Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: The White House is saying President Trump does not want to invoke the Insurrection Act to quell protests in U.S. cities after he again appeared to allude to the possibility.
“The president does not want to invoke the Insurrection Act, which has been used very sparingly. But what he does want is to help these cities where he can,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Monday.
The Trump administration would prefer “to work collaboratively with Democrat mayors and governors” in a supplemental role, she said.
Context: Trump first floated the possibility of invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act in June to enable him to send active-duty troops into cities to quell protests.
On Friday, as Trump blasted protesters in Washington, D.C., who gathered near the White House following his speech to conclude the virtual Republican convention, he suggested he was again considering using the Insurrection Act.
“We’re not supposed to be involved unless we’re invited in – by the people that run – these are all Democrat-run cities, including D.C.,” Trump said Friday. “We’re not supposed to go in unless you call it an insurrection.”
“We’re going to have to look at it,” he continued. “Because we’re not going to let that happen to people who go to the White House to celebrate our country.”
POLL: BIDEN HOLDS 6-POINT LEAD AMONG TROOPS: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by nearly 6 points among active-duty troops in a Military Times poll released Monday.
The poll, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University with participants chosen from Military Times subscribers, showed Biden garnering 43 percent support among active-duty service members to Trump’s 37 percent.
By comparison, a similar poll from October 2016 showed Trump leading then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by roughly 20 points among military voters.
Caveats: The poll was conducted from July 27-Aug. 10 and is based on online responses from 1,018 active-duty troops. The list of participants was culled from Military Times subscriber lists and databases. The poll has a margin of error of less than 2 percentage points.
Because the participants are taken from Military Times subscribers, the numbers could be more representative of older, career-minded service members, as opposed to junior enlistees, as the news outlet itself notes.
Why it matters: Still, the results are interesting because they could suggest the president’s support may be eroding among a group he sees as a part of his political base.
Trump and his allies have long boasted of the president’s strong support among military voters given defense budget increases during his tenure in the White House.
But Trump’s favorability among active-duty troops in the poll is underwater, with roughly 47 percent reporting an unfavorable view of the president and about 38 percent reporting a favorable view.
That’s down from the outlet’s last poll in December, when Trump had a 42 favorability rating.
DEMS DEMAND AFGHANISTAN TESTIMONY: Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are threatening to issue subpoenas if officials from the Pentagon and State Department do not testify at a hearing next month on the administration’s Afghanistan strategy.
In a Monday letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the lawmakers said they were requesting for the “final time” that witnesses from both departments testify at a Sept. 9 hearing before the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security.
“Should your departments refuse to appear voluntarily, the subcommittee will have no other choice but to receive testimony through compulsory process,” they wrote.
The letter was signed by committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and 13 other Democrats on the committee.
The State and Defense departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.
Background: The panel has been seeking testimony from Pentagon and State Department officials on the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan since August 2019 to no avail, according to Monday’s letter.
The committee received no response from the administration to its August 2019 request for a briefing, the letter said.
The committee then requested officials testify at hearings in January and March, according to the letter. In January, the committee was told three days beforehand no officials would appear despite the panel having rescheduled to accommodate the Pentagon, the lawmakers said. In March, the committee was told officials were cutting back their appearances on Capitol Hill because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the committee invited David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, and Zalmay Khalilzad, special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, to appear at the Sept. 9 hearing, the lawmakers wrote. But the letter said the Pentagon “refused to attend,” and Khalilzad “could not participate ‘due to travel.'”
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for China, will speak about the Pentagon’s annual China military power report at 1 p.m. at a webinar hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. https://bit.ly/2YNEjbx
Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, and AFWERX Director Col. Nate Diller will participate in an “Ask Me Anything” on AFVentures, the commercial investment arm of the Air Force, at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/2QGJLZw
— The Hill: Russian aircraft cross within 100 feet of B-52 in international waters
— The Hill: 2 US soldiers killed, 3 hurt in training crash
— The Hill: Ukraine language in GOP platform underscores Trump tensions
— New York Times: The few, the proud, the white: the Marine Corps balks at promoting generals of color
— Washington Post: The targeted killings that have shaken Afghanistan
— Military.com: Fort Bragg investigating Army officer for crass Holocaust joke on TikTok
Video: Lawmakers react to election security briefing cuts (The Washington Post)