Thursday morning news: May 9, 2019

House panel holds Barr in contempt of Congress » The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. 

The vote split directly down party lines.

AUDIO: Mr. chairman there are 24 ayes and 16 nos.  

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler brought the vote after the Justice Department refused his demands to turn over the unredacted Mueller report and stacks of underlying evidence from the Russia probe.

Nadler told reporters the contempt vote was necessary.

NADLER: There can be no higher stakes than this attempt to arrogate all power to the executive branch away from Congress and more important, away from the American people. 

But the top Republican on the committee, Doug Collins said Democratic lawmakers are the ones overstepping their bounds. He argued Barr cannot legally lift the redactions of grand jury material in the report.

COLLINS: I heard the chairman say we’re in a constitutional crisis. The constitutional crisis is a committee that is asking from the attorney general things he cannot give. The constitutional crisis is a committee asking to not only write the law but enforce the law.  

The contempt resolution against Barr now moves to the full House.

The White House responded by invoking executive privilege on Wednesday claiming the right to block lawmakers from the unredacted Mueller report.

Iran threatens to speed up development of nuclear weapons » President Trump ordered new sanctions against Iran Wednesday. They’ll target the country’s steel, aluminum, copper, and iron sectors. Those provide foreign currency earnings for Iran’s sagging economy.

AUDIO: [Sound of Rouhani]

The announcement came just hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani filled television screens across Iran.

AUDIO: [Sound of Rouhani]

He addressed the nation with a message clearly aimed at a larger audience. Rouhani pressured Europe to shield Tehran from the sanctions imposed by the United States. And he threatened to enrich uranium stockpiles closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms to its 2015 nuclear deal.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt responded by urging Iran not to ramp up tensions any further.

HUNT: Should Iran cease to observe its nuclear commitments, there would of course, be consequences. For as long as Iran keeps its commitments, so too will the United Kingdom. 

The U.S. has dispatched an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East amid renewed threats from Iran.

Colorado school shooting » The young man who died in Tuesday’s school shooting near Denver is 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo. His parents confirmed his death.

One witness said Castillo died while rushing at the shooter, likely saving his classmates’ lives.

Two suspects are behind bars. Both were students at the STEM school—one adult male and one female not yet 18. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the shooters opened fire on their classmates with handguns.

SPURLOCK: Pistols were used in this assault. The number of weapons and how they got in we’re not releasing because that’s subject to the prosecution case. 

Seven other students suffered bullet wounds in the attack.

China reportedly went back on key trade concessions » China is threatening to take countermeasures if the U.S. moves ahead with plans to hike tariffs. On Friday, tariffs will rise from 10 to 25 percent on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

President Trump’s Sunday announcement of those tariffs in the middle of trade talks surprised many. But a new report may explain the move. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more:

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The jaws of U.S. trade negotiators hit the floor last Friday as they thumbed through a draft trade proposal from their Chinese counterparts. Edits and reversals riddled the text.

That according to the Reuters news agency. It quoted one source saying—“China reneged on a dozen things, if not more … The talks were so bad that the real surprise is that it took Trump until Sunday to blow up.”

China reportedly cut  out of the document its earlier commitments to change its laws to address U.S. concerns. Those include complaints over currency manipulation and stealing U.S. intellectual property, among other things.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrives in Washington with a trade delegation today to resume talks. But hopes for a positive outcome have dimmed. Reuters cited another source who said China’s reversals undermined “the core architecture of the deal.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Court rules U.S. can force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico » A federal court has ruled that Trump administration can make people seeking asylum wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration courts to process their claims.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reversed an earlier decision by a San Francisco judge. But victory for the Trump administration could be temporary. The Supreme Court may have the final say.

Eleven Central Americans joined advocacy groups to challenge the policy. They argued it jeopardized asylum seekers by forcing them to stay in Mexico, where crime and drug violence are prevalent.

Asia Bibi arrives in Canada » Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy against Islam is finally a free woman. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Bibi’s attorney Saif-ul Malook said she arrived in Ottawa, Canada, on Tuesday. Her two daughters have lived in Ottawa since December.

A Pakistani court sentenced the Catholic mother to death by hanging in 2010. But the country’s Supreme Court overturned her sentence last year and upheld its ruling in February.

Since then, Bibi had been holed up in a safehouse amid death threats.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement Wednesday, “Asia Bibi is now free, and we wish her and her family all the best following their reunification.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The House Judiciary Committee witness chair will be without its witness this morning, Attorney General William Barr. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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