The intersection of Trump, Ukraine and a whistleblower
WASHINGTON (AP) — Very behind the scenes, a whistleblower from the intelligence community voiced urgent concern about a matter involving a conversation between Ukraine’s leader and President Donald Trump. It’s so hush-hush that even Democrats won’t say all that they know, or suspect.
Very much out in the open, Trump is calling for an investigation that involves Ukraine and could help him win re-election if it breaks his way.
Trump’s interest in getting dirt from abroad on prospective Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has been hiding in plain sight for months. His fealty to standards that other presidents have either lived by or pretended to — as when it comes to chats with foreign leaders, for example — is thin.
This is, after all, the man who openly encouraged Russia to snoop on Hillary Clinton’s email and much more recently said that, sure, he’d listen to foreigners who come to him with dirt on an opponent. Why not? he wondered.
As the contours of the episode roiling the capital begin to flesh out, here are some questions and answers at the intersection of Trump, Ukraine and the whistleblower.
Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?
WASHINGTON (AP) — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader is testing the political and practical power Democrats can use against a Republican in the White House who so brazenly ignores protocol and presidential norms.
Democrats were unanimous in their condemnation of Trump for going to extraordinary lengths to tear down a chief political rival by asking the new leader of Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. But even as calls for impeachment amplified — Elizabeth Warren blasted Congress as “complicit” in Trump’s transgressions — there were no signs that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would move quickly to try to remove the president.
Allies of Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, seized on the developments to portray him as the candidate Trump least wants to face next fall.
But the controversy could just as easily revive interest in the business activities of Biden’s son, which would do little to further his campaign. Taken together, the developments bear a striking resemblance to the tumult of the 2016 campaign, in which Trump was accused of enlisting a foreign power to help him win an election.
The president on Saturday denied any wrongdoing, and his most vocal allies and critics were energized. Political operatives in both parties suggested that for many increasingly numb to a constant sense of crisis, the fresh explosion of political drama may not seem so alarming.
US police assess rise in threat tips after 3 mass killings
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It had all the makings of a massacre. Six guns, including a Colt AR-15 rifle. About 1,000 rounds of ammunition. A bulletproof vest. And an angry Southern California man who threated to kill his co-workers at a hotel and its guests.
But a concerned colleague intervened, alerting authorities who arrested 37-year-old Rodolfo Montoya, a cook at the Long Beach Marriott hotel, the next day and discovered the arsenal where he lived in a rundown motor home parked near industrial buildings.
In the weeks after three high-profile shootings in three states took the lives of more than two dozen people in one week in August, law enforcement authorities nationwide reported a spike in tips from concerned relatives, friends and co-workers about people who appear bent on carrying out the next mass shooting.
Some of those would-be shooters sent text messages to friends or posted on social media that they hoped to one-up previous mass shootings by killing more people.
The reasons for the increase in tips and heightened awareness of thwarted mass shootings vary, law enforcement officials said.
AP interview: Colombia to denounce Maduro at UN meeting
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s president compared Nicolás Maduro to Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic as he goes on a diplomatic offensive to corral the Venezuelan socialist, warning that he would be making a “stupid” mistake if he were to attack his U.S.-backed neighbor.
Ivan Duque made the comments in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press before traveling to New York where he is expected to condemn Maduro before the United Nations General Assembly as an abusive autocrat. Duque believes Maduro is not only responsible for the country’s humanitarian catastrophe but is also now a threat to regional stability for his alleged harboring of Colombian rebels.
“The brutality of Nicolás Maduro is comparable to Slobodan Milosevic,” said Duque, who has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate Maduro for human rights abuses. “It must come to an end.”
While Duque refused to rule out a military strike against the Marxist rebels he claims are hiding out across the border, he said any aggression by Venezuela’s armed forces would immediately trigger a regional response that could include additional sanctions and diplomatic actions.
“If they consider doing something so stupid, they know what the consequences will be,” said Duque.
4 Chinese tourists killed in Utah bus accident identified
PANGUITCH, Utah (AP) — Authorities on Saturday identified the four Chinese tourists killed in a bus crash in southern Utah, and the tour group is dispatching employees from China to help those injured.
Three women and one man perished in the crash on a highway running through the red-rock landscape of southern Utah on Friday. The victims have been identified as Ling Geng, 68, Xiuyun Chen, 67, Zhang Caiyu, 62, and Zhongliang Caiyu, 65. They were all from Shanghai, China.
They were part of a tour group, organized by Shanghai Zhuyuan International Travel Agency, that was made up of 29 tourists and one person leading the group. They come from Shanghai and the nearby provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Heilongjiang, according to a news report on the media website huanqiu.com.
The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism urged the travel agency to spare no effort in rescuing the injured and properly handle the follow-up matters.
The Zhuyuan Travel Agency has organized a working group to rush to the scene as soon as possible and try to help the injured tourists. Phone calls to the travel agency rang unanswered Sunday morning.
Charge against airline mechanic highlights ‘insider threat’
The arrest of an airline mechanic suspected of being sympathetic with terrorists and charged with sabotaging a jetliner has renewed fear about the “insider threat” to aviation security.
Despite security upgrades since the hijacking terror attacks of 2001, breaches including a gun-running operation at the nation’s biggest airport illustrate the possibility that a well-placed airline or airport employee could bring down a plane.
“Should people be worried? Hell, yeah,” says Doron Pely, a former aviation security consultant in Israel. “This doesn’t require a suicide bomber. It requires access to an airframe, an aircraft and motivation.”
Several experts interviewed for this story said it would be difficult if not impossible to stop every determined criminal or terrorist. They said steps that might beef up defenses against an insider attack — such as requiring aviation workers to go through security checkpoints just like passengers — could add costs and slow down work that goes on at airports.
While there have been several cases in recent years of insiders using their special access to board planes without going through security — in one case, even steal a plane — they haven’t harmed passengers, and there hasn’t been clamoring for tougher security.
UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democrats were quick to back working-class United Auto Workers in their strike against General Motors, delivering doughnuts and holding picket signs outside factories to show solidarity. It’s a union they long have aligned with politically.
There were no doughnuts from Republicans.
Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan, an election battleground, a year before the 2020 vote. Both here and nationally, most Republicans said little about the substance of the dispute beyond hope for a speedy resolution.
The muted response reflects the tricky politics of labor for Republicans.
Trump has made inroads with members of some unions, due partly to promises to get tough on trade and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. The message pulled key voters away from their Democratic union bosses, who Trump argues are corrupt.
Trump heads to UN with long list of deals he’s yet to close
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week.
There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians — not to mention a number of trade pacts. Some are inching forward. Some have stalled.
Trump has said repeatedly that he is in “no rush” to wrap up the deals. But negotiations take time. He is nearly three years into his presidency and the 2020 election looms, which will crimp his ability to tend to unfinished foreign business.
“I don’t blame the president for having so many deals open,” said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state who has worked for Republican and Democratic presidents. He gives Trump credit for going after China on its trade practices and talking to the Taliban to try to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
“But I do think you have to be tough-minded as citizens and grade him,” Burns said. “How’s he doing? Well, in my book, he doesn’t have a single major foreign policy achievement in more than 2½ years in office.”
Sheriff: 2 dead, 8 wounded in South Carolina bar shooting
LANCASTER, S.C. (AP) — Two men were fatally shot early Saturday at a South Carolina sports bar and eight other people were wounded in the gunfire, authorities said. A suspect was being sought.
The shooting occurred in Lancaster, a community about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Coroner Karla Deese told news outlets that the dead have been identified as Henry Lee Colvin, 39, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Aaron Harris, 38, of Kershaw, South Carolina.
Authorities said four other people with injuries were airlifted to medical facilities for treatment after the shooting and that four others received treatment locally for non-critical injuries. An eleventh person had minor injuries while falling in an attempt to flee the scene, officials said.
The shooting broke out at the Old Skool Sports Bar & Grill in Lancaster.
“I believe it was one person targeting another,” Sheriff Barry Faile said at a news conference Saturday. “Unfortunately, we had 10 victims that got shot.”
AP Top 25 Takeaways: Separating contenders and pretenders
Highlighted by three games matching top-15 teams, this was the first weekend of the season to seriously separate College Football Playoff contenders and pretenders.
Feel free to take a seat at the adults’ table No. 8 Auburn and No. 13 Wisconsin. We are looking for teams capable of disrupting the established upper tier in college football this season, led by No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama. The Tigers and Badgers might — maybe — have the stuff to crash the party.
No. 11 Michigan, you’re excused. Playoffs are the last thing coach Jim Harbaugh needs to be thinking about. His program seems to be at a crossroads. No. 15 UCF, which lost a regular-season game for the first time since 2016, will be joining the Wolverines on the don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you list.
Might as well go in chronological order.
A year after a season of great expectations went sideways for Wisconsin the country’s most self-aware program is back on track. The Badgers never stray far from their successful player development blueprint. Build a big, strong offensive line. Put a workhorse tailback behind it. Play tough and disciplined defense. Wisconsin ripped off four straight 10-win seasons before sliding to 8-5 last year.
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