Defense Secretary James N. Mattis made an unannounced visit to Iraq’s capital on Monday to reassure allies of the U.S. military’s commitment to support the sprawling operation to recapture the city of Mosul from entrenched Islamic State militants.
Ahead of the trip, however, Mattis made clear he did not advocate President Trump’s oft-stated wish to take Iraq’s oil.
Such an undertaking would be illegal and require decades of occupation by hundreds of thousands of troops, and likely cost more money than could be earned from the oil.
The committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and vice chairman, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), sent letters Friday, the same day committee members received a classified briefing from FBI Director James B. Comey. Committee members declined to comment on what was discussed after the more than hourlong briefing.
The aide was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
As questions deepened about ties between President Trump’s administration and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus flatly denied Sunday that the two camps colluded during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Priebus, in a series of news show interviews, also insisted that ousted national security advisor Mike Flynn had done nothing illegal in discussing sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador to Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration, and batted aside questions about disorder and disarray in the White House.
Priebus, who was not on Trump’s campaign, has previously said he could not speak to any involvement with Russia by campaign staff. But asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether there was collusion “between anybody involved with Trump and anybody involved with Russia” during the campaign, he replied: “No.”
He’s not the first president to have issues with the press — Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln had complaints too — but President Trump has taken his battle with the media to new heights and made his complaints unusually public and caustic.
How that will play out is anybody’s guess, though there’s an adage about the power of journalism: Never pick fights with someone who buys ink by the barrel. That, however, was before Twitter and video made ink unnecessary for communicating with the public.
The president continued his attacks on the media at a Florida rally Saturday, saying he wanted to speak with supporters “without the filter” of the press.
The Department of Homeland Security has drafted broad new guidelines to more aggressively capture and deport people living in the country illegally, a U.S. official said, bringing President Trump's vision of tougher immigration enforcement a step closer to reality.
The guidelines, which largely follow up on directives that Trump laid out in executive orders in his first week in office, were contained in memos signed Friday by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. The White House is reviewing the memos and may request changes, the official said.
"A surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States," Kelly wrote.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said Sunday that the media is not the "enemy of the American people," refusing to align with President Trump's startling declaration last week.
“I’ve had some rather contentious times with the press,” he said in response to a question about whether he saw the media as an enemy. "But no, the press is a constituency -- as far as I’m concerned -- that we deal with and I don’t have any issues with the press, myself."
On Friday, Trump tweeted that the “fake news” media was an "enemy of the American people." An initial tweet mentioning CNN, the New York Times, NBC and "many more" was deleted and reposted, expanding the list to include ABC and CBS.
U.S. special forces are operating near the front lines in the battle to retake western Mosul from Islamic State, but Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said Sunday during a visit to Arab allies here that there has been no change to rules of engagement regarding U.S. forces' role in the Iraqi operation since President Trump took office.
Mattis plans to present the White House with a more aggressive plan to combat Islamic State by month’s end, but he acknowledged Sunday that U.S. airstrikes pounded Islamic State targets in western Mosul in the days ahead of the Iraqi assault, hitting militant command and control facilities.
The multinational coalition led by the U.S. has conducted more than 10,000 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, the Pentagon said, while more than 70,000 Iraqi forces have been trained and equipped.
President Trump returned to campaign mode Saturday with a clear opponent in mind: the media, declaring before thousands of cheering supporters that “fake news” was undermining his nascent administration’s accomplishments.
The White House was running “so smoothly,” Trump said in an airport hangar here. He said the rally was about sharing “our incredible progress in making America great again.”
“I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news,” he said. “They’ve become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system.”
President Trump touched down Saturday in central Florida for what he has labeled a "Make America Great Again Rally," hosted by his campaign years before the first votes are to be cast in another White House race.
Trump arrived here on Air Force One after a short flight from West Palm Beach, where he is spending a third consecutive weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate, dubbed the "Winter White House."
That means that while his campaign organization bears many of the costs for the event, taxpayers will be on the hook for some of the politicking, too. And it wasn't long ago that Trump himself was complaining loudly about the same thing.