The House of Representatives voted 332 to 95 on Wednesday to table a resolution to impeach Donald Trump, as Democrats continued to fracture over whether to seek the removal of the president ahead of the 2020 election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted impeachment calls, focusing instead on congressional investigations. Wednesday’s vote came a day after Texas Congressmember Al Green introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump—Green’s third such attempt. Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Green cited Trump’s racist attack against four progressive congresswomen of color: freshman Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
Rep. Al Green: “This president has demonstrated that he’s willing to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater. And we have seen what can happen to people when bigotry is allowed to have a free rein. Look at what happened in Charlottesville. 'Blood and soil,' they screamed. They screamed, 'The Jews will not replace us.' And one of them took a person’s life who was exercising her constitutional right to protest. We cannot wait. As we wait, we risk having the blood of somebody on our hands—and it could be a member of Congress.”
On Wednesday, President Trump doubled down in his racist attacks on the four progressive congresswomen of color, calling them “hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down.” Speaking at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump singled out each of the four for verbal abuse, including Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar.
President Donald Trump: “Omar blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela. I mean, think of that one. And she looks down with contempt on the hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country. And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.”
Crowd: “Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!”
President Trump paused as the crowd around him chanted “Send her back!” before continuing his attack on Congressmember Omar. Trump’s remarks came one day after the House of Representatives voted to condemn his racist tweet telling the four congressmembers to “go back to the crime-infested places from which they came.”
Trump’s tweet appeared to violate federal workplace discrimination law. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, 'Go back to where you came from.'”
Congressmember Ilhan Omar responded to Trump’s attack on Twitter, quoting the late poet Maya Angelou: “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Congressmember Omar introduced a bill Wednesday that would protect the right of people to use boycotts to effect social change. House Resolution 496 reads, in part, “Boycotts have been effectively used in the United States by advocates for equal rights since the Boston Tea Party and include boycotts led by civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s in order to advocate for racial equality, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, and promote workers’ rights, such as the United Farm Workers-led boycott of table grapes.” The bill is co-sponsored by Georgia Congressmember John Lewis and Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, another of the four congresswomen cited by Trump in recent racist attacks. This comes as congressmembers of both major parties have pledged support to a nonbinding resolution that would condemn the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions—or BDS—movement against Israel over its human rights abuses and its occupation of Palestinian lands.
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to block President Trump’s move to sidestep Congress by allowing U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. House Democrats voted to send three resolutions of disapproval of the sales to the White House, where President Trump has promised a veto. Just four Republicans supported the measures, which would bar the sale of more than $8 billion of Raytheon precision-guided weapons systems. Critics say such weapons have been used to target civilians in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which has sparked the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Meanwhile, the White House said Wednesday it will deploy 500 U.S. troops to the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia as President Trump continues to ratchet up tensions with the kingdom’s main regional rival, Iran. This comes as Iranian state television said today its Revolutionary Guard forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, with 12 crew members on board. Iran accuses the sailors of illegally smuggling hundreds of thousands of gallons of Iranian fuel to foreign customers.
The World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency as medical workers struggle to keep an Ebola outbreak from spreading beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since last summer, the outbreak has infected over 2,500 people, killing nearly 1,700 of them. In recent days, the virus was found in Goma—a city of nearly 2 million people and a regional crossroads on the DRC’s border with Rwanda.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets Wednesday calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló following the leak of a series of sexist, homophobic and violent text messages between Rosselló and members of his Cabinet that also included jokes about victims of Hurricane Maria. While the protests were largely peaceful, police in San Juan tear-gassed demonstrators for second straight night and made multiple arrests. Protests also took place here in New York, where hundreds gathered in Union Square Park. This is former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whom Governor Rosselló called a “whore.”
Melissa Mark-Viverito: “We also have the moral character of the governor, who has appealed for the trust not only from his party, but also from the Puerto Rican people, so he can be an effective leader. So, for the benefit of Puerto Rico, as his people are calling for, he ought to resign.”
After headlines, we’ll be joined by Melissa Mark-Viverito, and we’ll go to San Juan for the latest on the protests.
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to their work on the 2020 census. Democrats are seeking information on how Trump administration officials sought to add a citizenship question to upcoming census forms. In May, The New York Times reported that a senior Republican strategist who specialized in gerrymandering was secretly behind the efforts, arguing privately that adding the question would benefit Republicans and hurt Democrats.
Republican Senator Rand Paul on Wednesday blocked passage of a bill to fund healthcare for first responders to the 9/11 attacks. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which serves those who became sick as a result of their work following the 2001 terror attack, is set to run out of funding next year without congressional intervention. Senator Paul’s move came less than a week after the House approved a bill reauthorizing the fund on a vote of 402 to 12.
A federal judge in New York City has sentenced the notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to life in prison, plus 30 years, after he was convicted on a host of charges including money laundering, international narcotrafficking and weapons charges.
Reading from a prepared statement Wednesday at his sentencing hearing in a federal court in Brooklyn, Guzmán complained about his solitary confinement in U.S. custody, calling it “psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.” He’s expected to be imprisoned at a notorious supermax prison in Colorado known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” where he’ll likely be granted minimal interaction with other people for the rest of his life.
Newly surfaced video shows Donald Trump laughing and gesturing at women during a 1992 party with Jeffrey Epstein. The video, aired by NBC News on Wednesday, shows Trump and Epstein eyeing NFL cheerleaders invited to a soirée at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump is seen gesturing at a woman and telling Epstein, “She’s hot.” At another point, Trump whispers something in Epstein’s ear, causing him to double over laughing.
A federal judge in Manhattan is set to rule today on whether Epstein will remain in jail while he awaits trial on fresh charges of sex trafficking of minors, or be granted bail and allowed to remain under house arrest in his $77 million New York mansion. Epstein has reportedly been held three cells away from Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo in a federal jail in Manhattan.
In Massachusetts, prosecutors have dropped charges against actor Kevin Spacey after his accuser refused to testify about a missing cellphone that allegedly held evidence of a sexual assault. Spacey denies groping the teenager in a bar in Nantucket in 2016. Spacey was fired from the hit Netflix show “House of Cards” in 2017 after more than a dozen men accused him of sexually harassing or assaulting them.
House lawmakers have ordered an investigation into how the U.S. military experimented with parasites as weapons of war. An amendment to the recently approved 2020 defense authorization bill requires the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate how the U.S. secretly tested disease-carrying ticks and fleas as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975. This follows the publication of the book “Bitten” by author Kris Newby, which tells the story of bioweapons researcher Willy Burgdorfer, who studied weaponized parasites at U.S. government labs. Newby contends Lyme disease escaped from a U.S. government lab at Plum Island near Long Island, New York, although that conclusion is widely disputed by medical professionals.
In New York City, hundreds of protesters gathered near City Hall Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was choked to death by NYPD officer Daniel Panteleo as he gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times. Wednesday’s youth-led protest and march came a day after the U.S. Justice Department announced it will not file federal charges against Officer Panteleo, who remains on the NYPD force. This is Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother.
Gwen Carr: “My son was killed five years ago today. And I’m still feeling that same pain. We have to get those officers fired, the ones who were on the scene that day who murdered my son. So we are calling the de Blasio administration: Fire those cops!”
Crowd: “Fire those cops!”
Gwen Carr: “You have the power.”
Crowd: “You have the power.”
Gwen Carr: “Assert your power.”
Officer Daniel Pantaleo has remained on the police force but could lose his job and pension if found guilty of violating NYPD procedures. A disciplinary hearing for Panteleo wrapped up in June, and a decision is expected next month.
Ahead of Wednesday’s protest, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to commit to firing Pantaleo. The mayor was questioned by Ebro Darden of the radio station Hot 97.
Ebro Darden: “Are you going to fire Officer Pantaleo?”
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Ebro, I’m going to be real with you. There is a law that determines, first, everyone gets due process. You would want it. I would want it. Everyone gets it. Second, by state law, that is the police commissioner’s decision. I have faith that he is a person who has really worked hard to make this a city that’s fair.”
Ebro Darden: “But you’re his boss.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Again, I’m following the law, and I want to be clear about it. I’m not prejudging. I’m not assuming. There’s going to be a decision next month.”
And on Hawaii’s Big Island, police arrested 33 people Wednesday—most of them Hawaiian elders—as they blocked a road to prevent construction crews from reaching the site of a massive telescope being planned atop the Mauna Kea volcano.
Protester: “We have a right to worship god in the environment of our belief. Respect it!”
The site is considered sacred by Native Hawaiians, who say the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope was approved without consulting their communities. Just hours after Wednesday’s arrests, Hawaii’s Democratic Governor David Ige signed an emergency order granting police more power to clear the way for construction equipment.