The New York Times is reporting President Trump privately pushed for shooting migrants and for creating a “water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators” along the U.S.-Mexican border. The Times also details how Trump has privately proposed other radical measures to curtail immigration, including closing the entire U.S.-Mexico border and building an electrified border wall topped with spikes to pierce human flesh. The Times reveals Trump has repeatedly raised the idea of shooting migrants during staff meetings. The paper reports, “After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.” The Times article is based on a new book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” by Times reporters Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
President Trump is continuing to lash out at House Democrats for opening an impeachment inquiry after he pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. On Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP.” Earlier today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged he was on the July call when Trump spoke to the Ukrainian president. On Tuesday Pompeo vowed to block five current and former State Department officials from being questioned as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Pompeo accused House Democrats of attempting to “intimidate, bully, and treat improperly” State Department officials. However, the Trump administration’s former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who resigned last week, is expected to testify in private on Thursday. Meanwhile, the State Department’s inspector general is heading to Capitol Hill today to give what’s been described as an “urgent” briefing to staffers from several House and Senate committees.
The most senior Republican in the Senate, Chuck Grassley, is publicly supporting the anonymous intelligence official who blew the whistle on President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. Grassley wrote, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers.”
In news from Dallas, Texas, a white police officer was convicted Tuesday of murdering her 26-year-old black neighbor in his own apartment in 2018. The off-duty officer, Amber Guyger, claimed to have accidentally entered Botham Jean’s apartment, where she shot and killed him, thinking he was an intruder. Jean’s apartment was located one floor above Guyger’s in a Dallas apartment building. The Dallas Morning News reports Guyger is the first Dallas police officer to be convicted of murder since the 1970s. Outside the courtroom, Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Botham Jean’s family, welcomed the conviction.
Lee Merritt: “We still have the sentencing phase to go, but this is a huge victory, not only for the family of Botham Jean, but, as his mother Allison told me a moment ago, this is a victory for black people in America. It’s a signal that the tide is going to change here. Police officers are going to begin to be held accountable for their actions, and we believe that that will begin to change policing culture all over the world.”
A federal judge in Georgia has temporarily blocked the state from implementing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The law would have banned abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which often occurs at around six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even realize they are pregnant. Emily Nestler of the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “The court recognized today that this law is blatantly unconstitutional and a clear attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
North Korea is facing accusations it test-fired a ballistic missile from sea earlier today. Some observers believe the test may have involved an underwater-launched missile. The test came just days before North Korea and the United States are expected to reopen nuclear talks.
In Hong Kong, hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in today outside the school of an 18-year-old protester who was shot by police during violent protests on Tuesday. It marked the first time Hong Kong police have used live ammunition on protesters since demonstrations began 17 weeks ago. The student who was shot, Tsang Chi-kin, is reported to be in stable condition. Hong Kong officials defended the use of live ammunition, saying the police officer feared for his life. Ninety-six protesters were arrested on Tuesday on rioting charges. We’ll have more on Hong Kong later in the program.
In Israel, pretrial hearings have begun in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. He is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The hearings are taking place as Netanyahu is attempting to form a unity government following’s last month’s deadlocked election. Netanyahu could face possible arrest if he does not remain prime minister.
In news from Latin America, Peru is facing its biggest political crisis in decades as the nation’s president and vice president are both claiming to be the lawful leader of the country. On Monday, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra invoked a constitutional provision to dissolve Congress and call for new parliamentary elections. Congress responded by suspending Vizcarra as president and declaring his vice president, Mercedes Aráoz, to be Peru’s interim president. Recent public opinions show there is support for Vizcarra’s move to dissolve Congress in part because right-wing lawmakers have repeatedly blocked efforts by the administration to fight corruption.
The United Nations is calling on European nations to do more to help migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. For the sixth year in a row, more than 1,000 migrants have died at sea attempting to reach Europe. Liz Throssell is a spokesperson for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
Liz Throssell: “The figures do show that we have passed the very sad milestone of a thousand deaths so far in 2019, and that is the sixth year in a row that we have passed a thousand deaths. What I can stress is, of course, the numbers of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean are much lower, so that points to the fact that the journeys themselves are much more dangerous.”
A city in Mississippi is claiming that a man who was shot dead inside his own home by a police officer two years ago has no constitutional rights because he was an undocumented immigrant, not a U.S. citizen. An attorney for the city of Southaven, Mississippi, made this argument in a recent court filing after the family of Ismael Lopez filed a civil lawsuit. Lopez was shot dead inside his own home when police shot through his front door. The police were attempting to serve a search warrant to one of Lopez’s neighbors but went to the wrong house. The city’s attorney wrote, “Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the 'We, the People of the United States' entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit.” A lawyer for the Lopez family described the city’s position as “the most insane thing I’ve ever heard.” The attorney said the city is essentially arguing that because Lopez was an undocumented immigrant, it’s OK for the city of Southaven to kill him.
In technology news, a federal appeals court has largely upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 repeal of net neutrality protections, but the court did rule that individual states can pass their own net neutrality regulations. Supporters of net neutrality say protections are needed to preserve an open internet and to bar internet service providers from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has privately slammed Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break up Facebook and other tech giants. On Tuesday, the technology website The Verge published a leaked audio recording of Zuckerberg saying a Warren presidency would “suck” for the company and that he may sue the U.S. government if it attempted to break up the company.
Mark Zuckerberg: “Like Elizabeth Warren, who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies. You know, if she gets elected president, then I would — I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. Does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have to, you know, have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not, like, the position that you want to be in when you’re — you know, I mean, it’s like we — we care about our country and, like, want to work with our government and do good things, and — but, look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat, and you fight.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren responded on Twitter by writing, “What would really 'suck' is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised a record $125 million in the third quarter of the year, far higher than any Democrat. Bernie Sanders reported on Tuesday he raised $25 million. It is the largest quarterly sum to be reported so far by any Democratic candidate — but it is just a fifth of what Trump and the RNC raised.
In labor news, tens of thousands of child care providers in California have gained the right to unionize under a new law signed on Monday. The law will impact 40,000 workers at daycare centers that get state subsidies. While the child care workers won’t be considered state employees, they will be able to collectively bargain over wages and other issues. Child care providers have been organizing around the issue for 16 years.
In a victory for backers of affirmative action, a federal judge has ruled Harvard University’s undergraduate admissions office does not discriminate against Asian-American applicants. The ruling came in a case brought by Students for Fair Admissions, which has long opposed affirmative action.
Today marks one year since the Saudi-born Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally assassinated inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The masterminds of the killing remain at large. Last year, the CIA concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, but the prince remains a close ally to the U.S. government. Earlier today, Khashoggi’s widow Hatice Cengiz and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos attended a vigil outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Meanwhile, a U.S.-based law firm has revealed it has filed a petition at the International Criminal Court to have the Saudi crown prince be investigated for “crimes against humanity,” including the murder of Khashoggi.
This comes as a number of top U.S. executives are planning to head to Saudi Arabia later this month to participate in an investment conference known as “Davos in the Desert.” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders criticized the companies participating. He wrote on Twitter, “The greed of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Citigroup and BlackRock is insatiable. Who cares if the Saudis are starving millions of Yemeni civilians or that our planet faces a climate emergency? Profiting off of $1.5 trillion in Saudi oil is just too important.” President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also expected to attend.