Thursday morning news – January 23, 2020

House impeachment managers begin opening arguments » House Democrats will be back on the Senate floor this afternoon—making their case for impeaching President Trump. 

Impeachment managers began opening arguments on Wednesday. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts opened the proceedings. 

ROBERTS: The managers for the House of Representatives have 24 hours to make the presentation of their case. The Senate will now hear you. 

Among those managers is House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler. He told senators it is clear that the president abused his power and must be removed from office. 

NADLER: President Trump unlawfully withheld military assistance appropriated by Congress to aid our ally in order to extort that government into helping him with his reelection. 

And fellow impeachment manger Adam Schiff pushed back against those who say the Democrats should leave the president’s fate in the hands of voters this November.

SCHIFF: The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won. 

Impeachment managers have two more days, including today, to make their opening arguments. Then, White House lawyers will get up to 24 hours over three days to argue their case before the Senate. 

Utah bans conversion therapy » Utah is now the 19th state to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Republican Governor Gary Herbert called on state regulators to make a rule against conversion therapy for minors after legislation that would have banned it failed

Officials confirmed that they finalized the rule late Tuesday. It prohibits therapy aimed at changing minors’ sexual orientation, even if they ask for it.

Latter-day Saints leadership opposed the proposed legislation because it didn’t include certain exceptions for clergy, so the state worked out new compromises in the regulation version. 

The rule won the support of Mormon leadership with assurances that religious leaders and LDS therapists could still provide spiritual counseling for members. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Weinstein trial begins in NY » Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein went on trial Wednesday on rape and sexual assault charges. He exited a courthouse in New York, leaning on a walker amid a mob of reporters as his attorneys expressed confidence that he will be acquitted. 

Moments earlier, they argued to the court that Weinstein’s encounters with his accusers were consensual. Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis laid out plans to use friendly sounding emails from his accusers and other evidence to back that claim. 

But prosecutor Meghan Hast told the jury of seven men and five women that the former studio boss was—quote—“not just a titan in Hollywood—he was a rapist.” Prosecutors said he used his Hollywood clout to abuse women for decades. She then described some of his alleged crimes in detail. 

The trial is expected to last about six weeks. When it’s finished, Weinstein will face charges rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles. 

UN: Saudis hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone » Experts with the United Nations say the phone of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was hacked and the evidence points back to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Two UN experts say Bezos’ phone was hacked after he received a video file sent from the Saudi prince’s WhatsApp account in 2018. They say it happened after the two exchanged phone numbers at a dinner in California.

The file was sent to his phone five months before Saudi government agents killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. 

Khashoggi was a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family. 

The independent UN experts said the evidence suggests the crown prince may have been involved in spying on Bezos “in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia.”

They also said the Saudis “clandestinely” waged a “massive online campaign” against Bezos.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Protesters denounce new Lebanese government » In Lebanon, a riot erupted in downtown Beirut, as protesters voiced their anger over the country’s new government. 

AUDIO: [Lebanon riot]

Demonstrators shattered windows, ripped down fences, set fires, and hurled rocks. Security forces responded by firing tear gas … and dousing protesters with water cannons. 

For months, demonstrators have condemned corruption within the government. And this week, Lebanon announced a new 20-member Cabinet— mostly made up of specialists supported by Hezbollah. Protesters say it’s a rubber stamp Cabinet for the same political parties that are to blame for the corruption. 

Lebanon is facing its worst economic and financial crisis since country’s civil war ended in 1990.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Harvey Weinstein, top right, is photographed by members of the media as leaves court with the aid of a walker at the end of the first day of his trial on rape and sexual assault charges, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in New York. 

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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