Img 6930

Vera Maria Bergengruen

National Security Correspondent

Location icon United States

National security reporter, formerly at BuzzFeed News, McClatchy and The Miami Herald. Past lives covering the Pentagon, the Trump-Russia investigation, immigrants in the military, the White House and the 2016 election.

Portfolio

Highlights

McClatchy DC
Most top Pentagon jobs are still empty, as Trump insists on loyalty

Four months into his presidency, Donald Trump has filled only five of the 53 top jobs at the Pentagon - the slowest pace for nominations and confirmations in over half a century. Several of his high-profile picks, including Navy and Army secretary nominees, have had to withdraw because of their business entanglements.

Trump-Russia Investigation

Immigrants And The US Military

The Pentagon

BuzzFeed News
10/13/2017
Trump's Travel Ban's First Casualty May Be The Terror Fight In Africa

The deadly ambush that killed four US soldiers in Niger, and Chad's decision to withdraw its troops from the country after the Trump administration included it in the travel ban, has been a "one-two punch" to US counterterrorism efforts in the region.

McClatchy Washington Bureau
06/01/2017
Trump may doubt climate change, but Pentagon sees it as a 'threat multiplier'

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement puts him at odds with the Pentagon, which has been warning for years that climate change poses a critical national security threat. At his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called climate change a "driver of instability" that "requires a broader, whole-of-government response."

mcclatchydc
3 probes of Yemen raid underway but not the one Navy SEAL's father wants

The Jan. 29 raid that killed the Navy SEAL son of a former South Florida police officer is the subject of three Pentagon investigations. But it remains to be seen whether any of those probes will satisfy Bill Owens' demand to know why the raid took place just nine days into the Trump administration.

McClatchy DC
Elite troops are being worked too hard and spread too thin

The breakneck pace at which the United States deploys its special operations forces to conflict zones is taking a toll, their top commander told Congress on Thursday. Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called the rate at which special operations forces are being deployed "unsustainable" and said the growing reliance of the U.S.

mcclatchydc
Why military leaders say Trump's planned budget cuts are a national security risk

President Donald Trump's plan to cut foreign aid as part of a proposal to boost defense spending by $54 billion is receiving serious blowback from a somewhat surprising group: former military leaders, who say major cuts to the State Department, especially development aid, would pose a serious risk to national security.

mcclatchydc
Suspected chemical attack puts Trump's Syria policy at center stage

President Donald Trump blames a suspected chemical attack in Syria on the "weakness and irresolution" of President Barack Obama's administration. But others cite recent statements by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has having provided a green light to Syria and Russia for the attack.

McClatchy DC
Are Americans safer than they were 100 days ago?

Donald Trump's signature campaign promise was simple: Make America safe again. From day one he would rebuild a depleted U.S. military while taking measures to protect Americans from immigrant criminals in the U.S. illegally roaming the streets, from terrorist plots and from drugs pouring over the border.

Election 2016 and White House

mcclatchydc
The Internet has a new hobby: trolling campaign websites

This week, a delighted Internet audience discovered that JebBush.com redirects visitors to front-runner Donald Trump's campaign website. It's an easy joke. Noticing that the Bush campaign, which uses jeb2016.com, had failed to register the other domain as a precaution, someone else decided to have some fun.

mcclatchydc
SC Hispanics fear Trump has put a bull's-eye on their backs

In interviews this past week with 25 Hispanics in South Carolina, some of them registered voters and some of them in the country illegally, they expressed fear that the immigration rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has increased racial tension, drawn suspicion to them and imperiled their futures.

mcclatchydc
On calls with foreign leaders, Trump is still Trump

If you heard Donald Trump's hyperbole-laced speeches on the stump, then you may have a good idea of what many foreign leaders could be hearing from the president-elect. "You have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy...Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people," Trump told Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, according to a Pakistan report.

mcclatchydc
The U.S. has not elected a bilingual president in 84 years

The United States has not elected a president fluent in a language other than English in 84 years. And in a field of 11 remaining presidential candidates, only two are likely to change that: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. The last commander in chief who spoke a foreign language fluently was Franklin D.

mcclatchydc
After they marched, 500 women learned how to run - for office

The day after the Women's March brought half a million people to Washington, 500 women from across the country spent Sunday learning how to run for office. The candidate training held by EMILY's List, the largest Democratic women's group in the country, focused on overcoming the "intimidation factor" when navigating political campaigning, especially for women of color.

The Miami Herald
For Miami Cubans, Castro's death brings day of hope and healing

Decades of anger and hope ingrained into generations of Miami's Cuban exile community burst forth like champagne from the bottle after midnight Friday and continued throughout Saturday in a jubilant street party that was part wake, part independence day. After so many false alarms, it had actually happened: Fidel Castro was dead.

mcclatchydc
Trump says he 'can't' release his tax returns. The IRS doesn't see why not.

Donald Trump says he would like to release his tax returns to the public, but just can't. "I'm being audited now for two or three years, so I can't do it until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that," the Republican front-runner said at Thursday night's Republican debate in Houston.

mcclatchydc
Why families of 9/11 victims feel betrayed by Obama

Families of 9/11 victims say they feel angry and betrayed by President Barack Obama for saying he will veto a bill allowing them to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the terrorist attacks. And they say Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is a big part of the problem.

Regional Correspondent / Congress

mcclatchydc
The Benghazi Committee is done, but Trey Gowdy isn't finished with Hillary Clinton

The Benghazi Committee released its final report in June, but Rep. Trey Gowdy is far from done with Hillary Clinton. Through committee hearings, and regular television appearances to discuss them, the South Carolina Republican has remained the Democratic nominee's chief antagonist in Congress in the months leading up to the election.

mcclatchydc
Remembering Charleston: 'I asked him if he was OK. He never responded.'

Sen. Tim Scott got the first call around 9 o'clock on a Wednesday night a year ago. A deputy sheriff told him there were reports of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. His first thought was to check in with his friend the Rev.

mcclatchydc
Sen. Scott gets personal about 'humiliation' of being targeted by police

In an unusually personal speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Tim Scott speaks about his experience with law enforcement as a black man. It's the second of three planned speeches following last week's shootings of two black men by police, and the retaliatory shooting of five Dallas officers.

mcclatchydc
Jim Clyburn had to give his grandson this chilling advice about police

The Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday demanded to meet with top federal law enforcement officials after two black men were fatally shot by police within days of each other and the videos of their deaths sparked national outrage. At a news conference on Thursday, Rep.

mcclatchydc
Congress now has a bitcoin caucus

Congress now has a caucus dedicated to shaping policies on cryptocurrency - and educating lawmakers about what it is. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., launched the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus on Monday to help their colleagues stay up to speed on rapidly evolving digital currency and blockchain technologies and develop policies that advance them.

mcclatchydc
Women have come a long way, baby, but not in SC legislature

Young girls who watched Hillary Clinton's historic nomination in Philadelphia last week are growing up in a very different South Carolina than their mothers and grandmothers did. But what if they wanted to run for office themselves?

mcclatchydc
Nikki Haley says she'll help Obama find the money to keep Guantanamo open

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told Congress her state wants no part of President Barack Obama's plan to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, possibly to a facility near Charleston. "You could pay the state of South Carolina to host these terrorists, and we wouldn't take them.

McClatchy DC
Without government aid, 2016 could be even worse for S.C. farmers

2015 was a terrible year for South Carolina farmers. First came an unusually late March freeze. Then there was a scorching summer drought that withered crops of corn, soybeans and peanuts across wide swaths of the state. It was the worst harvest in decades as 35 counties were declared primary disaster areas.

mcclatchydc
Man who interrogates Clinton on Benghazi is veteran prosecutor

The South Carolina prosecutor looked straight at the camera, relishing his role on an episode of the show "Forensic Files" as he discussed fingerprints, DNA testing and other evidence pointing to a murder suspect. "You just don't burn cars because they won't start," he said. "Unless you have something you want to hide."

mcclatchydc
SC delegation, Putin agree: Obama's MOX shutdown would breach treaty

The Obama administration's plan to pull the plug on an unfinished $5 billion nuclear plant has brought together some unlikely allies - the South Carolina congressional delegation and Russian president Vladimir Putin. The mixed oxide (MOX) facility in Aiken, S.C., is part of a 2000 nonproliferation agreement with Russia.

mcclatchydc
Why does South Carolina remain one of 4 states without equal-pay laws?

Seven years after President Barack Obama signed legislation that makes it easier for women to challenge discriminatory pay in court, South Carolina remains one of only four states in the country without equal pay protections. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first law Obama signed after taking office.

mcclatchydc
Think Gowdy had a bad day questioning Clinton? Think again

When Rep. Trey Gowdy visibly struggled to answer whether any new information had been uncovered by his Benghazi committee's 11-hour grilling of Hillary Clinton last week, things looked bad. Visibly tired, he seemed to draw a blank and shrugged. "I don't know that she testified that much differently today than she has the previous times she testified," he said.

mcclatchydc
Remembering Charleston: 'I asked him if he was OK. He never responded.'

Sen. Tim Scott got the first call around 9 o'clock on a Wednesday night a year ago. A deputy sheriff told him there were reports of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. His first thought was to check in with his friend the Rev.

mcclatchydc
Here's the SC story behind Clinton's anti-poverty plan

When she speaks about poverty and inequality on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton often mentions one plan that stands out in its simplicity: Rep. Jim Clyburn's "10-20-30" formula. The concept championed by the South Carolina Democrat is simple: steering 10 percent of federal investments to neighborhoods where 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years.

Video

mcclatchydc
What Trump's election means for net neutrality - and your Netflix

Net neutrality, President Barack Obama's signature policy on technology, is another part of his legacy likely to go on the chopping block under Donald Trump's administration, a possibility that cheers telecom companies and alarms consumer advocates. Net neutrality, or Open Internet, is the principle that all web traffic should be treated equally and your internet company can't interfere with your traffic.

Tech Policy Coverage

McClatchy DC
In party-line vote, FCC decides to regulate Internet to keep it free, open

In a victory for online companies and tech activists, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to approve net neutrality rules that allow for the federal regulation of broadband Internet providers. Chairman Tom Wheeler called the vote the "irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one - whether government or corporate - should control free, open access to the Internet."

McClatchy DC
07/29/2014
FCC's dull plans for Internet get viral, angry response

This summer the dull-sounding technology term "network neutrality" prompted street protests and viral web campaigns, crashing the Federal Communications Commission's website with a record-breaking flood of over a million comments from the public. Growing alarm about big companies controlling online content has led to an unprecedented amount of public participation in a phase of the FCC's regulatory process usually reserved for lawyers and policy wonks.

McClatchy DC
04/21/2014
Supreme Court to take on Web’s ability to cut cable TV cord

Tuesday's Supreme Court showdown pitting start-up video service Aereo against U.S. broadcasters has everyone from the White House to cloud computing advocates filing briefs and taking sides. All parties agree on one thing: No matter what the court decides, it's likely to be a landmark copyright case with implications far beyond the company's future _ from the way you pay for television to whether your use of Google Drive will be affected.

McClatchy DC
09/10/2014
Websites ‘slow down’ to protest FCC net neutrality plan

What do Netflix, arts and crafts site Etsy, inspirational news site Upworthy and adult content hubs all have in common? Today, they're uniting against "Team Cable." Calling themselves "Team Internet," activist groups and popular websites including Netflix, Mozilla, reddit and KickStarter launched an action they're calling Internet Slowdown Day on Wednesday to protest the controversial proposed changes to net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Linkedin icon Email icon