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|Trump lawyers contradict one another as they conclude first phase of impeachment trial
The president’s top White House lawyer has repeatedly told the Senate Trump did nothing wrong in withholding aid to Ukraine, even as other lawyers on his defense team directly contradicted that assertion over the last two days.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 6:45 PM
|Georgia man set to be executed for killings of 2 people
Donnie Cleveland Lance, 66, is set to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson for the November 1997 killings of Sabrina “Joy” Lance and Dwight “Butch” Wood Jr. in Jackson County, about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta. Lance went to Wood’s home the night of Nov. 8, 1997, kicked in the front door and shot Wood in the front and back with a shotgun and then beat Joy Lance to death with the butt of the shotgun, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case.
POSTED JANUARY 29, 2020 1:14 AM
|Historians unveil rare photos of Sobibor death camp
Hundreds of newly discovered photographs, including some taken at the Sobibor death camp, represent a "quantum leap" in research into Nazi crimes against humanity, historians at the Berlin museum Topography of Terror said Tuesday. Historians said the "exceptional collection" provided unprecedented insights into the Sobibor camp in German Nazi-occupied Poland, about which little is known even 75 years after the end of World War II. The trove, consisting of 361 black-and-white photos and several written documents, also includes photos believed to show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk, who denied ever being at Sobibor.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 12:43 PM
|Dems’ Impeachment Guru Flirted With #Resistance Conspiracies — and Went to War With Alan Dershowitz
He’s the Harvard law professor advising Democrats on their impeachment playbook. There’s just one problem: His adventures in the extremely online world of the anti-Trump “Resistance” took him a little off the deep end for a while. Laurence Tribe has spent decades as a respected constitutional law scholar, but the Trump era saw him buddy up for a bit with the fringiest of fringey Resistance conspiracists online in amplifying far-fetched theories about how President Donald Trump and his crew might finally meet justice, some of which Tribe now regrets partaking in. And in another sign of the divisiveness of the Trump era, Tribe and his more MAGA-friendly Harvard Law colleague Alan Dershowitz—who is defending the president in his impeachment trial—have descended into a bitter feud, with Dershowitz accusing Tribe of harboring a “vendetta” against him for supporting Trump throughout his various legal woes. Tribe has been pushing for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office from the day former FBI Director James Comey was sacked. Since then, he’s urged House Democrats to take the impeachment plunge and, when they finally got there, counseled top lawmakers on how to handle it, even huddling with them personally ahead of key hearings.In a very Washington coincidence, Tribe counts both Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)—the lead prosecutor of Democrats’ case against Trump—and Chief Justice John Roberts, the referee in Trump’s trial—as former law school pupils. Tribe did not make himself available for an interview but answered emailed questions from The Daily Beast. He declined to go into details about the advice he is giving to Democrats as they lay out to the Senate and the public their case to impeach Trump—but he noted it was “accurate” that his ideas on impeachment have proven influential within the Democratic caucus. Dershowitz Can’t Give a Straight Answer on Impeachment RoleIndeed, it was Tribe who first described the plan that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) turned to in hopes of getting an upper hand over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). In a Washington Post op-ed published two days before the House passed articles of impeachment, Tribe argued that Pelosi had no obligation to immediately send the articles to the Senate so it could begin the trial, because McConnell’s closeness with Trump ensured it would be unfair. “Under the current circumstances,” Tribe wrote, “such a proceeding would fail to render a meaningful verdict of acquittal.” Pelosi ultimately heeded his advice and held the articles of impeachment for 28 days, a move that altered the course of the impeachment process. Hill Democrats say Tribe has been an engaged, if sober, presence in the impeachment process. When he met with House Judiciary Committee Democrats to help prepare them for their impeachment hearings in December, his presentation was “very dry,” according to a Democratic source. Online, however, Tribe has been much more colorful. His takes, backed by the weight of his half-century of legal scholarship, sometimes meaningfully push the envelope, as Pelosi’s hold-the-articles gambit showed. Other times, they have strayed a bit too far into the fever swamps. MAN OF STEELEIn December 2017, Tribe approvingly shared a prediction from another Resistance Twitter star, Brian Krassenstein, who tweeted that he had “no doubt in my mind that before all is said and done Devin Nunes will be headed to prison.”“I’m willing to bet @krassenstein is right,” tweeted Tribe. “Nunes is headed to federal prison.” Since then, Nunes has not come close to federal prison. Krassenstein, however, has been banned from Twitter and had his Florida home raided by the FBI. Nor is Krassenstein the only Resistance figure Tribe’s aligned with. In the past, Tribe has approvingly shared the views of Louise Mensch, the British pundit whose fantastical commentary on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation made her an online favorite.Mensch is notorious for, among other things, declaring that her “sources say the death penalty, for espionage, being considered for @StevenKBannon.” In March 2017, Tribe tweeted a link to an interview Mensch did with the BBC in which, among other things, she reiterated her belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the murder of Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart. (He did not.)Tribe told The Daily Beast that his views of Mensch have since changed. Asked if he regretted amplifying her views, he said, “Of course I do.” The professor has also revisited another favorite topic: the Steele dossier. In late 2017, Tribe tweeted a challenge: Had anything in the 35-page memo compiled by a British spy during the 2016 campaign—which made explosive claims about Russian collusion with Trump—been off-base?Since then, some of the dossier’s key claims—including a colorful anecdote involving Trump, prostitutes, and bodily fluids in a Moscow hotel room—remain unsubstantiated. Others, like the claim that Trump fixer Michael Cohen met with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, have been proven false. In January 2019, before Mueller dealt the final death blow to the Prague theory, Tribe was still referencing it on Twitter. He told The Daily Beast on Monday that he doubts the meeting occurred. “I may well have missed,” said Tribe, “some aspects of what the Steele dossier contained.” But Tribe has stuck to his guns on the question of Nunes. When the former GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was under scrutiny at the time for possible coordination with the White House on the panel’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, Tribe didn’t just think Nunes was wrong but possibly breaking the law. Tribe told The Daily Beast last week that he continues to believe Nunes, who has since come under scrutiny for his contacts with figures involved in the Ukraine probe, “has significant criminal exposure and that a principled Justice Department would prosecute him.” In a statement to The Daily Beast, a spokesperson for Nunes did not comment on Tribe’s claims but said “it’d be hard to find anybody who would take Laurence Tribe or The Daily Beast seriously.” ENTER THE DERSHAnother wrinkle to Tribe’s impeachment role is his escalating feud with Dershowitz. The two celebrity legal experts, once friendly colleagues at Harvard Law, find themselves on opposite sides of the Trump impeachment and drifting further apart by the day. On Monday, when Dershowitz testified in defense of Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, he name-checked Tribe two times as an example of someone who was inconsistent on legal questions of impeachment. Tribe, meanwhile, live-tweeted takedowns of Dershowitz’s arguments. In an interview with The Daily Beast last week, Dershowitz—who has occasionally responded to Tribe, but with far less frequency—said he doesn’t pay much attention to Twitter but claimed that his former colleague has a “personal vendetta” against him. “He’s a partisan,” said Dershowitz. “I think he was assigned a job by the anti-Trump people to try to destroy me and he’s accepted that assignment, which I think is pretty immoral.” He also claimed that Tribe would be silent if Hillary Clinton faced similar charges had she become president. Tribe told The Daily Beast the notions that his partisan feelings inform his legal judgment—or that he has it out for Dershowitz—were ridiculous.“Why would I have a ‘vendetta’ against Alan?” Tribe asked in an email. “We were colleagues and friends for years, and although we’ve disagreed at times I used to come to his defense with some frequency. I’ve become a vocal critic of Alan’s increasingly unhinged arguments in defense of President Trump’s conduct only because those arguments have seemed to me increasingly bizarre and increasingly dangerous.”Team Trump Settles on Its Impeachment Defense: A Healthy Dose of Lib Triggering“The one and only compass Alan Dershowitz follows these days,” leveled Tribe, “is the one that will bring him maximum media attention.”Tribe has also kept a close eye on two of the trial’s most central players, Schiff and Roberts.The California congressman, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985 and was a research assistant for Tribe while there, is among the many students—including Barack Obama—whom Tribe has mentored. Schiff, said Tribe, “remains among the brightest and most promising students I have taught in a half-century career at Harvard Law School… His handling of the Intelligence Committee’s work, and his performance as a House Impeachment manager, have been breathtakingly effective.”Schiff, for his part, had nothing but good things to say about Tribe in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “Larry is a dear friend, former professor, and trusted mentor,” said Schiff. “He’s been a great source of knowledge on the law and Constitution for all of us throughout this process, and we’re lucky to have the best constitutional law scholar in the nation advising us.” HE’S GOT THE POWERWhile Tribe’s praise for Schiff has been effusive and encouraging, his praise of Roberts, whom he has called “fair-minded and brilliant,” has sounded a more aspirational note. According to the Constitution, the chief justice presides over a Senate trial, but tradition has dictated that the role is more ceremonial and procedural than substantial.Among some observers, however, there is hope that Roberts could play a significant role in resolving key questions about the trial. In the event of a tied vote, Roberts could cast a decisive role for or against new evidence. He could also quickly resolve any legal challenge from the White House regarding the legality of a subpoena for officials like John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney.Tribe predicted to MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell that Roberts could rule in favor of new witnesses and documents if the situation arises. “If he is asked to issue a subpoena, I think he will use his power to do it,” Tribe said.It’s one of many predictions Tribe has made over the course of nearly three years of excited Trump-era tweeting and opining. Notably, he has yet to predict Trump’s conviction or acquittal—but has suggested there will be chaos no matter what.“Even if an unremoved Trump is defeated this Nov 4 so overwhelmingly that he doesn’t even try to hang onto power beyond next January 20,” tweeted Tribe, “imagine the havoc this vengeful man could wreak in the intervening 77 days, pardoning his loyal henchmen and attacking political adversaries.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 11:24 AM
|U.N. criticizes Iraq trials of ISIS 'members', including human shields
The United Nations raised "serious concerns" on Tuesday about the trials of hundreds of alleged Islamic State members in Iraq, some of whom merely prepared meals, offered medical services or even acted as human shields for the jihadist group. Iraq has processed thousands of cases under its anti-terrorism law - including of detainees from outside the Middle East transferred from neighboring Syria - in the aftermath of a 2014-17 war against Islamic State militants.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 9:05 AM
|China demands an apology from a newspaper for a satirical cartoon of a Chinese flag with coronavirus particles
China is outraged with a Danish newspaper for publishing a satirical cartoon of a Chinese flag with coronavirus particles in place of its stars.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 3:31 PM
|Kobe Bryant helicopter video emerges showing ill-fated flight minutes before crash
A video that appears to show Kobe Bryant’s helicopter circling over California roughly 15 minutes before the fatal crash has been posted online, illustrating the foggy conditions faced by the chopper on its last flight.In the video, which was posted by a user on Twitter who said they live in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale — where Bryant’s flight circled for roughly 10 minutes on Sunday awaiting instruction, according to flight records — the helicopter can be seen moving slowly in the sky above, obscured by the early morning fog.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 2:25 PM
|Dem Senator Agrees Hunter Biden is a ‘Relevant’ Impeachment Witness
Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) on Wednesday said he believes Hunter Biden may be a pertinent witness in the Senate impeachment trial."I think so, I really do," Manching said when asked on MSNBC's Morning Joe whether he thought the former vice president's son was a "relevant" witness. "I don't have a problem there because this is why we are where we are.""I think that he could clear himself from what I know and what I've heard," Manchin went on, "but being afraid to put anybody that might have pertinent information [on the witness stand] is wrong, whether you're Democrat or Republican."> .@WillieGeist asks @Sen_JoeManchin if Hunter Biden is a 'relevant witness.' Sen. Manchin responds: "I think so; I really do." pic.twitter.com/ZESiUMWTWc> > -- Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) January 29, 2020The Senate is currently entering the two-day question and answer phase of impeachment, after which it will vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents to be used as evidence at the trial. Democrats would like to summon former White House national security adviser John Bolton to testify, however Republicans may then insist on calling Hunter Biden as well as the whistleblower whose complaint set off the impeachment process.Hunter Biden was the head of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings from 2014 through early 2019. In 2016, at the behest of U.S. and European Union officials, then-vice president Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Victor Shokin over suspicions of corruption. Shokin had in the past led an investigation into Burisma for corruption within the company.Manchin, whose state of West Virginia contains a strong base of support for Trump, is one of three Senate Democrats who have remained publicly undecided on whether to acquit or convict the President."I know it’s hard to believe that. But I really am [undecided]. But I have not made a final decision. Every day, I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling,'" the Senator said on Tuesday. "Everyone’s struggling a little bit."
POSTED JANUARY 29, 2020 9:42 AM
|Soldier killed, general wounded during Mexico drug plane raid
A Mexican soldier was killed and a general wounded Monday when traffickers opened fire on a military patrol that sought to intercept a drug plane as it landed on a roadway, officials said.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 9:36 AM
|Erdogan Warns Russian Mercenaries in Libya Paid by Abu Dhabi
(Bloomberg) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lobbed a rare direct rebuke at the rulers of Abu Dhabi over their backing of Khalifa Haftar and the Russian mercenaries fighting on his behalf in Libya.Erdogan said that the emirate is bankrolling thousands of Russian fighters who support the forces controlled by the Libyan general, whom he derided as a “desert lord.” Turkey has responded to the Russian deployment by providing military support to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.The Turkish president’s criticism comes as a truce agreed this month appeared to be under severe strain with each side accusing the other of violations. A conference convened by Germany days after the cease-fire was struck had sought a cessation of hostilities to pave the way for an end to the civil war in the North African country.“Haftar is, at the moment, like a desert lord in Libya,” Erdogan told reporters during a flight from Algeria to Gambia, according to a transcript of his remarks published by his office. “He has control in desert areas but not in populated regions.”In fact, Haftar holds sway over the country’s east and many Libyan cities as well as most of its key oil installations. This month, his forces also took the city of Sirte.Turkey is currently monitoring Haftar’s “ugly attempts” to grab more land but will do whatever is necessary to stop him, Erdogan said.The United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry and the Abu Dhabi executive council, the sheikhdom’s top decision-making body, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Erdogan’s remarks.The direct criticism once more lays bare tensions between Turkey and Abu Dhabi. The oil-rich Gulf emirate has turned into a regional rival in recent years as Erdogan supported Islamist political movements seen as a threat by Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de-facto leader of the U.A.E.Russian mercenaries back Haftar’s forces, officials have told Bloomberg, and he also has support from Egypt and the U.A.E., who see him as a bulwark against Islamic extremists. Turkish soldiers are training forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have also joined the conflict.Dueling GovernmentsWestern officials say more than 1,400 fighters with the Russian Wagner group, headed by a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, have arrived since September to back Haftar’s Libyan National Army in its offensive to capture Tripoli.Meanwhile, Erdogan’s government has dispatched military advisers, armed drones and Syrian militiamen in support of the Government of National Accord in the Libyan capital.Despite the Berlin accord, foreign backers of both sides have sent in fighters and advanced weapons, the United Nations mission in Libya said late Saturday. Such moves raise questions over their commitment to halting the oil producer’s latest war, which began when the eastern-based Haftar ordered his forces to march on the capital in April.When asked this month about Russian mercenaries operating in Libya, Putin didn’t explicitly deny their presence but wouldn’t specify their number and said they receive no financing from Russia itself.“If there are any Russian citizens there, they neither represent the interests of the Russian state, nor receive funding from the Russian state,” Putin said Jan. 11 after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow.(Updates with Western estimate of mercenaries, Turkey’s involvement under ‘Dueling Governments’ subheadline)\--With assistance from Zainab Fattah and Samer Khalil Al-Atrush.To contact the reporter on this story: Onur Ant in Istanbul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at email@example.com, Paul Abelsky, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
POSTED JANUARY 28, 2020 8:08 AM