Defense & Cyberspace

McMaster Needs Senate Confirmation to Keep All Three Stars
New job would entail demotion unless Senate signs off

McMaster, left, was announced as the new national security adviser by President Donald Trump on Monday at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Jenna Johnson/Washington Post/Print Pool)

National security advisers don’t need the consent of the Senate, but the decision by President Donald Trump to tap Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster for the assignment brings up an unusual question of military rank. Why? Without the Senate confirmation, McMaster would effectively be demoted as result of the new responsibilities, since three star generals generally have their rank tied to a particular function.

A National Security Council spokesman confirmed to Roll Call that McMaster is expected to face a Senate confirmation vote to maintain his three stars as a result of his new job, with the process already getting under way.

Senators Silent After Meeting With FBI Director Comey
Friday afternoon meeting came after votes finished for recess

Senators were not in a talkative mood after meeting with FBI Director James B. Comey on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not much can get between senators and a recess. Except, perhaps, FBI Director James B. Comey. 

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with ex-officio member and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, huddled for a total of more than two hours on Friday with Comey.

Former Ambassadors Criticize Trump’s Pick for Israel Envoy
Has has compared liberal Jewish group to those who cooperated with Nazis

Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel questioned whether David Friedman would carry out U.S. positions on Israel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Pool file photo)

Bipartisan Group Attempts to Clear Marines’ Names
Military wrongly accused company for killing two dozen bystanders in 2007

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said, “These brave men deserve complete, public exoneration.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are sponsoring legislation to clear the names of a company of Marines cleared of killing bystanders in a 2007 firefight in Afghanistan.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Marine Corps’ top general to “issue a public document” to certify that members of Marine Corps Special Company Foxtrot were not at fault and “deserve to have their names cleared,” Military Times reported.

Trump Travel Ban Crashes Texas Wedding Plans
Texas native with Iranian roots presses lawmakers on executive order

Shervin Taheran is concerned that some of her relatives from Iran would be unable to attend her April wedding in Texas if President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration is reinstated. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said his approach to preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil won’t always be tidy. That’s especially true when it affects things like the already delicate task of compiling a wedding guest list. Just ask Shervin Taheran. 

If reinstated by the judicial branch, Trump’s travel ban may prevent many family members and friends from entering the United States to celebrate personal milestones with their loved ones.

Congress Split on How to Proceed on Flynn
House, Senate lawmakers differ on probe of former national security adviser

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., center, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., conduct a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol on investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers who oversee intelligence are struggling with how to investigate reports that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had inappropriate contact with Russian officials and later misled the White House about it.

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee offered dueling perspectives on a path forward on their panel’s probe; Senate Democrats coalesced around a plan with the Intelligence Committee taking the lead, something their GOP colleagues support; Senate Democrats also said the Judiciary Committee could play an investigatory role, and some lawmakers are still sending signals they want an independent commission in on the action.

One State or Two? For Trump, Whatever Works
Trump prods Netanyahu on Mideast peace

Trump, right, hosted Netanyahu at the White House for talks for the first time since Trump took office. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday cast aside decades-old U.S. norms by saying any Middle East peace deal would not necessarily have to establish a Palestinian state.

“I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House’s East Room. “I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”

White House Puts GOP in Awkward Position
Flynn fallout, security considerations keep dominating news

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to talk about Cabinet nominations on Tuesday. But most of the questions at his press availability were about the latest scandals coming from the White House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s domination of the news, whether due to the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn or the spectacle of the president discussing national security at his Mar-a-Lago resort’s dining room, is putting Republican leaders in an awkward position.

“Look, I — I — you’ll have to ask those — the White House those kinds of questions,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday at his traditional media availability after the Republicans’ policy lunch. 

No Party Line for GOP on Flynn Fallout
Members left to guess about next steps in inquiry

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters as he heads to a briefing in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans were swarmed on Tuesday with questions about what President Donald Trump knew and when did he know about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s questionable interactions with Russian authorities. But there was little consensus on the best venue for getting to the bottom of it.

“I think it’s good for the American people to understand, in a fulsome way, everything that’s happened. And to get it behind us,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said. “This is going to go on forever if we don’t address it somehow.”

Harward, Petraeus and Kellogg Emerge as Flynn Replacements
All three have distinguished military careers but each has his own baggage

Former CIA Director David Petraeus is among the potential replacements for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three former military officers are on the shortlist to replace former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after his resignation, according to news reports.

Lt. Gen. Keith KelloggBackground: Kellogg is currently the interim national security adviser. The retired three-star general served as chief of staff of the National Security Council under Flynn. 

Russians Blame ‘Russophobia’ for Flynn’s Resignation
Claim exit was ‘not just paranoia but something even worse’

Michael Flynn, left, resigned on Monday, just 25 days into President Donald Trump’s administration. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Russian lawmakers came to the defense of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying Russia was his critics’ ultimate target.

Flynn resigned after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his phone calls with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and the Justice Department told the White House that he might be subject to blackmail.

Unanimous Vote for Obama-Era Official as VA Secretary
David Shulkin provides rare bipartisan confirmation moment

David Shulkin has earned a promotion at the VA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a break from the partisan rancor over Donald Trump’s nominees, senators came together to back the president’s choice to helm the Department of Veterans Affairs, who so happened to be a senior-level holdover from the administration of President Barack Obama.

David Shulkin received overwhelming bipartisan support to head the VA, which has been plagued by health care scandals in recent years. Senators quickly backed Shulkin in a unanimous vote.

Mar-a-Lago Member Posts Photo with ‘Nuclear Football’ Aide
Who thought this was a good idea?

Richard DeAgazio posted a photo with a man he said was responsible for carrying President Donald Trump's nuclear launch codes. (Facebook)

A member of President Donald Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago club posted a photo of himself with the military aide who carries the nuclear codes for the president.

Richard DeAgazio, who was at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night when Trump hosted a dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, posted photos on his Facebook with a man identified as “Rick,” who carries the President's Emergency Satchel, which has launch codes for nuclear missiles.

Alongside Abe, Trump Morphs From Nice Guy to Tough Guy
President defiantly vows 'we will be extreme vetting'

President Donald Trump (left) greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he arrives at the White House on Friday. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Their long weekend mini-summit began with what can only be described as a “bro hug” -- initiated by the new U.S. president.

Donald Trump greeted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe outside the White House’s West Wing with a warm handshake that became and affectionate embrace, complete with backslaps. Later, in the Oval Office, Trump complemented Abe’s strong handshake.

Air Force‘s Top General Emphasizes Need for Apolitical Military

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter briefs the official announcement of Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, center, who was nominated to become the 21st Air Force chief of staff, in the Pentagon on April 29, 2016. With them is Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

The Air Force’s top general told reporters Tuesday that wars should be fought as humanely as possible and the military is apolitical — statements that, in tone if not substance, are at odds with the president’s.

Gen. David Goldfein, the service’s chief of staff since last July, did not directly say he takes issue with President Donald Trump. And the four-star general explicitly said that he was not referring particularly to Trump’s recent statements contending that the U.S. military supported his candidacy in the election.