State Dept official details White House meeting, shuffling of Ukraine portfolio in closed-door deposition

Political News State Dept official details White House meeting, shuffling of Ukraine portfolio in closed-door deposition https://linewsradio.com/state-dept-official-details-white-house-meeting-shuffling-of-ukraine-portfolio-in-closed-door-deposition/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Kiyoshi Tanno/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A senior State Department official told lawmakers Tuesday that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney organized a White House meeting at which Energy Secretary Rick Perry, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker were put in charge of Ukraine policy, according to a lawmaker present for the closed-door deposition.

 The move circumvented established policy-making channels in the executive branch and undermined US policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent told Congress, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia.

“Sondland, Volker and Rick Perry declared themselves the three people now responsible for Ukraine policy,” Connolly, D-Virginia, told reporters after attending part of the deposition for Kent, whose portfolio includes Ukraine.

“They called themselves ‘the three amigos,'” said Connolly, a member of the Oversight Committee. “Volker called them that.”

Connolly said the meeting organized by Mulvaney took place on May 23, just days after US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — who testified before lawmakers last week — was prematurely recalled from her post.

Kent testified that there had been a “parallel process that he felt was undermining 28 years of US policy in promoting rule of law in Ukraine,” Connolly said. “And it was wrong. And he used that word: wrong.”

The House investigation centers on whether the president and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani were conducting a shadow foreign policy to get Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in the country, as well as into the unfounded theory that Ukrainian officials interfered in the 2016 election to support Hillary Clinton.

Kent was the fourth U.S. official to comply with a request for a deposition by the three House committees that are leading an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, in another crack in the White House stonewall strategy painting the probe as illegitimate and unfair.

Kent, who testified for roughly ten hours, was subpoenaed after the State Department directed him not to appear for his scheduled deposition, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry

Last week, the State Department likewise said Sondland and Yovanovitch should not testify. Yovanovitch, who served under Republican and Democrat administrations and was named ambassador to Bulgaria by George W. Bush, defied the department’s orders and testified for nine hours on Friday.

Sondland is now scheduled to testify on Thursday.

Two former U.S. officials have also testified. One was the former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker. The other was Fiona Hill, Trump’s top Russia adviser on the National Security Council, who departed the administration in July, days before Trump’s controversial call with Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

At the time of the call with Zelenskiy, the administration was withholding a formal meeting between the two presidents and nearly $400 million in security assistance, although Ukraine was not yet aware of the latter.

Like Yovanovitch, Kent is a career foreign service officer. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary, he has overseen policy and communications for U.S. missions in several eastern European countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. He’s previously served as the deputy chief of mission in Kiev, Ukraine, and the senior anti-corruption coordinator for Europe — roles that have made him battle-hardened in the fights against corruption and disinformation.

 Kent was also a key witness in Trump’s firing of Yovanovitch over uncorroborated reports that she badmouthed him and shielded Biden and other Democrats from investigation in Ukraine. In emails that were turned over by the State Department inspector general to Congress, Kent is the one warning senior leadership of efforts to take down Yovanovitch by accusing her of corruption and obstruction — allegations that have been spread in conservative media.

“Based on what I heard and what I had summarized for me before I got there, he was pretty detailed in talking about some of the shady characters [Rudy] Giuliani was dependent on for misinformation, disinformation,” Connolly said.

In one email to acting Assistant Secretary for Europe Philip Reeker and State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, Kent said there is a “fake news driven smear” against Yovanovitch.

One of the chief allegations against Yovanovitch, made by Giuliani and others, is that she protected Biden and other Democrats by giving Ukraine’s prosecutor-general a list of people he could not prosecute. At the time, the State Department called the allegation an “outright fabrication” that “does not correspond to reality.”

In the emails, obtained by ABC News, Kent calls it “complete poppycock.”

Kent also noted that the names are not spelled in the standard style of an American diplomat. “This is a classic disinfo play,” he adds.

Despite the effort to debunk these allegations, Yovanovitch was recalled from her post in Kyiv in May, just months after she was told she would be asked to stay for an additional year, according to her testimony Friday.

After Kent left the Capitol, Republicans criticized Democrats’ handling of the investigation. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said if he had subpoena power, “I would love to subpoena Joe Biden.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

US demonstrates ‘show of force’ after Turkish militia gets too close to base

WORLD NEWS US demonstrates 'show of force' after Turkish militia gets too close to base  https://linewsradio.com/us-demonstrates-show-of-force-after-turkish-militia-gets-too-close-to-base/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Christopher Drzazgows/U.S. Air Forces(WASHINGTON) — American F-15s and Apache helicopters carried out a “show of force” in Syria on Tuesday after Turkish-backed militia fighters “came very close” to a U.S. base, according to a U.S. official.

The incident underscores the complex battlefield in Syria as 1,000 American troops are withdrawing from the country in the middle of fighting between Turkish forces and Syrian Kurds.

The U.S. official said the incident occurred near Ayn Issa, a town 18 miles from the Turkish border, where U.S. troops withdrew from their positions earlier this week.

According to the official, Turkish-backed militia fighters “came very close” to a base used by U.S. and Kurdish forces, putting the U.S. forces at risk.

The Turkish-backed fighters had violated an agreement with the U.S. to not get too close to U.S. forces and threaten them, the official added.

Typically, aerial shows of force involve aircraft flying at low altitude above opposing forces to demonstrate potential strength, should it be required.

The U.S. military also formally contacted the Turkish military to protest the risk posed to the American forces by the nearby presence of Turkish-backed fighters.

The 1,000 American forces have begun to withdraw from the battlefield areas in northern Syria. Earlier on Tuesday, Russian military forces appeared in Manbij after the withdrawal of the estimated 100 American troops stationed in that town.

A second U.S. official told ABC News the withdrawal of American troops and equipment in northeast Syria could take weeks. Most troops are expected to be withdrawn via aircraft. Equipment will be shipped out via air and by land.

A third U.S. official told ABC News additional military forces will have to enter Syria in order to transport out the equipment. This includes transport vehicles and whatever forces are required for protection.

According to the official, the U.S. has made contact with the Russian military, Kurdish forces and the Turkish military to ensure they’re aware that the U.S. military troops in Syria are focused on a withdrawal.

Under the withdrawal plan authorized by President Donald Trump, a small contingent of U.S. military forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison, a military facility near the border with Jordan and Iraq.

In a statement issued on Monday, Trump said the small force would remain to deal with remaining ISIS fighters, but U.S. officials have previously acknowledged the main purpose of the force at At Tanf is to check Iranian military weapons flows and advances into Syria.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Pelosi, Schiff defend impeachment probe, lack of formal floor vote

Political News Pelosi, Schiff defend impeachment probe, lack of formal floor vote https://linewsradio.com/pelosi-schiff-defend-impeachment-probe-lack-of-formal-floor-vote/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

rarrarorro/iStock(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff expressed confidence in Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry and efforts to obtain records and testimony from the Trump administration in court, while defending their inquiry from Republican criticism.

Pelosi defended their timeline, without providing any new updates on Tuesday, and dismissed questions about Republican calls for a formal floor vote.

“I’m not concerned about anything,” she said. Republicans “can’t defend the president so they’re going to process.”

Schiff warned the administration and witnesses to comply with Democrats’ subpoenas.

“The evidence of obstruction of Congress continues to mount,” he said. “We are nonetheless continuing to get good and important information from witnesses.”

Schiff argued that the initial investigative work needs to be done behind closed doors because there is no special/independent counsel working quietly in private to investigate ahead of any impeachment process.
 
“I’m sure the president would like nothing better than for witnesses to … know what others are saying,” he said.

Schiff said “we will get to open hearings” with new and returning witnesses, and said Republicans have been “completely represented.”

“We go until the questions are exhausted,” he said. “They get to ask whatever questions they want.”

Schiff said they will release transcripts at a later date, without divulging a timeline.

Despite speculation on Capitol Hill Tuesday that she would formally announce a floor vote on the parameters of an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi made no such announcement.

As members returned from a two-week recess, House Democratic leadership was checking in with members about a potential floor vote on impeachment, and how they would vote, according to aides.

Leadership emerged from the meeting on Tuesday evening without a decision, before gathering all House Democrats to update them on the impeachment investigation and answer questions.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Former Rep. Pete Sessions subpoenaed in SDNY case of two Giuliani associates

Political News Former Rep. Pete Sessions subpoenaed in SDNY case of two Giuliani associates https://linewsradio.com/former-rep-pete-sessions-subpoenaed-in-sdny-case-of-two-giuliani-associates/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

artisteer/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Former Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, has been subpoenaed in a case related to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and is fully cooperating with investigators, he told ABC News.

“I’m cooperating with the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York and will be providing documents to their office related to this matter over the couple of weeks as requested,” Sessions said.

He added that he has not been told that he is the focus of the investigation.

“Nobody has told me I am a target of this investigation, I am fully cooperating, and providing the documents they need,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the subpoena.

The former Texas congressman has been embroiled in a campaign finance violation case involving two associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were charged last in connection with an alleged scheme to circumvent federal laws against foreign campaign donations.

In the indictment, prosecutors outlined an alleged scheme by the two Soviet-born businessmen, who have been reportedly helping Giuliani investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, to raise $20,000 for a “then-sitting U.S. Congressman,” who “had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million” from pro-Trump super PAC America First Action during the 2018 midterms. According to the indictment, Parnas allegedly met with the congressman and sought his “assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine,” Marie Yovanovitch.

The indictment doesn’t name the congressman, but the description matches ABC News’ reporting that Sessions had benefited from $3 million in backing from the super PAC during the 2018 cycle, and that during the same month that Parnas raised funds for Sessions, Sessions wrote a letter calling for Yovanovitch’s immediate removal.

“These contributions were made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working,” the indictment said.

Sessions, in a statement last week, stopped short of confirming that he is “Congressman-1” in the indictment, but added that if he is indeed the congressman in question, he would not have any knowledge of the campaign finance scheme that the indictment alleges.

Sessions also defended his push against the former Ukraine ambassador saying, “his entire motivation for sending the letter was that I believe that political appointees should not be disparaging the president, especially while serving overseas.”

“I was first approached by these individuals for a meeting about the strategic need for Ukraine to become energy independent,” Sessions said. “There was no request in that meeting and I took no action. Over time, I recall that there were a couple additional meetings. Again, at no time did I take any official action after these meetings. Separately, after several congressional colleagues reported to me that the current U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine was disparaging President Trump to others as part of those official duties, I wrote a letter to the secretary of state to refer this matter directly.”

It’s unclear which members of Congress have spoken to Sessions about Yovanovitch.

Parnas and Fruman, as well as two of their associates who have also been indicted, are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment and initial conference in New York on Thursday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Authorities release sketch of ‘possible witness’ in case of missing 5-year-old

U.S. NEWS Authorities release sketch of 'possible witness' in case of missing 5-year-old https://linewsradio.com/authorities-release-sketch-of-possible-witness-in-case-of-missing-5-year-old/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/

New Jersey State Police(NEW YORK) — Authorities released a sketch on Tuesday of a man they believe may have information on 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, whose disappearance nearly a month ago from a New Jersey park has left few answers.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae identified the man in the sketch as a “possible witness” to Dulce’s disappearance and someone who they want to speak with, according to a press release from her office.

Webb-McRae made a point to note that she is not calling him a suspect or person of interest.

He was allegedly at the park around the time Dulce went missing. A witness recently came forward with his description and told authorities that he was seen with one or two children under the age of 5 years old. It was not immediately clear if one of the children was Dulce.

Webb-McRae did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

Dulce was last seen on Sept. 16 in the afternoon near City Park in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Dulce’s mom, Noema Alavez Perez, said on the day her daughter vanished, she was in the car scratching off a lottery ticket while her daughter was playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother, about 30 yards away.

Perez said she could see the park, but not the swings because hills were blocking them. When her son returned to the car, Dulce was nowhere to be found.

Federal, state and local officials have all been involved in the search for the little girl, but there has been no clear indication as to what happened to her.

Webb-McRae asked the man in the sketch, or anyone who recognizes him, to come forward.

He is believed to be between 30 to 35 years old and around 5-foot-7 with a slender build. He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball-style hat at the time of Dulce’s disappearance, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Anyone with information on the man or the case is asked to contact Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033 or anonymously text information to TIP411 with the word “Bridgeton.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

16-year-old Ohio boys charged in deadly log tossing incident

U.S. NEWS 16-year-old Ohio boys charged in deadly log tossing incident https://linewsradio.com/16-year-old-ohio-boys-charged-in-deadly-log-tossing-incident/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/

Kuzma/iStock(NEW YORK) — A pair of Ohio teenagers have been charged in a deadly log tossing incident that claimed the life of a photography teacher last month.

The 16-year-old boys were arrested and charged with reckless homicide in the death of Victoria Shafer, a 44-year-old teacher in southern Ohio who died after being hit by a falling log on Labor Day, police said over the weekend.

Shafer, a married mother of four, was on a park photo shoot with five high school seniors on Sept. 2 when the 6-foot log struck and killed her at the scene. The log weighed 74 pounds and investigators said it was nearly impossible for it to have fallen 75 feet without human interference.

“Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigators determined early on that the six foot log was pushed or thrown off the cliff,” the Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Friday. “Investigators spent countless hours following leads over the course of the past month, most of which were dead ends.”

Police arrested the teens last week after receiving a tip from a parent who claimed one of the suspects had confessed to her daughter. The teen allegedly sent the girl, who is a classmate, text messages stating he “did something serious at the park” with another boy, according to the statement.

Investigators followed the tip and the suspects eventually confessed to police, the statement said.

“Further investigation by ODNR and the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office led them to the two juveniles in custody, who admitted that they were involved in forcing the log over the cliff,” the statement said. “The two juveniles, both from Logan, were initially charged with Reckless Homicide, although this is subject to change as information comes in.”

The teens were being held at a juvenile detention center as of Tuesday afternoon. They made their initial appearance in court on Friday when they pleaded not guilty and requested court-appointed council.

Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers had offered up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. The victim’s family previously signaled that they would have sympathy for those responsible for Shafer’s death.

“They might need counseling. How horrific would that be? It could not have happened naturally. It could not have rolled off,” the victim’s husband, Fritz Schafer, told Columbus ABC affiliate WSYX-TV last month. “No storm or anything. No wind. It could have been an accident. Even so, somebody knows something.”

Cathy Muth, Victoria Schafer’s sister, made a similar appeal for information last month and vowed not to seek “vengeance.”

“We understand that maybe it was an accident. It was not a malicious act. But just knowing and being able to put that away would be helpful,” Muth told WSYX. “We are not out for vengeance. We just want to know what happened, and we want to prevent it from happening again.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Kellyanne Conway’s husband donates $5,600 to Trump GOP challenger Joe Walsh

Political News Kellyanne Conway's husband donates $5,600 to Trump GOP challenger Joe Walsh https://linewsradio.com/kellyanne-conways-husband-donates-5600-to-trump-gop-challenger-joe-walsh/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — George Conway, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and husband of presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, has donated the maximum amount allowed to the presidential campaign of Republican challenger Joe Walsh.

Conway gave $5,600 to the former congressman’s campaign on Aug. 30, just days after he announced his candidacy, according to a new campaign finance report filed on Tuesday.

A conservative lawyer based in Washington, D.C., Conway has been one of the biggest and consistent critics of Trump within the Republican Party.

Earlier this month, Conway penned an op-ed in The Atlantic, titled “Unfit for Office,” once again calling into question Trump’s mental fitness to hold office. And just this Monday, Conway went on Twitter to call him “incompetent and ignorant” and took aim at Republicans for not mentioning Trump’s name while criticizing his policies.

Kellyanne Conway has served as one of Trump’s closest aides since his presidential campaign in 2016, and has served as the president’s counselor in the White House since his victory.

Walsh, too, has aggressively hammered the president since announcing his long-shot candidacy for the GOP nomination in August, further driving a wedge between the Republican Party and the coalitions of voters needed to secure the White House.

“The problem is an unfit president in the White House who took a divided country and is dividing that,” Walsh said recently at an unsanctioned GOP primary debate last month.

“The Republican Party brand sucks, and it sucks because of him,” he said. “Young people can’t stand the party, women can’t stand the party, black people who live in the suburbs can’t stand it.”

In the latest campaign finance disclosure, Walsh reported raising about $129,000 from his supporters between August and the end of September, compared to a massive $125 million haul the Trump campaign has brought in along with the Republican National Committee between July and September.

Despite the massive uphill climb ahead of him, Walsh remains adamant that conservatives should get behind an alternative Republican in 2020.

“I’m running because he’s unfit; somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum — he’s a child,” said Walsh, who was elected to the House in the 2010 Tea Party wave, but only served one term before becoming a conservative talk radio host.

Walsh, along with the other Republican primary challengers to Trump, are contending with other forces beyond the president, mainly the Republican National Committee giving “undivided support” to the president — even passing an unprecedented loyalty pledge earlier this year before he’s the party’s official nominee.

As part of that pledge, several state parties have moved forward with forgoing their nominating contests in 2020, including South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas and Arizona. It has also led to 37 states and territories tightening the rules for choosing delegates to the Republican National Convention, an effort quietly helmed by Trump campaign officials.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Prince Harry and Meghan talk baby Archie at gala for kids with serious illnesses

WORLD NEWS Prince Harry and Meghan talk baby Archie at gala for kids with serious illnesses  https://linewsradio.com/prince-harry-and-meghan-talk-baby-archie-at-gala-for-kids-with-serious-illnesses/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

NataliaCatalina/iStock(LONDON) — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made their first joint appearance since their South Africa tour to attend the WellChild Awards, an awards ceremony for kids with serious illnesses and their caregivers.

Harry and Meghan met one-on-one with three of the night’s winners, a 16-year-old boy who cares for his younger brother, a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and a 6-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia last year.

While talking to the 12-year-old girl, Milly Sutherland, Harry bonded with her over both being redheads while Meghan shared that she had just taken the couple’s 5-month-old son Archie to his first playgroup.

“I just took Archie for his first class,” Meghan said, according to ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie. “It was a lot of fun. He loved it.”

Harry is patron of WellChild, which describes itself as the “national UK children’s charity helping to get seriously ill children and young people out of hospital and home to their families.”

The Duke of Sussex delivered a poignant speech in which he said attending the event and meeting the families “pulls at my heart strings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own.”

“Last year when my wife and I attended we knew we were expecting our first child. No one else did at the time, but we did,” Harry said. “And I remember squeezing Meghan’s hand so tight during the awards, both of us thinking what it would be like to be parents one day and, more so, what it would be like to do everything we could to protect and help our child should they be born with immediate challenges or become unwell over time.”

“And now, as parents, being here and speaking to all of you pulls at my heart strings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own,” he said.

The WellChild Awards is the first time the couple has appeared together in public since the news broke last week that Harry started legal action against several British tabloids with regard to “the illegal interception of voicemail messages.”

A few days before that it was confirmed that Harry and Meghan are also taking legal action against another British tabloid, the Mail on Sunday, for what they allege was an invasion of privacy.

“There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face — as so many of you can relate to — I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been,” Harry said in announcing the legal action, adding later in the statement, “I have been a silent witness to [Meghan’s] private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.”

The legal action against the Mail on Sunday was confirmed on Oct. 1, just as Harry and Meghan wrapped up their tour of South Africa.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

Nephew tells investigators aunt retrieved gun before being shot by cop: Warrant

U.S. NEWS Nephew tells investigators aunt retrieved gun before being shot by cop: Warrant https://linewsradio.com/nephew-tells-investigators-aunt-retrieved-gun-before-being-shot-by-cop-warrant/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/

Tarrant County Sheriffs Office(FORT WORTH, Texas) — An 8-year-old boy who witnessed his aunt being fatally shot by a Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who fired through a window of their house told investigators she had retrieved a handgun from her purse and pointed it toward a window when she was killed, according to an arrest warrant issued for the officer.

But police officials said 28-year-old Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson, the victim of the shooting early Saturday, was within her rights to protect herself and her nephew when she heard noises in her backyard and went to the window to investigate.

The arrest warrant for now-former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean, 34, was released on Tuesday, a day after he abruptly resigned from the police force and was charged with murder, stemming from the shooting of Jefferson. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said Dean quit the force before he had a chance to fire him.

“I realize that no action we take can replace the loss suffered here. I’m deeply sorry for what occurred,” Kraus said during a news conference on Tuesday to announce Dean’s arrest. “Human life is a precious thing, and should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson. This incident has eroded the trust that we have built with our community and we must now work even harder to ensure that trust is restored.”

The arrest warrant affidavit states that Dean and his partner arrived at Jefferson’s home about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and never knocked on the door or identified themselves as police as they entered the backyard of the home and Dean opened fire almost as soon as he saw Jefferson standing at the bedroom window peering out.

After being shot, Jefferson “yelled out in pain, and fell to the ground,” according to the affidavit.

A neighbor had earlier called the police department’s non-emergency line to ask that a welfare check be conducted on Jefferson’s home because he noticed the front door was wide open, the neighbor, James Smith, told ABC affiliate station WFAA-TV in Dallas.

“I called my police department for a welfare check,” Smith told WFAA. “No domestic violence, no arguing, nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house.”

But on Tuesday, Chief Kraus told reporters that the officers believed they were responding to an “open structure” call, which would have required them to take more tactical precautions, including parking around the corner from the house.

“The information came from the neighbor to the call takers and then while it was relayed to the dispatch it was determined to be an open structure call,” Kraus said in response to a question from ABC News. “I can’t tell you specifically if it was the dispatcher, but that’s something we’re looking into.”

In the arrest warrant affidavit, Jefferson’s young nephew, Zion, told investigators that he and his aunt, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, were playing a video game in a back bedroom of their home when they heard noises outside.

“She took her handgun from her purse,” the affidavit reads. “(The nephew) said Jefferson raised her handgun, pointed toward the window, then Jefferson was shot and fell to the ground.”

Body camera footage released by the police department shows Dean approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” and fires one shot. Kraus confirmed that Dean never identified himself as police.

“Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence,” a statement from the police department reads.

Dean’s partner, identified in the warrant as L. Darch, told investigators she never saw Jefferson raise the gun before Dean opened fire.

“Officer Darch said that they went into the backyard and Officer Dean was standing between her and the house and she could only see Jefferson’s face through the window when Officer Dean discharged his weapon one time,” the arrest warrant affidavit reads.

Dean was arrested by a team of Fort Worth police officers on Monday evening at his lawyer’s office, Kraus said. He was booked at the Tarrant County Jail and released on $200,000 bond late Monday night.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Dean and his attorney for comment have not been successful.

The shooting immediately sparked outrage and protests from community members and Jefferson’s family.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued a public apology on Monday, saying, “there is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.”

While Jefferson’s relatives expressed relief that Dean had been arrested and charged with murder, an attorney for the family said Tuesday, “That’s not enough.”

“We need more than a single arrest. We need appropriate prosecution, an effective verdict and proper sentencing,” said attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson’s family in pending civil litigation.”

Merritt said others in the police department need to be held accountable.

“We need to go further up the stream. It’s time that we stop pulling babies out of the river and go further up the stream to see who’s putting them in there in the first place,” Merritt said referring to department policies and protocols that failed to stop Dean from using ill-advised lethal force.

Calling the circumstances a “pivotal moment for the city,” Price said she had ordered the creation of a “third-party panel of national experts to review this department’s policies and procedures.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced he will assemble an independent review board for the police department and will begin interviewing candidates for an independent police monitor.

Chief Kraus became overcome with emotion on Tuesday as he described the toll the shooting has taken on the morale of police officers.

“The officers are hurting,” said Kraus, appearing to tear up. “I’ve been out there on patrol and since this occurred … the officers they come up and hug. It’s very emotional because the officers try hard every day to try to make this city better.”

“They’re out there trying to build these relationships and I likened it to a bunch of ants building an anthill and then somebody comes along with a hose and washes it away and they just have to start from scratch,” he said.

He pleaded with citizens of Fort Worth to “please do not let the actions of one officer reflect on the other 1,700.”

“There are absolutely no excuses for the incident and the person responsible will be held accountable,” he said. “Ms. Jefferson’s family and our community will have the last word and the courts will speak on her behalf.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Oct 2019

American pastor once detained in Turkey offers Senate prayer a year after his release

Political News American pastor once detained in Turkey offers Senate prayer a year after his release https://linewsradio.com/american-pastor-once-detained-in-turkey-offers-senate-prayer-a-year-after-his-release/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A year after Andrew Brunson was released from a two-year stint in a Turkish prison — he’d been accused of spying and aiding terrorists — the American pastor visited the Senate floor and shared his appreciation for being freed with some of those who helped him.

“I’m standing here today because so many of you fought for me and I’m deeply grateful. In a time of many divides, you were unified in fighting for my release,” Brunson said Tuesday — the first day the Senate is back in session after a two-week recess.

Brunson, who’s from North Carolina, was invited by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., to give the opening prayer on Tuesday.

“Today,” Brunson said in his prayer, “I pray that you grant to the senators of the United States the spirit of wisdom, the fear of the Lord and the courage to act with counsel of the Lord in all matters, great and small.”

Brunson was a Christian evangelist in Turkey for more than 20 years before he was arrested in October 2016 and accused by the Turkish government of espionage and ties to terrorists. He, his lawyers and the U.S. denied those charges.

“He found himself in a Turkish prison … in what we would consider to be despicable circumstances in a prison cell,” Tillis said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Tillis noted that the 62-page indictment against Brunson read like a “horrible, fictional novel.”

Brunson’s two-year imprisonment triggered a diplomatic feud between U.S. and Turkey, with the Trump administration enacting economic sanctions and tariffs on Turkey to pressure the country into releasing him.

At the time, President Donald Trump proudly boasted in a tweet, “There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages. There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

Before Trump’s remarks at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, Brunson was invited on stage to pray over the president, alongside the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.

The timing of Brunson’s prayer on the Senate floor comes amid renewed tension between the U.S. and Turkey over its offensive against the Kurds in Syria, and amid growing ire among Republicans and Democrats in Congress on the Trump administration’s handling of the escalating conflict.

A spokesman for Tillis denied that Brunson’s invitation had anything to do with the ongoing crisis unfolding in northern Syria, and noted Brunson was invited to lead the Senate in prayer weeks ago.

But other Republicans, especially those close to Trump, have made their disapproval of the administration’s actions regarding Syria loud and clear.

“I am gravely concerned by recent events in Syria and by our nation’s apparent response thus far,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Monday.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham previously said Trump’s decision to pull troops was “impulsive.”

“I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is in my view,” Graham said last week. “This to me is just unnerving to its core.”

Graham appeared to back off after he met with Trump on Monday.

“The president’s team has a plan and I intend to support them as strongly as possible, and to give them reasonable time and space to achieve our mutual goals,” Graham said in statement.

On Monday, the White House announced it would enforce new economic sanctions on Turkey for invading northern Syria after the administration announced last week it would be pulling U.S. troops from the area.

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Posted On 15 Oct 2019