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AP News in Brief at 12:09 a.m. EST

Trump tried hard to win Ukraine Biden probes, officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Ukraine’s new leader wanted an Oval Office welcome from Donald Trump — and he did — he would have to open a public probe into the president’s Democratic foe Joe Biden and his son. That is what two key White House officials told impeachment investigators.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, testified that Gordon Sondland, a Trump donor serving as ambassador to the European Union, told the visiting officials that if they hoped to win that coveted face-to-face meeting, “the Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens.”

According to transcripts released Friday in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Vindman and Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, gave House investigators detailed updates of scenes central to the probe.

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Harris, Warren compete for support from black female voters

Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are competing for the support of black women, who are the Democratic Party’s most loyal and consistent voters.

Both White House hopefuls are struggling with black voters, who have sided with Joe Biden by large margins.

But a string of recent endorsements highlights the contrasting styles of Warren, the progressive firebrand, and Harris, the lone black woman in the Democratic field.

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AP Exclusive: Abusive S Korean facility exported children

BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — A notorious South Korean facility that kidnapped, abused and enslaved children and the disabled for a generation was also shipping children overseas for adoption, part of a massive profit-seeking enterprise that thrived by exploiting those trapped within its walls, The Associated Press has found.

The AP, which previously exposed a government coverup at Brothers Home and a far greater level of abuse than earlier known, has now found that the facility was part of an orphanage pipeline feeding the demand of private adoption agencies.

Relying on government documents obtained from officials, lawmakers or from freedom of information requests, the AP uncovered direct evidence that 19 children were adopted out of Brothers and sent abroad, as well as indirect evidence showing at least 51 more such adoptions. The adoptions AP found took place between 1979 and 1986.

There were probably many more adoptions over the three decades that Brothers, the largest facility of its kind in the nation, was in operation, but the full extent will likely never be known. Most relevant documents have been lost, destroyed or withheld by the government and adoption agencies, which falsified the origins of many of the children they obtained.

The AP, however, found one of the adoptees.

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Trump pushes back on reports US will remove China tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed a Chinese official’s assertion that his administration has agreed to roll back some of the higher tariffs it’s imposed on Chinese goods.

The Chinese official said Thursday that the two sides had agreed to a phased cancellation of their tariff hikes as part of an emerging agreement.

Trump’s pushback suggested that negotiations haven’t progressed as far as hoped as the world’s two biggest economies struggle to negotiate an end to their trade war, which has hurt both economies.

“They’d like to have a rollback,” Trump told reporters at the White House, referring to the Chinese. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”

The two sides have been working on an initial “Phase 1” deal that was announced Oct. 12 but that still isn’t final.

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Last victim of Mexico border killings to be laid to rest

COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico (AP) — Family and friends prepared to bury on Saturday the last victim of a cartel ambush that slaughtered nine American women and children from a community of U.S.-Mexican dual citizens in a corner of northern Mexico where having gangsters in their midst has long been an unavoidable fact of life.

Christina Langford Johnson jumped out of her vehicle and waved her hands to show she was no threat to the attackers and was shot twice in the heart, community members say. Her daughter Faith Marie Johnson, 7 months old, was found unharmed in her car seat.

Her burial ceremony, the third in as many days, culminates an outpouring of grief in the closely knit community with family ties in two Mexican states and across the border in many western U.S. states.

The shocking attack has many in the small farming town of La Mora, established in Sonora state by their Mormon ancestors decades ago, wondering whether they should stay or leave to flee the cartel threat.

On Friday, the bodies of Rhonita Miller and four of her children were brought from La Mora to Colonia LeBaron in neighbouring Chihuahua state by a convoy of pickup trucks and SUVS that followed the same dirt-and-rock mountainous road where they were killed. Many residents of the two communities that lie a five-hour, bone-jarring drive apart are related. They are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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Facebook is deleting the name of the potential whistleblower

Facebook says it is deleting the name of the person who has been identified in conservative circles as the whistleblower who triggered a congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions.

The company said Friday that mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates Facebook’s “co-ordinating harm policy,” which prohibits material that could identify a “witness, informant, or activist.”

Facebook says it is removing mentions of the alleged whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision if the name is widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate. The policy is not new. Facebook says it has been applying it to the whistleblower case and removing the person’s name for a few days.

On Twitter, though, the alleged whistleblower’s name was circulating widely on Friday. The company does not have a policy against identifying whistleblowers by name and is not removing the posts.

Some of the stories identifying the person came from the conservative news site Breitbart, which Facebook counts as one of its news partners in a newly launched news section on its app. However, the company said it was also removing identifying posts on the whistleblower from Breitbart.

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Bannon says Stone was Trump campaign link to WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign viewed Roger Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advanced word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, a former top presidential adviser testified Friday.

In reluctant testimony, former campaign CEO Steve Bannon told a federal court that Stone, on trial for lying to Congress and witness tampering, had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails.

“The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian Assange,” Bannon told the court. “But Roger would be considered if we needed an access point.”

It was the first time that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign acknowledged in court that they had actively sought material from WikiLeaks, which released emails that U.S. intelligence agencies determined had been hacked by the Russian government in order to damage Clinton.

The White House had no immediate comment.

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Missing Clark Atlanta University student found dead

ATLANTA (AP) — A missing Clark Atlanta University student has been found dead, authorities said Friday.

The body of Alexis Crawford, 21, was found at a park in DeKalb County, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said at a news conference.

Investigators are securing arrest warrants for Crawford’s friend and roommate, 21-year-old Jordyn Jones, and Jones’ boyfriend, 21-year-old Barron Brantley, Sheilds said. One of the suspects led investigators to where Crawford’s body was found, she told reporters.

Shields said a motive has not been clearly established but she noted that Crawford filed a police report on Oct. 27 describing “unwanted kissing and touching” by Brantley.

Crawford last spoke to her family on Oct. 30. She was reported missing Nov. 1.

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Bloomberg to pass on Iowa, NH, focus on Super Tuesday states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Bloomberg plans to skip early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire if he launches a presidential bid and instead focus his efforts on the crush of states that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond. It’s a strategy that acknowledges the limitations of entering the race at this late stage and the opportunities afforded by the billionaire’s vast personal wealth.

Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson says other candidates already have a big head start in the first four states to vote — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and Bloomberg needs to be realistic about where he can make up ground.

“If we run, we are confident we can win in states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond, where we will start on an even footing,” Wolfson said. Nearly a quarter of primary delegates up for grabs in the March 3 Super Tuesday contests.

Bloomberg qualified Friday to get on the ballot in Alabama, one of the Super Tuesday states. His team is also making plans to file in Arkansas, which has a Tuesday deadline.

Bloomberg’s candidacy has the potential to upend the Democratic race less than three months before primary voting begins. The billionaire businessman initially ruled out a 2020 run, but began to reconsider in recent weeks, citing concerns about the ability of the current crop of contenders to defeat President Donald Trump.

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Vanna White hosts ‘Wheel of Fortune’ after Sajak has surgery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak had to have emergency surgery, and his longtime co-host Vanna White will fill in for him while he recovers.

The show said in a statement that Thursday’s taping was cancelled as the 73-year-old Sajak underwent successful surgery to correct a blocked intestine.

The 62-year-old White stepped in as host when taping resumed Friday for episodes that will air starting Dec. 9.

The statement says Sajak is resting comfortably and looking forward to returning but does not say how long he is expected to be out or how long White will act as host.

Sajak and White have co-hosted the show since the early 1980s.

The Associated Press

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