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Haley, DeSantis face off in GOP debate as Trump holds town hall: The Morning Rundown, Jan. 11, 2024

Jan 11

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As the Iowa caucuses near, two Republican candidates spar on the debate stage while the former president holds a town hall. And an avalanche leads to at least one death at a California ski resort. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

Candidates clash in 2-person debate; Trump holds town hall

With just days to go until the Iowa caucuses, all eyes were on the Hawkeye state Wednesday night, Jan. 10, as two Republican candidates took the debate stage while the GOP frontrunner held a town hall at the same time. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley answered questions on immigration, abortion, Ukraine, and social issues while vying to be the alternative to former President Donald Trump, who has a commanding lead in polls nationwide and in Iowa.

The two candidates clashed throughout the night, each taking shots at the other. DeSantis said Haley is focused on appeasing her donors.

“We don’t need another mealy-mouthed politician who just tells you what she thinks you want to hear just to try to get your vote, then to get into office and to do her donor’s bidding,” DeSantis said.

Haley fired back and said DeSantis spread lies about her and had a piece of advice for those at Drake University, the location of the CNN debate.

“He has switched his policies multiple times, and we’ll call that out tonight,” Haley said. “But every time he lies, Drake University, don’t turn this into a drinking game because you will be overserved by the end of the night.”

The two sparred on their records, with Haley questioning DeSantis’ ability to lead the country, saying his campaign is “exploding” after seeing numerous personnel changes and millions of dollars spent. DeSantis responded that Haley is focusing on the political process, arguing that it is a topic voters don’t care about and a good window into her leadership.

The candidates touched on the former president, agreeing that Trump should have been on stage with them. However, the former president decided to skip the debate, taking part in a town hall on Fox News instead, where he was asked about a running mate.

“Well, I can’t tell you that, really. I mean, I know who it’s going to be,” Trump said.

The GOP field dwindled hours before the debate and the town hall when former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out of the race. Christie said there wasn’t a path forward for him to become president, and he would continue his goal to stop Trump from retaking office. But it was a hot mic moment just before his announcement that is getting a lot of attention. Christie was picked up on a livestream by his campaign criticizing Nikki Haley’s chances of becoming president.

“Yeah, that’s what you get. I mean, look, she’d spent $68 million so far just on TV, spent $68 million so far, $59 million by DeSantis, and we spent $12 (million),” Christie said. “I mean, who’s punching above their weight, and who’s getting a return on their investment? You know? And she’s gonna get smoked. And you and I both know it; she’s not up to this.”

Christie has not yet said if he would be endorsing any of the remaining candidates.

Donald Trump will not give his closing arguments in NY civil trial

Donald Trump will not deliver his closing arguments on Thursday, Jan. 11, in his civil fraud trial in New York as he hoped to do. The judge in the case was initially open to the idea, but only if the former president agreed to certain parameters.

The judge wanted Trump to promise to follow the limited gag order, which keeps him from blasting the New York attorney general or her staff. The judge told Trump to stick to “relevant matters” and “not deliver a campaign speech.”

However, in a series of heated email exchanges made public Wednesday, Jan. 10, Trump’s lawyers would not agree to the stipulations by the judge’s deadline, calling them unfair and saying Trump is being wrongfully demeaned. The judge responded by telling Trump’s team that he would not grant any further extensions, saying, “Take it or leave it.”

On his social platform, Truth Social, Trump called the judge “mean and nasty” and indicated he will still attend the court proceedings on Thursday, Jan. 11. The former president is accused of falsifying business records to receive better deals from banks and insurers. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Hunter Biden makes surprise visit as Republicans move to hold him in contempt

Hunter Biden is expected to plead not guilty on federal tax charges in a Los Angeles courtroom. This comes a day after the president’s son made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill as House Republicans moved to hold him in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena and not showing up to testify privately in their impeachment probe into his father, President Joe Biden. As the House Oversight Committee debated whether Hunter Biden should be held in contempt, he walked in and sat in the front row.

Biden’s appearance set off a political frenzy as a Republican called for his arrest on the spot, and Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene shouted that he was a “coward.” The House Oversight Committee and Judiciary Committee voted to push forward with holding Biden in contempt of Congress, with all Republicans voting for and Democrats voting against.

It is the latest in the impeachment probe into President Biden in which Republicans claim he financially benefited from his family’s business dealings as he served as vice president. Though the Bidens deny any wrongdoing, and Republicans have not produced any evidence of wrongdoing.

Now, the House will hold a final vote, and if the contempt referral passes, the Department of Justice will decide whether or not to prosecute Hunter Biden. In addition to these developments and the tax charges, Hunter Biden is also facing federal gun charges for unlawfully possessing a firearm.

1 killed, 3 injured in avalanche at California ski resort

One person was killed, and three others were injured when an avalanche hit a California ski resort near Lake Tahoe on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The avalanche occurred as a major winter storm brought heavy snow and gusty winds to the region.

The sheriff’s office said the debris field at the Palisade Tahoe Ski Resort spanned about 150 feet long and 10 feet deep. The person killed has been identified as a 66-year-old man who lived in a town nearby. The others are said to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The resort had just opened for the first time this season 30 minutes before disaster struck. The cause of the avalanche is under investigation.

Amazon cutting hundreds of positions in its studio, streaming.

Amazon is laying off several hundred employees in its streaming and studio operations. The online retail giant said in an internal memo on Wednesday, Jan. 10, that the company will eliminate hundreds of jobs in its Prime Video and MGM studios departments.

The cuts also affect around 500 roles in the Twitch streaming platform. In the memo to staff, Amazon leadership said the company would be shifting its investments to focus on the highest-impact products. Amazon has laid off more than 27,000 positions since late 2022.

Researchers say climate change led to the extinction of largest apes ever to live

New research is shedding more light on what happened to a great ape species, referred to by some as the real King Kong, that disappeared hundreds of thousands of years ago. The largest apes on record stood at ten feet tall, weighed 650 pounds, and likely resembled modern Orangutans. Now, scientists suggest climate change was the reason behind their extinction.

The apes survived in Southern China for around 2 million years, living off the fruits and flowers in the tropical forests. However, scientists said as the region experienced more dry seasons, the forests began producing fewer fruits for the apes to eat. The researchers analyzed pollen and sediment samples preserved in Chinese caves and fossilized teeth to help solve the mystery of the giant apes’ extinction.

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AS THE IOWA CAUCUSES NEAR — TWO REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES SPAR ON THE DEBATE STAGE AS THE FORMER PRESIDENT HOLDS A TOWN HALL

AND — AN AVALANCHE LEADS TO AT LEAST ONE DEATH AT A CALIFORNIA SKI RESORT

THE MORNING RUNDOWN STARTS NOW.

TODAY IS THURSDAY, JANUARY 11TH

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

I’M KARAH RUCKER.

WITH JUST DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE IOWA CAUCUSES – ALL EYES WERE ON THE HAWKEYE STATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT – AS TWO REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES TOOK THE DEBATE STAGE – WHILE THE GOP FRONTRUNNER HELD A TOWN HALL AT THE SAME TIME.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS AND FORMER UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY ANSWERED QUESTIONS ON IMMIGRATION, ABORTION, UKRAINE AND SOCIAL ISSUES – WHILE VYING TO BE THE ALTERNATIVE TO FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP – WHO HAS A COMMANDING LEAD IN POLLS NATIONWIDE AND IN IOWA.

THE TWO CANDIDATES CLASHING THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT – EACH TAKING SHOTS AT THE OTHER.

WITH DESANTIS SAYING HALEY IS FOCUSED ON APPEASING HER DONORS.

GOV. RON DESANTIS: “We don’t need another mealy-mouthed politician who just tells you what she thinks you want to hear just to try to get your vote, then to get into office and to do her donor’s bidding.”

HALEY FIRED BACK – SAYING DESANTIS SPREADS LIES ABOUT HER AND HAD A PIECE OF ADVICE FOR THOSE AT DRAKE UNIVERSITY – THE LOCATION OF THE CNN DEBATE.

NIKKI HALEY | FMR. SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR (R): “He has switched his, um, policies multiple times, and we’ll call that out tonight. But every time he lies, Drake University don’t turn this into a drinking game, because you will be overserved by the end of the night.” 

THE TWO SPARRED ON THEIR RECORDS – WITH HALEY QUESTIONING DESANTIS’ ABILITY TO LEAD THE COUNTRY – SAYING HIS CAMPAIGN IS QUOTE “EXPLODING” AFTER SEEING NUMEROUS PERSONNEL CHANGES.

DESANTIS RESPONDING THAT HALEY IS FOCUSING ON THE POLITICAL PROCESS – ARGUING THAT IS A TOPIC VOTERS DON’T CARE ABOUT AND IT’S A WINDOW INTO HER LEADERSHIP.

THE CANDIDATES TOUCHED ON THE FORMER PRESIDENT AT TIMES – BOTH AGREEING THAT TRUMP SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON STAGE WITH THEM.

HOWEVER, THE FORMER PRESIDENT DECIDED TO SKIP THE DEBATE — TAKING PART IN A TOWN HALL ON FOX NEWS INSTEAD — WHERE HE WAS ASKED WHO WOULD BE HIS VICE PRESIDENT IF HE WINS THE NOMINATION.

Baier: “Who would be in the running for vice president?”

Trump: “Well, I can’t tell you that, really. I mean, I know who it’s going to be. (Baier: Give us a hint.) I’ll give you we’ll do another show sometime. “

THE GOP FIELD DWINDLED HOURS BEFORE THE DEBATE AND THE TOWN HALL WHEN FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE DROPPED OUT OF THE RACE.

CHRISTIE SAYING THERE WASN’T A PATH FORWARD FOR HIM TO BECOME PRESIDENT – AND HE WOULD CONTINUE HIS GOAL TO STOP TRUMP FROM RETAKING OFFICE.

BUT IT WAS A HOT MIC MOMENT JUST BEFORE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT THAT IS GETTING A LOT OF ATTENTION.

CHRISTIE WAS PICKED UP ON A LIVESTREAM SET UP BY HIS CAMPAIGN CRITICIZING —

**NIKKI HALEY’S** CHANCES OF BECOMING PRESIDENT.

SUPER: VOICE OF CHRIS CHRISTIE | FMR. NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR (R): “Yeah, that’s what you get. I mean, look, she’d spent 68 million so far just on TV, spent 68 million so far, 59 million by DeSantis, and we spent 12. I mean, who’s punching above their weight and who’s getting a return on their investment? You know? And she’s gonna get smoked. And you and I both know it, she’s not up to this.”

CHRISTIE HAS NOT YET SAID IF HE WOULD BE ENDORSING ANY OF THE REMAINING CANDIDATES.

DONALD TRUMP WILL NOT BE DELIVERING HIS OWN CLOSING ARGUMENTS TODAY IN HIS CIVIL FRAUD TRIAL IN NEW YORK AS HE WAS HOPING TO DO.

THE JUDGE IN THE CASE ORIGINALLY WAS OPEN TO THE IDEA – BUT ONLY IF THE FORMER PRESIDENT AGREED TO CERTAIN PARAMETERS.

THE JUDGE WANTED TRUMP TO PROMISE TO FOLLOW THE LIMITED GAG ORDER – WHICH KEEPS HIM FROM BLASTING THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL OR HER STAFF.

THE JUDGE TELLING TRUMP TO STICK TO “RELEVANT MATTERS” AND “NOT DELIVER A CAMPAIGN SPEECH.”

HOWEVER IN A SERIES OF HEATED EMAIL EXCHANGES MADE PUBLIC WEDNESDAY –

TRUMP’S LAWYERS DISAGREED WITH THE STIPULATIONS —

CALLING THEM UNFAIR AND SAYING TRUMP IS BEING WRONGFULLY DEMEANED.

THE JUDGE RESPONDED — TELLING TRUMP’S TEAM  TO “TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.”

ON TRUTH SOCIAL – TRUMP CALLED THE JUDGE MEAN AND NASTY – AND INDICATED HE WILL STILL ATTEND TODAY’S PROCEEDINGS.

THE FORMER PRESIDENT IS ACCUSED OF FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS TO RECEIVE BETTER DEALS FROM BANKS AND INSURERS. HE HAS DENIED ANY WRONGDOING.

HUNTER BIDEN IS EXPECTED TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY ON FEDERAL TAX CHARGES TODAY IN A LOS ANGELES COURTROOM. THIS COMES A DAY AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S SON MADE A SURPRISE VISIT ON CAPITOL HILL  AS HOUSE REPUBLICANS MOVED TO HOLD HIM IN CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS FOR NOT SHOWING UP TO TESTIFY PRIVATELY IN THEIR IMPEACHMENT PROBE.

AS THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE DEBATED WHETHER THE PRESIDENT’S SON SHOULD BE HELD IN CONTEMPT –

HUNTER BIDEN WALKED IN AND SAT IN THE FRONT ROW —

SETTING OFF A POLITICAL FRENZY AS SOME REPUBLICANS CALLED FOR HIS ARREST ON THE SPOT.

REPUBLICAN MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE SHOUTED THAT HE IS A “COWARD”.

TWO COMMITTEES VOTED TO PUSH FORWARD WITH HOLDING HUNTER BIDEN IN CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS, WITH ALL REPUBLICANS VOTING FOR AND DEMOCRATS VOTING AGAINST.

IT IS THE LATEST IN THE IMPEACHMENT PROBE INTO PRESIDENT BIDEN IN WHICH REPUBLICANS CLAIM HE FINANCIALLY BENEFITED FROM HIS FAMILY’S BUSINESS DEALINGS AS HE SERVED AS VICE PRESIDENT. THE BIDENS DENY ANY WRONGDOING.

THE HOUSE WILL HOLD A FINAL VOTE AND IF THE CONTEMPT REFERRAL PASSES, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WILL DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO PROSECUTE HUNTER BIDEN.

IN ADDITION TO THESE DEVELOPMENTS AND THE TAX CHARGES — HUNTER BIDEN IS ALSO FACING FEDERAL GUN CHARGES FOR UNLAWFULLY POSSESSING A FIREARM.

ONE PERSON WAS KILLED AND THREE OTHERS WERE INJURED WHEN AN AVALANCHE HIT A CALIFORNIA SKI RESORT NEAR LAKE TAHOE ON WEDNESDAY.

THE AVALANCHE OCCURRED AS A MAJOR WINTER STORM BROUGHT HEAVY SNOW AND GUSTY WINDS TO THE REGION.

THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE SAID THE DEBRIS FIELD AT PALISADE TAHOE SKI RESORT SPANNED ABOUT 150 FEET LONG AND 10 FEET DEEP.

THE PERSON KILLED HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A 66-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO LIVED NEARBY.

THE RESORT HAD JUST OPENED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON 30 MINUTES BEFORE DISASTER STRUCK.

THE CAUSE OF THE AVALANCHE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

AMAZON IS LAYING OFF HUNDREDS OF EMPLOYEES IN ITS STREAMING AND STUDIO OPERATIONS.

THE ONLINE RETAIL GIANT SAID IN AN INTERNAL MEMO ON WEDNESDAY THAT THE COMPANY WILL BE ELIMINATING JOBS IN ITS PRIME VIDEO AND MGM STUDIOS DEPARTMENTS.

THE CUTS ALSO AFFECT AROUND 500 ROLES IN THE TWITCH STREAMING PLATFORM.

IN THE MEMO TO STAFF – AMAZON LEADERSHIP SAID THE COMPANY WOULD BE SHIFTING ITS INVESTMENTS  TO FOCUS ON THE HIGHEST-IMPACT PRODUCTS.

AMAZON HAS LAID OFF MORE THAN 27 THOUSAND POSITIONS SINCE LATE 20-22.

FINALLY THIS MORNING —

NEW RESEARCH IS SHEDDING MORE LIGHT ON THE MYSTERY OF WHAT HAPPENED TO A SPECIES OF GREAT APE – REFERRED BY SOME AS THE REAL KING KONG – THAT DISAPPEARED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO.

THESE LARGEST APES ON RECORD STOOD AT TEN FEET TALL, WEIGHED UP TO 650 POUNDS AND LIKELY RESEMBLED MODERN ORANGUTANS.

NOW SCIENTISTS SUGGEST CLIMATE CHANGE WAS THE REASON BEHIND THEIR EXTINCTION.

THE APES SURVIVED IN SOUTHERN CHINA FOR AROUND 2 MILLION YEARS – LIVING OFF THE FRUITS AND FLOWERS IN THE TROPICAL FORESTS.

BUT SCIENTISTS SAY AS THE REGION EXPERIENCED MORE DRY SEASONS – THE FORESTS BEGAN PRODUCING FEWER FRUITS FOR THE APES TO EAT.

THE RESEARCHERS ANALYZED POLLEN AND SEDIMENT SAMPLES THAT HAVE BEEN PRESERVED IN CHINESE CAVES AS WELL AS FOSSIL TEETH TO HELP SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF THE GIANT APES’ EXTINCTION.

THESE ARE YOUR TOP STORIES FOR THIS THURSDAY.

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WE’LL SEE YOU BACK HERE TOMORROW.

UNTIL THEN I’M KARAH RUCKER. HAVE A GREAT DAY!