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National Govt & Politics
LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings
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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

A three day, nine witness impeachment hearing blitz comes to a conclusion on Thursday, as lawmakers will hear from a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, and a Foreign Service Officer who currently works at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, as Republicans and Democrats continue to consume these proceedings like people living on different planets.

After Wednesday's testimony with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, this session will feature Fiona Hill, who worked on the National Security Council until this July, and David Holmes, who overheard Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump, in which Mr. Trump reportedly asked about Ukraine announcing investigations sought by the President.

Here's the latest on the impeachment hearings:

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4:20 pm.  The hearing is over.  Here's my story.

4:15 pm.  As Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA ends this impeachment hearing, he appeals for Republicans to look at the evidence, and support this effort to remove President Trump from office.  

"Where is Howard Baker?" Schiff asked, reaching back to Watergate, and invoking the GOP Senator from Tennessee who asked the famous question, "What did the President know and when did he know it?"

3:20 pm.  GOP lawmakers continue to go after Holmes, and he continues to stand his ground on the Sondland-Trump phone call. At one point, Rep. Mike Conaway R-TX demanded that Holmes never talk in the future about calls like the Sondland-Trump call. Holmes fired back, saying that Sondland should not have held the call in public like he did, and defended going up the chain of command to report it.

2:50 pm.  It's always good to have a bit of levity at a hearing like this.  

2:25 pm. Unlike Jordan and Ratcliffe, Rep Mike Turner R-OH doesn't give Holmes a chance to answer his criticism, accusing Holmes of using 'anecdotal' evidence about the Sondland-Trump call to embarrass the Ukraine leader

2:15 pm.  It's been a very interesting last half hour.  GOP lawmakers have tried to undercut the testimony of Holmes about the Sondland-Trump phone call - but Holmes has held his own.

1:45 pm.   The 45 minutes are up for the GOP.  Fiona Hill forcefully pushed back on a series of GOP lines of questioning, as she bluntly said there was no reason to have anyone in the White House involved in the Giuliani effort in Ukraine, which she labeled a 'domestic political errand'

1:10 pm.  The White House has provided a statement on today's hearing denouncing the proceedings.  As you read this statement, one should remember that the White House has prevented a number of officials from testifying before this investigation.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

1:00 pm.  The hearing has resumed with Republicans asking 45 minutes of questions. Rep. Nunes starts by asking Hill & Holmes if they met with Alexander Chalupa, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr, or Glenn Simpson.  All 'no' answers.  Then, Nunes pressed Hill on the Steele Dossier.  She says she was sent a copy of it a day before it was published by BuzzFeed in early January of 2017.

12:30 pm.  The hearing won't resume for about another 30 minutes.  Various photographers are using their expensive equipment to stake out their spots.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

11:05 am. The 45 minutes of questions are now over, and there is a break, with House votes coming soon. My best guess? The hearing does not resume for another 60-90 minutes.

10:50 am. Meanwhile, Giuliani's name keeps coming up repeatedly. Fiona Hill recounts her conversation with John Bolton, who said of Giuliani and his work in Ukraine: 

"Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up."

Hill finishes by saying, "that's where we are today."

10:40 am.  More from Holmes on the Trump phone call.  Holmes said, “I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career.” 

10:25 am.  Fiona Hill makes a very direct jab at Republicans over the issue of people trying to switch the blame for 2016 election interference to Ukraine, and away from Russia.  It should spark some interesting Q&A with the GOP.

10:15 am.  Here is the video of Holmes talking about the Sondland-Trump phone call.

10:05 am.  Holmes has been going for almost 40 minutes.  A big chunk of his testimony was describing how he overheard Sondland talking on the phone with President Trump, as they sat at a table at a restaurant in Kyiv.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

9:50 am. In his testimony, Holmes is going through familiar testimony that Rudy Giuliani was pressing Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump. Holmes backs up the quid pro quo assertion of Sondland that Giuliani was conditioning a White House visit on those probes.

9:25 am. Schiff and Nunes give their opening statements. Nunes starts by calling the hearings "bizarre" and denounces what he labels a "carousel of accusations" against the President

9:10 am.  The hearing has started a few minutes late.  There will be a break at some point for votes on the House floor later this morning.  The House and Senate are ready to leave town today for a Thanksgiving break.  At this point, we don't know when the next public impeachment hearing will be scheduled by this panel - or if there will be another.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

8:55 am.  Fiona Hill's opening statement is out.  The Russia expert has a message aimed at Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

8:40 am.  President Trump has no public events on his schedule until 3:30 pm.  He has been on Twitter expressing his frustration with the impeachment investigation.

8:15 am.  I'm back in the room at the Ways and Means Committee.  Reporters are arriving a bit more slowly today.  But the still photographers are already here staking out their spots from the initial photos as the witnesses arrive for testimony.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

7:50 am.  The morning papers on the front step about the impeachment hearings.  

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

7:45 am.  If you missed the end of the Gordon Sondland hearing on Wednesday, members of the public audience gave him a standing ovation, and extended applause as he left the hearing room.  There was a similar reaction last Friday for ex-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

7:30 am.  The news from the evening hearing evidently did not sit well with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as more than an hour after the hearing ended, Jordan tweeted out his skepticism about Cooper's testimony, and the discovery of her staff.

7:25 am.  The day after the July 25 phone call, a group of top U.S. officials gathered in Washington to meet about military aid to Ukraine.  The number three official in the State Department testified last night that a White House budget official made clear aid to Ukraine was on hold - under orders from the President.

7:15 am. The biggest piece of news to come out of last night's impeachment hearing was about when Ukraine officials found out that U.S. aid was being delayed.  Pentagon official Laura Cooper said her staff had uncovered emails which showed Ukraine embassy officials in Washington asking what was going on with U.S. aid money.  Those emails were sent on - July 25.  Why is that important? That's the same day President Trump had his phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

7:00 am. If you missed the Sondland hearing on Wednesday, you missed one of the more unique hearings in some time on Capitol Hill.  Sondland sharpened his previous testimony, accusing Rudy Giuliani of a quid pro quo in which he pressed Ukraine to announce investigations backed by President Trump, in exchange for a White House meeting with the President.  

When the hearing began, the top Republican said Sondland would be smeared - presumably by Democrats.  But it was GOP lawmakers who scrapped with the Ambassador over his testimony, where he all but said that President Trump had ordered a hold on aid to Ukraine, in order to get the government to announce investigations of Hunter Biden, and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Here is a link to Sondland's testimony.

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News

  • A New York City program that relocates its homeless to other cities around the country is drawing fire from Marietta leaders who say they learned it was happening from a newspaper article. >> Read more trending news  Members of Marietta City Council say they want answers about how New York runs its Special One-Time Assistance program, which provides one year’s rent for eligible clients to relocate within the city, other New York state cities or other states. The program is the subject of a lawsuit filed Dec. 1 by the city of Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the destination cities for New York’s homeless. The lawsuit argues the program pressures desperate homeless to accept substandard housing conditions and that slumlords benefit from the city’s program that pays for a year’s rent with no checks on the living conditions. CNN has reported that New York City has agreed to temporarily suspend the program. 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.
  • Ruiz Food Products is recalling certain El Monterey breakfast burritos for plastic contamination, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The company recalled 55,013 pounds of 12-count, value pack “El Monterey signature burritos with egg sausage and cheese with a best buy date of 1/15/2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Three consumers complained after noticing hard, white plastic in a burrito. There are no reports of injuries. Consumers should return or throw away the burritos if they have them.
  • The House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday morning -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. >> Read more trending news  The process of marking up, debating, amending and rewriting the articles of impeachment, is expected to begin begin Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee. The charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Crews spent Tuesday trying to rescue a manatee with a bicycle tire wrapped around its body at a Florida state park, WFTV reported. >> Read more trending news   Rescue efforts at Blue Spring State Park. were unsuccessful, but SeaWorld Orlando officials said they will continue to try to rescue the animal. If it is captured, the manatee would be taken to SeaWorld for treatment. The rescue team comprises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld, the Save the Manatee Club and the Volusia County government.
  • 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.”