Dec 24, 2018 - Politics

Top general on details of Trump's withdrawal plans: "I have no idea"

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's sudden orders to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan — and Defense Secretary James Mattis' subsequent resignation — have left even the most high-ranking U.S. military officials questioning what they should be telling their troops on the ground, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“I don’t think anybody really knows exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve read the same stuff in the newspaper you did, I have a little more knowledge than that, but not a whole lot more.”
— Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps.

The big picture: Military commanders have reportedly received "no timelines, hard numbers or orders" from the Pentagon — “Nothing formal, just tweets,” said Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. One official told the Journal that the resignation of Mattis was "more devastating" than the withdrawal, while another said that the defense secretary's exit in late February would allow for "adequate continuity." This was, of course, before Trump revealed Sunday that Mattis would be forced out by Jan. 1.

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

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What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.