Impeachment, New Zealand Volcano, Myanmar: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest news in the impeachment inquiry, questions after a deadly volcanic eruption in New Zealand, and new transparency efforts by Pete Buttigieg.

ImageRepresentatives Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, left, and Doug Collins, the panel’s top Republican, on Monday.
Credit…Pool photo by Anna Moneymaker

They’re focusing on two charges, senior officials and lawmakers told The Times: that Mr. Trump violated his oath of office by putting his political concerns over the national interest, and that he stonewalled attempts to investigate.

The move comes a day after a testy hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, during which a Democratic lawyer said Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine represented “a clear and present danger” and Republican lawyers denounced the impeachment process as misguided. Watch highlights here.

Catch up: We explain the impeachment process and how the Constitution defines impeachable offenses.

News analysis: “There are days in Washington lately when it feels like the truth itself is on trial,” our chief White House correspondent writes. “Monday was one of those days.”

What’s next: The Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on articles of impeachment by the end of this week, recommending their adoption by the full House. That would set up a vote before Christmas to impeach Mr. Trump, and a Senate trial early next year over whether to remove him from office.

The agency had sufficient reason to investigate links between Russia and Trump campaign aides, but major errors were made during the inquiry, according to a long-awaited Justice Department report released on Monday.

The report, by the department’s independent inspector general, Michael Horowitz, criticized the handling of a wiretap against a former Trump campaign adviser, but also rebuffed President Trump’s claims that the investigation was politically motivated. Read the report here.

Related: Attorney General William Barr disagreed with the report’s finding, saying the investigation was based on “the thinnest of suspicions.” John Durham, a prosecutor whom Mr. Barr had appointed to run a separate criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia inquiry, agreed with him.

News analysis: Mr. Trump’s allies had long looked to the inspector general’s report to reveal a “deep state” plot against him. When it didn’t, they moved on to something else, our Washington correspondent writes.

The Post said the documents had come from 2,000 pages of Pentagon interviews conducted from 2014 to 2018 in order to write a series of unclassified “Lessons Learned” reports. They were released after a long legal battle with the government’s watchdog for the war. (Read The Post’s report here.)

Quotable: “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” said one retired general who helped oversee the war.

Response: A Pentagon spokesman said “there has been no intent” by the Defense Department “to mislead Congress or the public.” He said that “most of the individuals interviewed spoke with the benefit of hindsight.”

Closer look: The Times found that there was little to show for the $2 trillion spent on the war, during which more than 38,000 Afghan civilians and 2,400 American soldiers have died.

Why visitors were allowed to tour the mouth of an active volcano in New Zealand is a question that’s at the center of a criminal investigation, after at least six people were killed when it erupted on Monday. Eight others were missing and presumed dead, and dozens more were injured.

For weeks, geologists had warned of increasing gas and steam at the White Island volcano, which is promoted as New Zealand’s most active. Most of the victims had traveled from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Quotable: “A rolling, rumbling mass of ash tumbled over the cliff face, in all directions, and it completely engulfed the island,” said a man who toured the volcano shortly before it erupted. “It cut out the sun, it went dark. You couldn’t see that there was an island there.”

Myanmar genocide case: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the former democracy activist who serves as the country’s de facto civilian leader, will defend the military starting today at a hearing in The Hague. She has said that accusations that Myanmar perpetrated mass atrocities against its minority Rohingya Muslim population stem from a “huge iceberg of misinformation.”

Cook: This cheesy, fiery chicken dish is inspired by Emily Kim, the Korean web star known as Maangchi. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Watch: Jamar Roberts, the first resident choreographer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York, wants to bring the world into his work.

Listen: A remastered concert film and a new documentary are repositioning the Australian band INXS for the digital age.

Smarter Living: Are you keeping up with health news? Take our quiz.

When The Washington Post published a U.S. military document trove on Monday, many people drew parallels to the Pentagon Papers, which, when made public in 1971 by The New York Times and The Post, helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War.

There are obvious similarities. Most notably, both were leaks demonstrating that the U.S. government had knowingly misrepresented a painful, costly war to the American public.

But there are differences.

The Pentagon Papers were a secret account of the Vietnam War commissioned by President John F. Kennedy’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara. They were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who had worked on the study. And they revealed aspects of the war, including the widening of U.S. activity to include the bombings of Cambodia and Laos, that had gone largely unreported by major news outlets.

In contrast, the Afghanistan documents were, according to The Post, drawn from military interviews used to write a series of reports that were publicly released. The Post obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act — though it had to sue twice to get them.

Keen readers of war coverage may find few surprises in the uncertainty of battlefield commanders about strategy, goals and whom, exactly, the U.S. has been fighting.

The effect on public opinion remains to be seen.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Lines on a music score (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Jose Del Real, a domestic correspondent for The Times, and Elaina Plott, who is coming to our politics team, were named to Forbes’s list of 30 Under 30 in Media.

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