July 18, 2019

Trump’s newest ‘central casting’ general

Army Gen. Mark Milley headed to the White House in November to be interviewed for the top military job in Europe.

He emerged from the meeting with an even loftier prize: President Donald Trump asked Milley whether he wanted to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Milley's steeper-than-expected promotion came despite the fact that then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was grooming the Air Force's chief of staff, Gen. Dave Goldfein, for the Joint Chiefs post. But Milley had champions in the president's inner circle, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump campaign alumnus David Urban, who thought Milley's personality would jell with Trump's, according to four sources with knowledge of the meeting.

In the end, "POTUS was prepped to ask the question, 'Why not chairman?'" said one defense official who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

Milley faces his next crucial job interview Thursday, when the Senate Armed Services Committee <a href="https:

Trump wants to talk. Iran isn’t interested.

President Donald Trump wants to sit down with Iranian leaders — but they don't share his eagerness to talk, revealing the limits of the president's personal diplomatic overtures.

While another adversary, North Korea, has come to the table for one-on-ones with Trump, Tehran on Sunday responded to Trump's combination of pleas and economic sanctions with provocation.

Iranian officials said they would, within hours, start enriching uranium above the limits set under a 2015 international nuclear deal, the latest in a series of potentially fatal stab-wounds in the agreement. They also said Iran would keep reducing its compliance with the deal every 60 days unless world powers shield it from the sanctions that Trump reimposed after quitting the agreement last year.

"We are fully prepared to enrich uranium at any level and with any amount," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, according to media reports.

It's an approach that has left the two countries at risk of an eventual mil

House Dem impeachment support gains new momentum

Public support among House Democrats for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump is growing despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attempts to halt the effort.

More than two dozen Democrats who hadn't previously taken a position voted Wednesday to advance a measure to impeach the president over his racist attack on their colleagues. Before Wednesday, about 85 Democrats had publicly called for an impeachment inquiry — over one third of the 235-member House Democratic caucus.

The new outpouring comes before next week's Capitol Hill testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller, which is expected to inspire many more lawmakers to join them. Pelosi's resistance to impeachment, while firm, could be undercut if enough Democrats sign on publicly to remove the president.

If all 27 of the Democratic lawmakers who for the first time sided with Green were to publicly seek an impeachment inquiry, it would put nearly half of House Democra

How House Democratic factions ended their Twitter feud

House Democrats moved to deescalate lingering tensions between the party's factions on Thursday, in a bid to unify the caucus in its final stretch before a lengthy summer recess.

Leaders of the caucus' moderate and progressive wings released a rare joint statement that reads like a political truce after a weeks-long feud that has frequently spilled into public, including on Twitter.

In an olive branch among all sides, some of the contentious tweets deriding fellow Democratic lawmakers or staff were also deleted.

"We will remain clear-eyed with respect to our unity of purpose. Every single voice within the House Democratic Caucus is an important one," the statement reads. "We have a shared mission. Onward and upward."

The statement was signed by leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the two moderate groups, the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrats Coalition.

While the cautiously worded statement was blasted out late on Thursday, after lawmakers had departed the Capitol for the wee

Senate to vote on permanently extending 9/11 victims fund

The Senate has agreed to vote on permanently extending the 9/11 victims fund, setting up action that will put the bill on President Donald Trump's desk for his signature by next week.

After Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) insisted on amendment votes rather than pass the bill unanimously on Wednesday, Senate leaders agreed in a deal announced Thursday to allow those amendment votes in order to pass the legislation. The votes will occur this coming Wednesday or before. The House has already passed the bill.

The moment was crucial for New York's two senators, presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They gave a press conference together shortly after the deal was locked in.

"I am grateful that we now have this agreement on timing so that we can get to the floor next week and have an up-or-down vote on the 9/11 first responders and the health care they need," Gillibrand said.

"It's been a long, long, hard, hard struggle for over a decade. But now finally,