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In our news wrap Monday, Congress and President Trump have left Washington for the holidays, but the fight over a Senate impeachment trial goes on. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are arguing over witnesses and documents. Also, a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility, even as peace talks are ongoing.
President Trump and Congress have left Washington for the holidays, but the fight over an impeachment trial goes on.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued today over witnesses and documents.
McConnell spoke on FOX News and Schumer to reporters in New York about the best way to proceed.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:
To go through the opening arguments, to have a written question period, and then, based upon that, deciding what witnesses to call. We haven't ruled out witnesses. We have said, let's handle this case just like we did with President Clinton.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:
It's hard to imagine a trial not having documents and witnesses. If it doesn't have documents and witnesses, it's going to seem to most of the American people that it is a sham trial, a show trial, not to get at the facts.
While that argument continues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far declined to send impeachment articles to the Senate. Meanwhile, House Democrats said today that additional charges could arise.
That is if federal judges order former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify and also grant access to grand jury material from the Russia investigation.
An American soldier was killed in Afghanistan today in a roadside bombing. The U.S. military says it happened in northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed responsibility. The attack came amid ongoing peace talks to end the nearly 18-year war; 20 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan this year.
In Iraq, political leaders missed another deadline for naming a new prime minister, in the face of new mass protests. Thousands turned out across the country on Sunday and again today. They rejected any candidate belonging to ruling political groups.
In Baghdad's central square, demonstrators wrote out memories about the months-long unrest. They said none of the existing parties represents them.
Man (through translator):
We have entered a constitutional vacuum. And, consequently, there is no government. They want to appoint a prime minister, paying no heed to the people who have been protesting against them. We don't want anyone the political parties nominate. We, the people, are the biggest bloc.
At least 400 protesters have been killed since October, many of them at the hands of government security forces.
And in neighboring Iran, there is word that some 1,500 people were killed during a crackdown on protests there last month. Reuters reports the count from three unnamed officials in Iran's Interior Ministry. The report says that Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered security officials to do whatever it took to stop the protests.
Christmas week in Australia has begun with no relief from a wildfire disaster. More than 200 fires burned across four states today and fed fears that climate change is causing longer, fiercer fire seasons. That, in turn, focused new criticism on the prime minister.
Rupert Evelyn of Independent Television News has our report.
Blistering heat, a tinder-dry landscape and destruction on a huge scale, dozens of homes destroyed as the bushfires rage. The searing flames engulf property and possessions.
Fighting these fires is a battle against the elements. It seems to conjure up images of a war zone. Safety of people is paramount, some rescued with a few belongings they could grab as the fire closed in.
It's the worst I have ever seen it. I have seen a few bushfires come and go, you know, but nothing like this.
Less than 50 miles west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains, and the mass of twisted, charred metal is all that remains of one home.
You look closely under the metal, it's just melted everything. Just everything is just melted. And it's just — yes, it just took everything in its path.
The community of Balmoral hit repeatedly on all sides. Exhausted firefighters relentlessly defending the village ran out of the one commodity they needed, water.
We actually ran out of water in every appliance that we had. Homes were burning everywhere. The bush was burning. And that's a horrific feeling.
Surveying the destruction, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, under fire himself for taking a holiday in Hawaii, when, 5,000 miles away, his country burned, back in the bush on the front line and the front foot, defending his country's dependence on the coal industry and climate change.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
It's not for me to make commentaries on what those outside of Australia think Australians should do. We will do in Australia what we think is right for Australia.
Rescues apply as much to animals as people, one thirsty koala saved from the blaze.
Temperatures here have dropped, but with a forecast of yet more intense heat and wind, Christmas for many will be simply about survival.
That report from Rupert Evelyn of Independent Television News.
A Japanese government ministry is proposing to gradually release or evaporate radioactive water at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. The water cools melted-down reactor cores, and is kept in tanks, so that it doesn't leak into the ocean or waterways. But now the site is running out of storage space. The Fukushima plant was largely destroyed in a 2011 tsunami.
Back in this country, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was forced out today in the fallout from the 737 MAX debacle. The planes have been grounded worldwide since March, after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
We will talk about the company's troubles later in the program.
And, on Wall Street, the Boeing news pushed the company's stock higher and helped blue chips in general. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 96 points to close at 28551. The Nasdaq rose 20 points, and the S&P 500 added two.
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