Overnight Defense: N. Korea threatens to down US bombers, says Trump made 'declaration of war' | White House dismisses claim as 'absurd' | Vets groups jump into NFL anthem debate | Female Marine graduates as infantry officer

Overnight Defense: N. Korea threatens to down US bombers, says Trump made 'declaration of war' | White House dismisses claim as 'absurd' | Vets groups jump into NFL anthem debate | Female Marine graduates as infantry officer
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THE TOPLINE: North Korea's top diplomat threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers Monday, claiming Pyongyang has the right to do so because President Trump's recent comments on the country were a "declaration of war."

"In light of the declaration of war by Trump, all options will be on the operating table of the Supreme leadership of DPRK," North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in New York.

"Since the U.S. declared war on our country we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even when they're not yet inside the airspace border of our country," he continued.

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In a show of force Saturday, B-1B bombers and F-15C fighter jets flew in international airspace off the east coast of North Korea, the farthest north of the demilitarized zone the U.S. military has gone this century.

Also Saturday, Trump responded to Ri's speech at the United Nations by tweeting that, "If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"

Read more here.

 

WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS: The White House responded to Ri's comments Monday by saying the idea that the United States has declared war is "absurd."

"We've not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing.

She also said that it's "never appropriate" to shoot down aircraft when they are in international airspace.

"Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula. That's our focus. Doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point," Sanders said.

The Hill's Jonathan Easley has more from Sanders here.

 

FIRST WOMAN GRADUATES MARINE INFANTRY OFFICER COURSE: A graduation ceremony Monday made it official: a woman has successfully completed the Marines' infantry officer course for the first time.

The Marines congratulated the woman and her 87 fellow graduates Monday with a video that showed her in the course.

"Well done. Proud of you. But that's just the first step," Marines Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in the video. "Now you're going to go out there in the operating forces and we're going to give you the responsibility for a platoon of infantry Marines, and do your very best to lead them."

The Marines are not releasing the female lieutenant's name at her request, according to a press release.

Read more here.

 

VETS GROUPS WEIGH IN ON NFL CONTROVERSY: Two of the largest veterans organizations in the country are slamming NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said in a statement that professional athletes and others who do not respect the national anthem are "misguided and ungrateful."

"Having a right to do something does not make it the right thing to do," Rohan said. "There are many ways to protest, but the national anthem should be our moment to stand together as one UNITED States of America."

The Veterans of Foreign Wars' Keith Harmon added that: "I stand for our flag and anthem, and I kneel for our fallen. That's what patriots do. We rally around the flag of our country, not use it and our Constitution as both shield and sword."

Read more here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Gen. Joseph Dunford to serve a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at 10 a.m. at the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. http://bit.ly/2wEY5KF

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the State Department's reorganization with testimony from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. http://bit.ly/2wLps0y

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on security assistance at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. http://bit.ly/2fffm1z

 

ICYMI:

-- The Hill: Trump's Iran decision could shake up North Korea stand-off

-- The Hill: Military stretched thin by hurricane relief efforts

-- The Hill US bombers fly off North Korea coast to condemn 'reckless' behavior

-- The Hill: GOP senator: Heads should roll over 'failed' counternarcotics plane

-- Reuters: Turnout high as Iraqi Kurds defy threats to hold independence vote

-- Associated Press: Army looks for new ways to address misbehaving generals

-- The New York Times: Pentagon tests lasers and nets to combat a vexing foe: ISIS drones

 

Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Kheel, rkheel@thehill.com, and Ellen Mitchell, emitchell@thehill.com.

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