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News Wrap: House votes down Trump impeachment resolution

In our news wrap Wednesday, the House killed a resolution to impeach President Trump, a proposal offered by a Texas Democrat who accused the president of proposing bigotry and racism. Most Democrats voted with Republicans. Also, Donald Trump Jr. spent part of his day at the Capitol, answering questions about his Russia contacts before the House Intelligence Committee.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And on another Middle East policy matter, the president called today for Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of war-ravaged Yemen and to allow in humanitarian aid.

    In the day’s other news, Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken came under growing pressure to step down, with a groundswell of demands from more than 20 Democratic colleagues. It started after a seventh woman accused Franken of sexual misconduct. At least a dozen Democratic women in the Senate led the calls to resign, including California’s Kamala Harris.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris:

    I believe, first of all, that he’s done a very good job on so many issues that are pressing issues for our country today. But the numerosity and the type of complaints and accusations have led me to believe that it’s probably in the best interests of a lot of people that he resigns.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Senate’s top two Democrats also urged Franken to resign. He said that he will have an announcement tomorrow, amid reports that he will step down.

    Separately today, a former intern added a new allegation of sexual harassment against Congressman John Conyers. The Michigan Democrat announced his resignation yesterday.

    Meanwhile, TIME magazine devoted its person of the year cover to what it called the silence breakers, women who have shared accounts of harassment and abuse.

    The U.S. House of Representatives today voted down a resolution to impeach President Trump. Texas Democrat Al Green offered the proposal. He accused the president of promoting bigotry and racism. Most Democrats voted with Republicans to set the resolution aside. Democratic leaders said it is premature to raise impeachment.

    Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, spent part of his day at the Capitol, answering questions from the House Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russia. Lawmakers have focused on a Trump Tower meeting in 2016. It involved a Russian lawyer who had promised compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin confirmed today that he will seek a fourth term, in 2018. Serving another six years would make Putin the country’s longest-serving ruler since Joseph Stalin. The communist dictator held absolute power over the old Soviet Union for nearly 30 years.

    It is day three of an outbreak of wildfires across Southern California, with no end in sight. Instead, the largest fire has now covered 100 square miles, and a new one erupted today in Los Angeles.

    William Brangham has our report.

  • William Brangham:

    As the hours go by, the flames rage unchecked, consuming everything before them.

    Overnight, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County jumped a major highway, marched over hillsides, and sent thick plumes of smoke into the sky.

  • Man:

    Mandatory evacuation due to the fire.

  • William Brangham:

    The biggest and most destructive fire, it’s spurred evacuation orders for nearly 30,000 people and destroyed almost 150 homes.

  • Douglas Jones:

    Something blew over and caught the palm trees on fire. When the palm trees caught on fire, it just started.

  • William Brangham:

    Pastor Douglas Jones watched as the flames lit up the hills behind his church.

  • Douglas Jones:

    We have families that go to the church that live all around here. Fire department has done a wonderful job. They saved all of our friends’ homes on this side of the street.

  • William Brangham:

     In all, five destructive blazes are now burning across Southern California. They stretch from northern Ventura County to San Bernardino in the east.

    This morning’s newest eruption was the Skirball Fire. Here, firefighters doused one of the several houses burning the wealthy Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. The wind-whipped flames forced a temporary closure of the 405 Freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dense with multimillion-dollar homes.

    At the same time, there was at least a glimmer of hope. Firefighting aircraft were back in the air, dropping water and fire retardant. Most were grounded yesterday as winds gusted to 60 miles an hour.

  • Ralph Terrazas:

    We’re experiencing favorable wind conditions.

  • William Brangham:

    Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said crews are trying to take advantage of the gentler winds while they last.

  • Ralph Terrazas:

    We are anticipating a continuation of the red flag conditions throughout the week, at least until Friday. That means our winds speeds will be above 25 miles per hour and a relative humidity will be below 15 percent.

  • William Brangham:

    Meanwhile, scores of homeowners are left to sort through the ash and rubble of what the fires leave behind.

  • Patrick Clensay:

    It was roaring toward us, and faster than anything we had ever imagined. We have had occasions when, oh, it didn’t seem that close or it didn’t seem too threatening, but this here was no joke.

  • William Brangham:

    It’s no joke either for the hundreds of firefighters battling the blazes, some of them pushed to the very limits of their endurance.

    And there may be more to come. The fire department warns that, anywhere there is brush, there could be danger.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.

  • Judy Woodruff:

     Wildfires ravaged Northern California two months ago. Today, the state insurance commissioner said that claims totaling more than $9 billion have been filed since then.

    A Mexican man in San Francisco now faces federal charges after being acquitted of murder in state court. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty last week of shooting a woman to death in 2015. The case helped fuel the national debate over immigration. The new federal indictment accuses Zarate of illegally entering the country and illegally having a gun.

    A federal judge in Detroit today sentenced a former Volkswagen executive to seven years in prison for emissions cheating. Oliver Schmidt was also fined $400,000. He has admitted to misleading U.S. regulators and to violating clean air laws. Schmidt is one of several V.W. officials who were accused in the scandal.

    The U.S. homeless population is up this year, for the first time since 2010. A federal report today counts nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country. Of that total, some 193,000 have no access to nightly shelter, and instead sleep in cars, tents or on the street. The biggest increases are on the West Coast, where rents have soared in several major cities.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 39 points to close below 24,141. The Nasdaq rose 14 points, and the S&P 500 slipped a fraction.

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