January 24, 2020

The Pentagon has confirmed more than 30 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries after the recent Iranian missile strike, days after President Trump downplayed these injuries as "not very serious."

A Pentagon spokesperson said Friday that 34 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iran's missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops earlier this month, which was a response to an airstrike authorized by President Trump that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, CNN reports. Although Trump initially said in an address that "no Americans were harmed" in the attack, it was later reported that 11 Americans were injured and were being treated for concussion symptoms.

Asked about this discrepancy earlier this week, Trump downplayed the seriousness of the injuries, saying, "I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious," The Hill reports. He went on to say, "I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen ... I do not consider that to be bad injuries, no."

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman noted Friday, "Government officials have spent years trying to make people take these injuries seriously, and not dismiss them as minor." Brendan Morrow

1:42 p.m.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were walking with President Trump when he posed for a photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., on Monday, shortly after police dispersed peaceful protesters in the surrounding area with tear gas and flash grenades. Now, a senior defense official claims Esper and Milley weren't aware police had cleared the area prior to Trump's arrival, PBS Newshour reports.

Moreover, the official said Esper and Milley didn't know Trump was going to get his picture taken in front of the church; they thought they were headed outside the White House "to review efforts to quell the protests" against police brutality.

Despite Trump threatening to call in the military to supplement city police across the country, the defense official said the Pentagon isn't keen on deploying any troops, and that Esper referring to demonstration sites as a "battlespace" was merely jargon used to discuss the situation.

Nevertheless, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wants both Milley and Esper to testify about the possible role the military played in clearing the protesters, even though he was told it was not involved. Tim O'Donnell

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has some strong words for what's happening in the U.S. — but not necessarily for President Trump.

In a Tuesday press conference, a reporter acknowledged that Trudeau had been "reluctant" to discuss Trump in the past, but asked him to comment on Trump's call for "military action against protesters" and the use of tear gas to "make way for a presidential photo op." After a 22-second pause, Trudeau responded.

"We all watch in horror and consternation what's going on in the United States," Trudeau said, calling it a "time to listen" and "learn what injustices continue despite progress." And then, without mentioning Trump's name, Trudeau pivoted toward discussing his own country's "challenges" and "systemic discrimination."

In September, multiple photos and videos were unearthed showing Trudeau in blackface and brownface. Trudeau apologized for the photos and videos from the 1990s and early 2000s, saying he "should have understood" the "racist history of blackface." Kathryn Krawczyk

12:48 p.m.

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory on Tuesday released a blistering statement about a visit by President Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, slamming the "reprehensible" misuse of Catholic facilities.

Trump on Tuesday was scheduled to pay a visit to the John Paul II shrine in Washington, D.C. after on Monday, he held up the Bible for a photo-op outside of St. John's Episcopal Church. Law enforcement used tear gas to clear protesters out of Lafayette Square before Trump did so.

"I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree," Gregory said ahead of Trump's visit to the shrine, per The Washington Post.

Gregory wrote that Saint Pope John Paul II, "an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings," would "certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace."

Trump's Monday photo op previously drew criticism from Episcopal bishop Mariann Budde, who said she was "outraged" by it, as well as from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who said Tuesday he's "against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop." Brendan Morrow

12:34 p.m.

President Trump on Monday threatened to call in the United States military in an effort to curtail protests across the United States, and it turns out most Americans — even some of those who think the president is doing a poor job of handling the demonstrations against police brutality — would support such an action, a new Morning Consult poll revealed Tuesday.

Among all registered voters surveyed, 58 percent said they would somewhat or strongly support having the military supplement city police forces compared to only 30 percent who said they somewhat or strongly oppose the measure.

There are some differences among demographics — younger people are a little more likely to oppose the move than older people, and Republicans were more far more likely to support it than Democrats. But there was still a plurality of 48 percent of Democrats who would back the decision, compared to 43 who wouldn't, though it's worth noting that when splitting the categories more specifically, "strongly opposed" became the most frequent response among Democratic voters.

The Morning Consult poll was conducted online between May 31-June 1 among 1,624 registered voters. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. See the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

11:24 a.m.

Carole Baskin appears to have won the great tiger war, but Joe Exotic's camp is already preparing for a new battle.

Baskin, the antagonist of the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, was awarded the wild animal park once owned by Exotic on Monday. The GW Zoo, which Exotic owned before he was convicted of a murder-for-hire scheme against Baskin, will have to be vacated in 120 days and will enter under Baskin's control, an Oklahoma judge decided.

Tiger King centered around Exotic's perpetual fight with Baskin, who owns Big Cat Rescue in Florida and was constantly trying to get Exotic's zoo shut down. The lawsuit that was decided Monday started back in 2016, with Baskin suing Exotic's business, Greater Wynnewood Development Group, and Exotic's mother for control of the zoo, including its buildings and vehicles. The judge's order does call for "the removal of all zoo animals for the Zoo Land."

Still, Jeff Lowe, who bought the zoo from Exotic, wasn't surprised with Monday's outcome. "We anticipated Carole Baskin getting the title to the former park that once belonged to Joe Exotic, and we did not challenge her attempts to do so," Lowe's attorney told CNN. Lowe's "focus" is now on opening a new "Tiger King Park" elsewhere in Oklahoma, supposedly within the next 120 days. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:18 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke on the ongoing protests against police brutality in a Philadelphia address on Tuesday morning, blasting President Trump for his response and his Monday photo op in Washington.

Biden spoke from Philadelphia City Hall after another night of protests following George Floyd's death in police custody last week, with the presumptive Democratic nominee calling the death a "wake-up call" and saying Floyd's words of "I can't breathe" are "echoing all across this nation."

"It's time to listen to those words, to try to understand them, to respond to them, respond with action," Biden said. "The country is crying out for leadership."

On Monday, law enforcement used tear gas on protesters to clear out Lafayette Square so Trump could walk to St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op in which he held up the Bible, and Biden said the stunt suggests he's "more interested in power than in principle."

"The president held up the Bible at St. John's church yesterday," Biden said. "I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could have learned something."

Biden also went after Trump for his tweet saying that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," calling him "part of the problem." Biden added, though, "I wish I could say that hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn't, and it won't." Brendan Morrow

11:06 a.m.

Wes Unseld, who starred for the NBA's Baltimore and Washington Bullets (now called the Wizards) between 1968 and 1981, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 74. The family's statement said Unseld died peacefully following lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia.

Unseld, who played center despite standing 6-foot-7, wasn't a prolific scorer, but he's widely regarded as one of the best defenders and passers ever to play his position and was a dominant rebounder, as well. He won the league MVP in 1969 when he was just a rookie, and helped the Bullets win the franchise's first and only championship in 1978, alongside fellow all-time great Elvin Hayes.

Unseld, who also enjoyed a standout career at the University of Louisville before entering the NBA and both coached and served as the general manager for the Bullets/Wizards for several season after he retired, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Tim O'Donnell

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