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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a group of senators Tuesday on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After the closed-door meeting, Republican senator and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker told reporters he holds Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly responsible.
Sen. Bob Corker: “I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince, MBS, ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening, planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes: guilty.”
Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also condemned the crown prince and called out the Trump administration’s handling of the case.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: ”MBS, the crown prince, is a wrecking ball. I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible. I think the behavior before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing, and I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States. … Secretary Pompeo and Mattis are following the lead of the president. There’s not a smoking gun; there’s a smoking saw.”
The “smoking saw” that Senator Graham referred to is the bone saw that was reportedly used to dismember Khashoggi’s body by Saudi hit men in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. CIA Director Haspel’s briefing on Tuesday came a week after the White House reportedly blocked her from providing background to senators. This comes as the Senate is gearing up for a debate over whether to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, after senators voted last week to advance a bipartisan resolution on the issue. The war has sparked what the U.N. calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in a half-century, with half of Yemen’s 28 million people on the brink of famine. To see our conversation with Senator Bernie Sanders about Yemen and his bill, go to DemocracyNow.org.
In a sentencing memo filed Tuesday evening, special counsel Robert Mueller said he is not seeking jail time for former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing “substantial assistance” given to the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and at least one other investigation. Large portions of the memo were heavily redacted, meaning Mueller’s team is continuing to hide details of what it has uncovered. The memo also references Flynn’s cooperation in a separate, unidentified criminal investigation, details of which were blacked out.
Politico is reporting the email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were hacked in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. The accounts were reportedly surveilled for several months. The NRCC first learned of the possible attack in April; they informed the FBI and launched an internal investigation, but senior Republican House leaders were not notified. Party officials believe the hack was perpetrated by a foreign agent.
In Georgia, Republican Brad Raffensperger has won the runoff to become the next secretary of state, filling the seat left vacant by Brian Kemp. Kemp, who was declared the winner in Georgia’s contentious gubernatorial race, oversaw the state’s controversial voting practices which included efforts to suppress votes through the “exact match” system, which resulted in putting over 50,000 voter applications on hold because of minor discrepancies. Raffensperger is likely to continue many of his predecessor’s practices.
Last week, groups tied to Kemp’s former opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, filed a federal lawsuit aiming to overhaul the Georgia elections system. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the Republican-led Legislature has been in session all night in an attempt to pass a series of bills to weaken the power of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers. We will go to Wisconsin after headlines.
Fifteen congressmembers are calling for a probe into Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta after an explosive report by the Miami Herald detailed his role in getting billionaire serial sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein a plea deal in 2008 when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida. The deal allowed Epstein to avoid a federal trial and possible life in prison, and effectively ended an FBI probe into the case, which alleged Epstein sexually abused and trafficked dozens of underage girls. Epstein settled a defamation lawsuit against the lawyer of some of his accusers today, avoiding testimonies from survivors who were expected to take the stand in the coming days. A separate case to overturn the original 2008 plea deal is still pending.
Meanwhile, an inspector general report at the Justice Department reveals that a senior official sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and coerced multiple female subordinates and lied about it. The unnamed official was not prosecuted and was allowed to retire.
President Trump has designated today a national day of mourning in honor of President George H.W. Bush. The federal government will be shut down, including the Post Office. Trading on the U.S. Stock exchange will also be suspended. Funeral services will be held at Washington National Cathedral.
The United States is re-establishing a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia nearly 30 years after it shut its embassy in Mogadishu in 1991 as the central government collapsed amid a bloody civil war.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Russia a 60-day deadline to start complying with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—known as the INF—before the Trump administration follows through on their plan to withdraw from the agreement. Russia has also previously accused the U.S. of not complying with the treaty. The withdrawal was set to go into effect this week, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders reportedly convinced the U.S. to temporarily delay their plan. The INF was signed in 1987 and banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges. Many fear the U.S. withdrawal could spark a new arms race. Last week, The Washington Post reported that national security adviser John Bolton signed a memo ordering the Pentagon to “develop and deploy ground-launched missiles at the earliest possible date.”
In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed a man during an overnight raid in the city of Tulkarm Tuesday. Local media reports that 22-year-old Muhammad Habali was disabled and was walking with a cane at the time he was shot dead. Surveillance footage appears to show Habali walking away from the soldiers. Another man was wounded and 24 people were rounded up in the raids.
In Geneva, United Nations-brokered talks open today between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Western Saharan liberation movement known as the Polisario Front, aimed at resolving the 43-year conflict. Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and no other country on Earth recognizes its sovereignty over the territory. Thousands of Western Sahara’s indigenous people—the Sahrawi—have since been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. This week’s talks also include representatives from Mauritania and Algeria. They are the first direct negotiations between the parties since 2012. Sahrawis are demanding a referendum on the status of the territory. Democracy Now! was able to break the Moroccan media blockade and report from Western Sahara; you can go to our website at democracynow.org to watch our special report, “Four Days in Western Sahara: Africa’s Last Colony.”
In Libya, 15 migrants died in a boat after spending 12 days at sea without food or water. Ten migrants survived. This is one of the survivors, who is from Egypt.
Ahmed: “We were 25 migrants on a boat, and we set off from the town Sabratha. Everything was fine for about an hour, but after that the boat started to malfunction. We drifted for about 12 days without food or water, and about 15 people died. We were only 10 people left when someone finally saw us near the shore. We spent 12 days without anything.”
Migrants and human rights advocates have condemned Libya for gross human rights abuses against migrants, including torture, imprisonment and slavery. Last month, a group of over 70 migrants refused to leave a docked ship in the Libyan port of Misurata before they were forcibly removed.
The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland have sent subpoenas to the Trump Organization for financial documents relating to President Trump’s business interests. Subpoenas were also sent to the state of Maine and five federal agencies. The Trump Organization is accused of violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by receiving payments from foreign governments through the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and other establishments around the world.
Editor’s Note: This headline has been corrected to reflect that Maine and the five federal agencies have been subpoenaed–they did not issue subpoenas.
In Missouri, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams has issued a video apology to rape survivors after a damning CNN investigation revealed that his police department routinely pressured survivors, neglected to interview suspects and destroyed, or left untested, rape kits in cases that could have been prosecuted. Williams said he would make changes to the department’s handling of rape cases, including halting the practice of having victims sign “prosecution declination waivers.”
The New York Police Department announced it will begin using drones. The NYPD says the drones will be used for search and rescue missions, to investigate hazardous materials and to access crime scenes in tall buildings. The New York Civil Liberties Union said in response, “The NYPD’s drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on police deployment of drones in New York City and opens the door to the police department building a permanent archive of drone footage of political activity and intimate private behavior visible only from the sky.”
An investigation ordered by CBS reveals new details in the long-running sexual abuse committed by disgraced former CEO Les Moonves. The revelations include at least one board member’s knowledge of sexual assault allegations against Moonves, and an employee who was “on call” to perform oral sex. The report also says that a resignation letter was drafted for Moonves by CBS’s head of communications but was never signed. Moonves resigned in September after The New Yorker published an article detailing a slew of previously unreported sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations. Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that Moonves destroyed evidence and lied to investigators to protect his reputation and a hefty severance package.
In Texas, a Salvadoran mother and her 4-year-old son have been reunited under court order, eight months after immigration agents separated them at the border. The pair entered the country earlier this year, seeking asylum from extreme violence and persecution, but were soon separated. Four months ago, they were deemed “ineligible” to reunite due to a supposed arrest warrant in El Salvador. Recent reports reveal families are still being separated as they enter the U.S., months after a judge ordered a halt to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
And students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are protesting the school’s plan to relocate the Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” to a new $5 million campus building. On Monday, UNC-Chapel Hill student and activist Maya Little was charged with two misdemeanors—inciting a riot and assaulting an officer—after a campus protest. Earlier this year, Little poured her own blood and red paint on the statue. Click here to see our interview with Maya Little.