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Update 2 (4:30pmET): In the latest update to her stream of tweets from the press conference, McClatchy reporter Tara Copp added that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Milley joined Esper during the press pow pow to confirm that the letter’s publication was “a mistake.”

He added that it was “poorly worded” and “had not been signed,” details that were apparently overlooked during the initial press reports.

So the letter was “genuine,” but sent out by mistake, according to both Esper and now Milley.

Looks like somebody has some explaining to do.

Update (4:05pmET): Despite the fact that news outlets have circulated a photo of the memo and cited several sources testifying to its accuracy, Defense Secretary Esper told reporters Monday afternoon that the memo was “not accurate” and that “there’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq…we’ve issued no plans to leave.

Reporters from CBS and other outlets quickly confirmed McClatchy reporter Tara Copp’s reporting (Esper apparently made the statement during a press gaggle Monday afternoon). Others reported that Esper denied an NYT report claiming that assassinating Suleimani was intended as a “throwaway option” when it was presented to President Trump.

“We didn’t put any option on the table that we didn’t believe,” Esper said.

To sum up: The Pentagon is now denying a letter penned by a brigadier general, which sounds like one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.

As it turns out, President Trump’s decision to kill Iranian General and revolutionary icon Qasem Suleimani – an attack that millions of Trump’s critics warned could start WWIII – might have given the US exactly the cover it needs to pull out of Iraq, once and for all.

In a letter from Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, obtained by AFP whose authenticity has since been confirmed by both US and Iraqi defense officials, the US Army informed Iraq that it is “preparing for onward movement” out of respect for Iraq’s “sovereign decision to order our departure.” Troops will be re-positioned within the country as they prepare for withdrawal.

Full letter text below:

sLTG Abdul Amir

Deputy Director, Combined Joint Operations Baghdad Iraq – Ministry of Defense

Your Excellency,

Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.

In order to conduct this task, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner.

During this time, there will be an increase in helicopter travel in and around the International Zone (IZ) of Baghdad. This increased traffic will include CH47, VH-00, and AH-64 security escort helicopters.

Coalition Forces will take appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate the disturbance to the public. In addition, we will conduct these operations during hours of darkness to help alleviate any perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ.

As we begin implementing this next phase of operations, I wish to reiterate the value of our friendship and partnership. We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.

Very Respectfully,

WILLIAM H. SEELY III

Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps

Commanding General, TF-Iraq

Yesterday, Iraqi lawmakers voted to expel foreign troops from the country during an emergency parliamentary session. Interim Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdul Mahdi, stressed during the session, that while the US government notified the Iraqi military of the planned strike on Soleimani, his government denied Washington permission to continue with the operation.

In a meeting Monday, Mahdi, a caretaker prime minister who said in November he would resign, told US Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller that the US and Iraq needed to cooperate “to implement the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with the decision of the Iraqi parliament,” according to a statement from the PM’s office that was cited by the Washington Post.

Though the Iraq war ‘officially’ ended in 2011, thousands of coalition troops stuck around. Their numbers increased following the rise of ISIS in the region.

Ending the US troop presence in Iraq has been a longtime goal of non-interventionists like Ron Paul and his son, Rand.

That said, even without troops in Iraq, the US will still have plenty of capacity to bully Iran, and other other regional powers.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and CIA director Gina Haspel are expected to brief the lawmakers on the situation early this week. For some unexplained reason, members of the Dem-controlled House will also attend a separate briefing (probably to go over all the possible ways that Trump’s decision to kill General Suleimani could lead to the start of WWIII).

Of course, Trump has gone back on promises to pull troops before (remember Syria?), and, as we noted just moments earlier, other reports claim thousands of Marines are headed toward Iraq as we speak. In any event, over the past few years, Trump has become an expert at managing public opinion – after all he singlehandedly tweeted the market to new all time highs – and it’s possible that this is simply more rhetoric. On the other hand, if the troops really do come home, it would beg the question: Was Trump playing 5-D chess after all?

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Chaos: Pentagon Denies “Poorly Worded” Iraq Withdrawal Letter, Esper Says “No Decision To Leave Iraq, Period”

Rudy Giuliani is not only willing to testify in President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, he wants to “do demonstrations” in order to outline what he described as a “series of criminal acts” involving “the highest levels of the Obama administration,” adding that Democrats Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go down in history like Joe McCarthy when people “calm down and watch this carefully.”

“What I learned is the corruption in Ukraine is vast, it’s extensive, it highly involves the Democratic party – not just in 2016 but for many years,” the former New York City mayor said at Trump’s New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

“When the full scope of what happens in Ukraine comes out, there are going to be a lot of Americans who participated in the corruption,” adding “The Bidens took millions of dollars laundered out of Ukraine, and the only reason they’re getting away with it is because you and the press protect them…”

When asked what he discovered, Rudy replied “I’m not going to tell you what I found out until I have a proper forum… but it’s devastating,” adding “We will figure out the right forum.”

“This is expanding, it will turn out to be a series of criminal acts. It will involve the highest levels of the Obama administration. It’s the reason the Democratic party is in panic.”

“I would testify, I would do demonstrations, I’d give lectures, I’d give summations. Or, I do what I do best, I try the case,” adding, with a smile, “I’d love to try the case.”

“If you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case. Which I kind of invented anyway.”

(Relevant part begins at 3:15)

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Giuliani Says Ukraine Corruption Came From ‘Highest Levels Of Obama Administration’; Wants To Testify, Try Case

The Phase One trade deal which was “concluded” on Oct 11 may finally be getting signed. According to SCMP, China’s Vice-Premier Liu He and chief trade negotiator will lead a delegation to Washington on Saturday, where he is expected to sign the phase one deal that will roll back some current tariffs in exchange for a “best effort” by Beijing to import more US ag products.

Washington has sent an invitation and Beijing has accepted it,” said the anonymous SCMP source, who added that the Chinese delegation is expected to stay “a few days” in the US until the middle of next week, even though neither side has officially confirmed the trip yet.

The signing of a phase one deal during Liu’s trip would mark a point of truce in the bitter trade war between the world’s two biggest economies, one that is expected to boost global markets and brighten increasingly gloomy outlooks for economic growth. That said, it was back in May when trade talks collapsed just hours before the signing ceremony was set to take place, so one never knows…

President Trump said before Christmas that he would “ultimately” have a signing ceremony with President Xi Jinping. “We will be having a signing ceremony, yes,” Trump told reporters. “We will ultimately, yes, when we get together,” he told reporters in Florida.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said on December 13 that officials from both countries would sign the phase one trade deal “in the first week of January” and it now appears that will be the first weekend of the year, although the Chinese side has never confirmed the date of the signing, and there is appears to be no indication that Trump and Xi will meet in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, as SCMP also reports, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with state broadcaster CGTN last weekend that Beijing will live up to its trade deal commitments. “I think we have full confidence in our negotiators. So let the two teams do their job,” Cui said. “And still they are under the guidance of the two presidents.”

China and the US announced an interim deal on December 13 after more than a dozen rounds of on-off negotiations. The development led to both sides cancelling planned new tariffs due to come into effect on December 15. The US also reduced one batch of existing tariffs from 15 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

It is thought that as part of the agreement, China will make a huge purchase of US farm goods, as well as significant purchases of other American products.

China has remained tight-lipped on the details, with state media only confirming that a deal had been agreed in principle, but that the text needed to be translated, proofread and legally scrubbed. Meanwhile, the Office of the USTR released a comprehensive fact-sheet outlining what it claimed to be in the deal. Lighthizer also took to US airwaves – in a rare media appearance – to discuss the contents of the phase one agreement.

Lighthizer added, in his interview with CBS, that as part of this, China agreed to buy US$80 billion in agricultural products over two years. Both figures – astronomical in terms of previous US-China bilateral trading numbers – led to a deluge of economists trying to establish whether the numbers add up. Unfortunately, as we showed before, they do not.

In any case, news that the signing is on deck helped push S&P futures to session highs even though it is “news” that has been priced in virtually every day for the past three months.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: “Beijing Accepts The Invitation”: Liu He Coming To America For “Phase One” Deal Signing On Saturday

Conspiracy theorist and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has been called out by Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple for breathlessly peddling the Steele Dossier – becoming a “clearinghouse” for the largely debunked opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC in 2016 (and fed to the MSM six weeks before the 2016 US election by the former British spy who wrote it).

Wemple has been writing about the media’s coverage of the Steele dossier since it was significantly undercut earlier this month by Michael Horowitz, the DOJ Inspector General. Thursday’s feature details how Maddow spewed Russophobic propaganda to the American public based on Steele’s fabricated claims.

Horowitz absolutely shredded the dossier, writing in his report on FBI FISA abuse that “The FBI concluded, among other things, that although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location and title information, much of which was publicly available.”

Maddow began using the dossier to smear Trump in March of 2017 – when both CNN and the New Yorker falsely claimed that US authorities had loosely confirmed ‘some of the details’ from the dossier. An emboldened Maddow claimed that while the “baseline” dossier claim that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election had yet to be proven, “all the supporting details are checking out, even the really outrageous ones. A lot of them are starting to bear out under scrutiny. It seems like a new one each passing day.”

Based on the conclusions reached by both the FBI and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Maddow was peddling conspiracy theories.

“When small bits of news arose in favor of the dossier, the franchise MSNBC host pumped air into them,” writes Wemple. “At least some of her many fans surely came away from her broadcasts thinking the dossier was a serious piece of investigative research, not the flimflam, quick-twitch game of telephone outlined in the Horowitz report.”

“She seemed to be rooting for the document.”

In April, Maddow ignored that the Mueller report debunked the dossier’s key allegation a literal conspiracy theory – namely that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 US election. Instead, the MSNBC host grasped at straws – trying to suggest various claims in the dossier were corroborated.

Several days after the Mueller report emerged, Maddow addressed not the dissonance between Mueller and the dossier, but a point of possible corroboration. In perhaps its most famous allegation, the dossier claimed that Trump had rented a suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow and “employed” prostitutes to perform a perverted ritual for him. It suggested that there were tapes of the show, the better to amass kompromat against Trump.

A footnote in the Mueller report, noted Maddow, bore a possible connection to this part of the dossier. It turned out that Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze had sent a text message to Cohen on Oct. 30, 2016, saying, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know…” Those tapes were “compromising,” Rtskhiladze told the special counsel. However, he also said “he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen.”

Seizing on the revelations, Maddow commented: “[According] to Mueller, Cohen then told Trump about that before the election. So that means Trump knew that somewhere in the former Soviet Union, a business buddy of his had taken action to make sure tapes, supposedly from Trump’s trip to Russia, those tapes weren’t getting out. Don’t worry, all taken care of. I took care of that for you, right?” she said. –Washington Post

Maddow pumped the brakes on the dossier following the Mueller report. When Horowitz published his report’s comprehensive dressdown of the dossier, there was no mea culpa from Maddow – instead, she said “The inspector general debunks that there was any anti-Trump political bias motivating these decisions. They debunked the idea that the Christopher Steele dossier of opposition research against Trump was the basis for opening the FBI’s Russia investigation. It absolutely was not, and ‘Oh, by the way, no, there was no spying on the Trump campaign.”

And while Wemple says these are legitimate points, Maddow’s track record on the dossier is abysmal.

The case for Maddow is that her dossier coverage stemmed from public documents, congressional proceedings and published reports from outlets with solid investigative histories. She included warnings about the unverified assertions and didn’t use the dossier as a source for wild claims. There is something fishy, furthermore, about that Mueller footnote regarding the “tapes.” In their recent book on the dossier, “Crime in Progress,” the Fusion GPS co-founders wrote that Steele believes the document is 70-percent accurate.

The case against Maddow is far stronger. When small bits of news arose in favor of the dossier, the franchise MSNBC host pumped air into them. At least some of her many fans surely came away from her broadcasts thinking the dossier was a serious piece of investigative research, not the flimflam, quick-twitch game of telephone outlined in the Horowitz report. She seemed to be rooting for the document. –Washington Post

One of Russia’s overall goals, according to ex-KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov, is to weaken the West by dividing America. With MSM hosts like Maddow peddling disinformation to an outrage-hungry audience that still hasn’t accepted the results of the 2016 election, they hardly have to try.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Rachel Maddow Called Out By WaPo Columnist For Shamelessly Peddling Fake News

Christmas is here again. We went through all this just a year ago, but this time it’s different. For millions of Americans, Dec. 25, 2019, will be their last chance to have a truly merry Christmas for many years. Why? Because the millions in question are leftists, and 2020 promises so many bitter disappointments that, by the time next year’s holiday season rolls around, they will be so crushed, so bereft of hope, so numb with pain that not even a free Prius and a year’s supply of abortion coupons will lift their spirits.

The first hit coming their way was the awful realization that Donald J. Trump is still president. Following two party-line votes in the House of Representatives, impeaching the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, a mob of lefties took to Twitter to gloat and celebrate. The problem is – and perhaps this can be attributed to Common Core – these geniuses celebrated because Trump was no longer president, or so they believed.

OMG! Trump Is Still President?

Conservative website PJ Media published just a few of the gleeful tweets posted by people who probably think the three branches of government are federal, state, and local.

So Trump is no longer our president anymore haha am I hearing this correctly,” one person wrote. Other than the obvious, there are so many things wrong with this tweet that one immediately despairs for the very future of civilization.

Thank you America… Donald Trump is no longer the president. Good decision,” wrote someone who appears to believe that impeachment is something that happens at the ballot box or, perhaps, by calling a hotline or something.

Me waking up knowing trump is no longer president as of today!! We won the fascists lose!!!” tweeted another, who posted a photo (presumably a “selfie”) of a skinny, pink-haired, androgynous individual who looked remarkably glum, considering the triumphant tone of the tweet.

Then again, these lefties – particularly the young ones – are so humorless and self-absorbed, that was probably a joyful grin.

There were plenty more examples of this stunning ignorance (the fact that such people might vote should terrify any rational person), but the point is, these numbskulls will, sometime soon, find out that Trump is, in fact, still the president. Imagine, then, how they will react when the Senate takes up articles of impeachment and acquits Trump. The depth of despair and confusion to which they are likely to sink is nothing short of freakin’ hysterical.

Sometime around the late spring or early summer of 2020, John Durham, the federal prosecutor leading the investigation into the attempted coup of 2016-2017, will reveal his findings. It is not unlikely that Durham by that time will have amassed a collection of unsavory and nefarious activities about which Trump-haters will not want to hear. In the event that indictments are handed down, everyone who scoffs at the idea of a deep state conspiracy against the president is going to be squirming uncomfortably – though, perhaps, that is the only way to squirm. Does anyone squirm comfortably?

In July 2020, the Democratic Party is going to select a candidate to lose to Trump in November. Whoever the nominee, a sizable section of the party’s voting base is going to be disappointed. Then comes the November election and the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will inevitably follow. Before they know it, the lefties will be waking up on Christmas morning 2020 and realizing that this is the first of five more Christmases with Trump in the White House.

So, lefties, make the most of Christmas this year. Be joyous, appreciate your loved ones, and celebrate the birth of that guy with the beard you think never existed. Make this your best Christmas ever because, for you, next year is going to be just the worst.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Dear Liberals, Enjoy Xmas 2019… You’re Gonna Hate The 2020s

Given it’s now Dec. 26 in Korea, it looks like Kim Jong Un’s promised “Christmas gift” — or what many thought would be a long-range missile test — never arrived. Perhaps this was the actual gift in the most optimistic scenario: a softening of tensions and willingness to back down in the hope that nuclear talks would warm in this holiday season headed into 2020.

However, it’s not too late for some kind of “late present” brought by ‘Santa Kim‘ given the following provocative US action on Christmas Day no less, as the Pentagon was likely closely monitoring to see if a ‘gift’ was being readied on the ground, via The Hill:

The United States flew four surveillance planes over the Korean peninsula Wednesday, according to an aviation tracker, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

…The U.S. flew four aircraft, the RC-135W Rivet Joint, E-8C, RQ-4 Global Hawk and RC-135S Cobra Ball, over the country between Tuesday and early Wednesday. The planes were believed to have carried out missions in and around the Korean Peninsula, Yonhap reported.

Yonhap further called the flyovers “unusual” and said it shows Washington took Pyongyang’s threatened Christmas “surprise” seriously.

Per the report:

Military sources confirmed to the news outlet that South Korea and the U.S. have strengthened efforts against the possibility of North Korea firing an ICBM or other weapons.

We’re keeping a close watch over military moves in North Korea,” said one of the sources, who the outlet declined to name.

On Tuesday just ahead of Christmas celebrations at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump held out hope the ‘gift’ could turn out to be something positive.

“Let’s see what happens. Everybody’s got surprises for me, but let’s see what happens. I handle them as they come along,” Trump told reporters.

Illustration via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump added. “Maybe it’s a nice present. maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test.

But who knows just how North Korea will interpret the Christmas Day spy plane flyover? Perhaps Kim will take it as a sign of bad faith and will determine a potential belated holiday gift accordingly.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: US Sends 4 Spy Planes Over N.Korea, But Ominous Christmas ‘Gift’ Didn’t Come

A US court of appeals ruled on Wednesday that the US government may collect information about a US citizen without first obtaining a surveillance warrant, as long as it was done so inadvertently while legally monitoring a non-national abroad, according to Reuters.

The appeal in question was brought by Agron Hasbajrami, a US resident arrested in 2011 who later pleaded guilty to attempting to providing material support to a terrorist organization. He was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York as he was attempting to board a flight to Turkey, after communicating with a non-American overseas believed to be associated with a terrorist organization.

Hasbajrami asked the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to toss out the charges after claiming the National Security Agency (NSA) had illegally surveilled him without a warrant, a practice known as ‘unmasking.’

The “incidental collection” of Americans’ communications by NSA electronic dragnet that explicitly targets people abroad and without U.S. ties was permissible under the U.S. Constitution, the court ruled. It also said, however, that examining the content of databases of stored NSA information could violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The court said the “vast majority” of evidence prosecutors had used against Hasbajrami was “lawfully collected,” but prosecutors did not provide information to the trial court about whether investigators had “queried” NSA databases. –Reuters

Brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA’s surveillance program known as PRISM gathers data from tech and telecom companies governed by section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which does not require individual warrants.

“We are gratified by the Court’s remand to resolve a critical factual and constitutional question in this case, as well as its recognition of the important constitutional issues that FISA section 702 raises for everyone. We look forward to the next stage of the litigation,” Hasbajrami’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said in a statement.

Following his guilty plea, he asked the appeals court to consider whether the evidence gathered against him was lawfully collected and admissible under the Fourth Amendment – a question the ACLU felt compelled to weigh in on.

“While we disagree with the court’s ruling that the NSA can collect Americans’ international communications without a warrant … the court rightly finds that the Fourth Amendment applies when the government searches for that sensitive information in intelligence databases,” wrote ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey, who filed a brief in the case.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: NSA Allowed To ‘Unmask’ US Citizens Without Surveillance Warrant: US Court

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmentalist who started skipping school in 2018 to protest outside the Swedish parliament, has long been promoted a special needs teen whose tireless mission to shame the west into cap-and-trade went ‘viral’ organically.

In fact, TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year had a professional film crew “following Thunberg from her early school strike in Stockholm all the way to parliaments and massive international protests” for a forthcoming documentary on HULU tentatively titled ‘Greta,’ which is set to air in 2020, according to Deadline.

Director Nathan Grossman – who previously directed a Swedish film about one man’s reflection on his life as a carnivore titled “Lusts of the Meat” (Köttets lustar) – has been documenting Greta’s mission “to make the world understand the urgency of the climate crisis.”

Which begs the question; did Greta’s famous parents – opera singer Malena Ernman and actor Steve Thunberg – use their industry connections to prepare their daughter to become a celebrity? As RT notes, “Her rise has been meticulously choreographed, her school strike made famous on its first day by Ingmar Rentzhog of the climate change social network ‘We Don’t Have Time.’ Rentzhog, already friends with Thunberg’s parents, has already been accused of using the girl’s image to raise millions of dollars for his company – making her a household name in the process.”

Indeed, Greta-mania has swept the left, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to participate in “climate emergency” rallies around the world. In two years, the teenage activist has gone from shouting at Swedish parliament with her film crew, to shaming the UN for destroying her childhood and her dreams.

She now looms over San Francisco, looking very Putin-ish as she casts judgement over those who would dare drive non-electric cars in the poo-coated liberal utopia.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Lights, Camera, Greta! Teen Environmentalist’s ‘Viral’ Rise Has Been A Documentary This Whole Time

Update: According to the New York Times, Pelosi says she’s not going to push moderate Democrats to support the impeachment push, saying she has “no message to them” and that “we’re not whipping this legislation.”

“People have to come to their own decisions,” she said, adding “I don’t say anything to them.”

House Democratic leaders are quietly panicking over rumors that ‘more than two’ Democrats will bail on impeaching President Trump, according to the Washington Post, citing ‘multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.’ The paper described House Leader Nancy Pelosi’s anguish over defections as “quiet hand-wringing.”

Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.

Predictions about some defections come as a core group of centrists from districts Trump won in 2016 are having second thoughts. While many knew impeachment would never be popular in their GOP-leaning districts, some have been surprised that support hasn’t increased despite negative testimony about Trump from a series of blockbuster hearings last month. –Washington Post

According to the report, “several moderates have privately pined for other options,” primarily censure. Others have considered “splitting the baby,” a popular procedure among Democrats, in which they would back one of the two articles of impeachment but not the other.

“I’m still thinking it over,” said one such Democrat, Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada. “This is a very grave decision. . . . I’m hearing all sides of it. . . . It’s mixed, it’s very mixed.”

“As soon as they’re formally adopted, I’ll make a decision,” said New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer, another centrist Democrat who attended a Monday night meeting of moderate Democrats who expressed their misgivings about impeachment. “I’ve said all along, I need to see all the facts. I’m not going to prejudge anything until we get every bit of information.”

WaPo points out that Democratic leaders still have the votes to impeach Trump if moderates bail – as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can lose 17 Democrats for it to pass.

With 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans and one independent — Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can afford to lose 17 Democrats and still prevail.

Amash is expected to vote to impeach Trump, while Republicans are likely to unite in opposition.

That said, the report also notes that Republicans will seek to capitalize on defecting Democrats, painting the narrative that the party is more divided than ever.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Impeachment Ringleaders Quietly Panic As Moderate Democrats Bail

There is a reason that you have not seen more clips of AOC et al. sobbing uncontrollably at a fenced car park, or Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer exclaiming “what about the children” in recent months.

The Left’s favorite talking point of the first half of 2019 – Trump is caging kids at the border because of his worse-than-Hitler, racist and inhumane immigration policies – has somehow evaporated in recent months…

As The Wall Street Journal reports, arrests of people crossing the southwestern border have plummeted by 75% since May, marking one of the most dramatic drops in recent history.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday that 33,510 people were arrested after illegally crossing the border in November, marking the sixth straight monthly decline since May, when 132,000 such apprehensions marked a 13-year high.

In fact, The Journal notes that the May-November decline is the biggest in absolute numbers and second biggest by percentage of any six-month period this century.

The question is why?

  • Did the desperate immigrants seeking refuge in America’s welfare state suddenly figure out things are not so bad at home after all?
  • Did Soros’ (alleged) caravan-creating funds suddenly dry up?
  • Or did President Trump’s immigration policy changes – ‘building the wall’, increasing spending on border security, and negotiating (tariff threats) with Mexico on immigrant flows – actually work?

The answer is simple…

“This is a direct result due to this president’s strategies to address the historic flood of Central Americans, families, illegally crossing the border,” acting CBP Comissioner Mark Morgan said at a press conference Monday.

“The network of initiatives have worked and continues to work.”

The program, often called Remain in Mexico, is one of the biggest contributors to the decline of border arrests, immigration experts say. It has deterred some people from coming into the U.S., due to knowledge that they are likely to be stranded in Mexico for months while their cases are decided.

“I think the big factor has been the Trump administration policies,” said Randy Capps, director of research of U.S. programs at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

Just as notably, Capps points out that other factors that often alter migration flows, including crime rates and unemployment in the migrants’ home countries, haven’t dramatically changed in recent months.

In Tucson, Ariz., a migrant shelter has seen arrivals drop from more than 100 a day last year to fewer than 40 recently, according to its operator, Teresa Cavendish.

In McAllen, Texas, a recently opened shelter intended for migrants had so many empty beds last month that it began to serve other members of the community.

The López Obrador government has pledged that the security efforts will be permanent.

Author: Tyler Durden

Source: Zero Hedge: Trump Beats Border-Crisis: Illegal Crossings Crash To Lowest Since 2013

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