Defense & Cyberspace

Trump Avoids Election Meddling at Start of Putin Summit
‘It’s great to be with you,’ he tells Putin days after Russian intel officers indicted

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One at Helsinki International Airport on Sunday for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump kicked off his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin by listing topics they will discuss privately, but he did not mention Moscow’s campaign to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election

“It’s great to be with you,” Trump told his Russian counterpart — who showed up an hour late in keeping with his typical treatment of world leaders — as they sat side-by-side at the presidential palace in Helsinki, Finland, as the two shook hands.

Higher NATO Defense Spending May Not Help U.S. Contractors
European countries would seek to spend dollars at home, analysts say

President Donald Trump gives a news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton at NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 12. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump emerged from the NATO summit in Brussels touting a renewed commitment from members to increase their defense spending, but U.S. defense firms might want to hold off on the champagne — at least for now.

Trump claimed that European leaders had pledged to accelerate their individual efforts to reach the goal of spending 2 percent of their country’s gross domestic product on defense, possibly hitting that target sometime next year rather than by 2024 as originally planned.

Opinion: McCain’s Legacy of Stronger Military Reflected in Senate’s Landmark Defense Bill
This year’s NDAA could be a big win for military personnel and their families

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, left, hands the gavel to House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry before a National Defense Authorization Act conference meeting in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has served on the committee for over three decades, helping it draft and pass dozens of National Defense Authorization Acts — some seemingly routine, others carrying historic significance.

This year’s NDAA, the annual policy bill for the Defense Department, has the potential to rank among the latter. Many provisions in the Senate version, drafted under McCain’s leadership, would have a positive long-term effect on military readiness, servicemember satisfaction and, crucially, the well-being of military families, who are often overlooked.

A Visit to the Balkans Casts Light on the Divisions in America
Balkan-like partisanship in the U.S. set to get more intense, experts say

The “Warrior on a Horse” statue in downtown Skopje, Macedonia. American politics has increasingly taken on a Balkan flavor with party affiliation coming in the way of finding policy solutions. (Boris Grdanoski/AP file photo)

SKOPJE, Macedonia — A statue depicting an ancient soldier, thrusting a sword skyward, on horseback, rises in the main square here. Across the Macedonian capital’s famed Stone Bridge is another, of Philip II, urging on his son.

But locals are quick to provide visitors to the Balkan nation this advice: Whatever you do, “do not” refer to the equine-mounted fighter as Alexander the Great. The statue is known simply as “Warrior on a Horse.” For now, at least.

Trump Sets Notably Low Bar for Putin Summit
President also calls European Union a ‘foe’ on trade matters

President Donald Trump waves while playing a round of golf on Sunday at Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Turnberry, Scotland, during his first official visit to the United Kingdom. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Updated 10:43 a.m. | President Donald Trump has a message for his critics about his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin: Don’t worry, it’ll be fine — just trust me. And, in a stunning remark, he called the European Union a “foe” of the United States on trade matters.

Trump continues to set low expectations for Monday’s summit with Putin amid concerns he could give into the Russian leader’s demands while getting little — if anything — in return. 

Top Democrats Warn Intelligence Director About Sharing Secrets With Other Members of Congress
Letter to Dan Coats does not discuss specifics of intelligence in question

Rep. Adam B. Schiff was among the signatories on a Thursday letter critical of DNI Dan Coats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic members of the group of lawmakers with access to particularly sensitive intelligence information expressed concern Thursday about broader dissemination — to other members of Congress.

The July 12 letter directed to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was publicly released on Friday.

Trump Should Cancel Putin Summit Over Indictments, Democrats Say
Schumer: ‘Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections’

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and other Democrats called on the president to skip his planned meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats pounced on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment of a dozen Russian military officers for their efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, with some saying Monday’s Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit should be canceled.

“These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement.

Mueller Indicts 12 Russians for DNC, Clinton Campaign Hacking
Special counsel again targets leading Russian intel agency

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein conducts a news conference Friday at the Department of Justice announcing the indictment of 12 Russian military officers by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges they interfered in the 2016 election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 1:23 p.m. | The Justice Department’s special counsel announced Friday the indictments of a dozen Russian military officers involved in Moscow’s effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. And a senior Democratic lawmaker reacted swiftly by accusing President Donald Trump of “dangerous distortions” about the operation.

The indictment accuses the Russians of being heavily involved in hacking computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign organization. The military officers allegedly broke into those systems — and others in the United States — to plant malicious software, steal emails and nab other documents. To conceal their efforts, Rosenstein said, the Russians used networks “around the world” and paid for that access with Cryptocurrency.

Trump Walks Back Threat to Blow Up U.S.-British Trade Talks
British government ‘is keen’ to trade with its former colonies, May says

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, front left, and her husband Philip May, back right, greet President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at Blenheim Palace on Thursday in Woodstock, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

President Trump walked back his comments to The Sun newspaper in which he voiced opposition to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s angling for a so-called "soft Brexit."

“I don’t know what they’re going to do, but whatever you do is fine with me,” he told May. “Just make sure that we can trade together. That’s all that matters.”

Analysis: Trump’s NATO Antics Suggest UK Visit Could Get Cheeky
President questions emerging Brexit plans ahead of summit with Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump at a White House press conference in January 2017. They meet again Thursday and Friday in the U.K. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump bombarded a NATO summit in Belgium with threats, undiplomatic rhetoric, confusion-sowing statements and false claims. Get ready, United Kingdom, you’re next. And he arrived with plenty of thoughts about Brexit. 

Trump has defended his unique style, which gives even some Republican lawmakers heartburn, by describing it as “modern-day presidential.” So what happened Wednesday and Thursday morning in Brussels might be labeled “modern-day diplomatic.”

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

Trump Shifts Tone on NATO, But Says He Could Pull Out Without Congress
Trump says he convinced allies to up spending, but NATO secretary-general stops short of agreeing with that

President Donald Trump, here at the Capitol last month, changed his tone about NATO as he was leaving a summit in Belgium. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump was in damage control mode Thursday morning, declaring a tense NATO summit a success even while saying he could withdraw the United States from the alliance without the consent of Congress.

The U.S. commander in chief spent Wednesday and Thursday morning lambasting other NATO members — especially Germany — and turned the annual alliance meeting into a spectacle of ill will amid whispers, including from some GOP lawmakers, that he was working to undermine it. But by midday Thursday in Brussels, Belgium, he was taking credit for allegedly securing pledges from the other leaders to pay more into NATO’s coffers.

Republicans Back From Russia Have Advice for Trump Before Putin Summit
President needs to be prepared and perhaps not alone

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., led a congressional delegation to Russia recently, and he and his colleagues have some serious concerns about how the Russians will approach the upcoming summit with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican senators who recently returned from Moscow have some advice for President Donald Trump ahead of his meeting Monday in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Be prepared, be careful and try not to be alone.

“He better know the right Russian psyche,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby. “All he’s got to do is start with Stalin and come on up and see what’s changed.”

House Appropriators Back Indefinite Detention of Migrant Kids
DeLauro: ‘It creates a false choice: Either we take the kids away or we jail everyone together’

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, joined all the Appropriation Committee’s Republicans in backing language overturning the Flores agreement in a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border dominated the first few hours of Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of a spending bill for the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

As of midafternoon, committee members had gotten through only eight of up to 50 expected amendments to the fiscal 2019 $177.1 billion spending measure.

Trump Opens NATO Summit by Pitching a Fit
Energy deal makes Germany ‘captive’ to Russia, U.S. president says

President Donald Trump, here at the Capitol last month, made sure a NATO summit got off to an awkward start. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump took his war of words with America’s allies to a new level Wednesday, telling NATO’s top official Germany is “captive” to Russia due to a recent energy deal. And he called alliance members “delinquent” on their contributions to NATO’s budget.

Before he departed for the alliance summit in Belgium that starts a week-long trip that also features meetings with U.K. leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said the latter would likely be the “easiest.” He made good on that prediction at the start of the NATO summit, lecturing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in front of media members.