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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had adjourned Thursday without a vote on the articles of impeachment. Ranking member Doug Collins (in background) likened the move to a "kangaroo court." J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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"You've just blown up schedules for everyone," Collins said. "This is the kangaroo court that we're talking about."

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump, making him the fourth president in American history to face impeachment.

President Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House Friday. Evan Vucci/AP

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The high court's order sets the stage for a constitutional battle over the limits of presidential power.

The U.S. Supreme Court said late Friday that it will review three lower court decisions upholding congressional and grand jury subpoenas for financial records from President Trump's longtime personal accountants and from banks he did business with.

Outgoing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned or commuted the sentences of more than 400 people in his final days in office. Timothy D. Easley/AP

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In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man's family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt ...

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor's mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.

Democrats accuse Trump of abusing power, obstructing Congress' impeachment probe

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If the full House eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led U.S. Senate, where a two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office.

U.S. President Donald Trump solicited foreign interference to boost his re-election chances, undermined national security and ordered an “unprecedented” campaign to obstruct Congress, Democrats said on Tuesday in a report that lawmakers will use as the basis of any formal impeachment charges.

US President Donald Trump. File image

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"The legislative purposes of the investigations concern national security and the integrity of elections," ...

A New York federal appeals court ruled Tuesday morning that Deutsche Bank must turn over copies of President Donald Trump's financial records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees, marking the latest blow to the president's effort to keep his financial records private.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., pauses as she speaks at a town hall event at the Culinary Workers Union, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas.

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Harris entered the race January 2019 speaking before a crowd of 20,000 people, one of the largest in the 2020 cycle. The senator’s presidential hopes were ...

Sen. Kamala Harris has suspended her presidential bid, bringing to a close her historic effort to secure the Democratic nomination.

Trump faces two impeachment deadlines as inquiry shifts focus. File photo

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The Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges known as articles of impeachment, has given ....

U.S. President Donald Trump faced two deadlines in Congress on Sunday as Democrats prepared to shift the focus of their impeachment inquiry from fact-finding to the consideration of possible charges of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine.

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Sunrise, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland testified last week that a number of senior Trump administration officials were "in the loop" about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine.

U.S. President Donald Trump learned about a whistleblower complaint regarding his relations with Ukraine before he decided to unfreeze nearly $400 million in military aid, according to a New York Times report published Tuesday.

Trump Just Threw His Own Attorney Under The Bus During Radio Interview. Image credit - politicaldig

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"Well, you have to ask that to Rudy. ... I don't even know. I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I think he canceled a trip, but you know Rudy has other clients other than me. He’s done a lot of work in Ukraine over the years."

 President Trump denied sending his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to seek out damaging information on his political rivals.

Three men incarcerated in Maryland for 36 years have been exonerated in the murder of a Baltimore teenager

 Three men incarcerated for 36 years in Maryland were exonerated Monday in the slaying of a Baltimore teenager after a review of their case.

Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams. (Alabama Sheriffs Association)

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The suspect, named as William Chase Johnson, 18, immediately fled the scene of the crime on foot and the state of Alabama issued an emergency BLUE alert to apprehend the suspect.

An 18-year-old suspect is now in custody after an Alabama sheriff was shot and killed in the line of duty while answering a call to a convenience store.

Giuliani quips he has 'insurance' if Trump throws him 'under the bus'

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"I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid," Giuliani said in the phone interview, according to The Guardian.

President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani remarked Saturday that he has “insurance” if the president tries to turn on him while defending their relationship amid the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a listening session on youth vaping and the electronic cigarette epidemic inside the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

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Trump appealed a Nov. 4 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said prosecutors can enforce a subpoena...

The U.S. Justice Department on Friday backed President Donald Trump in his fight at the Supreme Court to prevent his tax returns from being disclosed to a New York prosecutor.

Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif., speaking Thursday during the House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.Andrew Harrer / AFP - Getty Images

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Nunes has been one of the president's most ardent supporters as he faces impeachment proceedings.

The attorney for an indicted associate of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer says his client is willing to tell Congress that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., met with Ukraine's former top prosecutor about investigating the activities of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Missing veteran's body found in his apartment 3 years after ... Image credit - Metro

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She said police told her that because her son was an adult and traveled extensively for work, they could not classify him as a missing person and pursue the case.

A Navy veteran found dead inside his apartment had been deceased for three years and the case has left his grief-stricken family searching for answers as to how exactly this could have gone unnoticed for such a long period of time after they repeatedly reported his absence to the authorities.

New documents show contacts between Giuliani (R) and Pom. Image credit - unbpeo

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Newly released documents show Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the months before the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled

Documents released late Friday show Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the months before the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled.

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Europe and Russia, and David Holmes, an official from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified in the House impeachment inquiry Thursday. Matt McClain/Pool/Getty

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What do the president's words mean? Can the president do what he did?

The marathon of testimony in Democrats' impeachment inquiry this week confirmed that the Ukraine affair, like so many earlier subplots in the era of President Trump, boils down to two big questions:

What do the president's words mean? Can the president do what he did?

The answers to those questions have been a partisan inkblot test since Trump exploded onto the political scene, and now they are burning again as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats decide how they'll move ahead in a showdown over impeachment.

The overall facts of the case now are well established: Trump sought concessions this year from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In exchange for engagement and about $391 million in military assistance, Zelenskiy — and not an aide such as his prosecutor-general — had to announce investigations that Trump thought might help him in the 2020 election, witnesses said.

The White House froze aid for a period of weeks this year and ultimately released it. Zelenskiy never made a public statement about investigations.

Findings of the inquiry

Members of Congress and the witnesses did not agree about whether they heard Trump make a request of Zelenskiy politely — or whether Trump twisted the arm of a weaker counterpart with the expectation that his words would be taken as a demand.

Witnesses and investigators also did not agree whether Trump had explicitly directed the aides — since dubbed "the three amigos" for Ukraine — that they were required to submit to the tasking of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Or whether what Trump did was, in so many words, shrug and say — Ukraine? If you guys wanna do some stuff, you can talk to Rudy.

Likewise, neither lawmakers nor the witnesses agreed whether Trump should have pursued this policy in the first place.

The United States has paused or stopped assistance for foreign countries before to exact concessions, as witnesses detailed on Wednesday evening.

Interpretations

Even so, Democrats led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., say the story amounts to "bribery," because he said Trump conditioned official acts on reciprocal actions that would benefit him politically.

"My colleagues seem to think unless the president says the magic words, 'I hereby bribed the Ukrainians,' that there's no evidence of bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors," Schiff said.

"But let's look to the best evidence of what is in the president's head. What is his intent? What is the reason behind the hold on the meeting and on the aid?"

Republicans said the case was hearsay, argued Democrats have no credibility after the Russia investigation, and emphasized that "corruption" in Ukraine is very real.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Trump was being a careful steward of taxpayer dollars, keeping them out of the hands of a new regime in Ukraine until he and aides could take its measure — and releasing the money only when satisfied that doing so would further U.S. long-term strategic interests.

"President Trump wants to see — with all of these other things that are of concern to him — he wants to see if this new guy is actually, as I like to say, the real deal — a real reformer and actually going to deal with the corruption problem," Jordan said of Zelenskiy.

Code words and "corruption"

Fighting corruption has been a longstanding American priority for Ukraine — but the Defense Department and other agencies certified earlier in the year, before the White House froze the aid, that Kyiv had done sufficient work to merit it.

And Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top Ukraine specialist within the National Security Council, testified on Tuesday that he included points about anti-corruption in materials given to Trump ahead of both his phone calls with Zelenskiy.

Trump, however, didn't mention corruption in either conversation, according to witnesses who listened in.

What he did say was "Biden," because he wanted Zelenskiy to investigate what Republicans allege may have been improper activity involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was paid by a Ukrainian company.

The Bidens haven't been accused of breaking the law, but each time Democrats have used their majority to convene a discussion about Ukraine in Congress, it has presented an opening for minority Republicans to restate allegations about Joe and Hunter Biden.

His excellency the ambassador

And Trump didn't say "Biden" when he spoke to a key intermediary in this story, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Sondland, a donor and political sponsor of the president, is one of the few witnesses who could speak to Trump directly. He said he didn't put the picture together until later on and realize that "Burisma," a word he did recognize as referring to the company that paid Hunter Biden, actually was code for Biden.

Although Sondland remembered Trump asking about investigations when they talked on the phone July 26, in a later call, Sondland said he asked Trump an open-ended question: What do you want from Ukraine?

"I want nothing," Trump confirmed on Wednesday that he responded — he read from handwritten notes when he talked to reporters. "No quid pro quo."

Sondland conveyed that to his colleagues and, a few days later, the White House released the Ukraine assistance on Sept. 11.

The matter of "bribery"

Skeptical Democrats said that discussion had to be placed in the context of the broader saga. The White House had become aware about inquiries about the halted Ukraine aid and Trump knew the game was up, they argue.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., compared Trump to someone who has been pulled over for speeding and immediately tells the police officer: "I didn't rob the bank. I didn't rob the bank," Swalwell said on Thursday.

For Republicans, Sondland's evidence underscored that there is no case here.

There is no "attempted robbery" metaphor appropriate in impeachment, they argue — Trump was not "caught," per Trump's defenders. He vindicated himself in the conversation with Sondland and with the release of the assistance. Zelenskiy didn't announce an investigation.

None of the Republican members on the Intelligence Committee appeared convinced by an impeachment case. One potential crossover, Texas Rep. Will Hurd, made clear on Thursday that he wasn't sold.

Others scoffed at what they called a waste of time.

"Is that it, really?" asked Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, on Thursday. "You're going to impeach and remove a president — for this?"

Stewart said he thinks it's good news that if House Democrats move ahead with articles of impeachment, that would trigger a Senate trial in which Republicans can use their majority to protect Trump from what Stewart called a scurrilous process.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated to reporters this week that he'll convene that trial as required by the Constitution, but he believes it's "inconceivable" that the sufficient 20 Republicans would break ranks with Trump and vote to remove the president.

"We aren't finished yet"

Democrats can do that arithmetic the same as anyone else, which means the close of the open hearings this week puts them at a crossroads.

Pelosi and her lieutenants have taken care to state that they don't consider impeachment to be a foregone conclusion.

So one question raised by Schiff's series of hearings is whether Pelosi now might try to climb down in view of the dead end in the Senate — or whether the impeachment train now simply has too much momentum to stop.

Schiff said at the outset of his hearings that he believes Trump's actions might leave the House with no choice but to impeach, because that's all it can do. If what results isn't removal but a message to presidents about what Democrats considered unacceptable here, the work was worth doing, Schiff suggested.

Pelosi, meanwhile, insisted to reporters separately that, on Thursday at least, she hadn't decided what next moves to discuss with the committees of jurisdiction and didn't know what course they'll set.

"We'll see," she said. "We aren't finished yet."

 

Source: npr.org

Ricoh McClain. Photo credit: Prince George's County Police

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Ricoh McClain is accused of stabbing a man who had cut the line at Popeyes, police say

Police have arrested the suspect in a fatal stabbing at a Popeyes restaurant in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

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