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News Brief: Week of Jan. 5-11


Impeachment trial to potentially begin

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi updated lawmakers about the status of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Friday, Jan. 10, announcing she would be sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week.

The announcement comes after an impasse lasting nearly a month following Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday, Dec. 18. The trial could begin as early as this Wednesday, Jan. 15.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Pelosi explained the delay in the trial, claiming she wanted to ensure a fair senate proceeding. 

“In an impeachment trial, every senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,’” Pelosi said. “Every senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the president or the Constitution.”

Democratic primary update

Four Democratic candidates lead the polls in Iowa in the weeks before the Democratic caucuses, the first major contest of the presidential primary season.

According to a Des Moines Register poll, Sen. Bernie Sanders leads with 20% of voters’ support, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 17%, former South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 16% and former Vice President Joe Biden with 15%.

Approximately one in eight voters do not have a first choice, with the caucus day on Monday, Feb. 3. 


Central Oklahoma to get new area code

Beginning in July 2020, Oklahoma City will be more than just the 405: an additional area code will take effect.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced the new area code on Wednesday, Jan. 7, after determining the area will run out of 405 numbers by December 2020. The new area code will be announced later this month and will become available in July. The additional area code will be used in 19 central Oklahoma counties in the 405 area, including Oklahoma County and Oklahoma City. 

Beginning in January 2021, callers must dial 10 digits, including the area code plus the seven-digit number.

OU student alleges sexual misconduct by ex-official

A third University of Oklahoma student has brought sexual assault allegations against the former vice president of the university.

On Monday, Jan. 6, the student filed a lawsuit claiming former OU Vice President Jim “Tripp” Hall III performed a sex act without consent in 2019. The student claims he had known Hall since 2017.

“Through the guise of mentorship and friendship, defendant Hall maliciously manipulated plaintiff into believing the relationship was appropriate,” the lawsuit states.

Two students have previously made claims against Hall. Levi Hilliard, a server at a university restaurant, claimed Hall acted inappropriately with him on multiple occasions between 2017 and 2018. Jess Eddy also claimed Hall acted inappropriately, citing an incident during a trip to Houston in 2010. 

Hall’s attorney, Clark Brewster, said in a statement he intends on protecting his client’s “good name and pursuing those who file specious lawsuits.”

State leaders, tribes clash over gaming compacts

Oklahoma tribes earn $4.5 billion annually from casino gaming, and up to 10% of those earnings go to the state. The state says it’s time to renegotiatethe tribes say no. 

The 15-year compact between the state and tribes regarding exclusivity fees was set to expire on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Gov. Kevin Stitt told tribal leaders the compact needed to be renegotiated. However, tribal leaders claim the compact automatically renews if the terms of the agreement are not reached by the time it expires.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations filed a federal lawsuit on Dec. 31, 2020, in order to “bring an end to the uncertainty Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt has attempted to cast over tribal gaming operations.”

The State of Oklahoma has now retained a law firm to combat the lawsuit in court.

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