David Welna

Two years after moving the metaphorical minute hand of its Doomsday Clock to within two minutes to midnight — a figurative two-minute warning for all humanity — the science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
revealed Thursday that it has moved that minute hand another 20 seconds closer to the midnight hour.

It was Day Two of the House managers' opening arguments in another Senate impeachment trial 21 years ago. Bob Barr, a Georgia House Republican,
was speaking in the well of the Senate, making a case for removing President Bill Clinton from office.

"We urge you, the distinguished jurors in this case," Barr said to the assembled senators, "not to be fooled."

When Jason Crow went to Congress last January after becoming the first Democrat to win his swing district in the eastern Denver suburbs, he was one of only 15 members of his party who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker of the House.

Just over a year later, Pelosi announced that she had picked Crow to be one of the seven House Democrats who will be impeachment managers in the Senate trial of President Trump.

The first newly created branch of the U.S. armed forces in more than seven decades now has its first official member.

Air Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond was sworn in Tuesday as chief of Space Operations. It's the top post in what since late last month is the Pentagon's seventh military branch, the United States Space Force.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

The blessing of what's being called "the official Bible for the new U.S. Space Force" at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday is drawing an outpouring of criticism on social media and condemnation from a prominent religious freedom advocacy group.

Seeking to justify President Trump's decision to have Iran's top general killed in a drone strike, Trump's allies favor the same adjective to describe the danger that prompted that attack: imminent.

"There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by (Iranian general) Qassem Soleimani," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Thursday evening on Fox News. "We don't know precisely when, and we don't know precisely where, but it was real."

Kept in the dark beforehand and skeptical of claims the Trump administration made afterward to justify killing Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week in a drone strike, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is promising swift action this week to reassert Congress' war powers and rein in President Trump.

A wanted notice was delivered to Lebanese authorities on Thursday by Interpol for Carlos Ghosn, three days after the former head of Nissan jumped bail in Japan and surreptitiously fled to Beirut via Turkey.

In addition, seven people suspected of being accomplices in Ghosn's escape to Lebanon have been detained in Turkey.

The annual population growth rate of the United States over the past year continued a decades-long decline, dropping to its lowest level in the past century.

According to newly released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew by 1,552,022 since 2018, an increase of one-half of one percent.

A 33-year-old U.S. Army Green Beret has become the 20th American service member to be killed by hostile fire this year in Afghanistan. His death on Monday makes it the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the official end of combat operations was declared in 2014.

With the House impeachment of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says it's now up to the Senate to adjudicate the matter. "We're ready to sit there and have the trial the Constitution requires," McConnell told Fox News on Monday.

But there's still no date set for such a trial, and McConnell is blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has yet to forward to the Senate the two articles of impeachment.

Center stage in the Trump impeachment inquiry is a conversation that took place by telephone — a device that was invented 8 years after Andrew Johnson became the first U.S. president impeached by Congress.

One thing all parties in the impeachment saga can agree on: $391 million in security assistance earmarked for Ukraine was withheld this past summer by the Trump White House and released on Sept. 11.

There's far less consensus, though, about just when that hold began. It's a key question, since that date may prove crucial for establishing whether the aid freeze violated the 1974 Impoundment Control Act, or ICA.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

The question of exactly why the Trump administration held up close to $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine came up many times during the first two days of public hearings in the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry.

Less discussed has been what motivated President Trump's abrupt decision on Sept. 11 to lift the hold on that aid.

After welcoming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the opening day of public impeachment hearings for a second visit to the Oval Office, President Trump did something highly unusual for such encounters: He invited a select group of Republican senators to join the two leaders' meeting.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Constitution of the United States says an official may be impeached for a few things, quote, "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The world's two nuclear superpowers have never unleashed their atomic arsenals against one another, but two longstanding agreements that have helped keep the United States and Russia from doing so now appear to be on the verge of collapse.

President Trump has executed a policy U-turn on Syria. He's now tasking U.S. forces that he'd promised to withdraw from there with a new mission: securing the oil fields of southeastern Syria.

And it's raising questions about just what he intends to do with that oil.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

Turkey is demanding that U.S. officials call off plans to meet with Mazloum Abdi, the Kurdish commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces which fought alongside American troops to dislodge Islamic State insurgents from northeastern Syria.

"Our allies' dialogue with a terrorist wanted with a red notice is unacceptable," Turkish foreign minister Mevut Cavusoglu told Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency Friday.

Another round of federal criminal charges has hit the plea deal holdouts in the Varsity Blues college admissions bribery scandal that broke earlier this year.

For all of you who've been waiting for a tell-all account of James Mattis' 710 days as President Trump's first Pentagon chief, that book has now been written.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At a news conference in Kyiv on Friday, Ukraine's newly appointed top prosecutor announced a sweeping review of past corruption investigations that had been either shut down or split up. Fifteen of those cases, according to an official press release, involve the founder of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.

It was sometime in July when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith says he started hearing rumblings from some defense contractors. They were wondering whatever happened to the orders they'd expected after the Pentagon announced in mid-June plans to provide Ukraine with $250 million worth of weaponry.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is nearly empty these days, but President Trump is explicitly ruling out the possibility of sending thousands of captured Islamic State fighters there.

"The United States is not going to have thousands and thousands of people that we've captured stationed at Guantánamo Bay, held captive at Guantánamo Bay for the next 50 years and us spending billions and billions of dollars," Trump told reporters Friday during an appearance at the White House with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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