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U.S. military shift in Syria, Supreme Court's new term and 'SNL' is at it again: The Morning Rundown

"It seems that the policy of the United States is to betray their friends and allies," said a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
Image: U.S. military vehicles
U.S. military vehicles travel down a road in northeast Syria on Monday as they leave the region ahead of an expected Turkish military operation.ANHA / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

All eyes are on the Turkish border with Syria today where we are seeing a major shift in U.S. military policy play out.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.


U.S. to pull out of northern Syria as Turkey moves in

In a major shift in American military policy, the United States began withdrawing troops from the Turkish border with northern Syria early Monday — leaving it open to accusations of abandoning its long-time Kurdish allies in the region.

The move came after the White House announced on Sunday that Turkey would be moving forward with its “long-planned operation” into northern Syria and that the United States wouldn't be involved.

The announcement is a major blow to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which the United States has long relied upon as the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State in the region.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be part of a terrorist insurgency and has long rallied for the U.S. to end its support for the group.

The reaction from Kurds so far has been one of anger.

Mustafa Bali, the official SDF spokesperson, told NBC News the U.S. decision to stand aside as Turkey moves into Syria was "shocking and unexpected."

He called it "a huge mistake" that will allow ISIS to "reunite itself and appear again stronger than before."

"It seems that the policy of the United States is to betray their friends and allies," Bali added.


Fact check: Trump's claims about the Bidens and China

After weeks of pushing debunked conspiracies about wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine, President Donald Trump publicly urged China Thursday to investigate unfounded allegations that the younger Biden received a "payoff."

But much like the president's Ukraine conspiracy theories, the serious accusations that Trump and his allies have leveled against the Bidens with regard to China are unsupported by facts. Here's what we know.

Meantime, the impeachment inquiry was of course center stage during the Sunday morning political shows.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., defended Trump’s recent calls for China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and accused the media of trying to sabotage the Trump administration during a particularly combative "Meet the Press" interview.

The antagonistic exchange prompted frustration from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who followed Johnson’s interview.

"That interview was just a giant green light to the president of the United States to continue to solicit foreign interference in U.S. elections," he said. "This is wild, the lengths to which Republicans are going to try to avoid being criticized by this president."


What's on the Supreme Court's docket this fall?

The U.S. Supreme Court will tackle gay rights, protection for young immigrants known as "Dreamers," and religious freedom — and also might consider gun rights and the future of the Electoral College — in its new term beginning Monday.

It's a marked change from last year, when the court kept the temperature low after the battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

"At the absolute height of the presidential campaign, the Supreme Court is almost inevitably going to insert itself, with rulings that affect a lot of Americans and which they care deeply about," said Tom Goldstein, a lawyer who frequently argues before the court and publishes SCOTUSblog.


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Science + Tech = MACH

NASA astronauts are kicking off a "spacewalk bonanza" at the International Space Station with 10 excursions over the next three months, including the first by an all-female crew.


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One fun thing

"Saturday Night Live" was back spoofing the White House besieged by an impeachment inquiry against Trump by opening with Vice President Mike Pence huddling with befuddled Cabinet members.

Matthew Broderick appeared as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who says, "Listen, I've been asking around and I think that this whole impeachment thing could be really bad."

Vice President Mike Pence, played by Beck Bennett, asks who told him that.

"Like, America," Pompeo replies.

We apologize, this video has expired.

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra