TRUMP PIVOTS! They said it would never happen, but the reboot of Donald Trump’s bid to become the next commander in chief featured a scripted moment of penitence last night, as the bombastic billionaire admitted sometimes he says the wrong things and he regrets it. The act of contrition drew an enthusiastic response in Charlotte, North Carolina, as Trump offered a thumbs up to the cheering crowd. The old Donald Trump was the guy who never admitted mistakes or apologized. The new Trump seemed almost humble. When was the last time you read Trump and humble in the same sentence? You can see the video here.
The Trump turnaround comes as there is word of more allegations of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s alleged cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The Associated Press, citing emails, says Manafort’s PR firm “directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government.” The AP says that both Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, may have violated federal law by not disclosing their work as foreign agents.
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QUID PRO DOUGH? Apparently one man’s “ransom” is another man’s “maximum leverage.” State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged yesterday that the handing over of $400 million in January to Iran was contingent on the release of four U.S. prisoners, Joel Gehrke writes. "We, of course, sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released, and that was our top priority," Kirby said, avoiding using the “R” word. "If your top priority is to get your Americans out and you're already having some issues about locating some of them, [then] you want to make sure that that release gets done before you complete that transaction."
The payment represents a “new low” for Obama, Sen. John McCain said. "The Obama administration manufactured and manipulated a narrative to sell the reckless Iran deal to the American people," he added. "It thanked Iran for its conduct in illegally detaining 10 American sailors in a flagrant violation of international law.” Sen. Roy Blunt said, “The Obama administration misled Congress, and the American people, when it repeatedly denied any connection between the release of American hostages in Iran and the $1.7 billion payout to the Iranian regime.”
BAD ADVICE? Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reportedly told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised her to use a private email account. The New York Times says the account is included in the FBI notes of the interview with Clinton in July, just before Director James Comey decided not to prosecute Clinton for carelessly mishandling classified material. Those notes were provided to Congress Tuesday.
IN THE LINE OF FIRE: CNN is reporting that Syrian warplanes bombed the primary U.S. ally fighting ISIS in Syria yesterday, while U.S. military advisers were "nearby.” Citing a U.S. defense official, CNN said the attack was the first against the Kurdish YPG who were fighting in Hasakah province in northern Syria.
NO NAVY PILOT SHORTAGE, SO FAR: The three-star admiral in charge of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, says unlike the Air Force, the Navy is not facing a shortage of pilots, even though it does face the same competition from airlines, and low morale in units stuck in maintenance with fewer flying hours. And Shoemaker says despite a series of high-profile crashes, well-publicized readiness problems and delays in replacing older aircraft with new F-35s, the trends are in the right direction.
BIG PAYDAY FOR BOEING: Boeing has won a slew of contracts, the Defense Department announced yesterday, the main one being a $2.8 billion contract for 19 low-rate, initial-production KC-46 tankers. The others are:
-- $254 million for F-15 C/E fatigue test services
-- $68 million for long-lead parts and other efforts connected to the manufacturing of two P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the U.K.
-- $62 million for repair parts on the V-22 Osprey (this contract was for Bell-Boeing).
-- $13 million for repair of F/A-18 A-D flight control services. Nordam also received a $40 million contract for the same work.
WEAPONS TO AFGHANISTAN: The State Department yesterday announced the approval of a possible sale of $60 million in M-16s and crew-served weapons. The sale would involve 4,891 M-16A4s, 485 M240B machine guns and 800 .50-caliber machine guns. FN America is the principal contractor for the M240Bs. The contractors for the remaining weapons will be determined through competition.
SUPPORT FOR THE “IDEOLOGICAL TEST”: A new poll finds that six in 10 respondents who immigrated to the U.S. support Trump’s test for new entrants, Gabby Morrongiello reports. Sixty-one percent of respondents said immigrants and refugees should have their support for American values confirmed before they are given visas and authorized to enter the U.S., while 26 percent oppose the installment of such a test.
VETS GET FIRST CRACK AT TRUMP, CLINTON: The two candidates will take part in a televised forum for military and veteran issues on Sept. 7, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced yesterday. "On the cusp of the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, New York is a fitting stage to give voice to American veterans and service members that are all too often shut out of our political debate,” said Paul Reickhoff, founder and CEO of IAVA. The candidates will appear back-to-back and the event will be broadcast on NBC and MSNBC.
NO HARM, NO FOUL: In response to a request from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the DoD Inspector General looked into the question of whether political appointees were interfering with or delaying Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to the Pentagon. The finding: “Our evaluation did not disclose any instances of DoD noncareer officials unduly influencing the FOIA response process.” It did find some “outdated” policies, which the Pentagon’s FOIA office promised to correct.
CASEY’S SISTER DEATH: The sister of former Army Chief of Staff George Casey has died in what police believe was second-degree murder, after she allegedly argued with her son. The son, Denis Cullen, was arraigned on the charges yesterday in New York and pleaded not guilty. The AP reports he’s accused of drowning his mother, 63-year-old Elizabeth Cullen, in the family’s backyard pool after she argued with him because he wasn’t taking his medication. Casey was the Army’s top general from April 2007 through April 2011.
GEN. JOHN VESSEY, USA: Former Joint Chiefs chairman during the administration of Ronald Reagan, Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., died last night at his home in North Oaks, Minnesota. He was 94. According to his Defense Department bio, when Vessey retired in 1985, he had served longer than anyone then in the Army, and was the last four-star World War II combat veteran on active duty, with 46 years of service. He went on to serve presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, as a special emissary to Vietnam on the question of American service personnel missing from the Vietnam War.
Breaking Defense: Army Struggles To Open Up To Industry
Defense Daily: Air Force Looking To Accelerate UH-1N Replacement Program
USNI News: Navy, Industry Looking for Design ‘Sweet Spot’ for MQ-25A Stingray
Defense Daily: Navy Officer Wants Super Hornet Buy Beyond FY ’18
Defense News: Army Struts Newfound Try-Before-You-Buy Acquisition Plan
USA Today: Delta IV blasts off with military satellites
Defense News: Hypersonic Weapons Threat Looms Large at Missile Defense Symposium
Wall Street Journal: Russia Builds Up Army Near Ukraine Border
Associated Press: Image of Aleppo boy shocks world; Russia offers cease-fires
Daily Beast: What Happens If Donald Trump Leaks Classified Info? No One Knows
Defense One: Trump is Wrong About the Intelligence Community
Marine Corps Times: Marine-driven changes make 2 ships more lethal
Navy Times: Zumwalt's Iraq vet grandson tries for Congress
FRIDAY | AUGUST 19
10 a.m. 529 14th St. NW. Thomas Kemper, who survived the terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, will discuss his emotional recounting of the incident. press.org
THURSDAY | AUGUST 25
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, speaks at CSIS about the future of military innovation and joint capabilities. csis.org