December 11, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Trump agreed Tuesday that their final version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) is better than NAFTA and great for America. Pelosi and Senate Republicans also agreed that House Democrats had wrested significant concessions from Mexico and from the White House over months of tough negotiations. "We stayed on this, and we ate their lunch," Pelosi told fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, according to Politico and The Washington Post.

"The deal didn't come easy — and it was on the brink of death multiple times over the past year," Politico reports. "Getting to yes required negotiations with an ideologically diverse coalition that included congressional Democrats, organized labor and Mexico's private sector, Canadian ministers, and Trump's hard-charging U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer." Lighthizer started negotiating with Pelosi and nine hand-picked House Democrats over the summer, and the Democrats steadily won concessions on prescription drug patents, enforcement mechanisms, environmental protections, and — finally and crucially — labor.

Senate Republicans weren't thrilled when Lighthizer briefed some of them on the USMCA changes Tuesday morning, the Post reports. The negotiations "seemed to be a, you know, just a one-way direction in the direction of the Democrats," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told the Post. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said his "concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction they wanted. And anything that gets the AFL-CIO's endorsement ...  could be problematic."

The compromises on the revamped NAFTA pact "reflect Trump's eagerness to secure legislative accomplishments he can highlight during his 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the White House's confidence that it risks little backlash from a GOP increasingly molded in Trump's image," the Post reports. One GOP Senate aide told the Post that the Republicans "complaining they are not included are also too scared to vote against [Trump]. So why would he bother negotiating with them?" Peter Weber

3:31 p.m.

Wuhan, China, is on lockdown following the outbreak of a coronavirus in the city.

The Chinese government decided Wednesday that it was necessary to quarantine the city, which is home to more than 11 million, by shutting down intra-city public transportation. Outbound flights and trains will also be canceled for the time being as efforts to learn more about the virus and how it spreads continue.

The illness is believed to have started in Wuhan and has spread to several other countries, including a reported case in the United States. Overall, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases and 17 deaths.

Despite the preventative measures being taken in Wuhan, the World Health Organization said Wednesday that it wasn't ready to declare the outbreak a global emergency. That could very well still happen — and soon — but at the moment things apparently aren't clear enough for the United Nations agency to issue that designation. Tim O'Donnell

3:26 p.m.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Silvio De Sousa has been suspended indefinitely by the team for his role in an ugly brawl at the end of Tuesday night's Kansas-Kansas State game, ESPN reports.

"I have suspended Silvio De Sousa indefinitely pending the final outcome of the review by KU and the Big 12 Conference," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said in a statement. "As I said last night, we are disappointed in his actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior."

The melee — which occurred in the disabled seating section of Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse — began after De Sousa blocked a shot by Kansas State's DeJuan Gordon in the closing moments of Kansas' 81-60 victory. De Sousa stood above the fallen Gordon as an apparent taunt, Gordon's teammates confronted De Sousa, and a wild fight quickly ensued, with De Sousa at one point brandishing a stool. De Sousa was suspended for the entire 2018-19 season after being implicated in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball, and though he was supposed to sit out the current season, Kansas successfully — and now, regrettably — appealed the ban. Jacob Lambert

2:36 p.m.

Republicans weren't the only ones displeased with the address House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave to the Senate during Tuesday's impeachment proceedings. Democrats were also hoping for a little more decorum, The Washington Post reports.

Several Democratic senators, while much tamer in the criticism of Nadler, indicated they think his accusations that Republicans were participating in cover-ups and treachery took things too far. "When I make an argument, it's about the fundamentals — witnesses, documents, and the evidence," said Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). "I think that's better."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) agreed that tensions were running high on both sides (Democrats also thought President Trump's defense team went overboard) Tuesday, adding that it was "necessary" and "appropriate" for Chief Justice John Roberts to remind "us that we have to maintain decorum and respect for one another throughout this process."

In comparison to Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) shone in the eyes of Democratic lawmakers. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, didn't respond directly to a question about Nadler, instead opting to praise Schiff, while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Schiff's words were "the most insightful."

On Wednesday, Schiff appeared to make a concerted effort to keep the peace during his opening remarks, and he even jumped in and answered a question directed at Nadler during a pre-trial exchange with reporters. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

2:35 p.m.

Try as he might, Trump just can't reinvent the facts on this one.

Somehow, Trump stuck a very incorrect notion into a question about Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in a Wednesday interview with CNBC's Squawk Box. After praising Musk because he "does good at rockets," Trump suggested "he's one of our great geniuses" who "we have to protect." After all, Trump said, we have to "protect Thomas Edison" and "people who came up with the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things."

One wouldn't think it has to be said, but the wheel was invented thousands of years before the United States existed and it's not exactly clear who did it. The oldest wheel dates to at least 3000 B.C. and was found, coincidentally, in modern-day Slovenia. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:19 p.m.

Democrats officially kicked off their opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump Wednesday with a bit of a shift in tone after one particularly contentious late-night exchange.

Near the end of an impeachment trial session beginning Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor accused Republican senators of "voting for a cover up" as he argued in favor of an amendment to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton, per The Wall Street Journal. Nadler also suggested Republicans were engaging in "treacherous" behavior, The Washington Post reports.

Republicans throughout the day on Wednesday slammed Nadler for his statement; Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told CNN it was "insulting and outrageous," while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the comment "offended her" and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a press conference, "To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me but I am covering up nothing."

Following this criticism, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) began Democrats' opening arguments Wednesday with a less combative tone, thanking senators for having "paid attention to every word and argument you heard from both sides" the day before.

"I want to begin today by thanking you for the conduct of the proceedings yesterday and for inviting your patience as you go forward," Schiff added. "We have some very long days yet to come."

CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted Schiff appeared to be addressing Republican criticism with his opening comments, although Republicans weren't the only ones not thrilled with the tone of Tuesday night's debate. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), for instance, conceded to The Washington Post that Nadler "could have chose better words." Brendan Morrow

1:39 p.m.

You have to be somewhat wily to enjoy a successful career in politics, and several senators put those street smarts on display during Tuesday's impeachment proceedings.

The lawmakers are subject to a lot of rules over the course of the lengthy trial days — no coffee, no technology, no talking — but they were able to maneuver around some of them anyway. Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and David Perdue (R-Ga.) harkened back to their elementary school days by passing notes to each other, eliciting some stifled laughter.

Others stuck to 21st century methods by wearing their smart watches, including an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Smart watches, of course, have cellular capabilities, so theoretically some of the lawmakers could have been shooting off text messages, although there's no evidence anyone took things that far. The Supreme Court's electronics ban includes such watches, but they're admittedly harder to notice than other devices.

Not everyone was sneaky, though. Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) was reportedly caught dozing off during a presentation from Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), but he swears he was just resting his eyes. Tim O'Donnell

1:18 p.m.

President Trump probably should've kept quiet on this one.

After the first day of impeachment arguments in the Senate, Trump told a press conference at the World Economic Forum that he's pretty sure he'll end up being acquitted. "Honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material," Trump said of his impeachment defense team and of the House Democrats prosecuting him, making it clear there's some information he's holding back.

Beyond Rep. Val Demings' (D-Fla.) callout, her fellow impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) addressed Trump's comments in a press conference before the impeachment trial resumed Wednesday. "Well, indeed they do have the material — hidden from the American people," Schiff said of Trump's team. "That is nothing to brag about." Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads