Tag Archives: agrees

After industry outcry, Ottawa agrees to clarify cross-border travel rules for autoworkers

The federal government plans to clarify its pandemic travel rules for autoworkers after complaints from the industry, which says it’s being hurt by ambiguity at the border.

At issue is how border agents deal with autoworkers moving between facilities in Canada and the U.S. Industry officials have expressed frustration that Canadian guards don’t seem to have clear instructions, forcing some workers to quarantine when they re-enter Canada but not others, and that it risks doing economic damage.

On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair committed to performing a quick review of the policy during a virtual meeting with auto-sector representatives, said one meeting participant, Flavio Volpe.

That development came after CBC News and other media reported on mounting annoyance in the sector, with industry representatives fuming that they had tried and failed to reach Blair for months.

Volpe, who heads Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said the minister opened Tuesday’s meeting by expressing a desire to work with the sector to clarify the rules.

He said the sides set up a group to work on changes — and that they planned to do it quickly.

“We expect that we’re going to see some substantive clarification in days, and that’s very helpful,” Volpe said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m expecting specific clarification that’s going to make it easier for essential automotive people to do their job. And we have that commitment from Minister Blair and from the [Canada Border Services Agency]…. I think that we’ve broken through here.”

Critical moment in the auto sector

What had the companies complaining was the alleged lack of clarity on how the industry’s technical workers and executives should be treated while re-entering Canada after doing work at U.S. facilities.

They said the rules are applied inconsistently — even on the same day at the same border crossing — which has resulted in company employees being forced into quarantine.

They said this is putting Canadian auto companies at a competitive disadvantage against American rivals at a critical moment for the sector. 


Public Safety Minister Bill Blair met with Canadian auto industry representatives on Tuesday (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Companies are now competing for a wave of contracts related to a pair of developments: the ongoing emergence of electric vehicles and the new supply chains established under the updated NAFTA.

Volpe said that at the start of the meeting, the minister said essential travel for auto-parts employees and executives is not a significant new risk for public health, and that he wanted to find a solution.

Volpe said the sector is not pushing for a complete reopening of the border. “We’re talking about a clarification for essential business travel,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Blair, Mary-Liz Power, said the government will continue to enforce public-health protocols at the border but is open to making adjustments. 

“The government is listening to all sectors of the economy as it develops further protocols to identify and enforce restrictions for essential travellers, including technicians from the auto sector,” she said in an email.

“We have been clear that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic will adapt quickly to this rapidly evolving public health threat.”

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CBC | World News

Government agrees mentally ill should have access to assisted dying — in 2 years

The Trudeau government has agreed with the Senate that Canadians suffering solely from grievous and incurable mental illnesses should be entitled to medical assistance in dying — but not for another two years.

The two-year interlude is six months longer than what was proposed by senators.

The longer wait is one of a number of changes to Bill C-7 proposed by the government in response to amendments approved last week by the Senate.

The government has rejected another Senate amendment that would have allowed people who fear being diagnosed with dementia or other competence-eroding conditions to make advance requests for an assisted death.

It has also rejected one other amendment and modified two others in a motion that is to be debated today in the House of Commons.

If the Commons approves the government’s response, the bill will go back to the Senate, where senators will have to decide whether to accept the verdict of the elected chamber or dig in their heels.

Government proposes expert review

Bill C-7 would expand access to assisted dying to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the natural end of their lives, bringing the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling.

As originally drafted, the bill would have imposed a blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses.

A strong majority of senators argued that the exclusion was unconstitutional. They said it violated the right to equal treatment under the law, regardless of physical or mental disability, as guaranteed in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

They voted to impose an 18-month time limit on the mental illness exclusion, which the government now wants to extend to two years.

WATCH | Changes to medical assistance in dying bill for dementia, mental illness up for debate

Senate amendments to the medical assistance in dying bill would make it easier for Canadians with mental illness or the prospect of dementia to get help ending their lives. But as those changes are debated there are concerns a sensitive subject will become a political football. 2:19

During that interlude, the government is also proposing to have experts conduct an independent review of the issue and, within one year, recommend the “protocols, guidance and safeguards” that should apply to requests for assisted dying from people with a mental illness.

In the meantime, senators had wanted to clarify that the exclusion of mental illness does not apply to people with neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. However, the government has rejected that amendment.

In rejecting advance requests, the government motion argues that the Senate amendment on that issue “goes beyond the scope of the bill” and requires “significant consultation and study,” including a “careful examination of safeguards.”

It suggests that the issue should be examined during the legally required five-year parliamentary review of the assisted dying law, which was supposed to begin last June but has yet to materialize.

The government has agreed, however, to a modified version of a Senate amendment to finally get that review underway within 30 days of Bill C-7 receiving royal assent.

The government is proposing the creation of a joint Commons-Senate committee to review the assisted dying regime, including issues related to mature minors, advance requests, mental illness, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities. The committee would be required to report back, with any recommended changes within one year.

Court-imposed deadline looms

The government has also agreed to a modified version of another Senate amendment to require the collection of race-based data on who is requesting and receiving medical assistance in dying.

It is proposing to expand that to include data on people with disabilities and to specify that the information be used to determine if there is “the presence of any inequality — including systemic inequality — or disadvantage based on race, Indigenous identity, disability or other characteristics.”

That is in response to the strenuous opposition to Bill C-7 from disability rights advocates who maintain the bill sends the message that life with a disability is a fate worse than death. They’ve also argued that Black, racialized and Indigenous people with disabilities — already marginalized and facing systemic discrimination in the health system — could be induced to end their lives prematurely due to poverty and a lack of support services.

Some critics have also raised concerns about unequal access to assisted dying for marginalized people, rural Canadians and Indigenous people in remote communities.

Since the Liberals hold only a minority of seats in the Commons, the government will need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to pass its response to the Senate amendments.

The Conservatives, who largely opposed expanding access to assisted dying in the original bill, and New Democrats, who are reluctant to accept any changes proposed by unelected senators, have indicated they’re not likely to support the motion.

That leaves the Bloc Québécois as the government’s most likely dance partner. Despite his own contempt for the Senate, which he maintains has no legitimacy, Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet, has said senators’ amendments to C-7 are “not without interest and indeed deserve to be looked at.”

The government is hoping to have the bill passed by both parliamentary chambers by Friday to meet the thrice-extended court-imposed deadline for bringing the law into compliance with the 2019 ruling.

But with the Conservatives signalling that they may drag out debate on the Senate amendments, the government will ask the court on Thursday to give it one more month — until March 26.

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CBC | Health News

Giannis Antetokounmpo agrees to 5-year, $228M US supermax extension with Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has reached a 5-year, $ 228-million US supermax contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, the two-time NBA MPV announced on Twitter.

The terms were confirmed by agent Alex Saratsis to ESPN. The deal includes an opt out after the fourth year.


More to come.

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CBC | Sports News

Play ball! MLB agrees with players on framework to start 60-game season

Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.

The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the virus — at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And a stark realization remained, that if health situations deteriorated, all games could still be wiped out.

One day after the players’ association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.



In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.

Playoff teams remain at 10 for now — there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.

Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1. It remains to be seen which players will report back to work — high-risk individuals are allowed to opt out and still receive salary and service time, but others who sit out get neither money nor the service credit needed for eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.

Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.

A team is scheduled to make only one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878. a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of records.

No matter what, the season will be among the most unusual ever for a sport that takes pride that the race for titles is a marathon and not a sprint: Washington started 19-31 and 27-33 last year but finished 93-69 to earn a wild card and won a seven-game World Series for its first title.

The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and the deadline to be in an organization for post-season eligibility is Sept. 15. Teams can resume making trades Friday, when rosters will no longer be frozen.

WATCH | MLB implements 60-game schedule:

Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878. 1:39

Active rosters will be 30 during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that. They will not expand to 28 on Sept. 1, as originally intended this year.

With no minor leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad. Up to three players from the taxi squad can travel with a team to a game, and one of the three must be a catcher.

MLB is keeping the planned innovation that pitchers must face three batters or finish a half inning —- players refused to agree a year ago but also waived their right to block.

The injured list minimum for pitchers at 10 days rather than revert to 15, as initially intended.

Distrust between players, league

MLB originally hoped to be the first U.S. major league to return, with an 82-game schedule starting around the Fourth of July, but public sniping broke out between management and players who distrust teams’ claims of economic losses following years of franchise appreciation. MLB claimed that without gate-related revenue it would lose $ 640,000 US for each additional regular-season game, a figure the union disputed.

MLB became exasperated with the union’s leadership team, headed by former all-star first baseman Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, a litigator hired in August 2018. Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem were infuriated when Clark said he considered the result of a one-on-one meeting with Manfred last week a proposal rather than what MLB termed a framework for a deal.

Rather than play 162 games over 186 days, the season will be 60 games over 66 or 67 days, depending on whether there is a nationally televised Thursday night opener. It is scheduled to end Sept. 27, which leaves little margin to make up September rainouts.


Players are being given staggered reporting times over several days for intake screening. The time will be used for coronavirus testing ahead of the resumption of workouts, which were stopped March 12 due to the pandemic.

Because of an uptick of infections in Florida and Arizona’s summer heat, 28 teams currently are leaning toward training in their regular-season ballparks. Detroit remained partial to Lakeland, Fla., and Toronto was hoping to gain government permission to work out at Rogers Centre.

Under terms of the deal the sides reached on March 26, which was to have been opening day, players would receive prorated portions of their salaries if the 60-game schedule is not cut short by the virus. Salaries originally totalled $ 4 billion, and the prorated portion of about 37 per cent reduces pay to $ 1.48 billion.

MLB initially had sought last month in its initial economic proposal to reduce pay to about $ 1 billion, and players vowed not to give up full prorated pay and proposed a 114-game schedule that amounted to $ 2.8 billion.

The relationship deteriorated back to the level of the labour wars that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, and the union has threatened a grievance claiming MLB didn’t fulfil the provision in the March deal requiring the longest season economically feasible, conditioned by several other provisions. MLB would claim the union bargained in bad faith, and the case would be argued before arbitrator Mark Irvings.

That would be a prelude to the expiration of the current labour contract on Dec. 1, 2021, which likely will be followed by a lockout.

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Canadian Premier League ‘unanimously’ agrees on proposed strategy for 2020 season

It looks like Prince Edward Island will lead the way in Canada’s return to soccer, with the Canadian Premier League looking to possibly kick off its pandemic-delayed season in Charlottetown.

Vancouver Island is also in the running to host the Canadian pro league.

“Both are very excited about the Canadian Premier League,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced Friday that the sport can resume in P.E.I. and B.C., providing clubs compete the final phase of its “Return to Soccer Guidelines” which includes completing a “self-assessment tool.”

A Canada Soccer spokesman said amateur teams could resume training in P.E.I. as soon as this weekend with clubs in B.C. perhaps following next week.

The CPL, meanwhile, said Friday that its owners, clubs and player leadership had unanimously agreed on “the structure and concept of a proposed strategy on the possibility of a 2020 CPL season.”

WATCH | Is it too early for a return to sports?:

CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin details the various return to play scenarios unfolding across the professional sports landscape. 2:52

Now they just need to nail down a venue, with P.E.I. and Vancouver Island the two leading candidates. That involves getting the approval of local health authorities.

“We feel very confident that our health and safety protocols are very stringent,” Clanachan said in an interview. “And I can say our players are pleased with what they’ve seen. it’s answered all their questions and more.”

‘Charlottetown is open for business’

Charlottetown raised its hand via a statement Friday.

“Charlottetown is open for business,” Mayor Philip Brown said in a statement. “I’m excited to be able to extend an invitation to the Canadian Premier League and its eight member teams to play their modified single-city season in the birthplace of Confederation — it doesn’t get any more Canadian than right here in Charlottetown

The P.E.I. government confirmed last month it had been approached by HFX Wanderers FC about having the CPL resume its season in the province.

Vancouver Island and Langford, B.C., home to the league’s Pacific FC, have also expressed interest.

Lisa Beare, B.C.’s minister of tourism, arts and culture, said she has been in contact with the CPL about hosting a shortened season in Langford.

“We are currently reviewing their proposal,” Beare said in a statement. “It would be great to see Canadian soccer being played on Vancouver Island this summer in a way that is safe for everyone.”

Like Major League Soccer, the CPL is looking at staging a round-robin tournament in one location. The hope is both leagues may be able to resume play in their own host cities at a later date.

“The problem with the world we live in today is everything is changing so quickly every day,” said Clanachan. “That could be very good news for us a few months from now or it could be bad news.

“I’m holding out hope that that [playing in home cities] could be the case. I think everybody is kind of hoping for that.”

League targets July resumption

The league was slated to kick off its second season on April 11 but has been on hiatus due to the global pandemic.

As of Friday, P.E.I. had 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. Vancouver Island had 130 cases including five deaths.

The league is looking at starting mid- or late July with play going into September. Clanachan says it will be up to the local health authorities if teams would have to self-quarantine upon arrival.

The league has some experience in transporting its teams en masse, having taken them to the Dominican Republic for pre-season training prior to the 2019 inaugural campaign.

Canada Soccer says another two to four provinces could follow P.E.I. and B.C. in returning to play.

“Starting with the suspension of sanctioned soccer in March, countless hours of thoughtful and measured discussion and planning have gotten us to a place where we are confident we can once again provide a safe sport environment in areas of the country where the provincial and local governments have permitted a return to physical activities,” Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli said in a statement.

Different regions may opt for different rules in resuming the sport. Ontario, for example, could choose to return to play depending on region.

Pro teams are governed by their league’s return to play protocols, as well as local health and government authorities.

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CBC | Soccer News

Michael Bradley agrees to deal to stay with Toronto FC: report

Captain Michael Bradley has re-signed with Toronto FC.

A source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced, confirmed that the 32-year-old midfielder has agreed on a new contract.

The MLS club has scheduled a “major announcement” for Thursday.

The new deal involved targeted allocation money, meaning Bradley will give up his designated player status and take a paycut from the $ 6.5 million US he earned this season. That opens the way to the club fulfilling its off-season goal to add to its offence.

Bradley’s $ 39-million, six-year contract expires at the end of the year.

The TFC skipper elected not to talk about his contract status this year, saying he did not want it to become a distraction. But he made no secret of his love for Toronto and said money was not an issue.

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Australia’s High Court agrees to hear cardinal’s appeal over child sex crimes

Australia’s highest court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal from the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of sexually abusing children, giving Cardinal George Pell his last chance at getting his convictions overturned.

The decision by the High Court of Australia comes nearly a year after a unanimous jury found Pope Francis’ former finance minister guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s, shortly after Pell became archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city.

The 78-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison in March and is no longer a member of Francis’ Council of Cardinals or a Vatican official. The Victoria state Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in August.

Pell is in a Melbourne prison, where the Herald Sun newspaper reported last month that he had been given a gardening job. He did not attend the High Court in Canberra to hear the decision Wednesday.

Two of the seven justices — Michelle Gordon and James Edelman — heard Pell’s application for an appeal and unanimously approved it for a hearing by the full bench. 

An appeal hearing cannot happen before the justices return from their summer break in early February.

Pell’s lawyers argued in their 12-page application for a High Court appeal that two state appeals court judges made error in dismissing his appeal in August.

The judges made a mistake by requiring Pell to prove the abuse was impossible, rather than putting the onus of proof on prosecutors, the lawyers said.

They also said the two judges erred in finding the jury’s guilty verdicts were reasonable. Pell’s lawyers argued there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.

Pell’s lawyers also argued that changes in law over the years since the crimes were alleged have increased the difficulty in testing sexual assault allegations.

They say Pell should be acquitted of all charges for several reasons, including inconsistencies in the accuser’s version of events.

Prosecutors argued there is no basis for the appeal and that the Victorian courts made no errors.

In their written submission to the High Court, prosecutors wrote that Pell’s legal team was asking High Court judges to apply established principles to the facts of the case, which were already carefully and thoroughly explored by the state appeals court.

Pell was largely convicted on the testimony of one victim. The second victim died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2014 when he was 31 without complaining that he had been abused.

After Pell lost his first appeal, the surviving victim said, “I just hope that it’s all over now.”

Clerical sexual abuse and the Catholic Church’s handling of such cases worldwide have thrown Francis’ papacy into turmoil.

In a little more than a year, the pope has acknowledged he made “grave errors” in Chile’s worst cover-up, Pell was convicted of abuse, a French cardinal was convicted of failing to report a pedophile, and U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked after a Vatican investigation determined he molested children and adults.

Pell must serve at least three years and eight months behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole. As a convicted pedophile, he is provided with extra protection from other inmates and spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.

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EU agrees to delay Brexit until Jan. 31

The European Union agreed on Monday to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 next year — just three days before it was due to take place.

European Council president Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the EU’s 27 other countries agreed to accept “the UK’s request for a Brexit flextension until 31 January, 2020. The decision is expected to be formalized through a written procedure.”

The term flextension means that the U.K. will be able to leave earlier if the Brexit deal secured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ratified before Jan. 31.

Tusk’s announcement came as European Union diplomats met in Brussels to sign off on the new delay for Britain’s departure, which had been on Oct. 31.


Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, like his predecessor Theresa May, has struggled to get a deal through Parliament. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

Leaving the envoys, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “it was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting and I am happy the decision has been taken.”

He declined to provide details of the talks.

In London, British politicians are later set to vote on whether to hold an early election to try to break the country’s deadlock over Brexit. Johnson wants a Dec. 12 election, but looks unlikely to get the required support from two-thirds of lawmakers.

Two opposition parties plan to push for a Dec. 9 election if Johnson’s proposal fails.

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Turkey agrees to ceasefire in northern Syria

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria on Thursday.

Pence and a U.S. delegation met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier to persuade him to halt an offensive against Kurdish fighters.

Pence said Erdogan agreed to a “pause in military operations for 120 hours” to let the U.S. facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish YPG fighters from the contested area of Syria. Turkey pledged not to bomb during this time, while Pence said U.S. forces in the region had already begun to facilitate a safe disengagement of YPG units.

The deal struck with Erdogan also provided for Turkey not to engage in military operations in the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani.

Pence said the United States and Turkey had committed to a peaceful resolution of Ankara’s demand for a “safe zone” in northern Syria near Turkey’s border, one of the objectives of the Turkish offensive, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a great deal of work remains to be done in the region.


After the Kurdish forces are cleared from the safe zone, Turkey has committed to a permanent ceasefire but is under no obligation to withdraw its troops. That, according to one U.S. official, is tantamount to allowing Turkey to occupy the safe zone — essentially giving Turkey what it had sought to achieve with its military operation in the first place.

“The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces,” a joint U.S.-Turkish statement said.

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted that Turkey had agreed to a “pause” in fighting, rejecting the term ceasefire, which he said is only possible between “two legitimate sides.”

“We will only halt our operation after the terrorist elements depart,” northeast Syria, Cavusoglu added. “The pause does not mean that our soldiers and our forces will withdraw. We remain there and continue to be there.”

A senior adviser to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, told Al-Mayadeen TV that the ceasefire is “vague.”

Top Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said Damascus “cannot accept” another Iraqi Kurdistan in Syria. Shaaban added that “important steps” had been taken so far with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, but that all remaining issues could not be resolved at once.

Mazloum Kobani, the SDF’s commander, told Ronahi TV that they will accept the ceasefire and do what is necessary to make it work.

Kobani said the agreement is “just the beginning” and will not be able to achieve the goals of Turkey, adding that the agreement was limited to the northern Syria border areas running between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad.

The assault created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria, with 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of ISIS fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails and a political maelstrom at home for U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump, speaking in Fort Worth, Texas, called the ceasefire an “amazing outcome.”

“This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years, everybody, and they couldn’t get it. Other administrations, they never would have been able to get it unless you went somewhat unconventional. I guess I’m an unconventional person,” Trump said, before praising Erdogan as a “hell of a leader” and a “tough man.”


Erdogan responded on Twitter, saying “many more lives will be saved when we defeat terrorism.”


‘Seriously undermines’ U.S. credibility

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday called the agreement a “sham.”

“[It] seriously undermines the credibility of America’s foreign policy and sends a dangerous message to our allies and adversaries alike that our word cannot be trusted. President Erdogan has given up nothing, and President Trump has given him everything,” the top Congressional Democrats said in a statement.

They said the House of Representatives would vote on a bipartisan sanctions package against Turkey next week.

Trump suggested Wednesday that a Kurdish group was a greater terror threat than the ISIS group, and he welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Bashar al-Assad government to fill the void left after he ordered the removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria amid a Turkish assault on the Kurds.

“Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine,” Trump said. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So, there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”

He added: “Let them fight their own wars.”

There has been severe condemnation of Trump’s failure to deter Erdogan’s assault on the Kurds, his subsequent embrace of Turkish talking points about the former U.S. allies, which sparked bipartisan outrage in the U.S. and calls for swift punishment for the NATO ally.

Republicans and Democrats in the House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together Wednesday for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that the withdrawal may lead to revival of ISIS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, publicly broke with Trump to call the U.S. relationship with the Kurds “a great alliance.”

“I’m sorry that we are where we are. I hope the vice-president and the secretary of state can somehow repair the damage,” McConnell said Wednesday.

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Former Trump aide Hope Hicks agrees to closed-door interview with judicial committee

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks has agreed to a closed-door interview with the House judiciary committee, the panel announced Wednesday.

The panel subpoenaed Hicks last month as part of its investigation into special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and obstruction of justice. The interview will be held June 19 and a transcript will be released.

The appearance is a breakthrough for the panel, which has been holding hearings with experts as Trump has broadly obstructed congressional investigations. Hicks, a longtime aide to Trump, is mentioned throughout Mueller’s report.

Jerrold Nadler, the House judiciary committee chair, said the interview will include questions about her time on Trump’s presidential campaign and in the White House.


Hicks was subpoenaed last month as part of the committee’s investigation of the Mueller report. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

“It is important to hear from Ms. Hicks, who was a key witness for the special counsel,” Nadler said. “Ms. Hicks understands that the committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit.”

Democrats hope to have additional witnesses after Hicks. They are expected to go to court soon to enforce a subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn, who did not show up for his scheduled hearing last month.

Nadler has also subpoenaed former McGahn aide Annie Donaldson, who is also mentioned throughout the Mueller report. Her deposition is scheduled for May 24, but it is so far unclear whether she will appear.

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