Executive Intelligence Review


Trump Objects to Certain Provisions in Defense Authorization Act

Aug. 14, 2018 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump signed the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday with much fanfare. In his public remarks, Trump praised the bill as providing the largest boost to the U.S. military in many years. However, his signing statement, as posted on the White House website, indicated that he had objections to numerous provisions of the bill, including many dealing with foreign relations. His objections are primarily about implied or direct restrictions on his right to act on certain issues under his presidential powers as commander in chief, rather than the issues themselves. Nonetheless it is worth taking note that the areas involved include: Russian sovereignty over Crimea; blocking U.S. funding for implementation of the Open Skies Treaty; limitation on military cooperation with Russia; strengthening the military of Taiwan; prohibition on China’s participation in RIMPAC; and certification regarding the Saudi-U.A.E. campaign in Yemen.

A number of those provisions require the President to certify to Congress that certain stipulated conditions have been met before he can take certain diplomatic and military actions. Other provisions “purport to dictate” the position of the U.S. in external military and foreign affairs. In both cases, the statement says that the President will treat those provisions consistent with Article I executive authorities under the U.S. Constitution,

“including the authorities to determine the terms upon which recognition is given to foreign sovereigns, to receive foreign representatives, and to conduct the Nation’s diplomacy.”

One of the sections enumerated at this point in the statement prohibits the expenditure of funds for any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea.