Updated Jan 7, 2020

McConnell to move ahead on Senate trial rules without Democrats

McConnell talks with reporters on Monday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he'll move ahead on approving rules for President Trump's Senate trial without negotiating them with Democrats.

Between the lines: Senate Republicans' comments on Tuesday suggested that they've fallen in line with McConnell's position that the rules should be based on Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate trial, where the question of whether to call witnesses was postponed until after the start of the trial.

  • Many of these senators have said they're comfortable following the precedent of the Clinton trial, in which senators first gave their opening statements and submitted their questions to the chief justice of the Supreme Court before formally calling witnesses. 

McConnell's move, first reported by Politico, suggests that key GOP senators are not eager to join Democrats' demands to immediately call witnesses — including subpoenaing former national security adviser John Bolton — and request new documents at the onset of a Senate trial. 

What they're saying: Even Sen. Mitt Romney, who has been the most forthright in stating he wants to hear from Bolton, said he is “comfortable” with following the Clinton precedent. However, he distinguished that he is only comfortable with it because it still provides a pathway to hear from witnesses.

  • “I think the Clinton impeachment process provides a pathway for witnesses to be heard, so I’m comfortable with that process,” Romney told reporters Tuesday.
  • Other Republicans agreed. "What I want to do is what we did in the Clinton [trial]. I want to hear from the prosecution, I want to hear from the defense, and then make up our mind on that," said Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Yes, but: Some Democrats rightly point out that it’s not fair to compare the current impeachment battle to Clinton’s, as the universe of witnesses in the 1999 trial was much more defined. 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must also transmit the articles of impeachment — which she has thus far withheld — in order for the Senate trial to begin.

What to watch: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Pelosi had been waiting to send the articles until she knew what the Senate trial would look like, and that it's now beginning to take shape.

Go deeper: Key GOP senators don't want to subpoena Bolton

Go deeper

Updated 1 min ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Over 500 schools in South Korea have either closed or postponed reopening, according to the Korea Times, which cites data from the Ministry of Education.

Why it matters: South Korea has been a model for how to handle the novel coronavirus, and the closures reportedly followed concerns from parents and teachers over child safety. The country's confirmed death toll has plateaued at 269 over the past few days, with few increases, per Johns Hopkins data.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,877,503— Total deaths: 362,731 — Total recoveries — 2,464,595Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,735,971 — Total deaths: 102,286 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Supreme Court: Senators Grassley, Leahy urge Supreme Court to continue live streams post-pandemic.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  7. 🚀 Space: How to virtually watch SpaceX's first crewed launch Saturday.

Trump to end Hong Kong’s special trade status

President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. would be fundamentally changing longstanding policies toward Hong Kong as a result of Chinese encroachment on the city's autonomy.

Why it matters: Trump said he would be effectively ending the special trade status that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish as a gateway to the Chinese market. That leaves an uncertain future for businesses that operate in Hong Kong, not to mention the city's 7 million residents, and could be met with reprisals from Beijing.