SPOTTED: Rudy Giuliani in the American Airlines lounge at JFK Airport this morning, complaining on speakerphone that no one can find his podcast. He also gave a quote to someone on the phone about how the people of Venezuela stand with President DONALD TRUMP against the “unconstitutional” impeachment.
HOLY MOLY … TRUMP TO GROUP, INCLUDING PARNAS: FIRE YOVANOVITCH! … ABC: “‘Take her out’: recording appears to capture Trump at private dinner saying he wants Ukraine ambassador fired,” by Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Allison Pecorin and Olivia Rubin: “A recording reviewed by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired – and speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York. …
“‘Get rid of her!’ is what the voice that appears to be President Trump’s is heard saying. ‘Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.’ On the recording, it appears the two Giuliani associates are telling President Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the apparent remarks by the President. The recording was made by Fruman according to sources familiar with the tape. …
“Parnas appears to say: ‘The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,’ Parnas can be heard telling Trump. ‘She’s basically walking around telling everybody “Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,”’ he said. (Yovanovitch actually had served in the State Department since the Reagan Administration.)”
— THE DAILY BEAST’S BETSY SWAN: “Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Florida businessman Lev Parnas, told The Daily Beast that the recording was made by former partner Igor Fruman. Both men were arrested in October and charged with campaign finance violations.”
— SIDE NOTE: Yovanovitch denied ever telling embassy staffers or Ukrainian officials that Trump’s orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached. “I did not and would not say such a thing,” she said in sworn congressional testimony.
RACHEL MADDOW has Parnas attorney Joe Bondy tonight at 9 p.m. on MSNBC.
CNN’S MANU RAJU (@mkraju): “Saturday session expected from 10a-1p, Thune tells @tedbarrettcnn, giving senators a chance to go home and allowing defense team to present case during the week. Needs unanimous consent in Senate to lock down schedule change.”
— SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL said it would begin at 10 a.m., and run for “several hours.”
LIVE FROM THE CAPITOL, PRE-TRIAL THOUGHTS:
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER …
— ON PUBLIC OPINION: “Every day, the poll numbers, which were high to begin with, go up further that even a majority of Republicans believe there ought to be witnesses and documents.”
— ON SENATORS QUESTIONING THE TWO SIDES: “There are going to be a whole lot of questions from a whole lot of senators, and it’ll be a very good period to bring out the facts and bring out the truth and ask questions that people have on both sides of the aisle.”
— ON FORCING WITNESSES: “We know we’ll never get Trump. We know we’ll never get McConnell. We know they’ll pressure Republican senators, but four Republican senators can step forward and say that we need witnesses and documents, and there are 12 or 13 who have never said a bad word about witnesses and documents.”
THAT CLAIM — that there are 12 or 13 who have never said a bad word — shows how closely the Democratic leadership is tracking this. The full news conference
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) …
— TAKING AIM AT THE BIDENS … AGAIN: “As much as I like Joe Biden — and I do respect him and I do admire him, and I’ve traveled the world with him — I think it’s bad foreign policy, if you’re going to be in charge of dealing with corruption in the Ukraine, that your son hook up with the most corrupt company in Ukraine and turn Ukraine into an ATM machine.”
— GRAHAM, who chairs the Judiciary Committee and has demanded documents from the State Department, said he wants somebody “outside of politics” to look at Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukraine, and what JOE BIDEN knew about it. The full news conference
THE BIDEN CAMPAIGN denies Hunter or the former VP did anything wrong. There has been no evidence that Biden’s anti-corruption push in Ukraine, which was U.S. policy at the time, was related to Hunter.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) …
— ON THE PRESIDENT POTENTIALLY CLAIMING EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE OVER WITNESSES: “You cannot use executive privilege to hide wrongdoing or criminality or impeachable misconduct. And that is exactly the purpose for which they seek to use it.” Schiff suggested that the Senate rely on Chief Justice John Roberts’ expertise in resolving privilege claims.
Happy Friday afternoon.
COMING ATTRACTIONS — “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to deliver Democratic response to State of the Union,” by Myah Ward
REUTERS: “U.S. says 34 troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after Iran strike” … EARLIER THIS WEEK, via ABC: “President Trump minimizes concussion-like injuries in Iraq attack as merely ‘headaches’”
TV PRODUCER IN CHIEF — @realDonaldTrump at 7:37 a.m.: “After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”
HUAWEI OR THE HIGHWAY — “Pentagon Blocks Clampdown on Huawei Sales,” by WSJ’s Bob Davis: “The Commerce Department’s efforts to tighten the noose on Huawei Technologies Co. is facing a formidable obstacle: the Pentagon. Commerce officials have withdrawn proposed regulations making it harder for U.S. companies to sell to Huawei from their overseas facilities following objections from the Defense Department as well as the Treasury Department …
“The Pentagon is concerned that if U.S. companies can’t continue to ship to Huawei, they will lose a key source of revenue — depriving them of money for research and development needed to maintain a technological edge … The Treasury Department wanted to make sure that Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a chance to weigh in, said one of the people. Cabinet officials are expected to meet on Huawei and other China issues in the coming weeks.” WSJ
CORONAVIRUS LATEST — NYT: “China’s Travel Limits Cover 35 Million People: Shanghai Disneyland shut down, and the youngest victim so far was identified as a 36-year-old man in central China. A second case was confirmed in the United States, as health officials were preparing for an outbreak that could last months.”
— STAT’S SHRADDHA CHAKRADHAR and ANDREW JOSEPH: “Precautions are in place. Now U.S. hospitals and states ready for more cases of novel virus from China”: “Even though this is a new virus, health officials said this was the type of situation they anticipated. They’ve prepared before for other emerging infectious diseases, including Zika and Ebola, as well as other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS. For this current outbreak, federal health officials have already issued recommendations for surveillance, testing, and care of patients, and hospitals have been following those guidelines.” Stat
MORE MIDDLE EAST TURMOIL — “Protesters Mass in Baghdad, Demanding U.S. Leave Iraq: A national march against the presence of United States forces, organized by a populist Shiite cleric and armed groups with ties to Iran, drew a crowd estimated at 200,000 to 250,000,” by NYT’s Alissa Rubin and Falih Hassan in Baghdad: NYT
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “New U.S. Border Patrol chief named,” by AP’s Colleen Long: “Rodney Scott will take over for Carla Provost, who is retiring, according to an announcement obtained Friday by The Associated Press from Mark Morgan, acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Scott has been a member of the Border Patrol for 27 years. He takes over the Border Patrol at a critical time. … Scott led the San Diego Sector, which includes 60 miles (97 kilometers) of border shared with Mexico and 931 miles (1,498 kilometers) of coastal border.” AP
— “E.P.A. Makes It Easier for Cities to Keep Releasing Raw Sewage Into Rivers,” by NYT’s Christopher Flavelle: “The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their sewer systems, according to interviews with local officials, water utilities and their lobbyists.
“Cities have long complained about the cost of meeting federal requirements to upgrade aging sewer systems, many of which release untreated waste directly into waterways during heavy rains — a problem that climate change worsens as rainstorms intensify. These complaints have gained new traction with the Trump administration, which has been more willing to renegotiate the agreements that dictate how, and how quickly, cities must overhaul their sewers.” NYT
TRUMP VS. CALIFORNIA — “Trump Administration Plans Action Against California Over Abortion-Coverage Requirement,” by WSJ’s Stephanie Armour: “The Trump administration is planning on Friday to announce action against California over its requirement insurers cover abortions, according to two sources familiar with the planning.
“The administration is expected to say that California’s requirement violates a federal law banning government entities that get federal money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from discriminating against health-care organizations because they don’t provide abortion or abortion coverage, the two people said. Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has said states could be stripped of federal funding if they violate amendments that protect abortion opponents.” WSJ
THE ROCKY RELATIONSHIP — “U.S. Refuses Extradition in Fatal Crash, Prompting Anger in U.K.,” by NYT’s Elian Peltier in London: “The United States has formally turned down Britain’s extradition request for an American woman who was involved in a car accident that killed a teenager last year, a decision that the British government called ‘a denial of justice.’ … [Anne] Sacoolas’s husband was working for the United States government at a British military base, and American officials assert that she had diplomatic immunity, shielding her from prosecution.”
HEADS UP — “Neo-Nazi Rinaldo Nazzaro running U.S. militant group The Base from Russia,” by BBC’s Daniel De Simone, Andrei Soshnikov and Ali Winston: “Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who uses the aliases ‘Norman Spear’ and ‘Roman Wolf,’ left New York for St Petersburg less than two years ago. … Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a ‘racially motivated violent extremist group’ that ‘seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethno-state.’ …
“The leader’s real identity had long been a mystery. However, multiple images and videos of Nazzaro – taken over several years in both the USA and Russia – show the man known to be The Base founder, who goes by the two aliases. He has previously used photographs of himself when promoting the group online.” BBC
DISINFORMATION DIGEST — CNN: “This site pays Americans to write ‘news’ articles. Signs indicate it originates in Iran,” by Donie O’Sullivan: “American Herald Tribune bills itself as a ‘genuinely independent online media outlet.’ Set up in 2015, it publishes in English and pays Americans to write articles. But multiple investigations by American tech companies, details of which have not previously been reported, point to the site originating in Iran. … FireEye, a top cybersecurity company, says it assessed with ‘moderate confidence’ that the website originates in Iran and is part of a much larger influence operation. …
“The articles posted to American Herald Tribune are largely in line with the views of Iran’s ruling establishment. It publishes stories criticizing American foreign policy and attacking President Donald Trump and Israel. … What appears to be one of the website’s most viral stories was published during the 2016 US presidential election campaign and made unsubstantiated claims about then candidate Donald Trump’s father being in the Ku Klux Klan.” CNN
10 DAYS TO IOWA — “How Will Thousands of Latinos in Iowa Be Greeted at ‘El Caucus’?” by NYT’s Jennifer Medina in Des Moines: “Roughly 194,000 Latinos live in the state, and by most estimates, fewer than 3,000 participated in the 2016 caucuses. This year, Latino activists expect that number to grow to 20,000 or more. And for the first time, there are set to be six Spanish satellite caucus sites, a concession Democratic Party officials made to try to increase participation.
“But despite the efforts, many activists believe there are not nearly enough interpreters lined up for the caucuses. Democratic Party officials are still scrambling to find bilingual speakers to run the Spanish caucuses, even as they look for more Spanish speakers to volunteer at other sites throughout the state. And while some campaigns plan to send Spanish-speaking volunteers to towns where Latinos make up more than a third of the population, there is no clear system to ensure that Spanish-speaking caucusgoers will have interpretation services.” NYT
ENDORSEMENT WATCH — “Bernie’s labor support snowballs,” by Holly Otterbein: “Most national unions haven’t picked a favorite yet in the Democratic presidential primary. It’s been a boon for Bernie Sanders. Rather than harming Sanders, a longtime labor ally who has promised to work to double union membership as president, the reluctance to offer endorsements at the national level has enabled more progressive-minded local unions and labor groups to come out in force for the Vermont senator.
“Sanders has already racked up 11 labor endorsements, more than any of his Democratic rivals, most of which are from local, regional and statewide unions. … The local endorsements are filling the political void left by national unions, still gun-shy after the acrimonious 2016 primary election left many rank-and-file members furious that their leaders supported Hillary Clinton over Sanders. Most are staying neutral for now.” POLITICO
WHILE THEY’RE STUCK IN D.C. — “Democrats unleash surrogate armies,” by Stephanie Murray in Concord, N.H.: “On Tuesday, more than 20 surrogates for Amy Klobuchar flooded the state. On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders unleashed his secret weapons: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield — who founded the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream — for a series of ice cream socials across the state. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will send inspirational survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. Sen. Michael Bennet has sent his wife and a former Midwestern governor.
“It’s all part of a desperate effort to reach out and connect with voters while the candidates themselves are stuck in Washington for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.” POLITICO
2020 MOVE — Marie Logsden is now senior adviser for strategic partnerships for Mike Bloomberg’s campaign in Colorado. She previously was a senior adviser to John Hickenlooper’s campaign and chief of strategy and comms in his gubernatorial administration.
TV TONIGHT — Bob Costa sits down with WBUR’s Kimberly Atkins, NYT’s Carl Hulse, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and WaPo’s Carol Leonnig at 8 p.m. on PBS’ “Washington Week.”
BONUS BIRTHDAY: Gerry Baker, WSJ editor at large