The Hill's 12:30 Report: Bolton shakes up debate over impeachment trial witnesses

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Bolton allegations shake-up impeachment fight | GOP faces crucial decision on witnesses | Trump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations | Romney: 'Increasingly likely' GOP will want Bolton's testimony | What to watch on day six of trial | Sights and sounds from the NH campaign trial | Biden splits weekend between NH, Iowa | World grieves Kobe Bryant's death | Trump meets Netanyahu | National Chocolate Cake Day



John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Bolton's lost leverage Azar downplays chance Trump will appoint coronavirus czar MORE has become the 'disaster girl meme'


The New York Times's Maggie HabermanMaggie Lindsy HabermanChris Wallace 'horrified' by CNN's Acosta's conduct: 'It's not our job to one-up presidents' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden leaving New Hampshire early as voting underway The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senators brace for floor fight as trial nears end MORE and Michael S. Schmidt reported a bombshell last night: "President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton." Read the full report:

Keep in mind: Bolton's book, which publishes on March 17, is now available for pre-order on Amazon:



The Senate is nearing a key vote on new witnesses, and it has looked almost certain that Republicans could block subpoenas on new witnesses. But Bolton's first-hand account could change things. How this could play out:



The president tweeted, "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."


Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOrange County declaring local health emergency in response to coronavirus Why Bernie Sanders won the debate Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response MORE had an interesting quote this morning:

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who is the only GOP senator who says he would like to hear from Bolton but has not made a final decision, told reporters this morning: 

"It's pretty fair to say John Bolton has relevant testimony. I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton." 


Sen. Collins said in a statement, "The reports about John Bolton's book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”


Who else to watch: Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Overnight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic MORE (R-Alaska)


What would need to happen: Four Republican senators would need to vote with Democrats to subpoena Bolton.


It's Monday. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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We hear from Trump's lawyers today:

President Trump's defense team is presenting its second day of opening statements in the impeachment trial this afternoon.

What to watch: Will Trump's lawyers mention the New York Times report about Bolton's manuscript?  

Preview for today:

Livestream for today -- the trial begins at 1 p.m. EST:



At noon tomorrow — Trump will release a peace plan:

President Trump just announced that he will unveil his administration’s peace plan between the Israelis and Palestinians Tuesday at noon.

Trump said while meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE this morning: “So tomorrow at 12 o'clock, we'll be announcing a plan. And it's a very big plan, it will be a suggestion between Israel and the Palestinians, it's the closest it's ever come and we'll see what happens.” 



For the next two weeks, The Hill's 12:30 Report will be on the road in New Hampshire -- my home state! -- for the first-in-the-nation primary. You can also follow on @CateMartel for tidbits and color from the trail. 


Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket MORE covered his bases: 

Former Vice President Biden split his time this weekend between Iowa and New Hampshire this weekend. I stopped by his campaign stop in Salem, N.H., on Saturday. Here are some highlights and observations:

License plates from other states: It is worth noting that the parking lot had lots of license plates from Massachusetts. I also spotted a few from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. Keep in mind: Salem is on the border of Massachusetts, so the Massachusetts presence makes sense.

The overflow room was not a bad place to be: The elementary school gymnasium where Biden spoke hit capacity pretty quickly, so attendees filled up the nearby cafeteria. As Biden was being escorted out after his speech, he stopped, stood on a block and gave brief remarks to the secondary crowd. The crowd seemed to appreciate that. 

For reference -- here's a photo of the main room:

And here's a photo of the overflow:

Biden brought his granddaughter on stage:

A shot at Trump in the first five minutes: "Eight years of Donald Trump ... I honest to God believe will change the character of the nation. These kids will grow up with a very different country. We'll get it back eventually but it's going to have real consequences." 

Biden on the world's view of the U.S. right now: "Donald Trump has diminished America on the world stage. And he's diminished us not only in the eyes of the world but diminished us, who we are as a country and how we're viewed. And I think that's really dangerous." 

What even is a campaign stop without kissing babies?: Here's a photo of Biden posing with a baby:

Photo of the line to get in:



The world reacts to the gut-wrenching news in Calabasas:

NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant were among the nine killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, Calif.

Where Kobe was headed: To a youth basketball tournament with his daughter. 

What happened: "The cause of the crash was unknown. The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PT. It was going to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for Gianna's game, sources told ESPN. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m." 

What we know, via ESPN:




New details on what happened:

Via The New York Times, “The helicopter that crashed on Sunday with Kobe Bryant and eight other people on board, killing everyone, had received approval to fly even though weather conditions were worse than usual standards for flying … Whether that was the right decision is likely to be at the center of the investigation into the cause of the crash.”


Getting traction -- here's a video of Kobe playing basketball with Gianna: 



Also getting passed around on social media:


^The video from December 21, 2019:





Here's a clip of Bryant explaining why he takes a helicopter around Los Angeles. Watch:



Getting traction -- I have so many questions:

Full size photos:



The House and Senate are in today. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C.

11 a.m. EST: President Trump meets with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

1:15 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

2 p.m. EST: The House meets.

2:20 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Lunar New Year Celebration.

3:30 p.m. EST: President Trump swears in the administrator for the Small Business Administration. 

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today



11 a.m. EST: Senate Democrats held a press conference on the impeachment trial. Livestream:

11:30 a.m. EST: Senate Republicans held a press conference on the impeachment trial. Livestream:

1 p.m. EST: The impeachment trial against President Trump continues. Livestream:



Today is National Chocolate Cake Day


And because you read this far, here's a dog who is working on his bandit skills: