Trump team, House managers trade sharp views on impeachment
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's legal team issued a fiery response Saturday ahead of opening arguments in his impeachment trial, while House Democrats laid out their case in forceful fashion, saying the president betrayed public trust with behaviour that was the "worst nightmare" of the founding fathers.
The dueling filings previewed arguments both sides intend to make once Trump's impeachment trial begins in earnest Tuesday in the Senate. Their challenge will be to make a case that appeals to the 100 senators who will render the verdict and for an American public bracing for a presidential election in 10 months.
"President Donald J. Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain," the House prosecutors wrote, "and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct."
Trump's legal team, responding to the Senate's official summons for the trial, said the president "categorically and unequivocally" denies the charges of abuse and obstruction against him.
"This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away," the president's filing states.
Harry, Meghan to quit royal jobs, give up 'highness' titles
LONDON (AP) — Goodbye, your royal highnesses. Hello, life as — almost — ordinary civilians.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan will no longer use the titles "royal highness" or receive public funds for their work under a deal that lets the couple step aside as working royals, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday.
Releasing details of the dramatic split triggered by the couple's unhappiness with life under media scrutiny, the palace said Harry and Meghan will cease to be working members of the royal family when the new arrangements take effect in the "spring of 2020."
The radical break is more complete than the type of arrangement anticipated 10 days ago when the royal couple stunned Britain with an abrupt announcement that they wanted to step down. They said they planed to combine some royal duties with private work in a "progressive" plan, but that is no longer on the table.
Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness but will retain them, leaving the possibility that the couple might change their minds and return sometime in the future.
National Archives: 'We made a mistake' altering Trump photos
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The National Archives said Saturday it made a mistake when it blurred images of anti-Trump signs used in an exhibit on women's suffrage.
The independent agency is charged with preserving government and historical records and said it has always been committed to preserving its holdings "without alteration."
But the archives said in a statement Saturday "we made a mistake." The archives' statement came one day after The Washington Post published an online report about the altered images.
The archives said the photo in question is not one of its archival records, but rather was licensed for use as a promotional graphic in the exhibit.
"Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image," the agency said.
Newly released texts tie Nunes aide closer to Ukraine plot
WASHINGTON (AP) — New documents released by House Democrats suggest that Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was more deeply involved than was previously known in efforts by allies of President Donald Trump to dig up dirt in Ukraine on former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee released a trove of text messages, photos and other documents Friday night as part of the impeachment inquiry. The materials were provided to the House by Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who worked with Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to try to persuade the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into Biden.
Nunes initially denied knowing Parnas but has since been forced to admit the two had spoken. The messages released Friday show about 100 text messages traded over months between Parnas and the California Republican's staffer, Derek Harvey, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Harvey previously served at the White House on Trump's National Security Council.
The months-long effort directed by Trump and Giuliani to prod Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine is at the core of the two impeachment articles against Trump passed last month in a largely party-line vote. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office ruled Thursday that the White House broke the law last summer when it withheld congressionally authorized security assistance to Ukraine, essential aid that Democrats allege was being held hostage pending the announcement of the investigations Trump sought.
Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, both U.S. citizens who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy, making false statements and falsification of records. Prosecutors allege they made outsize campaign donations to Republican causes after receiving millions of dollars originating from Russia. The men have pleaded not guilty.
Discovery of unused disaster supplies angers Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — People in a southern Puerto Rico city discovered a warehouse filled with water, cots and other unused emergency supplies, then set off a social media uproar Saturday when they broke in to retrieve goods as the area struggles to recover from a strong earthquake.
With anger spreading in the U.S. territory after video of the event in Ponce appeared on Facebook, Gov. Wanda Vázquez quickly fired the director of the island's emergency management agency.
The governor said she had ordered an investigation after learning the emergency supplies had been piled in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Vázquez said inaction by the fired official, Carlos Acevedo, was unacceptable.
"There are thousands of people who have made sacrifices to help those in the south, and it is unforgivable that resources were kept in the warehouse," the governor said.
ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities are turning to a new tactic in the escalating conflict over New York City's so-called sanctuary policies, issuing four "immigration subpoenas" to the city for information about inmates wanted for deportation.
"This is not a request — it's a demand," Henry Lucero, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, told The Associated Press. "This is a last resort for us. Dangerous criminals are being released every single day in New York."
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration said Saturday the city would review the subpoenas.
"New York City will not change the policies that have made us the safest big city in America," spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in an email.
The development comes days after ICE sent similar subpoenas to the city of Denver, a move that reflected the agency's mounting frustration with jurisdictions that do not honour deportation "detainers" or provide any details about defendants going in and out of local custody.
Biden rips Sanders campaign for Social Security attacks
INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — Joe Biden has called for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to "disown" what he calls "doctored video" that some Sanders supporters say shows the former vice-president endorsing Republican calls to cut Social Security and Medicare.
"There’s a little doctored video going around ... put out by one of Bernie’s people," Biden told supporters Saturday in Indianola, Iowa, referring to a 2018 speech in which Biden discussed then-House Speaker Paul Ryan saying rising deficit demanded action on the popular entitlement programs.
"I’m looking for his campaign to come forward and disown it," Biden continued, pointing to his 2020 campaign proposals designed to shore up Social Security. "But they haven’t done it yet."
The video in question, circulated on Twitter by a top Sanders adviser, does not appear to be altered. But the short clip omits Biden’s larger argument over how Ryan handled the 2017 tax cuts and subsequent budget debates. A separate Sanders’ adviser included a transcript of Biden’s remarks in the video clip in a separate campaign newsletter. He added other, more extended video, of Biden as a U.S. senator in 1995 and presidential candidate in 2007 explaining his support for a more austere federal budget, including putting Social Security and Medicare "on the table."
The 2020 campaign flap highlights long-standing philosophical fissures between the progressive Sanders, who has spent decades arguing for a massive expansion of the federal government, and the more centrist Biden. Those differences have come to the forefront as Biden and Sanders are bunched with Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren atop early state polls weeks before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Boy arrested after shooting that killed 4 in small Utah town
A boy armed with a gun killed three children and a woman inside a Utah home, then accompanied a fifth victim to a hospital, where he was arrested, police said Saturday.
Police were still trying to piece together who's who and what happened leading up to Friday night's shooting in Grantsville. Investigators believe the victims are all related to one another, and officials declined to release information about the shooter other than he is a juvenile male.
"We're trying to make certain that we verify people's relationships among the deceased and the survivor," Grantsville Police Cpl. Rhonda Fields told The Associated Press Saturday. "As for motive, we don't have any of that."
It appears to be the largest mass shooting in Utah since 2007, when a shotgun-wielding gunman killed five people and himself at Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City. It's also the first homicide in nearly 20 years in Grantsville, a town of 11,000 about 35 miles (56 kilometres) west of Salt Lake City.
"It's been a very long time," Fields said.
Thousands gather for Women's March rallies across the US
WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands gathered in cities across the country Saturday as part of the nationwide Women's March rallies focused on issues such as climate change, pay equity, reproductive rights and immigration.
Hundreds showed up in New York City and thousands in Washington, D.C. for the rallies, which aim to harness the political power of women, although crowds were noticeably smaller than in previous years. Marches were scheduled Saturday in more than 180 cities.
The first marches in 2017 drew hundreds of thousands of people to rallies in cities across the country on the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. That year's D.C. march drew close to 1 million people.
In Manhattan on Saturday, hundreds of people gathered as part of a "Rise and Roar" rally at separate events in Foley Square and Columbus Circle.
"Today, we will be the change that is needed in this world! Today, we rise into our power!" activist Donna Hylton told a cheering crowd in Foley Square.
Prohibition began 100 years ago, and its legacy remains
NEW YORK (AP) — In this era of bottomless mimosas, craft beers and ever-present happy hours, it’s striking to recall that 100 years ago the United States imposed a nationwide ban on the production and sale of all types of alcohol.
The Prohibition Era, which lasted from Jan. 17, 1920, until December 1933, is now viewed as a failed experiment that glamorized illegal drinking, but there are several intriguing parallels in current times.
Americans are consuming more alcohol per capita now than in the time leading up to Prohibition, when alcohol opponents successfully made the case that excessive drinking was ruining family life. More states are also moving to decriminalize marijuana, with legalization backers frequently citing Prohibition's failures. Many of the same speakeasy locations operating in the 1920s are flourishing in a culture that romanticizes the era.
And in a time of heightened racial divisions, Prohibition offers a poignant history lesson on how the restrictions targeted blacks and recent immigrants more harshly than other communities. That treatment eventually propelled many of those marginalized Americans into the Democratic Party, which engineered Prohibition’s repeal.
"Prohibition had a lot of unintended consequences that backfired on the people who worked so hard to establish the law," said Harvard history professor Lisa McGirr, whose 2015 book "The War on Alcohol" examines Prohibition’s political and social repercussions.