☕ Morning Salute: Pacific Ocean (Jan. 22, 2020) Ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean, (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons/Released)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
A new mural quickly emerged to honor basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in Los Angeles yesterday.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Former national security adviser, John Bolton’s unpublished manuscript really threw a monkey wrench into the impeachment process on Monday. Remember, on Sunday The New York Times pointed to the draft and reported that the President “told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.” Up until then, The Hill points out that “it has looked almost certain that Republicans could block subpoenas on new witnesses. But Bolton’s first-hand account could change things.” While Trump’s defense team reiterated its argument yesterday that he didn’t link financial aid for Ukraine to that country’s help with investigations of Joe Biden, murmurs from moderates in the nation’s capital are turning into loud sound bites on news channels across the political spectrum:
- Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said: “It’s pretty fair to say John Bolton has relevant testimony. I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) echoed: “The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
Why it matters: The situation is still “fluid”, but if these grumblings turn into more full-throated demands, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may have to reassess his gameplan. On Monday the Senate majority leader told those on the fence “in a private meeting they will have a chance to answer the question [regarding witnesses] later this week. Big Picture: Four Republican senators would need to vote with Democrats to subpoena Bolton.
Tech Giants’ New Appeal to Governments: Please Regulate Us
Facing antitrust investigations and a growing backlash over privacy, encryption, artificial intelligence and content monitoring, leaders at tech giants including Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple are now calling for new laws on a range of issues—even though some have worked to torpedo others designed to restrict their activities, the WSJ’s Sebastian Herrera writes. Why it matters: “Their push to join in the policy debate, which was on display at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, is motivated in part by a sense that a wave of new regulation is inevitable. Top executives want to help steer the outcome as much as possible, and many also fear the impact of a patchwork of laws around the world.” Connect the dots with the story in the tech section below. – WSJ (subscription)
Attack or Sit back? Dems Tormented Over How to Stop Bernie
According to POLITICO‘s Natasha Korecki, Democrats fear a repeat of 2016 is in the making — when mainstream Republicans scoffed at the idea that Donald Trump could ever win the nomination until he became unstoppable — only this time from the left.” Behind the Scenes: “Many Democrats say they respect the support behind Sanders but fear a self-described Democratic socialist would cede must-win battlegrounds to Trump.” Why it matters: “the Democratic establishment is caught in a catch-22: Attack Sanders and risk galvanizing his supporters and turning him into a martyr of the far-left. Or leave him alone and watch him continue to gather momentum.” Keep reading. So with less than a week to go until the Iowa caucuses who’s supporting who?
- Rep. Seth Moulton (D., Mass.) on Monday endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president (WSJ)
- Bloomberg snagged his fifth congressional endorsement on Monday from Rep. Scott Peters who touted Bloomberg’s work on climate and guns and said he’s best positioned to beat Donald Trump. (POLITICO)
- The Elizabeth Warren-aligned Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the Working Families Party and Black Womxn are set to announce more than 3,000 new endorsements for her including elected officials, economists, organization leaders, small business owners and activists. (AP)
- Bonus: For the Feb. 3 caucuses, the Trump campaign is planning an ambitious show of force around the state, with over 80 surrogates expected to campaign at caucus locations. (WSJ)
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Per the WSJ: “President Trump opened a series of events Monday designed to pull back the curtain on the longest developing foreign policy initiative of his administration, a proposal for peace in the Middle East.” What’s next: The plan will be released around noon today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he “looks forward to making history with [Trump]” upon the release of the administration’s long-delayed 50-page political blueprint. Palestinian officials aren’t included in this week’s meetings and outlets in Israel have various views on the ambitious plan. Further Reading:
- “The difference between a plan and a deal…of the century” from Gideon Remez of the Times of Israel: “Just because you like the idea of turning straw into gold and tell the world you can do it doesn’t mean you will actually pull it off”
- “Trump’s Peace Plan Is Realistic” from Oded Revivi of the Jerusalem Post: “Trump has shown a propensity to violate accepted norms. And when you have a conflict that has existed for so long, with all the players refusing to deviate from many assumptions – you need a leader who can operate outside those lines.”
On Monday, a top law enforcement official in New York said prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have received “zero cooperation” from Prince Andrew in regards to their investigation into sex trafficking by Jeffrey Epstein’s associates. Why it matters: Prince Andrew, following a disastrous television interview over his ties to Mr. Epstein, said in a statement late last year that he would cooperate with law enforcement agencies in their investigations. Big picture: Mr. Epstein’s suicide brought renewed attention to his relationships with prominent figures in politics, academia, and business — including Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. – The New York Times
US says mystery crash in Afghanistan was US Air Force plane
An American military aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, the U.S. military said, adding that there were no indications so far it’d been brought down by enemy fire. Details: The so-called “Battlefield Airborne Communications Node” can operate unmanned or with passengers and is used by the military to extend the range of radio signals in the area. Colloquially referred to by the U.S. military as “Wi-Fi in the sky,” the BACN system is used in areas where communications are otherwise difficult. Why it matters: the plane crash is not expected to derail U.S.-Taliban peace talks if it turns out to have been an accident. – AP
Happy Flu Year
Stocks around the world fell on Monday driven by anxiety related to the coronavirus in China. Investors are trying to grapple with how the spread of the disease could impact the global economy and whether or not it will dampen international growth. In the United States, there were broad-based losses with all 11 sectors in the S&P 500 losing ground. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, which measures the market’s expectations for volatility over the coming month, climbed to its highest level since the start of this year. Moreover, firms with exposure to China continued to get pummeled throughout the trading day. Wynn Resorts shares sank, due to its large presence in gambling hot spot Macau. Las Vegas Sands was also down and travel companies ranging from Royal Caribbean Cruises to airline companies like United, American, and Delta all ended the day in the red. Oil prices also collapsed over fears the virus could temper demand for the commodity in China, which is the world’s largest energy consumer. After the closing bell, all three major U.S. indexes ended lower with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting its worst day since October.
Kobe Tributes Continue To Pour In
The chants rose in the plaza across from Staples Center. “Kobe!” and “MVP! MVP!” They came from hundreds of fans gathered to mourn the death of Kobe Bryant. Outside of LA, tributes to the late great continued to pour in from all over the globe. European soccer players including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were among many in the global sports community that paid tribute to Bryant and his daughter. According to the Weather Channel Bryant’s helicopter was given special clearance to fly in Sunday’s foggy weather. The Lakers game against the Clippers tonight is postponed. And the other victims of the crash included a baseball coach, his wife, and their teenage daughter, a girl’s basketball coach, a mother and daughter, and the pilot. More to follow. – AP / ESPN / BuzzFeed / Weather Channel
Ganging Up on Google
According to the Wall Street Journal, several “state attorneys general are meeting with US Justice Department attorneys next week in what could be the first step toward the two groups working together to investigate Google’s control of online advertising markets and search traffic” as well as “it’s anticompetitive behavior in its Android mobile operating system.” On the bright side: General Motors on Monday announced that it will invest $2.2 billion to renovate an aging Detroit factory so it can build a series of electric and self-driving vehicles. The auto-giant aims to eventually employ as many as 2,000 people. – The Verge
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes after liftoff
On January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter undertaking mission STS-51-L and the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members: five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist, and a civilian school teacher.