The Washington Post, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey, Dan Lamothe, and John Hudson, Friday, 3 January 2020.  See also, Qasem Soleimani: Who was Iran’s powerful military leader? The Washington Post, Adam Taylor, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Trump plunges toward the kind of Middle Eastern conflict he pledged to avoid, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Robert Costa, and Anne Gearan, published on Saturday, 4 January 2020: “With a single momentous decision to authorize a drone strike killing a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, President Trump immediately thrust himself into the center of a volatile and unpredictable region — taking his presidency into just the kind of foreign entanglement he pledged to avoid. Trump followed early Friday’s targeted strike on Qasem Soleimani — the leader of Iran’s special operations forces abroad — with a decision to send an additional 3,500 soldiers to the Middle East to respond to the heightened tensions.” See also, The killing of Qassem Suleimani and the road to war with Iran, Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Presidents Obama and Bush never took shots to kill Suleimani, fearing war with Iran. Trump went ahead and did it. Does that mean we’re now at war with Iran? Experts’ initial reactions, it seems, have fallen on a spectrum—from let’s keep things in perspective to war is now inevitable to we’re already there. (In The Atlantic, Andrew Exum, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy under Obama, wrote that the killing of Suleimani ‘doesn’t mean war, it will not lead to war, and it doesn’t risk war. None of that. It is war.’)… Last night, as reporters scrambled to fill in the details of Suleimani’s killing, news outlets turned repeatedly to press releases, including the Pentagon’s assurance that the strike on Suleimani ‘was aimed at deterring future attack plans.’ As the Post’s Josh Rogin tweeted, ‘By the Pentagon’s own logic, if Iran retaliates, the strike mission failed its key goal. Remember that.’ That’s sound advice. Already, Iran is promising ‘harsh retaliation.’See also, Trump said in 2011 that Obama would start a war with Iran to get re-elected: ‘He has no ability to negotiate,’ Independent, Kate Ng, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Vice President Mike Pence Links Suleimani to 9/11. The Public Record Doesn’t Back Him. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Trump Told Mar-a-Lago Pals to Expect ‘Big’ Iran Action ‘Soon,’ Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng, Erin Banco, and Betsy Swan, Friday, 3 January 2020: “In the five days prior to launching a strike that killed Iran’s most important military leader, Donald Trump roamed the halls of Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in Florida, and started dropping hints to close associates and club-goers that something huge was coming. According to three people who’ve been at the president’s Palm Beach club over the past several days, Trump began telling friends and allies hanging at his perennial vacation getaway that he was working on a ‘big’ response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very ‘soon.'”

Trump Rule Would Mean Federal Agencies Would No Longer Have to Take Climate Change Into Account When They Assess the Environmental Impacts of Highways, Pipelines, and Other Major Infrastructure Projects, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Federal agencies would no longer have to take climate change into account when they assess the environmental impacts of highways, pipelines and other major infrastructure projects, according to a Trump administration plan that would weaken the nation’s benchmark environmental law. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act could sharply reduce obstacles to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other fossil fuel projects that have been stymied when courts ruled that the Trump administration did not properly consider climate change when analyzing the environmental effects of the projects. According to one government official who has seen the proposed regulation but was not authorized to speak about it publicly, the administration will also narrow the range of projects that require environmental review. That could make it likely that more projects will sail through the approval process without having to disclose plans to do things like discharge waste, cut trees or increase air pollution.” See also, Trump Administration update of key environmental law would exclude climate change, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, and Brady Dennis, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The Trump administration will instruct federal agencies to no longer take climate change into account when measuring the impact of major infrastructure projects, according to two senior administration officials — a sweeping overhaul of one of the nation’s most consequential environmental laws. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act are aimed at speeding approvals for pipelines, oil and gas leases, highway construction and other kinds of development. The law, which was last updated in 1978, has proved one of the most potent stumbling blocks to President Trump’s push to accelerate oil, gas and coal extraction across the country.”

The Australia Wildfires in Pictures: Images of destruction, escape, and the struggle to contain dozens of blazes as the country faces one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history, The New York Times, Friday, 3 January 2020: “One of the worst wildfire seasons in Australian history has killed at least 18 people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and left firefighters struggling to contain more than 100 blazes. Conditions are likely to grow worse, with high temperatures and strong winds expected to fan conflagrations across Australia’s southeast this weekend.” See also, Bracing for an Even Worse Weekend of Australia Fires, The New York Times, Isabella Kwai, Daniel Victor, and Jamie Tarabay, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Millions of Australians Are Choking on Smoke From Wildfires, The New York Times, Nadja Popovich, Friday, 3 January 2020.

Continue reading Week 155, Friday, 3 January – Thursday, 9 January 2020 (Days 1,079-1,085)

White House Withholds 20 Emails Between Two Trump Aides, Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, on Ukraine Aid, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Eric Lipton, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The Trump administration disclosed on Friday that there were 20 emails between a top aide to President Trump’s acting chief of staff and a colleague at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget discussing the freeze of a congressionally mandated military aid package for Ukraine. But in response to a court order that it swiftly process those pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, lawsuit filed by The New York Times, the Office of Management and Budget delivered a terse letter saying it would not turn over any of the 40 pages of emails — not even with redactions…. The Times’s information act request sought email messages between Robert Blair, a top aide to Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who was in charge of handling the process for releasing $391 million in weapons and security assistance Congress had appropriated to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. In her letter, Ms. Hardy cited exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act for correspondence involving the president’s staff and internal policy deliberations, suggesting that the disclosure of this material would ‘inhibit the frank and candid exchange of views that is necessary for effective government decision-making.'”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer says the Senate is no closer to setting rules for impeachment trial; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the chamber will continue with ‘ordinary business,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner and Michael Brice-Saddler, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday that the chamber was no closer to setting rules for an impeachment trial of President Trump than it was before breaking for the holidays, as he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) traded barbs during floor speeches. In his remarks, McConnell chided the Democratic-led House for a delay in transmitting articles of impeachment and said his chamber would continue with ‘ordinary business’ while it waits. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has held off sending the two articles — alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — as Democrats seek guarantees about witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed regarding Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.” See also, Impeachment Impasse Deepens in Senate, Leaving Trump’s Trial in Doubt, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Senate leaders wrangled on Friday over the terms of President Trump’s impeachment trial, deepening their impasse and throwing the start date further into doubt amid disputes over whether to call witnesses or introduce documentary evidence. In a pair of barbed back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor, the top Republican and the top Democrat traded charges of hypocrisy and unfair dealing, settling nothing in the high-stakes fight over the shape of the constitutional proceeding that will decide Mr. Trump’s fate.”

Trump Pulls Back Efforts to Enforce Housing Desegregation, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The Trump administration plans to propose pulling back Obama-era efforts to desegregate housing, saying that people should have the opportunity to live where they want as long as they are protected from discrimination and housing is affordable. The Obama administration argued that in order to fulfill the Fair Housing Act of 1968, states, local governments and public housing agencies had to address disparities in housing, integrate neighborhoods and transform racially concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity.”

Oil prices surge 4% after Iran military leader Qasem Soleimani is killed in US Strike, CNN Business, Laura He and Charles Riley, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Oil prices moved higher Friday after a top Iranian general was killed in a US airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump. Futures for Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped 3.6% to settle at $68.60 per barrel on Friday. US oil futures gained 3.1%, settling at $63.05 per barrel. Both are on track for their biggest daily gains in about a month and their highest prices since September, when Iran attacked Saudi oil facilities.”

In Miami Speech, Trump Tells Evangelical Base: God Is ‘on Our Side,’ The New York Times, Jennifer Medina and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 3 January 2020: “In his first public appearance since the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran, President Trump rallied his evangelical Christian base of supporters on Friday, portraying himself as the restorer of faith in the public square and claiming that God is ‘on our side.’ Mr. Trump brought to the stage Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Billy Graham, the founder of Christianity Today, to offer an implicit rebuke of the magazine’s recent editorial calling for his removal from the White House. Ms. Lynch’s appearance underscored how sensitive Mr. Trump was about any signs of fracturing in his base; many evangelical allies denounced the editorial, and Ms. Graham Lynch vowed on Friday to help Mr. Trump win re-election. She then welcomed a supporter to the stage who told attendees that they could not trust what the news media wrote about the president.” See also, At church rally in Miami, evangelicals worship God and Trump: ‘He was sent to us’: The Guardian, Richard Luscombe, published on Saturday, 4 January 2020.


Saturday, 4 January 2020, Day 1,080:


As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure, The New York Times, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Maggie Haberman, and Rukmini Callimachi, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump. They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable. After initially rejecting the Suleimani option on Dec. 28 and authorizing airstrikes on an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group instead, a few days later Mr. Trump watched, fuming, as television reports showed Iranian-backed attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad, according to Defense Department and administration officials. By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.” See also, Cries of ‘Revenge Is Coming’ at Funerals for Slain Commanders in Iraq, The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin, Ben Hubbard, and Falih Hassan, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “As Iraq held joint funeral services on Saturday for two revered military leaders killed in an American drone strike near the Baghdad airport this past week, tens of thousands of pro-Iranian fighters marched through Baghdad, waving flags and chanting that “revenge is coming” to the United States. The surprise killing on Friday of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional security strategy, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a powerful Iraqi militia commander and government official, threatened to shift fault lines across the Middle East. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed ‘forceful revenge’ as the country mourned the death of General Suleimani, and calls have accelerated to eject the United States from Iraq. Across the region, fears are rising that the shadow war that had been building between the United States and Iran could suddenly escalate into a wide-ranging conflict.” See also, The Trump Administration has formally notified Congress of the Soleimain strike, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “The White House delivered a formal notification of the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani to Capitol Hill Saturday, as required under the War Powers Act, according to a senior Democratic aide and another official familiar with the matter. The War Powers Act of 1973 mandates that the president report to lawmakers within 48 hours of introducing military forces into armed conflict abroad. Such notifications generally detail an administration’s justification for U.S. intervention, as well as the constitutional and legislative rationale used by the administration to send troops. It may also include how long the involvement may last.” See also, White House Notifies Congress of Suleimani Strike Under War Powers Act, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Catie Edmondson, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “The White House sent Congress on Saturday a formal notification under the War Powers Act of the drone strike ordered by President Trump this week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, two congressional officials said. The notification, required by law within 48 hours of introducing American forces into armed conflict or a situation that could lead to war, has to be signed and then sent to Congress, according to the officials with knowledge of the plan. Lawmakers expected the document to publicly lay out the White House’s legal justification for the strike on General Suleimani, Iran’s top security commander, who officials have said has been behind hundreds of American deaths over the years. But the notification first sent to Congress late Saturday afternoon only contained classified information, according to a senior congressional aide, likely detailing the intelligence that led to the action. It is unclear whether the White House will send a separate, unclassified document. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Saturday evening that the notification ‘raises more questions than it answers,’ including ‘serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.'” See also, Evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is ‘razor thin,’ Twitter thread, Rukmini Callimachi, Saturday, 4 January 2020.

Openly Threatening a War Crime, Trump Says the US Is Prepared to Strike 52 Iranian Sites, Common Dreams, Jake Johnson, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “Just 24 hours after claiming he isn’t seeking war with Iran, President Donald Trump Saturday night threatened that the U.S. is prepared to strike ’52 Iranian sites’ if Tehran retaliates for the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani. ‘Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge,’ Trump wrote in a series of tweets. ‘Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level and important to Iran and  the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!’ Observers were quick to point out that the deliberate destruction of cultural sites is a war crime under international law.” See also, Trump Threatens Iranian Cultural Sites and Warns of Sanctions on Iraq, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, published on Sunday, 5 January 2020: “President Trump on Sunday evening doubled down on his claim that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the targeted killing of one of its top generals, and threatened ‘very big sanctions’ on Iraq if American troops are forced to leave the country. Aboard Air Force One on his way back from his holiday trip to Florida, Mr. Trump reiterated to reporters the spirit of a Twitter post on Saturday, when he said the United States government had identified 52 sites for retaliation against Iran if there were a response to Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani’s death. Some, he tweeted, were of ‘cultural’ significance. Such a move could be considered a war crime under international laws, but Mr. Trump said Sunday that he was undeterred.” See also, Trump threatens to strike Iranian cultural sites and impose ‘very big’ sanctions on Iraq as tensions rise, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Philip Rucker, Sunday, published on 5 January 2020. See also, Defenders of History Take Aim at Trump’s Threat to Strike Iran’s Cultural Sites, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, published on Sunday, 5 January 2020. See also, Trump Repeats Threat to Target Iranian Cultural Sites, The Wall Street Journal, Catherine Lucey, published on Sunday, 5 January 2020.

Bernie Sanders introduces law to stop Trump from starting war with Iran, The Washington Post, Clark Mindock, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “Bernie Sanders and fellow progressive Ro Khanna have introduced a law to block funding for ‘military force in or against Iran’ without congressional approval, in an effort to stall a potential new war in the Middle East. The pair introduced the legislation just a day after Donald Trump approved a targeted airstrike against Qasem Soleimani, a general with the Iran Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force. ‘Today, we are seeing a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East,’ Mr Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and Mr Khanna, a member of the House, said in a joint statement.” See also, In Era of Perpetual Conflict, a Volatile President Grabs Expanded Powers to Make War, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “The powers of an American president to wage war have grown stronger for nearly two decades, ever since the Sept. 11 attacks led the United States into an era of perpetual conflict. Those powers are now in the hands of the most volatile president in recent memory.”

Antiwar Protesters Across the U.S. Condemn Killing of Suleimani, The New York Times, Mariel Padilla, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “Thousands of antiwar protesters gathered in communities across the country on Saturday to condemn the American drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander. In cities and towns across the United States, more than 80 demonstrations were planned to oppose the killing of the commander, Qassim Suleimani, and the Trump administration’s decision to send thousands more troops to the Middle East. The protests were spearheaded by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, an antiwar coalition, and Code Pink, a women-led antiwar organization.” See also, U.S. strike in Iraq prompts anti-war protests in U.S. cities, Reuters, Jan Wolfe, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “Groups of protesters took to the streets in Washington and other U.S. cities on Saturday to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Trump’s decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.”

‘It’s an Atomic Bomb’: Australia Deploys Military as Fires Spread, The New York Times, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Isabella Kwai, Thomas Fuller, and Jamie Tarabay, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “Searing heat and afternoon winds propelled fires over large swaths of Australia on Saturday, adding to the devastation of a deadly fire season that has now claimed 24 lives. Thousands of people have been evacuated, while many towns and cities under threat were still smoldering from ferocious blazes that ripped through the countryside earlier in the week. More than 12 million acres have burned so far, an area larger than Switzerland, and the damage is expected to only get worse in the extremely arid conditions that are allowing the fires to spread. The fires are also so hot and so large that they are creating their own weather patterns, which can worsen the conditions.” See also, Australia fires: death toll rises and six people are missing as Prime Minister calls in the military, The Guardian, Ben Doherty, Helen Davidson and Michael McGowan, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “On Saturday, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced his government would send Australia’s largest warship, HMAS Adelaide, to help evacuation efforts from towns on the Victorian coast cut-off by fires, compulsorily call up 3,000 army reservists to assist in fire recovery, and put $20m towards leasing four more water-bombing aircraft. Morrison has faced acute criticism over his government’s inaction over the bushfires, some of which have been burning since September, and over his government’s climate change policies, criticised as unambitious and ineffective in reducing emissions.” See also, Australia Fires Keep Spreading as Military Reservists Called Up, The New York Times, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Jamie Tarabay, and Isabella Kwai, Saturday, 4 January 2020.

Fresh Cambridge Analytica leak shows global manipulation is out of control, The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr, Saturday, 4 January 2020: “An explosive leak of tens of thousands of documents from the defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the inner workings of the company that collapsed after the Observer revealed it had misappropriated 87 million Facebook profiles. More than 100,000 documents relating to work in 68 countries that will lay bare the global infrastructure of an operation used to manipulate voters on ‘an industrial scale’ is set to be released over the next months.”


Sunday, 5 January 2020, Day 1,082:


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Warns Iran’s Leaders That the U.S. Could Attack Them if They Retaliate for the Assassination of Major General Qassim Suleimani, The New York Times, Edward Wong, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on Sunday that the United States could attack the country within its borders and its leaders if they take hostile actions against American interests in the aftermath of the drone strike that killed a top general…. In appearances on six television news shows on Sunday morning, Mr. Pompeo underscored President Trump’s message the previous day that the United States had chosen sites to attack within Iran if Tehran ordered assaults on American assets or citizens in retaliation for the drone strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismisses Iraqi leader’s call for all foreign troops to leave, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Paige Winfield Cunningham, and Tony Romm, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday dismissed calls by Iraq’s caretaker prime minister for a timetable for all foreign troops to exit the country, in the wake of a U.S. strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, arguing that the Iraqi people want the United States to remain and continue the fight against terrorism. Pompeo appeared on all of the Sunday morning news shows to discuss U.S. strategy following the strike, which also killed eight others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a powerful Iraqi militia leader.” See also, Killing of Soleimani follows long push from Mike Pompeo for aggressive action against Iran, but airstrike brings serious risks, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and Dan Lamothe, Sunday, 5 January 2020.

U.S.-Led Coalition Halts ISIS Fight as It Steels for Iranian Attacks, The New York Times, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “The American-led coalition in Iraq and Syria halted its yearslong campaign against the Islamic State on Sunday as United States forces braced for retaliation from Iran over a strike that killed a powerful Iranian commander, military officials said. In a statement, the American command said that after repeated attacks on Iraqi and American bases in recent weeks, one of which killed an American contractor on Dec. 27, ‘we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.'”

Iran Ends Nuclear Limits as U.S. Killing of Iranian General Suleimani Upends Mideast, The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin, Ben Hubbard, Farnaz Fassihi, and Steven Erlanger, Wednesday, 5 January 2020: “The consequences of the American killing of a top Iranian general rippled across the Middle East and beyond on Sunday, with Iran all but abandoning a landmark nuclear agreement and Iraqi lawmakers voting to expel American forces from their country…. ‘Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production, including enrichment capacity,’ the Iranian government said in an announcement Sunday that seemed to signal the de facto collapse of the 2015 agreement.” See also, Iran Challenges Trump, Announcing End of Nuclear Restrictions, The New York Times, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, he justified his unilateral action by saying the accord was flawed, in part because the major restrictions on Iran ended after 15 years, when Tehran would be free to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wanted. But now, instead of buckling to American pressure, Iran declared on Sunday that those restrictions are over — a decade ahead of schedule. Mr. Trump’s gambit has effectively backfired.”

Flouting War Powers Act, Trump claims his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress that the U.S. may strike Iran, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “President Trump claimed Sunday that his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress of any possible U.S. military strike on Iran, in an apparent dismissal of his obligations under the War Powers Act of 1973. Trump’s declaration, which comes two days after his administration launched a drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, was met with disbelief and ridicule from congressional Democrats, who called on the president to respect the role of the legislative branch in authorizing new military action abroad.”

U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranian-Americans Returning From Canada, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Mike Baker, and Mariel Padilla, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “Dozens of Iranians and Iranian-Americans were held for hours at Washington State’s border with Canada over the weekend as the Department of Homeland Security ramped up security at border ports after Iran threatened to retaliate against the United States for the strike that killed its top military leader. More than 60 of the travelers, many returning from work trips or vacations, were trying to come home to the United States on Saturday when agents at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash., held them for additional questioning about their political views and allegiances, according to advocacy groups and accounts from travelers. Most of the travelers were released after the extra scrutiny, according to administration officials, although advocates said some were denied entry into the United States.”

What Will Another Decade of Climate Crisis Bring? The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, Sunday, 5 January 2020: “Last week, thousands of people in the Australian state of Victoria were urged to evacuate their homes. ‘Don’t wait,’ the alert warned. Bushfires were burning across the state; so large were some of the blazes that, according to Victoria’s commissioner of emergency management, they were ‘punching into the atmosphere’ with columns of smoke nine miles high. The smoke columns were producing their own weather, generating lightning that, in turn, was setting more fires. Some time after residents received the evacuation warning, many of those in the most seriously affected region, East Gippsland, which is a popular tourist destination, received another alert. It was now too late to leave: ‘You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive.'”


Monday, 6 January 2020, Day 1,082:


Trump’s Former National Security Adviser John Bolton Is Willing to Testify in Trump Impeachment Trial, Raising Pressure for Witnesses, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 6 January 2020: “John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial, putting new pressure on Republicans to call witnesses and raising the possibility of revelations as the Senate weighs Mr. Trump’s removal. Mr. Bolton’s surprise declaration, in a statement on his website, was a dramatic turn that could alter the political dynamic of the impeachment process in the Senate and raise the risks for Mr. Trump of Republican defections. The former national security adviser is a potentially vital witness, with direct knowledge of presidential actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill in blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case.” See also, Former national security adviser John Bolton says he is prepared to testify in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Tom Hamburger, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Former national security adviser John Bolton, highly sought by Democrats as an impeachment witness, said Monday that he is prepared to testify in a Senate trial if a subpoena is issued — a move that could be damaging to President Trump. The development came as Trump called for a quick end to the impeachment process and congressional Republicans stepped up pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to transmit articles to the Senate, allowing a trial to begin in the chamber. Pelosi has been holding on to the documents as Democrats seek guarantees about the scope of a Senate trial, including witnesses.” See also, John Bolton says he is prepared to testify in Senate trial if subpoenaed, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Kylie Atwood, and Manu Raju, Monday, 6 January 2020.

Pentagon Rules Out Striking Iranian Cultural Sites, Contradicting Trump, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper sought to douse an international outcry on Monday by ruling out military attacks on cultural sites in Iran if the conflict with Tehran escalates further, despite President Trump’s threat to destroy some of the country’s treasured icons. Mr. Esper acknowledged that striking cultural sites with no military value would be a war crime, putting him at odds with the president, who insisted such places would be legitimate targets. Mr. Trump’s threats generated condemnation at home and abroad while deeply discomfiting American military leaders who have made a career of upholding the laws of war. ‘We will follow the laws of armed conflict,’ Mr. Esper said at a news briefing at the Pentagon when asked if cultural sites would be targeted as the president had suggested over the weekend. When a reporter asked if that meant ‘no’ because the laws of war prohibit targeting cultural sites, Mr. Esper agreed. ‘That’s the laws of armed conflict.’ The furor was a classic controversy of Mr. Trump’s creation, the apparent result of an impulsive threat and his refusal to back down in the face of criticism.”

Soleimani’s funeral procession in Iran sees massive crowds and calls for revenge, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Sarah Dadouch, and Michael Birnbaum, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Hundreds of thousands of Iranian mourners marched through Tehran on Monday for the funeral of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a massive display of grief and solidarity after the country’s most powerful military commander was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week. The funeral in Tehran, marked by calls for revenge, underscored the emotions unleashed by President Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani in a Baghdad airstrike. The ceremony rivaled the one held after the passing of the Islamic republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989, analysts said.” See also, A Sea of Mourners in Iran, and New Threats From Both Sides, The New York Times, Monday, 6 January 2020. See also, Mourners Throng Iran’s Streets for Suleimani Funeral Marches, The New York Times, Farnaz Fassihi, Sunday, 5 January 2020.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the U.S. has made no decision to leave Iraq, The Washington Post, Sarah Dadouch, Siobhán O’Grady, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Monday that the United States has not made any decision to leave Iraq, shortly after the U.S. military said in a letter to Iraqi officials that U.S. forces would be relocating ‘to prepare for onward movement.’ On Sunday, Iraqi lawmakers passed a nonbinding resolution calling for foreign troops to withdraw. In the letter, released Monday, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III said that U.S. forces ‘respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.’ A U.S. military official confirmed the letter’s authenticity. But on a day of confusion, Esper said he could not confirm the authenticity of the letter because he had seen it only after it was leaked, adding that it is ‘inconsistent with where we are right now.’ Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the letter incorrectly implies withdrawal and ‘was a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released.'”

Iran and Presidential War Powers, Explained, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Democratic leaders in Congress are moving to swiftly invoke the War Powers Resolution in an attempt to block President Trump from taking the United States into a war with Iran, even as Iran vows revenge for his killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and Mr. Trump is threatening disproportionate strikes inside Iran if it does retaliate. But Congress’s control over decisions about going to war has been eroding for generations, and administrations of both parties have established precedents that undercut the resolution as a meaningful check on presidential war-making authority.”

Iranian-Americans Questioned at the Border: ‘My Children Shouldn’t Experience Such Things,’ The New York Times, Mike Baker and Caitlin Dickerson, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Arriving at the United States border in Washington State early Sunday morning after a skiing trip to Canada, Negah Hekmati and her family were pulled out of line for further questioning by Customs and Border Protection agents. The family found itself in a room filled with fellow Iranian-Americans, many of whom had already been held for hours. The agents wanted to know the identities of Ms. Hekmati’s parents, siblings, uncles and cousins. Her husband, a software engineer at Microsoft, was asked about any military service in his past. The agents left, and then came back with more questions. During the five overnight hours they were held at the Peace Arch Border Crossing on their way back home to the Seattle area, Ms. Hekmati said, her 5-year-old would not sleep, worried about the prospect of jail. The young girl asked Ms. Hekmati to stop speaking Persian, hoping that might help avoid further scrutiny. ‘My kids shouldn’t experience such things,’ Ms. Hekmati said. ‘They are U.S. citizens. This is not O.K.’ More than 100 people of Iranian descent appear to have faced similar delays at Washington’s border with Canada over the weekend, a process Gov. Jay Inslee described on Monday as the inappropriate ‘detention’ of people — some of them United States citizens — who had done nothing wrong.”

Trump Administration Blocks Iran’s Top Diplomat From Addressing the U.N. Security Council, Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer, Monday, 6 January 2020: “The Trump administration is barring Iran’s top diplomat from entering the United States this week to address the United Nations Security Council about the U.S. assassination of Iran’s top military official in Baghdad, violating the terms of a 1947 headquarters agreement requiring Washington to permit foreign officials into the country to conduct U.N. business, according to three diplomatic sources. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif requested a visa a ‘few weeks ago’ to enter the United States to attend a Jan. 9 Security Council meeting on the importance of upholding the U.N. Charter, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the matter. The Thursday meeting was to provide Tehran’s top diplomat with his first opportunity to directly address the world community since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a top Iraqi militia leader, among others. The Iranian government was awaiting word on the visa Monday when a Trump administration official phoned U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to inform him that the United States would not allow Zarif into the country, according to the Washington-based diplomatic source.”

Democrats move swiftly to halt Trump’s conflict with Iran, Politico, Sarah Ferris, Heather Cayble, and Melanie Zanona, Monday, 6 January 2020: “House Democrats are preparing a powerful rebuke of President Donald Trump as they attempt to rein in his war powers amid sharply growing tensions with Iran. Democrats — fuming at Trump’s decision to kill one of Iran’s top generals without notifying Congress — will vote this week on a resolution to restrain Trump’s military actions in one of the House’s first acts after returning from the lengthy Christmas recess.”

Democratic Senators Want Soleimani Document Declassified, The Wall Street Journal, Lindsay Wise, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Top Senate Democrats called on President Trump to immediately declassify the White House notification to Congress of the drone strike last week that killed prominent Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. ‘It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner,’ wrote Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, in a letter Monday. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action. The White House sent the notification on Saturday, within the necessary time frame, but classified its contents. Under the law, the contents would describe the circumstances necessitating the use of U.S. military force, the constitutional and legislative authority for the action and the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities.”

The Trump Administration Will Begin Deporting Asylum-Seekers From Mexico to Guatemala, BuzzFeed News, Hamed Aleaziz, Monday, 6 January 2020: “The Trump administration will now deport Mexican nationals — including families — who come to the US southern border seeking asylum to Guatemala, an expansion of a controversial program that will spark outrage among advocates and lawmakers, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The program, which was signed in July, was implemented in late November. Emailed guidance was sent to asylum officials across the country in recent days detailing how Mexicans were now to be included in the process…. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson confirmed the news on Monday. ‘Certain Mexicans seeking humanitarian protections in the United States may now be eligible to be transferred to Guatemala and given the opportunity to seek protection there, under the terms of the Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,’ the spokesperson said.” See also, Mexican Asylum Seekers Could Now Be Deported to Guatemala, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 6 January 2020: “The Trump administration will deport some Mexicans seeking asylum at the United States border to Guatemala as part of a deal that had been praised by Department of Homeland Security officials as a way to deter migration from Central America. The agreement with Guatemala, which was signed in July, was described by Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security at the time, as a way to encourage families to apply for protections closer to home. The deal made migrants such as Hondurans and Salvadorans ineligible for asylum in the United States if they had traveled by land through Guatemala and did not first apply for asylum there, homeland security officials said at the time. But two homeland security officials said on Monday that asylum officers were told over the weekend that Mexican migrants were now ‘amenable’ to being sent to Guatemala under the agreement. In theory, an asylum seeker from Juárez, Mexico, could be deported from the El Paso, Texas, border crossing a mile from his home to the Guatemalan border nearly 2,000 miles away. A homeland security spokesman later confirmed that certain Mexicans could be sent to Guatemala under the agreement — a pivot from the original plan for the deal.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Center Captain Travis Frey Was on a New-Nazi Website and Wanted to Start a White Nationalist Group, Vice, Tess Owen, Monday, 6 January 2020: “A senior employee at a for-profit immigrant detention center in Nevada was active on the neo-Nazi site Iron March and aspired to establish a white nationalist chapter in his area. Travis Frey, 31, is currently employed as a captain at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, which is run by private prison behemoth CoreCivic and contracted with ICE. Frey joined Iron March in 2013, and posted at least a dozen times between 2016 and 2017 while he was working as head of security at a CoreCivic jail in Indianapolis, which was also authorized to house detainees on behalf of ICE.”

E.P.A. Aims to Reduce Truck Pollution and Avert Tougher State Controls, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 6 January 2020: “The Trump administration on Monday took its first step toward tighter pollution controls on trucks, an anomalous move for a government known for weakening environmental policies but one that would pre-empt tougher state rules. Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, began the legal and regulatory process for curbing highway truck emissions of nitrogen dioxide, which has been linked to asthma and lung disease. While the move could give President Trump a nominal environmental achievement for the 2020 campaign, public health experts say the truck regulations are not as out of line with administration policy as they would appear. The emerging rule will quite likely limit nitrogen dioxide pollution more than current standards, they say, but still fall far short of what is necessary to significantly prevent respiratory illness and even premature deaths. Instead, the administration appears to be complying with the wishes of the trucking industry, which has called for a new national nitrogen dioxide regulation to override states that could otherwise implement their own, tighter rules. On that front, the E.P.A. rule is likely to open a new battle in Mr. Trump’s long-running war with California over environmental regulations and states’ rights. California is already moving ahead with stringent state-level standards on nitrogen dioxide pollution from trucks that could be replicated by other states.”

Julián Castro Endorses Elizabeth Warren for President, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Monday, 6 January 2020: “Julián Castro, the former housing secretary whose progressive presidential candidacy did not make significant inroads with Democratic voters but earned plaudits from the party’s left wing, has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, offering a possible lift for her candidacy less than one month before the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Castro announced his endorsement on Monday morning, just days after he ended his own bid for the White House. In a statement, Mr. Castro cast Ms. Warren as the logical extension of his campaign’s social-justice-driven message, which seeks to correct inequities through targeted policy proposals. He will campaign with Ms. Warren this week, joining her Tuesday night at a rally at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.” See also, Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren for president, The Washington Post, Chelsea Janes, Monday, 6 January 2020.


Tuesday, 7 January 2020, Day 1,083:


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Says He Will Proceed on Impeachment Trial Without Witness Deal, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said Tuesday that he planned to move forward with President Trump’s impeachment trial without committing to calling witnesses or hearing new evidence, foreshadowing a partisan vote to kick off a divisive proceeding. His decision deepened a standoff over the shape of a Senate trial that has gripped the Capitol in the weeks since the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump. But hours later, Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated it may not persist much longer, saying that she would ‘soon’ transmit the two articles of impeachment, though not before Mr. McConnell made public the rules for the process.” See also, McConnell says he’s ready to begin Trump impeachment trial with no deal on witnesses, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Mike DeBonis, and Rachael Bade, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he is prepared to begin President Trump’s impeachment trial with no agreement with Democrats on witnesses, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled she is not ready to transmit the impeachment articles until she knows more about how Republicans would conduct the Senate proceedings.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says impeachment articles won’t go to the Senate until she learns more about how the trial would be conducted, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that she will not send articles of impeachment to the Senate until she learns more about how the chamber would conduct a potential trial, according to three people present for her remarks who were not authorized to comment publicly. The news came hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Republicans have enough votes to proceed with President Trump’s impeachment trial with no agreement with Democrats on witnesses.” See also, McConnell Says Impeachment Trial to Start Without Guarantee of Witnesses, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes, Natalie Andrews, and Lindsay Wise, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has enough votes to set impeachment-trial rules that don’t guarantee new witnesses would be called, rebuffing demands from Democrats amid mounting signs that a deadlock over the process was beginning to loosen. Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) said he has at least 51 votes from within his 53-member Republican majority for opening the trial first, then voting later on whether to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Democrats have wanted an assurance that witnesses who could provide any more evidence on President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine would be heard when the Senate takes up the two impeachment articles passed by the House in December, but Mr. McConnell for weeks has said any vote on more witnesses would come only after opening statements, a format similar to the Clinton impeachment in early 1999.” See also, McConnell says he has the votes to set impeachment trial rules without Democratic support, CNN Politics, Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly, Tuesday, 7 January 2020. See also, McConnell is ready to start impeachment trial with partisan power play, Politico, Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, Tuesday, 7 January 2020.

Iran Fires on U.S. Forces at 2 Bases in Iraq, Calling It ‘Fierce Revenge,’ The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin, Farnaz Fassihi, Eric Schmitt, and Vivian Yee, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Iran attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops with a barrage of missiles early Wednesday, Iranian official news media and United States officials said, fulfilling Tehran’s promise to retaliate for the killing of a top Iranian commander. ‘The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,’ the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement on a Telegram messaging app channel. Iraqi military officials said that Iran had fired 22 missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are stationed. United States officials initially said there were no immediate indications of American casualties, and senior Iraqi officials later said that there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the strikes.” See also, Pentagon says more than a dozen missiles hit two bases in Iraq, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Adam Taylor, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Iranian forces launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against two military bases in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday evening, marking the most significant Iranian attack in the growing conflict with the United States. The al-Asad air base in western Iraq, which houses some American troops, was hit by at least six missiles , according to a U.S. defense official familiar with the situation. In a tweet late Tuesday, President Trump proclaimed ‘All is well!’ and vowed to address the nation on the situation Wednesday morning.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again declines to present evidence of ‘imminent’ threat that led to U.S. killing of Iranian general, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette and Jennifer Hansler, Tuesday, 7 January 2020. See also, Iran Fires Missiles at U.S. Forces in Iraq, The Wall Street Journal, Gordon Lubold, Nancy A. Youssef, and Isabel Coles, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq, the Pentagon said late Tuesday, in attacks Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said were retribution for the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The strikes on two bases—Erbil in northern Iraq and the large Al Asad base in western Iraq—began about 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, U.S. officials said.” See also, Iran ‘Concludes’ Attacks, Foreign Minister Says, The New York Times, Tuesday, 7 January 2020.

Pressed for Details on Suleimani Strike, Trump Administration Gives Few, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Catie Edmondson, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Rukmini Callimachi, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “Under increasing pressure to defend the killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq, senior Trump administration officials offered new justifications but little detail on Tuesday, citing threats to the American Embassy in Baghdad and intelligence suggesting other imminent attacks that helped prompt the strike. Democrats stepped up their criticism of intelligence that the administration provided immediately after the drone strike last week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The administration’s formal notification to Congress, which remains classified, provided no information on future threats or the imminent attack, officials who have read it said. Several said it was improperly classified, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, called it ‘vague and unacceptably unspecific.’ Lawmakers pressed for more answers on Tuesday at an intelligence briefing by administration officials.” See also, A One-Word Accusation Swirls Around Trump’s Deadly Strike: Assassination, The New York Times, Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, Tuesday, 7 January 2020.

Trump Falsely Claims That Ukraine Aid Arrived ‘Ahead of Schedule,’ The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “President Trump was wrong in asserting that his decision last year to suspend military assistance to Ukraine — a key component in his impeachment and upcoming trial — did not interfere with the schedule for delivering the aid. The 2019 federal fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, the date by which all appropriated aid to Ukraine was supposed to be disbursed. But because of the freeze ordered by Mr. Trump, not all of the aid was spent before the deadline.”

Anatomy of a Trump rally: 67 percent of claims are false or lacking evidence, The Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “We’re kicking off the new year with a line-by-line fact check of President Trump’s longest rally to date. It was the Moby Dick of fact-checking assignments, a two-hour tornado of false and bewildering claims. Trump was in rare form. The rally was held Dec. 18, just as the House was voting to impeach him. The president surpassed 15,400 false or misleading claims as of Dec. 10, according to our database tracking all of his suspect statements. But it’s worth drilling down on his rallies. They’ve gotten longer over time, and they’re a key part of Trump’s reelection bid, drawing supporters by the thousands.”

Koala Mittens and Baby Bottles: Saving Australia’s Animals After Fires, The New York Times, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Tuesday, 7 January 2020: “As wildfires have killed at least 24 people, destroyed more than 1,400 homes and ravaged 15 million acres, they have also inflicted a grievous toll on Australia’s renowned wildlife. Hundreds of millions of animals, many found on no other continent, may have perished, according to some estimates, devastating the country’s unique ecosystems.”


Wednesday, 8 January 2020, Day 1,084:


Trump Backs Away From Further Military Conflict With Iran, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “President Trump backed away from further military action against Iran and called for renewed diplomacy on Wednesday as the bristling confrontation of the past six days eased in the aftermath of an Iranian missile strike that seemed intended to save face rather than inflict casualties. ‘Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,’ Mr. Trump said in a televised statement from the Grand Foyer of the White House, flanked by his vice president, cabinet secretaries and senior military officers in their uniforms. ‘The United States,’ he added, ‘is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.’ The president sounded as eager as the Iranians to find a way out of a conflict that threatened to spiral out of control into a new full-fledged war in the Middle East. While Mr. Trump excoriated Iran’s ‘campaign of terror, murder, mayhem’ and defended his decision to order a drone strike killing the country’s top security commander, he dropped for now his bombastic threats of escalating force, vowing instead to increase economic sanctions while calling for new negotiations. The president’s statement came hours after Iran’s government indicated that it had ‘concluded proportionate measures’ avenging the killing of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, with the launch of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing American troops. The missiles did not result in any American or Iraqi deaths, an outcome interpreted by some analysts as a deliberate attempt by Iran to claim it had responded, but without provoking Mr. Trump.” See also, United States and Iran back away from imminent conflict as Trump says he is ready for peace ‘with all who seek it,’ The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Siobhán O’Grady, Mike DeBonis, and Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “President Trump backed away Wednesday from potential war with Iran, indicating he would not respond militarily to the launch of more than a dozen ballistic missiles at bases housing American troops, as the United States and Iran blamed each other for provoking the most direct conflict between the two adversaries since Iran seized American diplomats in 1979. The war footing that took hold last week after Trump approved the targeted killing of a senior Iranian military commander he accused of plotting to kill Americans appeared to ease by mutual agreement, following days of chest-thumping in both Washington and Tehran and what Iran called its rightful response.” See also, Full Transcript: Trump’s Address on Iran, The New York Times, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Inaccurate Statements About the Conflict With Iran, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Transcript of Trump’s Iran speech, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: ” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s address on the Iran missile attacks, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, 3 Hours From Alert to Attacks: Inside the Race to Protect U.S. Forces From Iran Strikes, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt, Lara Jakes, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, ‘Launch, launch, launch’: Inside the Trump administration as the Iranian missiles began to fall, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Dan Lamothe, and Missy Ryan, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Trump says ‘Iran appears to be standing down’ following its retaliatory attacks against Iraqi bases housing US troops, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette, Hamdi Alkhshali, Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr, and Tamara Qiblawi, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, U.S. and Iran Back Away From Open Conflict, The Wall Street Journal, Alex Leary, Nancy A. Youssef, Aresu Eqbali, and Sune Engel Rasmussen, published on Thursday, 9 January 2020: “President Trump moved Wednesday to de-escalate hostilities with Iran, signaling no new U.S. military strikes following an Iranian missile barrage on Iraqi bases housing American and allied military forces that resulted in no casualties.” See also, Iran Attacks U.S. Forces, Then Both Sides Stand Down, The New Yorker, Robin Wright, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Fox News Hosts Were Against a Ground War With Iran. Trump Listened. BuzzFeed News, Rosie Gray and Miriam Elder, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Cracks emerge among Republicans over Trump’s handling of Iran crisis, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “The Trump administration has lost the support of at least two Republican senators over how it handled the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, after top national security officials failed to tell lawmakers when, if ever, they would notify Congress about future military strikes. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), standing beside Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), lit into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley on Wednesday, telling reporters they refused to answer specific questions during a closed-door session he described as a ‘drive-by notification or after-the-fact, lame briefing’ that was both ‘insulting’ and ‘completely unacceptable.'” See also, Mike Lee, a Republican Senator, Calls Administration’s Iran Briefing ‘Insulting,’ The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Senate Iran briefing gets heated: Republican Senator Mike Lee says it is ‘the worst briefing I’ve had’: CNN Politics, Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, and Jeremy Herb, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Senate Democrats — and two key GOP senators — slammed a classified briefing Wednesday on the strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, charging that administration officials failed to provide evidence to show the attack was imminent and dismissed the role Congress should play in deciding to take military action.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Announces Vote to Limit Trump’s War-Making Power Against Iran, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that the House would vote on Thursday to force President Trump to quickly wind down military action against Iran unless he is given explicit authorization from Congress, opening what promised to be a searing debate over presidential war powers. Ms. Pelosi issued the statement as lawmakers breathed a sigh of relief on Capitol Hill after Mr. Trump said he would back away from any military escalation against Tehran. But congressional Democrats, skeptical of the administration’s case for the drone strike last week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and dissatisfied with the rationale Mr. Trump’s team offered for conducting it, pledged to press ahead with their efforts to rein in the president’s war-making authority. They said the vote on Thursday would be on a measure that would require that Mr. Trump cease all military action against Iran unless Congress votes to approve it. Such a measure could face an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, but on Wednesday, two Republicans signaled they were inclined to support it, holding open the possibility of a razor-thin vote. Either way, it is certain to ignite a fierce debate over Mr. Trump’s strategy on Iran, and Congress’s role in curtailing a president’s ability to wage war.” See also, Pelosi says House will vote Thursday on measure to limit Trump’s military actions regarding Iran, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Paul Schemm, Siognán O’Grady, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Wednesday, 8 January 2020.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rebuffing House Leader Nancy Pelosi, Declines to Budge on Impeachment Trial Terms, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, insisted on Wednesday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi accept his terms for President Trump’s impeachment trial and promptly deliver the charges from the House, as a growing number of Senate Democrats signaled that they, too, were eager to begin the proceeding…. Though they voiced deference to the speaker, a growing number of Senate Democrats said on Wednesday that they were losing patience with the delay and wanted the trial to begin.” See also, More Democrats say Pelosi should send over articles of impeachment, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 8 January 2020. See also, Senate Democrats break with Pelosi over impeachment trial, Politico, Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Democrats are finally acknowledging that their efforts to extract concessions from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are coming to an end. Though Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still withholding the House’s impeachment articles from the Senate, Democrats’ hopes of swaying the GOP leader have dimmed after McConnell secured the votes in his caucus to move forward without an agreement on witnesses and documents.” See also, Some Democratic Senators Call on Pelosi to Send Over Articles of Impeachment, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews and Rebecca Ballhaus, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “A growing number of Senate Democrats are calling for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to send over the articles of impeachment against President Trump, saying the party had little to gain from further delay. ‘I think it’s time to turn the articles over and let’s see where the Senate can take it,’ Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) said on Wednesday. Others in the Democratic caucus, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Angus King of Maine, have also encouraged Mrs. Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate so a trial can begin.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump talk impeachment at White House meeting, CNN Politics, Manu Reju, Phil Mattingly, and Pamela Brown, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump met Wednesday at the White House and discussed the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. McConnell, one of the sources said, walked Trump through the trial format and discussed how Senate Republicans were reacting to the developments around the trial…. McConnell’s interactions with Trump are sure to fuel Democratic accusations that the majority leader is improperly coordinating with the President before the trial, which will determine whether Trump should be removed from office.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says She No Longer Has Pancreatic Cancer, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose health has become a preoccupation of the American public as the Supreme Court hews rightward under President Trump, announced this week that she was cancer-free. Justice Ginsburg, 86, one of four liberal justices on the nine-member court, told CNN in a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday that treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas had been successful.” See also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg declares she’s ‘cancer free,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 8 January 2020.

New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifts block on $3.6 billion for Trump border wall plan, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “A divided federal appeals court has lifted a lower court’s order blocking $3.6 billion in military construction funds that President Donald Trump planned to use to finance an expanded and improved border wall. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order on Wednesday granting the Trump administration’s request to stay the injunction that U.S. District Court Judge David Briones, based in El Paso, Texas, issued last month.” See also, Twin Court Rulings Buoy Construction of Trump’s Border Wall, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “The White House on Thursday celebrated a federal court ruling that will allow $3.6 billion in military construction funds to be used for the construction of the border wall. A separate court on Thursday lifted a restraining order on a private group allied with President Trump that wants to build its own barriers on private land. The twin rulings buoyed Mr. Trump as his administration has found itself behind schedule on the president’s promise to build 450 miles of border wall by 2021. The decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to lift a lower-court ruling will allow the administration to use the military funds, about a third of the $11 billion that the administration obtained for the barriers, in part by declaring a national emergency and bypassing Congress. Those funds will be used to build 175 miles of barrier in parts of Texas, Arizona and California.”

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Jointly Urge Against War With Iran, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, joined forces on Wednesday to help rally progressive opposition to a war with Iran and to blame President Trump for his role in the Middle East crisis even as the threat of open conflict appeared to subside.”

Trump Fails to Quash E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Suit. Ms. Carroll, a writer who claims Trump raped her in the 1990s, says that his denials have hurt her reputation and career. The New York Times, Ed Shanahan, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “A New York judge has rebuffed President Trump’s bid to throw out a lawsuit filed against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of hurting her career and reputation in denying her claim that he raped her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. In a ruling made public on Thursday, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Trump’s argument in a filing last week that New York’s courts lack jurisdiction to hear the case because he was not in New York and did not live in the state when he made the comments that Ms. Carroll says defamed her.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seeks delay of proposed disclosure of Secret Service spending on presidential travel until after the election, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and David A. Fahrenthold, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “The Trump administration is seeking to delay a Democratic effort to require the Secret Service to disclose how much it spends protecting President Trump and his family when they travel — until after the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the discussions. The issue has emerged as a sticking point in recent weeks as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and key senators have been negotiating draft legislation to move the Secret Service back to his department, its historic home. Mnuchin has balked at Democratic demands that the bill require the Secret Service to disclose the costs related to the travel of the president and his adult children within 120 days after it is passed, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Mnuchin has agreed to Democrats’ push for a requirement that the Secret Service report its travel expenses but wants such disclosures to begin after the election.”

How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia’s Bushfire Debate, The New York Times, Damien Cave, Wednesday, 8 January 2020: “Deep in the burning forests south of Sydney this week, volunteer firefighters were clearing a track through the woods, hoping to hold back a nearby blaze, when one of them shouted over the crunching of bulldozers. ‘Don’t take photos of any trees coming down,’ he said. ‘The greenies will get a hold of it, and it’ll all be over.’ The idea that ‘greenies’ or environmentalists would oppose measures to prevent fires from ravaging homes and lives is simply false. But the comment reflects a narrative that’s been promoted for months by conservative Australian media outlets, especially the influential newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch. And it’s far from the only Murdoch-fueled claim making the rounds. His standard-bearing national newspaper, The Australian, has also repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past — not true, scientists say, noting that 12 million acres have burned so far, with 2019 alone scorching more of New South Wales than the previous 15 years combined. And on Wednesday, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.”


Thursday, 9 January 2020, Day 1,085:


Trump’s Move Against Landmark Environmental Law Caps a Relentless Agenda, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “President Trump on Thursday capped a three-year drive to roll back clean air and water protections by proposing stark changes to the nation’s oldest and most established environmental law that could exempt major infrastructure projects from environmental review. The revisions to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every highway, bridge, pipeline and other major federal construction in the country — underscored Mr. Trump’s focus on stripping away regulations, to the consternation of conservationists. In the middle of a foreign-policy crisis and on the cusp of an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump appeared in his element on Thursday, flanked by men in hard hats and orange safety vests.” See also, Trump proposes change to environmental rules to speed up highway projects, pipelines, and more, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “President Trump on Thursday proposed a change to 50-year-old regulations that would speed the development of new mines, pipelines and hundreds of other projects around the country, including some that could harm the environment and accelerate climate change. The move also could prevent communities from having as much say about what gets built in their backyards. The proposed rules would narrow the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the impact of a major project before a spade of dirt is turned and to include the public in the process.”

House Votes to Restrain Trump’s Iran War Powers, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “A sharply divided House voted on Thursday to force President Trump to come to Congress for authorization before taking further military action against Iran, in a sharp response to his ratcheting up of hostilities with Tehran without the explicit approval of the legislative branch. The vote was 224 to 194, almost entirely along party lines, to curtail Mr. Trump’s war-making power. It came as Democrats insisted that the president must involve Congress in any escalation against Iran, and Republicans — following Mr. Trump’s lead — accused Democrats of coddling the enemy in questioning the commander in chief at a dangerous moment…. The measure itself was largely symbolic, without the force of law and unlikely to tie Mr. Trump’s hands even if the Senate endorsed it. The Senate could separately move as soon as next week to take up a similar resolution sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia. But the debate it brought to the House floor was the latest in which lawmakers, citing their obligations as a coequal branch of government, voiced deep skepticism about a potentially devastating military conflict. It echoed the searing disputes over United States involvement in Vietnam and in the run-up to the Iraq war, when Congress — then as now dubious about intelligence cited as grounds for military action — contested the scope of presidential war powers.” See also, House approves measure limiting Trump’s authority to take further military action against Iran, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “The House voted Thursday to prevent President Trump from taking additional military action against Iran, an opening move in a Democratic-led campaign to reassert congressional authority over the use of force abroad.” See also, House votes to limit Trump’s military action against Iran without congressional approval, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Haley Byrd, Thursday, 9 January 2020. See also, Trump Asserts Without Evidence That Iranians Were Plotting to Blow Up American Embassy, The New York Times, Michael Crowley and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 9 January 2020. See also, Trump’s New National Security Team Made Fast Work of Iran Strike, The Wall Street Journal, Michael C. Bender, Michael R. Gordon, Gordon Lubold, and Warren P. Strobel, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “The speed at which events unfolded shows the influence of the new team of senior national-security and military advisers now surrounding the president. The group, including new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and new national security adviser Robert O’Brien, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, backed the president’s decision to kill the top Iranian military commander and moved swiftly to carry it out. The new team was cohesive and less inclined than its predecessors to push back against the president’s wishes, according to administration officials and others consulted by the White House. They also were less likely to consult in advance with other administration, Pentagon or State Department officials, congressional leaders or foreign allies, some of these officials said…. Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, associates said.”

Bernie Sanders offers measure to limit Trump’s actions on Iran, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday doubled down on presenting himself as the staunchest antiwar candidate in the Democratic field, unveiling legislation to block President Trump from deploying funding for military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. Flanked by seven Democratic colleagues from the Senate and House in the U.S. Capitol, Sanders (I-Vt.) compared the current crisis to the circumstances leading up to two of the most controversial conflicts in U.S. history. ‘Just as we were led into Vietnam and Iraq by lies, the Trump administration is misleading us on Iran,’ said Sanders. He said the administration has produced ‘no evidence . . . not even in a classified setting ‘ to back up its claim that Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. strike last week, had been plotting an imminent attack against Americans.”

Officials Say Iranian Missile Accidentally Brought Down Ukrainian Jet, Citing Early Evidence, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt, Anton Troianovski, and Natalie Kitroeff, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “American and allied officials said on Thursday that they had intelligence that missiles fired by Iranian military forces were responsible for the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner and the deaths of all aboard this week in Iran, most likely by accident. The disclosures suggested that the deaths were a consequence of the heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran that have played out since an American drone strike killed a top Iranian general last week.” See also, Video Shows Ukrainian Plane Being Hit Over Iran, The New York Times, Christiaan Triebert, Malachy Browne, Sarah Kerr, and Ainara Tiefenthäler, Thursday, 9 January 2020. See also, Iranian missile hit Ukrainian plane in possible unintentional firing, Western officials say, The Washington Post, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Missy Ryan, Dan Lamothe, and Paul Sonne, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Western leaders sketched out Thursday what they say was the fate of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 — apparently downed by an Iranian missile, possibly fired by mistake, as the plane with 176 people aboard climbed above Tehran’s outskirts. The assessments — based on intelligence reports from the United States, Canada and elsewhere — were met with quick dismissals from Iran and suggested deepening divides over the unfolding investigation of Wednesday’s crash, which killed all aboard. In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said intelligence analyses indicated that a surface-to-air missile hit the plane in what could have been an ‘unintentional’ act…. Trudeau’s comments — as his nation mourned 63 Canadians on the flight and dozens of others with links to the country — came after U.S. officials said the plane was apparently hit by an SA-15 surface-to-air missile, part of a Russian-made air defense system also known as a Tor system.” See also, U.S., Allies Believe Ukraine Plane Was Shot Down by Iran, The Wall Street Journal, Nancy A. Youssef, Aresu Eqbali, Georgi Kantchev, and Rory Jones, Thursday, 9 January 2020. See also, Evidence That Ukrainian Plane Was Shot Down in Iran May Upset U.S.-Canada Relations, The New York Times, Dan Bilefsky, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “New evidence indicating that an Iranian surface-to-air missile caused the plane crash this week that killed 63 Canadians is likely to undermine Canada’s already acrimonious relationship with Iran. But the disaster also threatens to damage Ottawa’s crucial but fraught partnership with Washington…. [J]ournalists pressed Justin Trudeau over whether President Trump should bear any of the blame…. If it is determined that it was an Iranian missile, Mr. Trudeau will have to grapple with the question of whether the United States, Canada’s most important ally, played a role in provoking the events that ultimately resulted in the loss of Canadians’ lives.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Is Prepared to Send Impeachment Articles to the Senate, Just Not Yet, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi quietly laid the groundwork on Thursday to send impeachment articles against President Trump to the Senate, indicating that the House would ‘soon’ end a weekslong impasse and vote to bring the charges to trial…. ‘I will send them over when I’m ready,’ Ms. Pelosi said at her weekly news conference on Thursday morning, ‘and that will probably be soon.'” See also, Pelosi resists pressure to transmit impeachment articles to the Senate, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 9 January 2020. See also, Pelosi Says House Will Continue to Hold On to Articles of Impeachment, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said the Senate needs to show ‘what the terms of engagement will be’ in President Trump’s trial before she turns over the articles of impeachment, but she signaled a resolution to the deadlock could come soon.”

Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and ‘Clowns’ Who Designed 737 Max, The New York Times, Natalie Kitroeff, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered Thursday to congressional investigators. ‘I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,’ one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration. The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos. The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.” See also, Internal Boeing documents show employees discussing efforts to manipulate regulators scrutinizing the 737 Max, The Washington Post, Ian Duncan, Lori Aratani, and Michael Laris, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “In 2017, a Boeing employee wrote: ‘this airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.’ The documents were released by Boeing to congressional investigators probing how the company’s 737 Max jets were certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as safe before two crashes that killed 346 people.”

An increase of $1 in the minimum wage is linked to lower suicide rates, a study says, The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Raising the minimum wage may save lives. A study released this week suggests a correlation between an increase in the minimum wage and declining suicide rates among adults ages 18 to 64. The paperpublished in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that state-level increases of $1 in minimum wage corresponded with a 3.4 percent to 5.9 percent decrease in the suicide rates of people with a high school diploma or less in that age group. Emory University researchers analyzed monthly data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2015.”

New York City Bar Association Asks Congress to Investigate Attorney General William Barr for Bias, Bloomberg, Greg Farrell, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “The New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to investigate U.S. Attorney General William Barr, saying his recent actions and statements have positioned the Justice Department and its prosecutors as ‘political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.’ The request, disclosed on Thursday, appears to be the first time a bar association from New York City or any comparable group has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general. Last year, 450 former federal prosecutors from Republican and Democratic administrations signed a statement chastising Barr for his handling of the Mueller report on Russian election interference.”

Bernie Sanders’s Latest Endorsement: Sunrise Movement, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “The Sunrise Movement, the collection of young climate activists who have roiled Capitol Hill and the Democratic presidential primary, announced on Thursday that it was endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in another sign that left-wing advocacy groups have increasingly coalesced around his candidacy. In a landslide vote — more than 75 percent of respondents — Mr. Sanders earned the backing of members of the group, which has quickly become politically influential since its founding in 2017. Once a fledgling collection of college students, frustrated that Democrats and Republicans were not acting more quickly to curb climate change, Sunrise has grown to 318 chapters nationwide, with more than 10,000 members.”

Justice Department winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 9 January 2020: “A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything.”