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US Monthly Headline News January 2020 Page 3

By Donie O'Sullivan, CNN Business

Washington DC (CNN Business)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Facebook as a "shameful" company on Thursday, further escalating tensions between Democratic leadership and the social media giant. In response to a question about the power held by Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, Pelosi accused the company of being "accomplices for misleading the American people with money from god-knows where." She also suggested that the company cares about profits above all else. "All they want are their tax cuts and no antitrust action against them," she said, adding that she believes Facebook "schmoozed" the Trump administration. The comments came at Pelosi's weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. CNN Business has reached out to Facebook for comment.

By Mark Morales and Frank Bivona, CNN

Avon, Connecticut (CNN) FBI investigators on Thursday visited both the home and business of Connecticut congressional candidate Robert Hyde, who this week was implicated in the Ukraine scandal. The agents were seen by CNN and their presence was confirmed by a law enforcement official. They were at the home early Thursday morning in Weatogue, Connecticut, before going to Hyde's business in nearby Avon. Hyde runs both his landscaping company and his campaign headquarters from the office. The investigators did not answer questions as to Hyde's whereabouts or why they wanted to speak with him. No other details were provided. Text messages show Hyde was involved in efforts to surveil and remove former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Kiev.

“Remember, people who go on TV are never under oath,” Conway remarked at one point.
By Matt Wilstein

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked four times by Fox News on Thursday morning to “flat-out” refute claims from Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas that President Donald Trump was fully “aware” of what he was up to in Ukraine. She didn’t give a straight answer once. After Fox aired a clip of Parnas’ interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow from Wednesday night, they asked her to refute his central claims. Conway first tried to laugh it off, joking with no sense of irony, “Remember, people who go on TV are never under oath.” Meanwhile, the Trump White House has blocked witnesses from testifying under oath and criticized the credibility of those who have.

But that argument didn’t satisfy Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer, who repeatedly grilled Conway on the substance of what Parnas was saying. “Are you saying flat-out, 100 percent what he alleges is not true, yes or no?” Hemmer asked. Instead of answering yes or no, Conway went on to offer up an “objection” to the idea that Parnas could know Trump was aware of his movements. “You cannot say what someone else knew or thought,” she said. “That was a TV show, not a court of law.”

By Mark Puente, Richard Winton, Matthew Ormseth

Few issues have generated more controversy in California law enforcement circles than how police determine whether someone is a gang member. Such a designation can carry harsh repercussions. Critics have long argued that police unfairly target African Americans and Latinos as gang members with the use of field interviews in which officers ask those they pull over whether they have a gang affiliation. Proving the allegations of bias has sometimes been difficult. But police leaders now have millions of recordings to review from more than 7,000 body cameras as a scandal widens over allegations that officers with the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Metro unit falsely portrayed people as gang members.

Every field card generated by the LAPD officers under investigation has been removed from the system as a cautionary step to avoid any potential harm to prosecutions and future investigations, regardless of whether in-car or body-worn camera footage has been reviewed, according to multiple law enforcement sources.

By Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) The third Senate impeachment trial of a US president in history convened on Thursday with the reading of the two impeachment articles charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The seven House impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against the President marched the articles from the House to the Senate on Thursday, beginning the ceremonial functions of the impeachment trial in which senators will decide whether Trump should be removed from office. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the lead impeachment manager, read the articles in the chamber shortly after noon ET.

The outcome of the trial is all but determined, as the two-thirds vote required to remove the President would need 20 Republican senators to break ranks. But that doesn't mean the trial itself won't have twists and turns — and potentially some surprises — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell navigates the demands of his Senate conference, pressures from Democrats and the whims of Trump and his Twitter account. Already this week, indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas has upended the impeachment conversation by providing the House Intelligence Committee with a trove of evidence about his work with Giuliani's efforts to oust former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch last spring and then pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. And the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, said Thursday that the Trump administration violated the law when it withheld Ukraine security aid that Congress has appropriated.

By Bart Jansen, Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers, who are called managers and who will prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, carried the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Thursday and read the charges aloud to formally begin the third trial of a sitting president.

The seven House managers were recognized at 12:06 p.m. and were escorted to the well of the Senate. The lead manager, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., then read the articles aloud as senators sat at their mahogany desks. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the longest-serving senator known as the Senate president pro tem, presided over the reception of the articles.

After the reading, the Senate recessed to await the arrival of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial. Four senators – Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chairman of the Rules Committee, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the longest-serving senator, and Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee – will escort Roberts into the chamber.

CBSNews

Prosecutors have released emails and call recording logs between Mossimo Giannulli, Lori Loughlin and Rick Singer, the mastermind of the college admissions cheating scandal, shedding new light on the alleged scheme. CBS Los Angeles reports the trove of correspondence also revealed how the University of Southern California was trying to court one of the daughters of Loghlin and Giannulli — even as prosecutors said the couple was plotting a sham resume to get her admitted as a fake rower on crew.

In an email with a redacted sender, the writer said in part: "Hi Mossimo — Please let me know if I can be at all helpful in setting up a 1:1 opportunity for her, customized tour of campus for the family… I'd also be happy to flag her application…" In response to the release of that email, the university said in a statement that the offer was neither special nor unique. "Tours, classroom visits and meetings are routinely offered," the statement said. "The primary purpose of a flag is to be able to track the outcome of the admission review process…" Also in the court documents was an email from Singer to Giannulli that said: "Mossimo — Can you send me a 50k check to USC… Additionally the rest of the 200k will be paid to our foundation."

Lev Parnas told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he didn't do anything "without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president."
By Phil Helsel

Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who has been implicated in an alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, says, "President Trump knew exactly what was going on." "He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials," Parnas, who faces campaign finance charges, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in an interview that aired Wednesday night.

"I mean, they have no reason to speak to me. Why would President Zelenskiy's inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that's the secret that they're trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work," Parnas said. Volodymyr Zelenskiy was elected president in April, defeating incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Arsen Avakov is Ukraine's interior minister.

By Kyle Blaine, Jeff Zeleny and Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) In a tense and dramatic exchange in the moments after the Democratic debate Tuesday night, Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar on national television. Sanders responded that it was Warren who called him a liar and said they should not talk about it right then. When the CNN/Des Moines Register debate concluded, the studio audience and viewers saw Warren walk over to Sanders and not shake his outstretched hand. The two senators seemed to have a heated and brief exchange before Sanders appeared to throw his hands up, turn and walk away. The video of the exchange aired live with no audio.

"I think you called me a liar on national TV," Warren can be heard saying. "What?" Sanders responded. "I think you called me a liar on national TV," she repeated. "You know, let's not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we'll have that discussion," Sanders said, to which Warren replied, "Anytime." "You called me a liar," Sanders continued. "You told me -- all right, let's not do it now."

By Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld US security aid to Ukraine last year that had been appropriated by Congress -- an issue at the center of the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The GAO, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, said in a decision issued Thursday that the White House budget office violated the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law that limits the White House from withholding funds that Congress has appropriated.

The Office of Management and Budget told the GAO it "withheld the funds to ensure that they were not spent 'in a manner that could conflict with the President's foreign policy,'" said Thomas Armstrong, the GAO's general counsel. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the GAO wrote. "OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act. The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA."

The decision will add fuel to the Democratic allegations that Trump's conduct ran afoul of the law when the his administration withheld $400 million in security aid to Ukraine while the President and his team pushed Ukraine to open an investigation into the President's political rivals.

A federal judge on Wednesday halted President Donald Trump's executive order that gave state and local officials the ability to shut the door on refugees and ignited a fierce debate in communities about how welcoming the United States should be
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and JULIE WATSON Associated Press

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A federal judge on Wednesday halted President Donald Trump's executive order that gave state and local officials the ability to shut the door on refugees, and ignited a fierce debate in communities about how welcoming the United States should be. U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Maryland said in his ruling that the president's order “flies in the face of clear Congressional intent" of the 1980 Refugee Act by allowing state and local governments to block the resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions. In issuing a preliminary injunction, Messitte said the process should continue as it has for nearly 40 years, with refugee resettlement agencies deciding where a person would best thrive.

Church World Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and HIAS — a Jewish nonprofit — filed the lawsuit in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Nov. 21. They said they already work closely with state and local officials before resettling refugees in an area. They called the order an attempt at a state-by-state ban on refugees. Messitte agreed. “It grants them veto power. Period,” the judge wrote.

Soleimani’s “horrible past," as Trump put it, cannot justify the strike.
By Rebecca Ingber

President Trump and officials in his administration have put forward shifting explanations to justify the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, most involving unsupported claims that he had been planning “imminent” attacks. Trump recently asserted Soleimani was targeting four U.S. embassies, a claim Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper declined to defend. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) went so far as to say the claim about the embassies “seems to be totally made up.” On Monday, Trump tweeted affirmation that Soleimani posed an imminent threat but also said the question “doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past.”

In fact, the question of imminence is crucial under both domestic and international law. Under the U.N. Charter, the president’s authority to kill Soleimani required that the United States was facing an armed attack — as well as that the use of force was necessary to repel or prevent it. The United States has long understood that doctrine to also permit force necessary to stop an imminent attack. Whether an attack was truly imminent is also key to the domestic legal question, because U.S. law does not permit the president to use force unilaterally (that is, without congressional authorization) outside of the most exigent circumstances. These legal questions are no mere technicalities. The purpose behind the law is to limit unnecessary war to the greatest possible extent. U.S. presidents have at times pushed the limits of such laws, but doing so has dire consequences — including unnecessary conflict, civilian casualties and the lost trust of our allies, as well as of the U.S. public.

By Adam Gabbatt

The president is about as far from a model of piety as can be imagined but many reach for a biblical figure to justify their support Before the end of 2016 there was little in Donald Trump’s life, or frequently offensive political campaign, to suggest that as president he would be hailed as God’s appointee on Earth, be beloved by born-again Christians, or compared to a biblical king. Yet that is exactly what has happened in the three years since Trump took office, as he has surrounded himself with a God-fearing cabinet and struck up an unlikely but extremely beneficial relationship with white evangelical supporters.

It’s a relationship that, for the president, has ensured unwavering support from a key voter base and for his religious supporters, seen a conservative takeover of the courts and an assault on reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. It’s also a relationship that is raising concerns about what another four years of Trump governance could achieve when it comes to fulfilling the policy ambitions of his evangelical backers. “It’s incredibly troubling,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the separation of church and state.

“Trump is conferring unparalleled privilege on one narrow slice of religion,” Laser said. “He confers privilege in exchange for constant loyalty at the ballot box, no matter what he does.” The unlikely alliance between those nominally following biblical interpretations of right and wrong, and a thrice-married man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault and infamously paid off a pornographic actor, has thrown up a rich – and bizarre – cast of characters.

By MARTIN MATISHAK

The U.S. intelligence community is trying to persuade House and Senate lawmakers to drop the public portion of an annual briefing on the globe’s greatest security threats — a move compelled by last year’s session that provoked an angry outburst from President Donald Trump, multiple sources told POLITICO.

Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on behalf of the larger clandestine community, don’t want agency chiefs to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea, according to three people familiar with preliminary negotiations over what's known as the Worldwide Threats hearing.

At the last such threats briefing a year ago, the chiefs presented findings that diverged from the president’s statements on the longevity of Islamic State terror group, as well as Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. He blistered them on Twitter the following day, labeling them “passive” and “naive” while writing that “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"

Trump later claimed his top intelligence chiefs, including then-DNI Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, told him that they had been misquoted in the press — even though their remarks had been broadcast and the video footage was publicly available.

The Kentucky senator is vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP incumbents if they side with Democrats during Trump's impeachment trial.
By BURGESS EVERETT

Sen. Rand Paul is waging a fierce campaign to prevent the Senate from hearing witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, vowing to force tough votes on his fellow Republicans if they break with the president or back Democrats' demands for new evidence. The Kentucky Republican is occasionally at odds with Trump, from his strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani to his national emergency to build his border wall. But when it comes to impeachment, Paul is taking the hardest line possible in Trump’s favor.

Paul says if four or more of his GOP colleagues join with Democrats to entertain new witness testimony, he will make the Senate vote on subpoenaing the president’s preferred witnesses, including Hunter Biden and the whistleblower behind the Ukraine scandal — polarizing picks who moderate Republicans aren’t eager to debate. So he has a simple message for his party: End the trial before witnesses are called.

“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul said during an interview in his office on Wednesday. “If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.”

By Dan Evon

U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president." In December 2019, as members of the U.S. House of Representatives gathered to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a quote ostensibly uttered by President Teddy Roosevelt about patriotism and putting country above party circulated on social media:

By John Hudson and Souad Mekhennet

A week before Germany, France and Britain formally accused Iran of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration issued a private threat to the Europeans that shocked officials in all three countries. If they refused to call out Tehran and initiate an arcane dispute mechanism in the deal, the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on European automobiles, the Trump officials warned, according to European officials familiar with the conversations.

Within days, the three countries would formally accuse Iran of violating the deal, triggering a recourse provision that could reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran and unravel the last remaining vestiges of the Obama-era agreement. The U.S. effort to coerce European foreign policy through tariffs, a move one European official equated to “extortion,” represents a new level of hardball tactics with the United States’ oldest allies, underscoring the extraordinary tumult in the transatlantic relationship. President Trump has previously used the threat of a 25 percent tariff on automobiles to win more-favorable terms in the country’s trade relationship with the Europeans, but not to dictate the continent’s foreign policy.

“The tariff threat is a mafia-like tactic, and it’s not how relations  between allies typically work,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research  director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

By Scott Neuman

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., wants to withdraw his 2-year-old guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors reneged on a promise to not ask for jail time at his upcoming sentencing. Flynn, who held the post of national security adviser for less than a month, is the only Trump administration official to face criminal charges in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling. He was to be sentenced on Jan. 28. "The government's stunning and vindictive reversal of its earlier representations to this Court are incredible, vindictive, in bad faith, and breach the plea agreement," Sidney Powell and Jesse Binnall, Flynn's lead counsel, wrote in the motion.

"Michael T. Flynn is innocent. Mr. Flynn has cooperated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full cooperation," they wrote. The defense asked to delay Flynn's sentencing by 30 days, to Feb. 27, and the government says it has no objection. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has yet to rule on the request. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, which took over the case from Mueller, recommended earlier this month that Flynn receive "0 to 6 months of incarceration." In the sentencing memo, prosecutors said Flynn had been less than cooperative in an investigation of his former partner, Bijan Rafiekian, at Flynn Intel Group, a lobbying firm.

Rudy Giuliani’s fixer, Lev Parnas, turned over documents. They’re very ugly.
By Andrew Prokop

The House Intelligence Committee quietly released a new batch of impeachment inquiry evidence Tuesday evening: documents provided by Rudy Giuliani’s fixer for Ukraine, Lev Parnas. And boy, are they ugly. The documents, which include Parnas’s handwritten notes, copies of text messages, and other correspondence, reveal some new information — including that Giuliani claimed to be acting with President Trump’s “knowledge and consent” in his communications with the Ukrainian government. One handwritten note of Parnas’s, scribbled on Ritz-Carlton hotel stationery, clearly states his main objective in his dealings with Ukraine: to get Ukraine’s president to announce “the Biden case will be investigated.”

The documents also provide the strongest evidence yet that there was a corrupt understanding involving prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko (a Ukrainian official in the previous regime). Lutsenko offered to investigate Burisma and the Bidens — and, in exchange, he insisted that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom he had clashed with, be fired. He made this quid pro quo clear in his messages to Parnas. Particularly disturbing is a set of messages Parnas received from a person named Robert F. Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate. Hyde texted Parnas that he had people tracking Yovanovitch’s movements closely in Ukraine. He claimed he could tell whether her phone and computer were off. And he wrote: “If you want her out they need to make contact with security forces.” (It is not yet clear whether these claims by Hyde were true. On Wednesday morning, Parnas’s lawyer denied they were, and said Hyde had a “dubious mental state.”)

By Kelly Mena and Omar Jimenez, CNN

Washington (CNN) More than 200,000 voters who were set to be purged from Wisconsin's rolls will instead remain for the time being after the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued a hold Tuesday on a previous order that said the voters were invalid because they may have moved recently. Last month, a county judge instructed the Wisconsin Elections Commission to remove the voters, ruling in favor of a conservative law firm that argued the state was obligated to remove those who hadn't responded to a recent mailing from active voting rolls as a way of keeping records updated. Tuesday's hold will allow the voters to remain on the rolls until the court of appeals can formally hear the case at a later date. The court also put a hold on a ruling the day before that held the election commission in contempt for not removing the voter registrations. The commission was facing a $50-a-day fine and three Democratic commissioners who voted against the removals were to be fined $250 a day until they complied.


Democrats in the US House of Representatives have unveiled new evidence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, they released a trove of documents relating to the allegation that Mr Trump put pressure on Ukraine to investigate a political rival. The president denies the allegation and has branded the inquiry a "witch hunt". The new materials include text messages that suggest the former US ambassador to Ukraine was put under surveillance.

They were obtained from the Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Senior Democrats said they would send the documents to the Senate alongside the formal articles of impeachment. The House will vote on Wednesday on whether to send these articles to the Senate. As Democrats control the House, this vote is expected to pass meaning the impeachment trial can begin in earnest next week.

Mr Trump was impeached by the House last month, on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He denies trying to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.

What is the new evidence?

The materials include letters, phone records, notes and flash drives from Mr Parnas, who was born in Ukraine and is a close associate of Mr Giuliani. They were made available to investigators earlier this week and then sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

New documents show why the president has been trying to hide evidence from Congress.
By Neal Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer

Americans who have been wondering why President Trump has taken the extraordinary step of trying to block every document from being released to Congress in his impeachment inquiry need wonder no longer. The new documents released Tuesday evening by the House Intelligence Committee were devastating to Trump’s continuing — if shifting — defense of his Ukraine extortion scandal, just days before his impeachment trial is likely to begin in the Senate. These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging: that he was really fighting corruption when he pressured Ukraine on matters related to the Biden family; that Hunter Biden should be called as a witness at the Senate impeachment trial; and that there’s no need for a real, honest-to-goodness trial in the Senate.

The most basic principles of constitutional law require relevant information, including documents and executive branch witnesses, to be turned over to Congress in an impeachment proceeding. Particularly because sitting presidents cannot be indicted, impeachment is the only immediate remedy we the people have against a lawless president. For that remedy to have any teeth, relevant information has to be provided. That’s why President James Polk said that, during impeachment, Congress could “penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments … command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial.” No president, not even Richard Nixon, thought he could just say “no” to impeachment. That’s why the House added Article II to Trump’s impeachment: “Obstruction of Congress.” It was a response to an unprecedented attempt by a president to hide the truth.

Stormy Daniels’ ex-lawyer was taken into custody by federal agents during a disciplinary hearing at California’s State Bar Court.
By Jason McGahan

LOS ANGELES—Ex-Stormy Daniels lawyer and Trump antagonist Michael Avenatti was led out of the State Bar Court in Los Angeles by federal agents on Tuesday evening. The arrest occurred outside the disciplinary hearing in which the State Bar of California has accused the hard-charging, tough-talking attorney of using a doctored document to scam a client out of nearly $840,000, funneling money from a lawsuit settlement fund to his own personal use. The State Bar of California, the official attorney licensing agency, has sought to put Avenatti on “involuntary inactive status,” setting in motion a timeline for disbarment proceedings.

During a break in testimony, members of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, who are prosecuting Avenatti in a separate criminal matter in Orange County, parleyed with Avenatti's team of lawyers and took the lawyer into custody. "I understand that Mr. Avenatti has been arrested by the federal authorities for violating the terms of his release," said attorney Steven Bledsoe, who represents the alleged Avenatti victim in the State Bar case and was present when the arrest occurred.


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