Day: January 24, 2020

Defense to Target Biden…


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(Bloomberg) — House managers will wrap up their case against President Donald Trump on Friday, completing three days of arguments in the Senate impeachment trial. Trump’s lawyers are set to begin presenting his defense on Saturday.

Here are the latest developments:

Warren Says She’d Release Trump Documents (5:26 p.m.)

Elizabeth Warren promised Friday that if elected president, she would order the release of all documents the White House is holding back from Congress during Trump’s impeachment investigation and trial.

In a series of tweets, Warren accused the Trump administration of “hiding” documents from the public. “They should know this evidence won’t be hidden forever,” she said.

Warren called on her fellow Democratic presidential candidates to make a similar pledge. “If we don’t re-establish the rule of law in this country, every future administration will think they can act illegally without facing any consequences,” she wrote.

Trump Defense to Target Biden, Lawyer Says (4:35 p.m.)

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters his team plans to showcase allegations against Joe Biden in the defense case set to begin Saturday.

Sekulow said the House Democrats’ presentation opened to the door to discussions of Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, at a time when his father was vice president and worked on corruption issues in Ukraine.

“Why they opened up the door as wide as a double door on the Hunter Biden-Joe Biden-Burisma issue,” Sekulow said, “I guess they felt that was their way of getting ahead of it. We will address it.”

He said the defense will also discuss allegations that Democrats solicited foreign interference in the 2016 election by commissioning British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele to compile a dossier of allegations against Trump.

“There was foreign interference; let’s not forget where it came from,” Sekulow said. “We are going to rebut and rebuke, but we’re going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow.”

Sekulow said Saturday’s three-hour Senate session will be a preview of “coming attractions” with the heart of the defense case to begin on Monday. He said the Senate asked for a shortened session on Saturday and the White House defense team agreed. — Erik Wasson

Roberts Draws Barrage of Calls to High Court (3:58 p.m.)

The Supreme Court is getting a barrage of calls from the public while Chief Justice John Roberts presides over Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

Social media posts have been urging people to call the Supreme Court about various aspects of the impeachment trial — and Roberts’ handling of it. Posts on Twitter say Roberts should back Democratic demands for witness testimony and enforce rules requiring senators to remain in their seats.

The court has received a “higher than usual number of calls,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Unlike congressional offices and the White House, the Supreme Court isn’t designed to respond to public opinion and doesn’t have a public-comment line. The court’s public information office has been fielding calls and telling people they can send emails or contact their congressional representatives, Arberg said.

Roberts has largely played a ministerial role at the Senate. His most notable moment came during the first night, when he told both sides to tone down their language and “remember where they are.”

Roberts’ extra duties at the Senate may be slowing down the court’s work. The court indicated Friday it won’t issue opinions when the justices take the bench Monday before beginning a four-week recess. The court has released only four opinions in argued cases this term, down from eight at a comparable point last year. — Greg Stohr

Pompeo Repeatedly Declines to Defend Envoy (1:33 p.m.)

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo refused to defend his ousted ambassador to Ukraine despite being pressed multiple times, maintaining his long-running refusal to mention former envoy Marie Yovanovitch by name.

“I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Pompeo told National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, when asked why he hadn’t stood up for Yovanovitch. “I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.”

Asked to point to any remarks regarding Yovanovitch, he replied, “I’ve said all I’m going to say today.”

Over the course of the impeachment saga, Pompeo has consistently declined to offer public support for Yovanovitch, a widely praised diplomat. She was recalled from her post in May after a sustained campaign to oust her by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.

Trump Lawyers to Begin Defense on Saturday (12:44 p.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the trial will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday and run for “several hours,” as Trump’s lawyers deliver their opening presentation in the president’s defense.

Trump on Tape Sought Envoy’s Ouster: ABC (12:02 p.m.)

A recording appears to show President Donald Trump saying he wanted Marie Yovanovitch removed as ambassador to Ukraine, ABC News reported without providing the audio.

“Get rid of her,” a voice that appears to be Trump’s is heard saying on the recording, ABC reported. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”

If accurate, the recording backs up testimony in the House impeachment hearings that Trump had Yovanovitch removed because she was viewed as an obstacle to his efforts to press Ukraine into investigating Democrat Joe Biden and his son. She was recalled in May 2019.

The president reportedly made the remarks at an April 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, were in attendance, ABC said.

The president’s comments appeared to be prompted by comments that the network attributed to Parnas, who said that “we gotta get rid of the ambassador” because she is telling people “he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.”

Trump has denied knowing Parnas beyond taking a few photographs at fundraising events. Parnas has said that his activities in Ukraine with Giuliani were approved by Trump.

Parnas and Fruman were indicted by federal prosecutors on campaign finance charges as part of an alleged scheme to circumvent laws against straw donations and funneling foreign contributions to political candidates.

The White House and Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. — Jordan Fabian

Trump Likely to Object If Mulvaney Called (11:12 a.m.)

Trump probably would object to testimony from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on executive privilege grounds, the same as he would from former National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Friday.

“There is a lot of information, sensitive information, national security information, that they discuss and that’s something that should be protected, absolutely, for this country, and again for future presidencies,” Grisham said on Fox News.

Mulvaney in October undercut the White House argument that there was “no quid pro quo” when he said that aid for Ukraine was tied to Trump’s demand for an investigation into the 2016 election. “We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney said at the time. “Get over it.”

Grisham said Friday that Mulvaney was simply saying that corruption needed to be looked into before aid to Ukraine was released.

”I don’t think he did say there was a quid pro quo,” she said. “I think he was saying we wanted to look into corruption before we would release taxpayer money. So if that’s the quid pro quo, that’s OK.” — Josh Wingrove

Trump Lawyers Still Plan to Start Saturday (10:19 a.m.)

Trump’s lawyers still plan to open their defense on Saturday, an administration official familiar with the matter said Friday, hours after the president tweeted that Saturday is the “Death Valley” of television.

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.

Trump Laments Defense Bumped From Prime Time (8:07 a.m.)

President Donald Trump’s legal team will kick off their defense in his Senate impeachment trial on Saturday, “the Death Valley” of T.V., Trump lamented in an early Friday morning tweet.

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s lawyers have promised a vigorous defense against an investigation they have labeled as rushed and biased. Jay Sekulow, one of the lawyers representing Trump, has said the response to the Democrats’ case would combine both a rebuttal of their arguments as well as a positive defense of the president’s actions.

Some Republicans earlier this week said they worried Democrats were trying to push GOP arguments into the weekend, when TV viewership is traditionally much less. Senator Roy Blunt, one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top lieutenants, said Wednesday that Democrats’ efforts to force votes on all their amendments was a “cynical” ploy to push the president’s defense out of the prime time slot. — Kathleen Miller

Managers to Argue for Obstruction Article (6 a.m.)

The seven House managers led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff plan on Friday to argue in support of the second impeachment article, which accuses Trump of obstructing the House investigation of his actions toward Ukraine.

Managers will say the article is supported by the Constitution’s balance of power between the branches of government.

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

House Democrats Say Trump’s Stonewalling Puts ‘Nixon to Shame’

Fidget Spinners and Quick Breaks: Senators Fight Trial Fatigue

McConnell Changes Trial Rules at Last Minute: Key Takeaways

Trump Says He’s Still Mulling Whether to Block Trial Testimony

Schiff Draws Dark Portrait of Trump in Impeachment Trial Opening

Silent Senators, No Photographers: Inside the Impeachment Trial

Key Events

Here is House Democrats’ web page containing documents related to the impeachment trial. House Democrats’ impeachment brief is here. Trump’s initial reply is here, and his lawyers’ trial brief is here.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.

–With assistance from Daniel Flatley, Kathleen Miller, Josh Wingrove, Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis, Nick Wadhams, Greg Stohr, Jordan Fabian and Erik Wasson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Magan Crane in New York at mcrane19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Ros Krasny

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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Pompeo Shouts at Reporter for Asking About Ukraine…


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a press briefing at the White House on Jan. 10, 2020.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a press briefing at the White House on Jan. 10, 2020.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

With the State Department facing continued questions over the treatment of Marie Yovanovitch before she was recalled as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not say on Friday whether he owed the career diplomat an apology.

“I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Pompeo said in an interview with NPR. “I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.”

Pressed on whether he could point to specific remarks in which he defended Yovanovitch, Pompeo responded, “I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you. Thanks for the repeated opportunity to do so. I appreciate that.”

The exchange with Mary Louise Kelly, co-host of All Things Considered, follows the release by House Democrats last week of messages suggesting that Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance in the days before she was told to return to Washington from her posting in Kyiv last year.

The messages were sent between Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate and fervent Trump supporter, and Lev Parnas, an associate of president Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Parnas has emerged as a central figure in efforts by Giuliani to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate political rivals of President Trump. That campaign is now the focus of the ongoing impeachment trial against President Trump in the Senate.

Possible surveillance of a U.S. ambassador

The State Department itself is now investigating the possible surveillance of Yovanovitch, who during testimony before House impeachment investigators in November said she had felt threatened by President Trump. Before her recall, Yovanovitch had been accused of disloyalty by allies of the White House, and during his now-infamous July 25 call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump said of Yovanovitch, “She’s going to go through some things.”

In an interview last week with the conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, Pompeo said he “never heard” that Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance. In her testimony before the House, Yovanovitch said she was told by the State Department that she was being recalled due to concerns about her “security.”

Pompeo has come under criticism — including, at times, from career diplomats in his own department — for failing to more forcefully defend Yovanovitch in the face of political attacks. During testimony before impeachment investigators, for example, Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Pompeo, said he resigned from the department in part over what he interpreted as a “lack of public support for Department employees.”

“I’m not going to comment on things that Mr. McKinley may have said,” Pompeo said on Friday. But he dismissed the suggestion that a shadow foreign policy involving Ukraine was in place.

“The Ukraine policy has been run from the Department of State for the entire time that I have been here, and our policy was very clear,” Pompeo said.

Immediately after the questions on Ukraine, the interview concluded. Pompeo stood, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for a period of several seconds before leaving the room.

A few moments later, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo’s private living room at the State Department without a recorder. The aide did not say the ensuing exchange would be off the record.

Inside the room, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” He then said, “People will hear about this.”

The State Department did not immediately respond on the record to NPR’s request for comment.

The U.S. and Iran

The interview began earlier with a series of questions about the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran. Pompeo defended the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, saying it is “absolutely working.”

“This is a regime that has been working to develop its nuclear program for years and years and years. And the nuclear deal guaranteed them a pathway to having a nuclear program,” Pompeo said in reference to the international agreement signed by Iran, the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia in 2015. “It was a certainty. It might have been delayed for a month or a year or five or 10 years, but it guaranteed them that pathway. This administration has pulled the Band-Aid off.”

As the nation’s chief diplomat, Pompeo has played a central role in shaping the president’s more aggressive posture toward Iran. It’s a policy Pompeo has described as “re-establishing deterrence.”

The policy has taken many forms. Less than two weeks after Pompeo was sworn in as secretary of state in 2018, President Trump announced the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The announcement was followed by the reinstatement of steep economic sanctions against Tehran.

Under Pompeo, the State Department has also designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time the U.S. has given that label to the branch of another government.

Yet perhaps no action has been more controversial than the administration’s decision this month to launch the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s influential Quds Force, outside the airport in Baghdad. While the administration has declined to offer specifics about the intelligence that prompted the strike, Pompeo has defended the president’s order, saying it was carried out in response to an “imminent threat” of attack on U.S. embassies.

For days, the killing revived fears of an all-out war. Iran retaliated with strikes against two bases housing American troops in Iraq. No Americans died in the attack, though the U.S. military later revealed that 11 service members were injured.

Tensions have since eased, but the episode has renewed questions about whether the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign has emboldened Tehran. Since President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, Iran has shot down a U.S. drone, targeted oil tankers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and been blamed for a debilitating attack on Saudi oil facilities.

At the same time, Iran has stepped away from key provisions of the nuclear deal. In an interview this month with NPR, the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said “all limits” on centrifuges used to enrich uranium “are now suspended.”

“He’s blustering,” Pompeo said in Friday’s interview. “This is a regime that has never been in the position that it’s in today.”

The secretary declined, however, to detail specifics of the administration’s policy for preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, saying only, “We’ll stop them.”

Pompeo would not say whether direct U.S. engagement is taking place with Iran, but did say the administration has built a coalition that’s working to put pressure on Iran to end its missile program, its processing of uranium and the reprocessing of plutonium.

He said the U.S. has also “raised the cost” for Iran’s use of force through proxy groups in the Middle East.

“This is beginning to place real choices in front of the Iranian regime,” Pompeo said. “You can see in the protests inside of Iran. You can see the Iranian people not happy with their own government when they have to raise the fuel cost. All the things that are undermining this regime’s ability to inflict risk on the American people are coming to fruition as a direct result of President Trump’s strategy.”

He would not comment on whether a new deal is being developed in order to prevent Tehran from acquiring a weapon, but instead said “the economic, military and diplomatic deterrence that we have put in place will deliver that outcome.”

“The Iranian leadership will have to make the decision about what its behavior is going to be,” he said.



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76-year-old survives 7 story fall from NYC apartment…


A 76-year-old woman cheated death Friday when she survived accidentally falling out of her Upper East Side apartment window and plummeting seven stories, according to cops.

Police were notified about a woman who fell from a window at on East 81st St. and 1st Ave. in Manhattan just before noon, police said.

The woman, whose name was not released, was sitting on her window ledge when she toppled over –– frightening bystanders below.

Anthony Ruggerio, 50, was smoking a cigarette on his lunch break when he heard a noise.

“It was loud. Like rocks falling on the platform above me,” he told the Post. “I turned, I ducked, when I turned back there was a lady on the floor. She turned to her side and [groaned]. I thought she was dead.”

Dante McFarlane, 22, saw the aftermath of the horror, “I was shocked. I went inside [the store] came back out and she was on the floor.”

Cops said she struck a second-floor terrace before landing on cardboard boxes on the street-level.

She was taken to Weill Cornell Hospital where she is being treated for a broken ankle, police said.



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Space Force logo 'suspiciously' similar to STAR TREK…


President Trump’s impeachment trial may not last much longer.

As Democrats’ opening impeachment argument continues into its final day Friday, The New York Times reports the “increasing expectation in the Senate” is that a vote next week to call new witnesses like Democrats have advocated for will “fall short, moving the trial into its end game.”

Axios is out with a similar report, writing that although Democrats need to sway four Republicans to vote for calling new witnesses assuming every Democrat votes in favor, “the prevailing view emerging among Republican Senate aides was that Democrats … will struggle to get more than three.” The Senate previously delayed a decision on whether to call witnesses until after the opening arguments, The Washington Post reports.

Breaking the votes down further, Axios notes that Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who Democrats hoped to convince, is a no, and aides expect Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will be as well. Republican aides reportedly also believe that House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) controversially suggesting that Republicans were complicit in a “cover up” and engaging in “treacherous” behavior may have backfired.

Another senator who Democrats have been targeting is Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), but after he said Friday that the House managers “presented us with a mountain of overwhelming evidence,” the Post noted this “could indicate that he is not inclined to hear more.” Should no witnesses be called, Trump’s impeachment trial could end next week, Axios notes.

During their argument Friday, Democrats argued Trump “tried to cheat, he got caught, and then worked hard to cover it up.” These final hours of arguments are key, as Axios notes if Democrats hope to sway Republican senators in the vote on witnesses, this is their “last chance.”

Brendan Morrow



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6.7 Mag Quake Shakes Turkey…


An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 14 people and causing some buildings to collapse. The quake injured more than 300 and left several trapped, Turkish officials said.

The quake struck at 8:55 p.m. local time near the town of Sivrice in the eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. It was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

Elazig is some 465 miles east of the capital, Ankara.

Governor Cetin Oktay Kaldirim told NTV television that three people died in the province. State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Governor Aydin Barus as saying five other people died in his nearby Malatya province.

At least 225 people were injured in Elazig and 90 in Malatya. Kaldirim said a fire broke out in a building in Sivrice but was quickly brought under control. People in Elazig whose homes were damaged or were too afraid to go indoors were being moved to student dormitories or sports center amid freezing conditions.

Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told NTV television that rescuers were trying to reach survivors after a four- or five-story building collapsed in the town of Maden, in Elazig. Approximately 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said.

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Turkish rescue services and police inspect the scene of a collapsed building following the 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey. 

DHA / Getty


Local administrator Cuma Telceken said up to seven people are believed to be trapped inside two collapsed buildings in Maden. Television footage showed rescuers searching for survivors among debris.

Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, Anadolu Agency reported. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help if needed.

The Kandilli seismology center in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5., while the U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, and said the quake affected not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.

Different earthquake monitoring centers frequently give differing estimates.

Turkey sits on top of two major fault-lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.



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BOEING 777X first flight scrapped…


After waiting several hours for the wind to let up, Boeing canceled Friday’s scheduled first flight of the 777X. The company says it will try again tomorrow.

This morning’s story:

After more than a year of anguished news chronicling the crisis around the grounded 737 MAX, on Friday morning—weather permitting—eyes at Boeing will finally look up again to admire some engineering prowess.

The new 777X is scheduled to take its first flight, lifted on giant carbon-composite wings, the largest Boeing has ever designed.

The wings are so long that to fit at standard airport gates, each has to fold upward on a hinge 11 feet from the tip. After the jet taxis out to the runway, as it lines up to take off, the pilot will lower the folded wingtips, extending the wingspan to just over 235 feet.

Its GE9X engines are the the largest jet engines ever built, encased in a carbon composite pod, or nacelle, with a diameter of 184 inches at the widest point.

This majestic airplane, the larger 777-9X of two planned models, is set to take off from Paine Field in Everett at about 10 a.m. and to land at Boeing Field around 3 p.m.

With carbon wings joined to a conventional metal fuselage, the 777X was a new engineering challenge for Boeing. Securing the right to build it was the great industrial prize for which Washington state agreed in 2013 to shell out $8.7 billion in tax breaks to Boeing over 16 years.

It’s the plane for which Boeing’s Machinists—after a bitter struggle in the winter of 2013—were forced to pay the price of freezing their traditional pensions to secure Everett as the manufacturing site.

Six years later, delayed about nine months by a design problem with the GE9X engines that had to be fixed, the plane is finally ready to fly.

Everett site transformed for 777X

Since the 777X program was launched at the Dubai Air Show in 2013, Boeing has invested heavily to transform its Everett manufacturing site for the airplane, which will take over from the 747 jumbo jet as Boeing’s largest passenger jet.

The  company built a gigantic, $1 billion building on the Everett site and filled it with robotic machinery and high-pressure ovens just to fabricate the pieces of those carbon-composite wings.

Inside the main Everett assembly building, Boeing installed state-of-the-art, automated stations where the wings will be assembled, equipment designed by Mukilteo-based engineering company Electroimpact.

And it completely changed the way the 777 fuselage and wings come together to make the plane more flexible and efficient.

The sole failure in this dramatic factory makeover was the plan for a new robotic method developed over six years to assemble the metal 777X fuselages. Known as the “Fuselage Automated Upright Build” process, or FAUB, it only created a manufacturing mess.

After spending millions on the FAUB project, Boeing finally abandoned it in November and went back to relying more on its human machinists.

Recently, the 777X program has faced other setbacks that drained confidence.

A slump in demand for large aircraft has brought no new 777X orders since last March and some cancellations, cutting the order book to 309 aircraft. Emirates in November cut its 777X launch order by 24 aircraft and took 787 Dreamliners in place of those.

At the Paris Air Show in June, GE revealed that during tests of the plane’s new engine it found excessive wear on a set of titanium parts inside the engine’s compressor section. A fix was devised but took months to implement, test and retrofit to the engines already built.

A Boeing stress test on a completed 777X airframe in November fell short of perfection when the fuselage split open just shy of the target load.

Australian carrier Qantas in December chose the Airbus A350-1000 over the 777-8X for its prestige ultra-long-range project.

But those setbacks can be overlooked as the plane takes to the air. Passing that milestone would open the prospect that Boeing can deliver the jet to first customer Emirates in the middle of next year. If it proves successful in service, orders should follow.

With Airbus winding down production and taking no more orders for its superjumbo A380 jet, the 777-9X will be the largest passenger jet on offer.

The 777-9X carries 400-425 passengers and has a range of 8,383 miles, about 100 miles less than the 777-300ER. But with its new engines and larger wings, it will carry about 50 more passengers using less fuel and correspondingly producing lower carbon emissions.

The rival Airbus A350-1000 is smaller, with about the same seating capacity as the 777-300ER.

According to the latest market pricing data from airplane valuation firm Avitas, after standard discounts you can pick up a new 777-9X from Boeing for about $204 million.

 



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Focus on stonewalling…


House Democrats launched their final round of arguments in President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’ Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: ‘Statute of limitations’ for Biden apology is ‘up’ Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE’s impeachment trial on Friday, shifting their focus to the president’s blanket stonewalling of Congress’s inquiry into his Ukrainian affairs as another basis for his removal from office.

Democrats say Trump trampled on Congress’s legal authority to act as a check on presidential power when he adopted an across-the-board refusal to cooperate with House investigators examining his dealings with Ukraine last year.

While their case has centered on allegations that Trump abused his power, the third and final day of the Democrats’ opening arguments will focus on the second impeachment article passed by the House last month: obstruction of Congress. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’ Democrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Female impeachment managers say American public know a ‘rigged’ trial when they see one MORE (D-Calif.), the lead manager of the House team, also signaled that Democrats intend to put up a fight Friday for witnesses, pushing back on the White House legal team’s claims of executive privilege.

“This is not a trial over a speeding ticket for shoplifting. This is an impeachment trial involving the president of the United States,” Schiff told reporters in remarks ahead of Friday’s arguments. 

“Unlike in the House where the president could play rope-a-dope in the courts for years, that is not an option for the president’s team here,” he continued. “And it gives no refuge to people who want to hide behind executive privilege to avoid the truth coming out.”

The Democrats’ impeachment case hinges on allegations that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine, not to advance U.S. interests, but as leverage to pressure the country’s leaders to find dirt on his political opponents.

“No one anticipated that a president would stoop to this misconduct, and Congress has passed no specific law to make this behavior a crime,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSusan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night ‘cover-up’ accusation Nadler gets under GOP’s skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday. “Yet this is precisely the kind of abuse that the Framers had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause.” 

Trump has dismissed the allegations for months, saying his interactions with Ukrainian leaders were “perfect” and accusing Democrats of conducting a “witch hunt” designed solely to damage his reelection prospects in November. 

“The Do Nothing Democrats just keep repeating and repeating, over and over again, the same old ‘stuff’ on the Impeachment Hoax,” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The president’s legal team, which will begin its arguments on Saturday, has said both impeachment articles are illegitimate, not least because neither charge represents a specific violation of federal law. The obstruction allegation is “absurd,” his lawyers have added, because it ignores the president’s authority to invoke special executive powers protecting sensitive internal deliberations. 

Democrats argue the president’s decision to block witnesses not discretely, but by asserting “absolute immunity,” prevented them from gaining access to key testimony from officials with first-hand accounts of Trump’s contacts with Ukraine. 

“The Framers, the courts, and past Presidents have recognized that honoring Congress’s right to information in an impeachment investigation is a critical safeguard in our system of divided powers,” the Democratic impeachment managers wrote in the 46-page brief outlining their legal arguments heading into the Senate trial. 

The administration’s defiance came in two forms. First, the White House directed administration officials not to testify in the investigation, even if subpoenaed. And second, the administration refused to turn over any documents related to Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine. 

The stonewalling was only partially successful: Democrats secured the testimony of 17 officials with a window into the Ukraine affair, many of whom appeared under subpoena. 

But at least 12 others refused to cooperate, including former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonSenate Republicans confident they’ll win fight on witnesses Hakeem Jeffries tells Senate in impeachment proceedings they should subpoena Baseball Hall of Fame after Jeter vote Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night ‘cover-up’ accusation MORE, acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans confident they’ll win fight on witnesses Hakeem Jeffries tells Senate in impeachment proceedings they should subpoena Baseball Hall of Fame after Jeter vote Video becomes vital part of Democrats’ case against Trump MORE, and two officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who are said to have insights into Trump’s decision to withhold the military aid. 

The question of whether the Senate will compel their testimony has emerged as one of the central battles throughout this week’s trial. Behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans confident they’ll win fight on witnesses The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Dems to present case on abuse of power on trial’s third day The Hill’s Morning Report – House prosecutes Trump as ‘lawless,’ ‘corrupt’ MORE (R-Ky.), most Republicans have rejected the idea of allowing new witnesses or material evidence, maintaining it was the job of the House, not the Senate, to do the investigating. 

But the arrival of new evidence, combined with Bolton’s offer to testify under subpoena, has put fresh pressure on GOP leaders to consider information not available to House impeachment investigators last year. 

“If the president believes he did nothing wrong, that everything’s perfect, he should have nothing to fear from these witnesses and documents,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it’s been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (D-N.Y.) said Friday morning. 

Republicans have shot back, saying Democrats should have waited for the courts to resolve the disputes over witnesses and documents before voting on their impeachment articles last month. 

Democrats say they couldn’t wait months or years for courts to act, since their central allegation maintains he was trying to “cheat” in November’s election.  

“Impeachable offenses involve wrongdoing that reveal the president as a continuing threat if he is allowed to remain in office,” Nadler said.

Democrats have described the administration’s lack of cooperation as nothing less than an attempt to coverv up for the president’s conduct.

But the White House has described it as more a political response: Democrats are seeking to damage Trump’s presidency in an election year.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that charge has emerged. Trump’s allies note that the president has faced most of his time in office being investigated, as Democrats cheer on the inquiries. 

Trump allies will point to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a ‘failure’ Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s report that found no evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia — though he did not make a determination either way on whether Trump obstructed justice.

But Democrats warned that Trump is setting a dangerous precedent, stealing congressional powers that would act as a check on future presidents. 

“In terms of the obstruction, the precedent would be equally devastating to the government because it would mean that the impeachment power is essentially a nullity. It is unenforceable. The president can delay it into nonexistence and this goes not just to impeachment investigations,” Schiff said.

“If the Senate goes along with the president’s obstruction, it will in every way impede the House and impede the Senate in its own responsibilities.”



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New Hero of the Left: Judge Napolitano…



As the Senate reconvened Thursday for President Donald Trump’s historic impeachment trial, a name began trending on Twitter among those pushing for the president’s removal from office: Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.

Better known as Judge Napolitano or Judge Nap, the conservative commentator was once a Trump supporter and purveyor of conspiracy theories. But recently, Napolitano has shifted his stance on the president, voicing criticisms of Trump that are often at odds with the views of his fellow Fox News personalities.

Napolitano’s deviation from Fox News’s normally pro-Trump opinion programming continued this week when the former New Jersey Superior Court judge published an opinion piece pushing back against the president’s repeated claims that the impeachment proceeding is a “hoax.”


Napolitano described the proceedings as “deadly serious business based on well-established constitutional norms.” He also made a case for why he believes there is “ample and uncontradicted” evidence for the Senate to vote to remove the president, writing that there are “valid, lawful, constitutional arguments for Trump’s impeachment that he ought to take seriously.”

The op-ed appeared to have been first published Wednesday by the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet, before it showed up on Fox News’s site early Thursday.

“What is required for removal of the president?” Napolitano wrote. “A demonstration of presidential commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which in Trump’s case the evidence is ample and uncontradicted.”

This is not the first time that Napolitano has pushed for Trump’s impeachment in recent months, nor is his stance all that surprising, given that he has been described as a “staunch libertarian” who “places principles over partisanship, and who is outspoken and critical without resorting to ad hominem attacks.”


But the op-ed, which comes just days before Trump’s defense is expected to present its case Saturday, quickly gained traction on social media Thursday as many, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif,) and Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., shared the piece. By late Thursday, “Judge Napolitano” was a trending term on Twitter with tens of thousands of mentions.

“When Fox News’ top legal analyst debunks the rest of Fox News . . .” Swalwell tweeted. Clark, who is vice chair of the House Democratic caucus, wrote that Napolitano “acknowledges what we already know: the President abused his power & should be removed from office.”

In his piece, Napolitano detailed the two charges against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – and laid out the evidence that, he argues, should support impeachment. Napolitano pointed to internal emails showing that the White House withheld military aid to Ukraine after Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and senior officials defying congressional subpoenas to testify.


“The Constitution prescribes the bases for impeachment as treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” he wrote. “However, this use of the word ‘crimes’ does not refer to violations of federal criminal statutes. It refers to behavior that is so destructive of the constitutional order that it is the moral equivalent of statutory crimes.”



Napolitano also went after unnamed Republican senators, accusing them of reassuring Trump that he will be acquitted.

“Whoever may have whispered that into his ear is unworthy of sitting as a juror and has violated the oath of ‘impartial justice’ and fidelity to the Constitution and the law,” he wrote.

Napolitano’s op-ed presents a stark contrast to a majority of Fox News’s impeachment coverage, which in recent days has favored disparagement of Democrats and pro-Trump commentary over airing live footage of the proceedings.

“Imagine a movie written and directed by children whose ending you already know, and by the way, it’s 20 hours long and Hungarian with misspelled subtitles,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Wednesday, following the first day of opening arguments for Democrats. “That’s what it’s like.”

Later that night, host Sean Hannity, a close Trump ally, adopted a similar take on the day’s events.

“Now, if I was a terrible host, I would force you to endure watching the regurgitation, the repetition . . . the insanity that has gone on all day, America, 24 hours of never-ending babbling, repetitive talking points over what was nothing,” he said.

On Thursday, Trump critics cited Napolitano’s arguments and praised the Fox News analyst for being “willing to tell the truth” and remaining “true to his principles.”

“The Judge is a courageous man and now he must fight the cabal that wants to keep someone this lawless and reckless in our most sacred public servant position,” tweeted former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

A headline on an article from the Palmer Report, a liberal political blog, read, “Judge Napolitano of Fox News just destroyed Donald Trump’s impeachment defense.”

Not everyone was receptive to the op-ed.

“I change channels when this idiot shows up,” one person wrote in the comments section of the piece. “He belongs at CNN or a nut house. Same difference.”

Another urged the network to find another legal expert, writing, “Nap has been so wrong, so often that I thought Fox finally let him go to pasture.”

Trump has not yet publicly addressed the column. Instead, the president tweeted two clips from Hannity’s show Thursday night, during which the host railed against the “Schumer Schiff Sham Show.”



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Rapper Scheduled To Perform At GRAMMY'S Arrested On Robbery Charges…


Rapper YG Arrested Just Days Before He’s to Perform at GRAMMYs | Entertainment Tonight

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First Pain Treatment Using Human Stem Cells A Success…


SYDNEY, Australia — The ongoing opioid crisis in the United States has ruined countless lives, but these highly addictive drugs are still regularly prescribed due to their pain-numbing properties. However, a new way to manage pain may be on the way. For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Sydney have successfully used human stem cells to produce “pain-killing” neurons. These neurons were then tested on a group of lab mice that were dealing with extreme pain. After just a single treatment, the mice’s pain symptoms were relieved with no side effects.

Moving forward, scientists will perform additional tests on pigs and other rodents. Then, if all goes well, testing on human patients dealing with chronic pain should begin within the next five years. These pain-killing neurons could one day serve as a non-addictive, non-opioid pain management option for people all over the world.

“We are already moving towards testing in humans,” says Associate Professor Greg Neely, a leader in pain research at the Charles Perkins Centre and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, in a release. “Nerve injury can lead to devastating neuropathic pain and for the majority of patients there are no effective therapies. This breakthrough means for some of these patients, we could make pain-killing transplants from their own cells, and the cells can then reverse the underlying cause of pain.”

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Researchers used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), derived from bone marrow, to create the neurons in a lab setting. Then, the neurons were placed inside the spinal cords of mice dealing with constant neuropathic pain.

“Remarkably, the stem-cell neurons promoted lasting pain relief without side effects,” comments co-senior author Dr Leslie Caron. “It means transplant therapy could be an effective and long-lasting treatment for neuropathic pain. It is very exciting.”

John Manion, the study’s lead author, adds: “Because we can pick where we put our pain-killing neurons, we can target only the parts of the body that are in pain. This means our approach can have fewer side effects.”

The study is published in Pain.


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