Calls are mounting for Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook showing a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. On Friday, Northam apologized for the photo in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook but walked back his statements the following day, claiming neither of the men in the photo were him, although he did admit to using blackface to portray Michael Jackson at a dance contest. On Saturday, protesters gathered near the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, calling for Northam’s resignation.
Arthur Burton: “We’re here today standing in the very space that codified the laws that created slavery and put us in a brutal system that we are still struggling to get out from under today. We’re here because the history of Jim Crow is obviously still alive and living up in the Governor’s Mansion.”
Northam met with senior staff Sunday evening to discuss possible next steps, including resignation. If Northam steps down, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would fill his seat and become the only current African-American governor in the U.S. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.
President Trump said Sunday that sending U.S. troops to Venezuela is “an option.” Trump made the comments on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He praised opposition leader Juan Guaidó, calling him “a young and energetic gentleman,” and said the events unfolding in Venezuela are “democracy in action.” The U.S. said Saturday it is sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela in response to a request from Guaidó. The arrival of U.S. aid will likely set up a test for the Venezuelan military, which will have to decide whether to allow supplies to enter the country. The military has continued to support President Nicolás Maduro; however, on Saturday, Air Force General Francisco Yánez defected and pledged loyalty to Guaidó.
Meanwhile, an ultimatum issued by Britain, France, Germany and Spain for Maduro to call new presidential elections expired Sunday. In the capital Caracas, thousands participated in competing protests.
At a pro-Maduro protest, the president called on militia members to join the Venezuelan Army. On Saturday, Maduro called for early elections in the National Assembly and once again warned against foreign military intervention.
President Nicolás Maduro: “Step forward. Abandon interventionism, Yankee imperialism. Stop calling for war. Stop calling for Yankee military intervention of the country. Stop supporting a coup that has already failed.”
Canada is hosting a meeting of the Lima Group today. Canada and the Lima Group—minus Mexico—say they recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president.
During his CBS interview Sunday, President Trump confirmed his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, after Senate Republicans last week rebuked the move, saying the Islamic State was still a threat in the region. Trump also said that he wanted to maintain a U.S. military presence in Iraq to monitor Iran.
President Donald Trump: “All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East.”
When asked about the government funding bill currently being negotiated before a February 15 deadline, Trump did not rule out shutting down the government again if no satisfactory deal was made. On Friday, Trump told reporters “there’s a good chance” he would call a national emergency to get around Congress, despite reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Trump that the move could split the Republican Party and prompt a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration. Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed Sunday it is sending 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for a period of 90 days—a move announced by acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week.
In El Salvador, Nayib Bukele was elected president Sunday, handily defeating his opponents from the two main parties that have dominated the country’s political scene for over 25 years. Bukele, who has been dubbed a social media star, is of Palestinian heritage. The 37-year-old former mayor of San Salvador beat out candidates from the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance and the leftist Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation, or FMLN. Bukele, who joined the conservative Grand Alliance for National Unity, or GANA, after being expelled from the FMLN in 2017, ran on an anti-corruption platform.
Two U.S. attorneys and two journalists who have been working with members of a Central American caravan in Mexico have been removed from Mexico after their passports were “flagged.” It’s unknown where the orders to restrict their travel came from. Nora Phillips and Erika Pinheiro are attorneys with Al Otro Lado, an immigrant rights group that in 2017 filed a lawsuit accusing Customs and Border Protection of depriving asylum seekers access to the asylum process. In a tweet, the American Immigration Lawyers Association said it is urging Congress “to conduct a thorough and immediate investigation” into the removals.
In Iraq, an armed motorcyclist shot dead Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub in the city of Karbala Saturday. The 50-year-old author and poet was heading home when the shooting happened, according to police. Mashzoub was an outspoken critic of foreign intervention in Iraq, radicalism and corruption. Iraq’s writers union blamed the Iraqi government for failing to protect public intellectuals. No group has claimed responsibility for the murder.
Amnesty International said on Friday the group Boko Haram killed at least 60 people last week in an attack on the northeastern border town of Rann in Nigeria. Witnesses told Amnesty International Nigerian military left the area the day before the attack, leading to an exodus of residents who feared attacks by Boko Haram. The U.N. says that tens of thousands of Nigerians fled to neighboring Cameroon in January. Boko Haram attacked Rann earlier in January, killing 14 people.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by saying Russia, too, was suspending its commitment to the landmark agreement.
President Vladimir Putin: “We will provide a mirror-like response. The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal; we are suspending it, as well. They have announced that they will engage in research and development programs; we will do the same.”
The Nobel Peace Prize recipient International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons tweeted Friday: “By pulling out of the #INF, the US waves the start flag for a new nuclear arms race & proves there’s no such thing as a responsible nuclear armed state. This is why we need to end all nuclear weapons. States must join the #nuclearban Treaty!”
At least 29 children and babies have died on their way to a camp for displaced people in northeastern Syria since early December, according to the United Nations. The primary causes of the deaths are malnourishment and hypothermia. The U.N. said Friday it asked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to provide a safe transit site for civilians fleeing violence in the area. They said over 23,000 have fled to the camp in the past two months.
Vice Media announced Friday it is laying off 10 percent of its staff, or 250 employees, in the latest cut to newsrooms around the country, which has affected at least 2,000 people since the start of the year. Also on Friday, reports emerged of cuts at McClatchy, with the company reportedly offering buyouts to 10 percent of its workers. In late January, BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Gannett, which owns over 1,000 publications around the country, also announced layoffs, with around 1,400 people losing their jobs.
On Friday, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn walked back reports that it was reconsidering a plan to build flat screen TV panels at a Wisconsin plant. Terry Gou, chair of Foxconn, said he spoke to President Trump and confirmed plans to go ahead with construction of the factory. The comments contradicted Thursday’s report that said the facility will focus on research and development rather than manufacturing. In 2017, Governor Scott Walker, who was defeated in the November midterm elections, offered Foxconn $3 billion in state and local tax credits—which has since ballooned to over $4 billion—while the tech giant promised to create 13,000 jobs.
2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren apologized to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test to demonstrate her Native American ancestry. A spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation told The Intercept that Warren privately apologized to the nation last week. Warren came under fire for the widely publicized release of the DNA test in October, which was accompanied by a video, claiming “strong evidence” of partial Native American lineage in her family tree. In response, Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation said, “Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong.” Senator Warren, who announced on New Year’s Eve that she was setting up a presidential exploratory committee, is expected to formally announce her run later this week.
Hawaii Democratic Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard officially launched her 2020 presidential run Saturday.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “I will bring this soldier’s principles to the White House, restoring the values of dignity, honor and respect to the presidency, and, above all else, love for our people and love for our country.”
Gabbard has supported progressive legislation during her time in Congress, including backing Medicare for all and a Green New Deal. In 2016, the Iraq War veteran quit as Democratic National Committee vice chair and threw her support behind Senator Bernie Sanders’s run for president. Gabbard says her candidacy will center around “war and peace” and will focus on the U.S.'s foreign wars, though some on the left have criticized some of her foreign policy views, including her relationship with India's ruling far-right BJP party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last month, Gabbard apologized for past derogatory statements about the LGBTQ community.
And in New York City, protesters rallied throughout the weekend at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where more than 1,600 prisoners were forced to endure freezing temperatures during last week’s polar vortex, with no heat, no light and no hot water. Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, officials said electricity was restored, but many cells still lack heat. We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast with City Councilmember Brad Lander, who toured the jail.