"Facing the Nation": In-Depth Analysis and Insights 2024-05-21 04:04:56

Just a reminder, my training data includes information up to January 2022, so any developments or designations related to terrorist organizations after that date won't be covered. If you have any questions within that scope, feel free to ask!

Just a reminder, my training data includes information up to January 2022, so any developments or designations related to terrorist organizations after that date won't be covered. If you have any questions within that scope, feel free to ask!

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Just a reminder, my training data includes information up to January 2022, so any developments or designations related to terrorist organizations after that date won't be covered. If you have any questions within that scope, feel free to ask!

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MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the IRGC chief of staff went on TV saying they sent a message to the U.S. via the Swiss Embassy saying, if the U.S. participates in an Israeli reprisal, U.S. bases and personnel will not be in the security zone.

JOHN KIRBY: Yes, I'm mindful – I'm mindful of the – of the comment and the statement. Again, I'm just going back to what I said before. We're not looking for a war with Iran, not looking for a broader regional conflict. But the other thing the president has made clear is, we will do what we have to do to help Israel defend itself – and we did last night – and we will do everything we need to do to make sure our troops, our facilities, and our ships at sea in the region are also protected. We have interests in the region too. Now, obviously, we're all focused on Israel, and rightly so. But we have broader national security interests in the Middle East.

JOHN KIRBY: We have a force posture that we're constantly monitoring to make sure we can meet those interests. The president takes that seriously. And that has been communicated to Iran as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the Iraqi prime minister will be at the White House this week talking about…

MARGARET BRENNAN: … that troop presence as well.

JOHN KIRBY: Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Yes, we do anticipate having a good discussion about not just the force posture, but the mission set inside Iraq and what that looks like. I think you know it's an advise-and-assist mission.

JOHN KIRBY: It's to help the Iraqi Defense Forces and their operations to go after ISIS inside Iraq.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Mossad announced this morning that Hamas rejected this latest proposal for the release of hostages, saying it proves Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, does not want a deal. Does the U.S. share that assessment? Is the diplomacy dead, or is this just another bump in the road?

JOHN KIRBY: We're not considering diplomacy dead. There is a – a – a new deal on the table that Director Burns negotiated a week or so ago in Cairo. It is a good deal. It would get dozens of the most at risk, women, elderly, the wounded, out, get us a six-week cease-fire, so a little bit more calm, and get us an opportunity to get more humanitarian assistance in. The – the Hamas leaders need to take that deal. And we're not considering this dead at this point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So, that Mossad rejection is not closing the door?

JOHN KIRBY: We're not considering it dead – a dead letter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Last Sunday, when you were here, you told us that the U.S. expected to have talks with Israel perhaps as soon as this week about their plans to go into Southern Gaza, into Rafah. When is that happening? Do we have any further details?

JOHN KIRBY: We think that discussion – first of all, there's been some staff technical level talks even since you and I last spoke. We expect that larger conversation with our Israeli counterparts to happen in coming days, hopefully this week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Hopefully this week.

JOHN KIRBY: Hopefully this week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: John Kirby, thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we turn now to the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul. Welcome back to the program.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-Texas): Well, thanks for having me, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We just heard from Mr. Kirby about the conversations in regard to U.S. personnel in the region. In your role, you have oversight of the State Department and some of these embassies.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How concerned are you about the security threats to Americans abroad? And is the U.S. prepared to do an evacuation, if needed?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: You know, we're always concerned. And we don't want escalation in the region. That would be a threat to our troops and our embassies. As I understand, talking to the State Department, the embassy is in good shape right now…

MARGARET BRENNAN: The embassy in Israel?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: Yes. And I think the fact of the matter is, as Mr. Kirby mentioned, is, 99 percent of these rockets and drones were shot down.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: Pretty impressive display of force, showing of force, in collaboration with the United States, Jordan, and other allies. And it also showed us Iran's not 10-feet-tall.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm, not 10-feet-tall militarily. Fair assessment there. So, I'm sure, then, you don't agree with some of your Republican colleagues who are saying that this necessitates any kind of military action against Iran?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I do think that this is a choice for Israel. We cannot have daylight between us – we had some daylight prior to this – but we're joined with them.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: And I know Gantz came out with a statement saying, we want to be joined with our regional partners.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Meaning the war cabinet…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … member who is more centrist than Prime Minister Netanyahu.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: I think a proportionate response here. And I think one option would be to take out the facilities where these drones and rockets came from, and also destroy the manufacturing facilities that build the drones and rockets, not just for Israel's sake, but also for Ukraine's sake, because these rockets and these drones are being bought by Russia, and they're killing Ukrainians every day. What happened in Israel last night happens in Ukraine every night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, was tweeting about that point. She called it an axis of evil between Russia, Iran and North Korea. But the speaker of the House doesn't seem to share – and we've talked about this before – the sense of emergency that you have. Why is there still not a date for a vote on Ukraine? I did see the statement from Steve Scalise, the whip, saying that there should be a consideration of legislation to support Israel. But what does that mean? Is that a vote on the national security supplemental?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: That is a speaker determination. I will be speaking, talking to him this evening with other national security people and chairs. I think it's – I talked to the ambassador, our ambassador to Ukraine as well. She said the situation is dire. You know, Kharkiv could implode any day now. That's two million people. And the power grid is under threat right now. If the power grid goes out in Ukraine altogether, we don't have time on our side here, Margaret. We have to get this done. I would implore – what I need to educate my colleagues, that they're all tied together.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: I mean, Iran is selling this stuff to Russia. Guess who's buying Iran's energy? China. And you know why? Because we lifted or waived the sanctions that we had, this administration, on the drones and the missiles and on the energy. This has given them $100 billion in cash to fund their terror operations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about Iran.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: And that's why we're seeing this.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, but you still don't have a commitment from the Republican speaker of the House to vote on what you say is a Republican priority. That has to drive you mad here. Do you expect to get an answer when you talk to the speaker tonight?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: I have a commitment that it will come to the floor. My preferences is…


MARGARET BRENNAN: Your preference, but still an open question. I – I mean, the speaker of the House went down to Mar-a-Lago this week, stood beside Donald Trump. And we have not heard the Republican front- runner in any way endorse the package that you are saying there are Republican votes to pass yet.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: He did say he supports this idea of a loan program. Eighty percent of the funding goes into…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that's not in the national security supplemental.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: That – well, that – that would be added in our bill, right, as – in addition, REPO, my statute to get into the Russian sovereign assets to help pay for this. In addition, $80 billion of this money – 80 percent, I should say, of the Ukraine funding goes into our defense industrial base…

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: … to replenish and modernize our stockpile in the United States. These are all compelling arguments that the Senate bill doesn't have. And so I – an eternal optimist, I'm doing my part. I – I – look, we didn't pick and choose our – our enemies in World War II.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: We went after all of them, Japan, Italy, and Germany. We can't just pick and say, Iran is bad, but Russia is OK, and China is bad. I mean…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can't do stand-alone funding.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: They're all in this together. And it's very clear to those of us in the intelligence, national security community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said something interesting here. You said you have to educate your colleagues. Our polling shows that, among Republicans, the most trusted source of information on Ukraine and Russia is Donald Trump, 79 percent, Congressman.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Sixty percent trust the Pentagon. Conservative media is 56 percent, which is separated from actual journalists in war zones, which is 33 percent, the State Department, 27 percent.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you fight that information war, when the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination is helping to spread some of that disinformation about the war effort?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, and I think that's precisely why the speaker went down and Mar-a-Lago talk to him about the Ukraine package, to get him to agree that these – this loan program for direct government assistance, like the E.U. does, would be acceptable. Remember, the first lethal aid package that ever went to Ukraine that I signed off on, $300 million, was – came from the Trump administration.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: They don't want to see us lose in Ukraine, like we did in Afghanistan, the repercussions long-term, a weaker America not stronger. I don't think Trump wants to own that. I think he wants to help us get to the point where he gets in and he can finish the job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that – doesn't that graphic tell us that, in order for any bill to pass, you need Donald Trump to endorse it, even though he's not even in office?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL: I – you know, I will be honest with you, Margaret. He has tremendous influence over my conference. And that's why it's important that we have these discussions with him. But we also – we're all independent thinkers. We represent our own districts. I happen to think that we haven't seen a threat like this since my dad's war, World War II. And if we don't stick together against these – this unholy alliance that came after Afghanistan – remember, Afghanistan was the turning point. And that is when the Russian Federation came into Ukraine. Chairman Xi is looking at Taiwan, ayatollah rearing his ugly head.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they first invaded in 2014. But…


MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. I take your point. Congressman, we'll see if that phone call changes minds, or if the meeting in Mar-a-Lago did. We'll follow this. Thank you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. Welcome back to Face the Nation, Senator.

SENATOR MARK KELLY (D-Arizona): Thank you for having me on, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you are on the Intelligence Committee. You track a lot of national security issues.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. intelligence assessment back in February that was declassified said Iran is – quote – "not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons development activities necessary to produce a testable nuclear device." Are you concerned that some of these calls for strikes on Iran by Israel or for even U.S. participation in them, could that change Iran's calculus?

SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, I think it could. And that's why we don't want to see this escalate. You know, last night, we supported Israel in their defense very successfully. This is a – a very aggressive act by Iran. They've been doing this for months now through their proxies, but now directly from Iranian territory, so this is significant. We don't want to see this escalate into a wider conflict. At the same time, I am constantly looking at the Iranian nuclear weapons capability. They could get pretty close pretty fast if they chose to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But they have not as yet decided to make that political decision?

SENATOR MARK KELLY: That – that is our intelligence community's analysis of this.

SENATOR MARK KELLY: And I would agree with that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In a poll that was taken before this Iranian reprisal, Democrats' support for sending weapons to Israel has dropped from almost half to a third since October 7, according to our latest poll that we released today. Democrats are now more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis. Are you concerned that Israel's conduct in this war in Gaza and the use of U.S. military equipment is going to hurt President Biden in November?

SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, my – my first concern here is the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. I mean, Israel was violently attacked on October 7. I have watched an hour of footage from that day. It was horrific. And Israel has a right to defend itself. The way this has been conducted in Gaza, I have serious concerns. I have expressed those, just most recently about a week ago with the Israeli ambassador about what happened with the World Central Kitchen, reckless act and irresponsible. And they need to do better. We provide them with significant aid. And we're going to need to provide them with more, by the way, here because of what happened last night. We're going to need to replenish their rounds.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, I mean, I'm always – you know, I'm concerned with perceptions and – and an election. But the thing that's always top of mind for me, because I sit on the Intelligence Committee, I'm on the Armed Services Committee, it's our own national security and the national security of our allies.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. And, Senator, I know, you've been concerned about the security of Ukraine as well and that national security supplemental. I want to talk to you more in-depth about that and what's happening in your home state in a moment. But I'm going to have to take a commercial break here, so stay with us. And we hope that all of you will stay with us as we talk as well about the Arizona Supreme Court decision last week that shook the political world. Stay with us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For the first time in American history, a former president will stand trial in a criminal case beginning tomorrow. Former President Trump is accused of falsifying business records in a hush money scheme to cover up an alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. At a campaign rally last night in Pennsylvania, Trump alleged that the trials were part of a Democrat-led effort to keep him from running and winning the election.

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): This is what you call a communist show trial. And we're going communist. Don't kid yourself. We don't win this election, this country is finished.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation and more from Senator Kelly, as well as analysis on the Iranian attack, plus an interview with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva. That's in our next half-hour, so don't go away.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We are continuing our conversation now with Senator Mark Kelly. Senator, before we leave national security space, I want to ask you about some U.S. intelligence information declassified and shared with reporters this week at the White House that China's surging equipment to Russia for its war with Ukraine, helping Moscow fill gaps in its production cycle, including helping to produce drones and artillery. Why is China using this moment to help Russia with its war in Ukraine?

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SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, I think they realize that Russia — the outcome of this war, Russia against Ukraine is critical for their own decisions with Taiwan and the western pacific. This is all connected, Iran, Ukraine, China. The stock of Ukrainian ammunition is dwindling. They're going to run out of ammunition, Russia's capacity, we look at this all the time, is going up. With the help of China, Russia can win this. If we support Ukraine, Ukraine can win. We passed an emergency supplemental two months ago. It's sitting on the speaker's desk. He should bring that to the floor tomorrow night, get it passed. This is also going to help Israel. We could replenish, you know, the stocks that they used last night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I take your point, Senator, on them all being connected. I want to ask you about what's happening in your home state of Arizona. As you know the state court ruled an 1864 Civil War-era law can take effect that would criminalize abortion. It's on hold at the moment, but this is a live issue. Do you have confidence that your state legislators will take action before it goes into effect?

SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, let me start by saying, this has been a disaster for women in Arizona. They've lost a fundamental right to abortion. And it's all because of Donald Trump. And our legislature, yes, they tried to fix this a couple days ago. That did not work. We've got to get – we've got a ballot initiative in November to fix this. Donald Trump owns this. He said just yesterday that he broke Roe v. Wade. And because he did that, this enabled our court to bring back this draconian 1864 law to take away this right, send doctors to jail.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, to be fair, your Republican state legislators have some agency here too. They could have done something different. But I take your rhetorical point.

SENATOR MARK KELLY: They could have. Yes, they could have and, right, they did not do anything about it.

SENATOR MARK KELLY: But there is that initiative you just mentioned to put on the ballot in November, a chance for your state to vote on this particular issue. And it would guarantee abortion access up to viability, which is anywhere between 21 and 24 weeks typically of pregnancy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: From a political position, how much is this going to help offset some of the disappointment and exhaustion we're seeing in polling from Democratic voters? Will this issue drive up turnout in a way that benefits the president in your state?

SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, my first concern is women in Arizona and their — and their health. And women could die from this 1864 ruling that once again was enabled by the former president. So, that's my biggest concern. We're going to have an election in November. I imagine we're going to have large turnout because of this issue. I also want to point out, Margaret, that I don't think this represents who we are in the state of Arizona. This is a moment in time. We're going to get through this. We have an opportunity to fix this in November.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will be watching to see what happens, Senator. Thank you very much for joining us today.

SENATOR MARK KELLY: Well, thank you. Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're going to go now to the former commander for U.S. Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, who is also the author of a new book, "The Melting Point," available in June. General, welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Given what you just saw play out in the last 24 hours, I wonder if you think that deterrence has been reestablished, and on the spectrum of options that Iran had before it, how big did it go last night?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE (RET.): Well, first of all, good to see you, Margaret. I think this was a big attack by Iran. I think this was as close to a maximum effort they could generate. And I'll illustrate it in this way. Iran has over 3,000 missiles of various types scattered around the country. They have about 100 — probably a little more than that — missiles largely in western Iran that can target Israel. Based on what the Israelis are saying, I believe they fired most of those weapons at Israel. The Israelis, obviously, were able to intercept most of them. Iran could not replicate last night's attack tonight if they had to.

FRANK MCKENZIE: Now, they also used cruise missiles and they used drones to try to present a multidimensional problem to the Israelis. It was a maximum effort. Now, the Iranians are going to backtrack and talk about moderation. There was nothing moderate about this attack, and I think John Kirby nailed it precisely when he was talking to you earlier about the nature and scope of the Iranian attack. It was indiscriminate and it was designed to cause casualties. So, we should just consider that as we take a look at it. Now, has the terrace (ph) been reset? I think the Israelis performed magnificently with our assistance and the assistance of other nations in the region, and including the United Kingdom. And so I think that — now the Iranians have to sit back and consider what they considered their most important capability, their ballistic missiles, their drones, and their — and their cruise missiles have now been employed in a major combat test and, frankly, that test has failed. So, I think Israel, this morning, is now much stronger than they were yesterday, and Iran is relatively weaker than it was yesterday.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But now it comes down to political decisions that Israel's leadership will be making. And as you heard John Kirby say, those decisions haven't been made yet on what a reprisal will look like by Israel. Would you advise, if you were in your former role, Israeli leaders to pull back here? How concerned are you about a regional escalation?

FRANK MCKENZIE: So, I think one of the opportunities for the victor in a major battle that was just fought that Israel won is, the opportunity is restraint. And I would counsel restraint. There will be voices that will urge the Israelis to take out the Iranian nuclear program, which I think is a false chimera (ph) anyway. But I would argue that if you're going to do something, and they may have to do something, I would be precise, I would be short. The fact of the matter is, Israel can name the price they want to exact. The wide gap between Iranian zealotry (ph) and enthusiasm and Israeli competence has now been laid bare for all to see. So, the Israelis will be able to do what they want. But sometimes, when you're in that position, showing some restraint is the best strategic option that you can take.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairman McCaul was here and he said, we see now Iran is not 10 feet tall. It sounds like you are saying, Israel can shrug this off?

Lebanese Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, and the Arab League.

It's crucial to recognize that Israel perceives Iran as an existential threat, a viewpoint that has shaped its strategic posture for years. Netanyahu, known for emphasizing security concerns, may indeed leverage this recent attack to bolster his political standing at home. However, it's essential to maintain a nuanced understanding of the situation. While the attack may provide Netanyahu with additional leverage, Israel's response must be carefully calibrated. Any military action should prioritize strategic restraint, ensuring a clear beginning and end to the operation while minimizing the risk of wider escalation. Ultimately, Israel's response will not only shape its immediate security environment but also have broader implications for regional stability and diplomatic dynamics.

Just a reminder, my knowledge cut-off date is January 2022.

As of that time, Hamas was designated as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, including the United States, Israel, the European Union, and others.

Just a reminder, my knowledge cut-off date is January 2022.

As of that time, Hamas was designated as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, including the United States, Israel, the European Union, and others.

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: The economic impact of the ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, is of concern, particularly with regards to oil prices. We've observed a slight increase in oil prices following reports of potential strikes from Iran into Israel, indicating how sensitive the market is to geopolitical instability. While the impact has primarily been felt in the immediate region, including devastating effects on Gaza and the West Bank, there have been some disruptions to shipping in the Red Sea. In an already uncertain economic environment with lingering inflation concerns, any further increases in oil prices could exacerbate inflationary pressures. Therefore, reducing uncertainty, whether through political, military, or economic means, is crucial for stability.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congress is considering authorizing the Biden administration to seize Russian state assets, possibly to aid negotiations or support Ukraine's reconstruction. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: Decisions of this nature have significant global implications, and it's essential to carefully weigh the potential consequences. The $11 trillion in reserves held by countries worldwide underscores the interconnectedness of the global economy. Any actions taken should consider not only the desired impact but also unintended consequences. It's crucial to anticipate how such decisions might be perceived internationally and their potential effects on financial systems, particularly in Europe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're deep into an election year, and with that comes economic scrutiny. Goldman Sachs recently highlighted potential tariff increases as a major concern for the economic outlook, especially if President Trump were to secure re-election. His proposals for tariffs ranging from 10 to 60 percent or higher have raised eyebrows. How do you assess the impact and risks associated with such measures?

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: It's crucial to understand the underlying dynamics behind the recent backlash against globalization. While an integrated global economy has undeniable benefits, it hasn't benefitted everyone equally. Many communities have been left behind and haven't received the support they need to adapt to the changing economic landscape. Therefore, while trade is generally beneficial, it's essential to ensure that its benefits are distributed more equitably across society.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Tariffs also have implications for inflation, correct?

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: Absolutely. One of the key advantages of a globally integrated economy is the ability to reduce costs for consumers. When trade patterns shift and supply chains lengthen due to tariffs, it inevitably leads to higher costs for consumers and contributes to inflationary pressures.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It sounds like there's a delicate balance to strike between protecting domestic industries and maintaining the benefits of globalization.

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: Precisely. It's about finding that balance and ensuring that economic policies support inclusive growth and shared prosperity. Thank you for having me, Margaret.

In conclusion, the economic landscape is fraught with challenges and opportunities, especially in an election year. As we navigate the complexities of globalization, trade policy decisions must be carefully weighed to ensure they benefit all segments of society. The risks of escalating tariffs and their potential impact on inflation underscore the importance of fostering a more inclusive and equitable economic environment. As we move forward, policymakers must prioritize measures that promote shared prosperity and address the concerns of those who have been left behind by globalization. With thoughtful and strategic policymaking, we can navigate these challenges and build a stronger, more resilient economy for all. Thank you for joining us on this journey.


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