Trump tried hard to win Ukraine Biden probes, officials say
WASHINGTON (AP) — If Ukraine’s new leader wanted an Oval Office welcome from Donald Trump — and he did — he would have to open a public probe into the president’s Democratic foe Joe Biden and his son. That is what two key White House officials told impeachment investigators.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, testified that Gordon Sondland, a Trump donor serving as ambassador to the European Union, told the visiting officials that if they hoped to win that coveted face-to-face meeting, “the Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens.”
According to transcripts released Friday in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Vindman and Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, gave House investigators detailed updates of scenes central to the probe.
ELECTION 2020-BLACK VOTERS
Harris, Warren compete for support from black female voters
Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are competing for the support of black women, who are the Democratic Party’s most loyal and consistent voters.
Both White House hopefuls are struggling with black voters, who have sided with Joe Biden by large margins.
But a string of recent endorsements highlights the contrasting styles of Warren, the progressive firebrand, and Harris, the lone black woman in the Democratic field.
SOUTH KOREA-HORROR HOME ADOPTIONS
AP Exclusive: Abusive S Korean facility exported children
BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — The Associated Press has found that a South Korean facility that kidnapped, abused and enslaved children and the disabled for a generation was also shipping children overseas for adoption, part of a profit-seeking enterprise that thrived by exploiting those trapped within its walls.
The AP, which previously exposed a government cover-up at Brothers Home and a greater level of abuse than earlier known, has now found that the facility was part of an orphanage pipeline feeding private adoption agencies.
Relying on documents obtained from officials, lawmakers or from freedom of information requests, the AP uncovered direct evidence that 19 children were adopted out of Brothers and sent abroad, as well as indirect evidence showing at least 51 more such adoptions. The adoptions AP found took place between 1979 and 1986.
TRUMP CHINA TRADE
Trump pushes back on reports US will remove China tariffs
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed a Chinese official’s assertion that his administration has agreed to roll back some the higher tariffs it’s imposed on Chinese goods. The Chinese official had said Thursday that the two sides had agreed to a phased cancellation of their tariff hikes as part of an emerging agreement.
Trump’s pushback suggested that negotiations haven’t progressed as far as hoped as the world’s two biggest economies struggle to negotiate an end to their trade war, which has hurt both economies.
“They’d like to have a rollback,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to the Chinese. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
The two sides have been working on an initial “Phase 1” deal that was announced Oct. 12 but that still isn’t final.
Last victim of Mexico border killings to be laid to rest
COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico (AP) — Family and friends are set to bury the last victim of a cartel ambush that slaughtered nine American women and children from a community of U.S.-Mexican dual citizens in a corner of northern Mexico where having gangsters in their midst has long been a fact of life.
Saturday’s burial of Christina Langford Johnson will be the third in as many days. It culminates an outpouring of grief in the closely knit community with family ties in two Mexican states and across the border in the U.S. West.
Community members say she jumped from her vehicle and waved her hands to show she was no threat to the attackers and was shot twice in the heart. Her daughter Faith Marie Johnson, 7 months old, was found unharmed in her car seat.
Facebook is deleting the name of the potential whistleblower
Facebook says it is deleting the name of the person who has been identified in conservative circles as the whistleblower who triggered a congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions.
The company said Friday that mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates Facebook’s “coordinating harm policy,” which prohibits material that could out a “witness, informant, or activist.”
Facebook says it is removing mentions of the whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision if the name is widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.
U.S. whistleblower laws exist to protect the identity and careers of people who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Lawmakers in both parties have historically backed those protections.
The Associated Press typically does not reveal the identity of whistleblowers.
ROGER STONE-TRIAL-THE LATEST
The Latest: Steve Bannon testifies in Roger Stone trial
WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon says Donald Trump’s campaign viewed Roger Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Bannon, Trump’s former campaign CEO, told a federal court Friday that Stone had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails.
Bannon said: “The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange. But Roger would be considered if we needed an access point.”
It was the first time that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign acknowledged in court that they had actively sought material from WikiLeaks.
Stone is on trial for lying to Congress and witness tampering.
MISSING COLLEGE STUDENT
Missing Clark Atlanta University student found dead
ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say a missing Clark Atlanta University student has been found dead.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said at a news conference that the body of 21-year-old Alexis Crawford was found Friday at a park in DeKalb County.
Shields says investigators are securing arrest warrants for Crawford’s friend and roommate, 21-year-old Jordan Jones, and Jones’ boyfriend, 21-year-old Baron Brantley. She says one of the suspects led investigators to where Crawford’s body was found.
Shields says a motive has not been clearly established but notes that Crawford filed a police report on Oct. 27 describing “unwanted kissing and touching” by Brantley.
Crawford was reported missing Nov. 1.
The police chief says the case has come to “one of the saddest conclusions possible” and Shields apologized to the family.
ELECTION 2020-BLOOMBERG-THE LATEST
The Latest: Bloomberg would focus on Super Tuesday states
WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Bloomberg plans to focus his likely presidential campaign on Super Tuesday states, skipping early voting states where other candidates have spent months meeting voters and building operations.
Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson says other candidates already have a big head start in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Wolfson says Bloomberg is “realistic” about where he can make up ground at this late stage.
That means Bloomberg would focus on the crush of states that vote on March 3, hoping to quickly amass delegates in California, Virginia and elsewhere. The billionaire’s vast personal wealth means he can start advertising and building a campaign apparatus in those states while other candidates are focused on the early primary contests.
Bloomberg is expected to make a final decision on the 2020 campaign in the coming days.
TV-WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Vanna White hosts ‘Wheel of Fortune’ after Sajak has surgery
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak had to have emergency surgery, and his longtime co-host Vanna White will fill in for him while he recovers.
The show said in a statement that Thursday’s taping was canceled as the 73-year-old Sajak underwent successful surgery to correct a blocked intestine.
The 62-year-old White stepped in as host when taping resumed Friday for episodes that will air starting Dec. 9.
The statement says Sajak is resting comfortably and looking forward to returning but does not say how long he is expected to be out or how long White will act as host.
Sajak and White have co-hosted the show since the early 1980s.
She filled in for him once before for one segment of the show, when Sajak had laryngitis in 1996.