© 2024 91.9 KVCR

KVCR is a service of the San Bernardino Community College District.

San Bernardino Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

701 S Mt Vernon Avenue, San Bernardino CA 92410
909-384-4444
Where you learn something new every day.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Morning news brief

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Republican-led House voted along party lines last night to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE JOHNSON: On this vote, the yeas are 214, and the nays are 213. The resolution is adopted.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAVEL BANGING)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The articles of impeachment, passed by that single vote, accused Mayorkas of refusing to comply with immigration laws. Now, according to the text, more people are coming to the United States these days, and the administration has paroled many into the U.S. to wait for their court dates. Past administrations have also paroled people because the U.S. lacks enough detention centers to hold migrants or courts to give them quick hearings. Democrats and a few Republicans cast this as a policy disagreement rather than an impeachable offense.

FADEL: NPR political reporter Ximena Bustillo has more on this, and she joins me now. Good morning.

XIMENA BUSTILLO, BYLINE: Good morning.

FADEL: So as we heard there, House Republicans barely had enough votes to impeach Mayorkas last night, and this was their second try. How did this impeachment become such a focus for the party?

BUSTILLO: Well, Republicans have been preparing for this impeachment since they gained control of the House. The Republican base and conservative media figures have been calling for the impeachment of several Biden administration officials, including Mayorkas and Biden himself, since the 2022 midterm elections. But with Democrats running the Senate and Biden in the White House, they really have no way to change laws. Instead, they've really focused on investigations and oversight as a way to follow through on promises to hold the Biden administration accountable. This impeachment, though, has been a bit divisive, even among their own members. Three Republicans voted against impeachment last night, and the same three voted no last week. The difference this time was House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who was back in town after a lengthy absence to seek treatment for cancer.

FADEL: I mean, this is highly unusual - the first time a sitting secretary was impeached in 150 years. What laws is Mayorkas actually accused of breaking here?

BUSTILLO: They are accusing Mayorkas of not complying with immigration law, particularly when it comes to detainments, and of making false statements.

FADEL: And at this point, as Steve pointed out, this is a time where many more people are just showing up at the border, and the Republicans are saying Mayorkas is paroling too many of them. Is this just a policy disagreement? Should it be an impeachment?

BUSTILLO: Right. Democrats are arguing that this is politically motivated, as you noted, and it has been over 100 years since an impeachment of its kind. Democrats in the House insist that this is not the right response. They say Republicans have a policy disagreement with the White House, and the same three Republicans who have rejected this measure have generally raised concerns about the strength of the case against Mayorkas. There have also been concerns about the standards set by impeaching him over policies that, again, are set by Biden and not Mayorkas himself. But Speaker Johnson defended the process last week, and he said that Mayorkas refuses to enforce the laws and left them with no other option. The Homeland Security Department last night said after the vote that they believe there's no shred of evidence of this.

FADEL: OK, so this happened in the House. It's going to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. So does it just die there?

BUSTILLO: It does not. So there are impeachment managers that have already assigned, and there is a Senate trial that will begin sometime after the senators return to D.C. around the 26. But a conviction requires two-thirds vote, and that simply will not happen in the Senate, controlled by Democrats.

FADEL: OK, so this all fits into a broader jockeying between the two parties over who's to blame for the border. Is there any expectation that Congress can actually address some of these policy issues before the election?

BUSTILLO: I mean, that's extremely unlikely. We saw a bipartisan border security agreement fail last week in the Senate. Senate Democrats have rejected the House option version of the bill, which they say is too hard-line, and Biden has vowed to veto that as well.

FADEL: NPR's Ximena Bustillo. Thank you.

BUSTILLO: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Germany tonight for a series of high-stakes meetings with U.S. allies in coming days.

INSKEEP: The vice president is there to deliver a message that many people might have a hard time believing. She wants NATO allies and others to know that the United States is a reliable partner when it comes to conflicts like the one in Ukraine.

FADEL: NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid is going to be traveling with the vice president, and she joins us now. Good morning.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So the vice president is going to Europe to this annual conference - the Munich Security Conference - right after former President Donald Trump raised fears about the long-term U.S. commitment to NATO. Is the reaction to what Trump said going to be a huge part of what she deals with on this trip?

KHALID: I mean, European allies are worried about the stability of that transatlantic alliance following comments by the former president, Donald Trump, who is also, of course, the Republican front-runner in 2024. Trump said that Russia should, quote, "do whatever the hell they want" to countries who don't contribute enough money to NATO. It sounded like he was encouraging Russia to attack an ally. And yesterday, we heard President Biden denounce the comments.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: For God's sake, it's dumb. It's shameful. It's dangerous. It's un-American.

KHALID: And this, Leila, is the backdrop in which Harris is going to be going to Munich. And I would say, you know, people are going to be hanging on her words. I spoke to Wolfgang Ischinger about this. He's a retired German ambassador who, for years, led the Munich Security Conference. And he told me Europeans are watching the political situation in the U.S. very closely.

WOLFGANG ISCHINGER: Recent statements by candidate and former President Donald Trump about NATO and how he would deal with NATO allies has really been rattling us here on the European side.

FADEL: So how does the vice president reassure them?

KHALID: Well, you know, she can defend the administration's track record. But to step back, the White House is in a tough place right now. They want more aid money for Ukraine, but Republican leaders in the House are blocking that, and it is not clear when and even if Congress will agree to more funding. This White House promised that the Trump era was over - you know, that America was back. So I will say there is a lot at stake, both for the Biden administration's reputation and the United States' credibility as a world leader. Here's former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

LEON PANETTA: The primary responsibility of the vice president is to make clear that, despite these challenges, America's word is still strong and that it can be depended upon.

KHALID: But the reality is, it is going to be difficult for Harris to stand up and say, have faith in the U.S. when even a Democratic president, we are seeing, cannot guarantee additional money for Ukraine because of partisan fights in Congress. The former German ambassador, Ischinger, flatly told me that Europeans are increasingly thinking about a plan B - how to defend themselves if there is indeed a future in which they cannot depend on the U.S.

FADEL: I mean, this is a tough job that Harris is going to have to carry out. Will she be able to reassure allies who are thinking about plan B?

KHALID: Well, this will be Harris' third time at this important meeting of world leaders in Munich. She certainly traveled abroad on some major trips, but it's really fallen more on other members of Biden's inner circle, like Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to lead on diplomatic efforts. You know, that being said, Biden himself will not be in Munich, and so it does fall onto Harris to send the right message and the right tone to reassure allies at a critical time. And because of the politics at home as we head into an election amidst growing questions about Biden's age, Harris really does have no room for error.

FADEL: NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid - thank you, Asma.

KHALID: Always good to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: The world's third-largest democracy, Indonesia, has voted for a new president.

INSKEEP: Exit polls suggest the country's defense minister is in the lead. He has the backing of the current president and also has a controversial record on human rights.

FADEL: NPR's Anthony Kuhn is in Jakarta and joins us now. Good morning, Anthony.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning.

FADEL: So you just came back from a polling station. What did you see?

KUHN: Well, this was the scene at a station in Jakarta's Menteng neighborhood. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

KUHN: Poll workers were manually taking each ballot out of a box and reading it and tallying it. And if you consider that Indonesia has more than 200 million eligible voters, that's a lot of work. Now, these unofficial exit polls show that Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has defeated two former provincial governors. The official results will come out in a month, but it looks like Prabowo has scored the absolute majority he needs to avoid a runoff vote. And if Prabowo takes office, he's expected to continue the popular policies of President Joko Widodo - or Jokowi, as he's known here.

FADEL: So let's talk about why this vote is being so closely watched around the world. Why is that?

KUHN: Well, a lot of it has to do with Indonesia's scale. It's Southeast Asia's largest economy. It's the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. And this country's future direction is at stake. This country was under the dictatorship of the general Suharto for 32 years. It's been a fledgling democracy for about 25 years. It still faces huge challenges - poverty, corruption, deforestation, big ethnic and religious divisions - and the election is going to have an impact on these. Also, we should say that elections are being held in many countries around the world this year. And when people look to see where democracy is advancing or retreating, Indonesia is an important case.

FADEL: Hmm. Now, as you point out, it's a relatively young democracy. Are there concerns about the election's fairness?

KUHN: Well, I think the main concern is that you have a popular president, Jokowi, who has been seen as a Democrat but is now backing a candidate with a record of human rights abuses. And he may deny them, but Indonesia's own military sacked him in 1998 for his role in kidnapping and killing political activists and opponents of Indonesia's annexation of East Timor.

Now, in the election, there have been reports and allegations of Jokowi and Prabowo buying votes, intimidating critics and people accusing Jokowi of making his son the vice presidential candidate in order to build a political dynasty. And there are also concerns about disinformation, particularly the use of artificial intelligence. We have seen, for example, videos of the candidates altered with AI to say things they didn't really say. But we don't know how big an impact this is having.

FADEL: And how could the election impact Indonesia's role on the global stage?

KUHN: Well, Indonesia is this huge archipelago with huge natural resources, and it needs foreign investment to connect it and get the resources out. And increasingly, it's relying on China to do this. Indonesia does not want to have to pick sides in the U.S. and China rivalry, but Jokowi has moved closer to China, and Prabowo has indicated he may follow suit.

FADEL: NPR's Anthony Kuhn joining us from Jakarta. Thank you.

KUHN: Thank you.

FADEL: Another story we're following comes out of New York, where Democrats picked up a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tom Suozzi won a special election to replace Republican Congressman George Santos' old seat. You may remember him as the freshman congressman whose tenure was filled with scandal. He was ultimately indicted for alleged crimes and then expelled from Congress. Suozzi's win narrows the already slim Republican majority in the House, and this race may inform Democratic strategy going forward. For more, listen to our radio show, MORNING EDITION, or visit us at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.