The U.S. Senate has acquitted President Trump of two impeachment charges in just the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. Trump was accused of abusing power and obstructing Congress to aid his re-election campaign by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Every Democratic senator voted to remove President Trump from office, but they were joined by just one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who supported impeaching Trump on one count: abuse of power. Romney became the first senator to ever vote against his own party’s president in an impeachment trial. Senator Romney spoke on the Senate floor prior to his vote.
Sen. Mitt Romney: “The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
President Trump responded on Twitter by hailing the vote as “the country’s Victory.” He also described the impeachment effort as a hoax and tweeted a video claiming Mitt Romney was a secret Democratic asset.
In election news, Democratic officials in Iowa are continuing to release official results from Monday’s caucus. Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are now in a virtual tie with 97% of precincts reporting. Sanders maintains a lead in the popular vote, but Buttigieg has a slight advantage in what’s known as the “state delegate equivalent” race. Buttigieg has 26.2% of state delegate equivalents; Sanders is at 26.1%. Democratic officials have attributed the chaos in Iowa to a newly created app built by a little-known firm called Shadow, which has ties to the Democratic establishment as well as the Buttigieg campaign. Democratic leaders in Iowa are facing widespread criticism over how they have handled the crisis. Meanwhile, the Bernie Sanders campaign has just announced that it raised $25 million in January.
Human Rights Watch says at least 200 Salvadoran asylum seekers were either killed, raped or tortured after being deported from the United States back to El Salvador. In the shocking new report, Human Rights Watch found 138 people deported to El Salvador were murdered by gang members, police, soldiers, U.S.-trained death squads or ex-partners between 2013 and 2019. The report says most of the victims were killed within two years after being deported by the same perpetrators the asylum seekers had fled from. In more immigration news, the family of a 5-year-old Guatemalan boy being held at a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, says the boy is not receiving proper medical care for what could be a traumatic brain injury. The boy’s aunt says he fractured his skull in an accident before the boy and his mother were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during what the family thought was a routine check-in last month.
The Trump administration says New York state residents can no longer participate in certain Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, in retaliation for New York’s pro-immigrant law, the Green Light Law. This law allows undocumented people to apply for driver’s licenses while protecting their personal information from immigration agencies. Global Entry allows for faster clearance in customs for those enrolled in the program when they enter the United States. The Trump administration’s move is part of its effort to retaliate against cities and states with pro-immigrant policies, including so-called sanctuary laws.
In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has introduced a bill that would clear the way for mining, agriculture, and oil and gas extraction on indigenous lands, including in the Brazilian Amazon. The bill has not yet been approved by Congress. Brazilian indigenous leaders have slammed the legislation as a “genocide bill.”
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro on Wednesday lashed out at President Trump for meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Guaidó also attended Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. During a press conference after the meeting Wednesday, Trump officials told reporters, “Any harm that may be caused on Juan Guaidó on his return to Venezuela will have very significant consequences.” In response, Maduro, in a nationally televised address, warned that Trump is “taking the United States toward a high-level conflict with Venezuela.” This is Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.
Jorge Arreaza: “The American ruler, in a delirious and arrogant speech, in which he seemed to resurrect the already obsolete 'manifest destiny,' reiterated his contempt for peace, for international law, for life, and, in particular, his contempt for the sovereignty of Venezuela.”
In Algeria, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital Algiers Tuesday demanding the resignation of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Mass anti-government protests have been demanding the ouster of the country’s political elite for nearly one year and forced the resignation of Algeria’s longtime former ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April. This is one of the protesters.
Imen: “We are protesting to completely change the regime — not to change half of it and then half of the gang stays with the president, who is humiliating us in front of all nations.”
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian teen Wednesday during a protest in the city of Hebron against President Trump’s Middle East plan. Mohammed al-Haddad is the first Palestinian killed in demonstrations that erupted after Trump unveiled his plan last week. Under the plan, drafted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner without any input from Palestinians, 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.
In Britain, climate activists forced oil and gas giant BP to temporarily shut down its headquarters in London Wednesday. More than 100 activists with the environmental group Greenpeace attempted to install some 500 solar panels in front of the BP building and chained themselves to oil barrels they installed to block the building’s entrances. At least nine people were arrested in the demonstration protesting BP’s role in fueling the climate crisis.
The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is slated to excavate part of a cemetery to search for a possible mass grave of African Americans murdered by white mobs during the 1921 Tulsa massacre — one of the worst events of racist violence in U.S. history. On June 1, 1921, a mob of more than 1,000 white people looted and burned the prosperous African-American neighborhood of Greenwood, often referred to as “Black Wall Street.” Thirty-five city blocks were completely destroyed, and as many as 300 people were killed. Eyewitnesses say truckloads of corpses were dumped into unmarked mass graves.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom posthumously pardoned gay African-American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin Tuesday, who in 1953 was jailed and forced to register as a sex offender after being convicted under laws commonly used to target LGBT people. Rustin fought against segregation and homophobia and was a pacifist who protested war. He was a key adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King and introduced him to Gandhi’s teachings on nonviolence. He helped Dr. King start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Along with A. Philip Randolph, Rustin organized the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Bayard Rustin: “We demand that segregation be ended in every school district in the year 1963! We demand that we have effective civil rights legislation — no compromise, no filibuster — and that it include public accommodations, decent housing, integrated education, FEPC and the right to vote. What do you say? We demand the withholding of federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists. What do you say?”