Headlines: October 19, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:05 — 7.4MB)
President Trump has announced that it “certainly looks” like Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and that there will be a, “very severe” response from the United States if it turns out that Saudi authorities were involved in his killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey where he was last seen.
Turkish authorities say they have audio evidence and one Turkish source says they played it for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit this week and that he was given a transcript of the recording but State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.” When he was first asked about the tape Pompeo said, “I don’t have anything to say about that.” Upon his return to the US, Pompeo briefed the President on the matter and then spoke with reporters outside the White House.
Meanwhile a surveillance photo was leaked to the press on Thursday showing a man who is part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage in Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance. According to Associated Press, “The man, identified by Turkish officials as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been photographed in the background of Prince Mohammed’s trips to the U.S., France and Spain this year. Turkish officials say he flew into Istanbul on a private jet along with an ‘autopsy expert’ Oct. 2 and left that night.” That was the same day that Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul never to be seen again.
Meanwhile international business partners have continued to drop out of Saudi Arabia’s “Future Investment” initiative in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance. On Thursday Fox Business News, which was the last remaining media outlet left, also pulled its participation. Earlier in the day US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced he would also not be attending.
President Trump on Thursday attended a rally in Missoula, Montana. Ahead of his appearance Will Deschamps Sr., the former state GOP chairman made a provocative statement on Facebook saying, “For all the prospective attendees to the Trump event. Come early. Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em.” There were protesters ready to greet the President in Montana. As Air Force One was in the air, Trump might have spied some local landmarks being transformed into messages. The words “LIAR,” and “IMPEACH” were spelled out in large letters. Trump had won the state of Montana by 20 points in 2016. During his speech in Missoula, Trump continued his and his party’s favorite theme of promoting violence by praising Montana Republican Greg Gianforte for assaulting a Guardian newspaper reporter last year. Congressman pled guilty to misdemeanor assault last June and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence and 40 hours of community service among other penalties.
A defamation case that was brought by a woman who had accused Trump of sexual assault continues through courts and on Thursday the question came up of whether a New York court could send a sitting President to jail for refusing to comply with an order. The case, brought by Summer Zervos centers around Trump calling her a liar after she revealed his actions against her to the public. Lawyers for the President are asking the courts to dismiss the case or postpone it until after Trump leaves the Presidency. According to AP, “Thursday’s court session focused on one of the Trump legal team’s central arguments: that a sitting president can’t be sued in a state court over conduct outside official duties.”
In other news, federal prosecutors are looking into the widespread sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania that took place over decades. The Justice Department is subpoenaing secret files and testimonies in what is apparently the first ever such investigation at the federal level. Earlier this year a grand jury report issued by the state revealed that more than 300 priests had abused more than a thousand children over 70 years and that higher-ups in the church had covered up the abuse and protected these “predator priests.” Up until now only local and state authorities had investigated church sexual abuse. Abuse survivors have reacted with optimism at the possibility of a federal investigation.
The state of California is considered the sentences of up to 4,000 inmates in state prison who are serving 25 year-to-life sentences. Two years ago voters passed a ballot measure to approve parole for non-violent felons who were sentenced under the draconian Three Strikes law. AP cited the opinion of one expert on the law, Michael Romano of Stanford University: “Among the 4,000 inmates he estimated will be eligible for parole are clients serving life terms for stealing a bicycle, possessing less than half a gram of methamphetamine, stealing two bottles of liquor or shoplifting shampoo. They are disproportionately black, disproportionately mentally ill and statistically among the least likely to commit additional crimes.”
The Trump administration on Thursday issued an emergency filing to stop the progress of a lawsuit being brought by dozens of young people against the government over negligence on climate change. The unique case has made it past several courts over years and asserts that the federal government has violated the constitutional rights of young Americans by imperiling their futures in failing to stop global warming. According to Bloomberg news, “Although the Supreme Court rejected the first request [by the Trump administration] in July as premature, the justices hinted at skepticism about the lawsuit, saying its breadth was ‘striking.’ Since that order was issued, the Senate has confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to succeed the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.” The lawsuit began under President Obama and a majority of the plaintiffs are teenagers.