BRINK OF WAR: Tensions Mount as Israel Fends Off Attacks on Its Northern Border

ISRAEL (Washington Free Beacon) — Israel is fending off attacks on its northern border while it confronts an escalating conflict with Hamas.

Israel Defense Forces shot down a drone near the country’s northern border on Tuesday. Although the drone approached Israel from Jordanian airspace, Israeli military officials say its origin is unclear.

The day before, a Palestinian militia fired at least six rockets at Israel from Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. Three other rockets were launched at Israel from Syria on Friday after Hezbollah claimed Israeli forces killed one of its militants during a border protest.

The strikes on the country’s northern border come as Hamas ramps up its rocket attacks on cities in central and southern Israel. On Tuesday, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo said there is a real risk for a two-front war and that Iran-backed Hezbollah could join Hamas in its violent campaign against the Jewish state.

“The risk that Hezbollah decides to join this fight is real,” Pompeo said. “We know that Hezbollah has been able to build out their capabilities, including precision-guided munitions in the north. The threat is real in ways that these rockets from Hamas are not.”

While the Biden administration calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Hamas continues to fire thousands of rockets toward Israeli cities. The terror group killed two Thai workers in southern Israel on Tuesday and wounded seven others. Israeli authorities on Sunday also apprehended two Jordanian men inside Israel who snuck past the border armed with knives.


The Washington Free Beacon’s Jack Beyrer contributed to the contents of this report.

NOVEMBER A NO GO? Trump Hints At Delaying Presidential Election

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested the possibility of delaying November’s election based on concerns of voter fraud.

“Mail-In Voting is already proving to be a catastrophic disaster,” the president tweeted. “Even testing areas are way off. The Dems talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race. Even beyond that, there’s no accurate count!”

“New York Mail-In voting is in a disastrous state of condition. Votes from many weeks ago are missing – a total mess. They have no idea what is going on. Rigged Election. I told you so,” Trump continued. “Same thing would happen, but on massive scale, with USA. Fake News refuses to report!”

The response to the president’s comments came quickly from both the left an the right, as both Democrats and Republicans balked at the idea.

“The fact that he is even suggesting it is a serious, chilling attack on the democratic process. All members of Congress – and the administration – should speak out,” New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said of Trump’s comments.

Even some of the president’s staunchest allies condemned the idea.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, said the election should go forward on time as planned.

Grilled by reporters over whether or not the president had the authority to move the election date, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would not “enter a legal judgement on the fly” but said the justice department would “make that legal determination”, adding “we want an election that everyone is confident in”.

Chris Stewart, a Republican congressman from Utah said while he did not agree with the idea of postponing the election, the president had a valid point when it comes to election tampering.

“Can you ensure the accuracy of mail-in voting?” Stewart said. “Now in some states you can. In my state in Utah, for example, we’ve been doing it for quite a while, but we’re a small state with a relatively small population. It’s harder to do on a national scale.”

WITCH HUNT: Dems demand records detailing communications between Trump and Putin

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are pressing to receive communication records related to President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democratic leaders announced on Monday.

The move follows allegations by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that the president had at one point attempted to have the records of those communications destroyed.

“President Trump, on multiple occasions, appears to have taken steps to conceal the details of his communications with President Putin from other administration officials, Congress, and the American people,” the trio wrote, citing a Washington Post report that claimed such.

The lawmakers further alleged that Trump “may have been manipulated or withheld from the official record in direct contravention of federal laws, which expressly require that Presidents and other administration officials preserve such materials.”

Democrats claim manipulating or withholding such records would violate the Presidential Records Act, which was instituted as a result of President Nixon’s Watergate controversy.

“These allegations, if true, raise profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing active measures campaign to improperly influence American elections,” the chairmen wrote in separate letters to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Schiff and his cohorts are also demanding that White House and State Department employees with knowledge of the Trump-Putin talks and interpreters who were present at such meetings make themselves available for interviews with the committees.

Republicans swung back at the allegations Monday, calling the effort just another ploy by Democrats to try to impeach Trump.

“With their Russian collusion allegations imploding, the Democrats are weaponizing congressional committees to try to manufacture some new case to use to impeach the president,” Jack Langer, a spokesperson for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement to The Hill. “After they hyped the collusion hoax for more than two years, I don’t know how anyone can view them as honest investigators as opposed to zealous, partisan operatives.”

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‘MAXIMUM PRESSURE’: Trump reinstates sanctions against Iran lifted as part of controversial Obama nuke deal

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday announced the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions against Iran that had been lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal.

The sanctions, which will be fully reinstated, are scheduled to take effect on Monday and will cover Iran’s financial, shipping and energy sectors. The effort is just the latest of multiple penalties imposed upon the rogue nation since President Trump withdrew from the contentious deal in May.

The first, on August 7, targeted Iran’s ability to purchase or acquire US dollar banknotes, trade in gold and precious metals, and make transactions relating to the Iranian rial, the nation’s currency.

In a statement released by the White House Friday afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,” Pompeo said.

The Trump administration has released a list of 12 demands that Iran must agree to if it wants the sanctions removed, including ending support for terrorism, ending military engagement in Syria and agreeing to a complete halt of its nuclear and ballistic missile development.

The sanctions will also penalize countries that continue to import Iranian oil and foreign companies that do business with blacklisted Iranian interests, including Iran’s central bank and state-run port and shipping sectors.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said further details would be made available once the sanctions are put into place on Monday.

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FREE AT LAST: Pompeo returns to US with American detainees after negotiating release from North Korea

Washington, D.C. (AP) — Three Americans detained in North Korea for more than a year are on their way back to the U.S. with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday in the latest sign of improving relations between the two longtime adversary nations.

Trump said on Twitter that Pompeo was returning with “the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting.” The president, who had been hinting about an imminent release, said he would greet them at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington at 2 a.m. Thursday.

“I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this and allowing them to go,” Trump said Wednesday before a meeting of his Cabinet.

The release of the detainees came as Pompeo visited North Korea on Wednesday to finalize plans for a historic summit between Trump and Kim, the North’s leader. Trump told reporters that the summit would not take place at the inter-Korean demilitarized zone, and that the venue would be announced within the next three days. Singapore has emerged as the most likely place for the meeting late this month or in early June, officials have indicated.

North Korea had accused Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, all Korean-Americans, of anti-state activities but their arrests were widely seen as politically motivated and had compounded the dire state of relations over the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons.

The family of Tony Kim thanked “all those” who worked for his return and also credited Trump for engaging directly with North Korea. “Mostly we thank God for Tony’s safe return,” the family said in a statement, and they urged people to “continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump viewed the release “as a positive gesture of goodwill.”

The release capped a dramatic day of diplomacy in Pyongyang for Pompeo. After his 90-minute meeting with Kim Jong Un, he gave reporters a fingers-crossed sign when asked about the prisoners as he returned to his hotel. But it was only after a North Korean emissary arrived a bit later to inform him that the release was confirmed.

The three had been held for periods ranging between one and two years. They were the latest in a series of Americans who have been detained by North Korea in recent years for seemingly small offenses and typically freed when senior U.S. officials or statesmen personally visited to bail them out.

The last American to be released before this, college student Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the U.S. with severe brain damage.

Warmbier was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016. He was accused of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. His parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the government of torturing and killing their son.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer celebrated the detainees’ return but warned that “we’ll see many more hostages” if the administration provides an incentive for imprisoning Americans.

“We are happy they’ve returned, but North Korea shouldn’t gain by taking Americans and then releasing them,” he said.

Of the newly released detainees, Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born U.S. citizen, had been held the longest. The former Virginia resident was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea’s border with Russia.

The other two detainees hadn’t been tried.

Kim Hak Song worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST. The university is the only privately funded college in North Korea and was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups. He was detained last May for alleged anti-state activities.

Tony Kim, who also uses the name Kim Sang-duk, was detained in April 2017 at the Pyongyang airport. He taught accounting at PUST. He was accused of committing unspecified criminal acts intended to overthrow the government.

Pompeo, in his visit, discussed the agenda for a potential Trump-Kim Jong Un summit in his meeting with Kim Yong Chul, the vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea’s ruling party.

Kim Yong Chul noted improved relations between North and South Korea and pushed back against the idea that U.S. pressure led to the likely summit.

“This is not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside,” he said. That contradicted Trump, who has said repeatedly that his pressure tactics brought North Korea to the negotiating table.

Pompeo’s trip, his second to North Korea this year, had not been publicly disclosed when he flew out of Washington late Monday aboard an Air Force jetliner. Trump announced the mission Tuesday afternoon as he laid out his case for withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, another bitter U.S. adversary.

Accompanying Pompeo were a few senior aides, a security detail and two journalists — one from The Associated Press and one from The Washington Post.

Pompeo, who first traveled to North Korea as CIA chief in early April, is only the second sitting secretary of state to visit the reclusive nation with which the U.S. is still technically at war. The first was Madeleine Albright, who went in 2000 as part of an unsuccessful bid to arrange a meeting between then-President Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il.

A Trump-Kim meeting seemed a remote possibility just a few months ago when the two leaders were trading threats and insults over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. But momentum for diplomacy built this year as North and South Korea moved to ease tensions, including the North sending a contingent to the Winter Olympics in the South. The Koreas’ leaders’ held their own summit last month.

In March, Trump unexpectedly accepted an offer of talks from Kim after the North Korean dictator agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests and discuss “denuclearization.” According to South Korea, Kim says he’s willing to give up his nukes if the United States commits to a formal end to the Korean War and pledges not to attack the North.

Kim was quoted by China’s official news agency Xinhua as saying on Monday, “I hope to build mutual trust with the U.S. through dialogue.” He added that a political resolution of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearization should proceed in stages, with all sides moving in concert.

But his exact demands for relinquishing weapons that his nation spent decades building remain unclear. Previous U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear weapons program failed under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

Pompeo and officials traveling with him said the Trump administration would not repeat mistakes of the past, which they described as accepting gradual, incremental and long-term disarmament in exchange for immediate benefits.

Trump has said that withdrawing U.S. forces from South Korea is “not on the table.” Some 28,500 U.S. forces are based in the allied nation, a military presence that has been preserved to deter North Korea since the war ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT: Press remarks from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on upcoming summit with North Korea

On Plane ert Yokota Air Base, Japan
May 8, 2018

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the first time it was truly an intel effort, in that the South Koreans had made representations about things that North Korea was preparing to do that Kim Jong-un had told them, and we largely went there to validate that those were true so that it would make sense to begin to put in place the conditions for the President’s visit. So that was the primary mission. We achieved that. He gave us a little bit of color on that but not much more. So we set some of the basic outlines, some of the ground rules, and then we began the discussion as well on the administrative elements of it – what would it look like, how long would it last, where would it be, what time frame would make sense. So that was it. It was a limited diplomatic discussion. It was truly aimed at learning and listening, making sure we understood the outlines of what was at least possible.

Today what we’re hoping to do is – there have been discussions between that day to now, and we’ve continued to develop both administratively and sort of begin to put some outlines around the substance of the agenda for the summit between the President and Chairman Un. And today we’re hoping to nail some of those down to say – to put in place a framework for a successful summit between the two presidents.

There’s a second piece, which is we also want to make sure that we’re square about what it isn’t, what our expectations are not. And we are not going to head back down the path that we headed down before. We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives. We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure. That won’t lead to the outcome that I know Kim Jong-un wants and I know President Trump is demanding, so we’re hoping to set out that set of conditions that will give them this opportunity to have a historic, big change in the security relationship between North Korea and the United States, which will achieve what the President has tweeted about and talked about: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.

That’s the mission set. We’re trying to set out the conditions for that today. And this will be a part of that process. This will go on tomorrow. But we think it’s important. We think there’s enough that’s been discussed that it’s important for me to sit with senior North Korean leaders and try and make a big move towards making sure we’re prepared for the summit.

QUESTION: So are you expecting that you will be able to have a time, when – all that kind of stuff? I was just asking prior, before, so it’s —

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s certainly my objective to do so.

QUESTION: Right. But the President says it’s been set, but then they said it hadn’t been set. So I mean, what, are you 99 percent certain about —

SECRETARY POMPEO: We think we have it figured out. We want to – we’d love to be able to walk away from here prepared to say yep, we now have the senior level, most senior leaders’ commitment to this date and this location. I – we’re going to work towards that.

QUESTION: Well, you don’t have that? Does that – what you’re saying is that you don’t have it yet?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s all – it’s —

QUESTION: You’re not –

SECRETARY POMPEO: I know the nuance is difficult.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, yeah.

SECRETARY POMPEO: We think we’re getting really close to having all the parties agreeing to – it’s not just even – a date and time is important —

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY POMPEO: And the location is important. But there are many conditions that play into that. How long is it going to go on? When you say where, like really where? Not just a city or a country, but like really where. So we’re trying to put some more meat on that – on the answer to that.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Will you be meeting with Kim Jong-un himself, do you expect?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know. We’re going to meet with the most senior leaders. The last time I traveled I did. We’re prepared to meet with anyone who is speaking on behalf of the North Korean Government and can give us solid answers so we’re prepared.

QUESTION: How important is it that – would it be for them to release the prisoners?

SECRETARY POMPEO: You know —

QUESTION: How significant is —

SECRETARY POMPEO: We have been asking for the release of these detainees for – this administration for 17 months. We’ll talk about it again today. I think it’d be a great gesture if they would choose to do so.

MS NAUERT: All right. Last question.

QUESTION: Can you have a summit if you – if they’re still holding three Americans?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re hopeful we don’t have to cross that road.

MS NAUERT: All right. The Secretary has to go.

QUESTION: Do you expect to bring them out?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re going to talk. We’re going to talk to them about it again and ask them if they would do the right thing.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.

MS NAUERT: Thank you, sir.

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TRUMP: Secretary of State Pompeo is en route to North Korea

Washington, D.C. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is en route to Pyongyang to continue preparations for the President’s upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Trump announced Tuesday.

“The location is picked, the time and date, everything is picked and we look forward to having a great success,” the president said of the historic upcoming summit.

Pompeo told reporters traveling with him to North Korea Tuesday that his first matter of business will be to discuss with North Korean leaders the plight of three American citizens being detained by the rogue regime. Although Pompeo said he could not guarantee that North Korea would be willing to cooperate he said he hopes officials would be willing to “do the right thing”.

“We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months,” Pompeo said. “We’ll talk about it again. It’d be a great gesture if they’d agree to do so.”

Asked by reporters Tuesday if North Korean officials had indicated they would be open to negotiating a release, Trump replied” “We’ll all soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are.”

Pompeo, who has already traveled to North Korea to meet with Jong-un said he is cautiously optimistic but will remain firm in protecting America’s interests.

“The second piece is, we also want to make sure what our expectations are not,” said Pompeo, aboard a C-32A. “We are not going to head down the path we headed down before.”

“We will not relieve sanctions until such time as we have achieved our objectives,” he added. “We’re not going to do this in small increments, where the world is coerced into relieving economic pressures.”

It remains unclear whether Pompeo will meet directly with Jong-un on this trip or other high ranking North Korean officials, but Pompeo says the topics at hand, not the person in charge is his priority at this point.

“We’re prepared to meet anyone who can speak on behalf of the North Korean government and give us solid answers so we’re prepared,” he said.

The president broke the news on Pompeo’s second round of negotiations while announcing his plans to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.

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Sanders on Pompeo: Democrats must decide ‘if they love this country more than they hate Trump’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday came out swinging against Democrats who are actively opposing President Trump’s secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo, whose confirmation will be debated on Monday, faces a wealth of opposition from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Look, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president,” Sanders said during an early morning appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends”.

Democrats are not alone in their quest to block Pompeo’s approval.

In addition to the 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who say they will vote against Pompeo’s confirmation, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he, too, will oppose Pompeo.

During a Senate confirmation hearing on April 12, the 21 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Paul, had the opportunity to question Pompeo.

During Paul’s questioning of Pompeo, issues involving President Trump’s interventionist policies in the Middle East were a topic of near-constant scrutiny.

“[Trump] says the Iraq war was the single worst decision ever made. So, once again, I’m concerned that you won’t be supporting the president,” Paul told Pompeo. “That you will be influencing him in a way that I think his inclinations are actually better than many of his advisors. That the Iraq war was a mistake that we need to come home from Afghanistan.”

“He was against being involved in Syria at many times in his career,” Paul continued, referencing Trump’s past statements which suggest he opposes “another Iraq war, bombing Syria without permission.”

Paul went on to grill the secretary of state nominee over an exchange between Pompeo and another member of the committee, Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), in which Paul noted that as the two discussed whether or not Trump has the authority to bomb President Bashar al Assad’s forces or installations in Syria, Pompeo had replied that America has done so in the past.

“My question would be do you think it’s constitutional?,” Paul demanded. “Does the President have the constitutional authority to bomb Assad’s forces? Does he have the authority absent congressional action to bomb Assad’s forces or installations?”

“Senator, … I think I said this to Senator Kaine, I’m happy to repeat my view on this,” Pompeo replied. “Those decisions are weighted. Every place we can, we should work alongside Congress to get that but yes I believe the President has the domestic authority to do that…. I don’t think that has been disputed by Republicans or Democrats throughout an extended period of time.”

While not mentioning Paul directly, Sanders said that anyone who votes against Pompeo’s confirmation would be doing a disservice to the country.

“[Pompeo] has been one of the leading people when it comes to the negotiations and the conversations with North Korea,” Sanders said. “To stop that would be incredibly dangerous and damaging for our country and the world.”

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