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Morning Edition host Rachel Martin interviews former Vice President Joe Biden aboard his campaign bus en route to Decorah, Iowa, about his bid for the Democratic nomination and the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

This is the transcript of a conversation held on Dec. 6, 2019.

Rachel Martin: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for having us.

Former Vice President Joe Biden: Well thanks for being on the bus. I appreciate it.

On the bus, very exciting. So we're in Iowa.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a highly anticipated report Monday about the Russia investigation — including allegations of surveillance abuses against President Trump's campaign.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report is expected to address a simmering dispute that lies at the heart of the partisan fight that has animated Washington for the past two years.

The question is, Did the Justice Department and FBI do anything improper when investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia?

Joe Biden is dismissing calls from President Trump and his allies that Biden testify during an impeachment trial in the Senate, saying any effort to compel his testimony should be viewed as part of a strategy to distract from the president's conduct.

"No, I'm not going to let you take the eye off the ball here. Everybody knows what this is about," the former vice president told NPR when asked if he would cooperate with a subpoena. "This is a Trump gambit he plays. Whenever he's in trouble he tries to find someone else to divert attention to."

Democrats are set to press ahead with their impeachment program on Monday by reviewing the findings of their earlier investigations — likely with Republicans battling every step of the way.

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing at which staff attorneys are set to tell members of Congress about the conclusions reached by the earlier House Intelligence Committee on the Ukraine affair.

What Comes Next In The Impeachment Inquiry

14 hours ago

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

In Glacier Bay, Alaska, mountains rush up farther and faster from the shoreline than almost anywhere else on the planet. Humpback whales, halibut and sea otters ply the waters that lap rocky, pine-crowned islands, and you can stick a bare hook in the water and pull out dinner about as fast as it takes to say so.

This is the place 31-year-old Laura Marcus chose for her Arete Project. Or just maybe, this place chose her.

The FBI is investigating the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday as an act of terror.

Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville Field Office, said in a news briefing Sunday that investigators are working with "the presumption that this was an act of terrorism."

Doing so, she said, "allows us to take advantage of investigative techniques that can help us more quickly identify and then eliminate any additional threats to the rest of our community."

There is currently no evidence of such a threat, she added.

Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET

The fast-rising rapper Juice WRLD has died at age 21 after a medical emergency at Chicago's Midway Airport. TMZ first reported the death, saying that witnesses saw him having a seizure after disembarking from a private plane.

The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed his death to NPR, saying that the autopsy for Juice WRLD — whose real name was Jarad Anthony Higgins — will most likely take place on Monday.

A fire broke out at a factory in India's capital New Delhi early on Sunday morning. At least 43 people have been reported dead.

Many of the victims were asleep in beds in the factory, resting between shifts, when the fire began.

Investigators say the blaze was sparked by an electrical short circuit. Most of the deaths were caused by people inhaling poisonous gases in the cramped factory, The Associated Press reports.

Guides hand out knee-high rubber boots before leading visitors on hikes around Gorgona National Park, an island 21 miles off Colombia's Pacific coast. The boots provide traction in the mud — and protection from poisonous snakes.

Imagine Venice, the city of canals, at Christmastime — twinkling with lights and dressed in garlands.

Now translate that into gingerbread and gumdrops.

That's exactly what hundreds of architects, designers and engineers came together to do — build the Italian city made up of more than 100 small islands out of Snickers, Mars bars, Jellybeans, cereal, gummy bears and more. And, of course, sheets and sheets of gingerbread.

In an unprecedented response to historically low numbers of Pacific cod, the federal cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska is closing for the 2020 season.

The decision, announced Friday, came as little surprise, but it's the first time the fishery has closed due to concerns over low stock.

"We're on the knife's edge of this over-fished status," North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Nicole Kimball said during talks in Anchorage.

It's not over-fishing to blame for the die-off, but rather, climate change.

Bring in some soup.

The unusual homework assignment at London's Eden Primary School was for a science week project cooked up by parent Jake Baum. He's a professor of cell biology and infectious diseases at Imperial College London, and his lab's job is to find new ways to combat malaria, which kills half a million children each year.

There's a lot of enthusiasm for intermittent fasting — a term that can encompass everything from skipping a meal each day to fasting a few days a week.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

The U.S. Navy has identified the three sailors killed by a shooter in an attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola Friday as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, from Coffee Ala.; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, from St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Ga. All three were students at Naval Aviation Schools Command.

As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

On a pitch-perfect autumn afternoon, a remote sheep farm in southern Greenland is quiet. The only movement is from a little girl playing outside her house with a fluffy border collie puppy.

The silence is abruptly broken when dozens of sheep come thundering across the hills overlooking the farm. Shooing them along is the girl's grandfather, Lars Nielsen, and her dad, 37-year-old Kunuk Nielsen.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is defending himself against criticism over a heated town hall earlier this week in which he called a voter a "damn liar" and challenged him to a pushup contest and IQ test. The voter, an 83-year-old retired farmer, asked about Biden's and his son Hunter's work in Ukraine, making some false accusations about it. He also said Biden was too old to run for president.

Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET

Iran freed an American held prisoner for the past three years, the White House said Saturday, while Iran confirmed the U.S. was freeing an Iranian scientist held in America in return.

The prisoner swap involves Xiyue Wang, a naturalized U.S. citizen and graduate student at Princeton University, who had been in an Iranian prison on espionage charges. Meanwhile, the U.S. released an Iranian scientist named Massoud Soleimani, who had been accused by American officials of violating trade sanctions.

When students in wilderness EMT Alice Henshaw's training courses grab practice dummies for CPR drills, they have their choice of a traditional, flat-chested training manikin or one that looks a little different: a manikin zipped into a neoprene vest with silicone breasts.

The last time Caroline Kennedy led an aircraft carrier christening, she was 9 years old. Fifty-two years later, she'll be the one breaking the bottle against the bow of the USS John F. Kennedy as her mother Jacqueline previously did.

Ambassador Kennedy and her family will join an estimated 20,000 guests on Saturday to officially christen the new ship.

And as the famous family arrives in Newport News, Va., for the invite-only ceremony, the men and women who built the ship are marking the moment.

Dr. Marie-Roseline Bélizaire had just gathered the members of her Ebola response team for a morning meeting when they heard the rat-a-tat of gunfire.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she and Democrats are moving forward with impeachment against President Trump.

"The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit," she said Thursday.

We are expected to find out what exactly the articles of impeachment will be against the president next week with a vote potentially before Christmas. But what exactly will the articles of impeachment be? Democrats have given some clues this week.

Utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric announced a $13.5 billion settlement agreement to resolve all claims associated with several Northern California wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of businesses and homes. The wildfires have been tied to the company's equipment.

Ron Leibman, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway play Angels in America and an Emmy Award on the short-lived CBS show Kaz, died Friday afternoon at the age of 82.

Leibman's death was confirmed to NPR by his agent, Robert Atterman, CEO of Abrams Artists Agency. No other details were available.

The New York-born actor and stage veteran was also known for playing Dr. Leonard Green, the father of Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green, on TV's Friends.

A federal jury in Los Angeles Friday found that Elon Musk did not defame a British cave explorer when he called him a "pedo guy" in a tweet last year.

Why the Trump administration delayed nearly $400 millions of dollars in security aid to Ukraine is the question at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Democrats say the president tried to coerce an ally to help him take down a political opponent. Republicans argue it's a routine use of presidential power.

Interviews with current and former officials show how the Trump administration's hold-up of aid to Ukraine was irregular and likely violated U.S. law, and has far-reaching consequences at home and overseas.

President Trump has decided to stay out of the impeachment inquiry being conducted by the House of Representatives.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone rejected an offer from House Democrats that would have allowed the president to send counsel to represent him at future impeachment hearings.

In a short two-paragraph letter to Democrats, Cipollone said the impeachment inquiry is "completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness."

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