Republicans demand Hunter Biden and whistleblower appear at televised Donald Trump impeachment hearings

Republicans have demanded that Joe Biden’s son and an anonymous whistleblower should give evidence during highly anticipated televised impeachment hearings this week. It came as America’s big three networks – CBS, NBC and ABC – all announced wall-to-wall coverage. They will break into scheduled programming to carry the sessions live, so voters can watch the case against Donald Trump. The three witnesses at the hearings on Wednesday and Friday will be George Kent, a top State Department official, William Taylor, a US diplomat in Ukraine, and Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine. But Republicans want to her from the whistleblower who kickstarted the impeachment inquiry after complaining about a July 25 telephone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Mr Trump is accused of holding up $392 million in military aid in an effort to pressure Mr Zelenskiy into investigating Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, for corruption. Mr Trump vehemently denies doing so. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father, as vice president, was heading Ukraine policy for the Obama administration. Hunter and Joe Biden Credit: Reuters Congressman Devin Nunes, the lead Republican on the House intelligence committee, which will host the televised impeachment hearings, demanded Hunter Biden and the whistleblower appear. But Adam Schiff, the Democrat committee chairman, refused to call them, and accused Republicans of trying to turn impeachment into a “sham investigation of the Bidens.” The televised impeachment inquiry sessions come 46 years after America was transfixed by the Watergate hearings. Around three quarters of the US population watched at least some of the Watergate hearings on television. A major difference this time will be social media, with Republicans and Democrats able to react instantly to developments. Days before the hearings Republicans appeared increasingly fractured over how to defend the president. Some Republican senators and members of Congress have stuck to Mr Trump’s description of his call with Mr Zelenskiy as “perfect,” and maintained there was no “quid pro quo” offered by the president. Others have suggested there was an “appropriate quid pro quo”. And, some said his behaviour raised concerns but did not rise to the level of impeachment. There were also some who refused to discuss the matter at all, on the basis they would be jurors in an eventual Senate trial of Mr Trump. Several Republican senators declared they would not even watch the televised hearings this week. They included Lindsey Graham, a friend of Mr Trump, who called it a “sham”. He added: “It’s being driven by political people. I think this is a bunch of crap.” Senator Lindsey Graham says he will be one of the few Americans not watching the live impeachment inquiry hearings Credit: AP Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said: “It’s not good. It’s hard to rally people to your side without a coherent and sustainable message.” Meanwhile, Mick Mulvaney, Mr Trump’s acting chief of staff, asked a court to decide whether he should adhere to a request from Congress to give evidence privately to the impeachment inquiry.The White House has ordered him not to do so. As he prepared to watch the televised hearings Mr Trump attended a college American football game in Alabama, where more than 100,000 people packed into a stadium. Mr Trump at the Alabama game Credit: AP When Mr Trump appeared on a big screen he was cheered and there were chants of “USA, USA.” Outside the stadium an inflatable 20ft-high “Baby Trump” protest balloon was slashed and deflated. A man reportedly ran at the balloon with a knife and cut an 8ft long gash in it. The “Baby Trump” protest balloon after it was attacked Credit: The Tuscaloosa News Local police said Hoyt Deau Hutchinson, 32, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. Mr Trump’s reception in Alabama was a sharp contrast to the booing when he attended a World Series baseball game in Washington two weeks ago

Trump impeachment committee ‘has evidence of extortion scheme involving president’ and Ukraine

Politicians have evidence of an “extortion scheme” by Donald Trump to try to pressure a foreign government to investigate his opponents, a member of the House intelligence committee has said ahead of public impeachment hearings beginning this week.Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday that there was already ample evidence that the president had abused his office.

‘Fool’s trap’: Trump hits out at Republicans trying to form new impeachment defence ahead of public hearings

Donald Trump has hit out at Republicans trying to formulate a new defence for him ahead of the impeachment inquiry ramping up this week with televised public hearings.The president tweeted: “The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT. Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!”

Small plane crashes in Texas during ‘gender reveal’ stunt

Passenger injured as pilot slowed plane at low altitude to ‘dump 350 gallons of pink water’ in stunt gone badly wrongGender reveal parties let expecting parents reveal whether they are going to have a boy or a girl. Stunts gone wrong have become a staple of online reporting. Photograph: Beautyinoddplaces/Getty Images/iStockphotoIn another instance of a “gender reveal” stunt gone badly wrong, a small plane crashed in Texas after “dump[ing] about 350 gallons of pink water” to indicate that a friend of the pilot was going to have a daughter.According to a National Transportation Safety Board report into the crash, which happened near the town of Turkey on 7 September, “the pilot reported, that while maneuvering at a low altitude in an aerial applicator airplane, he dumped about 350 gallons of pink water for a gender reveal.“The airplane ‘got too slow’, aerodynamically stalled, impacted terrain and came to rest inverted.”The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions before the plane crashed.The NTSB report added: “The Federal Aviation Administration inspector … [said] there were two persons on board the single-seat airplane.”The pilot was not injured. The passenger suffered minor injuries.Gender reveal parties let expecting parents reveal whether they are going to have a boy or a girl. Stunts gone wrong have become a staple of online reporting.In Iowa in October, a 56-year-old grandmother was killed when a device meant to shoot out coloured powder exploded instead.In Arizona in 2017, a man fired a rifle at a target that exploded, releasing blue powder. It also started a wildfire that burned 73 sq miles of mostly Forest Service land. The man was ordered to pay nearly $8m in restitution.Earlier this year, Jenna Karvunidis, a mother of three who in 2008 was one of the first people to hold a gender reveal, told the Guardian she “had released something bad into the world”.Aside from accidents, Karvunidis said she regretted the focus of such events on traditional notions of gender.“I started to realize that nonbinary people and trans people were feeling affected by this,” she said, “and I started to feel bad”.

Mexico’s AMLO Mulls Freeing Ex-Governor Villanueva from Jail

(Bloomberg) — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said late Saturday that he’s working for the release of a former governor convicted of laundering money for a drug cartel, threatening to cause increased friction with the U.S.Mario Villanueva, 71, served as governor of the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, which includes the resort city of Cancun, from 1993 to 1999. He starting serving a 22-year sentence in Mexico in 2017. Yet in May, the state Congress concluded that he was falsely accused and didn’t commit the crimes, and that his sentence was part of a political vendetta.Lopez Obrador said at an event in the state on Saturday that his government is working for Villanueva’s release, while adding that it also depends on the autonomous Attorney General’s office, where there’s an injunction to prevent it.Lopez Obrador didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind his position on the specific case, although he mentioned general backing for an amnesty bill for elderly convicts and people whose cases take years to resolve. Jesus Cantu, the information chief of the president’s press office, said that Lopez Obrador wants Villanueva freed on humanitarian grounds based on his age, a chronic lung disease and the time served on his sentence.The Villanueva case threatens to cause another irritant in Mexico’s relationship with the U.S. just days after President Donald Trump said he’s waiting for Lopez Obrador’s call to “wage war” against drug cartels after an attack killed nine dual citizens.Villanueva already served time in the U.S. after pleading guilty to laundering bribes from the Juarez drug cartel, and his release probably wouldn’t be well-received by the Drug Enforcement Administration that helped investigate him, said Alejandro Hope, a security consultant and former official for CISEN, Mexico’s intelligence agency.“This sends a strong and terrible signal of impunity,” said Gerardo Rodriguez Sanchez Lara, a professor of national security at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. “The U.S. and Mexico have worked together to punish former governors who have been involved with drug trafficking, and this is one of the few cases where there’s been punishment. The president needs to explain very clearly why he’s taking this stance.”(Updates with Mexican official’s comment in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Kevin MillerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Harris, Warren compete for support from black female voters

Kamala Harris got a much needed boost this past week when the California senator picked up the endorsement of Higher Heights, the country’s largest political organization aimed at electing black women. A day after Harris’ announcement, the Massachusetts senator won the backing of more than 100 black female activists. The dueling endorsements signal an emerging battle between Warren and Harris for the support of black women, who are the Democratic Party’s most loyal and consistent voters.