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Hope Hicks subpoenaed by House committee over obstruction of justice probe – National

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Hope Hicks subpoenaed by House committee over obstruction of justice probe National

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A U.S. House committee chairman on Tuesday subpoenaed two more former White House aides, including Hope Hicks, just hours after former White House Counsel Donald McGahn was a no-show for testimony before the panel at President Donald Trump’s request.

As tensions rose between the Republican president and the Democrats who control the House of Representatives, lawmakers also negotiated for future testimony by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his Russia investigation and debated whether to launch high-stakes impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The showdown between Trump and the Democrats intensified after McGahn, heeding Trump’s instructions, ignored a subpoena from the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee and did not show up to testify before the panel.


READ MORE:
Ex-Trump counsel, Don McGahn, defies subpoena for House hearing on Mueller report

Undeterred in a growing conflict with Trump over congressional powers to oversee his administration, committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced he had issued fresh subpoenas to Hicks, the former White House communications director, and to Annie Donaldson, McGahn’s former chief of staff.

The subpoenas seek testimony and documents in connection with the committee’s probe of whether the president obstructed Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Moscow.

Despite McGahn’s absence, the committee held a hearing lasting about a half-hour that featured an empty chair at the witness table. Nadler said at the hearing, “Let me be clear: this committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it.”

WATCH: Jerry Nadler on Don McGahn no-show: Our subpoenas are not optional





In Mueller’s investigative report, McGahn was a key witness regarding possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Career prosecutors not involved in the case have said the report contained strong evidence that Trump committed a crime when he pressured McGahn to fire Mueller and later urged him to lie about it.

Attorney General William Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, on May 2 snubbed the same committee, which later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress for not handing over a full, unredacted Mueller report.

At the hearing skipped by Barr, an empty chair also figured prominently and a Democratic committee member placed a ceramic chicken on the table in front of it for the cameras. The ceramic chicken did not make a repeat appearance on Tuesday.


READ MORE:
Donald Trump tells McGahn to defy Congress’ subpoena and skip House testimony

After the hearing that McGahn skipped, several Democrats said the Judiciary Committee was negotiating with Mueller about his possible testimony. A redacted version of Mueller’s report was released by Barr last month.

“We are working with his team on that right now. I can’t tell you for sure if he’s going to come,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democratic committee member.

Republicans derided Tuesday’s session as a political stunt.

WATCH: Trump comments on asking Don McGahn to defy subpoena





“This is becoming a regular event. It’s called the circus of Judiciary,” said the panel’s top Republican, Doug Collins.

Trump, seeking re-election in 2020, is refusing to cooperate with many congressional probes into his administration, his family and his business interests.

Former Model

In the early days of Trump’s presidency, few aides had more frequent access to him than Hicks, a former model and public relations consultant hired by Trump into the White House from his daughter Ivanka Trump’s staff. She rose to communications director, but resigned from the White House in March 2018.

Any impeachment effort would begin in the House, led by the Judiciary Committee, before action in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.

No U.S. president has ever been removed from office through impeachment, a process spelled out in the Constitution.

WATCH: Questions swirl as Trump aide Hope Hicks resigns after Russia probe testimony





House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, who is locked in another legal battle with Trump over access to his financial records, told reporters Democrats are “moving more and more” toward using impeachment as an option in the showdown with Trump.

Taking it a step further, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told reporters: “It’s time for us to, at the very least, open an impeachment inquiry.”


READ MORE:
White House tells former counsel McGahn to not comply with subpoena for Mueller docs

Other Democrats remained cautious, saying a federal judge’s decision against Trump on Monday in a subpoena case shows a step-by-step approach in the courts can bring results.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington blocked a lawsuit by Trump that attempted to quash a subpoena sent by Cummings to Trump’s long-time accounting firm Mazars LLP seeking the president’s financial records. Trump has appealed the case.

Democrats have debated for months whether to initiate the impeachment process, with some lawmakers clamoring for it. But senior leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have counseled caution for fear of a voter backlash that could benefit Trump.

It was not immediately clear when Democrats might pursue a contempt citation against McGahn. The rules require 48-hour notice, but many House members will be flying out of town on Thursday for the Memorial Day holiday, a logistical challenge that means any contempt vote would be unlikely before June.

The redacted, 448-page Mueller report, 22 months in the making, showed how Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor and detailed Trump’s attempts to impede Mueller’s probe.

The report found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign had taken place. It made no recommendation on whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving that question up to Congress.

 



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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