Parnas sat down for high-profile interviews on Wednesday with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and CNN host Anderson Cooper. During those interviews, which aired on Wednesday night and will continue Thursday, Parnas said the president knew about a Ukrainian scheme headed by Rudy Giuliani to obtain dirt on potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden.
Here’s everything we know about Parnas, highlights of what he told Maddow and Cooper, and how it might impact Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial.
750 by Rob Tornoe. MOVED
^NAFTA is history as Senate gives final approval to USMCA
SENATE-USMCA:LA _ Congress gave final approval to the new North American trade accord Thursday, with the Republican-controlled Senate moving swiftly during President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings to hand him one of his biggest wins since occupying the White House.
There was never any doubt that the Senate would pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement after the House overwhelmingly approved it last month in rare bipartisan fashion.
950 (with trims) by Don Lee in Washington. MOVED
^Giuliani associate Lev Parnas links Devin Nunes to Trump’s Ukraine effort: ‘He knows who I am’
PARNAS-NUNES:WA _ Rep. Devin Nunes on Wednesday publicly acknowledged for the first time that he spoke with Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who allegedly helped carry out President Donald Trump’s campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government for investigations that would benefit Trump’s reelection.
Nunes, R-Calif., was first connected to Parnas six weeks ago, when a House investigation published phone records showing that Nunes spoke with Parnas and with Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney. Nunes initially said he did not recall the conversation with Parnas.
This week, Nunes said in an interview on Fox News that he remembered the call.
700 by David Lightman in Washington. MOVED
^House passes resolution to nullify Trump student loan rule
CONGRESS-STUDENTLOANS:CON _ The House on Thursday passed mostly along party lines a measure that would overturn a Trump administration rule rolling back protections for student loan borrowers, but the margin was well short of being veto-proof.
The joint resolution passed 231-180 with six Republicans joining 225 Democrats in favor. It now heads to the Republican-led Senate but must wait until after the presidential impeachment trial.
450 by Caroline Simon in Washington. MOVED
^Is Trump really the MVP of the GOP?
2020-TRUMP-GOP:CON _ After a tumultuous 2018 that saw them lose their House majority, Republicans often seem eager to dismiss those midterm results as typical while pining for the next election when President Donald Trump will top the ballot and drive turnout in their favor.
A closer look, however, shows Trump may not be as extraordinary a candidate as he gets credit for, and his status as GOP savior might be overrated.
550 by Nathan L. Gonzales in Washington. MOVED
^Liz Cheney is not running for Senate in Wyoming
CONGRESS-CHENEY:CON _ Rep. Liz Cheney, the only woman in House Republican leadership, announced Thursday that she is not running for an open Senate seat in Wyoming.
“I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working take our Republican majority,” Cheney told the Casper Star-Tribune.
250 by Bridget Bowman in Washington. MOVED
^Florida Supreme Court upholds ‘fines and fees’ restriction for ex-felon voting rights
FLA-FELONS-VOTING:OS _ The Florida Supreme Court confirmed the status quo for ex-felons in Florida, ruling Thursday they must pay all fines, fees and restitution before their right to vote is restored under Amendment 4.
In an advisory opinion following a request from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the court ruled Amendment 4’s language stating that “all terms of sentence” needed to be completed before voting rights are restored “can only reasonably be understood to similarly encompass ‘the ultimate sanctions imposed,’ including ‘costs.’ (Or) the phrase encompasses ‘all obligations’ or ‘all matters.'”
650 by Steven Lemongello in Orlando, Fla. MOVED
^Trump signs disaster declaration for quake-hit Puerto Rico, governor says
PUERTORICO-AID:LA _ President Donald Trump signed a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico on Thursday, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give aid to the island still reeling from earthquakes that shut off power, collapsed buildings and wrecked infrastructure, the island’s Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced said in a tweet.
200 by Erin B. Logan. MOVED
^Man accused of killing his family in Celebration ordered held without bail
FLA-BODIESFOUND:OS _ Anthony Todt, the man accused of killing his wife and three children in Celebration, was ordered held without bail during a brief hearing at the Osceola County jail Thursday afternoon.
Todt, 44, did not speak during the hearing, which lasted less than a minute. He nodded as Circuit Judge Margaret H. Schreiber ruled that he would not be allowed to post bond and appointed the Orange-Osceola Public Defender’s Office to represent him.
500 by Jeff Weiner in Orlando, Fla. MOVED
^More police officers died by suicides than on duty in 2019, advocacy group says
POLICE-SUICIDES:OS _ More police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty in 2019, and the number of reported police suicides rose for the fourth consecutive year, according to data from Blue H.E.L.P., a mental health advocacy group for police and their families.
In 2019, 228 police officers died by suicide, and 132 were killed in the line of duty. In comparison with 2018, duty deaths for police officers decreased 20% while suicides increased 35 percent, according to Blue H.E.L.P., which says it is the only group in the country tracking law enforcement suicides.
1150 (with trims) by Katie Rice in Orlando, Fla. MOVED
^After drastic policy changes, more than 20,000 Cubans asylum-seekers are fighting deportation
CUBANS-ASYLUM:MI _ Caught between immigration policy changes championed by two very different administrations, a record number of Cubans are now fighting deportation, as they try to gain asylum in the United States.
1000 (with trims) by Nora G mez Torres in Miami. MOVED
^Fears of a total ban on US flights to Cuba leads to a run on tickets
USCUBA-FLIGHTS:MI _ Fears that the Trump administration will ban all flights to Cuba have sparked a spike in demand for tickets to the island, according to employees of travel agencies in Miami.
1250 (with trims) by Mario J. Pent n in Miami. MOVED
^Man gunned down where peace march had begun hours earlier near Chicago church
CHICAGO-VIOLENCE-MANKILLED:TB _ Under the gray cross of Chicago’s St. Sabina Church, the Rev. Michael Pfleger and others gathered with blue plastic candles Wednesday night to remember the hundreds of people killed by gun violence last year.
Later that same evening, Pfleger returned to find a homicide scene where his “Walk for Peace,” held on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, had started.
“This violence is just _ it’s become the norm,” Pfleger said. “It just makes me angry and it breaks my heart.”
350 by Alice Yin in Chicago. MOVED
^This log cabin is a haven for sobriety groups. Beverly Hills wants it torn down
BEVERLYHILLS-LOGCABIN:LA _ On a posh stretch of Robertson Boulevard, one of these really stands out: A Kundalini yoga studio. A restaurant owned by former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump. The headquarters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. A log cabin.
Yes, a log cabin.
Far from the forest, the shabby little cabin with peeling paint and battered wooden doors has become the center of a property dispute between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, two tony cities where land is both scarce and expensive.
The log cabin _ the site of some two dozen addiction recovery group meetings every week _ is in West Hollywood. But it sits on a lot owned by Beverly Hills, which wants it gone.
1150 (with trims) by Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Drivers say sniper is shooting at cars on highway in eastern NC, leaving bullet holes
NC-HIGHWAY-SNIPER:CH _ A suspected sniper is taking shots at passing vehicles along an eastern North Carolina highway and it may have been going on for days, witnesses say.
300 by Mark Price in Charlotte, N.C. MOVED
^Federal lawsuit alleges officers left two detainees in hot van for hours
INMATES-HOTVAN:LA _ A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges that two Santa Ana, Calif., employees left two federal detainees locked and chained inside a hot van for four hours after returning the pair from their court hearings.
On April 8, Dongyuan Li, a 41-year-old Chinese citizen, and Romaldo Marchan Delgado, a 56-year-old Mexican citizen, were put in handcuffs, ankle shackles and waist chains, and placed in the back of the transport van after their hearings at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse for a return trip to the Santa Ana jail, where they were being housed.
700 by Jaclyn Cosgrove in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Marjory Stoneman Douglas building slated to open in summer
PARKLAND-NEWBUILDING-1ST-LEDE:FL _ The long-awaited replacement to the building that was the site of the Parkland school shooting is scheduled to open in time for the new school year in August, officials say.
Broward County school officials held a news conference at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to discuss progress on the new building. At 45,000 square feet, it’s about the same size as the old building but will only have two stories instead of three, district officials say.
350 by Scott Travis in Parkland, Fla. MOVED
^Bill would replace Bible courses in Ky. schools with ‘variety of religious texts’
State Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, D-Louisville, said she introduced House Bill 243 this week after hearing from the leader of a large Buddhist temple in the district that she serves.
500 by Valarie Honeycutt Spears. MOVED
^Outbreak of E. coli in Salinas Valley romaine lettuce is over, CDC says
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its nationwide consumer advisory Wednesday, saying no more new illnesses have been traced to outbreaks linked to Fresh Express romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas Valley. Together, the outbreaks sickened 188 people from 27 states, sending 85 to hospitals. Kidney failure, a serious complication, was reported among 15 of those hospitalized, the agency said. There were no deaths, the CDC said.
500 by Geoffrey Mohan. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Connecticut man charged in missing wife’s death wants hearing on probable cause
MISSINGMOTHER:HC _ Fotis Dulos wants a Superior Court judge to schedule a hearing to determine whether police had probable cause to arrest him for the murder of his estranged wife, Jennifer Farber Dulos.
Dulos, 52, a Farmington luxury home builder, is expected to appear in court next week to make the request. Probable-cause hearings, mandatory under state law in cases punishable by life in prison, require judges to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed with the prosecution. Defendants usually waive such hearings because they can give the prosecution insight into the defense’s case. Judges rarely rule that probable cause is lacking.
1350 (with trims) by Dave Altimari in Hartford, Conn. MOVED
^Ukraine opens probe into spying on US diplomat central to Trump case
UKRAINE-YOVANOVITCH:DPA _ Ukrainian investigators launched an investigation into whether former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was subjected to illegal surveillance during her time in Kiev because of pressure from Washington.
Yovanovitch testified before Congress in November as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
She had opposed private efforts by the president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to push Ukraine for dirt on former vice president Joe Biden, who is running in the 2020 election.
250 in Kyiv, Ukraine. MOVED
^High-tech taxman who loves hockey is Putin’s premier pick
RUSSIA:BLO _ Vladimir Putin is putting his trust in an obscure technocrat with little political experience as his choice for prime minister to revive Russia’s flagging economy as he prepares the country for the most significant constitutional overhaul in a generation.
Mikhail Mishustin, head of the Federal Tax Service, last held a political post in the government as a deputy tax minister for five years to 2004. Still, his nomination won plaudits from economic reformers and business leaders, aware of his record of transforming tax collections through efficient use of modern technology and encouraged by expectations he’ll focus on boosting growth.
600 by Jake Rudnitsky and Evgenia Pismennaya in Moscow. MOVED
^Lesotho’s prime minister to resign as police investigate his wife’s murder
LESOTHO:BLO _ Lesotho’s prime minister said he intends to step down, following increased calls for his resignation over the murder of his second wife, which police have linked to the woman he married a month later.
Thomas Thabane, 80, was inaugurated as prime minister of the tiny African mountain kingdom two days after his second wife was shot in June 2017.
200 by Mathabiso Ralengau in Johannesburg. MOVED
NEWSBRIEFS:MCT _ Nation and world news briefs.
^TODAY’S TOP NEWSFEATURES
^Bill Clinton once enjoyed a bright legacy in Haiti. Then the 2010 earthquake struck
HAITI-QUAKE-10YEARS-CLINTON:MI _ A decade after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, the former U.S. secretary of state, are routinely portrayed in some quarters as the prime villains in the Caribbean nation’s continuing struggles to recover and the failed promise of donor assistance to help lift the ravaged country out of poverty.
It’s almost an article of faith among many Haitians that the Clintons somehow siphoned off billions of dollars meant to help clean up and rebuild.
The narrative _ coupled with claims that the Clinton Foundation cashed in off development projects in the aftermath of the Jan. 12, 2010, disaster _ has been peddled by anti-corruption lawyers in Haiti demanding an audit by government auditors.
Now, as the world marks the 10th anniversary, Bill Clinton for the first time opened up about the setbacks in Haiti _ a stain on the bright legacy of a former president who had championed democracy there and was the face of the international recovery efforts as he pledged to help Haiti “build back better.”
3350 by Jacqueline Charles. MOVED
^The fickle voters who could decide the 2020 Democratic nominee
DEMOCRATS-2020-UNDECIDED:WA _ Monica Vernon has spent the Democratic presidential race assessing an assortment of candidates from Elizabeth Warren (“sweet and relatable”) to Amy Klobuchar (“down to earth”) to Cory Booker (“impressive”).
But with just weeks before she must make a final decision in her state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, the Iowa resident and founder of a small market-research company is still not close to making up her mind.
Vernon is part of a significant subset of the Democratic electorate _ white, college-educated and suburban _ that has spent the 2020 primary season vacillating among several different White House hopefuls.
With the leadoff February contests fast approaching, these voters _ which make up about one-quarter of the Democratic electorate, and an even larger share in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire _ are on the verge of being forced to pick just one of the candidates.
950 by Alex Roarty in Washington. MOVED
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