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Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel

Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel
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Happy Thursday 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. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: Washington is on the hunt to pin down the author of the anonymous op-ed released Wednesday by The New York Times, but a number of top national security cabinet members have already denied it's them.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data 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 on Thursday categorically denied that he was the source of the piece that sharply criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE.

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"Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not," Coats said in a statement. "From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire [intelligence community] remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible."

Nielsen also denies: Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen denied Thursday that she was behind the op-ed.

"Secretary Nielsen is focused on leading the men & women of DHS and protecting the homeland -- not writing anonymous & false opinion pieces for the New York Times," Tyler Houlton, press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said in a statement.

"These types of political attacks are beneath the Secretary & the Department's mission," he added.

Also offering denials: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump asks Turkey for evidence on missing journalist | Key Dem calls for international probe | Five things to know about 'MBS' | Air Force struggles to determine cost of hurricane damage to F-22 jets GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Washington Post to publish special Opinion page with new Khashoggi column MORE and even Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims A strong Kurdistan region is good for US in Iraq MORE. We've got a list here. What about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis? He was one of the first to deny any connection with the op-ed on Wednesday.

 

The furor over the op-ed is unlikely to ease quickly. As The Hill's Scott Wong and Juliegrace Brufke report, key congressional allies of President Trump are floating the idea that Congress could take steps to try and find out who wrote the anonymous op-ed in The New York Times disparaging the president.

 

LAWMAKERS MOVE TO NAME NATO HEADQUARTERS AFTER MCCAIN: Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress introduced a resolution Thursday to support the effort to name NATO's new headquarters after Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate MORE (R-Ariz.), who died late last month after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

The resolution was led in the Senate by Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Dem senator: Trump accepts Saudi denials because he is 'enamored' with dictators Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (D-Md.), and in the House by Reps. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: 7B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties MORE (D-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations NATO head shoots down idea of naming new headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel MORE (R-Wis.).

"John McCain dedicated his life to the defense of freedom," Gallagher said in a statement. "I can think of no more appropriate tribute than naming the headquarters of the free world's foundational alliance in his memory."

The resolution says that each chamber "strongly supports" naming NATO's headquarters after McCain.

The momentum so far: NATO confirmed to news outlets last week that it received a proposal to name its new headquarters after McCain, saying the idea would be "considered carefully."

"He will be remembered both in Europe and North America for his courage and character and as a strong supporter of NATO," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said of McCain after his death.

NATO officially moved into the $1.45 billion building in Brussels in April. Naming the new building requires approval from all 29 member countries.

Three former secretary-generals backed the proposal to name it after McCain in a letter to Britain's Times newspaper last week.

Who has signed on: Senate co-sponsors of the resolution include Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference GOP senator: Not 'appropriate' for Mnuchin to go to Saudi conference MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBrunson release spotlights the rot in Turkish politics and judiciary Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen MORE (D-N.H.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOn The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference GOP senator: Not 'appropriate' for Mnuchin to go to Saudi conference MORE (R-Ind.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Poll: Dem incumbent holds 5-point lead in Oregon governor's race Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (D-Ore.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign 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 Pentagon watchdog knocks top admiral for handling of sexual harassment case MORE (D-N.Y.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh St. Lawrence alumni, faculty want honorary degree for Collins revoked MORE (R-Maine), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda MORE (D-Mass.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDem senator: 'Shameful' seeing Trump serve as 'mouthpiece' for Saudi leaders Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (D-Md.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners 15 Saudis identified in disappearance of Washington Post columnist The Senate needs to cool it MORE (D-Del.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Biden: ‘Totally legitimate’ to question age if he runs in 2020 On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE (D-N.J.).

The House co-sponsors are Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Mellman: Why Kavanaugh should withdraw Senior Dem says Pelosi will be Speaker for as long as she wants MORE (D-Mass.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRyan signals support for sanctions if Saudis killed Khashoggi Ryan on Trump’s ‘Horseface’ tweet: There’s no place for that type of language Cuomo: Driver in deadly limo crash did not have proper license MORE (R-N.Y.), Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyHouse lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain MORE (D-Conn.), Austin ScottJames (Austin) Austin ScottOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Ga.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (D-Fla.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain Satellite images raise alarms about North Korean nukes MORE (R-Ill.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

 

DEMS PLAN RESOLUTION TO WITHDRAW US FORCES FROM YEMEN: A group of House Democrats wants to force a vote to withdraw U.S. forces from the civil war in Yemen, the lawmakers announced on Thursday.

They said that they will introduce a so-called privileged resolution this month if the situation in the war-battered country does not improve that would withdraw the U.S. military from helping the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Yemeni rebels.

 "There has been no specific authorization for the U.S. Armed Forces to engage in hostilities with respect to the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen," the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

"We must take action to end U.S. participation in this catastrophic war in Yemen and work to bring about a peaceful conclusion to this conflict."

Who is behind the resolution: The effort is being led by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Silicon Valley tested by Saudi crisis 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 MORE (D-Calif.), who previously led the charge for a House-passed nonbinding resolution that called U.S. military involvement in the war unauthorized.

The statement was co-signed by Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims On The Money: McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' | Trump calls Fed his 'biggest threat' | US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanOvernight 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 House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern (Mass.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials ratchet up fight over drug pricing | McConnell says Republicans could try again on ObamaCare repeal | Dems go on offense against GOP lawsuit Overnight Health Care — Presented By National Partnership for Women & Families — Senate sends opioid package to Trump's desk | Drug companies fear Dem Congress | Premiums for employer plans rise Drug companies fear Democratic Congress MORE (Ill.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe importance of advancing the U.S.-India partnership House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (Hawaii), Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoHouse lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Massachusetts candidate Pressley says she’s working to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation MORE (Mass.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Poll shows Rep. Luis Gutiérrez as front-runner in Chicago mayoral race MORE (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), 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 (Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralTrump’s threats to cut aid from Honduras is ‘not going to work,’ says Dem Dem lawmaker says US should ‘immediately’ consider arms sanctions against Saudi Arabia The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms MORE (N.Y.).

Background on the war: Yemen's civil war has raged since 2015, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels took over the capital of Sanaa. Saudi Arabia, concerned about Iran's link to rebels near its border, intervened on behalf of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

The United States does not actively fight in the war, but it supports the coalition with aerial refueling, intelligence sharing and billions of dollars in weapons sales.

U.S. lawmakers' patience with the Saudi coalition has been wearing increasingly thin as the civilian death toll mounts. The United Nations pegs the civilian death toll at 6,660 as of Aug. 23, a number that is largely blamed on coalition air strikes.

 

US, INDIA SIGN DEAL ON INTEL SHARING: The United States and India on Thursday signed an agreement for closer intelligence sharing and military collaboration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 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, who were in New Delhi to meet with their Indian counterparts, signed the "Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement" to allow the sharing of sensitive military intelligence.

Mattis said the agreement will deepen "military-to-military cooperation and our ability to share the most advanced defense technology, making us both stronger," according to a Pentagon readout of the press conference following the meeting.

The United States required India to sign the agreement in order to be allowed to buy advanced U.S. military equipment. 

Mattis said the two sides also agreed to "increase and expand our engagement in the maritime domain" with a new joint exercise on India's coast in 2019, and a hotline between the two countries.

Why the deal was signed: The Obama administration designated India as a major defense partner for the United States, and the Trump administration hopes to build upon that with the new agreement as China looms in the region.

Beijing is in the midst of a massive militarization effort that includes island building in the South China Sea, a more powerful navy, military exercises and establishing outposts across the region.

"We know the threats to stability that exist in the region, and the United States seeks to ensure that both of our peoples can live in peace and in freedom," Pompeo said.

Possible complications: India, one of the biggest U.S. arms buyers, has been at odds with Washington recently over new U.S. sanctions against Iran and Russia, two of its economic and regional partners.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides discussed the U.S. sanctions against Iran, a nation India relies on as an energy supplier.

"They will certainly come up, but I don't think they'll be the primary focus of what it is we're trying to accomplish here," Pompeo said about the sanctions earlier this week.

India also plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system, putting it at odds with U.S. systems. The country plans to buy five S-400s for nearly $6 billion.

  

ICYMI

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-- The Hill: US sanctions allies of Syria's Assad amid fears over Idlib attack

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-- The Hill: South Korea: North wants to denuclearize before end of Trump's first term

-- The Hill: North Korea to cooperate with US in nuclear talks: report

-- Defense News: Pentagon's acquisition and sustainment reorganization should be completed a year ahead of time

-- The Wall Street Journal: Mattis plans to remove Pentagon's chief management officer