David Welna

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Critics in the Senate have posed a high-stakes question: Can anything keep President Trump from launching a nuclear attack on his own?

"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests," said Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy.

His Massachusetts colleague Ed Markey has offered legislation that would require congressional approval for any first use of nuclear weapons.

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The steel-plated, modified Boeing 747 that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis travels the world on had flown west from suburban Washington, D.C., for 19 hours when it touched down Monday on an airstrip the U.S. once owned and operated.

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Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET Thursday

There was some consternation Monday on Capitol Hill after President Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that "if [the U.S.] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea." Congress is, after all, the only branch of government constitutionally authorized to declare war. And that would seem to include nuclear war.

But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker says it's complicated.

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In a bucolic valley nestled in Romania's Carpathian mountains, herds of sheep graze the hillsides. Then, suddenly, all hell breaks loose.

Volleys of live artillery fire thunder across a wide hollow. Stryker fighting vehicles charge down a hillside as troops in camouflage brandish automatic rifles as they scramble through tall grasses.

Other than vodka, the Russian product most familiar to Americans is probably the anti-virus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Trash-tweeting the news media for the fifteenth time in a week, President Trump spent part of Sunday morning at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey maligning CNN.

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When U.S. intelligence agencies spy on Americans, they're supposed to get a warrant. But what happens when they're spying on a foreigner and an American calls up?

The way intelligence agencies handle what they call this "incidental" collection of information — and what political leaders eventually do with it — will be a big part of the next phase in Congress' investigations about the Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

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Former national security adviser Mike Flynn has said he'd testify to congressional committees investigating Russian election meddling in exchange for immunity from prosecution. President Trump encouraged him to try to make such a deal to protect himself from what Trump called a "witch hunt."

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President Trump's counterterrorism adviser is under fire from his peers — and Sebastian Gorka is hitting back.

Just ask Michael Smith. He's a counterterrorism expert in Charleston, S.C., who specializes in online recruiting efforts and who has advised members of Congress on terrorism-related issues.

Smith says that at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, he received a call on his smartphone from a private number in Falls Church, Va. It was Gorka — not calling from a government line at his office at the White House.

If President Trump wants to keep his promise to send new detainees to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, there's plenty of room.

"We haven't received any orders to take additional detainees in," says Navy Capt. John Filostrat. "But if given the order, we could go ahead and comply."

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Among the many things President Obama will be handing off to his successor this week: stubborn wars in three separate countries.

Obama came to office eight years ago vowing to end U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet President-elect Trump stands to inherit the nation's longest war ever in Afghanistan, as well as renewed fighting in Iraq that has spread to Syria.

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After nearly an hour's flight north from Baghdad, a cavernous C-130 military cargo plane touches down. Aboard are reporters, Pentagon officials and the man who has occasioned this trip, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The plane taxis along an airstrip that as recently as July was controlled — and then largely destroyed — by Islamic State fighters.

This is the Qayyarah Airfield West, just 30 miles south of Mosul.

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Congress had a full seven months to block a rule change for federal courts that lets judges authorize the hacking of digital devices well beyond their districts.

But after a September attempt in the Senate to vote on the measure failed, opponents on Capitol Hill waited until the day before the rule change was to take effect to introduce three motions aimed at shooting it down or at least delaying its implementation.

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Among the many unknowns hanging over this presidential transition: the fate of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama has sworn to close it; President-elect Trump wants to fill it up again.

Obama has been promising the closure will happen since his second day in office in 2009. In February, he repeated that pledge one more time, saying, "I'm absolutely committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo."

That same day, at a campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada, Donald Trump was promising the opposite.

The U.S. and Russia are the world's two mightiest nuclear powers, and yet over the years, they've made deals to reduce their respective arsenals.

Just like a marriage gone bad, though, things have soured between Washington and Moscow. Bickering over nuclear issues has increased markedly in recent months, with each side accusing the other of cheating.

And that war of words is being matched by actions:

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