Congress pushes ahead on Trump impeachment with nation split
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is plunging into a landmark impeachment week, with Democrats who once hoped to sway Republicans now facing the prospect of an ever-hardening partisan split over the question of removing President Donald Trump from office.
Lawmakers were getting their first look at the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report Monday night behind closed doors, and Chairman Adam Schiff said on MSNBC that it will be released Tuesday. The findings are expected to forcefully make the Democrats’ case that Trump engaged in what Schiff calls impeachable “wrongdoing and misconduct” in pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats and Joe Biden while withholding military aid to the ally.
For Republicans offering an early rebuttal ahead of the report’s public release, the proceedings are simply a “hoax,” with Trump insisting he did nothing wrong and his GOP allies in line behind him. Trump tweeted his daily complaints about it all and then added a suggestive, if impractical, question: “Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”
With the Judiciary Committee set to launch its first hearing Wednesday, the impeachment proceedings are presenting a historic test of political judgment in a case that is dividing Congress and the country.
Departing for a NATO meeting in London, Trump criticized the House for pushing forward Monday with proceedings while he was heading overseas, a breach of political decorum that traditionally leaves partisan differences at the water’s edge.
Legal reckoning: New abuse suits could cost church over $4B
NEW YORK (AP) — At the end of another long day trying to sign up new clients accusing the Roman Catholic Church of sexual abuse, lawyer Adam Slater gazes out the window of his high-rise Manhattan office at one of the great symbols of the church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I wonder how much that’s worth?” he muses.
Across the country, attorneys like Slater are scrambling to file a new wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, thanks to rules enacted in 15 states that extend or suspend the statute of limitations to allow claims stretching back decades. Associated Press reporting found the deluge of suits could surpass anything the nation’s clergy sexual abuse crisis has seen before, with potentially more than 5,000 new cases and payouts topping $4 billion.
It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with “lookback windows” that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old. Never before have so many states acted in near-unison to lift the restrictions that once shut people out if they didn’t bring claims of childhood sex abuse by a certain age, often their early 20s.
That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, “Were you abused by the church?” And Catholic dioceses, while worrying about the difficulty of defending such old claims, are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.
Schools, offices close as long-lived storm clobbers US East
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A seemingly endless winter storm that hindered travel across most of the country over the long holiday weekend is delivering a last wallop as it swoops through the Northeast, dumping heavy snow, shuttering hundreds of schools and bedeviling commuters in the region Monday.
The storm dropped more than a foot of snow on parts of the region late Sunday and Monday and could bring 10 to 24 inches (25 to 60 centimetres) total by Tuesday from Pennsylvania to Maine, forecasters said. Heavy snow was also expected in the Appalachian Mountains down to Tennessee and North Carolina.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged drivers to use caution during the Tuesday morning commute when the storm was expected to be at its height with snow falling at 1 to 2 inches an hour in some places. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said city schools were cancelling classes and afterschool activities Tuesday.
“It’s moving very slowly, so the snow is just going to continue through the day,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Vogt said Monday.
By Monday afternoon, the storm had dropped 27 inches of snow in rural Delanson, New York, 25 miles (40 kilometres) northwest of Albany — the highest snow total in the Northeast so far. Forecasters predict accumulations near 30 inches by Tuesday morning in parts of Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Impeachment shadows Trump on trip to NATO leaders meeting
LONDON (AP) — Crying foul over timing, President Donald Trump on Monday accused Democrats of scheduling this week’s impeachment hearing to undercut him during his trip abroad for a NATO leaders’ meeting playing out at a crucial moment for the 70-year-old military alliance.
Trump, who arrived in London late Monday for two days of meetings, called the trip “one of the most important journeys that we make as president” before departing Washington and noted Democrats had long known about the meeting.
The president lashed out at Democrats again soon after arriving in the U.K. He said on Twitter that he had read the Republican report designed to counter Democrats’ impeachment case on his flight. The report, which was obtained by The Associated Press, called Trump’s hesitation to provide military aid to Ukraine “entirely prudent.”
“Prior to landing I read the Republicans Report on the Impeachment Hoaxe. Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE. Read the Transcripts,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”
It was not immediately clear under what legal grounds Trump was calling for the high court’s involvement.
Now Roquefort: US eyes tariffs on $2.4B in French imports
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is proposing tariffs on up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports — including Roquefort cheese, handbags, lipstick and sparkling wine — in retaliation for France’s tax on American tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative charged Monday that France’s new digital services tax discriminates against U.S. companies. The trade office will accept public comments on the tariffs, which could hit 100%, through Jan. 6 and hold a hearing Jan. 7.
The French tax is designed to prevent tech companies from dodging taxes by putting headquarters in low-tax European Union countries. It imposes a 3% annual levy on French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than 750 million euros ($830 million) and French revenue exceeding 25 million euros.
The U.S. also criticized the French tax for targeting companies’ revenue, not their profits, and for being retroactive.
The decision to pursue tariffs “sends a clear signal that the United States will take action against digital tax regimes that discriminate or otherwise impose undue burdens on U.S. companies,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
Jimmy Carter hospitalized for urinary tract infection
AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was admitted to a south Georgia hospital over the weekend for treatment of a urinary tract infection, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for The Carter Center, said in a statement that the 95-year-old former president was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus over the weekend.
“He is feeling better and looks forward to returning home soon. We will issue a statement when he is released for further rest and recovery at home,” she added.
Carter has overcome several health challenges in recent years.
He was diagnosed with melanoma in 2015, announcing that the cancer had spread to other parts of his body. After partial removal of his liver, treatment for brain lesions, radiation and immunotherapy, he said he was cancer-free.
Mexican border town gripped by fear after gunbattle kills 22
VILLA UNION, Mexico (AP) — A small town near the U.S.-Mexico border began cleaning up Monday, gripped by fear after the killing of 22 people in a ferocious weekend gunbattle between drug cartel members and security forces.
A 72-year-old woman living near Villa Union’s city hall recounted how she huddled with two of her grandchildren inside an armoire during the shooting.
The street in front of her home was littered with shell casings, and her walls and door were pocked with bullet holes.
“I’m still trembling,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety. “We’ve never seen anything like this. It was as if they just wanted to sow terror.”
Around midday Saturday, armed men in a convoy of dozens of vehicles arrived in Villa Union and began shooting up city hall. Many of the vehicles were emblazoned with the cartel’s initials — CDN, for Cartel del Noreste, or Northeast Cartel — as were the attackers’ bulletproof vests.
Chicago mayor fires city’s top cop over ‘ethical lapses’
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired the city’s retiring police superintendent Monday, citing “ethical lapses” that included telling lies about a recent incident in which Eddie Johnson was found asleep at the wheel of his car after having drinks.
Named to the job in the wake of a police shooting that killed a black teenager, Johnson was dismissed after the mayor reviewed an inspector general’s report and video evidence related to the night in mid-October when officers discovered him unconscious in his SUV at a stop sign. He initially blamed his failure to take his blood pressure medication and said he had a few drinks with dinner earlier in the evening.
The officers did not conduct any sobriety tests and let their boss drive home. It was unclear if they would be disciplined.
Johnson “engaged in a series of actions that are intolerable for any leader or position of trust, particularly the head of the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said. His conduct was “not only unbecoming but demonstrates a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making.”
Lightfoot said the police chief of the nation’s third-largest city repeatedly lied about the events that unfolded the night of Oct. 16 and morning of Oct. 17.
Still on top: Cyber Monday sales on track to hit record
NEW YORK (AP) — Cyber Monday is still holding up as the biggest online shopping day of the year, even though many of the same deals have been available online for weeks and the name harks back to the days of dial-up modems.
Shoppers are expected to spend a record $9.4 billion on purchases made on their phones and computers Monday, up about 19% from last year’s Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online stores.
The busiest time is expected to be in the hour before midnight, as people race to take advantage of discounts before they disappear.
Cyber Monday was created by retailers in 2005 to get people to shop online at a time when high-speed internet was rare and the iPhone didn’t exist. The idea was to encourage people to shop at work, where faster connections made it easier to browse, when they returned from the Thanksgiving break.
“It’s somewhat antiquated,” said Rob Graf, vice-president of strategy and insights at cloud computing company Salesforce, which tracks shopping behaviour of the online stores that use its platform. “But retailers are still using it as a big milestone and driving heavy discounts.”
Seahawks take over 1st place in NFC West, beat Vikings 37-30
SEATTLE (AP) — Rashaad Penny scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving, Russell Wilson hit David Moore for a 60-yard TD pass, and the Seattle Seahawks built a big second-half lead before holding off the Minnesota Vikings for a 37-30 win Monday night.
Seattle (10-2) moved into a tie with San Francisco atop of the NFC West but holds the tiebreaker. The Seahawks have the inside track to the division title with four games left.
Minnesota (8-4) fell a game behind Green Bay in the NFC North and is only one game ahead of the Los Angeles Rams in the wild-card race. They may have lost star running back Dalvin Cook to a shoulder injury when he fumbled midway through the third quarter in what became a major turning point.
Wilson wasn’t great, but he came up with key plays as Seattle won its fifth straight. He had a forgettable first-half moment trying to bat down a deflected pass only to watch Anthony Harris intercept the ball and return it for a touchdown. Wilson was 21 of 31 for 240 yards.
The key was the running of Penny and Chris Carson. Seattle rushed for 218 yards, the most allowed by Minnesota this season. Carson had 102, including a 1-yard TD. Penny added 74. The Vikings were giving up just 94 yards per game rushing.
The Associated Press