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Iran not behind Mideast protests: Mullen

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DOHA – Iran foments instability in the Middle East but is not behind popular protests in Bahrain and other countries in the region, top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said Monday in Qatar.

“Iran, I still believe, is a country that continues to foment instability in the region, take advantage of every opportunity,” said Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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But “from my perspective that has not been the principal focus of what happened in Egypt or what happened in Bahrain or any of these other countries,” he said, referring to popular protests against various Middle East regimes.

“Those are by and large internal issues, as opposed to issues fomented by some external forces,” Mullen said, although “there’s always concerns in this region with Iran and certainly the US has them as well as all the regional players.”

Iran “was part of the discussions today with the Saudis,” Mullen said.

Mullen, who began Sunday a Gulf tour in Saudi Arabia, could travel to Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is headquartered, as part of his trip, people travelling with him said.

Protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty but has a Shiite majority, began on February 14, and are still ongoing.

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Seven demonstrators have been killed since the anti-regime protests began, according to an AFP tally based on relatives of victims and opposition officials.

However, the US navy has said the demonstrations have not disrupted American operations in the kingdom.

“As far as Fifth Fleet operations, no, the demonstrations have not had any impact here — we’re continuing to conduct our regular business out here,” a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet told AFP on Monday.

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In the Qatari capital Doha, Mullen met with Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and army chief of staff General Hamad al-Attiyah.

Mullen is to also travel to the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, possibly Bahrain, and then to Kuwait to participate in ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the country from Iraqi occupation.

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2020 Election

Andrea Mitchell knocks Biden for virtual convention speech: ‘How much does that damage the campaign?’

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MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell suggested to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden could "damage" his campaign by holding a virtual convention speech.

Mitchell made the remark after President Donald Trump said that he was considering holding his convention speech at the White House.

"Joe Biden is not going to Milwaukee," Mitchell told Pelosi. "How much does this damage the campaign?"

Pelosi disagreed by insisting that Democrats will hold a "great convention."

Mitchell then asked about Trump's plan to hold his convention speech at the White House.

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2020 Election

Trump’s psychiatric disturbance could destroy democracy if he wins a second term: clinical psychologist

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I’m not being hyperbolic or melodramatic when I say that democracy itself is on the line on November 3. Donald Trump has been on a mission to subvert our democracy and to push it toward an autocracy. No president has ever disavowed democracy like Trump. No president has ever wanted to change our democratic way of life like Trump.

Trump has shown little interest or intent in following our Constitution. He is not abiding by the emoluments clause. He breaks norms and rules at will. He does not recognize that the three branches of government are co-equal. He operates as if the executive branch has total power. Our democracy is not based on the executive branch having absolute power. It requires that the three branches have separate powers in a check-and-balances system. Trump impugns democracy because it limits his power and requires him to be held accountable.

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WATCH: Sally Yates clashes with Lindsey Graham for claiming Flynn was investigated over a policy difference

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Former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, answering questions regarding former national security adviser, Michael Flynn and his being the subject of surveillance under a United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, also known as a FISA warrant.

At one point, Yates went head-to-head with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who accused her of partaking in a conspiracy to prosecute Flynn over a policy difference.

"You weren't investigating a crime, were you?" Graham asked Yates.

"We were investigating a counter-intelligence threat," Yates responded.

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