News Wrap: McConnell, Schumer remain divided over impeachment trial

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The
confrontation with Iran sent U.S. oil prices surging 3 percent. But stock prices sank, as investors sought
safety in U.S. government bonds. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 234
points to close below 28635. The Nasdaq fell 71 points, and the S&P 500
slipped 23. The U.S. Senate officially returned to business
today, still at odds over how to run an impeachment trial of President Trump. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
refused again to commit to calling additional witnesses. But Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
insisted that hearing from top White House aides is critical. They spoke on the Senate floor. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Impartial justice
means making up our minds on the right basis. It means seeing clearly, not what some might
wish the House of Representatives had proven, but what they actually have or have not proven. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Leader McConnell has
been clear and vocal that he has no intention to be impartial in this process. Leader McConnell reminds us today, and in
previous days, that, rather than acting like a judge and a juror, he intends to act as
the executioner of a fair trial. JUDY WOODRUFF: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
has balked at submitting the impeachment articles until the Senate decides if it will hear from
more witnesses. A federal appeals court heard arguments today
on whether White House officials have total legal immunity against testifying before Congress. Former White House counsel Don McGahn was
subpoenaed last April about the special counsel’s Russia investigation, but he was directed
from above not to comply from. In Washington today, judges pressed the issue. JUDGE THOMAS B. GRIFFITH, D.C. Circuit Court
of Appeals: Has there ever been an instance of such a broad-scale defiance of a congressional
request for information, in the history of the republic? HASHIM MOOPPAN, Deputy Assistant Attorney
General: Never before in history has the Congress engaged in the sort of illegitimate inquiry
that it’s doing. I don’t want to get into that fight, because
— precisely because that is the sort of political dispute that this court shouldn’t be engaged
in. JUDY WOODRUFF: The outcome of the McGahn case
could have implications for other Trump aides who refused to testify at impeachment hearings. The appeals court also held arguments today
over a congressional subpoena for grand jury materials from the Russia investigation. In Australia, officials rushed today to complete
a mass evacuation of historic scope, before wildfire conditions worsen again. Several coastal towns are facing imminent
danger. Dan Rivers of Independent Television News
reports from Moruya in New South Wales. DAN RIVERS: The edge of this town used to
be a green calm wildlife refuge but not anymore. Now it is thick with smoke, and constantly
patrolled by pilots who risk their lives to save others. They are throwing everything they have at
this disaster, but the wall of flames keeps advancing. This town, like so many others down the coast,
is literally in the line of fire, with very little left to protect it. In the hands of these pilots, the fate of
so many depends. In Mallacoota, it felt like the fire was winning
this war. Tourists turned into evacuees, rescued by
the Australian navy, aboard, a helping hand, a hot meal and a huge sense of relief. HMAS Choules usually accommodates 700 troops,
but its commander said it can cope with many more evacuees. Up in the hills of Victoria, the tourist town
of Bright is one of just dozens left almost deserted by the hasty mass evacuation. MAN: here’s tents and caravans and all sorts
of things scattered around there. There’s a lot of food in all the villas, and
probably seen what happened over the coast, and they have said, OK, we’re out of here. DAN RIVERS: Now those who are left are braced
for the worst. Winds of more than 90 miles an hour tomorrow
and temperatures soaring to more than 40 degrees Celsius threaten to make Saturday the most
dangerous day so far, with three separate fires all possibly converging into one potentially
deadly conflagration. JUDY WOODRUFF: That report from Dan Rivers
of Independent Television News. The death toll has reached 43 in monsoon flooding
around Indonesia’s capital, with nearly 400,000 people forced to flee. Today, just outside Jakarta, waters receded
to reveal streets turned to wastelands. Residents struggled to push damaged vehicles
off muddy roads littered with debris. Back in this country, downpours across the
Deep South put parts of five states under flood warnings and watches. The National Weather Service said that flood
advisories covered parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, as the storm
system moved east. The region faced flooded roads and overflowing
rivers. Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe has joined
a wave of House Republicans who are retiring at the end of this year. He said today that he always planned to serve
only five or six terms after his initial election in 2008; 25 other House Republicans have already
decided not to run for reelection. And leaders of the United Methodist Church
say they are splitting in two over allowing gay marriage and gay clergy. They announced today that one branch will
endorse both practices. The other will oppose both. A church conference will vote on the plan
in May. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a doctored
video of Joe Biden goes viral, drawing attention to the threat of disinformation on the 2020
campaign trail; plus, Mark Shields and David Brooks break down the top headlines from the
first week of the new year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *