Impeachment, Fiat Chrysler, ‘Star Wars’: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning.

We’re covering today’s planned impeachment vote in the House, a warning to the F.B.I., and a record heat wave in Australia. We also have a review of “The Rise of Skywalker.”

Lawmakers are expected to vote by this evening on two charges against President Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Here’s what to expect:

  • Debate is to begin around 9 a.m. Eastern. (The Times will stream it live.) The House Rules Committee voted on Tuesday to allow six total hours of debate on the floor, divided equally among Republicans and Democrats.

  • Republicans are expected to use parliamentary procedures to try to slow the process, but the time limit means they’re unlikely to make much difference.

  • Separate votes on the impeachment articles are expected in the early evening.

  • A majority of House members support impeachment, largely along party lines. Here’s where every lawmaker stands.

  • If the House approves the articles, Mr. Trump would become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Yesterday: Mr. Trump denounced the process as an “illegal, partisan attempted coup” in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Read the letter, which The Times fact-checked.

What’s next: If Mr. Trump is impeached, the Senate could decide to remove him from office, though such an outcome is highly unlikely. Senators take an oath during an impeachment trial to “do impartial justice,” but Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, said on Tuesday that he had no obligation to be impartial.

Background: Four Times journalists who covered the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998 discussed how that period echoes today.

The bureau has until Jan. 10 to propose changes to national security surveillance targeting Americans, after a secretive federal court said on Tuesday that the F.B.I. had misled judges about the rationale for wiretapping a Trump campaign adviser.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s order followed the scathing report last week by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general about the surveillance of the aide, Carter Page, as part of the Russia investigation.

The bureau has called the conduct described in the report “unacceptable and unrepresentative of the F.B.I. as an institution.”

What’s next: The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is scheduled to testify in Congress again today.

Phone scanners, facial-recognition cameras and other technologies are being employed to heighten the authorities’ ability to spy on China’s nearly 1.4 billion people, according to police and private databases examined by The Times.

Individually, none of the tracking techniques are beyond the capabilities of other countries, including the U.S. But together, they could propel China’s spying to a new level, making its cameras and software smarter and more sophisticated.

The surveillance networks fulfill a longtime goal of ensuring social stability, but it’s unclear how well the police are using the capabilities, or how effective they are.

Quotable: “Each person’s data forms a trail,” said a technology worker in the southern city of Shenzhen. “It can be used by the government, and it can be used by bosses at the big companies to track us. Our lives are worth about as much as dirt.”

Another angle: Macau, a former Portuguese colony turned global gambling hub, has been more willing than neighboring Hong Kong to accept Beijing’s authority.

The number of deaths associated with meth use is climbing across the U.S., a trend that public health officials have struggled to explain.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show about 13,000 deaths involving the drug nationwide in 2018, more than twice as many as in 2015. Opioid deaths are much more common, but that number has flattened, while the pace of meth fatalities is accelerating.

Another angle: Teenagers are drinking less alcohol, smoking fewer cigarettes and trying fewer hard drugs, according to federal data released today. But there has been a sharp increase in vaping of marijuana and nicotine.

Snapshot: Above, Lina Tapia and Rodrigo Ramos, her husband, at their shop in an area of Queens known as Willets Point. The industrial area, which has the largest collection of auto and salvage shops in New York City and has long been a source of jobs for immigrants, is being redeveloped.

Something to chew on: DNA from a roughly 5,700-year-old wad of primitive gum, recovered from a construction site in Denmark, is providing clues about the “Stone Age of Scandinavia.”

52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits the Paparoa Track, a new hiking trail in New Zealand.

Late-night comedy: President Trump’s letter about impeachment was the moment “the lid blew off Mount St. Yellin’,” Stephen Colbert said.

What we’re watching: This profile on “CBS This Morning” of the veteran Times photographer Doug Mills. “A journalist deeply deserving of accolades,” our White House correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted.

Cook: Roasted salmon with chile and honey takes less than 30 minutes.

Watch: No spoilers here. Read our review of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

Eat: Our critic Pete Wells examined how restaurant dining changed in the past decade. One of the top trends: We ate with our cameras.

Smarter Living: What are you supposed to say at the end of an email? We have some tips.

The federal government is scrambling to avert a shutdown, nearly a year to the day after the longest one in U.S. history. We asked our Washington reporter Emily Cochrane to explain how Republicans and Democrats, in a week of division over impeachment proceedings, could agree on measures that had separated them.

The president is expected to sign two funding packages this week that would prevent the government from shutting down after 11:59 p.m. Friday, an embarrassing and costly prospect. Congress introduced the legislation — more than 2,000 pages of text — on Monday, and the House advanced both packages less than 24 hours after receiving the documents.

The legislation tackles a variety of issues. Lawmakers are working to accomplish as much as possible before their recess on Friday: spending bills on Tuesday, impeachment on Wednesday, sweeping revisions to the North American trade pact on Thursday.

The threat of a government shutdown, coupled with the desire to leave on time and with some notable legislative accomplishments, is pushing the two sides closer.

Members of Congress have jokingly compared the flurry of seemingly random legislative demands, like raising the tobacco purchase age to 21, to adding a couple of extra ornaments on the Christmas tree.

Some called it the last train leaving the station.

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

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s executive order aimed at curbing anti-Semitism.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Killer whale (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Elisabeth Bumiller, the chief of our prizewinning Washington bureau, has been promoted to assistant managing editor and joins the masthead, a list of the top editors and business executives at The Times.

Source : Nytimes