September 24, 2019

Counting President Trump's mentions of China is just like counting sheep for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Trump's speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday was uncharacteristically dulcet, with the president speaking in a complete monotone as he lambasted a handful of other countries. And as CNBC and several camera angles revealed, it was enough to put Ross to sleep for about half of Trump's 35-minute speech.

Ross' Tuesday performance is nothing new. The 81-year-old has reportedly been falling asleep at meetings since he took office, and, worse yet, usually ends up drooling. Fox News hosts, on the other hand, disagreed with Ross' review. Kathryn Krawczyk

UPDATE SEPT 25, 9 A.M. ET: Ross responded with the following: "I wear hearing aids and, during President Trump’s inspiring speech, which covered in detail the entire range of significant issues facing the world, was concentrating on what was being said." He then detailed his forthcoming schedule of U.N. meetings and worldwide travel.

9:32 a.m.

President Trump is about to attend the yearly anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

Trump on Friday will speak at the rally that occurs annually to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, drawing demonstrators who call for the decision legalizing abortion nationwide to be overturned. According to March for Life, Trump will be the first sitting American president to ever attend the event, which was first held in 1974.

Past presidents have addressed the March for Life rally, but not in person; former Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan spoke to demonstrators via telephone, CNN reports. Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also both previously attended the March for Life, and Pence became the first sitting vice president to attend in 2017, The New York Times reports.

Although he hasn't attended in person before, Trump, who once described himself as "very pro-choice," has supported the March for Life in past years and in 2018 became the first president to deliver a video address to the rally, according to the Times.

The Washington Post notes that Trump's decision to attend the March for Life this year "comes as he has sought to consolidate support from evangelicals in his reelection campaign amid signs that a portion of his conservative base has been troubled by his conduct." Past Republican presidents generally haven't attended in person, The Associated Press writes, "to avoid being too closely associated with demonstrators eager to outlaw" abortion.

Trump is expected to speak between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, the Post reports, shortly before Democrats' opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial will resume. Brendan Morrow

8:30 a.m.

Taylor Swift is opening up about her struggle to overcome an eating disorder after premiering a revealing new documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.

The new Netflix film about the pop star, Miss Americana, had its Sundance premiere on Thursday, and Variety reports it highlights Swift's past struggle with an eating disorder.

"I thought that I was supposed to feel like I was going to pass out at the end of a show, or in the middle of it," Swift says in the film.

Swift explains that she used to list everything she ate and constantly exercised until she was down to a size double-zero, BBC News reports. She also says that there were times when she would see a "picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or ... someone said that I looked pregnant ... and that'll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating."

But now, Swift says she tells herself, "Nope. We don't do that anymore. We do not do that anymore because it's better to think you look fat than to look sick," per The Los Angeles Times.

Swift further opened up about her struggle in an interview with Variety, explaining she was unsure whether she wanted to talk about it in the documentary. But director Lana Wilson told Variety, "every woman will see themselves in that sequence. I just have no doubt."

Miss Americana, which also delves into Swift's decision to become politically outspoken in recent years, will debut on Netflix on Jan. 31. Brendan Morrow

7:44 a.m.

The House Democratic impeachment prosecutors have one more day to convince the Republican-controlled Senate that President Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — or at least that four Republicans should join the 47 Democrats to subpoena evidence and witnesses Trump blocked from House investigators. The three most plausible GOP defectors are Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), but both parties are closely watching Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Politico reports.

Trump, who opposes witnesses, has both carrots and sticks to offer wavering Republicans. One Trump confidante told CBS News that GOP senators have been warned: "Vote against the president, and your head will be on a pike."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warning his colleagues that subpoenaing former National Security Adviser John Bolton and other witnesses "could indefinitely delay the Senate trial" with "a protracted and complex legal fight over presidential privilege," an argument amplified Wednesday in a Senate GOP briefing by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. That legal quagmire rationalization appears to resonate with Murkowski and other Republicans — though it's unlikely a subpoena signed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court after being approved by a majority of the Senate could be contested in court.

Trump has also been "rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment" by helping them raise campaign cash, "and sending a message to those who don't to get on board," Politico reported in October. And Trump, U.S. Chamber of Commerce strategist Scott Reed noted, "has the ability to turn on the money spigot like no one else."

Impeachment isn't like any other trial — which is good for Trump. Because in a normal trial, appearing to bribe or threaten jurors is frowned upon. Peter Weber

5:55 a.m.

Willie Nelson notwithstanding, it is still illegal to use or possess marijuana in Texas. But Texas legalized hemp last year, and the inability of police to differentiate between legal hemp and illegal weed has thrown marijuana prosecution into chaos statewide. So on Thursday night, Austin effectively decriminalized small amounts of pot for personal use in a unanimous 9-0 city council vote. The only objection to the resolution during the preceding 90-minute debate came from the head of the Austin Police Association, Ken Casaday.

Austin's resolution does not change state law, but it brings the city "as close as possible to eliminating enforcement action for low-level cannabis possession," The Texas Tribune reports. The city council prohibited the Austin Police Department from spending city funds on testing to determine if cannabis has a prohibited amount of THC, something that currently requires sending samples to private labs. Police can test the cannabis in felony cases but not misdemeanors, or if there is a safety concern.

Prosecutors in Austin's Travis County and elsewhere in Texas are refusing to litigate misdemeanor marijuana cases without a lab report proving the confiscated cannabis is marijuana, not hemp, but Austin Police were still arresting or citing people for suspected marijuana possession. Peter Weber

5:05 a.m.

"Today was the third day of testimony in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. And while the Democratic House prosecutors have laid out "a detailed description of perhaps the greatest abuse of power ever by a U.S. president," they're also "trying to keep it simple." For example, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) "tried to explain why crime is bad" using "the A-B-C's of high crimes and misdemeanors," he said, inspired: "Let me try a simple one! The impeachment 1-2-3s: Trump never 1 the popular vote, he's 2 corrupt to have the job, and 3 years is really enough."

House prosecutors "went through a mountain of evidence today — very compelling, very damning evidence," Jimmy Kimmel recapped at Kimmel Live. "It's nuts, they have everything, this is open-and-shut — which is a problem for Fox News," which "instead of even trying" to defend Trump is just "going with the old 'it's boring' defense." He countered that it would be very exciting to see what it takes to drag Trump from the Oval Office: "I mean, don't you want to remove him just to see that?"

The Late Show had a theory about why some senator-jurors are so restless.

Sitting quietly "for one lousy day" is "not hard — it's irritating, but it's not hard," Late Night's Seth Meyers chided senators. Meanwhile, Trump keeps "providing more evidence that he's a criminal who's unfit for office," bragging during a press conference "that his side was winning the trial because he was hiding all of the evidence from House prosecutors."

Trump also said "he wishes he could be at that impeachment trial to look his accusers in the face," The Daily Show's Trevor Noah laughed, agreeing with the idea, "because if he's locked up in a room for 12 hours at a time, he wouldn't have time to be doing things like" gutting protections for clean water. "Huh, that's a weird coincidence: A new rollback on water protections will benefit real estate developers," he deadpanned. "And it was passed by a real estate developer who hasn't drank water since the '70s — what are the odds? Why do I feel like all of Trump's policies really just him trying to help himself? Like I wouldn't be shocked if we find out the real reason Trump killed Soleimani was because he gave Trump's hotel one star on Yelp." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:12 a.m.

The House impeachment prosecutors spent their second of three days of arguments at President Trump's Senate trial making their case that Trump abused his power and the Constitution and must be removed from office for those abuses. To help make their case, the Democratic managers used video clips to make virtual witnesses of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of Trump's legal team, and the president's hand-picked FBI director, attorney general, former top Russia advisers, and former homeland security adviser.

It was, in other words, "Trolling Day at the Trump trial," writes Susan Glasser at The New Yorker. But in prebutting the Trump legal team's telegraphed defense that Trump did nothing wrong, much less impeachable, the Democrats' "best witnesses ... were all the president's men," not "#NeverTrump Republicans or Democrats. They were senior officials in the Trump Administration. It was devastating."

But after two days of sitting down and listening for hours at a time, the senator-jurors were getting increasingly restless, flouting rules against leaving the chamber, talking to colleagues, and using electronic devices during the House impeachment managers' presentations. So the managers threw in some jokes. "Well, you've got to give Donald Trump credit for this: He has made a religious man out of Vladimir Putin," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said at a one point. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also got a laugh after suggesting the Senate might at least subpoena the Baseball Hall of Fame to figure out which one person voted against Derek Jeter.

You can watch highlights of the eight-plus hours of arguments, collected by PBS NewsHour.

The Democratic impeachment managers have eight hours left to present their case on Friday, then Trump's team starts its rebuttal on Saturday morning. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is seriously contemplating endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden, several Democratic officials with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.

Harris dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race in December, and although she sparred with Biden during debates last summer — most famously when she criticized him for once opposing school busing — they are back on good terms and talk often, the officials said.

She likely won't announce an endorsement until after President Trump's Senate impeachment trial is over, the Times reports, and she understands the importance of her decision, especially since two of her fellow female senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — are also still in the presidential race.

Biden has said he "of course" would consider asking Harris to join his ticket if he is the Democratic nominee. By giving him an endorsement, it could secure her spot as his running mate — or, if he chooses someone else to be vice president, his administration's attorney general. Catherine Garcia

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