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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

West Wing Reads 1-7-2020

Appeasement or War? Trump Proves the Iran ‘Experts’ Wrong Again

“Rather than seize Obama’s invitation to ‘get right with the world,’ the ayatollahs [in Iran] and Soleimani stepped up their terrorism. They shot down a US drone. They attacked our embassy in Iraq,” Jonathan Tobin writes in the New York Post.

“Trump chose to deal with reality as it is. Rather than starting a war, he merely recognized that the ayatollahs have already been waging one against Washington for years. The regime counted on Trump to follow the conventional lie that the only choices are abject appeasement or apocalyptic war.”

Click here to read more.
“In a single strike, the president defended American troops and diplomats against attacks, held Iran accountable for killing a U.S. citizen in Iraq and reframed the U.S.-Iran relationship by making it clear the Iranian regime cannot act with impunity,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) writes today in The Washington Post.
“Wages for rank-and-file workers are rising at the quickest pace in more than a decade, even faster than for bosses . . . Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in the private sector were up 3.7% in November from a year earlier,” Eric Morath and Jeffrey Sparshott report in The Wall Street Journal.
“As a new year dawns in America, many of the nation’s manufacturing sectors are experiencing aggressive growth . . . The steel industry in particular offers ample evidence, with America’s steel companies investing some $13 billion in new steelmaking and mills across the nation. This isn’t what many economists predicted, however. And frustrated by the flow of such positive news, the economics profession is looking for other means to wage their war against tariffs,” writes economist Jeff Ferry in The Hill.

UPDATE: Senator Josh Hawley and Senate Republicans Give Pelosi Until Sunday Jan. 12 to Turn Over Impeachment Documents or Face Dismissal

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced on Friday if Democrats DO NOT deliver their articles of impeachment to the US Senate as is required by the US Constitution he will introduce a measure to dismiss Pelosi’s slapdash articles of impeachment on Monday January 6th.

Nancy Pelosi was on notice
She had three days to decide but did not act.

Senator Hawley, the former Attorney General in Missouri, tweeted this warning out on Thursday.


Iraqi Protesters and Pro-Iran Mourners Clash at Soleimani Funeral

CNN Attacks Babylon Bee: 'The Internet Is Only Big Enough For One Fake News Site'

U.S.—CNN has slammed the world's best satire site, The Babylon Bee, after CNN executives realized that "fake news" articles on the website were getting at least as much social media traction as their own.

"There ain't room in this internet for the both of us," growled one CNN anchor on the air Monday evening. "There simply aren't enough people out there for us to fool with our fake news stories and The Babylon Bee to fool with their satire. There isn't enough clickbait and outrage traffic to go around."

Reporters at the media outlet also pointed out that their news was "much faker" than The Babylon Bee's.


VIDEO: Breitbart News Visits Unsecured U.S. Border Across from Cartel HQ

During a recent border tour, Breitbart News visited an unsecured section of the Texas border with Mexico. Across the river, the “crown jewel” of the Gulf Cartel — Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas.

“Just south of us is the crown jewel of the Gulf Cartel,” Breitbart News contributor Ildefonso Ortiz told Alex Marlow, Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief. “That is where the bulk of the drug smuggling and the human smuggling comes through this area right here.”

Ortiz told Marlow there is no physical barrier in this section of the Rio Grande border with Mexico. “This is an area that sees constant traffic,” Ortiz explained. He said this has also been “the scene of numerous gun battles where the Gulf Cartel has fought tooth and nail to hold on to this territory from an invasion by Los Zetas, and also when there’s been internal fights within the Gulf Cartel.”

Marlow asked Ortiz about the Gulf Cartel’s use of drones.

“That’s been something that in recent years that we’ve been noticing,” he responded. “There’s been quite a few drones — large, commercial drones that you can buy at a regular store in the U.S. They’re using them over there for surveillance.”

As Breitbart’s crew watched the border, multiple vehicles with heavily tinted windows made their way along the river’s edge after noticing the photography of the area.

More/video here

Democrat Mark Warner won't say whether Nancy Pelosi impeachment strategy is smart

Average voters casually following the impeachment melodrama of the last have likely asked themselves: What the hell just happened? What was this all for?

Democrats in Congress are pretending that their stall in the process is about negotiating a "fair" trial, but they know they have no say in how the Senate trial goes because they're not in power, just as Republicans had no say in the House impeachment investigation went because they weren't in power there.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declining to send the two impeachment articles to the Senate nothing but an acknowledgment of the absolute powerless state Democrats are now in and of the waste of time that impeachment always was.


Inspector General Report Shows Special Counsel Replicated FBI Abuses

Shortly after the release of the special counsel report last year, I posted that Robert Mueller’s failure to investigate whether Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election by feeding dossier author Christopher Steele disinformation established that Mueller was either incompetent or a political hack. Now, with the release of the inspector general’s report on FISA abuse, we know the answer: He was both.

The IG’s report on the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI’s handling of the Carter Page surveillance applications established 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions in the FISA application and renewals. (Eighteen if you include the one the IG missed). The 400-page report also established that the special counsel’s office was complicit in the FISA abuse, the probe was a witch hunt, and Mueller’s report was a cover-up for systematic government malfeasance.

Mueller Was As Bad as James Comey

Mueller’s appointment as special counsel prompted bipartisan praise, with the accolades focusing on his stellar reputation as the FBI director under Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat President Barack Obama. But Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report revealed a sad reality: The special counsel’s office under Mueller’s charge was just as inept at investigating the false charges of Russia collusion as the FBI was under James Comey’s lead.


WoCo State's Attorney Press Release 1-7-2020

The Mental Health Crisis

It is no longer news that the country is in a mental health crisis. Suicide rates are off the charts, so is the number of addicts and people dying of drug overdose.

This series of events is a direct consequence of the decline in mental health across the nation. But they do not tell the full story. Mental health cases are more rampant than ever and the dearth of professionals equipped with the necessary skills to tackle the crisis have never been more obvious.

It’s high time we all looked inwards as a nation and come up with lasting solutions to the crisis.

What do the statistics say?
  • About 50% of Americans are diagnosed with a mental health problem at least once in their lifetime
  • The disorders account for the third most common cause of hospitalization
  • An estimated 44 million Americans currently suffer from mental illness
  • Adults with serious mental health conditions die about 25 years earlier than their counterparts without mental health conditions
  • 42,000 Americans commit suicide every year
  • 60% of Americans with mental health conditions DO NOT RECEIVE TREATMENT
  • 23 million Americans suffer from addiction
  • 88% of addicts DO NOT RECEIVE TREATMENT
These shocking statistics serve to highlight the magnitude of the problem. Previously, mental health used to be a distant topic; something that applied to others. However, this situation has changed. Virtually every American has had a first-hand feel of mental health disorders and the number of people affected keeps increasing. If urgent steps are not taken, the damage can only get worse.

Below are some proposed solutions that could help us get out of the crisis:

Ocean City Approves New Parking Rate Structure

OCEAN CITY — After clearing up some loose ends, resort officials this week approved a resolution setting in stone changes in the public parking rate structure in the coming season at the Inlet lot, municipal lots and on the streets.

After numerous meetings, the resort’s parking task force last month forwarded recommendations for tweaking the rate structure for public parking in areas where it already exists. In simplest terms, the recommendations included a modest rate hike of 50 cents per hour in most areas during the peak of the summer season, with a throwback to the consumer in the form of times in the shoulder seasons when paid parking is eliminated.

The goal of the task force’s undertaking was to explore ways to increase revenue from parking to help offset growing budget demands and shift some of the responsibility for maintaining the beach and Boardwalk to the day-trippers, all while keeping a paid parking fee schedule fair and palatable to all consumers.


CNN settles lawsuit with Nick Sandmann

CNN agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann.

The amount of the settlement was not made public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky.

Sandmann’s lawsuit sought $800 million from CNN, the Washington Post and NBC Universal.

Trial dates are still not set for Sandmann’s lawsuit against NBC Universal and the Washington Post.

The lawsuits were filed following an incident in Jan. 2019 in Washington, D.C. involving Covington Catholic High School students. Videos of that incident garnered national attention.


Accountability Session: Governor Hogan Proposes Tough New Ethics Reform for Public Officials, Urges Lawmakers to Pass Crime Package

Ethics and Accountability in Government Act Includes Increased Penalties for Bribery, Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Lawmakers, Expanded Prohibitions on Misuse of Confidential Information
ANNAPOLIS, MDFollowing another wave of indictments against Maryland officeholders, Governor Larry Hogan today unveiled a new package of tough ethics reforms to address a culture of corruption among public officials. And on the same day a new independent poll showed that “voters want lawmakers to focus on crime,” he called on legislators to pass his crime package.
Speaking at the State House the day before the start of the new legislative session, Governor Hogan announced that he will introduce the Ethics and Accountability in Government Act. Key provisions include:
  • Increasing fines for bribery of public officials by 1,000%
  • Forcing convicted lawmakers to forfeit their taxpayer-funded pensions
  • Expanding prohibitions of misuse of confidential information by public officials
  • Empowering the Ethics Commission to directly assess penalties against public officials
“It has become clear in recent months and recent weeks that a pervasive culture of corruption continues to exist, and that even tougher and more stringent laws are needed,” said Governor Hogan. “The Ethics and Accountability in Government Act of 2020 will strengthen and toughen the state ethics laws in an effort to help restore the public’s trust and bring further transparency, accountability, and honesty to Annapolis.”
During his campaign for governor, Governor Hogan pledged to hold state government to the highest ethical standards. He issued an executive order on his first day in office outlining strict standards of conduct for the governor’s executive staff and all executive branch employees. From day one, the Hogan administration has taken action to root out corruption across the state, leading to hundreds of indictments, and in 2017 Governor Hogan pushed for and enacted the most comprehensive ethics reforms in 15 years.
Ethics and Accountability in Government Act (EAGA)
Tougher Penalties for Bribery. The legislation will expand the penalties for bribery of a public official by 1,000 percent, ranging from a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000. These penalties will apply both to those who bribe or attempt to bribe a public official and to those who demand or receive a reward to influence the performance of their duties.
Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Lawmakers. The legislation will codify in statute that members of the General Assembly and state employees who are found guilty, plead guilty, or enter a plea of nolo contendere for a qualifying crime committed in the course of their duties are subject to total forfeiture of their pension benefits. This expands a provision the General Assembly passed in 2016 for the state’s constitutional officers. 
Expanded Prohibitions on Misuse of Confidential Information. The legislation will expand prohibitions on misuse of confidential information by current state officials and employees to include the misuse of confidential information acquired during state service by former officials and employees.
Stronger Authority for Ethics Commission to Impose Penalties. The legislation will give the Ethics Commission the authority to directly assess civil penalties against state employees and public officials—authority it currently has with regard to lobbying. At present, with respect to state employees and public officials, the commission must request a court to assess fines of at least $5,000.
Accountability Session
At today’s press conference, Governor Hogan stressed that the focus of this legislative session should be accountability. 
“For the entire five years that I have been governor, I have been fighting to clean up the mess in Annapolis and to bring more transparency and accountability to state government,” said the governor. “We need more accountability for the violent criminals who are shooting and killing people on the streets of Baltimore City, more accountability in our local school systems for the billions in state tax dollars they spend, and more accountability for public officials to make sure they are deserving of the trust that the people have placed in them.”
The governor reinforced the importance of accountability legislation that he announced last month pertaining to crime and education, including:
  • The Judicial Transparency Act requires the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish sentencing records of judges in violent crime cases to hold the system more accountable to the public for sentencing decisions.
  • The Violent Firearm Offenders Act significantly increases tougher sentences for violent offenders who commit crimes with guns.
  • The Witness Intimidation Prevention Act toughens penalties for witness intimidation resulting in serious physical injury or death.
  • The Community and Local Accountability for Struggling Schools Act helps turn around underperforming schools by empowering communities to designate “Innovation Schools” that operate with greater local autonomy and flexibility.

A Delaware man faces federal charges after he allegedly threw an incendiary device at a Planned Parenthood facility

A Delaware man threw a lit incendiary device at a Planned Parenthood facility and spray-painted the Latin words for "God wills it" on the building, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Samuel James Gulick, 18, of Middletown, was charged with intentionally damaging a building that provides reproductive health services and maliciously damaging a building used in interstate commerce through the use of fire or a destructive device, the US Attorney's office in Delaware said.

Gulick was also charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device under the National Firearms Act in connection with the January 3 incident at the Planned Parenthood facility in Newark, Delaware.

This is a powerful scene to say the least.

Sheriff Offers Free CCW Classes So Churches Can Shoot Back

The sheriff in Butler County, Ohio, is offering free concealed carry weapons courses so churches can form a security team and shoot back, as did the church that was attacked in Texas.

Sheriff Richard K. Jones put out an announcement, saying, “Unfortunately, in these days and times, no place is immune from mass shootings and we want our citizens to go to church without worry and fear, feeling safe and secure to worship with their families and their fellow church members.”

To that end, Jones’ office is offering “free CCW classes to churches that have or are implementing security teams.”

More here

Trump’s VA Chief Confronts Challenges Facing America’s Veterans

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie brings a personal and family history of military service to his high-profile job—characteristics that have helped him lead a government agency responsible for providing care for approximately 9.5 million of America’s veterans. Wilkie is the son of an Army artillery commander who grew up at Fort Bragg. Today, he is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and has more than 20 years of public service in the various national security and defense roles in government. The Daily Signal spoke to him about the issues confronting America’s veterans and his leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs. A lightly edited transcript is below along with the full audio podcast.

Rob Bluey: Tell us about the mission of Veterans Affairs and what your priorities are as Secretary for the department.

Robert Wilkie: The mission is very simple, but it’s also sublime. I’m sitting underneath the quote from the father of what was first the Veterans Bureau and now Veterans Affairs. That’s Mr. Abraham Lincoln.

In his second inaugural, he said that the mission of government was to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan. One of the last acts of his life before he went to the theater was to sign the charters for three soldiers’ homes in Maine, Ohio, and Wisconsin. And our mission as a result of Mr. Lincoln’s mandate is to do just that.

We take care of about nine and a half million of America’s veterans. We provide educational benefits and home loans. And we are the other end of the national security continuum. We take care of those who have already borne the battle, and I have always argued that this is probably the noblest mission in government.

Read more or listen here..

CNN silent about correspondent Andrew McCabe apologizing for lying to investigators

CNN pundit Andrew McCabe apologized for lying to federal investigators concerning a 2016 leak to The Wall Street Journal about the Hillary Clinton email probe, but you wouldn't know it if you were tuning in to his employer.

Transcripts released last week revealed McCabe’s apology, which underscores his legal jeopardy as U.S. Attorney John Durham continues the Justice Department's criminal probe into potential bureau misconduct.

The transcripts released by the Justice Department specifically raised the possibility that ex-Deputy FBI Director McCabe, now a paid CNN commentator, could face a false statements charge similar to the one leveled against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

CNN had not covered news of McCabe’s apology in regards to the Wall Street Journal leak through Monday morning, according to a search of the network’s transcripts.

More here

TONIGHT: Wicomico County Farm On MPT

Secret Service 'aware' of George Lopez assassination 'joke' against Trump

The United States Secret Service is aware of a comment actor and comedian George Lopez made on social media where he referenced assassinating President Trump.

Lopez, 58, responded to a post on Instagram about the Iranian government putting a bounty on Trump's head by saying he would do it for "half" of the $80 million bounty. He was responding to reports that a eulogist at Gen. Qassem Soleimani's funeral called for the president to be killed as payback for Soleimani's death.

"The Secret Service is aware of the Tweet made by Mr. Lopez," a USSS representative told the Washington Examiner on Monday. "The Secret Service takes all threats against the President and or any of our protectees seriously, and as a matter of practice, we do not comment on matters involving protective intelligence."


Hunter Biden Accused of Identity Theft – Used His Dead Brother’s Identity to Make False Statements to Police

Crackhead Hunter Biden is linked to a 2016 identity theft involving his dead brother Beau Biden and a person named “Joseph McGee.”

Beau Biden, the eldest of Joe Biden’s three children with his first wife, served as Delaware’s 44th Attorney General and passed away in January of 2015 of brain cancer.

According to newly submitted court documents in Hunter Biden’s paternity case with former stripper Lunden Roberts, Hunter used his deceased brother’s identity to check into a rehab facility and make false statements to the police.

Hunter Biden also “dated” his deceased brother’s wife before impregnating DC stripper Lunden Roberts — what a sick, sick, man!


#WalkAway – Lifelong Democrat Rips Up His Democrat Voter Registration Card, Registers as Republican and Will Vote For Trump

Bill, a lifelong Democrat decided to walk away from the Democrat party because they have moved too far left and he can no longer support them.

“Bill just walked into our office and told me he is a life long Democrat but that the party has moved so far left that he can longer support them,” Christopher, the VP for ‘Students for Trump’ at Arizona State University tweeted.

“He ripped up his Democratic voter registration card and I just registered him to vote as a Republican!” he added.


McCaul: Soleimani Strike Briefing Showed 'Imminent Threat'

Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said Monday he was briefed about the strike that took out Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleimani, and there was an "imminent threat" that required President Donald Trump to take action.

"The fact that there was an imminent threat, that I've been briefed on by both the Vice President [Mike Pence], when I got the briefing of the strike, [and] the national security adviser," McCaul told Fox News' "Outnumbered Overtime." "This threat was imminent, and we stopped it by taking out Soleimani."

Further details about the threat are in the "classified space" as for now, said McCaul, adding National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff "who I've known for a long time" presented "clear, unambiguous intelligence" on Soleimani.

He added, many Americans were not aware of Soleimani's actions until the airstrike, but "he's been the architect of terror in the Middle East, the mastermind, if you will, for the last several decades... killing hundreds of Americans."


West Wing Read

The Democrats and Iran

“President Trump’s order to take out Qasem Soleimani was morally, constitutionally and strategically correct. It deserves more bipartisan support than the begrudging or negative reactions it has received thus far from my fellow Democrats,” former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) writes in The Wall Street Journal.

A few of the most important points:
  • During the Iraq War, Soleimani oversaw three camps that trained and equipped Iraqi militias. These fighters have killed more than 600 Americans since 2003.
  • “Some Democrats have said that killing Soleimani will lead us into war with Iran. In fact, Soleimani and the Quds Force have been at war with the U.S. for years. It is more likely that his death will diminish the chances of a wider conflict.”
  • “Authority to act quickly to eliminate a threat to the U.S. is inherent in the powers granted to the president by the Constitution.”
Lieberman says Democrats should leave partisan politics at “the water’s edge” and “stand together against Iran and dangerous leaders like Qasem Soleimani.”

Click here to read more.
“In Washington, the decision to kill Mr. Suleimani represents the final demise of Mr. Obama’s Middle East strategy, which sought to realign American interests with those of Iran,” Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Doran writes in The New York Times.
Four years ago, then-Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that some of the $150 billion given to Iran in President Obama’s nuclear deal would end up in terrorist hands. “I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,” he conceded in an interview, Elise Labott reported for CNN.
“Soleimani had the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands, and was in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad planning attacks on more Americans throughout the Middle East . . . Members of Congress make statements; presidents take action. And Trump’s action will make the world safer for Americans,” security expert Christian Whiton writes in Fox News.

Nearly 200 People Arrested Across Australia For Deliberately Starting Bush Fires

Authorities in Australia have arrested close to 200 people for deliberately starting the bush fires that have devastated the country, yet the media and celebrities continue to blame “climate change” for the disaster.

The fires have caused at least 18 deaths, destroyed thousands of homes, millions of hectares of land and killed hundreds of millions of animals.

A total of 183 people have been arrested by police in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania for lighting bush fires over the last few months, figures obtained by news agency AAP show.

Around 85 per cent of bush fires are caused by humans either deliberately or accidentally starting them, according to Dr Paul Read, co-director of the National Centre for Research in Bush fire and Arson.


Pompeo: We’re Having to Clean Up the Obama Administration’s ‘Mess’

On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is cleaning up the “mess” the Obama administration created in Iran.

Partial transcript as follows:

STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s also the question going forward if you take any new action against Iran is congressional authorization needed. Former Vice-President Biden spoke about that yesterday. Let’s listen.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT: I’m going to make it clear, President Trump has no authority to take us to a military conflict with Iran, period. The bottom line is any further action against Iran requires congressional authorization.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the president go to Congress before taking new military action against Iran?

POMPEO: Boy, it’s really something to hear the vice-president from the previous administration be critical of this administration’s policy of Iran. We’re having to clean up their mess, George. We’ll do everything required under the law to bring us into compliance with all the relevant constitutional legal provisions with respect to our duties to the legislative branch.


'We should all be scared to death': Mike Lee would vote to repeal FISA

A Republican senator said he would vote to repeal the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act following a scathing report that found serious problems in how the FBI sought to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a longtime critic of the FISA program, told One America News Network on Saturday that the audit released last month by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz was a wake-up call to "stop allowing the American people to be subjected to this type of abuse and manipulation."

"We should all be scared to death," Lee said. "We shouldn't rest until FISA is either repealed entirely or drastically, dramatically reformed."


Flashback: Chuck Schumer Praised Obama’s ‘Bold & Decisive’ Strike on Terrorist Leader

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has sharply criticized the president’s decision to eliminate Iran’s top terror chief, Qasem Soleimani, took a different position following the death of al-Qaeda’s Abu Yahya al-Libi, at which time he praised former President Obama’s “bold & decisive” drone strike policy.

Schumer took issue with Trump’s decisive military action, which resulted in the elimination of the Iranian terror chief, who approved of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and was actively planning additional attacks on American diplomats and U.S. service members, according to the Pentagon.

More here

Their reactions were priceless.

Sen. Hawley: ‘Pelosi Is Attempting to Obstruct a Senate Trial’ by Withholding Impeachment Articles

Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) decision to withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate.

Hawley accused Pelosi on “Fox & Friends” of “attempting to obstruct a Senate trial” and called for a change in the Senate rules to allow for the case to be dismissed if she continues her refusal to send over the articles.

“You know, Nancy Pelosi is attempting to obstruct a Senate trial. That’s all there is to it,” Hawley stated. “The Constitution says that the Senate is the one that will have the trial. It says the trial will follow the impeachment. Now, she’s trying to prevent a trial. She’s trying to obstruct it and upend the Constitution. Here’s what needs to happen: we need to change the Senate rules to allow the Senate to dismiss this case if she refuses to send the articles over.”


Political Memes

Tuesday Morning Funnies

US Defense Secretary Esper says NO decision made to leave Iraq

The U.S. has made no decision about withdrawing troops from Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday in response to a letter from a senior military officer that appeared to suggest a withdrawal was underway.

Esper told reporters Monday that the U.S. is not pulling troops out of Iraq.

He said he didn’t know anything about a letter that appears to suggest some preparation of troops to move out of Iraq. But he said there has been some repositioning of U.S. forces.

“There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” he said, adding, “There’s no decision to leave, nor did we issue any plans to leave or prepare to leave.” He said the U.S. remains committed to the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq and the region.