Midday News Wrap | WYPR

Midday News Wrap

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As we went to air today, the House Judiciary Committee convened an investigative hearing into “political interference and threats to prosecutorial independence” at the U.S. Justice Department.  The hearing opened on the heels of last weekend’s firing of Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  President Trump’s plan to install in his place a political ally with no prosecutorial experience drew pushback from even Trump loyalists like Lindsey Graham.  The Committee chairman, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, is expected to subpoena US Attorney General William Barr in early July, although whether Mr. Barr will comply is an open question...

AP Photo/ Matt York

Today on the News Wrap, Democrats came out swinging on the debate stage Wednesday night in Las Vegas.  Michael Bloomberg took the most punches, but it remains to be seen if he sustained a knock-out blow.

After Congressional leaders were told that Russia would prefer that Donald Trump remain President in 2021, Mr. Trump showed his preference for a new Acting Director of National Intelligence.  Joseph Maguire is out.  Richard Grenell, the Ambassador to Germany with no intelligence experience, is in. 

Julie Bykowicz of the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post and Paula Reid of CBS News join us for a look behind the headlines.

AP Photo/ Alberto Pezzali

Today is Brexit day.  At midnight, the United Kingdom will formally leave the European Union.   

But as the door to Europe closes, Britain has opened the door to a new deal with a Chinese telecom giant, Huawei.  NPR Correspondent Frank Langfitt joins us with the latest from London.   

In Annapolis, the MD General Assembly has votes to override 5 vetoes by Gov. Larry Hogan.  Baltimore Sun State House reporter Pamela Wood has an update.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

On today's edition of the Midday News Wrap, we take a closer look at three stories topping the news this week.

The U.S.-Iran Crisis: The U.S. and Iran teetered on the brink of war after a U.S. drone strike ordered last Friday by President Trump killed the influential Iranian general Qassim Soleimani and others near the Baghdad airport.  Joining Tom on the line to sort out the complexities of the crisis and what might happen next is Steven Simon.  He’s a professor of international relations at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, an analyst at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington, and a former senior director on the National Security Council for both the Clinton and Obama administrations...

AP Photo/Scott Applewhite

The intense acrimony between Republicans and Democrats was on full display during the impeachment debate and vote in the House of Representatives Wednesday.  During more than six hours of impassioned discourse on two articles concerning abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, lawmakers considered the same set of facts in wildly different ways.  Most of them spent most of the day and early evening talking over each other’s heads, and pining for the sound bite that would merit mention on cable news.  For his part, President Donald Trump flew to Battle Creek Michigan for an invective-filled diatribe about Democrats, living and deceased...

AP Photo/ J. Scott Applewhite

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has instructed three committees to draft articles of impeachment, raising the possibility that the House will hold an impeachment vote before the Christmas recess.  On Monday, the Judiciary Committee will hear from lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee about the evidence they have gathered over the past several weeks.

Here in Baltimore, the races for Mayor and President of the City Council get more crowded, and the Department of Public Works is under fire for mismanagement of water bills and trash collecting, as the City Schools' CEO sounds an alarm about a budget shortfall.

AP photo by Seth Wenig.

The eastern European nation (and former Soviet republic) of Ukraine has been thrust into the news this week with the revelations about the phone call this past summer between President Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  

What do we know about this young new leader of Ukraine or, for that matter, any of the other figures who are mentioned in the Whistleblower complaint made public yesterday, or referenced by Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy in their infamous phone call on July 25th?  Tom's first guest today knows Ukraine well...  

Photo Courtesy AP / Oded Balilty

Today on the Midday News Wrap, Israel's Knesset remains deadlocked after Tuesday’s election.   

A Whistle Blower in the Intelligence Community raises concerns, but the Justice Department tells Congress it can’t know what those concern are.

And, is a drone attack on a Saudi oil facility last Saturday the latest in a series of Iranian responses to the US campaign of sanctions and maximum pressure?

Tom's guests today are:

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute and director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations.  His latest book is called Be Strong and Of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped It’s Destiny, which he wrote with Ambassador Dennis Ross.

Julian Borger is the world affairs editor at The Guardian.

Both men join us from NPR studios in Washington.

Photo Courtesy WYPR/ Emily Sullivan

On today's News Wrap: the president of the United States does a drive-by in Baltimore.  The president of the Baltimore City Council joins the race for mayor. And Democratic 2020 presidential wannabes vie for position at an HBCU in Houston. 

Tom and Charles Robinsonpolitics and business reporter with Maryland Public Television News, run down the latest political news. 

Their conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here, from 00:00 to 18:22 in the feed.

AP Images / Matt Rourke

Today on the News Wrap, we examine how the internet is fanning the flames of political and racial discord in America.  Guest host Nathan Sterner speaks with writer Dale Beran about how the online message board 8-chan became a platform for far-right extremism.

Then, the latest news out of Baltimore County, including ongoing efforts to finance affordable housing projects.

And we look at a new series by the Baltimore Business Journal spotlighting  Baltimore's public transportation woes.  WYPR reporter John Lee and Baltimore Business Journal staff writer Melody Simmons join us. 

AP Images / Paul Sancya

Today on the Midday News Wrap, we recap the second round of Democratic presidential debates. At a CNN-televised event in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 Democratic contenders took the stage to make their case for the party's presidential nomination. 

Then, we discuss the continuing attacks by President Trump on the city of Baltimore and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.  The president took his assault a step further at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, denigrating several U.S. "inner cities"  run by Democratic mayors.

Who were the stand-out candidates at the debate?  Which candidates will the Democrats choose to run against Trump?  What is the president's purpose in demeaning American cities and citizens? Will the call for oversight outlast the President's grab for the headlines?   On today's Midday News Wrap, Tom considers those questions with two distinguished guests:

NPR National Security editor Franco Ordonez joins us on the line from the NPR studios in Washington.

Julie Bykowicz  reports on money and politics for the Wall Street Journal, and she joins us in studio.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

On Wednesday, Robert Mueller testified for nearly seven hours in separate hearings before the Democrat-led House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, about his 448-page, two-volume Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential  Election.  It was Mueller's 90th appearance before Congress during a career in public service that spans more than three decades. 

The 74 year-old former FBI Director and former Special Counsel declined to directly answer his congressional interrogators nearly 200 times, responded to most questions tersely and at times haltingly, and refused to read aloud portions of the report he had submitted to the Attorney General in March.  But now that the dust from Robert Mueller's long-awaited appearance before Congress is beginning to settle, we're faced with a cascade of  questions...

photo from ICE.gov

Today on the Midday News Wrap, WYPR Morning Edition news anchor Nathan Sterner sits in for Tom Hall as we examine some of the week's top news developments.   First, a look at the continuing migrant crisis along the U.S. southern border, and the impending nationwide ICE raids on migrants with deportation orders.  Nathan talks with Seattle-based immigration attorney Minda Thorward -- whose private firm provides legal services to migrant families in the Northwest -- about the roots of the current immigration disaster. 

Then, Nathan is joined by AP White House correspondent Darlene Superville, who describes the Trump Administration’s controversial citizen-count efforts, its aggressive immigration strategies, and how it’s dealing with resigning Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's legal ties with the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

And later, Nathan talks with Michael Fletcher, a writer with ESPN’s Undefeated, about the US Women’s Soccer Team’s high-profile quest for pay equity, on the heels of their remarkable 4th World Cup victory.

Photo Courtesy AP/ Alex Brandon

On today's News Wrap, Heather Caygle of POLITICO joins us for a look behind some of this week’s national headlines.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that Iran was behind the attacks on two ships in the Gulf of Oman yesterday, and for the second time in his Presidency, Donald Trump hoisted Norway into the spotlight this week. 

Here in MD, Delegate Robbyn Lewis tells us about her experience in the Transit Challenge.  And Justin Fenton talks about his new series in the Baltimore Sun which examines the massive criminal enterprise undertaken by an elite unit of the Baltimore City Police Department. 

Photo Courtesy Twitter

Today, analysis of the seismic shifts taking place in MD politics, as Adrienne Jones becomes the first African American, first woman Speaker of the House;  a seasoned political veteran becomes Baltimore’s Mayor; and a young, ambitious councilman becomes President of the City Council. 

With award winning investigative journalist Jayne Miller of WBAL Television; and Andy Green, the Editorial Page Editor of the Baltimore Sun.

This conversation was streamed live on the WYPR Facebook page. You can watch the video here.  

Photo Courtesy AP/ Patrick Semansky

Yesterday afternoon, in a one-paragraph letter addressed to now-Mayor Jack Young, former Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned from office.  Her lawyer read a brief statement and took no questions in a press conference that lasted less than two minutes. Meanwhile, investigations by city, state, and federal authorities are underway into Catherine Pugh’s possible malfeasance in office.

Jean Marbella of the Baltimore Sun joins us to talk about what’s happened and what’s next for our City.

But first, Tom speaks with Washington Post State House reporter Ovetta Wiggins about the historic election of Baltimore County Delegate Adrienne Jones as the first African American and the first woman Speaker of the House.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Ever since the story of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's lucrative self-dealing book sales first broke in the Sun March 13th, the city has been on a political roller coaster ride, as an embattled and defiant Mayor was sidelined by pneumonia and took an indefinite leave of absence, while the city council president assumed her duties amid a mounting chorus of calls for Mayor Pugh's resignation.   

The latest turn came at about 6:30 yesterday morning,  when agents from the FBI and the criminal division of the IRS fanned out across Baltimore and executed search warrants in seven different locations, including two of the mayor's homes, and the seat of our city’s government, City Hall. 

Today, Tom speaks with some of the reporters who are covering this rapidly developing story.  A little later, Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun and Jayne Miller of WBAL Television will join us.  We’ll also get the perspective of a defense attorney, William Purpura.  He is not representing Mayor Catherine Pugh, but he has represented people in some very high-profile recent cases. 

But we begin today with the newest member of the WYPR news team, city hall reporter Emily Sullivan

Photo Courtesy AP/Elswick

On today's News Wrap: U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released his redacted version of the Mueller Report, after sharing it with the White House to decide questions of executive privilege. Did Mr. Trump's repeated efforts to shut down the two-year probe into Russian interference in America's 2016 presidential election amount to obstruction of justice?  We'll talk about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded and what his report means. 

Tom's guests are Ronald Weich, Dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, political law attorney Cleta Mitchell, and POLITICO senior legal affairs contributor, Josh Gerstein.  

Photo Courtesy AP/ Manuel Balce Ceneta

On today's News Wrap, President Trump says he’s exonerated, and off the hook.  Democrats in Congress don’t quite agree.  Investigations on numerous fronts continue. 

The President has also moved to completely dismantle Obama Care by joining a legal action that would eliminate the law, and with it, some of its most popular provisions, like coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has wished the President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi good luck in finding a suitable replacement for the ACA. 

Joshua Gerstein of Politico and Darlene Superville of the Associated Press join us to take a look behind the headlines.


On today's News Wrap: the Mayor of Baltimore seems to think that witch hunts aren’t limited to the Trump administration.  As developments in the ever-evolving saga of the University of Maryland Medical System continue to unfurl, Mayor Catherine Pugh is in the eye of the storm, amid allegations of conflict of interest and self-dealing by her, and nearly a third of the UMMS board. Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater joins me with the latest in this developing story.

Plus, Governor Hogan slams Democrats as spendthrifts and former Baltimore mayors make the case to keep the Preakness at Pimlico.

WYPR's Rachel Baye and the Baltimore Sun's  Pamela Wood join us with updates on the Maryland General Assembly, as lawmakers in Annapolis enter the homestretch of the 2019 legislative session. 

Associated Press

It’s another edition of the Midday NewsWrap

We begin today with analysis of the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un, who met this week for the second time. The summit came to an abrupt end yesterday, with no new agreements.

Tom's guest is Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, an expert on Korean affairs.

Later in the show, Tom discusses some of the week's local news developments with Baltimore Sun State House reporter Luke Broadwater.

AP Photo/ Steve Helber

On today's News Wrap, guest host Nathan Sterner sits in for Tom Hall with a rundown of the stories making headlines in our region this week:

Turmoil in Virginia as a blackface scandal and allegations of sexual assault have led to calls for the resignation of the state's top  political leaders; Baltimore County executive Johnny Olszewski sites "tough challenges" following cuts to the county's education budget; and former New Orleans police superintendent Michael Harrison is set to assume his duties as BPD acting police commissioner on Monday. Pending a final vote by the city council, the incoming top cop is on track to become the Baltimore’s fifth police commissioner in four years. 

Joining Nathan with the latest are Washington Post Senior Regional Correspondent Robert McCartney; WYPR Baltimore County reporter John Lee; and Ian Duncan, City Hall reporter for the Baltimore Sun.

Photo Courtesy AP

On today's Newswrap, an update on the partial government shutdown and the Trump-Pelosi showdown.  Giuliani backpedals on comments about collusion and details from the Buzzfeed News report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress 

CBS News Correspondent Paula Reid, whose beats include the White House and the Justice Department, joins us this afternoon from the White House.

 And Lisa Dejardins of the PBS News Hour is on the line from Arlington, Virginia.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Today, it’s another edition of the Midday News Wrap. 

Later in the program Tom will talk about the first three days of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis with Luke Broadwater, Statehouse and politics reporter for the Baltimore Sun

He’ll also talk with Phil Ewing, NPR's National Security Editor, about the latest developments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible connections between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign during the 2016 election. 

But we begin today with the impasse over President Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border.  That promise has led to a partial government shutdown.  Today is payday in much of the federal government.  800,000 federal workers will not receive their checks today, and the effects of the shutdown, now in its third week, are beginning to be felt in a variety of ways that were not as evident in the first days of the shutdown, which coincided largely with the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Lisa Mascaro is the Chief Congressional Correspondent for the Associated Press.  She joins Tom on the line from Washington, DC.

News Wrap 12.07.2018

Dec 7, 2018
Associated Press

Join us for another Midday News Wrap.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III was the man of the week after new developments in his investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. In a heavily redacted court filing, Mueller announced that he would not pursue prison time for President Trump’s former national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, because of his "significant" cooperation with the investigation.  Mueller's prosecutors in DC and a team in the Southern District of New York were scheduled to submit separate sentencing memos on Friday for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Tom talks with Washington Post national security reporter Devlin Barrett about the Mueller team's multiple ongoing probes.

Those probes weren't the only stories dominating headlines this week: US senators, including some leading Republicans, responded angrily to the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after their closed-door briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel; the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics refused to certify the election of Republican House candidate Mark Harris following reports of systematic voter fraud in the state’s 9th district; and many around the country mourned former President George H.W. Bush after his death last Friday.

NPR lead politics editor Domenico Montanaro joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington to discuss these and other major news developments this week.

Midday News Wrap 11.9.2018

Nov 9, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Today on the Midday News Wrap, we discuss, the resignaationof AG Jeff Sessions, the future of Special Councel Muellers' Russia probe, and the latest on election recount efforts underway in multiple states.  

Tom is joined by, Lisa Desjardins, a correspondent from the PBS Newshour.  And, David Smith, the Washington DC Bureau Chief for The Guardian is on the line from NPR DC.  


Midday News Wrap 10.26.18

Oct 26, 2018
Associated Press

It's the Midday Newswrap.

This week, after reports of explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump put the nation on edge, Mr. Trump called for national unity.  But his call was short-lived.  Just after 3:00 this morning, he tweeted more barbs at the media. Saudi officials, meanwhile, were giving shifting explanations for the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their Turkish consulate earlier this month. CIA director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey to investigate, and briefed President Trump on what she learned.  Tom sorts through the week's extraordinary news with Associated Press national politics reporter Ken Thomas , who joins us on the line from Washington, DC.

Then, Tom turns to the week's local news.  There were media rumors -- false ones, it turns out -- that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had hired a new police commissioner for Baltimore City.  Critics of the Mayor complain that the hiring process for the new chief isn’t transparent enough. And early voting is underway in MD and around the country.  Polls had long lines yesterday.  Does this indicate heightened interest in this year’s mid terms?  Baltimore Sun investigative reporter Jean Marbella joins Tom in the studio to discuss the week's local developments.

News Wrap 10.12.18

Oct 12, 2018
Photo courtesy Flickr

It's the Midday Newswrap: Seven Baltimore Police Department officers have been implicated as part of an internal investigation into the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. As of October 4, the department has suspended 20 officers who could face criminal charges following the investigation.

Polls show Gov. Larry Hogan maintaining a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous.  Some State Senate races, and tight races for Baltimore County Executive and Attorney General give Republicans hope that they can make this Blue state a little Redder on election day.  

To review these and other local news stories this week, Tom is joined in the studio by Kamau High, Features Editor at The Baltimore Sun and WYPR reporter John Lee.

Photo Courtesy Flickr

It’s the Midday Newswrap: The Labor Department released the monthly job numbers this morning, and, as has been the case for the last seven or eight years, the numbers continue to be good.  The unemployment rate has stayed steady at 3.9%.  The economy added 201 thousand jobs in August, and wages grew by .4 percent , up nearly three percent for the year.  Analysts have observed that wages are growing at a faster rate than inflation for the first time in a long time.

In a controversial op-ed in the NY Times submitted by a person identified by the Times only as a "senior administration official,"  the author claims that she or he is one of many people working for President Donald Trump who have been alarmed by the "amorality" of his decision-making, and who are now working "to frustrate parts of his agenda, and his worst inclinations.”  Just what parts, just how many people, and who is making this claim, are not yet known. 

Also this week: the NFL opened its season Thursday night in a broadcast that featured a new Nike commercial narrated by Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who ignited controversy by kneeling during a game-opening national anthem to protest racial injustice in America.  We’ll talk about Nike’s decision to place Kaepernick front and center in its 30th anniversary ad campaign.

Tom is joined in studio by Michael Fletcher, a senior writer with ESPN’s The Undefeated, the online platform that explores the intersection of race, culture and sports; and Ian Samuel, an associate professor of law at Indiana University, and the co-host of a podcast about the Supreme Court, called First Mondays.

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

On this edition of the News Wrap: pressure continues to mount on the White House this week with a conviction and a guilty plea in the cases of two of President Trump's associates, and an increasingly contentious relationship between Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Guest Host Nathan Sterner speaks with David Smith, the Washington Bureau Chief of The Guardian about the tumult swirling around the Trump White House and the potential negative impact these latest events may have on GOP candidates as midterm elections loom ever closer. 

Here in Baltimore, there are new developments in the case against Keith Davis Jr. as a prosecutor who worked on the case for the States Attorney's office is fired after details of a DWI conviction are brought to light, and Maryland's Catholic Community reflects on child sex abuse in the church following the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing acts of  sexual violence perpetrated by 301 predator priests on over 1,000 children.  Many are calling for Attorney General Frosh to initiate similar investigations here in Maryland.  Baltimore Sun investigative reporter Jean Marbell and Real New Network Reporter, and contributor to the Baltimore AFRO,  Stephen Janis join us for a look at these stories and more.