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Overnight Defense: Doubts grow over Trump, Kim summit | Lawmakers want floor debate on war measure | New cell phone policy at Pentagon

Overnight Defense: Doubts grow over Trump, Kim summit | Lawmakers want floor debate on war measure | New cell phone policy at Pentagon
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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

 

THE TOPLINE: President Trump's plans for a historic nuclear summit with North Korea were thrown into further doubt on Tuesday after a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

During the huddle, Trump expressed confidence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is "serious" about denuclearization but also acknowledged the likelihood that the June 12 summit in Singapore falls through.

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"There's a very substantial chance that it won't work out, and that's OK," Trump said in the Oval Office, with Moon at his side. "That doesn't mean it won't work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12."

 

At issue: Trump faces a crucial juncture ahead of his planned summit with Kim, with North Korea threatening to walk. The White House meeting between Trump and Moon was to provide an opportunity for the allies to confer on next steps. And it could be a deciding factor in whether the Trump-Kim summit moves forward.

Right now, the summit, which would be a first between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, is scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore.

 

What was likely discussed: North Korean officials last week backed out of follow-up discussions with South Korea and threatened to back out of the summit over joint military drills between Seoul and Washington. 

In a statement, North Korea warned it could walk away from the table, objecting to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that were taking place. Pyongyang also canceled a high-level meeting with officials from Seoul.

North Korea also has maintained that it will not go through with the talks if the U.S. demands that it unilaterally pledge to give up its nuclear weapons.

 

What the administration said after: Top administration officials refused to place odds on whether the Trump–Kim summit will happen, but said they are moving ahead with planning.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise appearance in his department's press briefing room, his first since becoming chief diplomat, to assure the administration "will do what it takes" to make the summit happen.

"We're working toward June 12," he insisted.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed those comments, saying "we're going to continue in preparations, and we'll see what happens."

 

And Pentagon makes show of force: Prior to the impending summit between Trump and Kim, the U.S. Navy has deployed a guided missile destroyer to Japan in a show of military force.

The USS Milius, which was recently fitted with state-of-the-art ballistic missile defenses, arrived on Tuesday and will join the U.S. 7th Fleet at its headquarters at the Yokosuka Naval Base just three weeks before the planned summit to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, according to Reuters.

 

NEW CELL PHONE POLICY IN PENTAGON: The Defense Department is tightening some of its policies on the use of mobile devices in the Pentagon, but will continue to allow cellphones to be brought into the building after a months-long review on the issue, according to a department memo released Tuesday.

The new policy sets new restrictions for cellphones and some electronic devices in Pentagon areas designated for processing, handling or discussing classified information, according to the document, which was first obtained by The Associated Press and later released publicly.

The memo, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, notes that cellphones can still be used in common areas and other Pentagon offices if classified information is not present.

 

What brought on the change: The memo comes after Defense Secretary James Mattis in January weighed a ban on allowing civilian employees at the Pentagon to bring their personal cellphones.

The review was prompted in part by a small number of cases in which employees brought their personal phones into classified areas. The analysis also looked at whether the Pentagon's policy on wearable electronics needed to be updated following reports that suggested that an app that maps users' running routes could create a security risk for personnel on military bases.

GPS reporting company Strava published a global heat map based on user exercise routes. The map showed running routes of soldiers on remote and classified U.S. military bases.

 

What it covers: The memo's guidelines -- which apply to the Pentagon's DOD personnel, contractors and Pentagon visitors -- cover "laptops, tablets, cellular phones, smartwatches, and other devices" that are portable, can wirelessly transmit information and have "a self-contained power source."

 

And what it doesn't: The policy doesn't apply to any "mobile devices that have minimal storage and transmission capabilities such as key fobs used for medical alert, motor vehicles, or home security systems."

It also doesn't apply to "fitness trackers that do not contain camera, microphone, cellular, or Wi-Fi technology," but those devices will be addressed in still-under-development policy.

 

DEFENSE BILL WATCH: The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is set to hit the floor Thursday, but not before the House Rules Committee finishes its work.

The House met Tuesday afternoon to continue deciding which of the hundreds of amendments will make it to a floor vote. As of 6 p.m., only six amendments are set to be debated individually out of 103 amendments that made it past the committee.

 

Lawmakers want floor debate on war authorization: A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is pushing to get a vote on the House floor this week for a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF).

The handful of lawmakers sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Rules Committee, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), calling for the vote as part of this week's debate on the annual defense bill.

"As you consider amendments for the House's debate on this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we urge you to allow debate and a vote on our amendment to replace the two current Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs) with an updated one," the lawmakers wrote in letter dated Monday and released Tuesday.

The letter was signed by Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the State Department's budget, operations and policy priorities at 9 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. 

Lt. Gen. Lee Levy, Commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center will speak on readiness at 9:30 a.m. at the Air Force Association in Arlington, Va. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee has a closed markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for the full committee beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Russell Senate office Building, room 222. 

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on the near-term and long-term homeland implications of the recent territorial losses by ISIS in Iraq and Syria at 10 a.m. in the House Visitor Center, room 210. 

Permanent Representative of the U.S. to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison will speak on the road to NATO's Brussels Summit at 2:30 p.m. at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. 

 

ICYMI

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-- The Hill: Senate panel heading toward June hearing for Trump's next VA pick

-- The Hill: Air Force delays launch as it reviews SpaceX rocket

-- The Hill: Senator presses DOD to secure agency's publicly accessible web pages

-- The Hill: Opinion: Six past mistakes Trump can avoid in talks with North Korea

-- The Hill: Opinion: America should take caution with maximum pressure Iran sanctions

-- The Hill: Opinion: In taking on Iran and North Korea, one size does not fit all

-- Defense News: The US is running out of bombs -- and it may soon struggle to make more