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Trump pulls United States out of military treaty that allows surveillance of Russia: report

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On Monday, the Trump administration announced the United States would be withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, an agreement between 34 nations that allows unarmed military aircraft to fly over each other’s territory for observation purposes.

One of the key benefits to the treaty is that it allows the United States and its allies to fly over Russian airspace for the purpose of gathering intelligence — 42 overflights of Russian territory per year are permitted under the treaty, including 16 overflights by the United States specifically. These flyovers were important to monitoring Russia as they invaded and occupied the Crimean Peninsula.

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But Trump has soured on the treaty in recent months, claiming that Russia is not in “complete compliance with [its] obligations.” In August 2018, the Trump administration moved to block funding for the treaty in the annual defense authorization bill, and two months later, Trump officials refused to certify a Russian airplane for Open Skies overflights, alone among the treaty’s signatories — but quickly changed course and approved the flight.

Russia, for its part, has accused the United States of being in violation of the treaty, with Federation Council Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Dzhabarov saying of the original defunding effort, “This is an attempt to hide everything the Americans will be preparing in the course of a new arms race.”

“NATO allies and partners, and Ukraine in particular, have repeatedly stressed the importance of the Open Skies Treaty for their efforts to monitor Russia’s military, wrote House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) in a letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. “Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance and would further undermine America’s reliability as a stable and predictable partner when it comes to European security.”

Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, a Trump-skeptic conservative and military expert, had an even blunter reaction: “There is literally no reason to do this, other than to tell Rube Nation ‘I pulled out of treaties.'”

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‘Smoking gun so hot it’s still on fire’: Ex-US Attorney astonished by text shown in Vindman testimony

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A former U.S. Attorney says Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has delivered "smoking gun" evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement between President Donald Trump and Ukraine.

The National Security Council staffer told a House impeachment inquiry that he was aware of -- and alarmed by -- efforts as early as March to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, which he believed were conducted to deliver a political benefit the president.

The counsel for House Democrats then showed a text sent 30 minutes before Trump's July 25 call to Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky, which shows the special envoy Kurt Volker dangling a White House visit to a Zelensky aide in exchange for an investigation.

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‘Perfectly impeachable’: George Conway says Vindman and Williams testimony is ‘absolutely devastating’ for Trump

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On Tuesday, as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified publicly about their knowledge of the Ukraine scandal, conservative lawyer George Conway called the testimony "devastating" for President Donald Trump — and proclaimed his conduct both impeachable and criminal.

This testimony, from two witnesses to the July 25 call, is absolutely devastating. That call was absolutely “perfect,” all right—perfectly impeachable.

And criminal.

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) November 19, 2019

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Former Obama officials torch Trump’s press secretary for ‘bald-faced lie’ about leaving mean notes

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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday told a tall tale about Obama officials -- and now many of them are calling her out for it.

While talking to reporters, Grisham alleged that Obama staffers in January 2017 left notes that read, "You will fail" for Trump officials.

The story immediately raised suspicions among reporters who were skeptical that such notes would have remained a secret for nearly three years, especially given how leak-prone the Trump White House has been.

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