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National Govt & Politics
Perry is first Cabinet member to refuse to testify in impeachment probe
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Perry is first Cabinet member to refuse to testify in impeachment probe

Perry is first Cabinet member to refuse to testify in impeachment probe

Perry is first Cabinet member to refuse to testify in impeachment probe

As more Trump Administration officials did not show up to testify before impeachment investigators in the Congress on Wednesday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry became the first of President Trump's Cabinet to join that growing list, as Democrats say the President and his aides are openly obstructing a Congressional impeachment investigation.

Transcripts from the impeachment investigation show that Perry was working in concert with the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as Giuliani was operating a separate diplomatic effort in Ukraine, apart from State Department officials.

It was also revealed this week that before testimony by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, the two men spoke about events involving Ukraine.

"I have spoken with Secretary Perry on several occasions relating to non-Ukraine business," Sondland told investigators, "and I did ask Secretary Perry to refresh my memory about a couple of meetings. Yes."

Perry was one of nine different officials from the White House, the State Department, and the Cabinet - in just three days this week - who defied subpoenas for their testimony.

Democrats said if the top officials from the Trump Administration had only testimony which would benefit the President, then they would probably stop at nothing to tell the world that message.

'This will only further add to the body of evidence of a potential obstruction of Congress charge against the President," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is leading the impeachment proceedings at this point in the House.

On Wednesday, only one of four officials showed up to testify; that was David Hale, a top State Department official.

"We wish others would show the same courage and dedication to the law," Schiff told reporters.

Meanwhile, Democrats began to mock GOP lawmakers who had furiously complained about the closed door depositions conducted in recent weeks, arguing that Republicans were saying little about the hundreds and hundreds of pages of testimony released this week.

Republicans brushed aside such criticism, as they argue that Democrats are wasting the time of the American people.

"This is nothing but a show trial in the U.S. House of Representatives," said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

"They're trying to undo the free and open election of 2016 that elected Donald Trump to be President of the United States," Perdue added.

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  • A Maryland man is accused of driving his girlfriend, who had mental and physical disabilities, into the desert outside Las Vegas and suffocating her before returning home to his wife -- and pretending to be the dead woman via text and Facebook so her family would not suspect anything was wrong, authorities say.   Bethel Park, Pennsylvania police officials on Friday charged John Matthew Chapman, 39, of Oakland, with kidnapping, obstruction and criminal use of a communication facility in the disappearance of Jaime Rae Feden, who was last seen by loved ones Sept. 15. According to Allegheny County court records, he is being held in the county jail without bail. A body matching the description of the 33-year-old Bethel Park woman, who was reported missing Thursday by her family and friends, was found Oct. 5 in the Nevada desert, according to WPXI in Pittsburgh. Officials in Clark County, Nevada later positively identified Feden on Nov. 21 through dental records. “She was a very loving type of person and I think she was taken advantage of by someone who was a predator,” Bethel Park police Chief Timothy O’Connor told a WPXI reporter. Chapman was silent as he was led out of the Bethel Park Police Department in handcuffs Friday. When questioned by reporters, he just shook his head and stared straight ahead at the ground. >> Read more trending news  No homicide charges had been filed against Chapman as of Monday afternoon. O’Connor said if a murder charge is levied against the suspect, it would be done by authorities in Nevada because that is where he is accused of killing Feden. The body believed to belong to Feden was found about an hour north of Las Vegas, in Lincoln County, according to officials there. The remains were taken to the Clark County Coroner’s Office for autopsy and identification. Chapman’s stunned wife, Maureen Chapman, spoke to WPXI from her Maryland home about learning of her husband’s arrest. She said she was clueless about his apparent double life until he called her around 6 a.m. Friday from the Bethel Park Police Department. Maureen Chapman said her husband, to whom she’s been married less than a year, admitted in that phone call that he killed Feden. “I killed her because I had to,” John Chapman said, according to Maureen Chapman. She told the news station her husband had told her in September that his trip to Las Vegas, which was made in her truck, was for work. The truck has been seized as evidence, WPXI reported. “Oh, my God, it’s sick. It’s really sick,' Maureen Chapman said. “I just want the truth as to what happened. I feel I’m owed that.” Zip ties, duct tape and a photo shoot  A criminal complaint obtained by the news station alleges that John Chapman met Feden at a school for students with special needs. It was not immediately clear what special needs he has. A longtime friend of Feden’s, Nikki Lawrence, told Buzzfeed News that Feden, who has VATER syndrome, met John Chapman in 2009 and the pair had dated on and off since then. VATER syndrome is a condition that occurs when a baby is born with a series of birth defects in a number of areas, with the letters VATER standing for vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus and renal, or kidneys. Children diagnosed with the syndrome have defects in at least three of the areas impacted, according to Cincinnati Children’s. The condition is found in one out of every 10,000 to 40,000 births. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News the condition resulted in Feden having an extremely short stature. A missing person flier from the Bethel Park Police Department describes Feden as 4 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 75 pounds. According to court records, the body found in Nevada appeared to share many of the physical traits attributed to Feden due to her VATER syndrome. An entry in the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, also indicated the body’s height was measured at 3 feet, 9 inches. When found, the decomposing remains weighed just 49 pounds, despite being those of an adult female. The body also bore tattoos of the names Keith, Robin and Jason, along with a four-leaf clover, on the lower right leg, the NamUs entry said. Lawrence told BuzzFeed News that Feden has an identical tattoo -- the names are of her uncle, Keith, her brother, Jason, and her mother, Robin, who died when Feden was young. John Chapman’s family told investigators he would often stay at Feden’s townhouse in Bethel Park, WPXI reported. The station’s report did not say if his family knew the nature of their relationship, which Feden’s family and friends described to police as “tumultuous.” Maureen Chapman told the station her husband would tell her he was visiting family in Bethel Park, which is just outside of Pittsburgh, whenever he would go there. Bethel Park is about two hours from Oakland, which court records list as John Chapman’s city of residence. John Chapman told his wife he was visiting an aunt and uncle in Bethel Park just prior to his trip to Las Vegas, she said. According to the criminal complaint, John Chapman told detectives investigating Feden’s disappearance that he persuaded her to make the 2,200-mile trip to Vegas with him in late September to look at potential homes in the area. They arrived in Las Vegas on Sept. 23, according to a timeline put together by WPXI. John Chapman told police he lured Feden out to the desert Sept. 25 with the promise of a photo shoot, the court documents state. According to KSNV in Las Vegas, the photo shoot was to have a sadomasochistic tilt -- including bondage -- which allowed him to restrain an unsuspecting Feden. Once Feden was tied up, he killed her, Chapman told authorities, according to the court documents. “The suspect bound the victim’s hands and feet with plastic zip ties, and affixed her to a signpost,” the complaint alleges. “He then applied duct tape to her mouth, and then to her nose, until such a time that she was unable to breathe.” John Chapman told investigators he removed the tape and zip ties, as well as Feden’s clothes, after she was dead and left her lifeless body near the signpost, authorities allege. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told the Nevada news station that the suspect’s statement to police appears to correspond to a passing motorist’s gruesome find 10 days later along Kane Springs Road. “Just before he got to (US) Highway 93, he stopped to let his dogs out and discovered the nude body of an adult female,” Lee told KSNV. “Of course, officers responded to the scene. We processed what little scene we had. We figured she’d been there a little more than a week.” A ‘tumultuous’ relationship  After returning to Pennsylvania, John Chapman allegedly used Feden’s cellphone to send Facebook messages to her uncle, identified by police as Keith Lewis, so her family would not get suspicious, WPXI reported. Lewis told investigators, however, that the person sending the messages incorrectly answered questions to which Feden would have known the answers. Bethel Park police officers went to Feden’s townhouse just before 7 p.m. Thursday and found no one home, the criminal complaint says. They met with a friend of Feden’s, and a cousin of Feden’s, both of whom were concerned after having had no contact with her for an extended time period. Neighbors also told Feden’s family they were worried because they had not seen or heard from her in some time. The neighbors reported seeing John Chapman at the townhouse the day before, the documents say. “All parties were concerned for the victim’s safety due to a tumultuous past with Chapman,” the criminal complaint states. Lewis, who has legal control over Feden’s finances due to her disabilities, gave officers permission to force entry into the townhouse, where they found Feden’s backpack. Inside the bag was Feden’s cellphone, along with a roll of duct tape and plastic zip ties, the court documents say. When initially questioned, John Chapman gave police false information about the case, WPXI reported. Authorities allege he ultimately broke down and confessed to killing Feden. “I can’t believe it. I can’t process it,” Maureen Chapman told WPXI. “I have no idea why he would do anything like that.” John Chapman’s Facebook page describes him as a single ADT installation technician who lives in Pittsburgh. It lists Maureen Chapman as his sister. Maureen Chapman’s Facebook profile also lists her as single and living in Pittsburgh. John Chapman commented on her most recent profile photo, which appears to have been uploaded Aug. 27. “Looking good, sis,” he wrote. “Thanks,” she replied. ‘She just wanted him to love her’  Lawrence also got text messages that appeared to come from Feden multiple times in October. She posted the messages on her Facebook page Saturday evening. “It’s making me sick now, knowing that this was him texting me the whole time,” Lawrence wrote. In an exchange dated Oct. 1, Lawrence asked Feden if she and John Chapman had broken up. “Yeah, but we are still friends,” the text from Feden’s cellphone read. When Lawrence asks what happened, the response was that “apparently (Feden) was too clingy and he couldn’t take it.” “Thinking back, maybe I was and I did try to not be, but it’s hard when I care so much,” the response continued. In an Oct. 17 text to Feden, Lawrence asked when Chapman’s birthday is. The response, two days later, called it an odd question. “Have you tried asking him? Maybe try getting to know him?” Feden appeared to write. The texter purporting to be Feden claimed she didn’t know John Chapman’s birthday because she didn’t feel like he was “the one.” The person then alluded to Chapman’s “rough history,” but said Feden never felt unsafe around him. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News that she’d asked about John Chapman’s birthday because she wanted to use the information to look up his criminal history. By then, she had grown suspicious of him, she said. Those suspicions escalated after he friended her on Facebook on Sept. 29 -- five days after he told authorities he’d suffocated Feden -- and started commenting on her photos and posting virtual flowers on her timeline. Lawrence described John Chapman was “very mean” to her friend, who showed up at a local bar about three years ago with two black eyes. “The owner of the bar chased him down the street,” Lawrence told Buzzfeed News. “After that he didn’t really come around any of her friends and family.” In one of the text conversations with Lawrence after Feden vanished, the person using the missing woman’s phone blamed her family, in part, for the couple’s split. Feden’s Facebook page indicates that her family was wary of John Chapman long before the fateful September trip to Vegas. In a December post, she wrote that she found it odd her uncle was so “bent out of shape,” apparently after learning that Chapman was cheating on her. “He’s the one in the wrong. He’s the one that’s stalking my boyfriend,” Feden wrote about her uncle. “No rational person would take it that far. He had to have created a dating profile because you can’t see other profiles unless you have one of your own, and he’s a married man.” A family member told her she was being ridiculous. “This isn’t Uncle Keith’s first rodeo with your so-called boyfriend,” the woman wrote. In January, Feden wrote that her family had gone too far, and that John Chapman was planning to seek stalking charges against them. A friend called Chapman a coward and said he would never go to police to file a report. Lawrence told Buzzfeed News Feden likely had no idea her boyfriend was married. Those who knew Feden mourned her on social media, even as authorities await a positive identification of the body found in Nevada. “John Chapman, I hope you rot,” Lawrence wrote in a post Friday, in which she shared WPXI’s story about his arrest in her Feden’s disappearance. Another friend, Miranda Smith, responded that she’d just had a Facebook memory pop up -- a photo of Feden holding her young son when he was a baby -- and she was “ugly crying” as a result. Beth Asper, a former teacher of Feden’s, posted Saturday morning about her kidnapping and suspected slaying. “All of us who knew Jaime can attest that she was such a kind and lovely woman who never deserved anything but kindness in return,” Asper wrote. “I’m so sorry to post this but I know that all of us who knew and loved Jaime would want to know about this so we can mourn the loss of a friend who is so precious to us.” Another former teacher, Linda Loar, wrote that she recalled Feden from her elementary school years, during which time Feden’s mother died. “The circumstances of (Feder’s) passing are so tragic,” Loar wrote. “Let us all take time to honor her life.” Barb Smith Funk described Feder, whose mother was Funk’s childhood friend, as vulnerable to the suspect’s manipulation. “As much as her friends and family tried, they couldn’t protect her from (John Chapman’s) web of lies and deception,” Funk wrote, calling the younger woman’s apparent slaying “premeditated, vicious and unfathomable.” “This monster will rot in hell for what did to our precious Jamie,” she wrote. Lawrence described her missing friend as “such a sweetheart” in her Buzzfeed News interview. “She didn’t do anything wrong to anybody to deserve anything like this,' Lawrence said. 'She loved him, and she just wanted him to love her.”
  • A 37-year-old Black Diamond, Washington, man is accused of using chloroform and acetone on his 13-year-old stepdaughter, prosecutors said. >> Read more trending news  On Oct. 12, investigators said a Black Diamond police officer responded to a report of CPR being performed on a 13-year-old girl who was unconscious and not breathing.  When the officer arrived at the scene, a woman at the home told the officer that her granddaughter wasn’t breathing and that her son was with her. The officer saw the girl’s stepfather, Allen Bittner, next to the teen on the ground. The officer moved the teen onto her side and she started vomiting onto the floor. Medics then arrived to treat the teen. She was later taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital and admitted in pediatric intensive care on a breathing tube, prosecutors said. According to charging documents, Bittner explained that “he had been giving his daughter a ‘breathing treatment’ and she had lost consciousness,” and he told the officer that he used a liquid that he had put on a cloth for her to inhale.” The officer retrieved an empty bottle and the cloth, which appeared to be soaked with a liquid and had a very strong chemical solvent odor. Bittner told the officer that the “breathing treatment” was a liquid chemical that he used when he was in the Navy to “open the airway and kill bacteria,” prosecutors said. He also mentioned that the teen had shortness of breath, was interested in singing and wanted to improve her breathing. He told the officer that he used it for himself and that he got the chemical from a man who worked with him at Boeing, according to investigators. Bittner said he didn’t know what the chemical was or where the man had obtained it. On Oct. 18, police received a report from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab on tests done on the liquid from the bottle and the cloth. According to prosecutors, it determined the presence of chloroform and acetone from both samples. Charging documents said a search warrant was obtained for Bittner’s cellphone and laptop, and it was discovered that there were several internet searches about how to manufacture chloroform and the effects of it. On Nov. 10, Bittner was arrested and later booked into the King County Jail. He was charged with second-degree assault, domestic violence.
  • A Florida woman was accused of animal cruelty after investigators found seven malnourished horses at her house. One of the animals later died. >> Read more trending news  Investigators were notified about the horses Oct. 24 and met with Nicole Hutchins, 32, in an attempt to improve the animals’ conditions, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.  However, deputies and Pasco County Fire Rescue workers were called back to Hutchins’ home Wednesday to help with a horse that was unable to get up. The horse later died. Investigators took custody of the remaining six horses and will petition the court for possession of them in order to auction them.  Hutchins was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. 
  • Tilli Buchanan and her husband were sweaty and itchy after spending the day installing insulation in their Utah garage, so they stripped off their long-sleeved shirts to cool down, according to her attorneys. More than a year later -- though that timeline is in some dispute -- Buchanan, 27, of West Valley City, finds herself in court, fighting lewdness charges filed against her in February because her young stepchildren saw her topless. If convicted of the three Class A misdemeanor charges against her, Buchanan could serve jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next decade, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Her husband, who was also shirtless, has not been charged with a crime. “If we are to lose this, she’s on the sex registry with child rapists and things of that nature,” her attorney, Randy Richards, told reporters. “The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.” Buchanan, who is also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was in court for a hearing on Tuesday, at which time her attorneys argued that Utah’s lewdness act is unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently. “What’s important to look at, to see, when you look at the statute, is there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,” ACLU attorney Leah Farrell told reporters after the hearing. “And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.” District Judge Kara Pettit declined to rule from the bench, saying “it’s too important of an issue” for an immediate judgment, the Deseret News reported. Pettit said she would hand down a decision sometime within the next two months. According to Utah’s law against lewdness involving a child, a person can be convicted if he or she exposes his or her genitals, buttocks, anus or pubic area, or the female breast “below the top of the areola,” in front of a child. The law applies if the person does this in public or “in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child.” Farrell said that standard is unfair to women because they have to do “mental calculus” to determine if going topless will cause alarm, while that same burden is not placed on men, the News reported. West Valley Deputy City Attorney Corey Sherwin, who is prosecuting Buchanan’s case, told the newspaper that Utah laws do not target women, but said nudity is understood to not only include “lower parts of the body” but also the female breast. He said the lewdness statute applies only to those who intentionally expose themselves around children. In court paperwork obtained by the Tribune, Sherwin argued that Buchanan stripped down in front of the children, boys ages 13 and 9 and a 10-year-old girl, after stating that, if her husband could go shirtless, she should be able to, as well. The documents alleged Buchanan, who Sherwin claimed was “under the influence of alcohol,” later told her husband she would only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis, the Tribune said. The incident took place in late 2017 or early 2018, according to prosecutors. Buchanan said, however, that it may have taken place as early as the fall of 2016. >> Read more trending news  The Tribune reported that authorities became involved earlier this year during a Division of Child and Family Services investigation that did not involve Buchanan. The incident came to light during that unrelated probe and the children’s mother called police, saying she was alarmed by what had happened in front of the kids. Buchanan’s recollection of the incident differs greatly from the claims made by prosecutors. She said that, when the children came downstairs to find her without a shirt, she used the moment as a teaching experience for her stepchildren. She said she pointed out to the children that they were not made uncomfortable by their father’s bare chest. “This isn’t a sexual thing,” she recalled telling the children, according to the Tribune. “I should be able to wear exactly what my husband wears. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about this.” Listen to Tilli Buchanan speak following her court hearing below, courtesy of KSL in Salt Lake City. Richards argued earlier this year that Buchanan should not face charges for being shirtless in her own home while her husband escapes punishment or condemnation for the same behavior. “The fact that this was in the privacy of one’s own home is real troubling,” Richards told the Tribune in September. “Different people have different moral positions as far as nudity.” Richards’ argument has been based largely on a February opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Court, which upheld a lower court ruling that a Fort Collins, Colorado, ordinance banning women from going topless violated their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Fox13 in Salt Lake City reported in September that the court narrowed its ruling in the case, Free the Nipple Fort Collins v. City of Fort Collins, to address solely the Fort Collins ordinance. West Valley City prosecutors cited that narrow scope during arguments in Buchanan’s case, arguing that the “Free the Nipple” ruling is more narrow than the ACLU might like. Read the court ruling in full below. Free the Nipple v Fort Collins by National Content Desk on Scribd The ruling, which made headlines nationwide, is slowly making its mark on other Utah cases, however. FOX 13 reported that attorneys with clients facing lewdness charges have begun citing the appeals court ruling in their own arguments. Buchanan said she was devastated by the criminal charges filed against her. “The moment I took to teach the kids, it was kind of smashed,” she told the Tribune. “Like you can’t teach kids this. In fact, you’re going to be charged for even bringing this up.” After Tuesday’s hearing, Buchanan told reporters she is hopeful at least a portion of the state’s lewdness law will be struck down. “Especially given it was in the privacy of my own home, my husband was right next to me, in the exact same manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted for it,” Buchanan said.
  • A former National Security Council official and a diplomat who says he overheard a conversation between President Donald Trump and ambassador Gordon Sondland are scheduled to testify Thursday in the week’s final impeachment inquiry hearing. >> Read more trending news  The testimony of Fiona Hill and David Holmes comes a day after Sondland offered explosive testimony in which he said he, Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry worked with Rudy Giuliani to pursue a 'quid pro quo' with Ukraine, dangling a possible White House meeting between Trump and the Ukrainian president in exchange for an announcement that Ukraine was to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. According to Sondland, a second investigation into Ukraine-backed interference in the 2016 presidential election was also on the table. Hill, who testified in a closed-door session that she had concerns about Giuliani, and Holmes, who told Ukraine charge d’affaires William Taylor that he overheard a phone conversation between Sondland and Trump, will testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence beginning at 9 a.m. Livestream See the livestream below when the hearing starts. Live updates The public hearings are over 4:20 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2019: Schiff has gaveled the hearing closed, and, so far, there is no word on anymore scheduled public hearings. Congress will be on Thanksgiving recess next week. When they come back, Democrats are expected to decide on articles of impeachment. Closing statements 3:50 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2019: The members of the committee have completed their questioning. Now, Nunes and Schiff will have closing statements. Nunes is giving a timeline of attacks against Trump dating back to 2015. Was there an investigation; did they meet? 3 p.m. ET Nov. 20, 2019: Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, thanks Hill for her comments about personal attacks she has been under. Stefanik eventually asks Hill and Holmes if Ukraine received military aid. Yes, they both say. Was there an investigation into the Bidens? No, both answered. Did Trump meet with Zelensky at the U.N.? Yes, they said, though Holmes points out it was not in the Oval Office. Hill answers Weinstrup 2:15 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: After a Rep. Brad Weinstrup, R-Ohio, talks about how divisive the country has become because of the hearings, Hill urges the members of the committee and the American people to put aside partisan issues. “We need to be together again in 2020 so the American people can make a choice about the future and make their vote without any fear” that foreign countries are interfering in the election, Hill says. There wasn't a yelling match 1:45 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Sondland testified on Wednesday that a July 10 White House meeting had dissolved into a shouting match. “There was no yelling or shouting,” Hill says. “That’s some embellishment... Sondland was in an exchange with Vindman... ‘we have an agreement to have a meeting’.” “When I came in (to the Ward Room in the White House), Gordon Sondland was basically saying look, I have a deal with chief of staff Mulvaney that we have a meeting if the Ukrainians announce investigations of Burisma... “I cut it off right there... it was clear then that Burisma was code for the Bidens... “So I cut off this line and I said to Ambassador Sondland look... we have to properly prepare this... and we really shouldn’t be talking about this in front of our colleagues from Ukraine... “We asked our colleagues to wait outside of the door in the corridor. “I pushed back on ambassador Sondland. “Ambassador Sondland then said OK, fair enough. Ambassador Volker didn’t say anything at this particular juncture.” Vindman’s judgment 1:40 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Castor asks Hill about Tim Morrison’s testimony earlier this week that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s judgment was in question.  Vindman, while “excellent at his job,” did not have the political experience to handle the informal policy channel that was forming about Ukraine, Hill said. “That does not mean in any way that I was questioning his overall judgment or his expertise. He is excellent... this is a very different issue.”  Does Holmes know Lutschenko? 1:20 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Nunes asks Holmes if he knows journalist and former legislator Sergey Lutschenko. Holmes says yes. Nunes asks if he knows that Lutschenko produced the “black ledger” which allegedly contained damaging information against Trump. Holmes said, yes. Nunes asks Holmes if the black ledger is credible. Holmes said it is. Nunes says Robert Mueller did not consider it credible. Holmes: “I’m not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible,” but it was used as evidence in other criminal proceedings. Nunes: Didn’t Lutschenko want to hurt Trump? Holmes: “He has not said that to me. If he said that to you I’ll take your word for it.” Who put you in charge? 1:15 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Castor asks her about Sondland. Hill said she dealt with him as she worked on Ukraine matters as EU and Ukraine matters overlap. “It was perfectly logical that Ambassador Sondland would play some kind of role” on Ukraine, she said. However, Sondland seemed to be inserting himself in different matters, so she asked him what was going on. “I asked him quite bluntly” about his role, Hill said. “He said he was in charge of Ukraine, and I said ‘who put you in charge?’ and he said ‘the president’.” Nunes asks about the Steele dossier 1:09 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Nunes questions Hill and Holmes. He asks Hill if she knows Christopher Steele. Yes, she had met with him. Did she know of the Steele dossier and had she seen it before it was published. Yes, she said, a colleague at the Brookings Institute shared it with her the day before it was published.  Did she know who paid for it? Fusion GPS, Hill said. Nunes asks if she actually knows who commissioned it. She said she knew through the media that the Democratic National Committee had paid Fusion GPS for it. The hearing is set to resume 12:51 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: After an extended break allowing members to vote, the hearing looks set to resume. The hearing is recessed for a break 11:05 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: They are taking a break to vote on the House floor. The ‘drug deal’ quote 11 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Hill said she was told by Bolton after a July 10 meeting that she needed to go to John Eisenberg, White House counsel, and tell him that he, Bolton, was in “no way a part of this ‘drug deal’ that Sondland and Mulvaney had cooked up.” ‘A hand grenade' 10:50 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Hill, who worked closely with former chief of staff John Bolton, said she talked to him about Yovanovitch’s dismissal, with the help of Giuliani. “Ambassador Bolton had looked pained, indicated with body language that there was nothing he could do about it” then said, “Mr. Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everyone up.” Goldman asked her what that meant.  “That Mr. Giuliani was pushing views that would probably come back to haunt us, and that’s where we are today,” Hill said. ‘Predicated on other issues’ 10:40 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Hill is asked about the July 25 call and notes that she left the White House before the call took place. However, she said, “In the months leading up” to it, “it became very clear the White House meeting itself was being predicated on other issues, namely investigations and the questions about the election interference in 2016.” She said she found the call ‘surprising.” Hearing the phone call 10:30 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Goldman asks Holmes about the phone call and how Holmes was able to hear it. Holmes describes the call that happened on the terrace of a restaurant in Kyiv. Holmes said he heard Trump’s loud and distinctive voice and that Sondland held the phone out from his ear because the volume was so loud. What did he hear, Goldman asked. “He clarified whether he (Sondland) was in Ukraine... he said, ‘is he gonna do the investigation.” “You heard that,” Goldman asked. “Yes, sir.” “What was Sondland’s response?” “He said oh yeah, he’s gonna do it, he’ll do anything you ask.” Was the phone unsecured, Goldman asked. It was, said Holmes. Hill warns of Russian interests10:15 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” Hill said. “I say this not as an alarmist, but as a realist. … Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them. In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.” The aid and the phone call 10 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Holmes said he agrees with Taylor and Yovanovitch’s testimony. He goes on to talk about the hold on military aid. “My clear impression was that the hold was intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction … or as an attempt to increase the pressure on them to do so.” The phone call he said he heard happened on July 26. He said about it: “During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of: Gordon Sondland holding for the President. “It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistants. I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor change, and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. “While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speaker phone, I could hear the President’s voice through the ear piece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain that he was calling from Kyiv. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky, quote, unquote, loves your ass. I then heard President Trump ask, quote, “So he’s going to do the investigation?” unquote. Ambassador Sondland replied that, “He’s going to do it,” adding that President Zelensky will quote, “Do anything you ask him to.” Giuliani took ‘active role’ 9:50 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Holmes said of Sondland, “He made clear that he had direct and frequent access to president Trump and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.” He went on to say that Giuliani took an active role when it came to Ukraine. “Over the following months, it became apparent that Mr. Giuliani had a direct influence on the policy that the three amigos (Sondland, Rick Perry, and Kirk Volker) were executing on the ground in Ukraine,” Holmes said. Holmes goes first 9:40 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Holmes gives his opening statement first and says he did not seek to testify but was subpoenaed. He said his goal is to testify truthfully. He talks about his work. 'My entire career has been in the service of my country,' he says. He was Marie Yovanovitch's top political adviser. He says a political agenda by Rudy Giuliani 'dramatically changed' the atmosphere at the U.S. embassy.  He talks about the effort to remove Yovanovitch from her post. He again blames Giuliani for promoting falsehoods about Yovanovitch. He also talks about Giuliani's comments about Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and the Bidens. More hearings? 9:30 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Nunes calls for a 'minority day of hearings.' The hearing has started 9:07 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Schiff is giving his opening statement. He immediately begins to talk about Gordon Sondland's testimony. “Trump put his personal and political interest above the United States,' Schiff said. Nunes claims it's the Democrats who got caught doing something wrong, not President Trump.  'They got caught trying to obtain nude photos of President Trump from Russian pranksters,' he said. Ready to go any moment 9 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: The committee members are getting into place and the hearing room is filling up. Just waiting for Hill and Holmes to take their seats. Starting soon 8:45 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: The hearing will begin in 15 minutes. Hill and Holmes have arrived on Capitol Hill. The rules 8:30 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: There will be opening statements from Hill, Holmes, committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, who is the committee’s ranking member. Then, there will be 45 minutes for the committee’s counsel – Steve Castor for the Republicans and Daniel Goldman for the Democrats. Then, the members of the committee will have five minutes each to question Hill and Holmes. What will they be asked about 8:15 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Both Hill and Holmes have testified in closed-door sessions. Hill will likely be asked about a July 10 meeting where EU ambassador Gordon Sondland suggested that there should be investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden and the 2016 presidential election. Holmes says he overheard a cellphone conversation between Sondland and Trump on July 26. Let’s get started 8 a.m. ET Nov. 21, 2019: Good morning and welcome to live updates from the fifth public hearing of the impeachment inquiry. The hearing begins in an hour, at 9 a.m. ET. Testifying today will be former National Security Council official Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.
  • A 63-year-old man accused of shooting and killing two teens on his West Dayton property was indicted Thursday on charges of murder and felonious assault, which comes after months of public outcry over a lack of an arrest and criminal prosecution in the killings. >> Read more trending news  Victor Santana, who owned the home at 848 Conner St., has been indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury for fatally shooting 17-year-old Dayton residents Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison. “The evidence in this case does not demonstrate a reasonable claim of self-defense,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said. Santana is in the Montgomery County Jail following his arrest on a warrant Thursday. Santana faces four counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and one count of attempt to commit murder. Henderson, 17, of Dayton, died after being shot twice in the back in a garage at 848 Conners St., according to crime scene and autopsy photos and Montgomery County Coroner’s Office records. Harrison, also 17, was struck by gunfire in his back, arm and thigh, the records show. Prosecutors announced they will seek a high bond for Santana from the judge, because Santana has multiple residences in the U.S., including in New Mexico and California. In September, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said Dayton Police Department investigators met with a panel of assistant prosecuting attorneys and reviewed the evidence in the case. “It was agreed by everyone that additional investigation needs to be completed before a formal filing of charges,” Flannagan said at the time. “The investigators will notify us when the investigation is complete in order to set a date to present the filing.” Linda Henderson, Devin Henderson’s mother, said it was heartbreaking to learn her son and his friend were shot in the back. “That’s bad news for any parent to hear,” she said. “To me, it seems like they were just trying to get away.” Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl on multiple occasions has said a new state law shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the defendant to the prosecutors, which could affect this case. “The burden is on the state to prove this was not self-defense — it’s a high standard,” Biehl said. At about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28, a resident of the home at 848 Conners St. says he heard noises and voices outside and saw a light from a car in his garage, police said. The man, who authorities have not identified, encountered three individuals and fired multiple shots from a .38-caliber pistol, police said. Henderson and Harrison were shot and killed, and the third individual, 19-year-old Jashin Gibson, fled but then returned when police and fire crews arrived on scene, police said. Gibson was arrested for breaking and entering. Gibson was booked in the Montgomery County Jail on a probation violation related to a robbery conviction, but was no longer there Thursday. Police said the detached garage was unsecured and open. The garage is about 15 feet from the home. Henderson was struck by two bullets in the back, according to coroner records and photos. One struck the left side of his upper back, and the other struck the right side, around the shoulder blade. Crime scene photographs show Henderson’s body wedged between the far wall of the garage and a silver Lincoln Continental. Harrison was struck by a bullet in the mid-section of the left back. It exited his chest and was recovered from his clothing, the initial autopsy report states. He also was hit in the thigh and the left forearm, with the bullet exiting through his elbow. Harrison’s body was found in the grass outside the garage, with his feet by the entryway, according to crime scene photos. The shooter called 911 to report the incident. He put the pistol down on his front porch before emergency responders arrived. Attorney Michael Wright, who is representing Harrison’s family, said it’s “somewhat obvious” that the shooting was not in self-defense. “We believe that they probably shouldn’t have been in the garage; however, they shouldn’t have been killed for being in the garage,” he said. In August, Biehl said it was tragic that two teens lost their lives, and police were consulting with prosecutors about the case. Biehl said it will be up to prosecutors to determine if it was a justifiable case of self-defense or a criminal act. Under a new state law, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person who uses deadly force did not do so in self-defense, defense of another or defense of the person’s residence. The burden used to be on the defendant to prove they acted in self-defense. Biehl said there was evidence of some drug activity taking place in the garage. Harrison’s father, Jimmy Harrison, previously said the boys sometimes went to the property to smoke marijuana. Henderson’s mother said the boys had gone to the property multiple times before. She said the shooter should have called the police when he heard noises outside or fire a warning shot. “I’m hearing this today that my son was shot twice in the back, and that little boy three times — that’s not right at all,” Linda Henderson said. “They didn’t have a chance.” She said she wants justice for her son, who was a twin, and for Harrison and his family.