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U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis
U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis (Virginia Mayo / Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said Tuesday he believes victory in Afghanistan is still possible — not necessarily on the battlefield but in facilitating a Taliban reconciliation with the Afghan government.

Mattis spoke shortly before arriving in Kabul, where security concerns were so high that reporters traveling with him were not allowed to publish stories until his party had moved from the Kabul airport to the U.S.-led military coalition's headquarters. That was the first such restriction on coverage of a Pentagon chief's visit in memory.

Mattis said he would be meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and top U.S. commanders.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja. (Associated Press)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has again butted heads with the Trump administration by proclaiming that the poison attack on a Russian dissident in Britain clearly appeared to be the work of Moscow.

Tillerson, traveling in Africa, said Monday he had “full confidence” in the British government investigation that indicated that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that sickened former Russia spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Father and daughter were in England, and an attack on them tied to Russia would be a major international incident. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning.

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

White House officials ratcheted up their fight with California politicians over immigration policies ahead of President Trump’s visit Tuesday, briefing reporters Monday night on what they called “misconceptions” being propagated by leading Democrats in the state.

Thomas D. Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took particular exception to a comment by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who contended last week that the administration was engaged in “cowardly attacks” against immigrants when the Justice Department sued the state over its immigration laws.

“Her quotes were just beyond the pale,” Homan said, taking Pelosi’s words as an attack on immigration officers.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on March 12
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on March 12 (AFP / Getty Images)

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, blamed Russia and its allies Monday for violating a humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, and excoriated the U.N. Security Council for failing to guarantee the truce.

Haley also warned that the Trump administration “remains prepared to act,” as it did last April when U.S. missiles were fired at a Syrian government airbase that was used to drop nerve gas on civilians.

"It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again," Haley told the Security Council, which met in special session. "When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action."

  • White House
President Trump meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last year.
President Trump meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last year. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump plans to host Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House next week, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Monday.

Prince Mohammed attracted controversy in November when he orchestrated a purge of dozens of people, including sitting cabinet members and a fellow prince. The move was seen as an effort to consolidate power. The regime portrayed the sweep as a crackdown on corruption and an effort to attract foreign investment and reduce the country’s historic dependence on oil. 

Sanders declined to say whether Trump would raise human rights issues with the heir to the throne.

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President Trump’s well-documented clashes with California owe plenty to politics, culture and personality. But at bottom, what drives the president’s toxic relationship with the nation’s most populous state is this: his near-obsessive desire to be seen as a winner.

Warnings begin as soon as you arrive. Beware of the potholes.

President Trump with congressional candidate Rick Saccone.
President Trump with congressional candidate Rick Saccone. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

Republicans desperate to hold onto a congressional seat in the heart of Trump country received more bad news Monday, just days after the president parachuted into western Pennsylvania to give their struggling candidate a boost.

Republican Rick Saccone, according to a new Monmouth University poll, is still losing ground in Tuesday’s election to fill a vacant seat in the district near Pittsburgh that Trump won by 20 points. Some $8 million in spending by national Republican groups aimed at propping up the state lawmaker hasn’t seemed to give him the boost he badly needs to take a lead against his political-neophyte opponent, Conor Lamb.

The poll found Lamb leading 51% to 45% if turnout reflects the patterns of other similar special elections held this year, in which there was a Democratic surge. Even if turnout is lackluster, as it tends to be for a routine special election, the poll still shows Lamb winning by two points.

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Minutes before President Trump entered the White House Roosevelt Room on Thursday to announce sweeping tariffs on imported metals, the president’s economic A-team stood stone-faced near the president’s podium — but not Peter Navarro.

Rep. Maxine Waters speaks at the California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24 in San Diego.
Rep. Maxine Waters speaks at the California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24 in San Diego. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on Sunday defended President Trump’s spree of name-calling at a campaign rally on Saturday night, including the president’s renewed mocking of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) as “a very low IQ individual.”

At the raucous Pennsylvania rally for Republican House candidate Rick Saccone, Trump derided Waters for calling for his impeachment, imitating her as supposedly declaring, “’We will impeach him. We will impeach the president. But he hasn’t done anything wrong. It doesn’t matter, we will impeach him.’”

Mnuchin, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said Trump’s verbal assaults were intended to be humorous.