Tuesday morning news: December 24, 2019

Majority leader not ruling out witnesses in Senate trial » Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he hasn’t ruled out calling witnesses in the Senate’s impeachment trial. 

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to call for new documents and testimony.

SCHUMER: What is a trial with no witnesses and no documents? It’s a sham trial. And that’s why we feel so strongly that there ought to be witnesses and documents.

McConnell said he just wants to see the chamber handle proceedings the same way it approached former President Bill Clinton’s trial. 

MCCONNELL: What we need to do is to listen to the arguments, have a written questioning period, and then decide whether we need witnesses or not. 

He said all 100 Senators, including Schumer, backed that approach in 1999. Schumer insists the circumstances are very different. 

Democrats are also calling for scrutiny of newly revealed internal emails from the White House budget office. A non-profit group obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

In one email, dated July 25th, senior budget official Michael Duffey told the Pentagon to hold military aid to Ukraine. That email came just hours after President Trump’s controversial phone call with the president of Ukraine. 

The Office of Management and Budget says any suggestions that the delay of aid to Ukraine was anything more than procedural are “misleading and inaccurate.”  

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan » An American service member was killed in combat Monday in Afghanistan. The Pentagon did not provide details. 

But the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility. The group said a roadside bomb in northern Kunduz province killed the U.S. soldier.

That brings the number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan this year to 20. There have also been three non-combat deaths in 2019. 

The Taliban continues to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces—even as its leaders hold peace talks with a U.S. envoy. 

Boeing CEO resigns amid crisis » Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned Monday amid the ongoing crisis that engulfed the Max 737 jetliner. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The company’s board said a change in leadership was needed to restore confidence in Boeing. 

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the 737 Max after two deadly crashes involving the jets. And it’s still unclear when the FAA will clear the jets to fly again. 

Last week, Boeing announced it is suspending production of the Max in January. And Boeing suffered another stinging setback over the weekend. Its Starliner space capsule went off course during a bungled, unmanned test flight to the International Space Station.

Muilenburg will depart immediately and the board’s current chairman, David Calhoun, will take over as CEO next month. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Saudi court sentences 5 to death for Khashoggi slaying » A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death Monday for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  

Riyadh’s criminal court also found three other people guilty of covering up the crime and sentenced them to a combined 24 years in prison. That according to a statement from the Saudi attorney general’s office. The office did not release the names of those found guilty. 

A government spokesman said the trial concluded the killing was not premeditated. That finding is in line with the Saudi government’s official position.  

But many believe the evidence contradicts that explanation—including the United Nations secretary general. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters…

DUJARRIC: The secretary general continues to stress the need for an independent and impartial investigation into the murder, to ensure full examination of and accountability for human rights violations committed in the case. 

Questions linger outside Riyadh about the Saudi crown prince. The CIA concluded last year that Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the Saudi royal family. 

His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, told the Associated Press the Saudi court’s “decision is too unlawful to be acceptable.”

Death toll climbs amid India protests » The death toll continues to climb in India amid protests over a new citizenship law. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Police now say at least 23 people have died—including nine deaths over the weekend in the state of Uttar Pradesh after protesters clashed with police.   

Some died of bullet wounds but a government spokesman denied police were responsible. He said officers—quote—“have used only tear gas to scare away the agitating mob.”

The Indian government has tried unsuccessfully to silence the protests. Authorities shut down the internet and other communications in some places. It has also banned public demonstrations over the law. But that hasn’t stopped protesters. 

The controversial immigration law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens. That is if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Anupam Nath) Indians shout slogans and protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 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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