national security

Updated at 10:45 p.m. ET

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a living Marine Corps legend who made history by securing special permission from Congress to lead the Pentagon, is stepping down after a slow freeze-out by President Trump.

Drift between the two men reached a point at which Mattis objected so strongly to the president's policy choices that he opted to resign rather than go along.

U.S. military operations in space are back under a single unified command after President Trump ordered the Defense Department on Tuesday to revive the once-retired U.S. Space Command. Vice President Pence outlined the plan during a visit to Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

"Today, there are more than 18,000 military and civilian personnel working in space operations for our national security all across the Department of Defense," Pence said.

A day after Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel faced public criticism from the office of the first lady, the White House on Wednesday announced that she will be leaving her post.

Ricardel "departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday. Sanders did not specify the aide's new role.

In a highly unusual move on Tuesday, Melania Trump's office called publicly for the ouster of a senior member of her husband's staff earlier this week.

The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is often a major event that ripples through American law for decades. But Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, which opens Tuesday, is especially historic because, if confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to solidify a hard-right majority on the nation's highest court, a majority the likes of which has not been seen since the early 1930s, and which is likely to dominate for a generation or more.

Reality Winner, the former NSA contractor accused of leaking classified documents to a news site last summer, has accepted a bargain with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in federal court.

Winner, 26, was charged with violating the Espionage Act. She was accused of leaking documents that described Russian efforts to penetrate American election systems.

Her plea bargain calls for her to serve 5 years and 3 months in prison, with 3 years' supervised release, Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler reports. The deal still needs to be approved by a judge.

If all goes as planned, a long-anticipated ceremony will be held in Fort Worth, Texas on the first official day of summer. It's to mark the nation of Turkey taking possession of its first F-35 jet fighter.

The F-35 is widely considered the world's most advanced and versatile warplane. Not only has Turkey ordered more than 100 of them - it's also part of a nine-nation consortium manufacturing the 300,000 parts that make up Lockheed Martin's 5th-generation stealth fighter.

The joint alert from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security last month warning that Russia was hacking into critical U.S. energy infrastructure may have shaken some Americans. But it came as no surprise to the country's largest grid operator, PJM Interconnection.

It was 8:07 a.m. when the alert hit phones across Hawaii.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII," it declared in no uncertain terms. "SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Just two minutes later Gov. David Ige learned the alert was a mistake.

Then, an additional 15 minutes passed.

Updated 9:45 p.m. ET

Hawaii residents and tourists alike were shaken shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday when a push notification alerted those in the state to a missile threat, causing an immediate panic until officials confirmed it was a false alarm.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," read the message, which also blared across Hawaiian televisions stations.

Flickr / Hugh Pickens

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s plan to spray chemicals and biological agents in simulated terrorist attacks at an abandoned school has alarmed residents and caused a stir on both sides of the Oklahoma-Kansas border.

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