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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    The second day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump was thrown off stride on Friday by the President himself, as he went on Twitter and ridiculed the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, prompting Democrats to accuse Mr. Trump of blatant witness intimidation. 'As we sit here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'He is smearing you right now as you are testifying,' said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). 'Expect witness tampering to be an article of impeachment,' tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the Republican Party after endorsing an impeachment investigation against the President. The President's tweets came as in the midst of questioning for Marie Yovanovitch, as Democrats swiftly moved to bring Mr. Trump's real time comments into the hearing. 'I mean, I can't speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating,' Yovanovitch said in her impeachment appearance. The President's tweets unexpectedly upended whatever GOP planning had been done for the hearing, forcing Republican lawmakers yet again to answer for the reactions of Mr. Trump, and leading to headlines which clearly took Republicans off script. GOP lawmakers tried their best to steer around Yovanovitch, engaging in no line of questions which had any type of confrontational element during the hearing. Instead, Republicans praised her diplomatic work, noting that she had landed a fellowship at Georgetown University, at the same rate of pay as her ambassadorial post. Democrats mocked that talk. 'It's like a Hallmark movie, you ended up at Georgetown! It's all okay!' said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) in a sarcastic tone. Democrats returned again and again to the President's tweets during the hearing, accusing him of trying to undermine the impeachment investigation. 'This is another step by the President to intimidate witnesses,' said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). 'He didn't intimidate you,' Welch told Yovanovitch. Republicans again did their best to simply say the entire process was a sham. 'The American people know this is nonsense,' said Rep. Chris Stewart. At the end of the hearing, top Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called the second hearing an 'embarrassment.' But a couple minutes later, members of the public were standing and cheering for Yovanovitch. For a closer look at what went on in the hearing, click on this link for more video.
  • With President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continuing to denounce investigative proceedings led by Democrats, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee was holding a second day of impeachment hearings on Friday, continuing to focus on efforts by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to undermine American diplomats in Ukraine. After hearing on Wednesday from the acting U.S. Ambassador and a top State Department official, the focus in this hearing is the ex-Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out of her post earlier in 2019, after a campaign which she - and other State Department officials - have blamed on Giuliani. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in a closed door deposition in October. Follow here for updates on today's hearing. - 3:25 pm. Schiff ends the hearing with a quick gavel, much to the GOP's aggravation. The audience stands and cheers for Yovanovitch as she leaves the hearing room.  That is not a usual scene in a hearing room. 3:00 pm.  This hearing is almost over.  But down in the bowels of the Capitol, another deposition is beginning in the impeachment investigation.  This one is with a staff aide to the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who reportedly overheard a conversation between the President and Gordon Sondland. 2:55 pm.  After a break, Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH again presses the GOP case about why President Trump should feel worried over political actions by people in the Ukraine government in 2016.  After Jordan rattles off a series of statements, Yovanovitch dryly says politicians say stuff - and that she did not see any evidence of a concerted effort by the government of Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election. 2:25 pm. Asked by Rep. John Ratcliffe R-TX about the prep she received for her nomination in 2016 as Ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch said her guidance was - if asked by a Senator about Hunter Biden and Burisma - to say, “I would refer you to the Vice President's office on that.”  Later, Yovanovitch again says the situation could create the perception of a conflict of interest. 2:05 pm. Yovanovitch was asked about how she dealt with the question of what to do about the campaign against her spurred by Rudy Giuliani.  Yovanovitch said she asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, what to do. Sondland had close ties to the President. 1:50 pm. Yovanovitch repeats again that certainly a President can remove an Ambassador for any reason - but she openly asks why there needed to be a smear campaign against her. Rep Wenstrup R-OH: 'Well, I wasn't asking about that.'   1:25 pm. GOP lawmakers are repeatedly asking Yovanovitch about her post-Ukraine career (now on a fellowship at Georgetown), making the case that she has not been fired or punished after her removal. 1:05 pm.  Castor's time for questions to Yovanovitch finally ends.  He almost seemed relieved. 12:55 pm.  After starting by making clear that Yovanovitch did not have first hand knowledge about what happened with the President's actions with respect to Ukraine, now the GOP counsel is asking about items which happened before she arrived in Ukraine in 2016. 12:45 pm.  In a lengthy line of questioning, Castor is allowing Yovanovitch to more fully explain how Giuliani was trying to push her out. 12:30 pm.  The GOP committee counsel continues to make the case that since Yovanovitch was not the Ambassador after May 20, she has no evidence to offer.  12:25 pm.  The 45 minutes of time for Rep. Nunes begins, as Republicans press the argument that she knows nothing about the events related to impeachment. 'I'm not exactly sure what the Ambassador is doing here today,' said Nunes. 12:15 pm.  President Trump is not pleased with the Stone verdict. 12:00 pm.  Stone guilty of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and more. 11:55 am.  Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, news is breaking, as Trump confidant Roger Stone has been found guilty on seven counts stemming from the Mueller investigation.  Some of the still photographers in the hearing room here are scrambling to grab their gear and run down to get pictures. 11:45 am.  From Fox News about today's events.  The President's tweets have clearly derailed whatever GOP messaging plans Republicans had for today's hearing. 11:40 am.  Critics of the President see his tweets this morning about Yovanovitch as yet another marker for impeachment efforts in the House. 11:20 am.  House Republicans grabbed one of my tweets this morning, and it has become a hot property for GOP voices on Twitter in the last hour. 11:15 am.  Don't expect an avalanche of negative reaction from the GOP over today's tweets from the President. 11:05 am.  There are a number of votes on the House floor. We are being told not to expect the hearing to reconvene for maybe another hour or more. 10:55 am.  It seems that viewers on Fox News are getting a different portrayal than usual today. 10:50 am.  The President's tweets are quickly frowned on by one member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik R-NY. 10:45 am.  The President's tweets are getting a lot of attention.  This from Fox News. 10:25 am.  It is an extraordinary moment.  Yovanovitch is testifying, and at the same time the President is attacking her on Twitter.  Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA interrupts questioning to read the new tweets.  “It's very intimidating,” says Yovanovitch.  “The effect is to be intimidating.” 10:15 am.  Asked about the President's comments about her in his July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, Yovanovitch said she was alarmed. “She's going to go through some things,” Yovanovitch quotes the President from the call transcript.  “It didn't sound good.  It sounded like a threat.” 10:10 am.  As Yovanovitch tells her story to the impeachment hearing, President Trump is attacking her on Twitter. 10:05 am.  Yovanovitch says State Department officials asked her in early March to stay through July of 2020 as Ambassador.  Six weeks later, they told her to get on the next flight out of the country. 9:55 am.  As on Wednesday, most of the initial 45 minutes of questioning by Democrats will be done by the Democratic counsel on the House Intelligence Committee. 9:55 am.  Not only is Yovanovitch talking about why she was ousted, but she is also sticking up for fellow diplomats - and basically skewering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not standing up for those in the Foreign Service. 9:45 am.  Yovanovitch repeatedly says she did nothing wrong as U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine.  And she repeatedly returns to the efforts of Rudy Giuliani to target her.  “I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me.”  Yovanovitch also said she had done nothing to undermine President Trump.  “The Obama Administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign.” 9:37 am.  Yovanovitch details her diplomatic career.  She joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan Administration.  Like the two witnesses on Wednesday, she stresses the importance of serving the U.S. overseas, no matter who is President, as Yovanovitch said she had no 'agenda' as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 9:28 am.  Schiff follows Nunes by calling on President Trump to release documents withheld from investigators.  Also asks the White House to reveal why - after this April call - Vice President Pence was not sent to attend the inauguration of the new Ukraine leader. 9:25 am.  Nunes is now reading from a rough transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine in April. 9:20 am.  The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA, starts his statement with another blistering attack on the impeachment investigation, arguing Democrats are engaged in an effort to 'fulfill their Watergate fantasies.' 9:15 am.  Democrats begin by going after Rudy Giuliani, asking why the President's lawyer had coordinated a concerted campaign to undermine the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 'Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone?' asked Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA. 9:07 am.  The hearing is underway. 8:55 am.  Normally, I would have a perfect view of the dais and witness table.  But the Intelligence Committee has brought in giant television screens to be used for visuals during the hearing.  And they planted one between me and the lawmakers on the panel.  So, this is my view. 8:45 am.  Lots of familiar faces are here in terms of my colleagues, as we work shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways of the Capitol.  There are a series of press tables in the room behind the witness table.  Right across from me, Manu Raju of CNN and Chad Pergram of Fox News. 8:35 am.  Most of you would not know the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine if she were sitting next to you.  And that was her life until late 2018 and 2019, when something changed.  She says it was a campaign run against her by President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani - and State Department officials agree. 8:25 am.  Most of the electronics in this room are set out by C-SPAN, which is running the “pool” television coverage.  I'm seated in an area by some of the C-SPAN technical personnel, along with the still photographers, who have a very high tech operation to take photos, quickly edit, them, and then send them out immediately across the world. 8:15 am.  I am in the room along with other reporters, producers, still photographers, and press people.  There is a lot of elbowing going on as photographers try to get the best shot of the witness arriving for testimony.
  • After hearing testimony earlier this week from two State Department officials about an 'irregular' diplomatic channel in Ukraine led by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the House Intelligence Committee will hear from the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who was the target of a campaign led by Giuliani in March of 2018, which led to her replacement. In her closed door testimony to impeachment investigators, veteran U.S. diplomat Marie Yovanovitch joined in pointing a finger of blame at Giuliani for leading what one State Department official called a 'campaign of slander' against the Ambassador. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in her deposition. Not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, the veteran diplomat suddenly found herself the subject of attacks on Fox News and in conservative media circles starting on March 20, 2019. An article by John Solomon was quickly followed by a tweet by President Trump, segments on Fox News, questions about Hunter Biden, George Soros and more - all in a short four day rush. All of it came just a few days after Yovanovitch had agreed to a State Department request for her to stay on as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine through 2020. As Ambassador Yovanovitch repeatedly told investigators last month, she still has no idea why President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani had targeted her, accusing her of corruption, and working against President Trump - what colleagues called a 'campaign of slander' against her which had no truth. 'That allegation is false,' she testified of charges that she told U.S. embassy personnel to ignore orders from President Trump. 'Honestly, it's a mystery to me,” Yovanovitch said of why Rudy Giuliani was drumming up opposition to her inside Ukraine - and back at the White House. 'Well, clearly, they didn't want me in Ukraine anymore,' Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators, as she was removed by President Trump soon after. What did Yovanovitch do wrong? There is no clear answer. In reviewing press releases, news stories, and social media posts from 2017 and 2018, absolutely nothing jumps out about the Ambassador's actions under President Trump. In Ukraine, she spoke at events with dry titles like 'Economic Opportunities for people affected by Conflict in Ukraine,' made visits and speeches to places like the Ukrainian Catholic University, and spoke about innovation by businesses in Ukraine. But starting in March 2019, everything changed once the John Solomon article was published. She gets her chance on Friday in the impeachment hearings to speak in public for the first time about what happened.
  • Trying to boost Republican efforts to defeat Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, President Donald Trump rallies again in Louisiana on Thursday evening, just two days before a Saturday runoff election that's being closely watched by leaders in both parties. It's second time in eight days that the President has come to the Bayou State for a campaign rally to help Republican Eddie Rispone, as polls have basically shown a dead heat. 'You're going out to replace a radical, liberal Democrat,' Mr. Trump said to cheers last week, using an attack line which has had mixed success for Republicans in recent elections. 'John Bel Edwards has not done the job,' the President added ahead of Louisiana's unusual November 16 runoff. For Republicans, the Louisiana race for Governor is a chance to offset a loss earlier this month in Kentucky, where GOP Gov. Matt Bevin lost by just over 5,000 votes to Democrat Andy Beshear. While the President campaigned for Bevin - as he has for Rispone in Louisiana - Bevin was an unpopular Governor, as he netted fewer votes than other Republicans on the ballot running in statewide elections. After making various unsupported claims about possible voter fraud, and holding out the possibility of an extended challenge to the results, Bevin on Thursday afternoon conceded defeat. That came after a recanvass in each Kentucky county showed no evidence of any changes in vote totals, as the Governor never produced any evidence of voter fraud. There were three races for Governor in 2019 - Democrats won in Kentucky, and Republicans kept control with a victory in Mississippi. That makes the Louisiana runoff the rubber match for this political year.  Recent polls have shown a dead heat between Edwards and Rispone.
  • The first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump included new evidence from the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who told lawmakers that one of his aides had listened to a top U.S. diplomat speak with the President, reporting that Mr. Trump had inquired repeatedly about political investigations he was seeking. William Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee that since his recent deposition in October, one of his staffers had reported the unsecured cell phone call between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and the President, saying the message was clear. 'President Trump cares more about the investigation of Biden, that Giuliani was pressing for,' Taylor told the first day of impeachment hearings. At the White House, the President denied the assertion by Taylor, telling reporters he did not remember any such call with Sondland, which Taylor said occurred a day after a July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, where the President asked for Ukraine to start certain political investigations. In the hearing, Taylor and State Department official George Kent repeatedly found themselves trying to walk an almost impossible tightrope of being a truth-telling non-partisan diplomat, thrust into the midst of a politically explosive impeachment hearing, in which their every answer could be used by one party or the other to buttress or undermine their impeachment arugments. 'I'm not here to do anything having to do with, to decide about impeachment.' Taylor said at one point to Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). 'That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job.' But Republicans tried to use the first hearing to undermine the testimony of both Taylor and Kent, repeatedly saying that they had no first hand knowledge of what President Trump was doing. 'Not only no conversations with the President of the United States about Ukraine, you've not had any contact with the President,' said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'Correct?' In a back and forth with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Taylor tried to keep a smile on his face as Jordan described Taylor as the supposedly prime witness for Democrats out to get President Trump. 'I don't consider myself a star witness for anything,' Taylor said. 'They do,' Jordan said of Democrats. While Ambassador Taylor dominated most of the headlines, Kent also provided some news, as he made clear that he felt the naming of Hunter Biden - the son of the former Vice President - to the board of a Ukrainian energy company, was a red flag which needed to be watched. But under questioning, Kent said he never found any evidence that it led to corruption - or anything illegal involving the younger Biden. Both Kent and Taylor raised questions about the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as Taylor frowned on what he described as an 'irregular' diplomatic back channel in Ukraine led by Giuliani. 'What interest do you believe he was promoting?' asked Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 'I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” Kent said. “I agree with Mr. Kent,” Taylor added, as the two officials reinforced the suspicions of Democrats that Giuliani was leading an effort which not only unseated the U.S. Ambassador, but led to the President pressing Ukraine for investigations of the Bidens, and of Ukraine interference in the 2016 elections. Asked about the question of Ukraine interference, Kent said there was 'no factual basis,' pointing the finger directly at Russia - as U.S. Intelligence agencies have done. There likely will be more discussion of Giuliani's role in Ukraine in the next hearing on Friday, when lawmakers hear from the ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Kent testified there was a campaign of 'slander' against Yovanovitch, which began March 20, 2018.
  • Historic impeachment hearings aimed at President Donald Trump are underway on Capitol Hill on this Wednesday, as Democrats charge the President wrongly used the power of his office to try to get Ukraine to launch investigations which would have benefited Mr. Trump's political standing. The hearings before the House Intelligence Committee represented a high stakes challenge for Congressional Republicans and President Trump. Here's the latest from inside the hearing room. - 4:00 pm.  One thing that Republicans repeated multiple times in the hearing was that nothing wrong happened, because President Trump ultimately allowed aid to flow to Ukraine, even after the 55 day delay.  But that decision on September 11 didn't just happen in a vacuum - as Democrats correctly pointed out that just before the decision, word had emerged about a whistleblower complaint involving Ukraine and the President. 3:45 pm.  The hearing ended in an interesting manner, as Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA directly denied that he knew the identity of the whistleblower.  Republicans say he is lying. 3:25 pm.  In one of the most direct comments from both witnesses today, Rep. Val Demings D-FL asked both Kent and Taylor about the work of Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine, asking what they thought Giuliani was doing. 'I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” Kent said. “I agree with Mr. Kent,” Taylor added. 3:10 pm.  The impeachment hearings are as much about what goes on in the committee room, as how both parties frame it - after it happens. Republicans have argued today that President Trump was trying to end corruption in Ukraine - Democrats say that's not the case. 3:00 pm.  Rep. John Ratcliffe R-TX continues a GOP request for more information on the Ukraine whistleblower, trying to draw Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA into a back and forth over the contacts between the whistleblower and the Democratic staff - and/or lawmakers - on the House Intelligence Committee.  Schiff steers around it again.  One would think the GOP will return to this again in coming days. 2:50 pm.  Acting Ambassador Taylor is trying very hard to not shade one way or the other in this hearing today.  As Rep. Joaquin Castro D-TX tried to get him to answer a series of rhetorical questions, which would obviously not shine well on the President. 2:45 pm.  Rep. Will Hurd R-TX asks about who Rudy Giuliani has met with in Ukraine.  Acting Ambassador Bill Taylor says he did get one call from a Ukraine official, worried about why Giuliani had been in contact with him. 2:10 pm.  Republicans are pushing hard that Taylor has no information which could result in impeachment of President Trump. 2:00 pm.  Rep. John Ratcliffe R-TX tries to stir things up with Taylor, demanding to know whether Taylor thought the leader of Ukraine was lying in statements about his phone call with President Trump.  Under repeated pressure from Ratcliffe about the investigation, Taylor said, 'I'm not here to do anything having to do with, to decide about impeachment. That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job.' 1:45 pm.  With lawmakers now asking questions, the political blood pressure of the hearing room has increased in a noticeable way.  Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH tangled with Taylor, accusing him of being the 'star witness' for Democrats. Taylor: 'I don't consider myself a star witness for anything' 1:10 pm.  Critics of President Trump are ridiculing Castor's questions.   1:05 pm.  President George W. Bush's White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is not impressed with Castor's line of questioning. 1:00 pm.  GOP Committee Counsel Stephen Castor is pressing Taylor repeatedly about his view of President Trump's opinion that he had been targeted by various Ukraine government elements during the 2016 elections. Taylor sounds like he has no idea what Castor is talking about. Castor: So you certainly can appreciate President Trump's concerns about 2016.    Taylor: I don't know the exact nature of President Trump's concerns. 12:50 pm.  The hearing is underway again, with Republicans controlling the next 45 minutes.  Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA starts by blasting Democrats, knocking out a number of arguments which would be well received at the White House.  As for the President, he says that he is not watching. 12:40 pm.  Outside at the press stakeout, Rep. Mark Meadows R-NC tangling with reporters about the impeachment hearings.  “It is partisan, and it is political.”  Meadows brings up Nellie Ohr.  “You can look at the transcripts.” 12:30 pm.  Sometimes when you are in the hearing room, you miss stuff going on in the hallway outside.  This area outside the Ways and Means Committee  room is known as “Gucci Gulch.”  This photo may not qualify for that. 12:20 pm.  Under questioning by the Democratic committee counsel, George Kent knocks down charges that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections, saying there is no evidence that it was any country other than Russia.  Kent also all but ridicules the idea that the DNC computer server is being hidden in Ukraine - as President Trump suggested in a July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine. 12:15 pm.  The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Friday deposition with an aide of Taylor. This may well be the staffer involved in this phone call described to lawmakers today. 11:50 am.  Taylor relating the story from his staffer about a call between Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, and President Trump.  “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden that Giuliani was pressing for.” 11:35 am.  Our first big new piece of information. Taylor recounts a story from one of his staffers, who heard Sondland talk on the phone with President Trump, and that the staffer could hear the President asking about Ukraine and investigations, and that Sondland indicated the President was very interested in investigations about the Bidens.  “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden and Burisma,”  Taylor said, adding that he learned about this since his October deposition. Schiff starts the Q&A by asking questions about this episode. 11:30 am. Taylor now getting into the root of the disagreement between the two parties - whether President Trump was seeking a quid pro quo, where Mr. Trump would not release aid for Ukraine until the leader of Ukraine publicly announced political investigations sought by President Trump - with that announcement being made on CNN. 11:20 am.  Taylor continues to talk about how opposition to security aid to Ukraine grew within the White House, as he was told by one official that, “the President doesn't want to provide any assistance at all.” 11:05 am.  Taylor describes at length, how he straddled the 'regular' diplomatic channels with the new government in Ukraine, but also an “irregular” diplomatic channel, which involved figures like Rudy Giuliani, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. 10:55 am.  The acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, is now testifying.  Like Kent, Taylor is giving details and background about the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, and the importance of American aid to Ukraine. Taylor said when he was asked to go back to Kyiv as the top U.S. diplomat, he was worried about the role of Rudy Giuliani. 10:50 am.  George Kent says he raised red flags about Hunter Biden being on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, but never saw any unethical behavior.  Kent then segues into the work of Rudy Giuliani, and his efforts to undermine the U.S. Ambassador, and “gin up politically motivated investigations.” 10:35 am.  The two witnesses have been sworn in.  GOP lawmakers are starting off with a series of parliamentary requests, including asking for a hearing with the whistleblower. 10:25 am.  Top Republican Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA slams the impeachment effort, saying it's nothing more than the back up plan from Democrats after the Russia investigation failed.  “They are trying to impeach the President for inquiring about Hunter Biden's activities,” Nunes said, referring to the gathering as a 'star chamber.' 10:00 am.  The hearing gets underway.  Republicans start with a quick parliamentary inquiry, and then Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA begins his opening statement.  President Trump has made clear his feelings about what's happening today. 9:55 am.  The witnesses take their seats, along with their lawyers.  William Taylor, the acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant Secretary of State. 9:45 am.  It took a while for me to get inside the Ways and Means Committee room and to get my seat.  Then the power didn't work.  Then the audio feed didn't work.  My internet didn't work.  But I'm here. 9:30 am.  The line outside the hearing room was long. There were all sorts of people in line, most of them well versed in what was going on.  A 77 year old man from Blacksburg, Virginia behind me spoke to a Canadian TV reporter, and said he was convinced this was the 'most corrupt' President he had ever encountered.
  • The first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump will feature two State Department witnesses who raised questions about actions in Ukraine by the President's personal lawyer, with one alarmed by Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine the former U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, and another who saw Giuliani leading an effort to press for investigations desired by Mr. Trump. 'Mr. Giuliani was almost unmissable starting in mid-March,' Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified, saying Giuliani conducted a 'campaign of slander' against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 'I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani,' said William Taylor, now the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who said he was worried about entering a 'snake pit' involving Giuliani. Here is some of what we might expect from these two witnesses in the first day of impeachment hearings. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE KENT - After working at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, Kent returned to the State Department in the second half of 2018, taking on a post where he was responsible for Ukraine and five other eastern European nations often targeted by Russia. It was in that position where Kent said he witnessed the media attack which unfolded, spurred by Giuliani and conservative news media organs. In his impeachment deposition, Kent said an article by conservative journalist John Solomon spurred a sudden attack on Ambassador Yovanovitch and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine in general, which was then amplified by Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Kent said much of what was alleged, that Yovanovitch was bad mouthing President Trump, that she was working against Ukraine prosecutors, was simply false. 'It was, if not entirely made up in full cloth,' Kent testified, 'it was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs.' Kent described how U.S. diplomats were blindsided by what was clearly a concerted campaign against the U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, spread over four days in March of 2019. It started first with arrows aimed at Ambassador Yovanovitch, but then spread to accusations against former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter, along with other charges mentioning conservative bogeyman George Soros - all of it given a push by President Trump, his son, conservative websites, and Fox News. The attacks on Yovanovitch came two weeks after she had been asked by the State Department to stay on in Ukraine until 2020 - but her extension would not survive the conservative media attacks against her. 'I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine 'on the next plane,'' Yovanovitch told Congressional investigators. She will testify on Friday. + WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires IN UKRAINE. With the recall of Ambassador Yovanovitch, Taylor is the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - basically the acting Ambassador. Several months after Yovanovitch had been ousted, Taylor described how the work of Giuliani had seemingly led to a situation where U.S. military aid for Ukraine was being withheld - in an effort to gain a quid pro quo - where the government of Ukraine would launch investigations sought by President Trump. 'By mid-Ju1y, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 elections,' Taylor said, referring to a focus on the Bidens, and the debunked theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - was behind the hacks of Democrats in 2016. Taylor said the impetus for the situation was obvious. 'It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani,' Taylor said in his closed door deposition. Mr. Taylor said he had determined that link in 'mid-July' - it was on July 25 that President Trump spoke with the leader of Ukraine, and spelled out the need for Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens, and the Ukraine-2016 elections theory, which included the evidence-free allegation that the hacked computer server from the Democratic National Committee was being hidden in Ukraine. Some Republicans have mocked the choice of Taylor as an opening witness, saying he has no firsthand knowledge of why the President would want investigations conducted related to the Bidens or the 2016 elections. 'No, I've never talked to the President,' Taylor said in his deposition. Look for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) to bring this up during the first day of questioning with Taylor. Three hearings have also been set for next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with eight different witnesses.
  • While President Donald Trump will welcome the Turkish leader to the White House on Wednesday, the last visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May of 2017 still echoes in Washington, D.C., when security guards for the Turkish President openly attacked protesters in an unprecedented act of violence less than two miles from the White House. With video that showed Erdoğan watching the pitched battle along what's known as 'Embassy Row' in the middle of Washington, D.C. - the Turkish leader's planned return drew sharp comments from Capitol Hill in recent days, as none of his guards were ever held accountable for the violence. 'This behavior is sadly routine for President Erdoğan on Turkish soil,' said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter this week to 'immediately' expel any of the guards involved in that 2017 violence if they are on this week's trip to Washington. 'The Erdoğan regime's use of violence against innocent civilians anywhere is inhumane, uncivilized, and unacceptable,' Cheney wrote. This was what the scene looked like on May 16, 2017, as Turkish security forces broke through police lines, and openly attacked protesters on the streets of the nation's capital. Some of the most graphic video was shot by the Voice of America's Turkish Service. At least nine people were injured in the attacks, which took place several hours after the Turkish leader met with President Trump. An in-depth review of multiple videos of the May 16, 2017, violence left no doubt as to the actions of the Erdoğan security detail, with descriptions of guards who 'punched a protestor' or 'kicked man on ground,' and 'knocked over woman, kicked man,' or 'choked, slammed woman.' You can see the New York Times video analysis of the violence at this link. In court documents revealed in recent days, U.S. security officials said the Turkish bodyguards also attacked American Secret Service agents during the incident, but were quickly spirited out of the country, and thus avoided any legal charges. A grand jury in Washington, D.C. indicted 15 Turkish security guards, but most of the charges were ultimately dropped. Several months after the incident, the Turkish leader said in an interview that President Trump had apologized for the incident - the White House denied that had occurred.
  • On the eve of convening historic impeachment hearings aimed at President Donald Trump, House Democrats publicly set out guidelines for conduct by lawmakers in the proceedings, seemingly anticipating the possibility of procedural tussles with GOP lawmakers when the hearings begin on Wednesday. In a six page memo released by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff directly warned Republicans not to try to use the hearings to veer into certain areas of interest for the GOP. Schiff wrote, 'it is important to underscore that the House’s impeachment inquiry, and the Committee, will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference.' In his memo, Schiff said the questions should stick to three main areas of inquiry: The Schiff memo also indicated Democrats are still reviewing the requests of GOP lawmakers to call certain witnesses in the hearings. Republicans asked for a series of witnesses on Saturday, headlined by the son of Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, and the Intelligence Community whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the Ukraine investigation earlier this fall. As for the whistleblower, the Schiff memo warned GOP lawmakers not to make any efforts to use the public hearings to reveal the name of the whistleblower, raising the specter that it could lead to ethics charges. You can read the full memo from Rep. Schiff at this link.

News

  • A 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died Thursday morning after a classmate opened fire on students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, injuring three other students before he attempted to take his own life, sheriff's deputies said. >> Read more trending news  Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies responded to reports of the shooting just after 7:30 a.m. local time. Authorities found six people suffering gunshot wounds in the school's quad. Deputies said the injured included the suspected shooter. The shooter later died Friday afternoon at a hospital with his mother present, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Update 7:50 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Police say 16-year-old boy who shot five students at his Los Angeles-area high school has died. People who knew the boy described him as a quiet, smart kid who they’d never expect to turn violent. Update 7:30 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Authorities have identified the second student killed in a shooting by a fellow student at a Southern California high school. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell died Thursday along with 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger. Two teenage girls remain hospitalized but are expected to be released over the weekend. A third student was treated and released. Update 3:20 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Los Angeles County coroner's officials on Friday identified one of the two teenagers slain Thursday after a student opened fire on classmates at Saugus High School as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, according to The Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported she celebrated her 15th birthday on Oct. 10. A 14-year-old boy killed in the shooting was not immediately identified, according to KCBS-TV. Update 6:37 a.m. EST Nov. 15: The suspect has been identified by two separate law enforcement sources as Nathaniel Berhow, CNN and the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has not confirmed his identity due to his age, CNN reported. Neighbors described Berhow as a good student and typical teenager who was affected by the death of his father in 2017, CNN reported. Neighbors said Berhow found his father dead after had a heart attack, KTTV reported. His mother and father had divorced in 2016, CNN reported. There is no motive for the attack, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.  Members of the community gathered near the campus Thursday night to remember the victims, KNBC reported. The Associated Press reported the gunman shot whoever was near him and that there was no known connection to the victims. Update 3:10 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Capt. Kent Wegener identified the gunman as a 16-year-old student who opened fire on his classmates on his birthday. Wegener said video from the scene showed the teenager, who was not identified by name, taking a gun out of his backpack in the quad at Saugus High School on Thursday morning. He shot five of his classmates before turning the gun on himself. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Thursday that the suspect shot himself in the head. He was among six people transported to the hospital after the shooting. Two students died in Thursday's shooting, a girl and a boy. Authorities did not identify the victims by name. Update 2:30 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Authorities in Los Angeles County are holding a news conference Thursday to update the public on Thursday morning's deadly shooting at Saugus High School. Update 1:05 p.m EST Nov. 14: Officials with Henry Mayo Hospital confirmed a female died after being taken to the hospital following a shooting at Saugus High School. It was not immediately clear whether the victim was a student. Hospital officials said three other male victims were taken to the hospital with injuries after shooting. Two of the victims were listed in critical condition while the third was listed in good condition. Update 12:50 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said a suspect was in custody after Thursday morning's shooting at Saugus High School. Authorities were expected to provide more details at a news conference scheduled Thursday morning. Update 12:35 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials at Henry Mayo Hospital confirmed they had received four patients after a gunman opened fire Thursday at Saugus High School. Hospital officials said the victims included three males and one female. All the victims, aside from one male in good condition, were listed in critical condition in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Update 12:30 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Parent Brian Skiba told KCBS-TV that his daughter ran into a classroom when she heard shots fired Thursday morning at Saugus High School. 'She heard the shots ... she in the quad, where it started, and ran into the band room,' Skiba told the news station. '(She) locked the door behind her and told everybody to get down.' Skiba told KCBS-TV a police officer was in the band room with about 50 students Thursday. 'I'm still pretty shook up,' Skiba said. Update 12:10 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Sheriff's deputies told KNBC-TV that they were surrounding two locations Thursday morning in Santa Clarita, including a home believed to be the suspect's residence. KTLA reported authorities believe the gunman was a student at Saugus High School. Officials asked residents in the area to stay inside and keep their doors locked as they continued to investigate Thursday. Update 12 p.m. EST Nov. 14: White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said President Donald Trump was monitoring reports of Thursday morning's shooting in Santa Clarita. 'The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,' Deere said. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials with Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia said two people were taken to the hospital in critical condition after Thursday morning's shooting at Saugus High School. Hospital officials said three other victims were en route to the hospital Thursday morning. Their conditions were not immediately known. Update 11:45 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Deputies asked residents in the area of Saugus High School to lock their doors and shelter in place as they continue to search for a shooter who opened fire Thursday morning at the school. Update 11:30 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Authorities revised down the number of people injured in Thursday morning's shooting from seven to three, according to KNBC-TV. Sheriff's deputies warned the incident was active and ongoing Thursday morning. Original report: Deputies said nearby schools were placed under lockdown as authorities investigated. Officials with the Los Angeles County Fire Department told KNBC that at least seven people were shot. Their conditions were not immediately known. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • A 9-year-old child prodigy in Belgium is expected to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. >> Read more trending news  Laurent Simons, of Belgium, started studying electrical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology when he was 8 and will complete a three-year program in 10 months, The New York Times reported. His final project is an electrical chip that is connected to the brain. “Then, I want to study medicine and do a Ph.D. and make artificial organs,” he told The New York Times. He was raised by his grandparents while his parents worked in the Netherlands. They are all doctors. He now lives with his parents. “His grandparents always taught us he’s very special,” father Alexander Simons told The Times. “We thought they were taking him too seriously.” Laurent, who has an IQ of 145, started school at 4 and was in high school at 6 years old.  'Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,' Sjoerd Hulshof, the director of education at the university, said in a statement, CNN reported. 'Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.' His instructors rave about his academic abilities. “Laurent’s absorption capacity is very high, which means that everything goes much faster and we can cover a lot more material in a short span of time,” Peter Baltus, a professor at the university and the boy’s mentor, told the Times. “It’s been quite special and enjoyable.” In his off-time, Laurent has interests similar to most kids, playing video games, posting on social media and watching Netflix.  Ultimately, he would like to develop artificial hearts. “My goal as a scientist is life extension,” he told AD, an online publication in the Netherlands. “My grandfather and grandmother are heart patients and I want to help them.”
  • The 19-year-old driver who struck three people, including two children, at a Forsyth County school bus stop now faces numerous charges including DUI.Deputies with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department say Christopher Ray Frachiseur may have been under the influence of drugs when he failed to stop for the bus on Buford Highway near Bonnie Brea Road just before 7 a.m. Friday. His Toyota Camry jumped the curb, traveled down the sidewalk and struck the three victims who were waiting at the end of their driveway to board the bus which had its signal arm out.
  • A Philadelphia 14-year-old has been charged with murder in the death of a well-known animal rescuer who was found tied to his bed, naked, and bludgeoned to death last week. The girl is also charged with robbery, possession of an instrument of crime, obstruction and tampering with evidence in the killing of Albert 'Al' Chernoff, according to Philadelphia court records. Her name is being withheld due to her age and the uncertainty of her status as a defendant. Jane Roh, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, told CNN on Monday that prosecutors had not yet decided whether the girl would be tried as an adult. CBS Philadelphia reported last week that investigators were also looking into whether the girl was a victim of a crime. Her connection to Chernoff and her reason for being at his home were not clear, but the CBS affiliate reported the day after Chernoff was found dead that detectives believed he may have been the victim of an escort who tied him up, robbed him and killed him. Court records show the teen is being held without bail at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center. >> Read more trending news  Chernoff, who went by the nickname 'Alley Cat,' was found dead around 3 a.m. Nov. 5 in his home in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was suffering from a massive head injury and multiple slashes to his chest, the newspaper reported. The 59-year-old previously appeared on the NatGeoTV reality show 'Rescue Ink,' which profiled tattooed bikers working against animal abuse. Police were called to Chernoff's home by a concerned neighbor who requested a welfare check, the newspaper said. Chernoff, who authorities believe was attacked around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 4, was pronounced dead at the scene. Tony Branconi, Chernoff's neighbor in the duplex where he lived and died, told the Daily Mail he called police because he 'heard a racket.' 'I have heard such noises before, but this was in the middle of the night,' Branconi, 70, told the publication. 'It was like he was building something.' He said he went outside and saw Chernoff's car parked in an unusual spot on the driveway. When he looked inside, he saw the vehicle had been ransacked. ‘A very brutal murder' Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said last week that the case is an 'extremely troubling' one. 'It was a very brutal murder,' Coulter said, according to video shot by Fox29 in Philadelphia. Sources told ABC6 that Chernoff was killed with a nail-studded two-by-four, though Coulter declined to identify the weapon used in the crime. 'We're not going to release details about the crime scene itself until we have the evidence that we need,' she said. The commissioner said it was hard to grasp anyone committing such a grisly crime, but that it was even harder to imagine a child being involved. 'But then you have to look to why did this happen, and, you know, that's what the investigators are going to attempt to find out,' Coulter said. Philadelphia detectives trying to identify Chernoff's killer released surveillance footage Nov. 6 from inside the Army veteran's house. The footage showed the suspect, wearing red sweatpants, a black jacket and a pink top, walking through the living room of the home and into the kitchen, where she washed her hands and looked in the fridge and freezer before leaving. Some of Chernoff's 11 cats can be seen in the footage as his suspected killer walks though his living room. Listen to Coulter speak about the crime and see footage from inside Chernoff's home below. Witnesses also reported seeing a young woman leaving Chernoff's house shortly before his body was found, the Inquirer reported. The 14-year-old girl, accompanied by her mother and two defense attorneys, turned herself in to police Nov. 8 after family members saw the footage, CNN reported. Coulter told Fox29 that the girl's family brought her in 'because she was clearly the person on the video.' Once the girl was in custody, police officials removed the footage from their website. On Twitter, at least one person wondered if the footage was removed because the girl was a possible sex trafficking victim. 'Everybody talking about how good of a man Al Chernoff was,' another man tweeted. 'I just want to know why a 14-year-old alleged prostitute was in his home. I'm sorry, but if he was having sex with her, he got exactly what he deserved.' Howard Taylor, one of the girl's lawyers, told CNN the situation was a sad one. 'Troubled girl. There's a reason police aren't saying much,' Taylor told the network. 'There's a lot more to it.' When a reporter asked if the girl was a victim of some kind, Taylor said he 'wouldn't put it to that extent.' He said Chernoff 'wasn't totally innocent, either,' CNN reported. Coulter described Chernoff as a 'guy who went to work every day, well liked by his neighbors and co-workers.' She said Chernoff, who was a building maintenance supervisor at the Philadelphia International Airport, did not appear to have a criminal record. ‘A fierce and tireless advocate' Animal welfare activists in Philadelphia were stunned by Chernoff's death. 'If you help animals in Philadelphia, you've met Al,' Blake Martin of Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team told ABC6. 'He is a wild veteran who loves motorcycles and will talk your ear off about his motorcycles and cats.' Chernoff, who was known for building shelters for feral strays in the city, also founded a one-man rescue group, Alley Cat Animal Rescue. 'His generosity was incredible,' Martin said. 'You don't see a lot of that anymore, especially towards the animal community. 'It's been a tough day.' The Facebook page of 'The Cat Rescuers,' a documentary about cat rescue in New York City, described Chernoff as 'one of many amazing rescuers' filmmakers met during filming. The crew met Chernoff during a workshop on 'trap-neuter-return,' a method of managing the stray and feral cat population that Chernoff was known to use. 'He wasn't one of the main four we were following, but we were so taken by his warmth and affability when we encountered him at a (trap-neuter-return) workshop that we just knew we had to put him in our film,' the post read. A brief clip from the documentary shows Chernoff showing off his many cat tattoos. He tells the camera that he had a cat as a child. 'I just was always into cats,' Chernoff says. 'Cats and Harleys and tattoos. That's what I'm into.' Chernoff's Facebook page is filled with photos of his cats, 11 of them, along with photos of his building projects. Motorcycles and military memorabilia are also heavily featured on his page. Last month, he posted a wedding photo of his parents, along with his Army basic training photo, writing that he had just stumbled upon the pictures. Chernoff was not married and had no immediate family left, according to Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent. 'We tried the best we could to keep him family-oriented because he had no parents, he had no siblings and he had no children,' Chernoff's cousin, Beverly Levin, told the Exponent. 'He was with us for Rosh Hashanah just last month. We kept him as close as we could because he was alone in the world.' Since his death, friends in the animal rescue community and beyond have mourned Chernoff on social media. They have also contributed more than $18,000 to a GoFundMe page set up by Levin's son, David Levin, to pay for Chernoff's funeral and provide for more cats to be rescued. 'Al's kids were his cats,' David Levin wrote on the fundraising page. A private donor, along with Chernoff's veteran benefits, have taken care of the cost of his funeral and memorial service, which is scheduled for Nov. 24 in Southampton. All the funds raised by the GoFundMe campaign will be distributed to multiple animal rescues, David Levin wrote in an update. Chernoff's 11 cats, along with three turtles and two frogs, were rescued from his home following his death. Friend and fellow rescuer Gwen Cooper wrote that she was “shocked and saddened beyond the telling of it” to learn of Chernoff’s death. 'Al was a fierce and tireless advocate for rescue cats -- one of the staunchest protectors of cats I've ever known -- and I was honored and privileged to count him among my personal friends in rescue for many years,' Cooper wrote. 'My heart goes out to the people and felines who knew and loved him best.' She said she was certain the 'veritable army of cats' he saved over the years were there to greet him on the 'rainbow bridge' when he died. Chernoff was also active in the Jewish war veterans' community, the Exponent reported. 'He went out of his way many a time for people who suffered what used to be called shell shock and what is now called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),' M.B. Kanis, commander of the Jewish War Veterans Drizin-Weiss Post 215, told the publication. 'He recognized PTSD and knew that people with service animals could become more calm and relaxed and more focused. In the Philadelphia area, I know of at least three service veterans who he helped hands-on (with service animals).' Emily Petry, who described Chernoff as the 'best cat daddy ever,' said he was one of the kindest people she'd ever known. 'Nobody who ever knew you would have ever done you any harm,' Petry wrote. Ashley Foresta, a fellow animal rescuer in Philadelphia, told the Daily Mail she could not imagine why the 14-year-old suspect was in Chernoff's house. Foresta speculated that perhaps Chernoff had hired the girl to clean his home, but Branconi told the Mail he had never seen the girl at the duplex before. 'I just can't imagine for one minute that Al was the type of person who would have had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl -- but at the same time I can't think of anyone ever having a reason to kill him,' Foresta said. 'To be honest, maybe part of me doesn't want to know the whole truth,' she said. Chernoff's family and friends weren't the only ones puzzled by his slaying. Coulter said last week that detectives were still piecing together what happened and why. 'Who it is, is identified, but the why and the rationale behind it is what the investigators are now working on,' Coulter told reporters. 'These things take time to get right. 'I know that everybody would like to have everything answered, and so would we, but we want to make sure that we do it in a way that the judicial process plays out fairly and everybody involved gets justice.
  • Lyft is eliminating its scooter operation in Atlanta, nearly a year after the devices were deployed in the city, a spokesperson confirmed Friday in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The electric scooters will leave the city Nov. 22. The company launched in Atlanta Dec. 21, just two days after rival Uber began its own scooter service in the city.  “We’re grateful to our scooter riders in Atlanta as well as our partners in Atlanta city government,” read the statement. “We look forward to continuing to provide riders with other modes of reliable transportation.” The decision comes amid discussions about Atlanta’s regulation of electric scooters. The city is considering reducing the number of scooter companies operating in the city. RELATED COVERAGE: City of Atlanta fails to collect $200K in scooter impound fees The Lyft spokesperson said they’re focusing on markets that have the biggest impact. The spokesperson also confirmed the company is eliminating services in five other cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Nashville.  Twenty employees are expected to be laid off as a result of the decision.  Lyft is the latest micromobility company to leave Atlanta. Uber’s electric bikes, JUMP e-bikes, left the city in September.  Like Intown Atlanta News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter In other news:
  • The 2019 Leonid meteor shower peaks this weekend. >> Read more trending news  With clear skies, there's a good chance you may be able to see a meteor Sunday night and see the peak in meteor showers early Monday morning. According to the American Meteor Society, spectators can expect up to nine meteors an hour during this year’s peak time, which is expected to be around 5 a.m. Monday. 'Skywatchers may be able to see some meteors on days just before and after the peak, although the moon will continue to obstruct views,' according to Space.com. The meteors can be seen each year in November when Earth's orbit crosses with the comet 55P Tempel-Tuttle. The comet was discovered by German astronomer Ernst Wilhelm Tempel and American astronomer Horace P. Tuttle in 1865. Both astronomers discovered the comet independently. The comet “makes fairly frequent passes through the inner solar system,” according to David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather. “This lays out fresh debris in the path of the Earth's orbit every 33 years.” When it does make a close approach to the planet, stargazers get to revel in explosive showers. In 1833, stargazers reported seeing as many as 72,000 shooting stars per hour, according to National Geographic. Later, in 1966, a group of hunters reported seeing 40 to 50 streaks per second over the duration of 15 minutes. Scientists currently predict the next major outburst won't take place until 2099. But, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported, the comet will be returning closer to Earth in 2031 and 2064, meaning more intense storms are on the horizon. Smaller showers, like the one occurring this weekend, happen annually. While the 2019 shower won’t bring hundreds of shooting stars an hour, it’s sure to be a delight in areas with clear skies and the absence of moonlight. How to watch the meteor shower Clear skies are essential for prime meteor shower viewing. Skyglow, the light pollution caused by localized streetlights, will block out the stars and negatively affect your viewing experience, so head somewhere far from city lights. When you’re outside in the dark, lie flat on your back with your feet facing south and look up at the vast sky. Give yourself 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the environment. Be sure to bring warm clothing, a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair and leave your telescope at home.