Defense & Cyberspace

Senators Skeptical of Kim’s Nuke Pledge As Trump Prepares for Summit
North Korean leader says he’s putting a freeze on nuclear and medium- and long-range missile testing

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., threw cold water on the notion President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korea President Kim Jong Un would lead to serious concessions from the North. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators from both parties offered measured applause to President Donald Trump over the weekend after North Korea announced it would suspend nuclear and medium- and long-range missile tests ahead of Trump’s planned summit with its leader, Kim Jong Un.

The North’s promises to stem its nuclear weapons program “show that the president has put Kim Jong Un on the wrong foot for the first time,” Sen. Tom Cotton said Sunday on CBS's “Face the Nation.”

Pompeo Confirmation Debate Highlights Another Week of Senate Nomination Feuds
Rules and Administration panel also debating changes to nomination floor procedures

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, arrives for his confirmation hearing April 12 accompanied by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo seems all but assured to be confirmed as secretary of State this week. The question is how much pain will senators go through along the way.

The way forward should become clear after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convenes late Monday afternoon to formally vote on advancing Pompeo’s nomination — probably without a favorable review.

Election Year History Belies Ambitious Talk on Appropriations
Lawmakers’ spending goals could run right into midterm hex

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he’s aligned with the president in not wanting another massive omnibus spending bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

November might seem far away, but the midterm elections’ impact on spending bills is already on display, amplified by internal Republican jockeying for leadership positions in the House.

Election years tend to chill swift movement on appropriations bills — especially when there’s potential turnover in leadership of one or both chambers. That’s in part because lawmakers want to focus on campaigning and are back home more than usual, and party leaders tend to want to shield vulnerable members from tough votes.

CIA Releases Report Finding Haspel Not at Fault in Destruction of Torture Tapes
But some key Senate Democrats now want more answers

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks with reporters after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on March 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Central Intelligence Agency released an unclassified but partially redacted version of an internal memo Friday finding “no fault” on the part of current director nominee Gina Haspel regarding the destruction of infamous tapes.

The tapes showed the use of harsh interrogation tactics on detainees who had been subject to rendition at so-called “black sites.” Clarity about Haspel’s involvement is one key to the deputy director’s chances for Senate confirmation to be the director.

Trump, French President Macron to Disagree Privately, Official Says
French president visits next week for first state visit of Trump presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes President Donald Trump prior to a meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on July 13, 2017 in Paris, France. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

There will be ample smiles and handshakes for the camera, but don’t expect the U.S. and French heads of state to agree on much behind closed doors when they meet next week in Washington.

A number of contentious issues — from the Iran nuclear deal to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs to Syria — will be on the agenda next week when President Donald Trump hosts French President Emmanuel Macron for a visit that largely will be symbolic.

Analysis: For Trump, Wins and Losses During Abe Summit
‘The body language on trade was just really startling,’ expert says

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference at the former’s West Palm Beach, Fla., resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

White House aides set a low bar for their boss ahead of his two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and President Donald Trump often cleared it with ease. But experts say there were a few stumbles too.

Trump aides made clear they had no “deliverables” in mind ahead of the Tuesday-Wednesday talks, which touched on everything from a new round of trade talks to dealing with North Korea to their respective golf games. That diplomat-speak refers to agreements or other things the White House wants meetings with world leaders to produce.

Trump Continues Attack on Comey, Again Defends Flynn
President lashes out after leaks of fired FBI director’s memos about him

Then-FBI director James B. Comey testifyies before a Senate panel in 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday defended former national security adviser Michael Flynn and slammed former FBI Director James B. Comey, implying his own Justice Department should have blocked publication of the latter’s memoir.

The Friday morning tweet followed several from Thursday evening ripping into Comey as the former FBI boss continues a book tour that already has seen him describe the president as a habitual liar who is “morally unfit” for the Oval Office. Comey also has said Russia might have the ability to blackmail Trump, called for the president to be voted out in 2020, and left open the possibility that Trump is guilty of obstructing justice.

White House Presses Vulnerable Dems on Pompeo Nomination
Sen. Cotton dubs Foreign Relations Democrats ‘two-bit Talleyrands’

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, meets with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, in the Capitol on March 19. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House circled the wagons Wednesday around CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of State, arguing vulnerable red-state Democrats will feel “consequences” in November if they vote against him.

The Trump administration dispatched Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to argue Pompeo is highly qualified for the top State Department position and to press Democrats running for re-election in states won by President Donald Trump to vote in favor of his nomination.

Trump Confirms Pompeo Met With North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
Diplomacy better than ‘comparing the size of our nuclear buttons,’ Schiff says

South Koreans watch a television broadcast reporting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Seoul Railway Station in March. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 7:49 a.m. | President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, his nominee to become secretary of state, met last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea,” Trump tweeted.

Appropriators’ Right-Hand Man Sounds Off on the Current Senate
Staff director is deeply steeped in Senate culture, history

Bruce Evans, staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, speaks with Roll Call on April 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bruce Evans may be one of the last remaining staffers of a Senate that is slowly fading into the rearview mirror of history.

His list of influencers reads like a checklist of the chamber’s all-time most prominent Republican members. Evans learned tenacity from the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, tried to keep up with the intellect of former Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington, and was taught how to connect to constituents by former Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana.

Trump Leaves Open Door to Kim Summit Never Happening
Meeting could happen ‘very soon’ or in ‘early June‘ or not at all, president says

President Trump gave various estimates for when he might meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - including not at all. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump set wildly opposite expectations in one sentence for his possible summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including that it could never happen.

He first said his one-on-one meeting with Kim could happen “very soon,” before saying he expects negotiations will allow an “early June” summit to take place. But the president then moved up the possible date to “before that” before backpedaling.

White House Has Tepid Response to Corker-Kaine AUMF
NSC official: ‘Existing authorities are sufficient’

U.S. Army soldiers walk as a NATO helicopter flies overhead at Forward Operating Base Connelly in the Khogyani District in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, in 2015. (WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 11:56 a.m. | The Trump administration is taking a tepid line on an authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, measure introduced Monday evening by Republican and Democratic senators, with a National Security Council official saying the president’s existing war powers are “sufficient.”

“Our position hasn’t changed,” the official said Tuesday. The 2001 AUMF, provisions in the U.S. Constitution and the force-authorization measure Congress passed and President George W. Bush made law before the 2003 Iraq war are “sufficient,” the NSC official added.

Trump: ‘High Crime’ Likely in California After Gov. Brown Rejects Border Troops
Nonpartisan group rejected president’s claim about barrier being built near San Diego

Members of the Kentucky National Guard 206th Engineer battalion arrive on a C-130 Hercules transport plane in July 2006 in Tucson, Arizona, to support Border Patrol agents maintaining the U.S.-Mexican border. (Gary Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump slammed California’s Democratic governor Tuesday, contending “high crime” will rise in the state after Jerry Brown rejected the president’s request for National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brown last week indicated he would deploy California Guard troops to the border — but not for the immigration enforcement mission Trump requested. Instead, the governor told the Trump administration in a letter guardsmen and women would focus on combating transnational crime groups.

Corker Releases AUMF Without an Expiration Date
Prospects for approval uncertain with expected opposition within Foreign Relations panel

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is not concerned that the new force authorization measure does not have a commitment from leadership for a floor vote. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-awaited draft authorization to set new guidelines on the 17-year-old war on terrorism was released Monday night by senators and, to the displeasure of some Democrats, it would not impose significant restrictions on military operations, such as an expiration date.

The bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2018 would repeal and replace the 2001 AUMF, which has been increasingly criticized for its expansive justification of all kinds of military actions against extremist groups that did not exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The new AUMF would also repeal the 2002 authorization that enabled the 2003 Iraq War.

Intel Committee Democrats Renew Calls to Declassify Parts of Haspel’s Record
Members express concerns about public information campaign supporting CIA director nominee

Sens. Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich joined Dianne Feinstein on a letter calling for declassification of information about Gina Haspel, who has been nominated to replace Mike Pompeo as the head of the CIA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A trio of Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are signaling they have seen problematic classified information about CIA director nominee Gina Haspel’s career at the agency.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon made the assertion in a letter sent Friday to CIA Director Mike Pompeo that was circulated publicly on Monday.