It’s Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. Let’s start here.
1. Iran tensions escalate
President Donald Trump is warning Iran against retaliatory measures following the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, vowing to “hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!”
Hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in the streets of Iran on Sunday amid increasing fallout in the region from Soleimani’s death. Tehran announced it would no longer follow the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement and Iraq voted to expel U.S. forces.
“That’s a reflection really of who Soleimani was,” ABC News Senior Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell tells “Start Here” today. “He was much bigger than Iran, he was the face of Shia Islam across the Middle East and primarily in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion… he was a man who was at the height of his powers and he controlled a number of key militias here in Iraq.”
2. Senate this week
Democratic lawmakers are accusing the president of bringing the U.S. closer to a war in the Middle East as the Trump administration argues it had the authority to carry out the U.S. strike on Soleimani.
“(Trump) has been erratic and unsuccessful in almost every previous foreign policy endeavor,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week. “This one is the most dangerous of all. We need Congress to be a check on this president.”
Senate Democrats are expected to force a vote on war with Iran this week, according to ABC News’ Trish Turner, “When you’re talking about war, war powers, Congress zealously guards that kind of power that’s theirs under the Constitution.”
3. Weinstein trial begins
The criminal trial of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is set to begin this week.
Over the last two years, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, but this case focuses on allegations made by two women.
“One of them, Mimi Haleh, was a production assistant for Harvey Weinstein’s namesake company when she said that Weinstein forced himself on her,” ABC News Senior Investigative Reporter Aaron Katersky says. “The other account is from a woman, whose name we do not know, a woman who says that Harvey Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel.”
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and denies all of the allegations, insisting that any sexual relations he had were consensual.
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‘They attacked us’: Chicago police said they have arrested two teens who assaulted and robbed a pregnant woman on a train last week.
‘You said you loved her’: A Texas man who proposed to his fiancée on New Year’s Eve has been arrested and charged with her murder just four days into their engagement.
‘Something wasn’t right’: A New Jersey man was arrested last week for impersonating a sheriff in an attempt to intimidate contractors who were working on his new home.
‘No hate, no fear’: In a massive display of solidarity against anti-Semitism, more than 10,000 people, including New York’s governor, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday to protest a recent string of hate attacks in the New York-New Jersey region, including a machete rampage at a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration.
From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:
‘A majority of Americans think the evidence supports Trump’s removal’: A majority (57 percent) of Americans said they think Trump committed an impeachable offense. Fifty-two percent said they think Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine or his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry constitute enough evidence to remove him from office.
Doff your cap:
A chunky kitty who captured hearts on the Michigan Humane Society’s social media has been adopted. Zack, a 30-pound cat, was adopted on Jan. 3, the humane society posted on Twitter.
At 30 pounds, Zach is about three times the size of the most common type of house cat. The Michigan Humane Society posted on Twitter that it had received “tons” of applications for Zack, who it had nicknamed “Chonk cat.”