Impeachment, Coronavirus, Jeff Bezos: Your Wednesday Briefing

Impeachment, Coronavirus, Jeff Bezos: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a late night in the Senate, the spread of the deadly coronavirus from China, and new details about the hacking of Jeff Bezos’ cellphone.


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Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House managers will begin their case against President Trump this afternoon, after a marathon Senate debate over rules for the trial ended early this morning. Here’s what to watch for when proceedings resume at 1 p.m. Eastern.

The oral arguments follow a series of party-line votes in which Senate Republicans turned back Democrats’ attempts to subpoena documents and compel White House officials to testify.

The debate lasted more than 12 hours, and became so acrimonious that Chief Justice John Roberts reminded the impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers to “remember where they are” and return to “civil discourse.”

The details: Read excerpts from the articles of impeachment and see how the parties diverge on the facts.

Closer look: The trial camerawork is basic, but our TV critic found the ritual striking.

Another angle: Mr. Trump’s legal team has argued that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, a position contradicted by many legal experts, including, at one point, Attorney General William Barr. In 2018, while in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a memo saying that presidents who misused their authority were subject to impeachment.

The Daily: Today’s episode is about last-minute changes in the rules of the trial.


The World Health Organization is to meet today to determine whether a deadly new respiratory illness should be declared a “public health emergency of international concern.” There is growing evidence that the disease can spread from person to person, although it’s unclear how easily.

The outbreak has killed at least nine people and infected more than 400 in five countries, including the U.S. Here’s what we know about the coronavirus and a map of where it has reached.

Yesterday: A Washington State man who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, became the first confirmed case outside Asia, federal health officials announced. Passengers arriving from Wuhan will now be screened at five U.S. airports.

Background: The virus is from the same family that caused outbreaks of SARS and MERS, which killed hundreds of people in dozens of countries. This infection seems less severe, however, according to one specialist.

Another angle: A Chinese health official warned today that the virus could spread further during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday.


A brazen attack by Shabab fighters on a base in Kenya this month killed three Americans, the largest number of U.S. military-related fatalities in Africa in more than two years.

The Jan. 5 assault was largely overshadowed by the crisis with Iran, but it’s now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Pentagon and raising questions about the American military’s mission in Africa, where it stations more than 5,000 troops.

Background: The Shabab, an East African terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, have vowed to attack Americans wherever they can, although their campaign has largely been confined to Somalia.

How we know: Our article is based on interviews with a dozen American military officials or other people briefed on the attack. Several spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security failure that remains under investigation.


With less than two weeks before the state’s caucuses, Pete Buttigieg is invoking the former president, who won there in 2008 on his first run for the White House.

“The same state that took a chance on a young guy with a funny name, who a lot of folks didn’t think could win 12 years ago,” Mr. Buttigieg told a crowd in Council Bluffs, “this state could help us make history one more time.”

Mr. Buttigieg is crisscrossing Iowa this week while three rivals — Senators Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — are in Washington for the impeachment trial.

Related: In a new documentary series, Hillary Clinton sharply criticizes Mr. Sanders and declines to say whether she would endorse him if he won the Democratic nomination. “Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” she says.

Iliana Regan, above, created a Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago and published a celebrated food memoir last summer.

But her dream lies in northern Michigan, where she and her wife have turned a four-bedroom log cabin into an inn. There, Ms. Regan is attempting to redefine what it means to be an American chef.

Remembering Auschwitz: With the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp approaching, world leaders including Vice President Mike Pence gathered in Jerusalem today to remember the Holocaust and speak out against anti-Semitism. Here are the latest updates.

Jeff Bezos hacking: An analysis found with “medium to high confidence” that the Amazon chief’s cellphone was hacked after he received a video from an account reportedly belonging to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the investigation. The Saudi Embassy denied that the government was involved.

Grammys chief speaks: Deborah Dugan said she was suspended as the head of the Recording Academy, which runs the music awards, as retaliation for uncovering a “boys’ club” mentality there.

Snapshot: Above, Toksook Bay, Alaska, a remote village where the 2020 census began on Tuesday. The Census Bureau hopes to overcome language barriers, isolation and distrust of government as it tallies minority groups that have long been undercounted.

A Hall of Fame Yankee: Derek Jeter fell one vote shy of becoming the second player elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Larry Walker, who spent most of his career with the Colorado Rockies, was also voted in.

Late-night comedy: All eyes were on the Senate: “It’s a pivotal day in the history of the republic,” Stephen Colbert said. “Soon, we will find out if breaking the law is illegal.”

What we’re reading: This article in The New Yorker. Brent Staples, a member of The Times’s editorial board, calls it “a vivid new history” of “how slave rebellions (not white abolitionists) defeated slavery in the hell that was the Caribbean.”

Cook: Make a batch of sopa de albóndigas, a Mexican meatball soup.

Watch: The actor Michael Sheen discussed his portrayal of a serial killer dad on the Fox drama “Prodigal Son.”

Listen: Aidy Bryant, the comedian and star of “Shrill,” shared what she watched, read and listened to last week.

Smarter Living: Organizing your fridge like a pro saves both food and time.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, cited the need for a more private life in their decision to step back from their royal duties.

Paparazzi hound celebrities of all kinds, and the prince’s mother, Princess Diana, died in Paris as her car raced away from photographers.

Fifty-one years ago, another celebrity couple took a very different approach to intrusion.

John Lennon had become a global star with the Beatles, but in 1969, the band was breaking up. The other Beatles’ lack of enthusiasm for Lennon’s devotion to the conceptual artist Yoko Ono added to the tension — and further whetted the public appetite for gossipy details.

After the two married in March of that year, in a hastily arranged ceremony in Gibraltar, they knew there was no way to avoid being set upon by reporters and photographers.

So they invited them in. They took up residence for days at a hotel in Amsterdam, holding open hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They later did the same in Montreal, using the “bed-ins” to promote global peace.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris


Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the impeachment trial.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Guitarist’s time to shine (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Nicole Perlroth, who covers cybersecurity for The Times, answered readers’ questions about Russian hacking and the 2020 election on Reddit.


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