terrorism

Pentagon report: US pullout from Syria strengthens terrorists
ISIS regrouping, readying new attacks despite death of leader, according to assessment

Syrian Kurds gather around a U.S. armored vehicle during a demonstration against Turkish threats next to a U.S.-led international coalition base on the outskirts of Ras al-Ain in Syria's Hasakeh province near the Turkish border in October. (Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The sudden departure of most U.S. troops from northeastern Syria in early October has strengthened the Islamic State terrorist group in that country, despite the U.S. military’s recent killing of the group’s leader, according to a new Pentagon assessment. 

ISIS is reconstituting its forces and readying new plans for terrorist attacks in the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal and Turkey’s subsequent invasion of Syria, and other forces in the area are unlikely to prioritize counterterrorism as the U.S. military did, according to an intelligence report summarized in a Pentagon audit published Tuesday. 

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

White House says Trump ‘too busy’ to watch ‘boring’ impeachment hearing
President cared more about Biden probe than corruption in Ukraine, diplomat testifies

President Donald Trump speaks at an event at the White House earlier this year. He said Wednesday he is not watching the first public impeachment hearing. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump — an avid cable news consumer — contended Wednesday he is “too busy” to watch the first public impeachment hearing, but he dismissed it as a made-for-television “hoax.”

The White House-Republican strategy for providing a counter message to testimony from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about two quid-pro-quos with Ukraine’s new president orchestrated by Trump began to unfold in the hearing’s first two hours.

Trump to host Turkey’s Erdogan same day public impeachment hearings start
Bipartisan calls to cancel visit ignored, as experts say Washington still needs Ankara

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the White House in 2017. The Turkish leader makes a controversial return Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be feted Wednesday at the White House despite his attacks on a longtime U.S. ally, his purchase of military equipment from Russia and calls from lawmakers in both parties to punish him.

President Donald Trump and top aides have ignored bipartisan calls to cancel Erdogan’s visit, which is expected to include a joint press conference on the same day public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry begin.

White House, GOP allies shift to Clintonesque counterimpeachment message
‘Pelosi won’t bring those bills to the floor because she is infatuated with impeachment,’ WH spox says

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., talk as they arrive for a press conference at the Capitol on May 9. Cheney accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having “neutered” the Intelligence Committee because of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House and its Republican allies on Thursday slightly shifted their counterimpeachment messaging to one that more closely resembles that of President Bill Clinton’s West Wing messaging during his own House investigation.

Former aides to the 42nd president have offered free advice to the Trump White House for several weeks, suggesting the 45th chief executive and his top administration aides focus on what President Donald Trump is still trying to accomplish to benefit Americans in their everyday lives.

Often-talkative Trump goes quiet amid impeachment testimony, slowing economy
‘It’s almost like he is low energy these days,’ Democratic strategist says

President Donald Trump speaks to news media at the White House on Oct. 10. After damning testimony from White House aides and data showing a sluggish economy, he has ducked reporters' questions this week. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS | All week, reporters at the White House have waited for the announcement over the loudspeaker instructing the day’s press pool to report for duty pronto for unplanned presidential remarks. But, so far, the speaker has remained mostly silent — just like President Donald Trump.

Even during a term that has featured — at the time, at least — what felt like consequential weeks, this one quickly took on a different feel.

By praising Baghdadi-cornering K-9, Trump stirs Islam’s complicated dog history — and his own
President praises ‘beautiful’ military animal but has used ‘like a dog’ to hammer his critics, rivals

A U.S. soldier and military dog keep watch at Forward Operating Base Connelly in Afghanistan in August 2015. President Donald Trump is praising a military canine used in a Saturday raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but his own history with canines is complicated. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump has singled out a U.S. military dog that helped corner Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before he killed himself during a Saturday mission in Syria. In doing so, he has waded into the Middle East’s — and his own — complicated history with the species.

As he announced the extremist group leader’s death in Sunday morning remarks from the White House, the commander in chief sent mixed messages about canines. It was difficult to determine how Trump, widely known as not a big animal fan, feels about dogs, even as he described the Syria raid.

Coalition forces collected DNA from ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in 2004
Records released Tuesday cast new light on the terrorist leader’s time in U.S. custody

The U.S. military took a DNA sample from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shown here in 2014, more than a decade before he was killed, records show. (Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images file photo)

The U.S. military took a DNA sample from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi more than a decade before American special forces killed him last weekend, records obtained by CQ Roll Call show.

The White House confirmed in a statement Sunday that “visual evidence and DNA tests confirmed Baghdadi’s identity” after the terrorist leader blew himself up during a dramatic raid by special forces in northwest Syria.

Lopsided cease-fire ‘deal’ emboldens Turkey, harms U.S. allies
Temporary, nonbinding, requiring nothing: ‘We got what we wanted,’ foreign minister says

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 10. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence had reached an agreement with Turkey’s president for a halt to hostilities in northern Syria.

“This is a great day for civilization,” Trump wrote. “People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years.”

Will Trump abandoning the Kurds hurt him politically with former comrades in arms?
Military members and veterans have been among the commander in chief’s staunchest supporters

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., who served with Kurdish forces during the war in Iraq, said they were “the one group you could have behind you and not worry about your back. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With President Donald Trump in essence abandoning former Kurdish allies in northern Syria who helped the U.S. beat back ISIS over the last half decade, some Republican lawmakers who served in the military and outside advocacy groups are divided whether the policy could damage the president’s support among current and former service members, which has remained high throughout his administration.

Despite the U.S. military and Kurds working hand-in-hand on military operations in the Middle East for more than two decades, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that the Kurds are “no angels,” and deemed his move to withdraw U.S. personnel who had served as a buffer between them and Turkish forces “strategically brilliant.”