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Former Defense Secretary warns: ISIS is back, and Trump can’t ‘pretend it’s not there’

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On Tuesday’s edition of CNN’s “OutFront,” former Defense Secretary and CIA head Leon Panetta warned that ISIS is gaining strength in the Middle East again — and that after all of President Donald Trump’s boasts that he had utterly defeated the terrorist organization, now it is time for him to get serious.

“Roughly estimated 15,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria now,” said host Kate Bolduan. “Secretary Pompeo saying the terror group is, in some ways, stronger than it was three or four years ago. How big of a concern should the news be for Americans?”

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“It should be a very serious concern for the president of the United States and for our country,” said Panetta. “Because his first responsibility is to protect our country. And we learned from 9/11, the fact that these terrorists have one fundamental aim, which is to attack the United States and attack countries in the West. And now what we’re hearing is that ISIS is clearly re-mobilizing to the tune of almost is 15,000-18,000, that are mobilizing into secret cells, mobilizing into attack teams, conducting not only attacks but kidnappings and assassinations and bombings, as we saw in Afghanistan. So this is, in the end, a national security threat that the United States cannot simply stand back and pretend it’s not there.”

“If we simply withdraw our forces and pretend that ISIS and the remnants of al-Qaeda are no longer a threat, make no mistake about it, it is an open invitation to terrorists to establish the kind of base from which they can conduct attacks against the United States,” continued Panetta. “We can’t let that happen again.”

“Well, Secretary, that’s a terrifying proposition because that’s under consideration, that’s a real conversation that’s happening right now, is, will troops be leaving Syria? How long will troops be in Afghanistan where ISIS is becoming a threat there now as well.”

“I think the president has to be very careful here about just going ahead and promising that somehow we will pull back all troops from the region without any assurances that ultimately this problem will be dealt with,” said Panetta. “He says let others deal with the problem, that we’ve got — we’re 7,000 miles away. But that has always been a false promise by isolationists. They used that argument in the 1930s that said, because of our oceans, we didn’t have to worry about Nazi Germany. And today we say that somehow we can withdraw and be able to be protected. We are not protected.”

“Should something keep the president up at night?” asked Bolduan.

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“Well, let me put it this way,” said Panetta. “I think most presidents would be kept awake by the concern that our national security could be threatened … I think the indication that this doesn’t represent a threat to our country is something that we shouldn’t be hearing from the president. Look, we live in a dangerous world. I think it’s more dangerous than ever today. It’s not only the threat from China and rash. It’s the threat from ISIS. It’s the threat from Iran, from those conducting cyber-attacks again our own country. There are a lot of flash points in the world that ought to frankly keep this president awake and concerned.”

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CNN

‘What the hell does that mean?’ CNN’s Berman buries Tucker Carlson’s non-apology for employing racist lead writer

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday night acknowledged that his former lead writer, Blake Neff, had been let go after it was revealed that for years he had posted racist messages in a chat room under a pseudonym.

Oliver Darcy, the CNN reporter who broke the story about Neff, told hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota on Tuesday that it was notable that Carlson never said he was sorry for employing a straight-up racist to write for his show.

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2020 Election

Why is the stock market soaring amid a pandemic? Because Trump thinks that may save him

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Donald Trump isn't a smart man, but he knows how to manipulate the stock market. Not only is he allegedly engaging in market manipulation while president, but it's a Trump con that goes back decades.

Back in October 2018, the New York Times published a Pulitzer Prize-winning profile of Trump's extensive tax fraud schemes, and in the process of that reporting uncovered one of the ways Trump screwed with the financial markets. Journalists David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner reported that Trump would routinely engage in a scam known colloquially as "greenmailing." It involved Trump, along with his father, Fred, as his "wing man," exploiting the news media to pump up the price of a stock by planting rumors, devised by Trump himself, about a takeover. This would drive up the price of the stock, only for Trump to either sell or to demand "lucrative concessions from the target company to make him go away."

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CNN

‘Not even Nixon rewarded his henchmen this way’: CNN’s Avlon lists off all the criminals Trump sprung with pardons

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On CNN Tuesday, fact-checker John Avlon broke down the pattern of President Donald Trump rewarding criminals in his orbit with pardons and commutations.

"The Trump orbit has far more than the fair share of felons, many of them out of prison only after sucking up to the president," said Avlon. "Roger Stone is a felon and just the latest beneficiary of the presidential gift to loyalists. A commutation of his 40-month sentence. Even though one of the prosecutors testified they had pressured to go easy on Stone because of the relationship with president. He tampered with witnesses, he was the campaign's primary conduit to Wikileaks, and had hoped to be rewarded for not rolling over on Trump. Not even Nixon rewarded the henchman this way."

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