Harry Styles Sings, Hosts And Acts On ‘SNL’ — And Shows Off A New Song

Singer Harry Styles performing on 'SNL.'

YouTube screen grab by NPR

This week’s Saturday Night Live asked a lot of Harry Styles, as it brought the former One Direction star onboard to serve as both its host and its musical guest. At every turn, he brought something extra: He trotted out accents — as an Icelandic impending dad, a presumably Southern airline copilot, a drug dealer’s hired muscle and so on — and sang in both a musical-theater satire and a prerecorded video in which he played the human embodiment of Aidy Bryant’s dog. When he took the stage as the night’s musical guest, he even introduced the world to a brand-new single, “Watermelon Sugar.”

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Styles’ gameness consistently elevated an uneven night. The show mercifully left him out of a grim cold open — one of those brutally thudding SNL bits where they trot out an endless parade of celebrity impersonations, but they’re just the week’s newsmakers, so each new person has to be clumsily introduced in the dialogue. (“Michael Avenatti?!”) But whenever the show wasn’t plodding through the grim formalities of the news cycle, Styles turned up as a steady and welcome comedic presence.

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Musically, the singer steered clear of massively ambitious stagecraft, opting instead for fairly straightforward readings of his two newest singles: “Lights Up” and a vibrant unveiling of “Watermelon Sugar.” Given the audience’s reaction — and the overall public anticipation for Styles’ new album Fine Line, due out Dec. 13 — the singer’s in no danger of needing to shed his day job. But the guy’s got a future as a comic actor if he wants it.

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Months After Massive ICE Raid, Residents Of A Mississippi Town Wait And Worry

A view of the Koch Foods chicken processing plant in Morton, Miss.

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On the morning of Aug. 7, Tony McGee was driving to work in Morton, Miss., when he noticed something unusual happening at one of the local chicken processing plants.

McGee is superintendent of the county schools, and it was the second day of classes.

“There was some activity there with law enforcement that had the parking lot barricaded,” he recalls. “I actually called one of our assistant superintendents because it’s relatively close to the school.”

What McGee soon learned was that he was witnessing part of the biggest workplace immigration raid ever in a single state.

A man is taken into custody at a Koch Foods plant in Morton, Miss., on Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees.

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That day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested approximately 680 people at seven plants across Mississippi. Just more than half the total — 342 people — were arrested in Morton alone.

Later that morning, McGee started receiving phone calls from parents who wanted to check students out of school. He says the confusion compared to a natural disaster, but this was man-made.

“We have plans for tornadoes, we have plans for a fire,” McGee said. “But you know, ICE raid is not one that is really on the radar.”

Three months later, Morton is coping with the fallout of the massive raid. Almost a quarter of the people in Morton are Latino, and the arrests have rippled across town, from banks to churches to shops. Some Morton residents are rallying around their neighbors. Others are defending the actions of ICE. For the Latino community, there is worry and waiting.

A welcome sign in Morton, Miss., where almost a quarter of the population is Latino.

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Living In Fear

Surrounded by the Bienville National Forest, the small town of Morton lies about 45 minutes east of the state capital, Jackson. It’s home to 3,462 people, and chicken processing plants are the main source of employment.

Employing more than 1,000 people, the largest poultry plant in Morton is owned by Koch Foods Inc.

When federal immigration agents entered that plant, a woman who asked to be identified as Elisa was at work de-boning chickens.

Elisa, a former worker at the Koch Foods chicken plant in Morton, stands for a portrait. She was detained for almost two months after ICE raided the plant in August.

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“We looked up and saw they were armed, so I thought they were terrorists,” Elisa recalls. “I panicked, because they were yelling in English and I couldn’t understand them.

The ICE operation came four days after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where a racist gunman targeting Latinos killed 22 people. Elisa thought the same thing was happening in Morton.

She says she was locked up for 49 days, and didn’t see her children during that time.

“I have three kids, so that was the most painful part for me. Because my baby, who is 6 years old, suffered a lot,” she says. “He cried, begging me to come back to them.”

Her husband wasn’t at work the day of the raids. When he did show up at the Koch plant, he was fired.

Elisa sits with her children for a portrait. The mother of three is awaiting her court date.

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Elisa says her son continues to struggle.

“Whenever I leave the house, my little boy worries if I’ll come home,” she says.

It’s not just her son that has been affected. Elisa says the whole Latino community feels the strain.

“A lot of people aren’t leaving the house,” she says. “The truth is nothing will be the same here. Now we’re just living with fear.”

Elisa says before the raid, she dreamed about buying a house and starting a business. Not anymore.

“With what happened, all those plans are lost,” she says.

Enforcing The Law

A view of the Koch Foods chicken processing plant in Morton, Miss. The plant was raided by ICE in August.

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Jere Miles, the ICE special agent in charge for the region that includes Mississippi, helped organize the team of 650 people who carried out the arrests in August.

“Whether you’ve been here a week, a month or 10 years, you’re still violating the law,” he says.

But Miles, who is based in Jackson, says the undocumented workers were not the only reason for the action.

“We’re building a criminal investigation against a target,” he says. “And pursuant to that criminal investigation, we encountered and detained undocumented workers.”

No charges have been brought against the companies involved in the raids, or their executives. But Miles says that it’s “an ongoing criminal investigation,” and that the goal in every probe is to “see a conviction at the very highest level that we can get at.”

A view of the Koch Foods plant in Morton, Miss. The company says it is “diligent about its compliance with state and federal employment eligibility laws.”

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Koch Foods did not respond to NPR’s request for an interview. In a statement issued the day after the raids, the company said it is “diligent about its compliance with state and federal employment eligibility laws.” The company is now suing the government for what it calls an “illegal search.”

When asked if — in light of the larger criminal investigation — the arrested workers in Mississippi could be considered “collateral damage,” Miles responds: “I think collateral damage is the wrong word, because I think when we use a word like collateral damage, you’re drawing a distinction and acting like these people are not criminals. These people are criminals. They break the law.”

Out of the 680 arrests across Mississippi that day, Miles says 400 were found to be using someone else’s Social Security number.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, who is also based in Jackson, was involved in the investigation for 18 months leading up to the raids.

His office is now prosecuting 119 of the immigrants picked up in August for federal crimes ranging from stealing Americans’ identities to falsifying immigration documents.

He says the experience of children in Morton was unfortunate, but unavoidable.

“Anytime I see a child or a family who are adversely affected by their family members’ criminal actions, it concerns me. It bothers me. But at the end of the day, we have laws on the books and so our job is to enforce those laws.”

Almost 60% of people in Scott County — where Morton is located — voted for President Trump in 2016. So plenty of people in town cheer the ICE enforcement actions, including 67-year-old Cathy Johnson.

“If you’re here illegally, you shouldn’t be,” she says.

Johnson believes undocumented workers deserve to be arrested.

“This town, it’s kind of pitiful like it is,” she says. “My kids call it ‘Mexico,’ I mean, it’s just kinda sad.”

Johnson wishes churches would stop giving free food and other help to immigrant families that aren’t allowed to work anymore.

“It’s just the way I feel. Maybe I’m hard-hearted,” she says. “There’s a lot of people here that are needing help that are legal, that you can give handouts to. “

Support For Affected Families

Sheila Cumbest, the pastor at Morton United Methodist Church, sits for a portrait. The church has been one of several local groups that have been providing support to families affected by the ICE raids in town.

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There also have been many people in the community who have rallied behind the immigrant families.

The Morton United Methodist Church is one of the churches helping out. For the last three months, the church has been collecting donations — $100,000 so far — to pay bills for people affected by the raid.

“The poor are the poor, no matter what their race is or legal status,” says Sheila Cumbest, pastor at the church.

A sign on the door at Morton United Methodist Church announces the hours for the next bill assistance session for local families affected by ICE raids.

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At first, she thought relief efforts would take about six months. Now, she says, it seems like it will be a lot longer.

Jim Farris, 73, is another local who has rallied behind the immigrant community.

“We’re not a rich community to start with, you know, there’s not a lot of wealth here,” he says.

He’s volunteering at a food bank where Latino families show up for boxes full of diapers, canned food, dried beans and rice — enough food for a family to get by for a week.

There’s also fresh chicken. On a recent night, Farris says the food bank gave out about 80 boxes — or about 800 pounds — of chicken, donated by the poultry plant at the center of this whole episode.

Farris was born and raised in Morton.

“It’s changed greatly,” he says about his hometown. “I graduated in ’64. So the schools were not integrated at the time I graduated. … So there’s been a big change, but the change has been positive.”

Luis, 17, stands for a portrait with family. His parents were picked up by ICE during the workplace raid at the Koch Foods chicken processing plant in Morton and are awaiting their court date.

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One of those changes is that now almost a quarter of the kids in Scott County schools are Latino, including a 17-year-old boy whose family asked he be called Luis, due to their immigration status.

In August, Luis had just started his senior year of high school. His parents were both working at the Koch plant when ICE started arresting people.

The family is still holding onto hope that they can stay in Morton at least until Luis graduates next year.

But for now, his mother and father are prohibited from working while they await a court date.

“I’m desperate, not being able to work,” his mother says. “Our future is totally up in the air.”

A view of Morton High School.

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‘The Pursuit Of William Abbey’ Travels A Twisty Path

You have to be careful. Claire North’s The Pursuit of William Abbey is not the book you think it is.

It is not the book on page 1 that you think it might become on page 10 and it is not the same book on page 50 that it is on page 100. It is a historical fiction that becomes a horror story, a thriller, a supernatural mystery, a spy story, a heavily political indictment of capitalism and empire, a war story, a love story. It is the incomplete tale of a life (two lives, ten lives) told over a few nights in 1917. A confession and a conversation between a doctor and a battlefield nurse too near the trenches in France at the height of World War I.

In Africa, in 1884, Dr. William Abbey was cursed by the mother of a boy who died at the hands of a mob. He watched it happen. He saw the white men tie the black boy to a boab tree, cover him with paraffin and set him on fire. And Abbey, the doctor who ended up there after gambling, drinking, debts and an ill-considered love affair forced him into colonial exile, did not say a word to stop it. He thought of himself as a good man, if flawed. He believed that all Englishmen in un-English places were — come to civilize, to educate, to profit at the expense of indigenous peoples. He was wrong (obviously), but the epic reach of his misunderstanding takes a while to settle in. It requires the curse, spoken by a grieving mother, which causes the spirit of her dead son, Langa, to rise like black smoke from his burned body and to walk, slowly but inexorably, toward Dr. Abbey.

And never, ever stop.

If it reaches him, someone he loves dies. Quick as a fingersnap. But even when Langa is merely close, there’s a secondary effect: Proximity forces Dr. Abbey to know the absolute truth of everyone around him. This is Dr. Abbey, in his own words:

I have sat with the mother whose child is dying from influenza, and watched the girl’s lips turn blue.

Talked with lovers betrayed for a whim.

Sat with soldiers in the ruins of war, seen the places where the Communards fell in Paris, the soldiers marching forward in a stiff straight line, and known with a ringing in my heart: there is no God.

There is no God.

All these things I have known as absolutely as I know the sun will rise. And then the shadow passes, and I know nothing any more. Conviction fades, and I’m left behind, wondering what I believe, when everyone else is gone.

It’s heavy. It’s cruel. There are not many pages of The Pursuit of William Abbey (as there were not many moments of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) that are not haunted by dead things. And Dr. Abbey runs from all of it — across deserts and through towns, over oceans and mountains, fleeing before the implacable spirit of Langa, who never sleeps, never falters, walks always at a steady pace and in the direction of Abbey.

The Pursuit becomes a spy story when Abbey is found by a man tasked by Her Majesty’s government to find truth-speakers anywhere in the world and recruit them for the government. He will be protected. He will be paid. His minders will keep careful track of Langa and keep Abbey always one step ahead — by train, by boat, by caravan — but never so far that his power to know the truth of anyone he meets is quieted.

They put him in rooms with ministers and kings; make him infiltrate groups of anarchists, seditionists and revolutionaries. Military secrets, troop movements, fiscal policy, blackmail — Abbey collects it all for his masters who promise (vaguely, generally) that they might know of a cure. In Nepal, perhaps, or in caves along the Yellow River. Always somewhere else. Always somewhere that Abbey’s peculiar talents might be put to use. Because war is coming, isn’t it? One that will engulf the entire world. And information — particularly true information — is more valuable than bonds or bullets.

North can sketch a character in a sentence, a phrase. She can evoke an entire city in the space of a breath. There is no piece of The Pursuit that is forgettable, that fades, that is used merely to fill time between this thing and that. The entirety of Abbey’s life as a truth-speaker is propulsive. It is like one long chase scene that never slackens, told in frantic, disconnected pieces until a moment comes when need requires depth, breadth. The story of Margot (another truth-speaker, who came by her power in a very different way, and uses it differently, too) is devastating. The lovely, terrifying monster it makes of her is empowering. Her relationship with Abbey (which makes up the middle of the book, that keeps it together across Berlin, Prague, London, Milan) has the power to change the world, right up until it doesn’t. Her final opinion: “Let it all burn.”

Because truth is a terrible thing. Because the truth, when confronted, is always the same. That the world is run by petty, small, terrified men. That every violence is done just to prove that they are not so small, not so weak. That the universe cares for none of us in the end.

It is bleak. It is beautiful. It has, buried deep inside, a hopeful heart. Because The Pursuit of William Abbey is a chameleon. It is a shape-shifter. And, like the truth, it will break your heart every time.

Jason Sheehan knows stuff about food, video games, books and Starblazers. He is currently the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine, but when no one is looking, he spends his time writing books about giant robots and ray guns. Tales From the Radiation Age is his latest book.

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A Young Immigrant Has Mental Illness, And That’s Raising His Risk of Being Deported

José’s son, who has schizophrenia, recently got into a fight that resulted in a broken window — an out-of-control moment from his struggle with mental illness. And it could increase his chances of deportation to a country where mental health care is even more elusive.

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When José moved his family to the United States from Mexico nearly two decades ago, he had hopes of giving his children a better life.

But now he worries about the future of his 21-year-old-son, who has lived in central Illinois since he was a toddler. José’s son has a criminal record, which could make him a target for deportation officials. We’re not using the son’s name because of those risks, and are using the father’s middle name, José, because both men are in the U.S. without permission.

José’s son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder last year and has faced barriers to getting affordable treatment, in part because he doesn’t have legal status. His untreated condition has led to scrapes with the law.

Mental health advocates say many people with untreated mental illness run the risk of cycling in and out of the criminal justice system, and the situation is particularly fraught for those without legal status.

“If he gets deported he’d practically be lost in Mexico, because he doesn’t know Mexico,” says José, speaking through an interpreter. “I brought him here very young and, with his illness, where is he going to go? He’s likely to end up on the street.”

Legal troubles

José’s son has spent several weeks in jail and numerous days in court over the past year.

On the most recent occasion, the young man sat nervously in the front row of a courtroom in the Champaign County courthouse. Wearing a white button-down shirt and dress pants, his hair parted neatly, he stared at the floor while he waited for the judge to enter.

That day, he pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of property damage. The incident took place at his parents’ house earlier that year. He had gotten into a fight with his brother-in-law and broke a window. His father says it was yet another out-of-control moment from his son’s recent struggles with mental illness.

Before beginning proceedings, the judge read a warning aloud — something that is now standard practice to make sure noncitizens are aware that they could face deportation (or be denied citizenship or re-entry to the U.S.) if they plead guilty in court.

The young man received 12 months’ probation.

After the hearing, he agreed to an interview.

Just a couple of years ago, he says, his life was good: He was living on his own, working, and taking classes at community college. But all that changed when he started hearing voices and began struggling to keep his grip on reality. He withdrew from his friends and family, including his dad.

One time, he began driving erratically, thinking his car was telling him what to do. A month after that episode, he started having urges to kill himself and sometimes felt like hurting others.

In 2018, he was hospitalized twice, and finally got diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

José says that during this time, his son — who had always been respectful and kind — grew increasingly argumentative and even threatened to hurt his parents. The psychiatric hospitalizations didn’t seem to make a difference.

“He asked us for help, but we didn’t know how to help him,” José says. “He’d say, ‘Dad, I feel like I’m going crazy.’ “

José’s son says he met with a therapist a few times and was taking the medication he was prescribed in the hospital. He was also using marijuana to cope, he says.

The prescribed medication helped, he says, but without insurance, he couldn’t afford to pay the $180 monthly cost. When he stopped the meds, he struggled, and continued getting into trouble with the police.

Undocumented and uninsured

For people who are both undocumented and living with a mental illness, the situation is “particularly excruciating,” says Carrie Chapman, an attorney and advocate with the Legal Council for Health Justice in Chicago, who represents many clients like José’s son.

“If you have a mental illness that makes it difficult for you to control behaviors, you can end up in the criminal justice system,” Chapman says.

People with mental illness make up only a small percentage of violent offenders — they are actually more likely, compared to the general population, to be a victim of a violent crime.

Chapman says the stakes are extremely high when people without legal status enter the criminal justice system: they risk getting deported to a country where they may not speak the language, or where it’s even more difficult to obtain quality mental health care.

“It could be a death sentence for them there,” Chapman says. “It’s an incredible crisis, that such a vulnerable young person with serious mental illness falls through the cracks.”

An estimated 4.1 million adults under the age of 65 who live in the U.S. are ineligible for Medicaid or marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act because of their immigration status, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Among them are those who are undocumented and other immigrants who otherwise do not fall into one of the federal categories as lawfully in the U.S. People who are protected from deportation through the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, also are ineligible for coverage under those programs.

For many people in all those groups, affordable health care is out of reach.

Some states have opened up access to Medicaid to undocumented children, including Illinois, California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, according to the National State Conference of Legislatures. But they lose that coverage at age 19, except in California, which recently expanded eligibility through age 25.

For those who can’t get access to affordable health insurance because of their undocumented status, medical care is largely limited to emergency services and treatments covered by charity care or provided by community health centers.

It’s unclear how many people have been deported because of issues linked to mental illness; good records are not available, says Talia Inlender, an attorney for immigrants’ rights with the Los Angeles-based pro bono law firm Public Counsel. But estimates from the ACLU suggest that tens of thousands of immigrants deported each year have a mental disability.

Inlender, who represents people who have mental health disabilities in deportation hearings, says when the lack of access to community-based treatment eventually leads to a person being detained in an immigration facility, that person risks further deterioration because many facilities are not equipped to provide the needed care.

On top of that, she says, immigrants facing deportation in most states don’t generally have a right to public counsel during the removal proceedings and have to represent themselves. Inlender points out that an immigrant with a mental disability could be particularly vulnerable without the help of a lawyer.

(Following a class-action lawsuit, the states of Washington, California and Arizona did establish a right to counsel for immigrants with mental illness facing deportation. For those in other states, there’s a federal program that tries to provide the same right to counsel, but it’s only for detained immigrants who have been properly screened.)

Medicaid for more people?

Chapman and other advocates for immigrants’ rights say expanding Medicaid to cover everyone who otherwise qualifies — regardless of legal status — and creating a broader pathway to U.S. citizenship would be good first steps toward helping people like José’s son.

“Everything else is kind of a ‘spit and duct tape’ attempt by families and advocates to get somebody what they need,” Chapman says.

Critics of the push to expand Medicaid to cover more undocumented people object to the costs, and argue that the money should be spent, instead, on those living in the country legally. (California’s move to expand Medicaid through age 25 will cost the state around $98 million, according to some estimates.)

As for José’s son, he recently found a pharmacy that offers a cheaper version of the prescription drug he needs to treat his mental health condition — so he’s back on medication and feeling better.

He now works as a landscaper and hopes to get back to college someday to study business. But he fears his criminal record could stand in the way of those goals, and he’s aware that his history makes him a target for immigration sweeps.

José says his greatest fear is that his son will end up back in Mexico — away from family and friends, in a country he knows little about.

“There are thousands of people going through these issues … and they’re in the same situation,” José says. “They’re in the dark, not knowing what to do, where to go, or who to ask for help.”

This story is part of NPR’s reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, Illinois Public Medica and Kaiser Health News. Christine Herman is a recipient of a Rosalynn Carter fellowship for mental health journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @CTHerman

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Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Keeps Seat Despite Trump’s Opposition

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks to media in Shreveport, La., Thursday. Saturday, Edwards, a Democrat, beat out Republican Eddie Rispone, who President Trump endorsed.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, held on to his seat Saturday after a tough challenge from his Republican opponent, Eddie Rispone, a wealthy businessman and political newcomer who President Trump supported.

Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and is not a typical Democrat. He’s a pro-Second Amendment gun owner who signed one of the country’s strictest anti-abortion bills this year.

This is the third and final gubernatorial election of 2019 and the second loss for President Trump who campaigned for all three candidates. The president was in Louisiana this week and framed the race as a personal referendum, urging voters to unseat Edwards.

About two weeks ago, Republican Tate Reeves won the open seat in Mississippi, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin.

Edwards’ second term may be a bitter pill for Trump who had much invested in this year’s elections ahead of his own election in 2020.

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NSC Official Finds Fault With Sondland-Led Shadow Ukraine Policy

Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump’s National Security Council, said Gordon Sondland played a central role in a parallel Ukraine policy.

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Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump’s National Security Council, testified to House investigators that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador of the European Union, was leading an effort to get Ukraine to reopen an investigation into a company with ties to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Morrison said Sondland had repeated contact with Trump and believed he had a mandate from the president to work on a second channel involving Rudy Giuliani, president Trump’s personal attorney, outside the normal interagency process pressing for the investigation. But Morrison also raised several questions about whether Trump, himself, did anything wrong.

He recalled being warned by his predecessor, Fiona Hill, to stay away from the alternative track and anything to do with the investigation of the Ukraine energy company, Burisma, where Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board.

“The way I recall processing it was when I went out and I googled ‘What is Burisma?’ and I saw Hunter Biden, I said, okay, yeah, that sounds night, I’ll stay away,” Morrison testified.

Morrison is the latest witness to put Sondland at the center of the House investigation into whether President Trump withheld $400 million in U.S. military assistance to pressure Ukraine to help Trump politically.

House investigators released the transcript Saturday of the closed-door deposition just days before he is set to testify at the request of Republican lawmakers.

In a joint statement, the three chairs of the House committees leading the inquiry, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Eliot L. Engel and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, said the testimony provides a first-hand account “that U.S. military assistance, not just a White House meeting, was conditioned on their public announcement of political investigations that the President wanted.”

Morrison is one of the few witnesses with direct knowledge of the president’s interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart. The arms-control expert was listening in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Almost immediately after the call, Morrison suggest to NSC lawyers to restrict access to the transcript. But he also said he did not think anything illegal or improper took place on the call. Instead, Morrison was concerned that the transcript would be leaked and ultimately could harm bipartisan support of Ukraine.

Morrison told Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., that he was so concerned about Sondland’s actions at the time — and uncertain of any involvement by the president — that he felt the need to keep a record in order to “protect” Trump.

“Congresswoman, I’m still not completely certain that this was coming from the President,” Morrison testified. “I’m only getting this from Ambassador Sondland.”

Republicans, such as Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, appeared to explain the hold up of aid as simply a case of the White House sizing up Zelenskiy to be sure he could be trusted. Successive U.S. administrations, including Trump’s, have raised concern about Ukraine’s perceived problem with corruption.

Morrison said he always hoped aid would be released, but did not expect it because of Trump’s professed skepticism toward foreign aid. He said his view was based on the “President’s general antipathy to foreign aid, as well as his concern that the Ukrainians were not paying their fair share, as well as his concern when our aid would be misused because of the view that Ukraine has a significant corruption problem.”

Morrison did say, however, that the mention of the investigations during the July 25 call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart “seemed unusual” compared to other presidential conversations.

Morrison said he was very concerned about the alternative channel of foreign policy led by Sondland. He tried to keep himself and his office away from it.

“At some point I became concerned that this parallel process was going to turn into something — and here we are,” he said. “So I wanted to keep my people focused on their mission and not dragged into anything if they could help it.”

Sondland will testify publicly next week.

Earlier this month, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, revised his earlier testimony acknowledging to investigators that he had told a high-ranking Ukrainian official that Zelenskiy’s government would have to commit to an investigation in order to receive millions in allocated military aid.

On Friday, a State Department official, David Holmes, testified that he was with Sondland in Ukraine the day after the July 25 call. The two were at a restaurant when Holmes overheard a phone conversation between Sondland and Trump where Trump asked about the status of investigations. He also testified that Sondland said Trump cared more about an investigation into the Bidens than about Ukraine.

Morrison said former National Security Adviser John Bolton also was frustrated with Sondland’s role. At Bolton’s urging, Morrison suggested William Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, tell the Ukrainians not to make the investigations statement.

Morrison said he also spoke twice with top White House lawyer, John Eisenberg, about his concerns, including about a possible leak of the July 25 call. But Morrison said the rough transcript of Trump’s call was put on a highly classified system by mistake. Eisenberg agreed that access to the call should be restricted, but Morrison said Eisenberg later told him he did ask for the call to be put on the special server, but others misunderstood his request.

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