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President Trump’s legal team is concluding its defense in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial today as the explosive revelations from former national security adviser John Bolton’s leaked manuscript continue to rock Capitol Hill. On Monday, Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued Bolton’s claim that Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on investigations into Democrats, including Trump’s political rival Joe Biden, does not constitute an impeachable offense.
Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney told reporters it was “increasingly likely” at least four Republicans would side with Democrats to vote in favor of calling witnesses to testify. John Bolton has said that he would answer questions before the Senate if subpoenaed.
Another member of Trump’s legal team, Kenneth Starr, whose investigation led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, warned that impeaching Trump would be too divisive.
Ken Starr: “Like war, impeachment is hell. Or at least presidential impeachment is hell. Those of us who lived through the Clinton impeachment, including members of this body, full well understand that a presidential impeachment is tantamount to domestic war.”
We’ll have more on the impeachment of President Trump after headlines with University of Pennsylvania professor Claire Finkelstein.
President Trump is unveiling his so-called Middle East peace plan today amid his Senate impeachment trial. He is expected to introduce it alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner developed the plan, which will reportedly offer conditional sovereignty to Palestinians and remap the borders of the occupied West Bank to give more control to Israel, among other proposals. Netanyahu and his political challenger Benny Gantz met with Trump Monday to hear details of the plan. Palestinians have rejected Trump’s plan. This is Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh: “This plan, that does not provide the occupied land to its people and that does not recognize the borders of 1967 and does not recognize that Jerusalem is an occupied land, and provides it to Israel as a capital, and the plan creators launch a financial war against us, on the UNRWA, and closes the office of Palestine in Washington and dries the financial resources of the Palestinian Authority, is nothing but a plan to liquidate the Palestinian issue, and we reject it.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu was formally indicted on corruption charges back in Israel after he withdrew his request for immunity from prosecution. He has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 Monday to allow Trump’s so-called public charge rule to take effect. The vote lifts a prior injunction blocking the measure while it’s being challenged in the courts. The hard-line immigration rule penalizes documented, low-income immigrants who may seek benefits, including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers, by allowing officials to deny green cards and visa applications to those individuals. Javier Valdés of Make the Road New York said, “This decision will hurt immigrant communities. The Trump administration’s public charge rules attack our loved ones and neighbors by imposing a racist wealth test on the immigration system. We will continue our fight in the courts to stop this reckless policy in its tracks.”
In more immigration news, House Democrats say they will soon consider the NO BAN Act, which seeks to overturn Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Trump said last week he plans to expand the travel ban and will announce additional countries soon. An appeals court in Virginia, meanwhile, is set to hear arguments today in three cases challenging the travel ban.
The State Department has removed a veteran NPR reporter from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming trip after clashing with another NPR reporter last week. Michele Kelemen was part of the press pool accompanying Pompeo to several Central Asian and European countries, including Ukraine. On Friday, Pompeo was interviewed on the program “All Things Considered” by Mary Louise Kelly, who pressed him over the treatment of recalled U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “I have defended every State Department official. We’ve built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world.”
Mary Louise Kelly: “Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.”
Mary Louise Kelly: “Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “I’ve said all I’m going to say today.”
After the tense interview, Kelly said Pompeo shouted at her for asking him about Ukraine, asked her, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” — using the F-word in that and other sentences — and asked her to identify Ukraine on a map. In a statement, Pompeo said Kelly lied to him about the questions she would ask in the interview, as well as about their post-interview exchange being off the record. Kelly denies both of these claims.
Ben Wizner of the ACLU said of the incident, “The State Department cannot retaliate against a news outlet because one of its reporters asked tough questions. It is the job of reporters to ask the tough questions, not be polite company.”
The Washington Post is under fire after it suspended a reporter for tweeting about a rape allegation against basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also killed Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Felicia Sonmez posted a link to a Daily Beast article about the 2003 sexual assault allegation against Bryant, which was met with immediate backlash by other users. In a now-deleted post, Sonmez wrote in response to the criticism, “Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling. That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn’t even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.” The newspaper’s own media reporter and the Washington Post Guild both condemned the move to put Sonmez on leave.
In Afghanistan, an American military plane crashed Monday in the eastern province of Ghazni in an area largely controlled by the Taliban. The Taliban claimed they brought down the plane, but U.S. officials say the crash was not caused by enemy fire. The number of people who had been on board the plane has not been confirmed.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, government air raids in northern Balkh province killed at least seven civilians Sunday, according to local reports. And on Monday, at least 11 officers were killed after Taliban fighters stormed a police base in Baghlan province.
In Brazil, record-breaking rains and widespread floods have killed at least 46 people and displaced tens of thousands in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais and the surrounding area. This comes exactly one year after the collapse of a mining dam in the region that killed over 250 people and devastated the surrounding land and waterways, in one of the world’s worst recorded mining disasters. Mining giant Vale is facing environmental charges for the dam’s collapse, and its former CEO and 15 others are facing murder charges.
In Nigeria, journalist Maxwell Nashan has been killed in the eastern state of Adamawa. He was a reporter and newscaster with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for an investigation to determine whether his journalism was the motive for his assassination.
Back in the United States, former production assistant Miriam Haley testified to a New York City jury that disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein raped her in his Manhattan apartment in the summer of 2006. She is the second woman to testify against Weinstein in his rape trial in New York, where he’s facing life in prison.
In a separate case, the United States attorney in Manhattan is criticizing Prince Andrew for refusing to help prosecutors investigate sex trafficking allegations against the late serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, despite the prince having promised to do so. Prince Andrew was a close friend of Epstein’s. One woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has also accused Prince Andrew of being involved in Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking scheme, saying she was sexually trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with the prince when she was 17 years old. In a BBC interview last year, Prince Andrew denied this allegation and said he did not regret his friendship with the billionaire convicted pedophile, who died in a prison cell in August.
In Seattle, Washington, thousands of nurses and caregivers at the Swedish-Providence Medical Center are launching a three-day strike today to demand fair wages, adequate staffing and better conditions for patients. It’s part of a statewide strike against corporate giant Providence Health & Services, which healthcare workers say prioritizes profits over patient care. With up to 13,000 workers poised to walk off the job this week, union leaders say it could be the largest healthcare strike in recent history.