December 12, 2019

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) urged Republicans to mount a "substantive" defense of President Trump's conduct, rather than focus on "farcical process arguments," at Thursday's impeachment hearing.

The House Judiciary Committee met Thursday to debate the two articles of impeachment against Trump, which the committee is set to vote on. Republicans during the hearing criticized the process of the impeachment inquiry, with Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) saying "the rules have been thrown out the window here in this process" while slamming the "closed-door hearings in the basement" held by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). She also objected to the fact that "I was denied several times, several times, the right to go in and hear what these fact witnesses said."

Neguse followed her by criticizing process arguments like these and encouraging the committee's members to remain focused on the substance of the allegations against Trump.

"It is difficult to follow some of these arguments," Neguse said. "I've heard very little in the way of any substantive defenses of the president's conduct, but instead focus, again, on some very farcical process arguments, in my view."

Neguse specifically responded to Lesko's complaints about Democrats' closed-door hearings, saying Republicans did attend them and that transcripts were released.

"Let's dispense with these process arguments and get to the substance of why we are here today," he added. Brendan Morrow

12:53 p.m.

It's not unusual for China to conduct military flights between the southern part of Taiwan — which it claims as its territory — and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reports. In fact, the flights have occurred on a daily basis in recent months. But what happened Saturday does appear out of the ordinary.

Eight nuclear-capable Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan's air defense identifications zone, Taiwan's defense ministry said. Normally, China deploys just one or two reconnaissance aircraft at a time, so Saturday's event was somewhat startling. Taiwan's air force was able to warn the aircraft away and deployed missiles to monitor them.

While there's been no word from Beijing yet, the seemingly aggressive move comes at a time when tensions between China and the United States are rising, with Washington's strengthening support for Taiwan playing a significant role. The Trump administration, which left office last week, was particularly committed to a closer relationship with Taiwan, and the Biden administration doesn't appear likely to reverse course on the issue, at least not drastically. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

11:51 a.m.

Former President Donald Trump worked with a Justice Department lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, on a plan to oust former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and have Clark replace him, The New York Times reports. The strategy reportedly stemmed from the fact that Rosen had rebuffed Trump's pleas to use the Justice Department's power to cast doubt on and ultimately overturn Georgia's presidential election results, though it likely would have been unsuccessful in achieving the latter goal.

Regardless, Trump reportedly held a meeting that two officials compared to an episode of The Apprentice because he had Rosen and Clark — who denies devising any plan to oust Rosen — make their separate cases to him. Rosen eventually won out after nearly three hours, the Times reports, largely due to an informal pact among other Justice Department officials who unanimously decided to resign should Rosen get dismissed. In addition to potential chaos at the Justice Department, though, Trump was also reportedly swayed by the idea that firing Rosen could lead to congressional investigations and recriminations from other Republicans. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

10:53 a.m.

Russian police have reportedly detained more than 1,000 people across the country who took to the streets in support of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, a top rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was detained last week when he returned to Moscow from Berlin, where he had spent months recovering from a poisoning allegedly carried out by Russia's FSB spy agency. He was handed a 30-day jail term.

Among those reportedly detained at Saturday's rallies was Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who had previously said she's been under surveillance since her husband's arrest. She posted a picture of herself inside a police van to her Instagram account, while CNN reports a video on social media shows her being stopped by officers at the entrance to a metro station in Moscow and led to the van. Lyubov Sobol, a prominent activist and lawyer for Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, was also reportedly detained, per Deutsche Welle.

The demonstrations began in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and spread west throughout the day, with protesters in some cities bracing frigid temperatures.

Reuters estimates 40,000 people gathered in central Moscow, where mass arrests reportedly began before the protest officially started, DW reports.

Still, the demonstrators remained on the street for what it appears to be one of the largest anti-Putin rallies in years. Read more at Deutsche Welle and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

8:42 a.m.

Larry King, the longtime radio and television broadcaster, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his production studio and television network, Ora Media, announced. He was 87. No cause of death was given, but CNN previously reported that King had been hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month.

King is perhaps best-known for his 25-year run hosting CNN's nightly Larry King Live, which ran from 1985 to 2010, though he continued working after that.

The Associated Press estimates King conducted somewhere around 50,000 on-air interviews, which included guests from all walks of life. Per AP, he claimed he never prepared for his interviews, delivering them in a non-confrontational style that "relaxed his guests," many of whom reportedly sought out his show because of his "middle-of-the-road" stance. The statement from Ora Media said King "always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and the audience." Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

8:13 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday night set the timeline for former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

As expected, the House will send over the article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection Monday at 7 p.m. ET. Senators will then be sworn in as members of the impeachment court on Tuesday, and then House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team will spend several days drafting their legal briefs while the Senate will continue with non-impeachment business before both sides begin their presentations the week of Feb. 8.

The GOP seems pleased with the scheduling agreement. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who opposes impeachment, said it's "fair to all concerned," and a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who seems open to voting to convict Trump, called it a "win for due process ... especially given the fast and minimal process in the House." Read more at CBS News and Axios. Tim O'Donnell

January 22, 2021

COVID-19 is spreading among the National Guard troops sent to protect the Capitol.

About 26,000 Guard members from every state were sent to the Capitol area after Trump supporters' Jan. 6 attack, and many have remained to protect the area in the week after President Biden's inauguration. Close to 200 of those soldiers have since tested positive for COVID-19, defense officials tell The Wall Street Journal. Hundreds more are quarantining in hotel rooms after being exposed to the virus, Politico reports.

Guard members who arrived in the days before the inauguration lined the halls of the Capitol to sleep between their 12-hour shifts. They didn't get coronavirus tests before arriving, one Guard member told Politico, saying "right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this." And things got worse Thursday as Guard members were told to set up their base camps outside the Capitol complex — and take their breaks outside too — after Capitol Police seemingly removed them from the grounds. Dozens were relegated to rest in a parking garage Thursday night, packed close to rest once again.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent Thursday night and Friday morning pointing fingers over the garage situation and offered up their offices for naps. Biden apologized to National Guard Bureau head Daniel R. Hokanson in a Friday call, and first lady Jill Biden dropped off some cookies. The Guard members have since been allowed back inside the Capitol, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) did call his troops back home. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 22, 2021

Tom Brokaw is signing off at NBC.

The 80-year-old veteran journalist announced Friday he's retiring from NBC News after 55 years with the network, CNN and Deadline report.

"During one of the most complex and consequential eras in American history, a new generation of NBC News journalists, producers and technicians is providing America with timely, insightful and critically important information, 24/7," Brokaw said. "I could not be more proud of them."

Brokaw served as NBC Nightly News anchor for 22 years, from 1982 to 2004. He first joined NBC in 1966, according to CNN, and the network noted in a press release he "has spent his entire journalism career with NBC News" after getting his start in its Los Angeles Bureau.

Brokaw in 2018 faced allegations of sexual harassment from two women, which he denied. He has been continuing to serve as a special correspondent for the network. NBC says Brokaw "will continue to be active in print journalism, authoring books and articles, and spend time with his wife, Meredith, three daughters and grandchildren."

NBC News' Kasie Hunt paid tribute to Brokaw on Friday, writing, "I'm still in awe I had the chance to learn from him and am so incredibly grateful for the interest he took in my career and the advice he gave so freely," while CNN's Brian Stelter described this as the "end of an NBC News era." Brendan Morrow

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