House panels begin releasing transcripts of closed-door interviews » Three House panels leading the impeachment inquiry released the first transcripts from closed-door questioning of witnesses.
The committees released testimony from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich and Michael McKinley … who was a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Yovanovich told lawmakers that a Ukranian official warned her of a smear campaign against her from allies of President Trump.
But GOP Congressman Jim Jordan said Monday that the newly released testimony did nothing to bolster the case for impeachment.
JORDAN: The two individuals whose transcripts were released today, frankly had not much to do with the underlying issue.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said House panels will release more transcripts today. Those include accounts of interviews with former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Democrats say Volker’s text messages provided key insight into Trump’s demands on Ukraine’s president.
They will also release testimony from Gordon Sondland, who is Trump’s envoy to the European Union. Schiff told reporters they’ll continue to release transcripts “in an orderly way.”
SCHIFF: We’ll continue to make redactions for private information, personally identifiable information, but we will continue to release the transcripts. And we will soon, although I can’t give you the timetable, be moving to open hearings as well.
GOP members continue to call for the unnamed White House whistleblower to appear for closed-door testimony. On Monday, they roundly rejected an offer from the whistleblower’s attorney … for his client to provide written answers to Republican lawmakers.
Appeals court agrees Trump tax returns can be turned over » A federal appeals court ruled Monday that prosecutors in New York can access President Trump’s tax returns. That ruling leaves the last word to the Supreme Court. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court decision in the ongoing fight over Trump’s financial records. Three appeals court judges said a state prosecutor can demand Trump’s personal financial records from his personal accountant.
But the court said it did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office. It also did not decide whether the president himself may be ordered to produce documents.
According to the decision, a subpoena seeking tax information related to businesses Trump owns as a private citizen does not—quote … “implicate, in any way, the performance of his official duties.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
Iran speeds up nuclear race » Iran on Monday took another step away from the collapsing 20-15 nuclear deal. The country announced that it has doubled its number of uranium-enriching centrifuges. It’s also developing a centrifuge that works 50 times faster than permitted under the nuclear deal. The advances mean Iran could have enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb within a year.
Despite further signs that the deal is collapsing … European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the E-U remains committed to saving it.
KOCIJANCIC: We believe that the JCPOA should be preserved. It’s a matter of our security, not just the region or Europe, but globally …
That announcement came as Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the 19-79 U-S Embassy takeover … that started a hostage crisis lasting more than a year.
Violence continues amid Iraqi protests »
SOUND (Iraq NATS-1)
In Baghdad, anti-government protesters crossed a major bridge on Monday, approaching the prime minister’s office and the headquarters of Iraq’s state-run TV.
Security forces responded with tear gas and live ammunition … killing at least five people and wounding dozens.
The protesters hurled rocks and set tires and dumpsters on fire, sending columns of black smoke into the air. Security forces swarmed the area to protect government buildings.
Dozens of motorized rickshaws raced back and forth, ferrying the wounded to first aid stations at the main protest site in Tahrir Square.
SOUND (Iraq NATS-2)
Security forces have killed more than 260 people in two waves of protests since early October.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have joined the rallies … voicing anger over widespread corruption, high unemployment, and limited public services.
Knife-wielding man attacks protesters, politician in Hong Kong » Meantime, in Hong Kong … a 48-year-old man violently attacked protesters and a politician. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: A knife-wielding man slashed protesters, bit a local politician’s ear … and told demonstrators on Sunday that Hong Kong belongs to China.
The knife attack injured five people, including two who were in critical condition.
The incident occurred shortly after police stormed the Cityplaza mall and several other shopping centers to thwart anti-government protests.
China also issued a warning after protesters vandalized the Hong Kong office of the government-owned news agency. The state-backed China Daily newspaper on Monday urged authorities to take a tougher stance. The paper dismissed the movement as—quote—“adolescent hormones pumped up and primed by those willing to exploit them.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.