Start Here: McConnell tells senators he cant yet block new witnesses in impeachment trial
It’s Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Let’s start here.
1. Can I get a witness?
President Donald Trump’s legal team concluded their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday, brushing off calls to hear from witnesses such as former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
But a battle over the issue continued to play out behind closed doors as a handful of Republican senators signaled a willingness to allow witnesses. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his members on Tuesday that he did not have the votes to defeat a motion on Friday regarding witnesses.
“There’s no question that Republicans are very tense right now,” ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer tells “Start Here” today. “Leader McConnell has pushed a stay the course strategy for the party, trying to keep everybody together, and at the same time you’ve got this group of four, maybe five, six moderate Republicans who have some real concerns about this issue of witnesses.”
2. Trump’s peace plan
In the middle of the impeachment trial, the president unveiled his Middle East peace plan at the White House, proposing a Palestinian side but also allowing Israel to take control of a significant portion of the West Bank without any Palestinian input.
“I don’t think it’s a real serious plan because in order to have a peace process you need two sides negotiating, and the Palestinians here have no interest in negotiating,” ABC News’ Jordana Miller in Jerusalem says.
3. Going to California
More than 200 Americans are returning to the U.S. on a chartered flight from Wuhan, China– the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.
All travelers aboard the plane were screened for symptoms at the airport prior to departure, according to a State Department spokesperson, and when they land in Ontario, California, they will be subject to additional screening, observation and monitoring requirements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ABC News Senior Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell says he spoke to one American family in China that spent thousands to flee the outbreak, “If you’re in Wuhan and fear for your family’s life, you’ve got to pay to get out.”
‘First time I’ve ever seen that’: A 20-year-old man caused a stir in a Tennessee courthouse when he advocated for the legalization of marijuana and then proceeded to spark a joint in front of the judge.
Residents in Fair Haven, Vermont, will take to the polls on Mar 3. to cast their votes for the position of “Pet Mayor” and they will choose between the incumbent, Lincoln the goat, a 4-year-old Nubian goat who won the mayor’s seat by only 3 votes last year, and the challenger, Sammy, a K9 officer with the Fair Haven Police Department.
It is expected to be a close race between Sammy the canine and Lincoln the hircine but whoever wins will have the position of mayor will have to fulfill responsibilities over the next year like marching in parades and making other public apperances.