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‘Iran made a very big mistake!’

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that Iran had “made a very big mistake!” hours after the Pentagon accused Iran of downing a U.S. surveillance drone several hours earlier, delivering the first official White House reaction to the incident as officials gathered to weigh the U.S. response.

The president’s statement, made via Twitter Thursday morning, came shortly after White House officials confirmed that he had been briefed on the incident, which occurred around roughly 4:00 am Thursday morning in Iran, a bit after 7:30 pm ET Wednesday evening in Washington.

A meeting was scheduled to be held at the White House Thursday morning to discuss the U.S. response, according to two administration officials. Outgoing acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan and his replacement, incoming acting defense secretary Mark Esper, were among those expected to attend.

At roughly the same time, House and Senate leaders and key committee chairs were scheduled to attend an Iran briefing to discuss their concerns and hear about the situation from officials, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday.

Later in the day, Pelosi planned to hold a briefing for the House Democratic caucus with Wendy Sherman, who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement that President Donald Trump withdrew from, and former CIA Director John Brennan.

The House speaker said Thursday that “high tension wires are up in the region” and cautioned against any “reckless” moves by the U.S.

“We have to be strong and strategic about how we protect our interests. We also cannot be reckless in what we do. I don’t think the president wants to go to war. There’s no appetite for going to war in our country,” she said at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. “This is a dangerous neighborhood. A miscalculation on either side could provoke something that could be very bad in terms of security and our interests.”

Although both nations have acknowledged that the U.S. military drone was downed, they disagreed on whether the drone had violated Iranian airspace: Iranian’s Revolutionary Guard said that the U.S. drone had violated Iranian airspace, but U.S. officials disputed that account.

Rebecca Shabad contributed.



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Politics

Jeremy Corbyn BLUNDER: Labour leader ‘did not know’ ISIS leader ‘blew himself up’

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JEREMY CORBYN has come under more fire for suggesting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi should have been arrested and put on trial.

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Pelosi: 'Nobody should have the right to endanger whistleblowers'

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters in her weekly briefing that she stood by the whistleblower, and that any threat to them “undermines our ability to hear truth about power.”

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First public impeachment hearing ‘corroborated evidence of bribery’

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the testimony presented by two career U.S. diplomats at the first House impeachment hearing a day earlier had presented evidence of bribery committed by President Donald Trump.

“The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into a political rival,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.

Asked to further elaborate on her statement regarding bribery, Pelosi said, “Well, you know we’re talking Latin around here — e pluribus unum, from anyone, quid pro quo, bribery, and that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceeding. …”

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“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections — that’s bribery,” she said.

Pelosi continued to assert that Democrats still have not made a decision about whether to pursue articles of impeachment against the president.

The speaker also said that what Trump had done in the Ukraine case “make[s] what Nixon did look almost small,” referring to the Watergate-related charges that led to the 37th president’s impeachment.

Under section 4, Article II of the Constitution, “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s comments come amid a Democratic shift in the language used to describe Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers had called the president’s moves a “quid pro quo,” but have recently shifted to a more uniform use of more widely used terms that Democrats believe may resonate more deeply with voters.

In his testimony Wednesday, acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified that a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the release of U.S. aid to Ukraine were conditioned on Ukraine announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the 2016 presidential election.

George Kent, a senior State Department official, also testified about those investigations and the efforts by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to smear former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and pressure Ukraine to launch those probes.

Pelosi was also asked Thursday about the whistleblower, whom Hill Republicans and Trump have called on to offer formal testimony. “Nobody should have the right to endanger whistleblowers, and that is a right that I will defend,” she said. “Any retribution or harm coming to the whistleblower undermines our ability to have truth about power.”

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