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On Politics: Mattis Resigns Over Syria Plan, While Putin Praises It – The New York Times


On Politics: Mattis Resigns Over Syria Plan, While Putin Praises It

Dec. 21, 2018

Good Friday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has resigned. He went to the White House to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria, officials said, and told the president he was resigning after he was rebuffed. Here are more details, and here’s Mr. Mattis’s full letter of resignation.

Mr. Trump defended his plan to withdraw American troops from Syria, saying that the United States should not be “the Policeman of the Middle East.”

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia hailed Mr. Trump’s decision on Syria. It was a tactical victory for Mr. Putin, who intervened in Syria in September 2015 with the goal of re-establishing Russia as a power in the Middle East. Here’s who else stands to gain from the decision.

The Trump administration also plans to withdraw roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. That’s about half of the American military force there now.

After the Senate passed a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running, President Trump told House Republican leaders that he would not sign it if the measure did not include funding for a wall at the border. If the president does not sign the bill, there will likely be a Christmastime government shutdown.

The Democratic National Committee unveiled the early outlines of its presidential primary debate plans, including a two-night event to accommodate the vast field of potential candidates.

Senator Doug Jones of Alabama called for an investigation after The Times revealed a small group of Democratic social media experts used Russian-style tactics in his election.

The Trump administration announced the United States will begin returning individuals seeking asylum to Mexico — regardless of where they are from — while they await a ruling on their cases. Mexico reluctantly agreed.

The president’s attorney general nominee, William P. Barr, criticized the Russia investigation in a 19-page memo, objecting the notion that Mr. Trump may have committed the crime of obstruction of justice. And the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, has decided not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

The Justice Department accused two Chinese nationals with ties to China’s security services of infiltrating commercial and government computer systems in an ongoing effort to advance Beijing’s economic and geopolitical interests.

A federal appeals court temporarily halted a lawsuit that accuses Mr. Trump of illegally benefiting from his family’s business, an interim victory for the Justice Department.

The Trump administration announced that it would seek to implement more stringent work requirements for adults who rely on food stamps, circumventing Congress after signing a sweeping farm bill in which lawmakers had rejected stricter rules.

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Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Isabella Grullón Paz in New York.

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Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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