Friday morning news: November 22, 2019

Two key witnesses cap a week of public testimony in impeachment inquiry » Two key witnesses testified Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry. 

U.S. diplomat David Holmes said he overheard a phone call between President Trump and U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. 

HOLMES: I then heard President Trump ask – so is he going to do the investigation? Ambassador Sondland replied, he’s going to do it, adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. 

Holmes said after the call, Sondland told him “the president only cares about big stuff.” And he said Sondland clarified that meant big stuff “that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.” 

Former National Security Council adviser Fiona Hill also testified. She recounted a conversation with former national security adviser John Bolton about the president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani. 

HILL: And he then in the course of that discussion said that Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up. 

Hill also said ambassador Sondland carried out “a domestic political errand” for President Trump in Ukraine. 

After two weeks of public testimony, both parties are digging in their heels. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said it’s clear that the president is guilty of impeachable offenses. 

SCHIFF: It is beyond anything Nixon did. The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one. 

But the top Republican on the Intel Committee, Devin Nunes, said the Democrats’ case is weak. 

NUNES: As numerous witnesses have testified, temporary holds on foreign aid occur fairly frequently for many different reasons. So how do we have an impeachable offense here when there’s no actual misdeed, and no one even claiming to be a victim? 

Republicans said testimony produced a whole lot of presumption, conjecture and hearsay, but not much more.

Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges » Meantime, in Jerusalem, Israel’s attorney general on Thursday announced formal corruption charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It marks the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime.

The most serious charges were connected to so-called “Case 4000.” In that case, Netanyahu is accused of passing regulations worth millions to the owner of a news site in exchange for favorable coverage. 

Netanyahu denounced the indictment a short time later. He said the accusations are false and the charges are politically motivated.  


And he accused prosecutors of staging “an attempted coup.”

The charges come amid continued political gridlock in Israel. Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition after the most recent election.

And on Wednesday, his chief rival, Benny Gantz, announced that he too had failed to form a new government. That pushes the country closer toward an unprecedented third election in less than a year.

Trump overrules Navy in Gallagher case » President Trump is overruling the Navy in a disciplinary case involving a Navy SEAL, whom he pardoned last week. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The president insisted Thursday that the Navy—quote—“will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin.”

The Trident Pin designates a soldier as a SEAL. 

The Navy on Wednesday notified Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher that he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force.

A military jury convicted Gallagher of posing with an enemy corpse in Iraq in 2017. He was then demoted to chief. But President Trump last week pardoned Gallagher and restored his rank. 

His lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s pardon.

The president tweeted on Thursday that, “This case was handled very badly from the beginning” and he urged those involved to “Get back to business!”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johahsen. 

Prince Andrew faces growing calls for answers in Epstein case » Britain’s Prince Andrew is facing mounting calls to provide information to U.S. law enforcement agencies and lawyers about Jeffrey Epstein. That as investigators continue to look for evidence that may point to those who enabled or participated in the former financier’s alleged crimes.

Andrew announced this week that he is stepping back from royal duties because the Epstein scandal had become a “major disruption” to the royal family. 

He also said he’s—quote—“willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

Attorney Lisa Bloom represents victims suing Epstein’s estate. She said the prince should hold nothing back. 

BLOOM: It’s about justice and accountability for the victims. So it’s important that he says he’s going to cooperate with law enforcement. He should also answer questions from all of the accusers’ attorneys.

When Epstein died in August, he was facing charges that he trafficked underage girls to powerful men visiting his luxury properties around the world. 

Prince Andrew denies any wrongdoing and says he regrets—quote—“my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”

UAW president resigns amid corruption scandal » The president of the United Auto Workers union resigned this week after a General Motors lawsuit alleged a rival automaker bribed union officials. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: UAW President Gary Jones abruptly announced Wednesday that he is retiring. That came after GM sued Fiat Chrysler—alleging the company bribed union officials to get more favorable contract terms from the union.

GM settled a contract dispute with the UAW last month to end a 40-day strike. 

The UAW’s International Executive Board recently filed paperwork to expel Jones and another official over allegations raised by a federal investigation. That corruption probe has resulted in multiple arrests starting in 2017. 

Prosecutors have not charged Jones with a crime, but federal agents raided his suburban Detroit home in August.

Jones has been a UAW member for 44 years and started as a factory worker.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

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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