January 24, 2020

The House Democratic impeachment prosecutors have one more day to convince the Republican-controlled Senate that President Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — or at least that four Republicans should join the 47 Democrats to subpoena evidence and witnesses Trump blocked from House investigators. The three most plausible GOP defectors are Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), but both parties are closely watching Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Politico reports.

Trump, who opposes witnesses, has both carrots and sticks to offer wavering Republicans. One Trump confidante told CBS News that GOP senators have been warned: "Vote against the president, and your head will be on a pike."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warning his colleagues that subpoenaing former National Security Adviser John Bolton and other witnesses "could indefinitely delay the Senate trial" with "a protracted and complex legal fight over presidential privilege," an argument amplified Wednesday in a Senate GOP briefing by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. That legal quagmire rationalization appears to resonate with Murkowski and other Republicans — though it's unlikely a subpoena signed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court after being approved by a majority of the Senate could be contested in court.

Trump has also been "rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment" by helping them raise campaign cash, "and sending a message to those who don't to get on board," Politico reported in October. And Trump, U.S. Chamber of Commerce strategist Scott Reed noted, "has the ability to turn on the money spigot like no one else."

Impeachment isn't like any other trial — which is good for Trump. Because in a normal trial, appearing to bribe or threaten jurors is frowned upon. Peter Weber

12:24 p.m.

Donald Trump Jr. on Friday suggested Democrats are hoping the coronavirus kills millions of Americans, prompting one Democratic congressman to essentially threaten to physically fight him.

Trump Jr. spoke to Fox & Friends on Friday and asserted that Democrats are using the coronavirus crisis to try to hurt President Trump, claiming they "seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they can end Donald Trump's streak of winning." He added this is a "new level of sickness."

Not long after, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) appeared on MSNBC and certainly agreed with that last part, though not in the way Trump Jr. meant. When asked about Trump Jr.'s comment, Garamendi warned, "He should not be near me when he says that. There would be a serious altercation. That is just totally outrageous."

Later, Garamendi again said, "Don Jr. had better not get any place close to me. It would not be a healthy situation." He also clarified that Democrats are not, in fact, wishing for millions of deaths. Brendan Morrow

11:51 a.m.

You win some, you lose some, and you confuse some. Country music megastar Garth Brooks got into some hot water with fans this week after posting a photo of himself wearing a Barry Sanders NFL jersey to Instagram. Brooks, who wore the getup for his concert at Ford Field, had clearly meant to give Motor City's former Detroit Lions running back a nod, but the name "Sanders," plus Barry's number, 20, confused a lot of Brooks' more conservative fans.

"If this is for Bernie Sanders, I'm done with you," wrote one furious commenter. "I thought you were a true American that loves Our Country?"

"Sorry Garth ... don't think so," wrote another. "Just stick to music." Others echoed the sentiment: "Nothing like supporting a communist to lose a few fans!" threw in another.

"Love you, hate the shirt," contributed yet another user. "Trump 2020."

While Brooks hasn't endorsed anyone for 2020, he did notably turn down an invitation to play at Donald Trump's inauguration. Still, there's no doubt about who he meant to celebrate with his choice of clothing: "Can I just tell ya that you guys got the greatest player in NFL history in my opinion," Brooks had raved to the stadium. Jeva Lange

10:50 a.m.

They say money can't buy happiness, but it seems it can buy a pseudo-endorsement.

A Morning Consult survey released Thursday found that 26 percent of Democratic primary voters believe former President Barack Obama has endorsed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. There's just one problem with that notion — he hasn't.

Another 25 percent of those surveyed said Obama has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, a reasonable assumption given their eight years in office together. But Obama hasn't endorsed Biden, either. In fact, Obama has very purposefully stayed away from the Democratic primary, choosing not to endorse any candidate (though he did demand South Carolina TV networks pull an anti-Biden ad that used his words to "mislead" viewers).

So where are voters getting the idea that Bloomberg has Obama's blessing? As Morning Consult notes, Bloomberg's sweeping network of political ads, totaling roughly $410 million, per The New York Times, has sought to tie the former mayor to Obama despite their relatively distant relationship. One ad spot highlights pictures of the two leaders, saying Bloomberg and Obama "worked together" to combat gun violence and improve education. The Washington Post says the Bloomberg-Obama relationship was actually quite "complicated" compared to the ad's portrayal.

"An endorsement from Obama would likely be a game-changer for any of the candidates," writes Morning Consult. Seems Bloomberg's campaign ad omnipresence is helping one candidate change the game for himself.

The Morning Consult poll was conducted Feb. 20-23, surveying 5,969 registered voters online. The survey's margin of error is ±1 percentage point. Summer Meza

10:20 a.m.

Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners' global CIO, has a dire warning about the fallout of the coronavirus crisis: it could potentially be "worse than the financial crisis."

Minerd told Axios as much on Friday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday plunged 1,191 points, the worst one-day point drop ever.

Amid what's set to be the worst week for the stock market since the financial crisis, former Federal Reserve official Kevin Warsh penned a Wall Street Journal piece recently joining the call for the Fed to take action. Specifically, Warsh wrote the Fed should "announce a 0.25-percentage-point interest-rate cut and make clear it's open-minded about further action," as well as "encourage other central banks to take appropriate simultaneous action to loosen monetary policy in their jurisdictions."

Minerd, who is a member of the the New York Fed's investor advisory committee, told Axios he expects a statement about "some sort of monetary coordination." But he suggested that this, unfortunately, is unlikely to help that much.

"You can cut rates and that helps alleviate some of the problem," he told Axios. "But with a shock like this, monetary policy is pretty impotent. Cutting rates 100 basis points isn't going to do anything."

Minerd previously spoke to CNN on Thursday, warning that "we are just beginning to see the sell-off." On Friday morning, the Dow was down 800 points. Brendan Morrow

9:32 a.m.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, President Trump reportedly spent almost a full hour on Thursday meeting with the folks behind a play about the "Deep State."

That's according to The Daily Beast, which on Thursday reported that Trump had a 45-minute meeting with the playwright and actors behind FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers, a play based on text message exchanges between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as their congressional testimony. An Indiegogo page for the play last year described it as showing "how they, and their Deep State colleagues, planned to take down the president of the United States." The FBI fired Strzok, who was part of the FBI's Russia probe, over his anti-Trump texts in 2018.

Trump apparently hasn't seen the actual play, which is on YouTube, but he evidently doesn't need to to provide his full endorsement, according to playwright Phelim McAleer.

"He loves it, he loves the play," McAleer said.

Trump has frequently targeted Page and Strzok while claiming bias against him in the Russia investigation, accusing them of "treason." In December, Page called Trump's attacks "very intimidating" and said that "I know there's no fathomable way that I have committed any crime at all, let alone treason."

The Oval Office meeting with Trump on Thursday, which also included actors Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson, was reportedly only supposed to last 15 minutes, but Trump just couldn't resist keeping it going for another half-hour, with McAleer saying the president did "most of the talking." Brendan Morrow

8:34 a.m.

Is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about to pivot to phony phone calls?

Well, not exactly, but she is set to start her own podcast that will apparently be influenced by The Howard Stern Show, Politico reports. Clinton sat down for an interview with Stern in December, and this experience, in addition on her appearance on Conan O'Brien's podcast, reportedly inspired her upcoming show. A source told Politico the podcast will not only involve Clinton interviewing guests, but also "ranting and raving about news of the day."

In fact, Clinton's team is reportedly "experimenting with using a Stern-inspired ensemble plucked from the larger universe of Hillaryland to help loosen her up" on the podcast, and they're even searching for a "Robin Quivers-like sidekick" for her. At that point, all she'll need is her own Baba Booey.

"Stern has a cast of characters," the source told Politico. "So could you have some people on the show in her orbit who are interesting but not necessarily guest-worthy? And then hopefully there’s some irreverence involved."

Presumably, the comparisons to The Howard Stern Show only go so far for Clinton's team. If not, there are sure to be tons of shocked podcast listeners when the Clinton show drops this spring. Brendan Morrow

7:39 a.m.

Just call her Mighty Morphin Lady Gaga.

Gaga on Friday dropped her new single "Stupid Love" alongside a video that might just make you wonder if Rita Repulsa's about to swoop in at any moment.

"Stupid Love," indeed, gives off some serious Mighty Morphin Power Rangers vibes right from its opening logo through its colorful costumes and setting, probably not the absolute number one property Little Monsters would have expected to inspire Gaga's first new music since A Star Is Born.

The Power Rangers social media manager certainly had a more eventful night than they probably expected, apparently being bombarded with notifications from the many, many Little Monsters making the connection from the moment the video was teased.

Earlier, the Power Rangers account had responded to a picture of Gaga's costume in the video with "not sure if we should fight this monster or stan this monster," only to finally come to the correct conclusion: "just consulted with Zordon and we have no choice but to stan."

We can only assume Gaga will keep up this trend with her next music video, in which she lives in the sewers, chows down on pizza, and fights Bebop and Rocksteady. Brendan Morrow

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