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On Trump’s big applause line, the sound of silence was stunning

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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told Congress on Tuesday that the economy would crash and no policy work could be done if lawmakers investigate his administration or stand in the way of his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria.

The lines, delivered early in his State of the Union address, were so clearly designed to draw cheers from his Republican allies that they even included a rhyme scheme.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said, eliciting an ovation from the GOP.

But then, as he asserted himself further on matters of war and the separation of powers, Trump went a bit too far.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he said. “It just doesn’t work that way!”

Instead of applause, Trump was met at first with a brief moment of lightly scattered laughter and a few lonely claps — and then came steely silence as the president stood at the lectern looking at lawmakers.

Amid Trump’s nearly 5,200 words Tuesday night, that absence of sound spoke loudest. It represented a growing and increasingly fraught disconnect between the president and Congress on two issues that figure to factor prominently in his two-year quest for re-election. And, more broadly, it demonstrated again that the president no longer has the kind of command over GOP foot soldiers in Congress than he once enjoyed.

Just this week, the Senate voted 70-26 on a nonbinding amendment opposing a “precipitous withdrawal” from either Afghanistan or Syria — a reaction to Trump’s plans to bring troops home from both countries — and several Republicans have said they hope the president does not try to execute an end-run around Congress to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While Trump promised Tuesday that “I’ll get it built,” Republicans chose not to fund the wall when they controlled the House and Senate in the last Congress.

And on the heels of Trump slamming top intelligence officials whose testimony on Capitol Hill has contradicted his claims about Iran cheating on the nuclear deal from which he withdrew the U.S., the appetite among lawmakers to heed his call to back down on their oversight role seems to be minimal.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Tuesday night that Trump is mixed up about Congress’ role.

“The president seems to believe that because Congress must legislate, we should not investigate,” Cummings said in a statement. “Of course, the Constitution requires us to do both. That is exactly how it works.”

For Trump, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Syria represents the delivery of a campaign promise — and a potentially powerful plank in his re-election platform.

“As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach,” he said. “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

That line, which reflects the sentiments of many voters, including many Democrats, drew mild applause in the chamber.

Of Afghanistan, he said, “We do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace … it’s time.”

In 2016 and again now, Trump has bet that the voting public is at odds with politicians in Washington about continued U.S. engagement in foreign wars. One data point that supports that theory: when the Senate voted this week to announce its opposition to hasty withdrawals, most of the Democrats running for president or considering bids voted against the amendment and, essentially, with Trump.

The amendment was nothing more than a policy statement — it didn’t restrict Trump in any way — but the fact that the Republican-led Senate chose to vote on it demonstrated an increased willingness among GOP lawmakers to make public their disagreements with the president.

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Brexit Party vs Labour Party: Who will win CRUNCH EU elections in MAJOR SIGN to MAY

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NIGEL Farage has seen a surge in support for his Brexit Party after only forming it in January. But will the Brexit Party win the EU elections ahead of Labour and the Conservatives in a major sign to Theresa May?

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What the Mueller report says about Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

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By Elizabeth Chuck

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report contains plenty of new details about President Donald Trump’s actions before and after the 2016 election — but it also puts a spotlight on the family members he’s leaned heavily on during the campaign and his presidency.

Notably, the report contains revelations about a 2016 meeting between President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian envoy. It also provides details about how Ivanka Trump and other members of the president’s inner circle reacted after learning about eldest son Donald Trump Jr.’s emails setting up the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians; and it confirms correspondence between Donald Jr. and WikiLeaks about hacked Clinton campaign emails.

Jared Kushner

Among Kushner’s many appearances in the report is his and Flynn’s meeting with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York after the 2016 election. The New York Times and others reported that the meeting that November was about improving relations between the two countries, and they discussed establishing a secure line of communication with Russia.

Mueller’s report confirms those details and adds that the three also discussed U.S. policy toward Syria.



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European elections 2019 explained: Who’s voting – and for WHAT? What is at stake?

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THE European Elections will take place between April 23 and 26. But who is voting and what is at stake?

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