Intelligence

At Trump White House, One Russia Controversy Breeds Another
What did POTUS mean? No one is sure, but he declares Putin summit a ‘success’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, was among those who were confused by the president’s statements about Russia on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump White House on Wednesday returned to a familiar pattern, fighting through multiple self-imposed controversies and confusing even its own allies.

President Donald Trump didn’t personally walk anything back, unlike on Tuesday. He left the mopping up to his top spokeswoman a day after he — in a rare move — admitted a mistake by amending one word of a 45-minute Finland press conference with Vladimir Putin that rattled both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Senate to Weigh Large Cuts to Military Aid
Cuts target foreign militaries and militias trained to fight terrorists on U.S. behalf

Iraqi Kurdish fighters, also known as peshmerga, are seen driving along the frontline in October 2017 outside the town of Altun Kubri, Iraq. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Senate will soon take up a Defense spending bill that would cut nearly $2.5 billion in military aid to foreign fighting forces, an unusually large budget subtraction some say reflects a fundamental change in lawmakers’ security priorities. 

At issue is the $675 billion fiscal 2019 Defense money bill, which Senate Appropriations approved late last month and which the chamber may take up later this month. 

Democrats Call On Trump-Putin Interpreter to Testify, Republicans Say No
Marina Gross may be the only one with answers to what happened in the Trump-Putin summit

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats looking for information about what happened during the private meeting between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin want the U.S. interpreter to testify.

New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell called Wednesday on Reps. Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings, chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight committee, to ask Marina Gross to testify publicly before the committee.

Democrats Line Up on Floor to Call Attention to Election Security
Maneuver has been used before on other hot-button issues

Rep. Mike Quigley is among the House Democrats trying to restore election security funding to a key program. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats took turns Wednesday requesting a vote on an amendment to fund election systems protection, saying the money is needed to “prevent Russian interference” in future elections.

The procedural moves from Democrats come ahead of a vote on a Republican-led spending bill (HR 6147) that would zero out election security grants that help states to fortify their systems against hacking and cyber attacks. The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $380 million under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year. 

Trump Again Breaks With Intel Chief Over Russia
Coats says 'warning lights are blinking' but POTUS denies threat

President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

When asked if Russia is still targeting the United States and its midterm congressional elections, President Donald Trump on Wednesday responded “no” — again breaking with his top intelligence official.

His own top intelligence brass recently warned “red lights” are blinking with regard to Moscow’s plans to again meddle in an American election, spy talk used only when a threat is imminent.

Trump Again Skips Intel Briefing After Siding With Putin
President broke with DNI Coats standing alonside Russian strongman

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive Monday for a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For the second consecutive day since he broke with America’s spy agencies over Russia’s election meddling, President Donald Trump on Wednesday will not get an intelligence briefing.

The daily presidential guidance email sent out each evening by the White House initially featured only one item, an 11:30 a.m. Cabinet meeting. It was was updated Wednesday morning to include a 2 p.m. press briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

After Helsinki, Senate GOP Quietly Takes Aim at Russia
Flake, Gardner, Rubio all propose Senate takes steps to deter Russian aggression

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., plans to introduce a resolution in the Senate to "reaffirm support" for the U.S. intelligence apparatus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least two Republican senators are urging their colleagues to do what President Donald Trump was unwilling to do at his joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday: hold Russia accountable for interfering in the 2016 election and its hyper-aggressive foreign policy.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is working on a measure that would “reaffirm support for the intelligence community,” he said on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.

Roskam Tells Trump to Speak to Putin More Like Reagan Would
GOP congressman says Trump was ‘very defensive’ in conversation about Helsinki news conference

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said he confronted President Donald Trump about his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Peter Roskam said President Donald Trump delivered a “very defensive” response on Tuesday when he confronted the president about siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Roskam was at the White House for a meeting with Trump in which the president walked back his comments from Monday that he saw “no reason why it would be Russia” that interfered in the 2016 election, affirmed that he trusted his intelligence community’s assessment that it was Russia, and then immediately sought to undercut that assessment by saying there “could be other people also — a lot of people out there.”

Trump Stumbles Into Second Day of Putin Summit Walkback
Presidential mop-up operation begins early on Twitter

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin answer questions about the 2016 U.S election during a joint news conference after their summit on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning continued trying to portray his widely panned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a success amid a bipartisan backlash.

Despite many reviews to the contrary, the commander in chief described a rocky NATO summit last week that was dominated by him lashing out at America’s foes as “an acknowledged triumph.”

Trump Helsinki Remarks Expose GOP Divide on Foreign Policy
Security hawks and presidential loyalists split on significance of Finland summit

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., has defended President Donald Trump in the wake of the Helsinki summit. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s much-maligned performance at Monday’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin has deepened the Republican Party’s divide between traditional security hawks who want to stand up to Russia and conservatives who want to stay loyal to the president.

Democrats and several high-ranking Republicans condemned Trump’s comments in Helsinki, saying he accepted Putin’s assertions there was no Russian government-ordered campaign to swing the 2016 election in his favor, despite assessments to the contrary by the U.S. intelligence community.