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Trump’s Mexico border mission may approach last year’s peak size

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Trump's Mexico border mission may approach last year's peak size

U.S. Military troops return from a test deployment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents after conducting a large-scale operational readiness exercise at the San Ysidro port of entry with Mexico in San Diego, California, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military is set to deploy 3,500 troops to its mission at the border with Mexico, U.S. officials said on Thursday, bringing the politically charged deployment back to near its peak level of about 5,900 in November, if only briefly.

The figure was disclosed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, who slammed senior Pentagon officials for failing to disclose that information during a hearing before his committee in Congress on the issue on Tuesday.

“This was at best an error in judgment, and at worst flat-out dishonesty,” Smith said, adding he had spoken with acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about it.

Shanahan told reporters the same day as the hearing that thousands more troops were headed to the border but the 3,500 figure was only disclosed on Thursday. There are currently about 2,350 troops involved in the border mission.

“I have followed up on that hearing with a phone call to Secretary Shanahan, and he has provided more details on the increase. I appreciate his willingness to discuss it with me, but a phone call is not a substitute for transparency before Congress and public candor,” Smith said.

The Pentagon says the U.S. military will operate mobile surveillance cameras in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, a mission that is scheduled to run through Sept. 30. Some of the additional troops will also string up 150 more miles of concertina wire by March 31.

The Pentagon first approved the high-profile deployment of active-duty U.S. troops to the Mexico border in October, ahead of U.S. midterm congressional elections. It was embraced by Trump’s supporters, including Republicans in Congress.

However, critics have assailed the deployment as a political stunt and scoffed at Trump’s comparisons of caravans of Central American migrants, including women and children, to an “invasion.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish

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Amy Klobuchar tried to torpedo staff’s future job prospects: report

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Klobuchar downplays Green New Deal as 'aspirational,' addresses binder-tossing report

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is facing yet more reports that she mistreated staff working in her Senate office, including claims that she attempted to torpedo departing employee’s future job opportunities — an allegation the senator denies.

Klobuchar, who announced her presidential intentions earlier this month, has been dogged by claims of mistreating her staff. On Friday The New York Times reported on a bizarre allegation that she’d berated a staff member for failing to bring her a fork with her salad. She is alleged to have chastised the aide, and then ate the salad with a comb before telling the aide to clean the comb.

AMY KLOBUCHAR REPORTEDLY ORDERED STAFFER TO CLEAN COMB AFTER SHE USED IT TO EAT SALAD

It was part of a list of incidents that aides described as being “not just demanding, but often dehumanizing.”

HuffPost, citing multiple Capitol Hill staffers and former Klobuchar employees, reported Friday that Klobuchar is “well known” for calling prospective employees and shutting down job opportunities for her departing staff. That includes at least one opportunity within the Obama Treasury Department, according to the outlet.

Klobuchar’s office denied the claims, telling the outlet: “This is completely false. The senator has never criticized her staff to prospective employees.”

In one example, HuffPost reported that Klobuchar confronted a fellow Democrat and told them she wanted the offer rescinded. The Democrat ignored her and the staffer joined their team.

Former staffers told the outlet that fear of her attempting to kill off a job offer was so well known that the culture in the office was to treat a job offer “like a state secret.”

Klobuchar has been hit by a flood of allegations in outlets such as The Times, HuffPost and Buzzfeed, including that her conduct became so well known that the Senate minority leader at that time, Harry Reid, D-Nev., told her to change her behavior.

AMY KLOBUCHAR’S TREATMENT OF STAFF LED TO REBUKE FROM HARRY REID: REPORT

During an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier last week, though, Klobuchar said she spoke with Reid, and “he doesn’t remember that and I don’t remember that either.”

But according to a Buzzfeed News report, numerous staffers said Klobuchar routinely sent late-night emails and berated subordinates over minor details and missteps. The report also said, “one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it.”

When asked about the report that she threw a binder, she did not flat-out deny it.

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“I don’t know, it’s all anonymous. I will say that I’m proud of our staff,” Klobuchar told Fox News last week. “And yes, I can be a tough boss, and push people — that’s obvious. But that’s because I have high expectations of myself, I have high expectations of those who work for me, and I have a high expectation for our country. My chief of staff has worked for me for six years, my state director for seven years, my campaign manager for 14 years.”

Asked specifically whether she had thrown a binder at someone, Klobuchar responded: “If you look at that story, I think you’ll see it said something about me throwing a binder down — not at somebody,” Klobuchar said. “I just know that I should be judged, and I will take responsibility for, everything that happens on this campaign.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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U.S. prosecutors say no leniency needed for Trump ex-aide Manafort

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U.S. prosecutors say no leniency needed for Trump ex-aide Manafort

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team told a U.S. judge on Saturday that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly” broke the law, and argued he did not deserve leniency at sentencing.

The recommendation from Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow, increases the likelihood that Manafort will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Manafort pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington last September to conspiracy against the United States – a charge that includes a range of conduct from money laundering to unregistered lobbying – and conspiracy to obstruct justice for his attempts to tamper with witnesses in his case.

He is due to be sentenced on March 13.

While Mueller did not recommend a specific sentence he portrayed Manafort as a “hardened” criminal who was at risk of repeating criminal behavior once he is released from prison.

“For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” Mueller’s office said in a sentencing memorandum released by the court on Saturday.

“His criminal actions were bold, some of which were committed while under a spotlight due to his work as the campaign chairman and, later, while he was out on bail from this Court.”

Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant, who earned millions of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, will turn 70 in April and faces a potentially lengthy sentence in a second case in Virginia in which he was convicted last year of financial crimes.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alistair Bell

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U.S. prosecutors say no mitigating factors warranted in Manafort’s sentence

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U.S. prosecutors say no mitigating factors warranted in Manafort's sentence

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team urged a U.S. judge on Saturday not to consider any mitigating factors in sentencing President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for two conspiracy charges he pleaded guilty to last year in a cooperation deal with prosecutors that he later breached.

The recommendation from Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow, in the criminal case in federal court in Washington increases the likelihood Manafort will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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