Obama, Putin 'exchange views' on Ukraine in phone call
February 21st, 2014
06:52 PM ET

Obama, Putin 'exchange views' on Ukraine in phone call

By Adam Aigner-Treworgy

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin "exchanged views" on the need to quickly implement the political agreement reached on Friday in Ukraine and for all sides to "refrain from further violence."

A White House statement said the two leaders spoke by phone and also discussed Syria, including the "importance of efforts to advance a political solution" to the civil war.


Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony
January 31st, 2013
12:34 AM ET

Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony

By Jessica Yellin and Adam Aigner-Treworgy

When former Sen. Chuck Hagel appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, don’t expect him to dwell on controversial statements from his past. Instead, allies say, he’ll focus on the present.

He will testify that if confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense, he will be fully supportive of the president’s policies, including a preference for diplomacy but a willingness to use force, an Obama administration official working on the senator’s confirmation hearing told CNN.

Hagel has been slammed for his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, and critics have questioned his support for Israel. This official says Hagel will testify Thursday morning that he believes Iran is a state sponsor of terror; he supports the president’s sanctions strategy against Iran and believes all options should be on the table including the military option. He’ll also testify that it’s his view that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan
January 25th, 2013
05:00 PM ET

Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan

By Adam Aigner-Treworgy

Nearly three weeks after nominating chief White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Barack Obama on Friday announced a replacement.

Lisa Monaco will serve as the new assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security adviser - a long title for a job that up to this point has been filled by the president's closest adviser in the fight against foreign and domestic terrorism.

Monaco comes from the Justice Department, where she has served as assistant attorney general for national security since July 2011. Prior to that assignment, Monaco served as deputy attorney general, chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel at the FBI, and during an earlier stint at the Justice Department adviser to Attorney General Janet Reno on national security issues.

A graduate of Harvard University and University of Chicago Law School - where Obama was a professor before entering politics - Monaco spent many years as a prosecutor. FULL POST

Did Panetta commit Obama to no further defense cuts?
October 14th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Did Panetta commit Obama to no further defense cuts?

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s claim Thursday that President Obama objects to further defense cuts has Republicans demanding to know if the president is really taking the Pentagon’s budget “off the table” when it comes to negotiating further cuts in federal spending.

If so, it could put the president at odds with members of his own party that believe further cuts in the Pentagon budget are warranted.

After promising to increase budgetary transparency at the Pentagon, Panetta fielded a question from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, on whether he favored additional cuts to defense spending beyond the $450-billion in cuts that are already in the works.

“You've seemed quite clear that you believe that we should make no further cuts in the defense budget beyond those which have already been enacted. Is that true?” Thornberry asked.

“Correct,” answered Panetta.

“Does the president share your view on that,” Thornberry asked.

“He does,” said Panetta.

The only problem is that if the president does share Panetta’s view on future cuts to defense spending, he has yet to come forward and publicly say so.