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August 21, 2017
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In a nationally televised address on Monday night, President Trump will lay out his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, and the strategy is expected to include sending "several thousand" more U.S. troops to aid in the 16-year war, The New York Times reports. Trump announced that he had completed his strategic review on Saturday morning, and on Sunday night, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that Trump has "made a decision," adding, "I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a preset position."

There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of the 13,000-strong NATO force that's training and advising the Afghan military, plus another 2,000 or so U.S. troops conducting counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State militants. Trump gave Mattis the authority in June to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan, but Mattis has declined to do so without a broader strategy in place.

The president has been working on his Afghanistan strategy for months, as former President Barack Obama did when he took office. Trump was inconsistent during the campaign on what he thought the U.S. should do about Afghanistan, and he has considered pulling out as president, because, as he noted in 2013, the war is very expensive.

But Trump has told advisers he's been shown maps of Afghanistan from 2014 and 2017, and the Taliban's presence in the country (indicated in red) had grown from a little bit to more than half the map today, reports Jonathan Swan at Axios, adding: "Trump has been reluctantly open to the generals' opinion and I'm told he doesn't want to be the president who loses the country to the terrorists." At the same time, GOP strategist Ron Bonjean tells The Washington Post, Trump's "address is designed to turn the page from the Charlottesville chaos and remind voters that Trump is commander in chief and has made an informed and responsible decision." The speech, from Fort Meyers in Virginia, will be at 9 p.m. EST, during a town hall House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be conducting through CNN. Peter Weber

10:37 a.m. ET
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The State Department said Friday it will demand the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) outpost in Washington unless the group agrees to peace talks with Israel. The agency said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas triggered a provision in U.S. law that allows the secretary of state to shut down the PLO office if Palestine acts against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Abbas called for an ICC investigation of Israeli settlements in a September speech at the United Nations.

The PLO said Saturday it would not be blackmailed and expressed surprise at the strong-arm tactic after amicable meetings between Abbas and President Trump. An Abbas representative, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the talks were "characterized by full understanding of the steps needed to create a climate for resumption of the peace process." Bonnie Kristian

10:28 a.m. ET
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With less than a month to go before the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Alabamians are split over how to respond to the sexual misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore (R).

Dozens of religious leaders gathered to register their dissent at a Baptist church in Birmingham Saturday, saying Moore is "infected with" a "false religious virus." In addition to addressing the accusations against Moore from a growing list of women, speakers at the gathering of pastors critiqued the candidate's apparent verbal swipe at the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Tuesday.

However, many prominent Alabama Republicans remain loyal partisans. "I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices," said Gov. Kay Ivey (R), conceding she finds the accusations troubling.

Read The Week's Paul Waldman on why Ivey and her fellow GOPers may be stuck with Moore whether they like it or not. Bonnie Kristian

10:14 a.m. ET
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled a fresh round of criticism at her erstwhile campaign rival, President Trump, in two sets of comments this weekend.

In an interview published Friday, Clinton said she stands by her past comment that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin's "puppet," calling the president "naive" for believing Putin's denials of election meddling. "I think that he hopes or expects the rest of us to be naive, or at least the people who support him to be naive," she continued, "but this is a serious cyberattack on America.”

Then, at an appearance in Arkansas on Saturday, Clinton said Trump is, like, totally obsessed with her. "Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out," she said. "Apparently there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?"

The tweet in question was a Saturday post in which Trump achieved a similar middle-school vibe by labeling Clinton "the worst (and biggest) loser of all time." Bonnie Kristian

8:09 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live censured SNL alum Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over a reporter's allegation that in 2006 he kissed her without her consent and took a picture groping her while she slept. "I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," said Colin Jost in a Weekend Update segment on the subject. "And, sure, this was taken before he ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on. He didn't know any better. He was only 55.'"

Michael Che chimed in to note President Trump's selective condemnation of Franken, a Democrat, while refraining from comparable comment about Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Watch the full clip below, and read The Week's Peter Weber on what would happen in a Senate ethics investigation of Franken's conduct, which the senator invited in his second apology statement. Bonnie Kristian

7:50 a.m. ET
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Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party prepared Sunday to remove President Robert Mugabe from office nearly four decades after he first took power in 1980. The decision comes after the Zimbabwean military put Mugabe, 93, and his wife Grace under house arrest earlier this week, prompting thousands of Zimbabweans to take to the streets over the weekend demanding an end to Mugabe's regime.

Zanu-PF has removed Mugabe as party leader and expelled Grace, a would-be successor, from the party as well. Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Zimbabwe's vice president until Mugabe fired him this month, was chosen as the new party head. "He has been expelled," one delegate told Reuters. "Mnangagwa is our new leader."

Mugabe has so far refused resignation deals offered by the military, announcing by proxy his willingness "to die" rather than leave office. Bonnie Kristian

7:32 a.m. ET

Air Force General John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), on Saturday at a national security conference in Canada said there are circumstances under which he would resist obeying a nuclear strike directive from President Trump.

"I provide advice to the president," Hyten replied to a question about a nuclear order scenario. "He'll tell me what to do, and if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? I'm gonna say, 'Mr. President, that's illegal.' Guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated."

Watch Hyten's comments below, and read about the recent Senate hearing on the president's nuclear strike authority here. Bonnie Kristian

November 18, 2017

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was caught on a hot mic Saturday commenting that the Republican Party is "toast" if it becomes the party of President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, both of whom are subject to multiple serious allegations of sexual misconduct.

Flake was speaking to an Arizona ally, Mesa Mayor John Giles, after a town hall meeting with constituents. "If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast," Flake can be heard saying.

"And I am not throwing smoke at you, but you're the guy that could, just for fun — think about how much fun it would be — just to be the foil, you know, and to point out what an idiot this guy is," Giles replied. The mayor appeared to be referring back to a town hall question he asked about Flake running for president in 2020, a reference which would make Trump, rather than Moore, the "idiot" in question. After Giles' comment, a third man made Flake aware his microphone was still on so he could turn it off.

The senator has not been shy about his opposition toward Trump. In October, he announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate in a dramatic speech condemning the president on the Senate floor. Watch Flake's hot mic moment below. Bonnie Kristian

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