Overnight Defense: Trump wraps up Asia trip | Friends say WH chief of staff is no politician | Army lifts ban on mental health waivers | Four injured in Taliban bombing

Overnight Defense: Trump wraps up Asia trip | Friends say WH chief of staff is no politician | Army lifts ban on mental health waivers | Four injured in Taliban bombing
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THE TOPLINE:  President Trump's 12-day trip to Asia drew to a close, with Trump on Monday praising his "great relationship" with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after the two leaders met in Manila.

"We've had a great relationship. This has been very successful. We have many meetings today with many other leaders," Trump said during joint remarks with Duterte.

Trump said that he had "really enjoyed being" in the Philippines, where he also attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

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But the White House and a spokesman for Duterte gave conflicting accounts of whether human rights were discussed during a conversation between the two.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two leaders "briefly" discussed human rights in regards to Duterte's crackdown on drugs.

But Duterte's spokesman said human rights was not discussed, Reuters reported.

Read about that here.

 

Trump also engaged in a round of Twitter name-calling with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the weekend. After a statement from North Korean state media mocked Trump as an "old man," the president took to social media to hit back.

"Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" Trump tweeted.

Read about that here.

 

Commenting on Trump's trip, former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenOvernight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency Medicaid funds shouldn't be used to subsidize state taxes on health care Biden hits social media firms over lack of transparency MORE  in a Monday morning interview called the president's recent rhetoric about North Korea's leader a "big mistake" that is "beneath the office" of the presidency.

Read about that here.

 

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, though, defended the president. "What's helpful in full context is a 13-day trip where the president is very focused on global security and combating terrorism and most importantly, containing a nuclearized North Korea, said Conway on ABC's "This Week." She also added that Kim "insulted him first."

Read more about that here.

 

FRIENDS SAY WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF IS NO POLITICIAN: People who have known John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE for years say no one should expect the White House chief of staff to act like a career politician.

They say the Kelly who offered a detailed and moving account of how the bodies of soldiers killed in action are packed in ice before being transported back to their families is the same man they've known for years -- someone who speaks his mind and feels deeply about service to the country.

They also recognize the Kelly in his sharp and combative attack on Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonThe nearly 60 Dems who voted for impeachment House rejects Democrat's resolution to impeach Trump Mullen: 'Sad moment' when Kelly defended Trump over call to fallen soldier's widow MORE (D-Fla.), who appeared to offend the former Marine general with her participation on a call President Trump made to a fallen soldier's widow. Kelly's response angered congressional Democrats.

And they haven't been surprised that Kelly has sometimes fallen into controversy -- first with the attack on Wilson, and later with televised comments in which he said the Civil War was caused by a failure to compromise.

The Hill's Morgan Chalfant and Ellen Mitchell have the full story here.

 

ARMY LIFTS BAN ON MENTAL HEATH WAIVERS: The Army has reportedly lifted a ban on issuing waivers to people with a history of some mental health issues who want to join the service.

USA Today reported that those with a history of "self-mutilation," bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse will be permitted to get waivers to enlist, according to documents obtained by the publication.

Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army spokesman, said that the policy change stems in part from the fact that the Army can now see more mental health information.

"The decision was primarily due to the increased availability of medical records and other data which is now more readily available," Taylor said in a statement to USA Today.

"These records allow Army officials to better document applicant medical histories."

Read more on the report here.

 

FOUR US TROOPS INJURED IN TALIBAN SUICIDE BOMBING: Four U.S. troops were injured Monday when a car bomb detonated in Kandahar, the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

The attack by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device happened at about 2 p.m. local time, according to the statement from Resolute Support.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack

All four injured are in stable condition at U.S. medical facilities, according to the statement. There were no coalition fatalities reported, the statement added.

Read the rest here.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on assessing the current threat at the U.S.-Canada border at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the House Visitors Center, room 210. http://bit.ly/2AAkAPc

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Anthony Kurta to be principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, James McPherson to be general council of the Army and Gregory Maggs to be judge for the Armed Forces U.S. Court of Appeals at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2zN0wfk

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from former defense officials on the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2zpTmgc

Outside experts will testify in front of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on American leadership in the Asia Pacific at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2yr0aqo

 

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

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