Overnight Defense: New doubts about Trump-Kim summit | Senate panel approves Haspel for CIA chief | Study sets price tag for war against terrorism at $2.8 trillion

Overnight Defense: New doubts about Trump-Kim summit | Senate panel approves Haspel for CIA chief | Study sets price tag for war against terrorism at $2.8 trillion
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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

 

THE TOPLINE: It's May sweeps on television, but Washington is fixated on its own will-they-or-won't-they plotline: Will President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet?

The summit, planned for June 12 in Singapore, was thrown into doubt after North Korea issued two statements threatening to cancel the meeting.

The first statement took objection to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, while the second blasted the U.S. demand for North Korea's "unilateral" denuclearization and national security advisor John Bolton's suggestion that North Korea could follow the "Libya model."

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Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was driven out of power by NATO forces just eight years after negotiating a denuclearization agreement with the United States.

 

Trump cautious: Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said his administration has received no direct contact from Pyongyang about its concerns with the summit.

"We haven't been notified at all. We'll have to see," Trump said during a meeting with Uzbekistan's president. "We haven't received anything, we haven't heard anything. We will see what happens."

Trump also said he will insist on full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during possible talks with Kim, despite North Korea's rhetoric.

"Yes," Trump said when asked if a nuclear-free peninsula was still his demand.

 

Earlier: Trump comments came after the White House said earlier Wednesday it remains "hopeful" Trump's planned summit with Kim will take place, despite Pyongyang's threat to abandon the talks.

"This is something that we fully expected," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters when asked about North Korea's threat.

Sanders also downplayed the possible consequences if the June 12 meeting in Singapore does not take place.

"The president is very used to and ready for tough negotiations," she said. "And if they want to meet, we'll be ready and if they don't, that's OK too."

 

HASPEL CLEARS COMMITTEE: The Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Wednesday to send Gina Haspel's nomination to the floor, setting up a final vote on the nominee as soon as this week.

Two Democrats, Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (Va.), the vice chairman of the committee, and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Morrisey accuses Manchin of 'lying' to Trump, attacks ‘liberal’ record The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments MORE (W.Va.), sided with Republicans in approving her nomination in a 10-5 vote during a closed committee meeting.

"As Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel will be the first operations officer in more than five decades to lead the Agency. ... Most importantly, I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral – like a return to torture," Warner said in a statement after the vote.

 

Smooth sailing from here: While Haspel initial faced strong headwinds for role in the agency's so-called enhanced interrogation program, five Democrats have said they will support her.

In addition to Warner and Manchin, Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Fed chief lays out risks of trade war MORE (N.D.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Senate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference MORE (Fla.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Fed chief lays out risks of trade war Doug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee MORE (Ind.) have come out in support of Haspel.

All of them, except for Warner, are up for reelection in red and purple states carried by Trump in the 2016 election.

Republican Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Flake to Trump: 'Fake news' didn't side with Putin, you did MORE (Ariz.) on Wednesday, though, said he would oppose Haspel.

 

Floor watch: Senate GOP leaders have signaled that they want to try to confirm her as soon as Thursday, though without cooperation from Democrats that could slide into next week.

 

ALLIES FRETTING ABOUT IRAN BIZ: President Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal could create a financial quagmire for U.S. allies who are suddenly at risk of being caught in economic sanctions.

Countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany took advantage of the Obama-era nuclear deal to forge business ties with Iran, seizing the opportunity to sell to the country's large and growing middle class.

But once sanctions are reimposed, those companies could be at risk of losing access to the U.S. market and its financial system if they continue to do business with Iran.

"The aftershocks of President Trump's announcement are really being felt around the world," said Andrew Keller, a partner at Hogan Lovells who helped craft the Iran deal's sanctions relief provisions as a deputy assistant secretary at the Obama State Department.

"If the U.S. is aggressive, then you could see some explosion on the diplomatic front."

 

'With friends like these...': In an apparent swipe at Trump's Iran decision, as well as Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs, a top European Union official suggested Europe can no longer rely on the United States.

"With friends like that who needs enemies," tweeted Donald Tusk, the president of the EU's European Council.

"Looking at latest decisions of @realDonaldTrump someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies. But frankly, EU should be grateful. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions," tweeted Donald Tusk, the president of the EU's European Council said. "We realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm."

 

Other Iran news: The U.S. and its Gulf allies on Wednesday announced sanctions against Islamist militant political party Hezbollah, citing its involvement with Iran.

The U.S. sanctions, which were also implemented by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, targeted longtime Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

"Today, the seven member nations of the Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center (TFTC) took significant actions to disrupt an Iranian-backed terrorist group by designating the senior leadership of Lebanese Hizballah," the Treasury Department said in a statement.

"The TFTC again demonstrated its great value to international security by disrupting Iran and Hizballah's destabilizing influence in the region. By targeting Hizballah's Shura Council, our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called 'Political Wing' and Hizballah's global terrorist plotting," Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting IRS reduces donor reporting rules for some tax-exempt groups MORE said.

The move comes one day after the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on the governor of Iran's central bank, alleging it had funneled funds to Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group.

 

A $2.8 TRILLION PRICE TAG: The United States spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism from 2002 to 2017, or 15 percent of its total discretionary budget, according to a new study.

Nonprofit think tank The Stimson Center found that, since 9/11, counterterrorism funding has averaged $186.6 billion per year. That includes dollars for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, all government-wide homeland security efforts and spending on international programs and foreign aid.

The report, created because "the United States currently lacks an accurate accounting of how much it has spent on the fight against terrorism," is meant to help policymakers evaluate whether the country spends too much or too little on the counterterrorism mission, and whether current spending is doing its job, according to the study.

 

Current spending down: Annual counterterrorism spending peaked in 2008 at $260 billion, at the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In 2017 as war funding declined, that figure was $175 billion.

Despite this drop, the study found no indication that counterterrorism spending is likely to continue to decline.

In the 15 years after 9/11, "Muslim extremists or jihadis have killed 100 people in the United States, or about six per year. In comparison, [opioid overdose] was responsible for more than 20,000 deaths in the United States during 2016 alone," the report notes.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The House Intelligence Committee will hold an open hearing on China's military expansion with testimony from outside experts at 9 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2212. https://bit.ly/2rKx3vP

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein will testify before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 192. https://bit.ly/2GkiIvr

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: House panel will consider bill to boost foreign investment review powers next week

-- The Hill: Air Force offers $5,000 for leads on missing box of explosive grenades

-- The Hill: Judiciary transcripts offer detailed account of Trump Tower meeting

-- The Hill: Senate panel breaks with House, says Russia sought to help Trump win in 2016

-- The Hill: Lawmakers raise alarm over Trump's move to help Chinese tech giant ZTE

-- Defense News: Broad new war authorization roils US lawmakers

-- Associated Press: Hamas says most slain Gaza protesters were its members