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LIVE UPDATES: Day 3 - Trump Impeachment Hearings

LIVE UPDATES: Day 3 - Trump Impeachment Hearings

With nine witnesses scheduled in the next three days, the U.S. House Impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump will delve further into questions of how the President pressed the leader of Ukraine to start politically charged investigations, as lawmakers will hear Tuesday morning from two people who raised concerns about the May 25 call between the two leaders. Tuesday's four witnesses - two in the morning - two more in the afternoon - will serve as the setup for what could be an explosive day on Wednesday morning, as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to testify, after days of reports brimming with new details about his conversations with President Trump regarding U.S. aid to Ukraine, and the President's desire for Ukraine to start investigations sought by Mr. Trump. Check back on this live blog through the day for the latest from the House Intelligence Committee. - 5:25 pm.  Volker was supposedly going to be a GOP witness.  But his testimony on the 'investigations' isn't exactly what the White House might want to hear.  Volker says he saw nothing credible about the various conspiracy theories (Crowdstrike, etc) that Ukraine interfered in the US elections in 2016 - those have been embraced by President Trump. 5:15 pm. The last half hour has reinforced what Democrats have often been arguing, that Rudy Giuliani's work in Ukraine to stir up various conspiracy theories, which resulted in President Trump asking for investigations by the Ukraine government, had stalled US-Ukraine relations.  “We had gotten nowhere,” Volker said. 4:45 pm.  Morrison continues to give the Democratic counsel answers which Democrats will be pleased to talk about. For example, Morrison says he went to NSC lawyers after phone calls with Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland in September, which made clear (to Morrison) that the aid to Ukraine was being held back while waiting on the investigations asked for by the President in July. 4:30 pm.  Morrison has been talked about a lot by GOP lawmakers today, especially as a way to push back against Vindman from this morning.  But watching and listening to Morrison here in the hearing room, he seems a bit uncomfortable in this setting.   Volker does not. 4:15 pm.  As he talks repeatedly about the issues surrounding Ukraine and President Trump, Volker keeps referring to 'conspiracy theories' pressed by Giuliani which filtered down to President Trump.  Volker quoted the President as saying he was hearing bad things about Ukraine's government from Giuliani. 4:00 pm.  Volker is certainly not going to see his testimony tweeted out by the White House. 3:55 pm.  Kurt Volker testifies that he struggled to get President Trump to set a meeting with the leader of Ukraine, blaming it on a deeply negative view of Ukraine, which was fueled by information coming from the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. 3:35 pm.  Tim Morrison testifies first.   He has a very short statement, and is testifying in a voice that is hard to hear.  He's going to get a lot of attention today from GOP lawmakers, who have used his deposition to try to undercut Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. 3:25 pm.  The gavel has sounded, as the hearings are getting underway again.  The witnesses today are former National Security Council official Tim Morrison, and Kurt Volker, an ex-US special envoy to Ukraine. 2:30 pm.  The afternoon hearing was originally set to start by now, but because of the House floor schedule, the afternoon part of the impeachment hearings may not begin until around 3:15 pm.  And depending on what happens on the floor, it could slip further.  In the meantime, many photographers have left their cameras by the witness table, staking out their spots. 2:00 pm.  Judging from the tweets by the White House, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman might need to find a new place of employment, rather than the National Security Council.  And that might go for his brother, too. 1:40 pm.  Part one of today's hearing is over.  The next two witnesses, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison are scheduled to start testifying at 2:30 pm. 1:25 pm.  Vindman works at the White House.  The official White House Twitter account has already had one post about him today - and now another.  1:22 pm.  Asked again about the July 25 Trump-Ukraine call, Vindman said, 'Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.' He said he immediately reported it to the NSC lawyer because it 'was my duty.'   Some applause after that line of questioning finished. 1:10 pm.  One interesting note about that line of questions from the GOP.  Vindman says the NSC lawyer told him not to talk to anyone about the call - not immediately - but later, after Vindman raised red flags.  That's why Vindman says he did not tell his direct boss, Morrison.  1:05 pm.  Republicans at today's hearing have repeatedly criticized Vindman for going to the top lawyer for the National Security Council immediately after the July 25 call, instead of his direct boss, Tim Morrison - who will testify later today.  Here's how GOP lawmakers are making that case on Twitter today. 12:50 pm.  A needed light moment as Rep Joaquin Castro D-TX talks about being a fellow identical twin, like Vindman and his brother. Castro jokes about being asked to grow a beard - which he did so people wouldn't think he was his brother, the Presidential candidate, Julian Castro. 12:40 pm.  Here is some video from President Trump. 12:20 pm.  From earlier - when Rep. Jordan intimated that superiors thought Vindman was leaking information about Ukraine. 12:10 pm.  News is being made at the White House on several fronts by President Trump. 12:00 pm.  Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH all but accused Vindman of being a leaker, raising questions about what his superiors thought of his job performance.  Vindman denied he had ever leaked anything, and quickly read from his last performance review by former White House aide Fiona Hill, who testifies on Thursday.  Jordan moved on. 11:55 am.  Democrats ask Jennifer Williams about a tweet from President Trump on Sunday, in which he assailed Williams, and called her a “Never Trumper.” 'It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name,” Williams told lawmakers. Here is the tweet. 11:50 am.  The White House quickly turns around that exchange, and posts it on the official White House Twitter account. 11:20 am.  Last questions for Vindman just before a short break in the hearing. Did you ever talk to Giuliani? No. Did you ever discuss Ukraine with President Trump?  Vindman: 'I have never had any contact with the President of the United States.' 11:10 am.  Asked by the GOP counsel, Vindman says Ukraine officials actually offered him the job of Defense minister of Ukraine at one point. Vindman says he immediately reported it to his superiors and intelligence officials. 'The whole notion is rather comical.' 11:05 am.  The GOP counsel walked Williams through a number of questions for why Vice President Pence scrapped a planned trip to Ukraine for the inauguration of the new leader, President Zelensky.  Instead, Pence went to Canada for an event on the US free trade deal with Mexico and Canada.  10:50 am.  Rep. Nunes: 'Mr. Vindman, you testified at your deposition that you did not know the whistleblower.' Vindman: 'Ranking member, it's Lt. Col. Vindman, please.' 10:45 am. We have just had our first real witness skirmish over the identify of the Ukraine whistleblower. Nunes asked Vindman who he told of the July 25 call. Vindman said there were two people outside the White House; he refused to ID the person in the intelligence community. 10:40 am. Nunes acknowledges that Williams and Vindman are the first 'firsthand' witnesses to testify about the Trump-Zelensky phone call. Nunes asking both witnesses if they spoke with any reporters or knew of leaks. Both answer in the negative. 10:35 am. Republicans are now starting their 45 minutes of questioning. Rep. Nunes immediately goes into questions surrounding Burisma and Hunter Biden. 10:20 am. The Democratic counsel is walking both witnesses through the July 25 call in detail, getting them to repeat their concerns about the call.  These are the first witnesses to testify who heard the actual phone call.  GOP lawmakers outside the hearing room are not impressed. 9:55 am.  We have had our first witness refuse to answer a question in these hearings.  The lawyer for Williams won't let her answer a question about a phone call between Vice President Pence and the leader of Ukraine. 9:45 am. Vindman on the May 25 Trump-Zelensky call: 'It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent.' 9:40 am. Williams repeats her deposition testimony that she found the May 25 Trump-Zelensky call unusual, 'because in contrast to other Presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.' 9:35 am. Both witnesses have been sworn in. Williams starts first. Schiff pointedly noted she worked for the 2004 Bush campaign. 9:30 am.  Nunes wraps up his opening statement.  He did not mention either of the two witnesses sitting before the panel. 9:20 am.  Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA begins his statement by criticizing the press for impeachment coverage. 'This is the same preposterous reporting the media offered for three years on the Russia hoax.'  Nunes says the news media is nothing but “puppets of the Democratic Party.” 9:17 am.  Vindman spoke about his family during his opening statement. 9:15 am.  Sitting behind the witness table is Vindman's brother.  Ironically, film maker Ken Burns interviewed them as young boys about how their family made it to the United States. 9:10 am.  Schiff starts by warning the audience against audible outbursts.  It's probably a reaction to the cheers at the end of Friday's hearing with former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.  9:05 am. It is very quiet in the hearing room as Vindman and Williams sit down at the witness table. No one talking.  And I mean, no one is talking. All you here is the clicking of shutters from the still photographers.  It's an odd feel. 9:00 am.  The public is filing in.  The press section is filled.  We are waiting for the witnesses to arrive.  Here is a shot of the news media tables.  Standing up on the far side in the middle is veteran AP reporter Al Fram, who like me, has seen a lot on Capitol Hill. 8:55 am.  If you want to read through the past testimony of today's witnesses, the deposition of Jennifer Williams is here - she is a State Department employee detailed to the staff of Vice President Pence.  The deposition link of Alexander Vindman is here. 8:45 am.  One of the witnesses today is National Security Council staffer, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who raised concerns up his chain of command about the President's July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine.  It has resulted in questions about Vindman's personal security, as well as that of his family.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Vindman may be moved to a military facility, just in case. 8:30 am.  I'm seated over in my same spot, alongside the technical people for the C-SPAN TV coverage, and the still photographers from a variety of news organizations, who run a unique cooperative effort to take and distribute photos quickly from the hearing.  Every person in this business is different in how they prepare for their job.  Washington Post staff photographer Melina Mara was working just in front of me for a few minutes - and I snapped a picture of her laptop, which has a series of items attached with Velcro to the computer to help do her job. 8:20 am. The angling for position is underway around the witness table, as still photographers and videographers stake out their positions to get the initial shot of the witnesses arriving at the table for this hearing.  If you are watching as the hearing begins, you will see a big mass of people all around the table, and then the gavel will fall, and photographers will be shooed away.  It will be much more crowded by 9 am ET. 8:05 am. One thing to watch for today is whether President Trump decides to make an 'appearance' in this hearing via Twitter. On Friday, his tweets about former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch totally changed the hearing - and frankly, it also undermined whatever media strategy Republicans had developed for that hearing. One of the witnesses today, Jennifer Williams, who is a State Department employee detailed as a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, has already been targeted by the President on Twitter. Will he repeat it as she is testifying? 8:00 am. There are four witnesses today. Three are scheduled for Wednesday. Two more witnesses on Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday feature separate morning and afternoon sessions. Frankly, I don't know how today (Tuesday's) two hearings can finish before around 8 pm, even if the proceedings begin at 9 am. There will be breaks for votes on the floor of the House at least two different times today, as lawmakers vote on a stop gap funding plan to keep the government from running out of money, extending that spending until December 20 - to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week. 7:45 am. Once again, I will have a seat in the historic Ways and Means Committee hearing room, where the impeachment hearings are being held - but like my youth spent at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, I will have an obstructed view of the proceedings. I have a great view of the witness table from the side of the room - but unfortunately, the lawyer for one of the witnesses usually blocks my view. And then, there is a giant television screen which has been brought in for visuals - that sits right between me and the dais. Since I'm in radio, I am used to looking down and listening, and that's what I will get to do again today.

21 new counts filed against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez

21 new counts filed against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez is facing 21 new counts in a Pennsylvania court after being arrested for sexual assault. >> Read more trending news  In his second preliminary hearing Tuesday in Westmoreland County, Vazquez, 28, was charged with 11 counts of child pornography, along with 10 counts of unlawful contact with a minor. According to a police affidavit, police found an iPhone XS and a MacBook Pro at Vazquez's Pittsburgh apartment. On those devices, detectives said they saw seven photos and three videos of an underage girl in 'various stages of nudity.' Police said Vazquez requested the images and videos from the girl, WPXI reported. Vazquez was arrested in September in Allegheny County on charges out of Florida, where the alleged victim now lives. Shortly thereafter, charges from Westmoreland County were announced. Vazquez admitted to exchanging sexually explicit pictures with the 13-year-old victim and driving to her home in Scottdale, where he attempted to have sex with her in his car about two years ago, officials said. The girl is now 15 years old and lives in Florida. According to an affidavit from Westmoreland County, Vazquez admitted to investigators the victim 'looked too young and that she appeared to be 16 years of age or younger.' Police said Vazquez told them he initially refused to communicate with her due to her age.

BBB warns of 'Secret Sister' social media scam

BBB warns of 'Secret Sister' social media scam

It's that time of year when we want to spread some holiday cheer, but scammers are also ready to pounce on those who have good in their hearts. The Better Business Bureau is warning once again to not fall victim to the 'Secret Sister' gift exchange that has been around since 2015.  The Facebook posts promise those who exchange gifts secretly via email or social media that you could get up to 36 gifts for sending a present to a stranger valued at $10.  >> Read more trending news  It is a pyramid scheme, the BBB says, meaning it depends on recruiting others to keep it going with the promise of gifts filling your mailbox. Technically the 'Secret Sister' exchange, like any other pyramid scheme is illegal in the U.S. and Canada. It's a form of gambling, and participants could face charges of mail fraud, a fine or even jail time. The BBB also says by taking part, you could be giving cyber thieves open access to your information, setting yourself up for more scams or even identity theft. So what should you do if you get tagged in a post or receive an email for the 'Secret Sister' exchange? Officials say:  Ignore it. Report it. Don't give your information. Be wary of false claims.

Enter to win tickets to Books & Brian at Southern Swells on November 24th from 9:30-11:00am with Brian Kilmeade. Each winner receives 2 tickets and 1 free book! Brian will host a Q&A, sign books and then take pictures!
Enter to win tickets to Books & Brian at Southern Swells on November 24th from 9:30-11:00am with Brian Kilmeade. Each winner receives 2 tickets and 1 free book! Brian will host a Q&A, sign books and then take pictures!
Enter to win tickets to Books & Brian at Southern Swells on November 24th from 9:30-11:00am with Brian Kilmeade. Each winner receives 2 tickets and 1 free book! Brian will host a Q&A, sign books and then take pictures!
Enter to win tickets to Books & Brian at Southern Swells on November 24th from 9:30-11:00am with Brian Kilmeade. Each winner receives 2 tickets and 1 free book! Brian will host a Q&A, sign books and then take pictures!
White House goes after its own staffer during impeachment testimony At the same time one of President Donald Trump's National Security Council staffers testified before Congress on Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman found himself taking social media flak from the official White House Twitter account, and from aides to the who also work with Vindman at the White House complex. 'I don't know what the President was thinking,' was one of a series of quotes from Vindman tweeted out by the White House, part of a GOP effort to argue against impeachment hearings led by Democrats in the House. Vindman's testimony represented the first time witnesses had publicly discussed what they heard in a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine, where President Trump pressed Ukraine to open up a pair of investigations which could help Mr. Trump politically. 'Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing,' said Vindman, who answered most of the questions, and was challenged the most by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. 'It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent,' Vindman said. The other witness, Jennifer Williams, a State Department foreign policy expert who is currently detailed as an adviser for the staff of Vice President Mike Pence, also expressed her concerns. 'I found the July 25th phone call unusual,' Williams said in her testimony. 'It was the first time I had heard internally the president reference particular investigations that previously I had only heard about through Mr. Giuliani's press interviews,' Williams added. While Vindman found himself a Twitter target today, Williams had experienced that on Sunday, when the President loudly objected to her characterization of the Ukraine phone call, accusing her of being a 'Never Trumper.' 'It certainly surprised me,' Williams said. 'I was not expecting to be called out by name.' Maybe the most contentious part of the morning hearing came as Republicans sought to find out who Vindman told of the July 25 phone call, as GOP lawmakers moved to undercut Vindman's work on the National Security Council, which dovetailed with the message of the White House. Republicans said Vindman had puffed up his responsibilities, and jumped on his admission that he had never met with President Trump. 'You've never met the President of the United States, right?' asked Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'That is correct,' Vindman said. 'So, you have never advised the President of the United States on Ukraine,' Turner added, part of a GOP push to downplay Vindman's role on Ukraine policy. Those type of responses netted a series of posts from the White House on Twitter during the hearing. The hearing also featured some exchanges of note regarding the Ukraine whistleblower, as it was clear Republicans believe Vindman notified someone in the Intelligence Community about the July 25 call who may have relayed that information to the whistleblower. 'I do not know who the whistleblower is,' Vindman said at one point, but he refused to name the official he briefed soon after the July 25 call, saying the person was in a 'need to know' situation. Republicans were not pleased. 'You're here to answer questions, and you're hear under subpoena,' said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). But heeding a ruling from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Vindman refused to say whom he briefed on the call. GOP lawmakers also came close to accusing Vindman of being a leaker as well. 'Colonel, you never leaked information?' asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). 'I never did, never would, that is preposterous that I would do that,' Vindman replied. You can find a more detailed review of this morning's hearing at this link.
 
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