Corrections officer accused of bringing drugs into prison

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — A Coffee Creek Correctional Facility corrections officer is accused of trafficking methamphetamine and heroin to inmates inside Oregon’s only women’s prison.

The Statesman Journal reports Richard Steven Alberts II and a convicted felon were indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and two counts of distribution of heroin.

Alberts, of Sherwood, remains employed at the Wilsonville prison and has been on administrative leave from Coffee Creek since June 6. He began working at the prison in 2017.

He was charged along with Joseph Lucio Jimenez, 27, of Gresham, a convicted felon previously arrested on attempted murder, weapons, domestic violence assault and witness tampering charges.

Alberts and Jimenez are alleged to have conspired with one another and others to distribute methamphetamine and heroin inside Coffee Creek.

After the indictment, Alberts was released pending a jury trial, which is scheduled for Feb. 25 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

Jimenez was in pre-trial custody on an unrelated felon in possession of a firearm charge when he was indicted in this case. He will remain in custody at the federal prison in Sheridan and will make his first appearance on these new charges at a later date.

West Coast fishery rebounds in rare conservation ‘home run’

WARRENTON, Ore. (AP) — A rare environmental success story is unfolding in waters off the U.S. West Coast.

After years of fear and uncertainty, bottom trawler fishermen — those who use nets to scoop up rockfish, bocaccio, sole, Pacific Ocean perch and other deep-dwelling fish — are making a comeback here, reinventing themselves as a sustainable industry less than two decades after authorities closed huge stretches of the Pacific Ocean because of the species’ depletion.

The ban devastated fishermen, but on Jan. 1, regulators will reopen an area roughly three times the size of Rhode Island off Oregon and California to groundfish bottom trawling — all with the approval of environmental groups that were once the industry’s biggest foes. The two sides collaborated on a long-term plan that will continue to resuscitate the groundfish industry while permanently protecting thousands of square miles of reefs and coral beds that benefit the overfished species.

Now, the fishermen who see their livelihood returning must solve another piece of the puzzle: drumming up consumer demand for fish that haven’t been in grocery stores or on menus for a generation.

“It’s really a conservation home run,” said Shems Jud, regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s ocean program. “The recovery is decades ahead of schedule. It’s the biggest environmental story that no one knows about.”

The process also netted a win for conservationists concerned about the future of extreme deepwater habitats where bottom trawlers currently don’t go. A tract of ocean the size of New Mexico with waters up to 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers) deep will be off-limits to bottom-trawling to protect deep-sea corals and sponges just now being discovered.

“Not all fishermen are rapers of the environment. When you hear the word ‘trawler,’ very often that’s associated with destruction of the sea and pillaging,” said Kevin Dunn, whose trawler Iron Lady was featured in a Whole Foods television commercial about sustainable fishing.

Groundfish is a catch-all term that refers to dozens of species that live on, or near, the bottom of the Pacific off the West Coast. Trawling vessels drag weighted nets to collect as many fish as possible, but that can damage critical rocky underwater habitat.

The groundfish fishery hasn’t always struggled. Starting in 1976, the federal government subsidized the construction of domestic fishing vessels to lock down U.S. interests in West Coast waters, and by the 1980s, that investment paid off. Bottom trawling was booming, with 500 vessels in California, Oregon and Washington hauling in 200 million pounds (91 million kilograms) of non-whiting groundfish a year. Unlike Dungeness crab and salmon, groundfish could be harvested year-round, providing an economic backbone for ports.

But in the late 1990s, scientists began to sound the alarm about dwindling fish stocks.

Just nine of the more than 90 groundfish species were in trouble, but because of the way bottom trawlers fished — indiscriminately hauling up millions of pounds of whatever their nets encountered — regulators focused on all bottom trawling. Multiple species of rockfish, slow-growing creatures with spiny fins and colorful names like canary, darkblotched and yellow eye, were the hardest hit.

By 2005, trawlers brought in just one-quarter of the haul of the 1980s. The fleet is now down to 75 boats, said Brad Pettinger, former director of the Oregon Trawl Commission who was key in developing the plan to reopen fishing grounds.

“We really wiped out the industry for a number of years,” Pettinger said. “To get those things up and going again is not easy.”

In 2011, trawlers were assigned quotas for how many of each species they could catch. If they went over, they had to buy quota from other fishermen in a system reminiscent of a carbon cap-and-trade model. Mandatory independent observers, paid by the trawlers, accompanied the vessels and hand-counted their haul.

Fishermen quickly learned to avoid areas heavy in off-limits species and began innovating to net fewer banned fish.

Surveys soon showed groundfish rebounding — in some cases, 50 years faster than predicted — and accidental trawling of overfished species fell by 80%. The Marine Stewardship Council certified 13 species in the fishery as sustainable in 2014, and five more followed last year.

As the quota system’s success became apparent, environmentalists and trawlers began to talk. Regulators would soon revisit the trawling rules, and the two sides wanted a voice.

They met more than 30 times, slowly building trust as they crafted a proposal. Trawlers brought maps developed over generations, alerted environmentalists to reefs they didn’t know about, and even shared proprietary tow paths.

“All we could do on our end is make a good-faith offer, and I really credit the guys in the industry for taking that up,” said Seth Atkinson, an attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. “These were tough compromises.”

Last year, regulators approved a plan to reopen the 17-year-old Rockfish Conservation Area off Oregon and California, while banning future trawling in extreme-depth waters and making off-limits some habitat dubbed essential to fish reproduction, including a large area off Southern California.

“A fair number of fishermen thought it was a good deal and if it was going to happen, it was better for them to participate than not,” said Tom Libby, a fish processor who was instrumental in crafting the agreement. “It’s right up there with the best and most rewarding things in my career — and I’ve been at it 50 years.”

Some groups, like Oceana, wanted even more protections from bottom trawling, which it calls the “most damaging fishing method to seafloor habitats off the West Coast.” In a news release, the group emphasized that the agreement it did get safeguards 90 percent of the seafloor in U.S. waters off the West Coast.

Even so, with fragile species rebounding, trawlers could harvest as much as 120 million pounds (54 million kilograms) a year, but there’s only demand for about half that much. That’s because groundfish have been replaced in stores by farmed, foreign species like tilapia.

A trade association called Positively Groundfish is trying to change that by touring food festivals and culinary trade shows, evangelizing to chefs and seafood buyers about the industry’s rebound and newfound sustainability. They give out samples, too.

“We are treating this almost like a new product for which you have to build awareness — but we do have a great story,” said Jana Hennig, the association’s executive director. “People are so surprised to hear that not everything is lost, that not everything is doom and gloom, but that it’s possible that you can manage a fishery so well that it actually bounces back to abundance.”

Simone Soars: Biles named 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year

They’re called “Simone Things,” a catchall phrase for the casual ease with which Simone Biles seems to soar through her sport and her life.

The irony, of course, is that there’s nothing casual or easy about it. Any of it. The greatest gymnast of all time and 2019 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year only makes it seem that way.

Those jaw-dropping routines that are rewriting her sport’s code of points and redefining what can be done on the competition floor? Borne from a mix of natural talent, hard work and a splash of ego.

The 25 world championship medals, the most by any gymnast ever? The result of a promise the 22-year-old made to herself when she returned to competition in 2017 after taking time off following her golden run at the 2016 Olympics.

The stoicism and grace she has shown in becoming an advocate for survivors — herself included — and an agent for change in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal that’s shaken USA Gymnastics to its core? The byproduct of a conscious decision to embrace the immense clout she carries.

“I realize now with the platform I have it will be powerful if I speak up and speak for what I believe in,” Biles told The Associated Press. “It’s an honor to speak for those that are less fortunate. So if I can be a voice for them in a positive manner, then of course I’m going to do whatever I can.”

And it’s that mission — combined with her otherworldly skill and boundless charisma — that’s enabled Biles to keep gymnastics in the spotlight, a rarity for a sport that typically retreats into the background once the Olympic flame goes out. She is the first gymnast to be named AP Female Athlete of the Year twice and the first to do it in a non-Olympic year.

Biles edged U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe in a vote by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. Skiing star Mikaela Schiffrin placed third, with WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne fourth. Biles captured the award in 2016 following a showstopping performance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she won five medals in all, four of them gold. She spent most of the following 12 months taking a break before returning to the gym in the fall of 2017, saying she owed it to herself to mine the depth of her talent.

Check social media following one of her routines and you’ll find people — from LeBron James to Michelle Obama to Chrissy Teigen — struggling to distill what they’ve witnessed into 280 characters or fewer, with whatever they settle on typically followed by multiple exclamation points and a goat emoji, a nod to Biles being considered the Greatest Of All Time.

Her triple-twisting double-flip (the “triple double”) at the end of her first tumbling pass on floor exercise is a wondrous blur. Her double-twisting double-flip beam dismount (the “double double”) is so tough the International Gymnastics Federation made the unusual decision to downplay its value in an effort to deter other gymnasts from even trying it.

This is both the blessing and the curse of making the nearly impossible look tantalizingly attainable. When Biles learned about the FIG’s decision, she vented on Twitter, her palpable frustration highlighting the realness she’s maintained even as her first name has become synonymous with her sport’s royalty.

It can lead to a bit of a balancing act. In some ways, she’s still the kid from Texas who just wants to hang out with her boyfriend and her dog and go to the grocery story without being bothered. In other ways, she’s trying to be respectful of the world she’s built.

Take the GOAT thing. It’s a title she embraces — Biles wore a goat-themed leotard during training at the national championships in August — but also takes with a grain of salt, determined to stay grounded even as the hype around her grows. Yes, GOAT happens to be the acronym for her planned post-Olympic “Gold Over America Tour,” but ask her where the inspiration came from and she laughs and gives credit to a friend, Kevin, who came up it in a group chat. It is both paying tribute to and winking at her status at the same time.

Biles has become well aware over the last three years that her every word and action carries far greater weight than she ever imagined. Her most impactful moment of 2019 might not have come during a meet but sitting for an interview on the eve of winning her record sixth national title, when she fought back tears while talking about how USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI failed to protect athletes during an investigation into Nassar’s abusive behavior.

The moment went viral, as most things surrounding her tend to do these days.

“I’m starting to realize it’s not just the gymternet anymore,” Biles said, using the term for her sport’s dedicated fans. “It’s an overall thing. It’s weird to get that kind of attention, but at the end of the day, I feel gymnastics has been overlooked in non-Olympic years. Yeah, it puts pressure on me. But I’m not trying to think about all the attention from the outside world.”

The attention figures to only grow in the run-up to Tokyo, where she will attempt to become the first female gymnast in more than half a century to repeat as Olympic champion. Her smiling face serves as the exclamation point at the end of every television promo for the Summer Games.

Let it be known: The smile is real. That might not have always been the case, but is is now. Heading into the final months of a singular career, she is trying to revel in the journey while anxiously awaiting what’s next. Add it to the list of Simone Things.

“I feel like this is the beginning of my life and I don’t want gymnastics to be my whole entire life,” she said. “I’m definitely going to soak in the moment and enjoy it so 10 years from now I can look back and say ‘I had the time of my life out there’ … rather than ‘I was good, but I was miserable.’”

Pennsylvania dioceses offer $84M to 564 clergy abuse victims

Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse, a tally that’s sure to grow substantially in the new year as compensation fund administrators work through a backlog of claims, according to an Associated Press review.

Seven of the state’s eight dioceses launched victim compensation funds in the wake of a landmark grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The funds were open to claims for a limited time this year. They are independently administered, though each diocese set its own rules on eligibility.

To date, the average payout across all seven dioceses has exceeded $148,000 — a fraction of what some adult victims of childhood abuse might have expected from a jury had they been permitted to take their claims to court. Under state law, victims of past abuse only have until age 30 to sue.

“These are all time-barred claims, so it’s not going to be the kind of numbers one sees in a courtroom,” said Camille Biros, who helps administer compensation funds for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and dioceses in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie and Scranton.

Lawmakers recently agreed to begin the lengthy process of amending the state constitution to allow a two-year window for civil suits otherwise barred by the statute of limitations, but there’s no guarantee that effort will bear fruit.

Childhood abuse victim David Zernhelt was unwilling to gamble that state lawmakers will follow through and give people like him access to the courts. Compensation fund administrators for the Diocese of Allentown recently offered $400,000 to Zernhelt, and he accepted it.

“It doesn’t make me rich,” said Zernhelt, 45, of Easton. “It creates a positive starting point for me. I can try to make my life a little bit better and put this behind me.”

The AP does not typically name victims of sexual abuse, but Zernhelt agreed to be identified.

Together, Allentown and the four other dioceses that hired Biros and veteran claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg to run their funds have received more than 1,500 claims, of which about 500 have been reviewed. Of those, 41 claims were rejected for lack of evidence or because they didn’t meet eligibility criteria, as some dioceses bar claims against religious order clergy, Catholic school officials and other lay leaders.

Another 391 victims accepted financial settlements.

“We try to be consistent with the claims in terms of the nature of the abuse, how long it went on, the age of the child, the effect of the abuse. We consider all that and use our judgement to determine the settlement offer,” Biros said. “We want to make sure everybody is treated as consistently as possible.”

She said a torrent of claims arrived in the week leading up to a Sept. 30 deadline. Biros expects it will take at least through June, and probably longer, to work through the backlog.

The dioceses agreed to pay victims after the grand jury concluded that more than 300 predator priests had molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s — and that church leaders systematically covered it up.

Zernhelt applied to the compensation program and told the fund administrator a horrific story of abuse.

He said the Rev. Thomas Kerestus assaulted him two to four times a week for five years beginning when Zernhelt was 13. Zernhelt said that he and his family reported Kerestus — who died in 2014 and is named in the grand jury report — but that the diocese swept it under the rug. He said he was sexually abused by a second man, Gerald Royer, a defrocked priest also named in the report.

“It caused a lot of emotional pain, a lot of depression, a lot of PTSD,” Zernhelt said. “I felt like I was a survivor on the Titanic who was crying out for help for that boat to rescue me, and in the end the boat never came.”

The settlement represents a chance at a fresh start, but Zernhelt said the compensation funds also allow the dioceses to get off easy.

“I feel that it’s a shield for the church to get a discount on paying the victims,” he said.

Indeed, average payouts vary widely from diocese to diocese. While the five dioceses whose funds are administered by Biros and Feinberg have averaged nearly $169,000, two other Pennsylvania dioceses have paid much less. Greensburg has paid about $82,000 per victim, while Harrisburg has paid about $114,000, according to data supplied by the dioceses. The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has no compensation fund, saying it can’t afford one after spending $15.7 million on an earlier program to assist clergy abuse victims.

Richard Serbin, an attorney who has long battled the Catholic Church on behalf of victims, has taken the compensation funds to task for another reason: They allow the church to avoid open court and thus a case-by-case public airing of its dirty laundry.

But some of his clients have accepted the church’s offer.

“Some did it because they want to try to move forward and are looking to heal, and they feel this will be of assistance, and for those clients I do think it’s good, and I recommend they take it,” he said. Others, he said, “are in desperate financial situations, and they needed the money.”

State officials are at the core of 2020 election security

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) — Inside a hotel ballroom near the nation’s capital, a U.S. Army officer with battlefield experience told 120 state and local election officials that they may have more in common with military strategists than they might think.

These government officials are on the front lines of a different kind of battlefield — one in which they are helping to defend American democracy by ensuring free and fair elections.

“Everyone in this room is part of a bigger effort, and it’s only together are we going to get through this,” the officer said.

That officer and other past and present national security leaders had a message to convey to officials from 24 states gathered for a recent training held by a Harvard-affiliated democracy project: They are the linchpins in efforts to defend U.S. elections from an attack by Russia, China or other foreign threats, and developing a military mindset will help them protect the integrity of the vote.

The need for such training reflects how elections security worries have heightened in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when Russian military agents targeted voting systems across the country as part of a multi-pronged effort to influence the presidential election. Until then, the job of local election officials could had been described as akin to a wedding planner who keeps track of who will be showing up on Election Day and ensures all the equipment and supplies are in place.

Now, these officials are on the front lines. The federal government will be on high alert, gathering intelligence and scanning systems for suspicious cyber activity as they look to defend the nation’s elections. Meanwhile, it will be the state and county officials who will be on the ground charged with identifying and dealing with any hostile acts.

“It’s another level of war,” said Jesse Salinas, the chief elections official in Yolo County, California, who attended the training. “You only attack things that you feel are a threat to you, and our democracy is a threat to a lot of these nation-states that are getting involved trying to undermine it. We have to fight back, and we have to prepare.”

Salinas brought four of his employees with him to the training, which was part of the Defending Digital Democracy project based at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. The group has been working actively with former and current military, national security, political and communications experts — many of whom dedicate their time after work and on weekends — to develop training and manuals for state and local election officials. Those involved with leading the training asked for anonymity because of their sensitive positions.

The project’s latest playbook focuses on bringing military best practices to running Election Day operations, encouraging state and local election officials to adopt a “battle staff” command structure with clear responsibilities and standard operating procedures for dealing with minor issues. The project is also providing officials with a free state-of-the-art incident tracking system.

Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Belfer Center and a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the Obama administration, told the group gathered for the training that it “shouldn’t be lost on you that this is a very military-like model.”

“Let’s be honest about it,” Rosenbach said. “If democracy is under attack and you guys are the ones at the pointy end of the spear, why shouldn’t we train that way? Why shouldn’t we try to give you the help that comes with that model and try to build you up and do all we can?”

Instructors stressed the need for election officials to be on the lookout for efforts to disrupt the vote and ensure that communications are flowing up from counties to the state, down from states to the counties, as well a s up and down to the federal government and across states.

Piecing together seemingly disparate actions happening in real-time across geographical locations will allow the nation to defend itself, said Robby Mook, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2016. Mook co-founded the Defending Digital Democracy project with Matt Rhoades, Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager.

“Find a way to input data in a consistent, efficient and reliable way to ensure you know what is going on and prevent things from falling through the cracks,” Mook told the election officials. “You got to rise above just putting out fires.”

At the training were officials from California, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia and other states. In one exercise, election officials were paired up as either a state or county under an Election Day scenario, charged with logging incidents and trying to piece together what turned out to be four different coordinated campaigns to disrupt voting.

“One of the big takeaways was just how the lack of one piece of information moving up from the counties to the state or moving from the states to counties, if either of those things don’t happen, it can have a significant impact,” said Stephen Trout, elections director for Oregon.

Trout said he would move quickly to acquire, customize and implement the incident tracking system, which would be an upgrade from the paper process currently in use. Dave Tackett, chief information officer for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, said he will recommend some structuring changes at his state operations center, including bringing key personnel into the room and incorporating elements of the incident tracking system like mapping and the ability to assign people to specific incidents.

“Events like today are helping us zero in on how to structure ourselves better, how to really think in a different mindset so that we can carry out all the different tasks that have to be done with elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Elections. “(It’s) the importance of communications, the importance of having standard operating procedures in place so all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed ahead of time and you are prepared for the unknown.”

The Power of Sports: Madras has a new hoops legend

Born with Down Syndrome, Keala Rauschenburg has loved basketball her entire life. The senior guard is beloved by teammates, coaches and fans alike and in Madras High Schools home opener she made a play that had the entire gym buzzing.

Central Oregon Daily’s Eric Lindstrom tells the story.

Crooked River Ranch man injured in train vs. truck crash

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Redmond Fire and Bend Fire all responded to a car versus train crash Wednesday near SW Young Ave and South Highway 97.

The collision was reported at about 8:15 a.m., just east of a large solar farm. It occurred on a private road that crosses the railroad tracks leading to the Redmond Gun Club.

A 5-car freight train was northbound traveling at about 40 miles per hour when the crew saw the truck on the tracks. It sounded a horn and applied the emergency brakes. According to BNSF, the train was slowing when it hit the truck.

The driver has been identified as 74 year old David Gilbert of Crooked River Ranch. He’s currently listed in critical condition at St. Charles Medical Center.

His Dodge pickup was hit on the passenger side then pushed more than 100 feet.

The train stopped about one-quarter of a mile down the tracks and remained on scene during the investigation.

The crossing, where the collision occurred, is signed but does not have warning lights or crossing arms.

No citations have been issued.

President Donald Trump impeached by US House on 2 charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The historic vote split along party lines, much the way it has divided the nation, over a charge that the 45th president abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The House then approved a second charge, that he obstructed Congress in its investigation.

The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, as expected, he still would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring stain of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency.

He saw the blame flowing the other direction. He told a political rally in Michigan that “crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame.”

The votes were 230 for impeachment and 197 against on the first count, 229-198 on the second.

Democrats led Wednesday night’s voting, framed in what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Republicans stood by their party’s leader, who has frequently tested the bounds of civic norms. Trump called the whole affair a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham,” and sometimes all three.

The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction. While Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate and few if any are expected to diverge from plans to acquit the president ahead of early state election-year primary voting.

Pelosi, once reluctant to lead Democrats into a partisan impeachment, gaveled both votes closed, risking her majority and speakership to follow the effort to its House conclusion.

“Today we are here to defend democracy for the people,” she said earlier during floor debate.

Trump, who began Wednesday tweeting his anger at the proceedings, pumped his fist before an evening rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, boasting o f “tremendous support” in the Republican Party and saying, “By the way it doesn’t feel like I’m being impeached.”

No Republicans voted for impeachment, and Democrats had only slight defections on their side. Voting was conducted manually with ballots, to mark the moment.

On the first article, abuse of power, two Democrats, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is considering switching parties to become a Republican, and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted against impeaching Trump. On the second article, obstruction, those two and freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine voted against. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for president, voted “present” on both.

What Pelosi called a sad and solemn moment for the country, coming in the first year that Democrats swept control of the House, unfolded in a caustic daylong session that showcased the nation’s divisions — not only along party lines, but also by region, race and culture.

The House impeachment resolution laid out in stark terms the two articles of impeachment against Trump stemming from his July phone call when he asked the Ukraine president for a “favor” — to announce it was investigating Democrats ahead of the 2020 election. He also pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Joe Biden, the former vice president and 2020 White House contender.

At the time, Zelenskiy, a young comedian newly elected to politics, was seeking a coveted White House visit to show backing from the U.S. ally as it confronts a hostile Russia at its border. He was also counting on $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress. The White House delayed the funds, but Trump eventually released the money once Congress intervened.

Narrow in scope but broad in its charge, the resolution said the president “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” and then obstructed Congress’ oversight like “no president” in U.S. history.

“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it said.

Republicans argued that Democrats are impeaching Trump because they can’t beat him in 2020.

“This vote is about one thing, and one thing only: They hate this president,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah. “They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash.”

But Democrats warned the country cannot wait for the next election to decide whether Trump should remain in office because he has shown a pattern of behavior, particularly toward Russia, and will try to corrupt U.S. elections in 2020.

“The president and his men plot on,” said Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of the Intelligence Committee that led the inquiry. “The danger persists. The risk is real.”

The outcome brings the Trump presidency to a milestone moment that has building almost from the time the New York businessman-turned-reality-TV host unexpectedly won the White House in 2016 amid questions about Russian interference in the U.S. election — and the rise of the “resistance.”

Democrats drew from history, the founders and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S., seeking to honor their oath of office to uphold the constitution. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation. “In America,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., “no one is above the law.”

Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.

“We face this horror because of this map,” said Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Ala., before a poster of red and blue states. “They call this Republican map flyover country, they call us deplorables, they fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.”

The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country with divergent views of Trump’s July phone call when Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats in the 2016 election, Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was the vice president.

Trump has repeatedly implored Americans to read the transcript of the call he said was “perfect.” But the facts it revealed, and those in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that sparked the probe, are largely undisputed.

More than a dozen current and former White House officials and diplomats testified for hours. The open and closed sessions under oath revealed what one called the “irregular channel” of foreign policy run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which focused on investigating the Bidens and alternative theories of 2016 election interference.

The question for lawmakers was whether the revelations amounted to impeachable offenses to be sent to the Senate for a trial.

Few lawmakers crossed party lines without consequence. Van Drew, who is considering changing parties over his opposition to impeachment, sat with Republicans. Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan conservative who left the Republican party and became an independent over impeachment, said: “I come to this floor, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, but as an American.”

Beyond the impeachments of Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton, this first impeachment of the 21st century is as much about what the president might do in the future as what he did in the past. And unlike investigation of Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than face the House vote over Watergate, the proceedings against Trump are playing out in an America already of mixed views over Trump.

Rank and file Democrats said they were willing to lose their jobs to protect the democracy from Trump. Some newly elected freshman remained in the chamber for hours during the debate.

“This is not about making history, this is about holding a lawless president accountable,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

GOP Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia said of the Democrats: “You’ve been wanting to do this ever since the gentleman was elected.″

Top Republicans, including Rep. Devin Nunes on the Intelligence Committee, called the Ukraine probe little more than the low-budget sequel to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mueller spent two years investigating the potential links between Moscow and the Trump campaign, but testified in July that his team could not establish that Trump conspired or coordinated with Russia to throw the election. Mueller did say he could not exonerate Trump of trying to obstruct the investigation, but he left that for Congress to decide.

The next day, Trump called Ukraine. Not quite four months later, a week before Christmas, Trump was impeached.

__

Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Matthew Daly, Alan Fram and Andrew Taylor in Washington contributed to this report.

▶️ Local foster families to get some help for the holidays

For many of us this is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be one of the toughest times for foster parents and their foster kids.

In Redmond there’s a place that hopes to help. Candy Cane Lane helps foster families in our region stress less.

Michelle Nein has been taking in foster kids for ten years and said sometimes she’s had kids come to her just days before Christmas, and many come with almost nothing to call their own.

Situations like this make being a foster parent stressful, especially when you’re trying to give your kids a nice Christmas.

Candy Cane Lane helps that stress melt away by giving foster parents the chance to Christmas shop for free.

“By having this event, it really just helps us give them the best Christmas possible,” said Nien. “Especially if maybe it’s the first time they’ve had a Christmas or it also helps them make it through the holidays when they’re not with their families. Which is a really tough thing to have to do.”

Candy Cane Lane provides a minimum of three gifts, plus stocking stuffers, easing the financial burden foster families may face this time of year.

“This event really does allow us to have a little more flexibility with our budget,” said Nein, “and to just really splurge on kids and make them feel you know as happy as possible at the holidays.”

Foster parents can pick up gifts for kids of all ages and genders. Candy Cane Lane can help over four hundred kids in one place and just in time for the holidays.

“We just really try and do it as close to Christmas as we possibly can to just help make sure that they have everything that they need going into the holidays,” said Jamie Giannettino, the project coordinator of Candy Cane Lane.

When foster parents shop at Candy Cane Lane they can worry less about shopping and more about the kids they’re caring for.

“It really just frees me up to be able to spend more time with them, and to be able to you know help them enjoy it and maybe worry a little bit less and just be a child through the holidays,” said Nein. 

▶️ Community Coat Rack to continue

Maria Mendoza and several of her friends set out with plans to make sure no one in the community went cold during the holiday season, but quickly discovered that real-life Grinch’s also exist this time of year.

“I decided I want to do this for our community as a pay it forward,” Mendoza said. 

The idea was a simple one, to have people donate new or used coats to place on a coat rack for those who may be without one in the cold winter months. So, Mendoza and several friends set up a communal coat rack outside of a Bend business.

“We will keep filling in the rack and if people need one they can take one,” said Mendoza, “if they can donate they can leave one.”

Unfortunately, their act of kindness went unappreciated. Just days after they first set up the coat rack, it had been destroyed and Mendoza found coats and jackets strewn here across the lawn and parking lot.

“We don’t know what happened!” said Mendoza. “It was fine and then in the morning the rack was on the floor.”

The rack was only up for four or five days before it was destroyed, but despite the unfortunate situation, Mendoza says they plan on creating a new rack as soon as possible.

“We are very blessed to have a coat, to have a home and there are some people out there who don’t have a home or have a coat. It’s a way to give to the community, help those with less fortunate than we are,” Mendoza said. 

She is asking that anyone who is able to help build a sturdier coat rack contact her at 541-408-4388.

You can also contact Mendoza if you’d like to donate a coat. It can be new or used, but in good condition.