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Ocasio-Cortez scorches GOP colleagues for trying to skip committee hearing to barge into Vindman testimony

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called out her Republican colleagues for moving to adjourn a House Oversight Committee hearing so they could attempt to crash a closed-door hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry.

The motion to adjourn was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who complained that lawmakers “should not be forced to choose between attending Adam Schiff’s secret impeachment interviews or attending Committee hearings.”

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Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) tried unsuccessfully to barge into the House Intelligence Committee hearing where Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was testifying Tuesday about a phone call he heard between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart — and Ocasio-Cortez urged her GOP colleagues to focus on the jobs they’re expected to do.

“I would like to do my job,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “and I try not to get out of my job at every opportunity.”

“We’re here to talk about the very pressing issue of cutting our carbon emissions and saving our planet,” she continued, “and we have an entire political party that’s trying to get out of their job, adjourn this hearing, and I just want to know what the reason for such a disrespect of our process would potentially be.”

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“Do we have a reason for why this hearing is trying to be adjourned, or do we have just, like, a cocktail party to go to?” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) complained that he was distracted from the Oversight hearing because of the closed-door hearing taking place in the Capitol’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.

“We are running an impeachment hearing down in the basement, down in the basement of the Capitol,” he said.

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Ocasio-Cortez asked what that had to do with the oil industry, which Armstrong had pointed out was his state’s second-largest industry.

“I want to participate in this hearing, but I also feel the need in the SCIF because we’re only one of three committees that’s allowed to be in the room,” Armstrong said. “I can do a lot of things, I can’t be in two places at once. I’m completely comfortable having this hearing, I’d just prefer to have it at a time when I can participate in it.”

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The motion to adjourn failed along party lines, and committee chairman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) laid into his GOP colleagues for their attempted stunt.

“I have to say I’m very disappointed in these antics,” he said. “I have been in the SCIF room for many of these depositions, and many of the members that are afforded the ability from this committee to go there have not been in many of those depositions.”

“The fact that they seem to want to make it an issue now clearly shows they care more about process and trying to prevent the good work of this committee to do the investigative work it is obligated to do under the Constitution to protect the president at all costs, instead of doing their duty, is disappointing,” Rouda added. “The fact that we have several members here that have been to this (Environment) Subcommittee meeting for the first time ever is incredibly disappointing.”

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No let-up in French strikes as fresh turmoil hits weekend

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The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new weekend travel turmoil on Saturday, with unions warning the walkouts would last well into next week.

The challenge thrown to President Emmanuel Macron over his plans for radical pension reform has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets and key transport services brought to a standstill.

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have recalled the winter of 1995, when three weeks of huge stoppages forced a social policy U-turn by the then-government.

Unions have vowed a second series of mass demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday after big rallies on Thursday and there is expected to be little easing of the transport freezes over the coming days.

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PG&E agrees to $13.5 billion payout for deadly California fires

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California's Pacific Gas and Electric will pay $13.5 billion to settle lawsuits over its role in a series of wildfires that killed scores of people and destroyed thousands of homes, the utility giant said Friday.

Faulty PG&E powerlines were blamed for sparking last year's so-called Camp Fire in northern California -- the deadliest in the state's history -- that left 86 people dead.

Outdated facilities including vulnerable wooden poles and failure to deforest land surrounding high-voltage transmission lines were blamed for the inferno, prompting accusations the San Francisco-based firm had put profit before safety.

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Russia likely listened to Trump when he used unsecured phone to call Giuliani: security officials

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Russia likely learned of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings months before they were exposed by a whistleblower report, because he used unsecured phone lines to speak with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, current and former officials told The Washington Post.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Phone records released in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report this week showed that Giuliani made multiple calls to a blocked number listed as “-1.” Though Trump is not identified by name in the records, investigators believe the number belongs to Trump, and administration officials confirmed that Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured lines.

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