5 things to know Wednesday

Lawmakers react after Trump delivers discordant SOTU address

Washington is still feeling the political aftershocks Wednesday after President Donald Trump delivered a State of the Union address which pushed familiar themes of his administration. Trump, who managed to draw bipartisan applause at times during his roughly 80-minute speech, urged Congress to provide funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border less than two weeks after the end of the longest government shutdown in history.He also referenced special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as well as congressional probes, saying a thriving economy could be put at risk by “ridiculous partisan investigations.” But, as USA TODAY’s Susan Page points out, Trump faces a less friendly political landscape and his future could be more in peril. Democrats who may take Trump on in 2020 weren’t friendly with their feedback of his speech, reacting with outrage and sarcasm.  

• Fact check: What Trump said (and didn’t) during his State of the Union address
• Trump at State of the Union: Stop ‘ridiculous partisan investigations’
• Trump announces that he will meet with Kim Jong Un this month in Vietnam
• Here’s why Donald Trump attacked abortion in his State of the Union address
• Abrams blames Trump for shutdown in State of the Union response: ‘Political games’

US envoy to visit North Korea to prep for summit

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea heads to Pyongyang on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s second summit with leader Kim Jong Un, later this month. Stephen Biegun will meet with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyok Chol, the State Department said. During the State of the Union on Tuesday, Trump announced that he will meet with Kim in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28 saying it was part of “a bold new diplomacy.”  Trump and Kim met last June in Singapore, where they pledged “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Last week, however, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress that North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.”

Jurors deliberate in ‘El Chapo’ case

Jurors in the federal trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán will hold their third day of deliberations Wednesday in Brooklyn, New York. Guzmán, 61, is accused of smuggling tons of drugs into the United States as a leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel. He’s charged with 10 federal felony counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, trafficking in cocaine and other narcotics, use of a firearm in connection with the alleged scheme and money laundering. Jurors have heard testimony from 57 witnesses — 56 called by prosecutors, one by the defense team — including a former mistress who testified against Guzmán during the trial. If found guilty of the criminal enterprise charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Signing day is last chance for college football teams to lure recruits

The first Wednesday in February is no longer the lone opportunity for the top high school football stars to confirm their commitments to college. Many already did so in the new early signing period in December. But the traditional end of the recruiting period remains significant with some of the best players still available. They’ll be making announcements and signing letters of intent throughout the day. It’s also a big event for coaches that need to bring in talent to replenish players lost or raise the level of the program overall. 

Will Sears survive? Company back in court as legal fight rages on

A bid for Sears that has pitted the company’s former CEO against its creditors and employees will head back to court Wednesday where a judge will move closer to deciding the retailer’s fate. This will be the second day of a hearing on whether a hedge fund owned by Sears chairman Eddie Lampert can purchase a shrunken version of the business. It promises to be yet another face-off with the federal government, mall owners and other unsecured creditors who say Lampert’s offer is just another attempt to drain Sears dry and enrich himself. It is likely to be the only deal that can keep the company, which also owns the Kmart chain, from going out of business.

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