Saudi Journalist Khashoggi’s Body Was Dissolved In Acid And Flushed Into Drain

The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid, a Turkish newspaper reported on Saturday. Samples taken from the drains at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed traces of acid, pro-government daily Sabah said, without quoting sources.

This led investigators to believe the dead body of the insider-turned-critic of the Riyadh regime was disposed of through the drains as liquid, the paper said.

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Tuche, Bélier, Groseille… Le jeu des 7 familles françaises attachantes du petit et du grand écran

Qu’elles soient bourges ou prolos, bourrues ou sensibles, grandes ou petites, voici les sept familles françaises du grand et du petit écran auxquelles on ne peut résister ou qu’on adore détester. Et vous, quelle est votre famille préférée ?

1. Les Tuche
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Jeff, Cathy, Mamie Suze, Stéphanie, Wielfried et – bien sûr – “Coin Coin” Donald sont les six adorables losers de Bouzolles promis à un grand destin. D’abord heureux gagnants de “L’Euroloterie”, ils vivront le Rêve Américain avant de (carrément) prendre la présidence de la République française ! On vote Tuche.

Lire la suite

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Doctor Strange : le méchant de la suite déjà révélé ?

Après “Avengers : Infinity War” et sa suite, le Doctor Strange incarné par Benedict Cumberbatch sera de retour dans la suite de ses aventures solo qui n’a pas encore de date de sortie. Mais peut-être déjà un méchant.

De la Phase 4 du Marvel Cinematic Universe, nous ne savons actuellement pas grand-chose. Et pour cause : Avengers 4 étant censé marquer la fin d’un cycle, avec quelques départs à la clé, annoncer dès maintenant les longs métrages qui suivront celui des frères Russo peut faire office de spoiler, en laissant entendre qui survivra au combat contre Thanos. Mais il y a quand même des certitudes, entre Les Gardiens de la Galaxie 3, Spider-Man – Homecoming 2 et la suite de Doctor Strange. Cette dernière est d’ailleurs bien plus avancée qu’on le croit, si l’on se fie aux propos tenus par le scénariste C. Robert Cargill au Texas.

Alors qu’il n’est pas encore certain qu’il rempile, au même titre que le réalisateur Scott Derrickson, il a cependant quelques idées précises sur la direction à prendre et l’identité du méchant à opposer au Maître des Arts Mystiques : “Ce sera Cauchemar [aka Nightmare en VO]”, a-t-il affirmé. “Scott et moi n’avons pas encore posé les bases [de l’histoire] mais tout ce que je peux dire, c’est que j’ai le sentiment que peu importe ce dans quoi Cauchemar sera impliqué, le Baron Mordo sera aussi dans le coup, lui qui se considère comme le défenseur de l’ordre naturel.”

Vu dans le premier opus sous les traits de Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mordo était officiellement passé du côté obscur de la force mystique lors de la seconde scène post-générique, au cours de laquelle il se débarrassait de Jonathan Pangborn, joué par Benjamin Bratt. Et c’est avec ce démon qui règne sur la dimension des rêves, où se retrouvent des humains torturés pendant leur sommeil, qu’il essayera de triompher de Stephen Strange, à qui Benedict Cumberbatch prêtera encore ses traits. Né en 1963 dans les comic books et capable de drainer de l’énergie psychique du subconscient de ses victimes, il est, aujourd’hui encore, l’un des plus célèbres ennemis du Sorcier Suprême.

Mais l’avenir de ce dernier est encore un peu flou, car on ne sait pas exactement quand Doctor Strange sera de retour (pas avant 2019 selon toute vraisemblance), ni le nom du réalisateur qui dirigera le long métrage. Scott Derrickson fait bien évidemment figure de grand favori, mais il n’y a pas encore eu de confirmation de la part de Marvel. Ce sera peut-être pour les jours qui suivront la sortie d’Avengers : Infinity War, dans lequel le super-héros doit s’illustrer face à Thanos. Et souffrir un peu, si l’on se fie à la dernière bande-annonce en date.

Avengers: Infinity War Bande-annonce VO

Des images qui ne devraient normalement pas aboutir à la mort de Doctor Strange, dont le Marvel Cinematic Universe n’a pas encore exploité tout le potentiel cinématographique pour le moment. Même chose en ce qui concerne Avengers 4, et le personnage a tout pour être l’une des stars de la Phase 4.

At Harvard, Grad Students Form A Picket Line Over Wages, Health Care And Protections

Union members protest at Harvard University in May over an increasing number of harassment and discrimination cases. The union began an indefinite strike Tuesday, with one of its key proposals aimed at strengthening protections against harassment and discrimination.

Graduate students at Harvard University began an indefinite strike Tuesday after a deadline to fulfill contract demands such as pay equity and health insurance were not met by administrators.

Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing, but the union — which represents about 4,400 student workers — said an agreement is not close to being met. Representatives with Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW accused the university of neglecting several issues that students have faced for years.

The strike began on the last day of classes for the fall semester, impacting thousands of students preparing for final exams.

“Our negotiations have not yielded a fair agreement,” Ege Yumusak, a Ph.D. candidate on the bargaining committee, told NPR.

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“[Most] importantly, we haven’t heard responses from the administration on our demands for our basic rights and protections, such as protections against harassment and discrimination, that other unionized workers on this campus have, as well as thousands of student workers across the nation,” Yumusak said.

Negotiations began in October of last year, with tentative agreements being reached on several proposals. However, bargaining reached an impasse.

Harvard administrators described the strike as “unwarranted” in a statement Tuesday.

Union negotiators allege that the Ivy League university is failing to recognize the rising cost of living in the Greater Boston area. The latest proposal from university officials offered to raise the minimum rate to $15 an hour, with an 8% increase over three years for salaried student workers. However, the union said the university, with its multibillion-dollar endowment, can do better.

Grad students are also calling for the university to implement better protections from academic harassment and discrimination by establishing an independent third-party arbitrator. The proposal would not replace Title IX — the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination on campus and mandates sexual misconduct investigations — which union leaders said has “failed too often to be considered reliable.”

Affordable health care is also on the union’s list of demands. Grad students are seeking improvements to what they call inadequate dental, mental health and specialist coverage.

According to union leaders, there are also several issues the university either has refused to negotiate on or has not offered a proposal on.

Despite the disruptions during exam time, Yumusak said undergraduates are showing solidarity.

“We expect many of them to join us at the picket line,” she said. “They understand that our working conditions are their learning conditions.”

In addition, in solidarity with the labor action, dozens of Harvard faculty members have promised that strike participation will not have an adverse effect on their evaluation of grad students’ work or academics.

Support for the strike has extended outside Harvard’s campus. All 11 congressional representatives from Massachusetts, including presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, signed a letter Tuesday urging university officials to reach an agreement with the union.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s Newsdesk.

BMW warns owners to stop driving older models over air bag concerns

BMW is warning owners of older models to stop driving because of concerns over the Takata air bag inflators, the company said in a statement this week.

An uncovered malfunction in the air bags can reportedly cause them to explode and unleash shrapnel, potentially killing and injuring people. Takata filed a safety defect report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

BMW has filed three safety defect recalls, the NHTSA said in a statement to The Hill.

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More than 116,000 vehicles made from 1999 to 2001 are being recalled, BMW said in a statement to The Hill. At least 8,000 should not be driven until fixed, the NHTSA statement said.

The recalled vehicles include certain sedans created between March 1998 and July 2000, specific coupes from February 1999 to June 2000 and certain sports wagons between September 1999 and May 2000.

BMW said it is working on resolving the issue but plans to replace the malfunctioning inflators with new ones and let owners know when parts are in. 

An Australian driver was reportedly killed because of a faulty air bag, while another Australian and a driver in Cyprus were injured, according to government documents obtained by The Associated Press. The air bag deteriorates over time when it is in contact with moisture, causing it to explode too fast and sometimes not fully inflate. 

Some Audi, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles made between 1995 and 2000 also are being recalled. About 1.4 million vehicles are affected by the recalls, the NHTSA said in a statement.

The administration also said in its statement that it was discussing the recalls with automakers and that owners should check the NHTSA website in the next few weeks to determine if their vehicles are being recalled.

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The Hill reached out to the automakers for comment. Safety regulators told the AP that the only Mitsubishi vehicle impacted was the 1998 through 2000 Montero.

Mitsubishi told The Hill in a statement that the company has not received quality reports on the recall and is currently identifying which models are involved.

Chris Martin, a spokesperson for Honda, said the company is analyzing the potential impact on vehicles made between 1996 and 2000 that may have had the air bags originally. He said it is “too early in this process to draw any conclusions or to provide further model details.”

Nineteen auto companies are recalling about 70 million inflators across the U.S. in the largest series of automotive recalls in the country’s history, according to the AP.

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Report: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ

The attorney handpicked by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrReport: Barr attorney can’t provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Budowsky: Chief Justice Roberts can rescue democracy 14 states ask Supreme Court to let Trump resume federal executions MORE to investigate the origins of the probe into the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference has reportedly found no evidence to support claims from conservatives that the case was a setup by U.S. intelligence officials.

Sources told The Washington Post that John DurhamJohn DurhamReport: Barr attorney can’t provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ The Hill’s Morning Report – Dem impeachment report highlights phone records Barr rejects key finding in report on Russia probe: report MORE, the U.S. attorney chosen by Barr to lead the investigation, told the Justice Department’s inspector general (IG), who conducted his own probe, that he has found no evidence to support claims that a Maltese professor who spoke with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was secretly a U.S. intelligence asset.

Allies of the president have claimed for months that the professor, Joseph Mifsud, who spoke with Papadopoulos about the possibility of obtaining Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Report: Barr attorney can’t provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz’s questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats MORE‘s stolen emails, was actually an asset of U.S. intelligence agencies seeking to set up the Trump campaign on criminal charges.

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Sources close to the investigation added to the Post that the draft report written by IG David Horowitz is likely to detail instances of misconduct by FBI agents involved with the investigation but to conclude that top FBI officials did not act with political bias during the 2016 election.

“His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves,” a spokeswoman for the Justice Department told the Post of the report’s upcoming release. “Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the Inspector General’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters.”

Republicans have argued since the inception of the now-shuttered special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign that the probe was launched improperly based on unfounded accusations detailed in a dossier crafted by an ex-British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, and used by the Obama administration to hurt President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE‘s chances of being elected.

Top former officials at the FBI have roundly dismissed that claim, arguing that the investigation was conducted without political bias.

Top Pentagon official warns of possible Iranian aggression against US forces

A top Pentagon official on Wednesday said there were indications that Iran may soon attack U.S. forces or interests in the Middle East.

“We do remain concerned about potential Iranian aggression,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told reporters in Washington, D.C. 

“We also continue to see indications … potential Iranian aggression could occur.”

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Rood said the U.S. has been clear with Iran over consequences should any aggression occur.

“In private … we’ve sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression,” Rood said.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have simmered since President Trump last year pulled the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Tehran.

Those tensions worsened earlier this year when Iran shot down a U.S. military drone and the U.S. intelligence agencies blamed attacks on oil tankers in the region’s waterways on Tehran.

And on Sept. 14, there was a strike on two Saudi oil facilities that the United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have all publicly blamed on Iran.

Tehran denied any involvement in the attack, but the Iran-aligned Houthi rebel group in Yemen claimed responsibility. 

To deter the aggression, Washington has increased force deployments to the Persian Gulf by roughly 14,000 U.S. troops since last spring. In addition, the U.S. has set up the International Maritime Security Construct, a now seven-country mission to police the Strait of Hormuz to ensure freedom of navigation for international vessels.

But U.S. Central Command head Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said last month that while the additional troops and equipment in the region may have put off Iran from striking U.S. forces, it was “very possible” that Iran will attack again in the region.

“My judgment is that it is very possible they will attack again,” McKenzie told reporters.

“It’s the trajectory and the direction that they’re on,” he said later. “The attack on the oil fields in Saudi was stunning in the depth of its audaciousness. I wouldn’t rule that out going forward.”

And an administration official told CNN this week that there is “consistent intelligence in the last several weeks” that Iran may soon strike U.S. targets or interests.

Rood, the Pentagon’s No. 3 official, did not give details on what information the Pentagon has received to tip it off to a potential attack. 

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Lawmakers to question FAA chief on 737 Max review

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson on Dec. 11 will testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the FAA’s review of the Boeing 737 Max since two fatal crashes grounded it, according to Reuters.

The 10 a.m. hearing will be titled “The Boeing 737 MAX: Examining the Federal Aviation Administration’s Oversight of the Aircraft’s Certification,” according to committee chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioLawmakers to question FAA chief on 737 Max review The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Pelosi accuses Trump of ‘bribery’ in Ukraine dealings Democratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe MORE (D-Ore.)

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The scheduled testimony comes as Boeing has struggled to restore the model to circulation on schedule and lawmakers have accused the agency of delegating too much of the review process to the company.

Last week, the FAA said it is not delegating the review and that it will be the sole arbiter of whether new 737 Max planes are airworthy.

The agency told Boeing it “determined that the public interest and safety in air commerce require that the FAA retain authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all 737 Max airplanes,” according to Reuters.

Dickson, himself a former airline pilot, has said he will personally fly the plane before he allows it to be ungrounded. In mid-November, he told FAA officials to “take whatever time is needed” for the review days after Boeing said it expected the agency to certify the plane and issue an airworthiness directive by mid-December.

Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE wrapped up his trip to London on Wednesday after a NATO summit that saw his distance from other world leaders on full display.

The awkwardness was exemplified in a video that went viral late Tuesday of several world leaders appearing to gossip about Trump during an evening reception at Buckingham Palace.

In the 25-second video, which was posted online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump returns to impeachment fight after NATO clash Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East MORE, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBiden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump returns to impeachment fight after NATO clash Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East MORE and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were seen having an animated conversation about what appeared to be Trump’s lateness to bilateral meetings earlier in the day.

“He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau says without naming the U.S. president.

Trump had one-on-one meetings Tuesday with Trudeau, Macron and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. At the outset of each meeting, Trump took questions from the press that totaled more than two hours by the end of the day.

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau said.

Macron is spotted making comments as he waves his hand, though his remarks are inaudible. Johnson smiles through the exchange.

Trump’s response: Asked Wednesday if he had seen the video, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced.”

“Well, he’s two-faced,” Trump said.

“And honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy,” Trump added after a long pause. “I find him to be a very nice guy.”

The president went on to suggest Trudeau was upset that he’d been critical of Canada failing to meet a 2 percent commitment to defense spending during their one-on-one meeting on Tuesday in London.

“They should be paying 2 percent,” Trump said. “So I called him out on that, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it, but that’s the way it is.”

No presser: Trump later canceled the press conference he had planned to hold at the conclusion of the NATO summit.

“I think we’ve done plenty of press conferences — unless you’re demanding a press conference, we’ll do one — but I think we’ve had plenty of questions,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump later officially canceled the press conference in a series of tweets.

“Great progress has been made by NATO over the last three years. Countries other than the U.S. have agreed to pay 130 Billion Dollars more per year, and by 2024, that number will be 400 Billion Dollars. NATO will be richer and stronger than ever before,” the president wrote.

“Just finished meetings with Turkey and Germany. Heading to a meeting now with those countries that have met their 2% GOALS, followed by meetings with Denmark and Italy,” he continued. “When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!”

Trump’s own hot mic: Trump also had his own hit mic moment Wednesday, where he was heard joking about his comments on Trudeau and the media.

As reporters were ushered out of a working lunch, Trump was caught on a hot mic saying, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”

Before that, the audio picked up an unidentified voice telling Trump, “You’ll be in double digits for press conferences.”

“Oh, and then you know what they’ll say?” Trump responded, referring to members of the media, “‘He didn’t do a press conference! He didn’t do a press conference!'”

Trump and Erdogan: Aside from the Trump-Trudeau dustup, Wednesday saw Trump unexpectedly meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Turkish government published photos of the two meeting, and White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley later confirmed that Trump and Erdoğan met earlier in the day.

Trump also later characterized the meeting positively and said the two discussed the situation along the Syrian border, where Turkey launched a military offensive in October after Trump ordered American troops to pull back from the region.

“It was a very good meeting, I think,” Trump told reporters during his subsequent meeting with Merkel. “We discussed Syria, we discussed the Kurds, we discussed numerous things and we’re getting along very well.”

“The border and the safe zone is working out very well and I gave a lot of credit to Turkey for that,” Trump said, touting a ceasefire his administration brokered in northern Syria that the Kurds have accused Turkey of violating. “The ceasefire is holding very well.”

 

IMPEACHMENT LATEST: Wednesday’s banner event in the impeachment inquiry is the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with constitutional scholars.

Follow along with the hearing with The Hill’s liveblog here.

The three witnesses called by Democrats testified that there is a constitutional justification for impeaching Trump over his contacts with Ukraine, while the witness called by Republicans argued Democrats have not produced the evidence to justify impeachment.

Professor Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said in his prepared remarks that records indicate Trump has committed impeachable offenses such as obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress and bribery.

“The president’s serious misconduct, including bribery, soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader in exchange for his exercise of power, and obstructing justice and Congress are worse than the misconduct of any prior president,” Gerhardt said.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University professor and contributor to The Hill, said in his lengthy statement that impeachment would be based on the “thinnest evidentiary record.”

“If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president,” Turley said in his prepared testimony.

Hints on articles of impeachment: The hearing included a possible signal of the articles of impeachment Democrats are considering.

Norman Eisen, the Democratic counsel for Judiciary who took part in the public questioning of the witnesses, asked whether the three Democratic witnesses agreed Trump committed impeachable offenses of abuse of power and bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

All three Democratic witnesses agreed that Trump had committed these offenses under Eisen’s questioning. A chart showing the three offenses was also shown in the committee room.

Pelosi rallies the troops: Earlier Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump’s legal team huddles with Senate Republicans On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed’s top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets ‘Medicare for All’ hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy MORE (D-Calif.) marshaled her troops at a closed-door meeting in the Capitol, asking whether they were ready to move forward with impeachment as more and more Democrats question whether a floor vote should be held before Christmas.

During the meeting in the Capitol basement Wednesday morning — where staff and cellphones were not allowed — Pelosi posed a simple question to her caucus: “Are you ready?”

She received an enthusiastic response from the Democrats in the room.

Pelosi used Wednesday’s meeting to deliver a simple marching order for the caucus: “What the Speaker said is, ‘Read the report,'” said Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Pelosi to Democrats: ‘Are you ready?’ MORE (D-Fla.).

The impeachment inquiry has been proceeding with the expectation there could be a floor vote on impeaching Trump before Christmas, but a number of Democrats are now raising questions about that timetable.

Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraOvernight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Pelosi to Democrats: ‘Are you ready?’ California Rep. Bera touts Biden’s health care plan in 2020 endorsement MORE (D-Calif.) cited “a desire … to try to get something done sooner than later.” But with Democrats also fighting to pass a series of legislative priorities — including a drug-pricing bill; a new trade accord with Mexico and Canada; and a sweeping package to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year — he suggested the Dec. 20 deadline could slip a few days.

In the Senate: Trump’s legal defense team is gearing up for an expected Senate impeachment trial, meeting with Republican senators Wednesday to complain about the House process and go over the procedural rules of the next phase.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone met with the entire Senate GOP conference over lunch Wednesday to discuss strategy for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial in an effort to shore up the president’s legal and political defenses ahead of what could be a lengthy process.

Republican lawmakers familiar with the preparations for Trump’s Senate trial describe Cipollone as the “quarterback” in charge of the legal strategy, even while Trump himself has handled much of the political and communications strategy.

The lunch meeting, hosted by Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump’s legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), gave the White House counsel a chance to gauge support for Trump within the conference and get a better feel for how a trial might play out.

Cipollone spent much of the meeting criticizing the House impeachment process and the Democrats’ case that Trump abused his power by pressing Ukraine to investigate Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump’s legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE.

“He said a number of times, ‘We don’t think there’s any reason the House should send this to the Senate,'” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump’s legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Mo.) when asked about the White House counsel’s message to Republican senators.

 

TALK OF IRAN THREATS PICKS UP AGAIN: A top Pentagon official on Wednesday said there were indications Iran may soon attack U.S. forces or interests in the Middle East.

“We do remain concerned about potential Iranian aggression,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood told reporters in Washington, D.C.

“We also continue to see indications … potential Iranian aggression could occur.”

Rood said the U.S. has been clear with Iran over consequences should any aggression occur.

“In private … we’ve sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression,” Rood said.

Earlier: Rood’s comments came after CNN reported Tuesday night that intelligence gathered throughout November pointed to a renewed threat from Iranian forces or proxies.

Unnamed U.S. officials told CNN that there has been movement of Iranian forces and weapons they fear could be used if the Iranian regime orders an attack.

The warnings are reminiscent of this summer when the Trump administration warned of troubling signals from Iran and deployed more U.S. forces to the region.

The Trump administration subsequently blamed Iran for attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf and two Saudi oil fields. Iran has denied carrying out the attacks.

More forces?: Later Wednesday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported the administration is considering sending another 14,000 troops to the Middle East in response to counter Iran.

Such a deployment would double the amount that has been sent since the start of the troop buildup in the summer.

The Journal, citing unnamed U.S. officials, said Trump is expected to make a decision on the deployment as soon as this month. 

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East House leaders: Trump administration asking South Korea to pay more for US troops ‘a needless wedge’ Congress braces for chaotic December MORE (D-Wash.) will speak about civil-military relations at the American Enterprise Institute at 8:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/2P9lDO0

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the implementation of the National Defense Strategy at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. https://bit.ly/2sOb8IB

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on illicit mining at 10 a.m. at Dirksen 419. https://bit.ly/2LoVDNr

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on privatized military housing with testimony from housing executives at 1 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. https://bit.ly/2s0oWPt 

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on military heath care system reform at 2 p.m. at Rayburn 2212. https://bit.ly/2rQVxr3

 

ICYMI

— The Hill: Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members

— The Hill: Trump’s Afghanistan negotiator travels to region to restart peace talks

— The Hill: North Korea’s Kim makes second visit to sacred mountain ahead of denuclearization deadline

— Associated Press: US Navy seizes suspected Iranian missile parts set for Yemen

— The Washington Post: House committee chair calls for investigation into $400 million border wall contract

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down from parent company

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced Tuesday they will be stepping down from the leadership of the search giant’s parent company, Alphabet.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who previously had been a member of the Alphabet board of directors, will head both companies moving forward.

“With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure,” Page and Brin wrote in a blog post.

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“We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company,” they added.

Alphabet, created in 2015, comprises several companies beyond Google, including the driverless car firm Waymo and the biotech company Calico.

Page and Brin have shied away from the spotlight while heading Alphabet, rarely appearing at events or speaking on earnings calls.

According to Tuesday’s blog post, they will “remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders.”

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