Loved like a dog
The story that Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” was likely fake news before anyone called it that. But there's enough truth that Donald Trump may be sitting up and paying attention after he went the same day from victory lap for the elimination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to getting booed by a crowd of 44,000 at a World Series game.
The story of the military K-9 hero who was wounded while chasing down al-Baghdadi seems to have won Americans' hearts. The president, who commonly employs cur-derived slurs against foes and dismissed staffers, seems to have sniffed out the public's mood. Senior officials told CBS News and The New York Times that the administration is "working on" arrangements to try to bring the dog to visit the White House.
“We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!” the president wrote. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the dog was “slightly wounded” but is now recovering and has returned to duty with its handler at an undisclosed location.
The U.S. military commonly uses the Belgian Malinois to guide and protect troops, search out enemy forces and look for explosives. The breed is prized for its intelligence and ability to be aggressive on command, Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association, told The Associated Press.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling tweeted there's a legitimate security reason to withhold the dog's name. "Knowing dog’s name, u can determine the handler -Knowing the handler, u can determine the unit -Knowing the unit, tells which Delta unit(s) was part of the raid," he said.
A Belgian Malinois accompanied Navy SEALs in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and his name, Cairo, was eventually made known. If the latest hero's name must remain secret, perhaps Trump can give him a code name. How about "Anonymous"?
Trump: I finished Obama's job
A day after calling the elimination of al-Baghdadi a bigger deal than the 2011 killing of bin Laden, Trump took another jab at Barack Obama's record against terrorists.
Bin Laden “should have been killed years ago. Another president should have gotten him,” Trump said to a police group in Chicago.
When his national security team would come to him to get approval for a mission targeting other ISIS leaders, Trump claims he replied, “I never heard of him. I want al-Baghdadi — I said, ‘Get him.’ And they got him.” They did, two years and nine months into his term.
Heard something, said something
Army Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, plans to tell the impeachment inquiry Tuesday that he twice registered internal objections about how Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
In a draft of his opening statement, Vindman said he spoke up out of a “sense of duty.”
He will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman said. Read his opening statement.
Janison: Oligarch in the news
The indictment of two Rudy Giuliani associates has brought new attention to a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, with interesting connections to those involved in the hunt for dirt on Democrats and business schemes, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Firtash, long a major player in his home country's gas and chemical business, has been living in Vienna, fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery charges. The feds also say he's linked to organized crime and the Russian government.
The Giuliani crew, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, reportedly proposed to serve as middlemen in a deal to sell natural gas from the Middle East to Firtash-owned companies.
Parnas has acted as a translator for Firtash's legal defense team, which includes husband-and-wife lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who have promoted Ukraine conspiracy theories.
Impeachment: Going to next level
House Democrats are laying the groundwork for the next phase of their impeachment inquiry. A vote is planned for Thursday on a resolution to affirm the investigation, set rules for public hearings and outline the potential process for writing articles of impeachment against Trump.
The Democrats' plan aims to nullify complaints from Trump and his allies that the closed-door proceedings so far have been illegitimate, unfair and lacking in due process, The Associated Press reported. Not that the action will actually stop Trump and the GOP from challenging the probe's credibility. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham spun it as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "finally admitting" the inquiry has been "completely and irreversibly illegitimate."
Pelosi said the step will "eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.” Former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman defied a subpoena Monday while the courts sort out whether he can be compelled to appear over White House opposition.
Whingey in the Windy City
Trump used the speech to a gathering of international police chiefs to tear into the city hosting it. “All over the world they're talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison,” Trump said.
The president specifically targeted Eddie Johnson, Chicago’s superintendent of police, who boycotted Trump’s appearance because of “not just my personal feelings about it, but our core values as a city.”
Trump denounced the snub as a “very insulting statement after all I've done for the police.” He said that "more than anyone else, this person should be here because maybe he could learn something."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted Trump’s comments as “insulting, ignorant buffoonery.”
What else is happening:
- Trump's source for his lurid account of al-Baghdadi “whimpering and crying and screaming” as U.S. Special Forces closed in remains a mystery. "I don't know," Milley told a Pentagon news conference. He guessed Trump talked "directly to unit members.”
- Intelligence and military officials cringed over the classified or otherwise sensitive details that Trump gave publicly on Sunday, NBC News reported. "If he knows something, and he thinks it's going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he'll just blurt it out," a former senior White House official said.
- Turkish-backed militia have killed civilians in Kurdish areas in Syria abandoned by the U.S., four U.S. military and intelligence officials told Time magazine.
- Trump said on Monday he expected to sign a significant part of a trade deal with China "ahead of schedule" but did not elaborate on the timing.
- Bernie Sanders, 78, has begun framing his age as an asset in the presidential race, an effort to counter heightened concerns about his health since a heart attack, The Washington Post reports. “The ideas that I am fighting for now didn’t come to me yesterday,” he said.
- Attorney General William Barr pushed back in a Fox News interview against critics who say the Justice Department is investigating the origins of the Russia inquiry to help Trump settle personal legal and political scores. Barr rejected as "completely wrong" that he's acting like a personal lawyer for the president.