3 Things To Know Today

1 Pentagon: Two US Service Members Killed In Afghan Helicopter Crash

The Pentagon has confirmed that two U.S. service members have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan today. In a statement, officials say “The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire.” Not so, says the Afghan Taliban. The terror group is claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, which it said crashed in Logar province south of the capital Kabul. The names of the soldiers killed are being withheld pending family notification. The crash comes a day after the Taliban swapped two Western hostages for three of its commanders held by the Afghan government. One of those freed was American Kevin King, who’d been held for three years.

2 Another Day Of Impeachment Testimony In The Books

A marathon day of public testimony in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump is over. Filled with plenty of snark from both sides of the aisle, the 11-hour day began with testimony from National Security Council member Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Vice President Pence's aide Jennifer Williams. Highlights include: Vindman was born in Ukraine and his family fled the former Soviet bloc country when he and his twin brother were three-years old. In his opening statement, Vindman told his father not to worry, adding: "I will be fine for telling the truth." Vindman said his dad made the right decision to come to the U.S., "in search of a better life." In his testimony, Vindman said it was improper and inappropriate for President Trump to request Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens. Vindman also testified that he is unaware of any evidence linking Ukraine to interference in the 2016 U.S. election, as has been alleged by Republicans. As for Williams, she monitored the July call in which the President asked Ukraine's leader and called it "unusual" since it involved a domestic political matter. Later, lawmakers heard from former U.S.-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison. Volker went back on statements he made in a closed-door meeting, suggesting that he did hear officials talk about pushing Ukraine to conduct investigations Meantime, Volker expressed concerns about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's unofficial diplomatic efforts in Ukraine. Volker also stressed that Ukraine's new government had nothing to do with anything that "may have happened in 2016."

3 Correction Officers Watching Jeffrey Epstein Are Charged

The two corrections officers on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein died in a Manhattan jail cell have been charged with falsifying prison records. The charges center around the guards' failure to check in on Epstein every 30 minutes, as required, and then covering it up by falsifying prison records. According to prosecutors, the officers – Michael Thomas and Tova Noel – were working overtime and aside from being seen sleeping on the job, they were also seen surfing the Internet. The officers were placed on administrative leave after the convicted pedophile was found hanging in his jail cell on August 10th. Epstein's cell was just 15-feet away from where the officers were holed up. Thomas and Noel have pleaded not guilty and will be released on a $100,000 bond. In a more bizarre moment on Capitol Hill yesterday, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy offered a very curious quip about the case. During a Judiciary Committee hearing about the ongoing investigations involving the death of Jeffrey Epstein, Kennedy joked that “three things that don't hang themselves are Christmas ornaments, drywall and Jeffrey Epstein.” Kennedy was addressing Kathleen Sawyer, who heads the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Epstein was found dead in his jail cell and officials said he hung himself. Kennedy urged Sawyer to conduct a thorough investigation and urged her not to rush it.

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