Overnight Defense: Bolton targets International Criminal Court in major speech | White House planning second Trump-Kim summit | Military prepares for Hurricane Florence

Overnight Defense: Bolton targets International Criminal Court in major speech | White House planning second Trump-Kim summit | Military prepares for Hurricane Florence
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Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, 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: National security advisor John Bolton used his first major address since joining the Trump administration to send a stern warning to the International Criminal Court: Back off the United States or else.

In a speech at the conservative Federalist Society, Bolton threatened to impose sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel if the court continues with an investigation into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, a move that could raise questions about the future of the court.


"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," Bolton said.

The top national security official argued the court poses a threat to U.S. sovereignty, is ineffective in prosecuting war crimes and too often targets American allies, such as Israel.

What's he talking about, Afghanistan edition: In November 2017, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced she would seek permission from the court to pursue a formal investigation into the Afghanistan conflict, citing a "reasonable basis to believe" war crimes had been committed in connection to the years-long conflict.

Bensouda said her investigation, if authorized, would focus on alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan since May 2003, and those "closely linked" to the Afghanistan conflict allegedly committed since July 2002.

A decision on whether the court will allow the investigation is expected soon, after which Bensouda would need to make a decision on which crimes she plans to focus.

Bolton said if the investigation moves forward, the U.S. would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S., sanction any funds they have in the U.S. financial system and even weigh criminal probes against them.

What's he talking about, Israel edition: Palestinian officials are trying to trigger an ICC investigation of Israel.

In conjunction with Bolton's speech, the State Department announced Monday it is shuttering the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Washington office.

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel," Bolton said. "We will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel's right to self-defense."

Palestinian officials said the decision would not affect its plans to pursue an ICC investigation and accused the U.S. of unfairly favoring Israel in stalled efforts to restart Middle East peace talks.

"We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to U.S. threats and bullying," Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said in a statement to news organizations in advance of the speech. "Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes."

Five things to know about the ICC: The Hill also broke down five things you should know about the court in light of Bolton's speech, including history on its formation, background on the U.S. not being a party to the court and whether the court is considered effective. Take a look at that here.


SECOND TIME'S THE CHARM?: Planning is underway for a second meeting between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE and Kim Jong Un after the North Korean leader sent Trump a letter requesting it, the White House announced Monday.

During a briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the request was the "primary purpose" of Kim's letter and a second meeting is "certainly something we want to take place."

She added that the White House is "already in the process of coordinating that."

Sanders provided no details about the time or place of a second meeting, saying discussions are still taking place.

Earlier: During the question-and-answer portion of his Federalist Society address, Bolton said a second meeting was possible, but expressed more skepticism at its likelihood.

"The possibility of another meeting between the two presidents obviously exists. But President Trump can't make the North Koreans walk through the door he's holding open," Bolton said.

After the speech, Bolton told reporters the two men could meet "sometime this year," but that such a get-together remains "entirely ... hypothetical."

Bolton also indicated the administration wants to see North Korea speed up efforts to dismantle its nuclear program before a meeting occurs. Bolton said Kim previously told South Korean officials he is capable of getting rid of his weapons within a year.

"We're still waiting for them," he said.

Timing: Talk of a second summit comes after North Korea's relatively subdued Foundation Day parade.

Subdued because the Sunday parade did not include any displays of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICMB), unlike last year's. The event also focused largely on economic development.

Trump has taken that as a sign of North Korea's good faith.

"This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office."

Indeed, some experts have expressed optimism at the signal sent by not including the missiles in the parade. But others have said that not wanting to draw attention to the ICBMs is different than a willingness to give them up.


PENTAGON PREPS FOR HURRICANE: About 30 Navy ships are heading out to safer waters and National Guard troops are being activated as Hurricane Florence bears down on the east coast.

Pentagon Spokesman Col. Robert Manning on Monday said that U.S. Fleet Forces Command has ordered all Navy ships in Hampton Roads, Va., out to sea, as "forecasted destructive winds and tidal surge are too great to keep the ships in port."

"Ships will be directed to areas of the Atlantic where they will be best postured for storm avoidance," Manning told reporters at the Pentagon. "Some units will not get underway due to maintenance status but will be taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage."

National Guard: In South Carolina, more than 750 Guard personnel are now on state active duty orders for Florence response after 564 were added Monday.

"The Department of Defense is working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security and is prepared to assist [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and our other Federal partners in supporting the States impacted by the storm," Manning said.

"Our operation centers are in constant communication and are ready to respond and assist with military capabilities."

North Carolina, meanwhile, has activated 200 of its guardsmen, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Monday.

"We have 200 National Guard troops that have been activated and we have many more who are there and ready to serve and to be activated when we need them," Cooper said.


SHUTDOWN WATCH: Lawmakers are inching ever closer to avoiding or limiting a government shutdown in October, reaching a compromise Monday on the first of three planned spending packages.

Appropriators on Capitol Hill submitted a conference report for a "minibus" consisting of three spending bills that lawmakers plan to pass this week, a move that would mark the first time in a decade that Congress has sent the president more than one spending bill ahead of the annual Sept. 30 deadline.

"This Conference Report represents our strong commitment to returning to 'regular order' in government funding, and is a huge step toward completing all of our Appropriations bills as soon as possible while funding all aspects of government in a responsible way," said outgoing House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenTop House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-N.J.).


What's in, what's out: The report irons out differences in the House and Senate versions of the three appropriations bills providing $146.57 billion in discretionary spending for measures covering Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Legislative branch.

House and Senate negotiators initially hit a roadblock in July over whether to fund a veterans' health program under existing budget caps, which would require moving funds from other veteran programs or finding a workaround such as further raising the cap or sidestepping it with a budgetary maneuver.

Monday's compromise bill does not provide funding for what's known as the VA Choice program.

"I remain very concerned that because it was not accommodated under the bipartisan budget agreement this package does not provide funding to cover the costs associated with the VA Choice program, which was transferred to the discretionary side of the budget under the MISSION Act," said Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph Leahy‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (D-Vt.), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who wanted to raise the discretionary cap to accommodate the program.

According to Leahy, the program will require $1.6 billion in funding above what the bill provides, and need even more down the line.

"This new program will face a shortfall beginning in May of 2019," Leahy said. "We do our veterans no favors when we make promises to them that we cannot keep."



Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Top US general: Trump wrong on Syria pullout, ISIS defeat MORE and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva will host Vice President Pence at the Pentagon for a 9/11 observance ceremony at 8:45 a.m. Watch live at defense.gov/live.



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