- 'What choice do I have?' Lock-down strands millions in China's Wuhanon 24/01/2020 at 11:07 am
A trickle of passengers at the train station in the Chinese city of Wuhan put on a brave face on Friday as they arrived in the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 26 people, infected hundreds and raised fears of a pandemic. Authorities have all but shut down Wuhan, a city of 11 million and a major transport hub, at what is normally the busiest time of year - the Lunar New Year holiday - when millions of people travel home to visit their families. Millions of people in surrounding cities are virtually stranded after public transport networks were shut to stop the spread of the virus, believed to have originated at a Wuhan market illegally selling wildlife.
- Rival Campaigns Are Starting to Take Bloomberg Very Seriouslyon 24/01/2020 at 9:20 am
At a closed-door fundraiser late last year, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was notably fixated on, and visibly irritated by, one of the fellow Democrats vying for the presidential nomination. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had just entered the race. But he had already managed to get under his competitor’s skin. At the event in Northern Virginia, Klobuchar talked at length about Bloomberg’s massive TV ad blitz and the gobs of cash he was planning to throw into the 2020 primary, according to an account from a source in the room who attended. “She talked about how she was on a Sunday show for 10 minutes and saw five or six Bloomberg ads while she was in the green room,” the Democratic attendee, who donated money to Klobuchar’s campaign for entrance into the event, told The Daily Beast. “She’s very worried about the amount of money he’s spending.”“It was 60 percent of what she talked about,” the source estimated. The private moment, which occurred before the senator had opened her fundraisers to the press, provided an early glimpse into what has become a growing sense of internal anxiety from some Democratic campaigns about the billionaire candidate’s potential to shake up the primary that he entered so late. Klobuchar has since made those concerns public, criticizing Bloomberg for trying to buy the nomination. And with just two weeks before voting starts, her concerns that the former mayor may just pull it off are beginning to be echoed elsewhere. Bloomberg still lags in the polls. But national averages now have him tied for fourth place at 7.7 percent with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has spent a year pounding the campaign trail. Suddenly, talk of Bloomberg becoming the nominee has gone from being dismissed as the stuff of political fantasy to being entertained as a true reality among campaigns. “I think there is a 10-15 percent chance that Bloomberg pulls it off,” said one top Democratic fundraiser, who has worked closely with the presidential campaigns. “At this juncture, when you can spend that amount of money on TV across the country, you do take it seriously,” said a top official for a competing campaign. “And he's gotten a bump in the polls, so it is nothing to scoff at.”The official, who would only talk on condition of anonymity, still expressed pessimism that Bloomberg could pull it off, arguing that “the argument for a nice billionaire” had not “made traction” as much as it needed to, considering the war chest devoted to it. And, indeed, the Bloomberg path still remains predicated on a series of unlikely events: that no actual candidate emerges from the first four primary states and that former Vice President Joe Biden ends up dramatically weakened by a poor showing in those contests. Should that be the case—the theory goes—Bloomberg’s ad spending in other states would propel him in the polls, turn him into the moderate alternative that Biden was supposed to be, and help him eke it out in a contested convention. You Think Trump’s a Danger to Democracy? Get a Load of Bloomberg.In his short time in the race, Bloomberg’s campaign has ramped up its infrastructure and ground game. He has scored several endorsements from fellow mayors and members of congress, held major events for a new campaign—including a stop that attracted 700 people in Tulsa, Oklahoma and another that brought in 500 in Akron, Ohio—and deployed 700 people across 33 states, including 300 in his New York City headquarters. Bloomberg’s team is currently airing ads in 27 states, including all Super Tuesday contests.Eyeing these movements, some rivals have begun more forcefully calling him out by name, while others have worked in private, conducting internal polling on his possible delegate hauls and pushing opposition research to blunt his traction. Another source from a rival campaign said that Bloomberg doesn’t factor into their official strategy, but conceded that staffers are following his moves in certain states, including California, which represents a potentially huge delegate haul for hizzoner. “We see that Bloomberg’s playing very big in California,” the senior campaign aide said. “We are very quick in adapting. We can switch messages very fast. And we have the resources to go the long game.”A third opponent’s team is keeping close enough tabs on Bloomberg that aides are dedicating internal polling resources to game out potential delegate scenarios on Super Tuesday, where 15 states are set to vote in early March. The Daily Beast recently reported that, according to the Democratic rival’s internal data—a summary of which was independently corroborated by multiple independent analysts—Bloomberg was not on track to receive a single delegate on that day. The Democratic National Committee’s rules stipulate that a candidate must win 15 percent of the vote statewide or 15 percent by any congressional district in order to collect any delegates.Privately, some establishment Democrats are cheering the Bloomberg boomlet, having talked themselves into the prospect of a Democratic presidential candidate with centrist appeal and absurdly deep pockets being the best nominee to take on Trump. “Everyone I talk to is convinced he would win,” said one top party donor. Elizabeth Warren Has Finally Found a 2020 Dem to Attack in Michael BloombergBloomberg has helped his standing among party members by pledging to support and spend heavily on whoever is the nominee and by notably keeping the focus of his ad campaign on attacking Trump and not fellow candidates. One Democratic strategist who recently spoke with Bloomberg’s team said that they broached the idea of going after Biden but quickly dismissed it out of hand. “They’re not prepared to take Joe down,” said the strategist. “Their view is we go through the first four contests and it is a complete muzzle.” For the progressive wing of the party, however, a Bloomberg candidacy represents a moral conundrum and political peril—with fear rampant that he would not excite the very constituencies that the party needs to win; mainly young voters and voters of color. As such, they’ve engaged him more directly. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who in late November chose Bloomberg as the first candidate to criticize after months of remaining rhetorically positive about her rivals, has turned up her fire in recent days. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts senator called for a close vetting of the billionaire Democrat over his news corporation’s guidance to reporters.“Bloomberg News banned its reporters from investigating Democratic candidates as Mike Bloomberg runs for president. This ban puts reporters in an impossible situation and undermines a free press. Bloomberg should lift the ban and divest from Bloomberg News,” Warren tweeted on Wednesday. She then threw herself into the equation: “I’ve taken more than a thousand unfiltered questions from the press and from voters since I got in the race. I welcome tough questions and scrutiny because the free press is a cornerstone of our democracy—and every presidential candidate should be closely vetted.”Bloomberg’s campaign manager Kevin Sheekey responded in an interview with Fox and Friends by calling Warren “nervous.” “I think she’s nervous that Mike Bloomberg is catching up on her. Mike is now in fourth place in this race and will probably pass her and be in third place soon,” Sheekey said. Asked about the idea that other candidates are starting to worry about their campaign, a Bloomberg official did what the campaign has been doing since the onset: turned the attention back towards Trump. “We are confident that Mike is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump and that’s why we’re building the most robust national campaign to take him on,” Galia Slayen, a campaign spokeswoman, told The Daily Beast. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- No qualms for India's hangman before first job of executing rapistson 24/01/2020 at 8:53 am
Pawan Kumar feels zero sympathy for the four men he is due to hang next month for a 2012 gang rape and murder that appalled India. The group set to meet their demise before dawn on February 1 -- although it may be delayed -- were convicted for a brutal crime against Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old student. Angry demonstrations by tens of thousands of people broke out across the vast South Asian nation, sparking soul-searching about the plight of Indian women and leading to heavier sentences for sex crimes.
- Report: Kamala Harris is considering endorsing Joe Bidenon 24/01/2020 at 6:59 am
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is seriously contemplating endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden, several Democratic officials with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. Harris dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race in December, and although she sparred with Biden during debates last summer — most famously when she criticized him for once opposing school busing — they are back on good terms and talk often, the officials said.She likely won't announce an endorsement until after President Trump's Senate impeachment trial is over, the Times reports, and she understands the importance of her decision, especially since two of her fellow female senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — are also still in the presidential race.Biden has said he "of course" would consider asking Harris to join his ticket if he is the Democratic nominee. By giving him an endorsement, it could secure her spot as his running mate — or, if he chooses someone else to be vice president, his administration's attorney general.More stories from theweek.com Democrats walked right into Mitch McConnell's trap Texas legalized hemp, and Austin just responded to the resulting chaos by effectively decriminalizing weed The Oprah's Book Club controversy, explained
- China Puts 13 Cities on Lockdown as Coronavirus Death Toll Climbson 24/01/2020 at 5:34 am
China is striving to contain a deadly virus outbreak the World Health Organization has termed a domestic health emergency
- The FBI reportedly stopped a Saudi plot to kidnap a YouTuber on US soil after he criticized Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi's killingon 24/01/2020 at 3:58 am
Abdulrahman Almutairi used social media to criticize the Saudi government. It appears to have almost cost him his life.
- Sen. Susan Collins wrote note to Chief Justice Roberts prior to his admonishing of Senatorson 24/01/2020 at 2:20 am
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was "stunned" by remarks given by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler at the start of the trial
- One man arrested, two more sought in deadly Seattle rush-hour shootouton 24/01/2020 at 1:53 am
The arrest of Jamel Jackson, 21, who was himself wounded, came as Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best pledged an all-out effort to curb gun violence in Seattle, which has long prided itself as one of the nation's safest large cities. "While we are better than many cities when it comes to gun violence, we are not immune to gun violence," Durkan told reporters a day after the shooting, which unfolded in the heart of a busy shopping district near Pike Place Market at the peak of Wednesday's evening rush hour. An altercation outside a fast-food restaurant escalated into gun violence among three men, Chief Best recounted at the news conference.
- Regime Critic Says Saudis Tried to Kidnap Him on U.S. Soilon 24/01/2020 at 12:59 am
A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi.Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi’s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast’s sources. “The Saudi government realized I was a threat,” Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say. “If I go back to Saudi Arabia,” Almutairi said, “I’ll be killed in the airport.” Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has investigated the Khashoggi killing. She drew attention this week by calling for an inquiry into allegations that MBS hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone. Callamard is familiar with Almutairi’s story, although they haven’t spoken, and considers it credible. She told The Daily Beast that it’s part of an ominous trend, particularly now that MBS has skated for Khashoggi’s murder. “There is a pattern of the Saudi authorities, particularly over the last two years, targeting individuals—high profile people with a big Saudi audience,” Callamard said, “either because they’re critical of MBS or the government or not just for what they say but what they don’t say, if they’re insufficiently supportive.”Almutairi has previously spoken about the harassment he received as a critic of the Saudi government, most prominently to PBS’ Nick Shifrin, including a mysterious phone call from a Saudi trying to get Almutairi to come home for a “family reunion.” But he has not, until now, revealed the attempted capture. “I couldn’t afford to speak out earlier, my situation was so intense, and all I wanted was to get out of it,” he explained. But over a year later, Almutairi doesn’t speak with his family, lives for protracted stretches out of his car, and generally fears for his life. On his YouTube channels, which have 200,000 subscribers between them, and his Instagram, where he has 208,000 followers, he’s posting through it. About the only positive thing Almutieri sees emerging from the ordeal was his social-media rebirth as a comedian, something he started as a response to the horrorshow in his mentions. But the harassment may have worked. In the new year, Almutairi told The Daily Beast, he’s going to stop speaking out against the Saudi government. “My criticism against the government won’t do anything. It’ll just turn more people against me,” Almutairi said. “I’m trying not to use the term ‘political dissident.’ I want to influence my country for the better.”That desire prompted Almutairi to cheer when MBS took power. As he saw it, the sclerotic, wealth-soaked royal court finally had a dynamic, young reformer on the rise. MBS was out to fix what was wrong with the country: women forbidden to drive, an economy driven entirely by oil extraction. While Almutairi studied finance and marketing at the University of San Diego, he posted videos on his Snapchat and Twitter accounts boosting MBS to his growing legion of followers.With his expenses paid by the Saudis’ stipend for subjects’ education abroad, Almutairi’s life online was about promoting reform within his home country, the sort of liberalization MBS touted. A frequent topic was the rigidity of the Saudi religious establishment, whose dark portrayal of America didn’t match the place he saw up close. But his growing audience—one of his recent Arabic-language videos has 842,000 views—became a problem for Riyadh. The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’On Oct. 2, 2018, agents of Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul, a crime the CIA assessed MBS ordered. The brazenness and brutality of the Khashoggi slaying made it one of the biggest stories in the world. Yet for all the damage it momentarily did to the reputation of a prince who melted the heart of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MBS quickly saw to it that the crime had no lasting impact. The Trump administration, with which he had cultivated close ties, quickly spared him from consequences. On Oct. 11, 2018, barely a week after Khashoggi’s murder, Trump said that sanctioning Saudi weapons purchases from the U.S. would be a self-inflicted economic wound. MBS denied involvement—and still does. And at first Almutairi believed him. “I was in denial,” Almutairi remembered. “MBS would never do an atrocity like that.” But the accruing reports tying the murder closer and closer to MBS prompted him first to break with his political hero, then to post about his disillusionment—and soon after to denounce MBS online. Death threats quickly piled into his mentions and onto his messaging apps. One picture sent to him contained a beheaded body. Another showed a flayed, severed head. “You will eat a bullet,” he said someone texted him, seemingly a reference to MBS’ nickname, the Father of Bullets. “They say I’m supported by the Muslim Brotherhood—I’m openly agnostic!” Almutairi said. More disturbing to him was a different kind of text, one that he still receives. “I get ‘come home’ messages daily,” Almutairi said. Whether the Saudi government is behind them, he can’t know, but his suspicion lingers. Then someone he describes only as a source in Saudi Arabia told him that his life was in danger—and that living in California did not mean he was safe. It prompted Almutairi to call the police during the week of Oct. 25, 2018. What happened next he would only learn from an FBI official he said he spoke with: Without Almutairi’s knowledge, his father flew to Los Angeles, and he wasn’t alone. Accompanying his father was someone Almutairi does not know.But they never arrived in San Diego. The FBI was waiting for them at LAX. According to two additional sources familiar with the incident, the FBI intercepted both the senior Almutairi and the unidentified Saudi man and sent them back on a subsequent flight. The FBI declined to comment for this story. Almutairi said that the FBI debriefed him after the airport interception. “I was shown a picture of someone who came with my dad, who I didn’t recognize,” he said. Almutairi has no way of verifying it, but he believes the man worked for the Saudi royal court. In July, Middle East Eye’s Dania Akkad first reported that in November 2018, a timeline consistent with Almutairi’s story, the FBI met with at least four Saudi dissidents in the U.S. to warn them of threats to their lives emanating from the kingdom. The dissidents were not named, but one of them, Akkad reported, “runs a popular YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government.”The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment by press time.The near-miss was not the end of the harassment. Almutairi deleted his Twitter because of the non-stop threats. As he previously told PBS, he was forced to drop out of school shortly before he was to graduate after the Saudis cut off his scholarship, his $1,800 monthly allowance, and his health insurance. He was without a way to afford his rent, his bills, and his medications. Almutairi took restaurant work, but the low pay required him to visit food pantries. For three weeks he was homeless. “I remember Thanksgiving 2018,” he recalls. “I was homeless, sleeping at the beach. I saw everyone with their families and stuff and it almost killed me, psychologically,” he said. “It’s really hard to process, suffering for what I had said. I wish Saudis would live like Americans. We deserve a better life.” These days, Almutairi doesn’t speak to most of his family, out of fear that he’ll put them in danger. They received messages saying, “you have to get him to stop” making his MBS-critical videos. He is sure that his father was coerced into boarding the plane to Los Angeles. Saudi Crown Prince Appeared to Taunt Jeff Bezos Over Secret Affair Before Enquirer Exposé“Abduction is part and parcel of the way the Saudi government has operated for many years,” said Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur. But until MBS became crown prince two years ago, “most victims were part of the royal family. It appears now that their kidnapping attempts are expanding.” Being a Saudi dissident living in America is no protection, she warned: “Absolutely, they will keep trying to lure people in the United States. The only reason why they haven’t succeeded is because the U.S. intelligence agencies are doing their job.”The impunity with which MBS acts also follows a long pattern. As defense minister, he launched a devastating war in neighboring Yemen—with the active cooperation of the Obama administration—that has decimated the country. He seized power in the kingdom in a move applauded by Friedman and other prominent commentators. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that before the Khashoggi murder, MBS sent Jeff Bezos a malware-tainted video file over WhatsApp to extract potential blackmail material from the richest man in the world—who happens to own the newspaper that Khashoggi worked for and which has crusaded for accountability on the execution. After the murder, and the Post’s aggressive reporting, MBS messaged Bezos “private and confidential information about Mr. Bezos' personal life that was not available from public sources,” according to U.N. officials. The MBS message came months before the National Enquirer—whose publisher once issued an MBS-boosting magazine—reported that Bezos was having an affair. All that corroborated a March 2019 op-ed published in The Daily Beast from Bezos security aide Gavin de Becker alleging that “the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information.” “At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post,” Callamard and her U.N. colleague David Kaye said in a Wednesday statement. Saudi Arabia’s U.S. embassy called allegations that the kingdom was behind the hack “absurd.”These days, Almutairi focuses on his two YouTube channels and his Instagram account. “I use comedy to convey positive thoughts and empower young Saudis,” he said. “I think I’m a living example: I was once homeless, now I’m not, and I’m starting two companies in California. My story, especially to people who saw it happening on social media, can be inspiring to a lot of Saudis.” But his vlogs are pivoting away from Saudi Arabian politics in the new year. Without school, Almutairi is focusing on his comedy. In March, he plans on launching a YouTube show called “America on Wheels,” which he envisions as a conversational comedy filmed in his car that introduces a Saudi audience to young Americans and their issues. It sounds like if ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ operated as a tacit rebuke to the Saudi religious establishment. He’s also applying to film school at USC.“My message to the American people,” he said over text, “please don’t brush the Saudi people with the same brush you use with MBS. We have no choice but to nod our heads and agree, he is a dictator.” But even his comedy contains limits set by his ordeal. He recently passed on an offer to tell jokes in Saudi-allied Dubai. “The UAE? Nah, bro,” he said. And while Almutairi may have given up commenting on MBS on social media, that has not left him feeling any safer. Even in sunny California, he constantly wonders what might be coming for him around the next corner, since the threats keep popping up on his phone. Some say things like “we’ll pay someone to kill you. It’ll look like an accident in LA,” Almutairi said. Nonchalantly, he added, “I expect that to happen at any moment.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Elizabeth Warren clashes with Iowa father who calls her student loan policy unfairon 24/01/2020 at 12:47 am
Elizabeth Warren was confronted by an angry father at a campaign event in Iowa by an angry father who took issue with her plan to forgive student loan debts.Arguing that those who paid for college tuition themselves would be “screwed” by her proposal, he confronted the Democratic senator on Monday at a presidential campaign town hall in Grimes, Iowa.
- Smugglers tried to bring 3,700 invasive crabs through the Port of Cincinnation 23/01/2020 at 10:21 pm
Mitten crabs are a delicacy in Asia and sell for about $50 each in the United States, officials say. They are considered an invasive species.
- Rep. Ilhan Omar launches 'Send her back to Congress!' reelection bid with big advantageson 23/01/2020 at 10:07 pm
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is kicking off her reelection campaign Thursday night with a massive bank account and no challengers who pose a serious threat from either party. Her campaign slogan — “Send her back to Congress!” — gleefully evokes President Trump’s personal attacks on her.
- Parishioner Who Stopped Texas Church Shooter Criticizes Bloomberg on Gun-Control Effortson 23/01/2020 at 9:41 pm
The armed parishioner who took down a shooter at a Texas church in December criticized former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control efforts on Wednesday."Mr. Bloomberg, had we operated by his standards or his wishes, the carnage would have been significantly greater because the individual still, after the shooting, still had seven live rounds in his gun and three more in his pocket," Jack Wilson said in an interview on Fox News. Wilson, a member of West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, fired a single round at an armed intruder on December 29, killing the assailant.Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey hit back at Wilson in a Thursday appearance on Fox."Mr. Bloomberg supports his right to carry a gun," Sheekey said. "We salute him. But the question is, should anyone who is criminally insane be able to get a gun? I would say no."Earlier in January, while speaking about the Texas incident, Bloomberg appeared to criticize policies that loosen restrictions on gun control."Somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it is the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot," Bloomberg said. "You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place."Bloomberg has been heavily involved in gun-control efforts over the years. His proposals for the 2020 presidential election include universal background checks and "red flag screening" measures. In 2013, Bloomberg founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit that advocates for stricter gun control measures.
- Canada's TSB says Iran has invited it to examine black boxeson 23/01/2020 at 9:29 pm
Canada's Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it has been invited by Iran to participate in the download and analysis of the flight recorders from the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines jet “whenever and wherever” that takes place. Iran has acknowledged that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at the jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people on board. Fifty-seven Canadians died and 138 of the passengers were headed to Canada.
- California Gov. Newsom seeks free surplus federal land to help house homelesson 23/01/2020 at 6:25 pm
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, stepping up his bid to enlist U.S. government help to combat homelessness, has urged the Trump administration to open up surplus federal property for construction of more low-cost housing across the state.
- Utah bans LGBTQ conversion therapy for minorson 23/01/2020 at 6:13 pm
"It simply will save lives," said GOP State Representative Craig Hall, who originally sponsored the proposal.
- Democrats Say Impeachment Trial Makes Case for Calling Witnesseson 23/01/2020 at 5:39 pm
(Bloomberg) -- Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that as House Democrats move into their second day of building an impeachment case against President Donald Trump it will be harder for Republicans to ignore their calls for additional witnesses and evidence.Schumer expressed confidence in the House impeachment managers, saying Thursday that the “atmosphere of the Senate took on an entirely different dimension” during the first day of the House’s argument, which featured quotes and video clips of witness testimony from last year’s inquiry.The arguments by the House impeachment managers on Thursday turn to a focus on the impeachment article charging him with abuse of power at the same time they continue working to persuade moderate Republicans that they should subpoena witnesses such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton.“Make no mistake about the issue of relevant evidence -- documents and witnesses -- is going to come back up,” Schumer said.Trump’s defense team likely will get their turn starting Saturday, with the president’s lawyers promising a vigorous defense against an investigation they have labeled as rushed and biased.Jay Sekulow, one of the lawyers representing Trump, said the response to the Democrats’ case would combine both a rebuttal of their arguments as well as a positive defense of the president’s actions.“There’s two parts to what we’re going to do: we’re going to respond of course to what the House managers put forward and we are going to make an affirmative case defending the president,” he told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. He said he couldn’t say whether the defense would take all three days alloted.Schumer said the House prosecution is “setting the bar very high for the president’s counsel to meet.” He derided Trump’s team as “unprepared, confused and tending to conspiracy theories.”Over more than nine hours Wednesday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the other managers walked the Senate through a step-by-step chronology aimed at portraying a president who sought to pressure Ukraine into investigating his main political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.“If impeachment and removal cannot hold him accountable, then he truly is above the law,” Schiff said. “Impeachment and a fair trial, impartial consideration of all the evidence against the president, is how we keep our republic.”The House managers’ case is being made explicitly with two juries in mind: the senators in the chamber sitting silently at their desks who will vote on the articles of impeachment, and the American public, who will decide in less than 10 months on whether to return Trump to office.Schiff said most of the Senate and the public were unlikely to have watched or paid attention to all of the hearings that were held in the House from October through November.“We cannot assume that the senators were able to do that -- let alone the American people were able to do that,” he said during a break in the trial.Still, there were no signs that the Democrats had swayed many Republicans, and Trump’s acquittal in the GOP-controlled chamber is all but assured.During their presentations, the House managers played video excerpts of witnesses at the House hearings. Former acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor; Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union; and former National Security Council official Fiona Hill, in particular, had what amounted to reprised starring roles on the Senate floor.Withheld DocumentsSchiff used Taylor to make a vivid point about the evidence that had been withheld by the Trump administration. In Taylor’s House testimony last year, he recounted the highly unusual step of writing a direct, first-person cable to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo raising concerns about the delay in military aid to Ukraine. Taylor said it was the only such cable he had ever sent.Schiff then rhetorically asked senators if they wanted to read what it said, adding after a pause: “I would like to read it to you right now. Except I don’t have it because the State Department won’t permit it.”The House prosecutors also showed several clips of the president publicly calling for Ukraine and even China to investigate the Bidens, seeking to use Trump’s own words to make the case that he sought foreign help to damage a political opponent.Public ExposureEven without new witnesses, Democrats were able to highlight what they wanted for the millions watching on television without having any cross-examination from the president’s lawyers.Entertainment industry publication Variety reported that about 11 million people watched Tuesday’s opening of the trial across six cable and broadcast networks during the day.While a number of Republicans complained that Democrats presented no new arguments or evidence – and there were clear signs of restlessness in the chamber as the presentations dragged on -- some senators said they were, indeed, hearing new information.”I’ve learned a lot and I think everybody has,” said John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “Senators didn’t know the case. We didn’t stay glued to the television, we hadn’t read the transcript.”Democrats are continuing to press for the introduction of witnesses later in the trial after Republicans rejected attempts to settle the question before the proceedings got underway. That battle will be fought anew after Trump’s team delivers their defense and senators submit questions on the presentations from both sides.During a break, several GOP senators said they would demand their own roster of witnesses if Democrats force the issue.“The idea of witnesses will not get anywhere if it’s not reciprocal,” Indiana Senator Mike Braun said. He said at the top of his witness is Joe Biden.Witness DebateTexas Republican Ted Cruz said House Democrats have now made testimony from Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden “crucial.”Cruz said the Democrats’ argument is that Trump wasn’t justified in asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. That means the Senate should have more information about whether the former vice president acted corruptly to protect his son, who was serving on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, Cruz said.“The need for the Senate to hear the testimony of Hunter Biden has become all the more relevant,” Cruz said. “Burisma was the only Ukrainian company that had prima facie evidence of American corruption.”Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer shot down the idea of any trades on witness lists. However it would only take 51 votes in the Senate to call any witness once the decision is made to hear new testimony.Both sides appeared keenly aware that the judgment of voters-- particularly affluent and educated suburban voters who may back Republican policies but have reservations about the president’s conduct -- is likely to be more important than any influence the arguments might have on the senators.Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, said he had little doubt that after senators have a chance to ask questions of both sides, Republicans would unite behind moving swiftly toward an acquittal and reject calls for more witnesses and documents.“This is not just about the impeachment of the president, this is a focus by the Democrats to attempt to take the Senate,” Barrasso said, echoing comments by GOP colleagues.\--With assistance from Mike Dorning, Daniel Flatley, Laura Davison and Erik Wasson.To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at [email protected];Laura Litvan in Washington at [email protected];Steven T. Dennis in Washington at [email protected] contact the editor responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at [email protected] more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
- These gun enthusiasts at the Virginia rally carried more firepower than many US troopson 23/01/2020 at 5:32 pm
"This sends a strong visual message," a man holding a .50 caliber rifle said. Attendees also came with an armored vehicle and a grenade launcher.
- Thunberg fires back at Mnunchin after college degree jabon 23/01/2020 at 5:13 pm
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin said Greta Thunberg can discuss fossil fuel divestment "after she goes and studies economics in college."
- Ex-Maryland police officer has been charged with raping and attempting to transmit HIV to a woman he pulled overon 23/01/2020 at 5:06 pm
A Maryland Grand Jury has indicted former police officer Martique Vanderpool on charges that he raped and attempted to expose a woman with HIV.