5 things to know for September 20: Whistleblower, Trudeau, Israel, climate strike

CNN's Anderson Cooper points to President Donald Trump's questionable track record on sharing information with foreign leaders behind closed doors.

Posted: Sep 20, 2019 8:20 AM
Updated: Sep 20, 2019 8:20 AM

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Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Whistleblower scandal

OK, this story is really complicated, so let's just start at the beginning. A whistleblower inside the intelligence community filed a complaint about communications between President Trump and a foreign leader. The whistleblower was alarmed by a "promise" Trump allegedly made to the foreign leader. The Democratically led House Intelligence Committee wants to see the complaint, but Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence, has blocked that. (He's set to testify before the committee next week.) The White House and Justice Department told the Office of the Director of National Intelligence not to share the complaint because they don't believe it's governed by laws covering intelligence whistleblowers, three sources told CNN.

Then, yesterday the Washington Post and New York Times reported that the communications at the center of all this involved Ukraine. Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone in July. Some Trump supporters have pushed for the Ukrainian government to open investigations that the President could use to raise suspicions about his political rivals, including Joe Biden. Some observers wonder if there's a connection between the push for an investigation and Trump's call with Zelensky. But there's no public evidence that the whistleblower's complaint pertains to the Trump-Zelensky call. The potential ramifications of this story are starting to become more clear, CNN political analyst Stephen Collinson says, and the risks facing the President, the intelligence community and Democrats in Congress are climbing by the day. Here are 5 key questions about the whistleblower case.

2. Justin Trudeau

Another day, another apology from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. After a third incident emerged of him wearing brownface or blackface, he was forced to meet with reporters for the second day in a row to say he's sorry for wearing racist makeup. He also flat out said he doesn't remember how many times he's worn blackface. Trudeau, known for his uber-progressive views, insists he's still an ally in the fight for social justice. But this scandal and other recent political hiccups could mix to seriously threaten his chances at re-election next month.

3. Israel

It's been three days since votes were cast in Israel's elections, and we still don't know who will be leading the country. Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, declared victory because his party is projected to win a few more seats in Israel's legislature than Likud, the political party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Gantz won't have enough seats to govern. He'd probably have to form a coalition with Netanyahu to do that, and that's probably not going to happen. So, that brings up another possibility: Israel may have to have a third election to settle the political gridlock.

4. Weather

The remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda are pushing into northern Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana today, dumping heavy rain along the way. The storm left quite the mess in southeast Texas, where some areas got more than 30 inches of rain. Flooding was so bad in Houston that hundreds of cars were abandoned after rising water made some roads impassable. Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jerry has developed. It's a Category 1 storm right now and is expected to pass just north of the Leeward Islands today before moving north of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas over the weekend.

5. Climate strike

If your co-worker or classmate isn't around today, it may not be because they're getting an early jump on the weekend. They could be on strike. Global climate strikes are taking place today all over the world, with people walking out of workplaces and classrooms to demand action to address the climate crisis. It's expected to be the biggest day of climate demonstrations in history. More than 100,000 people gathered in Melbourne, Australia. Some workers from Amazon and Microsoft are walking off the job. Some companies are actually supporting their employees' participation in the strike. New York City gave 1.1 million students the OK to skip school for it. Click here to keep up with the latest.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Taking the plunge

It was terror on a Delta flight after the plane dropped nearly 30,000 feet in midair within minutes before landing safely in Tampa.

Something smells fishy

Perhaps it's that this wiggly fish robot is actually an underwater spy.

Alexa, add this to my grocery list

Yes, Impossible Burgers are finally hitting shelves (at Southern California Gelson's Markets, then next month on the East Coast).

Feeling blue

She used a numbing agent to dull a toothache. Then, she turned blue.

HAPPENING LATER

Shutdown procedures

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant officially closes today. The most serious accident at a commercial nuclear power plant in US history occurred there in 1979

TOTAL RECALL

Quiz time

Members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike against what company this week, demanding higher hourly wages, lump sum payments and a better profit sharing plan?

A. General Motors

B. Ford

C. Toyota

D. Fiat Chrysler

Play "Total Recall," CNN's weekly news quiz, to see if your answer is correct.

TODAY'S NUMBER

2.9 billion

The number of birds that the US and Canadian bird populations have lost since 1970

AND FINALLY

Need for speed

Going 170 mph -- on a bicycle? Meet the woman who's giving it a try. (Click to view.)

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