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Witness: Ukraine pressure was at Trump’s ‘express direction’WASHINGTON (AP) — Ambassador Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators Wednesday that he worked with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine at the “express direction” of President Donald Trump and pushed a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv because it was what Trump wanted. “Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president,” <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6554359-Gordon-Sondland-Opening-Statement.html" target="&mdash;blank">Sondland testified</a> of his dealings with Trump’s personal attorney. Sondland, the most highly anticipated witness in <a href="https://apnews.com/Trumpimpeachmentinquiry" target="&mdash;blank">the public impeachment probe</a>, made clear that he believed Trump was pursuing his desire for investigations in return for the Oval Office meeting that the Eastern European nation’s president sought. Sondland said he later came to believe military aid for Ukraine was also being held up until the investigations were launched. Sondland described how demands became more serious with more conditions on any potential Ukraine meeting at the White House. “As time went on, more specific items got added to the menu -- specially Burisma and 2016 meddling,” he said, referring to the gas company where Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board. And, he added, “the server,” the hacked Democratic computer system. “I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes,” he said. Sondland said he didn’t know at the time that Burisma was linked to the Bidens, but has since come to understand that. “We had been hearing about it from Rudy and presumed Rudy was getting it from the president.” The impeachment inquiry focuses significantly on allegations that Trump sought investigations of Democrat Joe Biden and his son — and the discredited idea that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election — in return for the badly needed military aid as well as the White House visit. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and Trump donor, has emerged as a central figure in an intense week in the impeachment prone that has featured nine witnesses testifying over three days. Both Democrats and Republicans were uncertain about what Sondland would testify to, given that he had already clarified parts of his initial private deposition before lawmakers. His opening statement included several key details. He confirmed that he spoke with Trump on a cellphone from a busy Kyiv restaurant the day after the president prodded Ukraine’s leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden. He also said he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top administration officials aware of his dealings with Ukraine on the investigations Trump sought. Sondland said he specifically told Vice President Mike Pence he “had concerns” that U.S. military aid to Ukraine “had become tied” to the investigations. “Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland testified in opening remarks. “It was no secret.” Sondland appeared prepared to fend off scrutiny over the way his testimony has shifted in closed-door settings, saying “my memory has not been perfect.” He said the State Department left him without access to emails, call records and other documents he needed in the inquiry. Still, he did produce new emails and text messages to bolster his assertion that others in the administration were aware of the investigations he was pursuing for Trump from Ukraine. Sondland insisted, twice, that he was “adamantly opposed to any suspension of aid” for Ukraine. “I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president.” The son of immigrants who he said escaped Europe during the Holocaust, Sondland described himself as a “lifelong Republican” who has worked with officials from both parties, including Biden. Dubbed one of the “three amigos” pursuing Ukraine policy, Sondland is disputing that they were running some “rogue “ operation outside official U.S. policy. He produced emails and texts showing he, former special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry kept Pompeo and others apprised of their activity. One message from Volker said, “Spoke w Rudy per guidance from S.” He said, “S means the secretary of state.” He said the State Department “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing.” Democratic Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California opened the hearing saying, “The knowledge of this scheme was far and wide.” Schiff warned Pompeo and other administration officials who are refusing to turn over documents and testimony to the committee “they do so at their own peril.” He said obstruction of Congress was included in articles of impeachment during Watergate. The top Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes of California, decried the inquiry and told the ambassador, "Mr. Sondland, you are here to be smeared." Nunes renewed his demand to hear from the still-anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy led the House to open the impeachment inquiry. ———— Associated Press writer Colleen Long, Laurie Kellman and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Man pulls driver from burning car in StaffordSTAFFORD, CT (WFSB) - A man is being hailed a hero for rescuing a driver from a burning car in Stafford. The Stafford Fire Department released video of the act on Wednesday. It said it happened around 6:50 p.m. on Nov. 1. Firefighters reported that Edward Cyr was out to dinner with his wife when he saw the fire. "Without regard for his own safety, he pulled the driver from a burning car which just exploded as he turned the corner," said Chief David Lucia, Stafford Fire Department. Cyr brought Glennwood Little to safety. The rescue was captured on a surveillance camera that was positioned on Town Hall. "Mr. Cyr, you are a hero," Lucia said.
3 THINGS: Wolcott body, tolls plan, sergeant's job in jeopardyPolice in Wolcott work to identify a body while police in Waterbury search for a missing woman, lawmakers want to continue the discussion about lessening the impact of a tolls plan and a state police sergeant could lose his job after being arrested for a crash. Plus Scot Haney the turkey collects turkeys for a good cause. Those are 3 things you need to know and 1 you don't for Nov. 20.
Suspicious person prompts security measures at school in MonroeMONROE, CT (WFSB) - Some security measures were taken at a school in Monroe following a report of a suspicious person. According to the Monroe Police Department, the individual was spotted near Masuk High School on Wednesday morning. "The police intervened and the person fled," the department posted to Facebook. "We are searching for this person in the area outside of Masuk." The students are said to be safe and the school is in a "controlled movement" mode, which means all exterior doors are locked. The school was initially put into lockdown, police said. "We are in close communication with the school and will provide more more information as it becomes available," police wrote. "Again, all students are safe." No other details about the person were released.
Site ranks best, worst stores for Black Friday based off their advertisements(WFSB) - A personal finance website released its list of the best and worst stores for Black Friday. WalletHub said it surveyed 8,000 deals from 29 of the biggest U.S. retailers' Black Friday advertisements. Categories included deals in appliances, jewelry and toys. Here are the best Black Friday retailers ranked by their average percentage of discounts: Stage (69.83%)Belk (66.92%)Bealls Florida (62.56%)JCPenney (60.97%)Kohl's (57.10%)New York &amp; Company (56.27%)Dick's Sporting Goods (52.27%)Kmart (51.84%)Sears (49.25%)Fred Meyer (47.14%) WalletHub noted that Stage boasted the highest overall discount rate at 69.83 percent. The businesses offering the lowest discount percentages ranked as follows: Ace Hardware (11.8%)True Value (20.8%)Costco (21.3%)Harbor Freight (22.8%)Amazon (25.4%)Big Lots (27.9%)Dell Home (28.6%)Best Buy (29.5%)Academy Sports + Outdoors (31.8%)Target (34.3%) Ace Hardware had the lowest at 11.77 percent. Some stores released their Black Friday deals early. Channel 3 compiled a list that can be viewed <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/stores-post-black-friday-deals-early/article_85e446a4-0000-11ea-a79d-b7d4b51ca5b5.html" target="_blank">here</a>. See the complete list <a href="https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-retailers-for-black-friday/8385/" target="_blank">here</a>.
Foodshare hosts 'Turkey Trot' to collect food for the holidaysSIMSBURY, CT (WFSB) -- Many people need a helping hand to get by and now is the time to give back with the holidays coming up. Foodshare is hosting the Jack Bannan Memorial Turkey Trot to collect food for those in need at Stop &amp; Shop in Simsbury, and several other locations. Jason Jakubowski announced back on Nov. 7 that <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/3cares/foodshare-in-need-of-more-than-turkeys-this-year/article_cd1fecae-0158-11ea-8c60-b3c065e5c872.html" target="_blank">the organization needed 15,059 turkeys and $451,770 this year</a>. The event is being held on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations in Connecticut: Avon -- Big Y and Miller FoodsBloomfield -- Geissler's SupermarketCanton -- Shop RiteGranby -- Geissler's SupermarketSimsbury -- Stop &amp; Shop, Fitzgerald's Food, and Kane's Market Channel 3's Scot Haney helped bring in some turkeys at the Simsbury Stop &amp; Shop from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. Turkeys, money donations, and non-perishable items are accepted and can be dropped off at any of the locations. Credit cards are accepted and checks can be made out to Foodshare with the notation, "Jack Bannan Turkey Trot" in the memo section. More information on Foodshare's drive, including how to donate online, can be found on its website <a href="http://site.foodshare.org/site/TR?fr_id=1430&amp;pg=entry" target="_blank">here</a>.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Woman rescues badly burned koalaNEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA (CBS) - A woman rescued a koala that was caught in the middle of a fire in New South Wales, Australia. The rescue was caught on camera on Tuesday. The woman took off her top and used the shirt to wrap the badly burned animal. She also offered it water from a bottle. The woman said she was going to bring the koala to a hospital.
Governor reacts to Democrats' tolls alternativeHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The governor said more discussions need to happen about the state's transportation issues. Gov. Ned Lamont reacted to the Democrats' version of his transportation plan, which included tolling only tractor-trailers rather than all vehicles. The Democrats <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/tolling-cars-is-off-the-table-state-democrats-say/article_69d2631e-0b00-11ea-b680-3bef97b85aa8.html" target="_blank">released their proposal on Tuesday</a> and said it includes tolling just trucks on 12 bridges. Channel 3 is hoping to speak with Lamont about it further on Wednesday. He already said he was not on board with the Republicans version of the transportation plan, <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/state-republicans-unveil-alternative-to-gov-s-toll-plan/article_b898e0dc-06db-11ea-9f79-93c1531bf366.html" target="_blank">which was released earlier this month</a>. Lamont said on Tuesday that an important conversation will have to be had in order to come up with a solution. Democrats said the plan to toll just big trucks was the campaign promise on which Lamont ran for office. Lamont had said after taking office that he believed it wouldn't generate enough revenue to fix the state's transportation infrastructure. Democrats said their new plan could generate an estimated $150 million every year. "I think people have taken a lot of feedback, a heck of a lot of heat, a lot of criticism for different plans and now we are trying to weave some of them together," said Rep. Matt Ritter, Democrat and House majority leader. The Republicans' plan doesn't include tolls at all. It taps into the state budget reserve with more than 60 percent of the "rainy day fund." Republicans said on Tuesday that they've always feared that tolls on trucks would be the first step to eventually tolling all vehicles. They called it a tax increase the people don't support. Should only trucks be tolled in the state? <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/should-trucks-be-the-only-vehicles-tolled-in-the-state/poll_7f14ec46-0b06-11ea-bede-7709891092dd.html" target="_blank">Vote in our poll</a>. Lamont's original proposal, which included tolls, can be read <a href="https://www.ct2030.com/" target="_blank">here</a>. Stay with Channel 3 for continuing coverage of the issue.
Investigators work to identify body found during missing woman searchWOLCOTT, CT (WFSB) - Evidence and leads in a missing woman case took Waterbury detectives into Wolcott on Tuesday where they found a body. The unidentified person was found <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/police-find-body-in-wolcott-connected-to-the-search-for/article_308fbaec-0b1f-11ea-8295-ef49f7065d36.html" target="_blank">off a main stretch of Route 69</a>. It's clear that the investigation is linked to Waterbury, but investigators have not confirmed they found missing Janet Avalo-Alvarez out of Waterbury. Avalo-Alvarez's friends said they hope it's not her. Forensics investigators said they're working to determine who the person is. The scene was about 5 miles from where Avalo-Alvarez was last seen. <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/family-and-friends-of-missing-waterbury-woman-desperate-for-her/article_94d159c8-0879-11ea-ba8e-bfc5a11bb0e7.html" target="_blank">She disappeared Nov. 12</a> after leaving La Guakara Taina, a bar she co-owns with her boyfriend, Alfredo Peguero-Gomez. Peguero-Gomez remains a person of interest in Avalo-Alvarez's disappearance, according to Waterbury police. Detectives said they spoke with him around midnight last Wednesday during a welfare check at the couple's home. His car was spotted leaving the home about an hour later. The Port Authority at Newark International Airport said it found Peguero-Gomez's car on Friday, but not him. <a href="https://www.wfsb.com/news/waterbury-police-look-to-question-missing-woman-s-boyfriend/article_c3078150-09f5-11ea-a8b0-3fb428aac700.html" target="_blank">A search for him</a> continues as well. Police said they just want to question him. Channel 3 saw more than a dozen of Avalo-Alvarez's friends and family on Tuesday night at Waterbury Police Headquarters. It's unclear what officers told them. Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this story.
TRENDING NOW: Gronk dance, Ashford parrot, whale under surfers, monkey in snowRob Gronkowski dances during a Lakers game, a parrot in Ashford thinks its a dinosaur, a whale swims under surfers and a monkey makes the most out of the snow. Those are the stories trending on Nov. 20.