Overnight Defense: Trump nixes Pompeo's North Korea trip | McCain gets outpouring of support | Erik Prince pushes Afghanistan plan

Overnight Defense: Trump nixes Pompeo's North Korea trip | McCain gets outpouring of support | Erik Prince pushes Afghanistan plan
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THE TOPLINE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE on Friday said he has asked Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE to put off his planned visit to North Korea and accused Pyongyang of slow-walking efforts to dismantle its nuclear program.

Trump wrote in a tweet that a high-level visit is not appropriate “at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Pompeo was scheduled to make his fourth visit to North Korea next week to follow up on a framework agreement Trump reached with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at their summit in mid-June.

A rare admission: The decision marks a rare concession from Trump that North Korea’s denuclearization is not going as well as hoped.

Trump proclaimed after his meeting in Singapore with Kim that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat.”

What caused the tweet? The announcement comes a day after Pompeo named a Stephen Biegun — a senior executive with the Ford Motor Company — to be the State Department’s special representative for North Korea. Pompeo had said that Biegun was to travel with him to Pyongyang next week.

White House national security adviser John Bolton had also praised Pompeo on Sunday, saying he had done “extraordinary follow-up diplomacy after the Singapore meeting" and the administration expects “that's going to resume in the near future.”

Trump in his series of tweets about North Korea on Friday also accused China of not “helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were,” pointing to “our much tougher Trading stance” with the nation as the cause of the rift.

Little progress: Since the June summit, Pyongyang has not conducted any missile or nuclear tests, but U.S. officials have acknowledged that there have been no public signs of denuclearization.

Bolton said earlier this month that North Korea "has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize" and media reports citing U.S. intelligence estimates say the nation continues work on ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development. 

MCCAIN ENDS TREATMENT: Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal MORE (R-Ariz.) has decided to discontinue medical treatment, more than a year after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, his family announced Friday.

"In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment," McCain's family said in a statement released by his office.

"Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from John’s many friends and associates, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers,” they added. “God bless and thank you all." 

The statement comes less than a week before the highly regarded defense hawk’s 82nd birthday.

The diagnoses: McCain was diagnosed in July 2017 with glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. It was discovered after he had surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

Though McCain has been absent from Capitol Hill since December — when his office announced that he had returned to Arizona for "physical therapy and rehabilitation" — he's continued to weigh in on the Senate's foreign policy and national security debates.

Outpouring of support: The White House didn't immediately comment on the announcement from McCain's family, but his longtime colleagues offered their support on social media.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (R-Ky.), who at times broke with McCain on issues like immigration and health care, said he was "very sad to hear" the announcement from McCain's family.

Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedPapering over climate change impacts is indefensible Why Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy GOP chairman: US military may have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia does MORE (D-R.I.), the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, said McCain was "still inspiring us [with] his courage, grit, determination & grace."

Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love Trump religious adviser calls anti-Trump evangelicals 'spineless morons' MORE, a fellow GOP presidential candidate in 2008 who later endorsed McCain, said that "no man this century better exemplifies honor, patriotism, service, sacrifice, and country first than Senator John McCain."

And John Kerry — who served with McCain for decades in the Senate before going on to be secretary of State during the Obama administration — said the GOP senator has shown Americans what “the words grace and grit really mean." 

PRINCE PRESSES ON AFGHANISTAN PLAN: A year after the Trump administration rejected Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s plan to replace most U.S. troops in Afghanistan with private contractors — an idea roundly criticized by the defense and foreign policy establishment — he’s back trying to sell his plan to President Trump.

Prince hasn’t talked to Trump about the idea recently, he admits. But he’s been making the rounds in the media, including an appearance on Trump’s favorite television show, “Fox & Friends,” talking up his plan as a way to end the stagnation of the 17-year-old war.

Nagging concerns: Few, if any, defense officials, lawmakers and experts think Prince’s plan would work, but there’s concern that Trump – who revels in bucking the establishment – just might give it a shot.

The current strategy: A year ago Tuesday, Trump announced his strategy to turn around the war in Afghanistan, which top generals had been warning was a stalemate at best.

His changes included taking away a timeline for withdrawal, adding thousands more troops, loosening some rules of engagement and putting more pressure on regional players such as Pakistan.

Today, the U.S. has about 16,000 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Is it working? Top U.S. officials have insisted the strategy is working, pointing to a three-day ceasefire earlier this year and “off stage” talks with elements of the Taliban.

“The progress towards reconciliation, which ultimately is what we want, a political end to the war — which will enable a political end to the war — is perhaps one of the greatest successes of the strategy so far,” Gen. John Nicholson said Tuesday.

“Now, there will be ups and downs, there will be leap-aheads, there'll be frustrations, there'll be, you know, two steps forward, one step back from time to time, but the process is started.”

But insurgents have continued to launch high-profile attacks, and control of territory has remained largely unchanged: 65 percent of Afghans live in areas under government control, while 12 percent live under the Taliban and 23 percent in contested areas, according to Monday’s latest quarterly inspector general report on the mission. 

 

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