Iran

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.

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 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 Backs GOP Immigration Bill, but Rift Within Party Widens
Senate’s No. 2 Republican sees ‘opportunity’ for Congress amid WH ‘chaos’

Activists demonstrate in Washington against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in May. On Wednesday, Trump threw his backing behind new immigration legislation by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday waded into the politically choppy waters of immigration law alongside two fellow Republicans, but the brief image of party unity failed to completely obscure a growing rift with other GOP senators.

Trump hosted Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and and David Perdue of Georgia, a longtime ally, at the White House to discuss their legislation that would impose a skills-based criteria on individuals hoping to obtain U.S. citizenship. It was a moment of Republican comity after weeks of slowly increasing tensions between Trump and the Senate GOP conference.

Trump Makes Russia Sanctions Law, Then Savages Congress
President takes swipe at Senate Republicans after signing bipartisan bill

Despite his calls for warmer relations with the Kremlin, President Trump on Wednesday signed a bill slapping new sanctions on Russia. It also puts new penalties on North Korea and Iran. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea — then harshly criticized the legislation and the 517 lawmakers who voted for it.

Trump’s words reveal anew his growing irritation at Republican lawmakers’ inability to pass legislation he prefers and Democrats’ unwillingness to help. A statement issued by the White House after he signed the sanctions bill includes this line: “Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking.”

White House Acknowledges Trump Helped Craft Son’s Statement
Lawyer had said president played no role in message on Russian lawyer meeting

The White House on Tuesday admitted that the president, while aboard Air Force One after a G-20 summit last month, helped craft his eldest son’s statement about a meeting with a Russian lawyer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a reversal, the White House acknowledged Tuesday that President Donald Trump offered what it said was fatherly advice to his eldest son about a statement explaining a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer believed to be bringing Kremlin-supplied dirt on Hillary Clinton. However, the president’s top spokeswoman said the elder Trump did nothing wrong.

Trump’s team initially denied the president was personally involved in drafting the statement, but a Washington Post article published Monday evening — citing multiple sources — painted him as its primary author. Trump dictated the statement to Hope Hicks, one of his closest advisers, on Air Force One last month as he returned from a G-20 summit in Europe, according to the Post report.

Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill With Tougher Russia Penalties
White House alleges president signed off after ‘negotiations’

President Donald Trump plans to sign a bill slapping sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Despite posturing otherwise this week, President Trump will sign a bill that passed overwhelmingly in both chambers slapping new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, the White House announced Friday night.

“President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it,” according to a statement issued by the office of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.”

What 10 Hours of House Amendment Votes Look Like
How the ‘minibus’ process unfolded on the floor Wednesday and Thursday

California Rep. Ken Calvert on the House floor during debate Thursday on the minibus appropriations package. (C-SPAN screenshot)

The House on Thursday passed a nearly $790 billion security-themed, four-title spending package, marking the first set of must-pass appropriations measures to be cleared on either chamber floor this year.

But before they could take the final vote on the so-called minibus, House rules — which are agreed to in committee — set debate parameters that allowed for votes on amendments to the bill. Lots of amendments.

House Passes $658 Billion Defense Spending Bill

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and colleague Barbara Lee, D-Calif. proposed an amendment that prohibits money being spent on uniforms for the Afghan National Army. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed the so-called security minibus appropriations package on a 235-192 vote, allocating nearly $790 billion across four separate spending bills, including $658 billion for defense.

The measure designates $584 billion in regular defense appropriations and $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations accounts.

GOP Congress Blames White House Chaos for Failures
House and Senate Republicans say administration distracts from advancing agenda

The calamity inside President Donald Trump’s White House has Congress complaining that its getting in the way of the legislative branch’s work. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By REMA RAHMAN and JOHN T. BENNETT

Some House and Senate Republicans are blaming an erratic Trump White House for getting in the way of advancing their shared legislative agenda, saying the constant noise from the West Wing makes it nearly impossible to get things done.