Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: President Trump on Monday hailed the legacy of the American armed forces in a Veterans Day speech that came against the backdrop of protests and political turmoil that has engulfed his presidency.
Trump’s remarks at Madison Square Park in Manhattan were largely devoid of politics, but even in New York on Veterans Day the president could not entirely avoid the political headlines that have dogged him in Washington.
Protesters spelled out the words “impeach” and “convict” in letters taped to the windows of a high-rise overlooking the park, and chants of “lock him up” were heard from the crowd. Public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry are scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Demonstrators gathered near the site of Trump’s speech to protest his presence and could be heard by attendees chanting “lock him up” and blowing whistles in the distance.
The speech: Trump delivered opening remarks and laid a wreath at the 100th annual Veterans Day Parade in New York City, becoming the first sitting president to address the annual event. The president’s speech focused on the service of various military branches and the military accomplishments of his administration.
“This nation is forever in your debt, and we thank you all,” Trump said in the speech. “You are the reason our hearts swell with pride, our foes tremble with fear, and our nation thrives in freedom.”
Trump cheered American special forces for carrying out the successful military raid that led to the death of elusive ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi weeks ago.
“Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead. His second in charge is dead. We have our eyes on No. 3. His reign of terror is over, and our enemies are running very, very scared,” Trump said.
The president laid a wreath at the Eternal Light Memorial in the park at the conclusion of his remarks.
Flashback: Trump last year faced criticism for opting not to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, as most presidents have done in the past.
The president was in Paris for the official holiday last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but he had no public events scheduled upon his return to Washington. He later acknowledged he should have made a trip to the cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day.
Vice President Pence spoke at Arlington on Monday.
IMPEACHMENT LATEST: House Democrats released the transcript Monday of a top Defense official who oversees Ukraine as part of the House investigation into whether Trump pressed Ukraine to help his own reelection bid in 2020.
Democrats subpoenaed Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, late last month to press her about any role the Pentagon may have played in withholding aid to Ukraine.
Cooper’s testimony was primarily memorable for a GOP protest that delayed it.
A group of congressional Republicans protesting the closed-door depositions disrupted the scheduled hearing by storming the secure closed space in which the interview was set to be conducted.
House Dems, ex-Bolton aide don’t want Mulvaney joining suit: House Democrats and former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman separately asked a federal judge Monday to block Trump’s acting chief of staff from intervening in a lawsuit over subpoenas related to the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Trump’s top aide, Mick Mulvaney, had filed a motion in D.C. District Court on Friday seeking to join Kupperman’s lawsuit over a subpoena in order to fight the House Intelligence Committee’s efforts to compel his own testimony.
But Democrats argued that the original lawsuit is moot since they withdrew the subpoena directing Kupperman to testify.
The Democrats wrote in their filing that even if the case was not moot at this point, Mulvaney and Kupperman are in very different circumstances.
“While Kupperman seeks a declaration from this Court as to whether he should comply with his subpoena or follow the President’s directive, Mulvaney seeks only a declaration that the House Defendants cannot compel him to comply with his subpoena or take any action against him if he does not,” they wrote. “Unlike Kupperman, Mulvaney does not state that he would comply with his subpoena if this Court rejects the claimed absolute immunity.”
Kupperman also argued in his filing that Mulvaney may have jeopardized his ability to claim immunity from the House’s efforts to subpoena him when he essentially said in a press conference last month that the White House was seeking an investigation from Ukraine into former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for congressionally approved security funding.
“Mulvaney has publicly discussed the events at issue in the House’s impeachment inquiry, including appearing to admit that there was a quid pro quo relationship between the President’s decision to withhold appropriated financial assistance from Ukraine and a Ukrainian investigation into what happened to a Democratic server in 2016 (an admission he subsequently sought to disavow),” Kupperman’s filing reads. “Plaintiff, in contrast, has never publicly disclosed information relating to any of his official duties, including the matters under investigation by the House.”
Coming up: This week marks the start of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry.
The action will kick off Wednesday when William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires to Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, testify in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.
Keep up: The Hill has started a page to keep up with all the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry. Follow along here.
ALSO THIS WEEK … ERDOGAN’S VISIT: A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is asking Trump to rescind his White House invitation to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Erdoğan is scheduled to visit the White House on Wednesday. But the lawmakers expressed “deep concern” at the planned trip, citing Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.
“President Erdogan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, has led to deep divisions in the NATO alliance, and caused a humanitarian crisis on the ground,” they wrote in a letter to Trump publicly released Monday.
“Given this situation, we believe that now is a particularly inappropriate time for President Erdogan to visit the United States, and we urge you to rescind this invitation,” the lawmakers added in the letter dated Nov. 8.
The letter was organized by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Two of the co-signers are Republicans: Reps. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) and Peter King (N.Y.), who announced his retirement earlier Monday.
The other co-signers are Democrats: Reps. Bill Keating (Mass.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Susan Wild (Pa.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Colin Allred (Texas), Jim Costa (Calif.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), who came under fire for voting present on a Armenian genocide resolution and voting against a Turkey sanctions bill.
On the S-400: Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said in an interview Sunday that Trump would confront Erdoğan about Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system during the visit.
“We’re very upset about that,” O’Brien said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases,” O’Brien added. “That’s a message that the president will deliver to him very clearly when he’s here in Washington.”
Under a law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the administration is required to impose sanctions on those who do business with the Russian defense industry, but Trump has yet to levy sanctions on Turkey for the S-400.
On Syria: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Trump will discuss Turkey’s incursion into northeast Syria in the Erdoğan meeting and push for a political solution that protects “all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds.”
“We will talk about what transpired there and how we can do our level best collectively to ensure the protection of all of those in Syria, not just the Kurds, but everyone in Syria,” Pompeo said Monday, answering questions from cadets at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, following a speech commemorating Veterans Day.
The last time Erdogan was here: Fear of a repeat from Erdogan’s 2017 trip – when his guards violently attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence – are being raised after recent court documents revealed new details about the incident two years ago.
Included in a lawsuit against Turkey on behalf of the victims are State Department memos, written from the point of view of three U.S. security officers tasked with guarding Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
They detail Turkish security officers attacking both civilians and U.S. security agents in multiple instances, sometimes simultaneously, over the course of the afternoon of May 16, 2017, including the attack near the ambassador’s residence and then fighting outside the Turkish Embassy.
Two Diplomatic Security special agents, six U.S. Secret Service officers and one MPD officer sustained multiple injuries, with at least one taken to the hospital.
“I looked up from the fight I was involved,” wrote one diplomatic security agent, “and saw a second fight taking place with another Turkish security personnel who was being flexi-cuffed and subdued for assaulting more U.S. police.”
En route to the Turkish Embassy, U.S. security agents later described how seven Turkish security officials jumped out of the diplomatic convoy transporting Çavuşoğlu to attack a lone, female protester.
“I observed 7 Turkish ‘Suit and tie’ security personnel (one female and 6 males) dismount their passenger van in an all-out sprint running directly toward the single female protestor,” the agent wrote. “[T]he female protestor eventually ran away and escaped being assaulted.”
On Monday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) called on the State Department to bar entry into the United States for any individual who traveled with Erdoğan in 2017 and took part in the assaults.
In a letter sent to Pompeo on Monday, Cheney — who has risen to become one of the most prominent GOP voices on foreign policy — said the 2017 attack was not the first instance of such violence.
Cheney added that Erdogan’s behavior in Turkey should not be brought to the United States.
“It is wrong and disturbing there, and it is an affront to American values and entirely unwelcome here. The Erdoğan regime’s use of violence against innocent civilians anywhere is inhumane, uncivilized, and unacceptable,” she continued.
Defense officials, including deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity Jack Wilmer, speak at CyberCon 2019 in Arlington starting at 7:30 a.m. https://bit.ly/36UxszO
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idado) will discuss China’s growing influence in Europe at 3 p.m. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://bit.ly/2O57QHN
The Hill Event: America’s Veterans: The Next Mission: On Thursday, November 14th join The Hill for America’s Veterans: The Next Mission. We will sit down with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and retired Gen. George Casey to explore efforts to provide support to veterans and their families as they return home. We’ll also be joined by Zack Giffin, co-host of Tiny House Nation. RSVP today!
— The Hill: House to vote on bill to ensure citizenship for children of overseas service members
— The Hill: Ukraine says it expects same amount of US aid in 2020 ‘if not larger’
— The Hill: Joint chiefs chair: Fewer than 1,000 troops will remain in Syria
— The Hill: Opinion: Be grateful for those who shoulder the burden — today and always
— Associated Press: US troops at Syria base say they’ll keep pressure on IS
— Bloomberg: Space war threats from China, Russia getting new U.S. assessment
— Reuters: Iran adds to breaches of nuclear deal with enrichment push -IAEA report