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Trump orders Pentagon to consider reducing US troops in South Korea: New York Times

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President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for reducing the number of U.S. troops in South Korea, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing several people briefed on the deliberations.

Reduced U.S. troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump’s planned summit in late May or early June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, the Times said.

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The officials said, however, that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the 23,500 U.S. soldiers currently stationed on the peninsula, the newspaper said.

 A full withdrawal of U.S. troops was unlikely, the officials said, according to the paper.
But a U.S. National Security Council official told a visiting South Korean official in Washington via telephone the report was false, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.

The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump has said the United States should consider reducing the number of troops in South Korea unless South Korea shoulders more of the cost.

Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, before taking office as U.S. secretary of state, met Kim last month and reported the North Korean leader was not demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces as a precondition for a summit with Trump.

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South Korea said on Wednesday the issue of U.S. troops stationed in the South was unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement is signed.

Reporting by Eric Beech and Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Christine Kim in SEOUL; Editing by Peter Cooney, Robert Birsel

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2020 Election

Here is why these Nevadans are betting on Sanders

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LAS VEGAS — Any doubts that Nevadans wouldn't show up for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were quickly squashed by the amount of people lined up to get into his Friday night rally in Las Vegas on the eve of the Nevada caucus: an estimated 2,020, according to his campaign. One would have been forgiven for assuming the crowd spilling out the main entrance and down the street had lined up to get into one of the city's hottest shows, not a "Get Out the Vote" event. Despite stereotypes that Sanders only draws support from the young (and mostly white), the crowd was visibly diverse in age, ethnicity and race. And anyone who didn't arrive already wearing the requisite Bernie gear had plenty of opportunities to buy some as they waited to enter the venue.

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Breaking Banner

Roger Stone’s dream of booting judge for sentencing comments brutally crushed by ex-US Attorney: ‘He’s met his match’

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Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance crushed any hopes former Donald Trump associate Roger Stone might have that his prison sentence will be voided due to comments made by the presiding judge in his federal trial.

Speaking with host Alex Witt, Vance left no doubt Stone's latest legal gambit will collapse just like his previous attempts to squirm out of his trial did.

"Stone's legal team says that Judge Amy Berman Jackson's assertion that the jurors served with integrity shows bias," host Witt stated. "Do you buy that argument and legally would that be enough to get the judge dismissed from the case?"

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Commentary

You’re a frog in a pot and Donald Trump is turning up the heat

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

"Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal," reported The Washington Post this week. It's one element in "a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election." It's unclear what criteria they are using to define loyalty to this president*, but it's important to understand a few things about this story.

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