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Obama admin. plans defense cuts that nearly top GOP’s entire first-year austerity pledge

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates surprised lawmakers Thursday by announcing that the Pentagon would cut spending by $78 billion over the next five years.

The cuts will force the Army and Marine Corps to reduce the number of troops on active duty and eventually freeze military spending for the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The surprise announcement from Gates was a reminder for the military establishment – which has benefited from a gusher of new money over the past decade – that it will not remain exempt from painful austerity measures that federal lawmakers say will be necessary to control the soaring national debt,” The Washington Post‘s Craig Whitlock noted.

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The $78 billion comes in addition to $100 billion in cuts that Gates directed the Pentagon to find in May. In a Thursday news conference, the defense secretary said that the armed forces had successfully found $100 billion in savings over the next five years and the Army, Navy and Air Force would get to reallocate that money to combat-related projects.

As a part of the cuts, the Pentagon is expected to end the Marine’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a 40-ton amphibious landing craft being developed by General Dynamics Corp.

A ground-launched missile system being developed by Raytheon Co. is also on the chopping block.

The number of Marines will be cut by 10,000 to 15,000 and the Army will reduce its forces by 27,000, Gates said.

Republicans had an immediate negative reaction to the announcement.

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“We are fighting two wars, you have China, you have Iran: Is this the time to be making these types of cuts?” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) told The Hill.

The savings nearly equal the $100 billion in spending cuts promised by Republicans this year. However, GOP sources told The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman that the real goal is to cut about $30 billion.

CLARIFICATION: (Edited to provide further details.) The $78 billion in defense cuts are separate from $100 billion in “efficiencies” identified by the Pentagon. The $100 billion will be reinvested into other Pentagon programs and will not result in spending cuts; the $78 billion will be cut from the Pentagon’s budget over a five-year period beginning in the 2012 fiscal year. Because the Pentagon originally projected budget increases for these years, the cuts won’t mean that the Pentagon’s budget will shrink in total dollar terms — only that the rate of growth will slow. The fiscal year beginning this year will see a base Pentagon budget of $553 billion, up from $549 billion last year.

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Republicans are treating voters like ‘children’ with their defense of Trump: Ex-presidential adviser

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former presidential adviser David Gergen laid into Republican lawmakers for claiming that the impeachment probe is only based on "hearsay."

"The Republicans are treating us like idiots," said Gergen. "They just — they say you're only bringing forth hearsay. You don't have any firsthand information. We know there are three people who know exactly what happened. One is named [Rudy] Giuliani. One is chief of staff [Mick] Mulvaney and the third is [John] Bolton. And what's happened here? They all three have been called. The president said no, you must not talk. So the Republicans then come up and say, well, you only have hearsay."

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Roger Stone’s health in question as prosecutors have him ‘dead to rights’: NBC reporter

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Jurors deciding the fate of longtime Donald Trump political advisor Roger Stone did not reach a verdict during their deliberations on Thursday and will reconvene on Friday morning.

But there were fascinating details from the courtroom revealed by NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian.

"What about Roger Stone, does he look like he’s about to burn here?" MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews asked. "Does he look like he’s going down?"

"He does," Dilanian replied.

"And also, physically, he doesn't look well at this trial. He’s walking around the courthouse kind of unaccompanied, shambling around," he continued. "He doesn't look like a happy warrior, which is usually his persona."

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GOP lawmaker smacked down after suggesting impeachment is only for capital crimes

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) tried to argue that impeachment is only intended for when presidents commit capital crimes — and was immediately corrected by anchor Chris Hayes.

"I saw an earlier interview you gave to Chuck Todd where you didn’t think this was, so far, from what you’ve heard of, the level of impeachable behavior," said Hayes. "I’m curious what you view the standard as the Constitution sets out for you as being high crimes and treason and misdemeanor."

"Crimes that are subject to the penalty of death is essentially what the Constitution is to me indicating with impeachment," said Reed. "And this whole claim of bribery, the American people aren’t stupid, Chris. This is not going to sustain the review of the American people, and they’re the ultimate ones who are going to judge this because I don’t see this becoming an impeachable subject to the removal of the president."

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