This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
Mike Bloomberg’s debate performance last night has been widely panned, with many critics saying the former New York mayor appeared unprepared to respond to some very obvious lines of attack about his record.
Trump is now adding his name to the list of Bloomberg’s critics, mocking the fellow billionaire in a tweet for his height and the “worst debate performance in history.”
The tweet includes a video made by a supporter, which ends with Bloomberg being crushed under a giant foot before “Trump-Pence: Keep America Great” appears on screen.
Warren team claims they raised $2.8m with debate performance
It isn’t just a shift in poll-ratings that candidates were looking for after the Las Vegas debates last night – and it looks like Elizabeth Warren’s performance has allowed her to hit the fund-raising jackpot. Her team say that they had their best debate day fund-raising of the campaign yet, bringing in $2.8m
The Sanders campaign also seem to have had a rewarding night, with Eliza Collins reporting that they also claim to have had their best debate fund-raising day, with $2.7m coming in.
It looks like it could be quite lively at the court in Washington where Stone is due to be sentenced. There already seem to be pro and anti-Stone camps making their presence felt outside.
The president is up and tweeting – and not about Roger Stone. Trump has started his online day by posting a video clip of a veteran being carried to his seat at a Trump rally, which Donald Trump Jr had highlighted earlier.
Politico have published a good long read looking into the saga of Roger Stone’s almost inevitable presidential pardon by Darren Samuelsohn. It’s a good refresher on just how deep the ties between Stone and Trump have been over the years:
“Stone and Trump have a history unlike anyone else around the president. They’ve known each other since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 White House campaign and maintained a rapport that includes Stone counseling Trump during four potential presidential runs and Trump hiring Stone as a lobbyist to represent his gambling, airline and hotel businesses. In his most recent book, Stone boasted that he knew about Trump’s 2016 plans more than two years before the formal campaign announcement.”
You can read it here: “The Roger Stone pardon saga”
While he awaits the outcome of US moves to extradite him, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been visited in prison by a leading British opposition politician – shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
McDonnell described the US attempts to extradite Assange to face trial to face 18 charges, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion, as “one of the most important and significant political trials of this generation, in fact longer.”
McDonnell criticised “The way in which a person is being persecuted for political reasons, for simply exposing the truth for what went on in relation to recent wars. We don’t believe that extradition should be used for political purposes.”
McDonnell added that “I think if this extradition takes place it will damage the democratic standing of our own country as well as America. We have a long tradition in this country of standing up for journalistic freedom, standing up for the protection of whistleblowers and those who expose injustices.”
Assange, 48, could face up to 175 years in jail if the Trump administration’s attempt to extradite him is successful.
Here’s some more detail from the visit…
at 1.41pm GMT
Jordan Weissmann has reviewed Elizabeth Warren’s performance in last night’s debate in glowing terms for Slate:
“It was brutal. It was crushing. It was a command performance full of zingers that drew roars, even if they were a bit obviously prewritten. And perhaps everyone should have seen it coming. Warren, after all, has often been at her best during this primary campaign when going toe-to-toe in the media with billionaires fearful of her candidacy. What better foil could she ask for than Bloomberg?”
Weissmann also makes the point that the set-up of the debate suited her – being positioned just to Bloomberg’s left meant the cameras caught the full blast of her one-to-one attacks on him.
If you missed it earlier, my colleague Sam Levin rounded up all of Warren’s best attack lines on the billionaire and his arrogance and his record on NDAs, racist policing and taxes.
Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is in the UK at the moment, with meetings planned with some of prime minister Boris Johnson’s staff over the issue of Chinese telecoms firm Huawei. The Trump administration has made no secret of their displeasure that the UK has approved Huawei to supply equipment to build the British 5G mobile phone network.
Mulvaney was at a meeting in Oxford last night where he delivered a forceful warning:
“We are very much concerned that integrity of that information is hardwired into your computer systems, and if you folks go forward with the decision to include Huawei, it will have a direct and dramatic impact on our ability to share information with you. Period, end of story.”
The Washington Post is also reporting a different line that came out of Mulvaney’s talk, an admission that the Republican party can be hypocritical over the issues of deficits.
Mulvaney is reported as saying: “My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party”
Trump hints at Stone pardon
We’ll know in a few hours what Roger Stone’s sentence is going to be. What we don’t know yet is whether he’ll actually have to serve any of it, or whether he will benefit from an almost instantaneous presidential pardon. There was a strong hint from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed that he might do just that.
Last night he posted up a clip of Tucker Carlson from Fox News discussing the case. In the clip, Carlson says:
“Like the Russia collusion fantasy itself, Stone’s prosecution was wholly poitical. It was a shocking insult to the American tradition of equal justice. The whole thing is enough to shake your faith in our justice system. President Trump could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon, and there are indications tonight that he will do that.”
Not only did Trump tweet out the clip, but he also pinned it to the top of his feed.
Trump has already made headlines with his pardons this week – freeing convicted Democrat Rod Blagojevich. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also sensationally claimed in a court in London yesterday that Trump had offered him a pardon if he would refute Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election – something that the president denies.
Here’s Austin Sarat, arguing that Trump’s use of clemency undermines the rule of law.
at 12.31pm GMT
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been in North Dakota visiting Minot Air Force Base, acclaiming president Trump’s plan to modernise the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Esper told reporters that the spending was needed to keep up with Russia and outpace China. He told reporters that “Russia and China are both modernizing and expanding their nuclear arsenals.”
He said the country needed to have confidence that US systems are effective, safe, reliable, and credible. “We’re trying to deter war.”
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the first 10 years of the modernization plan will cost nearly $500 billion, and that over a 30-year span the total would hit $1.2 trillion, including the cost of sustaining the current and future force.
California’s lawmakers are expected to vote to formally apologize for the role the state legislature played in the incarceration of more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent during the second world war.
The resolution, which is likely to be approved today, was introduced by California state assembly member Albert Muratsuchi.
In a reference to Trump’s muslim travel ban and the separation of families at the US border, Muratsuchi has said that “We’re seeing striking parallels between what happened to Japanese Americans before and during the second world war and what we see happening today”
Mario Koran in San Francisco has the full story.
We’ve also got an emotional piece from back in 2012, written by actor George Takei, who was interned along with his family in the 1940s.
“I’ll never forget that day, nor the tears streaming down my mother’s face as we were forcibly removed, herded off like animals, to a nearby race track. There, for weeks, we would live in a filthy horse stable while our ‘permanent’ relocation camp was being constructed thousands of miles away”
He might not have shone in last night’s debate, but Mike Bloomberg can console himself with the fact that he has picked up another three congressional endorsements.
Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Nita Lowey of New York and Pete Aguilar of California have all come out and endorsed Bloomberg. Aguilar cited Bloomberg’s record “at both the national and local levels” and his “track record as a former mayor on gun safety and climate.”
It brings his total number of congressional endorsements to 15. Only Joe Biden has more.
It’s not always clear how much congressional endorsements turn into popular support, but Bloomberg will be grateful that the move today suggests his campaign still has momentum after Las Vegas.
Here’s what Richard Wolffe made of last night:
“This Democratic primary is not the same as it was four years ago; nor is it like the Republican contest of the same cycle. After three years of Trumpian dysfunction and disinformation, nothing is the same.
He believes that nothing can stop Sanders winning the nomination this time around.
While a lot of eyes were on the debate in Las Vegas, president Donald Trump was at work, and used Twitter to announce that, as expected, Richard Grenell will become acting director of national intelligence.
The US ambassador to Germany is a keen Trump ally, and now takes charge of the nation’s 17 spy agencies, with whom the president has enjoyed a testy relationship. In his tweet Trump said that “Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him.”
Grenell has been ambassador to Germany since 2018, and because he has been named as acting director, the appointment will not need to be confirmed by the Senate.
The move hasn’t been universally popular. Democrat senator Mark Warner of Virginia said Trump had “selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity.”
Many pundits seemed to think that Elizabeth Warren was at her most effective in the debate last night when landing blows on Mike Bloomberg’s record. “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another” she said.
Her performance sparked a lot of fun on social media – one person suggested that Bloomberg’s Wikipedia page needed “Cause of death: Elizabeth Warren” added to it.
But there was nothing fun about her attacks on Bloomberg over his record on race relations, policing, NDA agreements and his wealth. Sam Levin here has a write-up of the lines that most wounded the former mayor of new York.
Good morning – and it’s the morning after the night before for the six major challengers for the Democratic nomination, as they wake up and wonder how their debate performance yesterday will have played with voters.
We’ll get our first real hint when Nevada holds its caucuses on Saturday.
It is probably Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who will be most pleased with how they did.
Sanders, the frontrunner in the polls, withstood the onslaught he faced, and Warren made her mark with a series of stinging attacks on Mike Bloomberg, who was appearing in a debate for the first time. Klobuchar and Buttigieg sparred. And Joe Biden? Well, he kept on plodding on. Here’s the wrap of the night from my colleague Sam Levin in Las Vegas.
Donald Trump is on the campaign trail too today. He’ll be at a rally in Colorado Springs which starts at 7pm ET.
Before then we’ll almost certainly hear from the president on Twitter about the sentencing of Roger Stone. Stone was was convicted in November on seven felony charges, including lying to Congress and tampering with a witness, and will find out his punishment in court this morning, despite a last minute bid to get a re-trial.