Politics

Trump orders ISIS plan, talks with Putin and gives Bannon national security role

By Philip Rucker, David Filipov

January 28, 2017 at 9:08 PM

President Trump, center, and staff, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, second from the right, attend a federal budget luncheon at the White House. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Trump holds a federal budget luncheon in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. To the presidents left is Mnuchin. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Trump talks with David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, third from left, and historian Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, right, while visiting the museum in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
President Trump poses in front of the Ben Carson exhibit with Carson, center, nominee for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and daughter Ivanka Trump, third from left, while visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool Photo via EPA)
Trump looks at exhibits while visiting the African American museum. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Trump hugs Alveda King, the niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser at Trumps Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. It is a move meant to help put the White House on firmer footing after missteps on multiple fronts. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Trump hugs a supporter he invited onstage to speak during a Make America Great Again rally in Melbourne, Fla. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Trump, left, waves as he is introduced to speak by Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg at Boeings facility in North Charleston, S.C. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Trump makes remarks at the unveiling of Boeings new 787-10 Dreamliner at their production facility in North Charleston. (Stephen B. Morton/EPA)
President Trump, center, tours the Boeing facility in North Charleston with CEO Dennis Muilenburg, left. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Trump walks with his grandchildren Joseph and Arabella Kushner to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Reporters and members of the media raise their hands to ask questions of the president during the news conference. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump walks off stage after the news conference in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
A coal miner identified as Kevin shakes hands with President Trump prior to the signing of H.J. Res. 38, known as the Stream Protection Rule, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Ron Sachs / Pool/EPA)
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump await the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at the White House. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kisses first lady Melania as President Trump and Sara Netanyahu watch. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in the Oval Office. (Pool photo by Andrew Harrer/via European Pressphoto Agency)
President Trump listens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump and Steve Mnuchin shake hands during a ceremonial swearing-in for the new treasury secretary in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump and Trudeau host a meeting with women business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump, center left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center right, play golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)
Abe delivers remarks on North Korea, accompanied by Trump, at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Abe, center left, and Trump, center right, along with their wives and two others, attend dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Trump greets Abe upon his arrival at the White House. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Trump, left, speaks with Abe by his side during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump, right, and first lady Melania Trump, left, walk in front of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, after arriving from Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Joe Skipper/European Pressphoto Agency)
President Trump, center left, puts his arm around Myron Gray, president of UPSs U.S. operations, during a meeting with airline executives in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump watches as Vice President Pence administers the oath of office to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by his wife, Mary, in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump watches as Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich holds a silicon wafer during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. Intel announced an investment of $7 billion to build a factory in Chandler, Ariz., to create advanced semiconductor chips. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Trump and Pence greet guests before a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump holds a figurine given to him by a group of county sheriffs in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump sits down for lunch with troops during a visit to the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend a Super Bowl party at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as it plays during his arrival at Trump International Golf Club. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive for the 60th annual Red Cross Gala at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Trump prepares to sign an executive order that will direct the treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Trump and senior adviser Jared Kushner talk with IBM chief executive Ginny Rometty before a meeting with business leaders at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump meets with Harley-Davidson executives and union representatives at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. He is joined by Pence, commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, second from right, and senior adviser Jared Kushner, right. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump bows his head in prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in D.C. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has addressed the annual event. Also pictured is Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump watches as Rex Tillerson, left, accompanied by his wife, Renda St. Clair, is sworn in as secretary of state by Vice President Pence in the Oval Office. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump and daughter Ivanka walk across the South Lawn of the White House to board Marine One for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to pay respects to Chief Special Warfare Operator William Ryan Owens, who was killed during a raid in Yemen. Owens is the first active military service member to die in combat during Trumps presidency. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on African American History Month in the Roosevelt Room of the White House as Ben Carson, right, Department of Housing and Urban Development nominee, looks on. (Michael Reynolds / Pool/European Pressphoto Agency)
President Trump speaks to a group of conservative leaders about his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump speaks as he welcomes Judge Neil Gorsuch and his wife, Louise. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Merck Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Frazier, left, talks with President Trump during a meeting of pharmaceutical industry leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump speaks during a breakfast and listening session with small business leaders at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
From left, Trump, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Pence, White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer and national security adviser Michael Flynn listen as Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Trump, right, is greeted by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump, left, attends a swearing-in ceremony for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, as Vice President Mike Pence administers the oath. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Trump smiles while speaking in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon. (Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg News)
Trump welcomes May to the White House. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Trump and May hold a joint press conference at the White House. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Trump is greeted by Vice President Pence, center, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) as he arrives to speak at a congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Trump gestures toward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) while speaking at the House and Senate GOP retreat. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Trump sits at his office on Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
President Trump leaves the White House. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Trump salutes a Marine guard as he boards Marine One. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
President Trump, center, flanked by Vice President Pence, left, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly takes the stage to deliver remarks at Homeland Security headquarters in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents stand and applaud as President Trump arrives to speak in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Trump, center, signs an executive order at the Department of Homeland Security. (Chip Somodevilla/Bloomberg News)
Trump, left, and Pence return to the White House after visiting the Department of Homeland Security. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Trump talks with reporters in the Oval Office before signing an executive order on the Dakota Access pipeline. (Evan Vucci/AP)
The president signs one of five executive orders related to the oil pipeline industry. (Shawn Thew/Bloomberg News)
Trump shakes hands with Mark Fields, president and chief executive of Ford Motor Co., center, as Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, right, looks on before a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Shawn Thew/Bloomberg News)
President Trump meets with business leaders at the White House. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Ivanka Trump sits with her son Joseph before the ceremony. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Trump speaks during the ceremony. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Trump shows a letter addressed to him from former president Barack Obama. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Members of the White House senior staff are sworn in. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Trump talks to advisers Stephen K. Bannon, right, and Jared Kushner, center. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Photo Gallery: See what President Trump has been doing since taking office

President Trump on Saturday ordered the Pentagon to devise a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and restructured the National Security Council to include his controversial top political adviser as he forged a partnership with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in their first official phone call.

Trump and Putin spoke for one hour and vowed to join forces to fight terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, according to the White House and the Kremlin, signaling a potential shift in U.S.-Russian relations that have been marked by high tension.

Meanwhile, Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Pentagon to submit a plan within 30 days to defeat the Islamic State, an effort to make good on his campaign promise to more aggressively confront Islamist terrorism than his predecessor did.

Even prior to the memo, military officials had been at work developing potential actions for Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis to consider. Those include potentially deploying additional advisers to Iraq and Syria, allowing U.S. military personnel to accompany local forces closer to the front lines, and delegating greater decision-making power to field commanders.

As he signed his directive at his desk in the Oval Office, Trump said, “I think it’s going to be very successful. That’s big stuff.”

Watch more!
President Trump signed three executive orders, Jan. 28, including one directing the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draft a plan to destroy the Islamic State and another formalizing new lobbying restrictions on administration officials (The Washington Post)

Counseling Trump in the effort will be Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist whose influence inside the administration is expanding far beyond politics. In a separate presidential memo, Trump reorganized the National Security Council to, along with other changes, give Bannon a regular seat on the principals committee — the meetings of the most senior national security officials, including the secretaries of defense and state.

That memo also states that the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will sit on the principals committee only when the issues to be discussed pertain to their “responsibilities and expertise.” In the previous two administrations, both were included as regular attendees.

The White House thinks the changes will make the NSC more adaptive to modern threats. Trump said the changes would bring “a lot of efficiency and, I think, a lot of additional safety.”

The changes affirm the ascent of Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart, a conservative website that is popular with white nationalists, who has emerged as Trump’s political consigliere and the keeper of the president’s populist flame.

Bannon has already been playing a major role in directing Trump’s foreign policy, administration officials say, and joined the president in the Oval Office on Saturday for his calls with Putin and several other world leaders.

In their call, Putin and Trump discussed Ukraine and Syria, and they agreed to build stronger economic ties between the United States and Russia, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin. They said they would arrange an in-person meeting, but Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency that the two presidents did not specifically talk about a lifting of the sanctions the Obama administration imposed against Russia over alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Eliminating the sanctions is a priority for Moscow, but Trump is under pressure in the United States to maintain them and said Friday that he thought it was premature to consider lifting them.

Watch more!
Speaking at his first news conference since winning the election, President-elect Donald Trump said he hopes to get along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said Putin’s support is "an asset." (The Washington Post)

The White House described the conversation as “a congratulatory call” initiated by Putin.

“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” read a statement from the White House. “Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.”

This was one of five conversations Trump had Saturday with world leaders. Seeking to cultivate a personal rapport, Trump spoke with the leaders of Australia, France, Germany and Japan, but his administration’s suspension of the acceptance of all refu­gees and a suspension of entry by citizens from seven ­majority-Muslim nations injected some diplomatic tension into the conversations.

In their call, French President François Hollande told Trump that he believes defending their democracies would be effective only if their governments adhere to “the principles on which they are founded, in particular the reception of refugees,” according to the Elysee Palace, the French president’s office.

Trump’s conversation with Putin was hotly anticipated, considering the warmth with which each man has spoken of the other.

Trump spoke with Putin from behind his desk in the Oval Office, which was stacked with papers and a glass of Diet Coke. The president was flanked by Vice President Pence, national security adviser Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, press secretary Sean Spicer and Bannon.

Trump began the day with a call to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss security and trade issues between the two countries and the mutual threat posed by North Korea, according to the White House.

Abe, who during Trump’s transition phase became the first foreign leader to talk face-to-face with the president-elect, agreed to meet Trump during a visit to Washington on Feb. 10, according to the White House.

Trump then spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he had blasted repeatedly on the campaign trail over the German policy of admitting large numbers of Syrian refugees. Trump and Merkel covered a range of issues, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to the White House.

After Trump’s criticism of NATO during his campaign, the president and Merkel agreed on the alliance’s “fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship and its role in ensuring the peace and stability of our North Atlantic community,” read a White House statement.

Trump accepted Merkel’s invitation to visit Hamburg, in July for the G-20 summit, and Trump invited the chancellor to visit Washington soon, the White House said.

Later Saturday, Trump talked with Hollande as well as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Hollande told Trump that it was important to maintain the Paris agreement on climate change, according to Hollande’s office. Trump has said he wants the United States to withdraw from the accord.

In Moscow, leaders had expressed cautious optimism that the new American leader could forge stronger ties than Obama did. From Moscow’s point of view, lifting the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for interference in the presidential election and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine would be a good start, as would a reduction of NATO’s military presence near Russia’s borders.

Trump has said he sees his posture toward Putin as in the geopolitical interests of the United States. He has consistently argued that Russia can be a strong ally, saying the two countries could cooperate on counterterrorism as well as countering nuclear proliferation.

U.S. lawmakers from both parties — as well as some of Trump’s Cabinet nominees — have raised alarms, or at least questioned, his approach.

Also on Saturday, Trump signed an executive order finalizing new lobbying rules that had been informally established during the transition period. It stipulates that administration officials cannot register as lobbyists for five years after leaving the government — and can never lobby on behalf of a foreign government.

“Most of the people standing behind me won’t be able to go to work or do anything adverse to our wonderful country,” Trump said, as the aides standing behind him in the Oval Office laughed.

Filipov reported from Moscow. James McAuley in Paris, Anthony Faiola in Berlin and Karen DeYoung, Jenna Johnson and Missy Ryan in Washington contributed to this report.


Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He joined The Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.

David Filipov is The Post’s bureau chief in Moscow, focusing on Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union. He previously reported for The Boston Globe from Boston, Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

YOU'VE READ YOUR MONTHLY LIMIT
OF FREE ARTICLES

Keep reading for
just 99¢

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted