Wednesday morning news, January 15, 2020

Debate » AUDIO: [Sound of debate intro]

With the Iowa Caucuses now less than three weeks away, six White House contenders squared off last night in the first debate of 2020. 

AUDIO: Live from Drake University in Iowa, this is the CNN Democratic presidential debate. 

Candidates began by making their case for the role of commander in chief. 

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said she would work to tamp down tensions with Iran and reverse President Trump’s approach. 

KLOBUCHAR: He got us out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, something I worked on for a significant period of time. As president, I will get us back into that agreement. 

The candidates roundly shared that perspective. But they differed on whether the U.S. military should remain in the Middle East. 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said it’s time to bring our soldiers home from that region, as well as Afghanistan. 

WARREN: This has got to stop. It’s not enough to say someday, we’re going to get out.

But former Vice President Joe Biden said there are good reasons to keep a troop presence in the Middle East.  

BIDEN: And I think it’s a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS.

The candidates debated other issues like healthcare, the environment and electabilitywho is best equipped to beat President Trump. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders insisted that being a proud socialist will not be a liability. 

SANDERS: My democratic socialism says healthcare is a human right! We’re going to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour. We’re gonna make public colleges and universities tuition-free. 

Voters in Iowa will have their say in the caucasus on February 3rd. The next debate is slated for February 7th. 

Trump, Chinese vice premier to sign “Phase One” of trade deal today » President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will sign “Phase One” of a new trade deal today at the White House. 

In a recent tweet, President Trump called it a “very large and comprehensive” deal. Many analysts say that may be overstating the scope of the partial agreement. But it is without question a deescalation of the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week said under the new deal, China has pledged to spend more on U.S. goods. 

MNUCHIN: It’s $200 billion of additional products across the board over the next two years, and specifically in agriculture, $40 to $50 billion. So this is a big opportunity for our farmers. 

Ahead of today’s signing, the United States announced it would drop China from a list of currency manipulators. 

Beijing on Tuesday welcomed the news. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, repeated an official promise not to devalue China’s yuan as a weapon in trade disputes.

House expect to vote to send impeachment charges to Senate » Lawmakers in the House are expected to vote today to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi met privately Tuesday at the Capitol with House Democrats about next steps. She’d held onto the charges for weeks in a bid to influence the Senate’s rules for the trial. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck said Senate Republicans have no interest in conducting a real trial of the charges against the president. 

SCHUMER: I can bet that when the time comes, Leader McConnell will say we’ve heard enough. The trial shouldn’t drag on any longer. 

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said House Democrats built a half-baked case against the president and want the Senate to fill in the blanks.  

MCCONNELL: Two things cannot be both true. House Democrats’ case cannot be so robust that it was enough to impeach in the first place, but also so weak that the Senate needs to go fishing. 

Republicans control the Senate 53 to 47, and are highly likely to acquit the president. McConnell has said he has the Republican votes to approve a process modeled after former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. Those rules would allow the House to argue its case at the start, rather than calling new witnesses at the outset. 

Europe pressures Iran to restart nuclear talks » Britain, France, and Germany on Tuesday ratcheted pressure on Iran to stop violating the 2015 nuclear deal.

Europeans have reluctantly triggered a dispute mechanism in the agreement to force Iran into discussions. The move starts the clock on a process that could result in the UN and EU reimposing sanctions against the country.

But EU Foreign Policy Chief Joseph Borrell said they’re hoping to avoid that. 

BORRELL: The aim of the dispute resolution mechanism is not to reimpose sanctions. The aim of this mechanism is to resolve issues relating to the implementation of the agreement. 

The three nations carefully avoided threats instead emphasizing the goal of restarting talks.They held off their announcement until tensions between the U.S. and Iran had calmed down.

Meantime, Iran’s government says authorities have arrested multiple people over the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane last week. President Hassan Rouhani made the announcement Tuesday. 

ROUHANI: [Speaking in Farsi]

Following days of public protests in Tehran, Rouhani said the government will form a special court to investigate the tragedy.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right speaks as from left, Democratic presidential candidates businessman Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg listen Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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