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Overnight Defense: Trump, Kim poised for historic summit | Trump blasts 'haters and losers' hours before meeting | Defense bill to include ZTE penalties | Lawmakers sound alarm over 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive

Overnight Defense: Trump, Kim poised for historic summit | Trump blasts 'haters and losers' hours before meeting | Defense bill to include ZTE penalties | Lawmakers sound alarm over 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive
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Happy Monday 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: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be face-to-face in just a few hours.

The historic summit is on track to kick off at 9 a.m. Tuesday Singapore time, which is 9 p.m. Monday Washington time.

We will be up all night tracking the summit, so be sure to check back at TheHill.com for updates.

Ahead of the summit, Trump took to Twitter to blast "haters and losers" who are skeptical of the meeting.

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"The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers. We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle (sic) launches have stoped (sic), and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!" Trump tweeted.

The schedule: After the greeting at 9 a.m., Trump and Kim will meet one-on-one with only their translators in tow. At 10 a.m., other officials from both countries will join the meeting. The two sides will then have a working lunch scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

Trump is scheduled to hold a media availability at 4 p.m. after the summit.

What to expect: After months of nuclear taunts, sports diplomacy and a rollercoaster of a will-they-or-won't-they tango, it all comes down to this meeting.

An unsuccessful summit could plunge U.S.-North Korea tensions back to last year's precarious state, or worse. But if successful, the summit could lead to a peace that's been elusive for a half century.

The world is crossing its fingers.

"No matter what happens, President Trump and Kim Jong Un are going to call it a success because both leaders are invested in this and they want to," Sue Mi Terry, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said at a press briefing.

Five things to watch: Will Kim lay on the charm like he did with his meeting with South Korea's president? Will Trump stick to a script or go off the cuff? What exactly can we expect to be discussed? We've taken a look at those questions and more here.

Kim out and about: The charm question may already be answered: Kim spent the night before the summit touring Singapore and snapping a selfie with Singaporean officials.

Singapore's foreign minister posted the selfie of him and Kim on Twitter. Footage from Singapore also showed Kim visiting tourist destinations and the Marina Bay Sands hotel-casino, which is owned by GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. Clips of Kim arriving at the Marina Bay Sand posted on Twitter showed spectators cheering him and shouting his name.

Pre-summit talks: Senior U.S. and North Korean officials continued Monday to hash out differences ahead of the summit.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWarren wants probe into whether former U.S. soldiers worked as assassins for UAE Slain Saudi columnist upends 'Davos in the Desert' Koreas, UN Command pulling weapons, guard posts inside DMZ MORE spoke to reporters after those talks, saying he was "optimistic" about the summit.

"So these discussions that'll take place tomorrow between chairman Kim and President Trump will set the framework for the hard work that will follow," Pompeo told reporters.

"And we'll see how far we get, but I'm very optimistic that we will have a successful outcome from tomorrow's meeting between these two leaders."

He also said the United States is prepared to offer North Korea "different" and "unique" security assurances.

"We're prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than have been provided, that America's been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate," he said.

He declined to specify whether that meant the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea is on the table.

Trump leaving early: Despite Trump saying last week the summit could last a couple days, he's now expected to leave Singapore on Tuesday night.

The White House attributed the change to talks moving "more quickly than expected."

"The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected," the White House said in a statement.

report by Bloomberg later said the change was due to Kim setting a deadline for the talks to end by scheduling his departure for 4 p.m.

Other summit headlines:

-- House Dems encourage 'incremental progress' at Trump-Kim summit

-- Trump on summit: I think 'it's going to work out very nicely'

-- Perry: Energy department will play 'integral role' in any U.S., North Korea agreement

-- Dennis Rodman arrives in Singapore ahead of Trump-Kim summit

-- Pope Francis leads prayer for peace ahead of North Korea summit

 

DEFENSE BILL MOVEMENT: After last week's delay, the Senate officially voted to start debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Monday.

The bill easily cleared the procedural hurdle with a 91-4 vote.

Amendment watch: At least one closely watched amendment is poised to make it into the bill.

Senators announced Monday that legislation keeping in place penalties against Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE will be included in the NDAA via a so-called manager's amendment.

"By including this provision to undo the ZTE deal in the defense bill, the Senate is saying loudly and in a bipartisan fashion that the president is dead wrong to back off on ZTE," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' MORE (D-N.Y.), a supporter of the amendment, said in a statement.

The amendment would also ban government agencies from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment and services from Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE and ban the government from providing loans to or subsidizing either company.

The Trump administration announced late last week that it had reached a deal to lift penalties against the company in exchange for ZTE paying a $1 billion fine and embedding a U.S.-selected compliance team in the firm.

White House position: The White House issued its statement of administration policy on the Senate NDAA on Monday evening.

Similar to its position on the House version, the administration said it supports "ultimate passage" of an NDAA. But it's not taking a more detailed stance on the Senate version yet.

"Given the short timeframe between public release of the bill and Senate action, the administration is not presenting detailed views at this time," the statement said. "The administration looks forward to presenting its views on S.2987 in the near future and working with the Congress to address them."

 

YEMEN UPDATE: Humanitarian groups are fearful of an imminent offensive on a key port in Yemen after they said they were warned to evacuate the city.

In response, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers is circulating a letter calling for Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon insists Mattis, Trump 'completely aligned' on leaving arms treaty | Trump 'not satisfied' with Saudi explanation on Khashoggi | Kushner says US still 'fact-finding' A solid budget requires tradeoffs Pentagon: Trump, Mattis 'completely aligned' on Russia arms treaty withdrawal MORE to help prevent the "catastrophic" military operation.

"We urge you to use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault on Yemen's major port city of Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition, and to present Congress with immediate clarification regarding the full scope of U.S. military involvement in that conflict," said a draft of the letter obtained by The Hill.

"In light of your April 2017 remarks that the war must be resolved 'politically as soon as possible,' we urge you to use all tools at your disposal to dissuade the Saudi-led coalition from moving forward with this offensive and reject the provision of U.S. logistical, military and diplomatic support for any such operation."

The letter is being circulated for signatures by Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanAtheist group argues in court for prayer rights on House floor Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Lawmakers seeking intel on alleged Saudi plot against journalist MORE (D-Wis.), Justin AmashJustin AmashWatchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump MORE (R-Mich.), Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaTech giant faces crucial decision over Saudi ties GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Silicon Valley tested by Saudi crisis MORE (D-Calif.), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump caps UN visit with wild presser | Accuses China of election meddling | Pentagon spending bill clears House | Hawks cheer bill | Lawmakers introduce resolution to force Yemen vote House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (R-Ky.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeWorking together to improve diversity and inclusion The Hill's Morning Report — How will the Kavanaugh saga impact the midterms? Live coverage: Senate Judiciary to vote on Kavanaugh confirmation MORE (D-Calif.), Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Kavanaugh accuser Ford offers gripping testimony | Sights and sounds from Capitol | Hearing grips Washington Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump caps UN visit with wild presser | Accuses China of election meddling | Pentagon spending bill clears House | Hawks cheer bill | Lawmakers introduce resolution to force Yemen vote MORE (R-N.C.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).

The issue: The United Nations and humanitarian groups reported over the weekend that they were warned by the United Arab Emirates to evacuate the Yemeni port city of Hodeida by Tuesday. The city is controlled by Houthi rebels who are fighting a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and the coalition believes the port has been key to the rebels smuggling in arms.

Humanitarian groups and experts have warned that an offensive on Hodeida, through which 80 percent of Yemen's aid comes, could devastate the already war-ravaged country. The United Nations said Friday the worst-case scenario is 250,000 civilians killed in the assault.

 

ANOTHER CRASH: A U.S. Air Force base in Japan has temporarily grounded its F-15 Eagle fleet following a crash early Monday that left the pilot in serious condition.

The Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, said in a statement that an F-15C assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron of the 18th Wing crashed at approximately 6:26 a.m. in the waters south of Okinawa.

The pilot "successfully ejected and was rescued by Japan Air Self-Defense Force," the Air Force said. The pilot was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Foster and is in serious condition, the statement added.

Officials said the cause of the crash is unknown. It occurred during a "routine training mission," the Air Force said.

String of crashes: The incident is the latest in a series of aviation mishaps over the past year that have left 18 airmen and crew dead and dozens more injured.

That includes a T-38 crash that killed a pilot in November in Texas, a C-130 aircraft crash that killed nine people near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia in May and an F-16 crash April 4 in Nevada that killed an Air Force Thunderbirds pilot.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

An expert panel will discuss next steps on North Korea at 11 a.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. http://ceip.org/2sPvJJC

 

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