In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

  • President Trump said the United States would not leave Iraq on “friendly” terms and threatened to impose sanctions on the country “like they’ve never seen before” after the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of expelling the US military.
  • John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, said he was willing to testify in the Senate’s impeachment trial if subpoenaed.
  • Netanyahu told security cabinet that Israel wasn’t involved in the killing of Soleimani and stressed “it is a U.S. event and we should stay out of it,” according to 2 cabinet ministers who attended the meeting.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper refuted a letter from a senior military officer that appeared to suggest a withdrawal was underway. The letter stated the United States-led military coalition against Islamic State was pulling out of Iraq and would be repositioning forces over the next few days and weeks. An official, who was not authorized to discuss the letter publicly, said the letter did not accurately portray the reason for the temporary redeployment of troops and contractors from Baghdad’s Green Zone.
  • The Trump administration issued an advisory on Monday urging Americans to avoid traveling in areas of Israel and Palestinian-held territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. An advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Israel did not provide a specific reason for the travel advisory, linking it only to heightened tensions in the Middle East.
  • The Pentagon is sending six B-52 bombers to Diego Garcia, a militarised atoll just south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean. B-52s will be available for operations against Iran if ordered, an official said. But the deployment does not signal that operations have been ordered.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has indicated that the U.S. would not launch attacks on Iranian culture sites, breaking with President Trump’s threat to target those sites if Iranian-backed forces initiated strikes on Americans or U.S. assets. 
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham says he has warned President Trump against targeting Iranian cultural sites — a step the president has repeatedly threatened — telling him that “cultural sites, religious sites are not lawful targets.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the votes to quash Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer’s demands to require additional witnesses testify at the start of President Trump’s impeachment trial.
  • Trump administration officials have reportedly begun drawing up potential economic sanctions against Iraq, a foreign ally the U.S. has invested billions supporting, in the wake of President Trump’s threat to impose economic penalties, should the country force American troops to withdraw.
  • The U.S. trade deficit fell to a three-year low of $43.1 billion in November, according to new Commerce Department data released Tuesday. The 8.2 percent decline in the trade deficit followed a $2.5 billion drop in imports, paired with a $1.4 billion increase in exports from October.
  • Federal prosecutors called for up to six months of prison time for Michael Flynn, arguing that the former Trump national security adviser’s shift to a more combative defense strategy shows he’s no longer exhibiting the remorse he did in 2017.
  • Michael Bloomberg’s campaign officials confirmed the presidential campaign has secured a 60-second advertising spot that will air during this year’s Super Bowl. The ad buy will most likely cost about $10 million.
  • President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is also planning to drop $10 million to advertise during the Super Bowl, the start of a massive election-year spending spree that will intensify over the coming months, according to four people briefed on the plans.

The campaign has purchased 60 seconds of commercial time during the Feb. 2 Super Bowl. The ad or ads — it’s unclear whether it will be a single 60-second spot or a pair of 30-second commercials — are expected to run early in the game, when viewership is likely to be at its highest.

  • Canada is relocating some of its roughly 500 soldiers in Iraq to Kuwait due to ongoing tensions between U.S. and Iran
  • President Trump met with the Saudi vice minister of defense on Monday amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following a US strike that killed a top Iranian general. Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted that he met with Trump under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to discuss “aspects of cooperation, coordination and joint work between the two friendly countries in various aspects, including joint efforts to confront regional and international challenges.”
  • Iraq has received a letter from the U.S. army concerning the withdrawal of its troops from the country, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday. The English and Arabic language versions of the letter are not identical, so Iraq has requested clarifications, he added. Trump was unclear as to if the letter was intended to be sent. The Iraqi PM can’t understand how USA can send a letter “clearly talking about withdrawal” and then say its a mistake. Prime minister’s overall message is: how disorganized is the US administration?
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said that he wants to hear from John Bolton after the former White House national security adviser offered to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial if subpoenaed. Romney told reporters that he wants to hear from Bolton and find out “what he knows” about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. “I would like to be able to hear from John Bolton. What the process is to make that happen, I don’t have an answer for you,” he added.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump would begin without deciding the question of witnesses as Democrats had demanded. “We have the votes,” McConnell said, for the Senate to follow the precedent of the Clinton impeachment trial in which the question of whether to call witnesses was voted on after arguments from the prosecution and the defense.
  • U.S. allies said Tuesday that they were reducing and repositioning troops inside Iraq amid fears that Iran will retaliate for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, one of its most senior military officials, in a U.S. airstrike. Some European diplomats expressed fears that the shifting of troops would diminish their ability to fight the Islamic State. Militants “would be the only winners” of a full-blown war as a result of U.S.-Iran tensions, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday, singling out the Islamic State as having the most to gain.
  • Imaad Shah Zuberi, a fundraiser for President Trump, will plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into his activities, his lawyer, David Kelley, said, after U.S. prosecutors accused him of back-dating a check to a fellow donor and deleting email evidence. Zuberi’s lawyer said he has agreed to plead guilty to obstruction and is seeking to have the case transferred to Los Angeles, where he lives and where he previously pleaded guilty to charges that he made nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions from 2012 to 2016. In that case, he also admitted hiding work for foreign nationals in lobbying the U.S. government. If the transfer is approved, any further hearings on the case would take place in California.
  • A trade dispute between the Trump administration and France intensified on both sides of the Atlantic on Tuesday, with U.S. tech giants Amazon, Google, and Facebook backing tariffs to retaliate against a new French digital services tax. A top EU official warning the bloc would stand behind its member country. The clash could complicate efforts to strike an international agreement on taxation of the tech sector and other multinational businesses.

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