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By Morgan Chalfan

President Trump on Monday demanded that his impeachment trial end quickly in the Senate, accusing House Democrats of a “con game” to help their chances during the 2020 election contest. Trump lashed out against impeachment in a series of tweets, deriding it as a “scam,” “hoax” and “witch hunt” and saying it was “sad” that Democrats were focused on impeaching him at a time when he is “so busy.”

“The Impeachment Hoax, just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which started even before I won the Election, must end quickly,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Read the Transcripts, see the Ukrainian President’s strong statement, NO PRESSURE — get this done,” Trump continued, referring to the record of his calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, one of which is at the center of his impeachment.

“It is a con game by the Dems to help with the Election!” Trump alleged. “This was not what the Founders had in mind!” Trump later wrote, noting that the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach him last month without any Republican support.

By Kylie Atwood and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday he is willing to testify — if he is subpoenaed — in the Senate's impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Bolton issued a statement Monday after the courts did not rule whether he would be compelled to testify during the House's impeachment proceedings, saying he was trying to meet his "obligations both as a citizen and as former national security adviser."

"Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study," Bolton said. "I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify." Bolton is potentially a crucial witness, as he had firsthand knowledge of many of the events that formed the House's impeachment of the President over his dealings with Ukraine. The House sought his testimony but ultimately never subpoenaed Bolton, and Democrats withdrew their subpoena for his former deputy after it was challenged in court, as Democrats wanted to move forward with their impeachment probe and not wait for the court's decision.

Bolton's statement is likely to put new pressures from Democrats on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses in the Senate trial, which Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic House leaders have pushed for. So far, McConnell has resisted Schumer's calls to have witnesses in the Senate trial, instead calling for an agreement on the rules of the Senate trial that would put off the question of witnesses until later on.

By John Fritze USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump threatened to impose deep sanctions on Iraq if it moves to expel U.S. troops and said Sunday he would not withdraw entirely unless the military is compensated for the "extraordinarily expensive air base" there.

Trump's remarks came on the same day that Iraq's Parliament voted to support expelling the U.S. military from its country over mounting anger about a drone strike the president ordered last week that killed Iran's Qasem Soleimani and earlier U.S. airstrikes in the country. The vote was nonbinding.

"We've spent a lot of money in Iraq," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington after spending the holidays at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. "We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. ... We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it."

The president threatened Iran over potential retaliation for the death of a top general, and Iraq over the potential expulsion of United States troops.
By Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — 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. “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people,” the president said. “And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

(CNN) Tehran's streets were packed with black-clad mourners Monday as a sea of people turned out to pay their respects to Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad last week. The mourners carried photographs of Soleimani, a revered and powerful figure who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps elite Quds Force and led Iran's overseas operations. Many of those on the streets of the Iranian capital were visibly upset and angry; others shouted "down with the USA" and "death to the USA." Iranian state television said millions attended, although this was yet to be verified.

By Abeer Abu Omar, Layan Odeh, Dana Khraiche, and Josh Wingrove

Fallout widened from last week’s killing of a top Iranian military commander by a U.S. drone in Baghdad, as Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country and Iran said it would no longer abide by any limits on its enrichment of uranium.

Iran no longer considers itself bound by the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated with the U.S. and other world powers, its government said on Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars news organization. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact in 2018.

Iraq’s parliament, which denounced the drone strike early Friday as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty, asked the government to revoke its 2014 request for foreign military intervention to beat back Islamic State, which had conquered large chunks of the country.

The developments led Trump to double down late Sunday on his tactics. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump repeated a threat to strike Iranian cultural sites if U.S. citizens or sites are struck in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. He also sent a warning to Iraq, saying that U.S. troops won’t leave the nation without billions in payment for a base there -- or, they’d leave and Trump would apply sanctions to the country, which is an ally.

By David Voreacos and Neil Weinberg

Shell companies have come under attack for obscuring illicit money flowing into real estate. But it turns out they’re also a problem for the Pentagon. Some Defense Department suppliers have used such front companies to fraudulently win manufacturing bids, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study of Defense Department contractors.

In some cases, the shell companies helped contractors obscure that they were making U.S. military equipment abroad, the GAO said, posing a risk to national security and quality control. More often, they were used to win contracts meant for companies owned by disabled veterans or minorities, it said.

The government watchdog reviewed 32 cases that made their way to criminal prosecutions or lawsuits between 2012 and 2018. Taken together, they illustrate how the Pentagon’s $350 billion in annual contracting can be gamed using companies that exist largely on paper.

CBS This Morning

Journalist and Iran expert Barbara Slavin, director of the Atlantic Council's "Future of Iran" initiative, joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the ramifications of President Trump's decision to order an airstrike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, because of threatened attacks on Americans.

By Zachary Cohen, Vicky Ward and Pamela Brown, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Trump administration has warned members of Congress that Iran is expected to retaliate against the US "within weeks" for the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani even as they failed to convince some that the operation was merited due to an imminent threat against American lives. There are also intense discussions taking place inside US military and intelligence agencies to assess whether Iran might be preparing some type of retaliatory strikes in the next few days or wait for some time, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the situation. "There are conflicting views" on whether Iran will quickly retaliate or wait, but US military defenses are ready, the official said. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley publicly addressed the issue of potential retaliation from Iran Friday. When asked whether there is now a risk to US safety in the region, Milley bluntly said, "Damn right there is risk."

By Frida Ghitis

(CNN) The praise or condemnation President Donald Trump is drawing for the latest US actions in the Middle East in no way diminishes the power of the legal bombshell that just exploded in the United States with new evidence of his behavior regarding Ukraine. Newly revealed documents paint an incriminating picture, showing administration officials anxiously struggling to follow orders from Trump himself despite concerns that the order could go against the national security interests of the United States and warnings from the Pentagon that it could be illegal. The emails are the portrait of a corrupt policy and an effort to conceal it -- a tug of war between two sets of government officials, one side trying to protect American security and follow the law, another working to enforce direct orders of the President of the United States.

The documents, obtained through the work of the Center for Public Integrity and later, in their unredacted versions, revealed by the online legal forum Just Security, show that administration officials knew Trump was ordering them to do something possibly illegal. Just hours after Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- the one Trump absurdly calls "perfect" during which he requested a "favor" from Ukraine -- Michael Duffey, at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), emailed the Pentagon to put a hold on aid to Ukraine and said to keep the decision secret "given the sensitive nature of the request."

The administration has slashed the resources and outreach needed to make sure that everyone is counted.
By Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action

Last summer, the Trump administration made a highly controversial attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a move rightly criticized as likely to depress the count of immigrants and their families. What didn’t make the headlines were a number of other under-the-radar decisions made by the administration despite having equal potential to keep noncitizens in our communities from being included — as well as many others from disadvantaged groups that have been historically undercounted.

This coming year, as at the start of every new decade, the government will undertake a simple but fundamental task enshrined in the Constitution: an accurate count of the national population. The census lays the foundation for much of what constitutes our democracy — determining the proper distribution of political representation, ensuring voting rights and providing a fair and adequate distribution of federal funding for our communities.

By Gregory Wallace, CNN

(CNN) A federal judge has directed the Commerce Department to review and make public a large cache of previously unreleased documents related to the 2020 census and the Trump administration's effort to include a citizenship question in the survey. The documents, including emails and attachments sent to and from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others, amount to around 20,000 pages, the Justice Department told the New York trial court in December. That equates to about 40% of the pages the government had previously produced in the litigation.

The Justice Department had argued the documents should not be released in their entirety because the case has already been decided. After a Supreme Court ruling in the case last year, President Donald Trump and Ross announced they would no longer seek to add the controversial question about citizenship status, which critics believe would depress the response rate to the survey. Judge Jesse Furman, who heard the original trial in his New York courtroom in 2018, wrote Thursday that his directive was "more aggressive" than the government wanted and that he realizes it "will impose burdens on the Department of Justice." "But Defendants have no one but themselves to blame since the documents at issue should have been produced a year and a half ago," he wrote.

By Tom Porter

Tweets from back in 2011 and 2012 in which Donald Trump predicted that President Barack Obama would start a war with Iran to secure his reelection have gone viral after the US assassinated a top Iranian general, dramatically escalating its confrontation with Iran. Trump personally ordered the killing by airstrike of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who is believed to have died in the early hours of Friday near an airport in Baghdad.

The Pentagon said Soleimani, who led the Quds Force and was one of the most powerful men in the Middle East, "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Trump's only statement was to tweet a picture of the US flag. Despite Trump's evident pride at the attack, many on social media seized on his previous posts where, with Obama in the White House, Trump had condemned the idea of military action against Iran as foolish electioneering.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised retaliation against those who killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad. The U.S. moved to send more troops to the Middle East.
New York Times

U.S. prepares to send additional troops to the Middle East. Around the time that an overnight airstrike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a deployment of the elite Army Rangers based in the United States boarded transport aircraft bound for the Middle East on Thursday night, a Pentagon official said. This week, the Defense Department readied 4,000 paratroopers based at Fort Bragg, N.C., for a similar security mission to Kuwait, 750 of which have already deployed.

General Suleimani, a powerful strategist who represented Iran’s influence across the region, was killed by an American drone at Baghdad’s airport, in an attack that had been authorized by President Trump and that ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Tehran. Iran’s leaders quickly promised retaliation for the general’s killing. Iraq’s Parliament planned to hold an emergency session over the weekend to address the airstrike, which Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called “a brazen violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a blatant attack on the nation’s dignity.” The strike, regarded by analysts as perhaps the riskiest American move in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, threatened to tip hostilities with the United States and its partners across the region into a new war.

Iran promises revenge, as Trump defends strike.

Iranian leaders issued strident calls on Friday for revenge against the United States after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in an overnight airstrike at the Baghdad airport.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN) Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was briefed about the US strike that killed Iran Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, while senior Democratic congressional members were kept in the dark ahead of the attack. "I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida," Graham said on Fox News Friday morning. "I appreciate being brought into the orbit."

Graham spent multiple days with President Donald Trump at his Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, earlier this week, tweeting on Tuesday that he had a meeting with Trump "regarding the situation in Iraq." It is not clear if Graham was briefed on the strike during that meeting. "When the President brought it up to me, I was taken aback," Graham told "Fox and Friends" on Friday. "I'm worried about the stability of the Iraqi government today. I have no idea how they are going to respond."

The attorney general has gradually revealed his terrifying agenda: Who knew, and why was this concealed so long?
By Heather Digby Parton

It has long been an article of faith (no pun intended) among some on the left that the culture war was simply a cynical tool of the conservative movement to fool the rubes into voting against their economic interests. In this reading, right-wing leaders had no intention of ever following through on culture-war issues. They would string the voters along forever, promising to deliver on abortion or gay rights or guns but never really getting the job done, the assumption being that they could keep the conservative base's intensity at full throttle if those voters believed they were on the cusp of getting their agenda passed. Meanwhile, as the marks were distracted by endless culture-war skirmishes, the big money conservatives would pass laws that benefited themselves and harmed their own voters.

As it happens, it did indeed go down that way. The conservative movement benefactors made out like bandits while Republican voters got screwed economically. But the notion that the rich men in charge would never have to deliver on their culture-war promises was always wrong. Eventually, they would have to pay the piper.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that they were ready when he withheld the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland during Barack Obama’s last year and then confirmed the Federalist Society’s darling, true blue social conservative Neil Gorsuch, as soon as Donald Trump took office. Evangelical leaders rushed to Brett Kavanaugh’s defense when he was under fire for his decadent youthful behavior and was accused of sexual assault during the confirmation hearings because they had been assured he would hew to the party line. Kavanaugh's threats to take revenge on all who opposed him probably reassured the religious right that he would vote the right way on the cases they care about.

The former campaign chairman “understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump” after he came under scrutiny by the feds, according to newly released memos.
By Maxwell Tani

Paul Manafort said he used Fox News host Sean Hannity to receive backchannel messages from President Donald Trump while prosecutors investigated him for financial crimes, according to newly released memos from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Among the several hundred pages of memos published by BuzzFeed News on Thursday, which contain summaries of FBI interviews with key Trump administration and campaign officials, the Fox News anchor’s alleged role as an unofficial messenger between the president and his former campaign chairman comes into sharp focus.

According to the release, Manafort did not speak to Trump or anyone closely associated with the president or his legal team besides Hannity around the time that The New York Times and other outlets reported on a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner and a lawyer linked to the Kremlin. Manafort described Hannity as a close friend and “certainly a backchannel” to Trump, saying that he understood Hannity was in communication with the president.

FEARS of a looming World War 3 are growing after the US killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran's spreading military influence in the Middle East, in an air strike on Baghdad airport ordered by Donald Trump.
By Simon Osborne

Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Gen Soleimani, was also killed in the attack that was authorised by US President Donald Trump. Their convoy was destroyed in a pinpoint attack by US forces as it drove towards the airport. Get Soleimani's killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional "shadow war" between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could quickly ratchet up tit-for-tat attacks. The attack is expected to draw severe Iranian retaliation against Israel and American interests after its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed harsh revenge.


Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that the US airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Forces, is a "dangerous and foolish escalation." Soleimani -- the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit -- and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis -- the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) -- were among those killed in the attack early Friday morning local time, according to a statement from the PMF, which said the pair "were martyred by an American strike." The killing of Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran and the wider region, is is an audacious and unexpected move that marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran that can be traced back to Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

By David Cho

President Donald Trump berated his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and other senior staff members for holding off on arranging a phone call with the Russian president soon after taking office, according to a new book on the Trump administration's contentious relationship with the Pentagon.

In "Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos," the national security reporter Peter Bergen recounted the tenuous conversation between the US president and his staffers, one of many intimate talks whose details were sourced from dozens of interviews with current and former White House officials and military officers.

On January 27, 2017, weeks after winning the presidency, Trump had his first official visit from a foreign leader at the White House, with British Prime Minister Theresa May. During lunch, May asked Trump if he had talked to Putin, according to Bergen.


President Donald Trump on Thursday warned his Turkish counterpart against sending troops to fight in Libya hours after the Turkish Parliament voted to authorize such a move. Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed several “bilateral and regional issues,” according to a readout of the call released by the White House, as well as simmering tensions and ongoing instability in Libya that have been condemned by the top United Nations official there. In Libya, where a rival regime in the nation's east has attempted a coup to oust the Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, "foreign interference is complicating the situation,” Trump said, according to the White House.

By Aaron Blake

One of the GOP’s chief talking points in its impeachment defense of President Trump has been this: The U.S. military aid to Ukraine was withheld, yes, but it was released without any quid pro quo being satisfied. Ipso facto, nothing to see here. That already strained talking point suffered a significant blow Thursday.

Just Security’s Kate Brannen was able to view unredacted emails in which the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department discussed the withholding of military aid. The big new takeaway is that there was significant concern within the Pentagon about the legality and sustainability of the hold. Despite that, according to one email from top OMB official Michael Duffey on Aug. 30, there was “clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”

The even bigger takeaway, though, may be how much this fact was obscured. The emails were previously released in redacted form, but many of the redaction choices are puzzling and even suspicious. The redactions include repeated references to legal problems with withholding the aid, basic questions about that subject, and warnings that waiting until too late in the fiscal year (which ended Sept. 30) might mean that some of the funds would never get to Ukraine.

By Zachary Cohen, Sara Murray and Ryan Browne, CNN

Washington (CNN) In the face of warnings from the Pentagon that the hold on military aid to Ukraine could be illegal, an official from the Office of Management and Budget made it clear that the order to keep the freeze in place came directly from President Donald Trump, according to unredacted documents reviewed by Just Security. The documents, including emails from officials at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget that were released under court order last month but were either partially or completely blacked out, offer new details about tensions between the two agencies tasked with carrying out Trump's unexplained hold on aid to Ukraine.

They also raise serious questions about why the newly revealed contents were redacted by the Trump administration in the first place amid congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act litigation.

'Clear direction from POTUS'

Among the documents viewed by Just Security, a website focusing on reporting and analysis of national security law and policy, was an August 30 email from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at OMB to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, stating the freeze on aid to Ukraine would continue at the explicit direction of the President despite growing legal concerns within the Pentagon and mounting external questions prompted by news of the hold becoming public just days prior.

Heard on All Things Considered
By Dan Charles

In 2019, the federal government delivered an extraordinary financial aid package to America's farmers. Farm subsidies jumped to their highest level in 14 years, most of them paid out without any action by Congress. The money flowed to farmers like Robert Henry. When I visited in early July, many of his fields near New Madrid, Mo., had been flooded for months, preventing him from working in them. The soybeans that he did manage to grow had fallen in value; China wasn't buying them, in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs.

That's when the government stepped in. Some of the aid came from long-familiar programs. Government-subsidized crop insurance covered some of the losses from flooding. Other payments were unprecedented. The U.S. Department of Agriculture simply sent him a check to compensate him for the low prices resulting from the trade war. " 'Trump money' is what we call it," Henry said. "It helped a lot. And it's my understanding, they're going to do it again."

Indeed, a few weeks later, the USDA announced another $16 billion in trade-related aid to farmers. It came on top of the previous year's $12 billion package, for a grand total of $28 billion in two years. About $19 billion of that money had been paid out by the end of 2019, and the rest will be paid in 2020.

The president’s recent retweets have conspiracists in overdrive. “Best case is we’re up getting a medal at the White House,” one QAnon luminary gushed.
By Will Sommer

Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to blast his critics, pressure potential witnesses against him, and threaten to blow up North Korea. But for believers in the bizarre pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, the president’s Twitter account serves a more crucial purpose, with his retweets of QAnon fans offering them badly-needed proof that their ludicrous conspiracy theory is real.

QAnon believers are convinced that Trump is secretly at war with pedophile-cannibals in the Democratic Party, a theory so unhinged and potent that the FBI considers it a potential source of domestic terrorism. Two QAnon believers have been charged with murders that appear to be motivated by their beliefs in the conspiracy theory, including the slaying of a Mafia boss, while others have committed vandalism or even shut down a bridge with an armored truck. Believers in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which has been incorporated into QAnon, fired shots and tried to burn down a Washington pizzeria.

By Jeffery Martin

As President Donald Trump continued to claim there is no case for impeachment against him, attorney George Conway took to Twitter Tuesday to ask the president why none of his "people" were allowed to testify during the hearings.

Not only did Trump himself refuse to participate in the impeachment hearings against him, he also forbade members of his administration to testify. After the articles of impeachment were passed by the House of Representatives in December, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then announced that she would not send the articles to Congress until some witnesses who refused to involve themselves with the impeachment hearing would testify at the actual trial.

Conway, who is the husband of Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, has publicly disagreed with Trump on more than one occasion. "Read the Transcripts!" Trump tweeted Tuesday. echoing a theme he has often returned to. "I did," replied Conway. "They damn you. They make clear that you're a criminal. Is that why you don't want testimony at your upcoming trial?"

By Christina Zhao

Conservative attorney George Conway, who's also the husband of Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, on Monday agreed with a prediction that Donald Trump will have an "unhinged, delusional, narcissistic" meltdown during his upcoming State of the Union (SOTU) address over the ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.

Two days after the Democrat-led House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump—obstruction of Congress and abuse of power—Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited the president to deliver his annual SOTU remarks in early February. White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley confirmed that Trump accepted Pelosi's offer.

Following Trump's impeachment, Pelosi also indicated that she will hold off from transmitting articles of impeachment to the Senate until Republicans agree to a fair trial.

"This week, the House solemnly honored our oath of office by passing the articles of impeachment," Pelosi wrote in a letter to her Democratic colleagues. "It now remains for the Senate to present the rules under which we will proceed."

By Kevin Breuninger

A new report paints the most detailed picture yet of the internal strife surrounding the White House’s freeze on hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, which is at the center of President Donald Trump’s impeachment in Congress. The report from The New York Times, constructed from interviews with dozens of officials and previously unreleased documents, sheds new light on the key figures in the Trump administration’s dealings with Kyiv.

It also probes Trump’s own insistence that the congressionally mandated military aid package be withheld as he sought investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who worked on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father served under President Barack Obama. On Tuesday morning, Trump repeated his accusations against the Bidens and his criticism of the impeachment process.

The president’s latest tweet is sure to add some more fuel to the impeachment war: a clash between Republicans and Democrats over whether the rules of Trump’s eventual trial in the Senate should allow witnesses to be heard or questioned.

At Trump’s luxury South Florida resort, the president is just another guy in the buffet line.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — At the White House, people who want to meet with Donald Trump have to deal with schedulers, scores of aides hovering around the president and a strict security protocol. At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s luxury South Florida resort where he typically spends Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the president is just another guy in the buffet line.

That’s where Alan Dershowitz, the liberal lawyer who now volubly defends Trump on TV, ran into the president on Christmas Eve. The two were waiting to get food, and Dershowitz said he offered the president an empty plate — Trump declined and instead picked up his own — as the two discussed holiday plans. “He was in a very good mood,” Dershowitz said. “People were talking to him, people were high-fiving him. These are his people.”

By Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly

Supporters of an Iranian-backed militia besieged the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes, breaking through the first layer of security at the embassy compound and damaging a reception area before being expelled by Iraqi security forces. Here’s what we know:

●The U.S. Defense Department is sending two Apache helicopters and a “small contingent” of Marines to reinforce security at the embassy.

●President Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy, where protesters ransacked a reception area and set fires.

●Iraqi security forces later intervened and set up a barricade, but protesters threw gasoline bombs into the compound.

●The Kataib Hezbollah militia vowed to force the embassy to shut down, and protesters set up tents outside the gates as night fell.

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) When news arrived early Sunday that President Donald Trump had spoken to his Russian counterpart, it didn't come from the White House. Instead, word came from Moscow, where the Kremlin issued a brief statement saying Vladimir Putin had initiated a call to thank Trump for information provided by the United States that helped foil a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. It would be more than 24 hours before the White House officially confirmed the conversation in its own statement. The 63-word American description of the call largely echoed the Russian version, with the addition that the men discussed arms control.

"The Presidents also discussed the state of relations between the United States and Russia," the statement read. Neither side provided additional details about the information the US had provided. It's not the first time a foreign government, including the Kremlin, has gotten a jump on announcing a call with Trump. In his conversations with Putin, Trump has previously insisted upon unusual secrecy that obscured the content of their discussions even from those inside the administration -- including asking for his translator's notes back after a one-on-one meeting. Congressional investigators have tried without success to obtain more information about Trump's meeting with Putin, including going to court for records from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In December, a court ruled that the case could move forward, denying the Trump administration's request to dismiss it.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then-national security adviser John Bolton and Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Trump to release the aid, with Bolton saying it was "in America's interest," the report said.
By Dareh Gregorian

A new report revealing more of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's role in withholding aid to Ukraine — and efforts by top Trump administration officials to get that money released — is a "game changer" that shows the need for witness testimony in the president's impeachment trial, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

"This new story shows all four witnesses that we Senate Democrats have requested" were "intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump's decision to cut off aid and benefit himself," Schumer, a Democrat, told reporters in a press conference at his New York office. "Simply put, in our fight to have key documents and witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game changer." The New York Times reported Sunday that Mulvaney was flying with President Donald Trump on Air Force One in June when he emailed his senior adviser to ask, “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?”

How Trump's trade war hurt the very individuals it was supposed to help
By Igor Derysh

President Donald Trump’s trade war raised prices for consumers and hurt the manufacturing industry, according to a report from economists on the Federal Reserve Board. "The first comprehensive estimates" of the trade war’s effect on American manufacturers show that the tariffs have hurt the industry more than they helped, wrote Aaron Flaaen and Justin Pierce, two senior economists at the Federal Reserve's Industrial Output Section.

"We find that U.S. manufacturing industries more exposed to tariff increases experience relative reductions in employment as a positive effect from import protection is offset by larger negative effects from rising input costs and retaliatory tariffs," the report said. In short, the economists concluded that the tariffs gave a “small boost” to manufacturers, which was “offset by larger drags from the effects” of rising costs and retaliatory tariffs. Mother Jones summarized the main findings in a handy chart:

Trump promised to revive manufacturing with tariffs. A Federal Reserve study finds he did the opposite.
By Zeeshan Aleem

President Donald Trump has promised throughout his presidency to revive American manufacturing by putting punishing tariffs on foreign competition. But a new study from the US Federal Reserve suggests that his efforts have backfired — and that the manufacturing sector is worse off than it was before the president began his protectionist trade policy.

Economists Aaron Flaaen and Justin Pierce, who describe their study as “as the first comprehensive estimates of the effect of recent tariffs on the US manufacturing sector,” argue that the data shows that any benefits from protection from foreign competition have been more than canceled out by retaliatory tariffs from trading partners and an increase in the cost of components sourced from abroad. As a result, US manufacturing has seen job losses and higher prices for consumers.

“We find the impact from the traditional import protection channel is completely offset in the short-run by reduced competitiveness from retaliation and higher costs in downstream industries,” the authors say. The findings affirm predictions from trade economists across the political spectrum who have warned that Trump’s tariffs were more likely to damage the US economy than help it — particularly in a globalized economy, where any major departure from free trade norms comes with an array of costs.

By Melissa Quinn

Washington — Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma criticized President Trump for his tweets and language, saying he doesn't believe the president is someone who young people can look up to. "I don't think that President Trump as a person is a role model for a lot of different youth. That's just me personally," Lankford said on "Face the Nation." "I don't like the way that he tweets, some of the things that he says, his word choices at times are not my word choices. He comes across with more New York City swagger than I do from the Midwest and definitely not the way that I'm raising my kids."

Lankford is a member of a weekly prayer breakfast held in the Senate, where members of the upper chamber come together to pray, sing hymns and swap stories. The Oklahoma Republican has a masters degree in divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as the director of student ministry for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma and director of a Baptist youth camp before he was elected to Congress. Lankford said he wishes Mr. Trump were more of a role model, but acknowledged he and the president are in lockstep on areas Lankford is "very passionate about," such as abortion and religious liberty.

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