Televised impeachment hearings begin today in the inquiry into whether President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son. Two witnesses are testifying today before the House Intelligence Committee: George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, and William Taylor, a former ambassador and the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
Both officials have privately told congressional investigators that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. In now-released text messages, Bill Taylor texted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy hotel magnate, “Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland texted back, “Call me” — perhaps not wanting to leave a paper trail. Today marks only the third televised impeachment hearings in U.S. history. We’ll have more on today’s historic hearings after headlines with legendary journalist Bill Moyers, who covered the Nixon and Clinton impeachment hearings.
In Bolivia, right-wing Senator Jeanine Áñez declared herself president Tuesday night despite a lack of quorum in Congress, the same day longtime Bolivian President Evo Morales landed in Mexico, where he has received asylum. This is Jeanine Áñez.
Sen. Jeanine Áñez: “As president of the Chamber of Senators, I immediately assume the presidency of the state as foreseen in the constitutional order. And I commit myself to accept responsibility for all necessary measures to pacify the country.”
Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism party is refusing to recognize Áñez as president, calling her claim illegal and decrying Evo Morales’s resignation over the weekend as a military coup. On Tuesday, the Organization of American States held an emergency meeting in Washington, D.C., where U.S. Ambassador Carlos Trujillo read a statement from President Donald Trump applauding Evo Morales’s resignation and warning it should “send a strong signal” to Venezuela and Nicaragua. Mexico, Uruguay, Nicaragua and the president-elect of Argentina have all denounced Morales’s departure as a military coup.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting President Trump in the White House today and will hold a news conference with him this afternoon. The visit comes amid international condemnation of the recent Turkish offensive into northern Syria, which Turkey launched after President Trump abruptly withdrew U.S. troops from the area, clearing the way for the offensive.
U.S. military officials told CNN Tuesday that the Pentagon has a drone surveillance video showing a possible war crime being carried out by Turkish-commanded fighters in Syria. Last week, former national security adviser John Bolton surprised a Miami gathering of hedge fund managers when he said he thought Trump’s decisions on Turkey are motivated by personal relationships or financial interests.
The New York Times reports that three sons-in-law play key roles in the U.S.-Turkey relationship: the son-in-law of President Erdogan, who is Turkey’s finance minister; the son-in-law of a Turkish tycoon who became a business partner to the Trump Organization; and the son-in-law of President Trump, his senior adviser Jared Kushner, who oversees much of U.S. foreign policy.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments over lawsuits demanding the Trump administration preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, the Obama-era program that grants protection from deportation and a work permit to at least 700,000 undocumented people brought to the United States as children. The New York Times reports the court’s conservative majority appears poised to side with President Trump in ending the program, while some of the court’s liberal justices seemed skeptical of Trump’s efforts. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said on Tuesday the termination of DACA “is not about the law. This is about our choice to destroy lives.”
The Supreme Court also heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case of slain Mexican teenager Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, who was shot in the face and killed in 2010 as he played in Ciudad Juárez by a Border Patrol agent who stood across the border in El Paso, Texas. During arguments, liberal justices expressed concerns over providing no legal relief to the families of people who have been killed in cross -border shootings by U.S. agents, essentially allowing federal officers on American soil to act unlawfully with impunity. But conservative justices reportedly seemed to side with the Trump administration, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh emerging as a potential decisive vote.
The Supreme Court also declined to hear an appeal by gun manufacturer Remington Arms on Tuesday, clearing the way for the families of the 26 victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to sue the firearm manufacturer. The families are arguing that Remington violated Connecticut law when it marketed the Bushmaster rifle for assaults against human beings. The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case lets stand the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Newtown families’ lawsuit to move forward.
In more legal news, a federal court in Boston has ruled that U.S. authorities’ warrantless searches of people’s phones and computers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit, celebrated the ruling as a victory for privacy rights.
In more privacy news, the Health and Human Services Department has opened a federal inquiry into Google’s Project Nightingale program, which seeks to collect health data on millions of Americans. Project Nightingale is a collaboration between Google and Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the United States. In a video posted online, a whistleblower who works with the program says the cache of medical data includes the full names and medical details of millions of Americans.
Newly released government data shows the U.S. government has detained a record number of migrant children over the past year — nearly 70,000 babies, children and teenagers held in U.S. government custody. That’s a 42% increase over the last fiscal year. The American Academy of Pediatrics has condemned child detention, saying even short periods of detention can cause psychological trauma and long-term mental health risks.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says White House senior adviser Stephen Miller sought to promote white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and racist immigration stories through the right-wing website Breitbart in the lead-up to the 2016 election. That’s according to a cache of leaked emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart writer in 2015 and 2016. On Tuesday, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Miller to resign.
In Afghanistan, officials say at least seven civilians were killed in a car bombing in the capital Kabul. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. It comes after the Afghan government and the Taliban reached a prisoner exchange deal, which could lead to the release of an American professor who was kidnapped in Kabul in 2016.
Major protests in Hong Kong are continuing to escalate for a third straight day today, including clashes between pro-democracy students and police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Mr. Wu: “We have not succeeded with our five demands since the movement began in June, and more have been added, including reforming the police force. We will not give up until justice is served.”
That was one of the thousands of protesters out on the streets of Hong Kong Tuesday. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says it stands by the Hong Kong police, who are accused of escalating violence against protesters.
Geng Shuang: “The central Chinese government firmly supports the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, police and judiciary authorities taking effective measures to severely punish illegal criminal activities, protect the safety of Hong Kong residents and their property and restore peace and stability in Hong Kong.”
In Chile, protesters led a massive national strike Tuesday, as they condemned the government’s plans to rewrite the country’s Constitution, which dates back to Augusto Pinochet’s military regime. Chile’s interior minister announced Sunday the government would draft a new constitution, which Congress would then rewrite and put to a public referendum. But protesters say the people should be involved with the rewriting process from the beginning and that this is an attempt by Sebastián Piñera’s government to delay political and social reforms in Chile.
In Michigan, former McDonald’s worker Jenna Ries is suing the fast-food chain over sexual harassment. She says she and other female McDonald’s workers were groped, assaulted and verbally harassed by one of their co-workers and that the general manager ignored the abuse. The lawsuit comes one week after McDonald’s former CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired for having a sexual relationship with an employee.
In Connecticut, longtime U.S. resident Salma Sikandar has won asylum, months after her husband led a hunger strike in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Hartford, Connecticut, to protest her deportation. Sikandar has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years. But in June she was abruptly told by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that she had to leave the country by August. This is Sikandar’s son, Samir Mahmud, explaining how his father decided to launch the hunger strike.
Samir Mahmud: “So, what happened was my dad had a bunch of crazy ideas, because he was losing his mind, to be honest, because of the deportation. He was going to lose the love of his life, and he was going to lose my mother. So, he thought of having a hunger strike in front of Hartford, in front of ICE’s building, where if they look out the window, they see us, for the next 43 hours, until the deportation date/time. And so, the hunger strike was led in front of ICE. There were about nine other individuals who joined. Then, over hundreds of people joined us, from the South Windsor mayor to the Manchester mayor.”
American author and historian Noel Ignatiev has died at the age of 78. He was the co-founder of the New Abolitionist Society and co-editor of the journal Race Traitor, whose slogan was “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” Noel Ignatiev spent decades theorizing about white privilege and calling for the abolition of “whiteness,” saying, “The white race consists of those who partake of the privileges of white skin.” He was also the author of the book “How the Irish Became White.” He died on Saturday at his home in Tucson, Arizona.