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US-led coalition says it struck two ISIS 'command centers' inside mosques

US-led coalition says it struck two ISIS 'command centers' inside mosques

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The US-led coalition fighting ISIS conducted two strikes against two ISIS "command centers" that were operating inside mosques in Syria in less than a week, the coalition said in a ... Continue Reading
Donald Trump is a 'black swan' and other takeaways from CNN's CITIZEN conference

Donald Trump is a 'black swan' and other takeaways from CNN's CITIZEN conference

(CNN) - On Monday, CNN is hosting CITIZEN -- a politics and policy conference in New York City featuring a numbers of newsmakers, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, House Minority Leader Na ... Continue Reading
Nancy Pelosi suggests subpoena power could be useful tool in negotiating with Trump

Nancy Pelosi suggests subpoena power could be useful tool in negotiating with Trump

(CNN) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pledged Monday to use subpoena power purposefully if Democrats win a majority in the House in November, adding that the power is a potent tool for negotiating.

"Subpoena power is interesting, to use it or not to use it," Pelosi told Dana Bash at the day-long CITIZEN Conference put on by CNN. "It's a great arrow to have in your quiver in terms of negotiating on other subjects."

Subpoena power, something that would allow House Democrats to call Trump administration officials to testify before Congress as long as they are in power, could be considered one of the most powerful tools Democrats would gain if they win in November.

Democrats, while eager to provide a check on the Trump administration, have tried to be careful when talking about how they will provide oversight on the President. Pelosi's comments are slightly more direct than Democrats have been in the past and suggest that the party will use the power in more ways than just holding the Trump administration's feet to the fire.

"Strategically," Pelosi said when asked how she will use the power. "As I said, it is about bringing people together."

She later ensured, though, that a Democratic House "will exercise our oversight."

Pelosi's comments came in the opening session of a daylong conference organized by CNN that will explore a range of topics with newsmakers like former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and White House adviser Jared Kushner just two weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.

Jared Kushner says administration still 'fact-finding' in Jamal Khashoggi death investigation

Jared Kushner says administration still 'fact-finding' in Jamal Khashoggi death investigation

(CNN) - Jared Kushner said Monday he'd advised Mohammed bin Salman to be fully transparent in his investigation of a Saudi journalist's death.

Kushner, the presidential adviser and son-in-law who has come under harsh scrutiny for cultivating close ties to the powerful and domineering Saudi crown prince, indicated it was too early to tell whether his advice was being followed and noted the Trump administration was still in the "fact-finding phase" regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Still, he defended the longstanding Washington-Riyadh alliance. And he suggested the White House would need to balance any punishment for the death with its interests in the region.

"The Middle East is a rough place. It's been a rough place for a very long time," Kushner, a White House senior adviser, told Van Jones at the CITIZEN by CNN conference. "We have to be able to pursue our strategic objectives. But we also have to deal with what is obviously a terrible situation."

"We're getting as many facts as we can," Kushner said, "then we'll determine which facts are credible."

Kushner's comments came in the opening session of a daylong conference organized by CNN that is exploring a range of topics with newsmakers like former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi two weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.

Kushner has fostered a close relationship with Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto leader who has enacted new reforms over the past year even as he's consolidated power and worked to stamp out rivals. The two men, close in age, have visited each others' capitals and discussed various strategies for the Middle East.

In its early stages, the relationship caused some anxiety among career national security staffers, who worried off-the-book conversations with untested leaders could create problems.

As the Khashoggi crisis descended on the White House over the past two weeks, Kushner's relationship with Prince Mohammed gained new scrutiny. He has remained intentionally in the background as West Wing officials feared a more public role would prompt backlash, multiple people familiar with the matter said.

Trump has privately aired frustrations that he and his son-in-law appeared overly cozy with the Saudi royal court, and has told confidantes he did not believe the Kushner-Mohammed bin Salman relationship was as close as it is perceived to be.

Yet Kushner has been quietly shaping the administration's response, including during phone calls with Prince Mohammed.

"The world is watching," Kushner said was his advice to the young leader. "This is a very, very serious accusation. A very serious situation. To be sure you're transparent and to take this very seriously."

"We'll see" if he takes that advice, Kushner said.

Saudi Arabia has presented a shifting narrative of what happened to Khashoggi. After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, on Friday Saudi Arabia said that he was killed in the Istanbul consulate, saying his death was the result of a "fistfight." A Saudi source close to the royal palace later told CNN that the Washington Post journalist died in a chokehold. On Sunday, its foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, went further, describing Khashoggi's death on Fox News as a "murder" and a "tremendous mistake." He also said they "don't know where the body is."

"We are determined to uncover every stone. We are determined to find out all the facts. And we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder," the foreign minister said in the interview.

The administration is approaching Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death with "our eyes wide open," Kushner said on Monday.

"I think the President is focused on what's good for America," Kushner said. "What are our strategic interests. Where do we share interests with other countries, let's work toward those."

Kushner said it was important to maintain the US-Saudi alliance, which has persisted across Democratic and Republican administrations, despite a woeful human rights record in Saudi Arabia and questions about the country's ties to extremism.

"We have to be able to work with our allies, and Saudi Arabia has, I think, been a very strong ally in terms of pushing back on Iran's aggression," Kushner said.

Kushner was instrumental in arranging Trump's first stop abroad as president to occur in Riyadh, where the President was welcomed with extravagant displays of royal pageantry, including a traditional sword dance.

Since then he's visited the Kingdom on his own, including during a tour of the Gulf in June. Prince Mohammed has also been welcomed to the White House for talks, including during an American tour that included stops in New York, Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Prince Mohammed has promoted reforms within his kingdom, but some in Washington have cast skepticism on his intentions. Those came into sharp relief after the detention and reported torture of dozens of Saudis in the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh -- an episode that came just weeks after Trump stayed at the hotel on his visit.

Kushner on Monday offered praise for reforms enacted in the kingdom since Prince Mohammed assumed power, saying they helped advance American interests.

"A lot of the reforms they've been making there to help us track down the terror financing and also to push back against the people who are perverting the religion, have been very historic over the last year," he said. "So we're hopeful we can keep pushing forward with a lot of the initiatives that further American interests and that push back Iran's aggression, so we're going to stay focused on that."

Nancy Pelosi says she is 'pretty comfortable' she will be speaker if Democrats win the House

Nancy Pelosi says she is 'pretty comfortable' she will be speaker if Democrats win the House

(CNN) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday that she is "pretty comfortable" she will be speaker again if Democrats win the House in November."It is up to them to make that decision, bu ... Continue Reading
Jared Kushner cites 'personal experience' that led to focus on prison reform

Jared Kushner cites 'personal experience' that led to focus on prison reform

(CNN) - Jared Kushner said Monday that prison reform is "very close to my heart" because of his personal experience with the issue. Kushner's father, Charles, served time in federal prison after h ... Continue Reading
US sails warships through Taiwan Strait amid tensions with China

US sails warships through Taiwan Strait amid tensions with China

(CNN) - The US Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait Monday, a show of force that is bound to irritate Beijing and comes amid heightened US-China tensions on a range of issues.The USS ... Continue Reading
Florida gubernatorial hopefuls disagree on whether Trump is a role model for children

Florida gubernatorial hopefuls disagree on whether Trump is a role model for children

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis and his Democratic challenger in the Florida gubernatorial race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, offered starkly different takes Sunday on whether Pres ... Continue Reading
Donald Trump warns people to beware of non-existent voter fraud

Donald Trump warns people to beware of non-existent voter fraud

(CNN) - Over the weekend, President Donald Trump issued a stern warning about attempts to tamper with the 2018 midterm election vote."All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching care ... Continue Reading
Russia fires back after Trump threatens to ditch nuclear arms treaty

Russia fires back after Trump threatens to ditch nuclear arms treaty

MOSCOW (CNN) - The Russian government has said it would be forced "to take measures" if the United States began developing new missile systems, ratcheting up the rhetoric after US President Donald Trump said he would ditch a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that he intended to withdraw the country from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed by the Soviet Union and United States in 1987 during the final years of the Cold War.

The agreement has helped eliminate thousands of land-based missiles from the US and Russia, and Trump's plans have raised concerns of a renewed arms race between the two nations.

Trump said he was pulling out of the treaty because Russia has "been violating it for many years." US and NATO officials have long criticized Russia for testing a cruise missile that they say is banned under the accord.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday strongly denied Russia was in violation of the treaty.

He relayed Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that it was the United States that "dilutes" the agreement by deploying anti-missile systems that can also be used to launch short- or medium-range missiles.

"If you read President's statements [Putin], he was saying that the breach in the INF treaty forces Russia to take measures in order to ensure its security. What does the INF breach mean?

"It means that the US not only covertly but also directly begins to develop these systems. If these systems are in development, action from other countries is required. In this case it's Russia, in order to restore the balance in this area," Peskov told reporters.

"Russia is and has been devoted to the clauses of the agreement, and we think the intention of the US to withdraw is, of course, concerning because such steps, if taken, can make the world a more dangerous place."

The Cold War agreement saw thousands of missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles destroyed, and banned the development and testing of such weapons.

Russia agrees treaty has problems

Suggestions of a new arms race between the US and Russia have been brewing over the past two years, since Russia deployed a cruise missile in what US officials said was an INF treaty violation.

Putin in March used a concept video of unlimited range nuclear warheads apparently raining down on Florida to tout his country's new firepower. Moscow also threatened to shoot down US missiles in Syria, and Trump responded on Twitter with threats of "nice and new and 'smart!'" US missiles.

But both countries may have something to gain by ditching the agreement. Withdrawing from the treaty would allow the US to develop a missile similar to the one that Russia has tested.

Conversely, the announcement could also allow Russia to blame the United States for the treaty's demise, while pursuing an arsenal of nuclear missiles more freely.

The two countries also share some grievances over the treaty. Trump on Saturday cited China's missile arsenal as another reason for scrapping the accord, a concern that Peskov echoed in his remarks Monday.

"There are still problems around this treaty and the President has said that in the past," Peskov said, referring to Putin.

"Many countries in Asia and other countries are developing these systems, which can be qualified as short- and medium-range missiles. But nevertheless, Russia and USA are still two key countries responsible for the world's stability and security."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he had not seen Trump's decision come through official channels.

"Right now, it's not very productive to read the tea leaves. We will wait for official explanations from our American colleagues," he told Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Gorbachev urges treaty's preservation

Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, who signed the treaty in 1987 with then-US President Ronald Reagan, criticized Trump's plan as "unacceptable" and "very irresponsible," RIA Novosti reported.

"It was a great victory that we managed to get as far as making decisions enshrined in these...treaties that got rid of nuclear weapons and warheads," Gorbachev said.

Trump, who has withdrawn the US from several international accords, made the announcement ahead of US national security adviser John Bolton's visit to Moscow. Bolton met with his counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, on Monday.

Gorbachev expressed hope that Moscow and Washington could still reach an agreement to preserve the INF treaty.

"I don't know whether they will succeed or not, but I think it's not too late yet," he said.

DNC chair: we 'always knew that this election was going to be close'

DNC chair: we 'always knew that this election was going to be close'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Monday that the party "always knew that this election was going to be close," just two weeks before voters head to the polls to ... Continue Reading
DeSantis and Gillum spar over race, Trump in contentious Florida governor debate

DeSantis and Gillum spar over race, Trump in contentious Florida governor debate

(CNN) - Hours after a new CNN poll found him trailing by double digits in their race to become the next governor of Florida, Republican Ron DeSantis leapt out of the gates to attack Democrat Andrew G ... Continue Reading
Donald Trump gets sweet revenge on Ted Cruz today in Texas

Donald Trump gets sweet revenge on Ted Cruz today in Texas

(CNN) - On Monday night in Houston, Donald Trump will dunk on Ted Cruz one last time.Trump will travel to Texas to hold a massive get-out-the-vote rally for Cruz in the final days of a closer-than ... Continue Reading
Washington Post: Special counsel examining Roger Stone's conflicting accounts of WikiLeaks ties

Washington Post: Special counsel examining Roger Stone's conflicting accounts of WikiLeaks ties

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, was communicating with WikiLeaks and had advance knowledge of the onli ... Continue Reading
What's behind Trump's decision to ditch a decades-old arms control treaty?

What's behind Trump's decision to ditch a decades-old arms control treaty?

(CNN) - President Donald Trump said Saturday that the he intends to withdraw the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russia's violations of the treaty and China's missile ars ... Continue Reading
US general wounded Thursday in Afghanistan attack

US general wounded Thursday in Afghanistan attack

(CNN) - US Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, who oversees the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan, was wounded in the Thursday insider attack that took place in Kandahar Province, Af ... Continue Reading
Human Rights Campaign calls on Trump admin not to go forward with potential rollback of transgender protections

Human Rights Campaign calls on Trump admin not to go forward with potential rollback of transgender protections

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Human Rights Campaign on Sunday called for the Trump administration not to go forward with a rollback of protections for transgender people, following a report in The New York T ... Continue Reading
CNN Poll: Democrats up in Florida with two weeks to go

CNN Poll: Democrats up in Florida with two weeks to go

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the final two weeks of campaigning begin, Democrats hold an edge in both the gubernatorial and Senate contests in the key state of Florida, according to a new CNN Poll conducted ... Continue Reading
A White House staffing shuffle could come after midterms

A White House staffing shuffle could come after midterms

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Here are the stories our top political reporters are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.The White Hous ... Continue Reading
GOP Sen. Sasse: Ending arms sales to Saudis 'should be on the table'

GOP Sen. Sasse: Ending arms sales to Saudis 'should be on the table'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Ben Sasse said Sunday that ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the country's involvement in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi "should be on the table."

"We don't do arms sales for the purposes of the profits from arms sales. We do arms sales because we want to be allied with different countries around the globe that believe in our values and have a long-term sense of what we're up to together and why we have that alliance," Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

"(The) Saudis got a lot of explaining to do," he said.

US arms sales to the Saudis have become a topic of debate in recent days as the investigation into Khashoggi's death has called into question the US' relationship with the country.

On Friday, the Saudis admitted the death of Khashoggi, saying it happened after a fistfight involving more than a dozen Saudi officials at the country's consulate in Istanbul. President Donald Trump, responding to the news, said he would work with Congress to develop a response to Khashoggi's death, but said that he didn't want sanctions to affect US arms sales to the kingdom.

"I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanctions -- this was a lot of people they're talking about ... I would prefer we don't use as retribution (canceling) $110 billion worth of work," the President told reporters in Arizona.

On Sunday, Sasse told Tapper that arms sales "are always means to an end. They're not the end."

"The end is the American idea. And the end is stability in the world so that problems abroad don't come home to roost for us," he said.

Sasse also said that he doesn't believe Saudi Arabia's explanation of Khashoggi's death.

"I think the cover stories from the Saudis are a mess" he said. "You don't bring a bone saw to an accidental fist fight."

Sasse previously told CNN that the disappearance of Khashoggi will not be "swept under the rug," and that he believes there should be an "international investigation" into what happened.

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