Thursday morning news, January 16, 2020

Trump, Chinese vice premier sign “Phase One” trade deal » President Trump welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Wednesday to sign the first phase of a new trade deal. 

Groups of U.S. and Chinese officials applauded as the two leaders signed the trade pact. 

TRUMP: Together we are righting the wrongs of the past, and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families. 

Among the concessions Beijing has agreed to, China will buy about $200 billion dollars worth of U.S. goods over the two years. The vice premier, heard here through a translator, read a letter from Chinese leader, Xi Jinping. 

LIU (translated): In line with market terms, Chinese businesses will purchase $40 billion U.S. dollars of agricultural products from the United States annually. If the demand is strong, the companies may buy more. 

The signing deescalates the trade war, but most tariffs will remain in place for now. President Trump said he plans to travel to Beijing soon to personally help negotiate the second phase of the agreement. 

House delivers impeachment articles to Senate » In a dramatic procession across the U.S. Capitol, Democratic House leaders marched the formal articles of impeachment to the Senate Wednesday. Moments earlier, Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to reporters.

PELOSI: Today, we will make history. When the managers walk down the hall, we will cross a threshold in history, delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House. 

Earlier in the day, the House voted almost straight down party lines to deliver the charges. 

AUDIO: On this vote the yeas are 228. The nays are 193. The resolution is adopted, and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler will lead the seven-member prosecution team … as the House makes its case in the Senate. But convincing a majority of senators will be difficult. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said once again on Wednesday the Democrats’ case is weak. 

MCCONNELL: House Democrats performed a pale imitation of a real inquiry. They did not pursue their own subpoenas through the courts. They declined to litigate potential questions of privilege. They pulled the plug as soon as Speaker Pelosi realized she had enough Democrat votes to achieve a political outcome. 

House committee chairman to investigate “alarming” messages related to Ukraine » Ahead of Wednesday’s House vote, Democrats released new records about the Trump administration’s Ukraine strategy. They got the documents from Lev Parnas. He is an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. 

Among the documents was an exchange with another man about surveilling the later-fired ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. 

The messages show that a Trump donor named Robert F. Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and cellphone use.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliott Engel called the revelations “profoundly alarming,” and has vowed to investigate. 

Russian PM, cabinet quit amid government shakeup » PUTIN: [Speaking in Russian]

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional changes on Wednesday that could keep him in power long past the end of his current term in 2024.

Hours after Putin made the proposal in his annual state of the nation address, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced he and his entire Cabinet would resign.

Putin appointed the little-known head of Russia’s tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, to take Medvedev’s place. Mishustin is a bureaucrat with limited political experience. Analysts say he’s likely to carry out Putin’s directives with no opposition.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in a tweet that Putin’s goal was to stay in charge for life. 

Putin first became president in 1999. He’s served in that role or as prime minister ever since. Josef Stalin is the only Soviet or Russian leader to hold on to power longer than Putin.

Iran lashes out at EU over nuclear deal threats » Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the European Union of violating the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday. 

ZARIF: They are not buying oil from us, all of their companies have withdrawn from Iran. So Europe is in violation, not of its commitments after US withdrawal but of its commitments in the JCPOA.

Zarif made those claims a day after Britain, France, and Germany launched a complaint against Tehran for not complying with the agreement. That triggered a formal dispute process that requires a joint commission to seek a resolution. If it can’t, Europe would reinstate economic sanctions on Iran.

Zarif accused Europe of allowing the United States to bully it into making the sanctions threats.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a thinly veiled threat to European leaders. If they don’t reconsider, their soldiers might, quote— “be in danger.”

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, after signing a trade agreement in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in Washington. 

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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