10 things you need to know today: January 26, 2020

Trump's defense wraps up first day of presentation against impeachment, Coronavirus death toll rises to 56, and more

Pat Cipollone.
(Image credit: Senate Television via Getty Images)

1. Trump's defense wraps up first day of presentation against impeachment

President Trump's defense team, led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura, and Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow, wrapped up their first day of presenting the case against impeachment Saturday. They kept things brief, finishing the day's arguments in about two hours. They focused on challenging the Democratic prosecution's case presented earlier this week. Republicans mostly responded positively to the defense's performance. The Senate will reconvene Monday at 1 p.m. as the defense continues to mount its case. The next session is expected to include direct attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in an attempt to prove that Trump was justified in seeking investigations into their actions in Ukraine.

The Washington Post Politico

2. Coronavirus death toll rises to 56

The death toll resulting from the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, increased to 56, China announced Sunday. Among the 15 most recent deaths was the first fatality from the outbreak in Shanghai. Meanwhile, 688 new cases of the respiratory virus were reported across China on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,975. A third case was confirmed in the United States, after a person in Orange County, California, tested positive. The patient is reportedly in "good condition." China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said Sunday the coronavirus is "much more" contagious than originally thought. At the same time, public health officials urged calm as the central government announced it is taking the reins from local officials in the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located.

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The Wall Street Journal The New York Times

3. Full recording of Trump ordering Ukraine ambassador's firing released by Parnas' lawyer

A recording from a donor dinner in 2018 during which President Trump orders the firing of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was released to the public Saturday. Excerpts of the tape were released earlier this week, but Joseph Bondy, the attorney for Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman who worked with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to remove Yovanovitch, unveiled the full 90-minute tape. Trump can be heard saying "get rid of her," after he's alerted that Yovanovitch had been criticizing him. The recording was reportedly made by Igor Fruman, another associate of Giuliani and Parnas. Trump can also be heard asking how long Ukraine could "last in a fight against Russia." CNN could not conclusively identify the other speakers in the recording, but Fruman and Parnas, whom Trump says he doesn't know, appear to be among them.

CNN Fox News

4. Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received a key presidential endorsement from Iowa's most significant newspaper, The Des Moines Register, with just over a week to go before the state's Democratic caucus. The Register praised Warren's stance on the economy, describing her as a capitalist who supports fair markets and measures economic success not by the stock market or unemployment rate, but "how working families are doing." Warren, said the paper, is "not the radical some perceive her to be." While the Register normally plays a crucial role in Iowa politics, it's endorsement could mean even more than usual this year, per Politico, because of the tightly contested nature of the Democratic primary. Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg all are within striking distance of a victory.

Politico The Des Moines Register

5. Biden maintains lead in latest national poll

Former Vice President Joe Biden maintained his lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, a new poll from The Washington Post and ABC News released Saturday evening shows. Among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, Biden captured 32 percent in the new survey, giving him a nine point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the only other candidate to reach double figures at 12 percent, while billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg surged into fourth place at 8 percent, followed by entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg fell to sixth, securing just 5 percent in the new poll.

The Washington Post

6. Rescue operations slow in Turkey as earthquake death toll rises to 36

Turkish rescue teams on Sunday pulled more survivors out of the rubble created by this week's magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit the eastern part of the country. The death toll now stands at least at 36 people. One mother and daughter were rescued from beneath a collapsed building where they had been trapped for 28 hours. The rescue workers reportedly worked through the night to save 45 people, and the operation is now apparently winding down. Aftershocks are reportedly continuing, 20 of them measuring at magnitude 4.0 or above. The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said 76 buildings were destroyed and more than 1,000 were damaged by the initial earthquake.

The Associated Press Reuters

7. Pompeo fires back at NPR reporter

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly berated NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly on Friday after she interviewed him about the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. After the interview, Kelly said she was summoned by a Pompeo aide to a private room where Pompeo "shouted" at her, asking if she thought "Americans care about Ukraine" and challenging her to point to the country on an unmarked map, which the well-traveled reporter was able to do. Pompeo responded to Kelly in a statement Saturday, accusing her of lying about keeping their discussion off the record and describing her conduct as an example of "unhinged" media reaction to President Trump.

The New York Times The Week

8. Major veterans group asks Trump to apologize for remarks about soldiers' injuries

Veterans of Foreign Wars, a major organization advocating for U.S. military veterans, said it "expects an apology" from President Trump in wake of remarks he made about service members who were injured in an Iranian military strike against an Iraqi military base where U.S. troops were stationed earlier this month. Trump previously said he heard some soldiers who were airlifted off the base were dealing with "headaches," which he didn't consider serious injuries. But it turned out 34 soldiers were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW's national commander, called Trump's comments "misguided" and asked that he and the White House help VFW "educate Americans" about the dangers of the brain injuries suffered by the service members.

The Guardian Stars and Stripes

9. Boeing successfully tests world's largest twin-engined plane

The world's largest twin-engined plane, Boeing's 777-9X, successfully completed its maiden voyage Saturday. The flight took off from Seattle and lasted four hours, but further tests are still in order before the 252-foot plane joins Emirates' fleet next year. The new model is a larger and reportedly more efficient version of Boeing's 777, and it's expected to go head-to-head with competitor Airbus' A350-1000 which can seat about 360 passengers. It's a rare instance of good news for the aerospace giant — Boeing has been mired in crisis since the grounding of its 737 MAX model following two fatal crashes that resulted from failures in the plane's software. Boeing is trying to get the plane re-approved, but there have been several holdups.


10. 62nd annual Grammy Awards to air Sunday night

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. E.T. on CBS. Official red carpet coverage will begin an hour earlier on Entertainment Tonight on CBS, and E! will begin its own coverage even earlier at 4 p.m. E.T. The awards ceremony will also stream live online at CBS All-Access. Alicia Keys will host this year's show, which will include performances from Aerosmith, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Demi Lovato, and Lil Nas X.

Vulture Rolling Stone

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.