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NEW YORK — President Donald Trump circulated a fake image on Monday depicting congressional Democrats’ top-ranked leaders in traditional Muslim attire in front of the Iranian flag, drawing criticism that he was promoting Islamophobic tropes.

The manipulated photo retweeted by Trump showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Muslim garb with the caption: “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue #NancyPelosiFakeNews.” Trump, a Republican, had previously faulted Democrats for criticizing his administration’s targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, but his use of Muslim imagery as part of that effort drew pushback from Muslim American advocates.

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“The image is a hodgepodge of anti-Muslim tropes and garb from many traditions including some that are frequently used to stereotype and attack Muslims,” Madihha Ahussain, special counsel at the nonprofit group Muslim Advocates, said in a statement. “It’s disappointing but not surprising that the president would use his massive Twitter platform to spread this kind of harmful, ignorant, anti-Muslim bigotry.

Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of the Muslim American group Emgage Action — named for its mission to engage Muslim Americans — also criticized Trump’s decision to amplify the doctored photo of Pelosi and Schumer. “There’s no place for it, irrespective of political differences,” he said in an interview.

Schumer tweeted his own pushback to Trump, asking: “How low can you go?”

The image that Trump retweeted has been circulating on the internet for a few days. The source of the tweet has not been authenticated by NBC News. According to the AP, the Twitter account that Trump got it from has a history of tweeting in both English and Persian about Iranian issues, promoting pro-Trump content and criticizing U.S. Democrats.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended Trump’s retweet of the image, telling Fox News on Monday that the tweet was intended to show Democrats “have been parroting Iranian talking points, and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill the Americans.”

Democrats have raised questions about the Trump administration’s rationale for ordering the Soleimani killing, warning about the resulting heightened tensions with Iran. But no Democrats have praised Soleimani, and Pelosi herself described him last week as a “terrible person” who “did bad things.”



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Campaign group slams House of Lords amid relocation proposal – ‘Unreformed travesty!’

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BORIS JOHNSON may be looking to move the House of Lords to York to entrench the Tory gains in Labour’s Red Wall.

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Trump complains about his trial defense team starting Saturday

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President Donald Trump on Friday slammed Democratic House impeachment managers for perpetrating “lies, fraud and deception” and complained that his own legal defense team would have to start their arguments on Saturday — what the president said is called “Death Valley in T.V.”

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” tweeted Trump, a former reality television star known widely for being especially cognizant of how things play on television.

Under rules for the trial reached by the Senate earlier this week, the House impeachment managers were awarded 24 hours over three days to make their arguments to remove the president from office on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Attorneys for the White House were likewise given 24 hours over three days to state their case for acquittal.

House case managers began their case on Wednesday and are wrapping up on Friday, meaning the attorneys for the White House will begin their arguments Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, announced on the Senate floor on Friday. The Trump team’s presentation on Saturday will last for several hours, McConnell said.

Trump wants the maximum audience he can get and by having a few hours on Saturday that his team will be able to offer soundbites of their defense for the Sunday morning news shows to use, said people familiar with the process. On Monday, the president’s defense will continue.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said Thursday that the president’s legal team is prepared for anything. “The senators are saying that they have the rules. Our job is to play by the rules they set,” Sekulow said.

Shannon Pettypiece, Hallie Jackson and Peter Alexander contributed.



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Giuliani launches ‘common sense’ podcast, urges impeachment case be dismissed

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As Democrats argued in the Senate on Friday that President Donald Trump should be removed from office, the president’s personal lawyer launched a podcast to push back against their allegations.

Rudy Giuliani, who wasn’t tapped as a member of the legal team representing the president, used his inaugural episode of his show “Rudy Giuliani Common Sense” to deliver a presentation that sounded like what he would have said at the Senate trial.

“Look at these charges. Neither one of the is a crime,” a restrained Giuliani said of the two articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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“There’s no crime called abuse of power,” he said. As for obstruction of Congress, Giuliani said that charge could lead to something “silly” like the president being impeached for being late to a press conference.

He said the Trump legal team should make a motion for Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the Senate trial, to dismiss the case for failure to allege an impeachable offense.

The episode was entitled, “Since no crimes exist, it must be dismissed.”

The former New York City mayor told NBC News in a text message on Thursday that with “the second episode we will create an expose of the compelling evidence of major Democrat corruption in Ukraine.”

Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden are a major part of the impeachment case against Trump.

The episode is on Giuliani’s new website, where the man known as “America’s Mayor” after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is described as being “Celebrated by many as ‘Mayor of the World.'”

Giuliani promoted his podcast during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Friday. He said his show would prove Ukraine was involved in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and not Russia, and that Ukraine did so on behalf of Trump rival Hillary Clinton — claims that have been debunked by Trump’s own intelligence chiefs.

“What happened in Russia was a big hoax. Actually it was the Democrats projecting what they had actually done in Ukraine. I don’t know if it’s true or not,” Giuliani said, before adding, “I started investigating Biden two years ago when he was thinking about running for president. I never thought he would run. Looked to me he couldn’t cross the street much less run.”

Giuliani and Biden have bad blood that goes back to 2007, when both were running for president. Biden mocked the Republican in one of the Democratic debates, calling him “probably the most under-qualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency.”

“There only three things he mentions in a sentence: A noun and a verb and 9/11, I mean, there’s nothing else,” Biden said.

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