1/ Trump added celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsel Ken Starr to his Senate impeachment trial defense team. Starr investigated Bill Clinton, and Dershowitz’s past clients include Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson. The team will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, and Starr’s successor at the Office of Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration, Robert Ray. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump’s longtime personal counsel Jane Raskin will also supplement the impeachment team. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Axios)
2/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly committed to investigate allegations of surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, saying he believed the allegations would “ultimately prove wrong” but that he had an obligation to investigate the matter. Pompeo’s comments came more than 48 hours after evidence emerged that Yovanovitch was under surveillance and possibly threatened by associates of Lev Parnas – and more than 24 hours after Ukraine announced its own investigation into the matter. Pompeo added that “to the best of my recollection” he “had never heard of this at all.” (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)
📌 Day 1091: Rudy Giuliani requested a private meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky – then the president-elect of Ukraine – with Trump’s “knowledge and consent,” according to new documents released by House Democrats. The documents contains several handwritten notes, emails, encrypted messages, and text messages that show how Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, tried to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky, as well as efforts to “Get Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” The documents also show that before Marie Yovanovitch, the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. Democrats said the new records “demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president’s scheme” that has “been concealed by the president himself.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN/NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
📌 Day 1092: Ukraine opened a criminal investigation into alleged illegal surveillance of former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch by Parnas. Ukraine’s interior ministry announced the investigation citing the documents released by House Democrats, which included several WhatsApp messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Connecticut Republican who is running for a seat in Congress, that discussed monitoring Yovanovitch’s physical movements and electronic devices. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / BuzzFeed News)
Lev Parnas claimed that Trump ordered the firing of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine “at least four or five times” before her recall was publicly announced in April. Parnas also said Trump once tried to fire Yovanovitch at a dinner in a private area of a Trump hotel. (NBC News)
3/ The Trump administration proposed rolling back school nutrition standards, allowing schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving them the ability to sell more pizza, burgers, and fries to students. The stricter nutritional standards for school meals were former first lady Michelle Obama’s signature achievement. The proposal was announced on her birthday. (New York Times / Washington Post)
4/ The Trump administration is exploring making changes to an anti-bribery law. Trump has reportedly complained about a 1977 law that makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe foreign officials. “It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump said. “We’re going to change that.” (Bloomberg / The Hill)
5/ Eleven U.S. military service members were treated for concussions as a result of the Iranian missile strikes against the Iraqi bases where they were stationed. The report from U.S. Central Command contradicts earlier statements by Trump that there were no American casualties in the Jan. 8 attack. The injured troops were taken to military sites in Germany and Kuwait to undergo screening and treatment. They’re expected to return to Iraq once they are “deemed fit for duty.” (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)
6/ Trump reportedly called his top military officials “losers” and “a bunch of dopes and babies” during a July 2017 meeting at the Pentagon, according to the new book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America. Trump told the assembled brass he “wouldn’t go to war with you people” because “You don’t know how to win anymore.” After Trump walked out, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron.” (Washington Post / Military Times)
poll/ 83% of black Americans describe Trump as a racist. 65% of African Americans say it’s a “bad time” to be a black person in America. (Washington Post)
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