Overnight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US

Overnight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US
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Happy Friday 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: Those new Iran sanctions President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE teased on Twitter earlier this week have arrived.

During a meeting Friday with Australia's prime minister, Trump announced he has sanctioned Iran's national bank.

"These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country, we've never done it to this level. It's too bad what's happening with Iran, it's going to hell," Trump told reporters, saying Tehran is "practically broke."

The specifics: The Treasury Department said in a statement that it was sanctioning Iran's central bank, Iran's national development fund and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co., an Iran-based firm that U.S. officials said is used to conceal financial transfers for purchases by Iran's defense ministry.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Hillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC Mnuchin to lawmakers: 'I'm highly encouraged you will' pass Trump's North America trade deal MORE joined Trump briefly in the Oval Office to announce the new sanctions on Friday. 

"We are continuing the maximum pressure campaign," Mnuchin said. "This will mean no more funds going to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] or to fund terror, and this is on top of our oil sanctions and our financial institution sanctions."

Military action watch: Trump indicated Friday he hadn't made a decision on whether he would take military action against Iran following the attacks, but spoke positively of showing "restraint."

"The easiest thing I can do, OK go ahead, knock down 15 major things in Iran," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "I could do that and it's all set to go. But I'm not looking at doing that if I can."

"I think it shows far more strength to do it the way we're doing it," he continued, adding that it demonstrates strength to show "a little bit of restraint."

"Iran knows if they misbehave they're on borrowed time," Trump said.

The U.S. military was said to be briefing Trump Friday with several options to respond to Iran, including airstrike targets, and reportedly will warn him that military action against Iran could result in war.


UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY WEEK AHEAD: Leaders from around the world will converge on New York City next week for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 

Just a couple weeks ago, it looked like Trump might use UNGA to meet with Iran's president.

That possibility appears faint now.

But Trump has several other meetings with world leaders lined up from Monday through Wednesday, which senior administration officials previewed.

Of note, Trump plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday. The relationship between the two has come under scrutiny the past 24 hours as a result of a widening controversy over an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that is said to involve a conversation Trump had with Ukraine.

On the agenda: Asked about the plans for the Trump-Zelensky meeting, a senior administration official said Friday that Trump intends to congratulate Zelensky on his election victory and his efforts to reform corruption in Ukraine.

"President Trump is going to focus on again congratulating President Zelensky on his election victory and the incredible energy and success that Zelensky has put forward in implementing reform and anti-corruption efforts," the senior administration official said.

The official also said that the two leaders would pursue other areas of cooperation, including in energy, trade and further reform of the Ukrainian economy, and that Trump plans to raise what he views as Chinese predatory economic activity against Ukraine's intellectual property.

The rest of the week: He is also scheduled to meet with a number of other foreign leaders on the sidelines of the assembly, including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan; Polish Prime Minister Andrzej Duda; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump will host an event on the global call to protect religious freedom on Monday. He will deliver an address at the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday morning, followed by a luncheon with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and a diplomatic reception later than evening. He will participate in a meeting on Venezuela Wednesday morning.

Officials declined to preview the president's remarks but said broadly that he plans to "affirm America's leadership role in the rules-based international system and the need to work collectively within the global community to address global challenges" at the summit.


TRUMP SAYS RELATIONSHIP WITH KIM 'BEST THING' FOR US: Trump is calling his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea takes shot at Trump: 'Senility of a dotard' North Korea's Kim makes second visit to sacred mountain ahead of denuclearization deadline North Korea: US will choose what 'Christmas gift' it wants MORE "the best thing" to happen to the United States during his tenure.

"I think the best thing that's happened to this country is the fact that, at least for three years -- the fact that I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday.

"I think that's a positive. His country has tremendous potential. He knows that. But our country has been playing around for 50 years and getting nothing. We have a relationship; there's never been a relationship with them," Trump said.

Trump acknowledged that his efforts to reach an agreement to scale back Pyongyang's nuclear program could eventually fail, but took credit for the country's lack of nuclear testing during his administration.

On Otto Warmbier: Later Friday, Trump lamented that quicker action wasn't taken to free Otto Warmbier, the American student who died after he was returned home from North Korean detention.

Trump, who had just boasted of his track record in freeing American hostages, said others should have moved faster to get Warmbier back from North Korea

"People should have moved faster," he said, without identifying those he held responsible.

"He was there for a long time. You've got to move fast. With hostages you have to move fast."

Trump also talked about hosting a dinner with Warmbier's friends and family last week at the White House, which he said 25 people attended.

"It was very touching and really very beautiful," he said. "We talked about Otto."

Recall that Trump sparked bipartisan backlash earlier this year when he told reporters he did not believe North Korean leader Kim was involved in Warmbier's treatment while he was held




Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing Hillicon Valley: Dueling bills set stage for privacy debate | Google co-founders step down from parent company | Advocates rally for self-driving car bill | Elon Musk defamation trial begins | Lawsuit accuses TikTok of sharing data with China MORE will discuss U.S.-China competition at noon at the United States Institute of Peace. https://bit.ly/2lYAMH8

The Heritage Center will host "America's Indo-Pacific Policy: Prospects during a Critical Time of Change" with Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators inch forward on federal privacy bill Romney, Collins, Murkowski only Senate GOP holdouts on Graham's impeachment resolution GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight MORE (R-Alaska) at 3 p.m. https://herit.ag/2kVOjiq



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