Defense & Cyberspace

Legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments to DHS questioned
Key House Democrats cite new documents in request for review

Chad Wolf, seen here during an Oct. 29 White House task force meeting, was sworn in Wednesday as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The leaders of the House Oversight and Homeland Security panels on Friday challenged the legality of recent top appointments at the Department of Homeland Security, including newly installed acting secretary, Chad Wolf.

Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the acting Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman, have asked the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct an “expedited review” to determine whether the Trump administration acted legally when it appointed both Wolf and his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan, as acting DHS secretary. They also question Wolf naming Ken Cuccinelli to serve as deputy director.

Trump ignites firestorm during impeachment hearing — with just two tweets
‘Be quiet!’: Agitated president lashes out at reporter‘s questions about tweet

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House on October 17. He and other staffers were caught off guard by President Donald Trump's tweet attacking a senior U.S. diplomat as she testified in the impeachment proceeding. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was fired  by President Donald Trump had just begun her public testimony in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Then came the tweet.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” he wrote. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.

Trump goes after Adam Schiff at Louisiana rally for GOP governor nominee
President’s ‘brand is winning’ so ‘losing anything, anywhere … hurts that brand,’ Republican strategist says

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 4. He was in Louisiana on Thursday night for a rally for GOP gubernatorial nominee Eddie Rispone. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday night used a political rally in Louisiana, billed as a late-race assist to the Republican candidate for governor, to blast the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and insult House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff.

“While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the radical left — Democrats — are ripping our country apart,” he said to boos from the crowd inside the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. He later accused Democrats of trying to “sabotage our democracy.”

Mnuchin emerges, again, as key player in budget talks
Treasury secretary reprises role he played when he helped broker July agreement

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is again surfacing as the Trump administration’s liaison with Congress in spending negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pelosi sidesteps using Trump’s name in discussing funding talks
At weekly presser, speaker refers to ‘the administration,’ not president or White House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pictured talking to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer during the Democrats news conference on Tuesday, indicated Thursday that she doesn’t want President Donald Trump to be involved in appropriations negotiations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday went out of her way to avoid acknowledging President Donald Trump and the White House when asked about appropriations negotiations, as a Nov. 21 deadline to continue funding the government approaches. 

At her weekly press conference, a reporter asked Pelosi about her working relationship with the White House, noting that Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution the same week the House is conducting hearings to determine whether Trump should be impeached.

New Trump call emerges in Taylor's testimony

William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, testifies Wednesday at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Wednesday told members of the House Intelligence Committee that he had recently learned about a July 26 phone call between President Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Taylor told the committee that one of his aides asked Sondland after the phone call about the president’s thoughts on Ukraine. Sondland replied, “President Trump cares more about the investigations of [former Vice President Joe] Biden,” according to Taylor’s account of the aide’s conversation.

Going all in on Louisiana governor’s race, Trump tries to ‘thread a needle’
‘This is not a Republican Party like it was two or three years ago,’ GOP strategist says

President Donald Trump looks on as Eddie Rispone, the Republican nominee for governor in Louisiana, speaks during a rally last week in Monroe, La. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday continues his considerable effort to rally Louisiana Republicans to oust the Democratic governor, making his fourth trip to boost GOP candidate Eddie Rispone.

The attempt to take personal ownership of the contest comes with some risk for Trump, who has already seen control of the House go to the opposite party in the 2018 midterms and a personal pitch to help the Republican governor in Kentucky, a state he won by 30 points in 2016, seemingly come up short last week.

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.

House Democrats have aggressive schedule of impeachment hearings before Thanksgiving
Intelligence panel will hear from eight witnesses over three days

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify in open session next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Intelligence Committee announced an aggressive public hearing schedule for next week with a plan to have eight witnesses testify over the course of three days.

Half of those witnesses are scheduled to appear next Tuesday. A morning hearing will feature testimony from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council.

How a Capitol Hill staffer and a James Bond screenwriter dramatized ‘The Report’
Political Theater, Episode 101

Journalists follow Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein as she leaves her office on her way to the chamber floor to speak about the CIA torture report being released by the committee on on Dec. 9, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report in 2014 was a compelling episode in American history, detailing as it did the CIA’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists and their lack of effectiveness. That doesn’t mean the seven-year investigation that led to the report automatically lends itself to high drama, particularly when one considers that many of those seven years were spent reading sensitive CIA documents in a windowless room. That makes the new movie “The Report” that much more of an accomplishment.

Director and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had his work cut out for him, constructing a political thriller out of the efforts led by Intelligence Committee staffer Daniel J. Jones. Burns and Jones explained some of thinking that went into the film’s narrative, as well as the issues it explores, in the latest Political Theater podcast with CQ Roll Call senior staff writer Niels Lesniewski and me. 

‘Embrace the suck,’ Ernst and McSally tell young women considering military
Republican senators reflect on their ‘boot camp’ experience

Republican senators Martha McSally and Joni Ernst share a message for young women considering entering the military. (Sen. Joni Ernst’s Twitter)

Veterans Day is a significant time to honor those who have fought to serve the country. And while Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Martha McSally of Arizona did just that, the two military veterans also took time to address future generations of servicemembers, particularly young women.

In a video posted to Twitter Monday evening, the Republican senators gave advice to young women considering entering basic training, or “boot camp,” which is known to require significant physical and psychological stamina.

Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter to visit Capitol Hill ahead of Erdogan visit
Boston Celtics center has called the Turkish leader the 'Hitler of our century'

NBA center Enes Kanter meets with Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. (courtesy of @EnesKanter / Twitter)

As President Donald Trump prepares to receive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a Wednesday state visit at the White House, NBA player Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Erdogan, is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill.

The Boston Celtics center plans to join Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton in the Capitol Visitor Center for a panel discussion Tuesday afternoon on protecting America’s Syrian Kurdish allies.

Google looks past Project Maven to work anew with the Pentagon
Company’s 2018 withdrawal from drone video program sent shockwaves through national security world

A Google sign at its 2019 Developer Days conference in Shanghai, China. (Lyu Liang/VCG via Getty Images)

More than a year after pulling out of a contract with the Pentagon that relied on technologies based on artificial intelligence to sort through drone videos, Google says it is ready to work with the Defense Department on a wide variety of applications that don’t involve weapons.

Google’s decision to engage with the Pentagon on non-weapons-related technologies stems from the company’s artificial intelligence principles published last year, said Kent Walker, senior vice president for global affairs at Google.

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.