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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 82)

At least 1 dead in Iran protests over gas prices

At least one person was killed in the central Iran city of Sirjan Saturday amid violent protests following the theocratic government’s announcement that it would raise gas prices by 50 percent to fund handouts for the country’s poor.

Protestors flocked to the streets in more than a dozen cities after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the price increase at midnight Thursday. Demonstrators abandoned cars in traffic and blocked streets in major cities, even as the first snowfall of the season persisted.

QATAR HAD PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF IRAN ATTACK ON VESSELS, FAILED TO TELL ALLIES: REPORT

Civilians clashed with police, as authorities used tear gas to quell angry mobs who attempted to set fire to an oil depot in Sirjan. Online videos circulating on Iranian social media seemed to show a fire at the depot as sirens wailed in the background. Another showed a large crowd shouting: “Rouhani, shame on you! Leave the country alone!”

Westlake Legal Group AP19320663006072 At least 1 dead in Iran protests over gas prices Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/world/global-economy fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc article 8886f85a-cf9c-5543-8738-202c98f6016d

A road is blocked by protesters in Tehran Saturday. (Majid Khahi/ISNA via AP)

Mohammad Mahmoudabadi, an Interior Ministry official in Sirjan, later told state television that police and demonstrators exchanged gunfire, wounding several. He said many protestors were peaceful, but later masked men armed with guns and knives infiltrated the demonstration.

“They insisted on reaching the oil depot and creating crises,” Mahmoudabadi said.

The semi-official ISNA news agency later quoted Mahmoudabadi as saying the violence killed one person.

Westlake Legal Group AP19320584183542 At least 1 dead in Iran protests over gas prices Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/world/global-economy fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc article 8886f85a-cf9c-5543-8738-202c98f6016d

Smoke rises during a protest in the city of Isfahan Saturday. (AP Photo)

The protests only add to the turmoil Iran’s government faces as it struggles to overcome hefty U.S. sanctions following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal last year. Since then, tensions between the two nations have only intensified, especially in the wake of reports that Iran has been slowly violating its provisions to pressure other nations to provide more incentives.

Iran has the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves and cheapest gas prices as well. The recent price increase saw gas climb to a minimum of 15,000 rials per liter of gas — 50 percent up from the day before, which amounts to 13 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. A gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. costs $2.60 by comparison.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19320487316696 At least 1 dead in Iran protests over gas prices Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/world/global-economy fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc article 8886f85a-cf9c-5543-8738-202c98f6016d   Westlake Legal Group AP19320487316696 At least 1 dead in Iran protests over gas prices Vandana Rambaran fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-politics fox-news/world/global-economy fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox news fnc/world fnc article 8886f85a-cf9c-5543-8738-202c98f6016d

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Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations

A blogger who recently re-created some of Meghan Markle’s most memorable looks is hitting back at body shamers who had negative things to say about her size.

Katie Sturino, 36, regularly shares her re-creations of celebrity women’s fashions for her “Super Size the Look” series.

Her most recent posts depicting her dressed as Markle in various outfits, from her South Africa tour outfits to her U.S. Open attire, quickly went viral.

PLUS-SIZE BLOGGER RE-CREATES MEGHAN MARKLE FASHIONS

The body-positivity advocate, however, was met by harsh critics who shamed the plus-size influencer’s body size in comparison to Markle’s.

“She looks like she ate Meghan Markle…and stole her dress,” one critic said about her posts.

“She looks like a Prius,” another person said.

Another critic wrote, “No matter what the clothing is, NO clothing looks good in obese people because obesity doesn’t look good and is extremely unhealthy. Stop promoting unhealthy bodies!”

In an Instagram posted on Thursday, Sturino slammed the negative commenters in a lengthy response.

BODY-POSITIVE BLOGGER SAYS GAINING WEIGHT ‘SAVED MY LIFE’ 

‘CURVIEST MODEL EVER’ HUNTER MCGRADY TALKS STRUGGLES OF BEING A PLUS-SIZE BRIDE

“Every time I think we have made so much progress about our bodies and the way we talk about women, something pops up to remind me our work is not done!” she wrote. “There is a war on women’s bodies in the media and beyond.”

Sturino said that while the harsh comments do not hurt her feelings, she found them to be “scary.”

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

“It’s scary that a woman who is almost the average size in this country would be regarded with such shock!” she added.

Instead of focusing on the negative things people have to say online, the blogger encouraged her followers to “keep spreading positivity.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Please don’t engage with the crazies in the comments. PLEASE DO LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND TELL HER THAT YOU LOVE HER,” Sturino said.

“Nobody deserves to be spoken to like this, on or offline. We have work to do!!!!”

Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-Recreated Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 83e7f2b6-3a25-506c-a213-9bfacbd5fb36   Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-Recreated Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 83e7f2b6-3a25-506c-a213-9bfacbd5fb36

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations

A blogger who recently re-created some of Meghan Markle’s most memorable looks is hitting back at body shamers who had negative things to say about her size.

Katie Sturino, 36, regularly shares her re-creations of celebrity women’s fashions for her “Super Size the Look” series.

Her most recent posts depicting her dressed as Markle in various outfits, from her South Africa tour outfits to her U.S. Open attire, quickly went viral.

PLUS-SIZE BLOGGER RE-CREATES MEGHAN MARKLE FASHIONS

The body-positivity advocate, however, was met by harsh critics who shamed the plus-size influencer’s body size in comparison to Markle’s.

“She looks like she ate Meghan Markle…and stole her dress,” one critic said about her posts.

“She looks like a Prius,” another person said.

Another critic wrote, “No matter what the clothing is, NO clothing looks good in obese people because obesity doesn’t look good and is extremely unhealthy. Stop promoting unhealthy bodies!”

In an Instagram posted on Thursday, Sturino slammed the negative commenters in a lengthy response.

BODY-POSITIVE BLOGGER SAYS GAINING WEIGHT ‘SAVED MY LIFE’ 

‘CURVIEST MODEL EVER’ HUNTER MCGRADY TALKS STRUGGLES OF BEING A PLUS-SIZE BRIDE

“Every time I think we have made so much progress about our bodies and the way we talk about women, something pops up to remind me our work is not done!” she wrote. “There is a war on women’s bodies in the media and beyond.”

Sturino said that while the harsh comments do not hurt her feelings, she found them to be “scary.”

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

“It’s scary that a woman who is almost the average size in this country would be regarded with such shock!” she added.

Instead of focusing on the negative things people have to say online, the blogger encouraged her followers to “keep spreading positivity.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Please don’t engage with the crazies in the comments. PLEASE DO LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND TELL HER THAT YOU LOVE HER,” Sturino said.

“Nobody deserves to be spoken to like this, on or offline. We have work to do!!!!”

Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-Recreated Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 83e7f2b6-3a25-506c-a213-9bfacbd5fb36   Westlake Legal Group Meghan-Markle-Recreated Plus-size blogger slams body shamers after harsh reactions to her Meghan Markle re-creations Gerren Keith Gaynor fox-news/style-and-beauty fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news/meghan-markle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 83e7f2b6-3a25-506c-a213-9bfacbd5fb36

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Father arrested after son, 5, brings heroin to school, says tasting it turns him into Spider-Man

A Massachusetts father was arrested and charged Friday after his 5-year-old son allegedly brought a bag of heroin to kindergarten and told his teacher he turns into Spider-Man when he tastes it.

Benny Garcia, 29, pleaded not guilty to charges of drug possession and reckless endangerment of a child.

Westlake Legal Group heroin-dad Father arrested after son, 5, brings heroin to school, says tasting it turns him into Spider-Man Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/health/mental-health/drug-and-substance-abuse fox news fnc/us fnc article 9135a39b-45e0-52fa-8870-5277389559cc

Benny Garcia

The boy showed off a plastic bag stamped with the image of Spider-Man that contained a powdery substance, Hampden County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Green said in court, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The boy told his teacher that he turns into the superhero when he tastes the powder. The boy also allegedly said he got the bag from the living room of his home.

OHIO CATHOLIC SCHOOL ANNOUNCES MANDATORY DRUG TESTING FOR ALL STUDENTS

Holyoke police officers were called to the school around 11 a.m. Thursday. The boy was taken to a local hospital and later released. Police contacted the boy’s mother, who gave permission for police to search her apartment. There they found Garcia sleeping on a bed with other bags of white powder underneath him. As he was handcuffed, other bags fell from his body, according to police.

AUSTRALIAN POLICE FIND $210M WORTH OF METH HIDDEN INSIDE SRIRACHA BOTTLES 

Court documents stated that police found over 200 bags of heroin and cocaine on Garcia. When officers told Garcia about the situation with his son at school, he reportedly became “very emotional.”

The boy and another infant from the family were taken into state custody.

Garcia will be held without bail until his hearing scheduled for Nov. 20.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“He loves Spider-Man,” Holyoke Police Lt. James Albert said of the boy. “Our officers were quite taken by it all. You don’t often deal with this.”

Westlake Legal Group heroin-dad Father arrested after son, 5, brings heroin to school, says tasting it turns him into Spider-Man Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/health/mental-health/drug-and-substance-abuse fox news fnc/us fnc article 9135a39b-45e0-52fa-8870-5277389559cc   Westlake Legal Group heroin-dad Father arrested after son, 5, brings heroin to school, says tasting it turns him into Spider-Man Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/massachusetts fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/us/crime fox-news/health/mental-health/drug-and-substance-abuse fox news fnc/us fnc article 9135a39b-45e0-52fa-8870-5277389559cc

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Louisiana, a Vote for Governor and a Test for Trump

BATON ROUGE, La. — From the outset, Republicans saw Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana as vulnerable in his bid for a second term. He is a conservative Democrat — but a Democrat nonetheless — in a state and region where his party is often a disqualifier in statewide races.

And to topple him, Republicans have mounted a robust opposition that has centered on the force of President Trump, who has dropped into Louisiana twice in the last two weeks to mobilize his supporters.

How well that works will be seen after the runoff Saturday between Mr. Edwards and Eddie Rispone, the Baton Rouge businessman who has cloaked himself in Mr. Trump’s popularity and is largely relying on it to win.

Westlake Legal Group results-louisiana-governor-general-election-1573860583225-articleLarge-v4 In Louisiana, a Vote for Governor and a Test for Trump Trump, Donald J Rispone, Eddie Orgeron, Ed Louisiana Elections, Governors Edwards, John Bel (1966- ) Bevin, Matthew

Live: Louisiana Governor Election Results

Live results and detailed maps by precinct.

The race, which has narrowed into a virtual dead heat since the state’s all-party jungle primary last month, essentially hinges on Mr. Trump’s gravitational pull for Republicans and whether Mr. Edwards, who is relatively popular, can overcome the president’s efforts to paint him as a liberal tied to national Democrats.

In the rally this week, Mr. Trump acknowledged as much, saying, “You’ve got to give me a big win, O.K.?” For Mr. Trump, the stakes went up considerably this week when his chosen candidate in Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin, conceded his race, which also hinged on whether he could rely on President Trump’s clout to win.

Mr. Edwards is “facing an opponent that has replaced what he hoped would be a referendum on his own incumbency with a narrative that is, more or less, a referendum on Donald Trump,” said Mary-Patricia Wray, a political consultant who has worked for Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Edwards during his 2015 campaign. If Mr. Edwards wins, she said, in a race that has been nationalized as a test for Mr. Trump, it would be “proof that authenticity still counts for half a percent in red Louisiana.”

In the state’s nonpartisan primary in October, Mr. Edwards came up shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to clinch his re-election, receiving 46 percent of the vote. Mr. Rispone, with 27 percent, came in second place by edging past Representative Ralph Abraham, also a Republican.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Edwards, the only Democratic governor currently holding office in the Deep South, has shined a spotlight on his conservative bona fides, like his support for a state law barring abortion after the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart can be detected. He has also campaigned on his role in closing a $2 billion deficit he inherited from his Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal, and has argued that Mr. Rispone, by pursuing aggressive tax cuts, would put Louisiana back in the same place.

And he has distanced himself from national Democrats. One of his most influential megawatt backers has not been anyone from Washington, but instead Ed Orgeron, Louisiana State University’s football coach. (“I know the state of Louisiana believes in him just like a championship quarterback,” the coach said at a fund-raiser in April.)

Mr. Rispone, who with his brother founded an industrial engineering, construction and maintenance company in Baton Rouge, has tied his fortunes almost entirely to Mr. Trump, allowing the president to dominate the campaign. When Mr. Rispone addressed supporters at an election night gathering in October, he started his speech by saying he had just gotten off the phone with the president, leading the crowd to chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” Mr. Rispone’s first two ads in the runoff showed footage of Mr. Trump but none of the candidate.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump traveled to Bossier City, La., near Shreveport in the northern part of the state, to renew his attack on Mr. Edwards and urge the crowd to “send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington” by voting for Mr. Rispone. He reiterated his support for Mr. Rispone on Saturday with multiple tweets.

So far, the election has had heavy turnout. Louisiana’s secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, said that he expects a turnout of 51 percent, compared with 40 percent in 2015.

Michael Derouen, who works in seafood sales, described both candidates as “pretty decent.” But ultimately, he sided with Mr. Rispone, he said, because he believed a change might jolt Louisiana forward, particularly in terms of boosting business and job opportunities.

“He’s not just a politician,” Mr. Derouen said just after voting at a fire station in East Baton Rouge Parish. “He’s a businessman, which opens the door for us and the state. We want an all-around guy, not just a politician.”

But many voters acknowledged the influence Mr. Trump has had in the race. Some said he could motivate both sides to come out. The Rev. A. J. Johnson was among those who said Mr. Trump would turn out his opponents as well as his fans.

“This is about the power of the vote and about people in this state standing up and standing together to do what’s right for this state,” Mr. Johnson, 54, said, standing in the parking lot of a grocery store in Baton Rouge. “It’s not about what a president thinks is right for this state.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Two New Testimonies Put Sondland At Center Of Trump Ukraine Block

Westlake Legal Group 5dd086be2100008a6434d29f Two New Testimonies Put Sondland At Center Of Trump Ukraine Block

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transcripts released Saturday in the impeachment inquiry show Ambassador Gordon Sondland playing a central role in President Donald Trump’s effort to push Ukraine to conduct political investigations as a condition for receiving needed military aid.

The fresh details come from hundreds of pages of testimony released by House investigators from Tim Morrison, a former top official at the National Security Council. They contradict much of the ambassador’s own testimony behind closed doors. Both Morrison and Sondland are expected to testify publicly before the House next week.

While some, including Trump himself, have begun to question Sondland’s knowledge of events, Morrison said the ambassador “related to me he was acting — he was discussing these matters with the President.”

Morrison, a longtime Republican defense hawk in Washington, largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials testifying in the impeachment inquiry. But his account also provided new insight on what others have called a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with U.S. national security interests.

As Sondland, Giuliani and others tried to persuade new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch the investigations Trump wanted of his Democratic rivals, Morrison said he “tried to stay away.”

Morrison called this the Burisma “bucket,” and it included investigations into the family of one of Trump’s potential Democratic rivals, Joe Biden, and the role of Democrats in the 2016 election. It’s a reference to the gas company in Ukraine where Biden’s son Hunter served on the board

In particular Morrison described a meeting Sondland held with a top Zelenskiy aide, Andriy Yermak, on the sidelines of a summit in Warsaw.

Morrison said he witnessed the exchange and that afterward Sondland bounded across the room to tell him what was said.

Sondland told him that “what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” Morrison testified. The prosecutor general is Ukraine’s top legal official.

“My concern was what Gordon was proposing about getting the Ukrainians pulled into our politics,” Morrison said. He added: “It was the first time something like this had been injected as a condition on the release of the assistance.”

Morrison, who announced Oct. 30 he would be stepping down from the NSC, was brought to the White House by then-national security adviser John Bolton.

Testimony from Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, also raised new questions about how much Pence knew about the alleged trade-off that’s central to the impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment investigators met Saturday with a White House official directly connected to Trump’s block on military aid to Ukraine, the first budget office witness to testify in the historic inquiry.

In the rare weekend session, lawmakers drilled into Trump’s decision, against the advice of national security advisers, including Bolton, to withhold funding from the ally, a young democracy bordering hostile Russia.

“It seems clear to me from everything that I’ve seen that the president had no interest in the defense of the Ukraine and the security of the Ukrainian people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., during a break in the closed-door proceedings.

Raskin said it’s important for lawmakers “to trace the bureaucratic steps” that allowed money Congress had already approved to be held up by the executive branch. “We’re in the process of chasing that down,” he said.

The witness Saturday was Mark Sandy, a little-known career official at the Office of Management and Budget who was involved in key meetings about the nearly $400 million aid package Congress had approved for Ukraine.

Sandy’s name had barely come up in previous testimony. But it did on one particular date: July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. That day, a legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds, according to testimony from Defense Department official Laura Cooper. Investigators had shown her a document as evidence.

Trump on the call had asked Zelenskiy for a “favor,” to conduct an investigation into Biden and his son. The link between Trump’s call and the White House’s holding back of security aid is the central question in the impeachment inquiry. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called it “bribery.”

Trump, who says he only wanted to root out corruption in Ukraine, says he did nothing wrong.

The weeks that followed sent officials in the U.S. national security and foreign service apparatus scrambling to understand why the aid was being blocked, despite their consensus view that Zelenskiy needed the money as a show of U.S. support for his new government facing down President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“We were trying to get to the bottom of why this hold was in place, why OMB was applying this hold,” Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer at the National Security Council, told investigators. He is scheduled to testify publicly on Tuesday.

Bolton derided the swap as a “drug deal” he wanted no part of, according to closed-door testimony from Fiona Hill, the former White House Russia expert. She is set to appear Thursday.

Sharpening the arguments, both sides are preparing for an intense lineup of public hearings in the coming week. Americans are deeply split over impeachment, much as they are over the president himself.

For Ukraine, a former Soviet republic situated between NATO-allies and Russia, the $391 million in aid is its lifeline to the West.

The money is symbolic, the ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified this week, but also substantial.

It includes $250 million in Pentagon funding for military hardware: sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counter-artillery radars, electronic warfare detection, secure communications, night vision capabilities and military medical aid.

An additional $141 million in State Department funding covers many of those systems as well as about $10 million to increase maritime awareness and $16.5 million for maritime security in the Black Sea, aimed at identifying and tracking Russian ships and aircraft.

“Supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do,” Yovanovitch testified. “If Russia prevails and Ukraine falls to Russian dominion, we can expect to see other attempts by Russia to expand its territory and influence.”

Sandy was the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to defy Trump’s instructions not to testify. Like others, he received a subpoena to appear.

“When people come in, we learn more,” said Rep. Eric Swawell, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as he arrived for Saturday’s session.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a top Trump ally, said he did not expect to hear much from Sandy, a career budget official.

“All I expect him to say is he doesn’t know why the aid was held and wished that he did,” said Meadows, R-N.C. “But I may be surprised.”

In a speech Friday night, Attorney General William Barr said congressional Democrats were pursuing “scores of parallel investigations through an avalanche of subpoenas” that are “designed to incapacitate the executive branch.”

Barr, who favors an expansive view of executive power, said “the cost of this constant harassment is real.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the impeachment panel, returned home Saturday to California where thousands of Democratic activists greeted him like a rock star at the state party’s fall convention.

“It’s been an eventful week,” he told the crowd before saying that his remarks about impeachment were no cause for celebration.

“There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who thinks that he is above the law,” Schiff said. “This is a time of great peril.”

Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Long Beach, California, contributed to this report.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Two New Testimonies Put Sondland At Center Of Trump Ukraine Block

Westlake Legal Group 5dd086be2100008a6434d29f Two New Testimonies Put Sondland At Center Of Trump Ukraine Block

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transcripts released Saturday in the impeachment inquiry show Ambassador Gordon Sondland playing a central role in President Donald Trump’s effort to push Ukraine to conduct political investigations as a condition for receiving needed military aid.

The fresh details come from hundreds of pages of testimony released by House investigators from Tim Morrison, a former top official at the National Security Council. They contradict much of the ambassador’s own testimony behind closed doors. Both Morrison and Sondland are expected to testify publicly before the House next week.

While some, including Trump himself, have begun to question Sondland’s knowledge of events, Morrison said the ambassador “related to me he was acting — he was discussing these matters with the President.”

Morrison, a longtime Republican defense hawk in Washington, largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials testifying in the impeachment inquiry. But his account also provided new insight on what others have called a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with U.S. national security interests.

As Sondland, Giuliani and others tried to persuade new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch the investigations Trump wanted of his Democratic rivals, Morrison said he “tried to stay away.”

Morrison called this the Burisma “bucket,” and it included investigations into the family of one of Trump’s potential Democratic rivals, Joe Biden, and the role of Democrats in the 2016 election. It’s a reference to the gas company in Ukraine where Biden’s son Hunter served on the board

In particular Morrison described a meeting Sondland held with a top Zelenskiy aide, Andriy Yermak, on the sidelines of a summit in Warsaw.

Morrison said he witnessed the exchange and that afterward Sondland bounded across the room to tell him what was said.

Sondland told him that “what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” Morrison testified. The prosecutor general is Ukraine’s top legal official.

“My concern was what Gordon was proposing about getting the Ukrainians pulled into our politics,” Morrison said. He added: “It was the first time something like this had been injected as a condition on the release of the assistance.”

Morrison, who announced Oct. 30 he would be stepping down from the NSC, was brought to the White House by then-national security adviser John Bolton.

Testimony from Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, also raised new questions about how much Pence knew about the alleged trade-off that’s central to the impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment investigators met Saturday with a White House official directly connected to Trump’s block on military aid to Ukraine, the first budget office witness to testify in the historic inquiry.

In the rare weekend session, lawmakers drilled into Trump’s decision, against the advice of national security advisers, including Bolton, to withhold funding from the ally, a young democracy bordering hostile Russia.

“It seems clear to me from everything that I’ve seen that the president had no interest in the defense of the Ukraine and the security of the Ukrainian people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., during a break in the closed-door proceedings.

Raskin said it’s important for lawmakers “to trace the bureaucratic steps” that allowed money Congress had already approved to be held up by the executive branch. “We’re in the process of chasing that down,” he said.

The witness Saturday was Mark Sandy, a little-known career official at the Office of Management and Budget who was involved in key meetings about the nearly $400 million aid package Congress had approved for Ukraine.

Sandy’s name had barely come up in previous testimony. But it did on one particular date: July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. That day, a legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds, according to testimony from Defense Department official Laura Cooper. Investigators had shown her a document as evidence.

Trump on the call had asked Zelenskiy for a “favor,” to conduct an investigation into Biden and his son. The link between Trump’s call and the White House’s holding back of security aid is the central question in the impeachment inquiry. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called it “bribery.”

Trump, who says he only wanted to root out corruption in Ukraine, says he did nothing wrong.

The weeks that followed sent officials in the U.S. national security and foreign service apparatus scrambling to understand why the aid was being blocked, despite their consensus view that Zelenskiy needed the money as a show of U.S. support for his new government facing down President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“We were trying to get to the bottom of why this hold was in place, why OMB was applying this hold,” Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer at the National Security Council, told investigators. He is scheduled to testify publicly on Tuesday.

Bolton derided the swap as a “drug deal” he wanted no part of, according to closed-door testimony from Fiona Hill, the former White House Russia expert. She is set to appear Thursday.

Sharpening the arguments, both sides are preparing for an intense lineup of public hearings in the coming week. Americans are deeply split over impeachment, much as they are over the president himself.

For Ukraine, a former Soviet republic situated between NATO-allies and Russia, the $391 million in aid is its lifeline to the West.

The money is symbolic, the ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified this week, but also substantial.

It includes $250 million in Pentagon funding for military hardware: sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counter-artillery radars, electronic warfare detection, secure communications, night vision capabilities and military medical aid.

An additional $141 million in State Department funding covers many of those systems as well as about $10 million to increase maritime awareness and $16.5 million for maritime security in the Black Sea, aimed at identifying and tracking Russian ships and aircraft.

“Supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do,” Yovanovitch testified. “If Russia prevails and Ukraine falls to Russian dominion, we can expect to see other attempts by Russia to expand its territory and influence.”

Sandy was the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to defy Trump’s instructions not to testify. Like others, he received a subpoena to appear.

“When people come in, we learn more,” said Rep. Eric Swawell, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as he arrived for Saturday’s session.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a top Trump ally, said he did not expect to hear much from Sandy, a career budget official.

“All I expect him to say is he doesn’t know why the aid was held and wished that he did,” said Meadows, R-N.C. “But I may be surprised.”

In a speech Friday night, Attorney General William Barr said congressional Democrats were pursuing “scores of parallel investigations through an avalanche of subpoenas” that are “designed to incapacitate the executive branch.”

Barr, who favors an expansive view of executive power, said “the cost of this constant harassment is real.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the impeachment panel, returned home Saturday to California where thousands of Democratic activists greeted him like a rock star at the state party’s fall convention.

“It’s been an eventful week,” he told the crowd before saying that his remarks about impeachment were no cause for celebration.

“There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who thinks that he is above the law,” Schiff said. “This is a time of great peril.”

Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Long Beach, California, contributed to this report.

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Can We Finally Stop Calling the Ukraine Call Summary a Transcript Now?

Westlake Legal Group YoljqgPAjrVadZePD8kHxrx_4N27EW3qlCmmPdRD4oo Can We Finally Stop Calling the Ukraine Call Summary a Transcript Now? r/politics

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Impeachment Testimony From Timothy Morrison, Jennifer Williams Released

Westlake Legal Group 5dd06acc1f00003e07dee9bc Impeachment Testimony From Timothy Morrison, Jennifer Williams Released

Transcripts of closed-door testimony given to House investigators by two top White House officials shed new light on key details of President Donald Trump’s controversial dealings with Ukraine upon their release Saturday afternoon.

Timothy Morrison, deputy assistant to Trump, told impeachment investigators late last month that Ukrainian officials were informed that both a coveted White House meeting and U.S. military aid were contingent on a public announcement about investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Morrison’s assertion backs up the public testimony given this week by acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

Jennifer Williams, a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, said in her testimony earlier this month that she found Trump’s requests in the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be “unusual and inappropriate.”

She also said that ― contrary to an edited transcript of the call released by the White House ― Zelensky brought up Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden was on the board. Trump has alleged without evidence that Joe Biden inappropriately favored Burisma as he worked to curb corruption in Ukraine when he was vice president. 

“The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House. Both witnesses provided the Committees with first-hand accounts after personally listening to the call in the White House Situation Room,” the chairs of the House intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs committees said in a statement on Saturday. 

Read Timothy Morrison’s testimony here, and Jennifer Williams’ testimony here. Highlights assembled by the House Intelligence Committee can be found for Morrison here and Williams here

This story is developing. Please check back soon for more.  

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Nearly 80,000 immigrants approved for DACA have arrest records, USCIS report finds

Westlake Legal Group dacafnf010918 Nearly 80,000 immigrants approved for DACA have arrest records, USCIS report finds fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fox news fnc/politics fnc ec125a87-c493-5990-b57f-b7e1ab745198 article Adam Shaw

Nearly 80,000 immigrants approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields those who came to the country illegally as minors from deportation, have an arrest record — including arrests for violent or sexual offenses.

The data released Saturday by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows only arrests or apprehensions for a criminal offense or an immigration-related civil offense and does not take into account whether there was a conviction, acquittal, dismissal or a lessening of charges.

TRUMP BLASTS ‘TOTALLY ILLEGAL’ DACA ORDER, SAYS OBAMA DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SIGN IT

The report finds that of the nearly 889,000 applicants for the DACA program, 110,000 had arrest records. Of the more than 765,000 approved for DACA, 79,398 had arrest records. Of that number, 67,861 were arrested before their most recent DACA approval, while 15,903 were arrested after their most recent approval.

The offenses incurred by DACA requestors who were arrested before their most recent approval include battery (3,421), assault (3,308), burglary, breaking and entering (1,471), rape (62), murder (15) and theft or larceny (7,926). The largest population arrested were suspected of driving-related offenses excluding DUIs (23,305) and immigration-related offenses (12,968.)

The report comes as the Obama-era program’s constitutionality is under examination at the Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case began this week.

“As DACA continues to be the subject of both public discourse and ongoing litigation, USCIS remains committed to ensuring transparency and that the American people are informed about those receiving DACA,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. 

“This agency is obligated to continue accepting DACA requests from illegal aliens as a direct result of the previous administration’s decision to circumvent the laws as passed by Congress. We hope this data provides a better sense of the reality of those granted the privilege of a temporary deferral of removal action and work authorization under DACA,” he said. 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES FEES ON ASYLUM APPLICATIONS, DACA RENEWALS

The Trump administration announced its plan to phase out the program in 2017, only for the federal courts to rule that it could not apply retroactively and that DACA should be restarted in full. The White House fought back against those decisions, saying the president has broad authority over immigration enforcement policy.

Trump on Tuesday ripped into the program, saying that some in DACA are “far from ‘angels’” but also promising to make a deal to let recipients of the program stay.

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels,’” Trump tweeted. “Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

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Supporters of DACA have noted that the program comes with restrictions on who can be eligible with a criminal record. According to the USCIS website, those eligible can request DACA only if they “have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Supporters will also note that the level of arrests for DACA recipients is lower than the estimated 30 percent of U.S. adults who have an arrest record.

The Trump administration announced last week that it will place a $275 fee on DACA recipients, as part of an across the board increase in fees for immigration applications.

Westlake Legal Group dacafnf010918 Nearly 80,000 immigrants approved for DACA have arrest records, USCIS report finds fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fox news fnc/politics fnc ec125a87-c493-5990-b57f-b7e1ab745198 article Adam Shaw   Westlake Legal Group dacafnf010918 Nearly 80,000 immigrants approved for DACA have arrest records, USCIS report finds fox-news/us/immigration/illegal-immigrants fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/politics/judiciary/supreme-court fox-news/politics/executive/homeland-security fox news fnc/politics fnc ec125a87-c493-5990-b57f-b7e1ab745198 article Adam Shaw

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