5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Former NSC official Tim Morrison confirms Ukraine quid pro quo during public testimony

  • Vindman, Williams testify on Trump-Zelensky call in impeachment hearing

  • Congress puts shutdown fight on hold with stopgap spending resolution

  • Amnesty International: At least 106 people killed in Iran protests

  • Police wait out final holdouts in Hong Kong university standoff

During his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Tim Morrison, the former top National Security Council official for Russia and European affairs, confirmed that there was a quid pro quo when it came to Ukraine. Democratic counsel Dan Goldman asked Morrison about a Sept. 1 conversation between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Andriy Yermak, a Ukrainian official. One of the main focuses of the impeachment inquiry has been whether U.S. military assistance to Kyiv was tied to Ukraine launching investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who once served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Goldman asked Morrison to share what Sondland said he told Yermak, and Morrison responded: "That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted."

Source: Vox

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a national security aide, and Jennifer Williams, a top foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence, testified Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry, describing their firsthand knowledge of President Trump's dealings with Ukraine and his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Both Williams and Vindman were on the call. Williams said she found the call "unusual" and "inappropriate" and that no national security officials supported withholding Ukrainian aide. Vindman testified Trump was supposed to address Ukrainian corruption with Zelensky but didn't, undermining Trump's argument his request for investigations into his political opponents were about rooting out corruption.

Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

House lawmakers on Tuesday voted 231-192 to pass a continuing resolution that will postpone a government shutdown fight until Dec. 20. Broader spending negotiations remained stalled. Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over funding for President Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats are trying to avoid providing Trump with the $5 billion he's requested to for the wall by allocating that amount to the Homeland Security bill. The continuing resolution also included provisions providing funding for U.S. census efforts and a 3.1 percent military pay raise. The Senate is expected to pass the measure quickly, and Trump reportedly supports the action.

Source: The Hill

At least 106 protesters are feared dead in Iran, after the government gave security forces authority to use firearms, water cannons, tear gas, and batons against demonstrators, Amnesty International reports. The protests began on Nov. 15 in response to the government's decision to raise fuel prices, spread across 100 cities. Amnesty International says it has reviewed video and spoken with eyewitnesses and activists who say Iranian security forces are using excessive and lethal force against protesters. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, although there are reports some fires have been set at banks and seminaries. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has called the protesters "villains."

Source: Amnesty International

The last remaining pro-democracy, anti-government protesters are still holed up in Hong Kong's Polytechnic University. By late Tuesday evening, police said that around 800 people had left the sealed-off campus which for the last 10 days has become the site of one of the most intense confrontations between the demonstrators and police since protests began five months ago. But dozens of people were still holding out inside the campus early Wednesday waiting for the government to meet their demands, which appears unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, police are still surrounding the campus and waiting for the remaining protesters to emerge. Since the police siege of the university began Sunday, more than 1,000 people were arrested — including those who mounted daring escape attempts — and hundreds have been treated at hospitals for injury.

Source: The Associated Press, The Guardian
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