Defense & Cyberspace

Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims
Email undermines veracity of president’s statement about Gold Star contacts

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduces him during a White House briefing October 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

Podcast: America's Iran Quandary and Why Money Can't Prevent Military Mishaps
The Week Ahead, Episode 75

The destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a chemical tanker in August, one of several deadly military accidents this year. Such incidents are on the decline, according to a Roll Call analysis. (Courtesy U.S. Navy)

CQ foreign policy reporter Rachel Oswald and Kelsey Davenport of the Arms Control Association explain why Congress is in no rush to change the Iran nuclear deal. And CQ defense reporter John M. Donnelly argues the Pentagon does not necessarily need more money to prevent deadly accidents.

Show Notes:

Wilson on Kelly Criticism: ‘He Can't Lie on Me’
Florida Democrat says she has received threatening calls from white nationalists

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., stood by her criticism of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson said Friday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly lied Thursday about her involvement in funding for an FBI building in her district.

“He can’t just go on TV and lie on me,” Wilson told CNN Friday morning.

Trump’s Generals Had a Very Emotive Day
White House isn't denying account of president's words to military widow

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly speaks during a briefing Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The generals with whom President Donald Trump has surrounded himself have seen combat and are known for public personas one part stoic and two parts tough. But on Thursday, Trump’s generals had a very emotive day.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps four-star general who once commanded troops in Iraq, appeared in the White House briefing room and delivered a passionate rebuke of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., who this week slammed Trump for his alleged remarks to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier.

Analysis: McMaster’s ‘Hurt’ Feelings Make His Job Even Harder
Trump's national security adviser must manage feud between his boss, SASC chair

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, on the day in February when he was announced as the new national security adviser by President Donald Trump (center) in Palm Beach, Fla. (Jenna Johnson/Washington Post/Print Pool)

ANALYSIS | Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has touched a nerve with one of President Donald Trump’s top aides. And it puts the president’s national security adviser in a very tough spot, hurt feelings and all.

The Arizona Republican often complained to reporters on the national security beat just how tough he found it to get information about strategies and U.S. operations abroad from the Obama administration. He frequently groused that the Obama White House was micromanaging the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community.

Senate Democrats Doubt Validity of Puerto Rico Death Toll
Reports of full morgues may signal incomplete official count, senators say

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined 12 of her Democratic colleagues in signing a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke raising questions about the official death count in Puerto Rico. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló travels to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats is asking the administration about the accuracy of the island territory’s death toll.

Thirteen senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have written a new letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke expressing concern that reports about morgues at Puerto Rican hospitals being full may signal that the official tally of 48 fatalities may be incomplete.

Trump Claims Proof Rep. Wilson Fabricated Words to Military Widow
President’s warning harkens back to initial Comey tapes claim

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson says President Trump told a military widow her killed-in-action husband “knew what he signed up for.” Trump calls Wilson’s story “totally fabricated.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

A Democratic Florida congresswoman became the latest target of a morning presidential twitter attack, with Donald Trump alleging Rep. Frederica S. Wilson “totally fabricated” details of his call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger.

Trump called the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before his body was returned to the United States during a ceremony at Miami International Airport. Wilson told several media outlets she was traveling with his widow, Myeshia Johnson, who took the call on her car’s sound system, allowing all passengers to overhear it.

Contrary to Rhetoric, Military Mishaps Have Been Declining
The Pentagon’s deadly accident-filled summer bucked a larger trend

The destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a chemical tanker in August, one of several deadly military accidents this year. Such incidents are on the decline, according to a Roll Call analysis. (Courtesy U.S. Navy)

Hawks in Congress have said military mishaps are up because the defense budget is down, but the data says otherwise.

The summer of 2017 saw a rash of fatal military accidents — ships colliding at sea, planes crashing and vehicles catching fire — that were deadlier than attacks from America’s enemies.

Trump Asia Itinerary Filled With Potential Headaches
North Korea tension, meeting with Philippines strongman frame trip

Chinese President Xi and President Trump, along with their wives, in April during their 24-hour summit in Florida. The duo will meet again on Nov. 8 when Trump visits Beijing as part of his first Asian trip as president. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump will stop in China and South Korea — two countries key to his standoff with North Korea — next month during his first Asia swing, a trip that also will feature one-on-one meetings in the Philippines with that country’s hardline leader.

Trump is slated to depart on an 11-day swing through the continent on Nov. 3, with the main event to be his participation in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

Trump Pounces on Democrats over Iran Deal, Tax Overhaul
President says he hopes Hillary Clinton runs again in 2020

President Donald Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other congressional Democrats on a host of issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump spent early Monday morning slamming congressional Democrats for not supporting a proposed tax overhaul and then sent a personal message to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the Iran deal.

“Dem Senator Schumer hated the Iran deal made by President Obama, but now that I am involved, he is OK with it,” Trump tweeted to his more than 40 million followers. “Tell that to Israel, Chuck!”

Analysis: With Iran Decision, Trump Punts on First Down
President keeps pact intact, leaves next step to Congress

President Donald Trump delivers remarks earlier this month at the White House. On Friday, he announced he is decertifying the Iran nuclear deal — but keeping it in place for now. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is now a familiar maneuver. President Donald Trump mixes bold rhetoric with a lofty promise — and then sets up a Congress controlled by his own party as a scapegoat for the potential failure.

Trump did it yet again Friday by punting action on the Iran nuclear deal to lawmakers.

Trump to Keep Iran Deal Intact — for Now
President wants Congress to set up ‘trigger points’ that could kill agreement

John Kerry (center left), then secretary of state, sits across from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (center right) in March 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland, before resuming negotiations that led to the P5+1 deal on Iran’s nuclear program. (State Department Photo via Flickr)

The Iran nuclear deal is (not quite) dead. Long live the Iran nuclear deal (maybe).

After dubbing the 2015 nuclear pact the Obama administration and five other world powers inked with Tehran as the “the worst deal ever,” President Donald Trump on Friday will announce he is keeping the United States in the agreement. For now, at least.

White House Tips Hand — Slightly — on Iran Deal
Fact sheet refers to nuclear pact beyond Trump speech

President Donald Trump is scheduled to weigh in on the Iran nuclear deal on Friday. A fact sheet released by the White House may indicate that the agreement isn’t dead. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ahead of a much-anticipated announcement by President Donald Trump about the Iran nuclear deal, the White House tipped its hand a bit by signaling the agreement may not be dead.

The White House released a fact sheet late Thursday night laying out the administration’s new Iran policy that was subject to an early Friday morning embargo. While it did not specify if Trump will, as expected, decertify the deal with Tehran, it called for the pact to be implemented more stringently.

House Appoints Defense Bill Negotiators As Space Corps Fight Looms
F-35 fighter jets will be another point of contention as the chambers confer

The Senate so vigorously opposes the Space Corps proposal that it adopted by unanimous consent an amendment — offered by Sens. Bill Nelson and Tom Cotton, shown here in 2016 — to the Senate NDAA that would block it. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.

The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.

Pelosi Wants ‘Urgent’ Update on President’s Nuclear Weapons Authority
Minority leader says proposal is about presidential powers, not about Trump

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the current law guiding the use of nuclear weapons is “ancient.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

Status: Urgent.

That’s how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is categorizing the need to update the law guiding when the president of the United States can use nuclear weapons.