The House Judiciary Committee held an eight-and-a-half-hour televised impeachment hearing Wednesday featuring four law experts speaking about the constitutional nature of impeachment. The hearing opened a second phase of the impeachment inquiry into how President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rivals, the Bidens. On Wednesday, legal experts debated whether this conduct met the constitutional definition of impeachment. Three constitutional scholars invited to testify by the Democrats said this conduct was a textbook example of an impeachable offense. This is University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt.
Michael Gerhardt: “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable. This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution, including impeachment, to protect against.”
One constitutional scholar invited by the Republicans, however, disputed that Trump’s actions were sufficient grounds for impeachment. This is George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.
Jonathan Turley: “I’m concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments, but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments.”
In impeachment related news, California Republican Congressmember Devin Nunes has sued CNN for over $400 million, after CNN published a story detailing how Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, traveled to Vienna and met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on the Bidens last year. Nunes claims this report is false. CNN had repeatedly asked Nunes to comment on the story before it was published, but he had refused to do so. The report implicates Nunes in the Trump administration’s broader effort to pressure the Ukrainians to investigate Trump’s political rivals, the Bidens, which is at the center of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
In London, President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a scheduled news conference and left the NATO summit early, after a video went viral showing other world leaders mocking him. In the video, which has been viewed millions of times, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and others are seen smiling and laughing as they appear to discuss Trump’s lengthy press conference and how even his closest officials are often surprised by Trump’s seemingly erratic behavior. The private conversation was caught on a hot mic and then posted online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
A new analysis says global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to hit a record high in 2019, the latest study highlighting the world’s failure to take the dramatic action needed to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. The analysis comes amid the opening week of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid, Spain, known as COP25. Among the sponsors for this year’s summit is Endesa, Spain’s biggest corporate greenhouse gas polluter. The electric utility provider emits about 60 million tons of carbon each year. The company has received an exhibition space inside the conference in exchange for $2.2 million in sponsorship money. Democracy Now! will be broadcasting live from COP25 beginning tomorrow and all next week.
In Colombia, tens of thousands of people poured into the streets across the country Wednesday for a third national strike in just two weeks. The demonstrations began as a protest against corruption, economic inequality and the killing of indigenous and community leaders. Many are now calling for the ouster of Iván Duque’s right-wing government. This is Cony Camelo in the streets of Bogotá Wednesday.
Cony Camelo: “In my life, I never have seen a march of this magnitude in Colombia, from students, indigenous people, trade union organizations, people from the health system, environmentalists. I think there is a national outcry, and I think that is evident in this moment and 14 days later to see this square filled with people.”
In France, workers across the country are on strike today as a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension plan. The strikes have paralyzed transport in the capital Paris and other major French cities, but residents whose commute have been disrupted are still expressing support for the strike.
Commuter: “The strike is really for our pensions, and I think we still need to fight for it, even more so as I’m a civil servant and we’re pretty much impacted.”
In Spain, a hand grenade was thrown over the walls of a shelter for migrant children in the capital Madrid, in the latest attack against the children. The grenade did not explode until the bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion, and no injuries have been reported. The shelter houses unaccompanied children who have migrated to Spain. Right-wing politicians have repeatedly criticized the shelter, and a mob attacked some of the shelter’s children with clubs last month.
In India, a 23-year-old rape survivor was assaulted and set on fire by her alleged rapists while she was on her way to her court hearing in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The two alleged rapists and three other men have been arrested on suspicion of setting her on fire. She had filed a lawsuit against the two men in March. She is now in critical condition in the hospital. The attack comes less than two weeks after India was rocked by another case in the southern city of Hyderabad, in which a 27-year-old woman was raped and set on fire, sparking widespread protests against violence against women in India.
In Afghanistan, gunmen killed the head of a Japanese aid agency and five other people Wednesday in an attack in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Tetsu Nakamura was the head of the aid agency Peace Japan Medical Services. He had recently received honorary Afghan citizenship for his decades of humanitarian work in Afghanistan. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban’s spokesperson said the Afghan Taliban was not involved.
Attorney General William Barr threatened communities that have been critical of police brutality, saying they have to be more deferential to the police or risk losing police presence in their neighborhoods entirely. Barr’s comments at a Washington, D.C., awards ceremony for policing sparked immediate criticism. Vanita Gupta, a former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said, “The idea that the attorney general of the United States, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, is recommending abandoning communities as retribution for pushing for police reform or criticizing policing practices, is profoundly dangerous and irresponsible.”
Florida neighborhood watch vigilante George Zimmerman has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the family of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old unarmed African-American teenager that Zimmerman shot and killed in 2012. Zimmerman killed Martin while the unarmed teenager was returning from the neighborhood store with Skittles and a drink. Zimmerman was acquitted of homicide charges in 2013. His acquittal sparked nationwide protests against violence against African-American teenagers at the hands of police and vigilantes. Zimmerman has now sued Martin’s parents, their lawyer, various members of the prosecution and Florida Department of Law Enforcement for defamation and “malicious prosecution.”
In Arizona, the Tucson City Council has voted unanimously to join Pima County in taking part in a lawsuit aimed at halting the construction of Trump’s border wall in three sensitive environmental areas: the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The Trump administration waived a slew of environmental laws in order to speed up construction in the protected areas, which are also sacred lands to Tohono O’odham people and other indigenous communities.
At Harvard University, students are calling on the university to reverse its decision to deny tenure to Lorgia García Peña, who had been the only Latina in a tenure-track position at Harvard. On Monday, dozens of Harvard students held a sit-in at University Hall in support of García Peña and to demand Harvard create a dedicated Ethnic Studies Department. Over 3,000 students have signed a petition calling on Harvard to reverse its decision and offer García Peña tenure.