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Week Ahead: Impeachment Latest, Remembering Kobe Bryant, Coronavirus Spreads

Kobe Bryant smiles during a media availability before a basketball game in 2013. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Kobe Bryant smiles during a media availability before a basketball game in 2013. (Alex Brandon/AP)

We look at the coming week’s biggest stories. There’s the impeachment trial, of course, but we’ll also make time for news from the rest of the country and around the world.


Lisa Desjardins, correspondent for PBS NewsHour. (@LisaDNews)

Anita Kumar, White House correspondent and associate editor at Politico. (@anitakumar01)

Anton La Guardia, digital editor for the Economist Magazine. (@AntonLaGuardia)

Shira Springer, sports and society reporter at WBUR. (@ShiraSpringer)

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: “The Kobe I Knew Became a Champion for Others” — “My first real interaction with Kobe Bryant started over a disagreement. The legendary Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard had made some dismissive comments in 2014 about the case of Trayvon Martin, the African American teenager who had been shot to death in Florida by the neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman two years before.

“Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal on second-degree murder charges incensed many black athletes—but not Bryant, who told The New Yorker, ‘If we’ve progressed as a society, then you don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American.’ I was working at ESPN at the time, and criticized Bryant on camera as tone-deaf, among other things.

“About 10 minutes or so later, while I was still on air, I received a direct message from Bryant on Twitter. He told me to call him as soon as the show was over because he thought my comments were off base. That was Kobe. He was never afraid to speak up, and certainly not afraid to defend his opinions, however unpopular.”

The Washington Post: “Democrats call for Bolton to testify in Trump impeachment trial after new report on aid to Ukraine” — “Congressional Democrats called for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial following a new report that the president told Bolton last August that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations into the Bidens.

“The New York Times reported Sunday evening that in last summer’s conversation, Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to the investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. That is according to an unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book, the Times said.

“The book, ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ is scheduled for publication March 17, but a White House review could attempt to delay its publication or block some of its contents.”

Politico: “Trump rules out removing Iran sanctions as a precondition for talks” — “The United States will not remove sanctions before negotiating with Iran, President Donald Trump said early Sunday.

“Seemingly in response to an interview Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif gave to Der Spiegel on Friday, Trump tweeted: ‘Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. @FoxNews @OANN No Thanks!’ The president posted the same statement in Farsi an hour later.

“Zarif shot back soon after, saying Trump ‘is better advised to base his foreign policy comments & decisions on facts, rather than @FoxNews headlines or his Farsi translators.’

“In the same tweet Zarif posted an excerpt of his interview, in which he said Iran would be happy to negotiate if the U.S. removes the economic sanctions, which have significantly hurt Iran’s economy, particularly its oil and gas exports.”

Politico: “Pompeo’s upcoming Ukraine trip just got more awkward” — “Impeachment was challenging enough. Now, the secretary has his own intemperate language to overcome. Mike Pompeo was already expecting to navigate a political minefield when he landed in Kyiv next week.

“But after the secretary of State’s explosion at a respected NPR journalist, his trip just got a little more complicated. Following a contentious radio interview in which Mary Louise Kelly asked several probing questions about Ukraine, America’s top diplomat shouted at length and swore at the ‘All Things Considered’ host in his private living room at the State Department, she said in an emailed statement on Friday.

“Pompeo then summoned aides to bring him a blank map, and demanded that she point out the location of Ukraine, a 230,000-square-mile expanse of land that straddles the geopolitical fault-line between Europe and Russia.”

The New York Times: “Trump Team, Opening Defense, Accuses Democrats of Plot to Subvert Election” — “The plans were as sweeping as they were chilling: ‘Derail some trains, kill some people, and poison some water supplies.’

“It was the blunt, bloody prescription for sparking a race war by a member of the Base, a white supremacist group that has come under intense scrutiny amid a series of stunning recent arrests.

“Federal agents, who had secretly recorded those remarks in a bugged apartment during a domestic terrorism investigation, pounced on seven members of the group last week in advance of a rally on Monday by gun rights advocates in Richmond, Va. Three members of one cell in Maryland affiliated with the group plotted attacks at the rally, hoping to ignite wider violence that would lead to the creation of a white ethno-state, law enforcement officials said.”

USA Today: “Rep. Hakeem Jeffries asks: ‘Who ordered the cover-up?’ – Trump impeachment trial latest” — “Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., raised the specter that someone directed the National Security Council’s top lawyer to put a transcript of President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a secure server.

“‘Did anyone senior to attorney John Eisenberg direct him to hide it? Why did it remain on the server even after this so-called error was discovered?’ Jeffries asked rhetorically. ‘Who ordered the cover-up of the call record?’ he asked senators. ‘The American people deserve to know.’

“Jeffries, who is helping make the House manager’s argument that Trump obstructed Congress, said there are many outstanding questions because Eisenberg refused to testify. Other officials testified that Eisenberg ordered that access to the transcript be restricted after he was told what it contained, Jeffries said.”


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