10 things you need to know today: January 19, 2020

Summer Meza

1.

House Democrats filed a 111-page legal brief ahead of President Trump's impeachment trial, arguing he threatens national security. The House prosecutors laid out the argument against Trump that led to his impeachment last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The legal brief says "evidence overwhelmingly establishes" Trump's guilt and says the Senate "must eliminate the threat" he poses. The White House defense team, meanwhile, has not filed its official brief, but rejected the impeachment managers' arguments as "highly partisan." Without directly addressing allegations Trump abused his power by withholding Ukrainian aid to push for a politically-motivated investigation of his rivals, the White House castigated the "lawless process" that led to his impeachment. [The Washington Post]

2.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday claimed Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaign had released a "doctored" video that appeared to show Biden agreeing with Republican proposals regarding Social Security. "It's simply a lie, that video is a lie," Biden told supporters of his presidential campaign in Iowa. He said "Bernie's people" had circulated the video, and he's "looking for his campaign to come forward and disown it, but they haven't done it yet." The video showed Biden agreeing with former House Speaker Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Social Security, but Biden's campaign said he called the plan "correct" sarcastically. Sanders' campaign said Biden should "stop dodging questions about his record" and pointed to Biden's numerous other comments on the program. [NBC News, Bloomberg]

3.

In an exhibit meant to document the Women's March that took place in 2017 the day after President Trump's inauguration, the National Archives blurred some parts of an image that showed anti-Trump messages. The photograph shows the thousands of demonstrators who participated, but obscured some details. A sign reading "God Hates Trump" was blurred so that it simply reads "God Hates," and one reading "Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women" has "Trump" blotted out. "As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the president's name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy," said Archives spokesperson Miriam Kleiman. The spokesperson said the image wasn't presented as an artifact. [The Washington Post]

4.

War drama 1917 won the award for most outstanding film at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday night, increasing speculation it could win big at the Academy Awards next month. Director Sam Mendes accepted the PGA Award, saying he hopes the film is a reminder "to never take for granted the peace that we all inherited." The winner of the Best Theatrical Motion Picture has gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars 21 out of 30 times. Also recognized were Octavia Spencer, who received a standing ovation while accepting the Visionary Award, Toy Story 4 for the animation award, Fleabag in the episodic comedy television category, and Chernobyl for best limited series. [The Hollywood Reporter, The Associated Press]

5.

Hong Kong protesters were hit with tear gas and pepper spray after demonstrators allegedly attacked a plainclothes police officer during a mass protest. Demonstrations have been ongoing for months, and have recently erupted in occasional violence as pro-democracy residents continue to protest the local government. Several protesters were arrested on Sunday after tens of thousands participated in a rally in Hong Kong's central district, the largest demonstration since New Year's Day when over a million people gathered. A plainclothes officer reportedly refused to show a rally organizer his identification card, which led to an altercation. At least three people were injured. [The Washington Post]

6.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Venezuela is prepared for direct negotiations with the U.S. to begin repairing relations and improve Venezuela's damaged economy. Maduro reportedly suggested President Trump should lift sanctions on the nation in exchange for possible benefits for U.S. oil companies from the OPEC member state. The U.S. recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's rightful head of state, and The Washington Post noted any talks with Maduro would weaken that stance. Maduro insisted he was in control of Venezuela and had outmaneuvered the opposition, who say he wrongfully claimed re-election in 2018. He criticized recent handling of U.S.-Venezuela relations, blaming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. [The Washington Post]

7.

Officials in Paris are fearing potential violence as protests continue to disrupt France's capital. "Seditious groups want the law of 'might is right' to reign, to impose violence on all people who think differently from them," said Marlene Schiappa, the government's secretary of state for equality. Her comments came after a fire on Saturday damaged a renowned Paris restaurant and protesters on Friday forced the Louvre to close. An investigation is ongoing, but Schiappa said the blaze "probably" stemmed from a criminal act. She criticized the "hate and violence" she claims is coming from the protest movement against pension reform in France. The "yellow vest" movement has reportedly begun to splinter into subgroups, with some protesters returning to work and others calling for continued demonstrations. [The Associated Press]

8.

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the release of text messages between FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the Department of Justice revealed in a court filing. The pair sent texts criticizing President Trump as an "idiot" ahead of his election. They have faced ongoing disparagement from Trump, who has used their messages as evidence of a "deep state" effort to block his presidency. Page and Strzok have said they never acted in a biased manner during the course of their work. Strzok and Page filed lawsuits against the DOJ last year, alleging the release violated the Privacy Act. Rosenstein said he allowed the messages to be released to the media "with the express understanding that it would not violate the Privacy Act." [Politico]

9.

A winter storm affected large portions of the U.S. on Saturday, and caused hundreds of miles of road closures, as well as more than 200 canceled flights at Chicago's airport alone. A driver in Nebraska was killed after losing control of his vehicle in the snow and sliding into a tractor trailer. The storm hit Nebraska and North Dakota particularly hard, but also caused major issues at both Chicago O'Hare and Kansas City International airports. Aside from a snow pileup, officials warned drivers of black ice and in some cases issued no-travel advisories. [The Weather Channel]

10.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will surrender their "royal highness" titles as they "step back" from the British royal family. The duo, who announced they plan to split their time between Canada and the U.K., will also repay approximately $3.1 million in taxpayer money that was used to renovate their home in Windsor. Buckingham Palace said in a statement that while they will no longer receive public funds for royal duties, they will retain their titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Queen Elizabeth II said Harry, Meghan, and their son Archie "will always be much loved," and said she is "particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family." The new arrangement will take effect in the spring. [BuzzFeed News, Buckingham Palace]

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