November 7, 2019

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions left the Trump administration due to friction with the president, but that's all in the past — at least for one of them.

On Thursday night, Sessions announced he is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama. He served from 1997 to 2017 and was the first senator to endorse President Trump's candidacy in 2016. While serving as attorney general, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, a move that enraged Trump and was the beginning of his downfall. Last year, at the request of Trump, Sessions resigned.

During his announcement, Sessions praised Trump, admitting that while they had their "ups and downs," Trump is "doing great work for America. When President Trump took on Washington, only one senator out of 100 had the courage to stand with him: me. I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am. We must make America great again."

Trump is less than enthused that Sessions is running for Senate, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Wednesday. Trump has already called selecting Sessions as his first attorney general the "biggest mistake" of his presidency, and said the way he ran the Justice Department was "a total joke." Trump has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about ways he can attack Sessions, the Post reports, and has spent the last few days bad-mouthing his former AG to White House aides. Catherine Garcia

7:29 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday submitted his impeachment trial rules proposal, which calls for a speedy trial.

The resolution will be voted on Tuesday afternoon, and needs a majority to pass the Senate. Under his plan, each side will have 24 hours over two days for opening statements, and senators will have up to 16 hours for questions and four hours of debate. After that, a vote will be held on calling additional witnesses. If other witnesses are called, the Senate will decide if any of them testify publicly.

"Sen. McConnell's resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, adding that McConnell "is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through." This proposal shows that McConnell "doesn't want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn't want to hear any new evidence. A trial where no evidence — no existing record, no witnesses, no documents — isn't a trial at all."

Eric Ueland, the White House's legislative affairs director, said President Trump and his team are happy with the proposal, as they are "seeking an acquittal as swiftly as possible." Catherine Garcia

6:51 p.m.

Authorities estimate 22,000 gun-rights advocates attended a rally in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, to protest proposed gun control legislation.

Ahead of the event, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned people from carrying weapons at the state capitol, citing "credible intelligence" from law enforcement that white supremacists groups would attend the rally and incite violence. Some extremist groups did attend, but the rally was mostly peaceful and there were no reports of violence.

Democrats now control the Statehouse, and have been pushing for new gun regulations, including universal background checks and a ban on military-style rifles. Protesters chanted "We will not comply" and "USA!" and several spoke to reporters about why they came out for the rally. "So many people are misinformed and think you are safer because you take my guns away," participant Jay Lowe told NBC News. "My guns have never killed anybody. And I carry a lot." Catherine Garcia

12:16 p.m.

President Trump's lawyers filed a brief on Monday urging the Senate to dismiss the impeachment charges against him and calling the House's impeachment process a "perversion" of the Constitution, The Associated Press reports.

The 110-page brief calls the House's impeachment case "flimsy," insists Trump did "absolutely nothing wrong," and says he has "been the victim of an illegitimate partisan effort to take him down," The New York Times reports. The House filed two impeachment articles against Trump — abuse of power for withholding aid to Ukraine in order to pressure that country to investigate his political rivals, and obstruction of Congress for blocking the House's impeachment inquiry.

The brief "does not deny that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to open investigations into Democrats," the Times writes. Instead it argues that this was within Trump's rights as president. As to the obstruction of Congress article, the lawyers say the president has a right to confidential deliberations.

The Senate trial on Trump's impeachment begins Tuesday. He is just the third sitting president to face such a trial. The Republican-controlled chamber is unlikely to convict him. Jessica Hullinger

10:21 a.m.

Australia just can't catch a break. As wildfires continued to devastate parts of the country, a miles-long dust storm rolled across New South Wales Sunday, blotting out the sun. As CNN reports, the area has been experiencing drought since 2017, so dirt is loose and easily kicked up by high winds.

In other parts of the southeast, thunderstorms over the past two days brought hail stones the size of baseballs, bringing down trees, battering cars and buildings, and leaving thousands of people without electricity, according to The New York Times. There's also been flash flooding. And the Bureau of Meteorology says the storms could continue for another few days. Jessica Hullinger

8:29 a.m.

The number of reported cases of a pneumonia virus spreading through China jumped over the weekend, CNN reports, bringing the total to 201. On Friday, there were 62 reported cases of the illness in China. By Monday, another 139 cases had been reported, and three people had died. The virus, which originated in a wildlife market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has also spread to other countries, including South Korea, Thailand, and Japan, CNN reports.

Health authorities say the pathogen is a new strain of coronavirus, which CNN explains is "in the same family of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)." Its symptoms include fever and shortness of breath, QZ reports.

The outbreak comes as China prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Last year, CNN estimates 7 million people traveled outside the country for the occasion. South Korea has been screening travelers arriving from Wuhan for fever at Seoul's Incheon International Airport. Some airports in the U.S. are doing the same. However, CNN points out that "a new study by Imperial College London suggests the number of infections in Wuhan is likely to have been grossly underestimated."

"The detection of three cases outside China is worrying," Neil Ferguson, a disease outbreak scientist at Imperial College London, said. "We calculate, based on flight and population data, that there is only a 1 in 574 chance that a person infected in Wuhan would travel overseas before they sought medical care. This implies there might have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far." Jessica Hullinger

7:44 a.m.

Virginia officials braced for possible violence as buses packed with gun-rights advocates began arriving in the capital city of Richmond for a large Monday rally where authorities fear an outburst of violence by white supremacists, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) last week declared a state of emergency in Richmond, and temporarily barred people from carrying firearms on the grounds of the state capitol. Gun-rights advocates, who are planning a peaceful rally, challenged the ban in court, but lost. "Virginians have the right to assemble. And I believe in the right to bear arms. But what we have seen and heard in recent weeks has the potential to go far beyond these constitutionally protected rights," Northam said last week. "We are seeing threats of violence." Organizers said Monday's protests against possible new gun-control legislation could draw 50,000 people, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Harold Maass

7:38 a.m.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 to win the AFC Championship game on Sunday, earning the team its first spot in the Super Bowl in half a century, NPR noted. The Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship game. The Chiefs came back from a 17-7 deficit in the first half. Kansas City was led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He threw for three touchdowns and a total of 294 yards, including a 60-yard completion to wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the fourth quarter that helped seal the victory. "We're not done yet," Mahomes said. The 49ers earned their trip to professional football's Feb. 2 championship game with help from running back Raheem Mostert, who scored three touchdowns in the first half. Harold Maass

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