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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "United States International Relations"

Under O’Brien, N.S.C. Carries Out Trump’s Policy, but Doesn’t Develop It

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-nsc1-facebookJumbo Under O’Brien, N.S.C. Carries Out Trump’s Policy, but Doesn’t Develop It United States International Relations Syria O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) National Security Council McMaster, H R China Bolton, John R Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — When President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, convenes meetings with top National Security Council officials at the White House, he sometimes opens by distributing printouts of Mr. Trump’s latest tweets on the subject at hand.

The gesture amounts to an implicit challenge for those present. Their job is to find ways of justifying, enacting or explaining Mr. Trump’s policy, not to advise the president on what it should be.

That is the reverse of what the National Security Council was created to do at the Cold War’s dawn — to inform and advise the president on national security decisions. But under Mr. O’Brien, the White House’s hostage negotiator when Mr. Trump chose him to succeed John R. Bolton in September, that dynamic has often been turned on its head.

Mr. O’Brien, a dapper Los Angeles lawyer, convenes more regular and inclusive council meetings than Mr. Bolton. But developing policy is not really Mr. O’Brien’s mission. In the fourth year of his presidency and in his fourth national security adviser, Mr. Trump has finally gotten what he wants — a loyalist who enables his ideas instead of challenging them.

Two of Mr. O’Brien’s predecessors, Mr. Bolton and the retired Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, had strong policy views informed by deep military or diplomatic experience that differed from Mr. Trump’s in basic ways, and each sought to steer his policies. Mr. O’Brien does not, and the limited role he plays reflects a broader change in the president’s national security team.

Mr. Trump’s original team included independent figures like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who were considered “the adults” who could counter the president’s impulsive tendencies. They have been replaced by relatively little known loyalists anxious to carry out Mr. Trump’s will and eager to embrace his zeal in rooting out members of the so-called deep state involved in his impeachment or seen as dissidents.

In the president’s most recent personnel move, he replaced Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, with Richard Grenell, an outspoken Trump supporter serving as ambassador to Germany who has no background in intelligence.

At the National Security Council, a particular target was Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a Ukraine expert who provided crucial testimony to support the impeachment of Mr. Trump, and was fired along with his twin brother, also an Army officer. Asked about their dismissals during an appearance last week at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, the usually voluble Mr. O’Brien was curt.

“Their services were no longer needed,” he said. “We are not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States. We are not a banana republic.”

In the years the since the National Security Council was started by President Harry S. Truman in 1947, its influence has fluctuated, depending on the president, the national security adviser and the relative power of the cabinet members and agency chiefs the national security adviser must coordinate.

Mr. O’Brien has said he is rebuilding an apolitical National Security Council, following the model of Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush, who was famed for acting as a neutral arbiter between the competing views of the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence agencies and the Treasury.

But virtually every national security adviser says they emulate Mr. Scowcroft. In reality, they selectively choose the elements of his style they admire. And many national security veterans see in Mr. O’Brien’s approach an intentional weakening of the council.

By the end of this month, Mr. O’Brien will have completed what he calls a streamlining of the National Security Council, chopping the council’s staff from 174 policy positions in October to fewer than 115.

The reductions have focused on the dozens of career officials who are detailed to the council from other federal departments and agencies, including the C.I.A., the Pentagon and the State Department. Former officials say the practice of loaning personnel, typically for terms of about 12 to 18 months, has blossomed over the years in part because it allows the White House to employ people without tapping its own budget.

It also means the White House is populated by career officials whose policy views do not necessarily reflect those of the president but which they are expected to mirror. Current and former Trump administration officials blame the detailees for not only slow-walking the enactment of some of Mr. Trump’s decisions with which they disagree, but also for undermining him with leaks to the news media. Reflecting widespread complaints among Trump allies, the Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, whose program Mr. Trump regularly watches, singled out the National Security Council as a hotbed of dissent during an interview last week with Mr. O’Brien.

“Given what we’ve witnessed in the three years, a little over three years, of this administration, I couldn’t blame the president if he said, ‘Keep them 50 blocks away,’” Mr. Dobbs said. “The vast number of those leaks that have been so harmful to the president and to the administration have come from the National Security Council. Hopefully that’s all changed as a result of your good efforts.”

Mr. O’Brien smiled and nodded in response.

Mr. O’Brien often notes that both Democrats and Republicans have long said the council, whose staff peaked at 236 policy staff members during the Obama era, had grown unwieldy, prone to micromanagement and in need of culling.

“One thing a polarized Washington has been able to agree on is that the N.S.C. got too big,” said John Gans, who has worked at the Pentagon and is the author of a book on the National Security Council.

But shrinking the size of the National Security Council may actually hurt the president’s agenda since it holds departments and agencies accountable for carrying it out, according to Nadia Schadlow, who served as Mr. McMaster’s deputy and was the principal author of Mr. Trump’s national security strategy.

“I understand why this is happening,” Ms. Schadlow said. “But at some point, it could hurt the implementation of the president’s policies.”

As Mr. O’Brien has whittled down the council he manages, and declaring it was all about efficiency, the president has made little effort to disguise his appetite for purging his own government. “DRAIN THE SWAMP!” he tweeted last week, adding: “We want bad people out of our government.”

The same day, Mr. Trump said in a radio interview that he may drastically limit how many national security officials can listen in on his calls with foreign leaders, breaking from decades of White House procedure. “I may end the practice entirely,” he said.

Such commentary “creates the clear impression that this is about retribution, not reform,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

But Mr. Murphy questioned how much the National Security Council’s structure really matters under a president who often rejects professional advice in making impulsive policy decisions. “It’s not terribly clear what the N.S.C. has been doing for the last three years,” he said. “The N.S.C.’s function now seems to be war-gaming for potential presidential tweets instead of developing policy recommendations for presidential decision-making.”

Mr. Trump is unlikely to mind that. After more than three years in office, he feels more confident than ever in his management of national security, aides say, especially after some of his major decisions — including the killing of the Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani — failed to elicit the disastrous consequences many experts predicted.

Mr. O’Brien’s willingness to trim the National Security Council, Mr. Gans said, “says something about Trump’s Washington.”

“The national security adviser should have the strongest staff possible,” he continued. “But it seems like Robert O’Brien is focused more on that audience of one — and making sure that Donald Trump is happy.”

The case of China may be the most vivid example of the council’s diminishment. In past administrations, the national security adviser has been central to the complex balancing of security and economic issues the making of China policy requires.

But Mr. O’Brien has been a minor player in the administration’s open warfare on China policy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper have publicly called for a broad containment policy that would counter Beijing militarily and cripple key Chinese companies like Huawei, the telecommunications giant.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has taken the opposite view, working to mitigate the confrontation. And much of the White House policymaking has been overseen by Larry Kudlow, a key economic adviser loath to rattle markets.

Normally, the National Security Council would play a role in settling this kind of dispute. But when Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday against heavy restrictions on technology sales to China — days after Mr. Esper gave a fiery speech calling for just that — a White House meeting next week on the subject was abruptly postponed. Not only is the policy in some chaos, it is unclear who is supposed to resolve it.

Mr. Trump’s Syria policy is another case in point. When the president pledged in December 2018 to pull out of Syria, stunning top officials, Mr. Bolton worked to mitigate the decision, adding public conditions to the withdrawal that Mr. Trump had not mentioned.

But in October, when Mr. Trump abruptly pulled forces out of the way of a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, he did so with no National Security Council policy process — and no serious weighing of the costs to U.S. influence. Mr. O’Brien, still new to the job, offered no objections, officials say.

Mr. O’Brien held midlevel government posts, including a stint as a deputy to Mr. Bolton when he was ambassador to the United Nations before serving as Mr. Trump’s chief hostage negotiator.

He impressed the president in that job by securing the release of several Americans imprisoned by foreign governments and armed groups. Mr. Trump views the release of detained Americans as tactical “wins” that even his critics are reluctant to question, and Mr. O’Brien continues to pursue those cases in his new job.

Some White House aides joke that his experience navigating fraught situations is ideal preparation for serving Mr. Trump. The president, for his part, appreciates Mr. O’Brien’s quiet manner and tailored suits after his complaints about the gruff personalities and unstylish appearances of Mr. McMaster and Mr. Bolton, whose bushy mustache he often privately mocked.

Mr. O’Brien also gets along better than his predecessors did with Mr. Pompeo, who feuded with Mr. Bolton, and with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who often gives foreign policy advice. And he has been friends with Mr. Grenell, the latest addition to the national security team, for over a decade.

He speaks with the president several times a day, often first thing in the morning and sometimes in the White House’s private residence before Mr. Trump descends to the Oval Office.

But he has no prior ties to Mr. Trump or previously known affinity for the president’s “America First” style of nationalism. A book of essays he published in 2016 channeled mainstream conservative views.

Some national security professionals who have worked with or advised Mr. O’Brien say that it is a mistake to underestimate him and that he has a deft managerial touch that reflects his tenure leading dozens of lawyers in the Los Angeles office of Arent Fox, the Washington law firm.

Others complain that he lacks fluency in policy details and delegates heavy lifting to his chief deputy, Matthew Pottinger, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Marine who is among a handful of White House aides to survive all three years of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

In a television interview in late December, Mr. O’Brien incorrectly referred to the North Korean ruler, Kim Jong-un, swapping the leader’s surname for his given one. It was, his critics said, not a mistake that a more experienced official would have made.

Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, Katie Rogers and Edward Wong contributed reporting.

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Uniting Trumpers, Never Trumpers and Democrats With a New Deputy at the State Dept.

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-biegun1-facebookJumbo Uniting Trumpers, Never Trumpers and Democrats With a New Deputy at the State Dept. United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty State Department Russia North Korea Embargoes and Sanctions Biegun, Stephen E Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — When Stephen E. Biegun was sworn in as deputy secretary of state, it was in front of an unusual crowd at the State Department — one that included loyalists to President Trump, but also a mix of Never Trumpers and Democrats.

Denis R. McDonough, President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff and deputy national security adviser, was there that day in December. So was John D. Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush who in 2016 refused to vote for Mr. Trump. There were career diplomats, congressional officials and national security experts from both parties who had worked with Mr. Biegun in his various roles in the Senate, the National Security Council and Ford Motor.

Which gave rise to some crucial questions: How had Mr. Biegun navigated Trump world to land such a senior position, No. 2 at the State Department? Could he calm a simmering revolt among career State Department employees who have accused Mr. Biegun’s immediate boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of abandoning veteran diplomats and letting the president’s personal political agenda infect foreign policy?

More to the point, would he even survive?

The job is a risk — Washington is full of people who have catapulted from the Trump administration with reputations diminished — but friends say they are betting on Mr. Biegun.

“If anyone can figure out how to navigate it, I think it can be Steve,” said Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush’s second national security adviser.

It helps, friends say, that Mr. Biegun has the even temperament of a man who thrives in the background. Never one to upstage the boss, be it the president or secretary of state, Mr. Biegun is mild-mannered and deferential, the anti-Pompeo.

While Mr. Pompeo is prone to profanity-laced rants, Mr. Biegun is a Republican of another era who projects calm. “He listens,” said Mr. McDonough, who was Mr. Biegun’s Democratic counterpart when the two men served as the chief foreign policy advisers to their parties’ Senate leaders in the mid-2000s.

While Mr. Pompeo has sought to bring back “swagger” to diplomacy, Mr. Biegun is described as a careful negotiator. And while Mr. Pompeo allowed a shadow foreign policy campaign to undermine the United States Embassy in Ukraine, Mr. Biegun has insisted that, in diplomacy, “politics best stop at the water’s edge.”

John R. Beyrle, who was one of Mr. Obama’s ambassadors to Moscow, said that Mr. Pompeo most likely viewed Mr. Biegun as “somebody who could help ameliorate that almost toxic situation” at the State Department.

“So if there is that vacuum or deficit of trust, which I think there is, Steve is well placed to fill it,” said Mr. Beyrle, who worked with Mr. Biegun on the board of the U.S.-Russia Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship and education with Moscow.

Notably, Mr. Biegun has described Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador in Kyiv who was ordered back to Washington and accused of being disloyal to Mr. Trump, as “a very capable foreign service officer.”

Since first meeting Ms. Yovanovitch years ago, when they were both working on Russia policy, “my esteem has done nothing but grown for her,” Mr. Biegun told senators at his confirmation hearing in November.

Colleagues say the secret to Mr. Biegun’s success, so far, is that he gained the trust of Mr. Trump by enabling the president’s bromance with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. Officials said the president twice considered appointing Mr. Biegun as national security adviser, but made him the chief envoy to North Korea instead. In that job Mr. Biegun has tried to move talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim forward when other administration officials wanted to shut them down.

Mr. Biegun also declined to join the so-called Never Trumper movement in 2016, putting him among a relatively small number of Republicans with high-level foreign policy experience who were not blacklisted by the White House after Mr. Trump won the presidential election.

“He’s friends with Republicans and Democrats, he treats people well, he knows how to operate in Washington, he knows the think tanks, he knows the press, he knows the diplomatic community,” said John B. Bellinger III, the State Department’s former top lawyer who worked with Mr. Biegun on Mr. Bush’s National Security Council.

Born in Detroit to a large family — more than 30 relatives attended his December swearing-in ceremony — Mr. Biegun was in high school in Pontiac, Mich., when a history teacher wrote the word “czar” on the chalkboard in the Cyrillic alphabet. He was immediately fascinated and went on to study Russian at the University of Michigan.

Mr. Biegun lived in Moscow in the early 1990s, when he worked for the International Republican Institute, which promotes democracy with some funding from the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. But he mostly developed his national security credentials on Capitol Hill — first as a top Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, then the majority leader — and at the White House as a top aide to Condoleezza Rice, who was the first national security adviser in the Bush administration.

He traveled to Russia as a vice president at Ford, negotiating new business ventures, but also took time off to briefly advise Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008. That position, according to colleagues, revealed his ability to maintain patience under pressure and to avoid a condescending tone — even when having to explain the most basic foreign policy axioms to his boss.

In his new job, Mr. Biegun will also remain the lead negotiator with North Korea — a dual role, he has said, that elevates “the priority on North Korea to the deputy secretary position, and I think that’s very important.”

But the diplomacy has fizzled since Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim abruptly left a summit meeting in Vietnam a year ago, unable to agree on a path for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Critics say the Trump administration was too willing to keep the talks going — and the president too eager to meet with Mr. Kim — even as North Korea was busily building up its arsenal.

Mr. Biegun was not only trying to negotiate with the North Koreans, but he was also engaged in a behind-the-scenes fight with Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton, who believed Mr. Biegun was pursuing a useless mission.

“This idea that they can be coaxed into giving up” their nuclear program “was flawed from the start,” Mr. Bolton said on Monday in remarks at Duke University.

Still, Joseph Y. Yun, a career diplomat who negotiated with North Korean officials until he retired in March 2018, said Mr. Biegun’s new status could convince Pyongyang that the United States was serious enough about restarting the discussions that it had promoted one of its most senior officials to devote to the details.

“It’s a very good signal to North Korea,’’ said Mr. Yun, who retired in part out of frustration with the State Department’s diminished role in the talks. “This will elevate the negotiations.”

Mr. Biegun’s greatest challenge, however, is the diplomatic morass of Russia and Ukraine.

No one senior official has run the policy since Mr. Bolton left the White House as national security adviser in September, and few have been eager to embrace the portfolio.

But Mr. Biegun has told colleagues he is eager to try to resolve Russia’s undeclared war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The conflict has killed more than 13,000 Ukrainian troops and civilians and threatened Kyiv’s sovereignty since it began in 2014, the same year that Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Ukrainian officials have anxiously looked to Washington for more help as Kyiv broadens talks with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to ratchet back tensions. Mr. Pompeo visited Kyiv last month to signal continued American commitment to Ukraine. But the country’s leaders have not yet been invited to meet with Mr. Trump at the White House, even though the president has been acquitted of impeachment charges that he demanded that Ukraine announce an investigation into his political rivals before releasing security aid for Donbas.

Eric Rubin, a former ambassador to Bulgaria who is now president of the union that represents career diplomats, noted that during his Senate confirmation hearing, Mr. Biegun committed to work “to bridge whatever divides may exist” at the State Department.

“This is not an easy time for our country or our profession,” Mr. Rubin said. “We wish him well.”

Mr. Biegun faces another source of tension with the 2011 New START arms control treaty with Russia, which drove American and Russian nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in nearly 60 years. The treaty is set to expire in February 2021, and people who have spoken to Mr. Biegun believe he wants to extend it. But Mr. Trump and his aides have signaled repeatedly that they intend to let the treaty expire unless it can be broadened to include other nations with strategic weapons, chiefly China — and the Chinese are not interested.

In his confirmation hearing, Mr. Biegun summed up his approach in a single line that somehow conveyed both optimism for diplomacy and cleareyed realism about the Trump administration’s view of the world, given its “Make America Great Again” mantra.

“I’ve long thought America was great,” Mr. Biegun said.

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Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-dni-facebookJumbo Trump Expected to Name Richard Grenell as Acting Head of Intelligence United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry State Department Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Grenell, Richard Espionage and Intelligence Services Coats, Dan Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — President Trump was expected to name Richard Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, to be the acting director of national intelligence, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Mr. Grenell, whose outspokenness throughout his career as a political operative and then as ambassador has prompted criticism, is a vocal Trump loyalist who will lead a group of national security agencies often viewed skeptically by the White House.

He would take over from Joseph Maguire, who has served as the acting director of national intelligence since the resignation last summer of Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Mr. Grenell, who has pushed to advance gay rights in his current post, would apparently also be the first openly gay cabinet member.

Mr. Grenell did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a White House spokesman. The people familiar with the move cautioned that the president had a history of changing his mind on personnel decisions after they were revealed in the news media.

Under American law, Mr. Maguire had to give up his temporary role before March 12. He could return to his old job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, but he might choose to step down from government.

Mr. Trump can choose any Senate-confirmed official to replace Mr. Maguire as the acting head of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Mr. Maguire, a retired admiral, became the acting director in August just as a whistle-blower inside the C.I.A. filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Since the acquittal of Mr. Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, the White House has been pushing to remove officials seen as disloyal or holding views contrary to the White House, looking for replacements who are more likely to follow the president’s wishes. While it has never been clear how Mr. Trump viewed Mr. Maguire, there is little doubt that the president would like a partisan fighter in the post before any public testimony before Congress.

Mr. Grenell has long been a strong voice on Twitter, posting about the dangers of Huawei, the Chinese company building next-generation telecommunications networks around the globe; the failure of European allies to spend enough on their military and other issues. He is one of the administration’s loudest critics of Huawei, pressuring Germany not to do business with the firm. Mr. Grenell has long been ambitious and has been anxious for a promotion from his diplomatic post. He was in contention to be national security adviser, a post that ultimately went to Robert C. O’Brien.

But Mr. Grenell is also a polarizing figure and his confirmation by the Senate is not assured, one reason the president intents to name him acting director, rather than formally nominating him for the job. A number of Republican senators have privately pushed the administration to nominate a national security professional or politician who is seen as a less divisive figure.

Since the beginning of his administration, Mr. Trump has viewed the intelligence agencies skeptically.

He has at times disparaged American intelligence agencies because he did not agree with their findings, such as the conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Mr. Trump win. He told his intelligence chiefs to “go back to school” after they offered assessments on Iran and North Korea at odds with his policy initiatives.

Anxious to avoid a repeat of that hearing, Mr. Maguire’s aides initially pushed for this year’s public hearing to be canceled, a request that lawmakers have rejected.

Tensions between the White House and intelligence agencies only grew during the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Maguire initially blocked the whistle-blower complaint from being forwarded to Congress, following the guidance of administration lawyers. But he eventually helped broker the agreement to provide the complaint to Congress’s intelligence committees, allowing the impeachment inquiry to gain steam.

Mr. Coats announced his resignation in July, effective Aug. 15. Including acting directors, nine people have served as head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence since the job was created in late 2004 to improve the nation’s ability to fight terrorism. That law made the director of national intelligence the top intelligence adviser to the president.

When Mr. Coats announced his resignation, Mr. Trump initially nominated one of his loyalists, Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, to be the next top intelligence chief, a job considered to be among the most nonpartisan in Washington. But Mr. Trump quickly dropped those plans after pushback from Democrats and some key Republicans who worried Mr. Ratcliffe’s loyalty to the president and lack of intelligence experience would make him nearly impossible to confirm. There were also concerns that Mr. Ratcliffe exaggerated some of what he included on his résumé.

During his tenure, Mr. Coats was unafraid to defend his employees and push back against some of the president’s claims that contradicted the intelligence agencies. He told intelligence officers in a speech that it was their duty to seek the truth about the world, “and when we find that truth, to speak the truth.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to oversee the government’s vast network of 17 spy agencies and to ensure critical national security information was being shared across the government.

At the beginning of the Trump administration, Mike Pompeo, then the C.I.A. director, was the most prominent voice on intelligence matters. When Mr. Pompeo moved to the State Department, his successor, Gina Haspel, took a much less prominent role.

Ms. Haspel’s reluctance to speak publicly thrust Mr. Coats into the public spotlight. His criticism of the Mr. Trump and warnings about Russian interference in the election, drew the ire of the White House.

After Mr. Ratcliffe was dropped from consideration, Mr. Trump promised to announce a new nominee soon. But the list of people with the requisite experience who have not been critical of the president is slim.

The administration considered, and discarded, a number of potential nominees including Pete Hoekstra, the American ambassador to the Netherlands and a former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Representative Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican on the committee.

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In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-warpowers-facebookJumbo In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution War Powers Act (1973) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Senate Republican Party Middle East Law and Legislation Kaine, Timothy M Iran Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Thursday to require President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran.

The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander.

But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of the two-thirds margin.

Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back Congress’s authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.

“We don’t send a message of weakness when we stand up for the rule of law in a world that hungers for more rule of law,” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and the lead sponsor of the measure, said.

“We need a Congress that will fully inhabit the Article I powers,” Mr. Kaine added, referring to the portion of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to declare war. “That’s what our troops and their families deserve.”

Mr. Kaine drafted the resolution in early January as tensions ratcheted up with Iran after the strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. In briefings with Mr. Trump’s national security team, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, already angry that the administration had not consulted with them before the operation, complained that top officials demeaned and dismissed them in briefings for questioning the president’s strategy.

Both Republicans and Democrats who sponsored the resolution insisted that the measure was not intended to tie Mr. Trump’s hands, but to reassert Congress’s constitutional prerogatives on matters of war. For decades, lawmakers in both parties have ceded those powers with little resistance, deferring to an increasingly assertive executive branch.

Still, Mr. Trump viewed the resolution as a personal affront, and on Wednesday urged Republicans to reject it, framing the measure as a dangerous show of timidity and an attempt by Democrats to “embarrass the Republican Party.”

“We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal.”

The legislation is sure to pass the Democratic-led House, but White House advisers warned in a formal statement of administration policy that Mr. Trump would veto it if it reached his desk. The statement described the measure as “grounded in a faulty premise” because the United States was not currently engaged in any use of force against Iran.

In the Senate, Republicans mirrored Mr. Trump’s language, arguing that the resolution would shackle the president at a potentially perilous time and be viewed by Tehran as a message of weakness.

“If this passes, the president will never abide by it — no president would,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said. “I want the Iranians to understand, when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table.”

But a small group of moderate and libertarian-minded Republicans who were rankled by the administration’s handling of the Suleimani strike supported the measure, insisting that it was both morally and constitutionally necessary.

Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have advocated disengaging U.S. troops from prolonged military conflicts abroad, were infuriated by a contentious congressional briefing delivered last month by Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers on the operation. They complained that administration officials had been unwilling to engage in a genuine discussion about a possible military escalation in the Middle East. Previously lukewarm on their support for Mr. Kaine’s resolution, both senators signed on after the briefing.

“They were in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and not debate this in public,” Mr. Lee said then, emerging red-faced from the briefing. “I find that absolutely insane. It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”

The vote was the latest in a series of bids by Congress over the past year to rein in Mr. Trump’s war powers. Last year, Congress cleared a bipartisan measure invoking the War Powers Act that would have cut off American military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, and a separate measure seeking to curtail the president’s war-making powers in Iran ping-ponged between the two chambers, passing the House but not the Senate.

Despite a recognition in both parties that much of the American public is weary of perpetual military conflict, the measures drew only modest support from Republicans, each time falling well short of the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override a veto.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that he had voted multiple times to send troops to war — first as a member of the House and then later in the Senate. He described them as “the toughest votes” he ever had to cast, “knowing that in the best of circumstances, that Americans will die.”

“Before you make that decision, you have to think long and hard, and many members of Congress would like to race away from that,” he said. He described the rationale adopted by many lawmakers as: “I’d just rather blame the president if it turns out bad.”

Supporters of the resolution approved Thursday saw a glimmer of hope in the final vote tally. In July, the Senate rejected a similar measure to curtail the president’s war powers related to Iran, with only four Republican senators defecting to support it. Twice as many supported the resolution on Thursday.

“We want to make sure that any military action that needs to be authorized is in fact authorized properly by Congress,” Mr. Lee said. “That doesn’t show weakness; that shows strength.”

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U.S. Faces Tough ‘Great Game’ Against China in Central Asia and Beyond

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KHIVA, Uzbekistan — Inside the ancient walls of the Silk Road oasis town of Khiva, China has put down a marker of its geopolitical ambitions. A sign promotes a Chinese aid project to renovate a once-crumbling mosque and a faded madrasa.

Outside the town’s northern gate, a billboard-size video screen shows clips of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan meeting with world leaders. President Xi Jinping of China features prominently, but there are no shots of President Trump.

That China is advertising its aid efforts so boldly in this remote outpost linking Asia and Europe — where camel caravans once arrived after crossing the Kyzylkum and Karakum Deserts — is the kind of action these days that sets off alarm bells among American officials. The Trump administration is trying with greater force to insert itself into the political and economic life of Central Asia to counter China’s presence. American officials see the countries in the heart of the continent’s vast, arid steppe as critical battlegrounds in the struggle with China over global influence.

“Whenever we speak to countries around the world, we want to make sure that we’re doing what the people of those countries want,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week at a news conference in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

The Uzbeks want a “good, balanced relationship,” he said.

“They have long borders,” he added. “They sit in a region where China and Russia are both present.”

Leaders of the five Central Asian nations that became independent republics after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — are used to walking a regional tightrope. The area was contested during the so-called Great Game of the 19th century, when the British and Russian empires competed to establish influence and control.

Now a new game is underway. And officials in Central Asia, like many of their counterparts around the world, are hedging their bets when it comes to aligning with Washington or Beijing.

“I’d like to once again note that we want to see Central Asia as a region of stable development, prosperity and cooperation,” said Abdulaziz Kamilov, the foreign minister of Uzbekistan. “And we would really not like to feel on ourselves unfavorable political consequences in relation to some competition in our region between large powers.”

The State Department released a Central Asia strategy document on Feb. 5 that said the top priority was to “support and strengthen the sovereignty and independence of the Central Asian states” — a reference to warding off the influence of China and Russia.

It is a tough mission for the United States. The nations are in China’s and Russia’s backyards, and there have been decades of close interactions among them. Mr. Xi has made multiple state visits to the countries since he took power in 2012, most recently last year.

The Trump administration has hit major setbacks in its attempts to build a global coalition against projects by the Chinese government and by Chinese companies. In fact, Britain said on Jan. 28 that it would not ban technology made by Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant, from its high-speed 5G wireless network, despite intense pressure from American officials.

Mr. Pompeo made London his first stop on a recent six-day trip to Europe and Central Asia, and he said there on Jan. 30 that the Chinese Communist Party was “the central threat of our times.” The next day, he spoke about China with leaders in Ukraine.

But words go only so far. The Americans fail to present an economical alternative to Huawei. And the Trump administration is discovering that its belligerent approach toward allies has a cost when it comes to China strategy. Withdrawing from the global Paris climate agreement and the landmark Iran nuclear deal, starting trade conflicts with friendly governments and berating members of NATO make those nations less likely to listen to Washington’s entreaties on China.

A recent policy report on China by the Center for a New American Security said “critical areas of U.S. policy remain inconsistent, uncoordinated, underresourced and — to be blunt — uncompetitive and counterproductive to advancing U.S. values and interests.”

Some analysts say the constant hawkish talk on China by Mr. Pompeo and other American officials paradoxically makes the United States look weak.

“And that last point is just the core of it for me. A central problem of US foreign policy today, not just in Central Asia, is that it feels increasingly reactive to me — back footed and on defense, not least in the face of Chinese initiatives,” Evan A. Feigenbaum, a deputy assistant secretary of state on Central Asia and South Asia in the George W. Bush administration who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote on Twitter.

“To wit, the secretary of state just made the first visit by America’s top diplomat to Central Asia in five years — five! — but spent a hefty chunk of it talking about China,” he wrote. “The challenge for the US is to get off its reactive back foot and be proactive and on offense.”

The United States did not pursue serious partnerships in Central Asia until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Pentagon needed regional bases for the war in Afghanistan.

China has taken a different approach. Beijing says it will help build up the region under what it calls the Silk Road Economic Belt, which is part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative, a blanket term for global infrastructure projects that, according to Beijing, amount to $1 trillion of investment. The Trump administration says the projects are potential debt traps, but many countries have embraced them.

The economic liberalization of Uzbekistan under Mr. Mirziyoyev, who took power in 2016 after the death of a longtime dictator, has resulted in greater trade with China.

China is Uzbekistan’s largest trading partner, and trade totaled almost $6.3 billion in 2018, a nearly 50 percent increase from 2017, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. Chinese goods, including Huawei devices, are everywhere in Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent and other Uzbek cities.

Uzbekistan is also committing to being part of rail and road networks that China is building across Central Asia.

Since 2001, China has worked with Central and South Asian nations as well as Russia in a multilateral group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to address security issues.

China’s People’s Liberation Army has gained a new foothold in the region, in the form of a base in Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains. For at least three years, Chinese troops have quietly kept watch from two dozen buildings and lookout towers near the Tajik-Chinese border and the remote Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. The Afghan corridor is a strategic strip of land whose borders were drawn by Britain and Russia during the original Great Game as a buffer zone.

The United States has hundreds of troops at an air base in Uzbekistan that it operates with the Uzbeks. But it wants to move the relationship well beyond the military.

“We want private investment, American private investment sector, to flow between our two nations,” Mr. Pompeo said.

He added that the United States had committed $100 million to programs in Uzbekistan last year, and that it would give $1 million to help develop financial markets and another $1 million to increase trade and “connectivity” between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

On his trip, Mr. Pompeo also made a demand regarding human rights in China as he met with officials in Tashkent and Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. He raised the issue of China’s internment camps that hold one million or more Muslims and urged the Central Asian nations, which are predominantly Muslim, to speak out against the camps. In Nur-Sultan, he met with Kazakhs who have had family members detained in the camps.

Yet, as in other predominantly Muslim nations, Central Asian leaders have remained silent on this. (Mr. Trump himself has said nothing, and Mr. Pompeo has been accused of hypocrisy by excluding Taiwan, the democratic island that China threatens, from a religious freedom alliance.)

In December, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, denounced Washington’s prodding of Central Asian nations on the Muslim issue: “If the United States once again tries to get up to its old tricks, it will certainly still be futile for them.”

Trump administration policies perceived as anti-Muslim undermine trust in Washington. On Jan. 31, Mr. Trump added Kyrgyzstan and five other nations, all with substantial Muslim populations, to a list of countries whose citizens are restricted in traveling to the United States. In an interview in Nur-Sultan, a Kazakh television journalist, Lyazzat Shatayeva, asked Mr. Pompeo, “What do you think that signals to the other countries and other governments in Central Asia on why it happened?”

Mr. Pompeo said Kyrgyzstan must “fix” certain things: “passport issues, visa issues, visa overstays.”

“When the country fixes those things,” he said, “we’ll get them right back in where they can come travel to America.”

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With Harsh Words, China’s Military Denies It Hacked Equifax

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SHANGHAI — China’s military on Thursday denied accusations that it hacked Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting companies in the United States.

In a harshly worded release, Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said that the American charges against four of its members were “without a basis in fact.”

“This behavior is completely hegemonic and amounts to legal bullying,” said Mr. Wu.

On Monday, American officials issued indictments that accused hackers in China’s military of stealing trade secrets and the personal data of about 145 million Americans in 2017 from Equifax. The Department of Justice suggested the data theft was part of an organized effort by China’s military and intelligence services to assemble caches of personal information on Americans to better target intelligence officers and other officials.

Hacking has re-emerged as a sore point between Washington and Beijing amid a broader worsening of relations. The two countries reached an interim pact in January that cooled but did not end their trade war. The United States has increasingly stopped Chinese investors from taking stakes in companies in sensitive industries, and it has warned American allies not to use equipment made by Huawei, the Chinese maker of telecommunications gear.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Chinese Communist Party “the central threat of our times.”

The indictments underscored the increasing irrelevance of a 2015 agreement between the two countries to refrain from hacking and cyberattacks targeting intellectual property for commercial gain. As both countries continue to squabble about attacks, both will also probably continue to carry them out, cybersecurity experts say.

In the statement, Mr. Wu mentioned revelations from WikiLeaks and the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that showed the United States had targeted China with cyberattacks.

“When it comes to online security, the United States has flagrant double standards,” said Mr. Wu, according to Chinese state media. “Its conduct and deeds are incredibly hypocritical.”

“We demand the United States immediately correct this mistake and repeal the charges in order to avoid another destructive step in the relationship between the two countries and militaries,” he said.

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Trump’s Budget Math Grapples With Economic Reality

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s budget proposals have been defined by a belief that the economy will grow significantly faster than most economists anticipate. The latest version, set for release on Monday, is a brief departure: It concedes, for the first time, that the administration’s past projections were too optimistic.

Then it goes right back to forecasting 3 percent growth, for the better part of a decade.

Mr. Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget proposal is slightly larger than last year’s $4.75 trillion request and calls for increased spending on the military, the border wall, infrastructure and other priorities, including extending the president’s 2017 tax cuts. It also includes trillions of dollars of cuts to safety-net programs like Medicaid and discretionary spending programs outside of the military, like education and the environment.

The White House makes the case that this is affordable and that the deficit will start to fall, dropping below $1 trillion in the 2021 fiscal year and that the budget will be balanced by 2035. That projection relies on rosy assumptions about growth and the accumulation of new federal debt — both areas where the administration’s past predictions have proved to be overconfident.

According to summary tables reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with administration officials, the new budget will forecast a growth rate for the United States economy of 2.8 percent this year — or, by the metric the administration prefers to cite, a 3.1 percent rate. That is more than a half percentage point larger than forecasters at the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office predict.

It then predicts growth above 3 percent annually for the next several years if the administration’s economic policies are enacted. The Fed, the budget office and others all see growth falling below 2 percent annually in that time. By 2030, the administration predicts the economy will be more than 15 percent larger than forecasters at the budget office do.

Past administrations have also dressed up their budget forecasts with economic projections that proved far too good to be true. In its fiscal year 2011 budget, for example, the Obama administration predicted several years of growth topping 4 percent in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis — a number it never came close to reaching even once.

Trump officials had considered their projections to be a break from that trend, writing last year that they were the first administration on record “to have experienced economic growth that meets or exceeds its own forecasts in each of its first two years in office.” That turned out to be wrong: In the middle of last year, the Commerce Department revised its accounting of the 2018 growth rate downward, to well below the rate Trump officials had forecast. Their predictions were similarly off in 2019.

Robust economic growth rates are not the only area where the administration’s renewed optimism appears in its latest budget. It has also revised down its estimate of the interest the federal government would pay to borrow money over the next decade, based largely on the assumption that the Fed, which began cutting rates in 2019, would raise them only modestly again over the next 10 years. The changes in rate assumptions reduce budget deficits by $1.5 trillion over the course of the decade, according to the administration’s projections.

Essentially, administration officials are contending that rising levels of debt in the United States will not drive up borrowing costs, as many conservative economists have long warned, at least for the next several years. They also believe, a rarity among economists, that a sustained stretch of 3 percent growth would not push the Fed to raise interest rates.

As a result, the administration sees federal debt held by the public — the national debt, essentially — declining from 79 percent of the overall economy this year to 66 percent in 2030. The budget office sees it rising, to 98 percent, a level not reached since 1946.

In order to justify that optimism, administration officials are contending that their overly optimistic growth forecasts of the past were a fluke of circumstance.

Mr. Trump’s first budget, in the spring of 2017, predicted growth of 2.3 percent that year using the administration’s preferred measure — the change in the size of the economy from the fourth quarter of the preceding year. It was a mild undershoot; growth actually hit 2.5 percent.

The next two budgets predicted 3.1 percent growth for 2018 and 3.2 percent for 2019. Both were off, badly. Growth was 2.5 percent in 2018, from fourth quarter to fourth quarter, and 2.3 percent in 2019, according to the Commerce Department.

Officials on Sunday attributed a half-point of the missed forecast last year to the effects of American trade policy — specifically, uncertainty over resolution of trade talks with China and congressional approval of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. They said those uncertainties were now resolved and that growth would accelerate accordingly.

The senior administration official also said that a General Motors strike, aerospace giant Boeing’s struggles with its 737 Max aircraft and flooding in the Midwest had reduced growth by an additional three tenths of a percent last year.

Mr. Trump has long asserted that his push to negotiate with the Chinese and reopen North American trade talks were helping the economy. In the 2016 campaign, his advisers said that tariffs on Chinese imports — even more aggressive levies than what Mr. Trump ultimately imposed on Beijing — would increase growth, by pushing multinational companies to invest in the United States instead of China.

Such an investment wave never materialized. Capital spending growth turned negative for the last three quarters of 2019. Many forecasters believe that decline was trade-related; the budget office, among others, is predicting a bounce-back in investment growth this year. But those forecasters also see growth slowing, over all, as the stimulus fades from Mr. Trump’s deficit-swelling tax cuts in 2017 and spending increases he has signed each year in office.

Partly as a result of those measures, and the administration’s inability to interest Congress in any of its most aggressive proposals for cuts, the federal budget deficit was nearly twice as large last year as the administration projected in its first budget: It topped $1 trillion last year. The Congressional Budget Office predicts it will continue to grow, hitting $1.3 trillion in 2025 as growth slows to 1.5 percent.

For that same year, the new Trump budget predicts the deficit will be less than half the size — and that growth will be just under 3 percent.

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Death of American Fuels Concern Over China’s Approach to Coronavirus

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Waiting for a bus on a nearly empty street in Beijing’s central business district on Friday.Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

SHANGHAI — A United States citizen died from the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, American officials said on Saturday. It was the first known American death from the illness, and was likely to escalate diplomatic tensions over Beijing’s response to the epidemic.

Few details about the American, who died on Thursday, were immediately available. According to the United States Embassy in Beijing, the person was around 60 years old and died at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, the inland metropolis at the center of the epidemic. Two people familiar with the matter said the person was a woman and had underlying health conditions.

The United States government has been evacuating many of its diplomats and other citizens from Wuhan, which the Chinese authorities have locked down in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. It could not immediately be learned whether the American who died had tried to leave the city on any of the flights organized by the State Department.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” said a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Beijing. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.”

Word of the death emerged as frustrations about Beijing’s handling of the epidemic, which has already provoked outrage and criticism within China, were beginning to emerge at the diplomatic level as well. The virus has killed at least 700 people in China, sickened 34,000 more and spread across the globe.

For more than a month, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been offering to send a team of experts to China to observe the outbreak and help if possible. But no invitation has come.

The World Health Organization, which made a similar offer about two weeks ago, appeared to be facing the same cold shoulder, though a spokeswoman said it was just “sorting out arrangements.”

Current and former health officials and diplomats said they believed the reluctance came from China’s top leaders, who do not want the world to think they need outside help.

Within China, public discontent about the government’s response to the crisis reached an extraordinary new peak on Friday after the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, who had warned his colleagues early on about the new virus but was reprimanded for spreading rumors.

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 5, 2020

    • Where has the virus spread?
      You can track its movement with this map.
    • How is the United States being affected?
      There have been at least a dozen cases. American citizens and permanent residents who fly to the United States from China are now subject to a two-week quarantine.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      Several countries, including the United States, have discouraged travel to China, and several airlines have canceled flights. Many travelers have been left in limbo while looking to change or cancel bookings.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do.

After Dr. Li’s death, grieving internet users posted messages expressing anger about the way he had been treated and even demanding freedom of speech — unheard-of in China’s authoritarian political system.

Communist Party officials said on Friday that they would send a team from the powerful anticorruption committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr. Li’s death. Chinese state news media also reported on Saturday that the government was sending two senior officials to Wuhan to reinforce efforts to bring the outbreak under control.

It was not immediately clear if the appointments on Saturday amounted to a reshuffling of the local leadership or were simply an effort to reinforce officials on the front line. Still, it appeared to be an acknowledgment that the authorities in Wuhan had been overwhelmed.

Japan also said on Saturday that one of its citizens had died in a Wuhan hospital from a suspected case of the coronavirus. But the Japanese Foreign Ministry said that based on information it received from the Chinese authorities, it could not confirm whether the man, who was in his 60s, had been infected with the new virus. The ministry called the cause of death viral pneumonia.

As the new coronavirus spreads, China is confronting a growing sense of isolation — a stark reversal for the country after decades of economic and diplomatic integration with the rest of the world. Many countries, including the United States, have placed entry restrictions on travelers from China. Airlines have canceled flights. Fears of the virus have fueled anti-Chinese racism in some parts of the world.

Chinese officials have criticized the United States both for evacuating Americans from China and for imposing travel curbs, saying that such moves would spread panic. On Friday, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo each appeared to be trying to ease tensions.

Mr. Pompeo said that the United States was prepared to spend up to $100 million in existing funds to help China and other countries fight the epidemic. Mr. Pompeo also said that the State Department had helped transport about 18 tons of donated medical supplies, including masks, gowns and gauze, to the people of China in the past week.

Mr. Trump praised China’s handling of the crisis on a phone call with China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, on Friday. And in a pair of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump said Mr. Xi was leading “what will be a very successful operation.”

But other American officials have quietly voiced concerns about China’s response to the epidemic. And the confirmation on Friday that repeated offers of help to China had been ignored only deepened the sense of worry.

Alex Azar, the United States secretary of health and human services, said at a news briefing on Friday that he had recently reiterated the C.D.C. offer to his Chinese counterpart, Dr. Ma Xiaowei.

Asked about the holdup, Mr. Azar said: “It’s up to the Chinese. We continue to expect fully that President Xi will accept our offer. We’re ready and willing and able to go.”

Motoko Rich and Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo, and Steven Lee Myers from Beijing. Claire Fu contributed research.

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