Live, from DC: Trump impeachment hearings about to go public
WASHINGTON (AP) — The closed doors of the Trump impeachment investigation are swinging wide open.
When the gavel strikes at the start of the House hearing Wednesday morning, America and the rest of the world will have the chance to see and hear for themselves for the first time about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offences.
It’s a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them.
All on TV, committee leaders will set the stage, then comes the main feature: Two seasoned diplomats, William Taylor, the graying former infantry officer now charge d’affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in Washington, telling the striking, if sometimes complicated story of a president allegedly using foreign policy for personal and political gain ahead of the 2020 election.
So far, the narrative is splitting Americans, mostly along the same lines as Trump’s unusual presidency. The Constitution sets a dramatic, but vague, bar for impeachment, and there’s no consensus yet that Trump’s actions at the heart of the inquiry meet the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanours.”
Trump to face limits of his power in impeachment hearings
NEW YORK (AP) — For three years, Donald Trump has unapologetically defied the conventions of the American presidency. On Wednesday, he comes face to face with the limits of his power, confronting an impeachment process enshrined in the Constitution that will play out in public and help shape how the president will be viewed by voters next year and in the history books for generations.
Trump accepted the Republican nomination, declaring that “I alone can fix” the nation’s problems. Once elected, he set about reshaping the presidency, bending and dismantling institutions surrounding the 230-year-old office.
Now a parade of career public servants will raise their hands and swear an oath to the truth, not the presidency, representing an integral part of the system of checks and balances envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
“Trump can do away with the traditions and niceties of the office, but he can’t get away from the Constitution,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. “During Watergate, many people feared that if a president collapsed, America is broken. But the lesson of Nixon is that the Constitution is durable and the country can handle it.”
The Democrats will try to make the case that the president tried to extort a foreign nation, Ukraine, to investigate a political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden. But even if the House ultimately votes to make Trump only the third American president to be impeached, few expect the Republican-controlled Senate to eventually remove Trump from office.
Split Supreme Court appears ready to allow Trump to end DACA
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sharply at odds with liberal justices, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to abolish protections that permit 660,000 immigrants to work in the U.S., free from the threat of deportation.
That outcome would “destroy lives,” declared Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one the court’s liberals who repeatedly suggested the administration has not adequately justified its decision to end the seven-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Nor has it taken sufficient account of the personal, economic and social disruption that might result, they said.
But there did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives for blocking the administration. The nine-member court’s decision is expected by June, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter that DACA recipients shouldn’t despair if the justices side with him, pledging that “a deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!” But Trump’s past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for these immigrants have led nowhere.
The president also said in his tweet that many program participants, brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally, are “far from ‘angels,'” and he claimed that “some are very tough, hardened criminals.” The program bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating, and serious misdemeanours may also bar eligibility.
US held record number of migrant children in custody in 2019
COMAYAGUA, Honduras (AP) — The 3-year-old girl travelled for weeks cradled in her father’s arms, as he set out to seek asylum in the United States. Now she won’t even look at him.
After being forcibly separated at the border by government officials, sexually abused in U.S. foster care and deported, the once bright and beaming girl arrived back in Honduras withdrawn, anxious and angry, convinced her father abandoned her.
He fears their bond is forever broken.
“I think about this trauma staying with her too, because the trauma has remained with me and still hasn’t faded,” he said, days after their reunion.
This month, new government data shows the little girl is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.
Colin Kaepernick plans to audition for NFL teams on Saturday
Colin Kaepernick plans to audition for NFL teams on Saturday in a private workout arranged by the league to be held in Atlanta.
The exiled former Pro Bowl quarterback posted on Twitter: “I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”
The NFL hasn’t confirmed Kaepernick’s workout details.
A person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press the league’s decision to invite all 32 teams to watch Kaepernick “came out of the blue with no prior communication.” The person said Kaepernick’s team was given a 2-hour window to accept the invitation and was denied a request to schedule the tryout on a Tuesday or another Saturday.
Kaepernick’s representatives have asked the league to provide a rolling list of teams that plan to attend the workout to ensure it’s a “legitimate process,” according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because details haven’t been made public.
Uncertainty in Bolivia as senator claims interim presidency
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivians have new uncertainty to grapple with now that opposition Sen. Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president of the crisis-torn Andean country just hours after Evo Morales flew off to self-exile in Mexico.
Questions remained about who might rally around Añez, while Morales’ supporters angrily accused her of trying to seize power in her declaration Tuesday, raising the prospect of more troubles following weeks of clashes over the disputed Oct. 20 presidential election.
Some people took to the streets cheering and waving national flags Tuesday night after Añez claimed the post of Senate leader, the position next in line for the presidency. Furious supporters of Morales responded by trying to force their way to the Congress building in La Paz yelling, “She must quit!”
As Hong Kong descends into chaos, China mulls its options
BEIJING (AP) — A sharp escalation of violence in Hong Kong is once again raising the question of how China’s central government will respond: Will it deploy its armed forces, or allow the chaos and destruction to continue?
Protests persisted Tuesday at university campuses and the central business district following a day of violence that left two people in critical condition after a police officer shot a protester and a man was set on fire during an argument with demonstrators.
Rioters again disrupted traffic and vandalized shops in multiple neighbourhoods. Subways were partially shut down, and passengers on one train were forced to get off and walk along the tracks.
The unabating tumult, now in its sixth month, may give the ruling Communist Party the justification it needs to intervene, analysts said.
“Beijing is hoping that the Hong Kong community will start blaming the protesters and support the restoration of order,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.
USC campus left shaken by 9 student deaths since August
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first death occurred in late August, two days before classes began, when an incoming freshman was struck by a car while walking on a freeway near the University of Southern California.
In the more than 2 months since, eight other USC students have died — three by suicide, others by unknown means. The string of fatalities has left students and faculty at the prestigious university shaken and struggling for answers.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the latest fatality — a 27-year-old student found dead Monday in an off-campus apartment — came days after administrators sent letters to students and parents about the series of deaths.
“There is a great deal of speculation about the causes of these deaths and most are being attributed to suicide. This is not correct,” the Times quoted one of the letters as saying.
While officials say three of the deaths are confirmed suicides, the causes of the others are not known or haven’t been released. The latest case is still under investigation.
Most distant world ever explored gets new name: Arrokoth
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The most distant world ever explored 4 billion miles away finally has an official name: Arrokoth.
That means “sky” in the language of the Native American Powhatan people, NASA said Tuesday.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past the snowman-shaped Arrokoth on New Year’s Day, 3 1/2 years after exploring Pluto. At the time, this small icy world 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) beyond Pluto was nicknamed Ultima Thule given its vast distance from us.
“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies,” lead scientist Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute said in a statement, “and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own.”
The name was picked because of the Powhatan’s ties to the Chesapeake Bay region.
People magazine names John Legend as 2019 Sexiest Man Alive
LOS ANGELES (AP) — R&B crooner John Legend has been named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine.
The Grammy-winning singer known for his silky-smooth vocals was revealed as this year’s winner Tuesday night on NBC’s “The Voice.” He serves as a coach on the singing competition series with Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton.
Shelton, who was named Sexiest Man Alive in 2017, announced Legend’s honour on “The Voice.” The country singer then handed Legend some short shorts with bedazzled letters “EGOTSMA” to signify the singer’s many honours: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and now, Sexiest Man Alive.
Legend tells the magazine in an issue out Friday the honour comes with some pressure after following Idris Elba, who was last year’s winner. He jokes it “is not fair and is not nice to me!”
The 40-year-old Legend is a 10-time Grammy winner. He scored an Oscar in 2015 for co-writing the song “Glory” from the film “Selma.” He won a Tony Award for his co-producer work on “Jitney” and took home an Emmy as a producer on NBC’s live version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a project in which he also played the role of Jesus.
The Associated Press