5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Report: Trump impeachment defense team to include Starr, Dershowitz

  • 11 Americans were injured in recent Iran strike

  • Iran's Khamenei criticizes 'clown' Trump in rare Friday prayers sermon

  • Trump impeachment trial begins as lawmakers sworn in, charges presented

  • White House violated law by withholding Ukraine aid, watchdog concludes

President Trump has reportedly tapped former Special Counsel Ken Starr, his successor Robert Ray, and famous defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to join his impeachment defense team. The trio has experience with impeachment and televised trials; Starr and Ray worked on former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, while Dershowitz was on the defense team for O.J. Simpson. They will reportedly join White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow, who will lead the defense as House impeachment managers present the case against Trump. Dershowitz "will present oral arguments at the Senate trial," the legal team said in a statement. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump's personal counsel Jane Raskin will reportedly also be on the team.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, CNN

Eleven Americans were injured in Iran's recent missile strike on the Al Asad Air base in Iraq, which President Trump and the Pentagon previously said resulted in no injuries. The military confirmed Thursday that 11 Americans were treated for concussions after Iran last week struck two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops; the concussion symptoms emerged several days later. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed ... several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," said a United States Central Command spokesperson. The attack on the bases came in response to a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. CNN's Jim Sciutto said the update indicated "that the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised."

Source: The New York Times, CNN

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers at the Mosella mosque in Tehran on Friday for the first time since 2012, trying to rally support among intertwined crises facing his government. Khamenei, 80, called Iran's downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet last week a "bitter accident" and claimed "our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad" because it allowed them to criticize his government. He called President Trump a "clown" who is only pretending to support Iran's people, said the U.S. killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani 'cowardly" and demonstrative of America's "terrorist nature," and called Iran's retaliatory missile strikes a "slap on the face" to the U.S. that "shows the hand of God" and Iran's "power."

Source: Reuters, The Associated Press

House impeachment prosecutors presented the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate chamber on Thursday, reading the charges aloud. This presentation marked the formal beginning of Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, after the House voted 223-198 on Wednesday to send the articles to the second chamber of Congress. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Val Demings (D-Fl.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) are the impeachment managers. They will present the evidence against Trump. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts later administered an oath for the senators to deliver "impartial justice" after the arguments begin on Jan. 21.

Source: The New York Times

The White House violated the law when it withheld aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan government agency concluded on Thursday. The Government Accountability Office said the Office of Management and Budget's withholding of Ukraine aid that Congress had appropriated was not lawful. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the Government Accountability Office said. "Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the [Impoundment Control Act (ICA)]." The withholding of aid to Ukraine in July 2019 was at the center of President Trump's impeachment, which alleged Trump froze the aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation that might benefit him in the 2020 presidential election. An OMB spokesperson said "we disagree with GAO's opinion."

Source: Politico
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