The Democratic-led House is quickly moving ahead with its impeachment inquiry of President Trump for abusing his power for personal gain after an intelligence whistleblower revealed Trump had pressed the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. On Sunday, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff revealed the anonymous whistleblower would soon testify before the committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “We are taking all the precautions we can to make sure that we do so, we allow that testimony to go forward, in a way that protects the whistleblower’s identity, because, as you can imagine, with the president issuing threats like 'We ought to treat these people who expose my wrongdoing as we used to treat traitors and spies,' and we used to execute traitors and spies, you can imagine the security concerns here.”
On Saturday, lawyers for the whistleblower wrote a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees expressing fears for their client’s safety after Trump compared the whistleblower to a treasonous spy and demanded to “meet my accuser.” The lawyers wrote, “The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way.”
Over the weekend, President Trump repeatedly took to Twitter to attack the whistleblower, as well as a range of officials and journalists. He accused House Intelligence Chair Schiff of committing treason; he described Schiff and a group of other Democratic lawmakers as “savages”; he claimed impeachment is “unlawful”; and he reposted a message from a supporter warning impeachment could lead to a “Civil War like fracture in this Nation.” Republican Congressmember Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted that Trump’s civil war retweet was “beyond repugnant.” Kinzinger wrote, “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President.”
In other developments related to the impeachment inquiry, three House committees have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to turn over documents related to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine. This comes as Trump and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are facing accusations they ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine outside of normal channels, but on Sunday Giuliani insisted Pompeo was aware of what was happening. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has resigned.
More than 2 million people took to the streets in a massive Global Climate Strike Friday. From Bangladesh to Uganda to Chile, demonstrators walked out of work or school to demand world leaders act to solve the climate crisis. One million people protested throughout Italy alone. In Montreal, 600,000 people joined the strike, including Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist who sparked the Fridays for Future movement.
Greta Thunberg: “This week, world leaders from all around the world gathered in New York for the U.N. Climate Action Summit. They disappointed us once again with their empty words and insufficient plans. We told them to unite behind the science, but they didn’t listen. So, today, we are millions around the world, striking and marching again, and we will keep on doing it until they listen.”
The protest followed the September 20 global demonstration that brought more than 4 million people into the streets. 350.org founder Bill McKibben called the week of protests “almost certainly the largest demonstration our planet has yet seen about climate change.”
Nearly 70 climate activists were arrested Saturday in New Hampshire after marching onto a coal power plant to demand an end to fossil fuel use. They were part of a group of hundreds attempting to shut down Merrimack Station, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in all of New England.
In immigration news, a federal judge has blocked a Trump administration rule that would have allowed the government to indefinitely detain migrant children and their families. California Judge Dolly Gee ruled Friday that the proposed policy violated the 1997 Flores agreement, which caps the jailing of migrant children and families to 20 days. She called Trump’s proposed rule change “Kafkaesque.” A federal judge blocked another Trump-era immigration policy in Washington, D.C., Friday, ruling against new regulations seeking to fast-track deportations without a fair legal process.
Voters in Afghanistan went to the polls on Saturday, but voter turnout may have hit a record low. Preliminary data shows around 25% of the country’s registered voters took part in the election, which pitted Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah against Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah Abdullah is already claiming victory, even though official results won’t be announced for another three weeks. The BBC reports at least five people were killed in attacks on voting stations; another 80 were wounded.
The prominent Egyptian dissident Alaa Abd El-Fattah has been arrested again amid a growing crackdown on anti-government protesters. Abd El-Fattah was arrested on Sunday as he was preparing to leave an Egyptian police station where he has been forced to sleep at night since being freed in March after serving a five-year prison sentence. A lawyer representing Abd El-Fattah was also arrested. Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 2,000 people amid an outbreak of anti-government protests. Alaa Abd El-Fattah was a leader of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. He spoke to Democracy Now! in 2014.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah: “So, they are on a sentencing frenzy. I mean, this is not just about me. And it’s almost as if it’s a war on a whole generation.”
The Spanish newspaper El País has revealed the CIA worked with a Spanish private security company to spy on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he had sought political asylum. Assange lived in the embassy from 2012 until April, when he was arrested by British authorities. Ecuador had hired the firm — Undercover Global SL — to protect the embassy, but the firm reportedly also secretly handed over audio and video to the CIA of meetings Assange had with his lawyers and others. The firm installed secret video cameras inside the embassy and placed microphones in the embassy’s fire extinguishers and in the women’s bathroom. The head of the firm is now being investigated by Spain’s National Court.
Workers at General Motors have entered their third week on strike. It is the longest national strike the United Auto Workers has had in nearly 50 years at GM, which earned nearly $35 billion over the past three years. Workers are seeking higher pay, protection of their healthcare benefits, greater job security and a commitment from GM to build more products in the United States.
Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson has died at the age of 69. In 2003, he openly challenged President George W. Bush’s claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger — a claim the administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Wilson had been sent to Niger by the administration to investigate the claim in 2002 but found no such evidence. Despite Wilson’s findings, the uranium allegation was included in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address claim that Saddam Hussein was obtaining weapons of mass destruction. Shortly after Wilson wrote a Washington Post op-ed, the Bush administration helped to out Wilson’s then-wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA operative. In 2004, Joseph Wilson appeared on Democracy Now!
Joseph Wilson: “The title of my piece is 'What I Did Not Find in Africa.' And what it catalogued was a trip out to Niger at the request of the CIA, acting in response to a question by the vice president to check out allegations that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium from that country. Now, it was a very important question, because, after all, Iraq would have only one use for uranium. That would be nuclear weapons programs. And that would be the one piece of incontrovertible evidence that he was attempting to reconstitute nuclear weapons programs, which would have lent some credence to the notion that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud. I came back. I said there was nothing to this.”
Click here to see our full interview with the late Joseph Wilson. His ex-wife Valerie Plame is now running for Congress in New Mexico.