Fdd's overnight brief

May 10, 2019

In The News


President Trump on Thursday said former secretary of state John F. Kerry should be prosecuted for discussing the Iran nuclear deal with officials from that country after leaving office. – Washington Post

Top Trump administration national security officials were planning to meet Thursday for discussions on mounting security challenges posed by Iran and North Korea, according to administration officials. – Wall Street Journal

B-52 bombers ordered by the White House to deploy to the Persian Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran have arrived at a major American air base in Qatar, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged Friday. – Associated Press

In a highly unusual move, national security adviser John Bolton convened a meeting at CIA headquarters last week with the Trump administration’s top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers to discuss Iran, according to six current U.S. officials. – NBC News

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leadership to sit down and talk with him about giving up Tehran’s nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation given the heightened tensions between the two countries. – Reuters

The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by President Donald Trump’s administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday, the Suez Canal Authority said. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that threats from Iran had escalated in recent weeks and he warned Tehran that any attacks on U.S. interests would prompt a quick response from Washington. – Reuters

Iranian media reported on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was increasingly seeking to pressure European countries to come to terms with Tehran’s demands under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or ‘Iran Nuclear Deal.’ Effectively Iran is saying that it is monitoring European actions over the next 60 days and that it is time for European countries to “fulfill their commitments” or Iran’s behavior could become “unpredictable.” Iran announced this week a partial withdrawal from the deal. – Jerusalem Post

Crushing sanctions from the United States have sent Iran’s economy into a “tailspin,” ex-CIA director David Petraeus told CNN Business. – CNN

Iran threatened Wednesday to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its 2015 nuclear deal, raising regional tensions as a U.S. aircraft carrier and bombers headed to the Middle East to confront Tehran. – Southern California Public Radio

The Trump administration’s decision to increase its military presence in the Middle East was partly prompted by intelligence that Tehran gave its blessing to some of its proxy forces to attack U.S. military assets and personnel in the region, NBC News reported Thursday. – The Hill

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warned companies that they could be blocked from the U.S. market if they do business with Iran. – The Hill


Government forces captured the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in northwest Syria, some residents and a war monitor said on Thursday, as they push into the biggest remaining rebel territory. – Al Jazeera

After eight months of relative calm, Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib is once again a theater for bloody military operations: heavy bombardment, airstrikes and waves of civilian displacement as Syrian government troops, backed by Russia, push their way into the rebel-held enclave in a widening offensive. – Associated Press

Tanker-tracking firms believe Iran is once again shipping crude oil to Syria, resuming the illicit trade as tensions with Washington rise and the Islamic Republic faces increasing international isolation. – CNBC

Josh Rogin writes: There is little that can stop the brutal assault underway in northwest Syria, where Russian, Iranian and Assad regime forces have launched a major military offensive as millions of civilians flee for their lives. But the record shows that if President Trump acts to try to halt the slaughter, it will have real impact on the ground. Even a presidential tweet could save lives. Time is of the essence. – Washington Post


The United States seems to be crafting a plan for a Palestinian surrender to Israel instead of a peace deal, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a meeting at the United Nations attended by U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt. – Reuters

The scene was a rally for members of Israel’s 21 percent Arab minority. The Israeli term for them is Israeli-Arabs, but many now reject that label, identifying instead as “Palestinian with Israeli citizenship,” or simply “Palestinian”. Each year they hold a gathering to mark the “Nakba” – or “Catastrophe” – when Palestinians lament the loss of their homeland in the 1948-49 war that surrounded the creation of the modern Jewish state. – Reuters

Representatives of Palestinian “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip warned Israel on Wednesday against any delay in the implementation of Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings, which call, among other things, for easing restrictions on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. – Jerusalem Post

An Egyptian security delegation arrived Thursday in the Gaza for a round of meetings with Hamas officials and representatives of other Palestinian factions, amid ongoing efforts to ensure a calm between Israel and the Strip after a violent escalation that ended late Sunday with a cease-fire agreement. – Haaretz

The US is seeking to renew contacts with the Palestinian Authority as it gears up to announce its Middle East peace proposal, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Friday. – Times of Israel

Israel was set to begin easing restrictions on the Gaza Strip Friday, a week after deadly clashes broke out in the border region, pumping up fears of all-out war. – Times of Israel

Alan Dershowitz writes: The conflict in Gaza will only get worse if terrorism is encouraged by the lies of commission and omission told by Omar, ACD and other supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. All decent people must try to discourage the targeting of civilians by terrorist rockets and tunnels. A good beginning would be to tell the truth. – Jerusalem Post

Alex Fishman writes: Israel’s military operated under the guidelines set by the government, namely that they should avoid all-out war. They complied. Military actions were carried out with precision. But the political objectives were to save the Eurovision – which can still be sabotaged by any rogue organization that is able to fire a missile at the heart of Tel Aviv. This was undoubtably the least necessary round of fighting this year. The political leadership must explain the reasons for it. – Ynet

Lawrence J. Haas writes: Abbas’ refusal to take any Israeli money makes clear his top priority: Rather than accept any Israeli payments through which he could better serve his people, Abbas continues to sacrifice such payments at the altar of a higher calling – killing Israelis. […]While the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets across the border, threatening a wider war with Israel, the Palestinian Authority plants the seeds of hatred and incitement that make Israel’s peace with the West Bank just as elusive. – The Hill

Neri Zilber writes: The latest round over the weekend was the most lethal since the 2014 war but consistent with the pattern. Yet there are signs—economic, military, and political—that this could be the last of the short-lived escalation rounds. Absent a more durable diplomatic arrangement between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, the next engagement will likely be much broader and deadlier, and not so easily contained. – Washington Institute


A blast rocked Baghdad’s northeastern Sadr City district on Thursday but accounts differed on whether it caused any casualties. Islamic State claimed responsibility. – Reuters

Gunmen shot dead five members of a family in an attack on their house near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul late on Wednesday, police officials and hospital sources said. Police officials in the area said Islamic State militants were involved in the attack. – Reuters

Michael Knights writes: A spirited policy debate is underway within the corridors of power in Washington D.C. over the manner in which the United States should view and treat the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Iraq’s web of paramilitary organizations. […]There is deep concern that the PMF–led by U.S. designated terrorist Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis–has the potential to quickly evolve into a permanently funded force of equivalent manpower to the Iraqi Army. As long as the PMF contains U.S. designated terrorists, the future of the organization will justify a special level of concern and policy attention in Washington. – Washington Institute

Thanassis Cambanis writes: The experiment in Samarra holds special significance for Iraq—and for would-be nation builders around the world. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been spectacular illustrations of how nations break apart, but no compelling examples of broken states coming back together. Should the burgeoning peace in Samarra be understood as a building block of an enduring new order, strong enough to undo the blood feuds in Iraq’s recent past, or as just one of many tactical alliances that will crumble at the first sign of real tension? – The Atlantic


The government in eastern Libya allied with forces attacking the capital does not want to rule the country by force, its foreign minister said Thursday. – Associated Press

Fighters allied to Libya’s U.N.-backed government posted selfies from a barracks one day last month to mark their progress in a battle for Tripoli. – Reuters

Libya’s internationally recognized government asked 40 foreign firms including French oil major Total to renew their licenses or have their operations suspended, pressuring Europe to stop an eastern military offensive against Tripoli. – Reuters

Three people were killed on Thursday in a suspected hit-and-run attack by Islamic State militants on a town in southern Libya, residents and a military official said, the second such attack within days. – Reuters

Fayez Serraj writes: The world has long looked to America as an example of what democracy can bring: liberty, peace and prosperity. Libya is ready for democracy. Libyans won’t accept another Gadhafi-style military dictatorship. – Wall Street Journal

Middle East & North Africa

The US State Department has cleared a potential $3bn sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters and related equipment to Qatar, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. – Al Jazeera

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar traded accusations at the International Court of Justice on Thursday in the latest development in the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis. – Al Jazeera

House Democrats are trying to use the power of the purse to block the transfer of US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia amid concerns that the Donald Trump administration is too keen to strike a deal with the kingdom. – Al-Monitor

Almost 16 months ago, then-U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis initiated a course correction for the Pentagon. After 17 years of war in the Middle East, great power competition with Russia and China, not terrorism, would be the priority. […]The unusual movement of U.S. military forces, which was announced by Iran hawk John Bolton, the national security advisor, reflects the challenge the Pentagon faces in shifting focus to preparing for the next war while it is still mired in the current fight. – Foreign Policy

Korean Peninsula

U.S. authorities seized a North Korean ship they allege Pyongyang used to illicitly transport coal in violation of U.S. and international sanctions, the Justice Department said. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea launched two short-range missiles Thursday in its second such test in under a week, part of a calibrated escalation of pressure on Washington that coincided almost exactly with a U.S. test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. – Washington Post

North Korea’s second missile test on Thursday signals it is serious about developing new, short-range weapons that could be used early and effectively in any war with South Korea and the United States, analysts studying images of the latest launches say. – Reuters

The three new missiles North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has tested over the past week are eerily familiar to military experts: They look just like a controversial and widely copied missile the Russian military has deployed to Syria and has been actively trying to sell abroad for years. – Associated Press

The leader of North Korea ordered its military to boost its strike capability as he directed another missile firing, state media said on Friday, as tensions grew over tests that appeared to show preparations for a new advanced missile system. – Reuters

North Korea’s latest missile launch violated United Nations resolutions calling for a halt to such ballistic weapons tests, a spokesman for Japan’s government said on Friday. – Reuters

The United States called on North Korea on Thursday to dismantle camps estimated to be holding tens of thousands of political prisoners, while Pyongyang hit back at Washington’s sanctions. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted the United States to send “famous basketball players” to the country as part of a deal to normalize relations, ABC News reported Thursday. – The Hill

Editorial: This week the U.S. suspended its effort to retrieve the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War because the North hasn’t communicated with the U.S. on the issue since the Hanoi summit. […]No one wants to return to the 2017 days of name-calling and long-range North Korean missile tests. But maintaining the sanctions pressure on the North is essential to persuading Mr. Kim that he can’t roll the U.S. with false nuclear promises one more time. – Wall Street Journal

James Jay Carafano writes: That’s why from the start, Trump’s pressure campaign and reliance on deterrence and missile defense made sense. The U.S. strategy protects us and our allies. We’re not dependent on Kim’s course to protect our vital interests. Thus, the most important step to take in response to Kim’s latest steps is to keep the pressure on. Wisely, that’s what the administration looks to be doing. – Fox News


A Chinese court has delayed ruling on a Canadian man’s appeal against his death sentence for drug smuggling, just hours after a Canadian court set a September date for the next hearing in an extradition case against a top Chinese executive. – Washington Post

The sudden deterioration of trade talks between the U.S. and China this week has raised the prospect of a once-unimaginable rupture between the world’s two largest economies. Whether talks ultimately yield a deal, the decadeslong integration of the two economies appears bound to go into reverse as mutual suspicion and geostrategic rivalry permeate political and personal relationships. – Wall Street Journal

China has a powerful financial-market arsenal for its trade tussle with America, including a hoard of Treasuries and its currency. But using those weapons is not without cost. Beijing has vowed to retaliate after U.S. President Donald Trump followed through with his threat to raise tariffs Friday on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% percent. – Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had received a “beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping as negotiations on a trade deal between the two countries continue in Washington. – Reuters

The United States pulled the trigger Friday on a steep increase in tariffs on Chinese products and Beijing immediately vowed to hit back, turning up the heat before a second day of trade negotiations. – Agence France-Presse

Wendy S. Cutler writes: Even if they can address the structural issues, the United States and China must still decide how the deal would be enforced. In particular, they have not agreed on whether tariffs could be reimposed if violations occur. The United States is demanding that it retain the right to use unilateral tariffs, while China gives up its right to retaliate. That is a tough sell politically for Beijing, and so far neither side appears to be budging. – New York Times

Rebecca Grant writes: Remember, Trump and the U.S. Trade Representative have plenty of options. They can increase tariffs or delay them. To be sure, there’s economic pain. Just ask American soybean farmers or Canada’s canola oil producers. An average family of four would pay $400 per year more if tariffs on clothes and shoes hit 25 percent, estimated one U.S. apparel and footwear association. But the fact remains the reset of U.S.-China trade was long overdue. Trump knows it, and so does China. The U.S. has waited for almost 20 years for China to follow international rules on trade. That’s over. – Fox News

Mihir Sharma writes: The simple truth about Trump’s trade war is that it is the wrong war being fought in the wrong way — even if against the right target. The U.S. should instead reach each out to both developed and developing countries; form a coalition of the willing; and then make it clear that China must open its markets properly, stop hidden subsidies to its exporters and national champions, and generally abide by the implicit contract that brought it into the WTO. The best way to convince China to change is to show the People’s Republic just how isolated it really is. – Bloomberg

Charles Edel writes: Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The prospect of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia offers a case in point. […]For Beijing, the strategic dividends of acquiring a military base in southeast Asia are numerous: a more favorable operational environment in the waters ringing southeast Asia, a military perimeter ringing and potentially enclosing mainland southeast Asia, and potentially easier and less restricted access to the Indian Ocean. – War on the Rocks


As the Taliban opened a new front this week in the Afghan war by attacking American-backed aid organizations in Kabul, negotiators for the group and the United States were meeting in the latest round of talks on ending the war. – New York Times

United States and Taliban negotiators have wrapped up their sixth round of peace talks with “some progress” made on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the armed group has said. – Al Jazeera

A deadly Taliban attack on a United State-based aid group in the Afghan capital has raised concerns among other relief organisations that they could also be targeted. – Al Jazeera


During the past week, three U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers were active in the South China Sea in two separate operations intended to support unfettered access to the region’s shipping lanes. – USNI News

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen said on Friday that China has stepped up its efforts to infiltrate and gain influence in Taiwan and she asked national security agencies to counter Beijing’s efforts. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: As Reuters reports, the U.S., Indian, Japanese, and Philippine navies on Wednesday finished joint exercises in the South China Sea. […]Trump gets plenty of criticism over his diplomatic stance. But these exercises show that confronting the most significant threat to geopolitical order in the 21st century, Trump is building alliances to win. – Washington Examiner

Van Jackson writes: And yet these historical fragments don’t add up to an explanation for the Asian peace. To the contrary, they represent a distorted Sinification of contemporary Asian history. Scholarly Sino-centrism crowds out logical analysis based on standards of evidence and the existing literature in favor of overstating China’s role in the fates of nations. Attributing Asian “peace” to Chinese foreign policy makes two logical errors. – War on the Rocks


President Vladimir Putin watched intercontinental nuclear missile launchers roll across Red Square on Thursday as Russia put on its annual show of military might to mark the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over the Nazis. – Reuters

Russia will keep strengthening its armed forces, President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday, speaking at the annual military Victory Day parade that flooded Red Square in Moscow with celebrants, soldiers and military equipment. – Associated Press

Anna Borshchevskaya writes: With a combination of aggression and diplomacy, Vladimir Putin has ensured Russia’s long-term prominence in the Middle East and North Africa. The United States must now take Moscow into account in the region to a degree it hasn’t had to for years. The September 2015 military intervention in Syria was a game changer, but it’s important to remember that Putin had already worked methodically and consistently for at least fifteen years to return Russia to the Middle East. – Washington Institute

A Russian gun rights activist who admitted she was a secret agent for the Kremlin and tried to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups while Donald Trump rose to power says she believed her notes and analysis would be “valuable” for Russian officials. – Associated Press


A Montenegro court has sentenced 14 people including two Russian military intelligence officers, two Montenegrin opposition leaders, nine Serbian citizens and another Montenegrin to up to 15 years in prison after they were found guilty of attempting to overthrow the Montenegrin government in 2016. – Al Jazeera

The European Union warned Romania on Thursday it could face firmer action over the government’s legal changes that the bloc has said threaten the rule of law. – Reuters

Two dozen Spanish city councils are facing legal action for promoting “antisemitic discrimination” by endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, a Madrid-based group behind the lawsuits said this week. – Algemeiner

Police in Berlin were facing criticism over their handling of antisemitic hate crimes on Thursday, after a prominent local politician claimed that officers were assigning right-wing extremist motives to a large number of offenders without sufficient evidence. – Algemeiner

President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani says he plans to travel to Ukraine in the coming days in an attempt to push for investigations that he says could benefit the president. – The Hill


President Trump has declared that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is “100%” defeated. It seems unlikely he will ever say the same about Somalia’s al-Shabab. – Washington Times

A U.S. air strike killed 13 Islamic State fighters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, days after another strike killed three. – Reuters

After spearheading the rallies that toppled former President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s main protest group is now locked in a stand-off with the country’s new military rulers that is testing its clout as a political force. – Reuters

As the popular uprising against Sudanese President Omar Bashir gained strength earlier this year, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia began reaching out to the military through secret channels to encourage his removal from power, according to Egyptian and Sudanese officials. – Associated Press

Giorgio Cafiero writes: Much analysis of the geopolitical ramifications of President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster last month has focused on how Sudan fits into the larger struggle between the Middle East’s Sunni powers. Undoubtedly, Sudan’s transition could trigger a greater strategic clash between the bloc led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the one side, and the Qatari-Turkish alliance, on the other, with the two camps backing rival factions or individuals in Khartoum in a bid to gain greater influence over the future of Sudan. – Middle East Institute

North America

There has been a death threat against Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, according to reports by the United States media. The threat, written in Arabic, came into the government. – Jerusalem Post

Louis Farrakhan spoke at a Catholic Church on Thursday night in the wake of his Facebook ban and denied that he hates Jewish people while ranting about “Satanic Jews.” – New York Post

Canada is softening the rules of its multibillion-dollar competition for 88 new fighter jets to allow Lockheed Martin Corp to submit a bid, following a complaint by Washington, a Canadian government source said on Thursday. – Reuters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday and discussed the detention of two Canadian citizens in China, which has triggered a major crisis between Ottawa and Beijing. – Reuters

Latin America

Latin Americans, who already see the Venezuelan crisis spilling over their borders in the form of millions of refugees, appreciate U.S. interest and determination. The threat of U.S. military intervention, not so much. – Washington Post

Two Venezuelan lawmakers sought refuge at foreign embassies in Caracas on Thursday, as the government of President Nicolas Maduro cracked down on allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido who supported his attempted uprising last week. – Reuters

A Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives committee moved on Thursday toward restoring hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Central America that was cut off by President Donald Trump, setting up a potential showdown with the White House. – Reuters


A Chinese national and an unnamed co-defendant were indicted on Thursday on computer hacking charges related to a campaign to breach large U.S. businesses, including the 2015 theft of data from health insurer Anthem Inc., the Justice Department said. – Wall Street Journal

Former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning has been released from the Alexandria, Va., jail where she was held after refusing to testify in the grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, her lawyers said. – Washington Post

A U.S. startup company is accusing Chinese telecommunications gear provider Huawei of enlisting a Chinese university professor working on a research project to improperly access the startup’s technology, according to court documents filed last week. – Reuters

After a long push in Mexico, China’s Huawei landed a coveted job in 2017: supplying equipment for the country’s so-called “red compartida,” an ambitious telecommunications network built for carriers delivering the latest generation of technology. – Reuters

A Chinese telecommunications firm is being barred from the United States due to suspicions that such companies are platforms for the communist regime’s spy services. – Washington Examiner

A committee in Canada’s Parliament voted unanimously Tuesday evening to take the rare step of issuing a subpoena demanding appearances from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. Bob Zimmer, chair of Canada’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, said in a phone call with CBS News that the subpoena can only be enforced if the Facebook executives step foot on Canadian soil. – CBS News

Bennet Murray writes: Viettel’s decision to opt out of Huawei technology is telling, as even the United States’ closet and wealthiest allies have been tempted by the tech giant’s artificially deflated prices despite warnings from Washington that Huawei may introduce compromised 5G infrastructure on behalf of Chinese intelligence. […]The consensus in Hanoi is that Beijing is the nation’s primary external security threat. – Foreign Policy


President Trump intends to nominate Pat Shanahan to become his next secretary of defense, moving to formally fill the post that Mr. Shanahan has held in an acting capacity since January, the White House said. – Wall Street Journal

Rolls-Royce has been quietly developing an integral system required to operate laser weapons on the battlefield for about a decade in its LibertyWorks division, which is the company’s internal advanced technology unit based in Indianapolis, Indiana. – Defense News

Andrew Miller and Seth Binder write: The reluctance to use the leverage afforded by arms transfers is symptomatic of a broader pathology in U.S. foreign policy: a fixation on maintaining relationships without regard to the value they provide. Relationships are important, but the United States should receive a commensurate return on its investments. When this is not the case, the United States should not hesitate to adjust the status and intimacy of a bilateral relationship, including through the suspension of arms transfers.  – War on the Rocks

Long War

The U.S. government has developed a specially designed, secret missile for pinpoint airstrikes that kill terrorist leaders with no explosion, drastically reducing damage and minimizing the chances of civilian casualties, multiple current and former U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

A former U.S. intelligence analyst was arrested and charged with providing classified information to a reporter at the Intercept in 2014 about U.S. counterterrorism operations including against al Qaeda, amid a widening U.S. crackdown on media leaks. – Wall Street Journal

A Kenyan court on Thursday sentenced a British man to four years in prison on charges of helping to plan attacks in Kenya and possessing bomb-making materials. – Reuters

Jessica Trisko Darden writes: Recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and Indonesia have brought renewed attention to the fact that terrorism is often a family affair. (Take Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, for instance). This reality flies in the face of US counterterrorism policy, which has largely presumed that families are willing to counter the radicalization and recruitment of young people by terrorist groups. – American Enterprise Institute

Trump Administration

President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is being challenged on four fronts at once, creating an extraordinary test of the White House’s ability to manage multiple crises and deliver on its ambitious agenda. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump said Attorney General William Barr will decide whether special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to appear before Congress, days after the president made clear he didn’t want the head of the Russia probe to testify. – Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump Jr. is unlikely to comply with a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena to testify about his contacts with Russia, two congressional sources said on Thursday as the president publicly defended his eldest son. – Reuters

President Trump on Thursday conceded he has policy differences with John Bolton, even as he defended his national security adviser amid media reports he has grown frustrated with some of his hawkish foreign policy moves. – The Hill

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) argued Thursday that while special counsel Robert Mueller did not establish that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election, extensive foreign contacts in future elections should be considered conspiracy. – The Hill