Nuclear Weapons

Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options
Report suggests ‘tailored nuclear option for limited use’

From left, First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker, Vice President Mike Pence, and his wife Karen Pence prepare to review the troops on Inauguration Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A blue-ribbon Pentagon panel has urged the Trump administration to make the U.S. arsenal more capable of “limited” atomic war.

The Defense Science Board, in an unpublished December report obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.”

Good Trump, Bad Trump — Who Will Appear at the Inaugural?
No guarantee what president-elect will say Friday

Listening to President-elect Donald Trump’s past speeches gives one the sense of a political leader torn between a good angel on his right shoulder and a malevolent demon on his left, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter how many drafts speechwriter Stephen Miller prepares, no matter how often the president-elect practices with a teleprompter, there is no guarantee what Donald Trump will say on Friday after he takes the oath of office. The man who is about to become the 45th president is too impulsive, too much of a creature of his own id, to be slavishly faithful to the final draft of the inaugural address. 

The majesty of the moment, the hand-on-the-Bible jolt of emotion for this child of Outer-Borough America, could send Trump in unexpected directions. Even an orator who revels in huge rallies, as Trump does, may be surprised — as Bill Clinton was in 1993 — at the way his oratory echoes off the monuments and how indistinct the faces of his audience appear as he gazes down from the heights of the West Front of the Capitol.

In Break from Trump, Mattis Pushes for Tough Stance on Russia

Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis testifies during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

James Mattis, Donald Trump’s choice for Defense secretary, advocated several shifts in U.S. national security policy in his confirmation hearing Thursday, including a much tougher stance on Russia than the president-elect has articulated.

On several topics during his Senate Armed Services testimony, the retired Marine Corps four-star general differed in substance or tone from positions Trump took in the campaign. Unless Trump or Mattis changes his view, the contrasts could lead to tensions between the White House and the Pentagon.

Atomic Arsenal Costs Ballooning by Billions of Dollars

California’s Dianne Feinstein, ranking Senate Democrat on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, talks with a reporter in Senate subway before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol, September 13, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

America’s nuclear arsenal is getting billions of dollars more expensive with each passing year, the Obama administration said in a recent report to Congress obtained by CQ.

The report shows how nuclear weapons costs are beginning to crest as the Pentagon and the Energy Department move into a $1 trillion modernization effort over the next three decades. It is the biggest looming issue in the defense budget.

Trump Transforms GOP Into the Softer-On-Russia Party
Democrats may hit pay-dirt with anti-Putin tactics in special elections

President-elect Donald Trump’s tilt toward Russia represents a repudiation of American policy dating back 70 years, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If the rise of Donald Trump has taught us anything (a debatable assumption), it is that the news media has the attention span of an old-time Hollywood agent making deals on four phones simultaneously.

No matter how big the headlines or breathless the tweets, it’s on to the next frenzied furor within hours. That’s the 21st-century way. And it is probably going to doom any sustained outrage — no matter how justified — over Russian intervention during the 2016 campaign.

Obama Touts Record, Sends Trump Message in Farewell Letter
Letter accompanies exit memos from Cabinet secretaries

President Barack Obama takes questions from student journalists at the White House last year. (Getty Images file photo)

The United States is “stronger and more prosperous” than it was on Inauguration Day 2009, President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to the American people, a dispatch that appears to have a message for his successor.

The letter, which will accompany exit memos from each of Obama’s Cabinet secretaries, begins with the 44th president reminding Americans of the challenges he faced when he was sworn in. Obama then ticks off what he sees as his top achievements, from bailing out U.S. automakers to avoiding an economic depression to passing his health care law to killing Osama bin Laden to a historically high high school graduation rate.

Trump Statement Regarding North Korean Nuclear Capabilities May Underestimate Program

Military.com reports that "U.S. President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to vow that North Korea won't develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the United States. But it might already have done so."

"Views vary, sometimes wildly, on the exact state of North Korea's closely-guarded nuclear and missile programs, but after five atomic test explosions and a rising number of ballistic missile test launches, some experts believe North Korea can arm short- and mid-range missiles with atomic warheads."

Nuclear Threats Rise in Concert With Trump's Ascension
Odds of war with Russia are rising

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said there might be the need for legislation that would prohibit the president from launching a first-strike nuclear attack without a congressional declaration of war. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Since the Cold War ended 25 years ago, Americans haven’t thought much about nuclear war. That changed slightly in the recently concluded presidential campaign, but it needs to change dramatically, many experts say.

A growing cadre of security analysts says the risk that nuclear weapons might be used by nations or terrorist groups is increasing, and it may even be higher than it was in the Cold War.

Even After Electoral Defeat, Campaign Email Lists Don’t Die
Email lists still have value after the election — for candidates and others

Emily Cain, who lost a bid for Maine’s 2nd District last month, keeps in touch with her supporters by letting them know about causes that are important to her. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The pace of campaign correspondence slows considerably after Election Day, with candidate fundraising emails making way for holiday salutations. 

But it doesn’t stop completely.

Remembering John Glenn, Lawmaker
Modesty and calm sometimes masked killer qualities

John Glenn, D-Ohio, left, and then-Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., during a 1997 Senate Governmental Affairs hearing on improper fundraising in presidential elections. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

John Glenn is my hero and America’s hero, but he was also my boss. Senator Glenn always acted with integrity: in his marriage, in his devotion to his country, in his work with his colleagues. He was always a gentleman in the best sense.

I had the good fortune as a young child to have the measles during his February 1962 flight. We all marveled at his coolness under pressure. Subsequently, we saw all the pictures of him and his wife Annie with President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy and the brothers, particularly Bobby. They seemed the embodiment of Camelot.