Defense & Cyberspace

Amid Reports of McMaster Exit, White House Says Relationship With Trump Is ‘Good’
Could hawish John Bolton be the next national security adviser?

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, was announced as the new national security adviser by President Donald Trump in early 2017 at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. (Jenna Johnson/Washington Post/Print Pool file photo)

President Donald Trump might be ready to fire Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and bring in his third national security adviser after just 14 months in office — amid signals the president is poised to execute a West Wing purge.

While Trump’s spokeswoman on Thursday night tried to shoot down the notion that McMaster’s ouster is imminent, she did not directly deny it was in the works.

U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Election Interference, Energy Attacks
‘Russia’s behavior or lack thereof on the world stage is continuing to trouble us’

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at a G-20 summit in Germany. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Trump administration announced Thursday sanctions slapped on two dozen Russian individuals and entities — including its top two security and intelligence agencies — it says were involved in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and an ongoing attack on the American energy sector.

Senior administration officials said the penalties on five Russian entities and 19 individuals are intended to punish Russia for “malicious cyber activity” and the “reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government,” a rare public rebuke of the Vladimir Putin-led Kremlin by the Trump administration. Those actions include a U.S.-backed finding by the U.K. government that Moscow is linked to the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.

Trump Knows Best on U.S.-Canada Trade, President Says
Trade office data contradicts stance

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump let his top trade office know Thursday morning that when it comes to all data about the United States’ trading relationships with other countries, he believes his gut knows best.

During a Wednesday GOP fundraiser in Missouri, the president said Canada is among those countries that have a trade surplus with the U.S. and has treated America unfairly. He also admitted to being unaware if that statement was true when he said it to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And he made clear he often simply wings it.

Tillerson Termination Adds New Priorities to Senate Calendar
Weeks in April and May could be consumed by State, CIA nominations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to clear some floor time for the nominations of Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to run the CIA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Whatever the Senate might have wanted to focus on in April and May will now have to compete for time with a new priority thrust upon it by President Donald Trump.

Once senators got past the initial shock of Trump’s Twitter announcement Tuesday that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they quickly moved toward paving the way to debate and confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s successor, as well as Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead that agency.

D.C. Lawmakers, Florida Congressman Decry Rubio Gun Proposal
Florida senator’s bill would scrap local D.C. gun laws and align them with federal baseline

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has declined to pull a bill that scraps Washington, D.C.’s local gun laws and aligns them with the less-regulatory federal baseline laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Local lawmakers in the District of Columbia have taken aim at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for proposing legislation to overturn local measures restricting gun sales in Washington that he appeared to support for his constituents back home.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton of Washington, D.C., and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida called on Rubio to “immediately” withdraw the bill he proposed in 2015 and 2017.

Rooney Adopts New GOP Line: House Investigations Have ‘Lost All Credibility’
House Intelligence Committee to close Russia investigation

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., arrives with Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby on the West Front of the Capitol before Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional committees can no longer conduct credible investigations without poisoning them with partisan politics, Rep. Tom Rooney said.

“We’ve gone completely off the rails, and now we’re just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day’s news,” the Florida Republican said in an interview Monday with CNN. “We’ve lost all credibility, and we’re going to issue probably two different reports, unfortunately. ... In that regard, that’s why I called for the investigation to end.”

Rex Tillerson Out, Pompeo In as Secretary of State
CIA replacement would be first woman to head agency if confirmed

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the fiscal 2018 budget request for the State Department on June 13, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Gina Haspel, deputy CIA director and a career CIA employee, is Trump’s pick for CIA director.

“He will do a fantastic job!” Trump tweeted of Pompeo. “Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”

House Intel Republicans Say 'No Collusion' Between Trump and Russia
Release short summary of findings before sharing report with panel Democrats

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, became the lead Republican on the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee disagree with the position of every U.S. intelligence agency that Russia wanted Donald Trump to be elected president.

The House Intelligence Committee Republicans said in a short public summary document for a more than 150 page report that they would be, concurring, “with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] supposed preference for candidate Trump.”

Senators Will Vote on Pulling Troops Out of Yemen, But When
Resolution could reach the floor this week, if there’s time

Sen. Mike Lee is said to be eager to get a vote on the Yemen resolution this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution that would direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from ongoing hostilities in Yemen is ripe for Senate action, but the clogged calendar means supporters might not immediately get it to the floor.

The question may be how to shoehorn the measure on to the schedule before the next recess.

Sergeant-At-Arms Prepares for New Role as Advocate for Veterans
Frank Larkin set to work with wounded warriors after he leaves current role

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Larkin escorts President Donald Trump into the House chamber for the State of the Union address in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress love to talk about how important it is to care for military veterans. But in the view of Frank Larkin, there has been a lot of talk but little action. And he wants to change that.

Larkin, who has been Senate sergeant-at-arms for the past three years, will depart his post at the end of March. His decision to leave stems from the death of his son, an emotionally taxing experience for him and his family and one that gave Larkin a new mission in life.

Analysis: Trump Follows His Gut on Tariffs and Kim Summit
‘Trump doctrine’ defined by ‘president’s feelings at any given time,’ expert says

President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With his go-it-alone approach to tariffs and possible conventional wisdom-busting meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump is showing how he follows his instincts above the advice of allies and experts. 

But there’s no consensus on whether his gut-level approach to foreign policy will produce the desired results. That means the world will have to stay tuned — and by all accounts that’s just how he wants it.

White House Wavers on Kim Summit
Trump’s lead negotiator? Maybe Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, shakes hands with a senior South Korean official during recent talks. (South Korea Blue House photo via Wikimedia Commons)

A new White House contingency could mean President Donald Trump may not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after all.

Trump and his team “must see concrete and verifiable actions” from North Korea toward its pledge to give up its nuclear arms program before any summit will take place, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.

Analysis: Stunning North Korea Deal May Take Years to Nail Down
Breakthrough decision to meet is just the beginning

Any deal with North Korea could take several years to work through. (Wikimedia Commons)

The announcement in Washington Thursday night that the leaders of America and North Korea would soon meet for the first time and talk about eliminating North Korea’s nuclear missiles was an astonishing moment pregnant with promise — an event that let the world sigh. Enjoy it. But now look beneath the book’s cover. The prequel has not even been drafted, let alone any chapters written.

South Korea’s national security director, Chung Eui-Yong, told reporters on the White House lawn Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had committed to “denuclearization.” Kim had told the South Koreans he could even tolerate U.S.-South Korean military exercises, drills that Kim had previously decried. And Kim said he would refrain from additional tests of ballistic missiles or nuclear bombs, according to Chung.

Trump Gave Up Nothing In Agreeing to Kim Summit, Pence Says
‘Our resolve is undeterred and our policy remains the same,’ VP says

Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. and its allies have “consistently increased the pressure on the Kim regime.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration did not agree to any North Korean demands before President Donald Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un, Vice President Mike Pence said Friday.

The North Koreans are coming to the table despite the United States making zero concessions,” Pence said in a statement. 

Congress Warns North Korea — and Trump — on Nuke Talks
Messer says Trump deserves a Nobel Prize

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said President Donald Trump's position on North Korea gave an opportunity for diplomacy with North Korea. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress were cautious in response to the news that President Donald Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican who went from being a major Trump critic to ally, said Trump’s “strong stand” against the regime gives the United States the best opportunity for peace.