Published: 10:04 pmUpdated: 9:04 pm
US hails Turkish cease-fire; Kurds must vacate border area
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire in the Turks’ deadly attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, requiring the Kurds to vacate the area in an arrangement that largely solidifies Turkey’s position and aims in the weeklong conflict. The deal includes a conditional halt to American economic sanctions.
After negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hailed the five-day cease-fire as the way to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion. He remained silent on whether it amounted to a second abandonment of America’s former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.
Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after President Donald Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. military from the area. Trump was widely criticized for turning on the Kurds, who had taken heavy casualties as partners with the U.S. in fighting IS extremists since 2016.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States had accepted the idea of a “safe zone” long pushed by Turkey, and he insisted Turkish armed forces will control the zone. He also made clear that Turkey will not stop at a previously limited zone; he said Turkish control of the Syrian side of the border must extend all the way to the Iraqi border.
The commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria, Mazloum Abdi, told Kurdish TV, “We will do whatever we can for the success of the cease-fire agreement.” But one Kurdish official, Razan Hiddo, declared that Kurdish people would refuse to live under Turkish occupation.
White House: Ukraine aid held up in part over election probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Donald Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine was linked to his demand that Kyiv investigate the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, a shifting new explanation about events at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
The admission from acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney undercut the president’s position that there was no quid pro quo during Trump’s phone call with the Ukraine president that sparked the House investigation.
The sudden turn of events had immediate fallout. Trump’s lawyer distanced the president from Mulvaney’s account. The Justice Department said the explanation was news to them. And Democrats cast Mulvaney’s remarks as further evidence wrongdoing as Trump sought a “favor” from Ukraine.
Trump, traveling in Texas, appeared to stand by his top aide, calling Mulvaney a “good man.”
“I have a lot of confidence” in him, Trump said.
Cummings, powerful congressman leading Trump probe, has died
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68.
Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district , which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore and more well-to-do suburbs.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led investigations of the president’s government dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.
Trump criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”
Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.
US picks Trump resort for G-7; critics call choice ‘brazen’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s suggestion that his Miami golf resort host next year’s Group of Seven summit became a reality Thursday, sparking an outcry from critics who called it the most blatant example yet of him using the power of his office to boost his business empire.
“There are folks who will never get over the fact that it’s a Trump property, but we’re still going to go there,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in announcing Trump National Doral as host. “It’s not the only place. It’s the best place.”
Mulvaney said the Doral was picked for its location and amenities, and the president will not profit because the resort will be booked “at cost.” But the decision takes Trump’s apparent conflicts of interest to a new level because, unlike foreign dignitaries who can choose to stay at his Washington hotel, they will have no choice but to spend money at his resort during the June 10-12 summit.
“He is doubling down on his corruption,” said ethics lawyer Kathleen Clark of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. “He’s daring anyone to prevent him from further enriching himself from the presidency.”
The decision comes as several lawsuits accuse Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bans the president from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments. It also comes as Trump has repeatedly accused Joe Biden’s family of profiting from public office because of Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine when his father was vice president.
Trump, in Texas, bashes Democrats as ‘crazy,’ unpatriotic
DALLAS (AP) — President Donald Trump tried to turn impeachment rancor into a political rallying cry Thursday, using a Texas rally to bash Democrats as “crazy” and unpatriotic as they push forward with their investigations.
Setting a dire tone, Trump told his supporters, “At stake in this fight is the survival of American democracy itself.”
“Don’t kid yourselves,” he said of the Democrats, “I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country.”
A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats walked out of a White House meeting that had devolved into an insult-fest, Trump denounced her as “crazy Nancy.”
“She’s nuts,” he told the crowd at a packed stadium in Dallas.
Boris Johnson gets EU Brexit deal; next hurdle is Parliament
BRUSSELS (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s career of disdain for the European Union was a thing of the past on Thursday as he and the bloc’s leaders celebrated their long-sought Brexit deal. He now faces an opponent closer to home: his own Parliament.
With the ink barely dry on the proposal and Johnson still happily backslapping EU leaders at a summit in Brussels, a chorus of British party leaders said they would vote against the deal. Crucially, the Northern Irish party that supports Johnson’s minority government also stood opposed, leaving it uncertain if the prime minister would get the votes he needs to ratify the agreement.
After an intense week of talks and with only two weeks to go until Britain’s scheduled departure on Oct. 31, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker broke the tension with a tweet Thursday morning: “We have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment.”
The deal found a way to avoid a hard border between Ireland, an EU member, and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland. It crucially also lays a path for Britain’s orderly departure, which Britons approved in a referendum more than three years ago.
European leaders unanimously endorsed the proposal on Thursday, formally sending it to the British Parliament, which will consider it in a special session Saturday.
US envoy says Giuliani was given role on Ukraine policy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the European Union told House impeachment investigators Thursday that President Donald Trump instructed him and other envoys to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine policy and that he was “disappointed” by the directive. Gordon Sondland spoke to lawmakers for around 10 hours.
Lawmakers leaving the closed-door deposition said there were gaps in his testimony, and said Sondland responded “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall” many times. But they said it was enlightening and damning as the political appointee and Trump donor described Giuliani’s takeover of U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
“It is clear you have a shadow shakedown going on by Giuliani,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House intelligence panel. “I think it is just important for the American people to understand Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump and Donald Trump is Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy Giuliani is doing something it is because he’s the lawyer for Donald Trump, and lawyers don’t take actions that are not authorized by their clients.”
Sondland’s closed-door testimony to three House committees was aimed at distancing himself from Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Sondland said he was concerned that the president delegated to Giuliani foreign policy responsibilities that he thought belonged to the State Department, but Sondland followed Trump’s instructions anyway. He insisted that he played no role in encouraging investigations of Biden, telling lawmakers that he thought it improper to invite a foreign government to conduct criminal probes to influence American elections.
The ambassador was the latest in a series of witnesses to be privately interviewed by three House committees conducting the impeachment investigation. He was one of several current and former Trump administration officials who have provided new information — and detailed diplomats’ concerns — about Trump and Giuliani and their attempts to influence Ukraine.
Plan to close notorious Rikers jail complex by 2026 approved
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City lawmakers voted Thursday to close the notorious Rikers Island jail complex, which has become synonymous with violence and neglect, and replace it with four smaller jails intended to be more modern and humane.
The City Council voted 36-13 to replace the complex with four smaller jails located closer to the city’s main courthouses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.
Rikers is scheduled to shutter by 2026, ending a decadeslong run as one of the world’s largest jails.
“Rikers island is a symbol of brutality and inhumanity and it is time for us to once and for all close Rikers Island,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat who shepherded the plan through the Council. “As a city we must do everything we can to move away from the failed policies of mass incarceration.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other Democrats support the plan, which has a price tag of more than $8 billion, in part because of a belief that in an age of falling crime rates, huge jails are part of the public safety problem rather than part of the solution.
Fort Worth police shooting shatters community trust
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Yashunn Hale isn’t sure he would call the police to report a crime. Not since an officer killed Hale’s neighbor in her home.
Residents of Atatiana Jefferson’s Fort Worth neighborhood said they were hesitant to dial 911 even before a white officer shot the 28-year-old black woman through a bedroom window Saturday. Now, some in the overwhelmingly black and Hispanic area say calling law enforcement is too dangerous.
“It would have to be extreme” to call, said Hale, a 51-year-old black man. “It’s too much 50/50 in the air. It’s not that I’m scared of the police, but you just don’t know who you’re going to catch on the wrong day.”
Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew late at night when she was killed by an officer responding to a call about an open front door. Aaron Dean, 34, did not identify himself as an officer before opening fire and there was no evidence he knocked on the door. He resigned and was charged Monday with murder.
The woman’s death shattered the trust police have been trying to build with communities of color in the Texas city of 900,000, which has long had complaints of racially unequal policing and excessive force.
Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes injures right knee against Broncos
DENVER (AP) — Struggling to straighten his right knee, Patrick Mahomes tossed his helmet to the side and covered his face with both hands.
The Kansas City quarterback was hurt on a sneak Thursday night against Denver.
Mahomes picked up a first down on fourth-and-short in the second quarter. Once the pile began to clear and Mahomes didn’t jump up, his teammates immediately checked on him. Seeing his condition, receiver Tyreek Hill put his hands on his helmet in concern — a feeling shared by a legion of Chiefs fans. Mahomes is a big reason why Kansas City was a preseason favorite to reach its second straight AFC championship game.
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. showed his respect by coming over and shaking Mahomes’ hand.
One of the members of the Kansas City medical team worked on the knee to help straighten it out. A cart was summoned to take him away, but Mahomes instead put an arm around each trainer and made his way off the field. Mahomes, who entered the game with a sore ankle, then slowly made his way into the locker room.