Another key firing by President Donald Trump, a major announcement about troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and Iraq, and President-elect Joe Biden continuing to build his Cabinet are just a few things that Washington is buzzing about these days.
Trump Fires Key Department of Homeland Security Official: The president has been on quite the firing spree over the last week. On Tuesday, the ax went to Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Trump announced the firing on Twitter, pointing to Krebs’ “inaccurate” statement about the security of the election as the reason for his dismissal.Read More »
While Krebs had disputed Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud leading up to the election, it was not until after the results had come in that he vigorously defended the process. The dismissal was met by criticism of Trump within the party’s ranks, as some Republicans pushed back on the decision and defended Krebs by citing his professionalism and aptitude for the job.
But the damage was not done. Late Tuesday, CISA Deputy Director Matt Travis resigned from his position, citing the firing of his boss as the reason for him leaving.
Pentagon Announces Major Drawdown of Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq at Trump’s Direction: In an expected move, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that the US will withdraw thousands of troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq. The drawdown will be complete prior to January 15, 2021, just days before Biden takes office.
As a result of the withdrawal, there will only be about 2,500 troops in each of the two countries. Currently, there are approximately 3,000 troops stationed in Iraq with another 4,500 in Afghanistan. Miller said the president is hopeful that all of the troops will be home by May.
The news brought mixed reviews on Capitol Hill. A notable critic of the decision came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who referred to the decision as one that would hurt American allies.
The controversial decision comes amidst much unrest at the Pentagon. Trump raised eyebrows last week when he fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Harris Hits the Senate Floor: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was back on the Senate floor on Tuesday. While she will soon be leaving this position for her new role, Harris is still a current Senator and was able to visit her colleagues for the first time since the election. Even though many of her Republican colleagues in the Senate are siding with Trump in his bid to overturn the election results, many of them still congratulated Harris for her big win.
Sens. Tim Scott, Mike Rounds, Ben Sasse, and James Lankford all congratulated Harris as she walked out to the floor. Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham gave Harris a fist bump and a pat on the back as a greeting. This warm reception underscores the fact that although many of the senators publicly sided with Trump, they are accepting that Biden and Harris did indeed win.
Biden Attends National Security Briefing: The incoming 46th president is not letting a roadblock by Trump keep him from going about his business with the transition. Biden received a national security briefing in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday. Biden has not yet received classified intelligence briefings due to Trump’s refusal to concede and continue with the usual administrative steps needed to trigger this response. However, Biden’s team created a workaround to keep the president-elect informed.
During the meeting, Biden met with various diplomatic, intelligence, and national defense experts. While it was not an official meeting, Biden said he needed to be prepared to take office as informed as possible on national security matters. Because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is still current in her role on the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has access to these classified briefings.
Grassley Tests Positive for COVID-19: A senior GOP leader has tested positive for COVID-19. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley announced on Tuesday that he was COVID-19 positive. The senator from Iowa is 87 years old, raising worries that he might experience complications as a result of the virus.
As president pro tempore, Grassley is the third in line for the presidency and the most senior member of his party in the chamber. Grassley attended a Republican leadership meeting while he was presumably contagious but it has not been announced if any of these members will quarantine in light of the positive test.
In addition to Grassley, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter also announced that he was positive. The Democrat is just another in the growing list of members of Congress testing positive.
Biden Adds to Team: As he prepares to take the oath of office on January 20, Biden is building the team that he will take with him to the White House. Tuesday’s hires included Jen O’Malley Dillon for the position of deputy chief of staff. She had previously served as a campaign manager for Biden, turning his sputtering bid for president around during the primary season.
Also on deck is Mike Donilon, being tapped to serve as a senior adviser to the president. Donilon had served as the chief strategist for Biden’s campaign, helping him to write speeches and fine-tune his message. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond is leaving his position in the House of Representatives to become one of Biden’s senior advisers while also serving as the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. This position is a key bridge between the White House and Congress, making Richmond uniquely qualified for this role.
Other notable additions to the team include Julie Chavez Rodriguez as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dana Remus as counsel to the president, and Annie Tomasini as director of Oval Office Operations. In Dr. Jill Biden’s office, Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will serve as the first lady’s chief of staff while Anthony Bernal takes on the role of a senior adviser.
Explore Games and Apps