Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 18, 2020

Summer Meza
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images


Parnas communicated with Nunes aide about Ukraine, documents show

Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who worked as his envoy in Ukraine, communicated with a top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about an effort to find damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, documents released Friday night by House Democrats revealed. The evidence shows Derek Harvey, a former White House official and top aide to Nunes, communicated extensively with Parnas and sought to speak with Ukrainian prosecutors who were giving Giuliani information about Biden. Parnas has said President Trump and his associates were working to push Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Biden. The allegations are central to Trump's impeachment. Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, did not comment on the documents. [The Washington Post, NBC News]


Report: Trump impeachment defense team to include Starr, Dershowitz

President Trump has reportedly tapped former Special Counsel Ken Starr, his successor Robert Ray, and famous defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to join his impeachment defense team. Starr and Ray worked on former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, while Dershowitz was on the defense team for O.J. Simpson. They will reportedly join White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow, who will lead the defense as House impeachment managers present the case against Trump. Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial, but said he is not a "full-fledged" member of the defense. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump's personal counsel Jane Raskin will reportedly also be on the team. [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]


Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to federal prison on insider trading charges

Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced on Friday to two years in federal prison on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI. Collins, who was a New York representative since 2013 and was the first member of Congress to endorse President Trump's candidacy, pleaded guilty in October to tipping off his son to confidential information regarding an Australian biotechnology company, which allowed them to make illegal stock trades avoiding more than $700,000 in losses. At his sentencing, Collins tearfully apologized. "I stand here today a disgraced former congressman," he said. "I cannot face my constituents. What I have done has marked me for life." The 26-month sentence will begin on March 17, and will likely be served at a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida. [NBC News, The Washington Post]


Trump tweets threatening response to Iran's Khamenei calling him 'clown'

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers at the Mosella mosque in Tehran on Friday for the first time since 2012, trying to rally support among intertwined crises facing his government. He called President Trump a "clown" who is only pretending to support Iran's people, said the U.S. killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was "cowardly" and demonstrative of America's "terrorist nature," and called Iran's retaliatory missile strikes a "slap on the face" to the U.S. that "shows the hand of God" and Iran's "power." Trump responded via tweet, writing the supreme leader had "not been so Supreme lately," and criticizing his "nasty" comments about the U.S. Trump said Khamenei "should be very careful with his words!" [Reuters, Donald Trump]


11 Americans were injured in recent Iran strike

Eleven Americans were injured in Iran's recent missile strike on the Al Asad Air base in Iraq, which President Trump and the Pentagon previously said resulted in no injuries. The military confirmed Thursday that 11 Americans were treated for concussions after Iran last week struck two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops; the concussion symptoms emerged several days later. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed ... several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," said a United States Central Command spokesperson. The attack on the bases came in response to a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. CNN's Jim Sciutto said the update indicated "the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised." [The New York Times, CNN]


Harvey Weinstein trial selects a jury of 7 men and 5 women

Jury selection in the trial of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein ended Friday with seven men and five women set to serve. Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused the defense of trying to "systematically exclude" young white women. The defense, in turn, accused the prosecution of trying to exclude men from the jury, but Judge James Burke didn't accept either argument. The defense reportedly said it didn't seek to exclude young women but they "didn't want jurors who were too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s." Weinstein is facing rape and sexual assault charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin on Jan. 22. [Variety, The Hollywood Reporter]


Democrats can make February debate with 1 Iowa delegate

The Democratic National Committee announced requirements for making February's primary debate Friday, leaving the donor threshold steady at a minimum 225,000 unique donors. Candidates will also, as before, need to hit at least five percent in four qualifying national polls or seven percent in two polls of New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina voters. But there's now a third path that candidates can take to replace the poll requirement: If they win just one delegate in Iowa, they're in. This could open a path for candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who hit the donor requirement but didn't have enough qualifying polls to make January's debate. The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 3, and the next debate is Feb. 7 in New Hampshire. [The New York Times]


Fourth annual Women's March rallies demonstrators nationwide

Activists expected thousands of demonstrators to turn out across the country for the fourth annual Women's March is on Saturday. The first Women's March took place the day after President Trump's inauguration, and drew hundreds of thousands of participants. This year, the march was expected to be smaller and without the celebrity appearances of years past, in part due to criticism the march's organizers have faced regarding inclusion and diversity. The demonstration in Washington, D.C., was expected to attract up to 10,000 demonstrators.


Winter storm to blanket swaths of U.S.

A winter storm is expected to spread across much of the Midwest, Northeast and Plains regions of the U.S. through Saturday, bringing snow, ice, and frigid rain. Some areas, like parts of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, will likely face blizzard conditions, and high winds will contribute to low visibility as snow piles up. Other areas will see freezing rain and sleet — the slick conditions caused one plane at Kansas City International Airport to slide off the taxiway on Friday, leading to a closure of the airport. Most snow and most extreme conditions are expected to taper off by Sunday. [The Weather Channel]


Microsoft plans to become 'carbon negative'

Microsoft announced plans to become "carbon negative" by 2030, seeking to erase its entire carbon footprint since the company's founding in 1975 and begin removing more carbon from the environment than it emits. The company first wants to reduce emissions to zero across its entire supply chain by 2030, and then focus on eliminating all of the carbon dioxide it has ever released by 2050. Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012, achieving this through purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets. Going negative will require more technology and investment than going neutral. "Technology does exist that does this, but getting the price and the scalability to where we need it to be is a significant challenge," said Lucas Joppa, the company's chief sustainability officer. [The Verge, CBS News]