It’s Friday, Jan. 17, 2019. Let’s start here.
1. Trump on trial
The Senate has set the stage for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after Chief Justice John Roberts administered an oath of “impartial justice” to every senator on Thursday.
The trial will begin next week, but some terms are still up in the air, including whether to allow more witnesses and evidence as Democrats point to new claims made by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who says Trump was aware of his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Lev Parnas also has no direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions in this matter,” ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran tells “Start Here” today. “He’s always second or third-hand there, so he does have credibility problems, but no question these are statements that would be relevant to any impeachment trial.”
Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, were indicted in 2019 on charges of conspiracy, making false statements and falsification of records. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Trump insisted on Thursday that he didn’t know Parnas, despite Parnas’ close relationship with Giuliani.
2. Virginia state of emergency
The FBI has arrested three alleged members of the white supremacist group “The Base,” charging them with a series of federal gun and immigration crimes, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.
The three men had plans to attend a pro-gun rights protest on Monday in Richmond, Virginia, according to a law enforcement official who confirmed to ABC News that the suspects were arrested under suspicion they might travel to the rally “in anticipation of a possible race war.”
On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he received credible intelligence that hate groups and armed militias were planning violence at the protest, and he issued a state of emergency barring any weapons from Richmond’s Capitol Square from Friday to Tuesday.
Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Mel Leonor says this week that “it became clear that a rally that had been going on for years would be something more.”
3. Rooney Rule
The NFL’s “Rooney Rule” requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate from outside their organizations for head coach, general manager, and other front-office jobs.
But the NFL’s coaching diversity is trending downward, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine, who says there are a number of qualified minority coaches who could fill top team positions.
“Why are these guys not getting their first chance when you have a bunch of these other guys that are on their second chance or sometimes even their third chance?” he tells “Start Here.”
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‘Concussion symptoms’: U.S. officials confirmed late Thursday that some American troops were injured in Iran’s missile attacks on American service members in Iraq despite prior claims that no one was hurt.
‘Hard decisions’: A Pentagon decision that could lead to a reduction in the number of U.S. troops in West Africa could come within four to eight weeks, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
‘A successful democracy’: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called for China to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty and its commitment to democracy, just days after she won reelection in a landslide victory.
From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:
FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone takes an in-depth look at what the Sanders vs. Warren battle is really about.
Doff your cap:
Firefighters battling Australia’s devastating wildfires successfully embarked on a secret mission to save the country’s prehistoric — and extremely rare — Wollemi pine trees from the bushfires ravaging the country, officials said.
The country’s Minister of Energy and Environment said that thanks to the mission, the trees that “survived the dinosaurs … look like they’ll survive these bushfires.”
The operation involved air tankers spraying fire retardant and firefighters setting up an irrigation system in the gorge where the trees are located to increase moisture content on the ground.