Defense & Cyberspace

Trump Adds N. Korea to Terror List, Readies ‘Very Large’ Sanction
President: Kim government is ‘a murderous regime’

A North Korean ballistic missile during “Victory Day” parade in 2013. President Donald Trump will add North Korea back to the U.S. government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is putting North Korea back on the U.S. government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and plans to slap a “very large” sanction on Pyongyang.

Trump has mulling whether to put North Korea back on the list  for weeks. He and his senior aides decided to hold off until after his 12-day Asia swing, which ended last Wednesday. It was removed under a 2008 deal struck by the George W. Bush administration.

New $44 Billion Disaster Aid Request Paltry, Lawmakers Say
Extensive offsets could also prove controversial

Rep. John Culberson of Texas said the White House’s most recent aid request “would sabotage what has been an incredible response by President Trump to Hurricane Harvey up to this point.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In its third emergency aid request since August, the White House on Friday asked Congress to approve $44 billion for ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, a figure seen as insufficient on both sides of the aisle. 

At the same time, the White House asked lawmakers to consider a lengthy list of offsets, noting in a letter that the administration “believes it is prudent to offset new spending.”

Corker, Cardin See Little ‘Firm’ in Latest Trump North Korea Shift
President told of peaceful path, ‘maybe it sunk in,’ Cardin says

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, left, speaks with ranking member Ben Cardin during a hearing earlier this year. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senior Senate Foreign Relations Committee members aren’t quite sure what to make of the White House’s dramatic shift on North Korea during President Donald Trump’s recent Asia tour

Before the president departed on the 12-day trip, he and his senior aides ruled out negotiations with North Korea. But during the Asia swing, he invited the North’s government to the negotiating table, and Trump’s senior staff spoke openly about the president’s terms for the very talks he for months had said would not work.

Boastful Trump Ends Asia Trip Touting ‘Minimum’ $300B in Deals
Major trade announcement could slip to Thursday, president says

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Saturday. He did the same on Tuesday and is headed back to the United States. (Shealah Craighead/White House via Flickr)

President Donald Trump wrapped up his swing through Asia by boasting that he inked agreements to sell $300 billion in U.S.-made goods and predicting the total value of the deals could “quadruple.”

“I think the fruits of are going to be incredible,” Trump told reporters of his dealmaking during the 12-day trip just minutes before Air Force One lifted off from the Philippines.

Congress Generous, Again, With US Funds for Israel’s Defense
Package for Israeli antimissile systems at near record levels, even as transparency questions swirl

The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency completed a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Congress is poised to provide Israel with another $705 million for that country’s missile defenses — nearly five times the Trump administration’s request and the second largest annual installment of such aid to date.

The House plans to vote this week to approve a fiscal 2018 national defense policy conference report that would, among its many provisions, authorize the aid to Israel for several antimissile systems. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president. And whenever Congress completes work on a defense appropriations bill, lawmakers are highly likely to provide all of that money — and maybe more.

Trump on Putin Election Meddling Denials: He ‘Means It’
Chinese President Xi Jinping described as ‘more powerful’ than Mao Zedong

Chinese and U.S. flags are displayed in front of the portrait of China’s late communist leader Mao Zedong outside the Forbidden City in Beijing during President Donald Trump’s visit. Trump described Chinese President Xi Jinping as “more powerful” than Mao. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Saturday he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin “means it” when he denies meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election. He also said Chinese President Xi Jinping is “more powerful” than Mao Zedong, one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Trump said he again asked Putin on the sidelines of a summit of powerful Pacific Rim countries if Russia meddled in the election. Putin again denied it — but the president did not tell reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One if he warned Putin to cease such tactics.

Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim on U.S. Attacking ISIS ‘Much Harder’
As the terrorist group loses ground, there are fewer targets to attack

A U.S. Air Force munitions team member, seen here in 2016, uncases the laser-guided tip of a bomb used for airstrikes on ISIS targets at a base in the Persian Gulf region. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

U.S. and coalition strikes against the Islamic State terrorist group have fallen dramatically in the last month, despite President Donald Trump’s assertion last week that the military had hit the group “much harder” in response to a terrorist attack in New York City.

On Nov. 1 and 2, the days on which Trump said the military had stepped up attacks against ISIS, coalition forces launched 24 strikes in Iraq and Syria. That is less than half the two-day strike average for coalition forces since March 31, according to a Roll Call analysis of Defense Department news releases.

Tillerson: China Sends ‘Unequivocal’ Message on North Korea
Xi wants to give sanctions time to further squeeze North, secretary of state says

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson appears on Capitol Hill earlier this year. He said on Thursday that Chinese officials say they will not stand for a nuclear-armed North Korea. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Chinese leaders have made an “unequivocal” declaration to U.S. officials that they will not tolerate a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

U.S. and Chinese officials see evidence of “stress” on key North Korean figures, including members of its military, because of recent sanctions applied since the Trump administration took office, Tillerson said, citing intelligence reports.

In Shift, White House Describes Terms for North Korea Talks
President may be unable to tweet while visiting China

President Donald Trump with South Korean President Moon in Seoul on Tuesday. Trump's administration is now talking about talks with North Korea. (Shealah Craighead/The White House via Flickr)

The Trump administration continued on Wednesday to soften its rhetoric on North Korea, with a senior official spelling out terms for talks over its nuclear arms program. Not long ago, the administration declared negotiations would be a waste of time.

Any negotiations with Pyongyang and other countries over its nuclear and long-range missile development would have to meet the standard of being “authentic talks,” the senior administration official told reporters on Air Force One heading to Beijing. For negotiations to begin, the North would first have to “reduce the threat, [end] provocations, and [move] toward sincere steps to ultimately denuclearize,” the official added.

Trump Warns North Korea, Then Invites Kim to Negotiating Table
U.S. ready with ‘full range of our unmatched military capabilities,’ president says

South Korean President Moon Jae-In (right) and U.S. President Donald Trump during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential Blue House on Tuesday in Seoul. Both invited North Korea to the negotiating table. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

After declaring to North Korea that he would use the “full range of our unmatched military capabilities” to defend the United States, President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged the Kim government to come to the negotiating table and end the tense standoff over its nuclear arms program.

Speaking just 120 miles from the North Korean capital, Trump used a joint news conference in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart to label North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs a “worldwide threat that requires worldwide action.”

Trump: Stricter Gun Laws Not Needed After Texas Shooting
President says latest mass shooting is a ‘mental health problem at the highest level’

President Donald Trump, seen here addressing troops at Yokota Air Base on Sunday, said the U.S. and Japan “will not stand for” North Korea’s continued nuclear arms and long-range missile programs. (White House photo by Shealah Craighead/Flickr)

President Donald Trump signaled Monday he would not support legislation to stiffen gun laws after a 26-year-old man killed more than 20 people at a church in Texas on Sunday.

“Mental health is your problem here. This was a very … deranged individual,” the president said during a news conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He said the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, had “a lot of problems over a long period of time.”

Gohmert Claims Mueller Compromised National Security as FBI Director
Texas Republican says Mueller scrapped training materials about 'radical Islamists'

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused special counsel Robert Mueller of undermining U.S. national security during his time as head of the FBI. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Louie Gohmert accused special counsel Robert Mueller of undermining national security while Mueller was head of the FBI.

The Texas Republican alleged Mueller “purged the training materials for the FBI of anything that offended the radical Islamists.”

Cardin: Trump Not Authorized to Nuke North Korea
But adds when Trump ‘makes orders obviously the military will follow those orders’

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin , left, spoke about the president's trip to Asia, which involves Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says Congress has not granted authorization for a pre-emptive first strike on North Korea.

“Congress has not authorized the use of force, so the president does not have the authority to pre-emptively use force,” Maryland Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said when asked during an interview about legislative proposals from some Democrats to bar nuclear strikes against Kim Jong-un.

Trump: Dems Must ‘Guarantee’ All Wall Funding in DACA Bill
President's demand could complicate work on immigration bill

Aurelia Lopez and her daughter Antonia overlook construction of border wall prototypes in October  in Tijuana, Mexico. The prototypes are being built just north of the U.S.- Mexico border. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images file photo)

Updated at 10:07 a.m. | President Donald Trump will insist Democrats give him a formal “guarantee” for the full amount of federal dollars for his proposed southern border wall, a demand that will further complicate work on a bipartisan immigration bill.

Trump in early September ended the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, giving Congress six months to pass an immigration bill that addresses those affected by his cancellation plan. Weeks later, the White House released its priorities for that measure, which included full funding for the border wall project.

Report: Mueller Investigating Former Rep. Vin Weber
Minnesota congressman who served from 1981 to 1993 being investigated for ties to Manafort, source says

Former Republican Rep. Vin Weber is shown here making his introduction as a fellow in the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. (University of Chicago via YouTube)

Former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber is being targeted as part of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, sources with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.

Weber, who served in the House from 1981 to 1993 and is a partner at lobbying firm Mercury LLC, is being targeted for his firm’s work with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying efforts, the AP reported.