Defense & Cyberspace

Beefing Up Afghan Troop Level Would Be Major Shift for Trump
In 2012 he called conflict ‘complete waste,’ adding, ‘Time to come home!’

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Melissa Fusco gives candy to an Afghan boy on the streets in Logar Province in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday on his plan for U.S. military operations there. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Monday night he is sending thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, breaking with his years-long disdain for the nearly 16-year-old conflict there.

As a candidate, Trump rarely talked about the Afghanistan war and stability operation other than to disparage it. He used it as an example of why his nationalistic approach would be better than any of his Republican or Democratic foes, arguing the Bush and Obama administrations had wasted billions of dollars there for little strategic gain.

Trump to Address Afghanistan Strategy Monday Night
Reports: President leaning toward keeping 4,000 U.S. troops there

President Donald Trump will make an announcement on Afghanistan on Monday night. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will address U.S. military forces Monday evening about his new plan for the country’s nearly 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

As a candidate and president, Trump often has maligned the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations for spending trillions too much in military operations overseas since the 9/11 attacks.

Trump Says ‘Obstructionist Democrats’ Undermining National Security
President sends mixed messages before leaving for Camp David security summit

President Donald Trump, here aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford in March, lashed out at Democrats over what he says is their intent to "delay" his national security policies. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump began the last workday of yet another chaotic week of his presidency by accusing Democrats of hindering the country’s security — while also sending some mixed signals.

About 90 minutes before his scheduled departure for a Camp David summit with his national security team on North Korea and related issues, the president took to Twitter with contradictory messages about the state of American security.

Rohrabacher to Consult With Trump Before Sharing Wikileaks Info
Said he and Assange discussed Wikileaks getting a seat at White House briefings

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, said he will consult with President Donald Trump on Wikileaks information on the DNC hacking last year “by the end of the month.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said he will consult with President Donald Trump about “earth-shattering” information he got from WikiLeaks about the Democratic National Committee hack before going public.

The Republican representative said he met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and said Assange denied that Russia was involved with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Rohrabacher: Assange Info Will Have ‘Earth-Shattering Political Impact’
California congressman met with Wikileaks founder in London

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said Wikileaks founder Julian Assange “reiterated his aggressive denial” that the Russians had anything to do with the Democratic National Committee hack. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who the congressman said denied that Russia was involved in sending him emails from the Democratic National Committee

WikiLeaks published emails from the Democratic National Committee, which led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Trump Approval Rating Dips to Lowest Point of Presidency
Poll shows drop in support for president among Republicans from June to August

President Donald Trump's approval ratings among Republicans fell from 91 percent in June to 79 percent in a poll released Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has sunk to its lowest point since he took office, with only 35 percent of Americans saying they viewed the job he’s done favorably, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The new Marist poll found that 55 percent disapprove of Trump after seven months on the job.

Pence Tamps Down Trump’s Military-in-Venezuela Talk
In region, VP talks up American economic and diplomatic tools

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers a joint press conference with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri (out of frame) after a meeting at the Olivos Presidential residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires on August 15, 2017. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence continued his attempts to cool fears in South America that President Donald Trump will plunge the U.S. military into Venezuela’s ongoing political unrest.

At just about every turn since Pence landed on the continent Sunday evening, the vice president has been quick to deploy two very different words: economic and diplomatic.

Russia Portfolio Comes in Handy for Senate Staffer
Shaheen aide Naz Durakoglu comes via Atlantic Council, State Dept., House

Naz Durakoglu is a senior foreign policy adviser to New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. (Screenshot, Middle East Institute)

Naz Durakoglu started her new job working for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in early June, shortly after the New Hampshire Democrat had pushed to add Russia sanctions to an Iran sanctions bill as it moved through the Foreign Relations Committee.

But after Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee said he would move ahead with a bipartisan effort to tighten sanctions against Moscow, Shaheen withdrew her amendments. The timing, though, put Durakoglu, as a senior foreign policy adviser to Shaheen, in the middle of discussions about how to respond to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

Rubio Receives Increased Security After Reported Venezuelan Death Order
Senator has had a security detail in Washington and Miami

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been one of the most vocal critics of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has received increased security in light of an order by Venezuelan leaders reportedly putting a death order on him.

Rubio, who has been a fervent critic of the Venezuelan government and leader Nicolas Maduro, has had a detail in both Washington and his home in Miami, the Miami Herald reported. 

Podcast: Why You Shouldn’t Be Alarmed Over North Korea...Yet
The Week Ahead, Episode 65

President Donald Trump speaks during a security briefing on Thursday at his Bedminster National Golf Club in New Jersey. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump’s fiery rhetoric over North Korea’s nuclear program should not be taken seriously just yet, says CQ Roll Call’s foreign policy reporter Rachel Oswald, adding that Congress may take further action against Pyongyang in September.

Show Notes:

Trump: Military ‘Locked and Loaded’ for North Korea
President escalates threats against Kim Jong-un

President Donald Trump speaks during a security briefing on Thursday at his Bedminster National Golf Club in New Jersey. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump escalated the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea early Friday, tweeting that the military was “locked and loaded” should Pyongyang make good on its threats to strike U.S. targets.

“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” the president tweeted. “Hopefully [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

Transgender Military Ban Lawsuit Could Turn on Trump Tweet
Suit claims White House turned Trump’s Twitter posts into official guidance for DOD

(Ted Eytan/CC BY 2.0)

Five transgender service members filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s apparent decision to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the military — a case that could turn on whether official policy can be announced on Twitter.

Lawyers for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights represent plaintiffs who are in the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the Army and served from three years to two decades, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plaintiffs are not named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Trump Thanks Putin for Expelling U.S. Diplomats
President later says he was ‘absolutely’ being sarcastic

President Donald Trump arrives for a working session at the G-20 economic summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images file photo)

Updated Friday, 8:15 p.m. | President Donald Trump thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision to expel hundreds of American diplomats based in Moscow, saying it will help reduce the U.S. government’s payroll.

The Kremlin’s decision to expel 755 U.S. diplomats by Sept. 1 came after Congress overwhelmingly passed a measure aimed at imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. Trump, who signed the bill on Aug. 2, expressed his appreciation Thursday for Putin’s move.

Trump: North Korea Should Be ‘Very Nervous’ if Threats Continue
President says his earlier threats could have been tougher

People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea watch a television showing President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Trump issued an apocalyptic warning to North Korea on Tuesday, saying it faces "fire and fury" over its missile program. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump doubled down Thursday on warnings to North Korea, saying comments he made earlier in the week implying the U.S. would hit the country with “fire and fury” could have been harsher.

“Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey. “They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country.”

Franks Blames Democrats for North Korea Nuclear Threat
Congressman says ‘there won’t be enough left of their country for a dog to find if they do attack us’

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said President Donald Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” will deter North Korea. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona blamed former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for nuclear threats from North Korea.

Speaking on the KTAR News show “Mac & Gaydos,” Franks said that President Donald Trump’s remarks that North Korea will be met with “fire and fury” was a sign of change from Democratic presidents.