The Rundown for January 17, 2020

SENATORS SWORN IN FOR TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL… All 100 members of the Senate were sworn in yesterday as jurors for the impeachment trial of President Trump. The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Trump is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He has denied wrongdoing and branded the case against him as a “hoax.” Senators will decide whether Trump is removed from office over charges brought by the House of Representatives.

UKRAINE GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE YOVANOVITCH SURVEILLANCE… The Ukrainian government announced yesterday that it will launch an investigation into the alleged surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The campaign was allegedly carried out by associates of President Trump. In a statement released yesterday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said his government “took note of the possible illegal surveillance on the territory of Ukraine.” Yovanovitch was recalled from her position in May following what she has described as a smear campaign against her from Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Earlier this week, House Democratic investigators released a trove of documents obtained from Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani’s. The documents implied that Parnas had access to people tracking Yovanovitch’s movements in Kyiv.

WATCHDOG SAYS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BROKE THE LAW OVER UKRAINE… The nonpartisan government watchdog Government Accountability Office yesterday issued a legal opinion that the Trump administration broke the law by withholding defense aid to Ukraine. The issue centers on $214 million that was appropriated by Congress and allocated to the Department of Defense for security assistance. The GAO noted that the aid was later released to Ukraine only after a whistleblower complaint made the withheld money public.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SUED OVER FOOD-STAMP LAW… Washington, D.C. and New York City have joined 14 states in a lawsuit that challenges the Trump administration’s plans to impose new work requirements that would cut food stamps to hundreds of thousands of Americans. The suit accuses the administration of undermining the purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and of violating the federal rule-making process. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the new rule targeting childless, non-disabled adults between the ages of 18 and 49.

VIRGINIA FIREARM BAN UPHELD… A Virginia judge has rejected a request to block Governor Ralph Northam’s firearm ban at a gun-rights rally in Richmond’s Capitol Square on Monday. Lawyers for Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America unsuccessfully argued that the ban violated state law along with protesters’ right to arms, assembly and speech. Meanwhile, FBI agents yesterday arrested a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two other men who are linked to a violent white supremacist group and were believed to be heading to the pro-gun rally. The three men are facing federal charges of transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. One of the defendants is also charged with “transporting and harboring aliens.”

DEMI LOVATO TO PERFORM NATIONAL ANTHEM AT SUPER BOWL… Demi Lovato has signed on to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl. The Grammy-nominated pop singer will perform prior to the February 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will headline the halftime show.

IN THEATERS… “Dolittle” centers on a physician who learns that he can talk to animals. Robert Downey Jr. and Antonio Banderas star in the PG film. Will Smith and Alexander Ludwig star in “Bad Boys for Life.” The R-rated film tells the story of Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, who are back together for one last ride. In “The Wave,” an opportunistic insurance lawyer who thinks he’s in for the time of his life when he goes out on the town to celebrate an upcoming promotion with his co-worker instead gets dosed with a hallucinogen that completely alters his perception of the world. The R-rated sci-fi thriller stars Justin Long and Tommy Flanagan. “VHYes” follows a 12-year-old boy who accidentally records home videos and his favorite late-night shows over his parents’ wedding tape. Kerri Kenney and Thomas Lennon star in the unrated comedy.

Phoenix 121 – NEW YORK 98... The Suns took control with a big second quarter and rolled past the Knicks. Devin Booker pumped in 29 points. Deandre Ayton piled up 26 points and 21 rebounds. Ricky Rubio added 25 points and 13 assists.

MILWAUKEE 128 – Boston 123… The Bucks took a 19-point lead into the fourth quarter and hung on to down the Celtics. Giannis Antetokounmpo piled up 32 points and 17 boards. Kris Middleton added 23 points.

NEW ORLEANS 138 – Utah 132 (OT)… Brandon Ingram poured in a career-high 49 points to lead the Pelicans in their overtime win over the Jazz. Derrick Favors finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

L.A. CLIPPERS 122 – Orlando 95… Kawhi Leonard lit it up for 32 points in the Clippers’ rout of the Magic. Montrezl Harrell delivered 21 points off the bench.

Denver 134 – GOLDEN STATE 131 (OT)… The Nuggets outlasted the Warriors in a back-and-forth contest. Nikola Jokic scored a tying basket with 10.8 seconds left in regulation and finished with 23 points and 12 boards. Will Barton led all scorers with 31 points. Malik Beasley had 27 points off the bench.

Washington is at Toronto…
Indiana hosts Minnesota…
Chicago is at Philadelphia…
Oklahoma City hosts Miami…
Cleveland is at Memphis…
San Antonio hosts Atlanta
Portland is at Dallas

BOSTON 4 – Pittsburgh 1… The Bruins cruised past the Penguins after spotting them an early goal. Karson Kuhlman and David Pastrnak each had two assists.

Calgary 2 – TORONTO 1 (SO)… Matthew Tkachuk scored the winning goal in the shootout as the Flames outlasted the Maple Leafs. Goalie David Rittich made 35 saves.

FLORIDA 4 – Los Angeles 3… The Panthers withstood a three-goal rally to edge the Kings. Brian Boyle’s third-period goal turned out to be the difference.

N.Y. Rangers 3 – N.Y. ISLANDERS 2… Chris Kreider scored a power-play goal with 25 seconds remaining to lift the Rangers over the Islanders. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 38 shots at goal.

Montreal 4 – PHILADELPHIA 1… Ilya Kovalchuk found the net twice to lead the Canadiens past the Flyers. Phillip Danault had three assists. Goalie Carey Price stopped 40 shots.

WASHINGTON 5 – New Jersey 2… Alex Ovechkin scored three goals in his 25th career hat trick to highlight the Capitals’ win over the Devils. Nicklas Backstrom assisted on two goals.

COLUMBUS 3 – Carolina 2… Nick Foligno’s goal with 1:41 remaining sent the Blue Jackets past the Hurricanes. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist. Goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 32 saves.

Vegas 4 – OTTAWA 2… Mark Stone and Paul Stastny each had a goal and an assist in leading the Golden Knights past the Senators. Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 stops at goal.

Anaheim 4 – NASHVILLE 2… Rickard Rakell scored a goal and assisted on another as the Ducks doubled up on the Predators. John Gibson made 33 stops at goal.

MINNESOTA 3 – Tampa Bay 2… The Wild held off the Lightning to end their four-game losing streak. Zach Parise, Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Suter scored for Minnesota.

Buffalo 4 – DALLAS 1… Rasmus Dahlin netted a tie-breaking goal late in the second period and the Sabres scored twice more in the third to put away the Stars. Kyle Okposo had two assists.

COLORADO 4 – San Jose 0… Philipp Grubauer stopped all 27 shots as the Avalanched blanked the Sharks. Valeri Nichushkin scored the only goal Colorado needed in the first period.

VANCOUVER 3 – Arizona 1… The Lightning overcame an early one-goal deficit to cruise past the Coyotes. Elias Petterson assisted on two goals.

Pittsburgh is at Detroit…
Carolina hosts Anaheim..
Tampa Bay is at Winnipeg

#1 GONZAGA 104, Santa Clara 54…
WASHINGTON STATE 72, #8 Oregon 61…
#20 Colorado 68, ARIZONA STATE 61…
#22 MEMPHIS 60, Cincinnati 49…

Tennessee is at Kansas City in the AFC title game…
San Francisco hosts Green Bay in the NFC title game

MLB: BELTRAN STEPS DOWN AS METS MANAGER… The New York Mets have parted with manager Carlos Beltran prior to his first year with the team. Beltran has been the only player so far to be named in MLB’s investigation of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. He becomes the third manager to lose his job as a result of the scandal. Houston fired AJ Hinch and the Boston Red Sox let Alex Cora go after he admitted to wrongdoing while a bench coach with the Astros.

The Rundown for January 13, 2020

PELOSI TALKS SUBPOENAS… House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday left open the possibility of subpoenaing witnesses for President Trump’s impeachment. Pelosi says the decision depends on whether the Senate pursues testimony for its trial. Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” the Speaker said she will decide tomorrow during a caucus meeting whether to send articles of impeachment to the Senate as early as this week. Pelosi added the House could also file new articles of impeachment based on the Senate’s actions.

OFFICIALS NOT AWARE OF IRAQI GENERAL’S PLOTS… Secretary of Defense Mark Esper admitted during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday that he hadn’t seen evidence to support President Trump’s claim that Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was “actively planning” imminent attacks on four American embassies before Soleimani was fatally targeted by a U.S. airstrike last week. The claim has also been challenged by security adviser Robert O’Brien, who conceded on ABC’s “This Week” that it was unclear whether embassies or U.S. military bases would be targeted. Some members of Congress say intelligence briefings did not mention threats to embassies.

SAUDI SERVICE MEMBERS EXPELLED… Federal officials say more than a dozen Saudi service members training at U.S. bases will be expelled. The expulsions follow the investigation into last month’s deadly shooting by a Saudi national that killed three people and wounded eight others at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Some of the Saudis being expelled are accused of having ties to extremist movements and a number are accused of possessing child pornography.

SHOOTER WOUNDS 5 AT COLORADO PARTY… Police in Colorado are on the lookout for a gunman who opened fire Saturday night and wounded five people attending a party at an apartment complex in Aurora. The wounded are all expected to survive. Three of those wounded were juveniles over the age of 16, and two of them were females, officials said.

WEEKEND WEATHER DEADLY… Winter weather that turned deadly over the weekend is blamed for at least 10 deaths. Fatalities were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama. A tornado brought 100-mph winds to east Texas. In the Northeast, about 50 million people were under wind advisories and more than 145,000 homes were without power in eight states. The biggest outages were reported in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED THIS MORNING… Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced this morning. The nominations will be read by Issa Rae and John Cho and live-streamed beginning at 8:18 a.m. Eastern on, and the academy’s digital social platforms. A second wave of nominees will begin at 8:30 a.m. Eastern and be carried live on “Good Morning America.” This year’s Academy Award ceremony is scheduled for February 9.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… “1917” took in $36.5 million to top the weekend box office following its wide release. “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” slipped into second place with $15 million. “Jumanji: The Next Level” dropped one spot to No. 3 after bringing in $14 million. “Like a Boss” debuted in fourth place with $10 million. “Just Mercy” made $9.75 million to cap the top five.

KANSAS CITY 51 – Houston 31… The Chiefs erased a 24-0 second-quarter deficit to roll past the Texans and advance to take on Tennessee in next Sunday’s AFC title game. Patrick Mahomes passed for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He also gained 53 yards on the ground. Travis Kelce had 10 receptions for 134 yards and three scores.

Green Bay 28 – SEATTLE 23… The Packers built a 21-3 halftime lead and held on to down the Seahawks and move on to battle San Francisco next Sunday for the NFC title. Aaron Rodgers found Davante Adams eight times for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Jones ran for a pair of second-quarter scores.

Utah 127 – WASHINGTON 116… The Jazz handled the Wizards and extended their winning streak to nine games. Bojan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 31 points. Rudy Gobert finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

NEW YORK 124 – Miami 121… The Knicks rallied in the fourth quarter to upend the Heat. Julius Randle led the way with 26 points. RJ Barrett added 23 points.

San Antonio 105 – TORONTO 104… The Spurs came from 18 points down to stun the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points to lead a balanced scoring attack.

MEMPHIS 122 – Golden State 102… The Grizzlies pulled away in the second half to throttle the Warriors. Jonas Valanciunas piled up 31 points and 19 boards.

BROOKLYN 108 – Atlanta 86… Kyrie Irving returned from injury after two months and scored 21 points in the Nets’ win over the Hawks. Five other players scored in double figures for Brooklyn.

DENVER 114 – L.A. Clippers 104… The Nuggets used a big second quarter to build a double-digit lead and maintained it in the second half. Nikola Jokic finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

PHOENIX 100 – Charlotte 92… The Suns came up big in the fourth quarter to fight off the Hornets. Kelly Oubre Jr. racked up 25 points and 15 boards.

New Orleans is at Detroit…
Indiana hosts Philadelphia…
Chicago is at Boston…
Minnesota hosts Oklahoma City…
Orlando is at Sacramento…
Portland hosts Charlotte…
Cleveland is at the L.A. Lakers

Vancouver 4 – Minnesota 1… Bo Horvat scored a tie-breaking goal in the second period and added an empty-netter to lead the Canucks past the Wild. J.T. Miller assisted on two goals.

Buffalo 5 – DETROIT 1… Evan Rodrigues scored back-to-back goals 2:21 apart early in the first period and the Sabres cruised past the Red Wings. Curtis Lazar had two assists.

Nashville 1 – WINNIPEG 0… Juuse Saros stopped all 28 shots in his first shutout of the season as the Predators clipped the Jets. Kyle Turris netted the game’s only goal in the first period.

Pittsburgh 4 – ARIZONA 3 (SO)… Bryan Rust and Teddy Blueger scored in the shootout to send the Penguins past the Coyotes. Brandon Tanev netted the tying goal with 3:02 remaining in regulation.

FLORIDA 8 – Toronto 4… Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist on his way to becoming the Panthers’ franchise leader in career points with 420. Vincent Trocheck had a goal and two assists for Florida.

NEW JERSEY 3 – Tampa Bay 1… The Devils skated past the Lightning and ended their 10-game winning streak. Travis Zajac’s goal midway through the second period gave New Jersey the lead for good. Goalie Louis Domingue made 26 saves.

Calgary is at Montreal…
the N.Y. Rangers host the N.Y. Islanders…
Boston is at Philadelphia…
Washington hosts Carolina…
Anaheim is at St. Louis

PURDUE 71, #8 Michigan State 42…
MINNESOTA 75, #19 Michigan 67…
#21 Memphis 68, SOUTH FLORIDA 64…
#23 Wichita State 89, CONNECTICUT 86 (2OT)…
OREGON STATE 82, #24 Arizona 65…
#25 COLORADO 91, Utah 52

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME TONIGHT… Top-ranked LSU takes on third-ranked Clemson tonight in the college football championship game. Both teams are 14-0 heading into the contest. Kickoff from the Superdome in New Orleans is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern. The game airs on ESPN.

The Rundown for January 10, 2020

HOUSE VOTES TO LIMIT TRUMP MILITARILY… The House last night passed a resolution that limits President Trump’s power to strike Iran militarily. The 224-194 vote was largely along political lines. The resolution directs the president to end military hostilities with Iran without specific authorization from Congress and unless the U.S. faces an “imminent armed attack.” As a “concurrent resolution,” the measure does not need Trump’s signature.

PELOSI SAYS SHE’LL PASS ALONG IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES ‘SOON’… House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she expects to pass along to the Senate the two articles of impeachment against President Trump “soon,” but first wants to learn more about Republicans’ plans for the trial. Pelosi has angered Republicans by withholding the articles after the House convicted Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges last month. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to approve Senate trial rules without the help of Democrats.

TRUMP SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE ‘NOT A HOAX’… President Trump declared yesterday that he is a “big believer” in climate change and that it is “not a hoax.” The surprise announcement came after administration officials introduced a plan to overhaul the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act. The administration’s plan would effectively roll back regulations that require federal agencies to consider climate change when approving infrastructure projects, such as highways or oil and gas pipelines.

WATCHDOG: TRUMP HAS ADDED $4.7T TO NATIONAL DEBT… The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget revealed yesterday that legislation signed by President Trump has added $4.7 trillion to the national debt since Trump took office in January 2017. The federal budget watchdog estimates the debt figure based on a time window starting in 2017 and ending in 2029. The $4.7 trillion is on top of the existing $17.2 trillion already held by the public, and $9.2 trillion the U.S. is expected to borrow over the next decade. The committee said the additional debt under Trump is split evenly between tax and spending policy changes. The report also said the president and Congress share the responsibility for growing the debt.

IRAN BLAMED FOR UKRAINIAN CRASH… U.S. officials believe the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed on Wednesday was shot down by Iran following the country’s missile attacks on U.S. targets. All 176 people on board were killed when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane crashed soon after takeoff from Tehran’s airport. The plane was believed to have been mistakenly targeted. Officials report U.S. intelligence picked up signals of a radar being turned on and U.S. satellites detected two surface-to-air missile launches.

BUCK HENRY DIES… Family members have confirmed that comedy legend Buck Henry died Wednesday in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack. He was 89. Henry earned Academy Award nominations as co-writer of the 1967 film “The Graduate” and as co-director of 1978’s “Heaven Can Wait.” He was co-creator of the television series “Get Smart” and was a frequent guest and host of “Saturday Night Live.”

IN THEATERS… “1917” expands nationally this weekend. The R-rated film tells the World War I story about two young British soldiers who are tasked with delivering a message deep in enemy territory in an effort to stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap. Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays and Colin Firth star… “Just Mercy” centers on world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, who works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner. Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson star in the PG-13 film… In “Like a Boss,” two friends with very different ideals start a beauty company together. The R-rated comedy stars Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish… “Underwater” stars Kristen Stewart and T.J. Miller in the story about a crew of aquatic researchers who work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. It’s rated PG-13… Ana de Armas and Rosamund Pike star in “The Informer.” In the R-rated drama, an ex-convict working undercover intentionally gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the mob at a maximum-security prison.

PHILADELPHIA 109 – Boston 98… The 76ers shook off a slow start to cruise past the Celtics. Jamal Richardson led the way with 29 points.

Cleveland 115 – DETROIT 112 (OT)… Kevin Love knocked down a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 37.9 seconds remaining and the Cavaliers made it stand in their win over the Pistons. Tristan Thompson piled up 35 points and 14 rebounds.

MINNESOTA 116 – Portland 102… The Timberwolves outscored the Trail Blazers 31-13 in the second quarter and retained control. Andrew Wiggins pumped in 23 points.

OKLAHOMA CITY 113 – Houston 92... The Thunder jumped out to a 16-point lead after the first quarter and coasted past the Rockets. Dino Gallinari scored 23 points and grabbed 11 boards. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tossed in 20 points.

Atlanta is at Washington…
New York hosts New Orleans…
Miami is at Brooklyn…
Memphis hosts San Antonio…
Indiana is at Chicago…
Phoenix hosts Orlando…
Charlotte is at Utah…
Dallas hosts the L.A. Lakers…
Milwaukee is at Sacramento…
the L.A. Clippers host Golden State

BOSTON 5 – Winnipeg 4… David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick and extended his point streak to 12 games in leading the Bruins past the Jets. His third goal came in the third quarter and proved to be the difference.

Edmonton 4 – MONTREAL 2… Alex Chiasson netted a tie-breaking goal in the third period as the Oilers came from behind to down the Canadiens.

TAMPA BAY 4 – Arizona 0… Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 25 shots in the Lightning’s blanking of the Coyotes. Nikita Kucherov scored two goals.

FLORIDA 5 – Vancouver 2… The Panthers got two goals from Noel Acciari in topping the Canucks. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves at goal.

N.Y. RANGERS 6 – New Jersey 3… Tony DeAngelo recorded his first career hat trick and assisted on two goals as the Rangers doubled up on the Devils. Artemi Panarin contributed a goal and two assists.

ST. LOUIS 5 – Buffalo 1… Alexander Steen found the net twice and had an assist as the Blues breezed past the Sabres. Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and an assist.

Nashville 5 – CHICAGO 2… The Predators handled the Blackhawks to give coach John Hynes his first win since taking over. Goalie Pekka Rinne made 29 saves and scored an empty-net goal.

CALGARY 2 – Minnesota 1… Johnny Gaudreau scored a go-ahead goal in the second period and the Flames held off the Wild. Goalie Cam Talbot stopped 42 shots.

Los Angeles 5 – VEGAS 2… The Kings scored four unanswered goals in the first period and never looked back in their win over the Golden Knights. Jack Campbell stopped 44 shots at goal.

Dallas 3 – ANAHEIM 0… Ben Bishop made 27 saves in his 33rd career shutout as the Stars made it six straight wins. Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist.

SAN JOSE 3 – Columbus 1… Kevin Labanc had a goal and an assist to lead the Sharks in their defeat of the Blue Jackets.

Ottawa is at Detroit…
Carolina hosts Arizona…
Pittsburgh is at Colorado

#1 Gonzaga 94, SAN DIEGO 50…
#8 MICHIGAN STATE 74, Minnesota 58…
#9 OREGON 74, Arizona 73 (OT)…
#19 MICHIGAN 84, Purdue 78…
#23 WICHITA STATE 76, #21 Memphis 67

Minnesota is at San Francisco in the NFC Divisional Playoffs…
Baltimore hosts Tennessee in the AFC Divisional Playoffs

Houston is at Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Playoffs…
Green Bay hosts Seattle in the NFC Divisional Playoffs

The Rundown for January 8, 2020

IRAN LAUNCHES MISSILE ATTACK… Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that host U.S. military and coalition troops. The attacks at Ain al-Asad and Irbil bases caused unknown damage, the Pentagon said. Immediately after the attacks, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. and its regional allies against retaliating. President Trump tweeted last night that “All is well” and said he would make a statement this morning.

McCONNELL VOWS GOP WILL SET RULES FOR IMPEACHMENT TRIAL… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial. The announcement dealt a blow to Democrats, who argue that it won’t be a fair trial unless they’re able to call several White House officials and Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that Republicans know their constituents want a fair trial and vowed to force votes that put them on record.

PROSECUTORS WANT FLYNN JAILED… Prosecutors reversed course yesterday by urging a federal judge to sentence President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn to up to six months in jail. In their sentencing memo, prosecutors said Flynn has failed to accept responsibility for his actions and undermined a separate criminal case. The 61-year-old Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, more than two years after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators.

TRUMP INAUGURATION DONOR CHARGED… A major donor to President Trump’s inaugural committee has been charged with obstructing a federal investigation into illegal contributions made to the president’s inaugural fund. Imaad Zuberi, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, is accused of obstructing the probe into contributors to the inaugural fund. Zuberi allegedly backdated a $50,000 check and deleted emails. In a separate recent case, Zuberi pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent, campaign-finance violations and tax evasion.

CONGRESSMAN DUNCAN HUNTER RESIGNS… Republican U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges last month, has submitted his resignation letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The resignation is effective January 13. Hunter faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced on March 17. He and his wife were indicted last summer on five dozen criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records. Hunter allegedly misused $250,000 in campaign funds for personal uses ranging from vacations to extramarital affairs to a plane ticket for his wife’s pet rabbit.

WEINSTEIN CASE PROCEEDS… The judge presiding over the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial yesterday rejected a defense request for a “cooling-off period” and is pressing ahead with jury selection. Lawyers representing Weinstein requested a delay until after publicity generated by the new charges subsided. In refusing the postponement, Judge James Burke said he is confident the jury will understand that Weinstein is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

ROD STEWART TO TOUR… Rod Stewart has scheduled a 2020 North American summer tour that will feature special guest Cheap Trick. The 21-city tour kicks off on July 21 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and ends September 5 in Tinley Park, Illinois. Stewart says he’ll perform a number of his signature hits from throughout his career.

Detroit 115 – CLEVELAND 113… The Pistons rallied in the fourth quarter to get past the Cavaliers. Derrick Rose knocked down the winning jumper with 27 seconds left.

Portland 101 – TORONTO 99… Carmelo Anthony’s bucket with 4 seconds remaining lifted the Trail Blazers over the Raptors. Anthony led all scorers with 28 points. Hassan Whiteside grabbed 16 rebounds to go with his 14 points.

Oklahoma City 111 – BROOKLYN 103 (OT)… Chris Paul scored 20 of his 28 points after the third quarter as the Thunder outlasted the Nets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 22 points. Steven Adams pulled down 18 boards.

MEMPHIS 119 – Minnesota 112… The Grizzlies were too much down the stretch in downing the Timberwolves. They got 28 points from Dillon Brooks and 25 from Ja Morant.

Sacramento 114 – PHOENIX 103… The Kings came from 21 points down in the third quarter to upend the Suns. De’Aaron Fox led the way with 27 points.

L.A. LAKERS 117 – New York 87… LeBron James pumped in 31 points to lead the Lakers in their rout of the Knicks. Four other players scored in double figures for Los Angeles.

Toronto is at Charlotte…
Indiana hosts Miami…
San Antonio is at Boston…
Orlando hosts Washington…
Denver is at Dallas…
Atlanta hosts Houston…
Chicago is at New Orleans…
Utah hosts New York…
Milwaukee is at Golden State

TAMPA BAY 9 – Vancouver 2… The Lightning scored six second-period goals to blow away the Canucks. Carter Vergaeghe recorded a hat trick. Brayden Point had a goal and three assists.

Arizona 5 – FLORIDA 2… Taylor Hall netted a tie-breaking goal and had an assist as the Coyotes topped the Panthers for their fourth straight win. Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a goal and two assists.

N.Y. Islanders 4 – NEW JERSEY 3 (OT)… Anders Lee lit the lamp with 51 seconds left in overtime to send the Islanders past the Devils. Tom Kuhnhackl tied the game with 5:46 left in regulation.

WASHINGTON 6 – Ottawa 1… T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin scored two goals apiece as the Capitals skated past the Senators.

CAROLINA 5 – Philadelphia 4 (OT)… The Hurricanes overcame an early two-goal deficit, then let a two-goal lead slip away before Dougie Hamilton scored the winning goal 1:56 into overtime.

N.Y. RANGERS 5 – Colorado 3… Artemi Panarin scored a goal and assisted on two others in leading the Rangers past the Avalanche. Ryan Strome added a goal and an assist. Goalie Igor Shesterkin stopped 29 shots in his NHL debut.

DETROIT 4 – Montreal 3… Filip Zadina scored a tie-breaking goal with 3:52 remaining and the Red Wings made it stand in their win over the Canadiens. Frans Nielsen scored twice for Detroit.

ST. LOUIS 3 – San Jose 2… David Perron’s goal early in the third period proved to be the difference in the Blues’ defeat of the Sharks. Jordan Binnington made 28 saves at goal.

Boston 6 – NASHVILLE 2… Danton Heinen scored a goal and had an assist for the Bruins. Patrice Bergeron found the net for the third straight game. Goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 33 shots.

Calgary 2 – CHICAGO 1… Elias Lindholm scored twice in the second period and the Flames held on to clip the Blackhawks. Matthew Tkachuk assisted on both goals. Cam Talbot made 31 saves.

Columbus 4 – ANAHEIM 3… Zach Werenski scored with 11 seconds left in the second period and with 1:33 left in the third to carry the Blue Jackets past the Ducks. Pierre-Luc Dubois had three assists.

Pittsburgh 4 – VEGAS 3… The Penguins opened with three straight goals before Brandon Tanev netted the winning in the third period. Dominik Kahun had a goal and an assist.

Winnipeg is at Toronto…
Philadelphia hosts Washington…
Dallas is at Los Angeles

#4 Baylor 57, #22 TEXAS TECH 52…
#12 MARYLAND 67, #11 Ohio State 55…
#13 LOUISVILLE 74, Miami (Fla.) 58…
#14 Kentucky 78, GEORGIA 69…
#16 Villanova 64, CREIGHTON 59…
BOSTON COLLEGE 60, #18 Virginia 53…
RUTGERS 72, #20 Penn State 61

NFL COACHING HIRES… The New York Giants have reportedly selected New England Patriots wide receivers coach Joe Judge to become the team’s next head coach. The 38-year-old Judge would replace Pat Shurmur, who was fired last week after two seasons… Baylor coach Matt Rhule has agreed on a seven-year contract to become the Carolina Panthers’ next coach. The 44-year-old Ruhle takes over a Carolina team that finished 5-11 in 2019. He will replace Ron Rivera, who was fired with four games left in the just-concluded regular season.

MLB NEWS: RED SOX INVESTIGATED FOR SIGN STEALING… Major League Baseball is investigating the Boston Red Sox for allegedly using their video replay room to steal signs from opposing pitchers and catchers during their 2018 World Series championship season. The Athletic cited three anonymous people who were with the team in reporting that Boston players would visit the replay room to decipher their opponents’ sign sequence and then relay the information to the dugout. Someone from the Red Sox dugout would then communicate with a baserunner, who would use body movements to relay pitch information to the batter. Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who guided Boston to the World Series title in his debut 2018 season, could also be facing discipline as part of MLB’s investigation of the 2017 Houston Astros for alleged sign stealing. Cora was the Astros’ bench coach that season.

The Rundown for January 6, 2020

IRAN ABANDONS TERMS OF NUCLEAR AGREEMENT… Iran’s government announced yesterday that it will no longer abide by terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement following the U.S.’ assassination of Major-General Qassem Soleimani. The announcement followed a meeting of Iran’s National Security Council to discuss the country’s nuclear policy. Iran has vowed to no longer limit its enrichment of uranium along with research and development in its nuclear activities.

TRUMP VOWS ‘DISPROPORTIONATE’ RETALIATION… President Trump declared on Twitter yesterday that Iran can expect “disproportionate” retaliation to any attacks on U.S. citizens or American facilities. Trump also said his Twitter posts “will serve as notification to the United States Congress.” Trump drew widespread condemnation yesterday for a tweet that claimed cultural sites were among potential targets that the U.S. has identified in Iran. Some critics have claimed that actions taken against cultural sites would be a violation of international law.

TO IRAQI PARLIAMENT VOTES TO EXPEL U.S… Iraqi lawmakers voted yesterday to expel U.S. troops from their country. Prior to the vote, they changed “Death to America!” in the parliamentary chambers. The expulsion order will now go before Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who has suggested he will sign it.

3 AMERICANS KILLED IN KENYA… The Pentagon has confirmed that three Americans were killed in an attack by extremist group al-Shabab early yesterday on Camp Simba in Kenya near the Somalia border. The dead included one U.S. service member and two Department of Defense contractors, according to a statement. Two wounded Americans were evacuated with injuries and reported to be in stable condition. Four of the attackers were reportedly killed when they tried to breach security at the base at Manda Bay Airfield, which is used by the U.S. military.

AT LEAST 5 DEAD IN PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE CRASH… An early-morning crash yesterday on the Pennsylvania Turnpike left at least five people dead and 39 others hospitalized. A tour bus, three tractor-trailers loaded with parcels and a passenger vehicle were involved in the six-vehicle crash, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. Authorities say the tour bus was traveling on a downhill curve in Westmoreland County when it struck an embankment and was hit by vehicles behind it.

GOLDEN GLOBES… The World War I film “1917” was honored as Best Motion Picture Drama at last night’s 77th Golden Globe Awards.“Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood” picked up awards for Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Musical or Comedy film. Best Actor in a Drama went to Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker,” and best actress to Renee Zellweger in “Judy.” Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in “Rocketman,” won for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, while Best Actress in a Comedy was Awkwafina in “The Farewell.” Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress in a film for “Marriage Story.” “Parasite” was honored as Best Foreign Language film. In television, “Succession” was best drama series, and “Fleabag” was best comedy series. Brian Cox of “Succession,” Olivia Colman of “The Crown,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge of “Fleabag” and Ramy Youssef of “Ramy” were actors who were honored. Stellan Skarsgard of “Chernobyl” and Patricia Arquette of “The Act” won supporting actors awards. “Chernobyl” was named Best Limited Series or Movie.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” took in $33.7 to remain atop the weekend box office. “Jumanji: The Next Level” finished second with $26.5 million. “Little Women” jumped one spot into third place after bringing in $13.5. “The Grudge” finished fourth with $11.3 million. “Frozen 2” made $11.2 million to finish fifth. The weekend haul made “Frozen s” the biggest-grossing animated movie of all-time with $1.325 billion globally.

Minnesota 26 – NEW ORLEANS 20 (OT)… The Vikings recovered to outlast the Saints in their NFC wild-round matchup after letting a 10-point fourth-quarter lead slip away. Kirk Cousins connected with Kyle Rudolph on a 4-yard touchdown pass at 10:40 of overtime. Adam Thielen’s 43-yard reception set up the winning score. Delvin Cook rushed for a pair of scores. Minnesota travels to San Francisco for next Saturday’s divisional-round clash.

Seattle 17 – PHILADELPHIA 9… The Seahawks fought off the Eagles in the other NFC wild-round contest. Marshawn Lynch ran 5 yards in the second quarter for the game’s first touchdown. Russell Wilson threw 53 yards to DK Metcalfe for a third-quarter score and finished with 325 passing yards. Seattle heads to Green Bay for next Sunday’s divisional-round showdown.

L.A. CLIPPERS 135 – N.Y. Knicks 132… The Clippers rallied past the Knicks after trailing by 16 heading into the second quarter. Montrezl Harrell scored a game-high 34 points. Paul George and Lou Williams added 32 points apiece. Kawhi Leonard sat out the game with a knee injury.

MIAMI 122 – Portland 111… The Heat built a 19-point lead and coasted past the Trail Blazers. Goran Dragic came off the bench to score 29 points and dish off 13 assists. Miami had six other players score in double figures.

Minnesota 118 – CLEVELAND 103… The Timberwolves regrouped to put away the Cavaliers after letting a 25-point lead slip away. Gorgui Dieng led the way with 22 points. Shabazz Napier added 21 points.

Memphis 121 – PHOENIX 114… The Grizzlies took control with a big third quarter and held off the Suns. Jonas Valanciunas scored 30 points to lead six players in double figures. Devin Booker’s 40 points weren’t enough for Phoenix.

L.A. LAKERS 106 – Detroit 99… The Lakers were too much in the fourth quarter as they pulled past the Pistons. Anthony Davis scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. LeBron James piled up 21 points, 14 boards and 11 assists.

Oklahoma City is at Philadelphia…
Charlotte hosts Indiana…
Boston is at Washington…
Orlando hosts Brooklyn…
Denver is at Atlanta…
New Orleans hosts Utah…
Milwaukee is at San Antonio…
Dallas hosts Chicago…
Golden State is at Sacramento

WASHINGTON 5 – San Jose 4 (OT)… The Capitals came from two goals down in the final minute of regulation to outlast the Sharks. After San Jose’s Logan Couture scored what appeared to be a victory-sealing empty-net goal with a minute to go, Jakub Brana found the net with 47 seconds left and T.J. Oshie added the tying goal 32 seconds later. Lars Eller scored the winning goal with 2:59 remaining in overtime.

Florida 4 – PITTSBURGH 1… The Panthers skated past the Penguins to snap their eight-game winning streak. Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist. Rookie goalie Chris Driedger made 31 saves.

Tampa Bay 3 – CAROLINA 1… The Lightning downed the Hurricanes for their seventh straight win. Steven Stamkos scored a goal and assisted on another. Nikita Kucherov assisted on two goals.

Calgary 5 – MINNESOTA 4 (SO)… Dillon Dube scored the winning goal in the shootout after the Flames trailed the Wild four times in regulation. Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau each had two assists.

CHICAGO 4 – Detroit 2… The Blackhawks erased a two-goal deficit late in the second period to double up on the Red Wings. Adam Boqvist netted the go-ahead goal in the third period.

ANAHEIM 5 – Nashville 4 (SO)… Ryan Getzlaf scored the winning goal in the shootout as the Ducks outlasted the Predators. Getzlaf had three assists in regulation. Adam Henrique had two goals and an assist.

Edmonton is at Toronto…
Montreal hosts Winnipeg…
Colorado is at the N.Y. Islanders…
Los Angeles hosts Columbus

#14 MICHIGAN STATE 87, #12 Michigan 69…
#20 Dayton 80, SAINT JOSEPH’S 67

Louisiana plays Miami (OH) in the LendingTree Bowl

The Rundown for January 3, 2020

U.S. AIRSTRIKES IN BAGHDAD… A U.S. airstrike on a convoy in Baghdad airport yesterday killed five members of Iraqi paramilitary groups and two “guests,” according to reports from Iraqi paramilitary groups. The targets included Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The Pentagon released a statement claiming that Suleimani was planning attacks on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Soleimani was Iran’s most revered military leader and was hailed as a “living martyr” by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

DEFENSE OFFICIALS FEARED HOLDING OF UKRAINE AID… The national-security forum Just Security has released unredacted emails that reveal Pentagon officials panicking about President Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine and the legal ramifications involved. Defense Department officials feared that the decision to hold the promised aid would violate the Impoundment Control Act, which requires the Executive Branch to spend money as agreed by Congress. “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget Michael Duffey told acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker in an August 30 email. The emails didn’t reveal why the aid was withheld, nor why it was later lifted.

MORE MUELLER INVESTIGATION DOCUMENTS RELEASED… The Justice Department yesterday released more than 350 pages of FBI memos from key witness interviews in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The release followed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by CNN and BuzzFeed News. The memos include interviews with Stephen Miller, Sarah Sanders, Rob Porter, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, among others. Highlights included: Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn and then deputy White House counsel Uttam Dhillon that the communications team could not get the story right about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, so he was going to participate in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt to say what really happened; White House policy adviser Stephen Miller described the process for crafting the letter that was used to fire Comey; Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen told the FBI at some point he and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow discussed the concept of Trump issuing “pre pardons,” or pardons to everyone so that no one had to comply with the investigations; Translator Ike Kaveladze recalled Donald Trump Jr. asking, “Is there anything you have on HILLARY?” during a June 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower; and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s claim that he used Fox News host Sean Hannity as a “back channel” to Trump in the period between the FBI raid of his apartment and his indictment months later.

CONGRESS WEIGHS IN ON ROE V. WADE… More than 200 members of Congress are asking the Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to an abortion. 39 senators and 168 House members have submitted an amicus brief urging the court to uphold a Louisiana law severely restricting abortion. The brief is in response to the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, which the Supreme Court will consider this spring. The plaintiff challenged a Louisiana law passed in 2014 that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortion is performed. Lawmakers argue that the Supreme Court should uphold the 5th Circuit appeals court decision that found that the law did not place an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

CASTRO ENDS PRESIDENTIAL BID… Julián Castro announced yesterday that he is ending his presidential bid. “I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time,” the former housing secretary and only Latino candidate in the Democratic nomination field said. Castro rarely scored more than 2 percent support in national or early-voting state surveys and qualified only for the first four primary debates. He nonetheless vowed to continue fighting.

SOME E-CIGARETTE FLAVORS BANNED… The Trump administration has imposed a national ban on some e-cigarette flavors to combat rising vaping among teens. The ban applies to mint and fruit flavors that are offered in cartridge-based e-cigarettes. Menthol and tobacco flavors, as well as fruit flavors delivered in other ways, will be allowed. South Korea, India, Brazil are among dozens of other countries that have announced widespread vaping bans. Restrictions have been imposed in other countries.

NETFLIX RENEWS ‘RAISING DON’… Netflix announced yesterday that it is renewing its superhero drama “Raising Dion” for a second season. The series is based on the Dennis Liu comic book and short film of the same name. It follows a young boy who begins to show superhuman abilities after the death of his father. Ja’Siah Young, Michael B. Jordan and Alisha Wainwright star in the series.

IN THEATERS… In “The Grudge,” a vengeful ghost curses a house and dooms those who enter it with a violent death. Tara Westwood and Junko Bailey star in the R-rated horror film.

Charlotte 109 – CLEVELAND 106… Devonte Graham knocked down a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining and the Hornets hung on to down the Cavaliers. Terry Rozier led all scorers with 30 points.

Denver 124 – INDIANA 116… The Nuggets overcame an early double-digit deficit to get past the Pacers. Michael Porter delivered 25 points off the bench. Nicola Jokic and Jamal Murray tossed in 22 points apiece.

MIAMI 84 – Toronto 76… The Heat clamped down defensively to smother the Raptors. Bam Adebayo led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

MINNESOTA 99 – Golden State 84… The Timberwolves jumped out to a 15-point lead after the first quarter and never looked back in their win over the Warriors. Robert Covington and Shabazz Napier scored 20 points apiece. Covington also had 10 boards.

Utah 102 – CHICAGO 98… The Jazz took control with a 24-4 third-quarter run and held off the Bulls. Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with 19 points.

DALLAS 123 – Brooklyn 111… Luka Doncic scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks pulled away from the Nets. He also pulled down 13 rebounds. Seth Curry added 25 points off the bench.

Oklahoma City 109 – SAN ANTONIO 103… The Thunder came up big in the fourth quarter to win at San Antonio for the first time in 10 tries. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pumped in 25 points.

SACRAMENTO 128 – Memphis 123… The Kings rallied past the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter after trailing by 16 points heading into the second quarter. They got 27 points from D’Aaron Fox and 26 from Buddy Hield.

L.A. CLIPPERS 126 – Detroit 112… The Clippers bombed the Pistons 37-16 in the third quarter and coasted to the victory. Montrezl Harrell came off the bench to score 23 points. Lou Williams added 22 points. L.A. had four other players score in double figures.

Miami is at Orlando…
Washington hosts Portland…
Atlanta is at Boston…
Houston hosts Philadelphia…
New York is at Phoenix…
the L.A. Lakers host New Orleans

Columbus 2 – BOSTON 1 (OT)… Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the winning goal 52 seconds into overtime to send the Blue Jackets past the Bruins. Goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 25 saves.

BUFFALO 3 – Edmonton 2 (OT)… The Sabres upended the Oilers after spotting them an early two-goal lead. Jack Eichel scored the winning goal on a penalty shot 1:09 into overtime.

Tampa Bay 2 – MONTREAL 1… Nikita Kucherov netted a tie-breaking breaking goal in the first period and the Lightning made it stand in their defeat of the Canadiens. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 38 shots at goal.

New Jersey 2 – N.Y. ISLANDERS 1… Nico Hischier scored the decisive goal early in the third period as the Devils edged the Islanders. P.K. Subban netted the tying goal with 1:27 left in the second period.

San Jose 3 – PITTSBURGH 2 (OT)… Brent Burns scored 2:02 into overtime to lift the Sharks over the Penguins. Goalie Aaron Dell made 36 saves.

Florida 6 – OTTAWA 3… The Panthers scored four unanswered goals in the second period to put away the Senators. Evgenii Dadonov scored two goals and had an assist.

Toronto 6 – WINNIPEG 3… William Nylander scored two goals and assisted on another as the Maple Leafs doubled up on the Jets. Kasperi Kapanen added a goal and an assist.

CALGARY 4 – N.Y. Rangers 3… The Flames clipped the Rangers after blowing an early two-goal lead. Sean Monahan scored the game-winner in the second period.

ARIZONA 4 – Anaheim 2… The Coyotes scored three straight goals in the third period to double up on the Ducks. Brad Richardson scored the tie-breaking goal.

COLORADO 7 – St. Louis 3… Nazem Kadri netted two goals to lead the Avalanche in their pounding of the Blues. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and three assists. Samuel Girard assisted on four goals.

VANCOUVER 7 – Chicago 5… Adam Gaudette broke a tie late in the third period and Bo Horvat scored his second goal into an empty net as the Canucks outshot the Blackhawks. J.T. Miller had a goal and three assists.

VEGAS 5 – Philadelphia 4… Max Pacioretty scored two of the Golden Knights’ four first-period goals in the win over the Flyers. Paul Stastny had two assists.

Washington is at Carolina…
Dallas hosts Detroit

#21 Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6 in the Birmingham Bowl…
Tennessee 23, Indiana 22 in the Gator Bowl

Ohio plays Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Southern Mississippi plays Tulane in the Armed Forces Bowl

#1 Gonzaga 85, PORTLAND 72…
COLORADO 74, #4 Oregon 65…
#14 MICHIGAN STATE 76, Illinois 56…
#20 Dayton 84, LA SALLE 58

Buffalo is at Houston…
New England hosts Tennessee

Minnesota is at New Orleans…
Philadelphia hosts Seattle

NFL NEWS… Former NFL head coach Sam Wyche, who coached the Cincinnati Bengals to an appearance in Super Bowl XXIII, died yesterday morning after a battle with melanoma. He was 74. Wyche coached the Bengals for eight seasons from 1984 to 1991. He also was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons from 1992 to 1995.

The Rundown for December 30, 2019

PENTAGON STRIKES KATA’IB HEZBOLLAH BASES IN IRAQ, SYRIA… The Pentagon announced yesterday that U.S. forces carried out “precision defensive strikes” in Iraq and Syria after a series of attacks targeting bases in Iraq that hosted U.S. service members. The strikes reportedly targeted five locations belonging to the Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group Kata’ib Hezbollah in response to attacks on bases that hosted Operation Inherent Resolve coalition forces. According to a Pentagon spokesman, recent Kata’ib Hezbollah strikes have included more than 30 rocket attacks on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk.

TALIBAN AGREES TO CEASE-FIRE… The Taliban announced yesterday that it has agreed to a temporary cease-fire to allow for the signing of a peace deal with the U.S. and the eventual withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. The Associated Press reported that the cease-fire is expected to last for 10 days. Once a peace deal is signed, Afghans on both sides of the conflict would soon begin negotiating a road map for the future of the country, including the role of the Taliban, the report said. The U.S. currently has some 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.

NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM INTERVENED OVER UKRAINE AID… The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House national security team intervened and tried to convince President Trump to reverse his decision soon after it became public knowledge that he had frozen military aid to Ukraine. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly met with Trump in the Oval Office and tried to talk him into releasing the aid. Trump became the third president to be impeached when the House Judiciary Committee found him guilty of abusing is power and obstructing Congress for withholding the aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the country to dig up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden.

CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS BATTLING CANCER… Georgia Congressman John Lewis announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The 79-year-old civil rights icon said he was diagnosed following a routine medical visit and will undergo treatment. Lewis, whose 5th Congressional District includes much of Atlanta, was first elected to the House in 1986.

2 DEAD IN TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING… A lone gunman was fatally shot by congregation members yesterday morning after opening fire during a service at a church in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas. The gunman killed a security guard and critically wounded a parishioner at the West Freeway Church in White Settlement. A church elder said the security guard “was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us.”

ZAC EFRON CONFIRMS ILLNESS… Zac Efron has confirmed that he was rushed to a hospital in Brisbane, Australia, for treatment of a “form of typhoid or similar bacterial infection.” The 32-year-old actor reportedly fell ill while filming his show “Killing Zac Efron” in Papua, New Guinea. The series is scheduled to launch April 6 on the short-form streaming service Quibi.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” took in $72 million to remain atop the weekend box office. “Jumanji: The Next Level” stayed at No. 2 with $35.3 million. “Little Women” finished in third place with $16.52 million. “Frozen II” clipped to No. 4 after bringing in $16.5 million. “Spies in Disguise” made $13.2 million to cap the top five.

NFL POSTSEASON SET… It took until the last Sunday of the regular season for the NFL’s postseason to be finalized. The two available playoff spots and nine seedings became official yesterday…

In the AFC, the North Division champion-Baltimore Ravens (14-2), who already had clinched the division’s top seed, trampled the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-10. Baltimore will take a 12-game winning streak into the postseason… The West Division-champion Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) locked up the second seed and first-round bye in the playoffs with a 31-21 win over the L.A. Chargers… The Tennessee Titans (9-7) clinched a wild-card spot and the 6 seed by downing the South Division-champion Houston Texans 35-14. Tennessee will open the postseason at New England next weekend. The Patriots dropped to the 3 seed by falling to Miami 27-24. Houston (10-6) finished as the 4 seed and will host 5-seeded Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs. The Bills (10-6) fell to the Jets 13-6 in a game that had no bearing on their postseason position…

In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers (13-3) held on at the end to beat the Seattle Seahawks 26-21 to claim the NFC West crown and the conference’s top seed. Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw tackled Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister just short of the goal line on fourth down in the final seconds to seal the win. The Seahawks (11-5) enter the postseason as a 5-seeded wild card and will visit the 4-seed Philadelphia Eagles in the opening round. The Eagles (9-7) put away the N.Y. Giants 34-17 to capture the NFC East title… The North Division-champion Green Bay Packers (13-3) got a 33-yard field goal from Mason Crosby as time expired to beat the Detroit Lions 23-20 and claim the 2-seed and first-round bye… The South Division-champion New Orleans Saints (13-3) romped over the Carolina Panthers 42-10 and finished as the NFC’s 3-seed. They’ll host the Minnesota Vikings in their playoff opener. Minnesota (10-6), which had already clinched the 6-seed, fell to the Chicago Bears 21-19.

Other scores from yesterday…
CINCINNATI 33, Cleveland 23…
DALLAS 47, Washington 16…
Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 22…
L.A. RAMS 31, Arizona 24…
JACKSONVILLE 38, Indianapolis 20…
DENVER 16, Oakland 15

Oklahoma City 98 – TORONTO 97… Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made a go-ahead jumper with 36 seconds remaining and the Thunder held on to edge the Raptors for their fifth win in six games. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with a game-high 32 points.

MEMPHIS 117 – Charlotte 104… Dillon Brooks scored 20 points to lead a balanced scoring attack and the Grizzlies dealt the Hornets their fifth straight loss. Jaren Jackson grabbed 12 rebounds to go with his 14 points.

NEW ORLEANS 127 – Houston 112… The Pelicans bombed the Rockets 41-19 in the fourth quarter to win going away. Lonzo Ball made a career-high seven 3-pointers on his way to 27 points and gathered 10 boards. Brandon Ingram also scored 27 points while Jrue Holiday tossed in 25.

DENVER 120 – Sacramento 115… Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points apiece to lead seven players in double figures and the Nuggets held off the Kings.

L.A. LAKERS 108 – Dallas 95… Anthony Davis pumped in 23 points as the Lakers cruised past the Mavericks. LeBron James scored 13 points and dished off as many assists.

Miami is at Washington…
Orlando hosts Atlanta…
Brooklyn is at Minnesota…
Chicago hosts Milwaukee…
Detroit is at Utah…
Portland hosts Phoenix

ST. LOUIS 4 – Winnipeg 1… Jaden Schwartz netted a pair of goals to lead the Blues past the Jets for their eighth straight win.

New Jersey 4 – OTTAWA 3 (OT)… Jack Hughes found the net 54 seconds into overtime to lift the Devils over the Senators. Sam Vatanen assisted on three goals.

Chicago 3 – COLUMBUS 2 (SO)… The Blackhawks came from two goals down in the third period to outlast the Blue Jackets. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored in the shootout.

N.Y. Islanders 3 – MINNESOTA 1… The Islanders scored three unanswered goals in the third period to upend the Wild. Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves.

BOSTON 3 – Buffalo 2… Jake DeBrusk scored two power-play goals 18 seconds apart in the third period to send the Bruins past the Sabres. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist.

TAMPA BAY 2 – Detroit 1… Brayden Point’s power-play goal in the third period proved to be the difference in the Lightning’s win over the Red Wings. Ondrej Palat opened the scoring with a second-period goal.

FLORIDA 6 – Montreal 5… Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice over a half-minute span of the second period and assisted on two goals as the Panthers outshot the Canadiens. Aleksander Barkov netted two goals and had an assist.

Dallas 4 – ARIZONA 2… The Stars scored all four goals in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and top the Coyotes. Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist.

Philadelphia 2 – ANAHEIM 1 (OT)… Kevin Hayes scored the game-winner at 3:53 of overtime as the Flyers edged the Ducks. Brian Elliott stopped 27 shots at goal.

Vancouver 5 – CALGARY 2… Tyler Myers scored the first two of the Canucks’ three first-period goals and had an assist. Jake Virtanen added a goal and an assist.

Ottawa is at Pittsburgh

#22 West Virginia, 67, #2 OHIO STATE 59…
#5 Kansas 72, STANFORD 56…
#6 OREGON 98, Alabama State 59…
#8 AUBURN 86, Lipscomb 59…
#11 MICHIGAN 86, UMass-Lowell 60…
#13 MARYLAND 84, Bryant 70…
#14 MICHIGAN STATE 95, Western Michigan 62…
#16 VIRGINIA 65, Navy 56…
#20 PENN STATE 90, Cornell 59…
#23 TEXAS TECH 73, Cal-State Bakersfield 58…
#25 IOWA 93, Kennesaw State 51

Western Kentucky plays Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl…
Mississippi State plays Louisville in the Music City Bowl…
California plays Illinois in the Redbox Bowl…
#9 Florida plays #24 Virginia in the Orange Bowl