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Police release men arrested over killing of Northern Ireland journalist

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Police in Northern Ireland said they had released without charge two young men arrested in the investigation into the death of journalist Lyra McKee who was shot dead during riots in Londonderry.

The pair, aged 18 and 19, had been arrested under anti-terror laws and taken to Belfast for questioning.

Announcing their release, the Police Service of Northern Ireland made a fresh appeal for witnesses who saw what happened on Thursday night to come forward.

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“I know there will be some people who know what happened but are scared to come forward but if you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives,” Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said in a statement.

McKee, 29, was shot in the head late Thursday by, police believe, dissident republicans linked to the New IRA paramilitary group as they clashed with police in Northern Ireland’s second city, also known as Derry.

The New IRA is a republican paramilitary group opposed to the shift towards non-violent tactics to bring about a united Ireland.

The 1998 Good Friday peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as “the Troubles”.

There have been concerns that paramilitaries could be seeking to exploit the current political turbulence over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland caused by Brexit.

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‘The worst day with the most damning evidence’: CNN’s Tapper explains how Sondland was very bad for Trump

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony before the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry on Wednesday generated several startling revelations, including confirmation of an explicit quid-pro-quo deal involving investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.

CNN's Jake Tapper described Sondland's testimony as " a monumental and historic moment on what may turn out to be the worst day with the most damning evidence for President Trump in the impeachment inquiry."

He then laid out all the ways that Sondland has been very bad news for the president.

"Sondland directly implicated the president in directing the operation to pressure Ukraine," Tapper explained. "Sondland is testifying that there very clearly was a quid pro quo -- this was for a White House visit for the Ukrainians in exchange for an announcement about an investigation into the company Burisma and the Bidens. Now, Sondland later said it became clear to him that the quid pro quo also, he presumed, was tied to the holdup of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that Ukraine desperately needed."

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Here are the most important moments from Gordon Sondland’s bomshell impeachment inquiry testimony

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EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a key actor in President Donald Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine for dirt on his political rivals, was in the hot seat Wednesday as Democrats built their case for impeaching the US leader.

Here are some of the key quotes from his opening statement.

- Following Trump's orders -

- "As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president. We worked with (Trump's personal lawyer Rudy) Giuliani because the president directed us to do so.

"We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my own personal view -- which I shared repeatedly with others -- was that the White House meeting and security assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind."

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‘Unusual’: Reporters surprised as a large swath of Republicans go missing during Sondland testimony

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Reporters covering the House impeachment inquiry were mystified after most of the Republican lawmakers left the room during EU ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony.

Sondland directly implicated President Donald Trump, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the scheme to withhold military aid from Ukraine until its president agreed to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

Almost all of the GOP minority on the House Intelligence Committee left the hearing room as each party's counsel questioned Sondland in 45-minute sessions.

"Unusual that most Rs left room during this round of Dem questions," tweeted John Parkison, of ABC News. "Only Jordan, Ratcliffe with GOP counsel Steve Castor - and now Nunes returns to dais. No lawmakers seated in viewing area either."

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