CONFLICTING STORIES ON FLYNN: Sally Yates, the Obama administration Justice Department official who was fired by President Trump for failing to defend his temporary travel ban, is set to testify this afternoon before a Senate subcommittee. Yates, who was acting attorney general for 10 days, is reported to have warned the Trump administration about retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s problematic contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and is expected to contradict the White House's version of events leading up to Flynn's firing.
“Sally Yates is very much respected. She's a professional. She's not a politician,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein on CBS yesterday. “And she apparently has some information as to who knew what when that she is willing to share and that would be what she knew about Michael Flynn's connections to Russia and exactly what she knew they were.”
Former DNI James Clapper, who fired Flynn from his last Pentagon post as DIA director, is also set to testify before the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
AF SECRETARY PICK GETS HER VOTE: The Senate plans to vote this evening on the nomination of Heather Wilson, the former congresswoman who is Trump’s pick for Air Force secretary. Despite some noise from Democrats over poorly documented payments from nuclear lab contractors, Wilson cleared the Armed Services Committee last month with by an overwhelming majority and a confirmation in the full Senate could be a much-needed win for the Trump administration.
So far, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis remains the only Senate-confirmed Trump appointee at the Pentagon. The president’s second pick for Army secretary, Mark Green, withdrew on Friday after a rising cacophony on the Left over his past statements about gay and transgender rights. The first nominee, billionaire Wall Street trader Vincent Viola, dropped out in February over financial entanglements. There is still no candidate for Navy secretary. So movement on filling key Pentagon positions could be crucial this week. The Armed Services Committee is set for a hearing Tuesday on the DoD comptroller and deputy comptroller as well as the director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation oversight program.
DIDN’T SEE IT COMING: Pentagon sources say Mattis was surprised by the blowback against his Army secretary pick, a candidate he strongly endorsed a month ago. "The White House did the vetting," said one official, adding that Green was originally recommended by Mattis largely because of his military record.
TRAVEL BAN IN COURT: Trump’s order to impose temporary travel restrictions on countries the U.S. believes have inadequate counterterrorism screening procedures faces another legal test in Virginia today. A panel of more than a dozen judges for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will review a previous ruling in Maryland that found the restrictions amount to an unconstitutional religious test. In that ruling, a federal judge said it was appropriate to consider Trump’s public statements from his campaign speeches as evidence of the true intent of the policy. Justice Department attorneys are expected to argue the policy needs to be judged on the language itself, not what candidate Trump said in the heat of the campaign. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall will represent the administration, with Omar Jadwat of the ACLU arguing the other side.
SOUTH KOREAN ELECTIONS: South Korea voters go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new president, following the impeachment and subsequent imprisonment of ex-President Park Geun-hye. The front runner is Moon Jae-in, a liberal who favors engagement and diplomacy to deal with North Korea, not military confrontation. But observers note, if elected, Moon would lack a clear mandate, given that Moon's party lacks a majority in parliament.
It’s also unclear whether Moon would continue to support the deployment of the American THAAD missile defense system, which has angered the Chinese. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is now up and running and said to be ready to shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten the south.
ANOTHER AMERICAN HELD: Another U.S. citizen has been detained in North Korea, according to a report Sunday. North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said Kim Hak Song, who worked for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was detained Saturday "on suspension of his hostile acts against it," Reuters reported.
Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.
FRENCH ELECTIONS: The election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next president has some in NATO breathing a sigh of relief. Had his rival Marine Le Pen won, she had pledged to work to pull France out of the European Union and NATO. While not victorious, the far-right Le Pen was hardly vanquished and is now looking to the upcoming parliamentary elections in June. Macron won handily with 66 percent of the vote, but there are plenty of signs France’s electorate was unhappy with its choices.
“Le Pen’s loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron still gave her a historic number of votes, reflecting the changing image of her once-pariah National Front party from fringe force to a political heavyweight,” is how the AP reported it. Even in her loss, Le Pen received 11 million votes.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump both sent their congratulations, while former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Macron's win, along with the rejection of far-right wing parties in Austria and Holland, showed the nationalistic populism wave is over. Liberal American politicians, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ted Lieu, praised the French vote as a rebuke of Trumpism abroad. "Today France chose Liberty, Equality & Fraternity over Discrimination, Bigotry & a Stupid Wall," Lieu tweeted.
Macron is to make a public appearance today with current President Francois Hollande in commemoration of the day of the formal German defeat in World War II, a national holiday in France.
RICE’S TAKE: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says even with Le Pen's loss in France, she is still concerned about the continued presence of populism in Europe and its impact on politics even when populist candidates don't win. Her interview on USA Today's Capital Download was published Sunday before Macron won the election.
ISIS-K LEADER KILLED: Afghan Special Security Forces and American forces in Nangarhar province killed the leader of ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan in a raid in late April, according to the Pentagon. The raid took place on April 27, killing Sheikh Abdul Hasib, the emir of ISIS-K, an affiliate of ISIS, in Afghanistan. The raid also resulted in the deaths of other leading ISIS-K members and 35 ISIS-K fighters, the Pentagon said in a statement last night.
This morning, the Afghan government says its fledgling air force bombed ISIS targets in that same area and claims to have killed 34 ISIS fighters over the past 24 hours and destroyed an insurgent-controlled radio station, according to the AP.
FALLEN SEAL IDENTIFIED: The Navy SEAL killed in Somalia Friday was Kyle Milliken, a 38-year-old from Falmouth, Maine, the Pentagon announced Saturday. Milliken was killed in an attack Friday in a remote area about 40 miles west of Mogadishu. He was in the area as a part of an American deployment supporting the Somali army in its fight against al-Shabab extremists.
Milliken was a senior chief special warfare operator and was based on the East Coast in a special warfare unit. Two other American service members were wounded in the attack. No information has been released about their condition.
READY, BUT NOT ANXIOUS, FOR HIS CLOSE-UP: One notable aspect of Mattis’ leadership style is his preference to speak with actions not words. The rock-star of Trump’s national security team appears in public only after all other options have been exhausted, and aides say he simply has no desire to see his name in print any more than necessary. So far he’s conducted only one formal news conference in the Pentagon Briefing Room, and has managed to avoid the Sunday talk shows. On overseas trips he’s happy to talk to reporters traveling with him, but only allows a small portion of the q-and-a to be on the record.
NO PAPAL DISPENSATION FOR MOAB: Pope Francis denounced the naming of one of the U.S. military's largest non-nuclear explosive devices as the "Mother of All Bombs," saying the word "mother" should not be used to describe a lethal weapon. The 21,000 pound conventional bomb was dropped by the U.S. Air Force on an Islamic State tunnel complex in Afghanistan last month. The bomb is officially named MOAB for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but it’s more catchy informal nickname has proven irresistible to news organizations.
"I was ashamed when I heard the name," the Pope said while speaking to students on Saturday, according to Reuters. "A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?"
F-35s TO SHOW OFF IN PARIS: The Air Force is sending some F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters to take part in the next month’s Paris Air Show this June. “Participation in the Paris Air Show will further demonstrate the ability of the Air Force, and our international partners, to deliver a broad range of combat airpower to any mission set,” said a statement from U.S. European Command. Last month, the U.S. deployed eight F-35s to RAF Lakenheath in England as part of its European Reassurance Initiative.
SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: Former A-10 squadron commander Rep. Martha McSally got a bill through the House last week that would ensure that Congress is not exempt from the provisions of the American Health Care Act, the Republican measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. “Any law we pass that applies to our constituents must apply equally to Members of Congress as well. Anything short of that is hypocrisy. Congress must abide by the laws it passes and should be treated no differently than other hardworking Americans,” McSally said, speaking on the House floor. “My measure eliminates double standards by preventing Members of Congress from exempting themselves from American Health Care Act.” McSally’s standalone bill passed the House 429-0.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Wants To Spend Added Billions On Military In Asia
Daily Beast: Aboard The Ship Leading The War On ISIS
Fox News: U.S. Dismisses Russia’s Ban On Military Aircraft Over Syria Safe Zones
Defense News: Satellite imagery shows Russian AWACS back in Syria
Fox News: Islamic State attack leaves 2 dead at Iraqi base where US advisers are stationed
NBC News: North Korea’s ‘Hostage Diplomacy’
Foreign Policy: France has its Napoleon III
Wall Street Journal: Russian link cited in hacked Macron party files
CNN: Air Force's mysterious space plane lands, wakes up Florida
Associated Press: Philippines, U.S. Begin Smaller-Scale Joint Military Exercises
BuzzFeed: Dozens of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been released
Military Times: Syrian Kurds are now armed with sensitive US weaponry, and the Pentagon denies supplying it
Task and Purpose: Veteran accused of executing therapy dog found dead
Stars and Stripes: Air Force Academy cadet's gravy-like goo is a bullet-stopping marvel
MONDAY | MAY 8
1667 K St. NW. Advanced strategy program: Strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, expert instruction and classes over 11 days. Csbaonline.org
8 a.m. 529 14th St. NW. Breakfast roundtable with Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. press.org
9:30 a.m. Senate Visitor’s Center 212/10. Discussion with Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, director of strategic plans for the Office of the Deputy Air Force Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, and others about space access. mitchellaerospacepower.org
9:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. A strategic look at U.S. Pacific Command with Adm. Harry Harris. atlanticcouncil.org
2 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Isolationism versus multilateralism: 100 years on the global stage. wilsoncenter.org
2:30 p.m. Hart 216. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testify on Russian interference in the U.S. election. judiciary.senate.gov
4 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Winning the Third World in Sino-American competition during the Cold War. wilsoncenter.org
TUESDAY | MAY 9
8 a.m. 11790 Sunrise Valley Dr. Class on how Washington works and navigating the DOD. ndia.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G50. Testimony by Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command. armed-services.senate.gov
10:30 a.m. Dirksen 419. Nomination of John J. Sullivan to be deputy secretary of state. foreign.senate.gov
11 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The Roosevelt years and the origins of homeland security. heritage.org
2 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. What the China-Russia relationship means for the world. brookings.edu
2:30 p.m. Dirksen 192. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testifies on the importance of U.S. democracy assistance. appropriations.senate.gov
2:30 p.m. Dirksen G50. Nominations for Defense Department comptroller, deputy comptroller and director of cost assessment and program evaluation. armed-services.senate.gov
3 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Russian and U.S. roles in the Middle East and the view from Israel. wilsoncenter.org
3 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. New Latino voices in foreign affairs. csis.org
3:30 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. A new history of Vietnam and its role in the Cold War. wilsoncenter.org
WEDNESDAY | MAY 10
8 a.m. 2900 K St. NW. 16th U.S.-Sweden defense industry conference. ndia.org
9:30 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The importance of the Mekong River and U.S. policy options. heritage.org
9:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. The international politics of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. atlanticcouncil.org
10 a.m. Dirksen 342. An overview of cyber threats facing America. hsgac.senate.gov
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Book launch for Insider Threats: A Worst Practice Guide to Preventing Leaks, Attacks, Theft, and Sabotage. csis.org
10 a.m. Dirksen 419. Emerging external influences in the Western hemisphere. foreign.senate.gov
3 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Aegis ashore and the future of European missile defense with Romanian Ambassador George Cristian Maior. csis.org
6 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Woodrow Wilson awards dinner with Sen. Mitch McConnell. wilsoncenter.org
THURSDAY | MAY 11
8 a.m. 300 First St. SE. Missile defense and NATO. mitchellaerospacepower.org
9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. A fifth-generation Air Force with alliance structures and networked capabilities from an Australian perspective. csis.org
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Syria strikes, travel ban, refugees, and Muslims: American attitudes on Trump’s early policies. brookings.edu
11:30 a.m. Dirksen 124. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testifies on what worked, what didn’t and what needs to happen next with the Veterans Choice program. appropriations.senate.gov
1 p.m. 1777 F St. NW. Terrorist attacks that have unsettled cities in Europe, and lessons to be learned to prevent future attacks around the world. cfr.org
1:30 p.m. 529 14th St. NW. New conference examining terrorism efforts. press.org
4 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Annual meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute. usni.org
5:30 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, discusses democracy’s post-Cold War trajectory and the United States’ role in defending and promoting it. brookings.edu
FRIDAY | MAY 12
Seward Square. Team America rocketry challenge, rockets on the Hill. aia-aerospace.org
12 p.m. Dirksen G50. Forum on securing smart grid data. lexingtoninstitute.org
3 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Cold War series on the Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East wilsoncenter.org
MONDAY | MAY 15
2 p.m. Hyatt Regency Reston. Forum to present, discuss and answer questions related to the tactical wheeled vehicle acquisition program. ndia.org
3 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. State manipulation of Islamic rituals and symbols as a means for managing society in Tatarstan, the North Caucasus and Turkmenistan. wilsoncenter.org
4 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. U.S. Cold War diplomacy and the formation of the Third World. wilsoncenter.org