gop-brand

On Afghanistan, Trump Bets On Generals He Once Criticized
President says ‘my original instinct was to pull out’

U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson (right) shakes hands with troops ahead of a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on April 29, 2017. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

Candidate Donald Trump often said he knew more when it came to the country’s foes than America’s top military leaders. But by siding with retired and current four-star generals on Afghanistan, Trump placed a big bet on a group he once believed had been “reduced to rubble.”

Trump announced Monday night at Joint Base Fort Myer Hamilton Hall in Arlington, Va., he will keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan despite his long-held disdain for the operation there. The president’s decision came after a months-long review by his national security team, and reports indicate he will raise the American military presence there to around 12,000.

Beefing Up Afghan Troop Level Would Be Major Shift for Trump
In 2012, he called conflict ‘complete waste,’ adding, ‘Time to come home!’

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Melissa Fusco gives candy to an Afghan boy on the streets in Logar Province in Afghanistan in 2009. President Donald Trump will address the nation Monday night on his plan for U.S. military operations there. (Courtesy Spc. Richard Jones/Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Monday night that he is sending thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, breaking with his yearslong disdain for the nearly 16-year-old conflict there.

As a candidate, Trump rarely talked about the Afghanistan War and stability operation other than to disparage it. He used it as an example of why his nationalistic approach would be better than any of his Republican or Democratic foes, arguing the George W. Bush and Obama administrations had wasted billions of dollars there for little strategic gain.

Congress Set for Horse-Trading Over Must-Pass Bills in September
“Clean” debt limit increase will likely require Democrats’ support

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker said a clean debt ceiling increase appears unlikely to pass without “more more increased spending and must-pass legislation to attract the necessary votes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ September agenda is packed with several must-pass bills that Republicans and Democrats are likely to look to as leverage for extracting concessions on other priorities.

With a short legislative calendar next month — only 12 days when both chambers are scheduled to be in session (the Senate has a few extra days on its timetable) — some measures could be packaged together, creating even more leverage and risk. 

Trump Is Quickly Running Out of GOP Factions to Alienate
Republican strategist: ‘He’s basically crossing out all of his allies’

President Donald Trump’s ouster of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is seen by some as his first major slight to his conservative base. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is running out of Republican Party factions to offend and alienate after firing Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist who was a bridge to the president’s conservative base.

Along with Friday’s blow to his base, a defensive and sometimes erratic Trump in the past few weeks alone has attacked once-supportive business leaders, GOP lawmakers and voters eager to distance themselves from far-right and white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. He’s also lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in any effort to push forward his legislative agenda.

Trump Says ‘Obstructionist Democrats’ Undermining National Security
President sends mixed messages before leaving for Camp David security summit

President Donald Trump, here aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford in March, lashed out at Democrats over what he says is their intent to "delay" his national security policies. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump began the last workday of yet another chaotic week of his presidency by accusing Democrats of hindering the country’s security — while also sending some mixed signals.

About 90 minutes before his scheduled departure for a Camp David summit with his national security team on North Korea and related issues, the president took to Twitter with contradictory messages about the state of American security.

Trump Lacks ‘Stability’ and ‘Competence’ for Job, Corker Says
Foreign Relations chairman warns of ‘great peril’ unless Trump changes

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., lambasted President Trump on Thursday. The duo is pictured above in happier times, at a Trump campaign rally in North Carolina in July 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker on Thursday lambasted Donald Trump, saying the president is driving the United States toward “great peril” because he lacks the “stability” and “competence” for the country’s highest office.

The Tennessee Republican once appeared on stage at a Trump campaign rally, but it any goodwill he might have built with Trump likely evaporated Thursday. The president, as he did with a Twitter attack earlier in the day on Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., often attacks any critics — and holds grudges.

Pelosi Joins Call for Removal of Confederate Statues From Capitol
Trump says country is being ‘ripped apart’ by removal of ‘beautiful’ monuments

Democrats are calling for the removal from the Capitol of Confederate statues, like this one of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Statuary Hall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 12:32 p.m. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday joined a drumbeat from other Democrats, calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.

“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” the California Democrat said in a statement

Trump Appears to Endorse Sen. Flake’s Primary Foe
Arizona Republican has become a leading critic of the president

President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, calling him “toxic.” (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump appeared Thursday to endorse Sen. Jeff Flake’s primary opponent, lashing out at the Arizona Republican senator who has become one of his most vocal critics.

Trump’s attack on Flake was his second Twitter strike of the morning on a GOP senator and followed a social media strike on South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. The two broadsides on two moderate members of his own party’s Senate caucus illustrated anew how the president repeatedly courts the party’s conservative members who are more in line with his own political base.

Trump Hits Lindsey Graham Over Alleged ‘Disgusting Lie’
Graham: President suggested ‘moral equivalency’ between KKK, Heyer

President Donald Trump speaks Tuesday about white supremacist groups and the violence in Virginia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Updated at 9:11 a.m. Accusing Sen. Lindsey Graham of a “disgusting lie,” Donald Trump warned the South Carolina Republican voters will punish him for criticizing the president’s response to the racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Graham in a Wednesday statement said Trump, during an impromptu press conference Tuesday, “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. [Heather] Heyer,” referring to the young woman killed in a car attack by a Nazi sympathizer.

Will GOP Divergence From Trump Over White Supremacist Comments Last?
Fissure unlikely to lead to a larger GOP break from president

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has often disagreed with some of the things President Donald Trump has said but is expected to continue working with him in the interests of the GOP's legislative agenda. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Each time President Donald Trump makes an inflammatory comment, on the campaign trail or in the White House, it feels like what could be a breaking point for Republicans. But it never is.

With Trump doubling down on his comments effectively defending some white supremacists on Tuesday, could this be it?