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News Wrap: Amid protests, Iran’s Khamenei lashes out at U.S.

In our news wrap Friday, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the U.S. amid new unrest in his country. He addressed Friday prayers for the first time in eight years, telling crowds the U.S. is lying when it says it supports protesters. Also, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo said he will investigate allegations that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was under surveillance before her ouster.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump's legal defense team for his Senate impeachment trial is taking shape and expanding.

    It was widely reported that it will include Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation led to President Clinton's impeachment, and retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow are expected to lead the legal team during oral arguments beginning on Tuesday.

    Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he will investigate allegations that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was under surveillance before President Trump had her fired. But Pompeo said he thinks the allegations will prove false. They came from Lev Parnas, an associate of Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

    The U.S. Supreme Court added two more cases to its upcoming docket today. The court agreed to hear a dispute over whether Electoral College voters are required to back a presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.

    It will also consider an appeal by the Trump administration seeking to enforce a new rule that allows some employers to claim a religious exemption and avoid providing health insurance coverage for contraceptives. A nationwide injunction is currently blocking that rule.

    The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lashed out at the United States today amid new unrest. Protests erupted across Iran after the government admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.

    Khamenei addressed Friday prayers for the first time in eight years. He told the crowds that U.S. officials are lying when they claim to support the demonstrators.

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei¬†(through translator):

    These American clowns, who falsely and despicably say that we are standing with the Iranian people, can see who the Iranian people are. You are lying. If you do stand with the Iranian people, it is because you want to stick your poisoned dagger into the chest of the Iranian nation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This evening, President Trump tweeted that Khamenei should be — quote — "careful with his words."

    Earlier in Washington, the State Department's special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said that increased threats can only backfire.

  • Brian Hook:

    As long as the regime threatens the world, it will become further isolated. Until Iran behaves like a normal nation, its isolation will only deepen.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Hook urged Britain, France and Germany to join the U.S. in trying to fashion a new nuclear deal with Iran.

    The Pentagon today denied downplaying or delaying information about U.S. troops being injured when Iranian missiles hit a base in Iraq. Officials now say that 11 service members suffered concussions. President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper initially said there were no casualties in the January 8 attack.

    In China, officials announced that the population grew again last year to 1.4 billion, even though the birth rate actually to its lowest level in 70 years. Meanwhile, the working age population declined, but the number of those over 60 grew. They now make up 18 percent of the total Chinese population.

    Millions of Chinese began heading home today in the world's largest annual human migration. Travelers crowded train stations and airports, bound for reunions with family, so they can celebrate the lunar new year together on January 25.

    A journalist and leading activist in China's fledging MeToo movement was freed today after three months. Human Rights Watch said that Sophia Huang Xueqin had been detained on a charge known as suspicion of provoking trouble. She had reported on the MeToo movement, on sexual harassment in the Chinese workplace, and on the protests in Hong Kong.

    Back in this country, a jury was selected in the sexual misconduct trial of former movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Seven men and five women were chosen, after complaints that the defense was trying to exclude young women. Weinstein faces charges of rape and sexual assault involving two women in New York. Testimony will begin next week.

    And stocks edged higher on Wall Street today, as all three of the main indexes closed at new records. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50 points to close at 29348. The Nasdaq rose nearly 32 points, and the S&P 500 added almost 13.

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