Senators say Mattis, Tillerson open to updating president’s war powersCBS News Trump Stuns Advisers in Meeting, Wants Afghan War Commander FiredThe chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are „very open” to updating the president’s war powers that have been in place and unchanged since after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, after a number of senators met with the two top Trump cabinet members on the topic Wednesday. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, said Tillerson and Mattis are open to eliminating the current Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF), if a replacement is ready. Congress passed the AUMF in 2001 to give the president broad authority to retaliate against anyone who contributed to the terrorist attacks, but the AUMF has continued to justify military intervention abroad for more than 15 years.”I’m confident that they’ll work with us,” Corker said of Tillerson and Mattis.Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, are spearheading a bipartisan push to update the president’s war powers and require congressional approval before the president can take military action. Kaine also told reporters after meeting with Tillerson and Mattis that the two seem open to changing the AUMF, not because they believe they need to legally to intervene abroad, but because they think it would be good to have Congress’ support.Earlier Wednesday, the State Department issued a statement to Corker saying the current AUMF is sufficient.”The United States has sufficient legal authority to prosecute the campaign against al-Qa’ida and associated forces, including against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” the State Department said in a letter to Corker. „This legal authority includes the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which authorizes the use of military force against these groups. Accordingly, the administration is not seeking revisions to the 2001 AUMF or additional authorizations to use force.”Watch: After ISIS, what’s next for Mosul?Democrats in particular — and some Republicans as well — are arguing that Congress never intended the AUMF, passed in the urgent days after Sept. 11, 2001, to authorize the president’s authority the way it is used today, and Congress should have approval before military intervention abroad.Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said he was in Congress when it passed the 2001 authorization, said it was never intended to be used to fight ISIS, and told reporters it’s important for Congress to pass a different resolution on how to deal with ISIS so it isn’t an „open-ended” issue.Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, took to Twitter to offer a similar sentiment.Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, introduced a proposal in June to repeal the 2001 AUMF, and the proposal passed the House Appropriations Committee. But the proposal went nowhere, and Lee accused House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, of quietly killing the legislation.
Trump says he wants immigrants ‘who speak English’ and won’t ‘collect welfare’
Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing U.S. commander: officials By Steve Holland and John Walcott,Reuters 4 hours ago By Steve Holland and John Walcott WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s doubts about the war in Afghanistan has led to a delay in completing a new U.S. strategy in South Asia, skepticism that included a suggestion that the U.S. military commander in the region be fired, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called „the end-state” in a country that the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.”We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.In addition, once the meeting concluded, Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, got into what one official called „a shouting match” with White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster over the direction of U.S. policy.Some officials left the meeting “stunned” by the president’s vehement complaints that the military was allowing the United States to lose the warMattis, McMaster and other top aides are putting together answers to Trump’s questions in a way to try to get him to approve the strategy, the officials said.Another meeting of top aides is scheduled on Thursday.Although Trump earlier this year gave Mattis the authority to deploy U.S. military forces as he sees fit, in fact the defense secretary’s plans to add around 4,000 more U.S. troops to the 8,400 currently deployed in Afghanistan are being caught up in the delay surrounding the strategy, the officials said.”It’s been contingent all along informally on the strategy being approved,” a senior administration official said of the troop deployment.Trump has long been a skeptic of lingering U.S. involvement in foreign wars and has expressed little interest in deploying military forces without a specific plan on what they will do and for how long.Officials said Trump argued that the United States should demand a share of Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion in mineral wealth in exchange for its assistance to the Afghan government.But other officials noted that without securing the entire country, which could take many years, there is no way to get the country’s mineral riches to market, except to Iran. Trump complained that the Chinese are profiting from their mining operations, the officials said.(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
World The Latest: Pence urges better ties among Balkan nations ABC News 23 hours agoThe Latest on U.S. vice president’s visit to Montenegro (all times local): 7:20 p.m. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama says stronger ties with the United States and among the Western Balkan countries themselves have been the main topic of talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and other regional leaders at a Balkan summit in Montenegro.Rama on Wednesday wrote in his Facebook page that White House deputy „strongly stressed the U.S.’s interest to strengthen cooperation with the countries of the region and also the necessity to increase interaction between the U.S. and the countries of the region … to successfully cope with the challenges of security, peace and prosperity in the region and in Europe.”Albania, a NATO member since 2009, is expecting to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union in the near future.—5 p.m.Kosovo’s president says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is pledging to help eliminate the obstacles to Kosovo becoming a full NATO member.President Hashim Thaci wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday that he had a „very friendly and also constructive meeting” with Pence on the sidelines of a U.S.-backed Balkan summit in Montenegro.Thaci says he told Pence that Kosovo remains „without compromise (an ally) in fighting any form of extremism, radicalism and terrorism.””American leadership is irreplaceable for our Euro-Atlantic aspiration,” he said.Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 from Serbia, is recognized by 114 countries. It is in the initial steps to becoming a NATO member and a member of the European Union.—4:25 p.m.The office of Serbia’s new prime minister says she met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of a U.S.-backed Balkan summit in Montenegro.Ana Brnabic is staunchly conservative Serbia’s first woman and first openly gay prime minister. Her election in June was hailed as a sign of the country’s pro-EU policies despite a close relationship with traditional ally Russia.A statement from Brnabic’s office says she expressed hope at the meeting with Pence that the United States will continue to support Serbia’s bid to join the European Union. The statement says the meeting also focused on Balkan stability and bilateral ties.Serbia has remained under strong influence of Russia despite its proclaimed desire to join the EU. Belgrade has ruled out joining NATO.—4 p.m.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says now is the time for progress in the volatile Balkans and is urging the region’s leaders to make the most of it with America’s support.Pence spoke Wednesday in Montenegro at the opening of a U.S.-backed summit of top Balkan officials. He pledged Washington’s commitment to the area that Russia also considers a zone of interest.The summit in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, includes politicians from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia. The region still is reeling from the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.Pence told the leaders, „You belong to a new generation of Balkan leaders and this is a historic moment for progress in Western Balkans.”He said: „I urge you with great respect to make the most of this moment.”—3 p.m.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has called Russia an „unpredictable country” that wants to destabilize the Balkan region.Speaking to Balkan leaders at a summit in Montenegro on Wednesday, Pence said „as you well know, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force and here in the Western Balkans, Russia has worked to destabilize the region, undermining your democracies and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe.”Pence says Moscow masterminded an attempted coup in Montenegro in October to prevent it from joining NATO. Russia has denied involvement. Montenegro joined NATO in June.Pence says „Russia’s intentions were laid bare when Moscow-backed agents sought to disrupt Montenegro’s elections, attack your parliament and even attempt to assassinate your prime minister to dissuade the Montenegrin people from entering the NATO alliance.”—1 p.m.Montenegro’s prime minister is in the limelight again.After a scene that went viral on the internet when U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to have shoved Dusko Markovic at a NATO summit in Brussels in May during a photo op, the Montenegrin made a memorable slip of tongue in front of visiting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.Talking about a venue of a U.S.-backed Balkan summit in Montenegro on Wednesday, Markovic mixed up hotel Hilton with „hotel Clinton.”Flanked by Pence, Markovic says: „I expect an open and concrete exchange of opinions by the leaders of the American-Adriatic Charter at a special summit later during the day in hotel Clinton.” He didn’t correct himself.The slip drew laughter among reporters, and a slight smile from Pence.—11:40 a.m.Montenegro’s prime minister says the small Balkan nation has „irrevocably” tied itself with the West and its values when it joined NATO in June.Dusko Markovic said Wednesday the visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence confirms that NATO member states are treated equally regardless of their size.Montenegro, formerly a traditional Russian ally in the Balkans, made a historic turn to the West by joining NATO.Markovic says that „we have irrevocably tied our destiny to the values promoted and defended by this alliance.”He added that „today confirms that when it comes to ideals there are no big and small in the international community despite a country’s size or population.”Markovic told Pence: „Thank you for confirming this truth by coming to Montenegro.”—11:10 a.m.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says the Western Balkans belong to the West amid strong Russian pressure to maintain influence in the still tense European region.Tiny Montenegro, which joined NATO earlier this year despite Moscow’s anger, is Pence’s third stop on a European trip backing nations that feel threatened by Russian influence.Pence says that „we truly believe the future of the Western Balkans is in the West. And we look forward to affirming the commitment of the United States to building relationships and strengthening ties between the European community, the Western Balkans and the United States of America.”Pence says „I bring greetings from President Donald Trump who sent me here as a visible sign of the alliance that we now enjoy through NATO.”—10:55 a.m.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has told tiny Montenegro that the United States has no small allies and cherishes its alliance with the newest member state of NATO.Pence on Wednesday described Montenegro’s membership in NATO as a „historic achievement” for the Balkan country that traditionally was an ally of Russia in the turbulent region. He adds Montenegro’s NATO accession is „a sign of the strength of this country ten years after independence.”The country of 620,000 people and an army of some 2,000 soldiers joined NATO in June.Pence says the U.S. is committed to enhancing its relationship with Montenegro: „NATO is made up of large countries and small countries but the U.S. has no small allies, and we cherish our new alliance with Montenegro through NATO.”—10:30 a.m.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has praised tiny Montenegro for standing up to Russian pressure when it joined NATO earlier this year.Pence is the highest-ranking American official to visit the small Adriatic state in 100 years. Russia considers Montenegro its traditional Slavic ally.Pence said during a formal dinner with Montenegro President Filip Vujanovic on Tuesday evening that „your courage, particularly in the face of Russian pressure, inspires the world and I commend you for that.”Pence said „I bring greetings from President Donald Trump. He sent me here as a tangible sign of our commitment to Montenegro as the newest member of NATO.”Russia is accused of masterminding an attempted coup in Montenegro in October to prevent it from joining NATO.
The Obamas Send Newlywed Couple a Moving Note of Congratulations Sabrina Rojas Weiss 8 hours agoA couple invited former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama to their wedding and received a lovely response. (Photo: Getty Images,Twitter/96_brooke)Barack and Michelle Obama left the White House almost 200 days ago, but some supporters of the 44th president are still reaching out to him as if he were in office. We’re not talking about policy changes, though he probably gets plenty of letters about that still. It seems many people are still inviting the Obamas to their weddings — and the Obamas are writing back.Twitter user Brooke Allen posted the response her mother, Liz Whitlow, just received after inviting the couple to their wedding in March.“Congratulations on your wedding,” said the signed card that Liz Whitlow and Eddie Edgar received. “We hope that your marriage is blessed with love, laughter, and happiness and that your bond grows stronger with each passing year. This occasion marks the beginning of a lifelong partnership and as you embark on this journey, know you have our very best for the many joys and adventures that lie ahead.”Allen’s tweet has been flooded with replies, many from people sharing photos of their own responses from the Obamas, congratulating them on weddings, new babies, and graduations. Inviting sitting presidents (along with celebrities and cartoon characters) to weddings is a time-honored tradition that’s usually done just to get that declined RSVP as a keepsake.One couple in Manchester, England, sent an invitation to Queen Elizabeth in 2012, and though her office declined, she surprised them by stopping by anyway.Inviting former presidents, however, may be a new thing. In a text that Allen also posted, Whitlow made her political preference in making this gesture known, writing, “I didn’t send one to Trump.”While Obama was in office, it doesn’t seem like he accepted any of these hopeful invitations, though he did crash one wedding at San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, after he finished the 18th hole. His hobby also led a Hawaii golf course to relocate an Army couple’s wedding to another site on the property for security purposes. When Barack found out, he called the couple to apologize during their ceremony. “Listen, congratulations on your wedding. I feel terrible,” the president told the couple, according to ABC News. “Nobody told us, and had they mentioned they were going to have a wedding on the 16th hole, we would have skipped the 16th hole. But I hope the wedding went OK anyway.”The groom, Capt. Edward Mallue, asked the president if he’d like to attend the reception later. “You don’t want me at the reception,” Obama said in a video posted on ABC News. “Everybody would have to be magged [checked by security]. Congratulations and thank you both for your service.”Teens Perfectly Re-Create Barack and Michelle Obama’s Look for PromThese two high school teens @cassieberta and @sean.moffitt re-created Barack and Michelle Obama’s attire from the Kennedy Honors Gala in 2013. They embodied the former President and FLOTUS’s class and grace at their prom. Check out the video above for the full story.
World Moldova Declares Russian Deputy Premier Persona Non Grata Bloomberg 15 hours agoMoldova’s government declared Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin persona non grata for what Prime Minister Pavel Filip said were “offensive statements” about its citizens. Rogozin made “denigrating statements” about Moldova and its authorities in recent interviews, ruling out bilateral relations “based on mutual respect,” Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister Andrei Galbur said in a televised speech from the cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday. The move comes less than three months after the Chisinau-based cabinet banned five other Russian diplomats for alleged interference in Moldova’s internal affairs.Rogozin made “denigrating statements” about Moldova and its authorities in recent interviews, ruling out bilateral relations “based on mutual respect,” Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister Andrei Galbur said in a televised speech from the cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday.The move comes less than three months after the Chisinau-based cabinet banned five other Russian diplomats for alleged interference in Moldova’s internal affairs. Rogozin is one of the most senior Russian officials affected by a 2014 visa ban issued by the European Union after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.Moldova, Europe’s poorest state, has been caught in a power struggle between the pro-European government, which seeks closer ties with the EU, and its pro-Russian President Igor Dodon.