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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that President Trump "keeps getting policy that's not his policy" because he has surrounded himself with hawkish advisers who "disagree" with the president's instincts to withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East.

What he's saying:

"He keeps appointing people to represent him that think the Iraq War was just great. They love [former Vice President] Dick Cheney's position, and they still don't admit there was a mistake. So that's why he keeps getting policy that isn't his policy. But I do think his instincts are pure. He's been saying it ... for a long time that the wars have drained our treasury and that he's not in favor of these wars."
— Rand Paul

Why it matters: Trump ran in 2016 on ending "endless" wars in the Middle East, but his administration has deployed thousands of troops to the region in response to increased tensions with Iran. The president's order to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani makes it unlikely that the U.S. military will end its presence in the Middle East anytime soon.

The big picture: Despite claiming to be opposed to foreign intervention, Trump has appointed hawks like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to key positions. They have helped shape the "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran that has contributed to heightened tensions over the past year.

Yes, but: Trump is sometimes willing to break with his hawkish advisers, as seen by Bolton's chaotic departure from the White House in September. Bolton's opinions on North Korea and Syria angered Trump, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene reported at the time.

Worth noting: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both reported that Trump told associates he was under pressure to kill Soleimani from GOP hawks in the Senate whose support he will need in the upcoming impeachment trial. Axios has not independently confirmed this reporting.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

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