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 CoatsOvernight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Is Putin attacking Sanders, Harris and Warren to help Trump? Dems demand briefing, intel on North Korea nuclear talks MORE on Thursday categorically denied that he was the source of the piece that sharply criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall 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 to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Dems demand briefing, intel on North Korea nuclear talks Pompeo: US will not share information with countries using Huawei systems MORE and even Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence going to Colombia to demand Maduro step down Grenell: Push to decriminalize homosexuality 'wildly supported' by both parties Marc Short to return to White House as Pence’s chief of staff 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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech 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 RubioInviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Venezuela closes border with Brazil The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The Hill's Morning Report - Can Bernie recapture 2016 magic? MORE (D-Md.), and in the House by Reps. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaBipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House passes bill expressing support for NATO This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans MORE (D-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOn The Money: Senate Dems to introduce resolution blocking Trump emergency declaration | Banks made billion in extra profits thanks to GOP tax law | IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen's financial records GOP lawmaker comes out against Trump's emergency declaration Bipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals 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 FlakePoll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Dems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Bipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia MORE (D-N.H.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungIndiana gets first national park Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal MORE (R-Ind.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems face tough vote on Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (D-Ore.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandKamala Harris: Trump administration ‘targeting’ California for political purposes Harry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus Gillibrand to appear on Fox News Monday night MORE (D-N.Y.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Money: Senate Dems to introduce resolution blocking Trump emergency declaration | Banks made billion in extra profits thanks to GOP tax law | IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen's financial records Senate Dems to introduce resolution blocking Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down MORE (R-Maine), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyClimate hedgehogs and foxes Overnight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run AOC's green deal isn't new — it's been a flop in Germany MORE (D-Mass.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority GOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Senate buzz grows for Abrams after speech electrifies Dems MORE (D-Md.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (D-Del.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerKamala Harris: Trump administration ‘targeting’ California for political purposes Gillibrand to appear on Fox News Monday night Overnight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run MORE (D-N.J.).

The House co-sponsors are Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - All eyes on Trump after lawmakers reach spending deal Overnight Defense: Acting Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan | US, Taliban peace talks intensify | Trump tweets in Persian to send message to Iran | Defense world pays tribute to Walter Jones MORE (D-Mass.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP announces members who will serve on House intel panel Bipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House votes on 10th bill to reopen government MORE (R-N.Y.), Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyDems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation 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 MurphyTrump snubs highlight Pelosi’s grip on Dems On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks MORE (D-Fla.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerGOP rep deployed to southern border with Air National Guard unit GOP rep: Trump needs to ‘quit complimenting Kim Jong Un’ GOP compares Ocasio-Cortez to Trump 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) KhannaSanders campaign announces two women co-chairs after sexual harassment allegations Venezuela puts spotlight on Rubio Overnight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions 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: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Dems demand briefing, intel on North Korea nuclear talks Trump’s state of emergency declaration imperils defense budget MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanHannity decries Green New Deal as 'economically guaranteed-to-be-devastating' Ocasio-Cortez unveils Green New Deal climate resolution Trump’s AIDS turnaround greeted with skepticism by some advocates 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 National Taxpayers Union — Trump, Dems open drug price talks | FDA warns against infusing young people's blood | Facebook under scrutiny over health data | Harris says Medicare for all isn't socialism Hillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal info MORE (Ill.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard4 ways Hillary looms over the 2020 race Gabbard pushes back after Meghan McCain suggests she's an 'Assad apologist' Gabbard cites ‘concerns’ about ‘vagueness’ of Green New Deal MORE (Hawaii), Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoFreshman Dem lawmaker says Trump brought dishonor to his office with shutdown Massachusetts New Members 2019 House lawmakers introduce bill to end US support in Yemen civil war MORE (Mass.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeDem lawmaker wants to hear Trump's views on how 5G could affect border wall Lawmakers eager for 5G breakthrough The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to watch in tonight's State of the Union | Trump tweets about 'human wall' | How Dems aim to challenge Trump tonight MORE (N.Y.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeBetting against Bernie? Dems assess the risk Kamala Harris: 'I am not a democratic socialist' The 10 Dems most likely to win the 2020 presidential nomination MORE (Calif.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown 8-year-old boy dies in CBP custody Hispanic Caucus picks Castro as its next chair 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 to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Trump to leave 200 US troops in Syria as 'peacekeeping' force Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange 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