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Beto vs. Trump: Dueling rallies along the US-Mexico border

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Beto vs. Trump: Dueling rallies along the US-Mexico border

A week after he told Oprah Winfrey that he’d decide on a White House run by the end of the month, Beto O’Rourke will take on President Trump Monday evening in dueling rallies along the U.S.-Mexico border in his hometown of El Paso.

The former three-term congressman from Texas is joining a one-mile march that will end with O’Rourke giving a speech critical of Trump’s push for billions in federal funds to extend a wall along with border with Mexico.

DRAFT BETO UPS PRESSURE ON O’ROURKE TO JUMP IN 2020 RACE

O’Rourke is expected to speak at Chalio Acosta Sports Center around the same time the president is scheduled to take the stage at a rally in support of the wall at the El Paso County Coliseum, which is a just a block away.

“The country will be watching, and it falls on all of us to tell the true story about the border,” O’Rourke said Sunday on Twitter.

O’Rourke and his allies are hoping to display “the reality of the border – a vibrant, safe, binational community that proudly celebrates its culture, history, diversity and status as a city of immigrants.”

“We’re going to present a powerful, positive, message for the country about who we are on the U.S.-Mexico border,” O’Rourke said Monday in a video promoting the march.

EL PASO RESIDENTS BRISTLE AT TRUMP’S WALL CLAIMS

On the other side of the debate, Trump’s campaign put out a video highlighting the need for a wall and featuring El Paso residents.

“Tonight, the President will join the millions of Americans who understand that a southern border wall is essential to border security. El Paso’s example shows that only with a physical barrier can we stop the flow of illegal immigration, drugs, and crime and secure our southern border,” Brad Parscale, campaign manager, said in a statement.

Trump also previewed the speech on Twitter:

The president’s event and the counter-protest with O’Rourke – which was organized by Border Network for Human Rights and Women’s March El Paso – come as Washington barrels toward another possible government shutdown over border security disagreements.

A standoff between the president and Democrats in Congress over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for border wall construction led to an unprecedented 35-day partial federal government shutdown from just before Christmas until late last month. Both sides face a Friday deadline to reach an agreement or face another possible shutdown — Trump also has threatened to declare a national emergency to address what he describes as a security crisis.

For his part, O’Rourke raised an eye-popping $80 million during his 2018 Senate campaign, when he came close to unseating Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Thanks to his better-than-expected performance against Cruz, his spirited message on the campaign trail, and his mastery of social media, there were immediate calls by some Democrats for O’Rourke to run for president.

Weeks later, two national groups sprang up to ‘draft’ Beto into running for the White House. So far, O’Rourke has not made a decision.

Another Texan who has already declared his candidacy for president is also criticizing Trump’s rally in El Paso.

“Tonight, President Donald Trump is going to El Paso, Texas to create a circus of fear and paranoia, like he always does, to tell lies about the border and about immigration,” former San Antonio mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said in a video released Monday. “Don’t take the bait.”

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview Tuesday that he believes it is possible that President Trump is a Russian asset and thinks “that’s why we started our investigation.”

McCabe has said in the past that the FBI had a good reason to open up a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working with Russia and a possible national security threat.

The former official was on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” when he was asked if he believes Trump may still be a Russian asset. He said he’s “anxious” to see the conclusion of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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He was also asked if he believes Trump is fit to serve and said it is not up to him to make the determination.

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Gowdy challenges McCabe’s claim congressional leaders didn’t object to Russia counterintelligence probe

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Gowdy challenges McCabe's claim congressional leaders didn't object to Russia counterintelligence probe

Former congressman and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy disputed former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s claim Tuesday that congressional leaders didn’t object to the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation over President Trump’s Russia ties.

“The reason he’s doing it this way is that [Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.] and [former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.] are not allowed to discuss anything that’s said in a ‘Gang of Eight’ meeting and McCabe knows that,” Gowdy said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “So he can level the accusation and Devin and Paul cannot refute him.” Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2015-19.

McCabe, in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, said no members of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, including Nunes and Ryan, objected to the investigation.

“I told Congress what we had done,” McCabe told Savannah Guthrie.

“Did anyone object?” Guthrie asked.

“That’s the important part here, Savannah,” McCabe replied. “No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts.”

DAN BONGINO: MCCABE FINDS IMPETUS OF TRUMP PROBE ‘INARTICULABLE’

Gowdy, formerly a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he believed McCabe wasn’t telling the truth and that Nunes and Ryan did not know about a second investigation.

“There were three investigations into a duly elected president. The Peter Strzok one from July of 2016 and then McCabe started a counterintelligence [probe] and if he’s telling the truth, started a criminal probe into the president of the United States,” Gowdy told Martha MacCallum.

“I listened to Devin and Paul quiz the [Justice Department] and the FBI for hours on multiple occasions about the one counterintelligence investigation, we all knew about it. I find it stunning that they would know about a second one and not say a single solitary word.”

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Gowdy also addressed former FBI Director James Comey’s May 2017 firing and McCabe’s belief that the president was trying to shut down the Russia investigation.

“If thinking that Jim Comey is not a good FBI director is tantamount to being an agent of Russia then just list all the people that are agents of Russia. [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein…,” Gowdy said.

Fox News’ Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

President Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, denied a New York Times report that Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker whether U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, a presidential ally, could be put in charge of the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump’s onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“The president said today he had no such conversation with the acting AG, and I believe Mr. Whitaker issued a statement to the same effect,” Giuliani said in a statement late Tuesday. “The rest of the piece is just a regurgitation of previously refuted obstruction theories. They all fail as obstruction because as [Harvard Law] Professor [Alan] Dershowitz’s recent book and many other authorities make clear, all of the alleged actions were within the president’s sole discretion under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.”

The Times report said that Whitaker told Trump that he could not put Berman in charge of the Cohen investigation because he had already recused himself from that matter. The paper claimed that Trump “soured” on Whitaker and “complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.”

Trump denied the story at the White House Tuesday afternoon, referring to the Times report as “more fake news” and saying that he had a “very good” relationship with Whitaker, who was replaced last week by William Barr.

“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he’s done a great job,” Trump said. He said Whitaker was “a very fine man, and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.”

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec referred to testimony Whitaker gave to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.

WHITAKER CALLS TIME ON DEM CHAIRMAN: ‘YOUR 5 MINUTES IS UP’

“Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,'” Kupec said. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”

Berman was named acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2018 by the AG at that time, Jeff Sessions. Berman was appointed to the position indefinitely by the panel’s judges three months later.

Prosecutors in the Southern District say Trump directed Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — in order to keep them quiet about alleged sexual encounters with them dating back more than a decade and coming soon after he’d married his current wife, Melania. Cohen is scheduled to report to prison next month to begin a three-year sentence after pleading guilty this past August to campaign finance and other violations.

Cohen is also scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28. His attorney, Lanny Davis, has said that Cohen also plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee before the end of this month. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

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Fox News’ John Roberts and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Click for more from The New York Times.

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