Defense & Cyberspace

Donors to Rep. Duncan Hunter’s legal defense fund: His uncle, defense contractors
Longtime donors connected to Edison Chouest Offshore also contributed

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, walks down the House steps following a vote in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donors to a special fund established by Rep. Duncan Hunter to underwrite his legal defense include the board member of the company founded by his uncle and multibillion dollar defense contractors.

Hunter can tap $60,800 in donations to a piggybank separate from his campaign committee — called the Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust — to finance his legal case. Hunter faces trial in September on 60 federal charges related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as a family vacation to Italy and dental work.

Some troops will stay in Syria, White House official confirms
‘The exact number has not been determined yet,’ the senior White House official said.

President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address, with Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on Feb. 5, 2019. (Doug Mills/The New York Times POOL PHOTO)

A senior White House official confirmed the Trump administration plans to keep U.S. troops in Syria even after President Donald Trump announced plans of a complete American withdrawal.

“Yes, some troops will stay in Syria,” the senior official told Roll Call Friday morning. The confirmation comes after Senate Armed Services member Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidant, announced the president decided to leave 200 U.S. forces in the war-torn country to combat the Islamic State.

Congress could block big chunk of Trump’s emergency wall money
Full funds likely to be unavailable from the sources president has identified

More than a third of the money President Donald Trump wants to redirect from other federal programs to build a border barrier is likely to be unavailable from the sources he identified. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

More than one-third of the money President Donald Trump wants to redirect from other federal programs to build a border barrier is likely to be unavailable from the sources he has identified.

As a result, it may be difficult for the president to circumvent Congress, even if a resolution disapproving of his “emergency” moves is never enacted.

White House, North Korea still don‘t define ‘denuclearization’ the same way
Trump and aides downplay expectations for summit with Kim Jong Un next week

A ballistic missile during a "Victory Day" parade in 2013 in North Korea. President Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week in Vietnam. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Just days before President Donald Trump will be face-to-face again with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two sides remain divided on one of the biggest issues at the heart of their second summit.

Among the many unresolved issues as Trump and Kim prepare for another meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam is a common definition of what “denuclearization” would mean for the reclusive Asian country. A senior Trump administration official told reporters on a call Thursday morning that one of the top agenda items for the leaders’ second meeting is trying to agree to a “shared understanding of what denuclearization is.”

Mike Pompeo says he is not running for Senate in Kansas in 2020
Former congressman says he will be secretary of State as long as Trump wants him in that role

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a 2020 campaign for Senate in Kansas is “ruled out.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he was ruling out running for Senate in Kansas in 2020 — at least as long as he is still the top diplomat.

“I love Kansas. I’m going to be the secretary of State as long as President Trump gives me the opportunity to serve as America’s senior diplomat,” Pompeo told NBC’s “Today Show” when asked about a possible race for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Pat Roberts.

Some Republicans with bases in their districts break ranks with Trump over wall funding
Money shouldn’t be diverted from necessary military construction projects, lawmakers say

Ohio Rep. Michael R. Turner is among the Republican lawmakers with a military base in their districts who opposes the president’s circumvention of congressional spending powers. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Though typically aligned with the White House, some Republicans who have military bases in their districts oppose President Donald Trump raiding $3.6 billion in military construction projects to finance walls along the southern border.

Recent polling finds that most Americans oppose Trump’s circumvention of Congress to divert already-appropriated funds to build a wall, and the percentage of voters who endorse the idea tracks closely to the president's approval rating. 

Former top military advisers urge Congress to pass gun background checks bill
Ex-leaders are part of veterans coalition organized by Giffords’ group

Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is among the former military advisers and leaders urging congressional leaders to pass a universal backgrounds check bill. (John Medina/Getty Images file photo)

More than a dozen retired top military commanders, leaders and advisers, whose careers spanned both Republican and Democratic administrations, are throwing their weight behind a bill in the House and Senate that would require universal background checks for all U.S. gun sales.

In a letter Thursday, 13 former top military advisers and combat leaders urged congressional leaders in both parties to pass the bill, known in the House as HR 8, which targets private gun sales that don’t require background checks under current federal law.

‘The dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard’ and other highlights of the Senate’s European adventure
Senators have been traveling the globe this week, with many attending conferences in Europe

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly told the acting Defense secretary that pulling all troops from Syria by April 30 was “the dumbest f---ing idea I’ve heard .” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over President’s Day weekend, it might have been easier to get a quorum of the U.S. Senate together in Europe than in Washington.

After contentious border moves, stakes only get higher for Trump
‘The real rough water for President Trump still lies ahead,’ GOP insider says

South Koreans watch on a screen at the Seoul Railway Station on June 12, 2018, showing President Donald Trump meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — “Stay tuned” is a common refrain from White House aides when asked about the many cliffhangers created by President Donald Trump. But remarkably, even after three topsy-turvy months that culminated Friday in a wild Rose Garden appearance, that West Wing mantra will apply doubly over the next few weeks.

Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency at the southern border to unlock Pentagon funds for his proposed border wall came wrapped in an announcement press conference during which he veered from topic to topic, undercut his own legal position, often appeared dispassionate when discussing the emergency declaration, and made more baseless claims. That matter is already embroiled in court fights, putting perhaps his biggest campaign promise in legal limbo, and has appeared to created new distance between him and some Senate Republicans.

Trump makes Space Force official. There’s already a Netflix parody
The president also gets request from governor of ‘Space Coast’ to place Space Force HQ in his state

President Donald Trump speaks to the media after signing the Space Policy Directive 4, during a ceremony in the Oval Office on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump made Space Force official, but that might have been hard to tell at first from Tuesday in the Oval Office, as the chief executive held court on several satellite issues. 

“During my administration, we’re doing so much in space. We need it,” Trump said, surrounded by military brass as he signed a directive establishing Space Force within the Air Force.

Republicans have concerns about Trump’s emergency declaration, too
Congressional Republicans raised concerns, but didn't denounce Trump's radical maneuver

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement Friday that the president's national emergency declaration defies the Founders. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Some in the president’s party are wringing their hands about how the emergency declaration for a border wall might set a reckless precedent.

While Congressional Republicans have raised concerns, most held off on denouncing the president’s radical maneuver to circumvent Article I of the Constitution and devote federal funds to a border wall without their approval.

White House: Wall funds would be ‘back-filled’ in 2020 budget request
Trump will take money from Pentagon and Treasury that would bring total wall funding to $8 billion

President Donald Trump talks to reporters during a meeting of his cabinet on Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senior White House officials said Friday that the funds President Donald Trump will take from the Pentagon and the Treasury Department to pay for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would be “back-filled” in his 2020 budget request.

That means U.S. taxpayers would pay for every penny of the wall in fiscal 2019 — even though Trump long promised that Mexico would pay for it.

Why 19 Democrats and 109 Republicans voted against the government funding deal
Democratic defections were mostly Hispanic Caucus members, progressives concerned about immigration enforcement

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined 18 other House Democrats and 109 House Republicans in voting against the compromise spending package Thursday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats were just two votes short Thursday night of being able to clear a fiscal 2019 appropriations package without Republican help, while less than half of the GOP conference voted for the bill to avert another government shutdown.

That dynamic may foreshadow battles ahead as the new House Democratic majority will try to exert its influence over government spending while still having to deal with a Republican president and Senate. 

House passes appropriations package to avert shutdown, sends to Trump
President will sign legislation but declare national emergency to free up more money for border wall

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference Thursday in which she fielded questions about the government funding bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed a spending package Thursday night, completing congressional action to avert a government shutdown with barely a day to spare. 

The final vote was 300-128. Nineteen Democrats voted against the measure, while 109 Republicans, representing a majority of their conference, were opposed. 

House may vote on resolution to disapprove of Trump’s national emergency
Velázquez says chamber will vote on Castro disapproval resolution, but leadership says no decision made

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said the House will vote on a resolution to disapprove of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to build the wall. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:34 p.m. | The House will vote on a resolution of disapproval that would push back on President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to free up more funds for a wall along the southern border, according to New York Democrat Nydia M. Velázquez. But a leadership aide said no such decision about a vote has been made. 

Velázquez said the timing of the vote had not yet been settled on but added that the disapproval resolution sponsored by Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro would be the first vote taken. Castro, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement that he was “prepared to introduce a resolution to terminate the President’s emergency declaration under 50 U.S.C. 1622. (National Emergencies Act)” if Trump made such a move.