10 things you need to know today: January 28, 2020

Trump's lawyers say he didn't commit an impeachable crime, Auschwitz survivors mark 75th anniversary of liberation, and more 

Leaders and survivors at Auschwitz
(Image credit: Omar Marques/Getty Images)

1. Trump lawyers argue he committed no impeachable crime

President Trump's lawyers resumed his defense in the Senate impeachment trial on Monday, arguing that nothing he did amounted to abuse of power or obstruction of the House investigation into his actions regarding Ukraine. Trump's legal team ignored a New York Times report that former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in a draft of his upcoming book that Trump last year called for suspending security aid to Ukraine until it committed to investigating Democrats, including leading 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. Robert Ray, one of Trump's lawyers, said none of Trump's conduct was impeachable because it was neither criminal nor a threat to the nation's system of government, so filing charges against him "cheapens the impeachment process."

The New York Times

2. Auschwitz survivors mark 75th anniversary of death camp's liberation

Survivors of the Nazis' Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp marked the 75th anniversary of its liberation with prayers, and warned that anti-Semitism is again on the rise across the world. "We have with us the last living survivors, the last among those who saw the Holocaust with their own eyes," Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the ceremony. About 200 camp survivors traveled to the event from as far away as Israel, Australia, and Peru. "Now I see something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, the open and brazen spread of anti-Jewish hatred," said Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress. "Do not be silent! Do not be complacent! Do not let this ever happen again — to any people!"

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The Associated Press

3. NTSB: Pilot of Bryant helicopter tried to gain altitude before crash

The National Transportation Safety Board provided an update on Monday afternoon about its investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others Sunday morning in Calabasas, California. There was heavy fog in the area, and the pilot told air traffic controllers that he was going to try to fly higher to avoid a cloud layer, the NTSB said. When controllers asked him to share more information, he did not respond. Investigators are taking a "broad look at everything" around the accident, NTSB official Jennifer Homendy said. "We look at man, machine, and the environment, and weather is just a small portion of that." The helicopter did not have a cockpit voice recorder.

The New York Times

4. Bolton report increases pressure for impeachment witnesses

Potentially key Republican senators said Monday that it might be necessary to have former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify in President Trump's impeachment trial. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said that it is "increasingly likely" that more Republicans will demand testimony from Bolton following a New York Times report that he says in his upcoming memoir that Trump last year said he was withholding congressionally approved security aid to Ukraine until its leaders agreed to investigate Democrats. The issue is at the heart of the impeachment charge that Trump abused his power. "It's important to be able to hear from John Bolton for us to be able to make an impartial judgment," Romney said.

The Washington Post

5. Report: Bolton writes he was worried Trump did favors for autocratic leaders

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in a draft of his forthcoming book that he privately told Attorney General William Barr last year that he was worried President Trump was doing favors for autocratic leaders, The New York Times reported Monday. A person familiar with the manuscript said Bolton also wrote that Barr told him the Justice Department was investigating two companies in China and Turkey, and he had his own concerns that Trump had suggested he had undue influence over the inquiries. The Times reported Sunday that Bolton also revealed Trump had said he wanted to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into political rivals. Trump has denied that link, which is central to the impeachment charges against him.

The New York Times

6. Supreme Court rules in favor of public charge rule restricting legal immigration

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday to let the Trump administration's public charge rule to take effect nationwide. The rule would restrict immigrants who are considered or could later be considered a "public charge" from gaining legal status. Lower courts had struck down the rule, which targets people attempting to legally immigrate into the U.S. by assessing if they have used public benefits such as food stamps in the past, or if they might use them after gaining legal status. The Suprme Court was split on Monday along ideological lines, with its four liberal justices dissenting from the majority opinion. The theory of a public charge rule has existed for decades, but wasn't codified until the Trump administration drew up this rule in 2017.


7. Prosecutor: Prince Andrew providing 'zero cooperation' in Epstein case

A U.S. prosecutor said Monday that Britain's Prince Andrew had provided "zero cooperation" in the investigation of alleged sex trafficking by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. The FBI and federal prosecutors reportedly contacted the prince's lawyers requesting an interview, but didn't get one. Andrew said in November that he would help "any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required." Buckingham Palace did not immediately comment on the case. The FBI is looking into whether British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and others aided in Epstein's alleged trafficking of underage girls.


8. Air Force surveillance plane crashes in Afghanistan

A U.S. Air Force surveillance plane crashed in Afghanistan's Taliban-controlled central Ghazni province on Monday. An Afghan security official said all four people on board were killed, but the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein, said he could not immediately confirm the status of the crew. "Every time I've been through this, which, unfortunately, has been a number of times, the first reports are always wrong, always wrong. So we have to make sure that we have the facts right." U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said the cause of the incident was under investigation, and there were "no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire." The Taliban claimed it downed the plane.

CNBC The Wall Street Journal

9. Authorities accuse 'Pharma Bro' Shkreli of trying to maintain drug monopoly

Federal and state officials on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing imprisoned drug entrepreneur Martin Shkreli and Vyera Pharmaceuticals of running an "elaborate anticompetitive scheme" to control the market for Daraprim, a life-saving drug. Shkreli, widely known as "Pharma Bro," is serving a seven-year sentence for securities fraud. The Federal Trade Commission and New York's attorney general are seeking to ban him from the drug industry for life, accusing him of trying to maintain a monopoly on Daraprim, which is used to treat a parasitic infection that can kill HIV/AIDS patients, after engineering a 4,000 percent price hike. He and the company "held this critical drug hostage," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. Shkreli's lawyer called the allegation "baseless."

The Associated Press

10. Journalists' association protests barring of NPR reporter from Pompeo's plane

The association of journalists covering the State Department on Monday issued a statement protesting the decision to bar NPR's diplomatic correspondent, Michele Keleman, from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's government airplane on an upcoming trip, which includes a stop in Ukraine. Journalists covering the department have "a long tradition of accompanying secretaries of state on their travels and we find it unacceptable to punish an individual member of our association," Shaun Tandon, president of the State Department Correspondents' Association, said in a statement. The State Department announced the decision on Sunday after Pompeo's outburst last week when another NPR journalist, All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, questioned him about Ukraine during an interview.

The New York Times

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.