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Pompeo: US must be able to respond to any Iranian attack

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The United States must have the capability to respond to any Iranian attack on US interests, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

He spoke at the Florida headquarters of US Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East, a day after the US said it was sending another 1,000 troops to the region in response to what it called hostile behavior by Tehran.

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That deployment should “convince the Islamic government of Iran that we are serious and to deter them from further aggression in the region,” Pompeo said.

He added that his visit to Tampa was designed to “achieve the strategic objectives” set forth by President Donald Trump.

“But we can’t do that without making sure we have the capability to respond if Iran makes a bad decision” and opts to “go after an American, or an American interest, or to continue to proliferate its nuclear weapons program,” said Pompeo.

He insisted “President Trump does not want war.”

The United States has blamed Iran for last week’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, an accusation Tehran denies as baseless.

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The Pentagon released new images on Monday that it said showed Iran was behind the attack on one of the ships.

Last month four ships including three oil tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates. The US blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.

In May of last year Trump withdrew the US from the multiparty accord under which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

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Trump reinstated tough economic sanctions in an effort to force Iran to negotiate a new agreement.

Pompeo said Tuesday this campaign of maximum pressure is proving to be “very effective,” although other countries fear the heightened tensions could lead to armed conflict.

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Mulvaney lawyer denies Mick was ‘so heavily involved’ — despite his White House briefing room confession

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Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was referenced multiple times during Dr. Fiona Hill's testimony Thursday, but Mulvaney's lawyer said he doesn't understand why.

"We have no idea why Ms. Hill believes Mr. Mulvaney was so heavily involved, especially in light of Ambassador Sondland’s contrary testimony," said Fox News reporter Chad Pergram, quoting a statement from Robert Driscoll.

https://twitter.com/ChadPergram/status/1197633921065930753

As former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance pointed out, Hill recalled during her testimony how angry she was about Sondland not briefing her. She said that after hearing his testimony Wednesday and learning he was briefing Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Mulvaney and President Donald Trump. She then decided he was correct-they had separate missions and Sondland was on a domestic political errand.

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Adam Schiff’s anger boils over at GOP’s hypocrisy on Russian meddling: ‘Of course they were silent!’

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During his closing statement today in the House impeachment inquiry, Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff forcefully condemned what he sees as Republican hypocrisy when it comes to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Schiff slammed the contention of some Republicans that the "whole idea that Russia got involved in the 2016 election was a hoax put out by the Democrats."

"And of course, they're not alone in pushing out this idea that is trumpeted by no one other than the President of the United States, who almost on a daily basis at times would comment, and tweet, and propagate the idea the Russia's interference in our election was a hoax," Schiff continued. "And of course, we all remember that debacle in Helsinki when the President stood next to Vladimir Putin and questioned his own intelligence agencies -- I wish I had heard just some of the righteous indignation we heard in the Committee today when the President questioned that fundamental conclusion of our intelligence agencies, but course, they were silent!"

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White House secretly meeting with Republicans to limit impeachment trial as president courts GOP senators

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The Trump White House is in secret  talks with top Senate Republicans to draft a strategy on how the impeachment trial will be conducted after the House passes what are expected to be damning articles of impeachment. The president has been focused the past few weeks on sitting down with Senate Republicans individually or in small groups to take the temperature of the caucus and to woo those who have occasionally suggested they might be uncomfortable with the actions he has taken that have led to the current impeachment inquiry.

"A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks," The Washington Post reports late Thursday afternoon.

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