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National Govt & Politics
Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats
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Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

Returning to Capitol Hill from a Thanksgiving break, House Democrats are showing no signs of backing away from their efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, with plans this week to release a new report on the Ukraine investigation and hold the first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, a process which could ultimately lead to a historic vote before Christmas to impeach President Trump.

After wrapping up five public days of impeachment hearings in November, House Democrats spent the last ten days releasing more testimony about the Ukraine investigation, and writing a report on the findings.

Here is some of what we learned over the Thanksgiving break, and some of what to expect in the days and weeks ahead:

1. Democrats to forge ahead on impeachment. Since the end of public impeachment hearings, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have been writing a report to summarize the findings from the panel's Ukraine investigation.  That report - based on information from a series of closed door depositions and public impeachment hearings on President Trump's actions regarding Ukraine - is expected to be voted on by the Intelligence panel in a Tuesday evening meeting. On Wednesday, the focus shifts to the House Judiciary Committee, which will hold its first impeachment hearing with a group of constitutional scholars. In other words, Democrats are not wondering what they should do on impeachment.

2. Will Trump legal team join in impeachment hearings? As House Democrats signaled last week that they were ready to push ahead with impeachment efforts, they also gave the White House until this Friday to decide whether to join the proceedings. In letter, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) set the December 6 deadline for an answer.  Republicans have complained about the inability of the President's lawyers to be involved in the process, but on Sunday night, the President's White House Counsel told Democrats they would not join in a hearing set for Wednesday.  It's a scathing five page letter.

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Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

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Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

3. Two White House budget officials quit over Ukraine aid delay. In a deposition released to the public just before Thanksgiving, there were some new nuggets from the impeachment testimony of career OMB official Mark Sandy. Sandy - who was the only OMB employee not to defy a subpoena for testimony - confirmed that he knew of two different White House budget staffers who had quit their jobs over the delay in Ukraine military aid. This wasn't a policy dispute. It was partly over concern that the White House was breaking the law by not spending money approved by the Congress for Ukraine. It's very interesting to note that in a city which is renowned for leaks to the press, the news of these Ukraine-related resignations at the White House never became public, until now.

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Congress returns with focus on impeachment push by Democrats

4. Testimony reveals more pieces to Ukraine puzzle. The Sandy testimony also brought out more evidence of how important July 25, 2019 has become in the Ukraine investigation. That morning, President Trump spoke by phone with the leader of Ukraine, and asked the President of Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections. We also now know from the impeachment testimony that a few hours after that phone call, Ukraine government officials were already sending emails to counterparts at the Pentagon and State Department, worried the Trump Administration was delaying military aid for Ukraine. And Sandy confirmed in his testimony that on the evening of July 25, the White House officially put the aid money on hold, two weeks after basically deciding that would be the decision. "Things seem to keep coming back to July 25th," said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).

5. Have you read any impeachment transcripts? Here is a link to all 17 of the impeachment deposition transcripts released by the House Intelligence Committee. There are three tweets in this thread with all of the links. Don't tell anyone you didn't have a chance to read some of the evidence for yourself.

6. Republicans still want to hear from the whistleblower. In the five days of public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, GOP lawmakers repeatedly demanded to hear from the person who first raised red flags through the chain of command about the delay in Ukraine aid. So far, Democrats have stiff-armed those Republican requests. But don't look for the GOP to be silent about the matter in coming weeks.

7. Republicans also want testimony by Rep. Schiff. GOP lawmakers also are likely to keep up a steady drumbeat of jabs at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. While Republicans charge that Schiff met with the unidentified whistleblower, and that he knows the identify of that person, Schiff has publicly denied that. For GOP lawmakers and the President, Schiff has become their impeachment pinata - and one would expect that to continue as this effort from Democrats continues in the House.

8. Trump echoes GOP broadsides on impeachment. Over the Thanksgiving break President Trump joined Republicans in Congress in continuing to belittle the impeachment investigation from Democrats in Congress. "Schiff’s impeachment hearings wasting time when Congress must do real work," the President tweeted.  "Trump did nothing impeachable," he added in another post. "Sen. Tim Scott Says Trump 'Innocent,' 'No Way' Senate Convicts," was another Twitter missive from Mr. Trump. And as the impeachment proceedings continue, one should not expect the President to be silent.

9. The impeachment schedule was similar 21 years ago. Rewind to December of 1998. The story I wrote on this day said, "The White House and Democrats are demanding that GOP leaders bring impeachment proceedings to a quick finish." That sort of sounds familiar. Back then, it was Republicans pursuing a historic impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton. The partisan battle resumed after a Thanksgiving break, and raged until the Saturday before Christmas, when the House approved two articles of impeachment against Mr. Clinton. Given the calendar, an impeachment vote in 2019 against President Trump - by the Saturday before Christmas - would be a possibility this time as well.

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Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said at the City Council’s Nov. 26 work session that she was “astonished” when she read a recent article in The New York Post that cited city records indicate New York City has sent homeless families to 373 cities around the country including Marietta, Kennesaw and Smyrna. According to the Post report, two homeless New York residents have been sent to Smyrna, while Marietta and Kennesaw have received one each. Other metro cities where New York’s homeless were relocated include Atlanta, East Point, Decatur, Stone Mountain, Alpharetta, Loganville, Lilburn, Lawrenceville and Riverdale. The Post also reported that since the program started in 2017, New York has relocated 5,074 families, or 12,482 people, to other areas within the city, state or around the country. Clients must show proof of income and have the future ability to pay their rent based on an amount that does not exceed 50 percent of their income, according to the city’s website. No other details about eligibility, including whether clients have to have family or employment waiting in another city or state, were provided on New York City’s website about the program. Kelly said the cities which have received the relocated families, including Marietta, have not been made aware of the program. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called and emailed New York City officials to get more details about the program, but no one with the city government responded to those requests. Kelly said Marietta and Cobb County do a great job taking care of homeless people who are already living in the county, and taking on “the plight of another state” is something Marietta is not equipped to do. “We don’t want to be the place where people are sending their homeless population,” she said. “We want them to be addressing their own needs, as we are doing ours.” Kelly wants the city to research what options it has, including whether it could ask New York City to alert Marietta when it plans to send a person to its jurisdiction. City Attorney Doug Haynie said his research won’t be a “quick fix,” but he expects to make a recommendation by January for council members to consider. Jennifer Bennett, a spokeswoman with the city of Smyrna, said its homeless population is “known to us” and the city is not aware of anyone from New York City who has relocated to its jurisdiction. Smyrna has about five people they’ve identified as homeless who live within the city limits. “Our police department keeps an eye out for their welfare and checks on them from time to time, especially when weather conditions are unfavorable,” she said. Cobb officials are concerned that the relocated homeless could place a strain on the county’s service agencies. Kaye Cagle, spokeswoman with MUST Ministries, the Cobb-based charity that provides services for the homeless, said no one on the nonprofit’s staff has had any contact with anyone who relocated to the area under New York’s program. Tyler Driver, executive director of The Extension in Marietta, also said his organization has not had any contact with clients who have come from New York. The Extension provides long-term residential treatment to homeless people battling addictions. New York City’s program sparked a debate among Marietta’s elected officials. Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said the practice of one government sending homeless people to other jurisdictions is nothing new. In the 1990’s, Project Homeward Bound used funding from Fulton County to provide one-way bus tickets for homeless people to leave town as long as they could prove they had family or a job waiting at their final destination. The program initially required recipients to promise they would not return to Atlanta, but managers of the program later dropped that caveat. Richardson said she was concerned about infringing on another person’s constitutional right to move freely. “Stopping this is going to be impossible,” she said of New York’s program, adding she wasn’t sure if Marietta had the ability to require New York inform other cities of its actions. Councilman Reggie Copeland said the issue magnifies the crisis of homelessness around the country since cities like New York and Marietta are all grappling with homelessness. “It’s not just local, it’s global,” he said.
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  • All Saudi military trainees have been grounded indefinitely from flight training at air bases across the country after a deadly shooting by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There are 852 Saudi students across the country. More than 300 Saudi military trainees are stationed at three bases in Florida. >> Read more trending news  The restriction includes 140 students at the naval base in Pensacola; 35 at nearby Whiting Field; and another 128 students at Naval Air Station Mayport, The Associated Press reported. Classroom training will continue this week. Flight training for other students will also resume while military leaders examine the vetting process, The New York Times reported. An estimated 5,100 international students training at U.S. military installations will also be part of the review. The order is in an effort to ensure student safety as they recover from the trauma of the shooting. The Saudi shooter killed three members of the U.S. military and injured eight others before he was fatally shot. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Depending on one’s perspective, pigeons wearing tiny cowboy hats is either an amusing sight or a terrible example of animal abuse. What’s undeniable is that two pigeons were spotted in a Las Vegas parking lot, wearing the miniature head gear. >> Read more trending news  Bobby Lee was heading to the grocery store Thursday when he saw the birds pecking the ground in a parking lot near a dumpster, The New York Times reported. Pigeons are not unusual in Las Vegas, but Lee pulled out his cellphone and began recording video when he noticed two birds with tiny hats -- one red, and one gray, KNVT reported. Lee posted the video to Facebook, the television station reported. The video has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter, the television station reported. “The birds have hats on, bro!” Lee, 26, can be heard during the 12-second video he originally posted on Facebook. “It got a lot of attention fast,” Lee told the Times. “The day after, I had a lot of news people texting me and people trying to buy my video.” Who would put hats on wild birds? Lee said he did not know, but he did say the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in town. But the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which organizes the event, “had nothing to do with the pigeons wearing cowboy hats,” Scott Kaniewski, the editor of ProRodeo Sports News, told the Times. Animal welfare agencies contacted Lee, including Lofty Hopes, a bird rescue organization. The group asked him to be vigilant and report if any more birds had hats, the Times reported. Charles Walcott, a Cornell University ornithologist who has been studying pigeons for 30 years, viewed the video Tuesday and said the pigeons seemed to be OK despite the headwear, the Times reported. “I enjoyed the video,' Walcott told the newspaper. 'I just thought those pigeons with hats were cute. 'I think the thing that I would emphasize is I can’t see that it is causing any great harm to the pigeons. The hats are “certainly light enough. They look like happy pigeons to me. It is hard to know, of course, because they will not talk to us.”