Afghanistan

The Detroit Trump diss track: Debating Democrats blister the president
Trump campaign responds that Democrats showed ‘plenty of socialist stupidity’

Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) , former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio at the Democratic Presidential Debate Wednesday in Detroit (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

From “authoritarian” and “predator” to “socialist” and “white nationalist” — with a whole lot of “racist” thrown in — the leading Democratic presidential candidates debating in Detroit this week lobbed dozens of rhetorical bombs at President Donald Trump as they battled for the nomination to take him on next November.

Trump did not seem impressed by the Democrats’ attempts to paint him as morally and Constitutionally corrupt during debates fearing 10 candidates each on Tuesday and Wednesday. He tweeted during the second debate that the “people on the stage tonight, and last, were not those that will either Make America Great Again or Keep America Great.”

Exodus at the DCCC: Top aides quit House Democrats' campaign arm
Allison Jaslow, a close ally of Bustos, had started at the committee this cycle

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, flew back to Washington to meet with DCCC staff this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos announced the appointment of a new interim executive director Monday as she seeks to quell internal jousting between lawmakers and the committee about diversity representation in its upper ranks.

“Today has been a sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid, but I can say confidently that we are taking the first steps toward putting the DCCC back on path to protect and expand our majority, with a staff that truly reflects the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party,” Bustos said in a statement.

Options for private health care a comfort and concern for veterans
New VA program expands private care options and boost pay for medical professionals. But some worry it could lead to wholesale privatization

The exterior of the Veterans Affairs Department hospital is shown in east Denver Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. A New VA program expands private care options and boosts pay for medical professionals. But some worry it could lead to wholesale privatization if the VA deprioritizes funds for its own facilities. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Eugene Downs, a 93-year-old Navy veteran who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, has received nearly all of his care over the past 27 years from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He’s a regular at the Washington VA Medical Center, where he has “no gripes.”

“I get the best damn care anybody can get,” he says.

Here are the ‘squads’ of Congresses past
AOC isn’t the first to have a lawmaking crew with a catchy moniker

From left, Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna S. Pressley hold a July 15 news conference, after the president tweeted they should “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It started as a simple Instagram caption: “Squad.” Then the media and pundits got hold of it. “These four people in the so-called ‘squad’ … have done squat in Congress,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News earlier this month, clearly relishing the alliteration.

The four progressive House members in question — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna S. Pressley — have weathered insults and worse as they challenge their party’s leadership and feud with President Donald Trump. Their nickname is just one more thing to mock.

‘Extremists’ in Virginia candidate’s video include Democrats and fellow Republicans
Afghanistan veteran vying to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton swipes at McConnell, King, Meadows

Rob Jones’ video announcing his campaign for Virginia’s 10th District brands both Democrats and a few fellow Republicans, including Iowa Rep. Steve King, as ‘extremists.’ (Screenshot/YouTube/Rob Jones for Congress)

It’s no surprise that a Republican congressional candidate used Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign video. But including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and two other GOP House members as targets for criticism is a novel approach for a Republican candidate.

GOP strategists knew they needed an atypical candidate to have any chance of recapturing Virginia’s 10th District. As a double amputee Marines Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Rob Jones fits that bill.

Army in ascendance with leaders poised for top Pentagon posts
Mark Esper and Mark Milley expected to give service a place of new prominence

Army Secretary Mark Esper, left, and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley are heading to the Pentagon, where their presence could give the embattled service a new place of prominence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Army Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the service’s chief, will soon take their partnership to the highest levels of the Pentagon as both men are poised for speedy confirmation to be the next Defense secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

Their close working relationship could help provide stability at the Pentagon, where many of the top jobs are filled by acting heads. Meanwhile, their deep ties to the Army could give the sometimes embattled service — which has struggled for two decades to modernize its force and adapt to a new era of warfare — a place of new prominence in the Pentagon.

Andy Kim is paying his pen pal forward
New Jersey Democrat recalls lessons from ex-boss and foreign policy giant Richard Lugar

New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim still draws inspiration from his brief stint as an aide to former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard G. Lugar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Jersey Democrat Andy Kim learned a lot of what he knows about governing from two of his mentors — the late Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the 2012 Benghazi attack.

One started out as a pen pal, the other as an officemate. And after stints at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department and the Pentagon, those lessons still come in handy for Kim, one of 23 House freshmen under the age of 40. 

Capitol Ink | Afghanistandard Response

Kentucky Senate: Seriously, are we doing this again?
Amy McGrath is giving Democrats hope. They should know better

Amy McGrath is running for Senate in Kentucky, hoping to topple Mitch McConnell. But the fundamentals of the state make it a difficult task for her. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — I understand Democrats’ frustration with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as their desire to send him into retirement in the 2020 elections. But once again Democrats have gotten ahead of themselves in their optimism that they can defeat the Kentucky Republican.

Six years ago, Democrats and many in the national media gushed about the prospects of Alison Lundergan Grimes against McConnell. Grimes was young, articulate and personable, and she was the state’s sitting secretary of state.

Fallout in Michigan and beyond from Justin Amash’s breakup with GOP
Complications force 3rd District race to move from Solid to Leans Republican

Rep. Justin Amash’s departure from the GOP complicates the party’s effort to regain control of the House, if he runs as an independent in Michigan’s 3rd District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans didn’t shed a tear after Rep. Justin Amash jumped the GOP ship last week. But their exuberance over being rid of the Michigan congressman might be masking the impact his departure will have on their efforts to recapture the House majority and regain control of his 3rd District.

As more of a libertarian than a Republican, Amash has never fit comfortably within the GOP conference, and he made his departure official with a July 4 op-ed in The Washington Post declaring his independence from the Republican Party.