Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
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National and international headlines
As the backlash for President Donald Trump’s various controversial decisions escalates — firing FBI Director James Comey and giving away classified secrets to Russian officials, just to name two — Democrats are starting to use the “i” word more and more.
“It is a looming constitutional crisis because it involves a potential confrontation as did Watergate between the president and other branches of government,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said last week, after Trump fired Comey. “It may well produce impeachment proceedings.”
But while Democrats, and Trump’s opponents in general, might be clamoring for an impeachment, it isn’t as simple as Democrats deciding they don’t like Trump. There are two big reasons for that.
First, impeachment is actually a relatively lengthy legal process — and no president has ever been removed from office. Second, removal from office requires a vote from two-thirds of the Senate, and Republicans — who still publicly back Trump, although some have criticized some of his recent decisions — still broadly support him.
And as long as Trump retains the backing of Congress, he’s very unlikely to be removed.
U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine raised impeachment of President Donald Trump as a possibility for the first time on Tuesday after a report said the president had told the FBI director he fired last week to drop an investigation into alleged Russian election tampering.
Could we be moving toward an impeachment process? “Reluctantly, I have to say yes,” Sen. Angus King says https://t.co/digVs7JDAd
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 16, 2017
“I have to say yes simply because obstruction of justice is such a serious offense, and I say it with sadness and reluctance,” King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This is not something that I have advocated for. The word [impeachment] has not passed my lips in this whole tumultuous three or four months.”
The Times first reported on Tuesday that the Republican president asked the FBI to drop its investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for possible coordination between Russian officials and Trump associates and urged Comey to instead pursue investigations into leaks to the media.
The White House issued a denial of the Times report on Tuesday, saying the president “has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end an investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
President Donald Trump asked the FBI to drop its probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and urged former FBI Director James Comey instead to pursue reporters in leak cases, according to associates of Comey who have seen private notes he wrote recounting the conversation.
According to the notes written by Comey after a February meeting with the president, Trump brought up the counterintelligence investigation into Flynn and urged Comey to drop the probe in the wake of the national security adviser’s resignation.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump said, according to the Comey notes, which were described by the associates. Comey’s written account of the meeting is two pages long and highly detailed, the associates said.
In a rare interview airing Tuesday, Bill Cosby says he does not expect to testify at his upcoming felony sexual assault trial and that he believes racism played a big role in the scandal that has engulfed his life.
During a 30-minute conversation with Sirius-XM host Michael Smerconish, the 79-year-old entertainer portrays himself as a victim of the media and of accusers who were “piling on.” Cosby, who has been accused of sexual misdeeds by at least 60 women, cited a feminist author, saying “Gloria Steinem had a very interesting quote. She said, ‘The truth shall set you free, but first it might piss you off.’”
Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army private whose lengthy prison sentence for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks was commuted by President Barack Obama, is scheduled to be released from a military prison Wednesday.
Manning, 29, gained international attention in 2010, when she was implicated in one of the largest leaks of state secrets in U.S. history. The trove of material she provided to anti-secrecy website Wikileaks – documents known as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs” – included video of a U.S. Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of suspected insurgents in Baghdad. Among the dead were two journalists who worked for the Reuters news agency.
She also leaked documents related to detainees at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay and some 250,000 State Department cables.
Army officials, who said the scant details are for her safety and privacy, said Manning technically will remain on active duty – but will be on leave – as she pursues an appeal of her court-martial conviction and 35-year prison sentence.
When the National Security Agency began using a new hacking tool called EternalBlue, those entrusted with deploying it marveled at its uncommon power and the widespread havoc it could wreak if it ever got loose.
Some officials even discussed whether the flaw was so dangerous they should reveal it to Microsoft, the company whose software the government was exploiting, according to former NSA employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.
But for more than five years, the NSA kept using it — through a time period that has seen several serious security breaches — and now the officials’ worst fears have been realized. The malicious code at the heart of the WannaCry virus that hit computer systems globally late last week was apparently stolen from the NSA, repackaged by cybercriminals and unleashed on the world for a cyberattack that now ranks as among the most disruptive in history.
Throughout the years, McDonald’s has used numerous tactics to sell its food, from luring kids in with Happy Meal toys to enlisting the help of celebrities such as Michael Jordan and the “Space Jam” cast.
Last week, the international fast-food behemoth tried another approach: by debuting a commercial in the United Kingdom that featured a child wanting to know more about what his deceased father was like.
But the ad backfired, prompting accusations that McDonald’s was using childhood grief to sell fast food — and forcing the company, days later, to apologize and pull the campaign.
“It was never our intention to cause any upset,” a McDonald’s representative told The Washington Post in a statement Tuesday. “We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us — our customers.”
Gov. Paul LePage said he’d work to ban the sale of 50-milliliter alcohol containers if the Legislature passes a widely supported bill to extend the state’s bottle deposit law to include the so-called “nips.”
The Republican governor’s threat came the same day that the Maine Senate voted 32-3 to approve the bill. It aims to place a 5-cent deposit on the plastic bottles because they’re being increasingly discarded as waste along public roads and highways.
“If the Legislature is really concerned about litter, delisting nips will ensure that they are not sold in Maine, and fewer of them end up as litter,” he said.
All 11 members of Newburgh’s volunteer fire department quit their jobs after the town selectmen refused to reinstate the former chief, officials said.
The firefighters had demanded that Williamson be reinstated, that he get his job back without having to apply for it, and that he be allowed to have a liaison, or witness, whenever he met with selectmen or the town manager, said former firefighter Scott Reglin, who spoke for the department at the meeting and was among those who quit in protest.
A petition to reinstate Williamson, which was signed by more than 100 residents, was presented to town leaders two weeks ago, he said.
Mayor Ethan Strimling said that he is “very seriously considering” vetoing the city’s $240 million annual budget because of the city council’s decision to eliminate the job of his assistant.
Strimling was the only council member to vote against the annual city budget Monday night, following a 6-to-3 council vote to cut his assistant’s job. The mayor said Tuesday that he may feel forced to exercise his veto power if the city council doesn’t show that it plans to provide him with staff and policy support he feels he needs.
“The council made a decision to undermine my office,” Strimling said. “I need to have people who can support the policy positions we’re trying to bring forward.”
An attorney for a Presque Isle man found guilty of a felony drug offense nearly two years ago is appealing his conviction, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the pills he allegedly provided to an informant were in fact oxycodone, a narcotic.
Alan Harding, an attorney for Charles Libby, also argued before the state supreme court on May 11 that there was not enough evidence to prove that his client was guilty of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs, the felony for which he was found guilty after a jury trial.
The justices are expected to issue a decision in a few weeks.
Living and events
Connor McGrath, a stand-up comedian from Deering Center, has Asperger’s syndrome but it’s no handicap. In fact, it’s part of his act and the crowd loves it.
“I don’t think it’s a disability,” McGrath said. “It’s like being left handed. It’s a way of looking at the world. I think it works out well for stand-up comedy because stand-up comedy is all about not getting social cues and misinterpreting the everyday interactions in life.”
The Maine Music Educators Association celebrates its 100th anniversary this month with the performance of a special orchestral piece written by College of the Atlantic Composer in Residence John Cooper.
Cooper’s “Capriccio for Orchestra (the Sublime Struggle)” debuts on May 20, the final day of the 2017 All-State Music Festival. The Maine All-State Orchestra will perform the Capriccio along with works by Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt at University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts in a concert beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
Dr. Carolyn Watson conducts.
The music will include the magnificent setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis composed by British musician, Herbert Howells, for the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. The extended anthem will be “Blessed be the God and Father,” an Easter anthem by S.S. Wesley.
All contributions received at Evensong will go to the Fred Jones Music Fund.
The performance will be 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 225 French Street, Bangor.
Three hundred years ago, the pirate ship Whydah, sank in a storm off Cape Cod laden with bounty from more than 50 captured ships.
On May 26, the classical age of piracy comes to life in Portland when the Portland Science Center at 68 Commercial St., Maine Wharf, welcomes “Real Pirates: An Exhibition from National Geographic.” Tickets for the general public go on sale April 26, at portlandsciencecenter.com.
The 7,000-square-foot interactive exhibition showcases more than 150 artifacts, including everyday objects, personal items, and treasures, from the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be discovered in U.S. waters.
Exhibitions International, a leading producer of touring exhibitions, presents “Real Pirates,” with organizational expertise from the National Geographic Society.
Solar prices have never been lower! Solarize Midcoast Maine program participants receive discounted solar pricing.
Come meet Sundog Solar, the Solarize Midcoast Maine installer, learn about the benefits of solar power, and get a free consultation about solar energy for your home.
The session will be held at Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31.
Every Tuesday in June from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts is hosting an archaeologist-led program where you can learn about Wabanaki material culture and the archaeological record in Maine.
This is a hands-on activity where you can touch artifacts and replicas while learning about Wabanaki cultural adaptations over the past 12,000 years.
This is a drop-in event so there’s no registration required!
The No. 1 pollutant in Maine’s lakes is soil eroding from shorelines, roads, yards, and construction sites.
Join us for a day of service at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery and help restore the shore and protect the waters of Alamoosook Lake. Volunteers will gather 9 a.m. to noon June 10 at the hatchery to plant native shrubs, improve beach access, and place interpretive signs along the shoreline.