Wednesday morning news, January 29, 2020

Trump defense team wraps up opening arguments » President Trump’s defense team wrapped up opening arguments on the Senate floor Tuesday. White House counsel Pat Cipollone told senators, “This should end now, as quickly as possible.”

CIPOLLONE: The articles of impeachment fall far short of any constitutional standard, and they are dangerous. 

And Trump attorney Jay Sekulow summed up House Democrats’ impeachment case this way…

SEKULOW: The partisan impeachment based on policy disagreements, which is what this is, and personal presumptions, or newspaper reports and allegations in an unsourced—maybe this is in somebody’s book, who is no longer at the White House. 

That was a reference to a newspaper report about an excerpt from John Bolton’s forthcoming book. The former national security adviser reportedly said President Trump wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine for political reasons. 

White House lawyers said the report is not relevant and it does not change the fundamental facts of the case. 

But that report bolstered calls from Democrats to summon Bolton and other witnesses to testify. They’re ramping up pressure, especially on GOP senators who could be vulnerable in this year’s election. 

And the Senate is now poised to debate whether to call new witnesses into the trial. If that does not happen, the trial could come to a close by the end of the week. 

Trump, Netanyahu unveil Middle East peace plan » President Trump on Tuesday announced the details of his new Middle East peace plan. 

In a joint White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said the plan calls for a two-state solution.

TRUMP: This map will more than double the Palestinian territory, and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem, where America will proudly open an embassy. 

The plan also recognizes Israeli sovereignty over some settlements in the West Bank and much of the Jordan Valley. It calls for a four-year freeze on Israel constructing new settlements while Israeli and Palestinian officials work out a comprehensive agreement.

But to get their own state, Palestinians must meet certain conditions, such as rejecting groups that are connected with terrorism. 

The proposal was not warmly received in Gaza or the West Bank. 

AUDIO: [Sound of Palestine protest]

Some demonstrators burned U.S. and Israeli flags. Palestinian leaders have already rejected the plan and called on surrounding countries to do likewise.

CDC expands coronavirus screening, issues travel alert for China » The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its screening for the coronavirus at U.S. airports. The agency was already screening in five cities. It will now screen travelers from China at 20 airports. 

CDC Director Robert Redfield said while the government is taking the threat seriously right now, it’s no cause for alarm in the United States. 

REDFIELD: Right now there is no spread of this virus in our communities here at home. This is why it is our assessment is that the immediate health risk of this new virus to the general public is low in our nation. 

But the CDC has issued a level 3 travel warning for China. That means the government is urging  all travelers to avoid all nonessential travel there. Previously, the level 3 warning only applied to the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. 

As of Tuesday, there were five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, but nearly 5,000 in China, where the virus has killed more than a hundred people. 

Christian Lindmeier with the World Health Organization told reports on Tuesday…

LANDMEIER: The global risk assessment is high. The regional level is high, and for China it’s very high. 

China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The lockdown has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.

Remains of two service members recovered in Afghanistan » The U.S. military has recovered the remains of two American service members killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan. That according to a U.S. defense official who spoke with the Associated Press. 

Taliban militants were reportedly searching for two other people they believed may have survived the crash. But the official said the victims were the only two people aboard the aircraft.

The Air Force E-11A electronic surveillance plane went down Monday in eastern Afghanistan, south of Kabul.

The American recovery team met no Taliban resistance in reaching the crash site and there is still no indication that enemy fire brought down the plane.

Britain grants Huawei limited role in new 5G network, snubbing U.S warnings » The UK decided Tuesday to let Chinese tech giant Huawei have a limited role supplying new high-speed network equipment to wireless carriers. That sets up a possible diplomatic clash with the United States. World Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: In allowing Huawei’s participation, Britain brushed off warnings from the U.S. government that it might sever intelligence sharing.

The United States placed sanctions on Huawei last year and has sounded alarms about it sharing data with the Chinese government. 

But Britain does not share that concern.  

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday, “We would never take decisions that threaten our national security or the security of our Five Eyes partners.” He added, “We know more about Huawei and the risks that it poses than any other country in the world.”

The British government said it is excluding “high risk” companies from supplying the sensitive “core” parts of the new 5G networks. But Britain will allow high risk suppliers to provide up to 35 percent of a carrier’s less risky radio network.

A senior Trump administration official said the White House is disappointed by the decision adding that the U.S. government would work with the U.K. on a “way forward.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) President Donald Trump, left, listens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, to announce the Trump administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

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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