Jan 17, 2019

Inside the room: Trump losing patience with Afghanistan war

Sen. Rand Paul and President Donald Trump. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said after leaving a White House meeting yesterday that not only is President Trump "following through with his Syria policy, I really think there will be changes in Afghanistan, as well."

Between the lines: Trump at times has vented frustration and regret that he allowed his national security team to talk him into a plan — which ran against his own instincts — to keep, and even boost, American forces in Afghanistan.

  • Paul, who wants America to withdraw quickly from foreign wars, told reporters on an evening call that he was "really proud of the president" for arguments he made in the meeting with a small group of senators.
  • Paul said Trump mentioned in the meeting how much money the U.S. had been wasting in these foreign wars, especially in Afghanistan.
  • He said Trump mentioned "luxury hotels" there — possibly a reference to plans for a swanky hotel reported by NPR in 2016.

A senior administration official told me that when bad news broke about Afghanistan in the wake of that decision, Trump would vent to his generals that it was "your" plan.

What's next? Paul said he didn't want to talk about timelines for withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan — he would leave that to the president.

  • But he conceded that it sounded like Trump "probably will still be there [Afghanistan] longer than I would like to."
  • Paul was encouraged that Trump seemed to be preparing "to acknowledge success and victory," and not stick to an open-ended commitment.
  • Paul said the deaths of service members affect Trump: "He's not willing to endlessly go on and on and on ... He wants a different future for our country."

According to a source familiar with the meeting, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) argued against Paul’s position and told Trump that "the U.S. made big progress, but pulling out too soon" from Syria "will undermine that progress."

  • Rubio has been making the argument that ISIS "is morphing because of U.S. action from a caliphate to an insurgency," the source added.
  • "Insurgencies are blending into populations. They are tough to beat, especially by air power alone."

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In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Venice Beach in Los Angeles on May 24. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks against the coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Driving the news: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, authorities on Florida's Gulf Coast closed parking lots because they were full and there were crowded scenes at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri, per AP, which reports a shooting injured several people at a packed Daytona Beach in Florida.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,405,029 — Total deaths: 344,997 — Total recoveries — 2,168,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,642,021 — Total deaths: 97,698 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans sue California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump accused Democrats of trying "Rig" November's general election as Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California Sunday in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.