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Inside Trump (Dec 7th, 2017)

Democratic Sen. Al Franken announced that he will resign from his position following allegations of sexual harassment, and called out President Trump during his address. After radio host Leeann Tweeden came forward last month with allegations that Franken forcibly groped and kissed her during a 2006 USO Tour, a number of other women have made similar claims about the Senator and former "SNL" star. Most recently, a former Democratic congressional aide told Politico that Franken tried to kiss her following a taping of his radio show, also in 2006. Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Franken announced his resignation, but did not apologize and continued to insist that some of the allegations against him were untrue. He also noted irony in leaving his position "while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office." Franken went on to slam Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore as "a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls." – CNN

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On Wednesday, President Trump publicly called on Saudi Arabia to lift a blockade on Yemen and allow food, water, fuel and medicine to be brought into the war-torn nation. A civil war between two rival factions for control of Yemen's government has become a proxy war for two large regional powers: Saudi Arabia and Iran. On Monday, former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh - who had broken from the Iran-backed Houthis and signaled he was ready to negotiate with the Saudi-led coalition - was killed. Airstrikes continue in the capital city of Sanaa, which the Saudi-led coalition and allies are attempting to retake from the Houthis. So far during the conflict, an estimated 10,000 people have been killed and 2 million more displaced. An estimated 7 million Yemenis are now entirely dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. The Saudi government started a blockade of Yemen's ports months ago, after intercepting a missile fired from Yemen toward the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh. – WAPO

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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn promised an associate that sanctions against Russia would be "ripped up," according to a whistleblower who contacted Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings. Rep. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, was first contacted by the unnamed whistleblower in June. The individual claims that Flynn was invested in a Russian business venture to build nuclear power plants across the Middle East, and stood to personally benefit from a loosening of US relations with Russia. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about discussions he had with then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak, some of which touched on sanctions against Russia. – NYT

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While speaking to a Senate Intelligence Committee panel on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. declined to tell lawmakers about a discussion with his father, President Trump, citing attorney-client privilege. Trump Jr. was asked about a discussion he had with his father after reports about his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer became public. Though neither Trump Jr. nor President Trump are lawyers, there was an attorney present in the room and the time of the discussion. There have been questions about whether or not Trump Jr. encouraged his father to pursue further discussions with Russians, hoping to receive negative information about Hillary Clinton, and whether or not President Trump helped his son to compose his response to the news reports about the meeting. (Trump Jr. says he conferred with White House aide Hope Hicks on the response.) Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has objected to Trump Jr.'s use of attorney-client privilege. – POLITICO

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On Wednesday, the House voted to table a resolution from Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas, offering articles of impeachment against President Trump. The motion was tabled by a vote of 364 to 58. All of the 58 lawmakers who voted to continue debating the resolution were fellow Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland issued a statement opposing Green's resolution, calling on fellow Democrats to take "real, effective steps to improve the lives of hard-working Americans." Green's resolution made the case for impeachment based on Trump's reaction to the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his re-tweeting of videos from a far-right British nationalist group. – WAPO

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IN-DEPTH: TRUMP'S JERUSALEM DECLARATION

On Wednesday, in a controversial address from the White House, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital city and announced that he had started the process of moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. The move was a fulfillment of a campaign promise from Trump, which he termed an acknowledgment of "the obvious," and "nothing more or less than a recognition of reality." Trump also signed a proclamation officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and supporting "a two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

A 1995 US law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act, called on the US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but has been typically ignored by presidents who worried about triggering instability in the region. As both Palestinians and Israelis lay claim to at least a portion of the city of Jerusalem, other countries have placed embassies in Tel Aviv to avoid the issue entirely. East Jerusalem, in particular, is home to holy sites sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Trump's decision was praised by several Jewish-American and evangelical Christian groups. David Harris of the American Jewish Committee hailed Trump, saying he "asserted US global leadership towards ending a longstanding, senseless anomaly" while the Anti-Defamation League called the move "a significant step." Other religious leaders in the US were less resoundingly positive. The Reform Jewish Movement, which represents about 900 US congregations, questioned moving the embassy without an otherwise comprehensive peace plan for the region in place. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the largest Lutheran group in the US warned that the announcement "has a high probability of leading to violence and bloodshed."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude to President Trump, and vowed that Israel was in touch with other countries "to follow suit." Though Netanyahu didn't specifically mention other nations that had considered moving embassies to Jerusalem, Israeli media has pointed to the Philippines as a possibility. Within hours of Trump's speech, the Czech Republic released its own statement recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pope Francis expressed anxiety about the decision during his weekly address at the Vatican, and made "a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city." He also urged world leaders to "avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts." UN Secretary General António Guterres took issue with "unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," and urged "direct negotiations between the two parties... taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides."

Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas, the fundamentalist organization that governs the Gaza Strip, called for a new Palestinian uprising - or intifada - "in the face of the Zionist enemy." Hamas called for a "Day of Rage" on Friday that would kick off the protest movement. This would mark the third intifada since the late 1990s; both of the previous uprisings led to hundreds of deaths on both sides. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the decision eliminates the US as a viable mediator for ongoing peace process negotiations. His rival Fatah movement will apparently push back against the decision via diplomatic means, through the United Nations. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, called for a sustained diplomatic campaign to fight against "undisguised American aggression" towards Palestinians.

Following the speech, 17 Palestinians were wounded in a string of protests throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with 1 person left in critical condition. Protesters threw stones and set tires on fire, while Israeli troops responded by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and, in some cases, live rounds.

As for the speech itself, some viewers on social media reported hearing the President slur some of his words during the presentation. Some pundits mused that it might be a result of speaking through dentures or recent dental work. The White House claims the President's mouth was simply dry.

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