Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet

Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet
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THE TOPLINE: Anticipation and anxiety about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin are hitting new highs after a stormy NATO summit in Brussels and Friday's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Trump's sit-down with Putin, set to take place in Helsinki on Monday, was always going to be controversial given the probe into Russia's election meddling led by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE and the rampant speculation about Trump's attitudes toward Russia.

But the meeting has taken on a whole new significance after the NATO summit and the indictments - part of Mueller's probe into Russia's election meddling.

What happened at the summit: Trump blasted allied nations in Brussels for allegedly not contributing enough to NATO; hit Germany for its use of Russian natural gas; and even reportedly suggested the United States could "go it alone" if other countries did not boost their financial commitments.

Tensions were on display at the annual gathering, and afterwards Trump's suggestion during a Thursday news conference that alliance members might each commit to spending 4 percent of their gross domestic product on defense -- double the current 2024 target of 2 percent -- was batted down moments later by French President Emmanuel Macron.

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Trump also asserted that Germany was "totally controlled by Russia," with German Chancellor Angela Merkel citing her upbringing in what was then East Germany to rebuke him.

"I experienced the Soviet occupation of one part of Germany myself. It is good that we are independent today," Merkel said.

Dems call on Trump to cancel Putin meeting: Several congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWith lives at stake, Congress must start acting on health care To make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain MORE (N.Y.), on Friday called on Trump to cancel a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the 12 Russians were indicted in the DNC hack.

"Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won't interfere in future elections," Schumer said in a statement. "Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy."

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinOnly courts can rein in 'King Rosenstein' Five things to know about Bruce Ohr, the DOJ official under fire from Trump Preet Bharara: ‘God bless the Deep State’ if it’s people who care about the law MORE announced the indictments in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

"These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win," Schumer added in his statement.

But not every Dem: House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiCárdenas starts legal defense fund for sex abuse lawsuit Booming economy, kept promises, making America great — again The Hill's Morning Report — Trump showcases ICE ahead of midterm elections MORE (D-Calif.) said after the news of the indictments the stakes for the meeting "could not be higher."

"President Trump must demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy," she said.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThis week: Senate tries to avoid landmines on massive spending bill Dems to challenge Kavanaugh for White House records Democrats question if Kavanaugh lied about work on terrorism policy MORE (D-Vt.), a former chairman and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that Trump "should know that Putin is going to lie to his face" about Russian election meddling.

And McCain presses Trump to hold Putin accountable: GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees What crime did Manafort allegedly commit? Primary challenge to Trump? It could help him in 2020 MORE (Ariz.) said on Friday if Trump isn't prepared to hold Putin "accountable" for aggression toward the United States then he should cancel their meeting next week.

"President Trump must be willing to confront Putin from a position of strength and demonstrate that there will be a serious price to pay for his ongoing aggression towards the United States and democracies around the world. If President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward," McCain said in a statement.

McCain added on Friday that the indictments were the latest in a "body of evidence confirming an extensive plot" by Putin's government to influence the election and "sow chaos and dissension" within America.

Here are more stories from The Hill on the upcoming meeting:

--Schiff: Trump should cancel meeting with Putin since he 'lacks courage to confront him'

-- Top Intel Dem: No one-on-one Trump meeting with Putin

-- Sasse: Putin is neither America's friend nor Trump's buddy

-- Trump and Putin to hold joint press conference

 

MATTIS DOESN'T MENTION RUSSIA BY NAME: Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Trump canceled parade before cost briefing | Erik Prince renews push for contractors to run Afghan war | More officials join outcry over security clearances Erik Prince hopeful Bolton more open to contractors for Afghan war Pentagon: Trump canceled military parade before being briefed on cost MORE on Friday met with his Balkan counterparts, but did not mention Russia by name while journalists were present, Reuters reported.

"We are not naive and we are keenly aware that some elsewhere would wish to see us fail in our endeavors here today," Mattis said in his opening remarks at the meeting in Croatia, before reporters were escorted out. "Those that seek to divide us for their own reasons will not enjoy our dedication to working together."

Who Mattis met: In Croatia, Mattis met with Balkan defense leaders who say Russia is attempting to upset stability and divide neighboring nations.

Montenegro, which joined NATO last year, chairs the group of Balkan leaders.

The defense chief from Macedonia was also in attendance; the country was formally invited by NATO this week to start accession talks. Russia has opposed the expansion to include Macedonia, with Moscow officials saying the nation could become "a legitimate target" if relations between NATO and Russia further fall apart.

 

PENTAGON DOES DAMAGE CONTROL AFTER NATO SUMMIT: Pentagon officials have spent the hours since Trump departed NATO headquarters in Brussels reassuring U.S. allies of America's commitment to the NATO alliance after the president suggested that the United States' military commitment was up for discussion.

U.S. officials told NBC News that maintaining "predictability" among alliance members was important and that calls were made with foreign officials centered around "reinforcing alliance commitments" after Trump "made it clear alliance commitments were on the table."

From the White House: A senior administration official told the news outlet that Trump had echoed his public rhetoric about NATO commitments in private "aggressive" meetings with leaders of NATO member nations.

The president attacked "delinquent" U.S. allies upon arriving at the summit in his public remarks, returning to old criticism of the alliance centered around foreign nations' contributions to the military organization.

"Many countries are not paying what they should. And, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them," Trump said of NATO allies Thursday.  

 

PENTAGON IDENTIFIES RANGER KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN: The Pentagon on Friday identified the Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan the day prior, the second U.S. service member killed in combat in the country in less than a week.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, 32, of Summerville, S.C., was killed Thursday by enemy small arms fire "while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone," according to a Pentagon press release.

Celiz was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., according to the release.

The details: The incident happened in Zurmat district, Paktia province, in eastern Afghanistan, the release said.

The release does not specify which of Afghanistan's insurgent or terrorist groups were involved, but the area is home to Taliban militants. Additionally, Army Rangers in the past have conducted raids of al Qaeda training camps in the area.

In addition to Celiz, the U.S. military said Thursday that an Afghan security force member was killed and several were wounded in the incident.

The incident is under investigation.


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