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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 326)

‘Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for New Syria Troop Mission

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163346592_153467c1-5a59-4274-9418-d7f0b90c2b82-facebookJumbo ‘Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for New Syria Troop Mission United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Syria Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline International Relations Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — President Trump has offered several justifications for an American withdrawal from Syria. He has dismissed the country as nothing but “sand and death,” discounted its American-backed Kurdish fighters as “no angels,” and argued that he is winding down “endless wars.”

But in recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria’s oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country. He has declared that the United States has “secured” oil fields in the country’s chaotic northeast and suggested that the seizure of the country’s main natural resource justifies America further extending its military presence there.

“We’ve secured the oil,” Mr. Trump told reporters last week at the White House, before reminding them of how, during the Iraq war, he called for selling off Iraq’s oil to defray the conflict’s enormous cost.

“I always said, if you’re going in — keep the oil,” he said. “Same thing here: Keep the oil.”

Speaking again at the White House on Friday, Mr. Trump said he had done precisely that in Syria. “We’ve secured the oil,” the president told reporters. “We have a lot of oil.”

Mr. Trump’s message is puzzling to former government officials and Middle East analysts who say that controlling Syria’s oil fields — which are the legal property of the Syrian government — poses numerous practical, legal and political obstacles.

They also warn that Mr. Trump’s discourse, which revives language he often used during the 2016 campaign to widespread condemnation, could confirm the world’s worst suspicions about American motives in the region. A Russian Defense Ministry official on Saturday denounced Mr. Trump’s action as “state banditry.”

“He has a short notebook of old pledges, and this was one of the most frequently repeated pledges during the campaign: that we were going to take the oil,” said Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. official who served as a Middle East adviser to several presidents. “And now he actually is in a position where he can quote, take some oil.”

Pentagon officials said on Friday that the United States would deploy several hundred troops to guard oil fields in eastern Syria, despite Mr. Trump’s repeated boasts that he is bringing American soldiers home from Syria. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said that the United States would “maintain a reduced presence in Syria to deny ISIS access to oil revenue,” leaving what military officials said would be about 500 troops in the country, down from about 2,000 a year ago.

Mr. Trump first spoke approvingly about the United States seizing foreign oil in April 2011, when he complained about President Barack Obama’s troop withdrawal from Iraq. “I would take the oil,” Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.”

He elaborated in an interview with ABC News a few days later. “In the old days, you know, when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils.” he said. “You go in. You win the war and you take it.”

That year, Mr. Trump endorsed the United States seizing oil reserves not only in Iraq, but also in Libya, where Mr. Obama had recently intervened in the country’s civil war. “I would just go in and take the oil,” he told Fox News. “We’re a bunch of babies. We have wars and we leave. We go in, we have wars, we lose lives, we lose money, and we leave.”

Once he took office, Mr. Trump largely dropped the idea until recently, when it re-emerged after his widely criticized decision to remove American troops from northeastern Syria who had been helping Kurdish militias battle the remnants of the Islamic State in the region. The move effectively gave Turkey a greenlight to invade the area and push back those Kurds, whom the Turks viewed as a threat to their security.

His change in thinking follows multiple conversations with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who talks frequently with the president and has long pushed for a greater American presence in Syria, for reasons like fighting the Islamic State in the region and checking the influence of Russia and Iran.

Mr. Trump has also consulted on the subject with the former Army vice chief of staff, Jack Keane, who visited the White House in mid-October and showed the president a map of Syria illustrating that 70 percent of the country’s oil fields are in areas in the northeast that have been under American control. Mr. Keane, who declined to comment, has also warned that the oil fields risk falling into the hands of Iranian proxies in the region.

Mr. Graham, too, contends that American control of the oil fields would “deny Iran and Assad a monetary windfall,” as he put it in a statement last week.

But Mr. Graham has taken the argument a step further, to suggest that Syrian oil could go into American coffers, as Mr. Trump once implied for Iraq. “We can also use some of the revenue from oil sales to pay for our military commitment in Syria,” Mr. Graham added.

Last week, Mr. Trump offered a variation on that idea, saying that “we’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, they have some cash flow.” He added that he might “get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

But energy and security experts say it is unlikely that any American companies would be interested in the enormous risks and limited profits such an arrangement would entail. Even at its peak, Syrian oil production was modest. And any short-term revenue potential is severely limited by logistical challenges posed by infrastructure damaged by war, pipelines that run into unfriendly areas and the unusually low grade of the oil itself.

Talk of monetizing the Syrian oil also diverges from the message of top Trump administration officials, including Mr. Esper, who said last week that the American mission in Syria was unchanged from its original purpose of defeating the Islamic State.

But the president has repeatedly boasted that the militant group has already been defeated. And although ISIS currently controls no territory, and is little threat to the oil reserves, experts warn that it could regenerate.

Framing control of oil as part of the fight against ISIS, however, may provide cover for an action motivated, at least in part, for reasons that analysts say have no basis in domestic or international law.

“Esper is being very careful to say this is about ISIS. And that’s because the legality is being framed around ISIS,” said Aaron Stein, an expert on Syria and Turkey with the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

When the Obama administration sent troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State several years ago, it relied on the authorization of military force passed by Congress days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which gave the government broad authority to battle Al Qaeda and affiliated groups. The Trump administration has invoked the same authorization for its own activities in Syria, despite many critics arguing that even the previous administration overreached in citing it to cover the battle against the Islamic State in Syria.

Then there is the basic question of the oil’s ownership.

“Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state,” Brett H. McGurk, Mr. Trump’s former envoy to the 70-nation coalition to defeat ISIS, said at a panel discussion on Syria hosted Monday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Mr. McGurk said that Mr. Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, had studied the issue and concluded there was no practical way for the United States to monetize its control over oil-rich areas.

“Maybe there are new lawyers now, but it was just illegal for an American company to go and seize and exploit these assets,” Mr. McGurk said.

Mr. McGurk said the only legal way to make money from the Syrian oil fields would be to work with Russia and the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to place the revenue into an escrow account to help fund Syria’s postwar reconstruction. But he said Russia had little interest in the idea, even before America assumed a diminished role in the country this month. Nor has Mr. Trump expressed any public interest in using the oil to fund Syria’s reconstruction.

Mr. Stein said he believed the true goal of some Trump administration officials and advisers was to keep the oil fields not from ISIS but from Mr. Assad’s forces, to deny him funds to rebuild his country and thus ensure that Syria remained a financial burden on its ally, Iran.

In recent days, hostile foreign governments have seized on Mr. Trump’s commentary as evidence of America’s sinister motives.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said that “what Washington is doing now, the seizure and control of oil fields in eastern Syria under its armed control, is, quite simply, international state banditry.”

And Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency wrote that while Washington “claims that the move is in the line with its alleged antiterror campaign in Syria, analysts see it no more than an excuse to impose control over Syria’s oil revenues.”

Mr. Riedel doubted that the president would wind up insisting on control of the oil fields. Beyond the many military, technical and legal challenges, there are the optics to consider.

“Let’s say he does do it,” Mr. Riedel said. “Let’s say we establish the precedent that we are in the Middle East to take the oil. The symbolism is really bad.”

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Ex-Trump Aide Asks Judge If He Should Follow White House Orders On Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 5db4a8af210000df2c34b233 Ex-Trump Aide Asks Judge If He Should Follow White House Orders On Impeachment

WASHINGTON (AP) — An ex-White House adviser who’s supposed to testify before House impeachment investigators on Monday has asked a federal court whether he should comply with a subpoena or follow President Donald Trump’s directive against cooperating in what he dubs a “scam.”

After getting a subpoena Friday, former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman quickly filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court in Washington. He asked a judge to decide whether he should accede to House demands for his testimony or to assert “immunity from congressional process” as directed by Trump.

Kupperman, who provided foreign policy advice to the president, has been called to testify because the impeachment inquiry is rooted in a July 25 phone call Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During the call, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to pursue investigations of Democratic political rival Joe Biden’s family and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election that propelled Trump into the White House.

At the time of the call, Trump was withholding congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine. He has repeatedly said there was no quid pro quo for the Ukraine investigations he was seeking, though witness testimony has contradicted that claim.

Kupperman said he “cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches.” Without the court’s help, he said, he would have to make the decision himself — one that could “inflict grave constitutional injury” on either Congress or the presidency.

His filing says “an erroneous judgment to abide by the President’s assertion of testimonial immunity would unlawfully impede the House from carrying out one of its most important core Constitutional responsibilities” — the power of impeachment — and subject Kupperman to “potential criminal liability for contempt of Congress.”

On the other hand, “an erroneous judgment to appear and testify in obedience to the House Defendants’ subpoena would unlawfully impair the President in the exercise of his core national security responsibilities … by revealing confidential communications” from advisers, according to the filing.

He has asked the court to expedite a decision, but unless the judge issues an opinion by Monday, Kupperman’s testimony might not occur as scheduled.

The lawsuit came as Democrats investigating the president won a victory in a separate case. A federal judge ordered the Justice Department on Friday to give the House secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and affirmed the legality of the Democrats impeachment inquiry.

“To the extent the House’s role in the impeachment context is to investigate misconduct by the President and ascertain whether that conduct amounts to an impeachable offense warranting removal from office, the House performs a function somewhat akin to a grand jury,” U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell wrote.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he’s “not concerned with the impeachment scam. I am not because I did nothing wrong.”

The Democrats’ inquiry continued at full speed Saturday with a rare weekend session. Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe, testified behind closed doors.

As was the case with other witnesses, the Trump administration directed Reeker not to testify, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the interaction. But Reeker appeared anyway after receiving his subpoena from the House, the people said.

Reeker was expected to corroborate testimony from previous witnesses who have described the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine, according to a person familiar with Reeker’s role in Ukraine policy. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the testimony and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Although he is currently the top U.S. diplomat for Europe and has been since Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovich was recalled earlier this year, Reeker was not directly involved in debate over aid to Ukraine, which other current and former officials have said was delegated to Sondland and Volker.

Volker testified and released text messages that detailed conversations between him, Sondland and Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. In the messages, Taylor wrote that he thought it was “crazy” to withhold aid from Ukraine for help with a political campaign. Sondland and Taylor, who still work for the government, have already testified and detailed their concerns about the influence of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine. Giuliani was leading the push for the investigations.

Taylor testified that he was told the aid would be withheld until Ukraine conducted the investigations that Trump had requested.

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee and Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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Fletcher Cox’s 911 burglary call released, tells police: ‘I’m about to blow his brains out’

The 911 call made by Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox during an alleged burglary at his New Jersey home last week has been released.

In a transcript of the call, which was obtained by WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Cox told the dispatcher he had a shotgun and was about to “blow his brains out” should the suspect gain entry into his Mullica Hill home.

“I got somebody trying to break into my house and I’m about to blow his brains out right now,” Cox told the 911 operator.

The defensive lineman said the man busted part of his door, again saying: “I have a shotgun. If he comes into my house, I have a shotgun, I’m going to blow his brains out.”

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES’ FLETCHER COX GRABS SHOTGUN TO DEFEND HOME FROM GIRLFRIEND’S EX: REPORT

Later during the call, Cox told the operator: “I swear, you’ve got about 30 seconds.”

Cox said the man was “busting every window” of his house and urged the police to “hurry up.”

“I’m standing at my door if he comes into my house, I’m telling you right now. My gun is on safety and I’m going to blow his brains out,” Cox said.

Westlake Legal Group 011316-NFL-FletcherCox-PI-CDH.vres-24bf0f6c5af45510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ Fletcher Cox's 911 burglary call released, tells police: 'I'm about to blow his brains out' Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nfl/philadelphia-eagles fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a93caaec-5bbe-506b-9be7-b3d25de47c67

Fletcher Cox reacts after a sack against Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills (not pictured) in 2015 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The suspect then got into his black Porsche, according to Cox, who said he saw him pull out and drive away. Cox confirmed to police that his gun was “down and unloaded” following the attempted burglary.

The suspect was identified as Corbyn Nyemah. According to court documents, he showed up at Cox’s house looking for his ex-girlfriend, whom Cox is now dating. The woman has not been identified.

Nyemah allegedly damaged the woman’s car, which was outside Cox’s residence, and tried to enter the home by throwing rocks at the front door.

Westlake Legal Group 101115-NFL-Eagles-Fletcher-Cox-pi-s-54c74a91b0850510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ Fletcher Cox's 911 burglary call released, tells police: 'I'm about to blow his brains out' Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nfl/philadelphia-eagles fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a93caaec-5bbe-506b-9be7-b3d25de47c67

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) celebrates after recovering a fumble against the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

The suspect also walked around the property with a baseball bat and repeatedly tried to enter the home through the garage, surveillance footage showed, per ABC 7.

BRETT FAVRE SYMPATHIZES WITH SAM DARNOLD, KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT ‘SEEING GHOSTS’

The suspect fled in his vehicle and was pursued by police, but WPVI said the chase ended at Commodore Barry Bridge because of a probable cause affidavit. U.S. Marshals detained the suspect late last week.

Nyemah has been charged with burglary, criminal mischief, and other charges, according to ABC 7.

The suspect had told WPVI that much of what he is accused of is true; he reportedly wanted to talk to his ex-girlfriend of two years and said they were working to rekindle their relationship.

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No one was injured during the incident. Nyemah is expected to appear in court later this month.

Cox said he will not talk about what happened because it’s a personal matter. The lineman has played in seven games for the Eagles this season.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097089106001_6097094975001-vs Fletcher Cox's 911 burglary call released, tells police: 'I'm about to blow his brains out' Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nfl/philadelphia-eagles fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a93caaec-5bbe-506b-9be7-b3d25de47c67   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6097089106001_6097094975001-vs Fletcher Cox's 911 burglary call released, tells police: 'I'm about to blow his brains out' Melissa Leon fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nfl/philadelphia-eagles fox-news/sports/nfl fox news fnc/sports fnc article a93caaec-5bbe-506b-9be7-b3d25de47c67

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Cats win Halloween costume contest dressed as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson

The often-decadent Fantasy Fest is in full flair this weekend in Key West.

At Wednesday evening’s family friendly Pet Masquerade, entrants included costumed dogs, cats and a tortoise carrying a plush rabbit themed “The Tortoise and the Hare,” drawing inspiration from the fable of the same name.

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Donna the tortoise crawls on the Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade stage in Key West, Fla., costumed as characters from the classic fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” (Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

OBESE CAT EMBRACES WORKOUT IN NEW VIRAL VIDEO

Westlake Legal Group AP19297482631829 Cats win Halloween costume contest dressed as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fnc/lifestyle fnc Associated Press article 0ac5e9b6-03d4-5b30-824f-fc2fcafa8fc3 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

 Diana Benton shows off her two cats dressed as country superstars Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton during the Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade. (Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

The overall winner was Diana Benton of Titusville, Florida, who dressed her two cats as country artists Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, subscribing to the festival’s musical theme of “In Tune But Off Key.”

Other highlights of the event include Friday afternoon’s masquerade march and a parade with floats and flamboyantly costumed marching groups.

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Westlake Legal Group AP19297482556363 Cats win Halloween costume contest dressed as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fnc/lifestyle fnc Associated Press article 0ac5e9b6-03d4-5b30-824f-fc2fcafa8fc3 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

Elizabeth Epperly shows off her chihuahua Bibi, costumed as Slinky Dog from the animated film “Toy Story.” The pet costume contest event was one of many activities during Key West’s 10-day costuming and masking festival. (Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

Saturday night’s parade is expected to draw some 60,000 revelers. The 10-day festival ends Sunday after a children’s carnival and an afternoon dance party.

This story was originally published by the Associated Press.

Westlake Legal Group cats-key-west-contest-AP Cats win Halloween costume contest dressed as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fnc/lifestyle fnc Associated Press article 0ac5e9b6-03d4-5b30-824f-fc2fcafa8fc3 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday   Westlake Legal Group cats-key-west-contest-AP Cats win Halloween costume contest dressed as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fnc/lifestyle fnc Associated Press article 0ac5e9b6-03d4-5b30-824f-fc2fcafa8fc3 /FOX NEWS/LIFESTYLE/OCCASIONS/Holiday

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Pope Francis proposes female deacons, married priests at Amazon synod

Pope Francis, rounding out his synod of Amazonian clergy, announced Saturday that he would be reopening a commission to study the history of women as deacons in the early days of the Catholic Church.

After calls by women for greater decision-making roles in the Church, the pope made the announcement at the end of his three-week assembly discussing issues facing the Amazon region, solutions to a shortage of priests, environmental protection and the role of women.

Francis originally opened a commission to study the possibility of women in the role in 2016, but the commission ended its work without a consensus on the topic. A gathering of 181 bishops voted on 120 recommendations presented to the pope. The recommendation to re-examine female deacons passed the two-thirds vote threshold, 137 in favor and 30 opposed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Pope-Francis Pope Francis proposes female deacons, married priests at Amazon synod Morgan Phillips fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox news fnc/faith-values fnc ca1c428c-35fa-5dc0-86e6-eabd601af1ef article

Pope Francis waves during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (Fabio Frustcai/ANSA via AP)

Deacons are ordained ministers of the church and can fulfill some, but not all, of the roles a priest may fill. In today’s church, they must be men, but unlike priests, they are allowed to marry. Deacons do not celebrate Mass, but they can give the homily, teach in the name of the Church, baptize and conduct weddings, wakes and funeral services.

VIRGINIA COUPLE ADOPTS AFTER VIRAL PRO-LIFE POST TELLING EXPECTANT MOTHERS NOT TO GET ABORTION

“We still have not grasped the significance of women in the Church. Their role must go well beyond questions of function,” Francis said, according to Reuters. Francis, however, has said the “door is closed” to the question of women in the role of the priesthood.

Conservatives have argued against the potential of women in the diaconate, saying it is too closely linked to the priesthood which is explicitly reserved for men. The history of women in the role has been debated by scholars. Some say female deacons only ministered to other women, and some say women were fully ordained to perform rites the way male deacons did

Westlake Legal Group AP19298514339529-1 Pope Francis proposes female deacons, married priests at Amazon synod Morgan Phillips fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox news fnc/faith-values fnc ca1c428c-35fa-5dc0-86e6-eabd601af1ef article

In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, members of Amazon indigenous populations prepare for a a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession from St. Angelo Castle to the Vatican. In foreground is a wooden statue portraying a naked pregnant woman. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

POPE FRANCIS ASKS FOR FORGIVENESS AFTER AMAZON STATUES STOLEN, THROWN INTO RIVER

A gathering of bishops Saturday also recommended that Francos loosen the celibacy requirement for priests in South America’s Amazon region to address the severe priest shortage. The Roman Catholic Church ordaining married men to the priesthood would break a precedent over 1,000 years old. Of the assembly, 128 members voted in favor of this measure and 41 were opposed.

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On Friday at the synod, Francis asked Amazonian bishops and local tribal leaders for forgiveness after indigenous statues were stolen from a Vatican-area church and thrown into a river. The pope insisted the wood-carved statues of naked pregnant women, known as Pachamama, were not a symbol of idolatry as conservatives had claimed, but rather were symbols of life, fertility and Mother Earth.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Pope-Francis Pope Francis proposes female deacons, married priests at Amazon synod Morgan Phillips fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox news fnc/faith-values fnc ca1c428c-35fa-5dc0-86e6-eabd601af1ef article   Westlake Legal Group NFL-Pope-Francis Pope Francis proposes female deacons, married priests at Amazon synod Morgan Phillips fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/person/pope-francis fox news fnc/faith-values fnc ca1c428c-35fa-5dc0-86e6-eabd601af1ef article

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State Department official subpoenaed to testify in Trump impeachment inquiry: The latest

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close State Department official subpoenaed to testify in Trump impeachment inquiry: The latest

Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Phil Reeker has arrived at the U.S. Capitol. Reeker is meeting behind closed doors to testify before the House committees on Saturday as part of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. (Oct. 26) AP, AP

The impeachment inquiry has resumed following the conclusion of ceremonies for the funeral of Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings. 

Today, the congressional committees leading the impeachment inquiry are interviewing State Department official Philip Reeker in the first Saturday deposition so far.

The House Foreign Affairs, Oversight, and Intelligence Committees are leading a probe into the Trump administration’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government opened investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals. 

Check back for all of the impeachment news updates for Saturday. 

Reeker subpoenaed, answering questions

An official working on the impeachment inquiry told USA TODAY that Reeker was subpoenaed to appear today “In light of an attempt by the State Department to direct Ambassador Philip Reeker not to appear for his scheduled deposition, and efforts by the State Department to also limit any testimony that does occur.” 

“As is required of him, Ambassador Reeker is now complying with the subpoena and answering questions,” the official said. 

Reeker arrives for his deposition

Reeker, who serves as the Acting Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, will likely be asked about the dismissal of Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as well as what Ambassador William Taylor described as an “irregular channel” of Ukraine policymaking. 

Check back throughout the day to keep up with Thursday’s impeachment news. 

Reeker arrived for his deposition despite the State Department’s decision not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. 

It is unclear if Reeker arrived under a subpoena or not, but other State Department witnesses have been subpoenaed by the congressional committees to compel their testimony after the Trump administration moved to block them from appearing. 

More: All of the people who have been subpoenaed so far in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry

Trump calls the inquiry “corrupt and fake” 

In a Saturday morning tweet, Trump slammed the inquiry as “corrupt and fake.”

The president has railed against the impeachment inquiry and has insisted there was no wrongdoing in his conduct in Ukraine. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/26/latest-trump-impeachment-inquiry-news-philip-reeker-testifies/2468288001/

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Unranked Kansas State pulls off shocking upset of No. 5 Oklahoma

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Unranked Kansas State pulls off shocking upset of No. 5 Oklahoma

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg provides his opinion of the top three programs in the history of college football. USA TODAY

Kansas State seriously damaged the College Football Playoff hopes of No. 5 Oklahoma with a stunning a 48-41 upset victory. 

The Wildcats (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) seemed to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter by grabbing a 48-23 lead before holding off a late OU comeback attempt.

The victory was the first win for Kanas State against a top five team since 2006.

The Wildcats used a formidable ground attack to pull off the shocker, as running back James Gilbert accounted for 105 of the team’s total 219 rushing yards, while QB Skylar Thompson (213 yards passing) ran for four rushing touchdowns. All six of the team’s scores were running TDs.

OU quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 395 yards and rushed for 96 in the loss. 

Kansas State trailed Oklahoma 17-7 in the first quarter after two rushing scores by Hurts but stormed back to lead 24-23 at halftime. Oklahoma went scoreless in the third quarter as KSU comfortably pulled ahead before leading 48-23 early in the fourth.

OU then mounted a massive rally. Hurts hit CeeDee Lamb for a 70-yard score and then his rushing touchdown with 5:36 left cut the deficit to 10. The Sooners defense then made a stand and Gabe Brkic sliced the score to 48-41 off a field goal with 1:45 left. 

The Sooners recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the play was overturned by replay after it showed receiver Trejan Bridges touched the ball before it went 10 yards. The Wildcats then ran out the clock for the win.

Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) now faces a tall test in staying in the playoff picture after the Big 12 slip-up. The Sooners were in previous playoff projections entering the week, but now will have competition with other one-loss teams and lack a meaningful victory on its schedule beside No. 15 Texas.  

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California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after ‘historic wind event,’ more power shutoffs

Authorities have ordered at least 50,000 people in Northern California to evacuate on Saturday as a potentially “catastrophic” wind event could amplify the wildfires that have scorched the area.

The entire towns of Healdsburg and Windsor are set to evacuate ahead of strong winds that may lead to erratic fire behavior.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office expects to be the biggest evacuation in the county in over 25 years with Sheriff Mark Essick saying its the largest evacuation order he’s experienced in his 26-year career.

CALIFORNIA UTILITY PG&E COULD CUT POWER TO 850,000 HOUSEHOLDS OVER ‘HISTORIC WIND EVENT’

Westlake Legal Group AP19298775880064 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246

Richard and Sheri Rose fill a plastic jerry can to power their generator while the power remains shut off from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

“This fire is very dangerous,” Essick said at a press conference Saturday.

Weather forecasts indicate that strong winds are set to impact much of the region over the weekend. Some gusts are projected to reach 85 mph and there’s a possibility of it being a record wind event, the National Weather Service warned,

“The winds are expected anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight and from all reports they’re expected to be extremely strong,” said Brian Vitorelo with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Westlake Legal Group AP19298711066676 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246

Christine Price, left, drops off food and water for evacuees from the Tick Fire with the help of her daughter Tinley, background right, at a shelter at West Ranch High School Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Mayor of Windsor encouraged residents to get out quickly.

“This is a life-threatening situation and a danger to our entire town,” Foppoli told ABC News.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) confirmed it would initiate a mass power shut-off of nearly 940,000 customers on Saturday, with the total impacted rising from 2.5 to 2.8 million.

PG&E will shut off power in six phases, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, and ending at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27. The warning was announced as firefighters battled flames in Northern and Southern California.

Westlake Legal Group AP19298670868925 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246

SoCal Edison crews replace power lines that were damaged from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)from the Tick Fire, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. An estimated 50,000 people were under evacuation orders in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles as hot, dry Santa Ana winds howling at up to 50 mph (80 kph) drove the flames into neighborhoods (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

The Kincade Fire has burned 25,455 acres and was 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. More than 23,500 structures are at risk of being damaged.

A blaze on Thursday destroyed at least six homes in the Santa Clarita area near Los Angeles and led to evacuation orders for up to 50,000 residents, although many were allowed back home after Santa Ana winds began to ease.

CALIFORNIA’S BLACKOUTS ARE A CAUTIONARY TALE, WARNS FORMER CA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN

To the north, firefighters raced to make progress against a blaze near Geyserville in Sonoma County before ferocious “diablo winds” returned. The fire had burned 49 buildings, including 21 homes, and swept through nearly 40 square miles of the wine-growing region. It was 10% contained by Saturday morning.

Several thousand people living in small communities in neighboring Lake County were warned to be ready to evacuate if an order is given. The area was the scene of a 2015 wildfire that killed four people and burned nearly 2,000 homes and other buildings.

High winds this weekend could ground water-dropping aircraft, disperse fire retardant and drive hot embers far ahead of the flames to set new blazes, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox warned.

“You can’t fight a fire that’s spotting ahead of itself a quarter of a mile, half a mile, in some cases a mile ahead of itself,” he said.

No cause has been determined for any of the current fires, but PG&E said a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville had malfunctioned minutes before that fire erupted Wednesday night.

The utility acknowledged that the discovery of the tower malfunction had prompted a change in its strategy.

“We have revisited and adjusted some of our standards and protocols in determining when we will de-energize high-voltage transmission lines,” Andrew Vesey, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., said at a briefing Friday.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: NEWSOM ISSUES PROCLAMATION, KINCADE FIRE MAY HAVE BEEN SPARKED BY TRANSMISSION LINE

The weekend forecasts detail what could be the strongest winds of the year coupled with bone-dry humidity.

“These places we all love have effectively become tinderboxes,” Vesey said. “Any spark, from any source, can lead to catastrophic results. We do not want to become one of those sources.”

The possible link between the wine country fire and a PG&E transmission line contained grim parallels to a catastrophic fire last year that tore through the town of Paradise, killing 85 people and destroying thousands of homes in the deadliest U.S. fire in a century.

State officials concluded that fire was sparked by a PG&E transmission line.

Westlake Legal Group AP19298798417399 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, tours a home destroyed by the Kincade fire on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Geyserville, Calif. Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday as wildfires scorch both ends of the state from Sonoma to Los Angeles. (Karl Mondon/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

Asherah Davidown, 17, of Magalia and her family lost their house, two dogs and a car in the Paradise fire. She said her family was preparing for another power outage by filling the gas tank of their car and buying non-perishable foods and batteries for their flashlights.

The outages reminded her of her family’s vulnerable position as they struggle to get back on their feet.

“My house doesn’t have a generator so that means another weekend of sitting in the dark with no Wi-Fi, no food in the fridge and shopping in increments since we don’t know how long the power may be out,” Davidown said.

The continuing round of power outages made her feel somewhat vulnerable as her family tries to get back on its feet, she said.

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“For the most part, a lot of people feel really helpless. Their livelihoods are at the fingertips of a corporation,” she said. “There’s still a lot of hurt and emotional recovery. Having our basic needs repeatedly taken away is really unfortunate.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19298814605531 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246   Westlake Legal Group AP19298814605531 California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/energy fox-news/us/disasters/fires fox news fnc/us fnc David Aaro article 6eb2eb0b-125d-54c8-a226-12f2010ec246

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Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist

Authorities have released images of some the Walt Disney World property that was reportedly stolen from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot by now-former theme park employee Patrick Spikes. The Florida man is said to have seized almost $14,000 in costumes, props and attractions from Disney World between July 2018 and January 2019.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials released images of some of the stolen goods, which included colorful wigs from the Haunted Mansion, News 13 reports. Investigators said that Spikes and his cousin Blaytin Taunton, also an employee of the theme park, used their Disney IDs to access underground tunnels to get backstage at the Haunted Mansion, according to WFTV.

Westlake Legal Group Patrick-Spikes-1-Orange-County-Sheriffs-Office Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1

An image of Patrick Spikes. The Florida man is said to have seized almost $14,000 in costumes, props and attractions from Disney World between July 2018 and January 2019. (Orange County Sheriffs Office)

MAN CLAIMS DISNEY WORLD TRIP WILL BE RUINED BY GIRLFRIEND’S NEWBORN NIECE – AND REDDIT USERS AGREE

Authorities said they suspect that Spikes lifted over $7,000 worth of costumes from the Magic Kingdom attraction and stole part of the animatronic “Buzzy” from the Cranium Command amusement at the Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot during the seven-month period. The animatronic parts he stole are valued at about $6,800.

Westlake Legal Group Patrick-Spikes-3-Fifth-Circuit-State-Attorneys-Office Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1

An image of Spikes modeling one of the reportedly stolen wigs. (Fifth Circuit State Attorneys Office)

The former Disney staffer is also accused of selling the costumes and props online, having received about $30,000 from two people on PayPal between July and September, officials said.

Spikes got away with the heist for a time, publishing images of some of the the stolen goods on his Twitter account @backdoordisney. At present, the account’s profile is described as “under new management.”

Westlake Legal Group Patrick-Spikes-2-Fifth-Circuit-State-Attorneys-Office Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1

An image of the wigs reportedly stolen from Disney World. (Fifth Circuit State Attorneys Office)

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In May, Spikes was arrested and bonded out on charges of burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Taunton faced a judge on Oct. 24, WFTV reports. Moving forward, the cousins are scheduled to go to trial in January.

Westlake Legal Group DisneyWorldCastleIstock Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1

Investigators said that Spikes and his cousin Blaytin Taunton, also an employee of the theme park, used their Disney ID’s to access underground tunnels to get backstage at the Haunted Mansion. (iStock)

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David Aaro contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Patrick-Spikes-3-Fifth-Circuit-State-Attorneys-Office Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1   Westlake Legal Group Patrick-Spikes-3-Fifth-Circuit-State-Attorneys-Office Photos released of Disney World property allegedly stolen by former employee in $14G heist Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/walt-disney-world-orlando fox-news/travel/general/disney fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/travel fnc article 9ee4f890-df50-530a-8611-94f7e35267c1

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Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan fights subpoena

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061189955001_6061192908001-vs Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan fights subpoena fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fnc/politics fnc f7531810-0528-51cd-a94d-0ce27b199a5a Associated Press article

WASHINGTON — Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, is challenging a subpoena to appear before a congressional committee to discuss terrorism threats to the U.S. on the day before he’s set to leave office.

Kevin McAleenan sent a letter to House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson on Friday saying he was surprised and disappointed to get the subpoena a day earlier. McAleenan had suggested that the department’s top intelligence officer testify in his stead.

Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, is holding a hearing on Oct. 30 on terrorist threats facing the country. McAleenan is set to leave his job on Oct. 31 after six months in the position. He took over after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit.

“It was surprising to receive your subpoena because your staff and mine were in the middle of constructive and ongoing discussion regarding the committee’s hearing,” McAleenan wrote.

He said he intended to “exhaustively prepare” for the hearing but instead is focused on winding down his tenure and “facilitating an orderly departure.”

But it’s still unclear who is taking over.

No replacement has been named to the department, which has seen its top ranks decimated through firings and resignations. The acting DHS deputy secretary is the head of the Transportation Security Administration.

The House committee subpoenaed McAleenan along with Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

If McAleenan defies the subpoena, he could be held in contempt following a vote that could be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution — which would be highly unlikely.

Thompson said in a statement Thursday that he was concerned that turmoil within the White House and “vacancies at the highest levels of the Department of Homeland Security are undermining our ability to respond to terrorist threats.”

“It is inexcusable that the people charged with keeping the country safe from terrorism are refusing to show up to testify before Congress and speak to the American people about what they are doing to secure the homeland,” he said.

None of the other witnesses on the panel was a member of the Cabinet. He or she would not have the same access to the president and would not necessarily be subjected to the same types of questions.

Democrats are proceeding with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, though this hearing was unrelated.

The 240,000-person Department of Homeland Security is tasked with election security and cybersecurity, disaster response and even the Secret Service. But in Trump’s world, homeland security means one thing: immigration.

The president’s signature issue makes the department his focus and his ire. Balancing a White House eager to push major changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge.

McAleenan, who has years of experience with border issues and is a longtime civil servant, was seen in Trump’s circle as someone who could get control over the crisis, despite his stance as a moderate Democrat who pushed for aid to be restored to Central American nations.

He was among those behind the administration’s widely maligned practice of separating families at the border last year, though McAleenan later said he regretted the policy because it lost the public trust.

He also expanded a program where asylum seekers are forced to wait their claims out in Mexico; more than 42,000 migrants have been subjected to it. And most recently, the administration made migrants ineligible for asylum if they crossed through a third country on their way to the U.S.

He also brokered major agreements with Central American countries on asylum and border security — something others were unable to do.

McAleenan suggested that the way the subpoena was issued may have violated committee rules — he said he was given no notice and neither was the ranking member.

Thompson said in a statement on Friday that McAleenan’s facts were wrong.

“To be clear, no rules were broken by the Committee and his appearance remains legally required.  It seems he just doesn’t want to testify,” Thompson said. “The American people have a right to know if anyone is in charge at DHS and what is being done to keep the country safe.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061189955001_6061192908001-vs Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan fights subpoena fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fnc/politics fnc f7531810-0528-51cd-a94d-0ce27b199a5a Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6061189955001_6061192908001-vs Acting Homeland Security Secretary McAleenan fights subpoena fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fnc/politics fnc f7531810-0528-51cd-a94d-0ce27b199a5a Associated Press article

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