Overnight Defense: Takeaways from Trump-Kim summit | Confusion over pledge to halt war games | Lawmakers want vote on any deal | Effort to kill Trump tariffs blocked

Overnight Defense: Takeaways from Trump-Kim summit | Confusion over pledge to halt war games | Lawmakers want vote on any deal | Effort to kill Trump tariffs blocked
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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 TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made history when they shook hands then sat down for the first ever summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader Tuesday in Singapore.

Following the meeting, a joint declaration signed by both announced unspecified "security guarantees" from the United States, in exchange for North Korea to agree to an "unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." 

Trump said the two were ready "to write a new chapter" between the nations.

Military drills? Getting the most attention on Capitol Hill was Trump's agreement with Pyongyang to suspend joint U.S.-South Korean military drills while negotiations are ongoing, as well as insistence that any treaty drawn up by the administration be voted on by Congress.

The halted joint military exercises: Trump at the meeting with Kim announced that the Pentagon will halt joint military drills with South Korea during negotiations with Pyongyang.


The exercises, which the Pentagon has asserted are essential to military readiness, will stop "unless and until" negotiations go poorly, Trump said.

The Pentagon has yet to issue a statement on whether any exercises will be halted or scaled back, but so far officials have said no new guidance has been given. The next large-scale military exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is still scheduled for the fall.

Confusion reigns: Trump spurred confusion and consternation among lawmakers and foreign allies on Tuesday when he announced that the U.S. would be "stopping war games" on the Korean peninsula amid ongoing discussions with North Korea about denuclearization.

Vice President Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon to brief Republicans in the House and Senate on the Singapore summit and quell concerns about the joint exercises.

Pence told lawmakers that semiannual war games would cease, contingent upon North Korea following through on efforts to denuclearize. However, Pence added that "regular readiness training" would continue, an administration official said.

The distinction between the two types of drills is subtle.

Pentagon insists Mattis was informed: Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Joint Chiefs chairman to meet with Saudi counterpart Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' despite 'Democrat' remark MORE was consulted on, and not surprised by, Trump's announcement Tuesday that the Pentagon will hold off on military exercises with South Korea during ongoing negotiations with North Korea, CNN reported. 

"He was not surprised. He was consulted. ... The secretary is in full alignment with the president to meet his goal which is denuclearization of the peninsula," Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White told CNN.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford also knew of Trump's plan to suspend large-scale military exercises, according to multiple news reports.

A U.S. military spokesperson said on Tuesday that forces on the Korean peninsula have not received any updated guidance on ending training exercises with South Korea. 

Lawmakers push back at concession: Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Overnight Defense: Trump ramps up pressure on Iran, international courts | Arrest made after suspicious letters sent to Trump, Mattis | US to offer NATO cyber capabilities Admiral defends record after coming under investigation in 'Fat Leonard' scandal MORE (Iowa), a key Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, raised questions about Trump's decision to suspend the joint military exercises.

"I don't think that's wise because we have done these exercises for years," Ernst, who chairs an Armed Services subcommittee, said Tuesday. "I would just ask the president, why do we need to suspend them? They are legal."

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE (N.Y.) earlier in the day questioned the president trading a concession on legal military exercises in exchange for North Korea freezing its illegal nuclear testing program.

But Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (Texas), cautioned that Trump appears to be negotiating in the press and what he says now may not be part of any eventual deal with North Korea.

And lawmakers want a vote on any treaty: Republican senators said on Tuesday that they want the Trump administration to submit any final deal between the United States and North Korea to Congress for a vote.

"Yeah, assuming there is a final agreement, they've indicted that they would bring that agreement to us in the form of a treaty," GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Dem Senator: Congress will act on death of Saudi journalist Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (R-Tnn.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said on Tuesday. 

And Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Suspects in journalist's disappearance linked to Saudi crown prince: report Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said any agreement between the U.S. and North Korea should come to Congress for approval. 

"Not only do I want to see the details, I want to vote on them," Graham said on NBC's "Today." 

A good day for Kim?: Kim, who is accused of assassinating relatives and executing scores of his citizens, appeared to get his top outcome from the meeting: legitimacy on the international stage.

The equal number of alternating flags for each country sent a message of parity between a global superpower and the world's most reclusive state.

Better yet, from Kim's perspective, was Trump calling him a "very talented man" and a "worthy negotiator."

Kim did little of substance in response. 

The joint declaration specifies no timeline for denuclearization nor it does have steps to verify disarmament. It also refers to denuclearization on the entire Korean peninsula -- Pyongyang's preferred phrasing -- and does not include the words "verifiable" and "irreversible" despite months of U.S. statements.

The Hill's Rebecca Kheel breaks down the five key takeaways from Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un.


Other summit headlines:

-- Dems rip Trump concessions, 'embarrassing' rhetoric with Kim

-- McConnell: North Korea summit beginning of an 'arduous process'

-- Biden: Trump has reduced US leverage with North Korea

-- GOP senator 'troubled' by Trump announcement to halt US-South Korean military drills

-- South Korea to seek 'precise meaning' of Trump's plan to end war games

-- Pompeo calls South Korean, Japanese counterparts after Trump-Kim summit

-- Trump calls into Senate GOP lunch to discuss North Korea

-- Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE: Trump-Kim summit a 'positive step'

-- GOP senator: Trump sitting down with Kim not 'pretty' but 'necessary' to stop nuclear threat

-- Kim Jong Un accepts Trump's invitation to Washington: report

-- Schumer: Trump has given a 'brutal and repressive dictatorship' legitimacy

-- The Hill: Otto Warmbier's parents: 'Hopefully something positive' will come from Trump-Kim summit

-- The Hill: Meghan McCain slams Trump over summit with Kim, 'the closest thing' to Hitler in our time

-- The Hill: GOP lawmaker: It will mean 'Kim's death' if he throws away Trump opportunity

-- The Hill: Iran warns North Korea: Trump could cancel agreement 'before returning back home'


CORKER REBUKES GOP ON TARIFFS: 'WE MIGHT POKE THE BEAR': Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) ripped his GOP colleagues on Tuesday, asserting they are afraid to vote on his tariff legislation because it could provoke backlash from Trump.

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' That is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment,'" Corker said during a heated speech where he was yelling from the Senate floor.

He added that the Senate is "becoming a body where, well, we'll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority, and so let's don't do anything that might upset the president."

The issue: Corker has tried unsuccessfully to get a vote on his legislation requiring congressional approval for tariffs enacted for reasons of national security amid broader scrutiny of Trump's recent trade moves.

The Tennessee Republican has pushed for a vote on the measure as part of the Senate's debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The outcome: Corker's legislation was blocked from getting a vote by GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), who is managing the defense bill for Republicans. 

Inhofe noted he had talked to members of the House, who were "strenuously" objecting to the inclusion of Corker's amendment in the defense policy bill. He added that he would help Corker look for another bill to attach his tariff legislation to. 

"I will do all I [can] to help him to get that on as an amendment, but not to the defense authorization bill. I think this would cause a lot of damage. The House agrees with this," Inhofe said. 


NORWAY TO ASK FOR MORE US MARINES NEAR RUSSIAN BORDER: Norway will ask the United States to send 700 U.S. Marines to the country amid heightened concerns about Russia. 

The U.S. initially sent Marines to the country in 2017 to train for fighting in winter conditions. Those troops are scheduled to leave Norway at the end of the year.

But Oslo is expected to ask the U.S. to send 700 Marines in 2019, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told reporters, according to Reuters. The additional troops would be based near the border with Russia.

What they'll do there: Soereide said that the Marines' presence in Norway is not intended to establish a permanent U.S. military base nor is the move intended to target Russia.

Still, Oslo has become increasingly wary of Russia's intentions after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Reuters noted. The U.S. Marines are the first foreign troops to be stationed in the country since World War II. 



Sen. Joni Ernst and several defense officials will speak at the 7th Annual European Union Security & Defense Washington Symposium starting at 8 a.m. at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

The House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Pentagon's Aviation Safety Mishap Review and oversight process with Brig. Gen. David Francis, Commanding General of U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center; Maj. Gen. John Rauch, Air Force Chief of Safety; and Rear Adm. Mark Leavitt, Commander of the Naval Safety Center, at 10 a.m. in Rayburn Hoiuse Office Building, room 2212. 

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold an event on U.S.-Russia crisis stability at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C.  

The full House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the fiscal 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill at 12 p.m. in Rayburn 2118. 

The Council on Foreign Relations for will hold a discussion assessing the U.S. and North Korea summit at 12:30 p.m.

Reps. Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerOvernight Defense: Trump directs Pentagon to create 'Space Force' | Lawmakers say new branch needs their approval | Senate passes 6B defense policy bill | Pentagon suspends planning for 'war game' with South Korea Overnight Defense: Takeaways from Trump-Kim summit | Confusion over pledge to halt war games | Lawmakers want vote on any deal | Effort to kill Trump tariffs blocked Overnight Energy: Pruitt spent at least ,600 to decorate office | EPA backtracks and lets reporters into summit after criticism | White House to 'look into' incident MORE (R-Ohio), and Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanic Dems want answers on detention of immigrant minors Analysis: 77 percent of small firms in Puerto Rico suffered hurricane losses One year later: Puerto Rico battles with bureaucracy after Maria MORE (D- Ariz.) will speak at an Atlantic Council event on tackling NATO's expansive threat environment ahead of the 2018 NATO Brussels summit at 2 p.m. in Washington D.C.  



--The Hill: Opinion: At Singapore summit, North Korea racked up wins

--The Hill: Opinion: Trump-Kim talks, fantastic, indeed

--The Hill: Opinion: After Singapore summit, Congress must navigate a path to normalization

-- Defense News: Trump's nominee for ambassador to South Korea was a vocal supporter of joint military drills

-- Stars and Stripes: Afghan general: There are a lot more Taliban fighters than previously thought