January 24, 2020

President Trump is about to attend the yearly anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

Trump on Friday will speak at the rally that occurs annually to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, drawing demonstrators who call for the decision legalizing abortion nationwide to be overturned. According to March for Life, Trump will be the first sitting American president to ever attend the event, which was first held in 1974.

Past presidents have addressed the March for Life rally, but not in person; former Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan spoke to demonstrators via telephone, CNN reports. Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also both previously attended the March for Life, and Pence became the first sitting vice president to attend in 2017, The New York Times reports.

Trump, who once described himself as "very pro-choice," has supported the March for Life in past years and in 2018 became the first president to deliver a video address to the rally, according to the Times.

The Washington Post notes that Trump's decision to attend the March for Life this year "comes as he has sought to consolidate support from evangelicals in his reelection campaign amid signs that a portion of his conservative base has been troubled by his conduct." Past Republican presidents generally haven't attended in person, The Associated Press writes, "to avoid being too closely associated with demonstrators eager to outlaw" abortion.

Trump is expected to speak between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. ET, the Post reports, shortly before Democrats' opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial will resume. Brendan Morrow

12:15 p.m.

Expect former President Obama's radio silence on the 2020 Democratic primary to continue in the coming months. After all, he's reportedly got a very specific reason for staying out of it.

Obama has intentionally remained on the sidelines throughout the primary so far, not throwing his support behind any candidate including former Vice President Joe Biden. This, New York Magazine reports, is part of a "choreographed strategy" on the part of Obama, who is "increasingly sure he will need to play a prominent role in bringing the party back together and calming its tensions later this summer."

Between now and then, Obama is "committed to not allowing his personal thoughts to dribble out" into the open, the report says, since this might make it more challenging for him to serve as an "honest broker." Apparently, this effort could be going better considering this very same report features a few of Obama's personal thoughts, including that he's supposedly "unimpressed" with Biden's campaign.

A Fox Business report recently suggested Obama was considering speaking out about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as he becomes nervous that he'll secure the Democratic nomination, but there's reportedly not much truth to that, and a source told New York Magazine, "There is no way Barack Obama is intervening, unless something very strange happens."

In fact, Obama reportedly isn't paying a whole lot of attention to the "day-to-day dynamics" of the race, following it through newspaper reports but not even watching all of the Democratic debates. But Obama is reportedly "sure that he'll have to catch up" on these dynamics he's been missing out on later, meaning some binge-watching of the Democratic primary may soon be in the cards. Read the full report at New York Magazine. Brendan Morrow

11:53 a.m.

The campaign team for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) believes the Democratic presidential candidate is surging after a strong showing in the New Hampshire primary last week, but they're also acknowledging they face an uphill battle because of a lack of resources.

For example, per The Washington Post, the campaign had to drive the New Hampshire bus to Nevada because they didn't have one there, and Klobuchar's Iowa caucus specialist is handling the same task in the Silver State. "We're putting the airplane together as we're flying," an anonymous Klobuchar campaign adviser told the Post.

One of the key issues outside of Nevada they face is what to do about Super Tuesday in March, when 14 states will vote for the Democratic nominee, providing providing one-third of all delegates selected. The Klobuchar team reportedly spent hours this past weekend debating whether it's worth it to even really compete in some of the more delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like Texas and California given the amount of cash it could muster to make a dent. As one Klobuchar adviser said, "it's a little bit more difficult" in those situations given "the sheer dollars" necessary. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

11:09 a.m.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been re-elected to a second term with 50.64 percent of the vote, results released Tuesday reveal.

It's been five months since Afghans voted in that election, with concerns of fraud and mechanical error forcing recounts. Yet supporters of Ghani's rival Abdullah Abdullah have so far refused to accept the results and have even proposed creating an alternative government, putting a peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S. in question, The Washington Post reports.

Ghani received a majority of the vote, meaning there won't be a runoff in the election. Abdullah meanwhile earned 39.5 percent of the vote, according to Afghanistan’s election commission. Abdullah's backers say that commission was biased in favor of Ghani, and former vice president of Ghani turned top Abdullah supporter Abdul Rashid Dostum said last week that "if they announce a government based on fraud, we will announce a parallel government," per The New York Times.

The September vote was marred by Taliban attacks aimed at destabilizing the election, though President Trump's refusal to hold peace talks scheduled for that time eventually allowed the vote to proceed. U.S.-Taliban negotiations have since continued, and both sides said a few days ago they agreed to a conditional deal. But uncertainty in the government could jeopardize the next step after a U.S.-Taliban agreement, which involved negotiations between Afghanistan's government and Taliban leaders. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:17 a.m.

President Trump may have received the impeachment acquittal he hoped for, but that doesn't mean he's satisfied. Indeed, Politico reports, he now appears to be testing the limits of executive power through methods like firing White House staffers who testified against him during House proceedings or weighing in on active Justice Department cases over Twitter.

Per Politico, he's received little resistance from his attorneys, like White House Counsel Pat Cipollone who led Trump's defense during the Senate trial, or congressional Republicans. That means, in the eyes of some analysts, the presidency may continue to grow more powerful.

"It is beyond anything the presidency has achieved yet and beyond anything Nixon could have imagined," Michael Gerhardt, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina School of Law, told Politico, referring to the 36th president of the United States. "There is literally no way to hold the president accountable in Pat Cipollone's worldview."

Cipollone's allies, on the other hand, reportedly believe the arguments Cipollone made during the trial simply sought to maintain and protect Trump's ability to exercise the same amount of executive authority as President Obama did during his tenure in the Oval Office. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

9:54 a.m.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is apparently letting the progressives get to him.

The billionaire and 2020 candidate is set to unveil his plan for regulating the financial industry on Tuesday, and as The New York Times reports, it "features ideas that wouldn't be out of place" for 2020 candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Diverging from his past criticism of Wall Street regulation, Bloomberg will propose tighter oversight rules that touch on hot-button topics such as student loans, per the Times.

In his Tuesday announcement, Bloomberg will propose a financial transactions tax of 0.1 percent, as well as create a Justice Department team devoted to corporate crime, the Times reports. That tax plan is "remarkable similar" to one that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has co-sponsored, the Times writes. Bloomberg also calls for strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren established during former President Barack Obama's administration, by "expanding its jurisdiction to include auto lending and credit reporting."

Bloomberg's plan stops far short of Sanders and Warren's pledges to cancel student loan debt, but does suggest putting student loan borrowers "into income-based repayment schemes and capping payments," per the Times. There's no sign of Sanders and Warren's pledges to break up big banks, or Warren's call for totally "transforming the private equity industry."

Read more about the plan at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:52 a.m.

The jury in Harvey Weinstein's rape trial is about to begin deliberating.

After the defense and the prosecution in the disgraced movie mogul's trial delivered their closing arguments at the end of last week, Judge James Burke on Tuesday will give jurors instructions before they start to deliberate, USA Today reports.

The sexual assault and rape charges against Weinstein center around the allegations of two women: Jessica Mann, who alleges Weinstein raped her in 2013, and Mimi Haleyi, who alleges Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006. Four other Weinstein accusers testified during the trial, while additional witnesses were brought in to back up the accusers' accounts. Testimony from Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra that Weinstein raped her in 1993 or 1994 could support the predatory sexual assault charge.

Weinstein pleaded not guilty, and his defense has argued the encounters with his accusers were consensual. His lawyers have pointed to the fact that Haleyi and Mann maintained relationships with Weinstein after he allegedly assaulted them, and they cited friendly email exchanges with him in court. During her closing argument, lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told jurors that Weinstein "made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about as a little check to make sure that one day, they wouldn't walk out from the shadows and call him exactly what he was: an abusive rapist."

Meanwhile, Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno in her closing argument asked jurors to use their "New York City common sense" and ignore the "gut feeling" they may have had coming into the case to rely only on the evidence presented. CBS analyst Rikki Klieman observed Tuesday the jury "may take a long time because there's a lot of evidence in this case."

Weinstein himself did not testify during the trial. If the jury, which consists of five women and seven men, convicts him of predatory sexual assault, he could receive life in prison. Brendan Morrow

8:05 a.m.

The White House Correspondents' Dinner's break from comedians turned out to be short-lived.

Kenan Thompson will host the 2020 White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, where Hasan Minhaj will perform as the featured entertainer, the White House Correspondents' Association announced Tuesday.

This is a pivot back to the show's regularly-scheduled programming of having a comedian perform at the yearly gathering of journalists. Last year, in a break from this tradition, the featured speaker was instead historian Ron Chernow.

The year before, comedian Michelle Wolf had headlined and sparked some outrage with her roast, as when she joked that then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders "burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye." The New York Times reports Chernow's appearance in 2019 "was a direct consequence" of Wolf's controversial performance.

But the White House Correspondents' Association is bringing back the comedy this year, with Minhaj returning after performing the year before Wolf. WHCA President Jonathan Karl said on Tuesday per the Times, "I'd argue that humor is more important now than ever."

Still, although it had been a tradition for sitting presidents to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner, it seems unlikely that Trump will go in April after skipping the event every year of his presidency so far. Last year, Trump briefly teased that he could potentially attend for the first time, only to not do so, calling the event "negative" and "boring." Brendan Morrow

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