Author: Depoworld

First Public Trump Impeachment Hearing Changes No Minds in Washington

A day of testimony in the impeachment inquiry targeting U.S. President Donald Trump changed no minds in Washington, with his critics convinced as ever that he abused his office by pushing Ukraine for political investigations of Democrats in the U.S. and his staunchest allies unwavering in their opinion that he did nothing wrong.Trump declared on Twitter, “This Impeachment Hoax is such a bad precedent and sooo bad for our Country!”….that the House Democrats have done since she’s become Speaker, other than chase Donald Trump.” This Impeachment Hoax is such a bad precedent and sooo bad for our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, talks to reporters on the morning after the first public hearing in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 14, 2019.”The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “What the president has admitted to and says it’s perfect, I say it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”Trump called Wednesday’s testimony from two career U.S. diplomats detailing his efforts to get Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open the investigation of Biden “a joke.” The U.S. leader delighted in retweeting comments from supporters, including Congressman Mark Meadows’s assessment that the hearing was “a MAJOR setback for the unfounded impeachment fantasy.”But Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that could soon push for Trump’s impeachment, called the day’s testimony “pretty damning.” However, Nadler said he would remain open-minded “for the moment” on whether articles of impeachment should be written.  White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told CNN, “The president was very placid. I’ll tell you why. There was nothing new yesterday.”FILE – White House adviser Kellyanne Conway talks with reporters outside the White House, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2019.She dismissed the importance of the day’s major news from the first of several days of the public impeachment inquiry, only the fourth against a U.S. president in the country’s 243-year history.William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified that an aide of his overheard a cell phone conversation at a Kyiv restaurant on July 26 in which Trump asked Gordon Sondland, a million-dollar Trump political donor and now the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about whether Ukraine was opening “the investigations” he wanted about Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election Trump won. The U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia was behind the election meddling.The overheard conversation occurred a day after Trump from the White House asked Zelenskiy in a half-hour call for “a favor” — the investigations of the Bidens — at a time when he was blocking release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine that it needed to help fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.Taylor said his aide, David Holmes, told him that Sondland said he believed Trump was more concerned about the investigations of the Bidens, which Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was pursuing, than anything else in Ukraine.Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a member of the House Intelligence Committee conducting the impeachment inquiry, called the previously undisclosed phone conversation “so explosive.”But Trump adviser Conway said, “You’re calling that evidence, respectfully. In a real court of law we’d not be referring to something as evidence that is, oh, someone on my staff recalled overhearing a conversation between someone else and the president where they think they heard the president use the word investigations. This is not what due process and the rule of law in our great democracy allows.”Trump said he knew “nothing” about the alleged Kyiv call from Sondland.FILE – U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 17, 2019.Impeachment investigators are interviewing Holmes, the Taylor aide, on Friday, while Sondland is set to testify before the impeachment inquiry next Wednesday. Sondland has already testified for hours in private behind closed doors, telling investigators that he told an aide to Zelenskiy that Ukraine would not get the military assistance unless the Ukrainian leader promised publicly that it would initiate the Biden investigations.Trump at one point called Sondland a “‘great American,” but after he revised his testimony to say there were conditions on the Ukraine aid, Trump contended, “I hardly know the gentleman.”Trump has denied a quid pro quo with Zelenskiy – release of the military aid in exchange for the Biden investigations – and described his July 25 call with Zelenskiy as “perfect.” After a 55-day delay, Trump released the military assistance on Sept. 11 without Ukraine undertaking the Biden investigations.Trump’s Republican supporters say the fact that he released the aid without Ukraine investigating the Bidens is prime evidence there was no quid pro quo. They also pointed to the testimony from Taylor and George Kent, the State Department’s top Ukraine overseer, that they have had no personal interactions with Trump during the months that the Ukraine drama has played out.Trump called the diplomats “NEVER TRUMPERS,” but both denied the characterization and cited their long service in the diplomatic corps under both Republican and Democratic presidents.FILE – Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (C) arrives on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Oct. 11, 2019.The House Intelligence Committee is now turning its attention to Friday’s testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, a former U.S. ambassador to Kyiv who was ousted from her posting earlier this year by the Trump administration months before her tour of duty was set to end.Her dismissal, according to career diplomats who watched helplessly as it unfolded, came after Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney he had assigned to oversee Ukraine affairs outside normal State Department channels, pushed for her removal, viewing her as an impediment to getting Ukraine to undertake the Biden investigations.Trump called Yovanovitch “bad news” in his July call with Zelenskiy.Next week, the impeachment panel is calling eight more witnesses, including two on Tuesday who listened in as Trump talked with Zelenskiy — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who serves as director for European affairs on the White House’s National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign affairs aide to Vice President Mike Pence.Political analysts in Washington say the Trump impeachment drama could last for several months. If Trump is impeached by a simple majority in the House, perhaps by the end of the year as appears possible, a trial would be held in January in the Republican-majority Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be needed for his conviction and removal from office.The time frame could bump up against the first Democratic party presidential nominating contests starting in February, when voters will begin voting on who they want to oppose Trump when he seeks a second four-year term in the November 2020 national election. Six Democratic senators are among those running for the party’s presidential nomination, but could be forced to stay in Washington to sit as jurors in the 100-member Senate as it decides Trump’s fate, rather than campaign full-time for the presidency.Trump’s removal remains unlikely, with at least 20 Republicans needed to turn against him and vote for his conviction. To date, while a small number of Republicans have criticized Trump for his actions on Ukraine, no Republican senator has called for his removal from office via impeachment, a drastic action that has never occurred in U.S. history. 

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GOP Senators Confronted Erdogan Over Video, Participants Say

A band of GOP senators rebuffed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s effort to depict anti-Islamic State Kurd forces as terrorists in a contentious Oval Office meeting, as the White House allies took a far harder line against Erdogan than did President Donald Trump.
                   
Participants said Erdogan played a propaganda video for Republican senators attending Wednesday’s meeting, drawing a rebuke from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and others.
                   
Graham said Thursday that he asked Erdogan, “do you want me to get the Kurds to play a video about what your forces have done?”
                   
The lawmakers also told Erdogan that he is risking economic sanctions by going ahead with a new Russian anti-aircraft missile system.
                   
The exchange behind the scenes was far more confrontational than the reception Trump gave Erdogan in public.

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Italian PM: Govt Set to Declare State of Emergency in Venice

Italy’s government is set to declare a state of emergency in flood-ravaged Venice, to swiftly secure the historic city funds to repair damage from the highest tide in 50 years.
                   
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as “a blow to the heart of our country.”
                   
He said a cabinet meeting called for Thursday afternoon will declare a state of emergency and approve the first measures aimed at helping the city’s recovery.
                   
Conte spent Wednesday night in Venice, where world-famous monuments, homes and businesses were hit hard by the exceptional flooding. The water reached 1.87 meters above sea level Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city.
                   
Venice’s mayor said the damage is estimated at “hundreds of millions of euros.”

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Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Dispose of Russian S-400s

Turkey is willing to purchase U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems but will not agree to disposing of the Russian S-400 system it has already bought, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.Speaking to reporters on board his plane on his way back from a meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, Erdogan said the U.S. president was engaged in “sincere efforts” to resolve disputes between the NATO allies.Turkey took delivery of the Russian S-400 system this year, dismissing warnings from the United States that it poses a threat to NATO security.As a result, Washington suspended Turkish participation in the multinational F-35 fighter jet program.“We told them we can purchase the Patriots too. We regard the proposal to completely remove the S-400s (from Turkey) as meddling in our sovereign rights,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying. “There can be no question of us leaving the S-400s and turning toward the Patriots.”FILE – First parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system are unloaded from a Russian plane near Ankara, Turkey, July 12, 2019.Erdogan said: “I want both America and Russia to be my friend. All our efforts are geared toward that.”The dispute over the competing air defense systems is one component of the tension between the two countries. Turkey has also come under fire in Washington for its incursion into Syria last month to drive away Syrian Kurdish forces that fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State.Turkey, meanwhile, is angry at the U.S. for supporting the Kurdish forces it views as a threat and for refusing to extradite a Muslim cleric it accuses of fomenting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan.Erdogan also told reporters that he had returned a letter that Trump sent on Oct. 9, urging Erdogan restraint over his plans for an offensive in Syria. Trump wrote: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”Opposition parties had decried the letter as an insult to Turkey, calling on Erdogan to send it back to Trump.Erdogan said Trump did not react when he handed him back the letter. 

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Turkey Deports American Islamic State Suspect to US

Turkey said Thursday that it is deporting an American who is a suspected member of Islamic State to the U.S.Turkey’s interior ministry said 39-year-old Mohammad Darwis B is being repatriated after being stuck for several days in a no-man’s land between Turkey and Greece.The ministry said the U.S. agreed to allow him to return to the U.S. after the U.S. initially refused to accept him.His return to the U.S. comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Washington Wednesday with U.S. President Donald Trump.Turkey has initiated a campaign to deport foreign IS members who are detained in Turkey or Syria, since Turkey invaded parts of northeast Syria to oust Syrian Kurdish fighters from the border area. 

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Ex-Governor Deval Patrick Announces 2020 Presidential Bid

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is making a late entry into the Democratic presidential race.Patrick announced his bid Thursday in an online video, saying, “I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”Patrick made history as the first black governor of Massachusetts and has close ties to former President Barack Obama and his network of political advisers. But he faces significant fundraising and organizational hurdles less than three months before voting begins.Patrick’s announcement comes as some Democrats worry about the strength of the party’s current field of contenders. Another Democrat — former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — is also weighing a last-minute bid for the party’s nomination. Bloomberg has taken steps toward launching a last-minute presidential campaign, filing candidate papers in Alabama and Arkansas. Even 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton this week said in a BBC interview that she is “under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it,” adding that she has no such plans but still would “never, never, never say never.”The moves reflect uncertainty about the direction of the Democratic contest with no commanding front-runner. Joe Biden entered the race as the presumptive favorite and maintains significant support from white moderates and black voters, whose backing is critical in a Democratic primary. But he’s facing spirited challenges from Patrick’s home-state senator, Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, progressives whose calls for fundamental economic change have alarmed moderates and wealthy donors.Patrick could present himself as a potential bridge across the moderate, liberal and progressive factions — as candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker are trying to do. 

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Two US Diplomats: Trump Wanted Ukraine Probes to Help Him Politically

U.S. President Donald Trump became the third president in modern U.S. history to face open impeachment hearings Wednesday. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives called two key State Department witnesses to begin making the case that Trump abused the power of his office by allegedly pressing Ukraine for information that would help him in the 2020 election.  VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more on the first day of hearings and Republican response from Capitol Hill.
 

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Trump, Erdogan Meet Amid Cold Bilateral Relations

U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met at the White House Wednesday but did not reach resolutions on major irritants to bilateral relations including Turkey’s recent incursion into northern Syria and its purchase of Russian military hardware. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has this report.
 

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Appeals Court Again Backs House Request for Trump Tax Documents

A U.S. appeals court said on Wednesday it would not revisit an October decision backing a U.S. House of Representatives subpoena issued to President Donald Trump’s accounting firm for his financial records.The 8-3 vote by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, declining the Republican president’s request to rehear arguments that the subpoena to Mazars LLP was illegitimate, brings Democrats closer to shedding light on his business interests and how he built his fortune.In a statement, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the president would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Mazars this year, saying it needed the records to determine if Trump complied with laws requiring disclosure of his assets, and to assess whether those laws needed to be changed.While campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Trump broke with a decades-old convention of candidates releasing their tax returns publicly.Trump sued the House panel in April, arguing that its subpoena exceeded limits on Congress’s investigative power.He said the true motive for the subpoena was to expose private financial information “with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the President.”A lower court judge ruled against Trump in May, saying the documents might assist Congress in passing laws and performing other core functions.The May decision was the first time a federal court waded into the tussle about how far Congress can go in investigating Trump and his business affairs, and marked an important victory for House Democrats.A three-judge panel of D.C. circuit judges, in a 2-1 ruling, upheld the lower court judge in October.”Contrary to the president’s arguments, the committee possesses authority under both the house rules and the constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply, Judge David Tatel wrote on behalf of the majority.Judge Neomi Rao, who was appointed by Trump to the D.C. appeals court, dissented from the October decision.Rao and another Trump appointee to the court, Gregory Katsas, voted to rehear the case, Wednesday’s order showed. They were joined by Karen Henderson, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush.   

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$134 Billion Deficit in October for US Government

The U.S. government recorded a $134 billion budget deficit in October, the first month of the new fiscal year, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.That compared to a budget deficit of $100 billion in the same month last year, according to the Treasury’s monthly budget statement.Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a $133 billion deficit for the month.Unadjusted receipts last month totaled $246 billion, down 3% from October 2018, while unadjusted outlays were $380 billion, a rise of 8% from the same month a year earlier.The U.S. government’s fiscal year ends in September each year. Fiscal 2019 saw a widening in the deficit to $984 billion, the largest budget deficit in seven years, a result of the Trump administration’s decision to cut taxes and increase government spending.Those figures reflected the second full budget year under U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, and a time when the country had an expanding tax base with moderate economic growth and an unemployment rate near a 50-year low.When adjusted for calendar effects, the deficit for October remained at $134 billion compared with an adjusted deficit of $113 billion in October 2018.
 

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Russia Reacts to Bolivia’s Political Turmoil

The political crisis in Bolivia — where roiling street protests amid accusations of election fraud forced the resignation of longtime President Evo Morales this week — is exposing long-held differences within Russia’s own political system, with pro-Kremlin and opposition voices splitting along familiar dividing lines.As the events in La Paz unfolded, Russia’s Foreign Ministry was quick to express support for Morales, a Kremlin ally who has paid repeated visits to Moscow, most recently in July to expand economic ties.In a statement posted to its website, the ministry condemned violence “unleashed by the opposition” and blamed it for preventing Morales from “completing his tenure” amid “developments typical of a well-orchestrated coup d’etat.” “It would be foolish to expect another reaction — it’s absolutely the consolidated position from the Russian side,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, when asked by journalists about the Foreign Ministry’s assessment.“Of course, we hope that Bolivians themselves will determine their fate without the interference of any third countries,” he said.Opponents of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales celebrate after he announced his resignation in La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 10, 2019.Pro-Kremlin media outlets quickly picked up on the hint, noting that the United States included Bolivia, along with Venezuela and Cuba, as Latin American dictatorships.“The most logical version — a virtuosically prepared and executed coup by the United States, which is traditionally masked by slogans about democracy and human rights,” wrote Igor Pshenichnikov in a column explaining the events in Bolivia in the weekly Izvestia.“And now the time has come for the president and his country to experience for itself the might of American democracy,” he said.Collectively, the arguments were reminiscent of Russia’s position relative to neighboring Ukraine, where Moscow has long maintained that a 2014 pro-Western street revolution that drove another Kremlin ally — then-President Viktor Yanukovich — from power also was the work of the United States.As if to emphasize the Ukraine comparisons, pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine’s official Twitter account condemned the events in La Paz as a “fascist junta.” It’s another talking point widely used by Kremlin state media beginning in 2014 to denigrate Ukraine’s so-called “Maidan Revolution.”FILE – Police officers detain opposition supporters during a protest in Moscow, May 5, 2018. The posters read “I am against corruption.”Other viewsRussian opposition voices saw the events in La Paz, however, in an entirely different light — underlining Russia’s own fractured political environment.Proekt, an online investigative outlet funded by Kremlin foe and businessman Mikhail Khodorkvosky, issued a story reporting it was in fact Russia — driven by economic interests of its oil, gas and energy industries — that had played a key role in Morales’ reelection campaign.In turn, opposition figures were quick to note Russian President Vladimir Putin, like the now former Bolivian leader, also has stretched constitutional norms by serving an unprecedented fourth term in office and soon will face similar questions of if and whether to remain in power.“A corrupt president, unlawfully holding on to power at the expense of lies and falsification, has run from his country,” wrote Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in posting a picture of Morales and Putin together on Twitter.Коррумпированный президент, незаконно удерживавший власть за счёт лжи и фальсификаций, сбежал из страны. Пока речь идёт о том, что слева. pic.twitter.com/1Wmr38cu5t— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) November 10, 2019“For now, that means only the guy on the left,” Navalny said, in referring to Morales.“Oh, what’s this?” chimed in Navalny’s key strategist, Leonid Volkov, in a similarly themed post.Ой что это?После фальсифицированных выборов люди вышли на улицу и полоумный престарелый диктатор, нарушивший конституционные ограничения на количество сроков, вынужден был уйти в отставку.Ух как хочется, как в Боливии! pic.twitter.com/J79tXbpyyG— Leonid Volkov (@leonidvolkov) November 10, 2019“After falsified elections, people went out on the streets and a crackpot old dictator, having broken the constitutional limit on number of terms, was forced to resign,” Volkov wrote. “Oh, how I would love for us to be like Bolivia!”In a column in business daily Vedomosti, however, political analyst Fyodor Krasheninnikov warned that events in faraway Bolivia could negatively affect politics at home — particularly in the wake of a summer of rolling protests in Moscow and other cities over the banning of opposition candidates from elections.“After Bolivia, all talk about how Russia could have some competitive elections and some softening of the regime amid a future transfer of power should be taken with even more skepticism,” Krasheninnikov wrote. His point? As with Ukraine in 2014, the events in Bolivia have made an impression in Moscow. Perhaps too big of one.The Kremlin has taken note.

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Poll Gives UK PM Johnson’s Conservatives 10-point Lead in Election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have a healthy 10-point lead ahead of an election on Dec. 12, a poll by Savanta ComRes showed on Wednesday, extending their advantage over Labour after the Brexit Party stood down candidates.The poll, carried out for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, showed the Conservative Party with 40%, up 3 points from a poll last week, ahead of Labour on 30%, up 1 point.The poll was conducted after Nigel Farage said his Brexit Party would not put candidates up in Conservative-held seats, a major boost to Johnson. The Brexit Party will still stand candidates in Labour-held seats.”The Brexit Party’s decision not to stand in Conservativeseats is likely to have an obvious positive impact on the overall Conservative vote share,” said Chris Hopkins, Head of Politics at ComRes. “But it’s those Labour-held seats that the Conservatives need to win for a majority, and the Brexit Party could still scupper those best-laid plans.”The poll showed the Liberal Democrats on 16% and the Brexit Party on 7%. Voting analysis website Electoral Calculus said the vote shares implied a Conservative majority of 110 seats. The online poll of 2,022 adults was carried out on Nov. 11-12.

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Poll Gives UK PM Johnson’s Conservatives 10-point Lead in Election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have a healthy 10-point lead ahead of an election on Dec. 12, a poll by Savanta ComRes showed on Wednesday, extending their advantage over Labour after the Brexit Party stood down candidates.The poll, carried out for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, showed the Conservative Party with 40%, up 3 points from a poll last week, ahead of Labour on 30%, up 1 point.The poll was conducted after Nigel Farage said his Brexit Party would not put candidates up in Conservative-held seats, a major boost to Johnson. The Brexit Party will still stand candidates in Labour-held seats.”The Brexit Party’s decision not to stand in Conservativeseats is likely to have an obvious positive impact on the overall Conservative vote share,” said Chris Hopkins, Head of Politics at ComRes. “But it’s those Labour-held seats that the Conservatives need to win for a majority, and the Brexit Party could still scupper those best-laid plans.”The poll showed the Liberal Democrats on 16% and the Brexit Party on 7%. Voting analysis website Electoral Calculus said the vote shares implied a Conservative majority of 110 seats. The online poll of 2,022 adults was carried out on Nov. 11-12.

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