Top Senate Republican warns ‘precipitous’ Syria pullout benefits Russia, Iran   

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Mitch McConnell becomes most senior lawmaker in Trump's party to oppose withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria
          

Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from Syria   

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Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from SyriaMitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham lead condemnation of foreign policy move that could prove ‘disaster in the making’Donald Trump with Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in the Cabinet Room on Monday. Lindsey Graham said abandoning the Kurds would be ‘a stain on America’s honour’. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/APDonald Trump was dangerously isolated on Monday as, in a rare rebuke, some of his most loyal allies revolted against his decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria.Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led a chorus of Republicans who, having defended the president on almost every other issue – including over impeachment – decided to draw a line in the sand.“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said. “And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”He added: “As we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”The criticism was significant because McConnell is usually at pains not to cross Trump even at his most capricious. Last week the Kentucky senator released a Facebook video promising to stop Democratic-led impeachment in its tracks.Article 1 of the United States constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to initiate impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of the president. A president can be impeached if they are judged to have committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" – although the constitution does not specify what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are.The process starts with the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment. A simple majority of members need to vote in favour of impeachment for it to pass to the next stage. Democrats currently control the house, with 235 representatives.The chief justice of the US supreme court then presides over the proceedings in the Senate, where the president is tried, with senators acting as the jury. For the president to be found guilty two-thirds of senators must vote to convict. Republicans currently control the Senate, with 53 of the 100 senators.Two presidents have previously been impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Andrew Johnson in 1868, though neither was removed from office as a result. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before there was a formal vote to impeach him.Martin BelamThe unusual fracture emerged on Sunday night when, shortly after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the White House announced removal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border area. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” it added.Critics of all political stripes have long feared that the move could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area. Kurdish groups have fought alongside a small US presence in Syria to drive Islamic State militants from the region.The Republican backlash was rapid and potentially unnerving for a president whose fate is tethered to the party and the assumption that it will acquit him in the Senate if, as widely expected, the Democratic-led House of Representatives votes for impeachment.Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, who has become an outspoken defender (and frequent golf partner) of Trump, did not acquiesce this time. Abandonment of the Kurds would be “a disaster in the making”, he said, and “a stain on America’s honour”.Graham told Fox News: “I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is. I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”Graham wrote on Twitter that if the plan goes ahead, he will introduce a Senate resolution opposing it and seeking reversal of the decision. He added: “We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, whose attempts to defend Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president have provoked mockery, said: “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”Michael McCaul of Texas, the lead Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, also urged the president to reconsider. “The United States should not step aside and allow a Turkish military operation in north-east Syria,” he said. “This move will undermine our ongoing campaign to prevent an Isis resurgence and will ultimately threaten our homeland.“Additionally, the United States needs to stay engaged to prevent further destructive involvement in the region from our adversaries like the Assad regime, Putin and Iran.”Notably, senator Marco Rubio of Florida, reluctant to criticise Trump even when the president suggested that China investigate former vice president and 2020 election rival Joe Biden, was clear , describing the retreat as “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria”And Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, admonished Trump without mentioning his name. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. TurkeyIsNotOurFriend”Ominously for Trump, even conservative Fox News aired dissent. Host Brian Kilmeade described the pullout as “a disaster”, telling viewers of Fox & Friends: “Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?”Republicans who have contradicted Trump before did so forcefully again. Utah senator Mitt Romney described Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal”, adding: “It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”Romney and Democratic senator Chris Murphy issued a joint statement insisting Trump’s administration “explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests”.Democrats also piled in but there was a lone voice of support for the president on Capitol Hill. Republican senator Rand Paul, long a critic of foreign intervention, said: “So many neocons want us to stay in wars all over the Middle East forever. [Trump] is absolutely right to end those wars and bring the troops home.”Trump himself was undeterred by the blowback. Speaking at the White House on Monday, he said he has “great respect” for the prominent Republican critics. And added: “People are extremely thrilled because they say it’s time to bring our people back home. We’re not a police force. They’re policing the area. We’re not a police force. The UK was very thrilled at this decision … many people agree with it very strongly.”



          

US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertain   

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US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertainTrump’s latest move has officials scrambling to understand the implications as Turkish forces gather near the Syrian borderTurkish fighters gather near the north-east Syrian border in preparation of a widely-anticipated invasion. Photograph: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP via Getty ImagesKurdish forces in Syria have said the fate of tens of thousands of suspected Islamic State fighters and their families is uncertain, after US forces began a sudden withdrawal from the country, abandoning their former ally on the eve of a widely-anticipated Turkish invasion.The effects of the shock retreat continued to reverberate through the region on Monday as Turkish forces massed near the border with the Kurdish stronghold of north-eastern Syria.The looming offensive– which was green-lighted by Donald Trump in a phone call to Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Sunday – came as a surprise to US officials and allies, who were scrambling to understand the implications. There was a furious backlash in Congress, including from some of Trump’s closest allies, who accused the president of betraying the Kurds.The decision represents the latest in a series of erratic moves by Trump, who is fighting impeachment at home, apparently taken without consultation with, or knowledge of, US diplomats dealing with Syria, or the UK and France, the US’s main international partners in the country.A White House statement on Sunday night after his conversation with his Turkish counterpart said that: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria”, adding that US forces were being removed from the area.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday its US partners had already begun withdrawing troops from areas along Turkey’s border. Footage aired on Kurdish news agency Hawar purportedly showed US armoured vehicles evacuating key positions in the border region.The SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, accused the US of leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”, adding that the SDF would “defend north-east Syria at all costs”.But on Monday the Pentagon, which has been cooperating with Turkey along the Syrian border, issued a statement saying: “The department of defence made clear to Turkey – as did the president – that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria. The US armed forces will not support or be involved in any such operation.”State department officials also sought to minimize the announcement, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, and suggesting that Turkey might not go through with a large-scale invasion.In the face of fierce criticism from both political rivals and allies in Congress, Trump took to Twitter to try to defend the move and threaten Turkey.“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he said.“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he said.It was unclear however, what was “off limits”.In earlier tweets, Trump had appeared unsentimental about the Kurds, noting that they had been paid “massive amounts of money and equipment” in the four year campaign, when they were used as the main US proxy to fight Isis in Syria.But the issue of Isis foreign fighters, most of them European, has clearly preoccupied the US president.Both Trump and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have repeatedly called on European states to repatriate around 20,000 foreign nationals currently held in north-east Syria for trial and rehabilitation at home.Trump argued it was up to Turkey and Europe and others, “to watch over the captured Isis fighters and families”.An SDF spokesman, Amjed Osman, said on Monday it was not clear what would happen to the prisoners. “We repeatedly called for foreign states to take responsibility for their Isis nationals. But there was no response,” he said in a statement. It is far from clear if Turkey has the capacity – or desire – to take custody of the detainees being held in crowded Kurdish jails and displacement camps, stretching the SDF to its limits and prompting warnings that militants are using the prisons to regroup.Some 74,000 women and children of the caliphate are held at the infamous Hawl camp, where they are guarded by just 400 SDF soldiers. But the camp, a hotbed of violence and extremist ideology, falls outside the parameters of the 32km-deep safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border that Erdogan has said his forces would establish.Aid agencies warned that an offensive could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and create a new humanitarian disaster.Save the Children said that more than 9,000 children from 40 countries were being held in camps and depended on humanitarian aid to survive.“Reports of imminent military operations and troops already sent to the border are deeply troubling. The international community, including the UK, should take urgent steps to do what’s best for these children and bring them to their home countries before access becomes even more unpredictable,” the group said.The Guardian understands that the SAS and French special forces present in Rojava would be tasked with securing the camp perimeters if the Kurds withdrew. However, with only several hundred troops between them, their numbers would need to be quickly boosted by regular soldiers to avoid a catastrophic collapse in security.In Washington, the move was condemned by allies and opponents of the president. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the move “poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner”.Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump loyalist on most issues, said he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham wrote in a tweet.During the campaign against Isis, the SDF did the bulk of the ground fighting to defeat Isis in Syria, losing 11,000 troops in the grinding battle. The senior ranks of the organisation are dominated by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a four-decade guerilla war against the Turkish government.Ankara has long complained that, while fighting Isis, PKK forces were also waging war in Turkey.



          

Mitch McConnell urges Trump to reconsider Syria pullback   

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Mitch McConnell urges Trump to reconsider Syria pullbackIt's not every day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are on the same page, but today is that day.McConnell released a statement Monday afternoon breaking with President Trump on his recent decision to pull back troops from northern Syria as Turkey prepares a military incursion."A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime," McConnell says. "And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup. I urge the president to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners."> McConnell wants Trump to change his mind on Syria, says a precipitous withdrawal benefits Russia, Iran, Assad and warns about ISIS pic.twitter.com/7NmHN98qWD> > -- Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 7, 2019He concludes by suggesting the Trump administration is at risk of succumbing to what he sees as the foreign policy failings of the Obama administration, writing that "American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal."This came as Trump was facing a flood of criticism from the right including from one of his biggest allies in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who wrote that the decision will have "disastrous consequences for our national security."Almost immediately after McConnell's statement, Pelosi released a statement of her own urging Trump to reconsider as well, though with far harsher language. Pelosi calls Trump's move a "reckless, misguided decision" that "betrays our Kurdish allies" in "a foolish attempt to appease an authoritarian strongman." Amid this bipartisan criticism, Trump defended the move in a tweet in which he touted his own "great and unmatched wisdom."



          

Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds   

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Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and abandon Kurdish allies has prompted a furious backlash among key members of his most important bulwark against an impeachment conviction: Senate Republicans.Hawkish GOP senators, whom Trump will need to keep him in office if the House moves ahead with impeachment, condemned the president’s decision as a win for terrorists and a defeat for American credibility. Some are already discussing legislation to push back.“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. He urged the president to “keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners.”Foreign policy has long been the issue where Republicans are most likely to disagree with Trump, and it’s not clear that strong words against the president’s Syria policy will cost him any political support. Trump would have to lose the support of at least 20 Republican senators to be removed from office if the House votes to impeach him.The harshest criticism Monday came from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a strong Trump ally and frequent golf companion. Graham said this “impulsive decision” will benefit Iran and cost the U.S. leverage in the region.Graham also said he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will introduce sanctions against Turkey if the NATO ally invades Syria. He said he expects such sanctions to get a two-thirds majority -- enough to override a Trump veto.After criticism from Graham and others, Trump tweeted that he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it took “off limits” actions that he didn’t specify. He also said Turkey must “watch over” about 12,000 captured Islamic State fighters and tens of thousands of their family members living in jails and camps in Kurdish-held territory.The Senate earlier this year had a veto-proof margin to pass an amendment authored by McConnell opposing a withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. On Monday, Criticism in Congress was bipartisan, focused on the move to abandon Kurdish forces who helped U.S. forces fight ISIS, and who are holding thousands of ISIS fighters in custody.Other Senate Republicans pushing back on the president include Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, though none other than Graham have yet said they plan to act on their dismay.Romney, who heads a Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East and counterterrorism, released a joint statement with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the top Democrat on the panel, saying Trump’s decision “severely undercuts America’s credibility as a reliable partner and creates a power vacuum in the region that benefits ISIS.” They demanded that the administration explain the decision to the full committee.Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who is up for re-election next year, warned against partnering with Turkish President Recep Erdogan.“If the president sticks with this retreat, he needs to know that this bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children,” Sasse said in a statement Monday. “I hope the president will listen to his generals and reconsider.”Some House Republicans also criticized the abrupt withdrawal. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a member of GOP leadership, called the decision a “catastrophic mistake.” New York Republican Elise Stefanik recently returned from a bipartisan trip to the region and joined a statement with Democratic representatives condemning Trump’s “rash decision.”“Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS,” the statement said.One of Trump’s Senate allies approved of Trump’s decision: Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has long called for withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.(Updates with McConnell quote in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Erik Wasson.To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

McConnell splits with Trump on Syria pullout   

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is opposing President Donald Trump's plan to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, a rare policy split between the Senate's top Republican and Trump.
          

How to react to Trump   

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should consider cutting his losses and instruct his caucus to vote unanimously to remove President Trump when the Senate receives the impeachment dec...
          

As impeachment looms, GOP revolts against Trump on Syria   

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WASHINGTON – They may have his back on impeachment, but some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies are suddenly revolting against his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria.

On Monday, one chief Trump loyalist in Congress called the move “unnerving to the core.” An influential figure in conservative media condemned it as “a disaster.” And Trump’s former top NATO envoy said it was “a big mistake” that would threaten the lives of Kurdish fighters who had fought alongside American troops for years.

Trump’s surprise move, which came with no advance warning late Sunday and stunned many in his own government, threatened to undermine what has been near lockstep support among Republicans. It also came against the backdrop of a congressional impeachment inquiry in which the backing of Republicans in the Senate is the president’s bulwark against being removed from office.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been among Trump’s most vocal defenders, called the Syria decision “a disaster in the making” that would throw the region into chaos and embolden the Islamic State group.

“I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is,” Graham told Fox News. “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has shrugged off the key allegation in the impeachment inquiry – that Trump pressured foreign powers to investigate a top Democratic rival – tweeted that Trump’s shift on Syria is “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been more willing than many Republicans to condemn Trump’s calls for foreign intervention in the 2020 election, called the Syria move “a terribly unwise decision” that would “abandon our Kurdish allies, who have been our major partner in the fight against the Islamic State.”

A more frequent Republican Trump critic, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, cast Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal.”

“It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.

Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the United Nations, also cast the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Iraq as a betrayal of a key ally.

“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” she wrote on Twitter.

Former Rubio aide Alex Conant highlighted the risks ahead for a president whose political future depends on Republican support.

“For Trump to make a very controversial move on Syria at the exact moment when he needs Senate Republicans more than ever is risky politics,” Conant said, noting the significance for many Senate Republicans of the United States’ policy in northern Syria, where Kurds would be particularly vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

“They’re not just going to send out a couple of tweets and move on,” Conant said. “At the same time, the White House is going to need these guys to carry a lot of water for them.”

While a number of Republicans criticized Trump’s decision, one of their most important leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was sanguine, offering little concern about Syria or impeachment during an appearance at the University of Kentucky.

“There are a few distractions, as you may have noticed,” McConnell said. “But if you sort of keep your head on straight and remember why you were sent there, there are opportunities to do important things for the country and for the states that we represent.”

After the appearance, McConnell issued a statement warning that Trump’s proposed withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

“As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal,” McConnell said.

Outside government, leaders of conservative groups backed Trump.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent evangelical leader, said Trump was simply “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars.”

He suggested Trump could easily reengage in the region if the decision backfires.

“The president has got to do what’s best for the country, whether it helps him with this phony impeachment inquiry or not,” Falwell said in an interview.

Former Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett noted that the president has been talking about reducing troop levels in the Middle East since before the 2016 election.

“I understand that they don’t like the policy, but none of them should be shocked by the policy,” Bennett said. “He’s only been talking about this for four or five years now. I think he’s with the vast majority of the public.”

Still, the backlash from other Trump loyalists was intense.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, called it a “misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests.”

And on Fox News, a network where many rank-and-file Trump supporters get their news, host Brian Kilmeade said it was “a disaster.”

“Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?” Kilmeade said on “Fox & Friends.”

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the controversy reminds him of former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ decision to resign late last year after Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

“Ultimately, Trump reversed himself,” Aliriza said. “The question is whether he will actually reverse himself again in view of the opposition from Capitol Hill led by several of his closest allies.”


          

Sand Announces Entry into North Dakota Senate Race   

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Promises to stand up to Senate GOP Leadership in Washington   Contact: Duane Sand, 701-333-9223; www.sand2012.com   MEDIA ADVISORY, August 8, 2011 /Standard Newswire/ -- Today Navy Commander Duane Sand made the following announcement:   "For several months I have weighed entering the United States Senate race. Last week's debt ceiling abomination sealed it for me when Mitch McConnell and Rick Berg misled us with the debt ceiling deal. They could have helped Amer Source: CCN
          

Mitch McConnell rebukes Donald Trump's plan to pull US troops out of northern Syria   

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"A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
       

          

McConnell vows to stop impeachment in fundraising video   

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Senate_Republicans_Democrats_61606Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to stop any Democratic push for impeachment in a social media campaign ad that he's using as a platform to raise campaign funds off the inquiry of President Donald Trump.
          

Mitch McConnell Criticizes Trump's Syria Decision   

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The Senate majority leader joined other Republicans who are speaking out against the president's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
          

Bernie Sanders Proposes Ending All Corporate Giving in U.S. Elections   

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Bernie Sanders Proposes Ending All Corporate Giving in U.S. Elections(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan to end all corporate giving in federal elections, as he leads all other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders in fundraising by amassing small, individual donations.Sanders, who’s recovering in Vermont after a heart attack last week, is proposing an election-financing system entirely funded by the taxpayers. The ban on corporate donations would also apply to national party conventions and to presidential inaugural activities. Individual donations to those events would be capped at $500.Sanders has long been a proponent of getting company influence out of politics, and the new plan would play to his strengths.His campaign announced last week that he raised $25.3 million in the third quarter, the highest among Democratic contenders. The haul came exclusively from individual donations averaging $18.Senator Elizabeth Warren, his closest rival for the progressive mantle in the race, also eschews corporate money, but other contenders, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, have relied in part on donations from corporate political action committees.Billionaires Unneeded“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president,” Sanders said in a statement released on Monday.“We’ve received more contributions from more individual contributors than any campaign in the history of American politics because we understand the basic reality that you can’t take on a corrupt system if you take its money.”In the 2016 election, 17 company donors provided three-quarters of the funding for the Democratic National Convention, including Bank of America Corp., Comcast Corp., and Facebook Inc., the Sanders campaign pointed out. At the 2013 presidential inauguration, Chevron Corp., AT&T Inc. and Microsoft Corp. also gave millions of dollars to fund festivities at the start of President Barack Obama’s second term.Sanders’s position puts him at odds with the Republican Party, as well as some of his key 2020 Democratic competitors. Leading GOP figures such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have long argued that corporate giving is a form of free speech, and shouldn’t be regulated.Citizens UnitedThat position was affirmed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, which prohibits the government from restricting independent spending by corporations and labor unions in federal elections. Sanders said he wants a constitutional amendment that jettisons Citizens United.McConnell has repeatedly taken aim at Sanders, mocking him as a socialist. The latest proposal will likely provide additional fodder to the GOP as the 2020 election intensifies.In Sanders’s plan, the senator also proposes a ban on advertising during presidential primary debates and would establish a life-time lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior congressional aides.Sanders’ third-quarter fundraising haul was followed by Warren, who raised $24.6 million, and Buttigieg, who raised $19.1 million. Biden raised just $15.2 million and Senator Kamala Harris of California raised $11.6 million.Lagging in PollsThe Democrats were far surpassed by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, which, along with the Republican National Committee, took in $125 million in the third quarter. It wasn’t clear how much of that came from individual donations.Despite his fundraising prowess, Sanders, 78, is now regularly lagging both Biden and Warren in national polls of Democratic primary voters after holding the second-place position behind Biden for much of this year.A Sept. 23-29 survey by Monmouth University found Warren had 28% support among Democratic voters, statistically tied with Biden, who had 25%. Sanders had 15%, while Buttigieg and Harris each had 5%. The poll of 434 Democratic or leaning Democratic voters had a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

Kentucky officials are getting a lot of attention from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao   

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Kentucky officials are getting a lot of attention from Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoTransportation Secretary Elaine Chao's frequent meetings with officials from Kentucky are raising some eyebrows, Politico reports.Between January 2017 and March 2018, records show that 25 percent of Chao's scheduled meetings with local officials of any state seeking federal grant money were with Kentuckians. For reference, Indiana and Georgia were next in line with 6 percent of the meetings apiece, Politico reports.Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who represents the Bluegrass State in the upper chamber, so the news hasn't been received particularly well. In fact, at least five of Chao's 18 meetings with Kentucky officials were requested by McConnell staffers, who reportedly told Chao's team if the officials were "friends" or "loyal supporters" of McConnell. "The marriage is the thing that underlies all of this," said Mel Dubnick, a professor of government ethics and accountability at the University of New Hampshire.Chao has maintained she shows no favoritism toward McConnell's state, but the numbers are not insignificant, especially when local officials from other states have complained about how difficult is to schedule a meeting with her office.A Department of Transportation spokesperson told Politico that Chao has traveled to and met with officials from 31 states since she's been in office, and that her meetings with Kentucky officials are natural due to her ties to the state. Read more at Politico.



          

McConnell Vows To Stop Impeachment In Fundraising Video   

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to stop any Democratic push for impeachment in a social media campaign ad that he’s using as a platform to raise campaign funds off the inquiry of President Donald Trump. In the brief Facebook video, McConnell makes it clear that the Republican-controlled Senate with him in charge will be a firewall against efforts to remove Trump from office. “All of you know your Constitution,” McConnell says in the video. “The way that impeachment stops is with a Senate majority with me as majority leader.”
          

WATCH: Here’s the Procedural Weirdness That Made Mitch McConnell the Sole Vote to Confirm Amb. Gordon Sonderland   

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Trump Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland — a central figure in the Ukraine scandal that threatens Donald Trump's presidency — was confirmed to his post through a weird process by which Mitch McConnell was the only senator to actually cast a vote.
          

On Trump impeachment trial, McConnell suggests the fix is in   

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Trump's impeachment trial isn't close to starting, but Mitch McConnell wants his allies to know he'll deliver a specific partisan outcome.
          

President Trump – Don’t Cave In to Warmongers on Syria Withdrawal!   

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No sooner did President Trump Tweet his determination to remove US troops from the “endless” war in Syria than the entire Washington Beltway had a total breakdown. From Mitch McConnell to Ilhan Omar the cry was identical: “How dare you! How dare you bring US troops home!” Will the President cave in to his enemies … Continue reading "President Trump – Don’t Cave In to Warmongers on Syria Withdrawal!"

The post President Trump – Don’t Cave In to Warmongers on Syria Withdrawal! appeared first on Antiwar.com Blog.


          

McConnell Rebukes Trump Over Syria Pullout   

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“I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners. Major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States and causing greater isolation for Turkey on the world stage.”

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly rebuking President Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria, the Washington Post reports.


          

   

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What Happens When Top Rival American Politicians Compete to Jail Each Other?

It's been more than two years since the Belmont Club article predicting a political showdown after the election of Donald Trump was written. Since then, its scenario of top rival American politicians trying to jail each other has become an actual possibility. "Will impeaching Trump lead to indictments of Obama and Biden over Ukraine?" says an article in the Spectator. Rudy Giuliani asks: 'Shouldn't Biden be investigated over Ukraine if Trump can be impeached over it?' Hillary's in the mix too:

As President Donald Trump's presidency is threatened by an impeachment inquiry, the Republican chairmen of two Senate committees, Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, are asking Attorney General William Barr to investigate any ties between Ukraine and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

To use a World War II analogy there are torpedoes in the water going in opposite directions at each fleet's battlewagons. If all strike home, a lot of damage will ensue as the different parts of the bureaucracy act against rival leaders. Not surprisingly, the term "civil war" actually began trending on Twitter. CBS News reported: "'Civil War 2' trends on Twitter after Trump quotes speculation that impeachment would spark 'civil war.'"

The very mention of the term is itself an impeachable offense according to Harvard Law professor John Coates. "This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment - a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power." The fact that it was Pastor Robert Jeffress who said the offending words on a TV program -- Trump was merely quoting him -- is of no moment. The impeachment devil who no one professed to believe in has appeared at Nancy Pelosi's prayers.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that she is heartbroken and prayerful as House Democrats move forward with their impeachment inquiry and that President Donald Trump's actions left her no other choice.

There is frank hostility. "Joe Biden's campaign wrote to executives at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News to 'demand' that Rudy Giuliani not be invited on the air to discuss Ukraine and President Trump because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family," according to the New York Times. Giuliani responded indignantly: "Think of the Biden arrogance and entitlement to protection. They believe they own the media and they are demanding that they silence me. They know I have incriminating facts, not hearsay, because they know what they did in selling Joe’s office to a Ukrainian crook."

Politicians could be psyching themselves into the very thing they purport to abhor. If they sincerely want to step back from the brink now's the time. Otherwise, their actions may at some point unleash a runaway train. As a Harvard symposium noted, World War I started by miscalculation.

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Dems Target Mike Pompeo

With the whistleblower's complaint coming up short, Dems aim for "corrupt" officials. 

In an effort to prop up their “whistleblower’s” false allegations, House Democrats have lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his refusal to submit to their subpoena demands. Following Pompeo’s statement that he would not let State Department staff be bullied by Democrats into testifying, three Democrat committee chairmen led by Rep. Adam “B Movie” Schiff cried foul, disingenuously claiming that this was evidence that Pompeo was the one who was “intimidat[ing] witnesses.” They warned, “Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”

Naturally, the mainstream media is taking cues from Democrats and is now framing the normal job-related actions of high-ranking White House officials like Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr as somehow being evidence of corruption. For example, Pompeo is alleged to have engaged in misconduct for simply listening to President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Why would this be wrong? As The Wall Street Journal notes, “Shouldn’t a Secretary of State be on a call to the new President of an important country? U.S. foreign policy is the secretary’s job.”

Why are Democrats playing this vilification game? Because their “smoking gun” whistleblower complaint failed to expose any impeachable offense. In all likelihood the Democrats knew that going in, but with a friendly press they calculated that it would serve to provide just enough of a cover story to justify acting on their long-running impeachment obsession. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and company know they don’t have any actual evidence of a crime, so they’re vilifying anyone near Trump to create the air of corruption around any action. Even innocuous job-related activities can be said to have been done with corrupt motivations to cover up Trump’s crimes. This is an effort to keep the narrative alive through the election.

Trump sees this, which is why he’s calling it what it is: “a coup.” On Tuesday, he asserted, “As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their Vote, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” He’s right.

There may be another motive for the Democrats’ vilification of Pompeo and Barr — they don’t want them investigating the origins of the 2016 Russia-collusion hoax. In fact, The Washington Post suggests as much in an article titled, “Democrats’ worst fears about William Barr are proving correct.”

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Trump Reshaping Ninth Circuit Will Be Felt for Decades

In May 2016, Donald Trump was close to securing the Republican presidential nomination but needed to shore up his support among skeptical conservatives to have even a remote chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election. In an unexpected but brilliant move, candidate Trump released a list of judges that he promised to choose from in selecting a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, beloved by conservatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had infuriated Democrats by refusing to hold hearings on Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, so the next president would fill that vacancy. Trump’s list had been compiled with heavy input from the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society. Proving him right, conservatives rallied to Trump’s banner (even if cautiously), based on this promise.

The result has been far better that conservatives could have imagined. As president, Donald Trump has nominated two solid conservatives (an originalist/textualist in Neil Gorsuch, and a conservative institutionalist in Brett Kavanaugh) to the Supreme Court, and recently passed an impressive milestone — more than 150 nominees confirmed to the federal bench. The positive repercussions of this will be felt for decades to come.

Arguably, even more impactful than Trump’s Supreme Court appointments (replacing originalist Scalia with originalist Gorsuch, and moderate Kennedy with conservative Kavanaugh) has been his reshaping of the notorious Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, nicknamed the “Ninth Circus” because of its penchant for ultra-leftist rulings.

A week and a half ago, President Trump nominated Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke to fill vacancies on the Ninth Circuit. This was the second time Bumatay has been nominated to that court. Trump nominated Bumatay — a Filipino-American federal prosecutor from San Diego and former counselor to the U.S. attorney general — in October 2018, but after strenuous objections by California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, the nomination lapsed without action.

VanDyke is an attorney with the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, having served previously as the solicitor general of both Nevada and Montana, where he incurred the wrath of Democrats and radical environmentalists for litigating against Obama’s abusive land- and water-use policies.

If these nominees are confirmed, it will make the ninth and tenth Trump-nominated judges confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, meaning Trump will have appointed more than a third (10 of 29) of the judges on that bench.

The long-term benefits are enormous.

First, the Ninth Circuit is the nation’s largest circuit court, with a jurisdiction covering nine states and two island territories (40% of U.S. land mass). Its rulings impact more than 60 million Americans (roughly 20% of the U.S. population).

The importance of placing Trump’s nominees on the Ninth Circuit — judges who understand their proper role is to interpret the law as written, not twist it into what they want it to be — cannot be overstated.

Of the 7,000-8,000 cases appealed to the Supreme Court each year, only about 80 receive plenary review and are heard by the nation’s highest court.

By contrast, the Ninth Circuit last year received nearly 11,000 filings and “terminated” (rendered final judgments on) nearly 12,000 cases. Meaning, no matter how obviously unfair, ludicrous, or unconstitutional a ruling of the Ninth Circuit may be, the ruling stands and applies to 20% of the American population unless it is one of the precious few taken up by the Supreme Court.

Of its cases reviewed by the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit is reversed a staggering 82% of the time. Yet only a tiny fraction of those cases will ever be reviewed by the Supreme Court, so the lunatic rulings stand in the vast majority of cases.

And the Ninth Circuit judges are well aware of that, and take advantage of it.

Stephen Reinhardt, appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Ninth Circuit in 1979, served until his death in 2018. Known as one of the most leftist judges in the nation, Reinhardt once said of his high reversal rate at the Supreme Court that he would keep issuing leftist rulings because the Supreme Court “can’t catch ‘em all.” It was Reinhardt’s Ninth Circuit Court that ruled in 2002 that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because of the words “under God,” a ridiculous ruling unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court.

There have been calls over the years to split the Ninth Circuit into two courts, a position supported by most of the members of the Supreme Court. Aside from its far-left rulings, the Ninth is simply too big and unmanageable.

Until then though, it is undeniable that President Trump’s efforts are significantly impacting the structure and leanings of the Ninth Circuit. With a third of its judges now Trump appointees, it greatly improves the odds that a panel of Ninth Circuit judges will include those with a more conservative, originalist philosophy.

Just this year, in what would have previously been unfathomable, the Ninth Circuit handed Trump major victories in a border-wall battle with environmentalists and in upholding his “remain in Mexico” policy of dealing with asylum seekers.

Decades from now we may very well look back and see that Trump’s influence on reshaping the federal judiciary, especially the Ninth Circuit, did more than anything else to save the Constitution and uphold the Rule of Law.

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IN BRIEF

ANTI-NRA U-TURN: "Remember last month when San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization and ordered city employees to 'take every reasonable step to limit' business interactions with the NRA and its supporters?" asks Jim Geraghty of National Review. "... The NRA sued, and lo and behold, San Francisco is backing down, before the suit even went to court." The mayor in a new memo states, "No [municipal] department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA." Meanwhile, says Geraghty, "The NRA is challenging a similar law passed by the Los Angeles city council that requiring city contractors to disclose any ties they have to the gun-rights group."

DEATH AND TAXES: "Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. ... The $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and 'other taxes.'" (Terence Jeffrey)

NET-NEUTRALITY REPEAL UPHELD: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission was mostly lawful in its rollback of Obama-era 'net neutrality' guidelines, while offering a glimmer of hope to proponents of the guidelines. In a 2–1 ruling, the court said the FCC had acted lawfully in its decision to stop regulating broadband like a utility or a 'common carrier' such as a phone service. But it said the FCC had exceeded its authority in attempting to block states from passing their own rules in contradiction of the net-neutrality repeal, as California did in 2018." (National Review)

TANTAMOUNT TO A WARREN ENDORSEMENT: "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in July that an Elizabeth Warren presidency would pose an 'existential' threat to the company, according to over two hours of leaked audio published by The Verge." (National Review)

PRO-LIFE SETBACK: "A federal judge handed an early win to abortion rights activists Tuesday by blocking Georgia's restrictive law from going into effect — but it is only the first step as a lawsuit makes its way through the court system. District Judge Steve C. Jones' ruling stops House Bill 481 from taking effect Jan. 1 while the case plays out. Anti-abortion activists are hoping the case winds up in the U.S. Supreme Court." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MURDERS DECLINE: "Murder is on the decline in America, according to a new FBI report. The nation's top federal law enforcement agency found that homicides fell by 6 percent in 2018. The decline in homicides is part of a 3 percent drop in the violent crime rate, according to the Uniform Crime Report, the FBI's annual tally of crimes reported to local police departments. The 2018 decline follows several years of slight increases in homicide and violent crime, driven largely by spikes in major cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C." (The Washington Free Beacon)

FAIRFAX FOLLY: The Daily Caller reports: "A county police department in Virginia announced Tuesday that one of their officers was suspended for turning an illegal alien over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after determining the individual had dodged a deportation hearing. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said the officer in question had a 'lapse in judgment' when he called ICE about the illegal alien. ... Fairfax County has a policy that limits the police department's cooperation with ICE." The "lapse in judgment" here is being directed at the wrong person.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 

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McConnell Warns Of 'Scary Prospect' If GOP Loses Senate Control In Midterms    

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Updated at 8:52 p.m . ET Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a message for Republican voters who are celebrating the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Get to the polls in November if you want more conservatives sitting on judicial benches. "Lose the Senate, and the project of confirming judges is over for the last two years of President Trump," McConnell said in an interview with NPR in his Capitol Hill office. "That, I think, is a scary prospect to the people who like what we've been doing on the judge project and I hope will help us hold on to our majority." McConnell said the raucous, sometimes aggressive fight over Kavanaugh's nomination came at a perfect time for Republicans. Polls showed GOP voter enthusiasm slumping over the summer as energy for Democrats spiked. All that turned around when Republicans grew frustrated with the protracted battle over Kavanaugh. The Kentucky Republican said it awakened them to the Supreme Court cause — an issue that
          

Sen. Gillibrand: Pres. Trump needs to take responsibility for the 'hate' and 'racism he's inspired'   

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In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Daytona this weekend, Senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand says that Republicans need to stand up to Mitch McConnell and demand to go back to Washington to vote on gun reform bills.
          

Mitch McConnell’s campaign brags to supporters about how his wife corruptly favored Kentucky developers   

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, have come under fire for using their official positions to help one another. Chiefly, recent reporting suggests that Chao vastly favored officials from McConnell’s home state when taking grant meetings, and that McConnell’s staff sets up these meetings by telling Chao which […]
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