January 13, 2020

The White House thinks the Democrats will have the numbers.

White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told CBS News that the Trump administration is preparing for enough Republicans to defect and join Democrats in an upcoming vote to call witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial. Only four would need to do so to shift the majority, and the officials identified six lawmakers who might jump ship in this instance.

It's no surprise to see the names like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — who disclosed last week that she's been working with a small group of Republicans to ensure both sides are able to call witnesses in the trial — and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), or Mitt Romney (R-Utah), all of whom have displayed a willingness to diverge from Trump on occasion. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who have both called for a fair and impartial trial, are also seen as possibilities to vote for witnesses. The White House described Alexander as an "institutionalist." Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), meanwhile, is apparently considered the "wild card."

Whatever the combination, the officials said the White House's impeachment team and counsel consider a vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment without a trial to be bad optics, and they don't expect a quick dismissal. They do, however, reportedly expect the question of acquittal to come up pretty early in the proceedings. Read more at CBS News. 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.

12:08 p.m.

Prosecutors in Brazil have charged journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes, The New York Times reports.

The American journalist last year began publishing a series of stories at The Intercept that, as Columbia Journalism Review wrote, "sent shocks through Brazil" by appearing to show "that Sergio Moro, Brazil's justice minister and the former top judge in a major corruption investigation, colluded with federal prosecutors to convict prominent political figures." The Intercept said its reporting was based on "private chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, court proceedings, and other documentation" that was "provided to us by an anonymous source."

Brazilian prosecutors have now charged Greenwald "for his role in the spreading of cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors," the Times reports. Prosecutors in a complaint claimed Greenwald is part of a "criminal organization" that hacked prosecutors' and other officials' cellphones.

The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill on Twitter called these charges "despicable, dangerous and a crime against journalism," and others journalists quickly spoke out in Greenwald's defense.

"Regardless of your personal feelings about Glenn, this is a regime with deep authoritarian tendencies personally targeting a critical journalist," Vox's Dylan Matthews tweeted. "It's a horrendous abuse of power that everyone should denounce."

Greenwald in a statement to The Daily Beast said he "did nothing more than do my job as a journalist — ethically and within the law," calling the charges "an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government." He added, "We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists. I am working right now on new reporting and will continue to do so." Brendan Morrow

11:08 a.m.

The Supreme Court won't consider a challenge to ObamaCare until after the 2020 election — if it considers it at all.

Even though a coalition of Democratic states asked the Supreme Court to quickly decide whether it would consider an appeal to a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the court declined to do so, it said Tuesday. That doesn't affect the status of the ACA for the time being, but does deny Democrats a strategy they were likely to employ during the 2020 campaign season.

Texas introduced its lawsuit against the ACA in 2018 in an attempt to declare it unconstitutional, and a federal court ruled in Texas' favor. The judge in the case did let the ACA temporarily remain in effect because of the "uncertainty" that a likely appeal would bring. The Democratic attorneys general who appealed the case to the Supreme Court similarly requested a quick decision because dragging it out further "threatens adverse consequences for our nation's health care system," but the court denied that on Tuesday.

The uncertainty surrounding the appeal leaves Democrats still able to argue Republicans are trying to dismantle the ACA and its health care protections to people with preexisting conditions. This strategy paid off in 2018, Politico notes, though Democrats still "worry that Republicans could dodge political consequences if ObamaCare is ultimately struck down after the November election." Kathryn Krawczyk

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