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Trump-backed Navy expansion would boost costs some $400 billion over 30 years: study

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Expanding the U.S. Navy to 355 ships as recommended by military leaders and backed by President Donald Trump would cost some $400 billion more over the next 30 years than the currently planned 308-ship fleet, according to a study released on Monday.

The annual cost to build, crew and operate a 355-ship fleet would be about $102 billion, or 13 percent more than the $90 billion needed for the currently planned Navy, according to the study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The $102 billion cost of the 355-ship fleet is 33 percent more than Congress appropriated in 2016 for the current 275-ship Navy, the CBO said.

To achieve the larger force, the Navy would need $26.6 billion annually for ship construction, which is 60 percent more than the average amount that Congress has appropriated for shipbuilding in the past 30 years, the CBO study said.

The Navy’s 2017 shipbuilding plan called for boosting the size of the fleet to 308 ships, which was expected to cost $21.2 billion per year to implement over 30 years.

With Trump pressing for an expansion of the fleet to 350 ships during the presidential campaign last year, the Navy released a new force structure assessment in December seeking a 355-ship Navy.

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Taking into consideration older ships being retired, creating a 355-ship fleet would require the Navy to buy about 329 new ships over 30 years, compared with 254 under its previous plan for a 308-ship fleet, the CBO study found. The Navy would have to buy about 12 ships per year under the larger fleet plan, versus about eight per year under the earlier plan.

The larger fleet would require more civilian and uniformed personnel and more aircraft, pushing up overall operating costs, the CBO said.

The increase in shipbuilding would force all seven U.S. shipyards to expand their work forces and improve their infrastructure in order to meet the demand for vessels, the CBO said. The greatest challenge would be building submarines to meet the force structure requirements, the report said.

The study said the earliest the Navy could achieve a 355-ship fleet would be the year 2035, or 18 years from now.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Trump has an ‘invulnerable reality distortion field’ — that makes Republicans defend the indefensible: GOP strategist

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Republicans are put in a difficult position by President Donald Trump's refusal to accept reality, a top GOP strategist explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Anchor Kasie Hunt played a clip of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempting to defend Trump's public statements that he could accept foreign election interference in hopes of being re-elected in 2020 despite his lousy poll numbers.

GOP strategist Michael Steel offered his analysis of the situation facing Republicans.

"This is the hardest thing for every surrogate of President Trump and every Congressional Republican to deal with," Steel explained. "His position is wrong. His position is indefensible. His position, even when he cleaned it up, wasn’t really right."

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Ex-DOJ lawyer explains how Trump is engaged in a cover-up — and it has nothing to do with Russia

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On Monday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," former White House attorney and law professor Neal Katyal walked anchor Ari Melber through the egregious ways President Donald Trump has abused executive privilege — and is covering up more than just the Russia scandal.

"Executive privilege is this concept, Ari, that goes all the way back to the founding, the idea that presidents should have some zone of secrecy around them, to have confidential deliberations and decision making," said Katyal. "I've been in two different administrations and I would say particularly President Obama was really careful to make sure that he wouldn't invoke executive privilege unless absolutely necessary. He only invoked it once in eight years, even though many years he had Congress opposed to him in terms of being from the opposite party."

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Ex-Ambassador to Russia explains how Putin will exploit the divisions between Trump and his advisors

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The former U.S. ambassador to Russia explained how Vladimir Putin will exploit the divisions between President Donald Trump and his advisors.

"A double bombshell in reporting from The New York Times this weekend about the president and his relationship with Russian president Putin," anchor Kasie Hunt said.

"First, The Times reports that the U.S. is escalating online attacks on Russia’s power grid in an effort, 'partly as a warning and partly to be poised to conduct cyber strikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.' But that’s not all," she noted. "The second bombshell in that report that officials are worried about briefing the president."

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