January 3, 2020

Congressional leaders have reached an impeachment standoff.

The House passed both articles of impeachment against President Trump last month, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has since refused to hand them to the Senate until it agrees to hold "fair" trial. And in a Friday Senate floor speech, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) essentially said that's not going to happen.

To start, McConnell dispelled the "fantasy" that Pelosi would get to "hand-design the trial proceedings in the Senate" as a "non-starter." After all, McConnell said, the oath of "impartial justice" lawmakers take before an impeachment trial "has never meant that senators check all political judgment at the door." "Impeachment is not a narrow legal question, but a political one as well," McConnell continued.

McConnell did acknowledge that "it's the Senate's turn now to render sober judgment as the framers intended." "But we can't hold a trial without the articles," McConnell continued. And if Pelosi won't send them on without the promise of a fair process, well, it looks like they'll be stuck in the House for a while to come. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:22 p.m.

The Senate's impeachment trial of President Trump is underway, but it's already received a last-minute rule change.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday unveiled the proposed impeachment trial rules, under which each side would have 24 hours over two days for opening arguments. This proposal quickly drew criticism from Democrats, as it could see sessions stretching past midnight, beyond the point where most people would be able to watch.

But this rule was modified Tuesday with a proposal under which opening arguments for each side would still last 24 hours, but over three days rather than two, NBC News reports. This would see the Senate's sessions wrapping up around 9 p.m rather than after midnight, and it could extend the length of the trial by two days, Politico notes. CNN's Kevin Liptak reports this change apparently came together quite quickly, as the resolution received a handwritten update.

But although Democrats were critical of the rules, CNN reports the changes were actually "the result of concerns from moderate Republicans." A spokesperson for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) confirmed to NBC that she was among these Republicans who complained, saying, "She thinks these changes are a significant improvement." Another rule change allows for evidence to be submitted automatically unless there are objections.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins further reports that the White House pushed for the two-day timetable, as "officials were concerned they may not get to make their full arguments this week with the 3-day period." These White House officials, Collins reports, "think it's better if all their arguments are made consecutively, instead of possibly being broken up and stretching into next week." Besides, as CBS' Kathryn Watson noted, "Most senators want to sit silently for 12 hours without moving/eating/looking at their phones as much as anyone else." Brendan Morrow

3:06 p.m.

The fact checkers came out quickly in response to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on Tuesday.

In his opening remarks at President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, Cipollone argued that Trump faced unprecedented violations of due process while the House was conducting its impeachment inquiry last year. He said House Democrats were running the investigation from a "basement" and accused House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of blocking his Republicans colleagues from entering the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.

As it turns out, GOP lawmakers on the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees were indeed welcome to join those proceedings, and while many of them chose not to attend, several participated. Tim O'Donnell

2:19 p.m.

President Trump is heavy on the plans and light on the specifics.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Trump confirmed he was considering adding more countries to his travel ban, said he would impose tariffs on European automobiles, and added he was working on a middle-class tax cut. Not that he said which ones, when that would happen, or just what the cut entailed, respectively.

Reports first indicated the Trump administration was planning an addition to its travel ban earlier this month. Trump told the Journal his administration does have plans to add more countries to the list later this month, but wouldn't say more. He also said his administration is "looking at many different things" when it comes to his longstanding — and now faded — push to oust Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Trump went on to say he's still working on a trade agreement with the EU, saying "I'm going to put tariffs on them if they don't make a deal that's a fair deal." He was asked when that would happen but didn't answer, just saying "they know what the deadline is." And as for policies back in the U.S., Trump said "we're talking a fairly substantial… middle-class tax cut" that'll be revealed in 90 days. The plan's implementation dependent on him being reelected, Republicans holding the Senate, and the GOP taking back the House — the third bit being very unlikely in a presidential election year.

Read the whole interview at The Wall Street Journal. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:54 p.m.

The Wuhan virus, which broke out in China last month and has so far infected more than 300 people and killed six, has reportedly reached U.S. shores, a federal source told CNN.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce Tuesday that a person in Washington state has been infected, making the U.S. the sixth country to experience the outbreak of the respiratory illness, along with China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. The patient was hospitalized with pneumonia last week after having traveled to eponymous Wuhan, China, where the outbreak appears to have originated at a seafood and poultry market, The New York Times reports.

A lot remains unknown about the virus, although the latest development strengthens the hunch that it spreads from person to person. One of the most pressing questions, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the Times, is how frequent that human-to-human transmission is. Read more at The New York Times and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

1:18 p.m.

Ozzy Osbourne has revealed he's battling Parkinson's disease, opening up about his diagnosis in an emotional new interview.

The rock star spoke in an interview with Good Morning America that aired Tuesday, saying he was diagnosed with a form of Parkinson's disease after a fall last year.

"It's been terribly challenging for us all," Osbourne said, though his wife, Sharon Osbourne, described the diagnosis as "not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination."

Osbourne previously postponed his planned 2019 tour dates, citing his health. "Words cannot express how frustrated, angry and depressed I am not to be able to tour right now," he said at the time. He reiterated to GMA that he "can't wait" to get back on the road again. "That's what's killing me," he said. "I need it, you know."

Now that he's revealed his diagnosis, Osbourne told GMA "I feel better," adding he hopes his fans "hang on and they're there for me because I need them." Osbourne, who's set to release a new album Ordinary Man next month, also promised, "I ain't going to go anywhere yet." Brendan Morrow

12:56 p.m.

The just-starting Senate impeachment trial of President Trump has resurfaced reminders of what isn't allowed in the room where it happens: talking, electronics, questions from the press, among other things. And while it's true that coffee and other non-water drinks are always barred from the Senate floor, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has just generously reminded us that another liquid will be available for slurping come trial time.

Yes, because one senator desperately needed a dose of dairy back in 1966, milk is allowed on the floor along with water. No senators have broken out the dairy this impeachment around, but keep an eye on Vermont Sens. Bernie Sanders (I) and Patrick Leahy (D), who've been spotted sipping milk together on special occasions for decades. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:15 p.m.

Gallup revealed Tuesday that President Trump's approval rating during his third year in office set the record for the biggest partisan gap since the pollster began its records.

Republicans and Democrats are dramatically split — 89 percent of Republicans think Trump is doing a good job, compared to just 7 percent of Democrats. That 82-point difference is the largest ever, beating out the 79-point margin following Trump's second year in office. But what about the third subset, those pesky independents?

Trump's numbers don't crater among independents like they do with Democrats, and have improved over the last year — his 38 percent approval rating among non-affiliated respondents is higher than his 35 percent average rating to date, but they're still historically low. In the post-World War II era every other president has reached the 40 percent threshold among independents, with the lowest mark going to Jimmy Carter's 42 percent.

Overall, Trump checked in with a 42 percent approval rating during year no. 3, an uptick from his first and second years. It's not far behind the numbers averaged by former presidents like Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan at this point in their tenures, but it's still one of the lowest three-year averages during a first term since World War II. Only Carter's 37.4 percent trails. The poll was conducted over the phone from a random sample of 4,560 adults living in the U.S. by Gallup between Oct. 14, 2019 and Jan. 16, 2020. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. Read more at Gallup.

See More Speed Reads