HERE’S A QUESTION WORTH PONDERING: We are 298 DAYS until the election. Are you at all convinced that impeachment will remain as poignant a political issue as it is now? Republicans feel confident they’ve put red-district Democrats in a bad spot for supporting impeachment — but they’re equally confident it will be very difficult to keep them in that bad spot for the next 10 months, and privately concede the issue might soften over time.
THINK ABOUT THE LAST WEEK IN POLITICS: The U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, allies got nervous, the world wondered if Iran would strike back, Iran did, President DONALD TRUMP said he wouldn’t escalate further, Speaker NANCY PELOSI was in the middle of holding the impeachment articles, now she’s at the end of holding them, and you have to wonder: What else will happen between now and November that will make impeachment seem like ancient history?
THIS IS SOME BACK-OF-THE-NAPKIN MATH, but bear with us: If impeachment starts next week, you should expect it to end in late January. That leaves nine full months between the end of impeachment and Election Day. In this environment, that’s at least 270 news cycles.
BURGESS EVERETT: “‘Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter’: Impeachment trial hurts presidential campaigns”: “[W]hile the Massachusetts senator has said for months that ‘some things are more important than politics’ — like impeachment — she now admits that with three weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, there’s simply no substitute for being there.
“‘Of course it matters,’ Warren said in an interview this week. ‘We just did a three-and-a-half-hour selfie line. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter to do face-to-face.’ … ‘There are lots of ways to reach out and talk to people,’ Warren added. ‘But the best and most important one is the face-to-face, handshake, a hug and being able to hold up the children so they can take pictures with you, to ask a question to do a pinky promise. And all of that is lost is if we can’t be there in person.’” POLITICO
MIDDLE EAST OVER, ONTO 2020! … NYT’S ANNIE KARNI and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “Kushner’s Global Role Shrinks as He Tackles Another: The 2020 Election”: “When senior administration officials gathered in the Situation Room on Tuesday for a meeting to discuss the repercussions of the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Vice President Mike Pence had a seat at the table. So did Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, and Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary.
“But the White House aide whose portfolio is the Middle East was notably absent from the meeting. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was sitting for a photo shoot for a planned Time magazine cover story. He was also absent from the Situation Room later in the day when it was clear Iran was launching an attack on American forces and the same officials rush backed, joined by Mr. Trump and West Wing aides like Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary.”
— JARED turns 39 today.
TAKING THE SOLEIMANI KILLING ONTO THE TRAIL … ANITA KUMAR in Toledo, Ohio, with the president: “‘He was a bad guy,’ Trump said of Soleimani. ‘He was a bloodthirsty terrorist, and he’s no longer a terrorist. He’s dead, and yet now I see … the radical-left Democrats have expressed outrage over the termination of this horrible terrorist. And you know, instead they should be outraged by Soleimani’s savage crimes and the fact that his countless victims were denied justice for so long.’” POLITICO
224 TO 194 … That was the vote Thursday on the War Powers Resolution, seeking to force the president to seek approval from Congress for armed conflict with Iran. There were eight Democratic noes: Reps. Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Max Rose (N.Y.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Kendra Horn (Okla.), Elaine Luria (Va.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Stephanie Murphy (Fla.). There were three Republican yeses: Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.), Francis Rooney (Fla.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.).
NEW: TODD MCMURTRY is launching a primary campaign against MASSIE. McMurtry is the lawyer for the Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, who recently settled his defamation case against CNN. McMurtry’s pitch: The president can’t count on Massie’s support. Massie raised more than $121,000 and has $242,000 cash on hand as of his last campaign finance report.
Good Friday morning.
HAPPENING TODAY … NEW JOBS REPORT: “U.S. job growth seen slowing in December after robust gains,” by Reuters’ Lucia Mutikani: “U.S. job growth likely slowed in December, but the pace of hiring probably remains more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track despite a deepening downturn in a manufacturing sector stung by trade disputes.
“The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday could buttress the Federal Reserve’s assessment that both the economy and monetary policy are in a ‘good place.’ It would extend the run of upbeat data such as consumer spending, trade and housing that have suggested the expansion, now in its 11th year, is not in immediate danger of being derailed by a recession.” Reuters
BIG WSJ STORY … “Trump’s New National Security Team Made Fast Work of Iran Strike,” by Mike Bender, Michael Gordon, Gordon Lubold and Warren Strobel: “The new team was cohesive and less inclined than its predecessors to push back against the president’s wishes, according to administration officials and others consulted by the White House. They were also less likely to consult in advance with other administration, Pentagon or State Department officials, congressional leaders or foreign allies, some of these officials said.”
HOW IT HAPPENED … REUTERS: “Informants in Iraq, Syria helped U.S. kill Iran’s Soleimani”: “Iranian General Qassem Soleimani arrived at the Damascus airport in a vehicle with dark-tinted glass. Four soldiers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards rode with him. They parked near a staircase leading to a Cham Wings Airbus A320, destined for Baghdad.
“Neither Soleimani nor the soldiers were registered on the passenger manifesto … Soleimani avoided using his private plane because of rising concerns about his own security …
“The Iraqi investigation into the strikes that killed the two men on Jan. 3 started minutes after the U.S. strike … Investigators have focused on how suspected informants inside the Damascus and Baghdad airports collaborated with the U.S. military to help track and pinpoint Soleimani’s position, according to Reuters interviews with two security officials with direct knowledge of Iraq’s investigation, two Baghdad airport employees, two police officials and two employees of Syria’s Cham Wings Airlines, a private commercial airline headquartered in Damascus.” Reuters
THE LATEST IN IRAN — “Iran denies missile hit plane, calls on West to share data,” by AP’s Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Joseph Krauss in Dubai: “Iran on Friday denied Western allegations a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed outside Tehran was brought down by an Iranian missile and called on the U.S. and Canada to share any information they have on the crash, which killed all 176 people on board.
“Western leaders said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile near Tehran, just hours after Iran launched a series of ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike last week. ‘What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,’ Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s national aviation department, told a press conference. ‘If they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world’ in accordance with international standards, he added.
“Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of Iranian investigation team on Friday told the same press conference that recovering data from the black box flight recorders could take more than a month and that the entire investigation could stretch into next year. He also said Iran may request help from international experts if it is not able to extract the flight recordings.” AP
OH MY GOODNESS … NYT: “Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and ‘Clowns’ Who Designed 737 Max,” by Natalie Kitroeff: “Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered Thursday to congressional investigators.
“‘I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,’ one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.
“The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos. The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.
“‘Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,’ one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. ‘No,’ the colleague responded.”
CAMBRIDGE READ … BOSTON GLOBE: “At Harvard Law, reluctance to apply for clerkships with Trump-appointed judges,” by Deirdre Fernandes: “Used to be that the promise of earning a sterling line on a resume and connections to stars of the legal profession was enough to lure Harvard law students to federal clerkships.
“But recently, when Harvard Law School was urging its students to apply to work for one of President Trump’s newly appointed judges, it felt the need to offer further incentives: ‘Next to Lake Tahoe and great skiing!’ the job alert read.
“But that apparently wasn’t enough. Two days later, in mid-December, the law school again nudged its students to apply for clerkships with federal judges, noting that some judges, including two Trump appointees, had received no Harvard applications — calling them ‘wasted opportunities.’”
2020 WATCH …
— “Elizabeth Warren’s surprising closing argument,” by Alex Thompson: “Elizabeth Warren is often portrayed in media as a figure of the left-wing, locked in a battle with Bernie Sanders for the progressive base of the party. In fact, polling frequently shows she’s the second choice not just of Sanders voters, but of Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg supporters, too.
“Seeking a spark heading into the Iowa caucuses, Warren and her allies are making a surprising closing argument: That she’s best positioned to unite and excite the party — and is therefore the most electable.
“It’s the first time Warren’s orbit has made the electability pitch so overtly. But the campaign has been quietly implementing that strategy since 2018, when Warren raised or donated $11 million to Democratic candidates and began drawing subtle distinctions with Sanders (She described herself as a ‘capitalist to my bones,’ in contrast to Sanders’ preference for democratic socialism). Warren has also mostly abstained from attacking other Democrats in an attempt not to alienate supporters of other candidates. Her campaign staff reflects the approach, with a mix of officials from Sanders, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton’s past campaigns.” POLITICO
— RYAN LIZZA: “Biden and Bernie duke it out on war and peace”: “The Democratic primary could come down to a simple question: Do voters want Biden’s promise of a steady hand, or Bernie’s revolutionary zeal?”
TRUMP’S FRIDAY — The president will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1:45 p.m. in the Oval Office.
— POMPEO HEADS TO THE BAY AREA ON MONDAY. Via Carla Marinucci: “On the heels of the Iran crisis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hitting the liberal bastion of the SF Bay Area Monday — with a high-profile stop in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House district. In addition to a morning talk at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Pompeo is scheduled to star Monday at an already sold-out ‘fireside chat’ at the headquarters of the Commonwealth Club of California, where he’ll sit down with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino to talk ‘foreign policy challenges and issues of economic security.’ That 4 p.m. PST event — in the heart of downtown San Francisco — should draw not only some crowds, but likely some protests. The club will offer his talk livestreamed.”
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“Face the Nation”: Defense Secretary Mark Esper … John Kerry … Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) … Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
“This Week”: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“State of the Union”: Panel: Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Rick Santorum, Wajahat Ali and Mia Love.
“Meet the Press”: Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, David French, Steve Inskeep and Andrea Mitchell.
“Fox News Sunday”: Panel: Jonah Goldberg, Donna Brazile, Gillian Turner and Juan Williams.
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Julie Pace, Vivian Salama, Jeff Zeleny and Karoun Demirjian.
“America This Week with Eric Bolling”: Stephanie Grisham … Alan Dershowitz … Anthony Shaffer … Amber Phillips.
“Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren”: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) … Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).
BRYAN BENDER: “General denies request for pardoned Special Forces soldier to regain elite patch”: “The Army’s top Special Forces commander has denied a request from a former soldier who was pardoned of war crimes charges by President Donald Trump to have his elite ribbon returned — and the case is now set to go before the service’s highest personnel review board.
“Lawyers for former Maj. Matt Golsteyn requested the Army reinstate his Special Forces Tab, which was revoked in 2014 after he was accused of premeditated murder of a civilian in Afghanistan.
“The move could set up a new clash with Trump, who pardoned Golsteyn in November as he was facing a court martial — along with former Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was convicted of posing with the corpse of a dead fighter in Iraq, and former Army Lt. Clint Lorance, who was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in Afghanistan for ordering his soldiers to fire on three civilians.
“Trump subsequently ordered the Navy to return Gallagher’s coveted Trident pin over the objections of military leaders, including then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who resigned over the decision and accused Trump of undermining the military justice system and encouraging lawlessness in the ranks.” POLITICO
THE END — “Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence,” by WaPo’s Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky: “John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, was tapped in November 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into concerns raised by President Trump and his allies in Congress that the FBI had not fully pursued cases of possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, when the U.S. government decided not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One.
“As a part of his review, Huber examined documents and conferred with federal law enforcement officials in Little Rock who were handling a meandering probe into the Clinton Foundation, people familiar with the matter said. Current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing — though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Department or to lawmakers, these people said.”
— NOTE: This story was breaking as POTUS was leading chants of “Lock her up” in Toledo.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY … LAT: “Trump and Garcetti, enemies in public, are quietly working out a deal on homelessness,” by Noah Bierman, Benjamin Oreskes and Dakota Smith: “Senior Trump administration officials have made quiet but significant progress toward a potential deal with Los Angeles officials that would provide federal funds and land to help shelter the city‘s and county’s growing homeless population.
“The movement follows a series of phone calls involving Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. …
“But the political impasse appeared to break in recent days. Garcetti sent a formal letter to Carson and Trump on Thursday requesting federal help to address homelessness in Los Angeles.”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “As EU stumbles, Putin and Erdoğan take charge in Libya,” by POLITICO Europe’s David Herszenhorn
AYFKM? — “Video in apparent Epstein suicide attempt is lost, U.S. says,” by AP’s Jim Mustian and Michael Balsamo: “Video footage of the area around Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt ‘no longer exists,’ federal prosecutors told a judge Thursday.
“Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York believed they had preserved footage of guards finding Epstein after he appeared to have attempted suicide, but actually saved a video from a different part of the jail, prosecutors said.
“The FBI also has determined that the footage does not exist on the jail’s backup video system ‘as a result of technical errors,’ Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurene Comey and Jason Swergold wrote in a court filing.” AP
AP/SEOUL: “South Korea said Friday it conveyed a message by President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wishing him a happy birthday, which is believed to be Jan. 8.”
MEDIAWATCH — “Anti-immigration author sues NYT over ‘white nationalist’ label,” by Josh Gerstein: “Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigration activist who hosts a website that has published the writings of white supremacists, is suing the New York Times for $5 million for labeling him an ‘open white nationalist’ in an article last year.
“The characterization of Brimelow that triggered the libel lawsuit appeared in a Jan. 15, 2019 article by Times political reporter Trip Gabriel that offered a chronology of racist and inflammatory comments by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). The story mentioned Brimelow in passing while noting that the two men appeared on a panel together at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference.
“The suit says that after Brimelow complained about the description of him, the Times performed a ‘stealth edit’ on the online version of the story, removing the word ‘open’ but still branding him as a white nationalist. Brimelow rejects that label, preferring to be called a ‘civic nationalist.’” POLITICO … The suit
— Desmond Butler is joining WaPo as an investigative reporter on the national desk’s climate and environment team. He previously was an international investigations reporter for the AP.
— Marina Walker Guevara will be executive editor at the Pulitzer Center. She currently is director of strategic initiatives and network at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
— PALACE INTRIGUE … NYT’S MARK LANDLER in London: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are also known, felt forced to disclose their plans prematurely after they learned that the Sun, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, got wind of the internal discussions about their status and was preparing a story, two people with ties to the family said.” NYT
— TV THIS MORNING: Both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his doppelganger Larry David are due to appear on NBC’s “Today” show.
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN MEMORIAM — “Frederick Richmond, 96, Dies; Congressman Undone by Corruption,” by NYT’s Katharine Seelye: “Frederick W. Richmond, a New York philanthropist and civic leader who helped save Carnegie Hall from demolition but whose tenure in Congress — and public life — ended abruptly in 1982 when he pleaded guilty to corruption charges, died on Dec. 28 at a nursing home in Manhattan. He was 96. …
“A liberal Democrat, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Brooklyn in 1974 as part of a congressional class of post-Watergate reformers. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, he helped expand the food stamp program, promoted urban gardens and held hearings to investigate Latin American coffee cartels. Ahead of his time, he grew an organic vegetable garden on the roof outside his House office building. And with a net worth of $34 million, he was one of the wealthiest members of Congress.” NYT
SPOTTED: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) having dinner at Hill Country Barbecue Market on Thursday night. Pic … Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Max Rose (D-N.Y.) at Valor Brewpub in Eastern Market at a HillVets event. Pic … Joaquin Phoenix on an American Airlines flight from LAX to DCA on Thursday afternoon. … Martin Sheen having lunch at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle on Thursday.
SPOTTED at a farewell for Charlie Firestone of the Aspen Institute at the National Press Club on Thursday night: Mickey Edwards, Madeleine Albright, David Cohen, Juan Williams, Dan Porterfield, Jana Plat, Walter Isaacson, Jackie Puente, Suhail Khan, Dan Glickman, Charlie Sykes, Meryl Chertoff, Reed Hundt, Norm Ornstein, Christine Varney and Eric Motley.
TRANSITIONS — Zach Martin will be director of government affairs at Growth Energy. He previously was senior legislative assistant for Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). … Anastasia Dellaccio is joining the corporate affairs team at Booz Allen, where she will manage community impact and philanthropy initiatives. She previously was on the public affairs team at WeWork. … Janine Brady is now VP of public affairs at Edelman. She previously was account director at Dini von Mueffling Communications and is an NBCUniversal and MSNBC alum.
ENGAGED — Ricki Eshman, communications director at Guild Education and a Maggie Hassan alum, and Eric Buras, lead data scientist for D.C.-based Savi, recently got engaged.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). How he’s celebrating: “Members who celebrate their birthday on Jan. 10 have gotten together for lunch each year. Our merry band has shrunk to Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and me. Roy’s our lunch leader, since he has the most experience celebrating this day! After that, it’s a coach seat on Alaska Airlines to Oregon to complete my 625th roundtrip. Over the weekend, we’re hosting friends for dinner and hope to ski at Mt. Hood Meadows.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Jared Kushner is 39 … FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is 47 … Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is 7-0 … Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is 61 … Beth Fouhy, senior politics editor at NBC News and MSNBC … Joanna Rosholm … Michelle Fields … Nick Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, is 67 … Glover Park Group’s Lauren Edmonds … Freddie Tunnard, WH producer for NBC News … POLITICO’s Maya Parthasarathy and Kristen Miller … Esther Whieldon … AP national security reporter Robert Burns … Luke Johnson … former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is 57 … former Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is 59 … former Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) is 82 … Benjamin Hackett … Adam Walinsky is 83 … Jeremy Button … Blake Adami … Nat Wienecke … Chris Westfall, RT America producer, is 3-0 … Barnett Rubin … Sally Gray Lovejoy … Caroline Hakes …
… Morgan Finkelstein, associate director for media relations at CAP’s Moscow Project (h/t Shana Mansbach) … Liesl Hickey, partner at Ascent Media … Joseph Petrzelka, legislative assistant for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) … Katherine Afzal … The Hill’s Julia Manchester … AEI’s Caitlin Summers … Nat Sillin … Lauren Coape-Arnold … Robby Goldsberry … Aaron Buchner, COS at Organizing for Action … David Hallock … Liz Chadderon … Steve Marchand … Dante Scala … Vaughn Ververs, political editor at NBC, is 51 … David Horowitz is 81 … Jonathan Sarna is 65 … Joe Lacob is 64 … Jessica Mudditt … Stacy Hawkins Adams … Myranda Tanck … Braxton Marcela … Lanny Wiles … Hugh Livengood is 35 … Ryan Dierker … Blake Hopper … Adam Weissmann … Samuel Negatu … Cheryl Benton … AnnMaura Connolly (h/t Teresa Vilmain)