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‘A new level of dysfunction’: Trump administration suffers ‘rampant confusion’ as US foreign policy goes off the rails

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Perhaps Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg summed up the crisis is U.S. international relations best Friday when he tweeted simply: “The United States of America no longer has a foreign policy.”

The tweet came in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement, also on Twitter, that he “ordered the withdrawal” of new sanctions on North Korea that the Treasury Department has just announced. In addition to it being a stupefying decision for a president to immediately contradict his administration after a decision had been made, the tweet was factually mistaken in at least two respects: The sanctions were announced Thursday, not Friday. And they hit two Chinese shipping companies that have been doing business with North Korea — they are not, as Trump implied, additional “large scale” sanctions on North Korea itself.

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CNN’s national security reporter Kylie Atwood noted that the companies were “violating sanctions that are already in place.” A senior administration official had described them as “maintenance,” she said.

“What is unclear here, to White House officials, what they do next,” she said. “Does Treasury roll back these sanctions on these Chinese entities? Well if it did that, then they would also have to roll back even more sanctions on other companies and entities that were violating these sanctions in place. So it’s extremely complex, and administration officials are quite confused about where they go from here.”

Gloria Borger, a CNN analyst, noted that Trump’s decision Friday reflected similar chaos brought on by his announcement Thursday that the U.S. will recognize Israel as the rightful possessor of the contested Golan Heights region.

“And we don’t know with the Golan Heights tweet whether it’s actual policy, and we don’t know with this tweet what is actually means,” she said. “My colleagues and I have been rushing around trying to figure out who knew what when about this. And it seems to me this takes everything to a new level of dysfunction that if the president can tweet something about his own policy on sanctions and nobody quite understands what it means, how do you run foreign policy?”

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She noted that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump “likes” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — a brutal authoritarian — and doesn’t think these sanctions are necessary.

“Well, they’re already instituted!” said Borger. “We’re trying to confirm whether they’re part of existing, or whether they’re new — and Treasury was surprised by it, national security staff were surprised by it. Makes you scratch your head and say what’s going on over there?”

Watch the CNN clip below:

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2020 Election

‘I don’t care’: Watch Kamala Harris shut down Chris Hayes for asking a dumb question about Trump

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Sen. Kamala Harris shut down MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes during a post-debate interview on Tuesday evening.

Hayes questioned Harris about her call for Twitter to follow their terms of service and kick President Donald Trump off of the platform.

"Do you think he puts people’s lives in danger when he targets them in tweets?" Hayes asked.

"Absolutely," Harris replied.

"Do you think he knows that?" Hayes asked.

"Does it matter?" Harris replied.

"The fact is he did it. The fact is that he is irresponsible, he is erratic," she explained. "He is like a 2-year-old with a machine gun."

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2020 Election

Democrats blast Trump and demand his impeachment at CNN debate

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Democratic White House hopefuls united in searing condemnation of Donald Trump during their fourth debate Tuesday, saying the president has broken the law, abused his power, and deserves to be impeached.

From the opening moments, most of the dozen candidates on stage launched fierce broadsides against Trump over the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

"The impeachment must go forward," said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden at the head of the 2020 nominations race.

"Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences," she thundered.

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 4 losers from the CNN/NYT Democratic presidential primary debate

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Twelve Democrats took to the stage Tuesday night for yet another debate in the party's 2020 president primary hosted by CNN and the New York Times.

After only ten candidates qualified for the previous debate, an additional two — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and wealthy donor and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer — made it to the stage this round for an even more crowded event.

The candidates discussed a range of important policy issues, but since the format was a debate, and they're all competing for the same nomination, it is ultimately most critical who won and who lost the night. Here are three winners and four losers — necessarily a subjective assessment, of course — from the debate:

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