On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Republican senators in a private meeting that he does not yet have enough votes to block Democrats from calling impeachment witnesses. Democrats are pushing for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. Bolton writes in a forthcoming book that Trump personally told him he wanted to maintain a freeze on $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine turned over materials related to former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday, Trump’s defense lawyer Jay Sekulow tried to dismiss the reports about Bolton’s book as inadmissible.
Jay Sekulow: “Responding to an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says, I mean, that’s what — I mean, that’s what the evidence — if you want to call that evidence. I don’t know what you’d call that. I’d call it inadmissible, but that’s what it is.”
President Trump has rejected Bolton’s account. But on Monday, Trump’s own former chief of staff, General John Kelly, said, “If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton.” We’ll have more on Trump’s impeachment later in the broadcast.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving toward annexing 30% of the occupied West Bank, after Israel was given the green light to do so by the United States. On Tuesday, President Trump — with Netanyahu by his side — unveiled a so-called Middle East peace plan, drafted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner without any input from Palestinians. Under the plan, Israel would gain sovereignty over large areas of the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem would be under total Israeli control, and all Jewish settlers in the occupied territory would be allowed to remain in their homes. Palestinians protested in the West Bank and Gaza against the plan. This is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
President Mahmoud Abbas: “I say to the partners Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale. All our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass.”
Only hours before the plan was announced, Netanyahu was indicted for corruption, marking the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting prime minister will face criminal charges. We’ll have more on Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan after headlines.
During a news conference about the Middle East plan, President Trump praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for shouting and cursing at NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly after an NPR interview on Friday.
President Donald Trump: “That’s impressive. That was very impressive, Mike. That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday, huh? Think you did a good job on her, actually. That’s good.”
In a New York Times op-ed, Kelly writes about how Pompeo swore at her, called her a liar and challenged her to find Ukraine on a map, after she questioned Pompeo first about U.S. diplomacy with Iran and then about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Kelly’s NPR colleague Michele Kelemen has now been denied credentials to travel with Pompeo on his visit to Ukraine, which begins tomorrow.
The Washington Post has reinstated reporter Felicia Sonmez, after she was suspended for tweeting a link to an article about the 2003 rape case against Kobe Bryant in the wake of his death in a helicopter crash. The Washington Post Guild and other journalists came out in support of Sonmez, who has faced a slew of rape and death threats for tweeting the article. Meanwhile, new details have emerged about the crash, which also killed Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others Sunday. The helicopter did not have a terrain awareness and warning system, although the National Transportation Safety Board has long urged federal regulators to require this system be installed on all helicopters. Tributes for Kobe Bryant continue to pour in from across the world, and the NBA postponed last night’s scheduled game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the L.A. Clippers, and instead a major tribute took place.
In Syria, over 100,000 civilians have been displaced from the northwestern province of Idlib in the last week, as the Russian-backed Syrian government continues its bombing and ground offensive against the rebel-controlled territory. The Syrian regime announced today it has seized control of the key town of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, which former residents say is now largely destroyed.
In Madagascar, at least 30 people have been killed, and 16,000 more have been displaced, by massive floods triggered by torrential downpours. Increased rainfall and flooding is fueled by climate change.
Mississippi is moving to shut down a unit at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman after nine prisoners have died in the prison within the last month. At least three men have been found hanging in their cells in the last week. Prisoners have filed a lawsuit arguing the conditions at Parchman are unconstitutional.
In Maryland, a Prince George’s County police officer has been charged with second-degree murder after he fired seven shots at an African-American man whose hands were cuffed behind his back and who was sitting in the front passenger seat of a police car. Officer Michael Owen, who is also black, killed 43-year-old William Green on Monday, shooting him at point-blank range, after taking him into custody for an alleged traffic accident. Officer Owen also shot and killed a man in 2011.