Defense & Cyberspace

Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire
Shaky ceasefire agreement halting Syrian Kurd attacks appears to not appease lawmakers, who may still vote to impose sanctions

This picture taken on October 18, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows fire and smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces. The shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally. (OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

A shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally.

President Donald Trump was quick to declare victory Thursday after Ankara agreed to a five-day ceasefire in its attacks on Kurds in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters are supposed to use that window, which the Turkish government is describing not as a ceasefire but as a “pause,” to withdraw to roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border.

Trump’s big night in Big D: Three takeaways from ‘overthrow’ rally in Dallas
GOP strategist on white suburban voters: ‘He hasn’t given them much reason to vote for him’

Supporters react as President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at American Airlines Center on Thursday in Dallas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump walked slowly into the White House just after 1:30 a.m. Friday even more embattled than when he left it some 15 hours earlier. During a rally in Dallas hours before, he dropped the “I-word” (impeachment) just once as he described himself and conservatives as victims of an “overthrow” conspiracy.

Gordon Sondland, the hotelier-turned-ambassador to the European Union, told the House lawmakers leading an impeachment inquiry that he came to realize Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, likely was trying “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.”

Lopsided cease-fire ‘deal’ emboldens Turkey, harms U.S. allies
Temporary, nonbinding, requiring nothing: ‘We got what we wanted,’ foreign minister says

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 10. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence had reached an agreement with Turkey’s president for a halt to hostilities in northern Syria.

“This is a great day for civilization,” Trump wrote. “People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years.”

At Dallas rally, embattled Trump calls 2020 a fight for ‘survival of American democracy’
President hauls in $5.5 million in 2020 campaign cash at two Texas fundraisers

President Donald Trump speaks at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat dinner in Baltimore last month. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump wasted little time Thursday at a campaign rally in Dallas attacking Democrats leading an impeachment probe against him, saying “Crazy Nancy” and “Shifty Schiff” hate the United States.

“The Democrats have betrayed our country,” he said to cheers, adding the 2020 election is about the “survival of American democracy.”

Mulvaney acknowledges 2016 election investigation was tied to Ukraine aid freeze
Former GOP rep to Dems: ‘Get over it’ — politics will always shape U.S. foreign policy

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reacts to a question during a briefing at the White House on Thursday. Mulvaney took questions relating to the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and other issues during the briefing. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s acting White House chief of staff contended Thursday the administration’s hold on a nearly $400 million military aid package to Ukraine had “absolutely nothing” to do with Trump’s desire for Kyiv to investigate his then-top Democratic rival. But it was linked to the 2016 U.S. election.

Mick Mulvaney acknowedged Trump held up the aid, in part, because of his concerns — rooted in conservative media — that Ukrainian officials worked to aid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and prevent him from winning the White House. Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate whether a hacked Democratic National Committee server that was penetrated in 2016 resides in that country. The conservative conspiracy theory has been widely debunked.

Pence says Turkey has agreed to cease fire in northern Syria
Trump has faced a bipartisan backlash over pulling U.S. troops from buffer zone along Turkey-Syria border

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Thursday as Turkish forces try to extend their control of more of northern Syria, which is currently held by Syrian Kurds. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced later Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a cease fire in the area. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with the Turkish government that would allow for a cessation of fighting in northeast Syria where Syrian Kurds have been getting hammered for the last week.

Specifics of the ceasefire, which was to last for 120 hours, were initially scarce but Pence at a news conference in Ankara alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was already being implemented.

White House picks Trump resort in Florida for G-7 summit
Democrats and others have said holding major summit at Trump property could violate Constitution

A Trump National Doral sign is seen at the golf resort owned by President Donald Trump’s company in August in Doral, Florida. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the U.S. will host the next G7 gathering at the golf resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The White House has selected Trump National Doral Miami as the site of next year’s G7 summit despite criticism from Democrats and others that President Donald Trump owns the resort.

The summit will be held June 10-12. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said there were about 12 candidate sites. Democrats and others have said holding any major summit at a Trump property could violate the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which bars presidents from receiving compensation from foreign governments.

Will Trump abandoning the Kurds hurt him politically with former comrades in arms?
Military members and veterans have been among the commander in chief’s staunchest supporters

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., who served with Kurdish forces during the war in Iraq, said they were “the one group you could have behind you and not worry about your back. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With President Donald Trump in essence abandoning former Kurdish allies in northern Syria who helped the U.S. beat back ISIS over the last half decade, some Republican lawmakers who served in the military and outside advocacy groups are divided whether the policy could damage the president’s support among current and former service members, which has remained high throughout his administration.

Despite the U.S. military and Kurds working hand-in-hand on military operations in the Middle East for more than two decades, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that the Kurds are “no angels,” and deemed his move to withdraw U.S. personnel who had served as a buffer between them and Turkish forces “strategically brilliant.”

Rare, and unapologetic, bipartisan congressional rebuke for Trump on Syria
Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Lindsey Graham, Liz Cheney all part with president

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s expressed his opposition to the president’s Syria policy in public and private. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“I think Lindsey should focus on Judiciary,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday when asked about criticism from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of his decision to effectively side with Turkey over the Kurdish population of Syria.

Graham, who is often an ally of the president, was comparing Trump’s move to pull back U.S. forces supporting the Kurds to the Obama administration policy of withdrawal from Iraq. The senator is chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the State Department.

House Republicans break 2-to-1 against Trump on withdrawal of Kurd support
Veterans who fought alongside them praise Kurds as allies who ‘had our back’

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon joined 128 of his Republican colleagues in a resolution criticizing the withdrawal of forces in Syria that led to a Turkish assault on Kurdish allies (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By a 2-to-1 margin, House Republicans on Wednesday broke with President Donald Trump and opposed his decision to pull back U.S. forces in Syria, a move that exposed Kurdish fighters to attack from Turkey.

A resolution opposing the move passed 354 to 60, with 129 Republicans siding with the unanimous Democrats and 60 opposed. It was a noteworthy rebuke of Trump from Republicans who have long been wary of crossing the president.

Dems say Trump has meltdown at Syria meeting, calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’
Amid impeachment inquiry, speaker says president appeared ‘very shaken’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, walk out of the White House after the Democrats met to discuss the situation in northern Syria with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Wednesday’s White House meeting on Syria deteriorated into a “meltdown” as Republican and Democratic leaders presented a unified front against President Donald Trump on his decision to abandon Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The two top House Democrats and the party’s top senator emerged from the West Wing following what they said was a substance-free and insult-filled few minutes with Trump. In a reverse of their last meeting with Trump on infrastructure in which he stormed out on the Democratic leaders, this time they walked out on him.

Senate floor debate beckons amid spending bill impasse
Under stopgap law, lawmakers have about five weeks to reach funding agreement

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says there’s a “good chance” the chamber can start debating spending bills next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate next week could debate a package of spending bills that have received bipartisan support in the Appropriations Committee, according to Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

“I’ve been hearing that and conversations lend me to think there’s a good chance,” the Alabama Republican said Wednesday, noting that the final decision is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think there are five, six, seven appropriations bills that we could pass if we get to the floor.”

House spending panel skeptical of NASA moon landing plans
Appropriators question push by White House to move up 2028 timeline by four years

Rep. Jose E. Serrano, a New York Democrat, said he is "extremely concerned" by the plan to move up the moon landing timeline by four years. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday appeared wary of providing NASA with the additional money it wants to land the next Americans on the moon by 2024, after its administrator testified the agency likely won’t have a detailed cost estimate on speeding up its timetable until it submits its fiscal 2021 budget request in February.

The back-and-forth questioning by the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee was part of a monthslong debate between Congress and the Trump administration about whether it’s actually possible to push up the earlier 2028 timeline.

State Department official says Iran has been transferring missiles to terrorists
Administration says transfers justify abandoning the Iran nuclear deal

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., charged it is Trump who is endangering Israel’s security with his decision to order the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from northern Syria.. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The State Department on Wednesday revealed that Iran has been transferring ballistic missiles to regional partners that the United States views as terrorists.

The revelation by the special envoy for Iran policy, Brian Hook, came at the start of a contentious Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Hook argued that evidence of Iran’s transfer of ballistic missile technology to regional extremist groups justified the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.

Kurds are ‘no angels’ and their fight with Turkey is ‘not our problem,’ Trump says
In rare split, McConnell had sharp words about president’s decision to abandon Kurds in Syria

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office on Wednesday while Italian President Sergio Mattarella listens. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued distancing the United States from Kurdish forces in Syria who once were Washington’s chief ally in fighting the Islamic State group.

Trump’s decision to remove American forces who were positioned between Turkish troops and the Kurds has angered both Republican and Democratic members. Both chambers are expected to soon approve a resolution condemning his decision, which he says is necessary to help bring an end to what he calls America’s post-9/11 “endless wars.”