I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, January 7, 2020. 27 days until the Iowa caucuses. 301 days until Election Day. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Iran crisis: The latest
Breaking: The funeral of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian commander who was killed in an American airstrike last week, was postponed this morning after a deadly stampede broke out amid the massive crowd. At least 32 people were killed and 190 injured, according to the Associated Press. Hossein Salami, Soleimani's successor as leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, threatened during the procession to "set ablaze the places [Americans] like," leading to cries of "Death to Israel!" from the audience. "We will take revenge; a revenge that will be tough, strong, decisive and finishing and will make them regret," Salami declared.
➞ Trump administration officials have begun drafting sanctions against Iraq following President Trump's threat of economic penalties against the country if it moved forward with expelling U.S. troops, the Washington Post reported on Monday. "Such a step would represent a highly unusual move against a foreign ally that the United States has spent almost two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars supporting," the Post said.
➞ There was confusion on Monday about whether American troops would be leaving Iraq after the release of a letter to Iraqi officials saying the U.S. forces "respect your sovereign decision to order our departure" and would relocate. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later clarified to reporters that the letter was released on accident. "That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released," he said. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also sought to stem the confusion, stating at a news briefing: "There's been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq."
➞ Esper also contradicted President Trump at the briefing on Monday, ruling out military attacks on Iranian cultural sites after Trump's repeated threats to strike them. "We will follow the laws of armed conflict," he said. Pressed on whether that would preclude targeting cultural sites, he replied, "That's the rules of armed conflict," seeming to affirm that following through on Trump's threats would constitute a war crime.
Bolton willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial
Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would comply with a subpoena to testify during the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Bolton's surprise statement had the potential to scramble the dynamics ahead of the Senate trial, which has been delayed while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waits to transmit the articles of impeachment until the rules for the trial are clear.
➞ Bolton's testimony, which has been highly coveted by congressional Democrats, could be crucial: he played a key role at the White House during the Ukraine scandal and was known to have concerns about the matter. According to testimony from a former aide, Bolton derided the attempts by some officials to press Ukraine for investigations into Trump's political rivals as a "drug deal" and referred to the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani — who informally led the pressure campaign — as "a hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up."
➞ From the New York Times: "Former White House officials and people close to Mr. Bolton have indicated that his testimony would most likely be damning to Mr. Trump and put additional pressure on moderate Republicans to consider convicting him."
➞ When asked by reporters on Monday, no Republican senators committed to voting to subpoena Bolton during a trial, although some, such as Utah's Mitt Romney, expressed openness to having Bolton testify. "I'd like to hear what he knows," Romney said, while declining to comment on a potential subpoena vote.
➞ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called for the trial to begin and then for witnesses to be voted on after the defense and prosecution have offered their arguments, a stance that would follow precedent from the Clinton impeachment trial and has support among moderate Republicans. His Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer of New York, has urged the Senate to call four witnesses (including Bolton) at the beginning of the trial. During the trial, any witness can be called by a vote of 51 senators.
➞ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Mitch McConnell on Monday that he does not plan on running for the open Senate seat in his home state of Kansas, the New York Times and other outlets reported. Top Republicans had urged Pompeo to seek the seat, hoping to avoid the party's nomination going to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost his gubernatorial bid in 2018. Pompeo reportedly told McConnell that he needed to stay at the State Department in light of the recent events in Iran.
➞ Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (D) endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for president on Monday, days after ending his own White House bid. In a video announcement, Castro called Warren the "one candidate I see who is unafraid to fight like hell to make sure that America’s promise will be there for everyone." Warren, who led national primary polls mere months ago, has dipped in recent months and is now languishing in third place behind former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and her ideological ally Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
➞ Amy Kennedy, a member of the storied political family, announced a campaign against a party-switching New Jersey congressman on Monday. Kennedy, the wife of the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy's son Patrick (himself a former Rhode Island congressman), is joining the Democratic primary to face freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who joined the Republican Party last month after voting against the impeachment of President Trump.
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Today at the White House
--- At 2:10 p.m., President and First Lady Trump participate in a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski. At 2:40 p.m., President Trump and Vice President Pence participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mitsotakis.
Today in Congress
--- At 10 a.m., the Senate convenes. At 12:15 p.m., the chamber votes on confirmation of Jovita Carranza to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), a Cabinet-level post. Carranza, who has been the Treasurer of the United States since June 2017, previously served as the SBA's Deputy Administrator during the George W. Bush Administration. Following the vote, the Senate will recess until 2:15 p.m. to allow for weekly caucus meetings.
--- At 2 p.m., the House convenes. At 6:30 p.m., the chamber holds a quorum call to establish a quorum for the Second Session of the 116th Congress.
Today at the Supreme Court
--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conferences scheduled.
Today on the trail
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) holds fundraisers in New York City and Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. While in New York, he will also "deliver a statement on the escalating situation with Iran and the imperative need to restore respected, responsible, and dignified leadership on the world stage."
--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) visits Des Moines, Iowa, attending a black women's luncheon and a meet and greet at the home of Polk County Democratic Chair Sean Bagniewski.
--- Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) holds fundraisers in Houston and Dallas, Texas.
--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a town hall in Northfield, New Hampshire.
--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) delivers remarks at the College Convention 2020, "a quadrennial gathering of politically-engaged students and educators," in Manchester, New Hampshire, and holds a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.
--- Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) campaigns in South Carolina, visiting a barbershop in Columbia, visiting the Turning Leaf Project (an "organization that helps formerly incarcerated men complete probation and stay out of prison") in North Charleston, and participating in a "Pints & Politics" event hosted by The Post and Courier in Charleston.
--- Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) speaks at the College Convention 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) holds an event in New York City with former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who endorsed her campaign on Monday after ending his own presidential bid last week.
*All times Eastern