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Confusion over letter from US military signaling withdrawal of troops from Iraq – live | US news










Confusion surrounds memo indicating potential withdrawal of US troops from Iraq





































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Esper says Iraq withdrawal memo is not accurate



















Letter from US military indicates withdrawal of troops from Iraq

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Americans narrowly approve of Suleimani strike, poll finds



















Transmission of articles of impeachment likely to be delayed



















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Margot Robbie, Luke Evans Speedo, Greek Ethics, Impeachment, Lisa Vanderpump, Ricky Gervais, Iran, New Mutants: HOT LINKS

IMPEACHMENT. FOX News’ analyst Andrew Napolitano advises Democrats to re-open impeachment inquiry based on new evidence. “If I were a Democrat in the House, I would be moving to re-open the impeachment on the basis of the newly-acquired evidence, these new emails of people getting instructions directly from the president to hold up on the sending of the funds. That would justify holding onto the articles of impeachment, because there’s new evidence and perhaps new articles.”

LINDSEY GRAHAM. Mitch McConnell and I will change the Senate rules if Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold articles of impeachment.

STAFFING UP. Bloomberg hires 500 staffers in 30+ states. Releases campaign ad starring Judge Judy Sheindlin.

BORDER STOPS. Officials are stopping Iranian-Americans at the U.S. border in Canada.”The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a prominent Muslim civil liberties group, said on Sunday that more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including American citizens, were held for hourslong periods of questioning over the weekend at the Peace Arch checkpoint in Blaine, Wash., along the border with Canada.”

ON BREAK. Adele and Harry Styles vacation together in Anguilla. “Of course, there’s speculation that Adele and Harry are either A) collaborating on some new music together or B) Adele lost the weight because she’s riding him like he’s a lanky stallion.”

WINNING AGAIN. Billy Porter in Alex Vinash at the Golden Globes.

LOOKING AHEAD? Pete Buttigieg tops Democratic 2024 presidential poll.

UNDER THE RADAR. Rudy Giuliani’s “unofficial” position allowed him to skirt White House disclosure rules: “An investigation by the newspaper published Sunday found that Giuliani, unlike other top members of the president’s inner circle, has not filed any financial disclosures with the White House since joining Trump’s team as a cybersecurity adviser shortly after the 2017 inauguration.”

TOO MANY TROLLS. Lizzo is quitting Twitter for now.

GRUESOME. Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy photos revealed in 60 Minutes segment. “Along with pics of the nooses and Epstein’s neck and dead body, there’s also a photo of a handwritten note found in his cell.”

MALE MODEL MONDAY. Javier Martin. More HERE.

MARGOT ROBBIE. My sexually fluid Bombshell character will end up with a woman.

SPEEDO ALERT. Luke Evans.

A PROBLEM IN GREEK ETHICS. Researcher finds rare book that helped lay foundation for gay rights movement: “A curator at Johns Hopkins University recently stumbled across an extremely rare copy of the 19th-century essay by John Addington Symonds that helped lay the foundation for the modern gay rights movement — a copy that for more than 130 years was thought to be lost.”

PUMP. Ferrari crashes through front of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant on West Hollywood strip: “Ken tells us that he’d spoken to the driver — the guy in the white shirt — and apparently, the dude claimed he’d been cut off in traffic and accidentally swerved into their patio. We asked if he was pissed, and surprisingly … Ken’s not! He says these things happen … c’est la vie.”

ICYMI OF THE DAY. Ricky Gervais’s Golden Globes monologue.

BTS CLIP OF THE DAY. Reimagining Dracula.

SHORT FILM OF THE DAY. This brief Iranian film just won an award at the Luxor Film Festival.

TRAILER OF THE DAY. The New Mutants.

TV TRAILER OF THE DAY. AppleTV+ LGBQ documentary Visible: Out on Television.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY. Justin Bieber “Yummy”.

MONDAY MUSCLE. Ricky Martin.

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Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, and who men and women voters tend to donate to

With Julián Castro’s exit from the Democratic presidential primary, only one candidate who has raised half of their funds from donors who are women remains in the race.

It appears to be a sign that male donors still hold considerably more influence when it comes to money in politics, and that their preferred candidates — who tend to look like them — are lasting the longest in the field.

Castro received 57 percent of his campaign contributions from women, making him and Marianne Williamson (70 percent) the candidates with the highest proportions of women donors. Castro was followed by Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out in November 2018, at 54 percent. Then came Kamala Harris at 52 percent (she pulled out in December), while Kirsten Gillibrand followed at 52 percent before she suspended her campaign in August. Elizabeth Warren, whom Castro has officially endorsed, is now the only competitive candidate left who has comparable support from women (51 percent) and men, according to a recent analysis of itemized contributions through the third fundraising quarter. Though women are donating the most to Bernie Sanders overall, most of the Vermont senator’s money still comes from male donors.

The Center for Responsive Politics, which has been tracking 2020 contributions, has found that women are giving as frequently as men to Democratic presidential candidates — and for the first time, giving more to multiple candidates. However, male donors still contribute more money on average. For every itemized dollar going to a presidential candidate, about 57 cents comes from a man and 43 cents from a woman. That matters when the gender breakdown of who’s contributing to what candidate tends to be skewed.

In the US political system, fundraising signals a candidate’s electability and viability, especially in primaries. The gender fundraising gap means that women, especially women of color — as both candidates and donors — often do not have the same opportunities to become competitive contenders or to have their preferred candidates viewed as particularly viable. In more than 90 percent of House elections, the candidates who spent the most campaign cash were elected to office. Meanwhile, no winning presidential candidate has ever received even half of their contributions from women. A majority support from men has historically been a key feature for successful presidential campaigns — and it’s perhaps time to address that influence.

Women and male donors, by the numbers

Women are not a monolithic fundraising bloc. They comprise a diverse and fluid group, and dollar amounts from women vary by candidate, largely because women often donate to more than one candidate. With multiple candidates embracing issues that Democratic women prioritize — like health care reform, gun regulations, income inequality, race relations, and education — donor circles are encouraging women to spread their money around. Even so, almost all of the women and candidates of color in the Democratic presidential primary received about half of their funds from women donors.

But who women donors favor tells only part of the story. These numbers also tell the story of which candidates men choose to support. Three out of four of the frontrunners — Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden — are men, all of whom receive far more campaign cash from men than they do women. Men are simply giving more, and giving more to the candidates who are men.

Part of that has to do with the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC in 2010since then, white men make up the vast majority of political megadonors. Looking at the top 100 political spenders lists of federal elections, women don’t make the cut as often as men do, and donors of color rarely show up as political megadonors.

Sanders is the outlier white male candidate with lots of small donors — 58 percent of his fundraising comes from small individual contributions. As a whole, such donors are more representative of the gender, class, and race demographics of diverse voting constituencies — and 41 percent of Sanders’s small donors are women.

Women and people of color have historically been politically active in a myriad of ways outside of the campaign finance system, but their financial contributions are changing, too. Loose coalitions of women-centric donor circles focused on bringing more women to elected office have grown across the country in response to the 2016 elections. And a new cluster has formed of minority-focused super PACs and bundlers focused on financially backing more candidates of color. It is important to note, though, that women and voters of color vote and donate for reasons beyond shared gender and racial identities with candidates. Like all voting blocs, they have an array of priorities that inform diverse policy perspectives through many identity factors, and voter support extends beyond representation.

Women are donating more now than ever. It could change our political future.

Ultimately, electing a woman or a candidate of color is about more than who donates to whom. Previous research has found that gender parity in fundraising still does not translate to equal chances of electoral success. By looking at electoral fates for women and people of color in similar political positions and situations as white men, diverse groups of candidates may not achieve the same levels of success with the same levels of campaign investments because of the systemic racism and sexism that “gatekeeps” from the start who is capable of running for office.

In other words, women and people of color may require more resources to reach the same goals as candidates who are white and candidates who are male. And it may require women donors and donors of color to kick in more money to garner the same amount of buzz and “bang for their buck” for their preferred candidates.

Women are on track to donate more money this election cycle than ever before, and this trend is only rising. If Democratic women remain this engaged and financially active going into 2020 and beyond — and all signs suggest they could, quite possibly, close the gender fundraising gap in one of the next elections — new seats at the table may open in our political process.

Grace Haley is a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs the site OpenSecrets.org in Washington, DC. Her work studies the intersections of identity and campaign finance, focusing on how women navigate politics as donors, voters, candidates, and lawmakers.

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Democrats move swiftly to halt Trump’s conflict with Iran

“We would be powerless if we didn’t get the majority, but the country gave us the majority in the House of Representatives,” he added.

The resolution is expected to easily pass the House as early as Wednesday, with nearly every Democrat likely to support it. Adoption will force a vote on the Senate floor in the coming days, because it is privileged. Democrats hope it will pose a tough loyalty test for Republicans, who were also mostly blindsided by Trump’s strike.

But the House and Senate GOP are likely to remain largely united on the floor, with many across the party rallying around Trump’s slaying of a man linked to the deaths of hundreds of Americans.

Senate Democrats will need at least four Republicans to join them if all 47 caucus members vote for the resolution. Such a break would mark a repudiation of Trump as he gears up for his reelection campaign and an impeachment trial in the Senate.

A handful of Republicans — including vocal war skeptics like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — have bucked their party in the past, protesting what they see as the unchecked military might of the executive branch. But it’s not clear they would oppose Trump in this case.

Several Republicans are already suggesting the debate over the Iran measure could look very different from the bipartisan resolution last year that would have ended U.S. support for the deadly conflict in Yemen.

The war powers resolution getting a vote this week would essentially end additional military operations in Iran unless there is the threat of an imminent attack — a much tougher measure for Republicans to support. It would require the Trump administration to cease all military activity in Iran within 60 days unless congressional approval was given.

House GOP leadership aides are expecting only a handful of defections on the floor.

“There shouldn’t be a single Republican member of our conference [to] vote for this resolution, which has nothing to do with the AUMF debate and everything to do with politics,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told POLITICO. “When President Obama intervenes in Syria, Pelosi says nothing! When President Trump takes out a terrorist with a drone, she sides with the opposition.”

Lawmakers are expected to receive a full briefing from Trump officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, although details have not been nailed down, according to people involved with the planning.

The House resolution, announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Sunday, opens yet another front against Trump, who has repeatedly ignored congressional leaders of both parties in his foreign policy across the Middle East.

Pelosi described Trump’s action as a “provocative and disproportionate military airstrike” that she said endangers U.S. troops “by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.”

House Democrats have condemned Trump in droves, with the caucus’ most liberal members, like Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), as well as moderate ex-military members like Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), equally forceful in their opposition.

“I’m not trying to be Secretary of State. I’m trying to understand if we, as a nation, should be having a conversation if we want to get into another protracted war in the Middle East,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin, an Iraq War veteran who will lead the resolution on the floor this week, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday.

The resolution comes with some risk for Pelosi and her deputies in the House, however. Top Democrats are anxious that Republicans could use the measure to force a vote on another contentious issue, like Israel, that has split the Democratic Caucus in the past, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump’s acceleration of the U.S.-Iran conflict could become a major theme of the House Democratic agenda in 2020, with the three-month impeachment probe now behind them.

Top Democrats are planning to step up their oversight of Trump’s actions in Iran and the Middle East generally. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday he plans to hold open hearings on what he sees as a rapidly escalating threat to U.S. interests in the region.

“I think there should be open hearings on this subject,” Schiff told the Washington Post. “The president has put us on a path where we may be at war with Iran. That requires the Congress to fully engage.”

Schiff’s office declined to comment on next steps on oversight, which is also likely to involve the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

With Democrats trying to bolster their messaging by elevating ex-military members like Slotkin, Republicans, too, are leaning on their veterans to help make their case. Some of the GOP members who have praised Trump’s airstrike on Soleimani on cable news in recent days include Reps. Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Michael Waltz (Fla.).

“I’m not sure why the Democrats have chosen to go so deep in opposition to this. While it may work with their base, most Americans don’t see this fear of Iran as a good look,” Kinzinger said. “If in time Iran backs down and moderates, the Democrats will be seen as on the wrong side of this, relatively soon. If they continue attacking Americans, people will be even angrier at Iran’s continues provocations.”

Republicans are also using the opportunity to draw another contrast with Democrats amid the impeachment battle.

“While Democrats are trying to remove President Trump from office, the President is focused on removing terrorists from the face of the earth,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Khanna said he hoped Republicans would support the resolution later this week, noting the bipartisan coalition he spearheaded earlier this year that successfully passed a war powers resolution cutting off U.S. support for the war in Yemen. Trump promptly vetoed the measure — which drew support from 16 Republicans in the House and seven Republicans in the Senate — marking only the second veto of his presidency.

But Khanna argued many of those same Republicans should be willing to support this resolution, even amid the partisan warfare currently unfolding over Democrats’ decision to impeach Trump over abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges in the Ukraine scandal.

The California Democrat is also pushing for a vote on his bill to defund U.S. military action in Iran that doesn’t first receive congressional approval. Khanna and GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced a similar amendment this summer that was adopted in the House’s annual defense authorization bill with 27 Republicans breaking with their party to support it.

But that provision — along with an amendment from Lee to repeal a 2002 military authorization passed in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq — was stripped out during final negotiations in December, over the howls of progressives.

“The Pentagon fought tooth and nail — tooth and nail — to get that Iran amendment out. It was their highest priority. And that to me was a signal that they were planning something at some time,” Khanna said. “But once we passed the NDAA and we did not get their commitment to restrict action in Iran, they took that as a blank check. And it was a colossal mistake.”

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including Khanna, huddled on a call Sunday to talk about a strategy on Iran going forward. The call was held before Pelosi announced the vote on the war powers resolution.

The CPC heard from Trita Parsi, a prominent Iran analyst and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, who urged liberals to move responsibly to end U.S. entanglements in the Middle East.

Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.

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If Iran Can Kill Our People, We Can Hit Iran Cultural Sites

News

President Donald Trump on Sunday urged the world to focus on the real atrocities in the Middle East instead of a tweet in which he taunted Iran.

Trump was pushing back against criticism of a tweet that implied cultural sites of significance within Iran could become fair game if Iran were to attack Americans in retaliation for the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

For example, Andrea Prasow, acting Washington director at Human Rights Watch, accused Trump of planning war crimes by tweeting that cultural sites were not off limits.

“President Trump should publicly reverse his threats against Iran’s cultural property and make clear that he will not authorize nor order war crimes,” she said in a statement on the group’s website.

“The US Defense Department should publicly reaffirm its commitment to abide by the laws of war and comply only with lawful military orders,” she said.

TRENDING: Ilhan Omar’s Response to Soleimani Strike Shows Why She Wasn’t Told in the First Place

Trump stood by his words.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters, referring to Iran, according to NBC.

Many veterans have said Trump was right to approve the attack the killed Soleimani.

“If you’re in my community, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ve probably buried somebody who was killed by [Soleimani], you know someone who’s lost a limb or been catastrophically wounded, and you know a Gold Star family who has been destroyed by this guy,” retired Green Beret Master Sgt. Terry Schappert told Fox News.

“If you can’t care about that, you can care about all the people he’s killed over there … Iraq, Syria, Lebanon … his own country … he’s murdered and tortured people,” he said.

During his return to Washington aboard Air Force One, Trump spoke with the media about the drone strike and Iran’s threats of reprisals.

Trump was asked about the possibility of an Iranian attack.

“If it happens, it happens. If they do anything, there will be major retaliation,” he said.

RELATED: Lindsey Graham Launches Plan To Cut Pelosi Out of Impeachment Entirely

Trump said American surveillance on Soleimani, an Iranian general who was the behind-the-scenes leader of pro-Iran militias in Iraq, dated back 18 months.

“He was leading his country down a very bad dangerous path,” Trump said.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to soothe feathers that were ruffled over Trump’s tweet.

Do you think the media is more interested in covering Trump’s tweets than covering the news?

“The American people should know that we have prepared for this, that we are ready, that our responses are lawful, and that the president will take every action necessary to respond should Iran decide to escalate,” Pompeo said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

During his Sunday night remarks to the media, Trump also said the U.S. has no plans to leave Iraq, despite a resolution from Iraq’s parliament calling for that to happen.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time,” Trump said. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”

If Iraq tries to oust the U.S., Trump said, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

“If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq,” Trump said.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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John Bolton willing to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial

Former national security advisor John Bolton said Monday he would testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial if the Senate issues him a subpoena, putting new and potentially intense pressure on Senate Republicans to open the impeachment trial further than they had planned.

Several administration witnesses testified during the House investigation of Trump’s actions toward Ukraine that Bolton told them he was concerned about aspects of the president’s behavior. Former administration official Fiona Hill recounted Bolton caustically comparing Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine to a “drug deal.”

Bolton’s testimony — which Democrats have long sought, believing it would shine additional light on Trump’s actions — could serve as a focal point of a Senate impeachment trial.

“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has, so far, resisted calls to have live witnesses testify in the Senate trial. The House voted last month to impeach Trump on two counts — one accusing him of abuse of power, the other of obstructing Congress’ investigation — but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has delayed the formal step of sending the impeachment resolution to the Senate in an effort to put pressure on McConnell to relent.

House Democrats did not subpoena Bolton, but they made clear that they wanted to hear from him. During the House proceedings, Bolton said he would wait for the courts to decide whether witnesses had to testify before Congress or whether they could abide by a presidential directive to not testify in the House’s impeachment effort.

Bolton had tied his fate to that of Charles Kupperman, his former deputy, who asked a court to decide whether he had to abide by a congressional subpoena. A federal judge late last month said that case was moot and didn’t decide the issue.

“Since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study,” Bolton said in his statement.

Democrats immediately called on Senate Republicans to issue the subpoena.

“Bolton refused to testify in the House, following Trump’s orders,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) on Twitter. “Now he is willing to come forward. The Senate must allow testimony from him, [acting White House Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney and others. The cover-up must end.”

McConnell has indicated that the Republican-controlled Senate will not convict Trump in an impeachment trial and that he would like to see a trial move rapidly to its foregone conclusion. He wants the Senate to hear opening arguments from both sides and then decide whether witnesses and other testimony is needed to decide the case or whether to merely end it at that point.

He might be able to proceed down that path if he has the support of a majority of the Senate. But with only 53 Senate Republicans, he has little wiggle room.

Bolton’s offer to testify will put pressure on Senate Republicans to reject McConnell’s plan. If four Republicans don’t support the plan — as well as all Democrats — he won’t be able to proceed. All eyes will be on Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, all of whom have occasionally bucked Trump and their party.

Bolton’s announcement could end up validating Pelosi’s strategy of holding on to the articles of impeachment — instead of immediately sending them to the Senate — in order to bolster Democrats’ negotiating power with McConnell.

“It is now up to four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton, and the other three witnesses, as well as the key documents we have requested to ensure all the evidence is presented at the onset of a Senate trial,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested, they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover-up.”

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John Bolton says he is prepared to testify in Senate trial if subpoenaed

Bolton issued a statement after the courts did not rule whether he would be compelled to testify during the House’s impeachment proceedings. The House never subpoenaed Bolton and Democrats withdrew their subpoena for his former deputy after it was challenged in court — as Democrats wanted to move forward with their impeachment probe and not wait for the court’s decision.

“Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study,” Bolton said in a statement. “I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”

Bolton’s statement is likely to put new pressures from Democrats on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses in the Senate trial, which Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic House leaders have pushed for.

So far, McConnell has resisted Schumer’s calls to have witnesses in the Senate trial, instead calling for an agreement on the rules of the Senate trial that would put off the question of witnesses until later on.

Amid the impasse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to formally send the two impeachment articles to the Senate after the House passed them last month.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, sought Bolton’s testimony during the House’s impeachment investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. But Bolton’s former deputy, Charles Kupperman, filed a lawsuit after he was subpoenaed, arguing the White House was directing him not to testify and the courts should decide the issue. Instead, the House withdrew its subpoena of Kupperman and did not issue a subpoena for Bolton after his attorney indicated he would go the same route.

Bolton and Kupperman are two of several witnesses that House Democrats sought whom Senate Democrats are now pushing for in the Senate trial, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House aide Rob Blair.

This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.

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Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren in presidential race – Boston Herald

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Obama administration housing chief Julián Castro is endorsing Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bid, saying the Massachusetts senator is “the most qualified, best-equipped candidate to win the nomination” and defeat President Donald Trump.

In an online video posted Monday featuring the two former 2020 White House rivals, Castro tells Warren, “No one is working harder than you.” The pair had remained friendly during months of campaigning.

Castro, also the former mayor of San Antonio, dropped out of the presidential race last week. The Iowa caucuses that kick off the Democratic primary are less than a month away.

Warren’s campaign announced minutes after the endorsement that Castro will appear with Warren at a rally Tuesday evening in New York City.

In a statement, Castro said the 3-minute endorsement video explains why “Elizabeth and I share a vision of America where everyone counts. An America where people — not the wealthy or well-connected — are put first.”

Warren has for months polled among the still-crowded primary’s front-runners in Iowa and nationally, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. All four enjoyed strong fundraising through the end of 2019, further evidence the primary could be a long, drawn-out battle.

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

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Graham Suggests Changing Senate Rules to Start Impeachment Trial Without Articles

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested changing Senate rules to allow President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start without the two articles of impeachment being sent by the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to hold onto the articles—an unprecedented move that has brought the process to a standstill and prompted debate among legal scholars and calls of obstruction from Republicans.

Graham said he would give the House a week to act before pushing to have the Senate’s rules changed.

“If we don’t get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules, deem them to be delivered to the Senate so we can start the trial, invite the House over to participate if they would like, if they don’t come, dismiss the case and get on with governing the country,” Graham told Fox News.

The South Carolina Republican, considered one of Trump’s key allies in the Senate, said he wants the trial to be done by the end of January, adding that the rule changes could come in “days, not weeks” if the articles are held in the House, which voted on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump mostly along party lines. A few Democrats broke with their party to vote against one or more articles, while one voted “present.” All Republicans voted against the articles.

Graham, when he served in the House, was one of the 13 Republican managers during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

The current strategy employed by Democrats, Graham argued, is potentially harmful to the executive branch’s power as well as the future of the presidency itself. Pelosi hasn’t said when Democrats would transmit the articles to the upper chamber.

In the days after the vote to impeach Trump, Pelosi said her caucus needs to see how the Senate will react before sending over the articles—obstruction of Congress and abuse of power—and House managers during the Senate trial. The Democrat-ruled House needs a simple majority to impeach a president while the Senate, which has a 53-Republican majority, needs a 67-vote supermajority to remove a president.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has argued that several current and former White House officials, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former Trump adviser John Bolton, should testify during the next phase. However, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has rejected Schumer’s request.

During the Fox interview, Graham provided a glimpse of the Republican majority’s strategy on how they would like the trial to proceed.

“We’ll use the Clinton model, where you take the record established in the House, let the House managers appointed by Pelosi make the argument, let the president make his argument why the two articles are flawed, and then we’ll decide whether we want witnesses. But this should be done in a couple of weeks,” he said.

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Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren for president

By Daniella Diaz and MJ Lee | CNN

Former 2020 candidate Julián Castro endorsed Elizabeth Warren on Monday morning, announcing just days after ending his own bid for the White House that he believes Warren is the “one candidate I see who’s unafraid to fight like hell to make sure America’s promise will be there for everyone.”

The news marks one of the Massachusetts senator’s most high-profile endorsements to date, coming just weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses and at a moment when her political momentum has slowed. Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama and was formerly mayor of San Antonio, Texas, will appear with Warren at a campaign rally in Brooklyn, New York, Tuesday night, a campaign aide told CNN.

Warren, Castro said in an endorsement video, “will make sure that no matter where you live in America or where your family came from in the world, you have a path to opportunity too. That’s why I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for President.”

Castro was the lone Latino candidate for president in 2020. He was outspoken on issues related to immigration, including fighting for decriminalizing illegal border crossings — and advocated for more diversity in politics. He spoke out against the current primary system that has voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire vote first, saying those states did not fully represent the diversity of the rest of the country.

Castro’s decision to formally back Warren is in many ways not surprising. The two shared a publicly complimentary relationship as 2020 rivals, publicly complimenting each other’s’ ideas and policy positions. During his run, Castro repeatedly criticized candidates like former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, but remained on good terms with Warren and her campaign.

Castro and Warren spoke about the endorsement after he suspended his campaign last week, according to a Castro aide. Castro then traveled to Boston to record the endorsement video.

A number of Castro campaign staffers have already made the jump to Warren’s team, and Castro plans to campaign with and without Warren in the coming weeks and months, the source said.

In the video, Castro starts off by discussing his family story. Notably, in his backing of the top female candidate in the 2020 race, he points to the “strong women who came before me.”

“My story wouldn’t be possible without the strong women who came before me. My grandmother, Victoria, came to the United States at 7 years old. She taught her family the value of hard work as she cleaned houses and worked as a maid,” Castro says. “She passed on those values of hard work and perseverance to my mother, a single mom to myself and my twin brother, Joaquin.”