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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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“Having reviewed the Supplemental Submission, the Committee strongly believes that there is no legitimate basis for the Office of Vice President to assert that the information contained therein relating to your September 18 call with President Zelensky is classified,” Schiff wrote in the letter.

The letter even implied that the classification may have even been erroneously and improperly used to conceal embarrassing information or violations of the law. Schiff reminded Pence’s office that an executive order requires that in “no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified” for reasons of embarrassment or illegality. However, this might be a bluff or an effort to coax Pence to declassify by floating that idea that he would have nefarious reasons for keeping the call secret.

Schiff also pointed out that Pence has previously said publicly that he would have no problem with the Sept. 18 call transcript being released. The office’s decision to now claim the call is partially classified is “contradictory of your public avowals in favor of transparency,” Schiff wrote.

When Williams was initially deposed by the committee, she was directly asked if Pence in the Sept. 18 call brought up any specific investigations — not of the Bidens, Burisma, Crowdstrike or 2016 — the ask that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. It’s not clear what details or updates she included in her supplemental submission, but she said she provided the information “for the sake of completeness.”

Schiff asked Pence to respond by Dec. 11.


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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