Public impeachment hearings officially begin » SCHIFF: The committee will come to order. [gavel strike] Good morning everyone.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff gaveled in Wednesday’s impeachment hearing—this time with TV cameras in the room. In his opening statement, Schiff said Congress must determine if the president abused his power and invited foreign interference in a U.S. election.
SCHIFF: Whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine’s willingness to assist with two political investigations that would help his reelection campaign.
Democrats called two witnesses: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor. Both had already testified privately. But on Wednesday, Taylor provided new information he said he just learned last week.
He testified that someone on his staff told him about overhearing a July phone call between U.S. Ambassador to the UN Gordon Sondland and the president.
TAYLOR: The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukranians were ready to move forward.
He said Sondland then told his staffer that Trump’s primary concern with regard to Ukraine was an investigation of the Bidens. Taylor had already testified privately that it was his “clear understanding” the White House wouldn’t release military aid to Ukraine unless it publicly committed to a corruption probe. Republicans called Taylor’s testimony hearsay, noting that he had no firsthand knowledge of a quid pro quo.
And Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan pressed Taylor, pointing out that Ukraine got the aid without such a commitment.
JORDAN: The whole point was you had a clear understanding that aid will not get released unless there is a commitment. You used clear language, clear understanding and commitment. And those two things didn’t happen, so you had to be wrong.
Democrats say Wednesday’s testimony reaffirms the need for the inquiry.
Trump hosts Turkish president at White House » Meantime, at the White House, President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office, despite bipartisan complaints. Lawmakers had urged him to rescind his invitation to Erdogan over Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and the country’s decision to buy Russian-made missile systems. President Trump told reporters…
TRUMP: Turkey’s acquisition of sophisticated Russian military equipment, such as the S-400, creates some very serious challenges for us, and we are talking about it.
Trump said the ceasefire in northern Syria is holding—despite reports that the fighting there between Turkish and Kurdish forces never actually stopped.
As for the impeachment hearings, the president said he’s too busy to watch. He again called the process a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
Many students fleeing Hong Kong amid unrest » Many students in Hong Kong are leaving the city—fearing for their safety amid sometimes-violent protests and police crackdowns. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: University students from mainland China and Taiwan are fleeing Hong Kong and those from three Scandinavian countries have been urged to leave.
That as college campuses become the latest battleground in the city’s anti-government unrest.
Police raided the Chinese University of Hong Kong late Tuesday. They claimed suspected demonstrators used it as a base to make gasoline bombs.
Protesters blocked roads around the university after violent clashes with police. Authorities then used a boat to help a group of mainland students leave the campus when they were unable to drive out.
Education officials announced that primary and secondary school classes would be suspended today amid the unrest.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Lawmaker assumes interim presidency in Bolivia » Bolivia has a new interim president—just a few days after former President Evo Morales resigned amid national protests.
Lawmaker Jeanine Añez claimed the South American country’s top job after higher-ranking successors also resigned. She has promised to hold a new election within 90 days.
MORALES: [Speaking in Spanish]
But not everyone is ready to recognize Añez as the rightful leader. Morales spoke to reporters from Mexico on Wednesday, where he’s accepted political asylum and claimed once more that he was the victim of a coup. And his supporters continue to protest against Añez in the streets of Bolivia.
Car bomb kills at least 12 in Afghanistan » At least 12 people are dead in Afghanistan after a car bomb tore through a city street during morning rush hour. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Commuters packed a busy street in Kabul Wednesday when the car bomb exploded, sending shrapnel flying as flames and smoke filled the air.
The bomb appeared to target a private security company’s convoy. But the blast also killed bystanders—including a 12-year-old girl and her 7-year old brother, who were walking to school with their father.
Twenty other people sustained injuries, including four of the company’s foreign staff.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but both the Taliban and ISIS are active in the Afghan capital and have claimed many previous attacks in the city.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.