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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she’s “very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran” and highlighted that President Donald Trump “has to come to Congress” for authorization before taking military action against Iran.

Pointing to this week’s attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the President told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it.”

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON RISING US-IRAN TENSIONS

But Warren, the two-term progressive senator from Massachusetts who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is skeptical.

“I want to see whatever evidence the administration says that it has,” she said Friday evening while campaigning in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the White House race.

“I’m very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran.”

And Warren emphasized: “I want to remind this administration that the administration cannot declare war on its own. It has to come to Congress and make that case and ask for an authorization for a use of military force. That’s not politics, that’s a point of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

TANKER CREW DETAINED BY IRAN AFTER FIRST BEING RESCUED BY ANOTHER VESSEL: US OFFICIALS

The president, in a wide-ranging interview on Fox and Friends, pointed towards the attacks on the tanks and said, “we don’t take it lightly.”

“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, before pointing to video that showed an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker.

Trump said the mine had “Iran written all over it.” But he said that Iran had been damaged since he took office, but was still a threat.

“They’re a nation of terror and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president, I can tell you,” Trump added.

Warren, a vocal Trump critic, pointed to the president’s removal of the U.S. from a nuclear treaty it and European allies signed with Tehran under President Barack Obama.

“Part of the problem we’ve got right now is that the president backed out of a deal that the United States had committed to and he does it with no coherent alternative strategy,” she noted.

And Warren argued that Trump’s been inconsistent when it comes to his positions towards Iran.

GULF TANKER ATTACK: IRAN HAS FORM FOR USING CLINGY, COVERT ‘LIMPET MINES’ WHICH INSTANTLY DISABLE VESSELS

“He’s continued to poke at Iran but then back off. At one point we hear an announcement there’s going to a huge troop buildup, then no troop buildup,” she explained. “It’s not possible to tell where the president is headed and if we can’t tell that here in the United States, it means our Congress can’t fulfill its Constitutional function. But it also means it’s hard for the Iranians to read and the rest of the world to read.”

Warren was campaigning in New Hampshire on the same day that the lineup was announced for the upcoming first round of Democratic presidential primary debates, which are coming up later this month.

Twenty of the record two-dozen candidates will make the stage for the debates – with 10 appearing on two consecutive nights, on June 26-27.

Warren is the only one of the top five polling candidates who will appear on the first night, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris all taking part in the second night’s showdown.

Warren said she wasn’t concerned, saying “there will be other opportunities” to share the debate stage with the other top polling contenders for the nomination.

“This is going to be fun,” she added.

And Warren, who’s risen in the polls the past two months, touted her retail politics metrics in New Hampshire and the other early voting primary and caucus states.

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“I’ve done more than 90 town halls, taken more than 2,000 questions, we’re crowding in on about 30,000 selfies now,” she highlighted.

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Vice President Mike Pence on Monday confirmed that the Trump administration denied requests from U.S. embassies around the world to display a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.

“I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flag pole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag, and I support that,” Pence told NBC News in an interview released Monday.

WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP INTERRUPTS DETROIT PRIDE EVENT, MEMBERS APPEAR TO URINATE ON ISRAELI FLAG

Pence’s remarks come days after the news outlet first reported that the Trump administration was rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the flag outside — an apparent reversal from the Obama administration.

At least four U.S. embassies — in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia — were reportedly denied permission to fly flags in support of the LGBTQ community.

Vice President Mike Pence called it the "right decision" not to flag Pride flags at U.S. embassies around the world during the month of June.

Vice President Mike Pence called it the “right decision” not to flag Pride flags at U.S. embassies around the world during the month of June. (Getty)

The vice president said that he and Trump are “proud to be able to serve every American, and we both feel that way very passionately.”

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“But when it comes to the American flag pole and American embassies around the world, having one American flag fly, I think is the right decision,” Pence said. “We put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that.”

The Obama administration granted blanket approval to fly the flag on outside flagpoles, NBC News reported, but State Department policy is that embassies are expected to ask for permission from Washington.

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Just before the start of Pride — which is celebrated throughout the month of June — President Trump tweeted support for the LGBT community.

“As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

The president added: “My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!”

The German embassy, one of those that reportedly applied for permission to fly a Pride flag, is headed by Ambassador Richard Grenell, the most senior openly gay person in the Trump administration.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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Hopefully, this latest development in President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron’s relationship is mulch ado about nothing.

In the category of unfortunate metaphors, it’s been reported by French media that the oak sapling Macron gave to Trump during a White House visit last year has died.

The tree, rooted in a time when the relationship between the two world leaders was seemingly stronger, was planted in April 2018 as a sign of friendship.

“100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us,” Macron tweeted at the time.

US AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE: TRUMP, MACRON GETTING ALONG ‘FAMOUSLY’

SLIDESHOW: TRUMP HONORS FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON AT WHITE HOUSE STATE DINNER

The French leader also shared a video of himself and Trump planting the tree on the White House lawn, as first ladies Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump looked on.

But the tree had a troubled, and all too brief, life. Shortly after it was put in the ground outside the White House, ​Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the United States, said it had to be ripped out root and stem and placed in quarantine.

Now, according to French outlet Le Monde, the tree is no more.

Trump and Macron met last week during the president’s European tour and underscored the historic U.S.-French alliance as they marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

This Saturday, April 28, 2018, photo shows an empty area where a tree was planted by U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during a tree planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

This Saturday, April 28, 2018, photo shows an empty area where a tree was planted by U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during a tree planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

But while Trump and Macron enjoy putting on a show of exaggerated handshakes, warm kisses and taps on the back, they have disagreed on key issues including climate change, Iran and trade.

Still,  Macron’s office insists the two leaders get along — as does U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt, who told Fox News last week the two leaders are getting along “famously.”

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“I think that’s their style. I think they are both trying to do things for their country to make their countries better,” the ambassador told “The Story with Marth MacCallum.”

“I think they may have different perspectives, but they have very open conversations and they are very comfortable agreeing and disagreeing. I think that’s exactly how it will continue to be.”

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President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet at a Group of 20 summit late this month, the U.S. treasury secretary said, offering a prospective break in trade hostilities that are weighing on global growth.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters Saturday, said that the two presidents will meet while attending the June 28-29 summit of leaders of major economies in Japan, though he declined to provide other details.

China’s government didn’t respond to requests to confirm plans for a Trump-Xi meeting. If it materializes, the face-to-face meeting would offer a chance to put negotiations back on track after talks hit an impasse a month ago and both sides have since then increased punitive tariffs and taken other actions that raised tensions and complicate a resolution.

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President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping, seen in an undated photo, are scheduled to meet later this month in Japan.

President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping, seen in an undated photo, are scheduled to meet later this month in Japan.

Mr. Mnuchin’s remarks show how tentative any rapprochement is. In Fukuoka, Japan, for a weekend gathering of G-20 finance ministers and central bankers, Mr. Mnuchin played down a scheduled chat with People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang. It would be the first high-level meeting since the negotiations stumbled.

Mr. Mnuchin said of his talk with Mr. Yi: “This is not a negotiating meeting.” He also said that, as of Saturday, there were no plans for cabinet-level officials to travel to Beijing or Washington to prepare for the two presidents’ summit. And he urged Beijing to return to the terms under discussion a month ago or face further tariffs.

“If China wants to come back to the table and negotiate on the basis that we were negotiating, we can get a great historic deal,” he said. “If they don’t, we’ll proceed with our tariffs.”

“If China wants to come back to the table and negotiate on the basis that we were negotiating, we can get a great historic deal. If they don’t, we’ll proceed with our tariffs.”

— Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

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Negotiations fell apart last month amid U.S. accusations that China backtracked on terms already agreed upon. China denies it did so. Since then, apart from increasing punitive tariffs, the U.S. has restricted Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co.’s access to American technology on national-security concerns, and President Trump has ordered plans be drawn up to impose tariffs of up to 25% on the rest of the $300 billion in imports of Chinese goods not yet hit with levies.

This story continues in the Wall Street Journal.

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President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron are getting along “famously,” and there should be little concern about disagreements, the U.S. ambassador to France said.

Ambassador Jamie McCourt spoke to Martha MacCallum on “The Story” ahead of Trump’s planned visit to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion on D-Day.

MacCallum said Trump is to meet with Macron after the close of his state visit to Great Britain. The Fox News host asked McCourt about how Trump and Macron are getting along, citing policy disagreements on items like the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump has also previously poked fun at Macron over the policy.

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“Famously,” McCourt responded. “I think that’s their style. I think they are both trying to do things for their country to make their countries better.

“I think they may have different perspectives, but they have very open conversations and they are very comfortable agreeing and disagreeing. I think that’s exactly how it will continue to be.”

McCourt claimed Trump’s critique of the Paris deal had less to do with the president’s beliefs regarding climate change, and more to do with his opinion of the plan itself.

“I think this was not about whether he thinks there is climate change, doesn’t think there is climate change, he just did not like this agreement,” the longtime business executive said.

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McCourt added the D-Day anniversary is a key celebration and another tie between the United States and France, which she called America’s “oldest ally.”

“I think it’s such an important anniversary celebration,” the ambassador said. “First of all, the relationship between France and America is stellar… I think it’s a real tribute to understand how much [France] appreciates America and how much we appreciate their friendship as well.”

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President Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles on Tuesday night at Winfield House, a mansion in London which is the official residence of the United States ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The president and the first lady have been staying at Winfield House during their London trip, which started on Monday.

About 60 people, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair attended.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, QUEEN ELIZABETH REAFFIRM CLOSE TIES BETWEEN US AND UK, COMMEMORATE D-DAY INVASION AT BANQUET

The president was seated at a table in between exiting Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Charles. The first lady sat at another table, with May’s husband, Philip, and Duchess Camilla.

President Trump, s Prince Charles and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders during the return dinner at Winfield House. 

President Trump, s Prince Charles and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders during the return dinner at Winfield House.  (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

The president and the first lady did not address the media during Tuesday night’s event. The royals in attendance made no remarks, either.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump and the first lady toured the Churchill War Rooms with the prime minister and her husband. British leaders used the bunkers to plot strategy during World War II.

Donald and Melania Trump greet Prince Charles and Camilla.

Donald and Melania Trump greet Prince Charles and Camilla. (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

The Trumps played host and hostess in London about 24 hours after the royals hosted them. The president capped off the first day of his London visit Monday by dining with Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family at a lavish state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

The banquet ended a tumultuous and busy day that saw the president taking in the sights of the British capital while leveling insults at London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Both Trump and the queen offered formal toasts ahead of that dinner.

From left, President Trump, Queen Elizabeth II, first lady Melania Trump, Prince Charles and Camilla on Monday.

From left, President Trump, Queen Elizabeth II, first lady Melania Trump, Prince Charles and Camilla on Monday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

“Visits by American presidents always remind us of the close and lasting relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States,” Queen Elizabeth said in her toast, before referencing the Allied mission on D-Day.

Trump is set to travel to Normandy later this week to commemorate 75 years since the Allied invasion of France.

In his toast on Monday night, Trump reaffirmed the close ties between London and Washington – noting the countries’ joint effort in defeating Nazi Germany.

TRUMP CALLS LONDON’S MAYOR ‘THE TWIN OF DE BLASIO, EXCEPT SHORTER’

The state dinner on Monday was attended by a number of members of the royal family, the British government and the Trump administration.

The 'Trump Baby' blimp was inflated in Parliament Square in central London as people gathered to demonstrate against the state visit of President Donald Trump, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Trump joined British Prime Minister Theresa May for a day of talks on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The ‘Trump Baby’ blimp was inflated in Parliament Square in central London as people gathered to demonstrate against the state visit of President Donald Trump, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Trump joined British Prime Minister Theresa May for a day of talks on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Trump was also greeted by protesters during his trip. Thousands demonstrated on Tuesday in London’s government district as Trump met May nearby. Trump described the thousands of people who protested in London against his visit to Britain as a “small protest,” adding that media reports of a much larger protest are “fake news.”

May praised the “precious and profound” U.S.-U.K. special relationship on Tuesday but acknowledged differences with Trump on issues including Iran and climate change.

Speaking alongside Trump at a news conference in London, May mentioned Britain’s continued support for the Paris agreement on climate change, which Trump has rejected. She also said the two nations differ on how to limit the threat from Iran with the U.K. still supports an international agreement to suppress Tehran’s nuclear ambitions while Trump has pulled the U.S. from the deal.

The president and first lady will stay in the U.K. through Wednesday. The trip comes at a tumultuous time in British politics, with May due to step down on Friday.

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Trump is scheduled to make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday, spending two nights at his golf club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic. After Dublin balked at holding a meeting in the city, a deal was struck for Trump to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the VIP lounge at Shannon Airport, hardly the grand setting usually afforded a meeting of world leaders.

Fox News’ Matt Leach, Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Navy on Saturday confirmed that a request was made to “minimize the visibility” of the U.S.S. John McCain during President Trump’s recent visit to Japan — but that it remained in a “normal configuration” during the visit.

“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, chief of Navy information, said in a statement to Politico.

TRUMP, DEFENSE BOSS SHANAHAN BOTH DENY LINK TO USS JOHN S MCCAIN ‘OUT OF SIGHT’ DIRECTIVE

The statement said that there were “no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the White House had requested the Navy move the warship “out of sight” ahead of Trump’s state visit.

The outlet cited a May 15 email from a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials that said: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.” After the officials expressed surprise, the official said he would talk to the White House Military Office to get more information about the order. The Journal also reported that a tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the visit and sailors were directed to remove any coverings from the ship with its name on it.

McCain, a former Arizona senator and military veteran, had a years-long feud with Trump before his death from brain cancer last year. But Trump has kept that feud going even since McCain’s death, particularly his anger at McCain casting the decisive vote against Republican efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare in 2017.

In March Trump complained at a rally that he “endorsed him at his request, gave him the kind of funeral he wanted…but I didn’t get a thank you.”

“I never liked him much,” Trump said. “I really probably never will.”

The warship was commissioned in 1994 and originally named for the senator’s father and grandfather, both Navy admirals named John Sidney McCain. Last year, the Navy rededicated the ship to honor Sen. McCain.

According to the Journal, sailors on the ship were given the day off and a barge was moved closer to the ship, obscuring its name. But a spokesman told the Journal that the tarp was taken down and the barge removed before the presidential visit.

TRUMP SAYS NOT INVOLVED WITH KEEPING MCCAIN SHIP OUT OF VIEW

Both Trump and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan have denied knowing anything about any such orders. Trump told reporters Thursday that while he was not “a big fan” of McCain, “I would never do a thing like that.”

“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say,” he said.

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“Secretary Shanahan was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive,” a spokesman for Shanahan said in a statement.

In his statement Saturday, Brown said the Navy is “fully cooperating” with a review fo the matter tasked by the Pentagon.

Fox News’ Dom Callichio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that ships sabotaged off the United Arab Emirates coast were attacked “almost certainly by Iran.”

Bolton made the comments to journalists in Abu Dhabi ahead of planned meetings with to Emirati officials. He did not offer evidence to support his comments.

The U.S. recently deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran. The U.S. also pulled nonessential diplomats out of Iraq.

Emirati officials also say four ships off their coast were sabotaged. Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have also launched drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

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Bolton dismissed the idea that there was any difference between his positions and Trump, saying: “I am the national security adviser, not the national security decider.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is playing to his “radical” base with comments he made on the possibility of war with Iran, according to Senator Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

At a speech in New Hampshire on Monday, Sanders told a crowd of his supporters, “Right now if you can believe it, Trump and his people in his administration apparently have learned nothing from that horrific war in Iraq.”

“If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my strong belief is a war with Iran would be much worse,” said Sanders. “Not only would a war with Iran be a disaster, it happens to be unconstitutional.”

Appearing on “America’s Newsroom” with hosts Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith, Cramer said, “I think that, first of all, neither President Trump nor anyone around him have talked about war with Iran. They’re not talking about war. They’re not threatening war. In fact, he’s using the very well-known policy of peace-by-strength that’s allowed us to get back to this calmer demeanor.”

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“So, I don’t know what Bernie Sanders is talking about other than he’s talking to a very different audience than President Trump is,” he said.

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“He’s trying to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Cramer said. “He’s playing to a base that is radical to say the least. He plays radical as well as anybody—probably better than anybody.”

At a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, Trump appeared to tone down his rhetoric on Iran. He said that the U.S. is not seeking a regime change—this coming just a week after he threatened the “official end of Iran” if escalating tensions lead to a confrontation between the two countries.

Cramer said the president’s strategy was beneficial for the relationship between the countries: “He’s been great at applying the pressure. Then bringing adversaries to the table…hopefully, making some progress. At the very least he provides an avenue and an opportunity for our adversaries to, if not become our friends, to become serious about conversations.”

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President Trump said earlier that he supported Abe’s interest in leveraging Japan’s good standing with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue. According to The Washington Post, the president said he believed Iran “would like to talk.”

Abe said he is willing to do whatever he could to help lessen tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

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All of this coming after the Trump administration hurled accusations of an imminent attack and abruptly deployed Navy warships to the Middle East. On Friday, the president told reporters that the 1,500 troops sent would have a  “mostly protective” role. The administration is calling recent moves by Iran “troubling” and “escalatory.”

“The president is back to calming the waters,” Cramer said. “And, you know, Donald Trump sometimes plays good cop. Sometimes he plays bad cop. He’s always the top cop and I think it’s working.”

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President Trump fired a social media broadside at the Iranian regime Sunday afternoon, vowing that war between Washington and Tehran would result in “the official end of Iran” before warning, “[n]ever threaten the United States again!”

Trump tweeted hours after a rocket landed less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the first such attack since September. An Iraqi military spokesman told reporters the rocket appeared to have been fired from east Baghdad, which is home to several Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen in recent weeks after the Trump administration ordered warships and bombers to the Middle East earlier this month to counter threatened attacks against U.S. interests by Iran or Iranian-backed forces.

The U.S. also ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Baghdad told Iraqi intelligence that the United States had been picking up intelligence that Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East. Two Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that Pompeo had offered no details of the alleged threat.

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Trump appeared to have softened his tone in recent days, saying he expects Iran to seek negotiations with his administration. Asked on Thursday if the U.S. might be on a path to war with Iran, the president answered, “I hope not.”

The U.S. Navy said Sunday it had conducted exercises in the Arabian Sea with the aircraft carrier strike group ordered to the region to counter the unspecified threat from Iran. The Navy said the exercises and training were conducted Friday and Saturday with the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, highlighting U.S. “lethality and agility to respond to threat,” as well as to deter conflict and preserve U.S. strategic interests.

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The USS Abraham Lincoln has yet to reach the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded at sea passes.

On the Iranian side, the head of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, was quoted Sunday as saying Iran is not looking for war. But he said the U.S. is going to fail in the near future “because they are frustrated and hopeless” and are looking for a way out of the current escalation. His comments, given to other Guard commanders, were carried by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

Also Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs told reporters that the kingdom “does not want war in the region and does not strive for that … but at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests.”

Adel al-Jubeir spoke a week after four oil tankers— two of them Saudi— were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline. The Saudis have blamed the pipeline attack on Iran, accusing Tehran of arming the rebel Houthis, with which a Saudi-led coalition has been at war in Yemen since 2015. Iran denies arming or training the rebels, who control much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

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“We want peace and stability in the region, but we won’t stand with our hands bound as the Iranians continuously attack. Iran has to understand that,” al-Jubeir said. “The ball is in Iran’s court.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, meanwhile, has called for a meeting of Arab heads of state on May 30 in Mecca to discuss the latest developments, including the oil pipeline attack. The state-run Saudi news agency reported Sunday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss regional developments. There was no immediate statement by the State Department about the call.

An English-language Saudi newspaper close to the palace recently published an editorial calling for surgical U.S. airstrikes in retaliation for Iran’s alleged involvement in targeting Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.

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The current tensions are rooted in Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and impose wide-reaching sanctions, including on Iranian oil exports that are crucial to its economy.

Iran has said it would resume enriching uranium at higher levels if a new nuclear deal is not reached by July 7. That would potentially bring it closer to being able to develop a nuclear weapon, something Iran insists it has never sought.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The U.S. revoked the visa of an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Friday as part of the Trump administration’s effort to rebuke the tribunal’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Fatou Bensouda, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor and a Gambian national, said in a statement that she “has an independent and impartial mandate” under the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, to continue the investigation against the U.S. and that she is committed to pursuing her duties “without fear or favor.”

The ICC is an international tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands that prosecutes individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression only when other countries are unwillingly to do so. The U.S. has never been a member of the court and actively opposes its jurisdiction on an international stage.

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Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would revoke the visas of ICC personnel who attacked America’s rule of law by investigating allegations against U.S. forces in Afghanistan or allegations against Israel, The Guardian reported.

“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

“If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will be permitted to enter the United States.”

Bensouda first went after the U.S. in 2017 when she asked for permission from ICC judges to open an Afghanistan probe. The prosecutor sought to investigate allegations of war crimes carried out by the U.S. military, the CIA and Afghan forces as well as crimes against humanity committed by the Taliban since May 2003.

The request claimed there is evidence that U.S. military and intelligence personnel “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period.”

The ICC plans to investigate the actions of CIA operatives in secret detention centers in Afghanistan and in other nations that are members of the tribunal. Palestinians have asked the court to investigate allegations against Israel, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Bensouda is scheduled to brief the U.N. Security Council in May on her investigations in Libya. Her office said the revocation of her visa should not affect the prosecutor’s ability to travel to New York for regular council briefings.

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The ICC was formed in 2000 when President Clinton signed the Roman Statute. The United States never became a member of the court because Clinton never brought the treaty before the U.S. Senate for ratification, fearing the court has unchecked jurisdiction.

In 2001, the Bush administration passed the American Service Members Protection Act, protecting U.S. forces from being charged by the ICC. In 2002, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, then a State Department official, ceremonially unsigned the Rome Statute at the United Nations.

Though the ICC has over 120 member countries, U.S. criticism of the court has dissuaded many nations from joining the tribunal. Nations not a part of the ICC include the United States, China, India, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel, USA Today reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News Politics

Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet Tuesday with the families of six Citgo executives being detained in Venezuela. Five of the detainees are U.S. citizens.

Pence will demand the release of the “wrongfully detained American citizens,” White House officials said, according to the McClatchy D.C. Bureau. The vice president also will call on Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to release all political prisoners “immediately and unconditionally,” the report said, citing the officials.

“The vice president will make it clear once again: Maduro must go!” a White House official said. “The Trump administration stands with the people of Venezuela, and will continue to take decisive actions targeting the Maduro regime until democracy, freedom and human rights are restored in Venezuela.”

“The Trump administration stands with the people of Venezuela, and will continue to take decisive actions targeting the Maduro regime until democracy, freedom and human rights are restored in Venezuela.”

— White House official

The executives from Citgo Petroleum have been jailed in Venezuela since 2017, Reuters reported. They were arrested in Caracas during corporate meetings of Citgo.

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The family members will also meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the report said, citing the White House.

The six executives include Citgo President Jose Pereira, Tomeu Vadell, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano and Gustavo Cardenas, whom Venezuelan authorities have charged with embezzlement, contract malfeasance and money laundering, according to McClatchy.

The White House did not provide specific details about which family members will meet with Pence or whether children will attend, the report said.

Pence on Friday will visit Houston to give a speech on the political turmoil and economic crisis in Venezuela. The White House says in a statement that Pence will address students and members of the local Venezuelan community at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Houston is home to a large Venezuelan immigrant community, as well as the corporate headquarters of Citgo.

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Last Wednesday, Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, was welcomed at the White House. President Trump and Vice President Pence met with and praised Rosales.

Rosales is rallying international support of the ouster of Maduro, and has emerged as a prominent figure in her husband’s campaign to bring change to the country wrought with crisis.

“We are with Venezuela,” the president said at the start of a meeting with Rosales and other opposition figures. “What’s happening there should not be happening.”

The United States was the first nation to recognize Guaido as interim president, asserting that Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate, and has stepped up sanctions and other diplomatic measures in hopes of forcing him to give up power.

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Pence called on governments around the world to stop supporting the Maduro government, singling out Russia for its deployment of military forces to the country over the weekend.

“The United States views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation and calls on Russia today to cease all support for the Maduro regime,” the vice president said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A sense of victory and vindication emanated from the Kremlin on Monday, following the revelation that the special counsel concluded there was no evidence that Trump team had colluded with Russia for a 2016 presidential victory.

“It is hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if it is not there,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov – who has long dismissed any allegations of connivance – in a call with journalists on Monday, referencing a Chinese philosopher. “Centuries have passed, but unfortunately there has been no understanding of this on the other side of the ocean.”

In a four-page letter to Congress released Sunday, Attorney General William Barr said “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russia-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

“The agents of conspiracy theory have been discredited,” wrote Alexey Pushkov, a foreign affairs specialist in the upper house of parliament, tweeted – pointing to Democratic and media attempts to push a theory of collusion. “From now on, only an idiot can believe them.”

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He also contended that the “biased, artificial, provocative, conspiratorial, designed-to-fuel hatred toward Trump campaign” had a second objective, which was to “demonize Russia and prevent any U.S. moves towards better relations with Moscow.”

The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom also took aim at those who maintained the narrative that Trump’s campaign did indeed conspire with Russia for election victory.

“That awkward moment when another anti-Russian fake crumbles to dust,” the official tweet said. “Excuses, anyone?

And for Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, it was both an “I told you so” moment and a moment of regret over two withered years of deteriorating Russia-U.S. ties.

“Mueller’s long-awaited report proved what was known in Russia from the very beginning,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “Two years of unceasing lies. Two years of the highest-level policy built on the allegation of collusion. A conspiracy explaining the allegedly pro-Russian position of Trump, because of which he was essentially forced to impose more and more stringent measures against our country."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with U.S. National security adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with U.S. National security adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Kosachyov also sought some kind of reconciliation.

"That is why two years were not just lost for Russian-American relations, but simply crushing for them,” he continued. “Someone will answer for this damage? Someone apologize? Someone will adjust something?"

Moreover, Russian media, which is mostly owned or overseen by authorities, didn’t waste any time in boasting about the report.

According to Vitali Shkliarov, an expert in U.S.-Russian relations and former senior adviser to Russian opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, the news about the Mueller report was “received with great enthusiasm’ in the former Soviet nation.

“This is a topic that has garnered a great deal of interest and attention there,” he told Fox News. “There was wide coverage about the announcement of the results, much of it tinged with sarcasm. Even liberal politicians seem pleased with the results and are critical of the length and cost of the investigation.”

One anchor of the popular Moscow daytime political show “Time Will Tell” stated on Monday that “the investigation was useless” and “its results proved that it was useless.”

Nonetheless, scores of political pundits, analysts and anti-Trump advocates in the United States still beg to differ on the summary. Many have voiced skepticism of Barr’s findings, while also emphasizing the fact that the attorney general’s summary said Mueller had reached no explicit resolution on whether or not Trump had attempted to obstruct justice.

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But that, too, became fodder for laughs among the Moscow media.

A "Russia Today" headline on Monday was titled “Mueller meltdown: #Resistance licks wounds, MAGA camp enjoys salty popcorn & meme.”

The Moscow-funded outlet crowed that as the “Russiagate conspiracy theory disintegrates in the wake of the Mueller report’s conclusions, resistance (on) Twitter is struggling to cope, while Trump supporters are basking in the foes’ suffering.”

“The reality-based community could only look on in amazement. And laugh,” the article continued, underscoring those who “screeched about a cover-up.”

Putin and Trump souvenirs for sale in Moscow

Putin and Trump souvenirs for sale in Moscow (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

According to data exclusively obtained by Fox News from Sc2 Corp, a private analytics firm that combs online and social media data for the Special operations and national security community-based in Clearwater, Fla., the overall analogy was that few in Russia expressed surprise over the Mueller findings. The news prompted a spike in user engagement in Russia, with "positive sentiment" towards the news outweighing negative sentiment, but much of the engagement on the issue was relatively neutral.

"Russians are more concerned about internal ‘Troll Farms’ fomenting dissension and division at home and abroad," one of the firm’s data experts noted.

Trump, who has from the very beginning framed the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt,” also claimed a triumph over the weekend, and questions have since swirled as to what that means for the Washington-Moscow accord in the near future.

“Russia is celebrating. There may not have been coordination with the campaign, but the U.S. intelligence community had documented extensive influence operations,” said Brett Bruen, a former U.S. diplomat who previously served as Director of Global Engagement at the White House. “I am very worried that Moscow will interpret this report as a bright green light to accelerate their influence operations. The Mueller report is the perfect tool to try and further divide Americans who have dramatically opposing interpretations of his decision.”

Nonetheless, other experts see a positive path for a genuine relationship reset.

“No one in Russia expects immediate changes, especially in respect to sanctions, but most believe that by the end of this year there will be more constructive dialogue and a real potential for improvement in our bilateral relations,” observed Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. Attorney, and lawyer in foreign affairs. “Trump’s original goal of exploring ways to improve Russia relations has been paralyzed by the investigative processes. While political resistance will remain, he is now able to focus his efforts on what is best for the United States.”

NO TRUMP MEETING THIS TRIP, BUT PUTIN’S STAGE-MANAGING ALWAYS A FACTOR

But Luke Coffey, director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation cautioned there are many more obstacles impeding diplomatic ties beyond the Mueller matter.

“Russia invaded and occupies a large section of Ukraine, and continues to occupy a large section of Georgia. Both of these countries are U.S. partners. Russia also continues to prop up Assad, which allows the civil war in Syria to continue,” he noted. “Moscow is also showing support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela, thus prolonging the suffering there. Until Russia stops its regional aggression and malign activity, U.S.-Russia relations can never get back on track.”

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Yet others predict the worst may be yet to come.

“In the larger context, those who lean against Trump will continue to destabilize the presidency,” added one source closely connected to the investigation. “This will only fuel efforts of Democrats to mess with the President.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Leaders from European Union and Arab League countries pledged Sunday to boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism and to tackle unauthorized migration at a first-ever summit high in symbolism but likely to yield few concrete results.

Under tight security at the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi opened two days of talks with a speech celebrating what he described as historic cooperation between the two organizations.

But despite the public display of unity, just drafting a summit statement has proved difficult. EU and Arab League foreign ministers failed to agree earlier this month on a text after Hungary objected to the section on migration, and work on the document is continuing.

In it, the leaders are likely to commit to addressing conflicts in Syria and Yemen or stalled Middle East peace efforts, yet paper over major differences about how to resolve them or who might be responsible.

Some said that merely sitting down together at the same table for the first time is a result in itself.

"The meeting is the message," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters, summing up the largely symbolic nature of the summit, while EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said "this summit is, in itself, a deliverable."

Europe’s migration challenge is at the heart of the two-day meeting, being held under the slogan "Investing in Stability." Desperate to bring migrant arrivals under control, the EU offered the summit last October as a symbolic sweetener to el-Sissi, much as they did with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2015.

The EU wants el-Sissi to order the Egyptian coast guard to pick up migrants leaving Libya and take them back to the African mainland, ensuring they do not become Europe’s responsibility. El-Sissi, in turn, would receive high-profile European recognition, promotion for Sharm el-Sheikh and a muting of criticism of his government’s human rights record.

"We must work together — countries of origin, transit and destination — in order to break the business model of smugglers and traffickers who lure people into dangerous journeys and feed modern-day slavery," said EU Council President Donald Tusk.

While the number of people crossing the central Mediterranean has now dropped to a seven-year low, Europe’s inability to agree on how to manage the arrivals has sparked a major political crisis, as nations bicker over who should take responsibility and whether other EU partners should help out. Some, like Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary, contend that extremists are entering among the refugees.

Just days before the summit, the head of the EU’s border and coast guard agency praised the authorities in Cairo for preventing any migrant from setting out for Europe from the Egyptian coast since 2016.

"There are no boats coming directly from Egypt to the European Union," Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said. "The cooperation with Egypt is really encouraging and is developing."

The EU — a major trading partner and investor in the Arab world — routinely trumpets an agreement it reached with Erdogan for slowing migrant arrivals to a trickle in exchange for up to 6 billion euros ($7 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees there and other incentives. It has pledged to replicate the deal in northern Africa.

El-Sissi also called for a broad plan to combat terrorism that would deprive extremists of funding and "include a strict security offensive to counter the terrorist organizations and other elements of terrorism. And there should also be an effective ideological offensive against their ideological platforms."

Saeed Sadek, professor of political sociology at the Canadian University in Cairo, told The Associated Press that security would be of prime concern in Sharm el-Sheikh, but he too played down expectations from the summit.

"The timing is very important because it comes after eight years of instability in the Mediterranean affecting Europe and the Middle East," Sadek said. "Both sides want to know how can we stabilize the area further, produce stability, how can we deal with the consequences and prevent any further escalations."

"But the imbalance of power between the two sides may not produce the concrete results that people imagine," he added.

Tusk too noted: "I am aware that there are differences between us. We are not here to pretend that we agree on everything. But we face common challenges and have shared interests."

___

Associated Press video reporter Ahmed Hatem and AP writer Brian Rohan in Cairo contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

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