defense

Trump vs. Pelosi: 5 takeaways from their tit-for-tat as shutdown plods on
Nixing Afghanistan trip also was a direct blow to House Dems’ oversight plans

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Donald Trump have continued trading barbs in recent days. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump continued their high-stakes game of tit-for-tat Friday, even as the 28-day partial government shutdown plodded on with no signs of any restart of negotiations. 

White House aides scurried about Friday, initially declining to directly address a bombshell report that Trump directed former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. (Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later called the story “categorically false.”)

Trump unveils his ’Ric Flair doctrine’ — after another border wall pitch
Buried in president's hawkish remarks was assessment Iranian leaders ‘want to talk’

President Donald Trump delivers in the East Room of the White House in September. He was in a hawkish mood while talking U.S. military missiles at the Pentagon on Thursday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump — in a Pentagon address that included digs at Democrats and a border wall pitch — warned potential foes like Iran that the United States is a “good player,” but could quickly become the dirtiest player in the game if provoked.

The commander in chief arrived at the Pentagon Thursday morning for remarks, ostensibly about a Defense Department review of the country’s missile defense arsenal and his administration’s plan to expand and upgrade it. But just like Monday while addressing farmers at a conference in New Orleans, the president spent about half his remarks bashing congressional Democrats, describing a bleak situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and lobbying for a “steel” border barrier.

Trump to try again to court moderate House Democrats on border wall
Goal for Situation Room meeting is funds for ‘real border security and the wall’

President Donald Trump, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, speaks earlier this month in the White House’s Rose Garden. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet Wednesday with the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus in the Situation Room as the White House tries to cobble together votes for a shutdown-ending bill that includes funding for his proposed southern border wall.

The Problem Solvers group is composed of just under 50 Republican and Democratic House members. The session will mark the second time in as many days the White House has attempted to court moderate and deal-minded House Democrats.

Shutdown could drag on as Trump won’t move ‘fast’ on national emergency for wall
Dug-in president calls on Congress to ’come back and vote’

President Donald Trump speaks as he is joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise in the Rose Garden at the White House last week. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump signaled Friday that a partial government shutdown now in its record-tying 21st day could drag on for a while as he said he will not move “fast” to declare a national emergency to access border wall funds.

The president told reporters during a border security event in the White House’s Cabinet Room that he has the “right” and legal authority to make the move, which would allow him to access Defense Department dollars and shift them to the construction of a border barrier. But he made clear he plans to continue to press Democrats to give in to his demands before he issues such a decree.

Trump continues trying to rewrite his own Mexico paying for wall history
Reporter: ‘You proposed that in your campaign, sir.’ POTUS: ‘No.’

President Donald Trump twice on Thursday tried to explain that Mexico wasn’t going to literally write a check to pay for his southern border wall. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday morning continued practicing revisionist history over his campaign-trail pledge to make Mexico pay for his proposed southern border wall that has pushed a partial government shutdown into its 21st day.

The president twice on Thursday raised brows as he flatly denied ever saying that America’s southern neighbor would foot the bill for the border structure that he is struggling to obtain funds for from the U.S. Congress.

Raiding military budget for wall would contradict previous Trump administration statements
Mulvaney complained last year of key military projects being underfunded

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies over a piece of border fence on Nov. 7 in Mission, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

If President Donald Trump uses emergency powers to tap the military’s construction budget to bankroll a border wall, it would contradict his administration’s previous statements that the so-called milcon programs need more money, not less.

While the president signed into law last September legislation that allocated about $8.1 billion for military construction projects in fiscal 2019, that figure was nearly $800 million less than Trump proposed. And it was almost $1.5 billion less than the military services had wanted at that time.

Harry Reid pushing for more UFO research
Wants a key senator to listen to stories from service members who claim sightings

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is continuing to advocate for UFO research. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is lobbying his former colleagues to do more to study unidentified flying objects.

“I personally don’t know if there exists little green men other places, I kind of doubt that, but I do believe that the information we have indicates we should do a lot more study,” the Nevada Democrat said. “We have hundreds and hundreds of people that have seen the same thing — something in the sky, it moves a certain way.”

Trump opts against declaring national border emergency — for now
President has yet to rule out the move if shutdown talks stall, White House aides say

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to President Donald Trump's Oval Office address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump opted against using his first Oval Office prime-time address to declare a national emergency at the southern border, instead labeling the situation a “crisis” in an attempt to get Democrats to grant his demand for a wall and end the partial government shutdown.

The president delivered his plea to lawmakers to pass legislation to address the U.S.-Mexico border by repeating his hard-line rhetoric that the area is a transit route for hordes of migrants making illegal crossings, dangerous criminals, lethal narcotics and human traffickers. But he did not appear to dangle any olive branches toward Democrats or say anything that might attract enough Democratic votes to pass a bill with $5.7 billion for the barrier and end the shutdown.

Trump and Walls, Decisive Force, Op-Sec and Falsehoods: Four Takeaways from His Iraq Visit
White House slammed for revealing elite troops‘ presence there

The Southern border is a long way from Iraq, but President Donald Trump talked about it on his visit to the troops in the Middle East on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump led his remarks to U.S. military troops Wednesday in Iraq with an order: “Let’s have a good time.” What followed was a combat zone version of one of his signature campaign-style rallies.

“I don’t know if you folks are aware of what’s happening,” the commander in chief told troops assembled to hear his remarks at Al-Asad Air Base, referring to a government shutdown that now is in its sixth day. Lawmakers typically try to refrain from criticizing a president when he is on foreign soil. But this president could not resist criticizing Democrats on Iraqi soil.

Amid Crises, Trump Slips Out of Washington to Visit Troops in Iraq
President had caught flack for opting against a warzone visit in first 23 months in office

President Trump quietly left Joint Base Andrews early Wednesday morning on Air Force One to make his first visit as commander in chief to U.S. troops deployed in a combat zone. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Amid a government shutdown and multiple crises at home, President Donald Trump slid out of the White House early Wednesday morning for a holiday season trip to visit troops in Iraq.

Trump faced bipartisan criticism for not visiting any U.S. forces deployed in combat zones since he took office in January 2017. There were rumors last week that he might travel to Iraq or Afghanistan during what had been planned as a 16-day holiday season vacation at his South Florida resort, but White Houses, for security reasons, keep such trips under wraps.