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

Happy Wednesday 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.

 

THE TOPLINE: Much of the day was devoted to saying good-bye to former President George H.W. Bush.

Thousands of current and former politicians gathered at the Washington National Cathedral to say farewell to the 41st president, who died Friday at age 94.

At the funeral, family members, former colleagues and friends recalled Bush as a devoted public servant with a keen sense of humor and love for his family.

"When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States, a diplomat of unmatched skill, a commander in chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor," former President George W. Bush said in a eulogy for his father.

George W. Bush, who remained composed for most of the tribute, broke down toward the end of his speech as he described his dad as "a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter could have."

Joy for life: Bush's service as a naval aviator during World War II was also remembered during the ceremony, including when George W. Bush said his father's joie de vivre originated from his harrowing rescue after being shot down during an air mission and his survival from a staph infection as a teen.

"I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life, and he vowed to live every day to the fullest," Bush said, adding that his father was "always busy ... a man in constant motion but never too busy to share his love of life with those around him."

Navy's farewell: The Navy in 2009 commissioned an aircraft carrier named for Bush.

On Tuesday night, the crew of the USS George H.W. Bush honored their vessel's namesake with a flashlight vigil.

"Together, with communities across America, we raised our lights to brighten the night sky with 'a thousand points of light,'" the carrier wrote on its Facebook page, referencing the president's famed phrase.

In a time-lapse video posted online, sailors from the ship assembled on the flight deck and lit up flashlights to read "GHWB 41."

 

SENATORS OFFER RESOLUTION ON SAUDI PRINCE: A bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday throwing Senate support behind the finding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was "complicit" in the death of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

The resolution says the Senate believes the Saudi crown prince "was in control of security forces" during the killing and "based on evidence and analysis made available to this institution, has a high level of confidence that Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi."

The measure was introduced by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFox's Chris Wallace challenges Graham over past comments on ignoring subpoenas Graham: 'I've got a real problem' with arms sales to Saudi Arabia Graham: Pelosi's job is at risk MORE (R-S.C.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Feinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report MORE (D-Calif.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package MORE (R-Fla.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump MORE (D-Mass.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungBipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Pence, McConnell eulogize Sen. Richard Lugar On The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week MORE (R-Ind.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOil companies join blitz for carbon tax Mnuchin says carbon capture tax credit guidance will be out soon Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns MORE (D-Del.).

Why it matters: The resolution is non-binding, but if approved, would put the Senate on the record saying Crown Prince Mohammed is responsible for Khashoggi's slaying inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.

Passage of the measure would be a significant break from President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise Trump feels squeeze in tax return fight MORE, who used a statement late last month to cast doubt on the crown prince's involvement in the killing, saying "we may never know" the facts around Khashoggi's death.

 

CONFRONTING RUSSIA: A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed near waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, a move bound to rankle Moscow.

"On Dec. 5 (local time), guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Sea of Japan," Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rachel McMarr said in a statement.

"McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations."

Context: In her statement, McMarr stressed that freedom of navigation operations "are not about any one country, nor are they about current events."

But Wednesday's operation comes amid several recent developments that have ratcheted up U.S.-Russia tensions.

Late last month, Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait. The incident prompted President Trump to cancel his planned formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during this past weekend's Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

And on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP rep says intel on Iran is 'credible' Venezuelan government, opposition to meet in Norway for talks O'Rourke: Trump 'provoking' war with Iran by sending troops to Middle East MORE gave Russia 60 days to come back into compliance with a landmark arms control treaty, warning the United States would follow through with abandoning the treaty if it doesn't. NATO's foreign ministers also released a statement formally concluding Russia to be in material breach of the treaty.

And in the Black Sea: Later Wednesday, CNN reported that the United States has taken initial steps to prepare to send a warship into the Black Sea, though it's not a done deal yet.

The news outlet, citing three unnamed U.S. officials, said the military requested the State Department notify Turkey of the possibility a warship will be sailed there in response to Russia's actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait.

But, CNN added, two of the officials said the notification was done to give the Navy the option to move a warship into the area, not that the option will necessarily be selected.

In a statement, the U.S. 6th Fleet said only that it is "always prepared to respond when called."

"We routinely conduct operations to advance security and stability throughout the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to include the international waters and airspace of the Black Sea," the statement said. "We reserve the right to operate freely in accordance with international laws and norms."

 

NEW NORTH KOREA SATELLITE IMAGERY: CNN on Wednesday also published satellite imagery it obtained showing that North Korea has expanded the Yeongjeo-dong missile.

The images, which CNN got from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, show that North Korea has built a new facility about seven miles away from the original facility that appears to be another, previously unknown missile base.

CNN said it was unclear if the new facility is an entirely separate base or if one base is subordinate to the other.

What it means: U.S. intelligence has long known about the base at Yeongjeo-dong.

North Korea has never agreed to stop building missile bases, and leader Kim Jong Un has actually promised to do the exact opposite.

"The nuclear weapons research sector and the rocket industry should mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles," Kim said in his 2018 New Year's address.

Still, reports of North Korea expanding missile bases underscore that the rogue regime remains a threat, as well as the difficulty of negotiations given that North Korea would likely need to declare such a site for there to be deal.

Just yesterday, national security advisor John Bolton said a second Trump-Kim summit was necessary because Kim has not lived up to his commitments from the first one.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money MORE (R-Okla.) will speak about his priorities for the committee at 8:30 a.m. at National Defense University. https://cs.pn/2AVzekP

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will speak at 9:30 a.m. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://bit.ly/2FYCRfu

A Senate Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on Zimbabwe after its elections with testimony from a State Department official at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. https://bit.ly/2Unbpvp

The Senate Armed Services Committee will have a closed briefing on Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/2Sr5u6u

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz will speak at 12:30 p.m. at the National Press Club. https://bit.ly/2E3vnFF

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will speak at 4 p.m. at the Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2RxkUpD

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Search and rescue underway for Marine aircraft in 'mishap' near Japan

-- The Hill: Saudi crown prince's brother returns to US

-- The Hill: UN human rights chief wants international investigation into Khashoggi killing

-- The Hill: Putin: Russia will build new missiles if US does