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CNN anchor left speechless after GOP lawmaker claims gutting ethics panel is ‘draining the swamp’

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A CNN anchor was left speechless after a Republican lawmaker claimed that weakening a nonpartisan ethics watchdog and placing it under congressional control was “draining the swamp.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) appeared Tuesday morning on “New Day” to discuss the measure, which requires the Office of Congressional Ethics to issue its reports to the lawmakers it’s tasked with investigating instead of releasing them directly to the public.

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“Any time you can provide more accountability and more transparency to any process that is in place, then you’re going to take another step toward draining the swamp,” Blackburn said, echoing a campaign promise by Donald Trump. “I am all for draining the swamp. I think that anyone who knows me knows that I’ve spent much of my career on reducing the size, the scope and the cost of the federal government, and in its place putting transparency and accountability.”

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota said, if she’s worried about transparency, that Blackburn should understand why Democrats were concerned that the measure was passed without their input during a nighttime, closed-door meeting.

“Most people would say 5 o’clock in the afternoon is not at night,” Blackburn said, shrugging. “We could discuss that. It does start getting dark outside.”

Blackburn suggested congressional Democrats were hypocrites for holding a private strategy session with President Barack Obama.

“The Democrats have their meeting behind closed doors also, and on Wednesday, when the president comes to talk to them about how to fight against the repeal of Obamacare, they’re going to do that one behind closed doors,” Blackburn said, punctuating her attack with a wink.

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Camerota watched in stunned silence as Blackburn continued with a half-hearted defense of the GOP’s actions.

“The conferences meet together in a room, and that is where they have their conference meetings,” Blackburn said. “Each conference does that, and it is bipartisan and it is bicameral.”

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North Korea conducts ‘crucial test’ at Sohae launch site: report

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North Korea has conducted another "crucial test" at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media reported Saturday, as nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled with a deadline approaching.

The announcement comes a day before US Special Envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun is set to arrive in Seoul for a three-day visit, and after the United States tested a medium-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.

"Another crucial test was successfully conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 22:41 to 22:48 on December 13," a spokesman for the North's National Academy of Defence Science said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

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US-China trade deal gets tepid reception

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US officials announced a truce in the trade war with China with much fanfare, but economists and trade experts call it largely a victory for Beijing.

After a dispute that raged for close to two years, with several fumbled efforts at a resolution, the US agreed to cancel planned tariffs and rollback others immediately, without a similar commitment from China to lift tariffs it imposed on the US.

"Pardon me if I don't pop champagne, but aside from a cessation of continued escalation, there is not much worth cheering," leading China expert Scott Kennedy said in an analysis of the agreement.

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Is Donald Trump a supporter of Israel? Sure — he’s also an anti-Semite

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On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, who is both a White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law, published an op-ed article in The New York Times defending the president's recent executive order supposedly meant to combat anti-Semitism. The controversial measure will establish that "Title VI of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on race, color or national origin covers discrimination against Jews" and defines anti-Semitism using the language of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

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