Early Warning for 14 March 2018: Britain expels Russian diplomats

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 14 March 2018. (All times Eastern.)

BREAKING: This morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats due to inaction in addressing the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in Britain. [source] British officials are accusing Russia of carrying out another attack on a former Russian spy living in Britain. Last night, Russian officials threatened to expel British media from Russia if Britain moved to revoke the broadcasting license for Russia Today (RT), a Russian media outlet operating in the U.K. and the U.S. [source] Russian officials have widely dismissed accusations of their involvement in the nerve agent attack in question, however, unless Russia appropriately addresses the attack, further and undisclosed actions by the UK are likely.

The “Rest of the Story”: The media is describing yesterday’s PA-18 special election as a tide-turning, monumental shift for the GOP, after the Republican candidate will appear to lose to the Democrat. This morning, all we’ve heard is that this election marks the beginning of the “Big Blue Wave” of Democrat victories still to come heading into the mid-terms. But here’s the bottom line on former Marine and likely Democratic Senator-elect Connor Lamb: he ran on a (personally) pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-fracking, pro-coal platform in a district that went for Trump by 20 points in 2016. In effect, the Democrats ran a liberal Republican against a weak GOP candidate. Who knows if Lamb will change course post-election, but the only way the Democrats stayed competitive is by running a moderate, pro-gun Democrat. That marks a shift that we’ve also seen here in Texas, where the Democratic National Committee has favored moderate candidates over progressives. If that’s a trend that sticks, then the “Big Blue Wave” strategy might look towards moderating progressive candidates in red districts in order to pick up some extra seats in the House and Senate.


White House
In addition to receiving his daily intelligence briefing, the president is leaving California in route to St. Louis, Missouri to hold a round table discussion on tax reform at Boeing Company. The president will then hold a meeting about campaign fundraising before returning to the White House this evening.

President Trump’s 2020 campaign committee announced yesterday that they have rehired Katrina Pierson to serve as a senior advisor of grassroots outreach. In 2015, Pierson was Trump’s first formal spokesperson after he launched his campaign.


State Department
There is no schedule published for outgoing SECSTATE Rex Tillerson, who will continue to serve until 31 March. The Senate is set to begin the confirmation hearings for nominee Mike Pompeo in April.


Defense Department
SECDEF James Mattis is traveling today, and other prominent DOD officials have no public events scheduled.

Aircraft carrier Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is engaged in anti-submarine warfare exercises in the South China Sea this week, and the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is operating in the Persian Gulf. Conflict requiring a Carrier Strike Group does not appear imminent.


The House and Senate are in session today and we’ll be covering a number of hearings. (1) The House Armed Services Cmte hearing on Space Warfighting Readiness. (2) Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Cmte hearing on Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. (3) Senate Armed Services Cmte hearing on the Energy Department’s Atomic Energy Defense Activities. We’ll generate reporting for subscribers on these hearings, if necessary.


Federal Reserve/Economy
(1) The latest Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up an expected 1.8 percent, but over the past three months, the measurement of inflation is up by the most in a decade — 3.1 percent.

Due Out for Subscribers
— Report on SASC: U.S. Central Command and Africa Command (Strategic)
— Report on SASC: Cyber Posture of the Services (Strategic)
— Report on SFRC: State Fragility, Growth and Development (Strategic)
— Significant indicators of dim economic growth for the U.S. (National)


Yesterday’s Major Reporting
Hypersonic technology primary tech threat to U.S. superiority
Commerce Secretary Ross speaks on potential for trade war
Daily Observations for 13 March 2018


Notable Quotable
“I do think the agency will be sorry to see Director Pompeo go. But he’ll be just across the river so hopefully he’ll join up the agency and State to work hand in glove… I sincerely hope that Gina continues along that track and gets the agency more aggressive, less risk averse and working harder on true espionage and covert action particularly when it comes to the rising Russia and China and the continued morphing of the counterterrorism threat.” – Mary Beth Long, former CIA officer and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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