Start Here: New Hampshire debate and Trump after acquittal
It’s Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. Let’s start here.
1. Democrats debate
All eyes are on tonight’s debate in New Hampshire after continued reports of errors and inconsistencies in the results from the Iowa caucuses.
With 100% of precincts reporting on Thursday night, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had 26.2% and 26.1% of the vote, respectively, according to the Iowa Democratic Party.
On today’s “Start Here,” Adam Sexton, political director at ABC affiliate WMUR-TV, breaks down the stakes for the lower-polling Democrats ahead of the debate hosted by ABC News.
“Economic bread and butter issues are important in this state,” Sexton says. “I’m very interested to hear how they tailor their economic plans to a state where the economy under President Donald Trump is doing well.”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Linsey Davis and WMUR’s Adam Sexton and Monica Hernandez will moderate the three-hour debate, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET | 7 p.m. CT | 5 p.m. PT.
2. Acquittal attacks
After the Senate impeachment trial ended with his acquittal, President Donald Trump declared victory during a celebration at the White House on Thursday, calling the investigations into his presidency “evil” and Democrats “vicious as hell.”
“This was impromptu Trump for an hour,” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl tells the podcast. “He’s survived these investigations, survived the impeachment trial, but he’s still very angry and very bitter at those that have brought this upon him.”
3. Weinstein’s defense
Prosecutors in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial have rested their case after jurors heard testimony from six women who had their own disturbing accounts allegedly involving the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The defense called Paul Feldsher, an industry executive and friend of Weinstein’s as their first witness. He testified that he was friends with Weinstein and accuser Annabella Sciorra, and said that there was no reason to believe the incident was forced or violent.
But upon cross-examiniation, prosecutors confronted Feldsher with text messages to Weinstein calling Sciorra an expletive and the producer’s accusers “a dogpile of women.”
“This sort of hits at the core of the defense strategy, which is to undermine the credibility of the alleged victims, and at this point, this is kind of blowing up in their faces,” ABC News’ Erielle Reshef says.
Weinstein has maintained that any sexual encounters were consensual.
‘Meeting of experts’: The White House has asked U.S. scientists and medical researchers to investigate the scientific origins of the novel coronavirus, as misinformation about the outbreak spreads online.
‘Domestic terrorism’: Already facing capital murder charges, the alleged gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019 was hit with federal hate crime charges on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the case.
From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says the calendar isn’t helping former Vice President Joe Biden, but his Iowa performance points to bigger problems.
Doff your cap:
A beloved St. Louis philanthropist and life board member at the city’s Opera Theater has left the company a “transformative” gift in the wake of her death.
Phyllis Brissenden, who died on Dec. 17, “bequeathed the company a transformative endowment gift, estimated at $45 million,” the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announced Thursday.
The gift is one of the largest ever recorded for an American opera company, organization officials said.
Brissenden’s gift will go toward mainstage productions, civic programming, artist training and educational programs, said officials.