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Union Raises Money to Help US Diplomats Pay Impeachment Legal Bills

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The union representing U.S. diplomats said on Monday it has raised tens of thousands of dollars in the last week alone to help defray the legal costs of foreign service officers who have testified in U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) also issued a statement defending U.S. diplomats after Trump criticized several of those who have appeared before Congress and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said nothing specific in their support.

“These patriots go abroad to every corner of the world and serve the interests of the American people,” AFSA President Eric Rubin said in a statement. “They do so with integrity and have no partisan or hidden agenda.”

“We should honor the service of each and every one of them.”

Separately, Rubin said: “We have raised tens of thousands of dollars in the past week alone” in the union’s Legal Defense Fund to help defray lawyers’ bills. He did not provide details.

One person caught up in the inquiry said he had already run up a legal bill of more than $25,000.

Neither the State Department nor the White House responded to requests for comment. A State Department spokesperson has previously said the agency planned to provide legal assistance to employees called to testify but did not give details.

FILE – Jennifer Williams, special adviser for Europe and Russia in the Office of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives on Capitol Hill for a closed-door hearing in Washington, Nov. 7, 2019.

Trump lashed out on Sunday at Jennifer Williams, a U.S. diplomat and foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence who has testified that some of Trump’s comments on a July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart were “inappropriate.”

The call is at the heart of the Democratic-led House of Representatives’ inquiry into whether Republican Trump misused U.S. foreign policy to undermine former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a potential opponent in the 2020 election.

Writing on Twitter, Trump accused Williams of being a “Never Trumper” who should “work out a better presidential attack.”

Trump has denied wrongdoing and branded the probe a witch hunt aimed at hurting his re-election chances.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a statement during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington, Nov. 18, 2019.

Asked on Monday why he had not spoken in support of his employees, Pompeo said he would talk about U.S. policy toward Ukraine but not about the impeachment inquiry.

Pressed, he said nothing specific: “I always defend State Department employees. It’s the greatest diplomatic corps in the history of the world. Very proud of the team.”

Asked if he shared Trump’s view, expressed on Twitter, that “everywhere (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine) Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Pompeo replied: “I’ll defer to the White House about particular statements.”

 

 

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Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ Plan Reignites Health Care Clash

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Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to gradually move the country to a government-funded health care system has further inflamed the debate over “Medicare for All,” likely ensuring the issue will play a significant role in this week’s Democratic presidential debate.

The Massachusetts senator announced Friday that her administration would immediately build on existing laws, including the Affordable Care Act, to expand access to health care while taking up to three years to fully implement Medicare for All. That attempt to thread the political needle has roiled her more moderate rivals, who say she’s waffling, while worrying some on the left, who see Warren’s commitment to a single-payer system wavering.

The divide could complicate plans by Democrats to turn health care into a winning issue in 2020. The party successfully took back control of the House last year by championing programs that ensure that people with preexisting medical conditions keep their insurance coverage while arguing that Republicans want to weaken such provisions. But the Medicare for All debate is more delicate as advocates including Warren grapple with concerns that a new government-run system won’t provide the same quality of coverage as private insurance – and would be prohibitively expensive.

“The Medicare for All proposal has turned out to be a real deal-breaker in who gets the Democratic nomination,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard University School of Public Health professor whose teaching responsibilities include courses on political strategy in health policy and public opinion polling. “This is not just another issue.’’

Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) attend a Medicare For All event on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 10, 2019.
FILE – Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) attend a Medicare For All event on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 10, 2019.

Warren’s transition plan indicates she’d use her first 100 days as president to expand existing public health insurance options. That is closer to what has been supported by former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Both Democratic presidential candidates have criticized Medicare for All for wiping out private insurance – something they say many Americans aren’t ready for.

Warren insists she’s simply working to expand health insurance in the short term to people who don’t have it while remaining committed to the full plan in the long run.

“My commitment to Medicare for All is all the way,” Warren said while campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.

Still, the transition signified a step toward pragmatism and an acknowledgement that the government has ways to expand health insurance coverage before embracing a universal system – something that would be difficult for any president to get through Congress. Consider that current entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare, were phased in over years, not all at once.

“If she’s looked at it and decides the sensible thing to do in order to not cause too much disruption in employment situations and within the medical system is to gear up over three years, she’s probably right,” said Cindy Wolf, a customer service and shipping manager who attended the California state Democratic Convention on Saturday in Long Beach.

Still, the move may prove politically problematic for a candidate who has long decried others settling for consultant-driven campaigns seeking incremental changes at the expense of big ideas.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the original architect of Medicare for All and has made fighting for it the centerpiece of his 2020 White House bid. He tweeted following the release of Warren’s transition plan: “In my first week as president, we will introduce Medicare for All legislation.’’

Una Lee Jost, a lawyer from Pasadena, Calif., holds signs supporting Bernie Sanders at the California Democratic Convention in…
Una Lee Jost, a lawyer from Pasadena, Californi, holds signs supporting Bernie Sanders at the California Democratic Convention in Long Beach, California, Nov. 16, 2019.

Campaigning in Nevada on Monday, California Sen. Kamala Harris said, “I believe that government should not be in a position of taking away people’s choice.”

“Especially on one of the most intimate and personal decisions people can make,” Harris said, “which is about how to address their health care needs.’’

The criticism from others was far sharper. Top Biden adviser Kate Bedingfield dismissed Warren’s plan as “trying to muddy the waters” by offering “a full program of flips and twists.” Buttigieg spokeswoman Lis Smith said it was a “transparently political attempt to paper over a very serious policy problem.’’

It’s easy to see the issue spilling into Wednesday’s debate because Warren rode a steady summer climb in the polls to become one of the primary field’s front-runners – but no longer seems to be rising. Polls recently show her support stabilizing, though not dipping, as focus on her Medicare for All ideas intensifies.

The last two debates featured Warren failing to answer direct questions on whether she would be forced to raise middle class taxes to pay for the universal health care system she envisions. That set up a plan released two-plus weeks ago in which Warren vowed to generate $20-plus trillion in new government revenue without increasing taxes on the middle class – but that’s been decried by critics who accuse Warren of underestimating how much Medicare for All would really cost.

And, though Warren never promised to begin working toward Medicare for All on Day 1 of her administration, the release of the transition plan, which spelled out that the process will take years, has unsettled some.

Una Lee Jost, a lawyer who was holding “Bernie” signs in Chinese and English at the California Democratic Convention, called any lengthy transition to Medicare for All “a serious concern.’’

“We should have implemented this decades ago,” she said.

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Голова МЗС Німеччини не зможе полетіти на Донбас

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Міністр закордонних справ Німеччини Гайок Маас скасував заплановану на 19 листопада поїздку на Донбас через погодні умови. Маас одразу полетить до Києва, де обговорить з українським колегою Вадимом Пристайком і президентом України Володимиром Зеленським саміт «нормандської четвірки», повідомляє DW.

Попередні плани передбачали, що ввечері 18 листопада міністр прилетить до Харкова, а вранці 19 листопада гелікоптером дістанеться району лінії розмежування на Донбасі. Через сильний туман 18 листопада в аеропорту Харкова скасували або ж затримали багато рейсів.

 

Минулого тижня кілька джерел повідомили, що зустріч лідерів України, Росії, Франції та Німеччини у «нормандському форматі» запланована на 9 грудня у Парижі. В Офісі президента Володимира Зеленського також підтвердили цю інформацію.

11 листопада президент Росії Володимир Путін обговорив із канцлером Німеччини Анґелою Меркель плани провести зустріч лідерів «нормандської четвірки» (України, Франції, Росії й Німеччини). Востаннє такі переговори відбувалися в жовтні 2016 року.

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Почалася реєстрація кандидатів на місцевих виборах у грудні – ЦВК

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18 листопада почався процес висування кандидатів на місцевих виборах, які мають пройти 22 грудня 2018 року, повідомляє Центральна виборча комісія.

Процес висування кандидатів у депутати сільських, селищних, міських рад об’єднаних територіальних громад, а також кандидатів на посади сільських, селищних та міських голів почався згідно з Календарним планом підготовки до виборів 22 грудня, уточнюють у ЦВК.

«Подання до ТВК документів для реєстрації кандидатів у депутати, кандидатів на посаду сільського, селищного, міського голови триватиме до 27 листопада включно. А до 28 листопада включно територіальні виборчі комісії прийматимуть рішення про реєстрацію кандидатів у депутати, кандидата на посаду сільського, селищного, міського голови або про відмову в реєстрації», – уточнюють у комісії.

 

За даними установи, близько 30 політичних партій вже повідомили її про участь місцевих осередків у перших місцевих виборах.

22 грудня вибори відбудуться в 86 об’єднаних територіальних громадах, а саме в 69 селах, в 16 селищах та одному місті. Вибори пройдуть у 21 області. За попередніми даними ЦВК, в них може взяти участь понад 380 тисяч виборців.

«Протягом майже чотирьох попередніх років, з 25 жовтня 2015 року до 30 червня 2019 року Центральною виборчою комісією було призначено перші місцеві вибори у 896 об’єднаних територіальних громадах. Відтак, після проведення виборів 22 грудня 2019 року загальна чисельність усіх разом взятих призначених перших виборів в ОТГ становитиме 982», – заявляє Центрвиборчком.

Наступна серія перших місцевих виборів пройде 29 грудня.

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Indian Students Face Off With Police Amid Fee Protest

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Hundreds of students from a New Delhi university faced off Monday with police, who stopped their march toward Parliament to protest increased student housing fees.
                   
The students from Jawaharlal Nehru University chanted slogans and attempted to cross police barricades. Police detained several students during the march.
                   
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union said in a statement that the students were attacked by the police during the protest.
                   
“The police used brutal force to disrupt our peaceful march and several students have been injured,” the statement said.
                   
The students wanted to appeal to lawmakers to intervene in their university’s decision to hike the fees, which they have been protesting for more than two weeks. Last week, hundreds of protesting students clashed with the police during the university’s graduation ceremony.
                   
Rent for a single-bedroom was increased to the equivalent of more than $8 per month from less than $1 per month. The security deposit more than doubled to more than $160.
                   
Many students said they fear the fee structure would make education inaccessible to underprivileged students.
                   
“I am the first from my family to study at a university. By raising housing fees, the university administration is putting a price on affordable education,” said Jyoti Sharma, a student at the march.
                   
Students held signs at the march reading “Save public education” and “Ensure affordable hostels for all.”
                   
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury offered his support to the protesting students.
                   
“A peaceful protest march to Parliament against the unprecedented fee hikes is being forcibly stopped by the police. Strongly condemn this denial of basic democratic right to protest,” he tweeted.
                   
The students marched despite the university saying it would partially roll back the fees.
                   
“The students will not pay the increased fee,” said Ashutosh Verma, a student.

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China Calls on US to ‘Stop Flexing Muscles’ in South China Sea

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China on Monday called on the U.S. military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea
and to avoid adding “new uncertainties” over Taiwan, during high-level talks that underscored tension between the world’s two largest economies.

The remarks by Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, recounted by a Chinese spokesman, came just two weeks after a top White House official denounced Chinese “intimidation” in the busy waterway.

It also came a day after Esper publicly accused Beijing of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.

During closed-door talks on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in Bangkok, Wei urged Esper to “stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate
tensions in the South China Sea”, the spokesman, Wu Qian, said.

China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. However, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

The United States accuses China of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.

The U.S. Navy regularly vexes China by conducting what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations by ships close to some of the islands China occupies, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.

Asked specifically what Wei sought for the United States to do differently, and whether that included halting such freedom of navigation operations, Wu said: “We (call on) the U.S. side
to stop intervening in the South China Sea and stop military provocation in the South China Sea.”

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Esper, in his meeting with Wei, noted China’s “perpetual reluctance” to adhere to international norms.

“Secretary Esper pointedly reiterated that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows – and we will encourage and protect the rights of other sovereign nations to do the same,” Hoffman said.

Chinese carrier transit

Despite warm words exchanged in front of reporters, Wei and Esper also discussed thorny issues, including Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which has seen months of anti-government protests.
They also talked about democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue.

Fenghe underscored to Esper China’s position that it would “not tolerate any Taiwan independence incident”, Wu said, adding that it opposed any official or military contact with Taiwan. China has in the past threatened to attack if Taiwan, set to hold a presidential election next year, moves towards independence.

“The Chinese side also requires the U.S. side to carefully handle the Taiwan related-issue and to not add new uncertainties to the Strait,” Wu said.

The exchange came a day after news that China sailed a carrier group into the sensitive Taiwan Strait, led by its first domestically built aircraft carrier.

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Nigeria’s Oscar Disqualification Sparks Push for Films in Native Languages

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Nigeria’s Oscar Committee is urging the country’s filmmakers to use more native languages in their productions.  This, after the U.S. Academy Awards disqualified a Nigerian entry in the International Feature Film category because the movie used too much English.  While some in Nigeria’s Hollywood – known as Nollywood – support the idea of more native languages in films, others argue that non-English films limit their audience reach. 

Nollywood filmmaker Desmond Utomwen is aiming for a U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award, popularly known as an Oscar, by producing a film in a native Nigerian language.

“It’s actually a Hausa-based film, so it’s a language film, it’s not English.  I’ve done a couple of them in English but, that’s actually my first film in Hausa,’ he says.

Most Nigerian filmmakers make English-language movies to reach a larger audience globally but also inside Nigeria, where the former British colony made English the official language.

Filmmaker Darlington Abuda has been in the industry for years.

“In Nigeria, if I do a purely language film, I have made my film a regional film,” Abuda says.  “It will not get the appeal and audience traction that it needs in the other parts of the country.”

But that tide may be slowly turning after the Academy Awards this month disqualified Nigeria’s first entry in the International Feature Film category.

Only 11 minutes of Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lion Heart” – the first Nollywood film by Netflix – was in the native Igbo language.  To qualify for the international feature award, at least 50 percent of a film’s dialogue must be in a language other than English.

While the rejection was roundly criticized in Nigeria, C.J. Obasi, a member of a Nigerian Oscar committee which was set up five years ago, is optimistic.

“If you look at the bigger picture you realize that it’s a victory in that we made a submission for the first time ever,” Obasi says.  “What that does is that it re-positions the hearts and minds of filmmakers as to how we are going to tell our stories moving forward.”

Nigeria’s Oscar Selection Committee says the rejection should motivate Nollywood filmmakers to create more movies in the country’s over 500 native languages.

But convincing Nigerian filmmakers to turn away from English – the language that ties the country together and with the world – will remain a challenge.

And, for some Nollywood filmmakers like Jim Iyke, the language used is not the point.

“If someone sits in their living room and decide where my movie should be, and what platform or what awards I should get, that is on them,” Iyke says. ” I’ve done my job.  I’ve fed the artist in me.”

While Lion Heart won’t make the February Academy Awards, being rejected and having the backing of Netflix are already drawing more international attention to Nollywood — and what Nigerian filmmakers will produce next.

 

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Захоплені Росією українські судна «прямують додому» – ВМС

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Українські катери «Нікополь», «Бердянськ» і буксир «Яни Капу», які Росія захопила в районі Керченської протоки у листопаді минулого року і 18 листопада передала Україні, прямують додому, повідомляє пресцентр командування Військово-морських сил Збройних сил України.

«Сьогодні, 18 листопада в акваторії Чорного моря розпочато процес, щодо повернення українських катерів «Нікополь», «Бердянськ» і буксиру «Яни Капу». Наразі українські буксири «Титан», «Гайдамаки» і пошуково-рятувальне судно «Сапфір» разом з катерами і буксиром розпочали рух в напрямку материкової України», – йдеться в повідомленні ВМС у фейсбуці.

 

17 листопада пресслужба прикордонного управління ФСБ Росії в анексованому Криму повідомила російським ЗМІ, що захоплені Росією три українські військові судна передадуть Україні 18 листопада.​ Буксир «Яни Капу» і малі броньовані артилерійські катери «Нікополь» і «Бердянськ» відбуксирували з порту Керчі до «погодженого місця».

Росія захопила три кораблі ВМС України і 24 українських військовослужбовців – моряків і працівників СБУ – 25 листопада 2018 року неподалік Керченської протоки з застосуванням зброї в міжнародних водах, що за міжнародним правом визнається як акт агресії.

 

Москва відмовилася визнавати за захопленими статус військовополонених і намагалася судити їх за кримінальними статтями на кшталт «незаконного перетину російського кордону».

Міжнародний трибунал із морського права наказав Росії негайно звільнити військових і повернути кораблі. Москва відмовилася це зробити.

Моряків урешті передали Україні не за рішенням трибуналу, а в рамках обміну утримуваними. При цьому Росія відпустила моряків формально під «особисте зобов’язання» за першим викликом з’явитися до Росії на суд над ними у справі, яку там так і не закрили.

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Перші слухання Морського трибуналу у справі «Україна проти Росії» відбудуться 21 листопада

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21 листопада у Гаазі відбудуться перші слухання Морського трибуналу у справі щодо порушення імунітету трьох українських військово-морських суден та 24 членів їхніх екіпажів (Україна проти Російської Федерації) за Конвенцією ООН з морського права. Про це повідомила заступниця міністра закордонних справ України Олена Зеркаль.

«1 квітня 2018 згідно з вимогами Міжнародної Конвенції ООН з морського права ми повідомили Російську Федерацію про спір за Конвенцією ООН з морського права. Бо захоплення і утримування українських військово-морських кораблів та членів їхніх екіпажів є грубим порушенням Росією імунітетів військових кораблів, гарантованих нормами міжнародного звичаєвого і морського права. Міжнародний трибунал з морського права 25 травня 2019 року на запит України зобов‘язав Росію негайно повернути під контроль України «Нікополь», «Бердянськ» і «Яни Капу» на 24 члени їхніх екіпажів. Проте, Наказ Міжнародного трибуналу не був і не є самоціллю. Наша мета – встановлення порушення права, відновлення його і отримання належної компенсації. Саме це і закладено в позові МЗС від 1 квітня 2019 року», – зазначила Зеркаль.

Як приклад подібного слухання, вона навела справу «Арктік Санрайз» (Нідерланди проти Росії).

«Ми також збираємося пройти цей шлях і довести всьому світу і арбітражному трибуналу, що прохід 25 листопада 2018 року був мирним і законним, а дії Російської Федерації, в тому числі щодо кримінального переслідування наших моряків, є порушенням норм міжнародного права», – сказала дипломат.

Росія захопила три кораблі ВМС України і 24 українських військовослужбовців – моряків і працівників СБУ – 25 листопада 2018 року неподалік Керченської протоки з застосуванням зброї в міжнародних водах, що за міжнародним правом визнається як акт агресії.

Москва відмовилася визнавати за захопленими статус військовополонених і намагалася судити їх за кримінальними статтями на кшталт «незаконного перетину російського кордону».

Міжнародний трибунал із морського права наказав Росії негайно звільнити військових і повернути кораблі. Москва відмовилася це зробити.

Моряків урешті передали Україні не за рішенням трибуналу, а в рамках обміну утримуваними. При цьому Росія відпустила моряків формально під «особисте зобов’язання» за першим викликом з’явитися до Росії на суд над ними у справі, яку там так і не закрили.

18 листопада Міністерство закордонних справ Росії повідомило про передачу Україні затриманих біля Керченської протоки кораблів.

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Підозра Порошенку є «російським замовленням» – адвокат

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Влада, Новини, Україна

Такі дії мають на меті «перешкодити Петру Порошенку провести ряд зустрічей з іноземними лідерами» – Ігор Головань

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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Camp Eyes Big Gains in Local Elections

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Over the past five months, millions have marched through Hong Kong, demanding democratic reform in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Next Sunday (November 24), Hong Kongers will finally get a chance to express their opinion, albeit in a limited way, by casting votes. If the vote goes ahead as planned, pro-democracy forces are hoping for a big win, as VOA’s William Gallo reports.

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Poll: Buttigieg Surges Ahead of Democratic Rivals in Iowa

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in ЄС, Новини, Світ

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a clear lead among Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa, the state that will hold the first nominating contest in February, a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom opinion poll showed on Saturday.

Buttigieg’s support climbed to 25%, a 16-point increase since the previous survey in September, CNN reported.

It said there was a close three-way battle for second with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 16%, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders each at 15%.

Since September, Warren dropped six percentage points and Biden slipped five points, while Sanders gained four points, CNN said.

Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told the network the news was encouraging and his campaign felt growing momentum in the farm state, but there was “still a lot of work to do” in increasing his name recognition there.

Buttigieg also led Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa in a Monmouth University poll released on Tuesday.

A New York Times/Sienna poll released earlier this month also showed Buttigieg’s support surging in Iowa, but still behind Warren and Sanders. Nationally, he does not fare nearly as well, averaging around 8% in polls.

Buttigieg’s campaign is betting a strong finish in the Iowa caucus on Feb. 3 will help quell questions about whether he is ready for the big stage, and persuade reluctant black and Hispanic voters to give him a second look.

Buttigieg, 37, has invested heavily in Iowa from the start.

His campaign has more than 100 staffers and 20 offices in the state, among the most of any candidate.

Buttigieg finished the third quarter with $23.4 million in campaign cash on hand, ranking third behind Warren and Sanders at $25.7 million and $33.7 million, respectively. Biden had $8.9 million, forcing his campaign to abandon a promise to reject support from political action committees.

 

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Week 2 of Trump Impeachment Hearings: Diplomat Sondland at Forefront   

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Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia and who is a career Foreign Service officer, arrives for a closed-door interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 7, 2019.

Impeachment hearings targeting U.S. President Donald Trump are heading into a second week, with key witnesses set to testify about how he pushed Ukraine to investigate one of his chief 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, while temporarily withholding military aid Kyiv wanted.

Eight more current and former government officials will appear before the House Intelligence Committee for nationally televised sessions, with a central figure, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, set to appear Wednesday.

In amended behind-closed-doors testimony, Sondland, a million-dollar Trump political donor before being tapped by Trump for the EU posting in Brussels, said that he had warned an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in early September that it would not get the U.S. military assistance it wanted unless the Kyiv leader publicly committed to opening the investigation of Biden.

FILE – President Donald Trump speaks to reporters outside the White House, in Washington, Nov. 9, 2019.

It was a reciprocal, quid pro quo deal that Trump has denied occurred but is central to the efforts of Democratic lawmakers to impeach the country’s 45th president. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and ridiculed the impeachment effort as a sham proceeding. Trump eventually released the $391 million in military aid on Sept. 11 without Ukraine launching a Biden investigation.

Other figures linked to the impeachment inquiry have corroborated Sondland’s testimony. In a transcript of private testimony released Saturday, Tim Morrison, a White House national security aide, said late last month that Sondland had spoken with Trump about a half dozen times in recent months and had talked with a top Ukraine official about winning release of the military assistance Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country in exchange for investigations that benefited Trump politically.

“His mandate from the president was to go make deals,” Morrison said of Sondland. 

Morrison is set to testify publicly before the impeachment panel on Tuesday, alongside Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine who, as others have, testified that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer named by him to oversee Ukraine affairs, was the driving force to get Kyiv to open the politically tinged investigation to help the U.S. leader.

David Holmes, a career diplomat and the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukaine leaves the Capitol Hill, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington, after a deposition before congressional lawmakers.

Late last week, David Holmes, an aide to William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, told impeachment investigations in private testimony that he overheard a July 26 cell phone conversation between Trump and Sondland at a Kyiv restaurant in which the president inquired whether Zelenskiy was going to pursue the investigations of Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 election that Trump won.  U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia was behind the election meddling. 

Holmes said Sondland in the cell phone call assured Trump that Zelenskiy “loves your ass.”

“So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Holmes quoted Trump as asking. Sondland, according to Holmes, replied, “He’s gonna do it,” while adding that Zelenskiy will do “anything you ask him to.”

Holmes said he later asked Sondland if Trump cared about Ukraine, with the envoy replying that Trump did not “give a s**t about Ukraine.”

“I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about ‘big stuff,’” Holmes testified, according to a transcript posted by CNN. “I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the ‘Biden investigation.”’

Before Sondland revised his testimony to say there had been a quid pro quo — the military aid for the Biden investigation — Trump had called Sondland a “great American.” But after Sondland changed his testimony, Trump said, “I hardly know the gentleman.”

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence panel is also set to hear from Jennifer Williams, a foreign affairs aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council. Both of them listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy asking the Ukrainian leader for “a favor,” the investigations of the Bidens.

Both Williams and Vindman have voiced concerns about Trump’s request. It is against U.S. campaign finance law to solicit foreign assistance for help in a U.S. election.

Aside from Sondland, the Intelligence panel is also hearing Wednesday from Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official, and David Hale, the undersecretary of State for political affairs. Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, is testifying Thursday.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks with Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman (L) and other staffers during testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, during a House Intelligence Committee hearing.

Political analysts in Washington say the Trump impeachment drama could last for several months. If Trump is impeached by a simple majority in the House, perhaps by the end of the year as appears possible, a trial would be held in January in the Republican-majority Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be needed for his conviction and removal from office.

The time frame could bump up against the first Democratic party presidential nominating contests starting in February, when voters will begin casting ballots on who they want to oppose Trump when he seeks a second four-year term in the November 2020 national election. Six Democratic senators are among those running for the party’s presidential nomination, but could be forced to stay in Washington to sit as jurors in the 100-member Senate as it decides Trump’s fate, rather than campaign full-time for the presidency. 

Trump’s removal from office remains unlikely, with at least 20 Republicans needed to turn against him and vote for his conviction. 

To date, while a small number of Republicans have criticized Trump for his actions on Ukraine, no Republican senator has called for his removal from office through impeachment, a drastic action that has never occurred in U.S. history.