Pompeo: State Dept. will follow law in impeachment inquiry
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday the State Department intends to follow the law in the House impeachment investigation and vigorously defended President Donald Trump, dismissing questions about the president's attempts to push Ukraine and China to investigate a Democratic political rival.
The Trump administration and House Democrats often disagree about what the law requires, leaving open the question of how Pompeo may interpret Democrats' demands for key information about Trump's handling of Ukraine.
Pompeo, speaking in Greece, said the State Department sent a letter to Congress Friday night as its initial response to the document request and added, "We'll obviously do all the things that we're required to do by law." He has allowed Democrats to interview a series of witnesses next week. Among them is Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, another key figure in the probe.
The administration has struggled to come up with a unified response to the quickly progressing investigation. Democrats have warned that defying their demands will in itself be considered "evidence of obstruction" and a potentially impeachable offence.
Pompeo has become a key figure in the Democrats' investigation. He was on the line during the July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter — sparking a whistleblower complaint and now the impeachment inquiry.
GOP unlikely to reprise role it played in Nixon's 1974 exit
NEW YORK (AP) — On Aug. 7, 1974, three top Republican leaders in Congress paid a solemn visit to President Richard Nixon at the White House, bearing the message that he faced near-certain impeachment due to eroding support in his own party on Capitol Hill. Nixon, who'd been entangled in the Watergate scandal for two years, announced his resignation the next day.
Could a similar drama unfold in later stages of the impeachment process that Democrats have now initiated against President Donald Trump? It's doubtful. In Nixon's time, there were conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. Compromise was not treated with scorn.
In today's highly polarized Washington, bipartisan agreement is a rarity. And Trump has taken over the Republican Party, accruing personal rather than party loyalty and casting the GOP establishment to an ineffectual sideline.
"In the past in the U.S., party members would dissociate themselves from disgraced leaders in order to preserve the party and their own reputations," said professor Nick Smith, who teaches ethics and political philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. "But now President Trump seems to have such a personal hold on the party — more like a cult leader than a U.S. president — that the exits are closed as the party transforms into his image."
The delegation that visited Nixon was headed by Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the GOP's unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1964. Goldwater, who had a long tenure as a party elder, was joined by Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, a Republican known for his strong support for civil rights, and Rep. John Rhodes of Arizona — the GOP leaders in their respective chambers.
Hong Kong lawmakers challenge mask ban as protests persist
HONG KONG (AP) — A group of pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators filed a legal challenge against the government's use of a colonial-era emergency law to criminalize the wearing of masks at rallies to quell anti-government demonstrations, which diminished in intensity but didn't stop.
The mask ban that went into effect at midnight Friday triggered an overnight rash of widespread violence and destruction in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, including the setting of fires and attacks on an off-duty police officer who fired a live shot in self-defence that wounded a 14-year-old.
Two activists failed to obtain a court injunction Friday against the ban on face coverings that the government says have made it tough for police to identify radical protesters.
In a second bid Saturday, lawmaker Dennis Kwok said a group of 24 legislators filed a legal appeal to block the anti-mask law on wider constitutional grounds. He said the city's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, acted in bad faith by bypassing the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's parliament, in invoking the emergency law.
"This is a Henry VIII situation. This is basically I say what is law ... and I say when that ceases to be law. That's not how our constitution works," Kwok told a news conference late Saturday. "We say that she doesn't have such powers, that she cannot avoid" the Legislative Council.
North Korea decries breakdown of talks US says were 'good'
HELSINKI (AP) — North Korea's chief negotiator said that nuclear talks with the U.S. had broken down, but Washington maintained the two sides had "good discussions" in Sweden that it intends to build on in two weeks.
The North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, said the talks in Stockholm on Saturday had "not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it."
Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy, he said that negotiations broke down "entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude" and came to a negotiating table with an "empty hand."
Saturday's talks were the first between the U.S. and North Korea since the February breakdown of the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to restart diplomacy.
North Korea has since resumed missile and other weapons tests, including the first test of an underwater-launched missile in three years that fell inside Japan's exclusive economic zone Wednesday.
Ex-officer not guilty of manslaughter in Georgia shooting
WOODBINE, Ga. (AP) — A former Georgia police officer who fatally shot a fleeing, unarmed black man was acquitted Saturday of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
The jury, however, found Zechariah Presley guilty of violating his oath of office in the 2018 shooting of Tony Green, 33, in coastal Camden County near the Georgia-Florida state line.
Presley was ordered to be jailed pending sentencing Oct. 18. He faces a prison term of one to five years.
Presley sat silently at the defence table. Green's relatives wiped away tears after the verdict was read.
Pastor Mack De'Von Knight, whose church Green attended, denounced the acquittals outside the courthouse, saying the evidence was "open and shut."
Witness in ex-Dallas officer's murder trial shot and killed
DALLAS (AP) — A witness in the murder trial of a white Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbour has been killed in a shooting, the Dallas Morning News reported, citing authorities.
The newspaper reported that authorities said Joshua Brown was shot and killed Friday in Dallas. The 28-year-old Brown lived in the same apartment complex as Amber Guyger and Botham Jean when Guyger shot Jean to death in September 2018.
Brown testified in Guyger's trial about the night that Jean was killed, saying he was in a hallway on the fourth floor, where he and Jean lived. He said he heard what sounded like "two people meeting by surprise" and then two gunshots.
Guyger was convicted Tuesday and sentenced the next day to 10 years in prison. Guyger, 31, was still in her police uniform after a long shift when, according to her testimony at trial, she said she mistook Jean's apartment for her own, which was one floor below. She said she pushed open Jean's unlocked door and shot the 26-year-old accountant from the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia after thinking he was a burglar.
She was fired from the department soon after the shooting.
Warren dismisses top staffer for inappropriate behaviour
WASHINGTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign has dismissed its national organizing director following "multiple complaints" of inappropriate behaviour.
Spokeswoman Kristen Orthman says the campaign received complaints about Rich McDaniel over the past two weeks and retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. McDaniel was fired after the campaign determined that his reported conduct was "inconsistent" with its values.
Word of the dismissal was first reported by Politico.
In a statement to Politico, McDaniel said he "would never intentionally engage in any behaviour inconsistent with the campaign or my own values" and he wished his former colleagues well.
McDaniel worked on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid and Doug Jones' successful Senate run in Alabama in 2017.
Suspect held in fatal bludgeoning of sleeping homeless men
NEW YORK (AP) — A homeless man wielding a long metal bar rampaged through New York City's Chinatown early Saturday attacking other homeless people who were sleeping, killing four and leaving a fifth with serious injuries, police said.
Police recovered the weapon, which was still in the suspect's hands when he was arrested, officials said.
"The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks," Chief of Manhattan South Detectives Michael Baldassano said, adding there was no evidence yet that the victims were "targeted by race, age, anything of that nature."
Randy Rodriguez Santos was taken into police custody early Saturday. Police say he has been arrested at least a half-dozen other times in the past two years, three times on assault charges.
Santos was escorted out of a police station late Saturday by two police officers and put in a car. Detectives at the scene told journalists he was being taken to a hospital for the gathering of DNA evidence.
Without oversight, scores of accused priests commit crimes
Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.
These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centres. They foster and care for children.
And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP's analysis found.
A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.
Each diocese determines its own standard to deem a priest credibly accused, with the allegations ranging from inappropriate conversations and unwanted hugging to forced sodomy and rape.
Gregorius, Yanks stagger Twins again, lead ALDS 2-0
NEW YORK (AP) — The 103-win New York Yankees ran out identical, relentless lineups in consecutive games for the first time all year, and manager Aaron Boone believes he knows what's next for the A-team Bombers.
"Throttle down," he said.
Didi Gregorius hooked a slump-busting grand slam during a seven-run third inning and the Yankees pummeled the Minnesota Twins again, cruising to an 8-2 victory Saturday for a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.
Uber driver-turned-rookie big leaguer Randy Dobnak struggled in an unexpected start, and the Twins lost their record 15th consecutive post-season game, including 12 straight against the Yankees. The latter is the longest post-season skid for one club against another in major league history, topping Boston's dominance over the Angels from 1986-2008. Minnesota hasn't won a playoff game since Johan Santana bested the Yankees in their 2004 Division Series opener — exactly 15 years earlier.
"Our guys know that we can turn it around," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.