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South Korea’s Moon proposes weakening president’s powers

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday proposed weakening the powers of his office and lowering the voting age in a package of constitutional reforms, while allowing the head of state to be re-elected.

South Korea is a vibrant democracy but its executive presidency is extremely powerful, giving rise to a winner-takes-all politics which critics say enables corruption while reducing representation for opposition voices.

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In last year’s election Moon campaigned on a promise to reform the constitution for the first time in three decades.

The vote was a by-election to choose a successor to his ousted predecessor Park Geun-hye, toppled over a wide-ranging corruption scandal that exposed shady links between big business and politics.

Prosecutors are now seeking a 30 year jail sentence for her, and her own predecessor Lee Myung-bak was arrested last week in a separate inquiry.

Moon’s plan has to be approved by parliament before being put to a referendum in June, and its centrepiece measure would see the country’s single five-year presidency be reduced to a four year term, with one opportunity to stand for re-election.

South Korea brought in term limits after the assassination of the late dictator Park Chung-hee, Park Geun-hye’s father, who ruled from 1961 to 1979 and revised the constitution to allow him to rule indefinitely.

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He also made several constitutional changes to strengthen presidential authority — many of which remained in place decades later.

Supporters say two four-year terms would encourage longer-range thinking in the presidential Blue House, while driving incumbents to the centre ground to preserve their chances of re-election.

The bill also includes lowering the voting age from 19 to 18 and giving parliament oversight of several decisions previously made by presidential decree.

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The changes will only come into effect at the next election, and so will not apply to Moon personally.

Moon, a former human rights lawyer, has vowed to end what he described as an “imperial presidency” and said in a statement Monday: “I gain nothing from the constitutional change, which gives some of the presidential power to the people, the regional governments and the parliament.”

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Under the changes, the president will no longer be able to name the chief justice of the constitutional court, with the judges instead choosing among themselves.

Presidential pardons will have to be reviewed by a special committee, and the powerful Board of Audit and Inspection — an internal state inspection agency currently overseen by the president’s office — will be given its independence.


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Trump declares impeachment ‘dead’ — and demands apology — in late night Twitter outburst

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President Donald Trump lashed out on his favorite social media platform late Thursday evening.

Eight minutes before midnight eastern time, Trump unloaded.

Trump wrote, "Democrats must apologize to USA: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that 'United States Ambassador Gordon Sondland did NOT link financial military assistance to a request for Ukraine to open up an investigation into former V.P. Joe Biden & his son, Hunter Biden. Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigation.'”

Trump did not say why he was taking the word of a foreign official over multiple sworn testimonies from members of his own administration.

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Pelosi is ‘marrying up the facts and the law’: Ex-prosecutor says ‘bribery’ is a critical indictment of Trump

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi was masterful in using the word "bribery" to describe President Donald Trump's actions with Ukraine that are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, according to a former federal prosecutor.

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed former Assistant U.S. Attorney Berit Berger on Thursday evening's "The Last Word."

Please expand for us on why it is significant and why is it important to label this bribery," Williams said.

"So I think Nancy Pelosi was very specific in calling this bribery for two reasons," Berger replied.

"The first is that -- unlike quid pro quo -- ribery is something that most people understand, especially people who have children," she said, with a chuckle. "We all sort of have a general understanding of that."

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Giuliani henchmen showered Republican with cash — and Trump almost made him ambassador to Ukraine: report

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Yet another bombshell report has shed new light on President Donald Trump's suspicious Ukraine policies.

"At the same time that Rudy Giuliani and his now-indicted pals were pushing for President Donald Trump to remove Amb. Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine, Trump administration officials were eyeing potential contenders to take over her job. One of the people in the mix, according to three sources familiar with the discussions, was Rep. Pete Sessions, a former Congressman who called for Yovanovitch’s firing," The Daily Beast reported Thursday night. "He is also a longtime ally of the former New York Mayor, and is believed to have taken millions of dollars from Giuliani’s indicted cronies."

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