National Security

Democrats Plan to Challenge Trump on National Security

“Voters were undeterred by the 2016 cries of alarm from Democrats — and some Republicans — that Donald Trump was unqualified to be commander in chief, but a group of Democrats is betting Trump’s record in office will push national security issues to the fore in the 2018 midterms and the next presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“A group of mostly young veterans of the Barack Obama administration and the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign is launching a national security political strike force aimed at countering Trump and Republicans.”

McMaster Could Leave White House

“With tensions flaring between President Trump and national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the Pentagon is considering options that would allow the President to potentially move the three-star general out of his current role and back into the military,” CNN reports.

“A search is quietly being conducted by the Pentagon to see if there is a four-star military job suited for McMaster… Several sources told CNN that the push for a replacement comes after months of personal tension between McMaster and Trump.”

General Was Not Consulted on Transgender Ban

Less than 24 hours after President Trump tweeted that “after consultation with my Generals and military experts” he would end transgender military service, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent emails to the country’s top generals saying Trump’s announcement “was unexpected” and that he intended to say he was “not consulted,” BuzzFeed News reports.

A Skirmish In China Over the Nuclear Football

When President Trump and his team visited Beijing last November, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football, according to Jonathan Swan.

“When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry… Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.”

“The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump’s team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing… but somebody at the Chinese end either didn’t get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.”

McMaster Says Evidence of Meddling Is ‘Incontrovertible’

White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is “now really incontrovertible,” CNN reports.

McMaster has said previously it had been difficult to say definitively because “technically it was difficult” but “also you didn’t want to divulge your intelligence capabilities.”

He added: “But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation it’s going to be very apparent to everyone.”

Trump Orders Pentagon to Plan a Military Parade

“President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top secret discussions — marked a tipping point.”

“Surrounded by the military’s highest ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive.”

Court Asked to Unseal Carter Page Surveillance

“The New York Times notified the Justice Department on Monday that it is asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal secret documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page, the onetime Trump campaign adviser at the center of a disputed memo written by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee,” the New York Times reports.

“The motion is unusual. No such wiretapping application materials apparently have become public since Congress first enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978.”

“But President Trump lowered the shield of secrecy surrounding such materials on Friday by declassifying the Republican memo about Mr. Page, after finding that the public interest in disclosing its contents outweighed any need to protect the information. Because Mr. Trump did so, the Times argues, there is no longer a justification ‘for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety,’ and ‘disclosure would serve the public interest.'”

Pentagon Lost Track of Hundreds of Millions

“One of the Pentagon’s largest agencies can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending, a leading accounting firm says in an internal audit obtained by Politico that arrives just as President Donald Trump is proposing a boost in the military budget.”

“Ernst & Young found that the Defense Logistics Agency failed to properly document more than $800 million in construction projects, just one of a series of examples where it lacks a paper trail for millions of dollars in property and equipment. Across the board, its financial management is so weak that its leaders and oversight bodies have no reliable way to track the huge sums it’s responsible for, the firm warned in its initial audit of the massive Pentagon purchasing agent.”

Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight

The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes to midnight, the closest it’s been to midnight since 1953.

“The Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists assesses that the world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago; it is as threatening as it has been since World War II… To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger — and its immediacy.”