House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, declaring he "betrayed the nation" with his actions toward Ukraine as they pushed toward historic proceedings that are certain to help define his presidency and shape the 2020 election.
The specific charges aimed at removing the 45th president of the U.S.: Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of impeachment inquiry committees at the U.S. Capitol, said they were upholding their solemn oath to defend the Constitution. Trump responded angrily on Twitter: "WITCH HUNT!"
Voting is expected in a matter of days by the Judiciary Committee, which begins deliberations Wednesday, and by Christmas in the full House. The charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump, but not without a potentially bitter trial just as voters in Iowa and other early presidential primary states begin making their choices.
In the formal articles announced Tuesday, the Democrats said Trump enlisted a foreign power in "corrupting" the U.S. election process and endangered national security by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including Democrat Joe Biden, while withholding U.S. military aid as leverage. That benefited Russia over the U.S. as America's ally fought Russian aggression, the Democrats said.
Trump then obstructed Congress by ordering current and former officials to defy House subpoenas for testimony and by blocking access to documents, the charges say.
By his conduct, Trump "demonstrated he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, " the nine-page impeachment resolution says.
"If we did not hold him accountable, he would continue to undermine our election," Pelosi said later at a forum sponsored by Politico. "Nothing less is at stake than the central point of our democracy - a free and fair election.''
Trump tweeted that to impeach a president "who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness."
He later headed to Pennsylvania for a reelection campaign rally, where he called the effort "impeachment lite" and promised it would lead to his reelection in 2020.
The outcome appears increasingly set as the House presses ahead toward impeachment as it has only three times in history against U.S. presidents, a test of the nation's system of checks and balances.
Democrats said they had a duty to act in what is now a strictly partisan undertaking, as Republicans stand with the president, because Trump has shown a pattern of behavior that, if left unchecked, poses risks to the democratic process.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman, said the president "holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution; he endangers our democracy; he endangers our national security."
"No one, not even the president, is above the law," he said, announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington.
Chairman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee said, "We stand here today because the president's abuse of power leaves us with no choice."
Trump's allies immediately plunged into the fight that will extend into the new year. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats are trying to "overthrow'' the administration. Campaign manager Brad Parscale said Democrats "don't have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it." The president's son, Eric, embraced his father's penchant for name calling, assailing Pelosi and "her swamp creatures."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would be "totally surprised'' if there were 67 votes in the chamber to convict Trump, and signaled options for a swift trial. He said no decision had been made whether to call witnesses.
In drafting the charges against the president, Pelosi faced a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution's bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the findings from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment articles more focused on Trump's actions toward Ukraine as a clearer case.
The final resolution, slim in length yet broad in concept, attempted to find common ground by linking the Ukraine inquiry to the Mueller probe in two separate lines.It said the abuse of power was consistent with Trump's "previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections" while the obstruction charge was consistent with his efforts to undermine U.S. government ''investigations into foreign interference."
Democratic leaders say Trump put his political interests above those of the nation when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call to investigate his rivals, including Democrat Joe Biden, and then withheld $400 million in military aid as the U.S. ally faced an aggressive Russia. They say he then obstructed Congress by stonewalling the House investigation.
The articles say Trump "used the powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process."
The first article, on abuse of power, says Trump "corruptly" solicited Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
The second article, obstruction of Congress, says that Trump directed defiance of the House's ability to conduct its legal oversight like no other president "in the history of the republic."
Trump insisted in a new tweet that when he asked Ukraine's president "to do us a favor" with the investigations, "'us' is a reference to USA, not me!" Democrats, however, say Trump's meaning could not have been clearer in seeking political dirt on Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 election.
Republicans stand with the president even if they don't fully address his actions. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said, the vote will be on impeachment not "whether a call is perfect.''
While the impeachment is focused on the Ukraine matter, Trump's actions toward Russia continue underlie the debate. On Tuesday Trump met at the White House with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister just back from Paris efforts to revive peace talks with Ukraine.
At the same time, a top adviser to the Ukraine president, Andriy Yermak, disputed key impeachment testimony from U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, telling Time magazine the two did not speak of the investigations Trump wanted during a Warsaw meeting.
The next steps are expected to come swiftly after months of investigation into the Ukraine matter and special counsel Mueller's two-year Russia probe.
In his report, Mueller said he could not determine that Trump's campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. But he said he could not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice and left it for Congress to determine.
Even as she pushed ahead with the impeachment proceeding, Pelosi announced an agreement with the White House on a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, a top priority for the president as well as many centrist Democrats. It, too, could get a vote next week.
A photo of a sick boy sleeping on a hospital floor because no beds were available has become one of the defining images of Britain's bruising election campaign.
It forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson onto the defensive and ignited a fierce online debate over whether it was real or fake.
The boy, 4-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, had been admitted to Leeds General Infirmary last week with suspected pneumonia. He eventually was diagnosed with flu and tonsillitis and then discharged, but not before he was photographed lying on the floor cushioned by a coat with an oxygen mask nearby. A red coat served as a blanket.
The story was splashed across Monday's front page of the left-leaning national tabloid Daily Mirror, including the photo of Jack in his Spider-Man top under the headline, "Desperate."
The photo and subsequent posts swept through British social media like a firestorm, injecting an unpredictable and explosive jolt into the intensifying political war of information just days ahead of Thursday's election.
Jack's story came to national attention in a newspaper article critical of the Conservative Party's cuts to the U.K.'s national health service.
But then a Facebook post appeared, promoting a counternarrative.
"Very interesting. A good friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital," the post began, and went on to spin the tale that the photo of Jack was a setup for the cameras.
It soon was shared thousands of times. Disinformation experts noticed interesting similarities among the posts. For starters, Facebook and Twitter users shared the exact same language of the post by either copying and pasting the wording or taking screenshots of it.
They tried to bring it to the attention of "influencers" with big Twitter followings by tagging prominent users like former soccer stars Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker, as well as Johnson, in an apparent attempt to amplify the message, said Alastair Reid, digital editor at First Draft, a nonprofit group that investigates misinformation.
There also were attempts to tag British TV journalists Robert Peston and Laura Kuenssberg, who were duped hours earlier into sharing a separate fake story about a government minister's aide being punched that apparently was spread by Conservative party insiders, Reid said.
The post also was shared widely in public Facebook groups advocating for Brexit, the Conservative party's main cause at the election.
A woman whose Facebook account was used to publish a claim that the original story was fake told The Guardian newspaper that she had been hacked.
"I am not a nurse and I certainly don't know anyone in Leeds," the woman told the Guardian, which said it was withholding her name because she said she had received death threats. The newspaper said she tried to report the hack to a fraud advice service.
The Associated Press was unable to contact the woman or Jack's mother.
But whether or not the account was hacked, the big question was how the claim got "pushed into all these different groups and front of all these people, and who was spreading it? And that's something which at this stage is hard to identify," Reid said.
The only people who have that level of information are Facebook and Twitter, he added. Facebook didn't reply to a request for comment.
Twitter investigated the accounts that were involved in spreading the message and found no signs of platform manipulation or automated activity.
"We're committed to improving the health of the public conversation on our service, particularly during elections," Twitter said in a statement. "To this end, platform manipulation is strictly against the Twitter Rules. We will take aggressive enforcement action if we identify this behaviour on our service."
Reid called it "a concerted effort to put it in front of a very wide audience. But who exactly is doing that and whether or not that is coordinated is still not clear."
The episode highlights how easy it has become to elevate hot-button issues through social media. The combination of Britain's beloved National Health Service and a sick child may have been enough to arouse strong feelings across the country.
"Emotion is the currency of social media, whether it's outrage or whether it's love or whether it's humor. That's the fuel that powers a viral post," Reid said.
And with two days until a national election, at a time when trust has become a huge issue, "this plays into some of those existing narratives and people are taking advantage of that to sow misinformation," he said.
Britain's election laws were largely written before the dawn of the internet, with online campaigning and political messaging mostly unregulated and open to exploitation by a new generation of activists who grew up with the technology.
Similar loopholes were exploited by Russian trolls during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The editor of The Yorkshire Post, which published the story that first appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post, stood by its reporting and posted on his Twitter feed a response he wrote to a reader left bewildered by the claims and counterclaims.
"I do hope we are not too late to help people like her, so unfairly manipulated and discombobulated by cynical social media messaging driven by dark forces," editor James Mitchinson tweeted.
Matt Walsh, who researches digital political communication at the University of Cardiff, called the social media storm "the nadir" of the campaign.
"The issue here is that material is being put in the public domain through some very dark networks,'' he said. "False stories are getting out there and exploding in social media. And in the end, real, people are being affected.''
Details of The Yorkshire Post's story were confirmed by a written statement issued by Dr. Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust that included an apology to Jack and his family.
Walsh said people slinging mud online before the election "may not be connected to the parties, but they are putting out misinformation in hopes of taking people in.''
Mexico's former security chief was dogged by so many allegations of corruption and wrongdoing for so long that some said it was only a matter of time before he would be arrested.
What amazed some was that it took so long, and that Genaro García Luna's arrest this week came on U.S. soil rather than in Mexico.
García Luna, 51, who left the security post nearly a decade ago, was charged in federal court in New York with three counts of trafficking cocaine and one count of making false statements. He was arrested Monday outside Dallas and at his initial appearance Tuesday his bail hearing was set for Dec. 17. He moved to the U.S. in 2012 and has been living in Florida.
"This wasn't a surprise," said Samuel González, who served as Mexico's chief organized crime prosecutor in a prior administration. González said he turned down offers to work with García Luna in the 2000s, noting that "it wasn't a question of if, but rather when" Garcia Luna would be charged.
García Luna was public safety secretary in President Felipe Calderon's Cabinet from 2006 to 2012, playing a key role in setting the government's security strategy during some of the worst and most embarrassing moments of bloody drug war that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people and tens of thousands more missing.
As security chief he was widely feared and in charge of Mexico's federal police and the rest of the civilian security apparatus, giving him unrivaled access to intelligence about law enforcement operations and investigations that U.S. prosecutors say he shared with the Sinaloa cartel. Calderon's administration was criticized at the time by many who argued it was not as aggressive against the Sinaloa cartel as it was against the gang's rivals.
Before joining Calderon's government, García Luna led Mexico's equivalent of the FBI, the Federal Investigative Agency, under President Vicente Fox.
Author José Reveles called García Luna "the omnipotent cop of Vicente Fox and later Felipe Calderon," and the questions that have arisen about him are numerous.
Reveles said that in 2005, during the Fox administration, agents from the Federal Investigative Agency "were capturing Zetas (members of a rival cartel) and turning them over to the Sinaloa cartel." Anti-drug prosecutor Santiago Vasconcelos made that accusation public, but later died in a plane crash.
In December of that year, García Luna's agents detained French citizen Florence Cassez and held her illegally until they could stage a media event. She was paraded before TV cameras and forced to participate in a staged, televised reenactment of her capture. She was held for seven years on kidnapping charges, but was released and became a cause celebre in her homeland.
In 2008, banners began appearing across the country claiming García Luna was working for the Sinaloa cartel.
Reveles, who was then covering the congress and had access to documents, said that in 2008 Mexican lawmakers took closed-door testimony from federal agents that García Luna's convoy had been intercepted in the state of Morelos by members of the Beltran Lleyva cartel, which had broken from the Sinaola cartel. The agents reported that García Luna was taken to meet with Arturo Beltran Lleyva, one of the cartel's leaders, Reveles said. García Luna denied all of it.
A 2011 Televisa telenovela called "The Team" that portrayed federal police as crime-fighting heroes was allegedly the brainchild of García Luna and financed with government money. The honest, well-trained and brave officers portrayed on the show were at odds with the public's longstanding perception of Mexico's police.
In 2012, arrested U.S. drug gang leader Édgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie," claimed in an open letter that he had paid off García Luna.
Also in 2012, rife drug corruption in the federal police force burst into the open when one federal officer opened fire on his colleagues at Mexico City's international airport.
And finally, in 2012, 14 Mexican agents under Garcia Luna's command opened fire on an SUV carrying two U.S. CIA agents near Mexico City after Mexican officials claimed their agents mistook the Americans' vehicle for one driven by gang members.
Despite all that, Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope noted, the U.S. government apparently vetted Garcia Luna, praised the drug busts he carried out, and allowed him to live in the United States for about seven years before charging him.
"Why now?" Hope asked.
While the accusations have long been out there it was unclear whether the timing of the charges could be explained by some unknown deal within the complex U.S.-Mexico relationship on drug trafficking or if it stemmed from testimony in the U.S. trial of notorious drug boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Guzmán was tried in New York in 2018. At his trial, former cartel member Jesus Zambada testified that he personally made at least $6 million in hidden payments to García Luna on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, in 2005-2007.
"I believe he enriched himself, but I don't know if it was from that (drug cartel bribes)," Hope said.
If so, it was extreme arrogance or stupidity, Hope said. He said there are a lot of ways a Cabinet secretary with budget authority and influence could enrich himself, but just one way that would be guaranteed to draw the ire of the U.S. government.
U.S. authorities said Tuesday that García Luna had amassed a fortune of millions, well beyond what a public servant could expect to earn.
González, the former prosecutor, said that "this issue was obvious."
He added, "you can't hide money that easily."
Guillermo Valdes, the former intelligence chief in Calderon's administration, expressed surprise at García Luna's arrest, saying, "The guy I knew and who I dealt with did his job."
But Valdes said the arrest would be an opportunity to clarify the allegations that have swirled round García Luna for years.
"If he was corrupt he should be punished, and if not his name should be cleared," Valdes said.
Six people, including a police officer and three bystanders, were killed in a furious gun battle Tuesday that filled the streets of Jersey City with the sound of heavy fire for hours, authorities said.
The dead included the two gunmen, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said.
The slain officer, Detective Joseph Seals, 40, was credited by his superiors with having led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, and might have been trying to stop an incident involving such weapons when he was cut down by gunfire that erupted near a cemetery, authorities said.
The shooting then continued at a kosher supermarket about a mile away, where five more bodies were found, Kelly said.
"It's a really tough day for the city of Jersey City," Mayor Steven Fulop said. Seals "was one of the best officers for getting the most guns off the streets. He was a good cop."
Two other officers were wounded but were later released from the hospital, authorities said.
The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from New York City. Seals, who worked for a unit called Cease Fire, was shot around 12:30 p.m. The gunmen then drove a stolen rental van to another part of the city and engaged police in a lengthy shootout.
Kelly said when police responded to the area of the kosher store, officers "were immediately engaged by high-power rifle fire."
A video shot by a witness shows a police officer on the ground by a car, apparently wounded. Another officer goes to him, helps him up and the two run around a corner as gunshots ring out. Seconds later, as a police cruiser pulls up in front of the store, about a dozen shots are heard in rapid succession.
"Our officers were under fire for hours," the chief said.
Inside the grocery store, police found the bodies of who they believed were the two gunmen and three other people who apparently happened to be there when the assailants rushed in, authorities said. Police said they were confident the bystanders were shot by the gunmen and not by police.
The kosher grocery is a central fixture in a growing community of Orthodox Jews who have been moving to Jersey City in recent years. Authorities were unable to say why the gunmen went there.
Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, who shops at the kosher store and attends a synagogue next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz.
"He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn't get back for hours," Shapiro said. "His wife was inside the store. He said, 'I hope my wife is safe.'"
The names of the victims inside the store were not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.
City Public Safety Director James Shea said that authorities believe the bloodshed was not an act of terrorism but that it was still under investigation.
The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.
SWAT teams, state police and federal agents converged on the scene, and police blocked off the area, which in addition to the school and supermarket included a hair salon and other shops. Dozens of bystanders pressed against the police barrier to capture the action on their cellphones, some whooping when bursts of fire could be heard.
Video shot by residents recorded loud volleys of gunfire reverberating along one of the city's main streets and showed a long line of law enforcement officers pointing guns as they advanced, yelling to bystanders, "Clear the street! Get out of the way!"
" It's like firecrackers going off," said Andy Patel, who works at a liquor store about three blocks away. "They were shooting like crazy. ... The cops were clearing everyone off the streets."
Police also removed what they described as a possible "incendiary device" from the rental vehicle and sent it for examination by a bomb squad. The results of that examination were not available Tuesday evening.
Seals had been on the Jersey City Police Department since 2006. In addition to his work with the illegal guns unit, he was cited for heroism in a Christmas Eve 2008 incident in which he and another officer burst through the window of a home and stopped a sexual assault that was being carried out against a 41-year-old woman.
Seventh grader Zamir Butler said his class was coming back inside from the playground at Sacred Heart, which sits across the street from the grocery store, when he heard the shots. At first he thought they were thunder, since it had rained earlier.
"Everybody was running up the stairs to get to safety in the classroom," he said. "A few of the kids were crying. They told us to stay behind the wall and stay down."
Afghanistan's former president argued Tuesday that Washington helped fuel corruption in his nation by spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two decades without accountability.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hamid Karzai responded to findings from a trove of newly published documents that successive U.S. administrations misled the public about the war in Afghanistan.
Karzai said the documents, obtained by The Washington Post, confirm his long-running complaints about U.S. spending.
The documents also describe Karzai, Afghanistan's president for 14 years, as having headed a government that "self-organized into a kleptocracy." Karzai has denied wrong-doing but hasn't denied involvement of officials in his government in corruption.
Karzai became Afghanistan's president after a 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban government. Thousands of pages of documents recently obtained by the Post portray U.S. governments lying about successes and hiding failures. After 18 years and over $1 trillion dollars in U.S. taxpayer money spent on the war, the Taliban is now at its strongest and controls or holds sway over half the country.
Karzai said the U.S. spent hundreds of millions of dollars in its war on terror, with the money flowing to contractors and private security firms, and that this fostered corruption.
"What could we do? It was U.S. money coming here and used by them and used for means that did not help Afghanistan," Karzai said.
He argued that there was no accountability.
"I'm glad this report is out, and I hope this becomes an eye-opener to the American people and that the U.S. government begins to change its attitude now toward Afghanistan," he said.
Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the U.S. based Wilson Center has said, "I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that the U.S. used corruption as a tool, but it has long been suspected — and these new documents make quite clear — that U.S. officials have thrown huge amounts of money at Afghanistan knowing full well that this would lead to more corruption than development or peace."
The Pentagon said Monday there had been "no intent" to mislead Congress or the public, and that the Defense Department gave regular updates to lawmakers on U.S. challenges in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been trying to broker a peace deal that would pave the way for a pullout of U.S. forces.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday held the first official talks with Afghanistan's Taliban since previous seemingly successful efforts ran aground in September.
The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a U.S. statement. Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict.
The Taliban continue to stage staging near-daily attacks that target Afghan security forces and government officials but also kill scores of civilians.