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Democratic lawmakers continued to lay out their case Thursday for removing the president of the United States from office, in the second of three days of opening arguments in the Senate trial of Donald J. Trump. Republican senators criticized the Democratic House impeachment managers, calling their arguments “repetitive.” Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii called the Republicans’ claims “hypocritical.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono: “The Republicans have said that we’re being repetitive. Well, you know what? They spent all of Tuesday fighting back all of our efforts to present new evidence and new documents, so they’re being totally hypocritical.”
Today marks the final day of opening arguments by the Democrats. Republicans will begin their opening arguments on Saturday. After headlines, we’ll air highlights of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial and get the latest from law professor Marjorie Cohn, the former president of the National Lawyers Guild.
In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Baghdad Friday, calling on U.S. troops to permanently withdraw from their country. The protest came after President Trump refused an order for a U.S. troop withdrawal by Iraq’s parliament, which followed the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 near Baghdad’s airport.
Today’s massive protest came as Amnesty International reported security forces have shot and killed more than 600 people since anti-government protests erupted in October, with at least 12 killings this week alone. Amnesty reports Iraqi authorities have routinely used live fire, tear gas, grenades, intimidation, arrests and torture against largely peaceful protesters in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities as they demand democratic reforms and the appointment of an independent prime minister.
President Trump has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli opposition politician Benny Gantz to the White House next week for the unveiling of Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan. Palestinian leaders say they have not been consulted about the plan and were not invited to the White House meeting. They have consistently rejected U.S. overtures since May of 2018, when President Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there.
In Mexico, soldiers in riot gear used batons and pepper spray Thursday to beat back a caravan of hundreds of Central American migrants and asylum seekers after they crossed into the southern state of Chiapas from Guatemala. Among the injured was a pregnant woman who was left unconscious by the assault. Mexican officials say about 800 people were rounded up and bussed to a nearby immigration jail.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — known as AMLO — has bowed to intense pressure by President Donald Trump to crack down on Central American migrants heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border as they seek asylum from rampant gang violence, grinding poverty, and crop failures driven by climate change.
Last week, President AMLO pledged to provide jobs to thousands of the migrants as long as they applied for asylum in Mexico — and not the U.S. But many of those arrested in another immigration roundup earlier this week say they were lied to. This is José Henríquez, one of over 400 asylum seekers deported to northern Honduras on Thursday.
José Henríquez: “Over at the Mexican border, they tricked us. They told us that in Mexico they were going to give us jobs, that there was employment for 4,500 people. And it was a lie that there were three states ready to receive all the Hondurans who wanted to work there. But they only deceived us.”
The U.S. State Department says it will send an ambassador to Bolivia for the first time in more than 11 years. It’s the Trump administration’s latest show of support for the right-wing government that took power after President Evo Morales was deposed in a military coup last November.
Under Secretary of State David Hale said in a video statement Thursday that the U.S. is looking to restore what he called a “normal relationship” between the U.S. and Bolivia. Hale traveled to the presidential palace in La Paz this week, where he met with Jeanine Áñez, who declared herself interim president in November. Áñez has a history of using racist, anti-indigenous language and has vowed to bring the Bible back to the presidency.
The last U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, was expelled in 2008 by then-President Evo Morales, who accused the George W. Bush administration of working to destabilize his government. At least 32 anti-coup protesters have been killed by security forces since President Morales’s ouster last November, most of them indigenous people.
In Puerto Rico, hundreds of people joined a protest outside the governor’s mansion Thursday, demanding the ouster of Governor Wanda Vázquez. Some protesters carried a full-sized guillotine to the governor’s mansion. Public anger is rising after a video posted online last weekend showed undistributed emergency supplies meant for Hurricane Maria victims sitting unused in a warehouse in the city of Ponce. Governor Vázquez is also under fire over her handling of the recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake, which killed one person and left thousands homeless.
Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted a statement in solidarity with the protests, writing, “After a decade of austerity, hurricanes and earthquakes, Puerto Ricans have a right to a responsive government and full federal support to put an end to this crisis.”
In South Carolina, a prominent African-American lawmaker has switched her endorsement in the 2020 presidential primary from Joe Biden to Senator Bernie Sanders. Richland County Councilmember Dalhi Myers told the Associated Press, “I like the fact that [Sanders] is willing to fight for a better America — for the least, the fallen, the left behind.” A new WBUR poll shows Sanders has widened his lead to double digits among likely New Hampshire Democratic voters ahead of next month’s primary election.
This comes as The New York Times reports California Senator Kamala Harris — who suspended her campaign last December — is weighing an endorsement of Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has surged to fourth place nationally, with about 9% in a recent Monmouth University poll, after spending a quarter-billion dollars on political ads since joining the race — far more than all other Democratic candidates. Bloomberg has said he’ll spend up to $2 billion of his own money to defeat Trump, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, even if it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The National Archives and Records Administration has replaced a doctored photograph of the 2017 Women’s March with the original, days after it apologized for altering the photo to remove criticisms of President Trump. In an exhibit called “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” the National Archives had displayed a large image of the first Women’s March. But at least two signs referencing Trump had been blurred to remove his name, including a poster reading “God Hates Trump.”
Here in Manhattan, actor Annabella Sciorra told a packed courtroom Thursday that disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein forced his way into her New York City apartment one night in the early 1990s, where he held her down and raped her. The experience, Sciorra testified, left her so scarred that she fell into a deep depression, started cutting herself and began drinking heavily. It was the first time one of Weinstein’s accusers has confronted him directly in court since his arrest in May of 2018 on charges of rape and criminal sexual acts.
Five more of Weinstein’s accusers are expected to testify during the trial, though the statute of limitations has expired for all but two of their claims. Weinstein faces life in prison on the New York charges and up to 28 years in a separate criminal case in Los Angeles County. Over 100 women have accused Weinstein of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and professional retaliation.
In Arkansas, new evidence has emerged bolstering the claims of Ledell Lee, a condemned prisoner who was put to death in April 2017 even as he professed his innocence. A Freedom of Information lawsuit filed on behalf of Lee’s sister by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Innocence Project argues no physical evidence directly tied Lee to the 1993 murder for which he was convicted, and casts serious doubts on the claims of forensics experts who testified at the trial. Meanwhile, an attorney assigned to Lee’s defense has since admitted in an affidavit that he was struggling with drug addiction at the time and unable to provide effective counsel. Lee’s sister is seeking the release of crime scene materials for new DNA and fingerprint testing.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has advanced the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight. The clock is a symbolic timekeeper that tracks the likelihood of nuclear war and other existential threats. It now stands closer to catastrophe than at any time since its creation in 1947. This is Mary Robinson, former Irish president and former U.N. human rights chief, speaking Thursday as the clock was set to 100 seconds to midnight.
Mary Robinson: “The Doomsday Clock is a globally recognized indicator of the vulnerability of our existence. It’s a striking metaphor for the precarious state of the world, but, most frighteningly, as we have just heard, it’s a metaphor backed by rigorous scientific scrutiny. This is no mere analogy. We are now 100 seconds to midnight, and the world needs to wake up. Our planet faces two simultaneous existential threats: the climate crisis and nuclear weapons.”
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists blasted President Trump for withdrawing the U.S. from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement and is calling on the U.S. to renew the New START treaty before it expires in 2021. New START limits the number of nuclear weapons deployed by the U.S. and Russia.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mocked 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday, after she called on investors to pull their funds from fossil fuel companies. Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mnuchin said of Thunberg, “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can go back and explain that to us.” Mnuchin’s comments sparked a torrent of replies across social media from economists who rushed to Thunberg’s defense. Thunberg responded on Twitter writing, “My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.”
In Canada, police arrested 12 indigenous youth activists early Wednesday morning, ending their day-long sit-in occupation of the offices of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in British Columbia. Their protest was the latest among dozens of solidarity actions taken in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, which is resisting the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline. Earlier this month, Wet’suwet’en leaders evicted construction workers from the territory and set up a road blockade that cut off access to a Coastal GasLink worksite. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have since set up a checkpoint nearby, raising fears of a raid. This is First Nations activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney, one of the 12 arrested on Wednesday.
Ta’Kaiya Blaney: “Because what indigenous people remember and Canada has forgot is that we have a sacred obligation to this land. As human beings, we all have a responsibility to that which gives us life. And as indigenous peoples who have safeguarded and stewarded these territories since time immemorial, it is crucial that our sovereignty be respected for our collective climate future.”