May 16, 2019

Republican and Democratic lawmakers warned President Trump on Wednesday "to avoid plunging the United States into another Iraq-like war in the Middle East, demanding more information about vague warnings that Iran might be planning attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in the region," Politico reports. Trump himself is "frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars," The Washington Post adds.

America's European allies are unconvinced by the Trump administration's warnings about new, credible threats from Iran. And the Pentagon uniformly backs deterrence over military conflict with Iran, the Post reports.

But at least one member of Congress appears to believe the warnings from Trump's top Iran hawks, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and it's former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). In a classified briefing Wednesday, Cheney "argued that the intelligence warranted an escalation against Iran," the Post reports, citing a person with knowledge of the briefing. "In response, Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.) accused her of exaggerating the threat in what the person described as a 'very heated exchange.'"

A Cheney spokesman told the Post that the congresswoman "will never comment on classified briefings and believes that any member or staffer who does puts the security of the nation at risk," and a Moulton representative declined to comment on the exchange. Moulton, a Iraq War vet who is running for president, did comment on the overall situation, though, saying "this is chicken hawks trying to drag us into a war with Iran just like they did 15 years ago in Iraq." One of the chief proponents of invading Iraq, of course, was Dick Cheney. Peter Weber

5:37 a.m.

"Three years ago today, this country took on an extraordinary challenge, and that challenge was to answer the question: Can democracy survive the worst person on Earth?" Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, celebrating the third anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. "And so far, the answer is: Barely."

"The moment Donald Trump put his hand on the Bible and swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, that was his first official lie as president," Kimmel said. "And he just kept going from there. According to The Washington Post, since taking office, Trump has racked up more than 16,000 false or misleading claims," including an average of 22 a day in 2019. To put that in perspective, he said, Trump's 16,241 documented falsehoods are "more than 7,000 more lies than there are visible stars in the night sky," or a pancake stack as high as the Empire State Building.

"It's three years of Donald Trump, which is a lot — it's too much, really," Kimmel said. "So much has transpired over the last 1,000-plus days, and tonight we decided to pay tribute to remember the highlights of these three years under our president, Donald Trump." Needless to say, these are not the clips Trump's campaign will use in his re-election ads or convention highlight reel.

The Daily Show also took a look back at Trump's three years in office, but with more of a toddler-in-chief vibe — and a snappier soundtrack. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:51 a.m.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer most famous for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was arrested in California last week and transferred over the weekend to New York's federal Manhattan Correctional Center to face charges of extortion and embezzlement, his lawyers told a federal court on Monday. In fact, lawyer Scott Srebnick wrote, Avenatti is being housed, for reasons that are unclear, in the MCC's "Special Housing Unit on the notorious 10-South," the "most secure secure floor in the entire facility," in "a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses."

Not only is Avenatti being held in the freezing cell that once housed notorious Mexican drug trafficker and escape artist Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Srebnick said, but he's on 24-hour solitary confinement with a guard and two cameras keeping watch on him from outside his cell 24 hours a day. MCC appears to have learned from the suicide of another recent inmate, Jeffrey Epstein, as Srebnick alludes to in his filing.

Srebnick asked for the court's help in finding out why Avenatti is under such strict lockdown and in getting him moved to regular incarceration amid the general population of MCC, saying the current conditions are hindering Avenatti's participation in his defense case. Peter Weber

3:59 a.m.

In 1998, when the Senate held an impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz argued that "if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime" to impeach. Now that he's part of President Trump's defense team, he argues that "without a crime, there can be no impeachment." Anderson Cooper asked Dershowitz about the apparent discrepancy between those views on CNN Monday night.

Dershowitz said he still believes you don't need a "technical crime," just "criminal-like behavior akin to bribery and treason." He said his argument is consistent, and when Cooper pointed out it isn't, he insisted he "wasn't wrong" in 1998, he just has "a more sophisticated basis for my argument now." Cooper wasn't persuaded by Dershowitz's logic and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin didn't agree with his legal argument that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress aren't impeachable offenses.

"What is clear is that Alan was right in 1998 and he's wrong now," Toobin said. "The idea that you can only impeach a president for criminal or criminal-like behavior is absurd on its face." Dershowitz disagreed and insisted again he hasn't changed his views. "I wasn't wrong, I'm just far more correct now than I was then," he said. "And I think your viewers are entitled to hear my argument without two bullies jumping on everything I say."

Cooper also spoke with Dershowitz's former Harvard Law colleague Lawrence Tribe, who said Dershowitz is clearly wrong and, sadly, appears to be "selling out, I don't think for money but just for attention." He "was a great teacher," Tribe added and "he's perfectly entitled to defend the president, although I don't like that he pretends he's defending the Constitution instead of the president. He's not the Constitution's client."

On MSNBC, former federal prosecutor Maya Wiley agreed that Dershowitz is dangerously "wrong" while anti-Trump conservative Rick Wilson compared Dershowitz to "a prank character on a reality TV show" spouting "performative B.S." on cable news to make his client happy. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:26 a.m.

Over the weekend, House impeachment managers laid out their case that President Trump was "the Framers' worst nightmare" and should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "In response, the president's lawyers say that abuse of power is not impeachable. Yes it is! It's the most powerful job in the world! That's why abuse of power is the thing a president is not supposed to do."

"With his presidency on the line, Trump is turning to his favorite legal scholar: television," Colbert said. Among the TV lawyers Trump hired is Alan Dershowitz, whose list of past clients is ... notable. Colbert turned on his Trump voice: "Get me Dershowitz! I'm exactly as innocent as Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson — but Jared, just in case, gas up the Bronco." Dershowitz is going on TV arguing Trump's technically-it-wasn't-a-crime impeachment defense, and Colbert played his exact opposite argument in Bill Clinton's impeachment, plus a doozy of a Dershowtiz quote from Richard Nixon's impeachment.

Trump's "all-star defense team" does include Dershowitz, who's past clients also include Claus von Bülow and Harvey Weinstein, "so he definitely has a type," Jimmy Kimmel deadpanned at Kimmel Live. But "Trump summoned all the ghosts of impeachments past, including Kenneth Starr, who led the case against Clinton and was attacked for it by a number of high-profile people," including Trump.

"Rudy Giuliani will not be on the Trump legal team, but he claims he wants to testify," though "Senate Republicans don't want any witnesses, and they're limiting press access," Kimmel said. "These guys really are something: They don't want witnesses, they don't want new evidence, they don't want reporting, and they don't want people watching — it's almost like they have something to hide. But what could that be? The phone call was 'perfect.'"

Trump is "desperately trying to soothe his ego and pretend he doesn't know the key players in the scandal," but he "knows that ultimately, in the eyes of history, it won't matter whether Republicans successfully rig his impeachment trial to let him off the hook," Late Night's Seth Meyers argued. "No matter what, he will be only the third president in history to face such a trial, and it follows him forever, especially as more damning evidence emerges." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m.

Alyssa Nakken is making history as the first woman to become a full-time coach in Major League Baseball.

Last week, it was announced that Nakken has been hired as an assistant under San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler. Not only will she coach, but Nakken will also "focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promote high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team," Kapler said in a statement.

Nakken was a softball star at Sacramento State, playing first base. By the time she graduated in 2012, she was in the top 10 for most home runs and runs scored in team history. Nakken joined the Giants in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations, and worked her way up; recently, she spearheaded health and wellness initiatives and worked to promote diversity within the organization, ABC 10 reports. Catherine Garcia

1:14 a.m.

Rudy Giuliani is "heartbroken" over recent comments made by his former associate Lev Parnas, who says he worked closely with Giuliani in Ukraine as part of an attempt to find damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Speaking to Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night, Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, said he was once "close to" Parnas, but was "misled by him." In October, Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman were arrested and charged with campaign finance violations. Last week, Parnas made several public accusations against Giuliani, President Trump, and Attorney General William Barr, implicating all of them in the Ukraine scheme that is central to Trump's impeachment.

While Fruman did not cooperate with House impeachment investigators, Parnas did, turning over documents and other materials. Parnas said while he was in Ukraine trying to find dirt on the Bidens, he "wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani and the president." Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, refuted this, saying Parnas "in very large part did not tell the truth" and "lied stupidly."

Giuliani told Ingraham he would not discuss all of Parnas' accusations, but did deny ever talking about his Ukraine investigation with Barr and said Parnas' account of a meeting during a 2018 White House Hanukkah party was a lie. In November, CNN reported that Parnas told two people close to him that during the celebration, Trump let Parnas and Fruman know he wanted them to go on a "secret mission" to Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Giuliani said this was "absolutely untrue," as they were never pulled into a private meeting.

Parnas posted a photo taken at the party on social media, showing him posing with Trump, Giuliani, Fruman, and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump has repeatedly denied knowing Parnas; Parnas has promised to keep releasing pictures of the two of them together. Catherine Garcia

12:29 a.m.

The Senate will vote Tuesday on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-K.Y.) proposed rules for President Trump's impeachment trial. If they approve the rules, the senators will be voting for some very late nights at the office.

McConnell's rules allow 24 hours for opening arguments over two sessions. If Trump's team and the House Democratic impeachment managers use all their time, it "could push testimony past midnight," The Washington Post reports. That would be a long time for senators to sit quietly without checking their phones, assuming they show up for the trial, but arguably worse for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

After the opening arguments, senators would have 16 hours to question Trump's team and the House managers, then four hours to debate whether to allow witnesses and new evidence — and then, whether to allow the House's impeachment documents to be admissible as evidence. That's "a key difference from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton," the Post notes. "Though the material will be printed and made available to senators, it won’t be automatically admissible unless a majority of senators approve it."

All this may be a moot point, though, because McConnell's rules also allow Trump's team to move to dismiss the charges at any time after the rules are adopted, so 51 senators could end the trial right away. Fox News congressional reporter Chad Pergram isn't impressed.

University of Texas constitutional law professor Steve Vladeck suggests McConnell might not have had impartial justice in mind.

"All 53 Republican senators are expected to support the rules as written by McConnell," the Post reports. Peter Weber

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