Overnight Defense: Trump ousts Bolton in shocker | Fallout, reaction from GOP senators | Senate spending talks in chaos | Dems eye vote to nix Trump border emergency

Overnight Defense: Trump ousts Bolton in shocker | Fallout, reaction from GOP senators | Senate spending talks in chaos | Dems eye vote to nix Trump border emergency
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Happy Tuesday 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: John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Barr back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE is out.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE on Tuesday shocked Washington when he announced in a pair of tweets that he had fired his national security adviser.

The ousting of the high-profile official comes just days after Trump canceled a planned meeting with Taliban representatives at Camp David.

An unexpected announcement: Trump said on Twitter that he told Bolton on Monday night "that his services are no longer needed at the White House," citing disagreements with many of Bolton's suggestions, though he didn't provide specific details.

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The president also said that "others in the administration" disagreed with Bolton's suggestions, a wording that hinted at the level of acrimony in the split.

"I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration," Trump tweeted.

He said Bolton submitted his resignation on Tuesday and that he would tap a new national security adviser next week.

"I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week," Trump tweeted. 

Bolton's side of the story: Shortly after Trump's announcement, Bolton issued a tweet that said he had resigned and that suggested he was surprised by Trump's decision to make it public on Tuesday.

"I offered to resign last night and President Trump said 'Let's talk about it tomorrow," he tweeted.

Other White House comments: White House press staff declined to elaborate beyond the president's tweet. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News that he didn't want to get into the "back and forth" over how Bolton exited, but he asserted that Trump did ask for Bolton's resignation.

"The fact is, the president makes these decisions. We all serve at his pleasure, and we're moving forward," he said.

Gidley later told reporters at the White House that there was not one particular disagreement that triggered Bolton's ouster on Tuesday. 

"There is no one issue here," Gidley said. "They just didn't align on many issues."

Read Bolton's resignation letter here.

What happens now: Deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman will take over Bolton's job on an interim basis.

Trump's tweet came just 63 minutes after the White House sent out an updated Tuesday schedule showing Bolton was set to give an afternoon press conference along with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo promotes economic ties, takes aim at corruption in Africa visit Russian foreign minister says he sensed 'more constructive' approach after meeting with Pompeo Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law MORE. The White House later clarified that Bolton would not be at the briefing.

It is not clear who Trump will consider to replace Bolton. The national security adviser position does not require Senate confirmation.

Background: His ouster represents the latest tumult on Trump's national security team, which has endured several shakeups since the start of his administration, including atop the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community. Several leading officials have resigned after falling out of favor with Trump.

Bolton, appointed in March 2018, was the president's third national security adviser.

Trump tapped Bolton, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, to replace H.R. McMaster. 

McMaster, who was ousted after also frequently clashing with Trump on various issues, was brought on to replace short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn and served in the White House post for about a year.  

Flynn was forced to resign just weeks after Trump's inauguration when it was revealed that he misled Vice President Pence and other administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the transition. 

Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and agreed to cooperate in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation.

Bolton was brought into the administration roughly 18 months ago as a more hawkish influence and someone with past administrative experience, having served in the Reagan administration and under former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

But he clashed with Pompeo, and his influence steadily waned throughout his tenure, which was marked by a number of high-profile instances of the president breaking with Bolton's views.

The final straw? The controversial Camp David meeting planned with the Taliban may have been a final disagreement between Trump and the adviser.

Trump surprised the world on Saturday by announcing he had scrapped plans to invite the Taliban to Camp David for talks about a potential peace agreement that would allow for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Bolton was reportedly vehemently opposed to the meeting, which would have occurred days before the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Trump, however, has denied reports that Bolton and Vice President Pence disagreed with his plan to invite the Taliban to Washington. 

Trump said he canceled the meeting after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including one American service member.

Lawmaker response: Bolton's resignation reverberated across Capitol Hill, where lawmakers had just returned from the six-week summer recess. It inspired mixed reactions from Republicans, with some expressing support for Trump's move and others disappointment. 

"His view was not always the same as everybody else in the room. That's why you wanted him there. The fact that he was a contrarian from time to time is an asset not a liability," Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Yes, Democrats have to defend their African-American base against Trump MORE (R-Utah) told reporters

"I'm very, very unhappy to hear that he's leaving. It is a huge loss for the administration in my opinion and for the nation," Romney said. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ky.), meanwhile, "commended" Trump for what he described as a "necessary action." 

"The President has great instincts on foreign policy and ending our endless wars. He should be served by those who share those views," Paul wrote on Twitter

 

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES $695B DEFENSE SPENDING BILL: A Senate subcommittee on Tuesday easily advanced the $694.9 billion defense spending bill for fiscal 2020 despite Democratic concerns that it does not constrain the administration's ability to dip into Pentagon coffers to build a border wall.

The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (Ill.), predicted more pushback when the full committee takes up the bill later this week, however, over

"My reservations about this bill are less about what's in this bill than what is not," Durbin said at the markup. "Congress cannot and should not be silent when the power of the purse is undermined in this way. Why are we here? Why do we have an Appropriations Committee if this president can ask for money for certain purposes, we appropriate it and then he ignores us and takes the money for his own political agenda?"

Breaking with tradition: Earlier this year, the Pentagon broke decades of tradition and transferred without congressional approval $2.5 billion from various accounts into its counter-drug fund to be used for President Trump's proposed wall on the southern border.

In response to that transfer, House Democrats in their version of the defense spending bill would limit how much money the Pentagon would be allowed to move between accounts.

Then, the Pentagon announced last week that it was taking $3.6 billion from 127 military construction projects to build 175 miles of wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, in line with Trump's emergency declaration at the beginning of the year.

Forcing a vote: Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote "within the next month" to nix the emergency declaration, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday. But the last attempt to pass such a resolution was unable to override Trump's veto.

In Tuesday's markup, Durbin said the funding transfers to the border wall call into question the Pentagon's budget request.

"If they ask for the money for our troops, tell us they need it for readiness, tell us the only way we can make sure these men and women come home alive is by investing in their readiness, and we give the Pentagon that money and then turn around and have the president take it away for his wall, what in the world does that say about the assertions made by the Department of Defense in the initial request?" he asked.

Moving toward the finish line: Advancing the defense spending bill marks the Senate's first movement on the fiscal 2020 appropriations bills, a milestone coming just weeks before government funding expires after Sept. 30. The Senate was in a holding pattern until Congress passed a two-year budget agreement last month.

With little time to complete their work, lawmakers are expected to pass a stopgap measure to keep the government open.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Republicans expect Trump to pull controversial Fed nominee | Inside Judy Shelton's confirmation hearing | Trump extends emergency declaration at border Republicans expect Trump to withdraw controversial Fed nominee Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of both the defense subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee, warned Tuesday that the military needs on-time funding.

"Without sustained and predictable investments to restore readiness and modernize our military, we will rapidly lose our military advantage, something we cannot afford in the light of increasing national security challenges from around the globe," he said.

"This year, we are off to a late start, but with the certainty of the budget agreement -- stable, two-year funding -- and the decision by all parties to eliminate poison pills, I see no reason why we cannot repeat the successes of the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process," Shelby added.

How it breaks down: The $694.9 billion in the bill advanced Tuesday would be broken down into $622.5 billion for the base defense budget, $70.7 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account and $1.7 billion in emergency funding to help facilities hit by natural disasters. 

The money would go toward a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops, an active-duty end strength of 1.3 million service members, 96 F-35 fighter jets and 14 battleships, among other expenses.

 

GOP LAWMAKER BASHES TRUMP'S PLANNED TALIBAN MEETING AT CAMP DAVID: Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerPentagon exodus extends 'concerning,' 'baffling' trend of acting officials in key roles Republican group asks 'what is Trump hiding' in Times Square billboard Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill MORE (R-Ill.), criticized President Trump's planned meeting with Taliban leaders on American soil, which Trump canceled over the weekend, just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"To bring Taliban leaders ... to Camp David, not that far from New York City, a couple days prior to 9/11, I don't know how that went through the good idea filter and made it as far as it did," Kinzinger told CNN Tuesday.

The Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran said he was glad the president called the Taliban peace talks "dead" on Monday.

"Hopefully more Taliban are dead because of this," he said.

Kinzinger's stance: Kinzinger told CNN that, in general, he does not support negotiating with terrorists, but because of the length of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, he doesn't think talking to the Taliban specifically should be out of the question. 

He added that the United States would need to negotiate from a position of strength. 

The president had scheduled a secret meeting with the Taliban in the United States before it was canceled Saturday after the group took ownership of an attack that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier.

"Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations," Trump tweeted. "What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?"

Timing: Trump had been working to negotiate with the group for nearly a year in the hopes of scaling back the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The president has sought to curtail or end U.S. involvement in foreign wars, though military leaders continue to warn against a precipitous American withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Last week, the president seemed close to a deal where the United States would remove 5,000 troops and five bases in 135 days. In exchange, the Taliban would not allow terrorist groups to plan attacks against the United States in Afghanistan.

Kinzinger added that he is concerned Trump's campaign-promised withdrawal focuses more on the election than national security.  

"I have to look and say, 'Would I be critical of President Obama if he did this?' and I have to be equally fair to everybody," he said. "And I would have been critical and I have been critical of President Obama in some of his moves in Afghanistan." 

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

Rep. Jason CrowJason CrowTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Democratic impeachment manager shares quote from "Harry Potter's" Dumbledore during trial Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' MORE (D-Colo.); Rep. Michael WaltzMichael WaltzTrump takes track to open Daytona 500 Overnight Defense: US deploys low-yield nukes on submarines | Watchdog warns Iraq withdrawal 'likely' means ISIS resurgence | What to watch in Trump's State of the Union Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Fla.); Lebanese Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Ziad Haykal; Afghanistan Col. Abdul Hadi Barakzai, military attaché at the embassy of Afghanistan; and Phillip "Convoy" Clay, test pilot for the Navy's Imminent Fury/Combat Dragon technology demonstration will discuss "Light Attack Aviation: A Current Operational Partner Perspective," at 8:30 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2043. 

The Pentagon will hold a 9/11 memorial ceremony, marking the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks of 2001, beginning at 9 a.m. The live ceremony can be watched here.

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Taliban talks 'dead' after Trump's surprise Camp David plan

-- The Hill: North Korea fires two unidentified projectiles: report

-- The Hill: Condoleezza Rice warns of 'four horsemen of the apocalypse' in US foreign policy

-- The Hill: CIA source pulled from Russia had confirmed Putin ordered 2016 meddling: NY Times

-- The Hill: Opinion: John Bolton's exit isn't a victory for our adversaries

-- The Hill: Opinion: Iran's 'triangle of power' in Middle East threatens US, Israel

-- The Hill: Opinion: Remembering 9/11: How the suicide attacks led to two vastly different wars