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Trump had two goals in ramping up pressure on Iran — and he’s failing at both: CNN

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t want war with Iran, which would likely put him at odds with his more bellicose advisers like John Bolton.

That being said, the president clearly believes he can bully Iran into unconditional submission to whatever the United States demands. And Iran is having none of it, escalating its own acts of maritime aggression and proclaiming they have missile technology capable of striking U.S. aircraft carriers.

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On CNN Tuesday, correspondent Fred Pleitgen broke down the two key things Trump is hoping to accomplish in his standoff with Iran — and how he is accomplishing neither of them.

“The Iranians clearly don’t believe that pressure campaign is working,” said Pleitgen. “Hassan Rouhani, the country’s president, today went to an event and said that — first of all, Iran doesn’t want escalation with the U.S. But told the people that one of the things they need to be aware of is the Iranians are dealing with people in Washington who really are very inexperienced. A clear swipe at the Trump Administration.”

“And if you look at this maximum pressure campaign, there is essentially two things that President Trump said it would achieve very quickly,” said Pleitgen. “He said the Iranians would come back to the negotiating table, and they would be weakened militarily in the Middle Eastern region. Well, the Iranians just last week, in the form of the Supreme Leader, rejected talks two the Trump administration, and their military, clearly from the posture, is as strong as it was at any time before.

Watch below:

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‘Mulvaney lied’: CNN panel breaks down ‘incredibly damning’ White House confession

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," a panel discussed how White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's press briefing was a disaster for President Donald Trump.

"Can I just point out why this matters?" said CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. "I mean, this is not just some gotcha thing because we all want to get something on the chief of staff. Here we have congressionally appropriated money. Congress says give this money to the Ukrainians. Taxpayer money. And what the White House has done and what they admitted today was, you only get the money if you help us win the election. Not because you help us [with] national security, international relations. The only thing we want from you is help to defeat Democrats. That is wrong. That’s why this matters."

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Sondland may have refused to be ‘the fall guy’ — but he’s still complicit: CNN security analyst

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNN security analyst and Lawfare editor Susan Hennessey pointed out that even though EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland turned against President Donald Trump in testimony, it should not be forgotten he was a willing participant in much of the Ukraine scheme.

"In his opening statement today, Sondland wrote he was 'disappointed by the president's direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani in the Ukraine policy,'" said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "In his actions, though, did Ambassador Sondland actually advance Giuliani's goals here?"

"Yes, and to the extent that he was disappointed in what the president asked of him, he took the ball and ran with it," said Hennessey. "He was trying to facilitate Giuliani's efforts, trying to introduce him to Ukrainian officials, and Sondland himself was carrying the same corrupt message, including they needed to be investigating the Bidens for the president's personal political interest. This is Sondland saying, I'm not going to be the fall guy. So I don't know how strong of a message it is that he was saying, I knew it was wrong, but that's the message that he's not willing."

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Trump’s lead counsel disavows Mulvaney’s admission the president engaged in Ukraine quid pro quo

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On Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney stunned reporters by effectively admitting President Donald Trump demanded a quid pro quo from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for foreign aid appropriated by Congress.

According to CNN's Jim Acosta, Mulvaney's speech was so out of left field that the president's chief attorney immediately disavowed it.

"Mulvaney's performance blindsided the president's outside legal team, as the president's lead attorney, Jay Sekulow, said on the record to CNN, the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff's press briefing," said White House correspondent Jim Acosta. "That is pretty telling when the chief counselor to the president is saying, we did not have anything to do with this."

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