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Trump whistleblower willing to answer written queries from Republicans

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Washington: The anonymous whistleblower whose complaint triggered an impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump has agreed to answer written questions from Republican lawmakers, an attorney said.

“Our legal team offered Republicans the direct opportunity to ask written questions of #whistleblower,” Mark Zaid, who is representing the whistleblower, said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

Zaid said they have offered both Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to have his client answer questions “in writing, under oath &andpenalty of perjury”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The attorney, specifically, said they have offered to Devin Nunes, the Republican ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, the “opportunity for Minority to submit through legal team written questions” to the whistleblower.

“Qs cannot seek identifying info, regarding which we will not provide, or otherwise be inappropriate. We will ensure timely answers,” he said.

“Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role.”

In an anonymous complaint earlier this year, the whistleblower raised concerns about the White House’s interactions with Ukraine, including a July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky which prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to initiate the impeachment inquiry on September 24.

Trump was alleged to have abused power by using a military aid to pressure Zelensky into investigating former US Vice President Joe Biden, a top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential contender, so as to help his re-election campaign.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing or a “quid pro quo” and has termed the inquiry as a “witch hunt”.

The White House has also dismissed the allegations and made clear that it would not cooperate with House investigators by providing documents or witnesses because it considered the ongoing impeachment inquiry unfair and illegitimate.

Zaid’s offer came as Trump on Sunday called for the revealing the whistleblower’s identity, while attacking the complaint’s credibility.

“The whistleblower should be revealed because the whistleblower gave false stories. Some people would call it a fraud; I won’t go that far,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday suggested that written testimony would not satisfy Republicans.

“When you’re talking about the removal of the president of the United States, undoing democracy, undoing what the American public had voted for, I think that individual should come before the committee,” the California Republican told CBS News.

“He needs to answer the questions.”

The Democratic-controlled House approved mostly along party lines a resolution last week that establishes procedures for public hearings in the impeachment inquiry and the release of deposition transcripts, among other things.

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B’desh to introduce e-passports this week

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Dhaka: Bangladesh is set to begin the distribution of e-passports on Wednesday, it was reported.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to launch the e-passport distribution at an event scheduled to be held at the capital’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, bdnews24 quoted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan as saying on Sunday.

The President and Prime Minister will receive THE e-passports first, he said, adding that anyone can apply for it.

The delivery of e-passports will start in regional offices by the end of 2020. The services will expand in phases, the Minister said, adding that machine-readable passports will remain valid as well.

The Department of Immigration and Passports will issue 48-page and 64-page e-passports with the validity of five years and 10 years, respectively.

The decision on introducing digital passport comes less than a decade after Bangladesh switched from manual to the machine-readable passport.

The government took the initiative to introduce e-passports in the wake of more than one passport being illegally issued against one person in the absence of database of fingerprints of citizens.

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Bangladesh PM calls CAA ‘internal matter’ but ‘unnecessary’

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New Delhi, Even as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes that Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is India’s “internal matter”, she has described the law, which aims to grant citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of the three neighboring Muslim countries, “unnecessary”.

Hasina said this in an interview to the Gulf News at Abu Dhabi, where she is on a visit to hold high-level bilateral meetings. We don’t understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary,” Hasina told Gulf News.

“Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India. The Government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India and Prime Minister Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019,” she added.

The CAA passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019, grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees who fled from religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014.

The law came into effect last month. The Opposition and some youth organizations in India have been protesting against the CAA. Some protests turned violent too.

Soon after the CAA was passed, Dhaka canceled its high-level visits and meetings in New Delhi. Hasina’s description of the law now as “unnecessary” is in line with the concerns in Bangladesh establishment that the CAA might trigger reverse migration of Bangladesh illegal immigrants living in India.

However, Hasina in her interview said there was no reverse migration from India to Bangladesh yet. Dhaka has also denied there has been any religious persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. “But within India, people are facing many problems,” Hasina said vaguely to the Gulf News.

Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, however, insisted that the CAA is an internal matter. “Necessary or unnecessary is a matter of perception. It has been passed by Parliament,” said an official who did not want to be quoted.

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70 soldiers killed in Yemen missile attack

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Sanaa, At least 70 soldiers were killed in a ballistic missile attack in Yemen’s Marib province, a government source said on Sunday.

Dozens of soldiers were still suffering critical injuries from the attack that took place on Saturday night near a mosque in al-Estikbal military base, the source told Xinhua news agency.

Yemeni government officials have blamed the Iran-allied Houthi rebels for the attack, but the Houthis have not claimed responsibility.

Hours after the Marib attack, the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the Yemeni government forces, launched a series of airstrikes on a Houthi-controlled military base in the southeast of the group-held capital Sanaa, with no casualties reported, according to the residents.

The Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis who stormed the capital Sanaa and controlled much of the country’s north in late 2014.

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