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Warren says she will soon release plan to fund Medicare for All

1 0 21 Oct 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Sunday that she will soon release a plan detailing how to pay for “Medicare for All” after facing criticism from some of her 2020 rivals for declining to get into specifics about how her health care plan would be funded.

“What I see though is that we need to talk about the cost and I plan over the next few weeks to put out a plan that talks about, specifically, the cost of Medicare for All and specifically how we pay for it,” the Massachusetts senator said during a campaign stop in Indianola, Iowa.

Warren has backed 2020 competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ Medicare for All plan. She said Sunday that every Democratic candidate knows “the cheapest possible way to make sure that everyone gets the health care that they need is Medicare for All, and that’s why I support Medicare for All.”

“You know right now the cost estimates for Medicare for All vary by trillions and trillions of dollars and the different revenue streams for how to fund it, there are a lot of them,” she said. “So, this is something I’ve been working on for months and months and it’s got just a little more work until it’s finished.”

As Warren has reached a neck-and-neck point with former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, the rest of the field has stepped up attacks on her, focusing in on how she would fund Medicare for All. She came under fire during the most recent Democratic primary debate when she refused to give a yes or no answer on whether the middle class would face a tax increase to pay for the plan, in addition to more broadly refusing to clearly spell out how the plan would be funded.

TJ Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesman, said in a statement it was “mystifying that for someone who has put having a plan for everything at the center of her pitch to voters, Senator Warren has decided to release a health care plan only after enduring immense public pressure for refusing to do so.”

Sanders has said the middle class would be subjected to a tax increase to fund the health care plan, but insisted Americans would pay less toward health care costs overall as a result of his plan being passed.

Benjamin Pu and Josh Lederman contributed.

U.S. troops leaving Syria for western Iraq as Kurds look to withdraw amid cease-fire

21 0 20 Oct 2019

American forces continued their withdrawal from northern Syria Sunday and headed for Iraq, while efforts continued for a Kurdish evacuation from the area under the terms of the cease-fire agreed between the U.S. and Turkey.

Amid growing chaos after Turkey invaded the region earlier this month, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said late Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 U.S. troops pulling out of northern Syria will now head to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Islamic State militants.

With President Donald Trump facing continued criticism for his approach to the crisis, the news means his vow to bring the troops home will seemingly go unfulfilled.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a vocal critic of Trump’s actions, is leading a congressional delegation to the region this weekend.

Kurds look to withdraw as Trump touts cease-fire

Vice President Mike Pence announced a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria Thursday after Turkey agreed to temporarily halt its advance to allow time for the Kurds to withdraw deeper into Syria.

Turkey has threatened to resume its offensive if the Kurds don’t leave the zone near the border, claiming Sunday that there are “absolutely no impediments to withdrawal.”

Meanwhile, the Kurds claimed that Turkey had blocked the opening of a safe corridor to evacuate.

But the Kurdish Rojava Information Center said Sunday that a convoy had successfully returned from the besieged border town of Ras al-Ayn with wounded civilians and fighters.

The evacuation of the town will be followed by a withdrawal of their forces from a broader section of the border with Turkey, a central requirement of the cease-fire deal.

The withdrawal is supposed to take place before Tuesday evening, when the pause in fighting is set to end.

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Both sides have been accusing each other of violating the terms of the cease-fire and not following the agreement.

NBC News could not verify the claims.

Esper said Saturday that the fragile cease-fire was generally holding despite reports of intermittent fighting.

“We see a stabilization of the lines, if you will, on the ground,” he said.

Trump has been steadfast about his decision to withdraw U.S. troops who’d been protecting Kurdish areas out of the way of the Turkish advance, prompting criticism both domestically and abroad.

The president has bragged about the cease-fire the U.S. negotiated, claiming it saved thousands of lives.

But a top Kurdish general told NBC News he fears the Turkish campaign in Syria will result in “ethnic cleansing.”

Gen. Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, said that the U.S. bears full responsibility for what is happening.

“We trusted them for five years and the continuing war against ISIS, but now [there is] ethnic cleansing against the Kurdish people under their eyes. If they wanted, they would have interfered to stop it.”

The Kurds, a loyal ally in America’s fight against ISIS for years, have claimed Trump’s actions amounted to a betrayal.

Pelosi in Jordan as U.S. troops head to Iraq

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angrily walked out of a White House meeting Wednesday after she claimed Trump had a “meltdown” after contentious exchanges over Syria. It came as the House voted overwhelmingly to condemn Trump’s withdrawal.

Pelosi led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan Saturday to discuss the “deepening crisis.”

“Our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia,” Pelosi said in a statement.

The delegation included House Intel Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican and the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile Esper told reporters en route to the Middle East Saturday that the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria will take weeks, not days.

He said the mission for those troops would be to “help defend Iraq” and carry out a counter-ISIS mission. It is unclear whether the U.S. troops moving to Iraq will use it as a base to launch ground raids into Syria.

The additional U.S. troops would add to the more than 5,000 American troops already based in the country.

Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria has prompted fears of an ISIS resurgence and a worsening of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

It has also seen Russia and forces of Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad make gains in the region after the U.S. withdrawal.

Richard Engel, Mac William Bishop, Alex Moe, Marc Smith and Associated Press contributed.

Mulvaney defends Doral selection: Trump still considers himself to be in the hospitality business

3 0 20 Oct 2019

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, asked about the original choice of President Donald Trump’s private Miami golf resort to host next year’s Group of Seven summit, said Sunday that Trump “still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

Following bipartisan criticism, Trump reversed the decision Saturday, saying his administration would begin the search for a new location, “including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”

“We talked about it at great length last night,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday,” adding that Trump “was honestly surprised at the level of pushback.”

“At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could, and he was very comfortable doing that at Doral,” Mulvaney said. “I think we were all surprised at the level of pushback. I think it’s the right decision to change and we’ll have to find someplace else and my guess is we’ll find someplace else the media won’t like for another reason.”

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace pushed back on Mulvaney saying Trump is in the hospitality business, pointing out that Trump is the president, not a hotel executive.

“Yeah, but it’s his background,” Mulvaney said, adding, “he’s in the hotel business, or at least he was before he was president.”

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Mulvaney said Trump understood that “people think” the decision to host a major international summit at Trump National Doral Miami “looks lousy.”

Mulvaney’s answers came after Trump announced in a Saturday night tweet that the event would no longer be hosted at his Miami resort.

“Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020,” he tweeted. “We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”

Trump initially defended the move, saying on Twitter, “I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders.” The president also tweeted that Doral had many advantages, including “tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms,” and that hosting the event would come “at ZERO COST to the USA.”

Mulvaney announced that the president had awarded his own business the event during a Thursday press conference at the White House in which he also said Trump in part held up military aid to Ukraine until it moved to investigate a debunked conspiracy involving the 2016 U.S. election.

“To be clear: what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is ‘funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened, as well,'” ABC reporter Jonathan Karl said Thursday.

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney responded, adding that the administration had also held up money to three Central American countries so that they would change their immigration policies.

The acknowledgment was a stunning one, as Trump and his allies have vigorously denied that there was any “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. Mulvaney attempted to walk back his comments later Thursday, declaring, “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.” His statement contradicted the remarks he made during the earlier press briefing.

On Sunday, Mulvaney acknowledged he never would have been in that position had the press conference not been set up to announce the news that president had awarded his own resort the G-7 summit.

“And it’s not lost on me that if we made the decision on Thursday, we wouldn’t have had the press conference on Thursday regarding everything else, but that’s fine,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday.”

The G-7 decision — which Trump had teased at the summit in Biarritz, France, over the summer — came under immediate criticism that Trump was seeking to personally profit off the presidency. The White House insisted that would not be the case amid the widespread concern that Trump would be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars any cash or gifts from foreign government officials to the president that are not otherwise approved by Congress.

Trump has already come under scrutiny for how often he visits Trump-owned and Trump-branded properties as president, which leads to tax dollars being spent at his business. Trump is also the subject of multiple lawsuits and congressional investigations accusing him of either violating the emoluments clause or profiting off the presidency.

In a Thursday statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Mulvaney’s G-7 announcement was “among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption.” His committee announced a probe in August when the president first floated the idea of hosting the upcoming G-7 at his resort.

Video shows crane demolition at site of Hard Rock Hotel collapse in New Orleans

2 0 20 Oct 2019

Two giant cranes were demolished with explosives on Sunday at the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans where three people died earlier this month.

The demolition was originally scheduled to occur on Friday, but high winds forced city officials to postpone the destruction multiple times. Engineers planned a controlled collapse to mitigate further damage at the site of the destroyed Hard Rock Hotel where three people died on Oct. 12.

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For more on this story, watch “NBC Nightly News” with Kate Snow tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

New Orleans police and fire departments instituted temporary evacuation zones Sunday, moving area residents to a relocation area while the demolition was underway.

New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said Saturday that the cranes were “more damaged than we thought,” which required “changes in methodology” for bringing them down safely.

Both cranes appeared to remain partially upright against the 18-story structure after the controlled explosions, according to NBC affiliate WDSU.

The historic Saenger Theatre and the New Orleans Athletic Club buildings, both built in the 1920s, appeared to be safe from any damage after the explosion.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that the recovery of two bodies that remain inside the site would become the top priority once the Hard Rock Hotel construction site was deemed safe. The National Guard has been brought in to assist in the search and recovery of those victims.

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3 soldiers killed, 3 injured in Georgia during training accident

2 0 20 Oct 2019

Three soldiers were killed and three more were hospitalized on Sunday morning after a training accident at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.

The soldiers, members of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, were killed when the Bradley Fighting Vehicle they were riding in was involved in an accident, a press release from the U.S. Army stated. It did not specify the details of the accident.

Of the six soldiers involved in the accident, three were pronounced dead on-site and three others were taken to Winn Army Community Hospital. The release states the hospitalized soldiers are being treated and evaluated at the facility.

“Today is a heartbreaking day for the 3rd Infantry Division, and the entire Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community, as we are all devastated after a training accident this morning on the Fort Stewart Training Area,” Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, said. “We are extremely saddened by the loss of three Dogface Soldiers, and injuries to three more. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy.”

The soldiers involved in the accident have yet to be identified. The press release stated that the names will be released in 24 hours after the next-of-kin have been notified.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

I am back!” Sanders declares at campaign rally with AOC

8 0 20 Oct 2019

Two progressive heavyweights, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michael Moore, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in New York City on Saturday as he re-emerged on the campaign trail after having a heart attack earlier this month.

“I am more than ready to take on the greed and corruption of the corporate elite and their apologists,” Sanders told thousand of supporters in Queens. “I am more ready than ever to help create a government based on the principles of justice, economic justice, racial justice, social justice and environmental justice.”

He added, “To put it bluntly, I am back!”

Ocasio-Cortez and Moore took the stage at the Vermont senator’s “Bernie’s Back” rally in Queens to explain to a crowd of 20,000 why they were “feeling the Bern.”

Ocasio-Cortez said Sanders had been fighting for her entire life for the same issues that got her elected to Congress, emphasizing that when she was a child the senator had already been actively supporting public education, equitable housing, single-payer healthcare, LGBTQ rights and reduction of student debt.

“Bernie Sanders did this and fought for these aims and these ends when they came at the highest political cost in America,” she said.

She said her experience in Congress standing up “to corporate power and established interests” further pushed her to support Sanders’ candidacy.

“I have grown to appreciate the enormous consistent and nonstop advocacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders,” she said.

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The handful of speakers used their time on stage to attempt to push back against a narrative that Sanders is too old to run for president and could not be elected.

Moore claimed that news pundits were pushing forward this narrative that Sanders’ age and health would be an issue for his campaign. According to the filmmaker, Sanders’ age would only be a benefit.

“Here’s what’s too old: the electoral college is too old,” Moore said. “A $7.25 minimum wage: that’s too old. Women not being paid the same as men: that’s too old. Thousands and thousands of dollars of student debt. What is that? Too old.”

Moore also talked about challenges around the use of fossil fuels and high healthcare costs and said that the country would benefit from Sanders’ “wisdom and experience and love for the American people.”

“Not only can Bernie win, Bernie will win,” Moore added.

That idea was also emphasized by Carmen Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who also spoke at the rally. She said Sanders earned her support when he came to the island without cameras and asked how he could help her constituents.

Many of the other speakers — who included the senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, and his national campaign co-chair Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator — also drew attention to these same issues.

But the greatest focus was on Ocasio-Cortez, who told NBC News before her speech that it was not a political calculation but “authenticity” that drove her endorsement.

“It was a moment of clarity for me personally in saying, ‘What role do I want to play?’” the congresswoman said. “And I want to be part of a mass movement.”

Sanders said he would be joined by a special guest at his rally during Tuesday’s debate, and it was later revealed that Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar — both members of the so-called “squad” of four progressive congresswomen — would be endorsing the Vermont senator.

Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement is seen as a blow to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who had previously made an effort to work with Ocasio-Cortez on multiple issues, including in helping with Puerto Rico’s recovery after Hurricane Maria.

Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez’s roots go back to Sanders’ 2016 campaign for which she volunteered.

Sanders also praised Ocasio-Cortez when she won her seat in a long-shot bid against a powerful Democratic incumbent in a primary last year. “What she did is talk about the real issues,” he said then.

Ocasio-Cortez returned the praise on Saturday, saying that Sanders had changed the direction of the party.

“We right now have one of the best Democratic presidential primary fields in a generation,” she said, “and much of that is thanks to the work that Bernie Sanders has done in his entire life.”

U.S. troops leaving Syria for western Iraq, Defense Secretary Esper says

3 0 20 Oct 2019

All of the nearly 1,000 U.S. troops withdrawing from northern Syria will head to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday.

U.S. forces have been pulling out of northern Syria amid growing chaos after Turkey invaded the region earlier this month.

President Donald Trump said he would withdraw U.S. troops who’d been protecting Kurdish areas out of the way of the Turkish advance, prompting criticism both domestically and abroad.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to the region this weekend.

Kurds withdraw as U.S. troops head to Iraq

Esper told reporters en route to the Middle East Saturday that the U.S. withdrawal will take weeks not days.

He said the mission for those troops would be to “help defend Iraq” and carry out a counter-ISIS mission. It is unclear whether the U.S. troops moving to Iraq will use it as a base to launch ground raids into Syria.

The additional U.S. troops would add to the more than 5,000 American troops already based in the country.

Vice President Mike Pence announced a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria Thursday after Turkey agreed to temporarily halt its offensive to allow time for Kurdish fighters to withdraw deeper into Syria.

Esper said Saturday that the fragile cease-fire was generally holding.

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“We see a stabilization of the lines, if you will, on the ground, and we do get reports of intermittent fires, this and that, that doesn’t surprise me necessarily,” he added.

Turkey said Sunday that it was closely monitoring the Kurdish retreat, claiming there “are absolutely no impediments to withdrawal.”

Ankara’s defense ministry added that information about which roads can be used safely was transmitted to U.S. military authorities.

The Kurds, a loyal ally in America’s fight against ISIS for years, have claimed Trump’s actions amounted to a betrayal.

Trump has been steadfast about this decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the area, arguing that it was time for the U.S. to stop fighting “endless wars” abroad.

He has also bragged about the ceasefire the U.S. negotiated.

“Think of how many lives we saved in Syria and Turkey,” the president said on Twitter late Friday. “Thousands and thousands, and maybe many more!”

Pelosi in Jordan to talk Syria

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angrily walked out of a White House meeting Wednesday after she claimed Trump had a “meltdown” after contentious exchanges over Syria. It came as the House voted overwhelmingly to condemn Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria.

Pelosi led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan Saturday to discuss the “deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion.”

“Our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia,” Pelosi said in a statement.

The delegation included House Intel Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican and the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Turkey’s invasion has prompted fears of an ISIS resurgence and a worsening of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

It has also seen Russia and forces of Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad make gains in the region after the U.S. withdrawal.

Turkey’s defence ministry said Saturday there have been 20 “violations” committed by the Kurdish forces despite the ceasefire agreement since Thursday.

The ministry also claimed that one of its soldiers was killed and another injured “as a result of the anti-tank and light weapons fire” from the Kurds on Sunday.

NBC News couldn’t independently verify that claim.

Turkish troops are fighting the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the United States.

President Erdogan said Saturday that Turkey would press on with its offensive and “crush the heads of terrorists” if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area was not fully implemented.

Mac William Bishop and Alex Moe contributed.

Boris Johnson stokes new Brexit battle with letter asking E.U. for delay — and another arguing against it

7 0 20 Oct 2019

LONDON — Just days after the release of a letter in which President Donald Trump urged his Turkish counterpart not to be a “tough guy” or a “fool,” another correspondence from a world leader set off a public firestorm.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent European leaders an unsigned letter late Saturday, fulfilling his legal obligation to request a Brexit extension. But he also sent another note saying he was opposed to further delay, which he claimed would be “deeply corrosive.”

Johnson once vowed he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for an extension to the U.K.’s current Oct. 31 deadline to leave the European Union, but lawmakers in Parliament forced his hand.

So after a day of yet more Brexit drama — in which Johnson was denied a potentially decisive vote on his deal to lead Britain out of the bloc and instead forced to request the delay — the prime minister sent not one but three letters to Brussels.

First, a brief cover note from Britain’s E.U. envoy explaining the government was simply complying with the law; second, an unsigned photocopy of the text that the law forced him to write; and a third letter in which Johnson outlined his opposition to an extension.

Further delay “would damage the interests of the U.K. and our E.U. partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said. “We must bring this process to a conclusion.”

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After Saturday’s votes a defiant Johnson said he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the result.JESSICA TAYLOR / AFP – Getty Images

Despite the prime minister’s insistence on expressing his personal opposition to the idea, E.U. leaders acknowledged that they had received the U.K.’s extension request and would consider it.

Johnson’s move nonetheless drew fierce criticism, with the letters becoming just the latest battle in an existential struggle that has gripped the country since it voted to leave the bloc in a June 2016 referendum.

Johnson could face legal challenges from opponents who feel that sending the second letter was done to frustrate Parliament.

The prime minister “is now treating Parliament and the Courts with contempt,” said John McDonnell, the opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman.

David Lammy, a Labour lawmaker and prominent advocate of staying in the E.U., said the gambit was “straight out of the Trump rulebook.”

The prime minister has drawn frequent comparisons to Trump for his unconventional style, hardline policies and uncompromising approach.

Johnson has repeatedly accused his opponents of “surrender” to the E.U. by forcing further delay, leading to criticism that he is stoking tensions amid the increasingly febrile atmosphere in the country.

Lawmakers sought the latest delay Saturday to buy more time to scrutinize and possibly tweak Johnson’s plans.

They also want to avoid the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the E.U. without a deal at all, an extreme scenario that forecasts suggest could cause economic pain, food shortages and even civil unrest.

Despite Saturday’s setbacks, Johnson has vowed to bring his divorce deal for a vote again next week.

If he can secure enough support, the government will attempt to rush it into law and render any extension beyond Oct. 31 unnecessary.

But the delay has opened the door to other possibilities, including an election or second referendum.

Perhaps all that is clear is that the division and turmoil that have characterised the Brexit process are alive and well.

Alexander Smith contributed.