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HeadlinesDecember 18, 2019

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House to Hold Historic Impeachment Vote Today

Dec 18, 2019

The House of Representatives is slated to hold a historic vote today on two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The articles accuse President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They center on how President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden, and how Trump then tried to cover up his actions to thwart a congressional inquiry. After a six-hour debate on the House floor, the Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote for impeachment by the end of the day today — which would mark only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached. Today’s vote comes after the House Rules Committee approved the terms of today’s debate, which will allow no amendments on the floor.

President Trump lashed out at Democrats Tuesday in a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of “declaring open war on American Democracy.” Trump called the impeachment process an “illegal, partisan attempted coup.” He also falsely claimed “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” The mayor of Salem, Massachusetts, slammed Trump’s comparison, telling him to “learn some history.” President Trump also reiterated his claims that the impeachment was a “witch hunt” during a speech Tuesday.

President Donald Trump: “They know it’s a hoax. It’s a witch hunt. And it’s just a continuation. It’s been going on now for almost three years, and it probably started before I even won the election, based on what we’re finding out with the insurance policy quotes and other things. So it’s a disgrace.”

That was President Trump speaking alongside Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales during a White House visit Tuesday. Protesters rallied in support of Trump’s impeachment in cities across the United States Tuesday, including Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Tucson, Austin, Seattle, Des Moines, Iowa and here in New York City.

Protester: “It’s actually really serious. And the charges are, for me, pretty terrifying. So, I’m convinced. And my concern was actually that there’d be so much apathy because of how long the process has taken that people wouldn’t consider how important it is to also just put your body out in the street and say, like, 'We support the Democrats and what they're doing for our country right now.’”

Top U.S. Diplomat to Ukraine William Taylor to Step Down

Dec 18, 2019

The House vote on impeachment today comes as the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, William Taylor, has announced he’s stepping down from his post. Taylor was a fierce critic of Trump’s effort to withhold military aid from Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into Trump’s political rival. He was a key witness during the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Rick Gates Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail and $20,000 Fine

Dec 18, 2019

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has been sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $20,000 fine for participating in a criminal financial scheme and for lying to federal investigators. Gates testified against Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser, Roger Stone, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump’s 2016 campaign’s links to Russia. Manafort has now been hospitalized for a heart-related condition while serving his federal prison sentence.

FISA Court Orders FBI to Change National Security Wiretaps After DOJ Report

Dec 18, 2019

In a rare move, the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA Court, has accused the FBI of misleading its judges about the reasons for wiretapping former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The FISA Court’s presiding judge ordered the FBI to propose changes in how its investigators seek permission for domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens. The move comes after the Justice Department’s independent inspector general found a series of inaccuracies and omissions in the surveillance application process.

Democratic Primary Debate to Go Forward After Labor Dispute Resolved

Dec 18, 2019

In 2020 election news, the Democratic primary debate on Thursday will go forward, after cafeteria workers reached a labor agreement with the food services company Sodexo at the debate site Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The Democratic presidential candidates had vowed to boycott the debate if the labor dispute was not resolved before the event, with candidates saying they would refuse to cross a picket line.

Senate Approves One of the Most Expensive Military Spending Bills in U.S. History

Dec 18, 2019

The Senate has approved a $738 billion defense bill — one of the most expensive military spending bills in U.S. history. The overwhelming bipartisan vote to approve the two spending packages, which total $1.4 trillion, now sends the packages to President Trump. The bill includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal workers. For the first time in 20 years, the bill includes $25 million to study gun violence. The spending bill also repeals three Obamacare taxes. It does not ban U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen. The bill also does not prevent Trump from using military funds for the construction of his border wall.

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Trump Meets with Outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

Dec 18, 2019

President Trump met with outgoing Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in the White House Tuesday, where the two discussed immigration and trade. Morales has previously signed a “safe third country” agreement with the United States, which allows the United States to deport migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to Guatemala. But Guatemala’s President-elect Alejandro Giammattei has expressed reservations about continuing this agreement. He will take office in January. He was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, which was also rumored to include Trump adviser Stephen Miller.

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Indian Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Controversial Citizenship Law

Dec 18, 2019

In India, the Supreme Court has postponed hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of the new citizenship law, which has sparked massive protests across the country. The Supreme Court will not issue a stay against the law, which many say is a major step toward the official marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims. India’s highest court will hear the challenge to the law on January 22. Click here to see our full interview about India’s new citizenship law.

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Strikes Continue Nationwide in France over Pension Overhaul

Dec 18, 2019

In France, strikes continue nationwide in protest of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension overhaul, which would effectively raise the retirement age for younger workers. More than half a million people took to the streets Tuesday across France in support of the strike. More than 60% of the French population supports the strike, despite disruptions to transportation and other public services. This is one Parisian commuter.

Commuter: “The strikers are right. They’re right to strike. If you what to be heard, that’s the way it is. There is no other solution but to strike. That’s the way it is.”

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Bolivia’s Evo Morales Names Two Possible Successors to His Party

Dec 18, 2019

Longtime Bolivian President Evo Morales has given his first news conference since being granted refugee status in Argentina last week. During his address, Morales named two possible successors to his party following his ouster in what he and others describe as a military coup. The two possible successors are Morales’s former economy minister Luis Arce Catacora and coca farmer union leader Andrónico Rodríguez. This is Evo Morales speaking to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in an exclusive interview published Monday.

Evo Morales: “My family has been threatened. They burned my sister’s house in the city of Oruro. My children, who were threatened, are now in Argentina. They made the leaders of the Movement of Socialism-Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples renounce their positions by burning their homes and threatening their families. They pushed out the national leaders — the progressives, the leftists and anti-imperialists. In other words, from racism to fascism, and from fascism to the coup.”

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Pope Lifts Secrecy Rules on Sexual Abuse Cases

Dec 18, 2019

The pope has lifted secrecy rules on sexual abuse cases, in efforts to increase transparency around the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, the pope declared that the rule of “pontifical secrecy” does not apply in the case of sexual abuse of children. The Vatican’s top sex abuse investigator, Charles Scicluna, called the pope’s announcement an “epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments” to sexual abuse investigations.

Dozens of Women Slam Weinstein: “He Will Be Remembered as a Sexual Predator”

Dec 18, 2019

Dozens of women have shot back at disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s complaint that his effort to promote women in Hollywood has been overshadowed by over 100 accusations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment against him. In an interview with the New York Post ahead of his first rape trial in Manhattan, Weinstein complained that he was a “forgotten man,” and claimed he should be remembered for providing opportunities to women actors and directors. In response, a group of 23 women, including top actresses, responded in a statement saying, “[Weinstein] says in a new interview he doesn’t want to be forgotten. Well, he won’t be. He will be remembered as a sexual predator and an unrepentant abuser who took everything and deserves nothing.”

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