I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, January 8, 2020. 26 days until the Iowa caucuses. 300 days until Election Day. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com!
Iran fires on U.S. forces at two Iraqi bases
Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles against two military bases in Iraq that house American troops late Tuesday, retaliating for the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander. According to initial reports, there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the Iranian strikes.
After days of escalating tensions, both the Iranian and American governments seemed to move to instill calm in the aftermath of the missile attacks. Although the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps referred to the strikes in a statement as the beginning of their "fierce revenge," Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif declared on Twitter, "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
Huddling at the White House with his top national security advisers, President Donald Trump — who previously promised retaliation if Iran "attacks an American Base, or any American" — also delivered an understated response. "All is well!" he tweeted. "Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"
Trump also said he will be making a statement at some point this morning, although none has been scheduled. According to the New York Times, some White House aides "believed that Mr. Trump wanted to find a way to de-escalate the crisis" after the missile strikes, while "two people close to the Revolutionary Guards said that if the United States did not strike, Iran would also de-escalate."
The president's sudden switch to a conciliatory tone was a continuation of his administration's "chaotic and mistake-prone public response" to the Iran crisis, as the Washington Post put it on Tuesday. The disjointed response has included the administration's refusal to provide details of what prompted the U.S. strike that began the crisis, differing statements from Trump and his Cabinet secretaries on whether the U.S. would attack Iranian cultural sites, and the mistaken release of a Defense Department letter announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
While two Republican senators with ties to Trump — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida — referred to Iran's decision to launch the missile strikes as an "act of war" and said President Trump had the authority to strike back, congressional Democrats largely called for a measured response. "The American people do not want war with Iran," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said on the presidential campaign trail.
American and Iranians alike are now waiting to see how President Trump will respond in his televised remarks expected later today.
McConnell says he has votes to proceed with impeachment trial: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving forward on a set of impeachment trial rules without Democratic support."
"The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday that he has locked down sufficient backing from his 53-member caucus to pass a blueprint for the trial that leaves the question of seeking witnesses and documents until after opening arguments are made."
"That framework would mirror the contours of President Bill Clinton’s trial and ignore Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demands for witnesses and new evidence at the outset." (Politico)
➞ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to McConnell's announcement with a letter to colleagues saying she would not transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until McConnell publishes the rules resolution for the trial. "It is important that he immediately publish this resolution, so that, as I have said before, we can see the arena in which we will be participating, appoint managers and transmit the articles to the Senate," she wrote. Some Senate Democrats, however, called on Pelosi to end the impasse with McConnell and allow the trial to begin now that it was clear they would not be able to force a witness deal.
Prosecutors suggest prison time for Flynn: "Federal prosecutors recommended on Tuesday that President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn be sentenced to up to six months in prison for lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry, a reversal that came after he backed off his cooperation deal and began suggesting that he had not committed any crimes." (New York Times)
Trump, Bloomberg purchase dueling Super Bowl ads: "The campaigns of President Trump and billionaire Mike Bloomberg said Tuesday they have each purchased 60 seconds of ad time during the Super Bowl — pricey gestures underscoring the record spending expected in this year’s presidential race." (Washington Post)
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Today at the White House
➞ At 2:15 p.m., President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. He is also expected to deliver a statement on Iran at some point this morning.
➞ At 6:10 p.m., Vice President and Second Lady Pence participate in a reception in honor of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski at the State Department.
Today in Congress
➞ At 10 a.m., the Senate convenes. At 11 a.m., the chamber holds procedural votes advancing two nominees to be Judges of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Matthew H. Solomson and Eleni Maria Roumel, and a nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Michael George DeSombre. At 5 p.m., the Senate will vote to confirm the nominees.
➞ At 10 a.m., the House convenes. The chamber is scheduled to consider nine pieces of legislation:
- H.R. 535 – PFAS Action Act of 2019
- H.R. 3763 – Promoting United States International Leadership in 5G Act of 2019, as amended
- H.R. 5078 – Prison to Proprietorship, as amended
- H.R. 5065 – Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act
- H.R. 5130 – Capturing All Small Businesses Act of 2019
- H.R. 5146 – Unlocking Opportunities for Small Businesses Act of 2019, as amended
- H.Res. 575 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that all stakeholders in the deployment of 5G communications infrastructure should carefully consider and adhere to the recommendations of "The Prague Proposals”, as amended
- H.R. 2881 – Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, as amended
- H.R. 4500 – Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2019, as amended
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 a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.
➞ Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) holds fundraisers in Dallas, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, and a grassroots fundraising event in Denver.
➞ Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a town hall in Concord, New Hampshire.
➞ Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) addresses the New England College Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire.
➞ Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) participates in an event at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics in Chicago, Illinois.
➞ Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds town halls in Manchester and Merrimack, New Hampshire.
*All times Eastern