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‘Only did the right thing when he got caught’: Trump reportedly knew of whistleblower complaint when he unfroze Ukraine aid

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“It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds.”

President Donald Trump was reportedly aware of the whistleblower complaint against him when he released $390 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine in early September, prompting allegations that Trump only released the funds because his actions came under serious scrutiny.

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“The timeline is clear,” said Sean Eldridge, founder of progressive advocacy group Stand Up America. “Trump only released the aid because he got caught.”

The New York Times, citing two anonymous officials familiar with the matter, reported late Tuesday that “Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country.”

“Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid,” the Times noted. “But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistleblower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.”

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If the Times reporting is accurate, it means Trump was also aware of the whistleblower complaint when he told U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in September that there was no “quid pro quo” with Ukraine.

According to House Budget Committee documents, Trump officially froze the aid to Ukraine on July 25, the same day as the president’s phone call with Zelensky. Democrats have accused the president of unlawfully withholding the aid, which was appropriated by Congress.

“It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) told CNN Tuesday night.

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The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget resigned in part over concerns about Trump’s order to withhold the Ukraine funds.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, offered a simplified timeline of events on Twitter in response to the Times reporting, which was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal.

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“One more time for those playing along at home,” tweeted Cicilline. “1) He tried to bribe Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. 2) He got caught. 3) He confessed. 4) We will hold him accountable.”


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Billionaires are now richer than 60 percent of the world’s population: report

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The world's billionaires have doubled in the past decade and are richer than 60 percent of the global population, the charity Oxfam said Monday.

It said poor women and girls were at the bottom of the scale, putting in "12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day," estimated to be worth at least $10.8 trillion a year.

"Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist," Oxfam's India head Amitabh Behar said.

"The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies," Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam.

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Alcohol-infused gummy bears infuriating candy giant Haribo

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Ander Mendez and his friends were hoping they'd struck it rich when they came up with the idea of selling alcohol-infused gummy bears -- until they found themselves in the sights of sweet giant Haribo.

Now, these three Spaniards say they're afraid of being shut down by the German confectionery king, which is famed for its vast array of jelly sweets and was founded 100 years ago in the western city of Bonn.

In a not-so-sweetly worded legal letter, Haribo has accused their startup of infringing its trademarked little bear.

But these graduates from the northern Spanish port city of Bilbao insist they will carry on producing their "drunken gummy bears" -- "because people like them."

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Threatened and endangered species among the animals hard by Australia’s bushfires

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Australia's bushfires have burned more than half the known habitat of 100 threatened plants and animals, including 32 critically endangered species, the government said Monday.

Wildlife experts worry that more than a billion animals have perished in the unprecedented wave of bushfires that have ravaged eastern and southern Australia for months.

Twenty-eight people died in the blazes, which have swept through an area larger than Portugal.

Officials say it will take weeks to assess the exact toll as many fire grounds remain too dangerous to inspect.

But the government's Department of the Environment and Energy on Monday issued a preliminary list of threatened species of plants, animals and insects which have seen more than 10 percent of their known habitat affected.

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