Defense & Cyberspace

Amid ‘Whistleblowergate,’ Trump again suggests his office has unlimited powers
‘I have the right to do whatever I want as president,’ president said in July

President Donald Trump makes remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands nearby on August 5. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump on Friday insisted it “doesn’t matter” if he asks foreign leaders to target his domestic political foes, again describing the powers of his office as unlimited.

On yet another remarkable Friday that capped yet another remarkable week in his roller-coaster-like term, the president once again opted against distancing himself from allegations that would have amounted to a major scandal for anyone who held the unofficial title of “leader of the free world.”

Rolling Thunder gets new life, new focus, new name
Advocacy group AMVETS says it will also address veterans suicide as well as POW/MIA awareness to 33rd annual Memorial Day ride

A motorcyclist rides in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington in May. Previous organizers said in December that the 2019 ride would be the last. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The annual military veterans motorcycle run from the Pentagon parking lot to the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall will continue next Memorial Day weekend under the leadership of a different veterans organization.

Military veterans advocacy group American Veterans (AMVETS) has taken the torch of organizing the motorcycle rally after Rolling Thunder, a group that honors prisoners of war and missing in action service members, decided last year that it would no longer sponsor the event after 32 years.

Trump: ‘It doesn’t matter what I discussed’ on call that drew whistleblower’s complaint
President announces sanctions at the ‘highest level’ against Iran after strike against Saudi oil facility

President Donald Trump is mired in another crisis, this time over an allegation he made a troubling “promise” to another world leader. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday did not deny discussing former Vice President Joe Biden with his Ukranian counterpart during a telephone conversation that reportedly prompted an intelligence community whistleblower to file a formal complaint.

“It doesn’t matter what I discussed,” Trump told reporters Friday, according to a pool report. The ever defiant president then ran toward the controversy, saying, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

Meet the key appropriations players of the fall
List includes budget war veterans as well as relative newcomers

Eric Ueland has been the White House legislative affairs chief since June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the behind-the-scenes work of top legislative aides that makes the Capitol Hill machinery work, and that’s never truer than when lawmakers are trying to hash out spending bills as Congress and the White House will be focused on this fall and winter.

After initial decisions by Republican and Democratic clerks — the top staffers on the Appropriations subcommittees — full committee staff will step in to help work out any remaining issues. Leadership staff will be on hand to address the most intractable disagreements and questions about what legislation can ride with the spending bills, and to make sure the measures have enough votes to pass.

Trump denies ‘inappropriate’ remark to foreign leader that prompted whistleblower complaint
Both intel committees to hear from acting DNI, intel community inspector general

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their summit in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2018. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump denied reports that he made a promise to an unidentified foreign leader that prompted an intelligence community official to file a formal complaint with an inspector general.

“Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

New national security adviser faces personality test with Trump’s inner circle
Robert O’Brien is largely a blank slate on policy, which could help him manage internal disagreements

Robert C. OBrien, serving as special envoy for President Donald Trump, arrives at a courthouse in Stockholm during the rapper A$AP Rocky assault trial in August. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

Internal debates during President Donald Trump’s first two and a half years in office have been marked by acrimony, tension and high-stakes negotiations. So perhaps it was no surprise that Trump named as his fourth national security adviser the State Department’s lead hostage negotiator, Robert C. O’Brien.

No president has had so many national security advisers in his first term. However long O’Brien lasts in the job, his tenure will be defined less by his policy views and more by how he manages disagreements within Trump’s inner circle.

Trump chastises ally Lindsey Graham, teases Thursday ‘announcement’ on Iran
POTUS: ‘Ask Lindsey how did going into the Middle East, how did that work out?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., holds a press conference in the Capitol on March 25. He and President Trump are feuding over Iran. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday teased an “announcement” on Iran over its alleged missile strikes on Saudi oil facilities and chastised a leading Senate ally over the volatile matter.

Since the weekend attack took 6 percent of the world’s oil supply offline, the president has indicated his team sees Iran as responsible, tweeted that he has the U.S. military “locked and loaded,” but also said he does not want a shooting conflict with Tehran.

Trump taps State Department’s top hostage negotiator to replace Bolton as national security adviser
Robert C. O’Brien served under Bolton when he was U.N. ambassador

Robert C. O’Brien was sent by President Donald Trump to Sweden in August to try to negotiate the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who had been arrested on assault charges. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has selected Robert C. O’Brien to replace John Bolton as national security adviser.

“I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!” Trump tweeted from California, where he is holding fundraising events.

As background checks talks stall, Trump casts Beto O’Rourke as scapegoat
POTUS: Candidate’s debate remark ‘Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away’

Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a town hall event in Alexandria, Va., in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Washington fails to enact legislation to strengthen federal firearms background checks or otherwise deal with mass shootings, President Donald Trump suggests the blame will fall on a former House Democrat who wants his job.

With talks toward a measure that could pass a Democratic-controlled House and a GOP-run Senate showing no tangible signs of progress, Trump has vacillated from supporting beefed-up background checks to endorsing a amorphous plan focused on mental health issues he says is the root cause of mass gun massacres.

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches
Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications

An Air Force F-16C carries a B61-12 bomb on a test flight at Nellis AFB, Nev. Problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays. (Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to order the Energy Department to launch an investigation into technical problems that have recently plagued U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

The committee’s mandate is buried deep inside the report accompanying the $48.9 billion Energy-Water spending bill that the committee approved on Sept. 12.

Esper brings China focus as Defense secretary
Plan to seek savings in Pentagon operations could face roadblocks

In search of savings, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is looking at spending by organization that provide back-office services to the Pentagon. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Like every new Defense secretary, Mark T. Esper says he wants to make the Pentagon more efficient. He will get some results, but not many and not quickly, experts say.

Esper, now a few months into the job, wants to save money to spend it on preparing for war against China, and to a lesser extent Russia.

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

Trump mocks Elizabeth Warren’s NYC crowd: ‘Anybody could do that’
Reports: Massachusetts senator drew ‘thousands’ in Washington Square Park

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves to the crowd as she arrives for a rally in Washington Square Park in New York on Monday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, who often touts the size of crowds at his events and knocks those of his foes, on Tuesday dismissed an audience Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew the night before in New York City.

Warren spoke in front of the iconic arch in the Big Apple’s Washington Square Park before an audience numbering in the “thousands,” according to estimates from local media outlets. But the president, who sent his first press secretary, Sean Spicer, out on his first full day on the job to make false statements about the size of Trump’s inauguration audience, contended he was not impressed with Warren’s crowd.

Watch out 2020 Democrats, Trump might have a long game
3 takeaways from the president’s New Mexico rally as he tries to flip state Clinton won in 2016

President Donald Trump on Monday night enters a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The rally marks President Trump's first trip to New Mexico as president and the start of a three-day campaign trip to New Mexico and California. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in New Mexico was billed as an opportunity for the president to try expanding his base and flip a state he lost in 2016. But his message — again — offered little new to moderate swing voters.

Trump’s Rio Rancho campaign stop was calculated, with his campaign looking to flip a small handful of states won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton; she won New Mexico by 8.3 percentage points. It was the second state she won to which he has traveled to headline a rally this year; he was in New Hampshire last month. Collectively, there are nine Electoral College votes between the two states.

Trump stops short of saying Iran orchestrated attack on Saudi oil facilities
Bipartisan group wants to prohibit 'unconstitutional' U.S. war with Iran

President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in July. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump wants the world to believe Iran was behind a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities that took 6 percent of the world’s supply offline — but he’s just not ready to say it out loud.

The U.S. commander in chief on two occasions Monday sent strong signals his national security team and Saudi officials are increasingly confident the Iranian government is responsible for the armed drone and missile strikes.