Kathleen Joyce

The United States is bristling at the suggestion Germany might miss its own defense spending target, which is already short of the NATO goal, prompting comments from officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

NATO countries have pledged to move toward spending 2 percent of GDP on defense and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had pledged to increase spending to 1.5 percent by 2024. Last year, at the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump criticized Germany’s contribution to the NATO and Merkel countered that the European country is the organization’s "second largest providers of troops," according to The Guardian.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz’s budget plan, which was presented to the nation’s cabinet on Wednesday, foresaw Germany’s defense spending rising to 1.37 percent of national income in 2020, but decline to 1.25 by 2023, according to the dpa news agency, which reviewed a copy of the proposal.

NATO PLEDGES TO BOOST DEFENSE SPENDING AFTER STERN WORDS FROM TRUMP

Following the news of Germany’s expected contributions to NATO, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell said, "NATO members clearly pledged to move towards, not away, from 2 percent by 2024. That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO Allies."

Following his comments, Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the left-leaning Free Democrats (FDP) said Foreign Minister Heiko Mass should declare the ambassador "persona non grata" saying Grenell interfered in the country’s sovereign affairs.

"Any U.S. diplomat who acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits," Kubicki said, according to Deutsche Welle.

There is another cabinet meeting on Thursday which is expected to address the defense spending budget. Merkel said her government "could still hit the 1.5 percent target in budgets down the road," The New York Times reported.

US AMBASSADOR GRENELL BLASTS GERMANY FOR CELEBRATING IRANIAN ISLAMIC REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY

Criticism of Grenell comes just weeks after he called on Berlin to scrap Nord Stream 2, “a gas pipeline being laid across the Baltic Sea to deliver gas from Russia to Germany, and threatened firms involved in the project with sanctions” Deutsche Welle reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., received a clean bill of health after he hit his head on a glass shower door Friday morning and required seven stitches, his campaign said.

BERNIE SANDERS DEFENDS OMAR WITH TERM SEEN AS ANTI-SEMITIC, APOLOGIZES

Sanders, 77, went to a walk-in clinic for examination and treatment, a campaign spokesperson said in a statement. The Vermont senator was able to continue on with his scheduled events after receiving the stitches.

“He (Sanders) heads to Nevada this evening and looks forward to his rally in Henderson tomorrow,” the statement read.

Sanders was spotted sporting a bandage on his head while at a health care roundtable in South Carolina.

Sen. Bernie Sanders seen with a bandage while at a roundtable event in South Carolina on Friday, March 15, 2019.

Sen. Bernie Sanders seen with a bandage while at a roundtable event in South Carolina on Friday, March 15, 2019. (WCIV)

Sanders announced his White House bid last month, entering a crowded 2020 race. The senator ran against and ultimately lost to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

VERMONT SEN. BERNIE SANDERS ENTERS CROWDED 2020 PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Other Democratic senators already in the 2020 presidential race include Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The Denver Post published an op-ed Thursday declaring it “was a mistake” for them to endorse Sen. Cory Gardner – hours after the Colorado lawmaker sided with President Trump’s border security declaration rather than joining 12 fellow Republicans in voting against it.

The newspaper wrote it endorsed the Republican senator in 2014 “because we believed he’d be a statesman.”

“We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring ‘fresh leadership, energy and ideas,’” the op-ed read.

However, the paper said Gardner “has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader.”

“We no longer know what principles guide the senator and regret giving him our support in a close race against Mark Udall,” the op-ed said.

REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED AGAINST TRUMP’S BORDER EMERGENCY DECLARATION

The Denver Post noted Gardner did not join the 12 Republicans who, with Senate Democrats, voted 59-41 to block Trump’s national emergency declaration. Such a declaration would allow the president to move government money to fund a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate Republicans who voted against the declaration included Sen. Mike Lee of Utah,  Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The paper noted that they did “expect to disagree with our lawmakers from time to time” but “these were extraordinary times.”

“This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama,” the op-ed stated. “Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.”

The Post said it was “surprised by Gardner’s vote” and called it “inconsistent with every stance he has taken on Trump’s presidency.”

Gardner released a statement Thursday explaining his vote.

SENATE VOTES TO BLOCK TRUMP’S BORDER EMERGENCY DECLARATION, IN BIPARTISAN REBUKE TEEING UP VETO

"There is a crisis at the border and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have prevented a solution. As a result, the president has declared a national immigration emergency, legal authority which he clearly has under the 1976 law, a law invoked 56 times by every previous president since Jimmy Carter. Between October and February, border patrol apprehensions were up nearly 100 percent and since 2012, border patrol methamphetamine seizures are up 280 percent. It should never have come to this, but in the absence of Congressional action, the president did what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to do," Gardner’s statement read.

The Post asked why Gardner didn’t lobby with his “fellow Republicans to pass a budget in December prior to the shutdown that included Trump’s requested $5.7 billion for a wall?”

“In Gardner’s defense, he said he voted to open the government because he opposes shutdowns as a matter of principle, a position we lauded him for at the time. But we’re surprised he doesn’t feel the same twinge of principle when it comes to an executive order that is so blatantly a repudiation of Congress’ will,” the Denver Post wrote.

The paper said the lawmaker “could still prove to be a great senator for Colorado” who puts his state above party — something the paper said is “rare” these days.

Gardner is expected to face a competitive race when he is up for reelection next year. He recently endorsed Trump’s reelection despite opposing Trump during the 2016 GOP primary. Later, he endorsed Trump but rescinded it following the “Access Hollywood” tape.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, and is expected to accuse the commander-in-chief of knowing his long-time adviser Roger Stone was reaching out to WikiLeaks about the publication of stolen Democratic National Committee emails.

Cohen, who released his prepared opening statement ahead of his House hearing, apparently will not claim Trump directed those communications.

READ: MICHAEL COHEN’S PREPARED OPENING STATEMENT BEFORE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

"Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia," Cohen will testify. "I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions."

Trump, who is in Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, tweeted that Cohen was "lying in order to reduce his prison time."

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Cohen was disbarred in New York on Tuesday – the same day he testified behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is slated to report to prison next month to serve three years time.

Fox News’s Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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Jimmy Carter smooches wife Rosalynn on kiss cam at Atlanta Hawks game

Former President Jimmy Carter gave his wife Rosalynn the presidential pucker up treatment when the two were featured on the kiss cam.

The Carters celebrated Valentine’s Day with a game of basketball at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple was cheering on the Atlanta Hawks, who were playing the New York Knicks when it was time for the kiss cam.

“Hey! The first presidential kiss cam!” the announcer was heard saying after the camera panned to Carter, 94, and Rosalynn, 91.

JIMMY CARTER SAYS TRUMP’S A ‘DISASTER IN HUMAN RIGHTS,’ ‘TREATING PEOPLE EQUAL’

“President Carter and Rosalynn, can we get a kiss?” the announcer said as Carter smooched his wife.

“Yeah! Oh yeah! We’re going viral with that one,” the announcer said as the couple smiled.

Despite the luck of the president’s presence, the Hawks fell to the Knicks with a final score of 106-91. The Carters were honored by the Atlanta Hawks for their humanitarian efforts, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

JIMMY CARTER WINS THIRD GRAMMY AWARD FOR AUDIOBOOK ON HIS FAITH

This is not the first time the couple has appeared on the kiss cam. In 2015, while at an Atlanta Braves game, the former president and first lady were captured kissing.

The couple have been married since July 1946. Carter served as the 39th president of the U.S. from 1977 to 1981. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and is the founder of the Carter Center. He won his third Grammy award on Sunday. He won the award under the “Best Spoken Word Album” category for his audiobook, “Faith: A Journey For All.”

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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