Senators questioned House managers and President Trump’s defense team for a second day on Thursday ahead of an expected Friday vote on whether the Senate will call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. Democrats are pressing for testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who reportedly has written in a draft of his forthcoming book that Trump wanted to withhold security aid from Ukraine until its leaders committed to investigating Democrats, essentially supporting the abuse of power allegation against Trump. With potential swing vote Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announcing he would vote against calling witnesses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to have lined up enough votes to block new testimony, setting up a possible vote to acquit Trump as early as Friday. [The Washington Post]


The World Health Organization on Thursday declared that the coronavirus outbreak that started in the city of Wuhan in central China had become a global health emergency. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill prepared to deal with it,” WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in Geneva. More than 200 people have died from the flu-like virus, and more than 9,400 have been infected. So far, the “vast majority of cases outside of China have a travel history to Wuhan or contact with someone with a travel history to Wuhan,” Tedros said. The U.S. issued its highest warning against travel to China after a tenfold increase in infections over one week. [South China Morning Post, The New York Times]


President Trump delivered multiple warnings to supporters who attended his rally Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, including telling them that if they don’t vote for him in November, “everything you have loved in your entire life will be gone.” Trump spoke for 90 minutes, but told the crowd he could have made his address “really short. All I have to do is say, ‘Uh, hello Iowa. You have no choice but to vote for me.'” Trump also brought up the Green New Deal, saying the proposal would “crush our farms, destroy our wonderful cows, they want to kill our cows. You know why, right? You know why? Don’t say it. They want to kill our cows. That means you’re next.” [Des Moines Register]


President Trump on Friday is expected to announce the expansion of his controversial travel ban restricting travel from several majority-Muslim countries. The move had been expected Monday, on the three-year anniversary of Trump’s original order, but it was delayed as the Trump administration focused on its response to China’s coronavirus outbreak, Politico reported on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter. A draft of the updated ban reportedly adds restrictions on travelers from six additional countries: Belarus, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The White House did not immediately comment on the matter. [Politico]


The House on Thursday voted to curb President Trump’s authority to order military operations in Iraq. The House repealed the 2002 Iraq War authorization in a mostly party-line 236-166 vote. The Trump administration had used the authorization to justify Trump’s order for the drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. “Members of Congress continue to have serious, urgent concerns about the president’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said before Thursday’s vote. Pelosi said Trump had “usurped” Congress’ power to declare war. [The Hill]


Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday. The U.K. is scheduled to leave the 28-nation trading bloc at 11 p.m. local time, marking the first time a member nation has left. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to deliver a televised address in which his office said he would call Brexit “not an end but a beginning.” Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, with England and Wales voting to leave and Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting to remain. The U.K. and the EU will continue to trade under the bloc’s rules through an 11-month “transition period” during which the two sides will negotiate new agreements on trade and security. The talks are scheduled to start in March. [The Associated Press]


Lawyers for advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has accused President Trump of raping her in the 1990s, have requested a DNA sample from Trump. Carroll reportedly is seeking to determine whether Trump matches genetic material on a dress she was wearing when she says Trump raped her in a dressing room in Bergdorf Goodman, a Manhattan luxury department store. Carroll’s lawyers want Trump to submit a sample by March 2 for analysis. “Unidentified male DNA on the dress could prove that Donald Trump not only knows who I am, but also that he violently assaulted me in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman and then defamed me by lying about it and impugning my character,” Carroll said. The White House and Trump’s lawyer did not respond to The Associated Press‘ requests for comment. Trump has long denied the allegations and accuses Carroll of fabricating the story to sell books. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]


The Trump administration on Thursday announced a Medicaid overhaul that would let states cap their spending on health benefits for many poor adults. The decision would give states the option of curbing coverage for millions of Americans given access to the program through the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law. “Government has a solemn responsibility to provide for the most vulnerable among us,” said Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Part and parcel of that responsibility is making sure the Medicaid program is sustainable.” Democrats and consumer advocates said the move would jeopardize access to medical care for millions of people. [The New York Times, NBC News]


Amazon on Thursday reported holiday quarter results that far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, sending its stock soaring 13 percent higher in after-hours trading. The gains returned Amazon to the small club of companies with a market capitalization above $1 trillion. If the online retailer can hold onto the gains on Friday, it will see its biggest one-day jump since October 2017. Amazon also reported more sign-ups for its Prime loyalty club thanks partly to the expansion of its one-day shipping program, capping a 50 percent increase in Prime membership in two years. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said Amazon now has more than 150 million paid Prime members. [Reuters]


The Trump administration on Thursday proposed a regulation that would erase punishments for companies that “incidentally” kill birds while they work. Under the proposal, oil and gas companies wouldn’t be punished if a spill killed birds. Construction crews that kill birds during work would be spared, as would farmers who spray pesticides and companies owning wind turbines that strike and kill birds. The rule change comes from a 2017 Interior Department opinion regarding the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Previous administrations had interpreted the act “too broadly,” the agency had argued, and it determined the act was only supposed to punish actions explicitly intended to kill birds. Conservation groups and some states previously sued the administration over the opinion. [The New York Times]

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