TIME Military

Drumbeats of Possible War With Iran Grow Louder

Senate Armed Services Hearing on Iran/JCPOA
Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images From left, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and General Martin Dempsey defend the Iran deal at Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

Senate hearing highlights growing skepticism over wisdom of nuclear deal

You could almost see the U.S. and Iran drawing slowly closer to war Wednesday, as dubious lawmakers, including a pair of Republican senators seeking their party’s presidential nomination, grilled top Obama Administration officials over the pending nuclear deal with Tehran.

The reason is pretty simple: there appears to be a growing push among lawmakers, and their constituents, against the recent agreement hammered out by the U.S. and four other nations to restrain Iran’s push toward nuclear weapons (a CNN poll out Tuesday says 52% of Americans oppose the pact).

If the deal falls apart, Administration witnesses warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran would have a fast track toward a nuclear arsenal. If the mullahs try to take advantage of that opening—something expected by U.S. intelligence—all signs suggest the U.S. will go to war to thwart their atomic ambitions.

Language from both the Administration and senators made clear there’s a hair-trigger mentality when it comes to Iran. But how much of that was bluster, designed to win over the other side regarding the deal’s merit, was difficult to plumb. What was clear is how complicated the polarized U.S. debate over the deal has made winning Washington’s approval.

Testifying for the Administration were Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Carter said the Pentagon is “continuing to advance our military capabilities that provide all options…should Iran walk away from its commitments under this deal.” He added, with a bit of martial swagger, that any Iranian aggression would trigger “an overwhelming array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach.”

Translation: “advance capabilities” means the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 bomber, the only airplane that can carry “sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach”—the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator, specifically designed to burrow into Iranian mountains and destroy nuclear-production facilities.

Two of the most startling questions put to the witnesses by deal doubters came from senators seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Opposition to the deal makes them look pro-military and pro-Israel (which opposes the deal), as well as anti-Obama—a political hat trick for those seeking to appeal to Republican primary voters.

Lindsey Graham’s question came like a bolt out of the blue. “Could we win a war with Iran?” the South Carolinian asked Carter. “Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?”

“No,” Carter responded. “The United States wins the war.” Neither he nor Graham explained how the U.S. might win in Iran, after it has failed to win in Afghanistan and Iraq since invading those two nations more than a decade ago.

Top Administration Officials Testify To Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing On Military Balance In Mid East
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images“Could we win a war with Iran?” asks Senator Lindsey Graham, alongside Senator Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz of Texas lobbed an electromagnetic-pulse weapon into the middle of the four-hour hearing. “Do you agree that an EMP detonated by Iran in the atmosphere could kill tens of millions of Americans?” he asked Moniz. EMP weapons have become a bugaboo in certain conservative circles over concern that a high-altitude nuclear explosion over the U.S. could fry much of the nation’s electronics. Moniz conceded an EMP could be “a very potent weapon.”

Much of the session was less about nuclear physics than political theater. Republicans spent much of the session detailing Tehran’s “malign” activities, ranging from sponsoring terrorism to threatening to destroy Israel. The Administration’s witnesses acknowledged Iran’s perfidy. But they argued that the deal, which the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia struck with Iran after years of negotiations, is the surest way to delay, if not derail, Iran’s nuclear quest.

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Calls for Deporting Undocumented Immigrants, Letting Some Back In

Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media after exiting his plane during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas.
Matthew Busch—Getty Images Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media after exiting his plane during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas.

Donald Trump gave his most specific outline of immigration policy to date in an interview Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN, the businessman and Republican presidential candidate said he would deport all of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, although he didn’t clearly explain how he would find them.

But then Trump, who controversially said many Mexican illegal immigrants are “rapists” during his campaign launch, said he would provide a way for “the good ones” to reenter the country legally, although he does not support a path to full citizenship. “Legal status,” he said. “We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.”

Trump was vague about whether he would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to stay: “It’s a tough situation,” he said, and, “it depends.”

Read Next: Donald Trump Is Not as Aggressive on Immigration As He Sounds

TIME 2016 Election

Rick Perry Challenged Donald Trump to a Pull-Up Contest

Donald Trump rick perry
Mary Altaffer—AP, Charlie Neibergall—AP Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Donal Trump.

"Let's get a pull-up bar out here"

Billionaire Donald Trump may be leading in the polls for the GOP presidential primary, but former Texas Governor Rick Perry knows how he can beat his rival candidate. Asked about Trump’s critique of his candidacy, Perry challenged Trump to a pull-up contest.

“Let’s get a pull-up bar out here and see who can do more pull-ups,” Perry said at a speech Wednesday at the Yale Club in New York City, according to the New York Times.

Perry and Trump have been trading barbs ever since Trump questioned Arizona Senator John McCain’s status as a war hero. Perry condemned the remarks and called for Trump to drop out of the race.

In response, Trump has repeatedly questioned Perry’s intelligence, joked about his glasses and made light of his low poll numbers.

TIME animals

U.S. Government Investigating Death of Cecil the Lion

The Department of Justice hasn't said whether they've received an extradition request

The federal agency charged with enforcing wildlife protection laws in the U.S. said Wednesday that it will investigate the highly publicized death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, following accusations that an American citizen killed the animal illegally.

“The Service is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil the lion,”a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”

The statement follows an allegation by the government of Zimbabwe that Walter James Palmer, a 55-year-old Minnesota dentist, participated in the illegal killing of the lion earlier this month. Two Zimbabwe natives have also been implicated and appeared in court on Wednesday.

Read More: Why Big Game Hunters Believe They’re the Real Conservationists

The U.S. and Zimbabwe have an extradition treaty, but it remains unclear how the U.S. would respond to a request to extradite Palmer. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that DOJ was “aware of the situation.” The spokesperson declined to say whether the U.S. had received an extradition request.

Palmer, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, previously said that “everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted” and promised to assist any investigations by government officials.

African lions face threats as a result of habitat loss and increased conflicts with humans, among other things. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing lions as an endangered species last year, which would create restrictions on lion hunting by U.S. citizens. The measure has yet to be decided.

“It is up to all of us—not just the people of Africa—to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

TIME Hillary Clinton

The Legal Question Over Hillary Clinton’s Secret Emails

Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks to voters at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images Secretary Hillary Clinton speaks to voters at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

Two key questions: Did she know material was classified and did she act negligently handling it?

Is Hillary Clinton in trouble for having government secrets on her private email server?

Last week, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community concluded that some of the emails Clinton and others exchanged on her private server while she was Secretary of State contained classified information.

But the consequences of that revelation were muddied early on by erroneous reports of a request for a criminal inquiry from the Justice Department and by official disagreement over when and whether the information in the emails was actually classified.

Legally, the question is pretty clear-cut. If Clinton knowingly used her private server to handle classified information she could have a problem. But if she didn’t know the material was classified when she sent or received it she’s safe.

There are several laws that make it a criminal offense knowingly to reveal or mishandle classified information. The main one, 18 USC 1924 reads:

Whoever being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

Clinton has explicitly and repeatedly said she didn’t knowingly send or receive any classified information. “The facts are pretty clear,” she said last weekend in Iowa, “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III, disagrees, saying some of the material was in fact classified at the time it was sent. But in his letter last week to Congressional intelligence committee leaders, McCullough reported that, “None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings.” And there has been no indication Clinton knew she was sending and receiving anything classified.

The public doesn’t yet know the content of the classified emails, and the State Department and the inspectors general have tens of thousands still to review. If evidence emerges that Clinton knew she was handling secrets on her private server, “She could have a problem,” says William Jeffress, a leading criminal trial lawyer at Baker Botts who has represented government officials in secrecy cases. Barring that, says Jeffress, “there’s no way in the world [prosecutors] could ever make a case” against her.

Clinton also has to worry about government rules for handling secrets. In December 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13526, which renewed the long-running rules for classifying information and the penalties for revealing it.

Under that order, agency heads like Clinton are responsible for keeping secrets safe throughout their departments. And all officers of the government can be suspended, fired or have their security clearance revoked if they “knowingly, willfully, or negligently” disclosed secrets or broke the rules in any other way.

Was Clinton negligent in setting up her private email server and communicating with State Department staff exclusively on it? Says Steven Aftergood, a secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, “The material in question was not marked as classified, making it very hard or impossible to show negligence.”

With 16 months until the 2016 presidential election, Clinton’s opponents will certainly try. And with tens of thousands of emails still to be reviewed, they’ll have plenty of material to work with.

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Applied to Trademark ‘Trumpublican’ and ‘Trumpocrat’

The trademarks are currently classified as abandoned

Businessman and presidential hopeful Donald Trump wanted to add some new trademarks to his collection.

The Washington Post reports the Trump team filed applications to trademark “Trumpocrat” and “Trumpublican” earlier this year. The trademarks are currently classified as abandoned, but they can still be looked up through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database.

This isn’t the first time Trump has made use of the trademark office. The real estate magnate has already secured some notable trademarks through the years, the Post notes, including “The Board Room” and “Miss Photogenic Teen USA.”

Trump’s latest applications would have covered the use of the terms on a variety of items, from T-shirts to cufflinks.

[The Washington Post]

TIME Chris Christie

The Political Upside of Chris Christie’s Threats Against Colorado Pot Users

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.
Darren McCollester—2015 Getty Images New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) holds a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15 July 2, 2015 in Ashland, New Hampshire.

The upside and downside of going after weed

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie threatened users of marijuana who have been buying the drug legally under state law on Tuesday. “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

The blunt language ran against the tide of national public opinion, distinguished him from most of his colleagues in the Republican field, and could present problems in key states like Colorado and New Hampshire, where majorities support marijuana legalization. But pollsters say the straight talk might also offer him political upside, by appealing to conservative voters and separating him from his rivals.

An April Pew poll found that 53% of the country now supports marijuana legalization, including 39% of Republicans. On the question of whether the federal government should override state law to bust pot users, 59% of Americans, including 54% of self-identified Republicans, oppose the federal enforcement in states like Colorado.

In Colorado, a crucial 2016 swing state, the numbers are slightly more favorable for legal pot. According to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll, 62% of Colorado voters support recreational marijuana legalization. A poll done for the Denver Post shows how the supporters break down by political party: 66% of Democrats and 62% of Independents said they would vote to legalize marijuana in the state if the ballot came up again, while only 26% of Republicans said they would.

Christie’s tough stance could cut both ways in the primary and general campaign. “You can safely say in Colorado the decision to legalize marijuana is popular,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “And when you walk in with a broad stroke saying I’m going to take this away, it could negatively affect Chris Christie.”

But Malloy said there’s a potential benefit to Christie’s strong stance, as well. Of the 16 Republican candidates, few others openly share Christie’s support of federal enforcement, though Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Caolina Sen. Lindsay Graham have tiptoed around it. Most candidates, from Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, instead say they would leave the question of routine marijuana enforcement up to the states. Their views are summed-up by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who said, “I think Colorado voters made a choice. I don’t support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice.”

So Malloy thinks that even if many voters disagree with Christie, his resolute stance on the issue makes him stand out from the rest of the field. “It’s certainly a bold, against the tide claim for Chris Christie,” Malloy said. “When you’re one of 16 and your star is not rising as it was a few years ago, what appears as a principled move could work in your favor.”

Christie has always been opposed to marijuana legalization, both politically and personally: “Never have. It wasn’t my thing,” he said of using the drug on a recent campaign swing.

Andrew Smith, director of the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, agreed with Malloy. “What all these guys need to do is separate themselves from the field,” he said. “Part of the way you do that is to distinguish yourself from the other candidates.”

Plus, according to Smith, there’s less of a political downside to being anti-pot in New Hampshire than there is in Colorado. “It’s not a major issue here,” he said, although a recent UNH poll showed 60% of New Hampshire voters support legalization, and 72% support decriminalization. “The libertarian voters, the voters in the Republican Party who are most likely to be proponents of marijuana legalization, first off they’re going to be less likely to vote… and if they are Republicans, they’re probably going to be more the libertarian Rand Paul supporters… There are enough older more conservative republicans, culturally conservative, that would support [Christie] on that.”

TIME Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Hosts Biggest Organizing Event of 2016 So Far

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests at the Louisiana Rally with Bernie Sanders at Ponchartain Center on July 26, 2015 in Kenner, Louisiana.
Josh Brasted—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests at the Louisiana Rally with Bernie Sanders at Ponchartain Center on July 26, 2015 in Kenner, Louisiana.

Bernie Sanders hosted a massive grassroots organizing event on Wednesday evening that featured simultaneous parties in all 50 states, as the upstart Democratic candidate seeks to mobilize the progressive base of the party.

Sanders appeared at a house party in Southwest Washington, D.C., and made remarks broadcast simultaneously to all the meeting locations in the country, from Alaska to Florida.

“Tonight is a historical night and all of us are making history,” Sanders said at the event, reading his notes from a music stand. “Why are we seeing spontaneous uprisings if you like and meetings in cities and town all over this country? My answer is the American people are saying loudly and clearly, enough is enough.”

During an abbreviated version of his standard stump speech in which the Democratic presidential hopeful pointed to wealth inequality and racial injustice, Sanders also pointed to the massive size of the event he was hosting.

More than 100,000 people had RSVPed to participate in some 3,500 parties in houses, living rooms and coffee shops, Sanders’ campaign said on Wednesday night, making it the biggest online organizing event of the 2016 campaign. The large turnout Wednesday is an important part of Sanders’ plan to build enthusiasm among the Democratic party’s base.

“Bernie Sanders alone as president of these United States is not going to solve all these problems,” Sanders said. “The only way we take on the Koch brothers and take on the billionaire class, and people who have unbelievable money and power, the only we can do that is when we put together a strong grassroots movement of millions and millions of people.”

“And that is what I mean by political revolution, and that is what you are involved in today,” he added, looking into the camera.

The vast number of parties made for an eclectic mix. One screening party held in Asheville, North Carolina, featured three punk rock bands that helped fundraise for Sanders afterward. Another in Texas was called “Brisket and biscuits for Bernie,” in honor of the food that was served. One event was hosted in a town in the Alaskan wilderness of about 1,000 residents. At another party, a guest brought four live chickens.

The tactical purpose of all parties was to create a larger network of grassroots volunteers, who then can reach a greater network of supporters. The Sanders campaign has relied heavily on volunteers due to its thin staff of approximately 50, a little more than one-tenth the size of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The viewers at the various house parties were asked to volunteer and join a chain of text messages.

“We need you to bring this movement to your community to do unglamorous but essential work,” said Claire Sandberg, a digital organizer for the campaign who addressed the camera after Sanders. “Like knocking on doors, calling voters, voter registration.”

Sanders arrived about 15 minutes before he was due to go live at the part in the Washington apartment, and in the middle of the crowded foyer spent several minutes working through his handwritten speech notes on a clipboard. (His campaign notes that Sanders writes all his own speeches.)

He joked with his introducer when he accidentally mixed up their papers. “Somebody has the brains here, and it’s not me,” Sanders said. He laughed when one partygoer wearing a beard and a colorful shirt shouted to Sanders, “Can I get you a tie-dye?”

Many of the attendees were Sanders volunteers enthusiastic about the candidate’s message. “You hear the word and you’re like, ‘I’m in,'” said Jon Culver, a 29-year-old who works at a tech startup in Seattle. “The crazy distribution of wealth, income inequality, those are big ones for me. He’s very progressive he’s all for women’s rights and good family values. He’s solid.”

The day of Hillary Clinton’s kickoff rally in early June, the campaign held an online organizing event that included around 650 parties across the country, about one-fifth of the number of events Sanders’ campaign has organized.

The Sanders event’s sheer size is a mark of the grassroots progressive enthusiasm for the liberal Vermont senator, who has repeatedly turned out crowds upwards of 10,000 people, larger than any other campaign.

Sanders has repeatedly emphasized building a large movement in favor of a slew of progressive ideas over his winning the Democratic nomination. He is trailing far behind Hillary Clinton in national polls, with 22% favorability among voters compared with 57% for Clinton.

At the end of the event, the party’s host, Manisha Sharma, a financial services regulatory attorney, gave Sanders a blown-up photo of Mahatma Gandhi with a cleverly selected quote.

Sanders read it: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win,'” he read. “Maybe that is what this campaign is about.”

TIME Congress

The Trumpification of Congress

People walk past posters supporting politician Ted Cruz put up by the 'StandWithUs' group during a rally calling for the rejection of the proposed Iran nuclear deal outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California on July 26, 2015.
MARK RALSTON—AFP/Getty Images People walk past posters supporting politician Ted Cruz put up by the 'StandWithUs' group during a rally calling for the rejection of the proposed Iran nuclear deal outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California on July 26, 2015.

The GOP Establishment better be ready

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Donald Trump’s bombastic brand of establishment-hating populism is succeeding: he’s leading in the polls and in media attention. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that some Republicans in Congress are following his example.

On Tuesday, an obscure second-term Republican congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, filed a motion to try and force House Speaker John Boehner from his post. The measure is more than likely to fail, but the move earned Meadows instant media recognition, numerous cable news appearances and instant notoriety.

Meadows isn’t the only one causing congressional GOP leaders headaches these days. During a rare weekend session forced in part by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell smacked down efforts by Cruz and fellow Tea Partier Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to hijack the amendment process on a transportation bill. The duo had hoped to force votes to defund Planned Parenthood and block President Obama’s deal with Iran but McConnell squashed them, going so far as to distribute an e-mail from a Lee staffer to every Republican senator showing that the pair only sought to play politics with the system, not work for solutions.

“To see the so-called Republican leader whip against allowing a vote to defund Planned Parenthood,” Cruz railed to reporters outside the Senate chamber, “makes clear that the McConnell-[Democratic Senate leader Harry] Reid leadership is united in favor of Big Government.”

Cruz, Lee, Meadows and Trump have one thing in common: their disdain for the Republican establishment. All four are seeking to harness discontent within the GOP base to their advantage. And that discontent pays: all four have raised millions of dollars and each bomb they drop earns them more money, more infamy and more attention—all great things whether one is running for president or fending off a primary challenge in 2016.

The idea of committing some incredible antic or uttering an outrageous statement and then running online to monetize it isn’t a new strategy in Washington. As Michael Scherer and I wrote six years ago, members like Michele Bachmann and Alan Grayson had already honed the online money bomb. What’s new here is the target: leadership.

The problem with this strategy is that it heightens dysfunction in a city where dysfunction has already hobbled the system. McConnell will likely get through a long-term extension of the transportation bill this week, but the House won’t be able to pass that bill so quickly. So both chambers will have to pass a three-month stop gap by the end of the week to give Boehner more time to corral his recalcitrant rank and file on the larger bill.

And if getting a transportation bill through is this tough, what’s facing Congress in the coming months is even more daunting: a potential government shut down and default on U.S. debt. McConnell and Boehner better have some aces up their sleeves. Because as Meadows, Cruz and Lee have shown this week, there’s never been more incentive to play the Trump card.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton to Call for Lifting Cuba Embargo

Hillary Clinton Brings Her Presidential Campaign Back To Iowa
Scott Olson—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a house party on July 26, 2015 in Carroll, Iowa.

Hillary Clinton will declare her support on Friday for lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba, her campaign said, allying herself with President Obama’s open stance toward the long-isolated island nation.

Speaking at Florida International University Friday morning, Clinton will also criticize Republicans’ opposition to normalizing relations with the country, saying that the right’s arguments against increased engagement are part of a legacy of failed strategies for addressing Cuban relations.

“She will highlight that Republican arguments against increased engagement are part of failed policies of the past and contend that we must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and interests to engage with Cubans and address human rights abuses,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement.

Clinton will hold her speech in the state that Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio call home. Bush, the former governor, has called Obama’s opening relations with Cuba a “policy misstep” and a “dramatic overreach of his executive authority.” Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, has also strongly criticized Obama, calling the decision “a terrible one, but not surprising unfortunately.”

The United States has maintained various embargoes on Cuba since 1960, and continues to block trade with the country despite having opened up diplomatic relations with the island nation. Republican Rep. Tom Emmer filed a bill on Tuesday to remove the restrictions on American businesses from trading with Cuba.

Clinton has long supported normalizing relations with Cuba, and as secretary of state pushed Obama to normalize relations with the Communist nation. A February Gallup poll showed that 59% of Americans support reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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