1/ Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the “flimsy” impeachment charges against Trump and that he “should immediately be acquitted” because of a “rigged process” by House Democrats. In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before Trump’s trial begins, Trump’s lawyer dismissed the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – against Trump as a “charade” that is “frivolous and dangerous,” claiming the charges are “constitutionally invalid” and “deficient on their face” because they don’t involve any violations of law. The legal team maintained that Trump did “absolutely nothing wrong” and is the victim of a “brazenly political act by House Democrats.” The brief came after the seven House managers argued that Trump’s behavior amounted to “the Framers’ worst nightmare” and that his actions present a “danger to our democratic processes.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Axios / CNN)

  • 👉 The Senate impeachment trial is set to begin tomorrow with Republicans and Democrats setting the rules for the trial. The trial will start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET, running six days a week, and ending daily between 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. ET. (CNN)

  • Mitch McConnell is preparing a resolution that would give Trump’s lawyers the option to move to dismiss the impeachment charges. However, Republican Senate leaders – including McConnell – have already said members aren’t interested in a vote to dismiss. (Axios)

  • READ: The 110-page legal brief outlining Trump’s defense ahead of his impeachment trial in the Senate. (NBC News)

2/ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused the White House of pressuring the NSA and CIA of withholding documents about Ukraine from Congress. “The NSA in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial,” Schiff said, adding that there “are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course.” An Intelligence Committee official later confirmed that “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin.” (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

3/ House Democrats released a third set of documents from Lev Parnas showing Devin Nunes was involved in efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Biden. The text messages between Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Nunes, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the months-long effort directed by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to obtain information from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to Biden. Nunes initially denied knowing Parnas but has since admitted that the two had spoken after phone records showed several calls between the two. The documents also included screenshots of text messages that appear to show Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, messaging with a number from Belgium, describing the apparent surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. (Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 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)

poll/ 51% of Americans say the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office, while 45% say the Senate should vote against conviction and removal. 69% say that the trial should include testimony from new witnesses who did not testify in the House impeachment inquiry. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump recounted the minute-by-minute details of the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani during remarks to Republican donors at Mar-a-Lago. Trump claimed that Soleimani was “saying bad things about our country” before the strike, which led to his decision to authorize his killing. Trump didn’t, however, describe an “imminent threat” to U.S. interests or four U.S. embassies – the justifications used by administration officials following the attack. Instead, Trump described Soleimani as a “noted terrorist” who was “the father of the roadside bomb” responsible for “every young, beautiful man or woman who you see walking around with no legs, no arms.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  2. The U.S. intelligence community is trying to persuade House and Senate lawmakers to drop the public portion of a briefing on global security threats so agency chiefs aren’t on-camera disagreeing with Trump on Iran, Russia, or North Korea. Last year’s session provoked an angry outburst from Trump. (Politico)

  3. The White House official responsible for Russia and Europe policy was put on indefinite administrative leave pending a “security-related investigation.” Andrew Peek, the third person to occupy the job in the last year, was escorted off the White House grounds on Friday. (Axios / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

  4. Trump’s third homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser is expected to be reassigned after about six months in the job. Rear Admiral Peter Brown is likely to take on a new role overseeing Puerto Rico’s recovery from hurricane damage and recent earthquakes. (Bloomberg)

  5. Trump lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after polling showed the public trusts Democrats more than Republicans on health care and drug pricing. During a meeting with his political affairs team, Trump made an impromptu call to Azar, saying he regrets getting involved in that “fucking vaping thing” and that Azar is “not getting it done” and needs to “hurry up” on getting drug prices lowered. (Axios / Politico / Washington Post)

  6. The National Archives blurred signs held by protesters during the 2017 Women’s March that were critical of Trump. The Archives said the decision to obscure the words was “so as not to engage in current political controversy.” The photograph is part of an exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  7. Trump made 81 false claims last week and – three years after taking the oath of office – has made 16,241 false or misleading claims. In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he made 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 false claims. (CNN / Washington Post)

👋 Today marks the start of Season Four of the Trump administration. I started this as a personal project to keep track of what was going on while becoming a better consumer of political news. It quickly turned into my full-time job, because, as it turns out, a lot of other people also wanted to be better news consumers. So this is my full-time job and I plan to keep doing this for as long as you keep supporting me. So, if you find my work valuable, please consider becoming a supporting member so I can continue to tell you wtf just happened today. –MATT


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