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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    After listening to Democrats for three straight days, President Donald Trump's lawyers started their rebuttal on Saturday in the President's Senate impeachment trial, accusing House prosecutors of ignoring evidence helpful to Mr. Trump, asking Senators to turn aside an effort to 'cancel an election.' 'You will find that the President did absolutely nothing wrong,' White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said to start the arguments in an unusual Saturday session of the Senate. 'Today, we are going to confront them on the merits of their argument,' Cipollone added, as the President's legal team accused the House of bending the facts, and ignoring evidence in favor of Mr. Trump. 'Let's get our facts straight,' said the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. 'The House managers never told you any of this,' said White House lawyer Michael Purpura. 'Why not?' “Impeachment shouldn't be a shell game,” Cipollone said, as the President's team used just two of their 24 hours of arguments - they will continue on Monday afternoon. GOP Senators rushed to the microphones after Saturday's session to denounce what Democrats had presented earlier in the week. 'Within two hours, I thought the White House Counsel and their team entirely shredded the case which has been presented by the House managers,' said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). 'It completely undermined the case of the Democrats and truly undermined the credibility of Adam Schiff,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). 'It was pretty stark today,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who then used the famous quote from radio show host Paul Harvey to make the case for the President. 'Now you know the rest of the story,' Lankford told reporters. 'This was a good day for America frankly,' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). 'I don't believe anything they have said so far is impeachable,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) of the House case, as there continues to be no public evidence that any GOP Senators are ready to break with President Trump. Playing out behind the scenes was the ongoing partisan tussle over whether current and former Trump Administration officials - whose testimony has been blocked during the impeachment investigation by President Trump - should be issued subpoenas by the U.S. Senate. 'I don't know how you have a trial when you know there is evidence that you haven't seen, or witnesses you haven't heard from that have first hand knowledge,' said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). 'A fair trial means witnesses and documents,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. The trial resumes at 1 pm ET on Monday.
  • Democrats concluded their 24 hours of opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump with a blistering assessment of his effort to get Ukraine to announce investigations which would politically benefit him, as Democrats pleaded with GOP Senators to subpoena documents and witnesses blocked by the President. 'I implore you, give America a fair trial,' Schiff said. 'She's worth it.' In a final summary of the House impeachment arguments, Schiff said the President had clearly stepped over the line by trying to get Ukraine to start an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. 'President Trump has abused the power of his office, and must be removed,' said lead House prosecutor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'Our founders worried about a situation just like this,' Schiff added, arguing the House charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress have 'been proved.' For Republicans, the third straight day of arguments by House prosecutors was like hundreds of fingernails on a Senate blackboard, as they all but accused Schiff of making up a story about President Trump. “It's kind of a story of the entire three days, of this invented story, weaving through bits of facts, but all this fiction weaved in it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), as he told reporters that Schiff's final speech was 'insulting to everybody.' 'I don't anything they've said so far is impeachable,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who earlier in the day told reporters that he thought the arguments of Rep. Schiff were 'horrible.' 'They shouldn't need anymore information to make a final decision,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who made clear the GOP leadership position that Republicans should not vote for extra documents or witnesses, worried it will drag out the trial well into February. With the White House legal team ready to start arguments on Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) - who said he had been in touch with the President just yesterday - said there was no reason to ignore the story of Hunter Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden. 'The President is frustrated and I am frustrated that we live in a country where only one side gets looked at,' Graham told reporters, as he accused the news media for a second straight day of carrying the water for Democrats in this impeachment fight, and hinted he would start his own investigation. The end of the House prosecutors arguments set the stage for the White House to begin its defense of President Trump, which is set to begin at 10 am ET on Saturday, and last for about three hours. Schiff tried to preempt some of the expected arguments. 'If they couldn't get Ukraine to smear the Bidens, they want to use this trial to do it instead,' Schiff said about anticipated talk from the President's lawyers about investigating Hunter Biden. If the Senate refuses to call witnesses next week, then the President's impeachment trial could conclude by the end of January, or the first days of February.
  • Thrilling thousands of abortion opponents at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump again emphasized his support for their cause, as he became the first President to travel the few blocks from the White House to appear in person at the march. 'Today, as President of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you,' Mr. Trump said, as his speech was received with loud cheers, and chants of 'four more years' from some in the crowd. 'As the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made,' as the President repeatedly emphasized his pro-life stance, endearing him to more conservative and religious voters who have become a bedrock of his political support. 'We must protect, cherish, and defend the sanctity of every human life,' he added. While past Republican Presidents had always expressed their support for the March for Life, none had trekked the couple of blocks from the White House to appear in person. 'It is my profound honor to be the first President in history to attend the March for Life,' Mr. Trump said to loud cheers, 47 years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision. 'I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life,' Mr. Trump said, as he also again expressed his opposition to late-term abortions. The President also spoke about conservative judges who have been approved for the federal bench during his time in office, also citing his two Supreme Court picks, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Even though he could easily see the Capitol from the rally, the President made no mention of his Senate impeachment trial, as the gathering brought together a number of GOP lawmakers for the march.
  • Republican Senators expressed growing frustration on Thursday with the arguments of U.S. House prosecutors against President Donald Trump, as Democrats accused the President of trying to use the government of Ukraine to help his 2020 re-election campaign by launching investigations linked to former Vice President Joe Biden and a 2016 election conspiracy theory involving Ukraine. 'It's the same story, the same videos,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), as GOP grumbling grew about the trial. 'Apparently we're going to hear it all day again, same things over again.' 'It seems like Groundhog Day in the Senate,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). 'It is the same thing, day after day after day.' On the Senate floor, Democrats spent a second day diving into great detail about the President's actions regarding Ukraine, accusing him of trying to get a foreign country to meddle in U.S. elections. The second day wrapped up with an impassioned speech by lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who implored GOP Senators to acknowledge that the President does not have the interests of the nation in mind. “You know you can't count on him; none of us can,” Schiff said. “You know you can't trust this President to do what's right for this country,” Schiff added. “You can trust he'll do what's right for Donald Trump.” In their second day of arguments, Democrats focused entirely on the abuse of power charge against the President, as Schiff led the House impeachment managers in laying out the case. 'It's improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent,' Schiff said, referring to former Vice President Biden. Schiff also mocked the President for embracing the 'Crowdstrike' conspiracy theory, noting that Mr. Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to see if the email server of the Democratic National Committee - which was hacked by Russian intelligence in 2016 - was now being hidden inside Ukraine. 'This completely bogus, Kremlin-pushed, conspiracy theory,' Schiff said. 'So when President Trump asks for a favor,' said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), 'the only priority was President Trump's corrupt demand for phony investigations.' 'This is corruption and abuse of power in its purest form,' Jeffries added on Thursday night. In their arguments, Schiff and other managers repeatedly indicated to Senators how the Trump Administration had blocked requests for witnesses and documents, as Democrats still hope to find four Republicans who would vote for witness testimony by Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and others. But there was no real evidence that GOP opposition to witness testimony was going to crack, as Senate GOP leaders have warned any effort to subpoena witnesses could create a messy court battle with the White House which could take months to resolve. 'I want to end this thing sooner, rather than later,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said he was not interested in extra witnesses sought by Democrats. Democrats will finish their arguments on Friday with a focus on the obstruction of Congress charge, as they continue to detail the numerous ways the White House defied supoenas from House impeachment investigators. The President's legal team has been sitting silent on the Senate floor - they are expected to start their defense of Mr. Trump on Saturday.
  • While Republican Senators continue to wave off the case presented by House Democrats in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial, the GOP is expressing concern that the impeachment battle may have a negative impact on a group of Senators who are already in tough re-election battles in 2020. 'The entire process is not to remove the President from office, it's simply to remove certain Republican Senators,' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), as he rattled off a series of states where polls show incumbent Republicans with struggling poll ratings. 'Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, Maine, and Arizona - this is absolutely an opportunity for them to over take the Senate,' Scott told reporters during a break in the Trump impeachment trial. Polling shows that GOP Senators from three of those states - Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona - have some of the worst approval/disapproval ratings in the country. Two others, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina are also facing concerted attacks from Democratic Party groups, hoping to unseat them in November. Back in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) - already in hot water for her decision to support Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh - is now seeing a prime Democratic rival, Maine House Speaker Sarah Gideon, zeroing in on her votes in the Trump impeachment trial. While Collins is facing tough votes in the Trump trial, Gideon has been back in Maine firing away at the Maine Republican. “Senator Collins voted with Mitch McConnell to block witnesses and evidence from the impeachment trial,” Gideon said. 'She (Collins) has proven that she has won tough races in the past, but this will be her most difficult re-election,' said Nathan Gonzales, an elections analyst with Roll Call, told C-SPAN earlier this week. Also getting involved in some of these races is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is funneling some of ad money into Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and Maine.
  • Going through evidence built up from impeachment hearings on Ukraine, U.S. House prosecutors used their first full day of Senate trial arguments to make the case that President Donald Trump should be convicted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, but so far their efforts have not caused any GOP Senators to publicly call for new witnesses or documents in the Senate trial. 'I welcome Speaker Pelosi to compel (John) Bolton or anyone else to come into the House and testify,' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who joined other Republican Senators in saying it was the job of the House to hold evidentiary hearings - not the Senate. 'Most Senators will be pretty well informed on which way they are going to vote and won't need any additional information,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who echoed other Republicans on the evidence presented by House Democrats. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' Barrasso told reporters just off the Senate floor. 'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). 'That should have been done in the House, and not here in the Senate.' Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers used over seven hours of time as they started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming. 'President Trump has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead House impeachment manager. 'His conduct has violated his oath of office and his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law,' Schiff added from the Senate floor. 'Everybody was in the loop,' Schiff said Wednesday night, pressing the case that from President Trump on down, top officials knew what was happening with respect to Ukraine and efforts to force the government to announce investigations which would benefit the President's 2020 re-election bid. While Senators are required to be in their seats for the impeachment proceedings, some Democrats complained that a number of GOP Senators had left the chamber during the House manager arguments. 'We do have a series of our colleagues, particularly on the other side of the aisle, who seem to get up quite a bit, and often leave the chamber for extended periods of time,' Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told CNN. 'I guess they just don't want to listen to the rest of the House testimony,' Menendez added. The trial will resume at 1 pm ET on Thursday.
  • Beginning up to 24 hours of opening arguments, House impeachment managers started Wednesday to lay out the basics of their case against President Donald Trump, arguing the evidence is overwhelming that the President is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 'Ultimately, the question for you is whether the President's undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th President from office,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who opened the House presentation with a speech of over two hours. 'Over the coming days, you will hear remarkably consistent evidence of President Trump's corrupt scheme and cover up,' Schiff added, arguing that Mr. Trump tried to use Ukraine to do his 'political dirty work' in an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats charge the President withheld over $200 million in military aid for Ukraine in a bid to force the government to announce an investigation of Biden, and another investigation into what Schiff labeled 'that crazy conspiracy theory,' where Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats during the 2016 campaign. At the first break of the afternoon, the sharp break along party lines was clearly evident as Senators spilled out of the chamber. 'So far, we haven't heard anything new,' Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters just off the Senate floor.  'What we ought to be presented is evidence by witnesses that have personal knowledge,' Cornyn said, drawing an approving reaction from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who was waiting to speak to reporters. But Cornyn made clear those witnesses should have testified in the House - not in the Senate, as Democrats have asked the Senate to hear testimony. Asked if there was any deal in the works between the two parties to have witness testimony - where Democrats would be able to call former Trump aide John Bolton, and Republicans would question Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden - Schumer told reporters that was not happening. 'That's not even on the table,' Schumer said. Under the rules, House prosecutors have up to 24 hours - over three days - to present their case, which means they could be talking on the Senate floor through Friday. For now, there was no evidence that it was changing any GOP minds. 'I stayed awake, but I didn't hear anything new,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
  • The first substantive day of President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial turned into a late night, insult-filled battle between House prosecutors and the President's legal team, as Republicans voted down repeated efforts by Democrats to have the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents related to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. 'They will not permit the American people to hear from the witnesses,' Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, taking direct aim at the President's lawyers. 'And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.' That prompted an immediate response from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who demanded that Nadler apologize, accusing him of making repeated false allegations about President Trump. 'The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,' Cipollone said. Just before 1 am, Chief Justice John Roberts warned both sides to tone it down, his first real foray into the impeachment trial. 'I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,' as the Chief Justice made clear the debate was not following along the lines of civil discourse. 'I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,' Chief Justice Roberts added. Democrats kept the Senate working past midnight in a bid to put Republicans on the record on calling witnesses like former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other top officials who defied subpoenas from the House. 'The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney,' Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at one point. 'Let's get this trial started, shall we?' But with Republicans sticking together, GOP Senators defeated a series of Democratic amendments to an impeachment rules resolution on identical votes of 53-47 - straight along party lines. Democrats said there was only one reason why Republicans were not looking to hear from new witnesses - because they don't want to hear the real Ukraine story. On the other side, Republicans joined the White House legal team in blasting the demands of Democrats. 'The only thing that’s rigged is Democrats’ perpetual effort to undo the results of the 2016 election,' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In the end, no Republicans broke ranks, as the GOP defeated 11 different amendments by Democrats to change the GOP rules plan, bringing about a final vote over 12 hours after the Senate convened.
  • Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments. The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days. 'She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days,' a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters. Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate. The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial. 'Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom. 'This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous,' said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges. 'It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told,' Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial. “A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added. While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House. The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer.  It was straight along party lines. A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department. Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
  • A GOP rules plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump unveiled by Senate Republicans on Monday could pave the way for the trial to be finished in as little as two weeks, as the plan envisions squeezing 48 hours of opening arguments into just four days, with the option of voting on the impeachment articles without any additional witnesses or evidence. 'Just because the House proceedings were a circus that doesn’t mean the Senate’s trial needs to be,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who fully endorsed the proposal from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While GOP Senators said the plan would be modeled on a bipartisan rules deal at the start of the Clinton impeachment trial, there were two notable differences from 21 years ago, governing opening arguments, and the submission of evidence. While each side would get 24 hours to make their opening arguments, this GOP plan would force that time to be used in just two days - raising the specter of an impeachment trial which could stretch well into the night because of those time constraints. Another change would require an affirmative vote by the Senate to simply put the investigatory materials from the House into the trial record, something which was done automatically in the Clinton impeachment trial. Also, even if extra witnesses were approved by Senators, it would not guarantee their testimony on the Senate floor, as there would have to be a vote after the depositions on whether the witness would testify publicly. With a Tuesday debate set on the rules, Republicans also made clear they would not support any move to add witnesses until after opening arguments have been completed. 'If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts,' said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). Meanwhile, Democrats roundly denounced the GOP rules details. 'The proposal that Majority Leader McConnell just released looks more like a cover up than a fair trial,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). 'Mitch McConnell doesn't want a fair trial, he wants a fast trial,' said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). 'It's all about the cover up,' said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'These are not the Clinton rules.' 'There’s nothing in this resolution that requires hearing witnesses or admitting evidence — which is unlike any trial I’ve ever seen,' said Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). 'Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who promised to offer amendments to the plan on Tuesday afternoon. Debate and votes on the rules resolution will start on Tuesday afternoon - and could turn into an extended battle on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Deputies in Orange County need your help with their investigation of a shooting that happened Friday afternoon. They say at 5:20 p.m., deputies responded to the shooting at 1493 Goldenrod Road near East Colonial. Once they got there, they found the victim, now identified as 30 year old Dominic Fabrece Bolden unresponsive with a gunshot wound in a car. Bolden was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  Investigators have turned their focus to a black car and an SUV that have crashed into each other. A nearby Mercedez sat with two other cars along with evidence markers scattered around them. The shooting caused traffic in the north and southbound lanes to be closed, causing a back up for over 5 hours.  Investigators have classified this case as a homicide. Right now, there has been no description of a suspect or if any arrests have been made. In the meantime, Crimeline is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for anyone with information about this shooting. If you have any information, please contact Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
  • A federally funded national study to find out why exercise benefits the human body is now in the testing phase at AdventHealth in Orlando. Last year the National Institutes of Health issued a $170 million grant to conduct the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans study, also known as MoTrPAC (pronounced “Motor Pack”).  Orlando was chosen as one of the ten markets where the study is being conducted. In January 2019, News 96.5 WDBO spoke with the AdventHealth senior investigator leading the study at the Translational Research Institute on Princeton Street.  One year later, Dr. Bret Goodpaster said the testing is happening now with the first group of volunteers from Central Florida. “They essentially get an exercise program,” Dr. Goodpaster said. “They get their own personal trainer for twelve weeks who really teach them about the right way to do exercise.” Goodpaster’s team is working with about 25 or 30 people at a time.  Over the course of about three years they’ll study 150 volunteers, a good chunk of the nearly 2,000 people who are being studied nationwide for MoTrPAC.  They’ll continue working with volunteers through 2022. The study itself involves both resistance and aerobic exercise.  Volunteers undergo all sorts of testing of their muscle, fat and blood both before and after the exercise program to see what has changed. “We’re looking at all the molecules that might be produced during exercise in muscle, fat cells and in the blood to really try to discover what we don’t yet know about why exercise exerts its positive health benefits,” Dr. Goodpaster said. He hopes the study will lead to new data on what exercise is doing on a fundamental, basic molecular level.  One example is finding what molecules end up in the blood that might be related to risk for diabetes, heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Orlando wasn’t chosen at random to participate in the study.  Dr. Goodpaster said  they competed to get part of the federal grant. “I think what this does from a research perspective is it really puts Orlando on the map as being able to succeed at competing at landing these NIH-funded national studies like MoTrPAC,” he said. That could mean more projects for Orlando in the future, as the National Institutes of Health wants to give money to people who have established a track record of success in being able to do these types of studies. AdventHealth’s Translational Research Institute will be looking for volunteers for the next two to three years.  Anyone interested in getting involved with the MoTrPAC research study can call (407) 303-7193 or visit TRI-MD.org.
  • At least two people died and one person was injured after an early-morning explosion Friday at a machine shop in northwest Houston, police said. KHOU reported residents first felt the blast at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Co. around 4:30 a.m. Friday. Update 4:50 a.m. EST Jan. 25: Houston authorities have identified the two people killed in Friday’s early-morning explosion as Frank Flores and Gerardo Castorena. Both men were employees at the facility and had arrived early to use the company’s on-site gym before starting their workdays, KHOU reported. According to the TV station, a nearby resident was taken to a local hospital for treatment of unknown injuries, and at least 18 people sought emergency room treatment on their own for minor injuries associated with the blast, such as breathing issues and cuts. Update 2:30 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Police Chief Art Acevedo said authorities believe they have identified the two people killed in Friday morning’s explosion as employees of Watson Grinding. Authorities declined to identify the victims as they continued to await official confirmation of their identities. “We only have two people that are accounted for and we have recovered two bodies,” Acevedo said Friday afternoon. “That doesn’t mean that there (isn’t) people that no one knows were in the area, and so we cannot say whether or not there are more victims but right now. It appears (to be) a high probability (that) there’s only two victims.” Police, firefighters and officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the cause of the blast. “As of right now, we don’t have any have no indication that there’s any terrorism nexus or any intentional act,” Acevedo said. Earlier Friday, he noted investigations are part of standard procedure when dealing with situations such as Friday’s explosion. Update 1:55 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Firefighters have cleared the immediate blast area affected by Friday morning’s explosion at Watson Grinding. The owner of Watson Grinding told KTRK the blast was a propylene gas explosion. Houston fire officials said propylene tanks still at the machine shop were intact and stable Friday afternoon. “There is no indication of any air quality issues,” officials said. Update 1:10 p.m. EST Jan. 24: Police expect to provide an update on the investigation into Friday morning’s explosion at a news conference scheduled to start at 1 p.m. local time Friday. Update 10:55 a.m. EST Jan. 24: Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Friday morning that police have confirmed two fatalities connected to the explosion at Watson Grinding. Acevedo said authorities weren’t immediately sure whether the victims were employees of Watson Grinding or residents who lived nearby. Mayor Sylvester Turner said as many as three people are believed to have died as a result of the early-morning blast. Police and firefighters have launched an investigation of the incident. “Let me just say off the bat, we have no reason to believe -- we have no evidence at this point that terrorism was involved, we don’t have any evidence that an intentional act is involved,” Acevedo said, adding that the investigation was part of standard procedure. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also investigating. Fire Chief Samuel Peña said there was “significant damage” to homes and businesses in the area. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:35 a.m. EST Jan 24: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said as many as three people are believed to have died in Friday morning’s explosion. Original report: One person was missing Friday after an early-morning explosion at a machine shop in northwest Houston caused heavy damage to nearby buildings, injuring at least one person and leaving rubble scattered in the area. “(The explosion) knocked us all out of our bed, it was so strong,” resident Mark Brady told KPRC. “It busted out every window in our house. It busted everybody’s garage door in around here … and closer toward the explosion over here, it busted people’s roofs in and walls in and we don’t know what it is … It’s a warzone over here.” Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday morning that one person remained unaccounted for after the incident. “It’s somebody that works there,” Acevedo said. “We’re keeping that person in our prayers.” Firefighters said a resident who lives near Watson Grinding was injured in the explosion and taken to a hospital. Houston fire Capt. Oscar Garcia told CNN the person was injured by shattered glass. At least one local resident captured the incident on a doorbell camera. The owner of Watson Grinding told KTRK the blast was a propylene gas explosion. Houston fire Chief Samuel Peña said a hazardous materials team was monitoring after the incident but that there were no immediate reports of hazardous air quality. Acevedo said the debris field extended about half a mile from the site of the explosion. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Workers in China are swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat people who have been sickened by a new strain of the coronavirus that has claimed more than two dozen lives and sickened hundreds of others in the country, according to multiple reports. Ten bulldozers and nearly three dozen diggers arrived Thursday night at the future site of the hospital in Wuhan, Reuters reported, citing Changjiang Daily. The facility was being built using prefabricated buildings around a holiday complex on the outskirts of the city that was originally meant for local workers, according to Reuters. Officials expect to complete construction on the 270,000-square-foot lot by Feb. 3, The Associated Press reported. The facility was being built amid reports of hospital bed shortages as hundreds of people fell ill during the country’s popular Lunar New Year travel season. Several people in Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, told The Guardian they had been turned away from hospitals due to the flood of patients seeking testing and treatment. At least eight hospitals in Wuhan have called for donations of items including masks and goggles as they work to meet demand for medical treatment, according to the AP. 'The construction of this project is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources,” Changjiang Daily reported, according to Reuters. “Because it will be prefabricated buildings, it will not only be built fast but it also won’t cost much.” The facility was being modeled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital built in 2003 in Beijing, the AP reported. That hospital was built by 7,000 workers in just six days during the SARS outbreak, which killed 800 and sickened people in more than a dozen countries, according to the AP and Reuters. The facility, which was deemed a success, treated 700 patients over less than two months before it closed, The Guardian and Reuters reported. As of Friday, 26 people have died and more than 900 people have been infected with coronavirus in China since reports of the virus first surfaced last month, according to CNN and the AP. Several cases have also been confirmed in other countries, including two in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials believe the virus can spread from person-to-person, though it remained unclear Friday just how easily the virus spread. Officials recommend that any people who have recently traveled to Wuhan and subsequently experienced flu-like symptoms -- including fever, coughing, shortness of breath or a sore throat -- contact their health care providers.
  • Orlando International Airport officials issued a statement Thursday about the deadly coronavirus, which has killed more than a dozen people and sickened hundreds of others since it was first reported last month in China. Rod Johnson, an airport spokesman, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to expand screening at airports this week, but OIA is not included in that grouping. As of Friday, the CDC is requiring screening of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China to Atlanta and Chicago O'Hare,  Los Angeles International, San Francisco International and New York JFK. 'Since we do not have direct service from the affected regions in China, no additional measures are currently prescribed for our location,' Johnson said. 'However, we will continue to collaborate with health officials, monitor the situation for changes and will act accordingly.” Cases of the virus first surfaced in Wuhan, China, which has a population of more than 11 million. The first travel-related case in the U.S was announced Tuesday. A traveler who had been in central China landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on an unidentified airline Jan. 15 and reported pneumonia-like symptoms to his doctor on Jan. 19.  The Seattle-area resident did not take a nonstop flight between Wuhan and Seattle. So far, the virus has killed at least 17 people and sickened more than 600 others in China. Here are six things you should be aware of about the disease: 1. Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that can cause a cold or something severe like Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS. The World Health Organization says symptoms are similar to pneumonia symptoms, CBS News reported. The initial symptoms include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath, The Associated Press reported. 2. Normally they’re transmitted from animal to humans, but 2019-nCoV is apparently able to be transmitted between humans. At least two people were infected that way, the BBC reported. But there are other coronaviruses in animal populations but have not been transmitted to humans, according to CBS News. 3. The World Health Organization is considering declaring a public health emergency, similar to what it did with Ebola and swine flu, the BBC reported. If the declaration happens, a coordinated international response will follow. 4. At least 15 medical workers are infected with 2019-nCoV and one is in critical condition. They are believed to have contracted the illness from treating patients who were kept in isolation, but that has not been confirmed, the BBC reported. 5. While the 2019-nCoV was traced back to a seafood market that also sells live animals in Wuhan, China last year, there are a few cases outside of China including Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Those cases are linked to the same area in China, the BBC reported. 6. People are taking measures to protect themselves from exposure to the virus. Medical-style face masks are sold out in China, the AP reported. Many people in Wuhan are wearing face coverings as they go about their day. The company that makes the anti-pollution masks, 3M was sold out of the mask online, the AP reported.

Washington Insider

  • After listening to Democrats for three straight days, President Donald Trump's lawyers started their rebuttal on Saturday in the President's Senate impeachment trial, accusing House prosecutors of ignoring evidence helpful to Mr. Trump, asking Senators to turn aside an effort to 'cancel an election.' 'You will find that the President did absolutely nothing wrong,' White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said to start the arguments in an unusual Saturday session of the Senate. 'Today, we are going to confront them on the merits of their argument,' Cipollone added, as the President's legal team accused the House of bending the facts, and ignoring evidence in favor of Mr. Trump. 'Let's get our facts straight,' said the President's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. 'The House managers never told you any of this,' said White House lawyer Michael Purpura. 'Why not?' “Impeachment shouldn't be a shell game,” Cipollone said, as the President's team used just two of their 24 hours of arguments - they will continue on Monday afternoon. GOP Senators rushed to the microphones after Saturday's session to denounce what Democrats had presented earlier in the week. 'Within two hours, I thought the White House Counsel and their team entirely shredded the case which has been presented by the House managers,' said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). 'It completely undermined the case of the Democrats and truly undermined the credibility of Adam Schiff,' said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). 'It was pretty stark today,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who then used the famous quote from radio show host Paul Harvey to make the case for the President. 'Now you know the rest of the story,' Lankford told reporters. 'This was a good day for America frankly,' said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). 'I don't believe anything they have said so far is impeachable,' said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) of the House case, as there continues to be no public evidence that any GOP Senators are ready to break with President Trump. Playing out behind the scenes was the ongoing partisan tussle over whether current and former Trump Administration officials - whose testimony has been blocked during the impeachment investigation by President Trump - should be issued subpoenas by the U.S. Senate. 'I don't know how you have a trial when you know there is evidence that you haven't seen, or witnesses you haven't heard from that have first hand knowledge,' said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). 'A fair trial means witnesses and documents,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. The trial resumes at 1 pm ET on Monday.