On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-night
51°
Partly Cloudy
H 69° L 46°
  • clear-night
    51°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 69° L 46°
  • cloudy-day
    64°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 69° L 46°
  • cloudy-day
    61°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 68° L 54°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Amid Iran and impeachment, Trump's focus is reelection
Close

Amid Iran and impeachment, Trump's focus is reelection

Amid Iran and impeachment, Trump's focus is reelection
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kevin Wolf
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One early Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., after attending the College Football National Championship game in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Amid Iran and impeachment, Trump's focus is reelection

Impeachment, immigration and Iran have filled the White House agenda as the year begins.

But with the first votes of this year’s presidential campaign to be cast in just weeks, President Donald Trump is increasingly focused on his reelection bid. He has revved up his criticism of the Democrats vying to replace him, and his team looks at both foreign and domestic matters through the lens of the 2020 campaign.

Trump, who announced his reelection bid the same day he took the oath of office, has long been an unabashedly political president. The president's focus on his reelection effort — the ultimate arbiter of his legacy, in his estimation — has not wavered in the midst of his biggest crises at home and abroad.

The White House has been exploring a number of policy proposals meant to shore up support in Trump's conservative base, including an expansion of the president’s travel ban. The president’s decision to authorize a drone strike that killed Iran's top general has become a staple in his stump speech. And his team has mobilized to paint the upcoming impeachment trial as a partisan witch hunt it hopes will energize his supporters.

It is impeachment itself that stands as the best example of Trump’s consuming focus on reelection: The House of Representatives charged him with pushing a foreign government to investigate a potential 2020 foe.

“All presidents think about reelection. The extent of this may vary, but every occupant of the Oval Office considers how to maintain power,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. “But what we have seen from Trump is that he takes it much further than any other president. He was impeached for that very reason, and everything he says or tweets is political."

Trump stepped out of a campaign meeting at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month to authorize the drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani. But he has largely invited politics into his decision-making process, frequently questioning aides about how policy decisions would play during the campaign and demanding polling data.

Not facing a substantial primary challenger, Trump has been able to carefully watch the winnowing process play out on the Democratic side.

For months, he and his advisers have gamed out who they hope to face in November, according to five campaign aides, White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing interviewed for this story under the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump has stuck to mostly trying to sow chaos in the Democratic field, believing that the list of candidates is too long to fully influence and confident that the eventual nominee can be painted as a socialist for embracing liberal proposals.

But at times he has tried to wade into the process, most notably last July in a call with Ukraine’s president. He urged Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden and his family, triggering a chain of events that led to his impeachment last month and a trial set to begin in the coming days.

But Trump has reveled in the Democrats’ recent internal squabbling and has taken to Twitter to offer real-time commentary on the candidates’ debates, interviews and controversies.

“ Bernie Sander’s volunteers are trashing Elizabeth “Pocahontus” Warren. Everybody knows her campaign is dead and want her potential voters. Mini Mike B is also trying, but getting tiny crowds which are all leaving fast. Elizabeth is very angry at Bernie. Do I see a feud brewing?” Trump tweeted Monday, just one of several recent observations about the Democrats.

At a rally Tuesday night, Trump waded into a feud between the Warren and Sanders camps about a 2018 conversation in which Warren said Sanders told her a woman wouldn't be able to win the presidency. “I don't believe that Bernie said that. I really don't," Trump said. "It's not the kind of thing he'd say.”

Biden has long been Trump’s No. 1 target. The president has confided that he believes the former vice president is the Democrat who poses the biggest threat to siphon off some of his working-class support in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

But Trump and his allies have also taken note of Sanders’ fundraising prowess and recent polling surge. Trump's team has hammered Sanders in the wake of the drone strike that killed Soleimani, believing it can be used to tarnish the Vermont senator’s foreign policy credentials and commander in chief appeal.

Trump has told advisers that he's not been certain how to approach Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. The president has largely spared Buttigieg from attacks, save for digs on his lack of experience and difficult-to-pronounce last name.

Trump has been happy to mark the moment when candidates drop out, particularly with former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. And he took to Twitter on Monday to sarcastically salute the departure of Sen. Cory Booker, writing: “Now I can rest easy tonight. I was sooo concerned that I would someday have to go head to head with him!”

The Trump campaign has been given pause by the money at the disposal of one other Democrat, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The two men had uneasily co-existed in Manhattan, with Bloomberg’s wealth and social status dwarfing the reality TV star’s own standing, fueling a one-sided rivalry.

Though Bloomberg’s lavish campaign spending has yet to translate to much movement in the polls, Trump has begun attacking him on Twitter and his team opted to match his $10 million Super Bowl ad buy.

Trump has harshly criticized the process that led to his impeachment, believing it is a permanent stain on his legacy. But he has embraced its political side effects, pointing to an increase in campaign contributions and supporter enthusiasm while also mulling a series of rallies timed to his expected acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate.

He has also refused to allow the Democrats to capture the media spotlight during the primary process.

He hosted a rally in the battleground state of Wisconsin on Tuesday during the Democrats’ last debate before the Iowa caucuses. And later this month, just days before the caucuses, the president will host two more rallies: one in the New Jersey district of a congressman who switched parties to become a Republican out of protest about impeachment, the other in Iowa itself.

The president is in frequent contact with his campaign, political advisers and late-night telephone confidants to gauge their feelings on the Democratic field. Brad Parscale, his campaign manager, spent days at Mar-a-Lago during the winter break. And one of Trump's top aides, son-in-law Jared Kushner, has shifted more of his focus to the president’s reelection effort.

Some Democrats feel that Trump has sabotaged himself by only focusing on the portion of the electorate that already supports him.

“Every policy, every speech, every tweet has been about his reelection,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser at the liberal group MoveOn.org. “But the problem for Trump is that in his three years of running for reelection he has done nothing to expand his base. Nothing to reach out to people who didn’t vote for him."

Republicans say Trump has a keen sense of how to motivate his supporters in a base election.

“He’s making sure the Democrats don’t get free shots at messaging," said Jason Miller, former communications director for Trump's 2016 campaign. "Both of his political fists are up and he’s ready to fight.”

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report from Washington.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Deputies in Orange County need your help with their investigation of a shooting that happened Friday afternoon. They say at 5:20 p.m., deputies responded to the shooting at 1493 Goldenrod Road near East Colonial. Once they got there, they found the victim, now identified as 30 year old Dominic Fabrece Bolden unresponsive with a gunshot wound in a car. Bolden was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  Investigators have turned their focus to a black car and an SUV that have crashed into each other. A nearby Mercedez sat with two other cars along with evidence markers scattered around them. The shooting caused traffic in the north and southbound lanes to be closed, causing a back up for over 5 hours.  Investigators have classified this case as a homicide. Right now, there has been no description of a suspect or if any arrests have been made. In the meantime, Crimeline is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for anyone with information about this shooting. If you have any information, please contact Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
  • A federally funded national study to find out why exercise benefits the human body is now in the testing phase at AdventHealth in Orlando. Last year the National Institutes of Health issued a $170 million grant to conduct the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans study, also known as MoTrPAC (pronounced “Motor Pack”).  Orlando was chosen as one of the ten markets where the study is being conducted. In January 2019, News 96.5 WDBO spoke with the AdventHealth senior investigator leading the study at the Translational Research Institute on Princeton Street.  One year later, Dr. Bret Goodpaster said the testing is happening now with the first group of volunteers from Central Florida. “They essentially get an exercise program,” Dr. Goodpaster said. “They get their own personal trainer for twelve weeks who really teach them about the right way to do exercise.” Goodpaster’s team is working with about 25 or 30 people at a time.  Over the course of about three years they’ll study 150 volunteers, a good chunk of the nearly 2,000 people who are being studied nationwide for MoTrPAC.  They’ll continue working with volunteers through 2022. The study itself involves both resistance and aerobic exercise.  Volunteers undergo all sorts of testing of their muscle, fat and blood both before and after the exercise program to see what has changed. “We’re looking at all the molecules that might be produced during exercise in muscle, fat cells and in the blood to really try to discover what we don’t yet know about why exercise exerts its positive health benefits,” Dr. Goodpaster said. He hopes the study will lead to new data on what exercise is doing on a fundamental, basic molecular level.  One example is finding what molecules end up in the blood that might be related to risk for diabetes, heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Orlando wasn’t chosen at random to participate in the study.  Dr. Goodpaster said  they competed to get part of the federal grant. “I think what this does from a research perspective is it really puts Orlando on the map as being able to succeed at competing at landing these NIH-funded national studies like MoTrPAC,” he said. That could mean more projects for Orlando in the future, as the National Institutes of Health wants to give money to people who have established a track record of success in being able to do these types of studies. AdventHealth’s Translational Research Institute will be looking for volunteers for the next two to three years.  Anyone interested in getting involved with the MoTrPAC research study can call (407) 303-7193 or visit TRI-MD.org.
  • At least two people died and one person was injured after an early-morning explosion Friday at a machine shop in northwest Houston, police said. KHOU reported residents first felt the blast at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Co. around 4:30 a.m. Friday. Update 4:50 a.m. EST Jan. 25: Houston authorities have identified the two people killed in Friday’s early-morning explosion as Frank Flores and Gerardo Castorena. Both men were employees at the facility and had arrived early to use the company’s on-site gym before starting their workdays, KHOU reported. According to the TV station, a nearby resident was taken to a local hospital for treatment of unknown injuries, and at least 18 people sought emergency room treatment on their own for minor injuries associated with the blast, such as breathing issues and cuts. Update 2:30 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Police Chief Art Acevedo said authorities believe they have identified the two people killed in Friday morning’s explosion as employees of Watson Grinding. Authorities declined to identify the victims as they continued to await official confirmation of their identities. “We only have two people that are accounted for and we have recovered two bodies,” Acevedo said Friday afternoon. “That doesn’t mean that there (isn’t) people that no one knows were in the area, and so we cannot say whether or not there are more victims but right now. It appears (to be) a high probability (that) there’s only two victims.” Police, firefighters and officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the cause of the blast. “As of right now, we don’t have any have no indication that there’s any terrorism nexus or any intentional act,” Acevedo said. Earlier Friday, he noted investigations are part of standard procedure when dealing with situations such as Friday’s explosion. Update 1:55 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Firefighters have cleared the immediate blast area affected by Friday morning’s explosion at Watson Grinding. The owner of Watson Grinding told KTRK the blast was a propylene gas explosion. Houston fire officials said propylene tanks still at the machine shop were intact and stable Friday afternoon. “There is no indication of any air quality issues,” officials said. Update 1:10 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Police expect to provide an update on the investigation into Friday morning’s explosion at a news conference scheduled to start at 1 p.m. local time Friday. Update 10:55 a.m. EST Jan. 24: Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Friday morning that police have confirmed two fatalities connected to the explosion at Watson Grinding. Acevedo said authorities weren’t immediately sure whether the victims were employees of Watson Grinding or residents who lived nearby. Mayor Sylvester Turner said as many as three people are believed to have died as a result of the early-morning blast. Police and firefighters have launched an investigation of the incident. “Let me just say off the bat, we have no reason to believe -- we have no evidence at this point that terrorism was involved, we don’t have any evidence that an intentional act is involved,” Acevedo said, adding that the investigation was part of standard procedure. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also investigating. Fire Chief Samuel Peña said there was “significant damage” to homes and businesses in the area. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:35 a.m. EST Jan 24: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said as many as three people are believed to have died in Friday morning’s explosion. Original report: One person was missing Friday after an early-morning explosion at a machine shop in northwest Houston caused heavy damage to nearby buildings, injuring at least one person and leaving rubble scattered in the area. “(The explosion) knocked us all out of our bed, it was so strong,” resident Mark Brady told KPRC. “It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here … and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in and we don’t know what it is … It’s a warzone over here.” Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday morning that one person remained unaccounted for after the incident. “It’s somebody that works there,” Acevedo said. “We’re keeping that person in our prayers.” Firefighters said a resident who lives near Watson Grinding was injured in the explosion and taken to a hospital. Houston fire Capt. Oscar Garcia told CNN the person was injured by shattered glass. At least one local resident captured the incident on a doorbell camera. The owner of Watson Grinding told KTRK the blast was a propylene gas explosion. Houston fire Chief Samuel Peña said a hazardous materials team was monitoring after the incident but that there were no immediate reports of hazardous air quality. Acevedo said the debris field extended about half a mile from the site of the explosion. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Workers in China are swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat people who have been sickened by a new strain of the coronavirus that has claimed more than two dozen lives and sickened hundreds of others in the country, according to multiple reports. Ten bulldozers and nearly three dozen diggers arrived Thursday night at the future site of the hospital in Wuhan, Reuters reported, citing Changjiang Daily. The facility was being built using prefabricated buildings around a holiday complex on the outskirts of the city that was originally meant for local workers, according to Reuters. Officials expect to complete construction on the 270,000-square-foot lot by Feb. 3, The Associated Press reported. The facility was being built amid reports of hospital bed shortages as hundreds of people fell ill during the country’s popular Lunar New Year travel season. Several people in Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, told The Guardian they had been turned away from hospitals due to the flood of patients seeking testing and treatment. At least eight hospitals in Wuhan have called for donations of items including masks and goggles as they work to meet demand for medical treatment, according to the AP. 'The construction of this project is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources,” Changjiang Daily reported, according to Reuters. “Because it will be prefabricated buildings, it will not only be built fast but it also won’t cost much.” The facility was being modeled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital built in 2003 in Beijing, the AP reported. That hospital was built by 7,000 workers in just six days during the SARS outbreak, which killed 800 and sickened people in more than a dozen countries, according to the AP and Reuters. The facility, which was deemed a success, treated 700 patients over less than two months before it closed, The Guardian and Reuters reported. As of Friday, 26 people have died and more than 900 people have been infected with coronavirus in China since reports of the virus first surfaced last month, according to CNN and the AP. Several cases have also been confirmed in other countries, including two in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials believe the virus can spread from person-to-person, though it remained unclear Friday just how easily the virus spread. Officials recommend that any people who have recently traveled to Wuhan and subsequently experienced flu-like symptoms -- including fever, coughing, shortness of breath or a sore throat -- contact their health care providers.
  • Orlando International Airport officials issued a statement Thursday about the deadly coronavirus, which has killed more than a dozen people and sickened hundreds of others since it was first reported last month in China. Rod Johnson, an airport spokesman, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to expand screening at airports this week, but OIA is not included in that grouping. As of Friday, the CDC is requiring screening of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China to Atlanta and Chicago O'Hare,  Los Angeles International, San Francisco International and New York JFK. 'Since we do not have direct service from the affected regions in China, no additional measures are currently prescribed for our location,' Johnson said. 'However, we will continue to collaborate with health officials, monitor the situation for changes and will act accordingly.” Cases of the virus first surfaced in Wuhan, China, which has a population of more than 11 million. The first travel-related case in the U.S was announced Tuesday. A traveler who had been in central China landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on an unidentified airline Jan. 15 and reported pneumonia-like symptoms to his doctor on Jan. 19.  The Seattle-area resident did not take a nonstop flight between Wuhan and Seattle. So far, the virus has killed at least 17 people and sickened more than 600 others in China. Here are six things you should be aware of about the disease: 1. Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that can cause a cold or something severe like Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS. The World Health Organization says symptoms are similar to pneumonia symptoms, CBS News reported. The initial symptoms include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath, The Associated Press reported. 2. Normally they’re transmitted from animal to humans, but 2019-nCoV is apparently able to be transmitted between humans. At least two people were infected that way, the BBC reported. But there are other coronaviruses in animal populations but have not been transmitted to humans, according to CBS News. 3. The World Health Organization is considering declaring a public health emergency, similar to what it did with Ebola and swine flu, the BBC reported. If the declaration happens, a coordinated international response will follow. 4. At least 15 medical workers are infected with 2019-nCoV and one is in critical condition. They are believed to have contracted the illness from treating patients who were kept in isolation, but that has not been confirmed, the BBC reported. 5. While the 2019-nCoV was traced back to a seafood market that also sells live animals in Wuhan, China last year, there are a few cases outside of China including Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Those cases are linked to the same area in China, the BBC reported. 6. People are taking measures to protect themselves from exposure to the virus. Medical-style face masks are sold out in China, the AP reported. Many people in Wuhan are wearing face coverings as they go about their day. The company that makes the anti-pollution masks, 3M was sold out of the mask online, the AP reported.

Washington Insider

  • After listening to Democrats for three straight days, President Donald Trump's lawyers started their rebuttal on Saturday in the President's Senate impeachment trial, accusing House prosecutors of ignoring evidence helpful to Mr. Trump, asking Senators to turn aside an effort to 'cancel an election.' 'You will find that the President did absolutely nothing wrong,' White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said to start the arguments in an unusual Saturday session of the Senate. 'Today, we are going to confront them on the merits of their argument,' Cipollone added, as the President's legal team accused the House of bending the facts, and ignoring evidence in favor of Mr. Trump. 'Let's get our facts straight,' said the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. 'The House managers never told you any of this,' said White House lawyer Michael Purpura. 'Why not?' “Impeachment shouldn't be a shell game,” Cipollone said, as the President's team used just two of their 24 hours of arguments - they will continue on Monday afternoon. GOP Senators rushed to the microphones after Saturday's session to denounce what Democrats had presented earlier in the week. 'Within two hours, I thought the White House Counsel and their team entirely shredded the case which has been presented by the House managers,' said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). 'It completely undermined the case of the Democrats and truly undermined the credibility of Adam Schiff,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). 'It was pretty stark today,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who then used the famous quote from radio show host Paul Harvey to make the case for the President. 'Now you know the rest of the story,' Lankford told reporters. 'This was a good day for America frankly,' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). 'I don't believe anything they have said so far is impeachable,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) of the House case, as there continues to be no public evidence that any GOP Senators are ready to break with President Trump. Playing out behind the scenes was the ongoing partisan tussle over whether current and former Trump Administration officials - whose testimony has been blocked during the impeachment investigation by President Trump - should be issued subpoenas by the U.S. Senate. 'I don't know how you have a trial when you know there is evidence that you haven't seen, or witnesses you haven't heard from that have first hand knowledge,' said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). 'A fair trial means witnesses and documents,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. The trial resumes at 1 pm ET on Monday.