Overnight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings

Overnight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings
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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: Ten military families on Tuesday sued Corvias Property Management over what they claim was a lack of action to hazardous housing conditions and exposure to toxic mold at one of the largest Army bases in the United States.

The families, who all lived in military housing on-base at Fort Meade, Md., filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland against Corvias and Meade Communities. Corvias oversees the fort's on-base housing while Meade leases the properties from the United States.

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The suit alleges that the companies "subjected these service members to appalling housing conditions and cavalier treatment" when the families asked the private landlords to fix problems.

"Requests for maintenance have been ignored. Repair efforts, when made, have been substandard and slipshod attempts at cosmetic fixes that have not resolved the problems. All the while, Defendants have collected the full amount of the service members' housing allowances, preventing them from moving off-base."

The suit adds that Corvias and Meade Communities "have exposed our service members and their families to rampant mold infestation, resulting in serious health issues and damage." 

Scrutiny on private contractors: Corvias -- which operates about 3,000 family homes at Fort Meade and 26,000 homes at 13 Army and Air Force bases across the country -- oversees the facilities under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.

About 99 percent of on-base housing has been privatized since 1996 under the initiative -- created to address an array of issues with houses in disrepair on bases.

The move allowed private contractors to front reconstruction costs in exchange for 50-year leases from the services, but families have been unsatisfied with how the homes are being kept up by the five main companies that operate 200,000 homes on bases across the nation.

Corvias alone is set to make more than $1 billion in fees over 50-year contracts, Reuters reported earlier this year. The report was part of a series of articles that exposed poor conditions at private military housing at bases across the country and the companies that run them that have little repercussion.

The 2018 investigation also set off numerous congressional inquiries. 

 

ERDOGAN'S VISIT DRAWS MORE IRE: Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter joined Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThere's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trump administration drops plan to face scan all travelers leaving or entering US Advocates hopeful dueling privacy bills can bridge partisan divide MORE (D-Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote Pelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills MORE (D-Ore.) on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to help introduce Markey and Wyden's new bill, the Turkey Human Rights Promotion Act.

The press conference came before President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE is supposed to host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the White House on Wednesday. 

"Today, I am introducing legislation along with my good friend Sen. Ron Wyden that we hope will call attention to the crackdown on human rights in Turkey," Markey said.

"Donald Trump should rescind the invitation for President Erdoğan to visit and make clear that Turkey's record on human rights is unacceptable," Markey added.

Journalists highlighted: During the press conference, both senators and Dr. Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, highlighted the various human rights violations that have happened in Turkey, specifically the imprisonment of journalists.

"Last year, at least 68 journalists were behind bars, 74 in 2017, 81 in 2016," Radsch said. 

"Turkey accounts for a quarter of the journalists jailed in the world," Radsch added.

And imprisoned citizens: Additionally, Markey highlighted that more than 80,000 Turkish citizens have been imprisoned and more than 130,000 public servants have been dismissed or suspended, all under the umbrella of "terrorist-related grounds."

The main goal of the bill is to put pressure on Erdoğan to release the prisoners and restore liberties such as freedom of speech.

Kanter, a longtime critic of Erdoğan, thanked Markey and Wyden for their leadership. 

"You guys know my story because I play in the NBA, but there are thousands and thousands of stories out there that are worse than mine," the 27-year-old said.

Bolton suggests Trump's Turkey policy motivated by financial interests: Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Kim Jong Un cannot afford to fail again The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley MORE reportedly criticized President Trump's foreign policy, accusing Trump of being motivated primarily by personal or financial interests in his dealings with Turkey.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Bolton made the comment at a private gathering last week in a global investment event organized by Morgan Stanley, at which he also reportedly took shots at Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerOn The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpAuthor of Steele dossier had 'cordial' relationship with Ivanka Trump: report Medicare administrator asked for reimbursement for stolen jewelry, clothing: report Tech finds surprise ally in Trump amid high-stakes tax fight MORE, who remain White House aides.

NBC, citing people who heard the remarks, reported that Bolton said he believed Trump to be motivated by some personal or business relationship in Turkey, while questioning whether Trump should apply his business acumen to foreign policy. 

His remarks come as Trump has faced heavy criticism for ordering a U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria, where Turkish forces have invaded Kurdish-held areas.

A refresher: During Erdogan's 2017 trip his guards violently attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence.

Turkish security officers attacked both civilians and U.S. security agents in multiple instances, sometimes simultaneously, over the course of the afternoon of May 16, 2017, including the attack near the ambassador's residence and then fighting outside the Turkish Embassy.

Two Diplomatic Security special agents, six U.S. Secret Service officers and one MPD officer sustained multiple injuries, with at least one taken to the hospital. 

Trump says he'll meet with dictators if it helps the U.S.: President Trump on Tuesday said he's willing to meet with any foreign leader, including dictators, if doing so would be useful for the United States.

"When I meet with the leaders of countries as they come in -- kings, and queens and prime ministers, and presidents and dictators -- I meet them all," Trump said in a speech at the New York Economic Club.

"Anybody wants to come in," he added. "Dictators, it's OK. Come on in. Whatever's good for the United States. We want to help our people." 

The comments came as Trump claimed to the gathering of Wall Street executives and business leaders in Manhattan that foreign leaders approach him to congratulate him on the state of the U.S. economy.

But the remarks garnered more attention given Trump's past comments about autocratic leaders and coming just a day prior to his scheduled meeting on Wednesday Erdoğan.

 

IMPEACHMENT LATEST: Washington is bracing for the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. Here's the latest.

Democrats have reached a make-or-break moment on impeachment: For the first time, Democrats will bring their impeachment inquiry to the American public on Wednesday as they seek to showcase the most damaging testimony about President Trump's contacts with Ukraine and elevate their case that he is unfit for office.

 After weeks of closed-door witness depositions, the stakes are high for Democrats to deliver not just in terms of drawing in the public with riveting witness narratives, but also ensuring that Republicans and other protesters do not derail the hearing into political chaos. More from Olivia Beavers and Mike Lillis here.

 

Also: Here are the key players to watch at impeachment hearing

McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing

House Republicans prepare for public impeachment proceedings with mock hearing

White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings

Schiff says impeachment worth it even if Trump is not removed

Democrats announce public impeachment hearings with eight witnesses next week

 

AFGHANISTAN REACHES DEAL WITH TALIBAN TO SECURE RELEASE OF US PRISONER: Afghanistan's government has released three Taliban prisoners in exchange for one American professor and one Australian professor who have been held by the insurgent group for years. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday that his government had agreed to the "conditional release" of the three prominent Taliban members in exchange for the release of American University of Afghanistan professors Kevin King of the U.S. and Timothy Weeks of Australia, according to multiple reports.

The trade off: Among the released Taliban members was Anas Haqqani, who is the younger brother of the leader of the Taliban's military operations, according to The New York Times.

The others released were Hafiz Rashid, a senior Taliban commander who had worked with suicide bombers and Hajji Mali Khan, a senior commander and uncle of a deputy leader. 

Ghani said the decision was made after consultations with the United States, according to NBC News. NBC also reported that the three Taliban members were flown to Qatar on a special plane from Kabul.

Timing: The move follows stalled peace talks between the U.S., Afghanistan and the Taliban. President Trump called off negotiations in September after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed 11 civilians and a U.S. service member. 

Ghani said Tuesday that the release was intended to "facilitate direct peace negotiations," according to The Associated Press. 

King and Weeks were abducted near the American University of Afghanistan in 2016.

 

ON TAP

Mir Sadat, director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council; former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former Deputy Undersecretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless, former Defense Undersecretary for Policy James Miller will be among the speakers at the Hudson Institute discussion on "U.S. Space Strategy and Indo-Pacific Cooperation," at 8:45 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

Former U.S. Central Command head retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel; Former Rep. James Moran (D-Va.); Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Cyber Security Edwin Wilson; and Georgian Ambassador to the United States David Bakradze will speak at the Middle East Institute conference "The Middle East in 2020 - What are the Pathways to Stability?" beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, top Pentagon acquisition official Ellen Lord, and Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist will speak at the NATO Allied Command Transformation Industry Forum at 1:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C. 

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings

-- The Hill: State Department sends official to Israel amid spike in violence

-- The Hill: Pompeo condemns 'deplorable' killings of Iraqi protesters

-- The Hill: Turkey threatens to release detained ISIS members to Europe

-- The Hill: FBI reports decrease in overall hate crime, but increase in violent hate crime

-- The Hill: Pentagon official cited alarm over hold on aid to Ukraine

-- The Hill: Lawmaker warns TikTok could pose national security risk

-- The Hill: Opinion: In new North Korea talks, 'achievable' is the watchword

-- The Hill: Opinion: Trump's latest bad tweet-idea: Another Mexican-American War 

-- The Hill: Opinion: New signs Iran is creeping closer to making a nuclear bomb

-- The Hill: Opinion: Unrest in Lebanon and Iraq is a chance for the US to turn the tables on Iran