The Washington Post reports House Democrats are debating whether to extend the impeachment inquiry against President Trump beyond the central allegation that he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rivals, the Bidens. Members of the House Judiciary Committee are reportedly considering drafting articles of impeachment that would also include obstruction of justice and other “high crimes” outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The lawmakers are also considering including articles of impeachment charging Trump with trying to profit off the office of the presidency. The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote today to send its final report on Ukraine to the House Judiciary Committee.
President Trump again lashed out at the impeachment inquiry while speaking to reporters in London during a NATO meeting today. Trump also began the two-day NATO summit by criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron, who had suggested that European states could no longer rely on unwavering support from the United States. Trump and Macron are slated to meet later today.
California Republican Congressmember Duncan Hunter will plead guilty in federal court today in a campaign finance violations case. He’s accused of misusing a quarter of a million dollars of campaign money for personal use, including to finance numerous romantic affairs with congressional aides and lobbyists. His wife, Margaret Hunter, already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds in June. Hunter has not yet said whether he’ll resign from his congressional seat. Hunter was an early supporter of President Trump and tried to claim the charges against him were a “witch hunt” — before deciding to plead guilty.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments today in a case that pits about 100 Montana residents against the oil giant BP — one of the largest companies in the world. The residents are demanding the Atlantic Richfield Company, which is owned by BP, clean up decades of arsenic pollution from a massive copper smelter. The company is arguing it is only required to clean up the site to Superfund standards. The case could have sweeping significance for other Superfund sites across the United States.
In the Philippines, half a million people were forced to evacuate their homes as the powerful Typhoon Kammuri swept across the archipelago. The airport in the capital Manila was closed for 12 hours, grounding hundreds of flights. At least one person was killed. Authorities are now warning of deadly landslides and storm surges from the rainfall. Scientists say climate change is intensifying the strength of typhoons. Meanwhile, in Madrid, Spain, protesters gathered outside the first day of COP25 — that’s the U.N. climate change summit — to demand urgent action on climate change. This is Blanca Lagunas.
Blanca Lagunas: “Today we are here in Madrid because COP25 is starting, where leaders and multinationals are going to make decisions about our future. We have joined together from more than 20 countries for this Extinction Rebellion protest calling for real solutions. We are giving leaders an ultimatum, and we are asking them to tell the truth and find real solutions.”
Democracy Now! will be broadcasting live from the U.N. climate change summit in Madrid, Spain, starting on Friday and all next week.
In Iran, Amnesty International says at least 208 people were killed in Iran’s brutal crackdown on nationwide protests last month — but that the true death toll is likely much higher. The protests erupted after a massive increase in fuel prices. Iran sought to suppress information about the deadly crackdown by imposing a near-complete internet shutdown across Iran.
In Honduras, seven men were sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for the 2016 murder of indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres. Cáceres was fighting the construction of a major hydroelectric dam on Lenca indigenous land when she was shot dead in her home in March 2016. She was the winner of the prestigious Goldman Prize for environmental defenders in 2015. A court has ruled that Cáceres’s killing was ordered by executives of the Honduran company behind the dam, known as DESA, who hired the convicted hit men to carry out the killing. At least two of the men involved in the murder were trained by U.S. military forces. This is Berta Cáceres’s daughter Bertha Zúniga Cáceres speaking outside the court in Tegucigalpa.
Bertha Zúniga Cáceres: “The road to justice does not end here for us, because impunity will not end with a sentence for the main perpetrators of the crime. We continue to demand integral justice, including all people involved in this crime to be tried and put away.”
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists and land protectors, with at least 24 environmental leaders killed since March 2015.
Honduran TV host José Arita was murdered last week in the northern coastal city of Puerto Cortés. Shortly after the broadcast of his nightly political show, “The Hour of Truth,” four unidentified individuals in a car shot at Arita outside a convenience store, killing him instantly. Their motives are unknown. The Honduran College of Journalists says over 80 journalists have been killed in the country since 2001, and at least eight in 2019 alone. Most of the murders are unsolved.
In Guatemala, another former top military official will be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 36-year U.S.-backed dirty war, which killed over 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Mayans. Luis Enrique Mendoza García was a military operations chief under now-deceased military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. He will be tried in March for his involvement in an operation that killed over 1,700 Maya Ixil people and displaced thousands more in the early 1980s. Mendoza García is the fourth top military official indicted in less than a week, after three others were also charged in a separated genocide case also involving the Maya Ixil community.
The White House has quietly released $105 million in military aid to Lebanon after months of unexplained delays. Top lawmakers have been asking the White House to explain why the military aid was not delivered earlier, despite having been approved by Congress and supported by the Pentagon. Some lawmakers have compared the delay to the withholding of military aid to Ukraine, which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, although there are no allegations President Trump sought favors from Lebanon.
Multiple women are demanding Prince Andrew testify in U.S. court about the sex trafficking that he witnessed in the home of serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, as an American woman who says she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 gave an explosive interview on the BBC. This is Virginia Giuffre.
Virginia Giuffre: “It was a wicked time in my life. It was a really scary time in my life. I had just been abused by a member of a royal family. So when you talk about these chains, you know, yeah, I wasn’t chained to a sink, but these powerful people were my chains. I didn’t know what could happen. And I just — I didn’t — I couldn’t comprehend how the highest levels of the government and powerful people were allowing this to happen, not only allowing it to happen, but participating in it.”
Giuffre says she was first lured into Epstein’s sex trafficking operation while she was working as a locker room attendant at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Prince Andrew has rejected Giuffre’s account. He has been forced to step back from all royal duties.
The Washington Post reports healthcare industry lobbyists helped write or revise opinion articles published by at least three state lawmakers that criticized Medicare for All. Montana Democratic state Representative Kathy Kelker and Montana Democratic state Senator Jen Gross both included language in their opinion articles that was written by a lobbyist for a multimillion-dollar industry group funded by private insurers and drug companies. Ohio Republican state Senator Steve Huffman also wrote an article criticizing Medicare for All with the help of an industry lobbyist.
In Detroit, about 90 foreign students of a fake university created by the Homeland Security Department have been arrested in recent months. The students arrived to the United States with a student visa that was later revoked because it was revealed the University of Farmington in metro Detroit was a fake college. Since January, a total of at least 250 students have been arrested by ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on immigration violations as part of an operation by the federal government that lured international students, mostly from India, to attend Farmington University, which marketed graduate programs in computer studies and technology. Many of the students arrested have been deported to India, while others are appealing their deportation orders.