Cover: U.S. Marines with Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, drive a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle ashore during low-light surf transit testing at AVTB Beach on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 18. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez/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
Breaking Overnight: A stampede erupted on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike last week, killing 32 people and injuring 190 others, state television reported.
Just In: A 6.5 magnitude earthquake was registered off the coast of Puerto Rico on Tuesday that reportedly caused an island-wide blackout.
2020 Watch: Just days after ending his campaign for president, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is endorsing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Speaking of endorsements, Judge Judy Sheindlin declared her support for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy Monday on ABC’s “The View.” And speaking of the former Mayor, Bloomberg’s campaign has hired 500 staffers in over 30 states. All of this and we’re just seven days into the new year. Buckle up.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
John Bolton says he will testify in impeachment trial if subpoenaed
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would testify in an impeachment trial against President Trump should he be subpoenaed by the Senate. Why it matters: Bolton had previously stated a judge would need to decide whether or not he can testify. How testimony would work: 51 votes on the floor would be required to get Bolton to testify. This means four Republicans, at least, would have to join every Democrat. Big picture: Bolton was involved in “many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed,” according to a letter from Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, sent to House attorneys in November. So what is each side saying?
- On the left: Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg writes that “Maybe Pelosi’s Impeachment Delay Is Working” and says “that time will allow more information to surface in various ways,” especially if figures like Bolton testify.
- On the right: Quin Hillyer of the Washington Examiner adds that “Bolton’s testimony is crucial to understanding all the events at issue and their context. With Bolton now available to the Senate without the need of a separate court fight, it would be unconscionable for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not to hear his witness.”
Harvey Weinstein faces 4 counts of sexual assault in L.A. County
Harvey Weinstein has been charged with four counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, deepening the legal peril faced by the fallen Hollywood mogul as his trial on similar charges in New York City is set to begin this month the LA Times writes. Big picture: Weinstein has become inextricably linked to the #MeToo movement since 2017 when more than 80 women began making sexual battery and assault accusations against him.
- In an opinion piece for NBC, Caitlin Dulany, an actress, writes about a tentative settlement that was finally reached after nearly two years last month. Dulany says that although “there has been criticism of aspects of the settlement, including the notion that the $25 million payout to victims is too small, [she] knows that it’s still a large victory of principle.”
- The long read: Steven D’Souza of CBC News has a longer analysis which outlines the ups and downs before the trial, parallels with the Cosby case, and how #MeToo is playing into the hearings. Keep reading…
Boy Scouts face mounting lawsuits over child sexual abuse
Boy Scouts of America faces mounting legal liability as lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by leaders and volunteers continue to roll in, thanks in part to loosening statutes of limitations across the country, USA Today writes. What’s Happening: the AP adds that “a team of lawyers filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to establish the nation’s capital as a venue for men across the U.S. to sue the Boy Scouts of America for allegedly failing to protect them from long-ago sexual abuse at the hands of scoutmasters and other leaders.” Why the D.C. filing matters per Ben Wieder of McClatchy DC: While the Boy Scouts of America is headquartered in Texas, the lawsuit argues that the District of Columbia is a suitable venue because the organization was incorporated in Washington D.C., in 1910 and received a congressional charter six years later. Federal code lists Washington, D.C., as the organization’s permanent home and requires the group to provide an annual report to Congress.”
- The Takeaway: “If successful, the lawsuit could open the floodgates for other former scouts who were victims of sexual abuse to bring suit against the organization, even if they are barred from doing so under the laws in those states in which the alleged abuse took place.”
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Iran’s capital Monday in a funeral procession for Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The mourning ceremonies are set to conclude today with the burial of Gen. Soleimani’s remains in his hometown, Kerman. In the meantime, the rest of the world is waiting and watching for any signs of retaliation from the Islamic Republic. In D.C. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced plans to vote on a war powers resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, the resolution could limit Trump’s actions in escalating tensions with Iran. That being said, Trump would almost definitely veto this bill, and it is unlikely that Democrats can pull together enough votes to override the veto. As tension in the Middle East is rises, so too does both the price of oil and pundit voices on cable TV.
- On the left: Zachary Cohen of CNN says “the lack of evidence provided to lawmakers and the public has fueled lingering skepticism about whether the strike was justified.” Keep reading…
- On the right: Fox News contributor Dan Bongino reacted Monday to Democrats who criticized the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani by asking party members: “What team are you on?” Keep reading…
Can China still salvage ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong?
Authorities in Hong Kong may have hoped to start 2020 by putting a turbulent period of sustained, often violent protests behind them. Instead, hundreds of thousands of protesters ushered in the new year by taking to the streets. The Question: Can China still salvage the ‘one country, two systems’ pledge it made 1997? David Skidmore thinks it’s possible, but it won’t be easy. The Takeaway: The best way to do that is for Beijing to stop manipulating the governance of the city. As long as the selection of the chief executive and a majority of the Legislative Council lies in Beijing’s hands, it will be difficult for the mainland to resist meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs and for Hong Kongers to feel that autonomy offers them any real say over their fate. Worth your time…
Students In India Protest After University Attacked By Masked Assailants
A fresh wave of protests spread across India’s biggest cities Monday, hours after masked assailants invaded dormitories on an elite university campus, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), in the capital New Delhi and beat up students and faculty. The JNU has long been associated with left-wing activism, and some students have blamed Sunday’s violence on a right-wing student body linked to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). That group denies involvement and says left-wing activists were responsible. – BBC / NPR
Pier Pressure and Sour Milk
The first Monday of 2020 did not shine brightly on two American companies yesterday. In the home furnishing and decor space, Pier 1 Imports on Monday said it intends to shut up to 450 locations, or almost half of its fleet of 942 stores, as it unexpectedly reported quarterly earnings amid bankruptcy rumors. The home furnishings giant has lost market share to the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Target and Wayfair. It has struggled to court shoppers to stores. In the dairy aisle, Borden Dairy, a 163-year-old milk producer known for its spokes-cow Elsie, has filed for bankruptcy with plans to erase millions of dollars in debt from its books, becoming the second major player in the industry to seek protection from creditors in two months. Flashback: In November, Dean Foods, the nation’s biggest milk producer filed for bankruptcy. Here’s why. – WSJ / CNBC
Tua Tagovailoa leaving Alabama to enter NFL draft
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a projected top-10 pick who missed the Crimson Tide’s final three games while recovering from hip surgery, will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Why it matters: Tagovailoa’s status as a draft prospect has been in question since he dislocated his hip during a Nov. 16 game against Mississippi State. He had surgery shortly thereafter and has been rehabbing with the team since. Related: As the NCAA grapples with how to provide athletes opportunities to be compensated for their fame, about two-thirds of Americans support college players being permitted to earn money for endorsements. – AP / ESPN
Meet the Tech Veteran who is Raking In Cash for Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign
Three years ago, Swati Mylavarapu had never worked for a political campaign and attended just a single campaign fundraiser, Julie Bykowicz of the Wall Street Journal writes. “Now, the 36-year-old Silicon Valley investor is a financial force behind one of the best fundraisers in the Democratic presidential primary, serving as national investment chairwoman for Pete Buttigieg, a fellow Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar whom she has known for half her life.” Mylavarapu, who worked at both Google and Kleiner Perkins before jumping into politics insists that all donors and those who raise money be called ‘investors’ rather than ‘bundlers.’ Why it matters: The campaign has raised about $76 million since the former South Bend, Ind., mayor entered the crowded race in early 2019—more than any Democrat except returning presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. – WSJ (subscription)
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1789: First U.S. presidential election
Congress sets January 7, 1789 as the date by which states are required to choose electors for the country’s first-ever presidential election. A month later, on February 4, George Washington was elected president by state electors and sworn into office on April 30, 1789.