Headlines: January 15, 2020
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named 7 impeachment managers to act as prosecutors in next week’s Senate trial against President Donald Trump. The impeachment legal team named by Pelosi will be headed by California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. Among the managers Pelosi named are House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, as well as Representatives Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Val B. Demings of Florida. First term Congressmembers Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia R. Garcia of Texas are also on the team.
On the same day Democrats introduced new evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing provided by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, showing the extensive work that Parnas and Giuliani did on the matter of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden. Parnas and another Giuliani associate Igor Fruman were arrested last year trying to leave the US and charged with campaign finance violations. A court approved the turning over of Parnas’ documents to the House impeachment investigators. The Washington Post put the new documents in context saying, “Giuliani explicitly states that he was representing Trump ‘as a private citizen, not as the president of the United States,’ and also that Giuliani was carrying out this mission with Trump’s ‘knowledge and consent.’ That confirms in Giuliani’s own words that his scheme was geared toward satisfying Trump’s personal interests, even as Giuliani was in effect carrying out U.S. foreign relations with an ally. Our national interests were subverted to Trump’s own, at Trump’s explicit direction.” Among the documentary evidence was an indication that former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch was being surveilled by a Trump supporter. Her lawyers have now demanded that the issue be investigated.
In other news President Trump signed a trade deal with China on Wednesday morning, a deal he had touted for many months as retaliatory tariffs hurt American farmers. The agreement apparently has 8 parts and includes the US backing down on tariffs on Chinese goods and China’s commitment to buying certain American goods for the next two years. It also addresses the intellectual property theft that American companies have accused China of engaging in. It remains to be seen if the deal addresses the long-term issues that have plagued US-China business relations and if China will keep its commitments. Trump on Wednesday morning hailed the deal in his usual bombastic style.
Six Democrats faced off on Tuesday night in Des Moines, Iowa, in the last debate of the election year before primary election season. The debate, hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, started off focusing on the Iran conflict. The debate hosts quickly moved to focusing on a spat between Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders about Warren’s claim that Sanders privately told her a woman could not win the White House. Warren sidestepped the issue and pivoted to her claim that a woman would be better poised to win the White House than a man and that indeed the two women on stage had lost to Republicans fewer times than the men. Candidates also sparred on the cost of Medicare-for-All and trade.
As Democrats debated one another, Trump took to his own stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a reelection campaign rally where he touted his recent actions on Iran as a reason to remain in the White House. Trump defended his decision to order a drone strike on Iraq killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in early January. He said, “The Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster, even though this monster was behind hundreds and hundreds of deaths.” Meanwhile the Senate may affirm a recent House resolution curtailing Trump’s ability to escalate the war on Iran. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine just announced that there are enough votes in the US Senate to pass the war powers resolution after key Republicans joined in.
The state of Wisconsin continues to see a political battle play out over voting rights. A day after a judge demanded that a voter purge of more than 200,000 voters be completed, an appeals court has sided with the elections commission and put the purge on hold. Election officials are worried that the damage may already be done as Republican and conservative efforts to curb voters are generally aimed at people who tend to vote Democratic. The purge was the result of a conservative organization’s work. Neil Albrecht, the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Election Commission said, “There’s a lot of confusion right now among voters around whether or not their registration records have been purged, whether they could be purged, whether they will be purged,” he said. “It’s difficult to instruct the public beyond saying ‘check your voter registration status and check it with frequency’.”
A new set of emails from White House advisor Stephen Miller to the rightwing website Breitbart focusing on the DACA program have just been released. Hundreds of pages of correspondence obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center are part of a trove that was publicized last year. Miller’s newly revealed correspondence – like the emails from last year – echo white supremacist talking points about immigrants, adding to the pressure for him to resign from the White House.
A federal judge has just ruled that the Trump Executive Order allowing states and municipalities to deny the settlement of refugees in their jurisdictions is “unlawful.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had recently announced he would refuse people who have obtained legal refugee status from settling in his state, citing Trump’s order as justification. The judge’s decision this week states that Trump’s order is, “arbitrary and capricious as well as inherently susceptible to hidden bias,” and that it, “flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.”
The Trump Administration has finally decided to release more than $8 billion in disaster relief funds to Puerto Rico after the US territory was wracked by a number of devastating earthquakes and continues to struggle from the 2017 Hurricane Maria. The funds had been held up after Trump repeatedly made false claims about how much federal aid Puerto Rico had received.
And finally the US Government released new data confirming the impacts of climate change. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration together released the research into warming patterns over the past year and concluded that 2019 was the second hottest year on record and that the past decade was the hottest.