FPI Overnight Brief: March 7, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
Swift-moving Iranian vessels came dangerously close to a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend, U.S. officials said Monday. – Washington Post
 
Over the last two decades, since Congress carved out a terrorism case exception to the general rule that people cannot use American courts to sue foreign governments, victims of attacks have racked up more than $50 billion in default judgments against Iran. Those judgments provided symbolic justice but came with little realistic expectation that Iran — which did not bother to contest the evidence — would actually pay all it owed, aside from its limited assets frozen in the United States. But now, those cases are colliding with another major legal and national security event: the Iran nuclear deal. – New York Times
 
Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh write: The IRGC has become Tehran’s instrument of domestic repression and overseas terror. In order to tame the Islamic Republic, the United States must find a way of diminishing the guards’ power. Labeling it a terrorist group is just one way to begin that process. – Foreign Affairs
 
Syria
 
The U.S. military’s top officer met with his Russian and Turkish counterparts Tuesday to discuss the rapidly evolving situation in Syria and Iraq, Moscow and Ankara said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The Islamic State appeared to suffer an important setback on Monday when American-backed militia fighters in Syria said they had seized the main route that connects Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, to its territory in southeastern Deir al-Zour Province. – New York Times
 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime relies on a patchwork of state security forces and dozens of domestic and foreign militias that have transformed government-held territory into a complex web of fiefs that vie for power and threaten stability. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Stryker combat vehicles and up-armored Humvees carrying additional U.S. troops sent into Syria were patrolling the streets of northeastern Manbij on Monday in an effort to deter a multi-sided battle for the city, the Pentagon said. – Military.com
 
The U.S. military has carved out a new role in Syria, with small numbers of troops now positioned to prevent an escalation of violence among an array of militias and other forces that have converged on an increasingly complex battlefield. – Associated Press
 
U.S.-backed Syrian militias will tighten the chokehold on Islamic State's base in Raqqa, after cutting the last main road out of the city, a spokesman said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
Syrian children show symptoms of "toxic stress" and are attempting self-harm and suicide in response to prolonged exposure to war, according to a report released Tuesday. – Associated Press
 
Frederic Hof writes What the arrival of President Donald Trump means for Syria and its people is not yet clear. Like his predecessor, Mr. Trump has made the defeat of the so-called Islamic State his top Syrian priority. Unlike his predecessor, the President spoke as a candidate of aligning American efforts with the Assad regime and with Russia. Although I think the possibility of working with Russia will be explored seriously, no doubt the President has discovered an unpleasant and unavoidable truth: if you ally yourself with the regime, you have allied yourself with Iran. – Atlantic Council
 
Iraq
 
Iraqi forces trying to reclaim Mosul penetrated the western part of the city on Tuesday, retaking a bridge and several public buildings during heavy clashes with the Islamic State, officials said. – New York Times
 
It was supposed to be a long hard slog, but top commanders within the U.S.-backed coalition battling the Islamic State now say Mosul, the terrorist group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, could be back under Baghdad’s control within weeks. – Washington Times
 
The fight against Islamic State in west Mosul has unleashed a torrent of people, with the International Organization for Migration estimating Monday that more than 50,000 people have fled their homes in the two weeks since Iraqi forces renewed their offensive. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Iraqi officials on Monday praised the Trump administration’s decision to exclude Iraq from a list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens will be temporarily banned from entering the United States, calling it an acknowledgment of their nation’s unique role in the struggle against global extremism. – Washington Post
 
Arabian Peninsula
 
For a fifth consecutive night, American warplanes and drones on Monday pummeled suspected Qaeda targets in Yemen as the Pentagon said an earlier attack in the country had killed a former prisoner held at the United States detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. – New York Times
 
The leader of al Qaeda's Yemeni wing has said the United States refused to exchange jailed Muslim cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman for a U.S. journalist who died in a failed rescue attempt in 2014, according to a recording posted on its media channel. - Reuters
 
Bahrain’s justice ministry has filed a lawsuit intended to dissolve a major opposition group that it accuses of supporting terrorism, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported on Monday. - Reuters
 
Libya
 
East Libyan forces carried out fresh air strikes on Monday and said they were mobilizing ground forces as they attempt to win back two of Libya's largest oil ports, military officials said. - Reuters
 
Israel
 
Those who have been vocal in their support of boycotting Israel or any of its institutions due to the nearly 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, might find themselves having trouble now visiting the country and, by default, the Palestinian territories. – Washington Post
 
The Trump administration has explicitly warned Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it would trigger an "immediate crisis" between the two close allies, Israel's defense minister said Monday. – Associated Press
 
Turkey
 
Germany and Turkey have been locked in an intensifying war of words over the past week, as campaigning heats up before an April referendum in Turkey on a new Constitution that would expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – New York Times
 
Nick Danforth writes: Whether Erodgan succeeds in enhancing his powers through a coming referendum or not, his position seems secure for the foreseeable future. This is a result not only of his ample ambition and political skill, but also of the missteps of opponents who tried to resist him the wrong way. - Politico

Asia

Afghanistan
 
Police in parts of volatile southern Afghanistan have not been paid for weeks, officials say, undermining morale at a time when Taliban militants traditionally increase attacks on security forces. - Reuters
 
China
 
The National People’s Congress draws representatives from all over China, including some nominally representing Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing has long claimed. Most of these legislators are Communist Party members and functionaries. But there is another contingent that is larger than even the biggest provincial delegation: the People’s Liberation Army. – New York Times
 
China’s annual economic blueprint unveiled this week touted the inroads China has made in paring back production in its bloated steel industry. A closer look suggests that much of the progress was on paper. China’s overproduction of steel remains a challenge to the country’s growth model and a global source of discontent. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
China has charted out a $300 billion plan to become nearly self-sufficient by 2025 in a range of important industries, from planes to computer chips to electric cars, as it looks to kick-start its next stage of economic development. But big companies in the rest of the world worry that it is more than that: an unfair advantage in China’s home court, and perhaps elsewhere. – New York Times
 
China’s finance minister on Tuesday rejected accusations that the country is keeping its defense budget under wraps after the figure was omitted from an annual report released to the media. – Associated Press
 
While the U.S. military remains the dominant force in Asia and the world, China has been moving from quantity to quality and is catching up quickly in equipment, organization and capability, and is increasingly able to project power far from its shores. Rapid economic growth, lavish spending and a desire to regain China’s historical role as East Asia’s leading power are helping drive the moves. – Associated Press
 
Olivia Enos writes: If the international community does not defend the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong’s citizens, there is little hope that freedom and respect for human rights can take root elsewhere in China. Better to preserve rights in Hong Kong now than to let them erode further and then struggle to revive them later. - Forbes
 
Joerg Wuttke write: China would be wise to learn from past mistakes that some European member states made with misguided industrial policy. The fact that it is a much larger country doesn’t mean the results will be more favorable. Rather, the costs are likely to be higher. For China’s own sake, it needs to allow market forces and fair competition to replace industrial policy. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Report: In “Beyond the Great Firewall: How China Became a Global Information Power,” Shanthi Kalathil examines China’s strategy to harness the global information ecosystem through three avenues: shaping international news media, guiding the evolution of the global Internet, and influencing global culture through Hollywood. The report points to a concerning trend. Not only is China reshaping its international image, it has had in some cases succeeded at enshrining authoritarian norms and values in the very markets, protocols and production processes that govern these global systems. – NED’s Center for International Media Assistance
 
North Korea
 
North Korea was practicing to strike American military bases in Japan with its latest barrage of missiles, state media in Pyongyang reported Tuesday. – Washington Post
 
North Korea’s firing of a burst of midrange missiles aimed at Japan underscores Pyongyang’s immediate threat to the U.S. military, even as it pushes toward a promised launch this year of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially hit the U.S. West Coast. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
North Korea’s test launch of four ballistic missiles Monday — three of which crashed into the Sea of Japan — prompted a swift and harsh reaction from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said the development showed that Pyongyang now represents a “a new level of threat” to Tokyo and the world. – Washington Times
 
International sanctions on North Korea have largely failed to curb the country’s expansion of its military and nuclear program or significantly decrease revenues it earns from exports of arms and minerals, according to a comprehensive sanctions report by the United Nations. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
North Korea said on Tuesday that it was barring all Malaysians from leaving the country until there is a “fair settlement” of a dispute over the assassination in Kuala Lumpur of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea’s leader. – New York Times
 
South Korea
 
Alarmed over North Korea’s increasingly provocative behavior, the United States said Tuesday that it had started to deploy an antimissile system in South Korea that China has angrily opposed as a threat to its security. – New York Times
 
China warned Tuesday of “consequences” for South Korea over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system, raising regional tension and questions about China’s commitment to free, open trade. – Washington Post
 
South Korea’s embattled president colluded with a confidante to extract $37 million from Samsung in return for granting favorable treatment to the corporate behemoth, special prosecutors asserted Monday after a 75-day investigation of the corruption scandal that has been roiling the country. – Washington Post
 
South Korea will consider filing a complaint against China to the World Trade Organization over what it described as trade retaliation for the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system outside of Seoul, the ruling party said on Tuesday. - Reuters
 
North Korea warned Monday that U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which it called "the most undisguised nuclear war maneuvers," are driving the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia toward "nuclear disaster." – Associated Press
 
Editorial: Inducing Pyongyang’s elites to defect isn’t easy, not least because Kim Jong Un punishes family members left behind. But Seoul’s move shows welcome recognition that the key to stopping the North Korean regime is to hasten its collapse. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Japan
 
President Trump discussed North Korea’s recent missile launches with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a Monday phone call, the White House confirmed. – The Hill
 
The U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force began their annual bilateral training Multisail exercise today, which will this year include at-sea training hosted by the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center. – USNI News
 
Malaysia
 
Separate teams with suspected Islamic State links narrowly missed attacking Saudi royals during King Salman’s recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
North Korea’s ambassador left Malaysia on Monday evening after he was ordered expelled for making disparaging remarks about the country and challenging its motives in investigating the killing of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea’s ruler – New York Times
 
Southeast Asia
 
In 2016, the Defense Department flew aircraft or steamed ships through territories claimed by Albania, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Malta, and, well, China, according to the Pentagon’s annual report released today. So should Beijing be relieved it was not the sole focus of American Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) or should it feel slighted that it wasn’t our sole focus? – Breaking Defense
 
Clashes between Myanmar security forces and rebels have left at least 30 dead, according to the country’s government, stoking fears for a peace process aimed at ending 70 years of internal conflict. – Financial Times
 
A leader of Thailand's "red shirt" opposition group was jailed for two years on Tuesday for insulting the monarchy during a street protest in 2010. - Reuters

Security

Defense
 
The Pentagon office that reviews information to determine whether it’s classified has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing data on cost overruns for the first two vessels bought under the Navy’s primary Littoral Combat Ship contracts, according to a new congressional audit. - Bloomberg
 
In 2010, when rubberlike quieting material started to peel off the hulls of newer Virginia-class submarines, the Navy said it was fine-tuning a fix for a problem occurring on the first few ships made. Seven years later, the Navy still appears to be seeking a cure. – Military.com
 
The Navy will soon explode bombs in the ocean near its new USS Ford aircraft carrier as part of “Shock Trials” to prepare the new ship for combat and operational service and test whether its next-generation technological systems can withstand enemy attacks. – Scout Warrior
 
Missile Defense
 
Thomas Karako writes: Creativity and commitment will be required to build a more robust missile defense architecture. The Missile Defeat Review represents an especially ripe opportunity, however, to create a new strategy to counter the current and emerging spectrum of air and missile threats. – The Cipher Brief
 
Cybersecurity
 
Members of a commission established under former President Barack Obama to examine the federal government’s cybersecurity efforts are nudging the new Trump administration to move forward on its recommendations. – The Hill
 
Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab announced Monday that it had discovered what it believes to be new malware from a hacking group that has, in the past, targeted United States military personnel and congressional staff. – The Hill
 
U.S. government hackers began developing destructive malware meant to disrupt Iran’s nascent nuclear program as early as 2006, and deployed an early version of the worm in Iran the following year. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the first public reports about the cyberattack—dubbed Stuxnet—began to surface…The timing of these landmark reports emphasizes the yawning gap that often opens between a high-profile state-on-state cyberattack and the moment it’s revealed to the public. – The Atlantic

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
Canada said Monday it plans to extend its military mission in Ukraine by another two years as the country’s Liberal government maintains a defiant tone against Russian aggression in the region. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Ukraine launched its case against Russia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on March 6, seeking an order to halt Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
A court in Kyiv has placed Roman Nasirov, Ukraine's tax and customs service chief, under arrest pending trial on embezzlement charges. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Russia
 
President Donald Trump’s election was greeted with elation in Russia and trepidation in Europe because of his public overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the six weeks since the start of the Trump presidency have begun to reverse the emotional tide. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Kremlin-controlled news outlets used to root for Donald Trump’s election. Now they’re reveling in the chaos and division of his early presidency. - Politico
 
Russian aircraft conducted several "unsafe and unprofessional" encounters with both U.S. and NATO aircraft on Feb. 10, according to additional information provided by the Air Force. – Defense News
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned a woman convicted of high treason after sending a text message to a friend in Georgia during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Europe
 
Foreign and defense ministers of European Union members reached a deal on Monday to create a headquarters for military training operations — setting aside, at least for now, concerns that the step might lead to the establishment of a “European army” to rival NATO. – New York Times
 
Monday was a day of reprieves for François Fillon, the embattled center-right candidate for president of France, who has been grappling with allegations of corruption and calls for him to drop out of the race. – New York Times
 
Websites that focus on the perils of open borders, immigration and international alliances are expanding in scope and ambition in Europe, seeing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to harness the energy from Trump’s win to drive deep into a continent where traditional political parties are struggling. – Washington Post
 
Conflicts of interest have been a permanent fixture of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency. But a new report from the New Yorker shines a damning spotlight on one of Trump’s most ethically hazy deals, and one that may leave the Trump Organization open to federal prosecution: The Trump Organization’s work to build and manage a hotel in Azerbaijan in partnership with corrupt oligarchs, themselves apparently linked to individuals tight with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Two former top NATO military commanders are calling on the alliance to develop a new strategy for defending the North Atlantic, where they warn Russia is developing a capability edge that could prevent allies from reinforcing the region in a conflict. – Stars and Stripes
 
Officials with Britain’s Defense Ministry on Monday called for greater cooperation on cybersecurity between NATO and the European Union – The Hill
 
The EU on Monday gave the final approval for Hungary’s €12.5bn deal to expand its Soviet-era nuclear power station at Paks using Russian technology and financing. – Financial Times
 
FPI Fellow James Kirchick writes: As the forces of reaction and populism gain strength on both sides of the Atlantic, it is easy to become fatalistic about the fate of Europe and liberal democracy. There is nothing inevitable, however, about the course of human events. Yet the longer present trends continue — the longer Russian aggression and subversion goes unchallenged, Western defense budgets shrink, the roots of illiberal populism and nationalism go unaddressed, migratory waves continue unabated, economies stagnate, and America forgoes its role as guarantor of continental stability — the more probable this European nightmare becomes. – Foreign Policy
 
United Kingdom
 
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will soon make the first official visit to Moscow by a senior U.K. minister in five years, sending a message that Britain and its allies want no “new Cold War” with Russia, he said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Despite a turbulent Trump administration and a plummeting pound, the Anglo-American defense relationship remains strong, said the senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence. – Breaking Defense
 
British Prime Minister Theresa May should scrap fixed-term parliaments and call an early general election to ensure she has the time and political security to cope with the travails of Brexit, William Hague, a former Conservative Party leader, said. - Reuters

Americas

United States of America
 
The State Department postponed a highly anticipated news briefing Monday, telling reporters it would not be held because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other administration officials were appearing before media at the roll out of President Trump’s revised executive order temporarily banning visitors from six Mideast and African countries. – Washington Times
 
A Marine veteran newly elected to the Senate is hoping to reignite calls for Congress to pass its first new war authorization of U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere since 2002. – Stars and Stripes
 
Military investigators are contemplating felony criminal charges for an unspecified number of U.S. Marines who participated in a secretive social media group that metastasized into a distribution pipeline for sharing nude photos of their female coworkers and a sordid message board where some allegedly encouraged one another to commit rape. – Military Times
 
Russian hackers are reportedly targeting liberal groups from the U.S. in an effort to collect hush money. – The Hill
 
Trade
 
President Trump’s advisers and allies are pushing an ambitious idea: Remake American trade. They are considering sweeping aside decades of policy and rethinking how the United States looks at trade with every country. Essentially, after years of criticizing China and much of Europe for the way they handle imports and exports, these officials want to copy them. – New York Times
 
NAFTA may be the first test of whether Trump can recast America’s role in the world through sheer force of will. But renegotiating a deal that reshaped the commerce of a continent will be a lot harder than renegotiating an unfavorable lease. It will be an incredibly painstaking and frustrating task, an epic diplomatic and political challenge. It will require patience, sensitivity and attention to policy detail not usually associated with the Trump brand. And it might not work out in the end. - Politico
 
Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s newly formed White House National Trade Council, said U.S. President Donald Trump will make addressing trade deficits a top priority to boost the U.S. economy in remarks that drew criticism from experts and economists. – Foreign Policy
 
Reducing America's huge trade deficits would deliver stronger economic growth and improve national security, the White House trade adviser said, in a speech that underscored the Trump administration's harsh view of recent U.S. trade policies. – Associated Press
 
Immigration and Refugees
 
President Trump on Monday signed a revised version of his executive order that would for the first time rewrite American immigration policy to bar migrants from predominantly Muslim nations, removing citizens of Iraq from the original travel embargo and scrapping a provision that explicitly protected religious minorities. – New York Times
 
Nearly one-third of the FBI’s 1,000 active domestic terrorism-related investigations involve individuals who originally came to the United States as refugees, said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, offering a defense of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees from entering the United States. – Washington Times
 
In order to get off the list of countries whose refugees will soon be barred from the United States, the Iraqi government has agreed to share a lot more information. Baghdad also will move quickly to repatriate refugees when they’ve broken the law, U.S. officials told reporters Monday morning. – Defense One
 
Christian Caryl writes: If we succumb to the myth of a monolithic Islam bent on the destruction of the West, we will only end up strengthening the most backward-looking forces on both sides of the divide. That would be a terrible tragedy. It’s people like Shifa Gardi who stand for an entirely different version of the future of the Middle East. They’re the ones we should side with. – Washington Post
 
Trump-Russia Connections
 
Known as a no-nonsense, even-keeled prosecutor, Rod J. Rosenstein was expected to sail through Senate confirmation to be the Justice Department’s second-in-command. But that process has become enmeshed in the drama surrounding questions about President Trump’s campaign ties to Russia. – New York Times
 
President Donald Trump feels no obligation to accept the findings of two congressional panels looking into Russian meddling into the 2016 election, despite asking them to also examine his charges that his predecessor tapped his phones. – Roll Call
 
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will use a hearing on Tuesday for two top Department of Justice nominees to push back against Democratic calls for a special prosecutor to oversee any investigation into the Trump campaign and Moscow. – The Hill
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is demanding that deputy attorney general nominee Rod Rosenstein commit during his confirmation hearing to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee any investigation into any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. – The Hill
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is asking the Department of Justice's top watchdog to investigate whether the Trump administration has interfered with federal investigations into Russia. – The Hill
 
Editorial: Democrats have for weeks demanded total and immediate information about the Trump Administration’s connections with Russia. Now they’re threatening to delay the confirmation of someone who could help determine what really happened. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
FPI Board Member Robert Kagan writes: It’s time for the party to put national security above partisan interest. Republican leaders need to name a bipartisan select committee or create an outside panel, and they need to do so immediately. They must give that committee the mission and all the necessary means for getting to the bottom of what happened last year. And then they must begin to find ways to defend the nation against this new weapon that threatens to weaken American democracy. The stakes are far too high for politics as usual. – Washington Post
 
Eli Lake writes: In this case though, the investigations are a recipe for chaos. This is because the FBI is conducting its own probe into Russia's influence operations and any connections to Trump and his campaign. If congressional committees are looking into the same thing, they can undermine the bureau's work. – Bloomberg View
 
Michael Doran writes: The president’s critics treat as outrageous any suggestion that senior officials in the Obama administration tailored NSA surveillance to assist them in their efforts to foil Mr. Trump. They would ask us, instead, to believe an alternative conspiracy theory—that Mr. Trump is Mr. Putin’s puppet. For now, at least, the preponderance of evidence favors Mr. Trump. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Trump Tower
 
White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined Monday to provide a source for President Donald Trump’s incendiary claim that his predecessor wiretapped his campaign headquarters, marking the third day that the administration hasn’t offered any evidence to support the allegation. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain said Monday that President Donald Trump needs to show evidence he was wiretapped at the behest of former President Barack Obama. – Roll Call
 
Video: FPI Board Member William Kristol discussed the implications of the president claiming that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by his predecessor – C-SPAN’s Washington Journal
 
Eli Lake writes: What Trump should have tweeted is that he suspects many Obama administration alumni are selectively disclosing to the public details of his associates' phone calls and meetings that appear related to an ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia. That's not the same as spying on one's political opposition. But it's an abuse of power nonetheless. – Bloomberg View

Africa

The image of the shocked pastor standing in his bloodstained white robe became a symbol of a surge in violence directed at foreigners in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, and Johannesburg that has underscored tensions over immigration, poverty and the poor delivery of basic services in Africa’s most industrialised nation. – Financial Times

Trump Administration

[W]hile several of Mr. Trump’s closest allies have come under scrutiny for Kremlin ties, Mr. Ross, who was confirmed by the Senate on Monday, was no friend to the Russians in Cyprus — and in fact, he forced them out of the bank. – New York Times
 
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is discovering the limits to any ambitious overhaul at the NSC, leaving him relying on people in many cases recruited by the former national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and other Trump confidantes. A wholesale purge is not expected, and several key NSC officials focused on the Middle East and other vital areas will keep their positions in the near term, a senior White House official told Foreign Policy. – Foreign Policy
 
I spoke with many of these swamp creatures as an unsettling Trump settled into the White House, and they were all asking the same questions: Would he destroy the liberal international order? Hand our secrets to the Russians? Ruin NATO? Blunder into another war in the Middle East after he was done firing all the State Department bosses and sending uncooperative national security bureaucrats into exile? Did he have any idea what he was doing? - Politico
 
The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on the nomination of former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) to lead the intelligence community. – The Hill
 
The senior Army officer tapped by President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser faces questions from senators during a rare closed-door meeting amid intense scrutiny of the White House for alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials. – Associated Press

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