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National News

    The first night of arguments in favor of President Donald Trump's impeachment before the U.S. Senate was judged not ready for prime time by many of the nation's television executives. ABC, CBS and NBC all stuck with regularly scheduled programs like “Chicago Med,” “Criminal Minds” and “Modern Family” Wednesday evening instead of showing the House managers' evening session at the impeachment trial. That lasted about two hours, 15 minutes. CNN and MSNBC carried the trial in full. Fox News Channel, after showing Rep. Adam Schiff speak for about a half hour, interrupted for a story about a child support case involving former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, and never returned. Even two PBS stations in the New York area showed science programming and “Antiques Roadshow” instead of the trial Wednesday evening. PBS said it gave its local stations the option to show the trial or not. The calls Wednesday night are significant because if the top networks decided not to pre-empt programming on the first full night the case against Trump was laid out, chances are they won't reverse course later unless the unexpected happens. Daytime was an intriguing contrast, since the top three broadcasters and cable news outlets all carried Schiff's initial stand at the podium, which lasted more than two hours. It was rare for anyone in today's media world to command full television attention to that extent. The Senate's rules for the trial, which required using a single camera on the speaker and didn't allow reaction shots of senators, only served to accentuate Schiff's message. Meanwhile, Trump was setting a record for sending out the most tweets in a single day since he's been president. For the television networks, however, prime time is a different animal altogether, with more viewers and advertising revenue available. After pulling away from House managers Wednesday evening, Fox News personalities spent much of their time ridiculing the proceedings. Fox mostly kept a postage stamp-size picture of the speaker soundlessly mouthing words in a corner of the screen, with an invitation for viewers to go online if they wanted to hear the arguments. Fox's Tucker Carlson ran clips of TV commentators on other network personalities who praised Schiff's afternoon speech, calling the comments “pornographic.” He said Trump wasn't the only victim of the impeachment trial — suggesting viewers were, too. He brought on a former Republican congressman to talk about alleged crimes in the Obama administration and Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe to assess the trial. “Today was really boring and the president's defense team is very happy,” Ratcliffe said. Carlson also interviewed Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, with the host saying Hawley had “stepped out of the trial” to talk on television and criticize House managers. Similarly, Fox's Sean Hannity labeled the impeachment trial the “Schumer Schiff Sham Show” and attacked Schiff for his afternoon speech. “He is a lunatic,' Hannity said. “If you watched him talk he was totally unhinged. He looked like a lunatic who has lost his mind.” Wrapping up his evening argument a half-hour later, Schiff also used the word “sham,” but in a much different context, as a description for Trump's attempts to get the Ukraine to investigate the activities of Hunter Biden. It wasn't heard on Fox, however. At the time Hannity was interviewing lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's impeachment defense team.
  • The Trump administration was expected to announce completion as soon as Thursday of one of its most momentous environmental rollbacks, removing federal protections for millions of miles of the country’s streams, arroyos and wetlands. The changes, launched by President Donald Trump when he took office, sharply scale back the government’s interpretation of which waterways qualify for protection against pollution and development under the half-century-old Clean Water Act. A draft version of the rule released earlier would end federal oversight for up to half of the nation’s wetlands and one-fifth of the country’s streams, environmental groups warned. That includes some waterways that have been federally protected for decades under the Clean Water Act. Trump has portrayed farmers — a highly valued constituency of the Republican Party and one popular with the public — as the main beneficiaries of the rollback. He has claimed farmers gathered around him wept with gratitude when he signed an order for the rollback in February 2017. The administration says the changes will allow farmers to plow their fields without fear of unintentionally straying over the banks of a federally protected dry creek, bog or ditch. However, the government’s own figures show it is real estate developers and those in other nonfarm business sectors who take out the most permits for impinging on wetlands and waterways — and stand to reap the biggest regulatory and financial relief. Environmental groups and many former environmental regulators say the change will allow industry and developers to dump more contaminants in waterways or simply fill them in, damaging habitat for wildlife and making it more difficult and expensive for downstream communities to treat drinking water to make it safe. “This administration's eliminating clean water protections to protect polluters instead of protecting people,” said Blan Holman, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Trump administration has targeted a range of environmental protections for rollbacks. Trump says his aim is to ease regulatory burdens on businesses.
  • A dog feared lost but reunited with his family in Trotwood, Ohio nearly five months after they were separated by a Memorial Day tornado received the county’s No. 1 dog license for 2020. The tornado tore apart Semico and Anthony Harden’s house in the Westbrooke Village neighborhood and ripped apart the fence surrounding their backyard, where they had last seen Duke, their cane corso, before the storm. “We don’t know if he actually ran off or if the storm carried him off,” said Semico Harden. “But he wasn’t there.” Duke and two other dogs were presented with the first three tags of 2020 by Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith at an event Wednesday to promote the sale of dog licenses. Sorely missed The Harden family searched day after day, month after month for Duke, who is 2 1/2. With their home nearly destroyed, the family moved to a rental house in Vandalia, making the search for Duke more complicated. Duke was sorely missed by the Hardens, their 17-year-old son and infant daughter, Semico Harden said. “He’s a family dog. He’s really, really friendly. He’s extremely good with children,” she said. “Although he’s really, really big and mighty, he’s completely harmless. He’s just a lovable dog. He’s a big teddy bear.” The family posted Duke’s picture online and put flyers on posts around town and in businesses. “We plastered signs all over the place trying to find him,” Harden said. Calls came in of potential sightings: Duke was possibly spotted along Main Street, seen roaming along Germantown Street and living in the woods near Shiloh Springs and Olive Road. When it wasn’t raining, Anthony Harden searched and left food at the reported sites. “I really hunted him down,” he said. Another caller saw Duke’s picture up at a laundromat. It looked like the same dog he had seen earlier, also in the woods near Shiloh Springs and Olive Road. Harden raced out to investigate. It was the second tip reporting the same location. “I saw some paw prints,” he said. “I knew it was my dog from the prints.” He retrieved a T-shirt and a pair of shoes from home and set them out at the woods’ edge. “The next morning Duke was laying right there at the T-shirt and the shoes,” Harden said. “He just ran and jumped on me. Like he was happy.” It was Oct. 18, 2019. “He was only, like, five minutes away from our home, but he was missing for four and a half months,” Semico Harden said. Anthony Harden said Duke shed some of his 150 pounds through the ordeal and possibly sustained an injury to his hind left leg. “He lost a little weight. He had a limp that he didn’t have before. Maybe during the tornado something might have hit him,” Harden said. “You can’t tell when he’s running.” The family was out of their home until just before Christmas. Earlier this week, a new fence went up for Duke and his companion, Duchess. Duke was unlicensed, said his owners. Though it’s unclear if a tag would have brought Duke home quicker, the Hardens say it might have greatly improved the odds. “Getting tagged like that is extremely important,” Semico Harden said. “Had he had a tag and collar we probably would have gotten him back a lot sooner than we did.”
  • One person is dead and seven people were taken to Harborview Medical Center after a shooting Wednesday evening in downtown Seattle. The shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. near Third Avenue and Pine Street by a Macy’s and McDonald’s. Investigators said the suspect fled and police are searching for him. They did not immediately release a description. The woman who died was in her 40s or 50s, a fire department spokesman said. The other shooting victims were: a 55-year-old woman in critical condition; a 9-year-old boy in serious condition; a 35-year-old man in stable condition; a 21-year-old man in stable condition; and a 34-year-old man in stable condition. It was not immediately clear how the others at Harborview were injured. The areas where the shooting victims were wounded include the legs, buttocks, chest and abdomen, according to Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg. Police said 45 units were dispatched to the shooting scene, and it happened as police were investigating another shooting nearby. Police did not say those two scenes were related. Officers and medics are providing first aid to those injured.
  • A warrant has been issued for the arrest of NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown following accusations that he and his trainer attacked another man near Brown's Florida home. Hollywood police spokesman Christian Latta said in a Wednesday news release that Brown faces charges of burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief. Officers responded Tuesday afternoon to a disturbance call, where the alleged victim said Brown and his trainer, Glen Holt, hit him, police said. Holt was arrested a short time later and charged with one count of burglary with battery. Officers attempted to make contact with Brown but were unsuccessful, Latta said. Police didn't immediately identify the alleged victim or what prompted the confrontation. Jail records didn't list an attorney for Holt, and it wasn't clear if Brown had a lawyer. Brown, who is a free agent, played nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders last year but released before ever playing a regular-season game following several off-the-field incidents. He was then signed by the New England Patriots, who released Brown in September after a second woman in 10 days accused him of sexual misconduct.
  • Multiple people opened fire outside a McDonald's in the busiest part of downtown Seattle during the evening commute Wednesday, killing one person and wounding seven others, police said. Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said authorities began receiving calls of multiple gunshot victims at about 5 p.m. One person was found dead and five others were taken to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center by fire and medical personnel, he said. The person who died was a woman approximately 40 to 50 years old, fire officials told the Seattle Times. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg and fire officials said later Wednesday that a total of seven people were being treated at a hospital for gunshot wounds. An approximately 55-year-old woman was in critical condition, a 9-year-old child was in serious condition and five men were in satisfactory condition. Police Chief Carmen Best said based on video from the scene, multiple people fired weapons after a dispute outside a McDonald's. Police including homicide and gang units were investigating, she said. No arrests have been made. Forty-year-old Samantha Cook said she was refilling her transit card in a nearby station when she heard gunfire. “I was on the first set of escalators,” Cook told the newspaper. “There were a lot of gunshots that started going off — maybe 10 or 11. It was just rapid fire.” Tyler Parsons told the Times he was was working near the scene when he saw people drop to the ground. People took cover behind the register where he worked. 'Terrifying it’s so close,'' he said. It's the third downtown Seattle shooting in two days. Police found a man with a gunshot wound in a mall stairwell Tuesday, and he later died at a hospital. Police shot a person in another area of downtown Seattle earlier on Wednesday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he was 'horrified and dismayed to hear about the shooting in Seattle tonight. We grieve for the one individual confirmed dead in the shooting, and wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured.
  • A South Carolina elected official who endorsed Joe Biden last month is switching her allegiance to Bernie Sanders in the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary, saying she had viewed the former vice president — whose support in the state is considered deep -- as “a compromise choice.” Dalhi Myers told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she was making the change in part because she values what she sees as Sanders' strength in being able to go toe-to-toe with President Donald Trump in the general election. “I looked at that, and I thought, 'He's right,'' said Myers, a black woman first elected to the Richland County Council in 2016. “He's unafraid and he's unapologetic. ... I like the fact that he is willing to fight for a better America — for the least, the fallen, the left behind.' Sanders, a Vermont senator, frequently calls out what he sees as Trump's dishonesty, referring on the campaign trail to the president as a “pathological liar.' Biden, whose relationships in South Carolina go back decades, has led polling in the state, particularly among the black voters who make up most of the state's Democratic primary electorate. Sanders, whose 47-point loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016 in South Carolina blunted the momentum generated in opening primary contests and exposed his weakness with black voters, has focused on strengthening his ties in the state's black community. In December, Myers, a corporate lawyer in Columbia, was among more than a dozen South Carolina elected officials to endorse Biden, saying at the time in a release from the Biden campaign that he was 'the only candidate with the broad and diverse coalition of support we need to win' against Trump in the general election. Initially, Myers said she backed Biden because she saw him as a candidate who could possibly appeal to Republican voters disenfranchised by the president. 'It was a compromise choice,' she said. 'I didn't find anybody's candidacy electrifying, but I did find Joe Biden's candidacy to be reassuring in a sort of normal, American kind of way.' But over the ensuing weeks, Myers said she started to feel that Biden's candidacy, while familiar and perhaps comfortable, wasn't going to be enough to inspire the young voters whom she sees as necessary to a Democratic general election win. When questioned how someone who considered herself a conservative Democrat could support a candidate like Sanders, whose proposals including “Medicare for All” suggest government growth on an as-yet unknown scale, Myers said she did have some concerns but expressed doubt that such measures would ever become law without changes. “Medicare for All will have to go through Congress,' she said. “He's not going to pull a Donald Trump.' Ultimately, Myers said her decision wasn't necessarily about her personal preferences. “I'm a 50-year-old-black woman, and I tend to be middle of the road,' Myers said. “I'm voting what I think is best for all of us, not just me. ... I'm not a left-wing liberal. I'm not even a left-wing Democrat. But I am a realist.' ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • The Seattle Fire Department says six people were shot downtown Wednesday night, and one of those people has died.
  • So much for the Senate's quaint rules and tradition. Almost immediately after Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled in Wednesday's session of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, bored and weary senators started openly flouting some basic guidelines in a chamber that prizes decorum. A Democrat in the back row leaned on his right arm, covered his eyes and stayed that way for nearly a half-hour. Some openly snickered when lead prosecutor Adam Schiff said he'd only speak for 10 minutes. And when one of the freshman House prosecutors stood to speak, many of the senator-jurors bolted for the cloak rooms, where their phones are stored. “I do see the members moving and taking a break,” observed freshman Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, one of the House prosecutors, in mid-speech at the center podium. “I probably have another 15 minutes.” The agony of the senator-jurors had begun to show the night before, with widespread but more subtle struggles to pay attention to opening arguments. Gum-chewing, snacking, yawning and alleged napping could be seen throughout the cramped chamber. Around midnight, things got looser. Senators paced and chatted near the wall. Then the prosecutors and Trump's defense team got into a back-and-forth over who was lying and making false allegations about Trump's pressure on Ukraine to help him politically. Roberts admonished everyone to tone it down. The Senate, he reminded those gathered, is the “world's greatest deliberative body,' functioning, for now, as a court of impeachment. It has a tradition of civility — and for grave and rare impeachment trials, specific rules: No coffee or snacking on the floor. No pacing, note-passing, working on other matters or chit-chat. Technically, only water is allowed in the Senate chamber, but there have been exceptions in years past for milk and even eggnog. “There's coffee, but it's miserable coffee” in the cloakrooms, according to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. “I mean you would wish it on a Democrat, no one else,” he said, adding, 'Just joking.” It's all designed to focus the senator-jurors on the issues at hand. So napping is not, in theory, part of the plan. But for many, Wednesday hurt. Roberts had gaveled Tuesday's session closed at 1:50 a.m. Fewer than 12 hours later, the senators were back, with little sleep, for more of the same impeachment story, told by Schiff and his team in exhaustive detail. Even with Roberts' scolding still fresh, many senators were in no mood for rules or traditions. Well into Schiff's second hour of opening arguments, he moved on from discussing the first of two charges against Trump. 'Now let me turn to the second article,' Schiff said. That prompted several senators to shift in their seats and smile at each other in apparent bemusement. It also sparked a small exodus for the cloakroom, especially on the Republican side, including Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Within the first hour, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia could be seen at his desk in the back row, leaning on his right arm with a hand covering his eyes. He stayed that way for around 20 minutes, then shifted to rest his chin in the same hand, eyes closed, for about five more minutes. Despite the late-night votes, Warner's day had started as scheduled at a 10 a.m. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Crow, a military veteran speaking on the impact of Trump's holdup of military aid to Ukraine, had trouble holding the Senate's attention. Some senators left their seats and headed to cloakrooms, stood in the back or openly yawned as he spoke. At one point during his address, more than 10 senators' seats were empty. Crow wondered aloud if the Senate wanted to take a recess. No dice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there would be no break until dinner, more than an hour later. The water-only practice seemed to be one guideline the senators could get around by tradition. Cotton, R-Ark., for example, was seen drinking a glass of milk early in the day. Spokeswoman Caroline Tabler said Cotton was drinking skim milk — a nice complement to the chocolate snacks he and other senators were getting in their cloakroom and from one lawmaker's desk. Like so much about the fusty Senate, even the beverage exceptions are rooted in history. Cassidy told reporters that milk joined water as the officially permitted drinks in the Senate chamber in the 1950s. Cassidy, a doctor, said that at the time, milk was believed to be a treatment for stomach ulcers. According to the Senate Historical Office, Sen. Robert LaFollette, R-Wis., drank eggnog during a 1908 filibuster, and Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, while still a Democrat in 1957, drank orange juice during his record 24-hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. Factoids aside, the novelty of the impeachment trial had clearly worn off Wednesday. Senators had heard the Trump-Ukraine story before, many times. Their boredom, one Republican senator suggested, had become a challenge to the prolific House managers' strategy. Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said the less wordy president's legal team had “read the Senate” better. “It was a long day and the House managers did a lot of repeating the same material,' Rounds told reporters. 'I’ve got 20 pages of notes, and towards the end, we were basically hearing the same thing over again. It was a diatribe.” ___ Associated Press Writers Alan Fram, Eric Tucker and Matthew Daly contributed to this report. ___ Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com//APLaurieKellman
  • A California judge on Wednesday set a May hearing to decide if prosecutors have enough evidence to go to trial against a man suspected being the notorious 'Golden State Killer' who eluded capture for decades. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White ordered the preliminary hearing for Joseph James DeAngelo to start May 12. That's more than two years after investigators said new DNA techniques linked the former police officer to at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and 1980s. The rapist would break into couples' suburban homes at night, binding the man and piling dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the woman. Defense attorneys had argued in court filings that they need another year to sort through the 250,000 pieces of evidence turned over by prosecutors. Prosecutors said they expect to call 150 witnesses over eight to 10 weeks, The Sacramento Bee reported. White said he had to consider that witnesses and victims are growing older. “I wish to make the case that there cannot be a case that’s too big to go to trial,” White said, drawing applause from victims sitting in the courtroom when he set the date. One man in the audience earlier shouted “Amen' when a prosecutor said aging rape victims deserve to see the case advance, the Bee reported. “Given the number of charges in this case, the amount of discovery is extraordinary,” supervising public defenders Alice Michel and Joseph Cress wrote in seeking the delay. “If forced to set a preliminary hearing date at this time, the defense will be unable to provide competent and effective representation for Mr. DeAngelo.” Prosecutor Thien Ho countered that DeAngelo, 75, is responsible for the volume of charges. “It was the defendant who decided to embark upon a crime spree that spanned 10 counties,” Ho said. Some witnesses now are in their 80s and 90s, he told the judge, and a Santa Barbara investigator recently died from cancer in his 70s. Prosecutors from Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties in April said they would seek the death penalty if DeAngelo is convicted, making their announcement shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on executions so long as he is governor.
  • Jenks has grown a lot during the past few years, but the city is gearing up for what Jenks Chamber of Commerce President  Josh Driskell says will be a game-changer: the new outlet mall. It's set to open in the middle part of next year. He says it will bring in lots of shoppers and lots of spending all over Jenks. “They're going to be in downtown Jenks, they're going to be visiting Riverwalk, they're going to be visiting restaurants all throughout the community,” Driskell said. Besides the mall, there are other notable projects, including a new hotel that recently broke ground near the Gateway Mortgage headquarters near Highway 75. Driskell said there could be a new office building coming to that area too. He says city leaders are also excited about a new octopus exhibit at the Oklahoma Aquarium which is expected to boost attendance figures there when it opens in March.
  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • Spain’s new government declared a national climate emergency on Tuesday, taking a formal first step toward enacting ambitious measures to fight climate change. The declaration approved by the Cabinet says the left-of-center Socialist government will send to parliament within 100 days its proposed climate legislation. The targets coincide with those of the European Union, including a reduction of net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Spain’s coalition government wants up to 95% of the Mediterranean country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040. The plan also foresees eliminating pollution by buses and trucks and making farming carbon neutral. Details of the plan are to be made public when the proposed legislation is sent to parliament for approval. More than two dozen countries and scores of local and regional authorities have declared a climate emergency in recent years. Scientists say the decade that just ended was by far the hottest ever measured on Earth, capped off by the second-warmest year on record. Also Tuesday, young climate activists including Greta Thunberg told the elites gathered at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland they are not doing enough to deal with the climate emergency and warned them that time was running out.
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum has confirmed to KRMG that he will name TPD Major Wendell Franklin as the next police chief for the city of Tulsa. Franklin, 46, had most recently served as commander of the department's Headquarters Division. In a public forum featuring the four finalists for the position held last Friday, Franklin spoke about the importance of using modern technology and data-driven decision making to enhance public safety. And, he promised to make the gathering and dissemination of that data as transparent as possible. Franklin was promoted over three deputy chiefs who were also finalists, Jonathan Brooks, Eric Dalgleish, and Dennis Larsen. Franklin grew up in Tulsa, and at only two years old, lost his mother to violence. But, he said Friday, he hadn't planned on a career in law enforcement until after he graduated from Booker T Washington High School. He enrolled at Tulsa Community College, where a counselor steered him toward criminal justice. He has served with the department for 23 years. 
  • Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has announced a temporary halt to its production of certain Excedrin headache pills, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to CNN and WSYR-TV, the company said in a statement Tuesday that it “discovered inconsistencies in how we weigh ingredients for Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets and Geltabs, and Excedrin Migraine Caplets and Geltabs.” The inconsistencies should not affect customer safety, the statement read. The company added that it is “working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible” but could not say when it would start producing the items again, the outlets reported. “Other Excedrin products are available along with other pain-relieving drugs, but dosages may differ,” the statement said. WSYR reported that some drugstores had a shortage of Excedrin products as a result. Read more here or here.

Washington Insider

  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • The first substantive day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial turned into a late night, insult-filled battle between House prosecutors and the President's legal team, as Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to have the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. 'They will not permit the American people to hear from the witnesses,' Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, taking direct aim at the President's lawyers. 'And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.' That prompted an immediate response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who demanded that Nadler apologize, accusing him of making repeated false allegations about President Trump. 'The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,' Cipollone said. Just before 1 am, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both sides to tone it down, his first real foray into the impeachment trial. 'I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,' as the Chief Justice made clear the debate was not following along the lines of civil discourse. 'I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,' Chief Justice Roberts added. Democrats kept the Senate working past midnight in a bid to put Republicans on the record on calling witnesses like former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other top officials who defied subpoenas from the House. 'The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at one point. 'Let's get this trial started, shall we?' But with Republicans sticking together, GOP Senators defeated a series of Democratic amendments to an impeachment rules resolution on identical votes of 53-47 - straight along party lines. Democrats said there was only one reason why Republicans were not looking to hear from new witnesses - because they don't want to hear the real Ukraine story. On the other side, Republicans joined the White House legal team in blasting the demands of Democrats. 'The only thing that’s rigged is Democrats’ perpetual effort to undo the results of the 2016 election,' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In the end, no Republicans broke ranks, as the GOP defeated 11 different amendments by Democrats to change the GOP rules plan, bringing about a final vote over 12 hours after the Senate convened.
  • Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments. The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days. 'She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days,' a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters. Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate. The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial. 'Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom. 'This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,' said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges. 'It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,' Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial. “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added. While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House. The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer.  It was straight along party lines. A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department. Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
  • A GOP rules plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday could pave the way for the trial to be finished in as little as two weeks, as the plan envisions squeezing 48 hours of opening arguments into just four days, with the option of voting on the impeachment articles without any additional witnesses or evidence. 'Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who fully endorsed the proposal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While GOP Senators said the plan would be modeled on a bipartisan rules deal at the start of the Clinton impeachment trial, there were two notable differences from 21 years ago, governing opening arguments, and the submission of evidence. While each side would get 24 hours to make their opening arguments, this GOP plan would force that time to be used in just two days - raising the specter of an impeachment trial which could stretch well into the night because of those time constraints. Another change would require an affirmative vote by the Senate to simply put the investigatory materials from the House into the trial record, something which was done automatically in the Clinton impeachment trial. Also, even if extra witnesses were approved by Senators, it would not guarantee their testimony on the Senate floor, as there would have to be a vote after the depositions on whether the witness would testify publicly. With a Tuesday debate set on the rules, Republicans also made clear they would not support any move to add witnesses until after opening arguments have been completed. 'If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts,' said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Meanwhile, Democrats roundly denounced the GOP rules details. 'The proposal that Majority Leader McConnell just released looks more like a cover up than a fair trial,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). 'Mitch McConnell doesn't want a fair trial, he wants a fast trial,' said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). 'It's all about the cover up,' said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'These are not the Clinton rules.' 'There’s nothing in this resolution that requires hearing witnesses or admitting evidence — which is unlike any trial I’ve ever seen,' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). 'Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who promised to offer amendments to the plan on Tuesday afternoon. Debate and votes on the rules resolution will start on Tuesday afternoon - and could turn into an extended battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • In a 171 page submission made to the U.S. Senate on Monday, President Donald Trump's legal team said the impeachment charges submitted by the House do not identify any violations of criminal law and should immediately by dismissed by Senators. 'The articles should be rejected and the President should immediately be acquitted,' the legal brief states, arguing the charge of 'abuse of power' does not state an impeachable offense - even though that charge was drawn up by the House in 1974 against President Richard Nixon. 'House Democrats’ novel conception of “abuse of power” as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective,' the Trump brief states. 'It supplants the Framers’ standard of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” with a made-up theory that the President can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of 'abuse of power.'' On the question of whether President Trump held back military aid for Ukraine while pressing the Ukraine government to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and his son, the White House legal team says there is no evidence to support those claims. 'The most important piece of evidence demonstrating the President’s innocence is the transcript of the President’s July 25 telephone call with President Zelenskyy,' the trial brief states, referring to the call which President Trump has repeatedly said was 'perfect.' 'President Trump did not even mention the security assistance on the call, and he certainly did not make any connection between the assistance and any investigation,' the White House legal team states, without mentioning that a hold was put on the aid to Ukraine 90 minutes after that phone call concluded on July 25, 2019. From the White House on Monday, the President tweeted out his familiar opposition to the impeachment trial, continuing to characterize the House impeachment process as unfair. Minutes after the White House filed its trial brief, Democrats in the House responded to his initial 'answer' to the Senate trial summons. 'The House denies each and every allegation and defense in the Preamble to the Answer,' the nine page response began. 'He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit,' referring to the President's interactions with the leader of Ukraine.  'President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment,” the House reply added. “That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,' the House concluded.