December 24, 2019

If you think your 2019 was bad, take comfort in knowing that even the British monarch had it rough.

In her annual Christmas video, Queen Elizabeth II reportedly acknowledges that 2019 was a "bumpy" year and emphasizes the importance of taking "small steps" to overcome differences, CNN reports.

"The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference," the queen said.

It is unclear whether the queen is speaking in general terms or whether she was singling out any personal struggles concerning the royal family. The video comes right as the queen's husband Prince Philip was released from an undisclosed four-night hospital visit, and it also follows the U.K.'s latest step in the ongoing Brexit saga.

The royal family did have their due share of scandals in 2019, with the queen's son Prince Andrew coming under scrutiny for his ties to alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and Princess Anne making headlines for her apparent mocking of President Trump at NATO.

Or, perhaps more lightheartedly, the queen is referring to bumps in the literal sense. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their son Archie, who is seventh in line to the British throne, in May 2019. Marianne Dodson

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

7:29 a.m.

President Trump has a noon deadline on Monday to submit his written defense against impeachment charges before his Senate trial gets fully underway on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Trump, only the third U.S. president to face such a trial, refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-controlled House, so the document will amount to his first comprehensive defense against the charges that he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats, and tried to obstruct the House investigation.

On Saturday, Trump's defense team called the impeachment process "a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election." House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the Trump legal team's response "errant nonsense," CBS News reports. Harold Maass

6:03 a.m.

During the most recent Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a memorable zinger when the conversation inevitably turned to the question of her electability. "Can a woman beat Trump?" Warren asked. "Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they have been in are the women. Amy [Klobuchar] and me."

It seems The New York Times took that to heart.

For the first time ever, the paper's editorial board endorsed not one but two presidential candidates on Sunday: Warren and, you guessed it, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. In its announcement, the Times appeared torn, as many voters are, between "the radical and the realist models" on display within the Democratic field. But the paper said "Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate."

While pushing back on more "radical" ideas of Warren's, "like nationalizing health insurance or decriminalizing the border," the paper's editorial board said her ideas "have matched the moment." It praised her anti-corruption legislation, along with her proposals on housing reform, energy policy, social security expansion, and childcare and education.

Meanwhile, the board called Klobuchar "a standard-bearer for the Democratic center" and applauded her long history as a lawmaker, noting she is "the most productive senator among the Democratic field in terms of bills passed with bipartisan support." The board was less enthusiastic about concerning reports about Klobuchar's management style. But otherwise it had very little criticism of her, aside from acknowledging "she has struggled to gain traction on the campaign trail."

The paper said its decision was likely to leave some readers "dissatisfied," and indeed, the blow back has already begun. You can read the entire endorsement — or rather, endorsements — at The New York Times. Jessica Hullinger

January 19, 2020

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani claims he'd "love" to be a witness in President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, reports The Hill.

Giuliani, who serves as Trump's personal lawyer, told radio talk show host John Catsimatidis: "I would love to see a trial. I'd love to be a witness — because I'm a potential witness in the trial — and explain to everyone the corruption that I found in Ukraine, that far out-surpasses any that I've ever seen before, involving Joe Biden and a lot of other Democrats."

Giuliani was allegedly involved in a push to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into Trump's political rivals, working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and pushing out former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was reportedly viewed as an obstacle in obtaining the promise of investigations.

Democrats in Congress have called for the Senate impeachment trial, set to begin arguments this week, to include additional witnesses beyond those who testified in the House inquiry. Senate Republicans have so far declined the requests. No evidence has emerged to prove any wrongdoing by Democrats in Ukraine, but Giuliani said "I have those facts. I have those witnesses. I have documents, and I have recordings. And I would love to get them out in public." Summer Meza

January 19, 2020

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday accused the National Security Agency of withholding key documents from Congress related to Ukraine that could be relevant in President Trump's impeachment trial.

Speaking to ABC News, Schiff said the NSA appears "to be succumbing to pressure from the administration," also saying "there are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course." Schiff said the documents could be important to the central allegation of Trump's impeachment: that he abused his power by withholding Ukraine military aid to push the country into announcing investigations of his political rivals.

The NSA and CIA have not commented on Schiff's allegations, reports NBC News.

Read more at NBC News and ABC News. Summer Meza

January 19, 2020

Fox News' Chris Wallace pointed out Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) updated view on witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, but Graham swore the situation is now different.

House Democrats say "evidence overwhelmingly establishes" Trump's guilt ahead of his Senate impeachment trial, set to begin arguments on Tuesday. But they want to call new witnesses to testify, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. Senate Republicans have so far denied the request.

Wallace said Graham's view that new witnesses should not appear "directly contradicts what you said as a Republican House impeachment manager in 1999 during the Clinton impeachment trial." At the time, Graham said "there may be some conflict that has to be resolved by presenting live witnesses. That's what happens every day in court and I think the Senate can stand that."

"Why were witnesses okay then, but they're over the line now?" asked Wallace.

Graham blamed the "railroad job" in the House, saying witnesses were available before the House voted to impeach Trump. "If they were that important, why didn't you call them in the House? Do you need them to make your case?" The Hill reports that in some cases, witnesses were not available or willing to testify until very recently. The White House also blocked several administration officials from appearing before the House. Summer Meza

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