June 15, 2019

President Trump on Friday told Fox News that "it doesn't matter" if China's President Xi Jinping meets with him at the G-20 summit in Osaka in June. But, Bloomberg reports, Trump is indeed thinking long term when it comes to trade negotiations with China.

Vice President Mike Pence was reportedly set to give a speech on June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, criticizing China's human rights record. The president, though, reportedly stepped in before it could happen in an effort to avoid upsetting Beijing before the summit, four people familiar with the planning told Bloomberg. Trump also reportedly postponed sanctions on Chinese surveillance companies that Pence planned to preview in his speech.

Pence's remarks were then tentatively rescheduled for June 24, just a few days before Osaka, but there is now debate within the Trump administration over when Pence should deliver the speech and, perhaps more importantly, how much he should challenge Beijing during it. If Pence ultimately does go ahead with his remarks, experts, such as Robert Daly, the head of the China program at the Wilson Center, say Beijing's officials would watch it very closely, monitoring for signs that the White House is willing to resume trade negotiations. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

7:51 a.m.

It's official: At least one more candidate is making a last-minute entrance into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, though he acknowledges a tough road ahead.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday he's running for president, jumping into a crowded Democratic field with less than three months to go until the Iowa caucuses.

Patrick in his announcement video said that "I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field," but "if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country." He adds, "This won't be easy, and it shouldn't be."

The former governor also told The Boston Globe that "I recognize running for president is a Hail Mary under any circumstances," but "this is a Hail Mary from two stadiums over." Patrick, who says he spoke with former President Obama ahead of his announcement, is set to file for the New Hampshire primary on Thursday.

The New York Times reports that Patrick has "received encouragement from some in the party who believe the race remains unsettled" and that he has told advisers he aims for a campaign similar to Obama's in 2008, "focusing more on bringing people together and healing the country than making a particular ideological case."

This might not be the last late entry into the Democratic race, with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg eying a run. Brendan Morrow

6:11 a.m.

In Wednesday's televised impeachment hearing, U.S. Ambassador William Taylor and State Department official George Kent "did not paint a flattering portrait of our president, and his bootlickers in the House didn't look too good, either," Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. "The president called the hearing a 'joke,' a 'sham,' and a 'hoax,' and he said he didn't watch it. A White House spokesperson said the president was too busy working. Right. They might as well have said he was at a Zumba class."

In reality, Trump spent the hearing "tweeting and retweeting all of these things from right-wing Twitter feeds, in between hosting one of his favorite foreign strongmen, Turkish President Erdogan," Kimmel said. "Trump says he's a big fan of Erdogan, who last month notably slaughtered our allies, the Kurds."

"Trump got things off to a great start by mispronouncing President Erdogan's name," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. He also dismissed Trump's claim he was too busy to watch the hearings: "No you're not! For Pete's sake, you live-tweeted Sean Spicer on Dancing with the Stars!"

Yes, "apparently Trump didn't watch," Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "Trump wanted to, but he threw his TV remote out the window when he wasn't named People Magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year." Taylor's testimony "was brutal for Trump," Fallon said. "He clearly outlined how the president tried to get Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for aid. Which means it's the second time in Trump's life that his cover-up didn't work."

"Trump claimed he did not watch the televised impeachment hearings," Conan O'Brien said on Conan. "When asked what he was doing, Trump said, 'I was cleaning out my desk.'" On Wednesday, he added, "new evidence against President Trump was called damning. Some say this could end his presidency. No, wait, I'm sorry, this joke is from two years ago."

"Today was the first time in over 20 years that Congress has held a public impeachment hearing," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "And if this one is anything like the last one, Trump will be impeached, then be acquitted in the Senate, and then in 20 years his wife will lose an election to some idiot."

Conan O'Brien also tried out infographics for a few of the Republicans at Wednesday's hearings. Some them are pretty rough. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:21 a.m.

Senators are expecting the House to impeach President Trump, and Senate Republicans are skeptical they have the 51 votes to dismiss the probable articles of impeachment without a trial. But some GOP senators are privately discussing a way to turn their lemons into lemonade by pushing for "a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scramble the Democratic presidential race — potentially keeping six contenders in Washington until the eve of the Iowa caucuses or longer," The Washington Post reports.

Senate Republicans discussed the impeachment process at their weekly closed-door lunch meeting Wednesday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "had little guidance for his ranks, outside of saying the trial will go on as long as the Senate wants it to run," the Post reports.

Using the trial to mess with the Democratic presidential race "might be a strategy," teased Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), "but I'll leave that up to others. I'm just a lowly worker." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) added that "Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden might like that," since it would negatively affect fellow top-tier candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), but the Senate will try to distinguish itself "by doing this right," likely with a trial lasting five to six weeks. The Democratic candidates had expected some quality campaign time before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.

Sanders acknowledged Sunday that a trial that cuts into the primaries and caucuses "will make our life a little bit more difficult." Warren said Wednesday that adjudicating the impeachment articles is one of a senator's "constitutional responsibilities" and "if the House goes forward and sends impeachment over to the Senate, then I will be there for the trial."

Republicans are split on strategy. Some Trump allies want the impeachment trial dispatched quickly while Republicans facing tough re-election battles next year want to be seen taking the impeachment process seriously. Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

2:41 a.m.

On Wednesday, over the course of seven hours, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted 23 tweets, all pertaining to the public impeachment hearings going on over at the House Intelligence Committee. In reverse chronological order, the first words of each tweet were: "Evidence," "President," "Schiff," "The," "Every," "It's," "No," "Democrats," "It," "Donald," "Neither," "The," "Kent," "In," "Let," "Lying," "Hillary," "It's," "Maxine," "Schiff," "Even," "Let's," and "Finally." Taking the first letter of each of those words, you get: "Epstein didn't kill himself."

Why would Gosar, a dentist by trade who is perhaps most famous for six of his siblings opposing his last re-election bid, take the time and effort to spell that out, acrostic-like, about Jeffrey Epstein's death while in federal prison? He didn't say. But he did seem pleased with his effort — and his joke.

"Area 51"? Get it? Apropos of nothing, the current salary for members of Congress is $174,000 a year. Peter Weber

1:58 a.m.

"It's finally arrived: The first day of live impeachment hearings," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Today's testimony was as dramatic as it was historic. It was the biggest ratings hit for C-SPAN 3 since Drunk History, starring Brett Kavanaugh." The "bombshell today" was U.S. Ambassador William Taylor's new testimony that an embassy "staffer overheard [President] Trump asking about a foreign nation investigating his political opponent," Colbert said. "That's like if they had a picture of [Richard] Nixon breaking into the Watergate."

"This is just unbelievable — Trump's people were discussing their Ukrainian plot in public, in a restaurant?" Trevor Noah marveled at The Daily Show. "Also, why is Trump talking so loudly on the phone that people can hear him on the other side?" Taylor and the other witness, State Department official George Kent, "are devoted, nonpartisan civil servants, so if you hear these guys saying that Trump did some messed-up s--t, you know to take it seriously," he added. "And from the sound of it, Trump did some messed-up s--t."

The Democrats spent the hearing "showing the American people that Trump abused his office by trying to extort Ukraine," Noah said, while Republicans "seemed like they were trying to solve a completely different case," mostly involving Hunter Biden. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also tried to discredit the hearings and the witnesses for relying on secondhand information — "maybe it's because the White House has blocked all the people who do have firsthand knowledge from testifying," Noah suggested. "But it all backfired when he tried to turn the focus to the whistleblower."

Jordan getting owned over the whistleblower was "probably the best moment in the hearing today," Seth Meyers said at Late Night, but House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) made the "crucial point" that "Republicans haven't actually contested any of the facts. In fact, they've basically admitted to all of it." What choice do they have? he added. "If we had this much evidence during the O.J. trial, even Johnny Cochran would have been like, 'You know what? The glove does fit, my client's full of s--t.'"

"Today was not a good start for Republicans," Samantha Bee said at Full Frontal. "The Republican attempts to change the subject didn't get very far, thanks to two persuasive witnesses," and Taylor's "huge bomb" appeared to "confirm that Trump knew about the attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens — which is the first time we've gotten hard confirmation of that since Trump himself. This is what these hearings are going to be like all the way through: Every bombshell will just be confirming things we already know."

Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Trump, also recapped the hearings at The Tonight Show, and he even managed to edit Taylor's testimony into something positive. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:39 a.m.

After two days of fighting, the Islamic Jihad militant group announced early Thursday that it has reached a ceasefire deal with Israel.

The deal was brokered by Egypt and went into effect at 5:30 a.m., Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Berim said. The fighting began Tuesday after an Israeli airstrike targeted the Gaza home of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata, killing him and his wife. Israel accused Abu al-Ata of being behind several rocket attacks. In the wake of his death, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and in turn, Israel conducted more airstrikes in Gaza.

At least 34 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, including a 7-year-old boy. Catherine Garcia

1:00 a.m.

This Thanksgiving, 26.8 million people are projected to go through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, up 4 percent from last year, the TSA said Wednesday.

The agency is expecting this record number of travelers to fly from Nov. 22 through Dec. 2, with 2.7 million taking off on the day before Thanksgiving. In a statement, TSA acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said 2019 saw "our busiest summer ever," and new technology will be introduced this holiday season, including scanners that can take better images of what's inside a person's bag.

Cogswell also said TSA agents will soon have new devices that allow them to quickly identify passengers, without having to place their photo IDs under lamps or lights, ABC News reports. Catherine Garcia

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