Democratic lawmakers warned President Trump Wednesday they’re preparing to subpoena White House officials to produce documents related to President Trump’s efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who’s leading the impeachment investigation, said he was “deeply concerned” that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to block current and former State Department officials from being questioned. And Schiff denounced President Trump’s attacks on the unnamed intelligence official who blew the whistle on President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “The president wants to make this all about the whistleblower, and suggests people that come forward with evidence of his wrongdoing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and spies. This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It’s an incitement to violence.”
This comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged he was on the July call when Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports Trump enlisted Vice President Mike Pence in his efforts to pressure Ukraine’s new leader. According to the Post, Trump ordered Pence to skip the inauguration of President Zelensky in May, and later had Pence tell the Ukrainian president that U.S. military aid was still being withheld, while demanding more aggressive action on corruption — which he would have understood included an investigation into the Bidens.
President Trump reacted with fresh outrage Wednesday to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, tweeting, “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT.” Trump then lashed out at his enemies from the Oval Office, saying that Congressmember Schiff couldn’t carry Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “blank strap” — a reference to a jockstrap. Trump also repeated his claim that he’s a “very stable genius.” Later in the day, Trump appeared with Finland’s president at a joint press conference, where he refused to answer questions from Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason about his July phone call with the Ukrainian president.
President Donald Trump: “Look, Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked. And you know it. His son walks out with millions of dollars. The kid knows nothing. You know it. And so do we. Go ahead, ask a question now.”
Jeff Mason: “The question, sir, was: What did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?”
President Donald Trump: “Are you talking to me?”
Jeff Mason: “Yeah, it was just a follow-up of what I just asked you, sir.”
President Donald Trump: “Listen, you ready? We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.”
Vermont independent senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders underwent surgery for a blocked artery after he complained of chest pain at a campaign event in Las Vegas Tuesday night. Sanders’s campaign says the senator had two stents inserted into an artery — a common procedure that’s performed more than a half-million times a year in the United States. Patients are typically released from the hospital a day or two after the procedure. Sanders’s rivals for the Democratic nomination issued statements of support, as did many members of Congress. In a tweet Wednesday, Senator Sanders thanked his well-wishers and said he was feeling good. He added, “I’m fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover. None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”
In Iraq, at least 18 people are dead, and more than 800 others were wounded, after police and soldiers reacted with violence to anti-government protests across the country. Some of the deaths and injuries came in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, as police fired tear gas and live ammunition into a crowd of hundreds. Police also opened fire on protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah. Thousands more demonstrated in cities including Hillah, Basra, Kirkuk and Tikrit. Many of them chanted a popular refrain from the Arab Spring — “The people demand the fall of the regime!” — as they protested against unemployment, corruption and a lack of public services.
Protester 1: We are demanding a change. We want the downfall of the whole government.”
Protester 2: “Our demands? We want work. We want to work. If they do not want to treat us as Iraqis, then tell us we are not Iraqi, and we will find other nationalities and migrate to other countries.”
Authorities have issued curfews in a number of cities while cutting off internet access across much of Iraq.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday unveiled his long-awaited plan to leave the European Union, claiming the United Kingdom is prepared for a no-deal Brexit. Under Johnson’s plan, Northern Ireland would leave the EU Customs Union in 2021 along with the rest of the U.K. but could keep its free-flowing border with the Irish Republic by maintaining EU trade rules. Johnson outlined his plan at a conference of his ruling Conservative Party.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “This is not an anti-European party. This is not an anti-European country. We are European. We love Europe. I love Europe, anyway. I love it.”
In Brussels, the head of the European Parliament’s steering committee on Brexit, Philippe Lamberts, called Johnson’s plan “inconsistent” and warned that a disastrous no-deal Brexit is looming.
Philippe Lamberts: “He claims to love Europe, to embrace Europe — by leaving it. Come on. How can this be serious? So what we are confronted with is a nationalist.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said Wednesday the prime minister would seek to suspend Parliament again — from October 8 to 14 — ahead of the October 31 deadline for Britain to leave the EU.
In Hong Kong, pro-democracy demonstrations are continuing after authorities said they’ve arrested an 18-year-old protester who was shot by police during violent protests on Tuesday. The student, Tsang Chi-kin, has been charged with assaulting a police officer and may face additional rioting charges. On Wednesday, protesters smashed surveillance cameras and machines at subway stations; elsewhere, some protesters used gasoline bombs to set a police station on fire. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has scheduled a meeting of Cabinet officials for Friday, where she’s expected to announce sweeping new emergency powers that will include a ban on protesters using masks at demonstrations — whether it’s to hide their identities or to protect against tear gas.
In the eastern Atlantic, Hurricane Lorenzo struck the Azores on Wednesday, lashing the Portuguese territory with high winds and heavy surf as it passed just west of the archipelago as a Category 2 storm. At its peak, Lorenzo became a monster Category 5 cyclone with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour — the most powerful hurricane ever observed so far north and east in the Atlantic. It’s now on course to strike Ireland as a rare extratropical cyclone with near-hurricane-force winds. A recent study by British climate researchers found warmer ocean temperatures driven by human activity could triple the number of such storms by the end of the century.
Protesters with the activist group Extinction Rebellion used a fire engine and hoses to spray hundreds of gallons of fake blood outside the British Treasury in London on Thursday, covering part of the building in red liquid. The protesters also displayed a banner reading “stop funding climate death.” At least two people were arrested. One of the activists told Reuters, “The red symbolizes the people dying now in the Global South and also the people who are going to start dying from climate change all around the world if we do nothing.”
In California, a 37-year-old immigrant from Cameroon died Tuesday after he fell ill in an ICE prison. In a statement, ICE said the man, Nebane Abienwi, became partially paralyzed after suffering a brain hemorrhage in the middle of the night at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. ICE says he was rushed to a San Diego hospital but died after undergoing treatment. The immigration jail is operated by CoreCivic, a for-profit prison corporation. In a statement, Lizbeth Abeln of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice said, “The ongoing loss of life in immigration detention is not only heartbreaking, it’s infuriating. There is a bill sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk right now waiting to be signed that would ban private detention, like Otay, from [California]. People in detention cannot afford to be behind bars a second longer, Newsom needs to sign now.” Later in the broadcast, we’ll have more on the campaign to end for-profit prisons here in California.
Opera superstar Plácido Domingo said Wednesday he’s resigning as the director of the Los Angeles Opera, amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace spanning three decades. Since August, at least 20 women told reporters that Domingo regularly harassed them and tried to pressure them into sexual relationships. Several say he forcibly kissed them or touched them without consent. In some cases, he called them incessantly at home, including late at night.
In New York, a federal judge in Brooklyn has denied bail to R. Kelly, setting a trial date of May 18 for the singer to face charges of racketeering, kidnapping, the sexual exploitation of children and sex trafficking. Kelly is currently behind bars in Chicago, where he faces related federal charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault involving women and girls. His trial in Chicago federal court is set to begin on April 27.
A court in Dallas, Texas, has sentenced white former police officer Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison for shooting and killing her upstairs neighbor Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man, in his own home in 2018. In a remarkable scene following the sentencing, Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt said during a victim’s impact statement that he forgave Guyger and wished she would not serve any time in prison.
Brandt Jean: “Again, I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you. I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?”
Judge Tammy Kemp: “Yes.”
The pair then embraced for a minute. State District Judge Tammy Kemp later hugged Botham Jean’s family members before turning to Amber Guyger, handing her a Bible and embracing her, as well. Guyger will be eligible for parole in five years. Outside the courtroom, protesters condemned the sentence as too lenient, chanting “No justice, no peace.” Protesters later marched through the streets, blocking an intersection near the courthouse; one woman was tackled to the pavement and arrested by riot police.
In Nevada, antiwar groups say 10 activists were arrested Wednesday as they held a nonviolent civil disobedience protest against U.S. drone attacks outside the gates of Creech Air Force Base northwest of Las Vegas. The base is home to drone operators who pilot deadly drones for both the U.S. military and the CIA in missions across Afghanistan and the Middle East. The protest comes just weeks after a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan killed 30 civilian farmworkers who were resting in a field after harvesting pine nuts; 40 others were injured. In a statement, protest organizer Toby Blomé said, “Men, women and children are violently murdered on suspicion alone, for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, for just living their lives, for being of the wrong race or culture, for attending a wedding, for picking pine nuts! It has to stop … NOW!”