In our news wrap Friday, the Senate returned from break still divided on procedures for an impeachment trial of President Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again refused to commit to calling additional witnesses, while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted top White House aides should testify. Also, the confrontation with Iran sent U.S. oil prices surging 3 percent as stocks sank.
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In the day's other news: The confrontation with Iran sent U.S. oil prices surging 3 percent.
But stock prices sank, as investors sought safety in U.S. government bonds. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 234 points to close below 28635. The Nasdaq fell 71 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 23.
The U.S. Senate officially returned to business today, still at odds over how to run an impeachment trial of President Trump. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused again to commit to calling additional witnesses.
But Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted that hearing from top White House aides is critical. They spoke on the Senate floor.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:
Impartial justice means making up our minds on the right basis. It means seeing clearly, not what some might wish the House of Representatives had proven, but what they actually have or have not proven.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:
Leader McConnell has been clear and vocal that he has no intention to be impartial in this process. Leader McConnell reminds us today, and in previous days, that, rather than acting like a judge and a juror, he intends to act as the executioner of a fair trial.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has balked at submitting the impeachment articles until the Senate decides if it will hear from more witnesses.
A federal appeals court heard arguments today on whether White House officials have total legal immunity against testifying before Congress. Former White House counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed last April about the special counsel's Russia investigation, but he was directed from above not to comply from.
In Washington today, judges pressed the issue.
Thomas B. Griffith:
Has there ever been an instance of such a broad-scale defiance of a congressional request for information, in the history of the republic?
Never before in history has the Congress engaged in the sort of illegitimate inquiry that it's doing. I don't want to get into that fight, because — precisely because that is the sort of political dispute that this court shouldn't be engaged in.
The outcome of the McGahn case could have implications for other Trump aides who refused to testify at impeachment hearings.
The appeals court also held arguments today over a congressional subpoena for grand jury materials from the Russia investigation.
In Australia, officials rushed today to complete a mass evacuation of historic scope, before wildfire conditions worsen again. Several coastal towns are facing imminent danger.
Dan Rivers of Independent Television News reports from Moruya in New South Wales.
The edge of this town used to be a green calm wildlife refuge but not anymore. Now it is thick with smoke, and constantly patrolled by pilots who risk their lives to save others.
They are throwing everything they have at this disaster, but the wall of flames keeps advancing. This town, like so many others down the coast, is literally in the line of fire, with very little left to protect it.
In the hands of these pilots, the fate of so many depends. In Mallacoota, it felt like the fire was winning this war. Tourists turned into evacuees, rescued by the Australian navy, aboard, a helping hand, a hot meal and a huge sense of relief.
HMAS Choules usually accommodates 700 troops, but its commander said it can cope with many more evacuees. Up in the hills of Victoria, the tourist town of Bright is one of just dozens left almost deserted by the hasty mass evacuation.
here's tents and caravans and all sorts of things scattered around there. There's a lot of food in all the villas, and probably seen what happened over the coast, and they have said, OK, we're out of here.
Now those who are left are braced for the worst. Winds of more than 90 miles an hour tomorrow and temperatures soaring to more than 40 degrees Celsius threaten to make Saturday the most dangerous day so far, with three separate fires all possibly converging into one potentially deadly conflagration.
That report from Dan Rivers of Independent Television News.
The death toll has reached 43 in monsoon flooding around Indonesia's capital, with nearly 400,000 people forced to flee. Today, just outside Jakarta, waters receded to reveal streets turned to wastelands. Residents struggled to push damaged vehicles off muddy roads littered with debris.
Back in this country, downpours across the Deep South put parts of five states under flood warnings and watches. The National Weather Service said that flood advisories covered parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, as the storm system moved east. The region faced flooded roads and overflowing rivers.
Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe has joined a wave of House Republicans who are retiring at the end of this year. He said today that he always planned to serve only five or six terms after his initial election in 2008; 25 other House Republicans have already decided not to run for reelection.
And leaders of the United Methodist Church say they are splitting in two over allowing gay marriage and gay clergy. They announced today that one branch will endorse both practices. The other will oppose both. A church conference will vote on the plan in May.