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‘The veneer has been lifted’: Adam Schiff says Sondland testimony exposed Trump White House conspiracy

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the “veneer has been torn away” from the White House scheme to pressure Ukraine into helping President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman reacted to EU ambassador Gordon Sondland’s bombshell testimony during a brief break in the impeachment hearing, and Schiff put top administration officials on notice.

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“This is among the most significant evidence to date and what we have just heard from Ambassador Sondland is that the knowledge of this scheme, this conditioning of the White House meeting, of the security assistance to get the deliverable that the president wanted, these two political investigations that he believed would help his re-election campaign was a basic quid pro quo,” Schiff said.

“It was the conditioning of official acts for something of great value to the president, these political investigations,” the chairman added. “It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”

Schiff warned that other senior administration officials were directly implicated by Sondland’s testimony.

“We also have heard for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive,” Schiff said. “The secretary of state (Mike Pompeo) was aware of it, the acting chief of staff (Mick) Mulvaney was aware of it, and, of course, at the very top, Donald Trump through his personal lawyer and others was implementing it, and so this I think only goes to underscore just how significant the president’s obstruction of this investigation has been.”

“We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” he added, “just why Secretary Pompeo and President Donald Trump do not want any of these documents provided to Congress because apparently they show, as Ambassador Sondland has testified, that the knowledge of this scheme to condition official acts, the White House meeting and $400 million in security assistance to an ally at war with Russia was conditioned on political favors that the president wanted for his re-election. So I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry.”

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North Korea conducts ‘crucial test’ at Sohae launch site: report

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North Korea has conducted another "crucial test" at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media reported Saturday, as nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled with a deadline approaching.

The announcement comes a day before US Special Envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun is set to arrive in Seoul for a three-day visit, and after the United States tested a medium-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

"Another crucial test was successfully conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 22:41 to 22:48 on December 13," a spokesman for the North's National Academy of Defence Science said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

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US-China trade deal gets tepid reception

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US officials announced a truce in the trade war with China with much fanfare, but economists and trade experts call it largely a victory for Beijing.

After a dispute that raged for close to two years, with several fumbled efforts at a resolution, the US agreed to cancel planned tariffs and rollback others immediately, without a similar commitment from China to lift tariffs it imposed on the US.

"Pardon me if I don't pop champagne, but aside from a cessation of continued escalation, there is not much worth cheering," leading China expert Scott Kennedy said in an analysis of the agreement.

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Is Donald Trump a supporter of Israel? Sure — he’s also an anti-Semite

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On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, who is both a White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law, published an op-ed article in The New York Times defending the president's recent executive order supposedly meant to combat anti-Semitism. The controversial measure will establish that "Title VI of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on race, color or national origin covers discrimination against Jews" and defines anti-Semitism using the language of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

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