Man Opens Fire On Cuban Embassy In Washington

 

A man was arrested early Thursday after opening fire on the Cuban embassy in Washington, the US Secret Service said.

The unidentified person fired multiple rounds from a high-powered assault rifle, damaging the building but injuring no one, according to the Secret Service and the embassy.

“This morning at approximately 2:15 am, US Secret Service officers responded to the Embassy of Cuba following reports of shots fired,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

“One individual was arrested for being in possession of an unregistered firearm as well as unregistered ammunition, assault with the intent to kill, and possession of a high capacity feed device.

“No injuries were reported at the scene.”

Washington’s police department confirmed the incident but said an investigation was in the hands of the Secret Service, which often handles investigations involving foreign diplomats.

READ ALSO: Hungary Eases Coronavirus Lockdown

Local media said the man fired about 30 rounds at the embassy, located on 16th Street at the edge of the Adams Morgan neighborhood, a normally bustling area full of bars and restaurants but which has been stilled by the coronavirus shutdown.

The embassy posted pictures of bullet holes in the exterior walls and columns, a window and a light fixture.

“Mission staff was not injured and is safe. Investigation is in progress,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted.

“It is the responsibility of states to protect diplomats accredited to them and their facilities,” he said.

The administration of President Donald Trump has chilled relations with Havana, reversing course after an opening initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.

In October 2017, it expelled 15 Cuban diplomats after a rash of incidents in which US embassy staff in Cuba reported as yet unexplained head pains, dizziness and hearing loss.

AFP

Biden Under Pressure To Address Sexual Assault Allegation

emocratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

 

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Wednesday he has a proud history of campaigning against sexual violence, as he faces mounting pressure to respond to an assault allegation made by a former aide.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has been accused by Tara Reade of assaulting her in 1993, when she was a 29-year-old staff assistant in the office of Biden, then a US senator from Delaware.

Biden’s campaign has denied the claims, but he himself has not responded directly to the allegations by Reade, now 56.

However he touted his record of supporting abuse victims when asked a question about military prosecutions for felonies including rape at a virtual town hall late Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Bollywood Mourns Another Star As Rishi Kapoor Dies At 67

“As you know, I wrote and championed the Violence Against Women Act, transformed how this country gets justice and support to survivors and led the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign to fight sexual assault on campuses. As VP, I fought to provide a special victims counsel for sexual assault cases in the military,” the 77-year-old said.

He promised that “all options are on the table” when it came to assaults in the military.

Biden spoke as the furor surrounding the claim by Reade continues to grow, despite a statement issued by his campaign on April 13 which said the incident “absolutely did not happen.”

The claim has drowned out other news about Biden, such as his search for a running mate, who he has pledged will be a woman.

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has flooded his Twitter feed with mocking references to Reade’s allegation, ignoring the string of accusations made by women against his own candidate.

More than a dozen women have accused the real estate mogul of sexual misconduct including rape before he became president.

Biden has not been asked directly about Reade’s allegation in either the interviews he has given from his Delaware home, where he has been confined because of the coronavirus pandemic, or various online campaign events.

‘Everything shattered’

According to Reade, the assault took place in August 1993 in a hallway on Capitol Hill.

“We were alone, and it was the strangest thing,” Reade said in a late March interview on the Katie Halper Show podcast. “There was no, like, exchange, really, he just had me up against the wall.

“His hands were on me and underneath my clothes and, yeah, he went, he went down my skirt but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers,” she said.

“He was kissing me at the same time,” she said.

Reade said she pulled away and Biden allegedly said: “Come on man, I heard you liked me.”

“For me everything shattered at that moment,” Reade said.

Reade has since recounted her story to other media outlets, and filed an incident report with the Washington police in early April — seen by AFP — in which she did not name Biden.

“This is an inactive case,” a police spokesman told AFP when asked about the status of the matter.

Reade told the right-leaning Washington Examiner that she had filed the report to show she was serious and establish a paper trail.

Other women have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past, and Reade’s initial claims were similar — less severe than her most recent allegations.

The New York Times reported that it had interviewed Reade on multiple occasions, along with her friends and others who worked for Biden in the early 1990s.

According to the Times, no former Biden staffers corroborated her account, and a pattern of misconduct was not uncovered.

A friend said Reade had told her about the alleged assault at the time. A second friend said Reade told her in 2008 of a traumatic experience while working in Biden’s office.

Reade said she had also related the incident to her brother.

The allegations have led some supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who dropped out of the Democratic race and endorsed Biden, to call on the former vice president to end his White House bid.

“Out of respect for survivors and for the good of the country, he should withdraw from the race,” said Claire Sandberg, the former national organizing director of the Sanders campaign.

COVID-19: Trump To Sell Ventilators To Developing Countries To Fight Virus

FUS President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

President Donald Trump’s administration said Friday it would sell ventilators to at least four developing countries to fight the coronavirus, saying US needs were being met.

Trump said he spoke by telephone to the presidents of Indonesia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras and promised that the United States would send the vital medical equipment.

“We will be sending them desperately needed Ventilators, of which we have recently manufactured many, and helping them in other ways,” Trump wrote on Twitter of his call to President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.

Michael Kozak, the top US diplomat for Latin America, confirmed the United States was selling the ventilators.

“We’re seeing our own needs met; we can become an exporter again,” Kozak told reporters.

“I think in many of these cases that the countries just want to buy them. They aren’t asking us for financing,” he said.

But Kozak said some countries may use assistance from the United States to make the purchases.

Governors led by New York’s Andrew Cuomo said they were seriously short of ventilators at the start of the pandemic and had faulted the federal government.

But Cuomo last week said New York would send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland as the situation had stabilized in his own state — the worst-hit by the pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in the United States.

With companies such as Ford and General Motors switching to ventilator production, Trump has boasted that the country as a whole is in good shape and said foreign leaders were asking him for supplies.

“No country is equipped like we are. We have 11 different places making ventilators,” Trump told reporters Thursday.

“Our country, as you know, doesn’t need them now. Our governors are very happy,” Trump said.

In his tweets, Trump praised Honduras and El Salvador for helping curb emigration to the United States — a signature issue for the mogul-turned-president.

Guatemala is also a major source of migrants but has temporarily stopped accepting deported citizens from the United States due to coronavirus infections.

Kozak said that Guatemala — not mentioned in Trump’s tweets on ventilators — was not being punished.

“There isn’t some hard linkage here between cooperation on removals and ventilators. We’re trying to get medicine and medical supplies to anybody who needs them”

Trump Tests Negative For Virus As US Expands Europe Travel Ban

In this file photo US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.
In this file photo US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.

 

President Donald Trump has tested negative for the novel coronavirus, his physician said, following concerns over his exposure to a disease that has paralyzed the globe.

Trump agreed to the test after coming in contact with several members of a Brazilian presidential delegation visiting his Florida resort who have since tested positive for the virus.

“This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative,” the president’s physician Sean Conley said in a Saturday memo.

Trump, 73, had dismissed concerns over his exposure to the disease which has killed at least 51 Americans and upended the rhythm of daily life across the country, with millions working from home and schools shut.

New York, the most populous US city, saw its first coronavirus death on Saturday, as store shelves were stripped bare after days of panic buying.

Across the Hudson River in Teaneck, New Jersey, Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin called for a citywide self-quarantine after 18 cases were confirmed in the township.

“What we are saying is that we are ground zero,” Hameeduddin said. “Expect or act as though you’re going to infect somebody or somebody is going to infect you.”

Vice President Mike Pence announced further curbs on travel to the United States, saying a ban imposed on European nations over the pandemic would be extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland Tuesday.

The restrictions threw airports across the country into disarray, with incoming travelers forced to wait hours for medical screenings before passing through customs.

Illinois governor JB Pritzker said the long lines at Chicago’s O’Hare airport were “unacceptable.”

“The federal government needs to get its [email protected]#t together. NOW,” he tweeted.

Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said his office was working with airlines to improve screening times.

Trump advised against non-essential travel and said officials were also considering imposing domestic restrictions.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “We want this thing to end.”

In an official proclamation, he also named Sunday a national day of prayer “for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up some $40 billion in disaster relief funds.

The US House of Representatives also passed a bill — crafted by Democrats in consultation with the Trump administration — to provide billions of dollars for free virus testing, emergency paid sick leave and family leave. It is expected to pass the Republican-majority Senate.

An end to hand-shaking

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 5,800 lives in at least 137 countries.

Repeatedly attacked for sending out mixed signals on the health crisis, the president raised eyebrows on Friday when, contrary to medical advice, he was seen shaking hands as he gathered his coronavirus response team at the White House.

On Saturday, he blamed habit — “people put their hand out… you don’t think about it” — but said it would have to change.

“Maybe people shouldn’t be shaking hands for the long term,” said Trump, a self-declared germophobe.

Trump’s virus test came after contact with the Brazilian delegation as well as US lawmakers and political leaders who have gone into self-quarantine over potential infection.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was on Saturday awaiting results of a virus test after she came down with flu-like symptoms. She reportedly attended an event in Florida with Trump on Monday and flew back to Washington on Air Force One.

A broader travel ban

On Saturday a 30-day US ban took effect on all travel from the EU’s Schengen border-free zone, part of a global clampdown on travel to curtail the virus.

Pence said the ban would include Britain and Ireland as of midnight EST on Monday (0400 GMT on Tuesday). Both countries had been excluded from the initial ban.

“Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home. Legal (US) residents can come home,” Pence said.

Trump also aimed a new jab at the US Federal Reserve, saying he wanted it to be “much more proactive” in moving to protect Americans from the widespread economic dislocation caused by the pandemic.

But the president seemed otherwise subdued during Saturday’s briefing, uncharacteristically offering praise to Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump also tweeted that he had a “nice conversation” with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and that it was “great to hear that his wonderful wife Sophie is doing very well.”

Trudeau has been tele-governing since his wife was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday.

AFP

Coronavirus Time Bomb: America’s Uninsured And Brutal Work Culture

Workers in protective clothes stand before passengers disembarkating off the Diamond Princess cruise ship, in quarantine due to fears of new COVID-19 coronavirus, at Daikoku pier cruise terminal in Yokohama on February 21, 2020. Hundreds of people have been allowed to leave the ship after testing negative for the disease and many have returned to their home countries to face further quarantine. Philip FONG / AFP

 

Like many Americans, bartender Danjale Williams is worried about the growing threat of the novel coronavirus.

What makes the 22-year-old in Washington even more frightened: The thought of medical bills she just can’t afford, as one of almost 27.5 million people in the United States who don’t have health insurance.

“I definitely would second guess before going to the doctor, because the doctor’s bill is crazy,” she said. “If it did come down to that, I don’t have enough savings to keep me healthy.”

As the virus begins spreading in the west of the country, where the first death was reported Saturday, public health experts warned the US has several characteristics unique among wealthy nations that make it vulnerable.

READ ALSO: South Korea Wages ‘All-Out Responses’ To Virus With 376 New Cases

These include a large and growing population without medical insurance, the 11 million or so undocumented migrants afraid to come into contact with authorities, and a culture of “powering through” when sick for fear of losing one’s job.

“These are all things that can perpetuate the spread of a virus,” said Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist at UC Riverside.

The number of Americans without health insurance began falling from a high of 46.7 million in 2010 following the passage of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), but has risen again over the past two years.

The current figure is about 8.5 percent of the population.

Getting through the door

Public health experts often worry about the destructive potential of a pandemic in poorer parts of the world like sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.

These poverty-plagued regions have hospitals that are ill-equipped to stop the spread of infectious diseases, or to adequately care for patients needing breathing assistance, which the most severe cases of COVID-19 require.

By contrast, the US has some of the world’s best hospitals and medical staff, but those not lucky enough to have good insurance through their employer, and not poor enough to qualify for state insurance, often opt out of the system entirely.

A routine doctor’s visit can run into hundreds of dollars for those without coverage.

“I think that it’s possible if this has the sustained spread, that might highlight some of those health care disparities that we already know about and are trying to work on, but haven’t figured out a way to solve,” said Brian Garibaldi, the medical director of Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit.

That’s not to say uninsured people have no recourse if they fall seriously ill.

US law requires that people who are truly sick get the care they need, regardless of ability to pay.

Abigail Hansmeyer, a Minnesota resident who along with her husband is uninsured, said that if she did fall ill, “we may seek out the emergency room for treatment.”

But being treated doesn’t mean the visit was free and the uninsured can be lumped with huge bills after.

“So we have to very carefully consider costs in every situation,” the 29-year-old said.

Presentee-ism

One of the key messages the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out about the coronavirus is to stay home if you have mild respiratory symptoms, except to go to the doctor once you have called in and if they think you need to.

“But a lot of people, depending on their jobs, their position and their privilege, are not able to do that,” said Brown.

The US is alone among advanced countries in not offering any federally mandated paid sick leave.

Though private companies offer an average of eight days per year, only 30 percent of the lowest paid workers are able to earn sick days, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

For many of these people, missing even a day’s work can make a painful financial dent.

An October 2019 nationwide survey of 2,800 workers by the accounting firm Robert Half found that 57 percent sometimes go to work while sick and 33 percent always go when sick.

– Vaccine cost fears –
As the global death toll from the virus approaches 3,000 and the US braces for a wider outbreak, the race is on to develop vaccines and treatments.

Current timeline estimates for the leading vaccine candidate are 12-18 months, but will it be affordable for all? That question was put to Health Secretary Alex Azar in Congress last week.

His response: “We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.”

Ed Silverman, a columnist for industry news site Pharmalot, panned the comment as “outrageous.”

“No one said profits are verboten,” he wrote. “But should we let some Americans who may contract the coronavirus die because the price is out of reach?”

AFP

US Military Begins Adjusting Presence In Africa

A US military convoy drives on the outskirts of the Kurdish-controlled northern Syrian city of Qamishli on February 12, 2020. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP

 

The United States announced Wednesday an initial plan for adjusting its military presence in Africa amid concerns the country will reduce forces fighting radical jihadists on the continent.

The first change will see part of one infantry unit, around 800 troops, replaced with a similar number of military trainers and advisors to support local forces in “spotlight African countries,” Defense Department officials said.

“The message I’m relaying to my (African) partners is we are not walking away,” US Army Africa commander Major General Roger Cloutier told reporters.

“We are still engaged.”

The move is the first resulting from a sweeping Pentagon review of the presence of US forces around the world in an effort to better align that presence with US defense priorities — which list China and Russia as the principle threats to the country.

That could mean reducing US deployments meant to confront Islamic militant threats, including in Africa.

But the Pentagon is also wary of leaving a vacuum in certain areas, like in Africa, for the Chinese and Russians to fill, which could give them strategically valuable footholds.

The United States has about 6,000 military personnel throughout Africa, including 800 in West Africa, 500 Special Forces in Somalia and an unspecified number at an air base in Niger.

The US depends especially on French and various African partner forces in West Africa in field operations, but the US strategy has moved to mostly seeking to “contain” the extremist groups rather than degrade them.

“The terrorist threat in Africa remains persistent and, in many places, is growing,” said the Pentagon’s inspector general in a recent report on US counterterrorism operations in Africa.

US Praises Pakistan For Jailing Alleged Mastermind Of Mumbai Attack

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

The United States on Wednesday praised Pakistan’s jailing of the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack, a step long sought by Washington as well as India.

The conviction “of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward — both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” tweeted Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia.

She was referring to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that both Washington and New Delhi hold responsible for the siege of the Indian financial capital that killed 166 people.

LeT is the militant wing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Islamist charity led by Saeed.

Trump Remains A Threat To American Democracy – House speaker

 

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday and said he remains “an ongoing threat to American democracy.”

“Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution,” Pelosi said in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

“The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to,” Pelosi said.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.

Kenya Leader Warns Against US, China Rivalry In Africa

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta gives a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. Eric BARADAT / AFP

 

 

Kenya’s president said Wednesday that African nations should be free to cooperate with both the United States and China, warning that foreign powers were exacerbating the continent’s divisions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was speaking on a visit to Washington, where speculation has built that the United States will seek to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Kenya, in what would be a first with an African nation.

On the eve of his talks with President Donald Trump, Kenyatta said he was “very concerned” about a return to the Cold War era when Africans had to choose between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“Western countries, and their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East, are returned to competition over Africa, in some cases weaponizing divisions, pursuing proxy actions and behaving like Africa is for the taking.

“Well, I want to tell you it is not,” Kenyatta said at the Atlantic Council think tank.

China has been funding billions of dollars worth of infrastructure around the world, including a modern new rail-line between Nairobi and the port of Mombasa, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.

The United States has been increasingly vocal in urging developing nations to be wary, warning that they can be saddled with unpayable debts to Beijing for projects built largely with Chinese labor.

Asked about the criticism of China, Kenyatta said: “We don’t want to be forced to choose. We want to work with everybody, and we believe that there is an opportunity for everybody.

“There are those areas indeed where America stands out and has much, much better strengths in certain fields. On the other hand, you have the Chinese who build hospitals in seven days.”

First African trade pact?

The White House said Trump would speak to Kenyatta about “new opportunities to advance cooperation and trade.”

Scott Eisner of the US Chamber of Commerce said the private sector was increasingly paying attention to rumors that the US and Kenya would start free-trade negotiations.

“There are some big numbers you could hit over the next six to 10 years should a big deal come together,” Eisner, head of the Chamber’s US-Africa Business Center, told reporters on a conference call.

He pointed to Kenya’s medical device industry, tech sector, and textiles as areas for trade and said the country had proven to be a “good market entry point” to East Africa.

The United States has free-trade agreements with 20 countries but none are in Africa.

Bob Lighthizer, the US trade representative, said in 2018 that the Trump administration would choose one African country for a “model” free-trade agreement.

Driving the momentum for a trade deal, a US law that sets import preferences for African goods is set to expire in 2025.

Passed by Congress in 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act lets sub-Saharan nations export an array of products to the United States tariff-free if they meet conditions such as maintaining a market-based economy, protecting labor rights and combating corruption.

Trump is not known for his interest in Africa. But the State Department announced Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would pay his first visit to Africa from February 15 to 19, stopping in Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia.

Trump Says Reports Of Kobe Bryant’s Death Are “Terrible News”

 

US President Donald Trump said he was sorry to hear reports that basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in California.

“That is terrible news!” Trump tweeted.

READ ALSO: NBA Legend Kobe Bryant Killed In Helicopter Crash

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles, celebrity website TMZ reported, saying five people are confirmed dead in the incident.

US Health Agency Reports Five Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus

People wearing masks stand on a street in a shopping district in Hong Kong on January 26, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. DALE DE LA REY / AFP

 

US health authorities said Sunday there are now five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more are expected.

Nancy Messonnier, head of the respiratory disease section at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said around 100 people in 26 states are being investigated for the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Of the confirmed cases, all five people had traveled to Wuhan, Messonier said during a conference call with reporters.

“Every case we have had in the United States is someone who has had direct contact in Wuhan,” she said.

Messonier said there are two cases in California and one each in Arizona, Illinois and Washington state. Until now the toll was three.

While Chinese officials have launched an extraordinary emergency response, Messonier insisted that the health risk for Americans, in general, remains low “at this time.”

Trump ‘Should Be Removed’ – Adam Schiff

File Photo: US President Donald Trump 

 

Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff called dramatically for the Senate to remove President Donald Trump from office Thursday, saying the US leader cannot be trusted to put the country’s interests ahead of his own.

“The American people deserve a president they can count on, to put their interest first,” said Schiff.

His impassioned words capped a long day in which Democrats detailed Trump’s illicit scheme to pressure Ukraine to help his 2020 reelection campaign.

“You know, you can’t trust this president to do what is right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,” Schiff added.

“He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.”

“Because right matters. And truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.”

‘It is illegal’

As the 100 senators sat as jurors and millions of Americans watched on television, House impeachment managers mustered scores of videos, internal documents and extensive witness testimony to lay out a strong case that the US leader abused his powers.

Schiff’s prosecution team detailed how Trump flagrantly undertook last year to force Kiev to help him tarnish his possible 2020 reelection rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

“President Trump used the powers of his office to solicit a foreign nation to interfere in our elections for his own personal benefit,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler told the chamber.

“Since President George Washington took office in 1789, no president has abused his power in this way,” Nadler said.

“The president has repeatedly, flagrantly, violated his oath… The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. And it is dangerous.”

‘Unfair and corrupt’

Over nine hours the Democrats methodically dismantled Republican claims that Trump did nothing wrong.

They left few doubts that Trump’s sole motivation in secretly freezing aid to Ukraine last July was to force Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce one investigation into Biden and a second into an unsupported story that Kiev helped Democrats in the 2016 election.

To puncture a key White House argument that the US constitution requires a specific crime to remove a president, they played old videos in which two of Trump’s closest defenders, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and storied criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, said that abuse of power itself is a clear impeachable offense.

And they detailed the extensive role of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the scheme to pressure Zelensky, even while US intelligence and diplomatic chiefs disagreed with it.

“Donald Trump chose Rudy Giuliani over his own intelligence agencies. He chose Rudy Giuliani over his own national security advisors… That makes him dangerous to our country,” said Schiff, who leads the House Intelligence Committee.

Uphill battle

Yet, three days into arguments into the historic trial, there were few signs that any of the Republican majority that Trump commands in the Senate would buy into the evidence and turn against him.

“What we heard from the managers yesterday, the day before, it is the same thing, day after day after day,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso.

“We’re hearing the same things over and over,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. “We will be putting on vigorous defense of both facts and rebutting what they’ve said.”

At the White House, Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets attacking the process as “loaded with lies and misrepresentations.”

“Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!” he tweeted

Witness issue

Democratic prosecutors will complete their arguments Friday with a focus on the second impeachment charge, obstruction of Congress, before Trump’s legal team holds the floor in his defense for three days.

Democrats are hoping their arguments will at least persuade some Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, to support their call to issue subpoenas next week for four top current and former Trump aides to testify, and for internal White House records about the Ukraine affair.

But all indications were that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in coordination with the White House, will seek to stifle witness requests and bring the trial to a close with a vote to acquit Trump by the end of next week.

Both Trump and McConnell said early this week that the White House could claim executive privilege to refuse the subpoenas, forcing a court challenge that could prolong the case well into February.