5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Ex-NSC official Tim Morrison confirms Ukraine quid pro quo in testimony

  • Vindman, Williams testify on Trump-Zelensky call in impeachment hearing

  • China threatens Trump to veto Hong Kong pro-democracy bill passed by Senate

  • Report: Pompeo telling Republicans he wants to step down, run for Senate

  • Amnesty International: At least 106 people killed in Iran protests

Tim Morrison, the former National Security Council director for Russia and European affairs, confirmed in open impeachment testimony Tuesday that the Trump administration made an aid-for-investigations quid pro quo demand on Ukraine. Democratic counsel Dan Goldman asked Morrison about a Sept. 1 conversation between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Andriy Yermak, a Ukrainian official. One of the main focuses of the impeachment inquiry has been whether U.S. military assistance to Kyiv was tied to Ukraine announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. According to Morrison, Sondland told Yermak "that the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted."

Source: Vox

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a national security aide, and Jennifer Williams, a top foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence, testified Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry, describing their firsthand knowledge of President Trump's dealings with Ukraine and his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Both Williams and Vindman were on the call. Williams said she found the call "unusual" and "inappropriate" and that no national security officials supported withholding Ukrainian aid. Vindman testified Trump was supposed to address Ukrainian corruption with Zelensky but didn't, undermining Trump's argument his request for investigations into his political opponents were about rooting out corruption.

Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

The Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday aimed at supporting the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong as they brace for a pivotal showdown with security forces. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the State Department to certify Hong Kong's sufficient autonomy from China once a year and threatens sanctions and withdrawal of Hong Kong's special trade status if it come up short. The House passed similar legislation in October, and once the two bills are reconciled, they would head to President Trump's desk. China summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on Wednesday to emphasize its opposition to the bill, warning Trump that if he signs the bill, "China will take strong opposing measures, and the U.S. has to bear all the consequences."

Source: Politico, South China Morning Press

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has shared with three prominent Republicans that he wants to resign and run for Senate next year in Kansas, Time reports. The Republicans told Time that Pompeo's original plan was to stay at the State Department until next spring, but because of the House impeachment inquiry, he's thinking about making an early — and hopefully smooth — exit. Pompeo's concern is that the longer he stays in the Trump administration, the more he will be criticized for not defending the current and former diplomats who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, Time reports. Trump loyalists have also accused Pompeo of not showing enough support to the president. Pompeo represented Kansas' 4th congressional district from 2011 to 2017.

Source: Time

At least 106 protesters are feared dead in Iran, after the government gave security forces authority to use firearms, water cannons, tear gas, and batons against demonstrators, Amnesty International reports. The protests began on Nov. 15 in response to the government's decision to raise fuel prices, spread across 100 cities. Amnesty International says it has reviewed video and spoken with eyewitnesses and activists who say Iranian security forces are using excessive and lethal force against protesters. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, although there are reports some fires have been set at banks and seminaries. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has called the protesters "villains."

Source: Amnesty International
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