Overnight Defense: Pentagon brass to attend Trump July 4 event | Navy SEAL sentenced to demotion, pay cut in war crimes case | Iran vows to enrich uranium above nuclear deal limit

Overnight Defense: Pentagon brass to attend Trump July 4 event | Navy SEAL sentenced to demotion, pay cut in war crimes case | Iran vows to enrich uranium above nuclear deal limit
© Greg Nash

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. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: #Tankwatch2019 is nearing its zenith with President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE's "Salute to America" just a day away.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that several top officials will be attending the Fourth of July event, including acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan.

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The Pentagon also said the White House has provided 5,000 tickets for the department.

Who's missing?: Most of the service chiefs won't be at the event.

The exception is Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.

But Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who is Trump's pick to be the next Joint Chiefs chairman, won't be there.

The Pentagon said those individuals have previous engagements.

Representing those services instead will be Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bob Burke, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson, Marine Corps Development Command Deputy Commandant Lt. Gen. Eric Smith and Lt. Gen. Joseph Martin, the incoming Army vice chief of staff.

Will it rain on the parade?: Anyone who's been watching the D.C. weather forecast this week would know that thunderstorms could be in the offing for Thursday.

As of Wednesday afternoon the weather forecast has scattered storms possible between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The Interior Department says it expects the event to proceed "rain or shine."

"Visitor safety is always a top priority, and we are working with our interagency and law enforcement colleagues to ensure the safety of all who attend, including in the event of inclement weather during the day," department spokeswoman Molly Block said in a statement.

But it's unclear how storms could affect the planned flyover of military planes. And attendance, something Trump often fixates on, could also suffer.

Neither the Pentagon nor the White House responded to requests for comment about how the weather threat could affect plans for Trump's speech or military demonstrations.

More on the big event: Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists are sharply criticizing plans by the Trump administration to reportedly use $2.5 million in National Park Service (NPS) maintenance funds to help cover the cost of President Trump's event. And The Hill's guide to Trump's plans for a "Salute to America" on Independence Day

 

GALLAGHER SENTENCED: Navy SEAL team leader Edward Gallagher will face a demotion and a pay cut after being found guilty of posing for a photo with a dead 12-year-old ISIS fighter in Iraq.

The sentence was handed down Wednesday, a day after Gallagher was found not guilty on most of the charges he faced, including premeditated murder.

"This has put a black eye on the two communities I love: The United States Marine Corps and the Navy," Gallagher reportedly told the jury Wednesday. "Most of all, it has put my family through hell the last two years."

Gallagher was turned in to authorities last year by members of his own platoon, who said he shot at several civilians during a 2017 deployment and killed the ISIS captive, who was already injured, with a hunting knife.

The trial was explosive, with one witness testifying that he was the one who killed the teenage militant fighter.

Trump responds: Trump had taken an interest in Gallagher's case, which rallied conservatives who argued Gallagher was being treated unfairly. Trump was reportedly considering offering Gallagher presidential pardon before his acquittal on the murder charges.

On Wednesday, Trump offered Gallagher congratulations.

"Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together. Glad I could help!" Trump tweeted.

Trump intervened in the case in March, ordering that he be freed from pretrial confinement.

 

IRAN DEFIANT ON URANIUM THREAT: Iran on Wednesday vowed to follow through with its threat to increase its uranium enrichment above the level allowed the 2015 nuclear deal.

"On July 7, the level of enrichment in Iran will not be 3.67 percent anymore, as we will abandon such commitment and increase it to any amount that we require and need," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting, according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The nuclear deal bars Iran from enriching uranium above 3.67 percent, which is enough for a power plant but far from what's needed for a weapon.

Iran previously gave Europe the July 7 deadline -- which comes Sunday -- to deliver benefits from the deal despite U.S. sanctions before it will increase its uranium enrichment level.

The latest possible breach of the nuclear deal comes after Iran on Monday went over the amount of low-enriched uranium it's allowed to stockpile.

Trump issues own warning: On Wednesday, Trump issued a warning to Rouhani in response to the Iranian president's comments.

"Iran has just issued a New Warning. Rouhani says that they will Enrich Uranium to 'any amount we want' if there is no new Nuclear Deal. Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!" Trump tweeted.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

President Trump will deliver an address at his "Salute to America" event on the National Mall at 6:30 p.m. https://cs.pn/320gD3M

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown

-- The Hill: White House faces time crunch with Trump's top Pentagon pick

-- Associated Press: Airstrike kills 44 migrants in Libyan detention center

-- The New York Times: United Arab Emirates denies sending American missiles to Libya

-- Reuters: France says Iran will gain nothing by breaking with nuclear deal