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Iraq’s Vice President says pullout of U.S. troops will ‘improve security’

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The year-end pullout of US forces will improve security in Iraq, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi claimed Sunday, days after Iraqi leaders agreed to talk with Washington over a post-2011 training mission.

Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim and one of two vice presidents whose positions are largely ceremonial, said a continued American military presence in Iraq would be “a problem, not a solution.”

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He added that the US could provide training expertise for new defence equipment, but that other countries offered similar technology at lower prices.

“The withdrawal of American combat forces will lead to an improvement in the security situation in Iraq by calming the concerns of neighbouring countries that felt threatened,” Hashemi said in a statement released by his office.

He did not refer to any specific country, but neighbouring Iran exercises considerable influence in Iraq, and American officials have accused Tehran of backing Shiite militias they say have been responsible for attacks, particularly against US troops.

Iraqi leaders announced on August 3 that they would open negotiations with the United States over a military training mission beyond the end of the year, when the remaining 47,000 American soldiers in Iraq are due to withdraw under the terms of a 2008 security pact.

Both US and Iraqi officials concede, however, that a deal may not be completed. Unresolved issues remain over the size of the force, the duration of its stay, and whether its members would be immune from Iraqi prosecution.

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Hashemi said that while “Iraq needs the experience of countries that are equipping it,” the US was just one of the countries Baghdad should consider for weapons.

“I hope in the near future, Iraq will be open to Russia, southeast Asia and the European Union. There are many countries that have technology which is comparable to what is available in the US, and this technology competes with American technology at lower prices.”

US and Iraqi military officials assess Iraq’s security forces capable of maintaining internal security, but say the country is unequipped or trained to defend against external threats.

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2020 Election

2016 Trump campaign vets warn he’s ‘slipping badly’ in multiple swing states

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Two men who worked on President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign have warned the president that his position in swing states is significantly deteriorating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Politico reports that former Trump campaign officials Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie delivered a face-to-face warning to the president that he was "slipping badly" in several key states, including must-win battlegrounds such as Florida and Arizona.

"Bossie and Lewandowski, who served as top aides on Trump’s 2016 effort, complained to the president about his political operation," the publication writes. "Trump’s campaign team, in response decided to rush their Arizona and Florida representatives onto airplanes for a Thursday meeting with the president."

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WSJ slams Trump for ‘hurting the country’ by ‘debasing’ the presidency: ‘Ugly even for him’

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President Donald Trump was slammed by the editorial board of the conservative Wall Street Journal on Tuesday evening.

“Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him,” the newspaper noted. “Mr. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Mr. Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Mr. Scarborough was a GOP Congressman.”

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‘We have them outnumbered’: Morning Joe explains why Trump’s ‘vile’ tweets don’t work on most people

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough explained why most Americans could not be dragged down to President Donald Trump's level, hurling angry attacks and ignoring scientific advice.

The "Morning Joe" host said the president's refusal to wear a mask and his murder allegations against him would fall flat with most Americans, because they didn't spend all day stoking their own anger on social media.

"Most Americans don't live in the gutters of Twitter," Scarborough said. "Most Americans don't live posting hateful things about people on Facebook. They talk about their loved ones, they talk about their faith in God, they talk about their children, their grandchildren. We have them outnumbered."

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