Things That Matter

Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

Day three of the public impeachment hearings offered few positives for President Trump as the House Intelligence Committee heard from four more witnesses on Tuesday. The first part of the hearing featured vivid testimonies from two key witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who heard President Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. The later part of the day was devoted to two witnesses called forth by Republicans, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump foreign policy adviser Tim Morrison.

Unlike previous witnesses in the impeachment investigation, three of the four individuals who testified on Tuesday actually listened in on the July 25th phone call with Trump and Zelensky. All of them expressed serious concerns with President Trump’s phone call and spoke at length about the implications of his conversation with Zelensky. They say Trump used foreign policy to benefit his reelection campaign by using military aid in an effort to force Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. 

One of the most pivotal moments on Tuesday was the testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman who said that the phone call was “improper” and was concerned.

 The Iraq War veteran called out Trump saying that he acted out of duty and told a senior lawyer at the National Security Council about his concerns.

 “Without hesitation, I knew that I had to report this to the White House counsel,” Vindman said. “I had concerns and it was my duty to report my concerns to the proper people in the chain of command.”

 Vindman told committee members that he found many of the things that Trump discussed in the phone as troublesome. He implied that Trump could do further damage to both Ukraine’s efforts to establish itself as an independent nation as well as the national security of the United States.

“It was improper for the president to request to demand an investigation into a political opponent,” Vindman said. “This would have significant implications if it became public knowledge…It would undermine our Ukraine policy. It would undermine our national security.”

Republicans countered by questioning Vindman and his political standing throughout his testimony. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the head Republican on the Intelligence Committee, repeatedly jabbed at Vindman asking him if he could identify the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint helped trigger the impeachment proceedings. 

There was even some shots taken at Vindman from the White House’s social media page that tried to discredit his testimony. Vindman affirmed his loyalty to the U.S. and dismissed the idea that he was a “never-trumper”.  

“I’m an American,” Vindman said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them…the whole notion is rather comical.”

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who also listened to the July 25 phone call, said it was “unusual and inappropriate.”

Credit: @KyleGriffin1 / Twitter

Williams said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.” She said that she wasn’t sure why aid was being withheld from Ukraine. Williams couldn’t recall any national security official in the U.S government who supported the decision to withhold the security aid for Ukraine. 

“I found the July 25 phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams testified. 

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Williams and her testimony. “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Throughout the day Republicans attempted to discredit witnesses and testimonies. 

Committee Republicans quickly took to criticizing testimonies throughout the day claiming that Vindman and Williams were simply giving his personal opinion about the phone call. President Trump also chimed in on the hearings throughout the day portraying Vindman as a liar and a Democratic pawn. 

This seems to be continuing theme during the first few days of these hearings and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.  If these are the best defenses Trump and fellow committee republicans can come up, there is trouble on the way when it comes to a vote against impeachment.

READ: Democratic Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Discusses The Primary Process, DACA, And The Legacy Of His Campaign

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Things That Matter

US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Photo via Getty

They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

Entertainment

Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

RICCO TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

“Selena” is one of the most influential and impactful movies of our generation. We all remember watching Jennifer Lopez embody the Tejana queen of music. The 1997 biopic is a classic and there is finally talk of including it in the National Film Registry.

“Selena” is one of the most impactful movies of our childhoods.

The 1997 movie was something that we watched over and over when we were younger. We sang the songs and basically learned all of the lines of this movie. It is arguably one of the first times we saw our culture and one of our icons’ stories told for the masses.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pushing for “Selena” to officially be recognized.

Movies are a crucial part of telling the full story of American life. The National Film Registry is a list of movies that are honored for their cultural impact. “Real Women Have Curves,” “West Side Story,” and “Zoot Suit” are all part of the National Film Registry. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and wrote a letter asking for the consideration of “Selena.”

“As a next step, we also wish to formally nominate the 1997 film ‘Selena’ for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2021,” reads the letter. “Directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, the film depicts the life, remarkable rise, and tragic death of Tejana music star Selena Quintanilla.”

There is a lot of hope that the Library of Congress will make this happen.

Selena represents that first major and successful jumps from the Latino market to the mainstream that many of us can remember. We finally had someone who looked like us and understood our cultural struggles in a real way. Our story was being told and the film about the music icon was so important in guiding some of us through our own cultural struggles.

“The film also touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections to two cultures and languages,” the letter continues to explain. “The film has become a beloved icon of Latino culture and has found widespread mainstream success, proving once and for all that Latino stories are American stories.”

Selena is the kind of cultural phenomenon that comes once in a lifetime.

The singer was able to build an impressive legacy that has endured for longer than she was alive. We were raised with her music and told her story over and over to keep us all tuned in to the fact that we could do anything. If Selena could break into the mainstream audience, we could all be that successful.

“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe it is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress. We trust you will give ‘Selena’ careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021,” Rep. Castro further explains in the letter. “We also expect to identify other films which feature the American Latino experience and urge you to devote careful consideration to Latino films when considering films for the registry as well.”

Here’s hoping that “Selena” gets the official recognition it clearly deserves.

We all have our fingers crossed that this movie will earn its place in the National Film Registry because it deserves that kind of praise.

READ: Part 2 Of “Selena: The Series” Has Already Finished Filming And Here’s Everything We Know About The Next Season

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