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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST

The words Trump had to hear: Investigations, Biden, Clinton

WASHINGTON (AP) — There were three words President Donald Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: Investigations, Biden, Clinton.

That’s according to the transcript, released Thursday, of an impeachment inquiry interview with career State Department official George Kent.

“Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent testified. “Basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand.”

Kent told investigators that that was his understanding of what Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to say in order to unlock U.S. military aid, as relayed to the official by others, including those in direct contact with the president.

Numerous current and former Trump officials have testified that the president was conditioning U.S. aid on Ukraine publicly investigating Democrats including his potential 2020 political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son.

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Bloomberg opens door to 2020 Democratic run for president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, warning that the current field of candidates is ill equipped to defeat President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg, who initially ruled out a 2020 run, has not made a final decision on whether to jump into the race. If he were to launch a campaign, it could dramatically reshape the Democratic contest less than three months before primary voting begins.

The 77-year-old has spent the past few weeks talking with prominent Democrats about the state of the 2020 field, expressing concerns about the steadiness of former Vice-President Joe Biden’s campaign and the rise of liberal Sen. Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, according to people with knowledge of those discussions. In recent days, he took steps to keep his options open, including moving to get on the primary ballot in Alabama ahead of the state’s Friday filing deadline.

In a statement on Thursday, Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said the former mayor believes Trump “represents an unprecedented threat to our nation” and must be defeated.

“But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Wolfson said.

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Sessions, an Alabama icon, faces uncertain path to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday he wants to reclaim his old Senate seat from Alabama, where he’s been a conservative icon and dominant vote-getter since the 1990s.

But it’s already clear that President Donald Trump’s enmity toward him, along with an established field of competitors, means he’ll have to battle his way to the Republican nomination.

And early indications are that he may not have robust help from former GOP Senate colleagues, either.

“The people in Alabama will figure this out,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Associated Press on Thursday when asked if it’s a good idea for Sessions to run. “We do want to get that seat back, and I’m hopeful we will.”

Sessions, 72, announced his 2020 run on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which touted Sessions’ appearance as his first national television interview since he resigned from the Trump administration in November 2018.

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Iran 5.9 magnitude earthquake kills at least 5, injures 300

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northwestern Iran early Friday, killing at least five people and injuring over 300 others, officials said.

The temblor struck Tark county in Iran’s Eastern Azerbaijan province at 2:17 a.m., Iran’s seismological centre said. The area is some 400 kilometres (250 miles) northwest of Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Over 40 aftershocks rattled the rural region nestled in the Alborz Mountains, and residents rushed out of their homes in fear. The quake injured at least 312 people, state television reported, though only 13 needed to be hospitalized. It described many of the injuries happening when people fled in panic.

The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, gave the casualty figures to state television. There were no immediate video or images broadcast from the area.

Rescuers have been dispatched to the region, officials said. State TV reported the earthquake destroyed 30 homes at its epicenter.

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Hong Kong student dies after fall during protest clash

HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong university student who fell off a parking garage after police fired tear gas during clashes with anti-government protesters died Friday, in a rare fatality after five months of unrest that is expected to intensify anger in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

A hospital official, identified only as Chow, said the 22-year-old died Friday morning, but couldn’t give further details.

Although the cause of his fall has not been determined, his death is bound to deepen anger among youths against police, who have been accused of heavy-handed tactics since protests demanding democratic reforms started in June.

Local media reported that Chow Tsz-Lok has been in a coma with brain injury since he was found early Monday sprawled in a pool of blood on the second floor of the building. Police believed he plunged from an upper floor but it wasn’t captured by security cameras.

Minutes earlier, television footage showed riot police firing tear gas at the building after objects were hurled down at the officers in the street when they chased off a mob. Police didn’t rule out the possibility he was fleeing from tear gas but noted officials fired from a distance. Police also denied claims that officials pushed the victim down and had delayed emergency services.

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Judge fines Trump $2 million for misusing charity foundation

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge Thursday ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests.

New York state Judge Saliann Scarpulla imposed the penalty after the president admitted to a series of abuses outlined in a lawsuit brought against him last year by the New York attorney general’s office.

Among other things, Trump acknowledged in a legal filing that he allowed his presidential campaign staff to co-ordinate with the Trump Foundation in holding a fundraiser for veterans during the run-up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses. The event was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” Scarpulla said.

In a defiant statement issued Thursday evening, though, Trump suggested he was neither sorry nor in the wrong.

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity (19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State,” he wrote.

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Huawei founder says US sanctions not his toughest crisis

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — For decades, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei stayed out of sight as his company grew to become the biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers and surpassed Apple as the No. 2 smartphone brand.

Now, Ren is shedding that anonymity as Huawei Technologies Ltd. mobilizes against the latest threat to its success: U.S. sanctions and warnings that it is a security risk.

The billionaire entrepreneur embroiled in the Trump administration’s fight with China over technology is a 75-year-old former army engineer who worked his way out of childhood poverty. He has survived competition that drove Western rivals out of the market, brushes with financial disaster and job stress so severe he contemplated suicide.

He sees American pressure as just the latest in a string of tests that have hardened him and his company.

“For three decades, Huawei has been suffering and no joy,” Ren said in an interview. “The pain of each episode is different.”

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Mexico farm town buries 3 of 9 slain Americans

LA MORA, Mexico (AP) — As Mexican soldiers stood guard, a mother and two sons were laid to rest in hand-hewn pine coffins in a single grave dug out of the rocky soil Thursday at the first funeral for the victims of a drug cartel ambush that left nine American women and children dead.

Clad in shirt sleeves, suits or modest dresses, about 500 mourners embraced in grief under white tents erected in La Mora, a hamlet of about 300 people who consider themselves Mormon but are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some wept, and some sang hymns.

Members of the extended community — many of whom, like the victims, are dual U.S-Mexican citizens — had built the coffins themselves and used shovels to dig the shared grave in La Mora’s small cemetery. Farmers and teenage boys carried the coffins.

Mourners filed past to view the bodies and pay their final respects to Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2.

They were laid to rest together, just as they died together Monday when attackers fired a hail of bullets at their SUV on a dirt road leading to another settlement, Colonia LeBaron. Six children and three women in all were killed in the attack on the convoy of three SUVs.

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Anonymous book describes volatile, incompetent Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — A forthcoming book by an anonymous author identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration” describes President Donald Trump as volatile, incompetent and unfit to be commander in chief, according to excerpts published Thursday by The Washington Post.

The book describes racist and misogynist behind-the-scenes statements by Trump and says he “stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information.”

The Post acquired a copy of the book, “A Warning,” and first reported on its contents Thursday.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement late Thursday saying, “The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies.”

She said reporters should “cover the book as what it is — a work of fiction.”

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Raiders rally to beat Chargers 26-24

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Josh Jacobs scored on an 18-yard run with 1:02 remaining and the Oakland Raiders had a late winning touchdown drive for the second time in five weeks, beating the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 on Thursday night.

Derek Carr led the Raiders (5-4) down the field methodically 75 yards after Philip Rivers threw a 6-yard pass to Austin Ekeler that gave the Chargers (4-6) a 24-20 lead with 4:02 remaining.

Carr completed three passes to Jalen Richard and two to Hunter Renfrow before Jacobs finished the drive with his seventh touchdown of his rookie season.

The victory didn’t come easy as Daniel Carlson missed the extra point, putting more pressure on the tired Raiders defence to stop Rivers. Trayvon Mullen was called for holding on a fourth-down pass to extend the drive, but Karl Joseph then intercepted a fourth-down pass from Rivers to seal it.

Joseph also had the game-sealing pass breakup Sunday against Detroit after Carr threw a TD pass to Renfrow in a 31-24 victory.

The Associated Press

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