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Newsom slams Trump’s border policies, says California won’t be party to ‘political theater’

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Newsom slams Trump's border policies, says California won't be party to 'political theater'

Gavin Newsom strongly rebuked President Trump and his border-security policies on Tuesday, using his first State of the State address as California governor to declare that he won’t participate in “political theater” over immigration and the proposed border wall.

A week after Trump’s State of the Union address, and less than 24 hours after the California governor said he’d withdraw most of the state’s National Guard troops on the Mexico border, Newsom ratcheted up his opposition to the White House’s hard-line policies on immigration and argued in defense of “the California Dream.”

“We must stand up for those that are maligned,” Newsom said, referring to the state’s immigrant population. He said the rhetoric coming from the White House was “fundamentally at odds” with the values of Californians.”

“California will not be part of this political theater.”

BORDER WALL TALKS BREAK DOWN AHEAD OF SECOND POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Newsom, who served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Jerry Brown, has taken up the mantle of his predecessor when it comes to opposing the agenda of the Trump administration.

On Monday, Newsom announced that he’d withdraw National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border in California. Instead of participating in immigration enforcement, Newsom said he plans to put those troops “on a mission to the real threat that faces Californians.”

A third of the troops will help combat forest fires, while the remainder will focus on shutting down illegal marijuana growing facilities in the north of the state and stopping criminal smuggling.

Brown agreed in April to deploy up to 400 troops to the border in response to a request from the Trump administration to four border states. Brown made it clear then that California troops couldn’t aid in immigration enforcement, but Newsom said there’s been a “gray area” in their duties.

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin of the California National Guard said the troops have not participated in immigration detention but some are conducting camera surveillance that could inadvertently aid in immigration enforcement.

The drawdown of California’s troops will begin immediately but may not be completed until March 31, when the state’s current agreement with the federal government is set to end.

CALIFORNIA GOV. NEWSOM CALLS TRUMP INCOMPETENT IN INAUGURAL SPEECH; VOWS TO FIGHT WH POLICIES

Newsom made clear during his campaign that he did not support the use of California Guard troops at the border. He took action about a month into his governorship because he wanted to responsibly review the issue, he said.

He initially wanted to pull all of California’s troops back but said he was convinced by Guard officials that good work is being done related to combating drug trafficking.

If the Trump administration does not agree to Newsom’s new terms “we’ll bring the rest back,” he said.

Newsom’s move came on the heels of a decision by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, to pull back her state’s troops from the border.

Texas and Arizona still have troops in place there.

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Newsom’s speech on Tuesday came only hours after Trump said he was “not happy” with the tentative deal congressional negotiators have worked out on border security; they face a Friday deadline to avert a second government shutdown.

A committee negotiating new border security measures tentatively agreed Monday night to dedicate $1.4 billion to Trump’s border wall, far less than his $5.7 billion ask. The emerging deal drops Democratic demands to seriously limit detention of immigrants illegally in the U.S.

The agreement also calls for 55 miles of metal slats or other types of new fencing, as opposed to a concrete wall. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The pact includes money for other border security measures, including advanced screening at border entry points and customs officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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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