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News Brief: Week of Nov. 10-16


Public impeachment hearings

The impeachment hearings regarding President Trump went public beginning Wednesday, Nov. 13, with live coverage from the United States House of Representatives airing live on television. 

Wednesday’s hearing surrounded U.S. charges d’affaires in Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent. The pair testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

Taylor testified a member of his staff “could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”

Friday’s hearing featured Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from her position earlier this year. She claimed she was a victim of a smear campaign led by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and “foreign corrupt interests” in Ukraine.

Future hearings are scheduled for Nov. 19-21. 

School shooter in California kills two, injures three

A shooter opened fire on Thursday, Nov. 14 in a high school in Santa Clarita, CA, killing two and injuring many more before ultimately turning the gun on himself.

Nathaniel Berhow arrived at Saugus High School on his 16th birthday, pulled a pistol from his backpack and fired five bullets into the campus’ quad. The attack lasted approximately sixteen seconds and left a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy dead. Three other students were injured.

Berhow died from his self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, Nov. 15. No motive for the shooting has been discovered. Officials believe the attack was planned, but no students were being specifically targeted. The pistol Berhow used for the attack was unregistered and officials are currently investigating the source of the firearm.


Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson order by $107 million

An Oklahoma judge who ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million in reparations for the company’s role in the state’s opioid crisis has reduced the amount for which the state is asking.

District Judge Thad Balkman is now ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay $465 million, acknowledging his own miscalculation. Balkman originally misunderstood how much it would cost to institute a program for treating babies born addicted to opioids. The cost should have been $107,000 instead of $107 million, as Balkman initially thought.

Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the state’s order. Previously, District Judge Balkman declined the defendant’s request to reduce the amount further, taking into account pre-trial settlements totaling $355 million the state reached with other pharmaceutical companies.

Trump pardons Oklahoma soldier imprisoned for war crimes

President Trump pardoned an Oklahoma soldier who was imprisoned for murder charges involving the deaths of unarmed Afghan civilians.

Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance was serving a 19-year murder sentence before being pardoned on Friday, Nov. 15.

A military judge found Lorance guilty of murder in August 2013 for the shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians during a military mission in 2012. Lorance ordered an enlisted soldier to fire on the civilians. He also was found guilty of the attempted murder of a third citizen who was not injured in the attack.

“The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said about the pardoning.  “As the President has stated, ‘when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'”

Broken Arrow couple charged in daughter’s death

A Broken Arrow couple has been charged on different counts of murder and child abuse for the death of their three-year-old daughter whom they had adopted less than a year prior.

Kelsey Seaman, 25, was charged on Friday, Nov. 15, on counts of first-degree murder, child abuse, child neglect and obstructing an officer in the Nov. 6 death of Faith Seaman. Her husband, Glen Seaman, is charged with enabling child abuse, child neglect and obstructing an officer.

An autopsy indicates severe injuries consistent with child abuse were inflicted on the day before her death. 

The Seamans have previously fostered at least five children. The couple adopted Faith in Dec. 2018, but cared for her beginning in April 2018. Two other children were living with the couple at the time of Faith’s death, but they are now in protective custody.

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