Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy

Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy
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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: The government shutdown is the longest in modern history, and there's still no end in sight.

On Monday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE rejected a proposal from one of his top congressional allies to temporarily reopen the government to buy more time for negotiations over the wall.


Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' MORE (R-S.C.) suggested over the weekend that Trump sign a stopgap spending measure to entice Democrats back to the negotiating table.

But asked Monday about Trump's proposal, Trump said, "I did reject it."

"I'm not interested. I want to get it solved. I don't want to just delay it. I want to get it solved," he told reporters.

Emergency on hold?: Trump also appeared to temporarily back off his threat to declare a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval.

"I'm not looking to call a national emergency," he said. "This is so simple, we shouldn't have to."

The Congressional Research Service recently took a look at whether the president can declare an emergency to have the Pentagon build the wall. The report was released Monday by the Federation of American Scientists.

The bottom line -- It's a question that would likely have to be answered by the courts.

"Whether these authorities—individually or in combination—extend to the construction of a border wall would present a reviewing court with several questions of first impression," the report says.

Military effects: As the shutdown drags on, Coast Guard members are on track to miss their first paycheck since it started.

Most of the 800,000 federal employees affected by the shutdown missed their first paycheck Friday. But the Coast Guard is on the military's pay schedule, meaning payday would be Tuesday.

The Dec. 31 paycheck originally appeared to be the first one the Coast Guard would miss, but the service announced the Friday night beforehand that the Trump administration found a way to pay service members after "extensive research and legal analysis."

That maneuver, though, cannot be repeated for Tuesday's paycheck, the Coast Guard has said. The authority that allowed the Dec. 31 paycheck "does not extend into the new calendar year," according to the Coast Guard website.

"The Coast Guard would need an appropriation, continuing resolution or passage of alternative funding measure to be paid," spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor said in an email to The Hill on Monday.

Shutdown impact: Meanwhile, a small space contractor near Seattle is blaming layoffs on the shutdown.

Tethers Unlimited said over the weekend it is laying off 12 engineers -- which amounts to 20 percent of its workforce – because of a "severe impact" on cash flow due to government employees who process invoices for contracts with NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency being furloughed.


DEMS ZERO IN ON TRUMP, RUSSIA: Twin reports over the weekend are fueling Democratic momentum to investigate Trump's interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Hill's Morgan Chalfant took a look at what Democrats have planned:

Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, is slated to testify before Congress publicly next month, an event that promises high drama as lawmakers question him on Trump's dealings in Russia and his involvement in a scheme to pay off women alleging affairs with him during the 2016 campaign.

It has long been expected that House Democrats would launch full-scale investigations into Trump and his administration with their newfound subpoena and oversight powers. The announcement late last week that Cohen would testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7 marked the first major power play by Democrats, just a week into the new Congress.

"The Congress doesn't meet but so many days in a year. And all I'm saying is that we've gotta hit the ground, not running, but flying," Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump tweets, rally chant dominate Sunday shows as president continues attacks Sunday shows - Fallout over Trump tweets Cummings: 'No doubt about it' Trump is a racist MORE (D-Md.), the committee's chair, said on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday evening.

Democrats are promising to dig for more information about Trump's official interactions with Putin after The Washington Post reported that he sought to conceal the details of those conversations from others in his administration, including in one instance taking notes from an interpreter who was present at a 2017 meeting with the Russian president.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-N.Y.) said his panel would hold hearings on Trump's "bizarre relationship" with Putin. Two congressional panels are also considering subpoenaing the American interpreter present at the Helsinki meeting to testify — a proposal swiftly rejected by Republicans in the last Congress.

Trump denial: In addition to The Washington Post report, The New York Times reported Friday the FBI became so worried about Trump's behavior toward Moscow that it opened an investigation into whether he was working on its behalf.

On Monday, Trump denied that he "worked for Russia," in his most direct response yet to the report.

"I never worked for Russia," Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving to speak at a farmers' convention in New Orleans.

"Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax," he continued.


TRUMP, ERDOGAN TALK SYRIA: Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke about Syria on Monday, a day after Trump threatened Turkey's economy if it attacks the Kurds.

In the call, Trump asked Erdogan not to "mistreat" the Kurds, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

"The two leaders discussed several bilateral issues, including ongoing cooperation in Syria as U.S. forces begin to withdraw, and other topics for future cooperation," Sanders said.

"The president expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey's security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat ISIS."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford will meet with his Turkish counterpart Tuesday to continue the discussion, Sanders added.

Trump later tweeted about the conversation.

"Spoke w/ President Erdogan of Turkey to advise where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS, and 20 mile safe zone. Also spoke about economic development between the U.S. & Turkey - great potential to substantially expand!" Trump tweeted Monday evening.

Earlier: The Trump-Erdoğan call comes a day after Trump tweeted about the beginnings of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, which started Friday with the removal of some equipment.

"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone," Trump tweeted Sunday.

"Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey," he added in a second tweet.

Trump did not elaborate on what he meant by "devastate Turkey economically," but it has been seen as a sanctions threat.

Does Pompeo know?: Asked Monday what Trump meant, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump calls Iran claim that it arrested CIA spies 'totally false' The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Pompeo: There's 'no indication' Iran will change direction MORE told reporters "you'll have to ask him."

"We have applied economic sanctions in many places, I assume he is speaking about those kinds of things. You'll have to ask him," Pompeo said in Riyadh.

Pompeo also said the threat underscores America's commitment to its partners.


"The administration has been very consistent with respect to our requirement that the Turks not go after the Kurds in ways that are inappropriate," he said. "If there are terrorists, we're all about taking down extremists wherever we find them... I think the president's comments this morning are consistent with that."

Pompeo spoke with Turkey's foreign minister Saturday and discussed the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, according to a weekend statement from the State Department. Pompeo said Monday he has not spoken with the Turks since Trump's tweets.



The Cato Institute will host an expert panel on "The Return of Great Power Competition" at noon. https://bit.ly/2FrqS9c



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