Friday morning news: September 20, 2019

President weighs response options after attack on Saudi oil » Pentagon officials will present a broad range of military options to President Trump today, following last weekend’s attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. That according to the Associated Press.

The president is also weighing non-military options as he decides how to respond to what the United States called an attack on the global economy. 

Saudi leaders say Iran ordered the drone attack. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that’s the consensus. 

POMPEO: We know precisely who conducted these attacks was Iran. I didn’t hear anybody in the region who doubted that for a single moment. 

But Trump administration officials have made clear that the United States does not want a military conflict and will not be quick on the trigger. And on Thursday, Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman, Colonel Pat Ryder said the same. 

RYDER: Our goal has been to deter conflict in the Middle East. We’ve said that repeatedly. The president has said that. The secretary has said that. We do not want conflict.

Iran denies it was behind the attack. And on Wednesday, Iran’s foreign minister warned of a—quote— “all-out war” if Saudi Arabia or the United States retaliate with force.

Trump sues to stop NY prosecutors from getting tax records » President Trump is suing to block New York prosecutors from getting his tax returns. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The president sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in U.S. District Court on Thursday. He’s asking a judge to block a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s state and federal returns. 

Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said the subpoena raises “significant constitutional issues.”

The president and three of his children also sued Deutsche Bank in April to stop it from giving personal financial records to two House Committees. In July, Trump filed suit against a law that would allow New York to hand over public officials’ state tax returns to Congress.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

House OKs measure to head off possible shutdown » The House passed a short-term bill Thursday to prevent a federal shutdown when the budget year ends a week from Monday. 

AUDIO: On this vote the yeas are 301 and the nays are 123. 

The bill will give lawmakers until the Thanksgiving break to haggle and approve $1.4 trillion for federal agencies.

The Senate is expected to approve the stopgap bill next week. The agency spending bills would fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt agreement between President Trump and Democratic leaders. 

House Oversight Committee holds hearing on D.C. statehood » Elsewhere at the Capitol on Thursday, lawmakers and District of Columbia officials argued over whether to turn Washington D.C. into the country’s 51st state.

Phil Mendelson is chairman of the DC city council.

MENDELSON: We pay our dues, but we do not have the most important privilege of U.S. citizenship. We do not have a vote in Congress, nor do we have sovereignty like the 50 states.

Proposed legislation would shrink the federal government’s footprint in the district to two square miles. That would include the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House. The rest of D.C. would become its own state. 

Democrats charge that Republicans oppose the plan only because it would likely mean more Democratic seats in Congress. But Congressman Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, pushed back. 

JORDAN: That’s just not the truth. It’s not the case. It’s about the Constitution. If you want to change it there’s a remedy, and it requires amending the Constitution of the United States. 

Whether the statehood plan could answer constitutional questions probably won’t matter anytime soon. Any House-approved bill would be dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

Taliban attack at hospital kills 20 » A Taliban suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan Thursday. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The truck exploded in the town of Qalat. The massive explosion destroyed part of a hospital—killing at least 20 people, and injuring about a hundred others. 

Authorities scrambled to take the critically wounded to hospitals in nearby Kandahar. But the blast buried a fleet of mangled ambulances under twisted concrete and steel.  

It was the latest in a series of almost daily Taliban attacks in recent weeks.

Meantime, local officials in eastern Afghanistan are blaming U.S. forces for a drone strike that killed at least 16 people, mostly civilians. 

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Sonny Legget said Thursday—quote—“We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants.” And he said military officials are investigating. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Houston area battles flooding from Imelda’s deluge » Some areas near Houston on Thursday faced even worse flooding than during 2017’s catastrophic Hurricane Harvey. That after Tropical Depression Imelda dumped several feet of rain in some areas of Texas and Louisiana. 

Rescue crews logged more than a thousand high water rescues and evacuations.  

One Houston resident said a rescue crew evacuated her family from their home as water swamped neighborhood streets. But they didn’t escape by boat. 

AUDIO: We called and got put on a list for the boat to come, but they came in a dump truck. 

And there’s more rain in the forecast for Houston today.

Meanwhile in Bermuda, thousands were still without power Thursday after Hurricane Humberto passed nearby. The islands were spared a direct hit, but heavy winds still damaged roofs and caused some minor injuries. 

Neither storm has caused any known deaths.

Washington Monument reopens » The Washington Monument reopened on Thursday after being closed to the public for the last three years. The National Park Service shut it down in September 2016 to replace the aging elevator and upgrade security systems.

The monument has been closed for most of the past eight years. In 2011 an earthquake left cracks in the stones near the top of the obelisk. It reopened in 2014, but Park Service officials had to shut it down again two years later after a series of elevator breakdowns.


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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