POLITICO Playbook: Pelosi defends delaying impeachment

Just days before Speaker NANCY PELOSI is expected to transmit articles of impeachment against President DONALD TRUMP, she defended her decision to delay the Senate’s impeachment trial to try and force witnesses. Pelosi told GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS on ABC News’ “This Week” this morning that despite Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL not budging on allowing new witnesses, the effort has been successful and that McConnell will be held “accountable to the American people.” “Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay the price,” Pelosi said.

THE TIMELINE: Still no word on exactly when she will name impeachment managers and when the House will vote. Pelosi said she’ll talk to her members Tuesday during their caucus meeting. “We’ll determine in our meeting when we’ll send them over,” Pelosi said.


— WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE PAST THREE WEEKS: “What we did want, though, and we think we accomplished in the past few weeks, is that we wanted the public to see the need for witnesses, witnesses with firsthand knowledge of what happened, documentation which the president has prevented from coming to the Congress as we review this.”

— ON WHY IT’S NOT LIKE THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: “Those witnesses that eventually came were all deposed. The president has not allowed the witnesses to be deposed for the House or for the Senate yet. So the evidence was there. It was just a question of bringing it more to the forefront. So, that — it’s a very major difference. You can depose the witnesses or you can’t.”

— ON JOHN BOLTON: “We haven’t eliminated the possibility of ever subpoenaing and going forward with Bolton.”

— ON TRUMP CRITICIZING HER: “Every knock from him is a boost.”

— NEW DEM TALKING POINT: “This president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell. … He will be impeached forever.”

— ONE REALITY CHECK ON DELAYING THE TRIAL: “Logjam Over Impeachment Trial Leaves Trump Prosecutors Little Time to Prepare,” by NYT’s Emily Cochrane

THE LATEST ON IRAN — “Iran braces for protests after admitting plane shootdown,” by AP’s Joseph Krauss and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: “Iran’s security forces deployed in large numbers across the capital on Sunday, expecting more protests after its Revolutionary Guard admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane at a time of soaring tensions with the United States.

“Riot police in black uniforms and helmets massed in Vali-e Asr Square, Tehran University and other landmarks as calls circulated for protests later in the day. Revolutionary Guard members patrolled the city on motorbikes and plainclothes security men were also out in force. People looked down as they walked briskly past the police, hoping not to draw attention to themselves.” AP

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP at 8:48 a.m.: “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

— MEANWHILE, UP NORTH: “Trudeau vows justice, compensation after Iran admits role in downed plane,” by Sue Allan in Ottawa: “Justin Trudeau’s modus operandi tends to be public measure and restraint. But when it comes to the plane crash over Iran that killed 57 Canadians and has captivated his country, the prime minister has embraced a new tack: public outrage.

“As Iran officially confirmed it shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in error Saturday, Trudeau took to the microphones for the third time in four days and pledged Canada would not rest until it achieves justice and compensation on behalf of the 176 passengers on that flight.

“‘Shooting down a civilian aircraft is horrific,’ he said. ‘Iran must take full responsibility.’ It’s a different look for Trudeau, who is entering his second term as prime minister following fall elections that cost his party its majority government, and reflects the public mood in the wake of the tragedy. Trudeau vowed to secure accountability for the families of the victims, some of whom he met with privately on Friday.” POLITICO

DEEP DIVE: “Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War,” by NYT’s Peter Baker, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick, Julian E. Barnes and Alissa J. Rubin

TOP OP-ED: Reps. ELAINE LURIA and MAX ROSE in the NYT: “Why We Voted Against the War Powers Resolution”

Good Sunday morning.

NEW: THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD — MONDAY: Trump will have lunch with VP Mike Pence. He and first lady Melania Trump will attend the college football national championship (LSU vs. Clemson) in New Orleans. TUESDAY: Trump will speak at a campaign rally in Milwaukee. WEDNESDAY: Trump will participate in a signing ceremony of a trade agreement with China. THURSDAY: Trump will announce guidance on prayer in public schools. FRIDAY: Trump will speak at a fundraising dinner in Palm Beach, Fla.

MORE SUNDAY BEST — ON IRAN … MARGARET BRENNAN spoke with DEFENSE SECRETARY MARK ESPER on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION” on the threat in Iran: ESPER: “Well, the president didn’t say there was a tangible – he didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably – he believed, could have been …”

BRENNAN: “Are you saying there wasn’t one?” ESPER: “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that probably, my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassies are the most prominent display of American presence in a country.”

— ESPER also spoke with JAKE TAPPER on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: ESPER: “The president never said there was specific intelligence to 4 different embassies … I believe there were threat to more than — to multiple embassies. That’s why we reinforced embassies with additional troops.”

— CHUCK TODD interviewed national security adviser ROBERT O’BRIEN on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” about the response at U.S. embassies: O’BRIEN: “We moved a Marine company in, immediately, we moved an army infantry platoon in immediately, and we made it clear, we put apache helicopters in the air, we made it very clear this was not going to be Tehran 1979, this was not going to be Benghazi …”

TODD: “That was for one embassy, what did you do for the other three embassies?” O’BRIEN: “Look, we took measures with respect to the other embassies in the region. I am not going to get into the details of those and give our playbook out to the other side, but we were very concerned about embassies throughout the region.”

— CHRIS WALLACE also spoke O’BRIEN on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: O’BRIEN: “It’s always difficult even with the exquisite intel that we have to know exactly what the targets are but it’s certainly consistent with the intel to assume that they would’ve hit embassies in at least four countries.”

ON U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ: “What we need to do is leave on our terms and leave in fashion in which ISIS is fully eliminated. We took care of the physical caliphate and we are working hard now to mop up the rest of ISIS, we saw that with the raid that took out al-Baghdadi , we made tremendous progress there. We will certainly work with Iraqis and we look forward to doing so, we talk with them every day. I think – we will come up with a resolution. We had a team from NATO here this week. I think you will see far more NATO involvement in Iraq.”

WSJ: “U.S. Warns Iraq It Risks Losing Access to Key Bank Account if Troops Told to Leave,” by Ian Talley in Washington and Isabel Coles in Beirut: “The Trump administration warned Iraq this week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials.

“The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.

“Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system and constricting a critical lubricant for the economy.” WSJ


— “Sanders campaign assails Biden over Iraq war vote,” by Evan Semones: “Bernie Sanders’ campaign on Saturday unleashed a full-throated attack on Joe Biden over the 2003 invasion of Iraq, accusing the former vice president of ‘rewriting history’ over his vote for the war.

“The campaigns began trading barbs on Friday after former Secretary of State John Kerry, a surrogate for Biden, pushed back during an Iowa stop against Sanders, who has frequently attacked Biden’s foreign policy record, saying Biden wasn’t ‘in favor’ of going to war. …

“Sanders’ speechwriter, David Sirorta, lambasted Biden in a series of tweets, telling supporters that Biden ‘isn’t getting away with rewriting history about how he helped lead America into the Iraq War.’ Sanders’ senior campaign adviser Jeff Weaver later released a statement saying Biden ‘made explicitly clear that he was voting for war.’

“‘It is appalling that after 18 years Joe Biden still refuses to admit he was dead wrong on the Iraq War, the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history,’ Weaver said.” POLITICO

— “Bernie campaign slams Warren as candidate of the elite,” by Alex Thompson and Holly Otterbein: “The non-aggression pact between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is seriously fraying. Sanders’ campaign has begun stealthily attacking Warren as a candidate of the upper crust who could not expand the Democratic base in a general election, according to talking points his campaign is using to persuade voters obtained by POLITICO.

“The script instructs Sanders volunteers to tell voters leaning toward the Massachusetts senator that the ‘people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that “[s]he’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.’” POLITICO

“How Bernie Sanders would upend America’s global role,” by WaPo’s Sean Sullivan

— JIM MESSINA TALKS: “Obama campaign guru: Trump would love to run against Bernie,” by Natasha Korecki

THE FIGHT FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTERS: “Biden holds wide lead among black voters in Democratic presidential race, Post-Ipsos poll finds,” by WaPo’s Scott Clement, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Dan Balz and Emily Guskin: “Former vice president Joe Biden is far and away the favored candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination among black Americans, boosted by his personal popularity, his service in the Obama administration and perceptions that he is best equipped to defeat President Trump, according to a national Washington Post-Ipsos poll.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) occupies second place in the Democratic field among African American voters, easily outdistancing the remaining candidates in the race. Sanders is leading among black voters under age 35, replicating his success with younger white voters in other national polls. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) runs third.” WaPo

— WAPO’S DAN BALZ: “Two polls frame the Democratic race and the power of African American voters”

— NINA TURNER OP-ED in the State: “While Bernie Sanders has always stood up for African Americans, Joe Biden has repeatedly let us down”

TRUMP’S SUNDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Trump Administration Weighs Tighter Requirements for Disability Payments,” by WSJ’s Kate Davidson: “The Trump administration is working on a plan to tighten eligibility requirements for disability benefits, especially for older Americans, the latest step in a broader White House effort to shrink federal safety-net programs.

“The proposal being prepared by the Social Security Administration would revise eligibility for disability benefits based on age, education and work experience, according to a draft viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Those factors determined the eligibility of about 500,000 people in 2017, according to the latest available data. More than eight million people currently receive disability payments.” WSJ

IN CHINA — “China says will not change position on Taiwan after landslide election,” by Reuters’ Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee in Taipei: “China will not change its position that Taiwan belongs to it, Beijing said on Sunday, after President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election and said she would not submit to China’s threats, as state media warned she was courting disaster.

“The election campaign was dominated by China’s efforts to get the democratic island to accept Beijing’s rule under a ‘one country, two systems’ model, as well as by anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong. ‘No matter what changes there are to the internal situation in Taiwan, the basic fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change,’ China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.” Reuters

BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman (@dlippman):

— “The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism,” by Kyle Chayka in The Guardian: “From the ‘KonMari method’ to Apple’s barely-there design philosophy, we are forever being urged to declutter and simplify our lives. But does minimalism really make us any happier?” Guardian

— “The Equality Conundrum,” by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker: “We all agree that inequality is bad. But what kind of equality is good?” New Yorker

— “Mohammed bin Zayed’s Dark Vision of the Middle East’s Future,” by Robert F. Worth on the cover of the NYT Magazine (print headline: “The M.B.Z. Moment”): “The enigmatic leader of the U.A.E. may soon emerge as the region’s most powerful figure. What does he really want?” NYT Magazine

— “They Made a Movie Out of It,” by James Pogue in The Baffler: “The decline of nonfiction in the IP era.” Baffler

— “How to sell good ideas,” by Ian Leslie in the New Statesman: “Malcolm Gladwell’s cool, playful intelligence has made him one of our leading public thinkers, and he has a host of imitators. But, in a time of antagonistic debate and polarised opinion, does he still have something to say?” New Statesman (h/t ALDaily.com)

— “‘Sentenced to Death’: What It’s Like Living in a Cancer-Plagued Oil Town,” by Trevor Bach in Vice: “Port Arthur, Texas, is surrounded by refineries that residents say are poisoning them.” Vice

— “Digital Distraction Is Bad for Creativity,” by Steven Heighton in The Walrus: “What a silent evening with an author I admired taught me about solitude and writing well.” Walrus (h/t Longreads.com)

— “What If We Stopped Pretending?” by Jonathan Franzen in The New Yorker: “The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.” New Yorker

— “Where people fall from the sky” — Macleans: “It’s Christmas in South West London, a charming and ordinary area but for the lives and deaths of certain travellers. Shannon Gormley reports.” Macleans (h/t Longreads.com)

— “Stealing White,” by Del Quentin Wilber in Bloomberg Businessweek in February 2016: “How a corporate spy swiped plans for DuPont’s billion-dollar color formula.” Bloomberg Businessweek

— “The Dognapping of the Century,” by Olivia Rutigliano in Medium: “When a ring of thieves steals a poet’s beloved dog, one of the world’s most famous women must break her long domestic oppression and discover herself in the process. The dognapping that sealed a romance and changed literary history.” Medium (h/t Longform.org)

— “The Incredibly Happy Life of Larry David, TV’s Favorite Grouch,” by Brett Martin in GQ: “We venture into the peculiar alternate reality of Larry David and begin to wonder: Is the world’s most infamously neurotic man actually its most self-actualized?” GQ

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at politicoplaybook@politico.com.

SPOTTED at a screening of “Just Mercy” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday night: Bryan Stevenson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Glenn Hutchins, Andrew Reinsdorf, Yebbie Watkins, Ralph Everett, Cheryl Mills, Mignon Clyburn, Eric Schultz, Donna Brazile, Deborah Berry, Lyndon Boozer, Karen Tumulty, Yamiche Alcindor, Ja’Ron Smith, Alfred Liggins, Minyon Moore, Karen Finney, Tanya Lombard, Clarence Page, Jim Meza, Cameron Normand, John R. Allen and MC Lyte.

TRANSITIONS — Bridgett Frey will be a director of client services at Bully Pulpit Interactive. She previously was comms director for Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). … Emily Bishop will be a senior associate for digital at FP1 Strategies. She previously was a press assistant for Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

WEEKEND WEDDING — “Laura Lieberman, Jeremy Skog,” via NYT: “The bride, 33, is a state tax analyst for the Bloomberg Industry Group in Arlington. … Dr. Skog, 39, is an economic consultant based in Alexandria, Va. He was until August 2019 a vice president at Criterion Economics.” With a pic: NYT

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Joe Kristol, VP at venture capital studio Create and a Tom Cotton and McKinsey alum, and Delia Kristol, an emergency medicine resident physician at Jacobi/Montefiore in the Bronx, on Friday welcomed Louisa Devine Kristol, who came in at 7 lbs, 7 oz and 19.5 inches. Pic Another pic

BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is 7-0 … Jeff Bezos is 56 … Christiane Amanpour … Rush Limbaugh is 69 … Howard Stern is 66 … HHS’ Ryan Murphy … Michael B. Williams, deputy assistant to the president and counselor to the COS at the White House … POLITICO’s Sarah Karlin-Smith, Jon-Eric Olson and Alex Weiss … Danny O’Brien, Fox Corp. EVP and head of government relations … Anne Mosle … Julian Potter … Allison Cutler (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Doug Thornell, principal at SKDKnickerbocker … Stephanie Rigizadeh, MSNBC planning producer in D.C. … Case Button … Taylor Foran … WTOP’s Debra Feinstein …

Chris Laible, CBS News Asia bureau chief based in Beijing … Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee … Annie Dickerson … Basil Smikle … A.J. Rice … Madeline Osburn, staff editor and radio producer at The Federalist … Kevin Curran, managing partner at Rock Creek Advisors, is 4-0 … LJ Dawson … Andre Delattre, SVP and COO for program at the Public Interest Network … Andrew Fosina … Sam Hananel, associate director of media relations at CAP … Kandi Walker … Eliza Hanson … author John Aloysius Farrell is 67 … Chris Marston … AIPAC’s Jonathan Schulman is 38 … Kate Noel … Lisa DePaulo

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