January 14, 2020

President Trump's interview with Fox News last week didn't answer all of Stephen Colbert's questions about the Iran conflict, so he spliced himself into the interview on Monday's Late Show.

"The Trump administration still hasn't settled on one legal justification for bombing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani," Colbert said in his monologue, and the administration's claim of an "imminent" attack is crumbling fast. "Even Republicans were concerned about the vagueness of these justifications, so on Friday, the president went on the Fox News" and "revealed" that he believes Soleimani was targeting four embassies, he said. "Do we really want to live in a country where we bomb people because of what Donald Trump believes? We're talking about a guy who believes that windmills cause cancer — so run for you lives, Holland, he's coming!"

"On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper did his best, and it wasn't good," Colbert said. He and Trump are "like a couple who doesn't coordinate their lie before leaving a party," but "this morning, Trump took to Twitter to say that he and Esper are on the same page" about Soleimani's "eminent" attack. "Now, you might have noticed that Trump used the wrong word there," he said, but it turns out the threat probably wasn't "imminent," either, because Trump reportedly approved it seven months ago.

Trump's "story about why he killed Soleimani isn't adding up," Trevor Noah agreed at The Daily Show, similarly vexed at Trump's evidence. "You can 'reveal' that you 'believe'? No one is asking for your personal belief. This is war, not what color you thought the dress was. And also, what does Trump mean, it could have been embassies or bases or a lot of other things, too? Because either Trump is making this up, or Soleimani was the most indecisive enemy America's ever had."

Still, "Iran's supreme leader and America's supreme tweeter are both coming under fire for lying to their people," Noah said. "The people of Iran are demanding accountability" after Tehran belatedly admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane, "and last night, President Trump decided to fan those flames of protest" by sending tweets in Farsi. "It's ballsy for Trump to tweet in a second language when he hasn't even mastered his first," Noah laughed. Also, "can you imagine if Obama ever tweeted in Farsi? Can you imagine? Fox News would have exploded." Watch below. Peter Weber

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

12:46 p.m.

President Trump backtracked Wednesday on his 2016 campaign promise to protect funding for entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, suggesting in an interview with CNBC that he would be open to slashing "at some point" them since they're "the easiest" thing to cut.

Well, unsurprisingly, that didn't sit well with his Democratic opponents, who quickly pounced on the comment.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is one of the leading candidates in the Democratic presidential primary, used Trump's words to call for an expansion of such programs, while the House Ways and Means Committee called the suggestion "unacceptable." Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) thinks it's a warning from Trump that people should take seriously.

Trump's reasoning for possibly cutting entitlements is that the trajectory of the country's economic growth could one day allow for it. But don't expect that to change any minds on the other side of the political aisle. Tim O'Donnell

12:44 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey is facing mounting criticism after withdrawing from a documentary about the sexual misconduct allegations against Russell Simmons, a decision activists are slamming as "callous."

Winfrey was originally attached as executive producer of the upcoming documentary focusing on the Simmons allegations, On the Record, but she removed her name from it earlier this month. Although Winfrey said in a statement she "unequivocally believes and supports the women," she says she had concerns about "some inconsistencies in the stories." Simmons has denied the allegations against him.

"This latest turn of events has been extraordinarily disorienting and upsetting," domestic violence activist Sil Lai Abrams, who has accused Simmons of rape, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Equality Now global director Yasmeen Hassan also criticized Winfrey, telling the Reporter her decision was "callous" and saying, "There needs to be a lot more explanation given to these women, at the very least. This feels mind-boggling and is very bad for the #MeToo movement."

Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein additionally described the situation as "one of the saddest moments for the #MeToo movement," adding, "Just think how hard it is going to be for women, particularly women of color, to come forward next time when they have been thrown under the bus by none other than Oprah."

The Reporter notes that although Winfrey has cited alleged inconsistencies, especially in the account of the film's central accuser Drew Dixon, the Times' report on Dixon's allegations "was well vetted." Winfrey reportedly had additional issues with the film, including concerns over whether "the two filmmakers, who are white, captured the nuances of hip-hop culture and the struggles of black women," the Times writes. On the Record is still scheduled to have its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25. Brendan Morrow

12:10 p.m.

One giant energy provider is taking a small chunk of climate change into its own hands.

Arizona Public Service Co., the largest utility provider in Arizona, will swear off coal power by the end of the decade, it announced Wednesday. That's seven years earlier than the company previously pledged, and comes under the purview of a CEO who just took that job in December, AZ Central reports.

As it stands, APS gets 22 percent of its energy from its coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant and Cholla Power Plant. Cholla is slated for closure in 2025, and while Four Corners wasn't supposed to close until 2038, Wednesday's announcement bumped that down to 2031. In addition, CEO Jeff Guldner said Wednesday that APS would completely shift to carbon-free power by 2050. APS does own the largest nuclear power plant in the country, and plans to use that Palo Verde plant to achieve its green energy goals.

In neighboring New Mexico, where the Four Corners plant is located, utility provider Public Service New Mexico has pledged to go carbon-free by 2040. California and Colorado also have laws that mandate completely carbon-free energy by 2040 and 2045, respectively. More states taking the plunge is essential for minimizing greenhouse gases, seeing as the U.S. is the second biggest emissions producer in the world, and that a full quarter of its emissions come from energy production. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:21 a.m.

President Trump on Wednesday downplayed the injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers following retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on a military base in Iraq earlier this month.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump was asked why he has repeatedly said no Americans were hurt in the strikes despite reports that 11 U.S. service members were airlifted for medical reasons. The president said he was told the soldiers had "headaches" and he doesn't consider the injuries to be as serious as others he's seen in the past, such as the loss of limbs.

The comment quickly stirred up some backlash — CNN's Chris Cillizza called Trump's description of the injuries "problematic" considering some of the patients are still being evaluated. He also brought up Trump's personal history which includes five deferments from serving in the Vietnam War, four of which were the result of bone spurs in his heels.

The president was also chastised by Mark Hertling, a retired Army officer who served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army. Hertling said that blasts like the one in Iraq can result in various long-term effects, some of them quite severe. Trump, he said, was "dangerously wrong" in his dismissal. Tim O'Donnell

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