Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 13, 2020

Pelosi defends impeachment delay and warns against Senate "cover-up," video appears to show Iranian protester shot by police, and more 

1

Pelosi prepares to end impeachment delay, warns against 'cover-up'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday signaled that she would send the Senate the two articles of impeachment against President Trump that the House passed as soon as this week. Pelosi defended her delay on transferring the charges to the Senate, saying it was necessary to call attention to the need for testimony from more witnesses, and accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of an attempted "cover-up" of Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats. But she said "any gamesmanship" by McConnell and his fellow Republicans can't change the fact that Trump is "impeached for life." Pelosi also said that if Senate Republicans refuse to call on former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify in Trump's Senate trial, the House could subpoena him for questioning.

2

Video appears to show Iranian police firing live ammunition at protesters

Videos posted online Monday appear to show Iranian police firing live ammunition and tear gas at demonstrators protesting against the government for at first denying accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, The Associated Press reported. All 176 people on board died when the jet went down shortly after taking off from Tehran. Iran later admitted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps mistakenly shot down the plane. Protests were held over the weekend, and one video shot on Sunday night shows demonstrators near Tehran's Azadi Square fleeing after a tear gas canister fell by them. Another video shows a woman being carried away as someone shouts she had been shot in the leg. Tehran's police chief, Gen. Hossein Rahimi, denied his officers fired live ammunition.

3

Defense secretary 'didn't see' specific Iran threats to embassies

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that he believed that four American embassies faced possible threats from Iran, but that he had seen no hard evidence of imminent attacks. The statement fueled questions about President Trump's description of the justification for his decision to authorize the drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad. Esper and other top administration officials sought to shift attention from the run-up to the drone strike to mounting protests in Iran, where crowds on Saturday and Sunday demanded more accountability from their own government, which initially denied, but then admitted, that Iran's military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner. Esper praised Iranians for "standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime."

4

Rocket attack wounds 4 at Iraqi base

Eight Katyusha rockets hit an Balad air base in northern Iraq on Sunday, wounding four people, the Iraqi military said. The base, which is about 50 miles north of the capital city of Baghdad, houses U.S. military personnel, but all of the wounded were members of Iraq's military. Two of the wounded were officers. There were no immediate reports of U.S. casualties. Iraqi officials did not say who was believed to have launched the rockets. Iran last week fired a barrage of missiles at two Iraqi bases that house Americans in retaliation for a drone strike ordered by President Trump that killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

5

Trump administration 'reached out' to North Korea to resume nuclear talks

White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien told Axios in an interview published Sunday that President Trump wants to resume diplomacy with North Korea, and has made overtures. "We've reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October," O'Brien said. Those working-level nuclear talks were called off before anything was agreed upon. In December, Kim warned the United States that his country would send a "Christmas gift," which many experts thought referred to a missile test. "All we know is we were told we were going to get a Christmas gift and the Christmas gift didn't come," O'Brien said. "And so I think that was an encouraging sign."

6

Chiefs advance to AFC championship with comeback win over Texans

The Kansas City Chiefs came back from 24 points behind to beat the Houston Texans 51-31 on Sunday to advance to the AFC championship game. Only three teams have won after being down by more points in a post-season game. "It was just a matter of settling down, calming the storm," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of the team's big second-quarter deficit. "I was thinking we needed to score some points." Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, last year's most valuable player, threw four touchdown passes in the second quarter, the first time anyone had thrown for so many touchdowns in one quarter in an NFL playoff game since 1987, when Doug Williams did it for the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl. Mahomes finished the game with 321 passing yards and five TDs. The Chiefs now move on to host the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans in Sunday's AFC championship game.

7

Iran's only female Olympic medalist defects

Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh, Iran's only female Olympic medalist, said Sunday that she was defecting from the Islamic republic. Alizadeh, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said she was leaving her home country because she was tired of being used as a propaganda tool in a country where women are oppressed. "I accept the pain and hardship of homesickness because I didn't want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice, and flattery," she said in Instagram posts announcing that she had left her homeland for Europe. Mahin Farhadizadeh, a deputy Iranian sports minister, said Alizadeh "always wanted to continue her studies in physiotherapy." Alizadeh is the third top Iranian athlete to stop representing the country in the last several months.

8

1917 ousts Star Wars to top box office

1917 led the weekend box office with $36.5 million in ticket sales during its first weekend in wide release, ousting Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from the top spot it held for three weeks. Director Sam Mendez's World War I film was shown on 11 screens in its first two weeks but its studio, Universal, pushed it into 3,400 over the weekend after the movie won Golden Globes for best director and best drama film. It is expected to be nominated in several categories when the Academy Award picks are unveiled on Monday. The Rise of Skywalker fell to second place, bringing in $15 million as it approached the $1 billion mark worldwide. Jumanji: The Next Level was No. 3 with $14 million in its fifth weekend.

9

Optimism rises at British financial firms after 4-year slump

Optimism rose in Britain's financial services sector for the first time in four years at the end of 2019, according to a survey released by business trade organization CBI and consultants PwC on Monday. The quarterly survey of 94 banks, insurers, and investment firms had not shown an uptick in optimism since June 2016, when British voters approved the country's departure from the European Union. "An uptick in hiring, investment in systems, and better profit expectations for the first three months of the year are driving the positivity in the sector, following the general election," said Andrew Kail, PwC's head of financial services. Last year's early elections gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson the solid majority he needed to deliver on his promise to "get Brexit done."

10

Serena Williams wins her 1st tennis title in 3 years

Serena Williams won the ASB Classic in New Zealand on Sunday, beating fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4. It was her first title since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open, and the first since the birth of her daughter, Olympia. "It feels good. It's been a long time," Williams said. The tennis superstar donated her $43,000 in prize money to the fundraising effort for victims of Australia's devastating wildfires. Several other tennis players, including Ashleigh Barty, Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic, and Maria Sharapova, have pledged donations to victims of the ongoing wildfire emergency. Pegula, 25, was playing in her third Women's Tennis Association final.

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