Tuesday morning news: October 29, 2019

Former Trump admin official stands up House Democrats » Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote this week on formalizing Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. She said the move is meant—quote—“to eliminate any doubt” about the process. Republicans have complained that the full House has not voted on an impeachment probe. 

That news followed another clash Monday between Democrats and the White House over witness testimony. A former Trump administration official defied a House subpoena. Charles Kupperman was a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton. He did not show up for a scheduled closed-door deposition. 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters…

SCHIFF: If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify. They plainly don’t. 

The White House insists past and current senior officials have legal immunity from House subpoenas. 

Kupperman’s attorney said he’s waiting for a federal court to clarify whether he’s legally required to appear.

Schiff said rather than get caught up in long legal battles over testimony, House Democrats may build their case around those no-show witnesses. He said they’ll write articles of impeachment “based on obstruction” of justice. 

Meantime, Republicans, like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, continue to blast Democrats’ handling of the inquiry. 

SCALISE: The fact that Adam Schiff still goes on this drumbeat of these secret, behind closed doors impeachment proceedings. You know, they’re trying to hide from the public what’s really happening in there. 

He accused Schiff of selectively leaking information. 

Al-Baghdadi mission came together quickly after receiving “actionable intelligence” » President Trump on Monday accused Schiff of the same. 

The president did not give top Democrats in Congress advance notice of Sunday’s military operation targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is customary to give Congressional leaders a heads-up before major military missions. But the president said he didn’t trust Democrats, particularly Schiff, not to leak word of the mission to the press. 

And we’re learning more details about that military operation.  

The White House first learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria. By Saturday the president had “actionable intelligence” and military options on his desk. 

The mission came together quickly, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper said it was a long time in the making. 

ESPER: This operation was the culmination of a multiyear interagency effort to find him, and then capture or kill him. 

After troops cornered him in a tunnel, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest rather the be captured. But Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Mark Milley, said the soldiers did capture other ISIS operatives. 

MILLEY: There were two adult males taken off the objective alive. They’re in our custody. 

A short time later, a U.S. airstrike in northeastern Syria killed a high-ranking ISIS spokesman. 

California firefighters battle hundreds of blazes » Firefighters are working overtime across the State of California, trying to beat back wildfires, both small and large. Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters on Monday…

NEWSOM: Many of you may not be aware that we have put down over 330 fires just in the last 20 hours. 

Major fires are still raging in Northern California’s wine country. And on Monday morning, a destructive blaze broke out in the wealthy Sherman Oaks neighborhood in Los Angeles. 

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said they’re throwing everything they have at the fire. 

GARCETTI: We have now over 1,100 firefighters on scene battling this blaze. Since sunrise, we’ve added to the helicopters, which were working all night—of course fixed wing laying down fire retardant, and also working water on the line.

About 200,000 Californians are still under evacuation orders, mostly in Sonoma County just north of San Francisco. 

N.C. judges block state congressional map » North Carolina judges on Monday blocked the state’s congressional map from being used in the 2020 elections. 

The panel of three Superior Court judges issued a preliminary injunction preventing elections under the district lines, starting with the March 3 primary.

The judges said a lawsuit accusing Republicans of unlawfully gerrymandering district lines is likely to succeed. 

They halted the use of these districts less than two months after they struck down state House and Senate districts. The court ruled that the political manipulation of those districts also crossed legal lines. 

E.U. agrees to Brexit delay as U.K. prime minister seeks early election » The UK’s exit from the European Union is on hold once again. The EU agreed on Monday to delay Brexit by another three months—until January 31st. 

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said it didn’t take any arm twisting. The 27 EU ambassadors in Brussels quickly agreed to the extension. 

BARNIER: It was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting, and I’m very happy the decision has been taken. 

The UK Parliament forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for the delay.  

Johnson is now pushing for an early election as a way of breaking the political deadlock. British lawmakers voted Monday on a motion calling for a general election on December 12th. 

Two hundred 99 legislators voted in favor of the motion. But as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow explained, that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. 

BERCOW: Because the majority required has not been reached, the nos have it. 

But the prime minister said he’s not giving up and that voters must have a chance to replace what he called “this dysfunctional Parliament with a new [one] that can get Brexit done.”

JOHNSON: We will not allow this paralysis to continue. In one way or another, we must proceed straight to an election. 

Johnson said the government is bringing forward a bill to permit an early election. Unlike Monday’s motion, a bill only needs a simple majority to pass.

(Al-Furqan media via AP, File) This file image made from video posted on a militant website April 29, 2019, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, being interviewed by his group’s Al-Furqan media outlet.

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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