Democrats wary of House colleague’s effort to impeach Trump

US President Donald Trump holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Democrats wary of House colleague’s effort to impeach Trump

WASHINGTON: Democratic lawmakers expressed serious reservations Wednesday about a liberal colleague’s push for a House vote on impeaching President Donald Trump, saying it is premature to act before special counsel Robert Mueller’s team completes its investigation into Russian election meddling.
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said he will present articles of impeachment under a rule that requires the House to vote on the issue within two days. His new eight-page resolution accuses Trump of “high misdemeanors,” citing “harm to American society to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
The effort is certain to lose, and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told Democrats behind the scenes Wednesday that they will vote to table Green’s resolution, according to a Democratic aide who was not authorized to publicly discuss the conversations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said Democratic lawmakers cannot allow themselves to be drawn into a process “that’s not thoughtful or complete or might not even be the conclusion we ought to draw.”
“We ought to let Mr. Mueller complete his full investigation rather than engage in what would essentially be a public relations stunt,” Kildee said. “This is a serious thing. It ought not to be done on a whim.”
Green said on the House floor that he planned to take the road less traveled in seeking Trump’s impeachment. He is convinced it is a road worth traveling, but he said, “I ask that no one take this journey with me.”
If he follows the proper procedures, Republicans will hold a vote on tabling — in effect, killing — the proposal during the House’s first series of votes on Wednesday, said a GOP leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a decision by party leaders.
Green’s effort is certain to be opposed by all Republicans in the GOP-majority House.
Pelosi has said any impeachment drive should wait until there’s evidence of an impeachable offense. Another problem for Democrats is that opposing Green’s resolution puts them at risk of angering the party’s rabidly anti-Trump voters. Some Democrats have tried talking Green out of his plan. They did the same in October, when he proposed a similar resolution but never demanded a vote on it.
Green’s impeachment articles cite incidents including Trump’s defense of protesters after a rally of white supremacists at this year’s riot and deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia; his recent sharing of hateful, anti-Muslim videos posted online by a fringe British extremist group; his efforts to ban Muslim immigrants; and his opposition to letting transgender people serve in the military.


Judge may acquit women or call defense in Kim Jong Nam trial

This combination of the Oct. 2, 2017 file photos shows Indonesian Siti Aisyah, left, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, right, escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam, Malaysia, outside Kuala Lumpur. (AP)
Updated 2 min 38 sec ago
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Judge may acquit women or call defense in Kim Jong Nam trial

  • Evidence has shown the women’s conduct before and after the killing was inconsistent with that of assassins
  • The women had “used their bodily power” to deliberately target the poison on his eyes and face for faster penetration

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Two Southeast Asian women on trial in Malaysia for the brazen assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother could be acquitted Thursday or called to enter their defense in a case that has gripped the world.
Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnam’s Doan Thi Huong, 29, are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. The women have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a hidden-camera show.
They are the only two suspects in custody and face the death penalty if convicted. If the defense is called, the trial could take several more months.
If the women are acquitted, they may not be freed right away as prosecutors could still appeal the decision as well as push forward with separate charges for overstaying their visas.

Here’s a look at arguments that were raised during the trial:
THE PROSECUTION
Over the course of the six-month trial featuring testimony from 34 people, prosecutors laid out a bizarre murder plot they likened to something from a James Bond film.
They accused four North Koreans, suspected government agents with code names such as “Mr. Y” and “Grandpa” and later identified by police, of being the masterminds who recruited the women, trained them and provided them with VX. All four fled the country the same morning Kim was killed and none are in custody.
Airport security footage shown in court captured the moment of the attack and prosecutors said linked the women to the other suspects. Shortly after Kim arrived at the airport, Huong was seen approaching him, clasping her hands on his face from behind and then fleeing. Another blurred figure was also seen running away from Kim and a police investigator testified that it was Aisyah.
Investigators said the women were seen rushing to separate washrooms, each with their hands outstretched, before they fled the airport. Kim died within two hours of the attack.
A government chemist testified that the VX concentration found on Kim’s skin was 1.4 times greater than the lethal dosage. He said VX was found in Kim’s eyes, face, blood, urine and clothing, as well as on both women’s clothes and on Huong’s fingernail clippings.
In his closing arguments in June, prosecutor Wah Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said the women must have been trained to use VX, a rare nerve agent developed as a chemical weapon. He said they had to know the best route for VX to enter the victim’s body and know that they must wash the nerve agent off themselves within 15 minutes to avoid being contaminated.
With Kim a tall and heavy man, the prosecutor said the women had “used their bodily power” to deliberately target the poison on his eyes and face for faster penetration. Despite their claim about a prank, he said their facial expressions and conduct during the attack didn’t reflect any humor.
“We expect that the defense will be called for a simple reason: They need to explain why VX was found on them,” Wan Shaharuddin told The Associated Press.

THE DEFENSE
Lawyers for the two women say their clients were simply pawns in a politically motivated killing with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
They say the prosecution’s case was too simplistic, handicapped by a sloppy investigation and failed to show any intention on the part of their clients to kill — key to establishing the women’s guilt.
The defense said evidence has shown the women’s conduct before and after the killing was inconsistent with that of assassins, pointing out that they didn’t wear gloves when applying VX, didn’t dispose of their tainted clothing and didn’t flee the country.
The real culprits, the defense argues, are the four North Korean suspects. The four were captured by airport security cameras discarding their belongings and changing their clothing after the attack.
The North Korean Embassy has also been implicated with an embassy official helping get flights out for the four men and using the name of one of its citizens to buy a car that was used to take the suspects to the airport.
Nevertheless, Pyongyang has denied accusations by South Korean and US officials that it was behind the killing. Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.
“The prosecution’s evidence is purely circumstantial,” Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said, noting that there was no proof that his client applied VX on Kim. He said his client’s DNA was not found on a shirt recovered by police.
Huong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said they have given prosecution “a good fight.”
“We are confident that justice will be served on Thursday and (Huong) will be acquitted,” he said.