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Impeachment Inquiries

November 15, 2019

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News Wrap: Trump court nominee says her past statements on date rape make her ‘cringe’

In our news wrap Tuesday, Neomi Rao, the woman nominated to take the federal appeals court seat formerly held by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voiced regrets for her past statements on rape, race and equal rights before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also, The White House played down a federal subpoena seeking a host of documents from President Trump's inaugural committee.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    In the non-State of the Union news today: The White House played down a federal subpoena seeking a host of documents from President Trump's inaugural committee. Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating who gave the money and what they might have received in return.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called it — quote — "hysteria" over the fact that Mr. Trump was elected.

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    This doesn't have anything to do with the White House. And I think the biggest focus and the thing that most Americans care about has nothing to do with the inaugural. And it has everything to do with what the path forward looks like.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Investigators are also looking into whether any foreign donors illegally contributed to the inaugural committee.

    One of President Trump's judicial nominees voiced regrets today for her past statements on rape, race and equal rights. Neomi Rao appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators on both sides criticized her for writing in college that women bear some blame if they're sexually assaulted while intoxicated.

  • Neomi Rao:

    To be honest, looking back at some of those writings, and re-reading them, I cringe at some of the language that I used. I have had a lot of experience since that time writing in college. And I don't think I would express myself in the same way.

    These are horrible crimes, and I wouldn't write anything that might be implied to blame a victim or make it less likely for a victim to come forward.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Rao currently leads the White House office overseeing deregulation. If confirmed, she'd take the federal appeals court seat held by Brett Kavanaugh before he joined the Supreme Court.

    Overseas, in Afghanistan, Taliban attacks killed nearly 50 people in two northern provinces. A pre-dawn raid killed 26 soldiers and police at an army base in Kunduz Province, on the outskirts of Kunduz City. Attacks in neighboring provinces killed 21 others. The Taliban have kept up their offensive, even amid early stages of peace talks with the U.S.

    The top U.S. commander in the Middle East says President Trump didn't talk to him before announcing American forces will withdraw from Syria.

    Army General Joseph Votel testified at a Senate hearing today, and was questioned by Maine Senator Angus King.

  • Sen. Angus King, D-I.:

    General, were you aware of the president's intention to order the withdrawal of troops from Syria before that was publicly announced?

  • Joseph Votel:

    I was not aware of the specific announcement. Certainly, we are aware that he has expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart — depart Iraq.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Sen. Angus King, D-I.:

    So you weren't — you weren't consulted with before that decision was announced?

  • Joseph Votel:

    We were not. I was not consulted.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Votel's remarks came a day after the Defense Department warned that Islamic State fighters could resurge in Syria after the U.S. withdraws.

    And this afternoon, the Senate approved a Middle East security bill that warns against any sudden pullout from Syria or Afghanistan. It also calls for new sanctions on Syria.

    Pope Francis has celebrated the first-ever papal mass on the Arabian Peninsula. Some 180,000 people gathered today at a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Francis preached humility, in one of the world's richest nations.

  • Pope Francis:

    For Jesus, on the other hand, blessed are the poor, the meek, those who remain just, even at the cost of appearing in a bad light, those who are persecuted. He taught us that greatness is not found in having, but rather in giving.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Later, the pope acknowledged, for the first time, the scandal of priests sexually abusing nuns. He said he is committed to fighting the problem.

    Millions of people, meanwhile, in Asia and around the world marked the lunar new year today. In Taiwan, thousands gathered to pray at a Buddhist temple. In the Philippines, people bought roasted pig, a delicacy, to usher in the year of the pig. And all across China, crowds visited temples and took part in festivals.

    Back in this country, Texas lawmakers complained today the state still has not received Hurricane Harvey recovery funds. The storm did major damage in 2017, and last February, Congress earmarked some $4.4 billion for Texas, but no grants have actually been made.

    The state's Republican Senators, plus 10 House members from both parties, say federal budget bureaucracy is what is standing in the way.

    An outspoken critic of the World Bank, David Malpass, looks like he will be President Trump's choice to lead the agency. It was widely reported today that the president will nominate him this week. The World Bank provides loans for projects around the world, but Malpass has complained it is piling up debt without results.

    Also today, Andrew Wheeler won a Senate committee's approval to be head of the EPA. His nomination now goes to the full Senate.

    And on Wall Street, a series of strong earnings reports gave stocks another boost. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 172 points to close at 25411. The Nasdaq rose 54 points, and the S&P 500 added 12.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": reaction to the president's comments that the U.S. will use a base in Iraq to keep eyes on Iran; a rigorous program prepares black undergraduates to go on to medical school; plus, essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah gives her Brief But Spectacular take on fearlessness.

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