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J. Crew hires former head of Victoria's Secret as its new CEO

J. Crew hires former head of Victoria's Secret as its new CEO
By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

J. Crew has turned to an executive from another struggling brand, Victoria's Secret, to lead its turnaround. Jan Singer will become J. Crew's new CEO, the company said Tuesday.

Singer became Victoria's Secret chief executive in 2016, but she left the company in 2018 amid a sales slump and competition from online lingerie brands. Singer, 55, also was CEO of Spanx and worked in executive roles at Nike and other retailers.

Despite declining sales at Victoria's Secret, J. Crew, in a statement, pointed to Singer's "significant experience in building global consumer brands and consumer and retail leadership."

J. Crew has been searching for a permanent chief executive since 2018, when former CEO Jim Brett, who came from West Elm, resigned less than two years into the role.

Brett left the company because of a disagreement with the board of directors over how to "evolve" J. Crew. He had signed a deal to sell on Amazon and shift J. Crew away from its traditional preppy image.

J. Crew has around $1.7 billion in debt, much of it brought on by a 2011 leveraged buyout. During the first nine months of 2019, sales at J. Crew were off 5%.

As of November, J. Crew had 190 stores and 172 factory stores.

In September, J. Crew announced it planned to spin off Madewell, its fast-growing denim brand, into a separate public company.

"While J.Crew continues to struggle, Madewell has emerged as the company's crown jewel, accounting for the majority of profits," Raya Sokolyanska, senior analyst at Moody's, said in a note at the time.

A successful Madewell IPO could help J Crew pay down a "meaningful portion" of its debt, she said.

That will soon be Singer's problem to solve.


Starbucks has closed more than half of its Chinese stores because of coronavirus
By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business

Starbucks has closed more than half of its roughly 4,300 Chinese stores, as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread in the country.

The company said Tuesday it is continuing to "monitor and modify the operating hours of all of our stores in the market," in light of the outbreak.

"This is expected to be temporary," Starbucks added.

Over the weekend, the company said that it was closing shops and suspending delivery services in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the wider Hubei Province. It has since closed stores throughout China.

The Wuhan Coronavirus has so far killed more than 100 people and infected thousands. It has reached more than 17 countries.

CEO Kevin Johnson promised transparency into the company's response to the "extraordinary circumstances," in a statement Tuesday.

"We remain optimistic and committed to the long-term opportunity in China," he added.

Johnson noted in a call with investors that Starbucks is prioritizing the health of customers and employees and working with officials to help contain the virus.

China is an important market for Starbucks. In the first quarter, sales at Chinese stores open at least 13 months grew 3%. McDonald's has been expanding rapidly in the country, opening about 600 stores last year.

It's not clear how the closures will affect business, the company said. But Starbucks does expect to take a hit in the second quarter and fiscal year 2020, and plans to update its guidance once it can better evaluate the impact. The company's stock dipped slightly after the bell Tuesday.

Global companies have been responding to the outbreak with store closures and increased safety measures.

McDonald's said on Friday that it had closed locations in five cities to and from which the Chinese government restricted travel. McDonald's said open stores were following strict hygiene practices.

KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants also closed in the city of Wuhan. And Disney has closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

-- CNN Business' Sherisse Pham contributed to this report.


GOP concedes Trump may have withheld aid for probes but says it's not impeachable
By Manu Raju, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

A growing number of GOP senators are now acknowledging that President Donald Trump may have leveraged US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an announcement of investigations that could help him politically -- but they contend that even that conduct does not warrant removal from office or hearing from additional witnesses.

Republicans are arguing that the latest reports -- that former national security adviser John Bolton's book manuscript says that Trump told him in August that he was withholding $391 million in aid until Ukraine announced a probe into the Bidens -- are likely true but simply confirm what is already known.

And they are saying that new allegation, first revealed by The New York Times, isconsistent with the details laid out by House Democratic managers in their case that Trump used official acts to urge a foreign power to undercut a leading political rival in the 2020 presidential campaign.

But they say that nothing in there is impeachable -- nor does it warrant the hearing from new witnesses since it confirms what is already known, they say. Yet it still remains to be seen if four Republicans break ranks to support witnesses, giving Democrats enough support that would dramatically change the course of Trump's trial.

"I don't think anything he says changes the facts," South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the majority whip, told CNN. "I think people kind of know what the fact pattern is. ... There's already that evidence on the record."

Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, added: "I think he sounds like a lot of the other witnesses, frankly. I don't know that he's got a lot new to add to it."

"No," Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said bluntly when asked if he thinks what Bolton is reportedly detailing amounts to impeachable conduct. "I don't think it would be."

The comments are a departure from the arguments made by House Republicans, who disputed the central facts of the Democrats' case and said they failed to prove any link to Trump's official acts -- including withholding a White House meeting with the Ukrainian president along with the military aid the country sought to combat Russia.

On the Senate floor this week, the President's attorneys continued to argue that the Democrats lacked sufficient evidence to make their charges. But they said that even if they were true, the conduct is not impeachable, an argument many Senate Republicans are now echoing.

Republicans, in particular, are pointing to legal arguments by Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz, who said that Bolton's allegations -- if true -- are not impeachable.

"Nothing in the Bolton revelations -- even if true -- would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense," Dershowitz said.

"Even if the President, any president, were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country, obviously a highly disputed matter in this case, that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power," he argued, adding, "Quid pro quo alone is not a basis for abuse of power, it's part of the way foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time."

On Tuesday, Republicans said that argument was reason enough to quickly acquit the President -- and reject the calls for additional witnesses, since they said that Bolton in particular would add little to the record.

"I don't think the testimony of Ambassador Bolton would be helpful because I basically am in agreement with the very scholarly approach that Mr. Dershowitz took that there's no article there that's grounds for impeachment and removal," said Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Asked if anything in the Bolton revelations amounted to impeachable conduct, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the GOP leadership, said: "I wouldn't think so -- for the reasons that were described yesterday on the floor."

Whether that strategy works remains to be seen. Just four Republican defectors are enough to prompt witness testimony in the trial, something that would throw the proceedings into uncertain and risky territory for the President. Fifty-one votes are needed to move ahead on witnesses, a vote expected on Friday.

"Mr. Bolton probably has some things that would be helpful for us and we'll figure out how we might be able to learn that," Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, an Alaska Republican and key swing vote, said Tuesday.

As they acknowledge that Trump may have done exactly what House Democrats are alleging, several Republicans are sidestepping questions about whether they can defend his handling of matters with Ukraine.

Asked if he had any concerns about Trump's conduct, Wicker said that's not the question before the Senate.

"Do I agree with everything every president has done? No. Does that include this President? Yes," Wicker said. "But the question is not whether, I think, a phone call was perfect, or whether something was advisable or not. The question is: Is this an impeachable offense?"

Texas Sen. John Cornyn added: "If you are going to start impeaching presidents for doing what's within their power but for which they have political benefit, than I think impeachment is going to become the new norm."

"The charges at the extreme do not rise to the level of impeachment," said Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina who is up for reelection and vulnerable in 2020.

GOP leaders argue there's little reason to secure witness testimony since the outcome -- Trump's acquittal -- is inevitable.

Indeed, Thune suggested that hauling in Bolton would add little to what is already known, and that it wasn't worth the cost given that it could lead to a protracted fight for even more witnesses, like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- and potentially end up in the courts.

"He could reinforce (the existing record) or put a different context on it," Thune said of Bolton. "But if we call him in then the Democrats will want to call other people in -- Mulvaney or Pompeo -- then our side would want to call more people in."

Thune added: "And I think that gets us into this endless cycle and this drags on for weeks and months in a middle of a presidential election where people are already voting."


Apple posts record quarter as iPhone sales make a comeback

Apple posts record quarter as iPhone sales make a comeback
By Clare Duffy, CNN Business

It appears iPhone sales really are on the mend.

Apple posted what it called "all-time record" earnings for the three months ending December -- with quarterly revenue of $91.8 billion, up 9% from the same period last year and well above Wall Street analysts' $88.5 billion projection.

The record performance was driven by strong iPhone sales during the crucial holiday season, CEO Tim Cook said in the company's earnings release Tuesday. iPhone sales grew nearly 8% to $56 billion in the three months, an important comeback after last year's slumping demand, which resulted in declining iPhone sales in each quarter of 2019.

Sales for the services and wearables segments of Apple's business, which many herald as the future of the company, also contributed to the successful quarter.

Apple's stock rose as much as 2.7% in after-hours trading Tuesday, after already having closed the day up 2.8%.


Joe Biden is using Trump's impeachment attacks to show Democrats he 'can take a punch'
By Eric Bradner, Arlette Saenz and Sarah Mucha, CNN

Joe Biden had a question for the crowd gathered to see him in Muscatine, Iowa, on Tuesday: "Did anyone see what your senator, Joni Ernst, did yesterday?"

The former vice president was referring to comments made by Ernst, who told reporters on Monday that she was "really interested to see how" how the arguments made by President Donald Trump's legal team against Biden and his son, Hunter, "informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus-goers."

"Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?" Ernst asked.

For Biden, Ernst's comments serve to underscore one of the central arguments he has made to voters in the final days before the Iowa caucuses: that Trump and Republicans are attacking him because he's the candidate they fear the most in the general election.

"She spilled the beans," Biden said Tuesday, before reading Ernst's comments and adding, "Pretty subtle, huh?"

"You can ruin Donald Trump's night by caucusing for me and you could ruin Joni Ernst's night as well," Biden said.

Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, his potential general election rival, are at the center of the President's impeachment trial.

Trump has repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the Bidens acted improperly in Ukraine. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

Trump's attorneys in the Senate's impeachment trial have made Hunter and Joe Biden central to their arguments in recent days.

At stop after stop on his final bus tour through Iowa, Biden has argued that attacks from Trump and his allies have made him stronger and demonstrated he can take incoming fire if he's the Democratic nominee.

"As much as he's trying to destroy me and my family -- I hope I've demonstrated I can take a punch. And if I'm our nominee, he's going to understand what punches mean," Biden said in Cedar Falls on Monday.

Later in the day Monday, he played up Trump's lawyers' efforts to accuse Biden and his son Hunter of corruption in Ukraine on Monday night in Iowa City -- emphasizing that he is clear-eyed about the political tactics he'd face in a general election while insisting he would remain committed to uniting the country afterward.

He said the reporters covering his campaign "keep asking me, 'You know, they just brought up your son Hunter, and they're doing this and they're doing that and the other thing.'"

"Well guess what?" Biden said. "I don't hold grudges because presidents can't hold grudges. Presidents have to be fighters, but they also have to be healers. They have to be healers."

At Biden events, most voters have said they aren't worried about the efforts of Trump's lawyers and Republican lawmakers to paint Biden and his family as corrupt -- largely because they say there's no evidence to support the allegations.

Pam Symmonds, a retired banker in Muscatine, said she's been watching the impeachment proceedings every day and is supporting Biden in spite of the GOP attacks.

"I'm hoping that people are smarter than that and they will see through all of that," she said.

But some Iowa voters said they are concerned about the potency of the GOP's attacks.

Kari Blomberg, a 53-year-old university worker in Coralville, said after Biden's stop in Iowa City that she thinks Biden will be the Democratic nominee -- but she worries he might not be the party's most electable choice.

"Biden and his son are a target for Trump, and I don't know how that'll play out," she said. "It's hard to tell. His electability seems high if I look at all the polls nationally, but I don't know how that's going to play out."


Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The first medical doctor playing in the NFL is in Super Bowl LIV
By Jill Martin, CNN

This doctor has one of the most important jobs in Super Bowl LIV, but he's not part of the team's medical staff.

Instead, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who earned his doctor of medicine degree from McGill University in Canada in 2018, plays right guard on the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line. He is tasked with protecting superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as well as trying to deliver the Chiefs their first Super Bowl win in 50 years.

Duvernay-Tardif, the first practicing medical doctor on an NFL roster, will soon become the first medical doctor set to play in a Super Bowl.

"When I stepped on that stage at McGill University and got my MD last year, it was probably the best moment of my life -- after the one I'm going to live (Sunday)," a laughing Duvernay-Tardif, alluding to Sunday's Super Bowl LIV, said to CNN on Monday.

Duvernay-Tardif, 28, stands at 6 feet, 5 inches and is listed at 321 pounds. When he speaks English, the Montreal native's French accent is evident while also giving a warm smile.

"I think I want people to see me as one of the best student athletes in the world," said Duvernay-Tardif, in his sixth NFL season and in the midst of a five-year, $42.4 million contract. "Of course you want to be the best football player. You want to be the best doctor. But to be able to combine both at the highest level ... I think that's my biggest accomplishment."

Sometimes his teammates may occasionally call him doc or doctor, but they also call him Larry, and it's evident his intellect transfers to the gridiron.

"Without a doubt, especially with the offensive line position," Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said Tuesday. "You have to be a very smart dude. There's a lot of stuff that goes into protections, and how we're going to identify the run game. Larry's stepped in. He figured it out early in his career, and he has just taken it for a ride ever since."

Said Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher on Tuesday: "He's a doctor. He's a football player. I think he's got two passions in life, and he's a professional in both of them. How many of us can say that? Usually everyone's just a professional with one thing. He's a professional with two. Pretty crazy things that not many people can do. What he's accomplished up to this point in life is pretty amazing."

An unconventional path



Duvernay-Tardif was no lock to reach the NFL -- and he had a bit of a scare getting into medical school as well.

Because he had entered the incorrect date on his calendar, Duvernay-Tardif, whose first language is French, missed the deadline to get into French-speaking medical schools in Quebec. At McGill, one of three English-language universities in Quebec, he didn't initially join the football team until later during his freshman season, as he worked on his English to keep up in class.

Meanwhile, Duvernay-Tardif wasn't playing for a typical powerhouse program that produces NFL players. Previously, just one other player had been selected in the NFL draft from McGill -- defensive tackle Randy Chevrier, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001.

As Chiefs general manager Brett Veach once alluded on February 7, 2019, "When Tardif came out, he had some tape from McGill that wasn't Alabama or Auburn. It was Canadian tape and looked like Division II or III football."

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid explained it further on Tuesday at the team hotel in Aventura, Florida.

"You have to understand where he came from," Reid said. "McGill University is a great university. However, the football maybe might not be the same level that you see at the college level in the States here.

"There was quite a gap that he had to climb there to be an NFL player, and he attacked that, probably just like he did becoming a doctor with the tough classes that he had to take.

"But that's the way he's gone about it. He's worked his tail off. He's strong. He's smart. He loves to play the game."

Duvernay-Tardif was in his third year of medical school when the Chiefs drafted him in the sixth round in 2014. There was also a Chiefs tie to Duvernay-Tardif's alma mater: Reid's mother graduated with a medical degree from McGill.

With his head coach's blessing, Duvernay-Tardif continued his studies, returning to Montreal during offseasons to fulfill his clinical rotations in pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics and his preferred specialization, emergency medicine.

"I was confident in my ability to play in the NFL for sure," Duvernay-Tardif said. "You look at the stats, and how long is an average career and all that stuff, with studying medicine I didn't know what was going to happen, but everything turned out great. I think Coach Reid is a big part of that, too. He understood what I was trying to do with my study. He gave me the chance to balance both. If it was not for him I would have (just) got my MD and I would not be here this week for sure."

To prepare for his final exams, Duvernay-Tardif isolated himself in an apartment outside of Montreal and studied up to 14 hours a day. And on May 29, 2018, he earned his medical doctorate after an eight-year journey, wearing a white lab coat after the ceremony with his uniform number 76 stitched on the back.

"It was a grind," Duvernay-Tardif said to CNN. "It was a lot of sacrifice, but at the end of the day it was worth it."

After that, he was right back with the Chiefs for training camp. Now, more work lies ahead this week in Miami.

"I don't get any feeling that he's ready to become a doctor right now and go that direction," Reid said. "I look for more years with him and continued growth."

Residency on hold for now



Residency indeed does remain on hold for Duvernay-Tardif, and it's hard to say when it will begin.

"Because I want to do emergency medicine, and they only take anywhere between five and six students at McGill per year, it would put too much stress on the rest of the cohort," Duvernay-Tardif told CNN, adding that he is in contact with the faculty of medicine at McGill.

"We'll find a way," he continued, "but I think this year I wanted to focus more on football."

But, he says, "The good news is that I didn't do an undergrad before getting into medical school. So I'm still really young. I'm 28. A lot of people are not done with their residency, or haven't even started their residency, when they were 28. I still have plenty of time. The most important thing is to stay up to speed with the knowledge, for sure."


Several high-rise buildings in Miami were evacuated after a powerful earthquake hit the Caribbean
By Nicole Chavez, CNN

Hundreds of people were evacuated from high-rise buildings near downtown Miami after a powerful earthquake in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday.

Several buildings in Miami were shaking Tuesday but no injuries or structural damage has been reported, Miami police and fire officials tweeted.

Jose Borrego was in a work meeting at the Bank of America building in the Brickell neighborhood when he "felt slight movement of the building." When he came outside, he said he noticed every building in the area was being evacuated.

"The evacuation was pretty smooth, but all in all anxious about the state of emergency and the lack of information regarding the situation," said Borrego, an employee of software company Kaseya.

At least eight buildings in the area decided to evacuate following the earthquake, Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell told CNN affiliate WPLG.

The Stephen P. Clark Government Center was closed as a precaution, Miami-Dade county officials said.

Jose Abreu, an employee at another high-rise, said he felt the walls vibrating for about 90 seconds but thought it was a malfunctioning fan.

"I thought it was the fan acting up on me. I didn't think anything of it," he said. "I just went along, until the building announcement came through the speakers and I just evacuated in the back of the building."

Others in Miami's financial district told CNN they didn't feel shaking but were concerned about retrieving items from their offices.


Tennessee bill would allow tipped employees to earn minimum wage plus tips
By MITCHELL KOCH, PETER FLEISCHER,

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    MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) -- A bill proposed in the Tennessee legislature would allow tipped employees in the state to earn the state's minimum wage, plus any tips.

Senate Bill 1851, proposed by Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), would increase the earnings of tipped employees from the current $2.13 an hour plus tips to $7.25 an hour plus tips.

"The minimum wage for tipped workers in Tennessee is $2.13 an hour and it hasn't changed since 1996," Sen. Akbari said. "Tipped workers already have unpredictable pay and schedules. The least we can do is abolish the sub-minimum wage in Tennessee and provide some financial predictability to the thousands of hard-working people in the service industry."

The bill was introduced Friday and passed first consideration Monday.

As it stands now, tipped employees earn $2.13 per hour on top of their tips. If the tipped hourly rate does not meet minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the amount up to minimum wage.

The proposed bill would do away with this mandate, as all tipped employees will start earning $7.25 per hour before tips.

Se. Akbari said the latest research suggests tipped workers will benefit from this change. They would have increased take-home pay and little to no change in employment.

"The bottom line is, we want our workers to be able to make more money, to be able to take home money to care for their families," she said. "We can give them a better base, and then they can have tips to add on to it."

Sen. Akbari said ultimately, the 340% raise would greatly impact the lives of the tipped workers.

"This will have a tremendous impact," she said. "You're talking about folks that don't necessarily have health care, they don't have paid vacations. This will give them a better quality of life, and it will give their families a better quality of life."

This is one of a few wage bills proposed at the state level.

Se. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) proposed a bill last week that would raise the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour. If passed, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2020.

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'Fast & Furious 9' trailer is coming Friday but here's a taste

'Fast & Furious 9' trailer is coming Friday but here's a taste
By Sandra Gonzalez, CNN

A threat that is even more furious than you've seen in eight other films is coming.

What, exactly, is that? Michelle Rodriguez doesn't give specifics in the new teaser trailer for "Fast & Furious 9," but it sounds ominous.

More details, perhaps, might come on Friday, when the full trailer for the film is released.

Until then, consume this sneak peek released on Tuesday by star Vin Diesel on his Facebook page.

"Fast & Furious 9" hits theaters on May 22.


Police: Woman stabs attacker in the head with box cutter, chases him after he tries to rape her
By ERYN TAYLOR, MELISSA MOON

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    MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) -- A Memphis man was arrested after police say a woman he tried to rape fought back, stabbing him in the head with a box cutter.

The woman told police she was walking along Corning Avenue in Frayser on Monday when a man grabbed her from behind, knocking them both to the ground.

The suspect pulled her pants down to her ankles before he began biting her face and choking her.

That's when the victim said she pulled out her box cutter and stabbed the man several times in the face before he let her go. She then chased him through several backyards before he got away.

While police were taking the woman's report, a call came in for an ambulance. A man -who officers identified as Robert Williams - said he had been stabbed several times in the face and was bleeding from his head.

The victim identified Williams as her attacker. Williams denied attacking the woman.

He was charged with attempted aggravated rape.

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Police: Man who smoked weed after learning of Kobe Bryant's death involved in deadly car accident
By ERYN TAYLOR, SHAY ARTHUR

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    MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) -- A Memphis man accused in the death of two people over the weekend reportedly told police he had smoked weed just before the car accident due to the passing of Kobe Bryant.

According to police, Charles Jones drove over the center lane into oncoming southbound traffic in order to make a left turn from South Third to West Raines Road. He disregarded the red light and struck another vehicle head on.

The victims were identified as Sonja Roser and Christopher Hunt. Both did not survive their injuries, police said.

When questioned by police, Jones reportedly told them he had smoke weed after learning about the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Jones was charged with vehicular homicide, DUI, disregarding a traffic signal, driving on the right side of roadway and reckless driving.

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Two worlds of impeachment: Trump lawyers invoke 'danger' of removing Trump, Democrats say it's 'dangerous' to keep him
Analysis by Marshall Cohen, CNN

Almost all the major players on Capitol Hill have lamented that these are dangerous times in Washington. But if you want to know why -- it depends who you ask.

President Donald Trump's lawyers gave their reasons on Tuesday, as they wrapped up their presentations on the Senate floor. Led by Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney to the President, they hammered home the point that Trump's impeachment sets a dangerous precedent.

"You've now heard from legal scholars from a variety of schools of thought, from a variety of political backgrounds, but they do have a common theme with a dire warning -- danger, danger, danger," Sekulow said, using a phrase that he repeated several times on the Senate floor.

"These articles must be rejected," Sekulow later said. "The Constitution requires it. Justice demands it."

His argument, in a nutshell, paints Trump as the victim of a long-running Democratic plot to undermine his presidency and ultimately undo his election victory. Sekulow pointed to the Russia investigation, which began before Trump won in 2016, and touted a laundry list of legitimate gripes about the probe, blended with allegations that touched on conspiracy theories.

If senators rewarded Democrats by convicting Trump, Sekulow claimed, they'd tarnish the nation's democracy forever. He also relied on legal arguments that are rejected by most scholars, that Trump can't be removed from office because he hasn't been accused of any crimes.

This was the exact opposite of what senators heard form House Democrats last week.

Led by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the House impeachment managers pleaded with their colleagues to consider the ramifications of allowing a president to use his official powers to secure political favors from foreign governments -- the centerpiece of the abuse-of-power case against Trump.

Trump's actions "endangered out elections and it sent our country on a dangerous path that if left unchecked will cause irrevocable damage to the balance of power contemplated in our Constitution," Schiff said last week. "If someone sacrifices the national interest in favor of his own and is not removed from office our democracy is in jeopardy. It's just that simple."

As they argued during the House impeachment inquiry, Democrats said they didn't relish the opportunity to potentially remove him from office, but instead considered it a patriotic necessity.

"He is who he is, that will not change," Schiff said. "And nor will the danger associated with him."

Both sides encouraged senators to put themselves in someone else's shoes, urging them to step away from their own political leanings and consider an alternate view -- if just for a moment.

Schiff wanted senators to consider how former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch felt when Trump publicly smeared her reputation and ended her coveted diplomatic career in Kiev.

Sekulow told senators to imagine how suspicious they'd be of US law enforcement if they, like Trump, learned early on in their presidency that the FBI was investigating their campaign.

Many senators say they're keeping an open mind while the trial is ongoing. It's not clear how many of them are leaning into the rhetoric and actually considering the views of both sides. Only Democrats voted to impeach Trump in the House, and only Republicans voted to approve the trial rules in the Senate. (Both votes were bipartisan in President Bill Clinton's impeachment.)

For their part, the framers of the US Constitution also warned of some dangers -- of unyielding partisans who put factions over their country. They might not like what they're seeing today.


Alan Dershowitz says Elizabeth Warren 'doesn't understand the law' after she criticizes his presentation
By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

President Donald Trump's attorney Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday shot back at Sen. Elizabeth Warren after the Massachusetts Democrat assailed his presentation in Trump's Senate impeachment trial as hard to follow and tweeted that his argument is "contrary to both law & fact."

"Warren doesn't understand the law," he tweeted Tuesday. "My former colleague, Senator Warren, claims she could not follow my carefully laid out presentation that everybody else seemed to understand. This says more about Warren than it does about me."

Dershowitz alleged that Warren, his former colleague at Harvard Law School, "willfully mischaracterized what I said," adding that "it's the responsibility of presidential candidates to have a better understanding of the law."

The pointed comments from Dershowitz come after Warren told reporters that his lengthy argument on the Senate floor Monday night was nonsensical. Dershowitz used his presentation to assert that even if Trump "were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country, obviously a highly disputed matter in this case, that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power."

He added: "Quid pro quo alone is not a basis for abuse of power, it's part of the way foreign policy has been operated by presidents since the beginning of time."

It's unusual to hear an attorney on one of the legal teams in an impeachment trial directly criticize the senators who are acting as jurors, but Dershowitz's comments only add to the partisan tensions that have plagued Trump's trial.

Last week, Trump's legal team slammed House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who is one of the House impeachment managers, for accusing Republican senators of being complicit in a cover-up of Trump's behavior by voting against having witnesses. On Friday, GOP senators themselves reacted negatively to Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who's the lead impeachment manager, quoting from a news report that stated a Trump adviser had told Republican senators they would face dire repercussions for crossing the President.

The presence of Dershowitz on Turmp's legal team was a surprise announcement just before the impeachment trial began. Trump was especially fixated on having Dershowitz, a controversial defense attorney, on his legal team but Dershowitz had been telling his own associates he didn't want to participate in the trial, a source who is familiar with these conversations told CNN.

White House officials had applied a lot of pressure over the last several weeks to convince Dershowitz to join the team, sources familiar with the attorney's appointment said.

His short tenure defending Trump, however, has been largely defined by a series of contradictory statements from his past.

Earlier this month, he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he is "much more correct right now" in his current views on what qualifies a president for impeachment than in his nearly opposite views during the Bill Clinton impeachment.

"I didn't do research back then, I relied on what professors said ... because that issue was not presented in the Clinton impeachment," Dershowitz said. "Everybody knew that he was charged with a crime, the issue is whether it was a hard crime. Now the issue is whether a crime or criminal-like behavior is required."

He continued, "I've done the research now -- I wasn't wrong (at the time), I am just far more correct now than I was then. I said you didn't need a technical crime back then. I still don't think you need a technical crime."


New teen center set to open in Bigfork

New teen center set to open in Bigfork
By Sean Wells - KPAX News

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    BIGFORK (KPAX TV) -- A new teen center is set to open in Bigfork, giving high school students a place to hang out with friends and classmates after school.

Grounded Inc. President Brian Truckey said he noticed a lack of resources for teens to stay out of trouble during after school hours, feeling a teen center was needed in Bigfork.

"The lack of things for them to do and seeing other programs in Bigfork that take kids up [until] sixth grade, but then after that, there wasn't anything," said Truckey.

Truckey told MTN News the teen center will have a computer lab, pool table, TV's with video games and a stage for live music.

The new facility -- opening off of Highway 35 next to Bigfork Medical and Dental Center -- will open in March. Truckey said the plan is for the center to be open 6 days a week.

"(From) 3-3:30 depending on when we can get volunteers here to about 9 o'clock at night on a school night, and then Friday and Saturday nights open till like midnight or 1 o'clock so that kids have an alternative to other activities in the valley that aren't so great," said Truckey.

In business for three years, the non-profit Grounded Inc. is a ministry in Bigfork that focuses on helping high school students in need.

Truckey says the teen center will be free of charge for all students with any religious or non-religious background.

"It's just a fun place we will have adults down here that are background checked that will be available for talking, or homework help or facilitating and opening doors, helping with meals, things like that," said Truckey.

Truckey adds Grounded Inc. has more than a dozen adult volunteers signed up but they are always seeking additional help.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Mark R Thorsell
Mark.thorsell@kpax.com
4062149958


Missoula City Council approves controversial condominium proposal

Missoula City Council approves controversial condominium proposal
By Megan Mannering - KPAX News

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    MISSOULA (KPAX TV) -- The debate over a controversial condominium proposal that we have been following since October finally came to an end on Monday night.

The Missoula City Council voted to approve the rezoning of a property in the University District and also to vacate the right of way along South Fourth Street East.

After months of debate, the decision is final -- a 48-unit upscale condominium project will eventually replace the historic brick buildings that currently call Fourth Street home.

During the four-hour-long meeting, a motion also passed to prohibit commercial usage of the property.

City council members who voted to approve the project say this new condominium aligns with Missoula's housing policy and is necessary for our growing population.
"We need more housing stock in Missoula. We need about 800 units every year, but we have to figure out how we're going to do that, and this is a project that goes in that direction," councilwoman Gwen Jones said.

"It creates affordability that is permanent, that is deed-restricted, and is structural. It's not at the whim of a landowner, of the market. It is permanent, structural affordability, and that's a really big deal, added councilman Jordan Hess.

Despite the enthusiasm of the city council members, over a dozen community members expressed their concern at the meeting. Many fear the project will negatively affect the neighborhood's character, safety, and affordability.

We will continue to update you on the timeline of this project as it unfolds.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Mark R Thorsell
Mark.thorsell@kpax.com
4062149958


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