President Trump has decided to withdraw from another major arms control accord, he and other officials said Thursday, and will inform Russia that the United States is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated three decades ago to allow nations to fly over each other’s territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure that they are not preparing for military action.
Mr. Trump’s decision may be viewed as more evidence that he is preparing to exit the one major arms treaty remaining with Russia: New START, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires in February, weeks after the next presidential inauguration, and Mr. Trump has insisted that China must join what is now a U.S.-Russia limit on nuclear arsenals.
Donald Trump announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty
Even as the administration disclosed Mr. Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Open Skies agreement, the president held out the possibility of negotiations with the Russians that could save American participation in the accord.
Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter
“There’s a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” he said outside the White House. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to pull out and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal.”
That seems unlikely, even his own aides said. Yet at the same time, his newly appointed arms negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, said the administration planned to hold detailed conversations with the Russians over the future of New START. But the Chinese do not appear to be participating in that first meeting, even though Mr. Billingslea insisted that he was “confident” they would ultimately join.
Trump makes first golf outing since pandemic broke out
Trump makes first golf outing since pandemic broke outSTERLING, Va. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday went on his first golf outing since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, visiting his club in the Washington suburbs in a purposeful display of normalcy.
So far, though, the Chinese have indicated no interest in limitations on their own nuclear arsenal, which is about a fifth of the size of the United States’ and Russia’s, and some critics of the administration’s approach say the insistence on Beijing’s participation is a poison pill to scuttle the treaty.
American officials have long complained that Moscow was violating the Open Skies accord by not permitting flights over a city where it was believed Russia was deploying nuclear weapons that could reach Europe, as well as forbidding flights over major Russian military exercises. (Satellites, the main source for gathering intelligence, are not affected by the treaty.)
Trump says Sessions wasn't 'mentally qualified' for AG position as feud reignites
President Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions are back at it. The pair went after each other over Twitter on Saturday, with Trump — who is backing Sessions' Alabama GOP Senate opponent Tommy Tuberville — saying Sessions showed "no courage" when he recused from investigations into 2016 Russian election interference. Jeff, you had your chance & you blew it. Recused yourself ON DAY ONE (you never told me of a problem), and ran for the hills. You had no courage, & ruined many lives. The dirty cops, & others, got caught by better & stronger people than you. Hopefully this slime will pay a big... https://t.co/AJPUBTPCnT — Donald J.
“You reach a point at which you need to say enough is enough,” Mr. Billingslea said. “The United States cannot keep participating in this treaty if Russia is going to violate it with impunity.”
American officials also note that Mr. Trump was angered by a Russian flight directly over his Bedminster, N.J., golf estate in 2017. And in classified reports, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies have contended that the Russians are also using flights over the United States to map out critical American infrastructure that could be hit by conventional weapons or cyberattacks.
William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement that the surveys of such civilian targets were “posing an unacceptable risk to our national security.”
Gallery: Donald Trump's life in pictures (Photo Services)
Discover the all new Echo Show from Amazon
Surface Studio, Surface Laptop, Surface Pro: what's the difference?
Check out deals on Surface devices and accessories
Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama to become president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. Take a look at his journey, from being a successful real-estate mogul, to a reality television star, to becoming the 45th head of state of the nation.
Trump threatens North Carolina to move Republican convention
Born on June 14, 1946, in New York City, New York, U.S., to real estate developer Frederick Trump and Mary MacLeod, Trump graduated in 1968 from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. He was eligible for the draft lottery during the Vietnam War, but a combination of student and medical deferments disqualified him from service.
Early in his career, Trump invested $70,000 in a Broadway comedy – “Paris Is Out” – which remains his only producer credit for theatricals to date; the play was a flop. His real estate career began when he joined his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, full time after graduating in 1968.
By 1971, he moved to Manhattan and was handling some of the largest and most profitable building projects in the city. He was given full control of the company later that year.
The future U.S. president spent the '70s networking and making connections with some of New York’s most influential people. Focused on maximizing profits, he involved himself in large-scale building projects in Manhattan and, by 1980, reopened the Commodore Hotel as the Grand Hyatt Hotel. He also secured the Fifth Avenue site that would go on to house Trump Tower.
Twitter tears up Trump tweet in the first fact check
In 1977, Trump married Ivana Zelníčková, a Czech model. Born on Feb. 20, 1949, Zelníčková was briefly considered for Czechoslovakia’s skiing team at the 1972 Winter Olympics. The couple had two sons – Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as a daughter, Ivanka.
Trump Tower – an apartment-retail complex designed by Der Scutt - was opened in 1983 and generated considerable national attention. The 58-story structure features a grand atrium, a 60-foot-high (18.3 meters) waterfall, luxurious apartments and retail stores.
Looking to profit off the growing casino market, Trump acquired and rebuilt the Taj Mahal (pictured), a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., for a rumored $1.2 billion. It was relaunched as the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in 1990.
In May 2017, Trump reportedly sold the hotel, which he earlier labeled the "eighth wonder of the world," for $50 million.
He continued to buy new business ventures and diversify his holdings, acquiring Eastern Air Lines Shuttle for $365 million in 1989 and renaming it Trump Shuttle. Three years later, his dream of an uber-expensive airline service ran out of cash and defaulted on its debt.
Following the real estate slump of the late 1980s and early '90s, Trump’s empire took a hit and sustained itself almost wholly on loans. His own valuation of the company was $1.5 billion; Forbes’ valued it at only a third of that figure.
Donald Trump announces that the United States is ending his relationship with WHO
In 1991, Trump divorced Ivana and, two years later, married American actress Marla Maples. The marriage lasted for four years before Trump filed for divorce in 1997. The divorce was finalized in 1999 and Maples received $2 million under the prenuptial agreement. Together, they have a daughter, Tiffany.
Trump’s first serious stab at entering politics was in October 1999, when he formed an exploratory committee to decide on seeking the Reform Party’s candidacy for the 2000 U.S. presidential election.
The businessman, who claimed he could achieve universal healthcare and eliminate national debt as president, named popular talk show host and media magnate Oprah Winfrey as his ideal running mate. His campaign never went beyond this phase – he failed to gain support for his bid.
Between 2004 and 2015, Trump hosted and starred in the NBC reality TV series “The Apprentice” (2004-15; pictured), a show on which three of his children – Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric – also made appearances.
In 2012, Trump considered entering politics yet again – another run for president. However, his reputation took a hit after he associated himself with the “Birther” movement – a group that believed then-U.S. President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the country.
(Pictured) With Obama during Trump's presidential inauguration in January 2017.
Merkel declines Trump's invitation to attend the G7 summit in Washington, reports Politico
On June 16, 2015, Trump announced a run for the Republican ticket for the 2016 presidential election. One of the more controversial candidates in recent times, he dominated media coverage with outrageous comments about fellow candidates and contentious immigration policies.
On May 26, 2016, Trump received the support of 1,238 delegates and secured the Republican Party’s nomination for the next presidential race. He beat U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ohio Governor John Kasich, among others, and was confirmed as the Republican Party nominee on July 19, 2016.
On Nov. 9, 2016, Trump defeated Clinton to become the 45th U.S. President. In a close battle, the 70-year-old candidate won more than the required number of Electoral College votes but lost the popular vote.
Trump’s presidential inauguration was on Jan. 20, 2017, and, in his first week as U.S. president, he signed six Executive Orders, including the reinforcement of border security and the planning of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In March 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13780, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, which limited travel into the U.S. from certain countries. It also limited the inflow of refugees without valid travel documents.
In September that year, he signed Presidential Proclamation 9645, which expanded on the previous order. It restricted travel from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
In December, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into full effect, pending legal challenges.
On April 10, 2018, travel restrictions of Chad were removed after it met minimum baseline standards.
Rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change and asserting that the Paris Agreement would do very little to ease global warming, Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from the climate accords in June 2017, making his nation the only one in the world to not ratify the agreement.
In the same month, he also signed Space Policy Directive 1, which marked a change in the nation's space policy. It would now allow an U.S.-led integrated program with partners from the private sector, ensuring another human landing on the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.
In January 2018, Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address, where he called on all politicians to "summon the unity" necessary to fix the country's infrastructure and flawed immigration systems.
During his time as a running presidential candidate, Trump said he intended to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed people who illegally entered or stayed in the U.S. as minors to receive a renewable period of deferred action from deportation (for two years) and also be eligible for a work permit.
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced DACA would be repealed after six months, which led to nationwide protests.
In January 2018, after a number of flip-flops on the decision, the White House finally agreed to release a "legislative framework" outlining a compromise on DACA, provided a considerable amount (around $30 billion) is appropriated for the border wall between United States and Mexico.
Trump’s foreign policies have grabbed eyeballs (and controversy) across the world. These include working on relations with Cuba and the violence-marred shifting of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
However, none of these have quite transfixed the world as the North Korea crisis. In July 2017, under the supervision of its leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The following month, Trump warned Kim that further provocations would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The leaders met in June 2018, easing the hostilities after an escalation of rhetoric from both sides and signed a document promising the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula. They met for the second time in February 2019 in Vietnam and in a brief statement, Trump said: "Your country has tremendous economic potential – unbelievable, unlimited – and I think that you will have a tremendous future with your country, a great leader. I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen – and we will help it to happen.”
In December 2018, Trump told Democrat leaders during a televised altercation that he would be "proud" to shut down the government if he didn't receive roughly $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico. Later that month, a short-term spending bill was cleared by the Senate that would fund the government in the early 2019. It was sent to the House for approval but due to the lack of votes in passing the spending bill, a partial shutdown of the government came into effect on Dec. 22 and lasted 35 days – making it the longest government shutdown in American history.
In order to avert the shutdown, the House and Senate voted to approve a spending deal that would provide $1.3 billion for border security measures, far short of what Trump demanded.
In late January 2019, Trump signed a bill to end the shutdown without securing money for proposed border wall. In a statement, he said: “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the power afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security.”
In February 2019, Trump declared a national emergency to access money to build his long-sought border wall, but a federal judge in California blocked him from building sections of the wall with the money secured under the national emergency declaration.
(Pictured) Trump shakes hands with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi while joined by Vice President Mike Pence before delivering the State of the Union address on Feb. 5, 2019.
Trump's 2016 presidential campaign came under scrutiny over claims of Russian interference to boost his candidacy. In 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed as a special counsel to investigate if Trump's team/associates conspired with Russia to sway the presidential elections. This inquiry has been described by Trump as a "witch hunt" and an "illegal take-down that failed." In March 2019, it was announced via a letter delivered to the Congress that the investigations led by Mueller did not find Trump or any of his aides had colluded with Russia. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the letter from U.S. Attorney General William Barr read.
On June 18, 2019, the president kicked off the Trump 2020 campaign by unveiling his slogan. Addressing a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, he stated: "'Make America Great Again' was the best political slogan in history, but it's time for a change. We've made America great again, but how do you give up the number one call it theme, logo, statement, in the history of politics for a new one? You know there is a new one that really works, and that's called 'Keep America Great.' Right? 'Keep America Great.'"
In September 2019, Nancy Pelosi initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump. The process started following allegations by a whistleblower that Trump and his top officials tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe Joe Biden, a former vice-president and a Democratic Party candidate for the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden. These marked the first presidential impeachment hearings in more than two decades.
The first hearing began on Nov. 13, 2019, and the House of Representatives held an official vote on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power (230 to 197 votes) and obstruction of Congress vote (229 to 198 votes). After Andrew Jackson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998), Trump is the third American president to be impeached by the House.
On Feb. 5, 2020, the Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress. The move not only keeps him in office, but also makes him the first impeached U.S. president to go for election, scheduled to take place on Nov. 3, 2020.
But such collection was not prohibited under the treaty and much of the information is now publicly available on Google Earth and from commercial imagery.
Mr. Trump’s decision, rumored for some time, is bound to further aggravate European allies, including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who are also signatories to the treaty.
They are likely to remain in the accord, which has nearly three dozen signatories, but have warned that with Washington’s exit, Russia will almost certainly respond by also cutting off their flights, which the allies use to monitor troop movements on their borders — especially important to the Baltic nations.
For Mr. Trump, the decision is the third time he has renounced a major arms control treaty.
Two years ago, he abandoned the Iran nuclear accord negotiated by President Barack Obama. Last year he left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, again saying that he would not participate in a treaty that he said Russia was violating. When he announced his intention to withdraw, he said, as he did today, that he thought the Russians would seek a new deal; they did not.
The Open Skies Treaty was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At the time — a moment of relative warmth between the two countries that proved fleeting — the idea was to reduce the chances of accidental war by making troop movements and the placement of new missiles and armaments evident. It was hardly a new idea: It was first presented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the summer of 1955 and rejected by Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, as an elaborate plan to spy on a weaker foe.
It now has less relevance than it did then or even when it finally went into effect, in 2002, a decade after it was signed. Modern commercial satellite photography is widely and cheaply available, though it cannot replace all the information available through an airplane’s sensors.
“The concept of Open Skies, starting with President Eisenhower, was to give insight and build confidence related to military intentions, among other things,” Mr. Billingslea, a veteran of the George W. Bush Pentagon and considered a hard-liner on Russia, said in an interview. “But it no longer is serving that purpose because of so many Russian violations.”
He cited Russian moves to make it impossible for the United States to send flights over Kaliningrad, Georgia and Russia’s own large military exercises.
Nonetheless, European nations regard the regular flights — conducted by the United States, Britain and smaller powers — as an important continuing engagement with Russia, even if Moscow has increasingly blocked flight plans that seem permissible under the treaty.
Russia has said that the engagement in the treaty is valuable. Mr. Billingslea and his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, disagree.
Representative Eliot L. Engel, the New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Trump’s move illegal, noting that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requires that the president give Congress 120 days’ notice before beginning the withdrawal process. Mr. Trump signed that act.
“There is something particularly dangerous about a president, a secretary of state and a secretary of defense knowingly breaking the law in ways that jeopardize our safety and national security,” Mr. Engel said in a statement. “With this decision, that is exactly what they’ve chosen to do.”
Under the terms of the treaty, Mr. Trump’s formal notice to Russia and the other signatories starts a six-month clock toward final withdrawal. It requires a meeting of all the signatories within 60 days.
To the extent that foreign policy becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, the withdrawal from this treaty, along with the previous two, could become a debating point. On Monday, Antony J. Blinken, the top foreign policy adviser to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said that “I would be very much in favor of staying engaged in Open Skies.”
Conservatives have been pressing Mr. Trump to withdraw for some time, despite his own periodic musings about his friendship with President Vladimir V. Putin, which he repeated on Thursday. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a longtime proponent of withdrawal, said in a statement, “It was long past time for the United States to withdraw from this treaty and stop allowing Russia to use our skies to spy on the American people.”
But that was the entire premise of the Eisenhower plan: that the “spying” would, in fact, build confidence that neither side was preparing for military action. The treaty was imagined as a way to verify the movement and exercises of conventional forces, though it also played some role in tracking the movement of tactical nuclear weapons as the Russians placed more aimed at targets in Western Europe.
“The transparency it provides has helped prevent miscalculation and misunderstandings that could have otherwise led to conflict,” said John F. Tierney, a former Democratic representative from Massachusetts who is the executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “This has become a reckless pattern” for the Trump administration.
Open Skies is a comparatively small treaty; the bigger issue will be the fate of New START.
For more than a year, Mr. Trump has said he would not renew the New START treaty, negotiated by Mr. Obama in 2010, unless China also joined. Beijing has rejected the idea. And it is unclear how that might work even if China agreed to enter the treaty. With 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons each, the United States and Russia would never be willing to reduce their arsenals to the 300 or so held by China. And allowing China to build up to American and Russian levels seems to defeat the purpose of arms control.
Mr. Pompeo has suggested that not all nuclear powers need to have the same number of nuclear weapons. But the idea that China would willingly agree to a small arsenal, especially at a moment of great tension with the United States, seems hard to imagine.
In a briefing for reporters Thursday afternoon, Mr. Billingslea said that he and his Russian counterparts had agreed to meet on the future of the New START treaty, and that the United States would insist that any negotiations include the Chinese. He said he was confident the Chinese would participate.
“The Chinese have an obligation to negotiate with us in good faith,” he said. “We also know they want to be treated as a great power, and what better way to do so” than entering into negotiations with Moscow and Washington.
“We will have to have very tough verification measures” for any new accord, he said.
Coronavirus and you: Supporting mental health through lockdown and beyond