In the first day of oral arguments in the historic impeachment trial of President Trump, Democratic lawmakers accused the president of abusing his power to cheat an election. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. This is Democratic Congressmember Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “If President Trump is not held to account, we send the message to future presidents, future congresses and generations of Americans that the personal interests of the president can fairly take precedent over those of the nation. The domestic effects of this descent from democracy will be a weakened trust in the integrity of our elections and the rule of law and a steady decline of the spread of democratic values throughout the world.”
While the impeachment trial was taking place in the Senate, President Trump was across the Atlantic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he dismissed the impeachment trial as a hoax and bragged about how the White House has withheld documents and other information from Democratic lawmakers.
President Donald Trump: “We’re doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material; they don’t have the material.”
The Supreme Court has decided not to take up a high-stakes legal challenge to Obamacare at this time. On Tuesday, the court said it would not take a fast-tracked decision on the case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Tuesday’s decision still leaves open the possibility the court will take up the case at a later date, but it won’t happen before the election.
The District of Columbia is suing President Trump’s inaugural committee over its decision to spend $1 million to rent event space at Trump’s own hotel in Washington. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine says the cost was far above market value and aimed at enriching the president’s family during Trump’s inauguration. The ballroom they rented, they hardly used.
The International Court of Justice at The Hague has ordered Burma to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. The significant ruling comes after the Burmese military killed and raped thousands of Rohingya and forced more than 700,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh in a brutal army crackdown in 2017. The court’s decision is a sharp rebuke to Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner who last month personally traveled to The Hague to ask the court to drop the genocide case.
President Trump says he’s planning to add more countries to his highly controversial travel ban, which already prohibits citizens of Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela from entering the United States. Trump is reportedly considering adding travel restrictions for citizens of Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus. Details are expected to be announced Monday.
This comes as the State Department separately says it’s planning to issue new rules that could make it more difficult for pregnant women to receive visas to visit the United States, in what the Trump administration claims is a crackdown on so-called birth tourism.
Trump also announced Wednesday that he plans to attend and speak at Friday’s anti-abortion March for Life in Washington, D.C. No president has ever attended the anti-abortion march in its 47-year history. Trump’s move comes only days after the anti-abortion political action group Susan B. Anthony List said it would spend over $50 million to support Trump and other Republican candidates.
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has sued former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for defamation, after Clinton suggested the Hawaii congressmember was a Russian asset in an interview last year. Congressmember Gabbard said she’s filing the $50 million defamation lawsuit because Clinton’s comments harmed her presidential campaign.
In Central America, the World Food Programme says that crop failures driven by climate-fueled drought are driving forced migration from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The World Food Programme says at least 1.4 million people need urgent food assistance, as extreme weather led to a poor harvest for the fifth straight year in Central America. In an internal report, CBP — that’s the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency — also acknowledged that crop shortages in Guatemala were an overwhelming factor behind the forced migration that has driven Guatemalans to seek asylum in the United States.
In Mexico, 26-year-old artist, activist and feminist Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre has been assassinated in the border city of Juárez. She was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and a member of the feminist collective Daughters of Maquila Worker Mothers. Fellow activists are demanding justice for her murder and an end to the femicides and disappearances of women that have plagued Juárez since it became a center of cheap manufacturing for American companies under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
In Indonesia, American journalist Philip Jacobson is facing up to five years in prison after being detained on Borneo Island and accused of carrying out journalistic activities that were not covered by his business visa. Jacobson is an award-winning journalist with the news outlet Mongabay. He has reported on deforestation in Borneo and has examined Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s record on environmental issues.
United Nations experts are accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of personally hacking Jeff Bezos’s cellphone in 2018 in order to influence or silence The Washington Post’s coverage of Saudi Arabia. Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post. At the time of the hack, the newspaper was reporting critically on the assassination of its columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder has been linked to the crown prince. This is the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnès Callamard.
Agnès Callamard: “The story places, yet again, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia at the heart of a campaign that resulted into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. And as you may recall, my investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi stopped short of determining the nature and the extent of the role of the crown prince. I suggested that there were several options, from him ordering the killing to him engaging in some form of criminal negligence by failing to protect Mr. Khashoggi.”
A new study shows the tap water in 43 cities across the United States is contaminated with toxic chemicals known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer and lowered fertility. The cities include Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The new study comes as the Supreme Court has cleared the way for residents of Flint, Michigan, to sue city and state officials over the lead contamination crisis in the drinking water there.
In more news on water contamination, the Trump administration is expected to finalize a rule today to remove environmental protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands and hundreds of thousands of small waterways across the United States. The removal of the protections will now allow people to dump pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants directly into streams. It will also allow developers to destroy wetlands for construction projects.
In San Francisco, newly sworn-in District Attorney Chesa Boudin has ended cash bail, saying his office will no longer ask for cash as a condition for people’s pretrial release. Boudin and many others have long criticized cash bail as disproportionately punishing defendants who are poor and people of color. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office says cash bail has also been applied unfairly, with African-American defendants paying an average of 12 times more per year for pretrial release compared to white defendants.