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 CoatsDems slam Trump for siding with Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi killing Dem senator demands public intelligence assessment on Khashoggi killing Hillicon Valley: Official warns midterm influence could trigger sanctions | UK, Canada call on Zuckerberg to testify | Google exec resigns after harassment allegations | Gab CEO defends platform | T-Mobile, Sprint tailor merger pitch for Trump MORE on Thursday categorically denied that he was the source of the piece that sharply criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill 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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' MORE and even Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceOn The Money: New director takes helm at troubled consumer agency | Trump’s economy teetering on trade tensions, volatile markets | Brexit crisis deepens | House report scolds Equifax over breach Washington Post columnist predicts Trump will resign 10 minutes before Pence so Pence can pardon him President Trump’s fight for a better trade deal with China 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 McCainCohen’s pleas concocted by prosecutors to snare Trump Overnight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence Dem strategist says Trump should not have attended George H.W. Bush's funeral 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 RubioDems have new moniker for Trump: ‘Unindicted co-conspirator' John Kelly’s exit raises concerns about White House future Rubio: We don’t need direct evidence crown prince ‘ordered the code red’ on Khashoggi killing MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinGeorge H.W. Bush remembered at Kennedy Center Honors Democratic senator: US must maintain strategic relationship with Saudis and hold them accountable Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis MORE (D-Md.), and in the House by Reps. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaDemocrats with military background offer support for Pelosi 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-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherDo you want to drain the swamp? Then start investing in Congress GOP lawmaker calls for committees to elect their own chairmen Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations 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 FlakeFlake: Republican Party ‘is a frog slowly boiling in water’ Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting New Hampshire's secretary of state narrowly holds seat Overnight Health Care: Senators urge vote on delaying health insurance tax | Joe Kennedy III 'hopeful' he can back 'Medicare for all' bill | Latest Ebola outbreak becomes world's 2nd-worst MORE (D-N.H.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border This week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight Congress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle MORE (R-Ind.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan Merkley How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit Dem senator accuses Trump of aiding 'cover up' over Khashoggi Criminal justice reform splits 2020 Democrats MORE (D-Ore.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandWarren has contacted 100 people in early 2020 primary states: report O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold NRA's Loesch: Gillibrand’s 'future Is female’ tweet 'is pretty sexist' MORE (D-N.Y.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Judd Gregg: The last woman standing MORE (R-Maine), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFocus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying MORE (D-Mass.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Defense: Trump at G-20 | Calls Ukraine 'sole reason' for canceling Putin meeting | Senate passes resolution condemning Russian actions | Armed Services chairmen warn against defense cuts Senate passes resolution condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine Overnight Defense: Trump faces new Russia test over Ukraine | Cancels plans to meet Putin at G-20 | Officials float threat of military action against Iran MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDem senator: 'I think it’s appropriate' for Comey to express views on Trump Hillicon Valley: Trade talks set up cyber clash | Google CEO set to testify next week | DOJ charges Iranians with hacking | Mnuchin suggests Twitter account was breached | Facebook expands local news feature Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela MORE (D-Md.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsIRS issues guidance aimed at limiting impact of tax on nonprofits' parking expenses Focus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince Overnight Defense: Washington bids farewell to George H.W. Bush | Senators offer resolution calling Saudi prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi killing | US Navy sails near Russia-claimed waters MORE (D-Del.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker's potential 2020 bid is generating buzz among Democratic activists, says political reporter The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold MORE (D-N.J.).

The House co-sponsors are Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonWHIP LIST: Pelosi seeks path to 218 Moulton calls out Ocasio-Cortez's tweet defending Pelosi as 'offensive' The Hill's Morning Report — Intraparty skirmishes light up lame-duck session MORE (D-Mass.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' Fractious GOP vows to unify in House minority GOP women face steeper climb in Trump era 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 MurphyProblem Solvers Dems urge Pelosi to publicly back three rules changes Problem Solvers Dems: We 'cannot support' Pelosi for Speaker 'at this time' 14 House Dems vow to withhold Speaker votes over rule reforms MORE (D-Fla.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerGOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' Fractious GOP vows to unify in House minority House Republican: If Trump violated campaign finance law, it’s not ‘anywhere near impeachable’ 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) KhannaOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border House lawmakers push Yemen resolution as Senate nears vote Overnight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence 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 SmithOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border The Year Ahead: Dems look to check Trump on defense Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanSetting the record straight about No Labels Progressive rep says she’s ‘very disappointed' by Barbara Lee’s loss in bid for Dem caucus chair For suffering animals, a new audit of the USDA can’t happen soon enough MORE (D-Wis.), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern (Mass.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion Incoming Michigan Dem will not back Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE (Ill.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard says being Saudi Arabia's 'bitch' is not 'America First' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Gabbard considering 2020 run: report MORE (Hawaii), Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoMassachusetts New Members 2019 House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems MORE (Mass.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeJohn Kelly’s exit raises concerns about White House future GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war MORE (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeOcasio-Cortez: John Kelly is a coward for refusing to apologize to Dem lawmaker Black Caucus chairman pushes back against committee term limits Progressive rep says she’s ‘very disappointed' by Barbara Lee’s loss in bid for Dem caucus chair MORE (Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHispanic Caucus picks Castro as its next chair Cicilline bows out of assistant leader race, paving path for Lujan Pelosi vows to expand leadership team 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: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border Pentagon to begin withdrawing hundreds of active duty troops at border Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports 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

-- The Hill: US envoy: There's evidence Syrian government preparing chemical weapons in Idlib

-- The Hill: Russia warns US of possible Syria attack in area with US troops: report

-- The Hill: US fighter jets intercept Russian nuclear bombers near Alaska: report

-- The Hill: Dems urge Mattis to reject using $450M for border wall

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

-- The Hill: US, allies back British charges of Russian intel officers in nerve agent attack

-- 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