House lawmakers abandon Ukraine and Israel aid package vote as they head off on recess: Live

By Isaac M February 16, 2024

Related: Mitt Romney calls Donald Trump’s efforts to stop border resolution ‘appalling’

The House of Representatives has broken up for its winter recess without voting on the $95bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan passed by the Senate.

The Senate stayed in session last weekend to ensure the bill passed but House Republicans have expressed opposition over its failure to include provisions to address illegal immigration at the US southern border with Mexico, a subject they are incensed about and which inspired them to impeach homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week.

The upper chamber moved to pass a standalone bill after an earlier bipartisan deal including border security measures was rejected, allegedly at the insistence of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who believes he can beat Joe Biden in November on that issue and therefore needs it to be kept alive.

The bill that was passed now faces an uncertain future in the House, where speaker Mike Johnson has said he will not bring it up for a vote.

“The Republican-led House will not be jammed or forced into passing a foreign aid bill that was opposed by most Republican senators and does nothing to secure our own border,” Mr Johnson insisted at a press conference.

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Naomi Biden rebukes Carlson for Putin interview in wake of Navalny death

The president’s granddaughter has attacked the right-wing broadcaster for his fawning interview with the Russian despot in Moscow last week as the news breaks of the less-than-mysterious death of brave opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an Arctic prison.

Joe Sommerlad16 February 2024 13:30

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House lawmakers leave for recess without voting on Ukraine and Israel aid bill

The House of Representatives has broken up for its winter recess without voting on the $95bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan passed by the Senate.

The Senate stayed in session last weekend to ensure the bill passed but House Republicans have expressed opposition over its failure to include provisions to address illegal immigration at the US southern border with Mexico, a subject they are incensed about and which inspired them to impeach homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week.

The upper chamber moved to pass a standalone bill after an earlier bipartisan deal including border security measures was rejected, allegedly at the insistence of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who believes he can beat Joe Biden in November on that issue and therefore needs it to be kept alive.

The bill that was passed now faces an uncertain future in the House, where speaker Mike Johnson has said he will not bring it up for a vote.

“The Republican-led House will not be jammed or forced into passing a foreign aid bill that was opposed by most Republican senators and does nothing to secure our own border,” Speaker Johnson insisted at a press conference.

(AP)

Joe Sommerlad16 February 2024 13:00

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Trump boasts about protecting Second Amendment – hours after Kansas City parade shooting

Donald Trump boasted that he did “nothing” to alter the Second Amendment during his time as president – just hours after a mass shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade left one person dead and dozens more injured.

Horror unfolded on Wednesday when gunfire broke out close to Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.

Police said that 22 were shot including one woman – local radio DJ Lisa Lopez-Galvan – who died from her injuries. Nine children were among those treated for gunshot wounds.

Three individuals, who have not been named, were detained by police for questioning.

Not long after the shooting, Trump appeared at his latest campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday evening – where he was campaigning ahead of the Palmetto State’s upcoming primary on 24 February.

“Nobody took care of our Second Amendment, during that four-year period nothing happened with our Second Amendment,” Trump told his supporters.

He added: “We will protect innocent life and we will restore free speech.”

Some of the deadliest mass shootings in American history took place during Trump’s tenure in the White House from 2017 to 2021.

Joe Sommerlad16 February 2024 12:30

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White House says Super Bowl parade shooting ‘cuts deep’ into soul of America

The White House has said the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade “cuts deep” into the soul of America.

“We pray for the families who lost loved ones and wish a speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

More than half of the 22 victims who suffered gunshot injuries are under the age of 16, police said.

The incident, which killed one person, unfolded close to Union Station in Kansas City on Wednesday 14 February.

So far, police have detained three individuals, two of whom are juveniles.

White House says Super Bowl parade shooting ‘cuts deep’ into soul of America

Joe Sommerlad16 February 2024 11:30

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Jack Smith responds to Trump’s request for Supreme Court to block ‘immunity’ ruling

In a filing submitted to the high court on Wednesday, Mr Smith emphasised the need for a prompt trial ahead of the 2024 presidential election saying a delay “threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict.”

The special counsel said the case poses a “unique national importance” since it involves Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election as the current Republican frontrunner, and his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

He asked the court to deny Mr Trump’s attempt to delay the trial until during or after the 2024 presidential election as they await a ruling from the Supreme Court on his presidential immunity defence.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that struck down his immunity defence against prosecution for crimes allegedly committed while he was in office, potentially setting up another major constitutional question involving the former president’s campaign in front of the nation’s highest court.

Maroosha Muzaffar, Ariana Baio16 February 2024 10:30

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Trump, facing 91 criminal charges, demands Biden impeachment in return

As former president Donald Trump prepares for four trials on a total of 91 criminal charges in four separate jurisdictions, the disgraced, twice-impeached ex-chief executive is lashing out with new demands for his allies in Congress.

Mr Trump, who routinely and falsely accuses President Joe Biden of masterminding the prosecutions against him in New York and Georgia state courts, as well as two other sets of federal criminal charges in Washington, DC and Florida, called on his Republican friends in the House of Representatives to impeach Mr Biden as a matter of revenge.

Speaking at a Wednesday night rally in South Carolina ahead of the Palmetto State’s Republican presidential primary, Mr Trump said the House “ought to impeach” the 46th president for allegedly “weaponising the DOJ, the FBI, and even the local DAs and attorney generals against his political opponent”.

There is no evidence that Mr Biden has played any role in the criminal cases against Mr Trump in any way.

A set of charges he will be tried on in New York City next month stems from a years-long probe into whether he falsified business records, a crime in New York State, to cover up an affair with an adult film star ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The investigation was started while he was in office, when Mr Biden was a private citizen.

Andrew Feinberg16 February 2024 09:30

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What we know about the ‘national security threat’ that has Washington riled up — and what we don’t

Washington reacted like a bomb went off after news broke on Capitol Hill of a “national security threat” about which all members of Congress had received a classified briefing.

For hours on Wednesday morning, rumours churned on Twitter before details began to come together. An early leak indicating that the intelligence was related to both a “foreign” security threat as well as outer space even drew excited murmuring about the possible discovery of alien life.

But if you were hoping to see some little green men, you better stick to reruns of X-Files. A clearer picture of the issue emerged later Wednesday and early Thursday; US officials are concerned about a new Russian capability centred around what The New York Times called a “space-based nuclear weapon” with anti-satellite capabilities. The purpose of this system, the Times further reported, is alleged by US officials to be threatening America’s military, communications and private satellite network.

A few other details remain unclear as leaks trickle out. The capability was described as not based “in orbit” by several current and former US officials who spoke to Reuters. But others who spoke to the Times contended that the capability did indeed raise questions about whether Russia was prepared to violate an international ban on orbital nuclear weapons.

There’s reportedly no cause for alarm, not yet: Reuters separately reported on Thursday that a source who had received the briefing from US intelligence agencies on the matter described the threat as not “urgent”.

The language used to describe the classified information by those who have seen it has differed marginally; most agree with the description of the threat as “serious” but no cause for alarm. Reuters has also cited read-in sources as saying that the anti-satellite weaponry is not an “active” capability of the Russian military — likely meaning it is in early or late-stage testing.

The Times backed up that assertion, citing officials who said there was a “limited” window of time to prevent Russia from deploying this new weapons system.

John Bowden16 February 2024 08:30

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VIDEO: US ‘closely monitoring’ national security threat from Russian anti-satellite weapon

US ‘closely monitoring’ national security threat from Russian anti-satellite weapon

The Independent16 February 2024 06:30

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Fani Willis’ timing of relationship with Trump prosecutor contradicted in Georgia hearing

Thursday’s hearing in Atlanta hinges not on whether Fulton County DAFani Willis and prosecutor Nathan Wade had a relationship — as the pair have already admitted they were romantically involved — but whether Ms Willis could be disqualified from the case. The defence has argued that the couple have financially benefited from Ms Willis hiring Mr Wade to prosecute the former president’s case.

The former DA’s office employee’s testimony came in direct contradiction to Nathan Wade’s testimony.

Robin Bryant-Yeartie, a former DA’s office employee and once “good friend” of Ms Willis, took the stand on Thursday morning. She testified that Ms Willis told her the pair first met at a municipal court judges conference in October 2019.

The pair “possibly” could have been dating in November 2019, Ms Bryant-Yeartie said.

“You have no doubt that their romantic relationship was in effect from 2019 until the last time you spoke with her?” defence attorney Ashleigh Merchant asked.

“No doubt,” she replied.

Mr Wade said his relationship with Ms Willis began in March 2022. His testimony on Thursday is consistent with the timeline he had written in a sworn affidavit. This would have been after Mr Wade began working for the DA’s office in November 2021.

Kelly Rissman16 February 2024 05:30

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Frustrated Trump judge sets hush money trial date as he throws out bid to dismiss case

The former president will stand trial on 25 March, what will likely be the first trial among the four criminal cases against him, as well as the first criminal trial against any current or former president.

With Mr Trump in attendance, New York Judge Juan Merchan held a pretrial hearing on Thursday in which he confirmed that the trial would go ahead as planned on the previously scheduled court date and rejected the former president’s attorneys’ attempts to dismiss the case altogether.

Mr Trump entered the courtroom in New York County Supreme Court in lower Manhattan at 9.30am ET on Thursday and strode past a velvet rope to the wide wooden defence table in front of the judge. He briefly stood by himself at the table before his attorneys joined him.

Based on that, Judge Merchan determined that “at this point, I can tell you we will plan for jury selection on 25 March”.

The trial is expected to last five to six weeks, with 15 to 17 days for the prosecution’s arguments, running from 9.30am to 4.30pm ET daily, except Wednesdays.

Mr Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche, who appeared caught off guard by the judge’s adherence to the trial schedule, called the decision a “grave injustice”.

“President Trump has been indicted in three other cases,” said Mr Blanche, who also is the lead attorney in a federal case charging Mr Trump for mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property.

He said the former president faces an “extremely compressed” schedule to prepare for his four criminal cases, all tentatively set to go to trial in 2024, at a time when he is seeking the Republican nomination for president to face President Joe Biden in November.

Alex Woodward and Gustaf Kilander16 February 2024 04:30

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