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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hours after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, he blasted the charges at a packed campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.

The president specifically lashed out at House Democrats for announcing articles of impeachment just before also announcing they had struck a deal with the White House on the modified trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

"(Democrats) announced impeachment, then an hour later she announced that she is going to do USMCA," Trump said. "Because you know why, it's a huge deal and it plays out impeachment because they are embarrassed by the impeachment."

"These people are crooked," Trump said, now just the fourth president in American history to face impeachment charges, adding that Democrats were trying to "overthrow our democracy."

 

At Pennsylvania campaign rally, Pres. Trump says the ‘impeachment witch hunt having to do with Ukraine’ is ‘already failing.’

“This is the lightest impeachment in the history of our country by far.” https://t.co/pZKsivQ7iO pic.twitter.com/LibMSW0Wd3

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 11, 2019

Trump blasted the two articles of impeachment "flimsy" and "pathetic," adding Democrats were "are impeaching me and there are no crimes. This has to be a first in history."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced on Tuesday morning that Democrats were going forward with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

"The president's continuing abuse of power has left us no choice," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said. "To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president's abuse of his high office, the public trust and our national security."

And while Democrats have moved forward with impeachment at a breakneck pace, Senate Republicans on Tuesday signaled a potential impeachment trial would wait until after holiday recess. Also, they may not call up live witnesses to testify despite Trump's public push.

"I think the prospect of calling witnesses, in my view, seems unlikely, as much as some people might like to complete the incomplete record," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told reporters on Tuesday. "The premise of the whole impeachment process is so warped that completing a bad record just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me."

On the ground in Pennsylvania, a state that was crucial to Trump's win in 2016, Trump's supporters remained confident the Democratic push would end up helping his reelection efforts next year.

"I think it helps the president. I wouldn't worry about it," Mario Girardi, a supporter wearing an NRA hat told ABC News. "I think it's all a crock."

Chris Bishop, who said the economy is his top voting issue, echoed a key sentiment that the president and the campaign have used to push back against impeachment: Democrats are trying to impeach Trump because they can't win in 2020.

"Well, this is their election," he said. "They don't have a candidate that can run against the president so they are trying to pull this stunt."

The president won the Keystone state in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point in 2016 and Tuesday's rally marks just the second time in 2019 Trump rallied in Pennsylvania.

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iStock(HOSCHTON CITY, Ga.) -- A Georgia city councilman resigned on Tuesday amid accusations of racism due to his strong opposition to interracial marriage.

Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland said he chose to resign to avoid facing voters in a recall election next month and he didn't want to give his opponents the pleasure of saying they voted him out.

"They filed ethics complaints and when that didn't go anywhere they started a recall against me and the mayor," Cleveland told ABC News on Tuesday. "It went all the way through and it got approved for a recall election. My thinking of it was, 'If they got it this far, then why go through an election and let them recall me? I'll just resign.'"

The small Georgia town became the poster child for racial intolerance earlier this year when Cleveland, who has served on the council for a decade, spoke out against interracial marriage, citing his "Christian beliefs" on race. His comments came against the backdrop of unproven claims that the city's mayor, Theresa Kenerly, had declined to hire an black candidate for city administrator because of his race.

"I am still, in my opinion, a respected member of this community. I have more people, I believe, that feel the way I do about everything. But the ones that are against me are a very, very vocal group. And I'm just tired of hearing it," Cleveland said. "They are calling me a racist and I don't consider myself a racist and I'll tell you why. I have very good friends that are are black. I have Spanish, Asians, all kind of members in my church, and none of them consider me a racist. "

Cleveland, who described himself as a close friend of the mayor, said she did not pass on hiring the candidate due to his race.

The ex-councilman acknowledged that there was a time when seeing a mixed-race couple would make his "blood boil," but he's become much more tolerant with as he got older.

"I was raised in a Southern Baptist church and I have been taught to believe, and it makes a lot of sense to me, that God created all these different races and if he had wanted them all commingled into one race, he would have done it himself," Cleveland said. "Why did he create all these races, if he didn't mean for us to be separated by race?"

Cleveland's stance on interracial marriage sparked outrage around the state, prompting immediate calls for his resignation.

Representatives on both sides of the political aisle in Jackson County, which encompasses Hoschton, rebuked his statements and even hosted a joint event to encourage residents to file ethics complaints against him and the mayor.

Kenerly did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans on Tuesday suggested that they may not call up live witnesses to testify as part of a likely impeachment trial slated to begin in January -- a move that pits the Republican-led Senate against the desires of President Donald Trump.

"I think the prospect of calling witnesses, in my view, seems unlikely, as much as some people might like to complete the incomplete record," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. told reporters Tuesday. "The premise of the whole impeachment process is so warped that completing a bad record just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me."

Cramer said calling in live witnesses would be a "risky" move, considering that any motion senators make on the floor during an impeachment trial would require a simple majority – or 51 votes – which are not guaranteed.

Some Republicans had previously wanted former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower, whose complaint launched the House impeachment inquiry, to be called on as witnesses.

Trump himself has also repeatedly called for House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff to testify as part of the Senate trial.

A White House official told Capitol Hill reporters last week that Trump was calling for live witnesses as part of the impeachment trial, instead of relying on videotaped depositions like the ones entered into evidence during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999.

"There’s people who want to call witnesses, there’s people who don’t want to call witnesses," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said. "I think the trial needs to end as quickly as possible."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted during his weekly presser that nothing is off the table at this point in the process when it comes to hauling in witnesses, including Trump administration officials that Democrats have been eager to hear from.

"I’m not going to get into the specifics, but it should be fair, it should be bipartisan and it should let the facts come out," Schumer said.

GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana warned that calling witnesses could be a "double edged sword" for both Republicans and Democrats.

"I think that would be one of the things that might be discussed in terms of consensus going into it," Braun said. "So I think that's a double edged sword that I have no idea how it will turn out."

However, Braun said he’d follow Trump’s lead on the matter.

"I think I'll largely follow the guidelines of what the president wants to do there in terms of litigating his case now that he gets a chance to do so," Braun said.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, said the desire to finish the impeachment trial as quickly as possible would likely trump the need to call in witnesses.

He said a "protracted period" with motions to call witnesses, offered by both sides of the aisle, and lots of votes isn't going to be popular for anyone.

"I think there's going to be a desire to wrap this up in at least somewhat of a timely way," Thune said.

Democrats on Tuesday unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump in a historic step that could lead to a full House vote as early as next week. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced that Democrats were going forward with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Tuesday that a potential impeachment trial in the Senate will take place right after the New Year, once senators return from a holiday recess, even though the White House is urging the Senate to take up the matter immediately.

McConnell said he anticipates House managers will present their case to the Senate, with the president’s lawyers following suit.

"And at that point, the Senate has two choices: it could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically have another trial, or it could decide," McConnell told reporters Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "And again 51 members could make that decision, that they've heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us by the House."

He added, "Those are the options. No decisions have been made yet."

On potential witnesses, McConnell again demurred and said the Senate would make a decision once opening arguments have been presented.

He reiterated that it remains his view that the Senate will not remove Trump from office because the votes aren’t there.

Ahead of the press conference, Senate Republicans met over lunch with law professor Jonathan Turley, the sole Republican witness who testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

During his testimony, he argued that the facts presented by the House Intelligence Committee didn’t meet the necessary standard for impeachment.

Republican senators today said Turley’s presentation before the caucus was to provide an "assessment" about the current status of the impeachment inquiry.

"It was along those lines," Thune said of Turley’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week. "You know, his kind of, analysis of what's happened so far, and you know what a little bit of an assessment of what he thinks could happen going forward."

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just two weeks in since jumping into the 2020 race, billionaire and former mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg has flooded the airwaves with huge ad buys.

He has outspent on television advertisements more than all the top-polling Democrats combined-- a figure that as of Tuesday evening reached $100 million, according to CMAG’s ad data.

Bloomberg’s campaign is now unveiling two fresh ads - both aimed at drawing a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump. The first ad out on Tuesday focuses on Bloomberg’s record as jobs creator -- casting him as the guy who “gets things done,” rebuilding New York’s economy as mayor after 9/11 - as opposed to Trump, who the ad suggests “spends his time tweeting” divisive rhetoric.

The next thirty second spot, dubbed “Future,” shown first to ABC News, is set to air starting Wednesday, and suggests that Trump is harming the next generation. In the ad, Bloomberg promises progress on climate, health and gun safety. Both ads will run in select major markets beginning this week.

The new ads “highlight Mike’s record as a leader who gets things done, and drive a sharp contrast with Donald Trump,” campaign spokesman Marc Lavorgna said.

The campaign’s fresh ad batch comes as impeachment proceedings kick into higher gear at home; and abroad, the U.N. Climate Conference is hosted in Madrid, Spain which Bloomberg attended.

“The reason that I am here in Madrid is very simple: I am here because President Trump is not,” Bloomberg said Tuesday, going on to discuss his philanthropic work fighting climate change.

As he attempts to position himself as a leader on the world stage, Bloomberg’s late pursuit of the White House will face an unconventional route. He’ll aim to bypass the four traditional primary states and laser focus on delegate-rich Super Tuesday states.

He’s likewise peppering those vital swing states with stump stops and commercials.

After dropping $37 million on Monday, the former New York mayor added another $945,000 on Tuesday, bringing the total to $100.6 million, according to CMAG.

More than $60 million of that has already gone up, blanketing the airways with than 57,000 spots in more than 200 markets across the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Miami.

Bloomberg’s ad spending dwarfs all other Democratic primary candidates by far -- including California billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who until this week had remained a top spender with $81 million on television as of Tuesday. Moreover, Bloomberg’s current $100 million hits the cap that Steyer’s campaign had set for itself at the outset.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has spent about $8.8 million on television ads since jumping into the air battle in October. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has also spent about $8.7 million on airtime but much of that has been reserved for early 2020.

Bloomberg has faced criticism from his fellow 2020 contenders for his large ad buys -- some accusing him of “buying his way” into the election.

“I don’t believe that elections ought to be for sale,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “And I don’t think as a Democratic Party that we should say that the only way you’re going to get elected, the only way you’re going to be our nominee, is either if you are a billionaire or if you’re sucking up to billionaires.”

Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who suspended her 2020 campaign just as Bloomberg was embarking upon his own trail, fired a parting shot across the bow even as she made her exit.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris wrote in a letter to supporters. “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”

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iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon's Office of Inspector General has opened a review of the U.S. military deployments to the southern border that will include an evaluation of the deployments' legality.

The review follows a call from members of Congress to the IG to look into whether there are "potential legal and constitutional violations" with the deployments, which has been ongoing for more than year.

"Based on several requests, we have decided to conduct an evaluation, in accord with our standard processes, to examine the use of military personnel along the southern border," said Glenn Fine, the acting Inspector General, in a statement obtained by ABC News.

"In this evaluation, we will examine, among other issues, what they are doing at the border, what training they received, and whether their use complied with applicable law, DOD policy, and operating guidance. We intend to conduct this important evaluation as expeditiously as possible," Fine said.

President Donald Trump first deployed National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in April 2018. Then, in October 2018, more than 5,000 active duty forces were sent to augment support to the Department of Homeland Security.

In a letter to Fine in September, more than 30 members of Congress said they were "strongly concerned" that thousands of U.S. troops were "operating under dubious legal authorities and nebulous rules of engagement." One of those concerns was whether the deployment violated the Posse Comitatus Act which places limits on active duty forces acting in a law enforcement capacity.

The Pentagon has routinely said U.S. troops are supporting Customs and Border Protection, not conducting law enforcement activities.

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Mark WIlson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who became embroiled in the Russia probe, sued the FBI and Department of Justice on Tuesday, alleging her privacy was violated by the release of texts she exchanged with former FBI agent Peter Strzok.

She contends that, after the disclosure of the text messages, she was targeted by President Donald Trump and his allies.

In the lawsuit, Page alleges the FBI violated the Privacy Act by disclosing "a 90-page document reflecting 375 text messages between Plaintiff and another FBI employee—to a group of reporters," the suit says. Page's suit says, that at the time, the text messages were under the review of the DOJ inspector general -- who was investigating potential bias in the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server.

Page's suit argues that the FBI did it in order to get in good standing with Trump, who has repeatedly mocked what he calls the "lovers" texts in tweets, at photo ops and at campaign rallies.

"On information and belief, DOJ and/or FBI officials disclosed the messages to reporters for multiple improper reasons, including to elevate DOJ’s standing with the President following the President’s repeated public attacks of the Department and its head, Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III," the suit says.

Page alleges that the Justice Department summoned "DOJ beat reporters to the Department to review the messages at night, prohibiting the reporters from copying or removing the set of messages from the building, and instructing them not to reveal DOJ as the source," she alleges. "This clandestine approach is inconsistent with the disclosure of agency records for transparency purposes or to advance the public interest."

Page says that although the inspector general found no bias in the Clinton email server investigation "Defendants’ unlawful conduct had turned Plaintiff into a subject of frequent attacks by the President of the United States, as well as his allies and supporters."

In the suit, Page quotes the president's tweets especially pertaining to the recusal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which Trump complained about repeatedly. Page's suit says that DOJ purposely leaked the texts to The New York Times and The Washington Post - allowing the president to seize on the story, she alleges.

Page also contends that at some point the text messages were supposed to go to "certain members" on the House Judiciary Committee, but when they were not in a position to read them, DOJ decided to provide the messages to reporters.

The lawsuit calls the gathering of reporters "hardly routine" and that the DOJ officials plan worked.

The suit also says that then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was forced to admit that DOJ provided the texts to reporters, during his congressional testimony and former DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores acknowledged this in a tweet.

"As the DAG said, after initial inquiries from Congress, the DAG consulted with the IG, and the IG determined that he had no objection to the Department providing the material to the Congressional committees that had requested it (discussion w IG was only about Congress)," she tweeted in December 2017.

"After that consultation, senior career ethics advisors determined that there were no legal or ethical concerns, including under the Privacy Act, that prohibited the release of the information to the public either by members of Congress or by the Department," Flores said.

As Page notes in the lawsuit, the inspector general found that he found no political bias in the origins of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

On Monday, the Department of Justice inspector general report released Monday has determined the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was launched with an authorized purpose, despite significant allegations of wrongdoing in how agents handled the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign.

The FBI and Department of Justice haven't responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Only two days before the deadline to qualify for the last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019, entrepreneur Andrew Yang secured his last qualifying poll to join six of his competitors in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, marking the first candidate of color who will appear on the stage.

Yang cleared the polling threshold after receiving 4% support among Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning independent voters in a national Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday.

The poll was released while Yang was sitting down with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board, and his campaign manager held up a sign to inform the presidential contender that he had clinched a podium, according to a tweet from the paper's political editor, Rachel Stassen-Berger.

Yang brings the total number of qualifying candidates who have crossed both the polling and grassroots donor hurdles up to seven for December's matchup, according to an ABC News' analysis. He will join: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, billionaire Tom Steyer, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

When California Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her presidential campaign a week ago, despite qualifying for the upcoming debate, the lineup was set to include only white candidates.

With Yang qualifying, the debate will now include as least one candidate of color, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is of Southeast Asian and Polynesian descent, is the only other candidate who could potentially reach the polling threshold before Thursday's deadline. Gabbard only needs one more qualifying poll, according to an ABC News analysis.

But Gabbard announced late Monday night that she would refuse to participate in the debate "regardless of whether or not" she qualifies.

"I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina," she tweeted.

Throughout 2019, the party has imposed more stringent qualifying rules as the primary season deepened, which has at times put the committee at odds with the White House hopefuls for raising the bar with each matchup and making it more difficult for lower-tier candidates to qualify.

Steyer, who will appear on the stage, most recently called on the Democratic National Committee to change the qualifying rules for the January debate to "ensure future debates include a wider field of candidates" in a statement Wednesday.

DNC Chair Tom Perez defended the DNC's criteria in an interview with ABC News' Whit Johnson earlier this month, saying, "Nobody who's been under 4% at this point in the cycle, no one who's been under 4% historically has ever been able to win the primary. And so that's why we set the bar at 4%."

The sixth Democratic primary debate will be held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and POLITICO. NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff, POLITICO chief political correspondent Tim Alberta, NewsHour senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz and NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor will moderate the debate.

Similar to previous debates, candidates have to meet two thresholds -- a grassroots fundraising threshold and polling threshold -- to secure a spot on stage in Los Angeles.

Candidates must have at least 200,000 unique donors, and a minimum of 800 individual donors per state in at least 20 states to reach the fundraising threshold.

For the polling threshold, candidates can either score at least 4% support in four national polls or polls out of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and/or South Carolina, or reach 6% support in two early state polls. The polls must be conducted by an organization on a list of approved sponsors from the DNC.

The polls must be released between Oct. 16 and 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12 in order to count. Candidates also have until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12 to hit the donor threshold, according to the DNC.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about any further Russian interference in U.S. politics during their news conference on Tuesday, even as Lavrov again claimed Russia did not interfere.

"On the question of interference in our domestic affairs, I was clear: It's unacceptable and I made our expectations of Russia clear," Pompeo said during the joint press conference. "The Trump administration will always work to protect the integrity of our elections, period."

Pompeo added, "Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response," though he wasn’t specific about the potential ramifications.

Despite Russian interference, warnings about potential meddling in the 2020 presidential race, and its malign activity in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and elsewhere, Trump has consistently called for restoring relations with Moscow.

Both top diplomats said there is now an opportunity to do so, with Pompeo teasing a "significant announcement" on economic ties "in the near future."

Lavrov met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, in a closed-door meeting with Pompeo present -- two and a half years after a similar meeting ignited a firestorm when Trump shared classified information with him and Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

There was no immediate readout of Tuesday's meeting, but Russia's political interference has continued to hang over the relationship.

Lavrov again denied Russian interference and falsely claimed the U.S. had not provided any evidence of it: "No one has given us this proof, because it doesn't exist."

He added that U.S. accusations had cast a "wave of suspicions in Washington" that have hindered U.S.-Russian relations. He pushed for the U.S. to agree to publish communications between the Obama administration and the Kremlin during Fall 2016 and Winter 2017, after the U.S. intelligence community first accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 race.

Pompeo pushed back on that slightly, saying the U.S. will publish documents it thinks are "appropriate," but, adding "we've shared plenty of facts to show what happened in the 2016 election with our Russian counterparts. We don't think there's any mistake about what really transpired there."

But Pompeo himself has backed Trump's calls to investigate a debunked theory that Ukraine also interfered in that election. Lavrov said the notion of Ukrainian interference is between the U.S. and Ukraine, but cited it as evidence of the "absurdity of accusations against us."

Russian officials have promoted the idea of Ukrainian interference to distract from Russia's interference, according to U.S. officials, including Fiona Hill -- Trump's former top Russia official on the National Security Council.

Ukraine was a "major part" of their conversations, according to Pompeo, who said he was "proud" of the Trump administration's work to support the country's sovereignty and security. But notably, one day after Putin had talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, along with France and Germany, it was Russia's foreign minister arriving in Washington to brief the U.S. on those meetings, not Ukraine's.

Zelenskiy and his aides had sought an Oval Office meeting with Trump -- similar to the one Lavrov received on Tuesday -- to establish U.S. support for his young administration and its reform agenda. That meeting still has not happened, and now the charge that Trump conditioned any meeting on Ukraine launching investigations to benefit him politically is at the heart of the House impeachment articles revealed earlier that morning.

Pompeo declined to respond in full to the impeachment articles, which include his department's refusal to turn over documents as part of the charge of obstruction. Instead, he defended that refusal, essentially denying there is a legal obligation to comply with House subpoenas.

Pompeo said the department "has fully complied with all legal requirements. We will continue to do so."

In addition to Ukraine and political interference, Pompeo and Lavrov said they discussed key items including arms control, North Korea, the detention of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, and diplomatic issues like visas and property.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday described the Russia investigation as a "travesty," and lambasted former FBI officials involved in opening the probe, claiming "the greatest danger to our free system" is that the Obama administration "spied" on the Trump campaign in a way that he said sought to influence the 2016 election.

"From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government used the apparatus of the state, principally the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents, but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election," Barr said in an interview with NBC News.

Barr's assessment followed Monday's release of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report examining the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election. While Horowitz heavily criticized the actions of FBI officials involved in the investigation, he determined the investigation was launched with proper cause and said he found no evidence that political bias had influenced the FBI's decision to open it.

But Barr split with Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray over the finding that the investigation was properly predicated, noting he has mounted a separate investigation with U.S. Attorney John Durham with a broader scope that includes a focus on other intelligence agencies and foreign governments.

In his Tuesday interview, Barr argued Horowitz didn't officially decide there was no political motive behind the FBI's decisions in the Russia investigation, just that he could not find any evidence to support that. Horowitz will testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his findings.

"The core statement in my opinion by the I.G. Is that these irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactory explained and I think that leaves open the possibility for bad faith," Barr said. "I think it's premature now to reach a judgment on that, but I think further work has to be done and that's what Durham is doing."

Barr said that he wasn't completely certain in terms of a timeline for when Durham may finish his work, but said he expects it could reach a potential head "in late spring or early summer." If so, it would come in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Barr took particular issue with the findings by Horowitz that agents responsible for applying for a surveillance warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were found to have included at least 17 significant errors and omissions that would have potentially affected the probable cause standard necessary for the warrant's approval and renewals.

"Their case collapsed after the election and they never told the court," Barr said. "And they kept getting renewals on the applications. There were documents falsified in order to get the renewals. There was all kinds of withholding of information from the court. And the question really is what was the agenda after the election that kept them pressing ahead, after their case collapsed?"

"I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that was intolerable in the FBI," Barr said. "And the attorney general's primary responsibility is to protect against the abuse of the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus."

Barr has faced criticism for how he initially framed the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller in releasing his report documenting extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016, and emphasized Tuesday his belief that the probe was constructed entirely out of a "bogus narrative."

“Our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press,” Barr said. “When you step back here and say, ‘What was this all based on? It’s not sufficient.”

Barr doubled down on his criticisms in a sit-down with the WSJ CEO Council, arguing the investigation was a "travesty," and it was "flimsy" for the FBI to start the it based on former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos' communications in July 2016 claiming to a diplomat that he knew the Russians had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton.

"There were many abuses, and that’s by far the most important part of the [inspector general] report," Barr said.

Barr was also asked about President Trump's tweet attacking FBI Director Chris Wray earlier Tuesday, and suggested he sympathized with the president in believing Wray downplayed the IG's findings.

"I think what the president was getting at, and I feel the same way, is that we can't ignore the abuses of the past. And appear to be justifying them or minimizing them," Barr said, later adding he still had confidence in Wray as director.

While FBI Director Wray told ABC News in an exclusive broadcast interview the bureau has "no evidence" to support the baseless theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election more recently pushed by Republicans in the impeachment probe, Barr declined to say either way whether Ukraine interfered in 2016.

"I don't know about the Ukrainians," Barr said. "I haven't even looked into it, quite frankly."

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Bob Levey/Getty Images for U.S. Fund for UNICEF(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Pierce Bush, the grandson of the late President George H.W. Bush, launched a congressional bid Monday, hoping to extend the Bush political dynasty within the bounds of Texas.

But the young Bush's announcement in a state President Donald Trump carried by 9 points in 2016 comes amid the the complicated and at times antagonistic relationship between Trump and the Bush family.

Bush, a nonprofit executive, enters the political sphere as a newcomer but with one of Texas' most famous last names and the donor network that comes with it, giving him an edge in a Texas-sized primary for the state's 22nd congressional district.

The contest saw an influx of contenders after GOP Rep. Pete Olson announced he's not seeking a seventh term in late July, which set up a wide open race for the toss up seat that is a top target for Democrats after they nearly flipped the district last year.

But among Bush's hurdles as he competes for the district, which covers part of Houston's suburbs including Fort Bend County, is not only the size of the field as 2020's most crowded congressional race, and the district's waning support for the Republican Party, but also the long-standing clash between President Trump and his family, particularly, his grandfather as well as his uncle, former Texas governor and U.S. President George W. Bush.

While Trump and Bush's political stories have intersected as far back as 1988, it was during the 2016 election, when Trump faced off against Jeb Bush, that the 41st president called Trump a "blowhard" at the height of the feud, according to the 2017 book "The Last Republican."

The elder Bush, who died last year, ultimately opted to vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in 2016 over Trump.

But Trump has found allies within the Bush lineage. Earlier this year, during a stop in Texas, Trump introduced Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who has campaigned on his support for the president, calling him "the only Bush that likes me."

Amid the long-running rift between Trump and the Bush family, and the president's takeover of the Republican Party, Pierce Bush's last-minute entrance, on the day of Texas' filing deadline, could implicitly remind Republican voters of the pre-Trump era, when the Bush family represented the top of the ticket.

But as he navigates running for Congress in the Trump era, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star appears to be following suit with the only Bush currently in public office, by aligning himself with Trump, despite not mentioning the president in his announcement video.

"We all know that socialism has failed everywhere and everyone," Bush said in the video. "It's time for new leaders to stand for conservatism that empowers all Americans, placing individuals above government and ensuring that we all have the freedom to achieve success in life."

Bush's campaign did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Despite the outsize significance of his last name, Bush will also have to confront more local challenges in a changing Texas.

Fueling Democrats' nearly quarter-century-held hopes of turning Texas blue is, in part, the changing demographics within the state -- including what FiveThirtyEight calls population growth "in and around the state’s cities."

In the district, Republican support has declined in recent cycles: after Olson carried the district by 19 points in 2016, by 2018, Olson saw his winning margin narrowed to only five points.

Bush is running to keep control of the district in the party's grip across an expanded battleground map in Texas, and up against Democrats' aggressive push to court suburban voters -- a key voting demographic that was once the bedrock of the GOP but has been shifting away from the party under Trump.

Now, the race to replace Olson, one of six House Republicans from Texas retiring this cycle, as part of what Democrats call "Texodus," is swelling with options, with at least 17 other Republicans running for the seat, according to the Texas Tribune.

Among those in the contest is Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, and Kathaleen Wall, a wealthy Republican donor who poured millions of her own cash into an unsuccessful 2018 congressional bid.

The Texas GOP extolled the slate of candidates on Tuesday, urging that the party is "motivated" by the "rise of socialism" and congressional Democrats' impeachment of Trump.

"We're not surprised to see the incredible number of candidates who have filed -- Republicans are motivated to fight the rise of socialism and tired of Congressional Democrats propping up a baseless impeachment process," said Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey in a statement to ABC News. "Republicans are excited about representing Texas and motivated to defend our nation and deliver results that all Americans deserve."

Meanwhile, the state Democratic Party called the brimming primary field "off the rails."

"The Republican Primary for CD 22 is officially off the rails. While Republicans are battling it out and facing down the prospects of a long and expensive primary, Democrats are gearing up to take back the district and win in the increasingly diverse Fort Bend County," said Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party.

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iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Obamacare was back at the Supreme Court Tuesday for the fifth time, dividing the justices in a complicated case with big stakes for taxpayers.

On the line is $12 billion that health insurance providers say the government owes them after reneging on an apparent promise to pay, which was included in the law.

"This is a massive government bait and switch," declared attorney Paul Clement, representing three small insurance companies that agreed to participate in government-run health plan exchanges with the expectation that the law's "risk corridors" program would reimburse them if costs were higher than anticipated.

The provision was used to induce insurers to join the Obamacare insurance exchanges in spite of substantial financial risk.

"Congress made a clear money-mandating promise to pay," Clement said. "When it became time to pay, the government pointed to appropriations riders," which lawmakers used to limit funds paid out.

Eighteen of 24 insurance providers that joined the insurance exchanges went out of business after the government stopped making the risk corridors payments. Several others either stopped offering Affordable Care Act plans or charged significantly higher premiums.

The Trump administration argues the health law's promise to pay insurers was implicitly contingent on Congress appropriating the funds. When lawmakers later chose to limit the funds, the money rightfully didn't flow, they say.

"The appropriations clause of the Constitution is central to this case," said Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler. "This is not a contract."

The case has implications for public-private partnerships across the country and could adversely impact trust in the government as a business partner, especially in cases of financial risk.

"Why does the government not have to pay its contracts like anybody else?" questioned Justice Stephen Breyer. "All the statutes that say, 'if you do X, the government shall pay you, Mr. Veteran, Mr. Paratrooper, Mr., you know, you name it,' -- they don't really mean it. Is that what it is?"

Chief Justice John Roberts appeared similarly sympathetic to the insurers. "You don't question that these insurance companies would not have participated in the risk corridors program but for the government's promise to pay?" Roberts asked Kneedler.

Justice Samuel Alito signaled skepticism of a giant payout, suggesting that the insurers should have known the funds were never an absolute guarantee.

"Can you identify any source that can be used to pay these billions of dollars?" Alito asked of Clement. "Has there ever been a case where this Court has, in effect, required Congress to appropriate ... billions of dollars for private businesses?"

The case will be decided by the end of June.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced Monday that she has decided not to attend the upcoming December debate in California, even if she qualifies for the debate.   In a tweet Monday, Gabbard said "for a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th "debate" — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina."

ABC News has reached out to the DNC for response to Gabbard's tweet.

Last week, the DNC said the process has been balanced and fair and highlighted the current diversity in the field.

"This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires. We are proud of this historic and diverse field with 20 candidates participating in the first two debates and at least 10 candidates in each debate after that. While we are legally required to have objective criteria for each debate, our qualifying criteria has stayed extremely low throughout this entire process," said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. "Nobody who has failed to reach 4% at this point in the race has gone on to be the nominee, and our debate criteria reflects that. In addition, we have made diversity a priority by requiring that every debate have women and people of color as moderators. We’ve never seen a political party take this many steps to be inclusive."

According to the criteria that the DNC set forth, 2020 presidential candidates must meet the donor threshold of 200,000 unique donors and 4% in four DNC qualified polls for Tuesday's debate. Gabbard had exceeded the donor threshold for the December debate but needs one additional poll to meet the debate criteria.’

This is not the first time Gabbard has been a vocal critical of the DNC’s rules surrounding the debates. Gabbard who previously served as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee raised concerns back in 2016 about candidates not being allowed to participate in issue based debates.

This isn’t the first time Gabbard has been critical of the DNC’s debate rules. After failing to make the debate stage in September, her campaign at the time cited what they describe as several irregularities in the selection and timing of the DNC sponsored polls.

According to the criteria that the DNC set forth, 2020 presidential candidates must meet the donor threshold of 130,000 unique donors and 2% in four DNC qualified polls for Tuesday's debate. Gabbard had exceeded the donor threshold for the September debate but needed two polls to meet the debate criteria.

Gabbard’s campaign had exceeded 2% support in over two dozen polls, but only two of the polls she had at the time were among those included on the DNC’s “certified” list. She has been polling among the bottom tier in such certified polls.

In a press release, the campaign said many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC “certified” polls.”

A month later Gabbard qualified to make the debate stage in October but despite making it on the stage, considered boycotting that month’s debate.

Gabbard is the only 2020 contender in the race who has failed to make a debate stage, which happened in September, who has made it back onto the stage which happened in October. At the time Gabbard cited meeting voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who have “expressed to me how frustrated you are that the DNC and corporate media are essentially trying to usurp your role as voters in choosing who our Democratic nominee will be.”

Gabbard who is also a Major in the Army National Guard has said in recent months that the debate stage wasn’t a requirement for her continuing her candidacy for president. Describing the debates a “so-called debates, which really are not debates at all, but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain, rather than to inform or enlighten.”

Gabbard in recent days has said that she is all in, spending a significant portion of her time in New Hampshire. Gabbard will also be traveling South Carolina later this week to meet with voters in the Palmetto state. She told ABC News “I think it's it's too often lost that voters are the ones who actually determine who our next president is, who our democratic nominee will be and so it's with them that I'm spending my time and focusing my attention.”  

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats on Tuesday unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a historic step that could lead to a full House vote as early as next week.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced that Democrats were going forward with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Nadler said Trump had "violated his oath to the American people."

 

BREAKING: Rep. Jerry Nadler: "The House Committee on the Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment, charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors." https://t.co/dxkM5uBLPX pic.twitter.com/nx2IX2x9Z9

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 10, 2019

 

"Later this week, the Judiciary Committee will meet to consider these articles of impeachment and to make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives," Nadler said.

He was flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic committee chairs, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

"The president's continuing abuse of power has left us no choice," Schiff said, going into details behind the charges. "To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president's abuse of his high office, the public trust, and our national security."

"The evidence of the president's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested," Schiff said with regard to the president's actions on Ukraine. "And how could it not be when the president's own words on July 25th—'I would like you to do us a favor, though'—lays so bare his intentions."

Schiff said Trump had solicited a foreign nation to publicly announce that investigations into his political opponent, and by doing so, had undermined U.S. national security.

 

Rep. Adam Schiff says Pres. Trump's "continuing abuse of his power has left us no choice."

"To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president's abuse of his high office, the public trust, and our national security." https://t.co/dxkM5uBLPX pic.twitter.com/1FMkt4nJOn

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 10, 2019

 

"When the president got caught he committed his second impeachable act," Schiff said, referring to obstruction of Congress.

"If allowed to stand it would decimate Congress' ability to conduct oversight of this president or any in the future, leaving this president and those who follow free to be as corrupt ... as they would like," he said.

"Why not let him cheat in one more election. Why not let him cheat just one more time?" Schiff asked rhetorically, responding to critics who say Democrats are moving too fast.

He said Democrats had to move quickly in order to protect the 2020 election and could not wait for court challenges to congressional subpoenas to play out.

Pelosi began the announcement by calling it a "solemn" occasion similar to when all members of Congress take an oath to protect the Constitution.

As if to reinforce that, she and her fellow Democrats walked out of the room silently without taking questions.

The House Judiciary Committee was expected to publicly take up the articles for debate and approval as soon as Thursday, though the panel has not yet sent notice of a meeting.

With Democrats about to make their announcement, Trump tweeted Tuesday morning it is "sheer Political Madness" to impeach him because of his results as president.

 

To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness! #2020Election

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019

 

Judiciary Committee Democrats huddled before the morning announcement.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., told reporters he thinks “the mix of articles will be the consensus of the committee.”

“I think so long as the articles reflect the evidence we collected and demonstrate that the president abused the power of his office by soliciting a foreign actor to interfere American presidential election that is at the heart of it this. This betrayal of the national interest using the enormous power of his office for personal advantage political gain, and for the public good,” he said.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said she thinks “the most important thing is how do we hold the president accountable for his abuse of power, his obstruction of Congress, and the pattern of conduct.”

Judiciary Committee staff worked late into the night Monday over Chinese food to finish preparing the charges against the president, which Democrats are expected to take to the floor for a vote as soon as next week, ahead of the Christmas recess.

On Monday, in closing arguments, Democratic lawmakers called attorneys from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees to present evidence from the Democrats' Ukraine investigation and to argue that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically, specifically against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Republican lawyers from the same House panels argued against the Democrats' impeachment efforts and defended the president's actions at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Nadler concluded the nearly 10-hour hearing with a summation of the arguments: "The fact are clear. The danger to our democracy is clear and our duty is clear."

"President Trump violated his oath to the American people and placed his own private interests ahead of our national security, and constitutes a threat to our election and government," Nadler continued. "Such conduct is impeachable."

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DNY59/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors told a federal judge on Tuesday that they don’t oppose a defense request that Rick Gates, Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, be sentenced to probation only, following his cooperation in multiple cases, despite his having plead guilty to two felonies.

Prosecutors recommended to Judge Amy Berman Jackson in court papers that Gates have " a significant downward departure from Gates’ [advisory sentencing guidelines] range based on his substantial assistance" in cases stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 U.S. presidential election interference.

The prosecution also requested the court require "Gates' continued cooperation a condition of his sentence."

Jackson is scheduled to sentence Gates next Tuesday.

In court papers filed late Monday, Gates' attorneys argued their client should be sentenced to probation with no incarceration and no additional fines, citing the sweeping extent of their client's cooperation with authorities. According to Gates' lawyers, Gates was one of the most important witnesses in Mueller's probe into Russian election interference, and sat with state and federal government investigators for over 500 hours in addition to testifying in three cases associated with the special counsel's investigation.

The special counsel's office charged Gates and his former business partner, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in 2017 with crimes including lying to the government about his foreign lobbying work in Ukraine, tax evasion and money laundering. Gates subsequently struck a plea deal with Mueller prosecutors in late February 2018, pleading guilty to two felony counts: conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to federal authorities about a laundry list of items related to the work he and Manafort did in Ukraine.

According to the government's sentencing memo, information provided by Gates has been used in more than a dozen search warrants, and included Gates providing truthful and valuable information in "a number of different ongoing matters."

Prosecutors also wrote that Gates provided information relevant to the court's determination that Manafort breached his cooperation agreement.

Gates testified against Manafort during his jury trial in Virginia in August 2018. Manafort is serving jail time after being found guilty of eight counts of financial crimes as part of the first major prosecution won by Mueller's office.

In August, Gates testified at the trial of former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, who was accused of lying to the government about his foreign lobbying work in Ukraine. Craig was ultimately acquitted.

The final leg of Gates' cooperation deal was to testify as a government witness in longtime Trump confidant and one-time campaign aide Roger Stone's trial last month. Stone was indicted in January on seven counts brought against him by Mueller's team including obstructing an official proceeding, five counts of lying to Congress, and one count of witness tampering. In the indictment, the special counsel's office described Stone as a conduit between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, which disseminated internal Democratic National Committee emails in the summer of 2016.

Gates testified during Stone's trial that the Trump campaign had a keen interest in the anticipated release of stolen emails from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party prior to the 2016 election, and that he was in touch with Stone about Wikileaks.

Gates said then-campaign chairman Manafort instructed him to keep in touch with Stone "from time to time" and report back on the status of WikiLeaks’ releases. According to Gates, Manafort said he would then pass along that information to campaign officials and “the candidate himself,” referring to Trump. Gates also testified in late July of 2016, after WikiLeaks released information about Clinton, he overheard a conversation between Stone and then-candidate Trump. After the phone call, Gates said Trump "indicated that more information would be coming."

Stone, who had pleaded not guilty, was found guilty on all charges on Nov. 15. His sentencing is scheduled for early February.

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uschools/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats, just minutes after announcing two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, announced a deal with the White House on moving forward with a modified trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The new agreement appears to be a success for not only lawmakers, but also for President Trump and is a remarkable show of bipartisanship amid a polarized political scene in Washington. Trump had criticized Democrats as "do nothing" -- pursuing only impeachment -- and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was determined to show otherwise.

She wanted to show that Democrats could, at the same time, pursue business on behalf of working Americans and she also wanted to protect vulnerable Democrats in swing states ahead of the 2020 election.

“It is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a Tuesday morning news conference. “It’s a victory for America’s workers.”

House Democrats said they were determined to alter the conversation about trade with a modified North American trade pact. The new deal focuses on revised provisions for the enforcement of labor compliance obligations, environmental violations that affect trade and investment, the removal of barriers that contribute to high prescription drug prices and ensuring fair competition among the three countries, according to a statement from the House Ways and Means committee.

"We made this agreement,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means committee.

House Republicans seemed pleased, too, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., saying Trump showed “the art of the deal” in negotiating the USMCA deal to make it happen.

The president's top trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, traveled to Mexico on Tuesday morning in anticipation of the potential finalization of the USMCA trade deal, Trump administration sources confirmed to ABC News.

Just before the Democrats spoke, Trump tweeted that the "great USMCA trade bill is looking good."

 

America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019

 

While the president continues to say that the deal will "end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA," his implication that the USMCA is a monumentally different agreement is misleading. USMCA makes some tweaks to the North American Free Trade Agreement, but it is not as dramatically different as the president suggests.

Trump spoke Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday, whom he called "two-faced" last week after the Canadian leader was caught on camera joking about his meeting with Trump. During the call, the the two leaders discussed USMCA, and Trudeau offered his condolences for the Pensacola, Florida, naval base shooting, according to Trudeau's office.

The White House has not released a readout and didn’t respond to a request for one.

The call comes after Trump earlier Tuesday said he was "hearing very good things" about USMCA negotiations.

"I'm hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 24 hours with unions and others," Trump said Monday afternoon.

Canadian media reported on Monday that Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland would also travel to Mexico City on Tuesday to meet with Mexican and American officials about USMCA.

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