Report: Biden to Name Russia Hoaxer, CNN Analyst Tony Blinken Secretary of State

Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly set to announce this week that Tony Blinken, who supported the idea of “Russia collusion,” would be his Secretary of State.

Bloomberg News reported Sunday evening:

President-elect Joe Biden intends to name his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of State, according to three people familiar with the matter, setting out to assemble his cabinet even before Donald Trump concedes defeat.

In addition, Jake Sullivan, formerly one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, is likely to be named Biden’s national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the matter. An announcement is expected Tuesday, the people said.

Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama, has also been a New York Times opinion writer and a “global affairs analyst” for CNN. In that capacity, he supported the “Russia collusion” hoax.

As Breitbart News reported in 2017, Blinken told CNN: “The president’s ongoing collusion with Russia’s plans is really striking, intentional or not.” He said that Russia had sown doubt about American elections and institutions.

(Subsequently, an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.)

Blinken also apologized earlier this year to left-wing anti-Israel radical Linda Sarsour, regarded by many critics (even on the left) as an antisemite, after the Biden campaign tried to distance itself from her views.

He is also married to Evan Ryan, a former aide to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Ryan worked for Clinton at a time when Clinton’s chief of staff, Margaret Williams, acknowledged accepting a campaign donation from entrepreneur Johnny Chien Chuen Chung.

Chung said that the donation was meant to help Clinton pay for Christmas receptions for the Democratic National Committee at the White House, in exchange for “VIP treatment for a delegation of visiting Chinese businessmen,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Biden is expected to name several potential Cabinet nominees in the coming days.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Virgil: If You Liked the ‘New World Order,’ You’ll Love ‘The Great Reset’

Your Betters Think You Need to be Reset 

By now you might have heard of the phrase “The Great Reset.”  It refers to the “opportunity”—that’s the eager noun often used by would-be Great Resetters—presented by Covid-19.  Yes, some think that we should look past the awful tragedy of the coronavirus and instead see great opportunity.  That is, the opportunity for a Great Reset: The wholesale re-engineering of economies and societies, with an eye toward not only combating the virus, but also achieving other goals, notably, fighting climate change. 

This phrase, Great Reset, originated with Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).   A Breitbart News reader probably knows a lot about the WEF, which convenes every year in Davos, Switzerland; as James Delingpole has written of these confabs, they’re a place where “billionaires go to lecture millionaires on how ordinary people live.”   In addition, “Davos Men” and “Davos Women”—plus perhaps, others—gather elsewhere during the year, even as they produce a steady stream of “thought-leader” materials. 

Just this past May, Schwab announced a conference with world leaders and luminaries—including Prince Charles, that well-known expert on everything—to discuss his latest brainchild:

The meeting will see various guests from the public and private sector make contributions on how we can achieve a “Great Reset” of our global economic system in the post-COVID era.

And in July, Schwab published a book, COVID-19: The Great Reset, in which he argued:

The scope of change required is immense, ranging from elaborating a new social contract to forging improved international collaboration.  Immense but far from insurmountable, as the case for smart investment in the environment shows.

Since then, the phrase has gained steam.  On a September 29 video conference with the United Nations, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that the current crisis provided an “opportunity of a reset.” 

Meanwhile, Time magazine published a cover story and special section entitled, yes, of course, “The Great Reset.”  The magazine introduced the idea by explaining:

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want.  TIME partnered with the World Economic Forum to ask leading thinkers to share ideas for how to transform the way we live and work. 

And then the reader was presented with 23 guest essays elaborating on the subject, penned by everyone from Tony Blair, the former British prime minister; to Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund; to Prince Harry and Meghan, the self-exiled Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are even more highly regarded than Prince Charles for their planetary problem-solving acumen.

As an aside, we can observe that while Time was once one of the most important publications in America, these days, the title—now a web-only portal—is of interest mostly because it is the platform for the politically active Big Tech mogul, worth $10 billion, Marc Benioff.  So if a commoner wants to know what Benioff and his friends are thinking about, Time is a good place to find out. 

With so much coordinated hype, it’s little wonder that mentions of the phrase Great Reset, according to Google Trends, have multiplied 100-fold in the past year.  

Yet of course, whenever an elite meme gets that much traction, some are sure to see trouble, even a conspiracy; although, of course, it’s not a quite a conspiracy when it’s all out in public.  It’s more like, one could say, a movement: a movement of the elite to decide what’s good for us—and, of course, what’s good for the elite.  

Still, our betters were obviously worried about the growth of the meme #TheGreatReset—you never what the pitchfork populists can do—that the elite media were tasked with tamping things down a bit, so as to keep the yokels pacified.  Thus on November 17, The New York Times sought to swat down concerns with a piece headlined, “The baseless ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory rises again.”  Trust us, intones the Times.  Such fact-checking words should soothe populist fears, right?  

So what do the Great Resetters actually want to do?  To read through their materials is to see that they mostly want to keep doing what they’re doing now, only more so.  That is, more trade, more international governance, more efforts to fight climate change, more aid and loan programs to ameliorate poverty, especially in Africa.  

For those more curious about the Great Reset, here are four articles — oops, make that five–from Breitbart News over the last six months on the movement.  The acerbic James Delingpole, for example, puts his cards down when he calls it “the latest code phrase for green global tyranny.”  

To be sure, not everyone will agree with such a caustic assessment, and yet whether one sees the Great Reset as malign, benign, or somewhere in between, it’s undeniable that the phrase has potency, serving as a rallying point for Davos Men and Davos Women.   

Indeed, the Great Reset bids to be the latest proof of what conservative academic Richard Weaver wrote back in 1948, “Ideas Have Consequences.” 

The New World Order: A Case Study in an Idea with Consequences

If we want to see the power of an ambitious idea when it’s injected into the global jet stream, we might consider the phrase “New World Order.”  Those words from 1990 set a predicate for American military intervention, around the world, over the next quarter-century, from Kuwait to Somalia to Haiti to Serbia to Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria.  

Of course, most Americans don’t think that all those interventions have been a good idea, costing, as they have, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.  And yet public opinion, as we are seeing, can be bypassed, if not totally ignored. The U.S. is still actively engaged, for instance, in Afghanistan.

Yet back on September 11, 1990, when President George H. W. Bush spoke the words, “New World Order” to a joint session of Congress, the elite was ecstatic: Here is a chance to do global good!  To open up markets for Hollywood movies!  To bring to the U.S. more refugees to speed along diversity! 

As Bush said those 30 years ago, the end of the Cold War against the Soviet Union should not be an occasion for the U.S. to stand down and do less; it should be an opportunity to stand up and do more.  And the United Nations, he added, should be at the forefront: 

We are hopeful that the machinery of the United Nations will no longer be frozen by the divisions that plagued us during the cold war, that at last—long last—we can build new bridges and tear down old walls, that at long last we will be able to build a new world.

Warming to his internationalist theme, Bush continued:

We have a vision of a new partnership of nations . . . a partnership based on consultation, cooperation, and collective action, especially through international and regional organizations; a partnership united by principle and the rule of law and supported by an equitable sharing of both cost and commitment; a partnership whose goals are to increase democracy, increase prosperity, increase the peace, and reduce arms.

Here was his grand peroration to borderless globalism: 

I see a world of open borders, open trade and, most importantly, open minds; a world that celebrates the common heritage that belongs to all the world’s people, taking pride not just in hometown or homeland but in humanity itself.

And he closed with this ringing call to action: 

The world must know and understand: From this hour, from this day, from this hall, we step forth with a new sense of purpose, a new sense of possibilities. We stand together, prepared to swim upstream, to march uphill, to tackle the tough challenges as they come not only as the United Nations but as the nations of the world united.  And so, let it be said of the final decade of the 20th century: This was a time when humankind came into its own, when we emerged from the grit and the smoke of the industrial age to bring about a revolution of the spirit and the mind and began a journey into a new day, a new age, and a new partnership of nations.

Such words might make one woozy, but most of the elite, in both parties, loved Bush’s speech.  Neoconservatives looked forward to more wars, and liberals looked forward to more humanitarian rescue missions.  And so as a compromise at the pinnacle, neocons and liberals agreed to have both.  That is, wars and do-gooding–often at the same time.

Yet interestingly, the American people as a whole were unmoved by all this gleeful anticipation of planet-straddling.  Americans had performed heroically during the Cold War—it was they, after all, who had paid the taxes and provided the manpower for the hot wars along the way, such as Korea and Vietnam—and now they wanted just to sit still and catch their breath.  There was plenty of work to be done, after all, to build up the homefront, as blue-collar bard Bruce Springsteen had always been reminding us.  

Indeed, a direct political test of the New World Order came in 1992—and Bush 41 flunked.  In that year, running for re-election, Bush won just 37 percent of the popular vote, thereby losing to Bill Clinton. 

So yes, big ideas have consequences, not all of them pleasing to the starry-eyed big thinkers.  

And that’s because the ideas of ordinary people, too, have consequences.  Regular folks don’t write for or read Foreign Affairs, for instance, and yet they can still make their opinions known at the ballot box. 

The Power of Populism and Its Weakness

Interestingly, Bill Clinton proved to be even more of a do-gooding interventionist than Bush.  In fact, Clinton’s performance in office demonstrates the power of a big idea that ensorcels the elite; if enough muckety-mucks love the notion, politicians will simply ignore public opinion once they’re in office.  Similar elite ensorcelling was the story, too, of the Bush 43 and Obama administrations—and that’s how we got to “endless wars.”  

So the lesson, here, is that the people have to defend themselves, peacefully—and not just on election day.  That is, for their own sake, they must not only vote, but also stay engaged with politics; otherwise, the politicians, who once harkened to the siren song of the New World Order, will now be lured by The Great Reset.  

In the face of such lures, only consistent popular pressure will keep the political class from looking around the world and seeing the need to “engage” and to “do more”—with someone else’s money, sons, and daughters. 

In other words, people need not only to vote, but also to organize.  Only organization will preserve the power and influence of an election in which the people spoke.  Yes, it’s only ongoing organization that can nudge politicians continuously, reminding them of what the voters want.  Otherwise, most pols, elected and re-elected, will settle into their terms of office and spend their time reading about themselves and listening to lobbyists and pressure groups—and we know what that will mean. 

The point here is not necessarily to create a new organization; any extant group,  sufficiently informed and energized, will do fine.  Yet the organization must be always vigilant in maintaining its principles, while reacting to news and events as they come.  

So now, today, Joe Biden: We must, to be perfectly practical, consider the real prospect that he will be the 46th president.  If he is, in fact, sworn in on January 20, who will be his White House policy team and Cabinet?  Will they be Great Resetters?  

We don’t yet know the answer to those questions, but we should consider some early indicators.  For instance, on November 18, Anne Applebaum, a blue-chip D.C. establishmentarian, tweeted: “The world is not the same as it was in 2016.  Nobody should imagine that Biden will bring about a restoration.  To succeed, his administration will have to carry out a revolution.”

We might pause over that last word: “revolution.”  We can assume that Applebaum is using that “r”-word as a synonym for the other “r”-word, reset.  And in an accompanying article in The Atlantic—that being a favored publication for Great Resetters—Applebaum cited many revolutionary/reset issues, from trade to human rights to climate change. 

Are you on board with all that?  Are you on board with paying for, and submitting to, what the Resetters have in mind?   If not, then you’d better make your opinion known.  And it’s best, too, if you join with others in peaceful political action, creating a solid bloc of resistance.  Yes, the right, too, can #Resist.   

It’s true that these days, populists, nationalists, and conservatives don’t have much money relative to the left, and yet they do have precious assets: their power to vote—two senatorial elections are coming up in Georgia, by the way—their ability to organize, and their right to peacefully petition the government.  

Of course, any sort of activism must now exist in the shadow of the Tech Lords, who are wielding their digital control over the rest of us.  We saw that reality, big time, with the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations.  

Yet once again, even here, we have the power to push back.  On November 17, the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Big Tech; in that session, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri scooped the world, confronting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about a hitherto unknown surveillance tool.  

Interestingly, in that same hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, added this blast at BigTech:

You have built terrifying tools of persuasion and manipulation . . .  You have made a huge amount of money by strip mining data about our private lives and promoting hate speech and voter suppression.

We might note that while Hawley and Blumenthal, being of different parties, might express themselves in different ways about different specific issues, there’s nevertheless a common overlap of alarm there—and that’s the potential beginning of a broad coalition to push back against Big Tech.  

Oh, and did Virgil mention that Big Tech is all aboard the Great Reset Express?    

So yes, there’s plenty to be done: The hard work of freedom is just that: hard work. Every day, politicians need to be reminded that voters, and their organizations, are paying attention—and that the ideas of Main Street, too, have consequences. 

We must realize that the Resetters have their agenda, and that they see Joe Biden as a vehicle for the Resetting they crave.  

And so even those who aren’t yet interested in the Great Reset should realize: The Great Reset is interested in them. 

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Nearly All Lawmakers at House Armed Services Committee Hearing Opposed Afghanistan Troop Drawdown

Nearly all lawmakers present during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday expressed opposition to President Trump’s troop drawdown in Afghanistan from 4,500 troops to 2,500 troops by January 15, despite little public appetite for keeping U.S. military involvement going.

Both Republicans and Democrats at the hearing expressed reservations about the decision, which was announced last week at the Pentagon by Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, in accordance with Trump’s goal to end the war in Afghanistan.

Republicans and Democrats on the committee expressed concern about whether 2,500 troops were too few to stave off a takeover of the country by the Taliban, to conduct the U.S. counterterrorism mission there, and to prevent al Qaeda from plotting another 9/11 from within its borders.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) even raised the prospect of reversing Trump’s decision and sending U.S. forces back into Afghanistan:

I worry about the reinstatement of Sharia law and the impacts on women and children and I worry that we have to calibrate what a presence that will be relevant is. Is 2,500 enough, or do we need 4,000? Can we reinstate the other 2,000 after the Biden administration comes into operation if that is where he’s inclined to go?

There was little support for drawing down forces from the hearing’s three witnesses, who all opposed Trump’s decision.

“It is, I am afraid to say, folly to think that a full U.S. troop withdrawal is somehow going to make us safer or uphold our core values,” said Ryan Crocker, a retired career ambassador and nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “We have to show the strategic patience we need to face down a determined enemy.”

“In my view, we should maintain our current troop level chiefly for its political value as bargaining leverage in the ongoing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” said Stephen Biddle, professor at Columbia University and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“I think the U.S goal should be to continue to build political consensus in Afghanistan to support peace talks and at least to prevent the overthrow the Afghan government by the Taliban,” said Seth Jones, an expert with the Center for Strategic & International Studies thinktank.

Only two lawmakers at the hearing expressed opposition to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

On the Democrat side, it was House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), who raised questions about the costs and effectiveness of having U.S. troops in the country, although he stopped short of making any definitive statements.

“Outside forces are not going to bring peace to Afghanistan. One way or the other, the people of Afghanistan are going to have to make that choice. And when we look at Afghanistan, I think we need to be very humble about imagining that there is something we can do to make that different,” he said, adding:

If you tell me I got to bet $100 dollars one way or the other, I’m betting rather confidently that the chaos is going to continue. And we are in the middle of that chaos…Lives are being lost, money is still being spent, and people — our troops and others — are still being forced to be sent over there, and I think the American people are saying, ‘For what?’

Only Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) unequivocally said he was opposed to keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He noted that as a Republican member of the committee and supporter of withdrawing U.S. forces from the country, he was “a minority” with a “minority view” on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

“I’m against it. Based on even the words of our own witnesses today, the corruption in Afghanistan is unsolvable, the war in unwinnable, and the strategy is undecipherable,” he said.

“I listened intently as Dr. Biddle said, ‘We’re leaving, and we’re getting nothing.’ Well, what we’re getting is out,” he said. “To me, the biggest loser in Afghanistan is the nation that stays the longest.”

“This has been the longest war in our nation’s history. Our country is weary of it, even if the House Armed Services Committee is not,” he added.

Some other lawmakers also questioned the costs of the war, but stopped short of calling for forces to come home.

The opposition from Congress to drawing down troops comes despite broad public support for bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan — nearly 70 percent of Americans, according to a YouGov/Charles Koch Institute poll in January.

Trump campaigned on ending the war in Afghanistan and has reduced the number of U.S. troops there from 8,600 when he first took office, to 2,500 currently.

Former President Barack Obama also campaigned on ending the war in Afghanistan, but raised the number to as many as 100,000 forces in the country, before leaving 8,600 forces there.

The war began in October 2001, after al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden used Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan and launch the September 11, 2001, attacks against the U.S. The U.S. routed the Taliban, who had granted Bin Laden safe haven.

However, the U.S. and allied nations then became mired in a nation-building campaign as the Taliban reconstituted and launched an insurgency against them.

More than 2,400 U.S. military and Defense Department civilians have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and another 20,721 have been wounded.

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook.

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U.S. Prosecutors Drop Drug Charges Against former Mexican Defense Minister

This story first published on The Dark Wire: An Investigation Foundation, founded by Sara A. Carter.

U.S. prosecutors formally dismissed drug trafficking and money laundering charges against Mexico’s former defense minister this Wednesday.

In New York City, a federal judge has granted prosecutors requests from the Justice Department to dismiss all criminal charges against retired Mexican Army General and former defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda. Cienfuegos, who served as Mexico’s defense secretary under former President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018, was secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2019. General Cienfuegos will be returned to Mexico by the U.S. Marshals to face charges by Mexican authorities “if appropriate.”

According to the U.S. indictment, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, also known as “El Padrino” (The GodFather), is accused of trafficking in cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana to the United States and money laundering while serving as Mexico’s defense minister.

Gen. Cienfuegos also accused of permitting the “H-2” cartel led at the time by Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, alias “El H2” to operate with impunity in Mexico while using the Mexican military to launch operations against rivals. Patrón Sánchez, “H-2” was the “plaza boss” for the Beltrán-Leyva spinoff drug gang previously aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel. Patrón Sánchez was killed in February 2017, during a raid led by the Mexican Navy.

The arrest of Gen. Cienfuegos took place at Los Angeles International Airport in mid-October when he arrived with his family from his native Mexico. His detention drew immediate backlash from high level Mexican government officials who were said to be blindsided and embarrassed since they were not informed of the investigation against Cienfuegos and impending arrest.

On Tuesday, November 17, the Attorney General of the United States William P. Barr and Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero released a joint statement as follows:

“In recognition of the strong law enforcement partnership between Mexico and the United States, and in the interests of demonstrating our united front against all forms of criminality, the U.S. Department of Justice has made the decision to seek dismissal of the U.S. criminal charges against former Secretary Cienfuegos, so that he may be investigated and, if appropriate, charged, under Mexican law.”

“At the request of the Fiscalía General de la República, the U.S. Department of Justice, under the Treaty that governs the sharing of evidence, has provided Mexico evidence in this case and commits to continued cooperation, within that framework, to support the investigation by Mexican authorities.”

According to court documents, prosecutors indicated that “the evidence in this case is strong.” But further related, “as a matter of foreign policy and in recognition of the strong law enforcement partnership between Mexico and the United States, and in the interest of demonstrating our united front against all forms of criminality including the trafficking of narcotics by Mexican Cartels the government hereby moves to dismiss the pending charges against the defendant without prejudice.”

A detention memo submitted by the Drug Enforcement Administration indicated that thousands of intercepted BlackBerry messages revealed that Cienfuegos made sure that military operations were not carried out against the H-2 cartel, as reported by NBC News.

The arrest and subsequent release of Gen. Cienfuegos followed the December 2019 arrest of Genaro García Luna, the former Secretary of Public Security in Mexico. García Luna was accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel while he controlled Mexico’s Federal Police Force. Garcia Luna remains in U.S. custody

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime. Arce completed work assignments in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, with the most recent being a three-year tour in Monterrey, Mexico, for the U.S. Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program. He can be contacted at robertrarce@gmail.com

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Donald Trump Reverses Cancellation of ‘Wreaths Across America’ Event at Arlington Cemetery

President Donald Trump on Tuesday reversed a decision by the Arlington National Cemetery to cancel its annual Wreaths Across America event.

“I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It will now go on!”

Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy also announced a reversal of the decision.

“We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground,” he wrote.

Arlington National Cemetery announced Monday a decision to cancel the annual event out of safety concerns surrounding coronavirus.

Karen Durham-Aguilera, the executive director of the Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, said that the scale of the event would compromise their ability to lay veterans to rest in the cemetery.

“We understand that although this is disappointing for so many, we could no longer envision a way to safely accommodate the large number of visitors we typically host during this event,” she said in a statement.

Wreaths Across America protested the decision in a statement on Facebook.

“Like our U.S. Military, we will adjust and adapt, and work together towards fulfilling the mission which is to Remember, Honor and Teach,” they wrote.

Details for the volunteer wreath-laying event are forthcoming.

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Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller Announces Troop Drawdown to 2,500 in Afghanistan and Iraq

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on Tuesday announced a U.S. troop drawdown to 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq, consistent with President Trump’s promises to bring U.S. troops home and his goal to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I am formally announcing that we will implement President Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” Miller said. “By January 15th, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan, will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same date.”

Miller said the drawdown would be executed in a way “that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community, and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace.”

Miller said the U.S. continues to stand with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as his government works towards a negotiated settlement with the Taliban for peace.

The move brings down the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 8,600 and from the mid-5,000s in Iraq when Trump first entered office in 2017.

During the height of the Iraq War during the Bush administration, there were as many as 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. During the height of the Afghanistan War during the Obama administration, there were as many as 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Miller, a former Green Beret who was one of the first soldiers to be inserted into Afghanistan when the U.S. war there began in 2001, made the announcement from the Pentagon podium.

He recognized those who sacrificed their lives in both wars:

We owe this moment to the many patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice and their comrades who carry forward their legacy. Together, we have mourned the loss of more than 6,900 American troops who gave their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we will never forget the more than 52,000 who bear the wounds of war, and all those who still carry its scars – visible and invisible.

The drawdown was expected after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper last week, who had put up resistance to drawing down U.S. troops in Afghanistan below 4,500.

A senior defense official said on a background briefing with reporters before Miller’s announcement that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan would stay the same and declined to specify what kinds of U.S. forces and capabilities would be taken out and which ones would stay.

The current U.S. mission is two-fold — counterterrorism and to train Afghan forces. The former is primarily conducted by U.S. special operations forces, while the latter is primarily conducted by conventional forces. There are also NATO forces in Afghanistan who support these missions.

“The dynamic of the mission has not changed. The military officials and the president’s national security cabinet believe that the number of troops that we will go to by 15 January — 2,500 — can accomplish everything we have been doing so there is no need to keep the force posture at over 4,000 where it currently stands. So there is no elimination of capabilities,” the official said.

The official also said, however, if there is a “fracturing event or a dynamic situation in Afghanistan, both the secretary of defense and the president feel that we are well-postured to augment our posture in Afghanistan should it need be done.”

The official said the decision was made in consultation with senior military and national security officials and that it would not threaten U.S. national security.

The peace talks between the U.S., Afghan government, and the Taliban are “still very much ongoing,” the official said.

Those talks, if successfully concluded, would result in a complete drawdown of all U.S. troops by April.

“At this point, we are not going to zero because we are continuing on the president’s approach, which he announced in June, which is to reduce troops to the number necessary to carry out the mission, and the generals and the civilian professionals believe that the 2,500 is the right number. The president agrees and has executed that decision,” the official said.

A senior administration official told Breitbart News that the troop withdrawals had been discussed before the presidential election, and was made independent of its pending results.

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Reuters: Trump poised to settle for partial Afghan withdrawal, despite Pentagon shakeup

November 16, 2020

Squad of Three Fully Equipped and Armed Soldiers Standing on Hill in Desert Environment in Sunset Light.

Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali of Reuters have reported on Monday that, according to sources, President Donald Trump may settle for a partial withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.

An anonymous U.S. official told Reuters that the military was expecting formal orders in the coming days to go down to about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan by early next year from around 4,500 currently.

Another anonymous official, this time from NATO, reportedly also cited expectations of a 1,500 to 2,000 troop decline.

This comes one week after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. The president appointed other top Pentagon officials last week, Reuters said, after longstanding concerns that his priorities were not being dealt with urgently enough at the Defense Department.

According to Reuters, these concerns included the ambitious goal of ending the 19-year-old war in Afghanistan before Christmas. Those who oppose the longest war in the history of the U.S. were receptive this goal, but Trump’s critics have warned that completely pulling out troops could be reckless amid continuing violence from Taliban militants that has been disrupting Afghanistan.

An anonymous senior U.S. defense official told Reuters that Afghanistan has been featured in a number of introductory calls by Miller to U.S. allies’ defense ministers and chiefs of defense.

“It was a part of many of them because it is of great importance to our NATO allies, our allies in the region and also just global security and protecting the American homeland,” the unnamed official said.

But the official, speaking after the calls with allies, suggested to Reuters that Trump would not push a withdrawal faster than conditions on the ground allow.

Furthermore, U.S. and Afghan officials are concerned by the ongoing violence by Taliban insurgents and persistent Taliban links to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Following the September 11th attacks in 2001 that al-Qaeda carried out, it was those ties between the two groups that triggered the initial U.S. military intervention in October 2001. Nearly 2,400 American troops and over a thousand coalition troops have died in fighting in Afghanistan since its start.

Some U.S. military officials, citing U.S. counter-terrorism priorities in Afghanistan, have privately urged Trump against going to zero at this point and want to keep U.S. troop levels at around 4,500 for now, per Reuters.

“The president has acted appropriately in this, has never said: ‘Hey, we’re going to zero. Let’s go tomorrow.’ It has always been a conditions-based effort and that effort continues,” the senior U.S. defense official said, without explicitly detailing future drawdown plans.

However, U.S. officials say Trump has yet to issue orders to carry that withdrawal out. On Monday the first U.S. official said to Reuters that the Pentagon had told commanders to start planning for the more moderate reduction to 2,500 troops.

Additionally, the aforementioned NATO official said to Reuters that the belief was the United States could soon announce a drawdown to 2,500 to 3,000 troops by Christmas.

NATO allies also in Afghanistan are very reliant on the U.S. for logistical support, which U.S. officials told Reuters would make a total withdrawal at this moment difficult for the U.S. military to execute.

Taliban militants have asked that Trump stick to an agreement made back in February that would see U.S. troops withdrawn by May 2021 as long as certain security guarantees are upheld.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Adam Schiff: Trump Is Interfering with ‘Peaceful Transfer of Power’

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who hyped false allegations of “Russia collusion,” has penned an op-ed in the USA Today accusing President Donald Trump of impeding the “peaceful transfer of power.”

In 2016 and 2017, the outgoing Obama administration used intelligence and law enforcement to undermine the incoming Trump administration with false allegations about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Schiff insisted in March 2017 that there was “more than circumstantial” evidence of collusion. Ultimately, however, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that there was, in fact, no evidence that any American colluded with Russia.

Schiff also defended the FBI, claiming it had done nothing wrong in seeking secret FISA warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page. That assertion, too, was later disproven by the Department of Justice Inspector General’s investigation.

In his Sunday op-ed in the USA Today, Schiff took issue with Trump’s reaction to the election results, even criticizing his visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day:

President Donald Trump went to Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, Veterans Day, to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For any other American president, this simple act of remembrance would serve to reinforce the bond between the American people and the millions of our fellow citizens who have taken up arms in the nation’s defense over the past two and a half centuries.

But Trump’s pantomime of patriotic fealty at Arlington was belied by his refusal to honor the most sacred obligation of any president — a commitment to an orderly, peaceful transfer of power from one chief executive to the next.

The results of this election are clear: Trump lost, Biden won, and no amount of misinformation spread by the president will change that. It isn’t even close. Biden won with likely more than 300 Electoral College votes and a margin of more than 5 million popular votes.

Schiff also led the effort to impeach and remove Trump from office in 2019 and 2020, conducting most of his investigation behind closed doors. Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

Trump has repeatedly said that he would leave office if he had lost the election. He is currently challenging the results.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Bill Maher gets Zinged by Jenna Ellis on ‘Beijing Biden’

November 14, 2020

President Donald Trump’s legal advisor appeared on HBO’s Real Time with host Bill Maher. (Nov. 13, 2020 screenshot)

HBO”s ‘Real Time’ host Bill Maher sparred with President Donald Trump’s legal advisor Jenna Ellis on Friday, as she outwitted the comedian on “Beijing Biden.”

“First of all, I do admire you for coming on,” said Maher to Ellis. “This is a tough argument you have to make. Would you acknowledge that?”

Of course, he was referring to the November 3, presidential election and the media’s President elect Joe Biden. Ellis didn’t flinch, even if being on the liberal HBO show could be a little nerve wracking she didn’t show it. She stuck to the argument regarding the irregularities during the election based on the facts.

She reminded Maher of the most important fact that the states have yet to certify the election results and it’s not the main stream media’s place to do so. Moreover, she reminded the late night talk host, a number of the preliminary election results are being contested by the Trump campaign in multiple states and those lawsuits are now before the judges in courts of law.

Maher, however, couldn’t help himself and tried throwing Ellis a fast ball that she promptly crushed.

“Why do you think so many people on the right, including people like Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove, Erdoğan – the strong man of Turkey – the Pope, China now congratulated Biden, why have so many people come over to this idea, ok, America had a free and fair election were congratulating the new guy, that’s the way it works, you win some, you lose some, why,” asked Maher.

“Well, China is definitely congratulating Joe Biden because they definitely control him, ‘Beijing Biden’ is something that actually really needs to be looked into.” answered Ellis.

“Well, I walked into that one, didn’t I? Alright Jenna, you got me there,” said Maher.

“Yes, I did,” smirked Ellis.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Parler @SaraCarterOfficial or on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

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Trump’s TikTok Ban Delayed ‘Pending Further Legal Developments’

The U.S. Department of Commerce will not be taking action against the Chinese social media platform TikTok anytime soon after a preliminary injunction issued by a federal court in Pennsylvania ordered the department to cease its actions.

‘[T]his serves as NOTICE that the Secretary’s prohibition of identified transactions pursuant to Executive Order 13942, related to TikTok, HAS BEEN ENJOINED, and WILL NOT GO INTO EFFECT, pending further legal developments,” the Commerce Department said in a statement about the injunction.

The injunction was issued in October following a lawsuit by three famous TikTok users, Douglas Marland, Cosette Rinab, and Alex Chambers, “seeking various relief” to stop the department from acting.

According to U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia, the Commerce Department’s intended operational cessation of the app may not fall under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and “presents a threat to the ‘robust exchange of informational materials.’”

The department appealed the decision on Thursday.

The Trump administration and Congress have warned of the security risks of the app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. In September, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Commerce Department to “identify transactions within 45 days to protect national security and the private data of millions of people across the country.”

Shortly after the order, the Commerce Department announced it would be placing restrictions on the “transactions” of both WeChat and TikTok apps, prohibiting app stores from continuing to allow downloads or updates of either app to protect American users from the Chinese Communist Party’s use of them for nefarious purposes.

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.,” the Commerce Department statement said. “Today’s announced prohibitions when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”

The department also promised to place extra prohibitions on both apps, to be implemented in September for WeChat and enforced on TikTok beginning Nov. 12. These restrictions were supposed to make it illegal for internet services and “content delivery network services” to host or enable either app and would also ban the use of the “constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.”

“If there’s not a deal by Nov. 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had promised.

While Trump previously expressed interest in the sale of the app to a U.S. company such as Microsoft, no deal was struck before the mid-September deadline.

“I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business,” Trump told White House reporters. “But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.”

Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. were supposed to be buying into the company to manage American user data and content moderation, eliminating any potential foreign threats, but TikTok’s owner ByteDance recently signaled its intent to have an order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. specifying that its sale be overturned in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

While a TikTok spokeswoman said the company was devoted to amping up the suggested security measures “even as we disagree with them,” the Treasury Department released a statement saying it was committed to eliminating any national security risks from the app.

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