Donald Trump Sets a Bar for Russia and China
The President-elect will keep Moscow sanctions for now, wont commit to longtime Taiwan policy
NEW YORKPresident-elect Donald Trump wants to emphasize flexibility in dealing with Americas two largest strategic rivals, basing the relationships on the degree to which China and Russia cooperate with U.S. economic, diplomatic and military priorities.
In an hourlong interview, Mr. Trump said he would keep intact sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration at least for a period of time. He also said he wouldnt commit to Americas longstanding agreement with China over Taiwan until he sees what he considers progress from Beijing in its currency and trade practices.
If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebodys doing some really great things?
The desire to change relations between Washington and Moscow has been a goal of several presidents since tensions began rising under President Vladimir Putins leadership. Former Secretary of State
THE TRUMP TRANSITION
But Mr. Trumps diplomatic efforts will have to compete with those in Congress, including many Republicans, who want to see the administration take a tough line with Russia after U.S. intelligence concluded that the government of Mr. Putin sought to influence the November presidential election with a campaign of cyberhacking.
Additionally, an unsubstantiated dossier of political opposition research suggesting ties between Mr. Trump and Russia was published this past weekdrawing condemnation from Mr. Trump and his team but keeping Russian espionage in the spotlight. The allegations havent been validated by the U.S. intelligence agencies.
Mr. Trump in the interview suggested he might do away with the Russian sanctionsimposed by the president in late December in response to Moscows alleged cyberattacksif the nation proves helpful in battling terrorists and reaching other goals important to the U.S. The president-elect said he is prepared to meet with Mr. Putin some time after he is sworn in.
I understand that they would like to meet, and thats absolutely fine with me, he said.
On China, asked if he supported the One China policy on Taiwan that has underpinned U.S. relations with Beijing for decades, Mr. Trump said: Everything is under negotiation including One China.
China has considered Taiwan a breakaway province since Chiang Kai-sheks Nationalists set up a government there in 1949, after years of civil war. Washingtons agreement to rescind diplomatic recognition of the government in Taiwan and uphold a One China policy was a precondition for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between U.S. and China in 1979. Any suggestion in the past that the U.S. may change its stance has been met with alarm in Beijing.
Though he has long been critical of China, Mr. Trump also made a point of showing a holiday greeting card he received from Chinas leader, Xi Jinping.
I have a beautiful card from the chairman, he said.
Mr. Trump seemed impatient with diplomatic protocols involving China and Taiwan. After his victory he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwans leader, triggering objections from Beijing and stoking concerns among some U.S. foreign policy expert who questioned whether he understood the implications of such a conversation.
Speaking of Taiwan, he said: We sold them $2 billion of military equipment last year. We can sell them $2 billion of the latest and greatest military equipment but were not allowed to accept a phone call. First of all it would have been very rude not to accept the phone call.
Mr. Trump has said in the past he would label China a currency manipulator after he takes office. In the interview, he said he wouldnt take that step on his first day in the White House. I would talk to them first, he said.
He added: Certainly they are manipulators. But Im not looking to do that.
But he made plain his displeasure with Chinas currency practices. Instead of saying, Were devaluating our currency, they say, Oh, our currency is dropping. Its not dropping. Theyre doing it on purpose.
Our companies cant compete with them now because our currency is strong and its killing us.
The interview came at the end of the week in which Mr. Trump saw much of his national-security team get closer to their appointments but had to push back against the Russia allegations and against criticism from ethics experts of his plan to maintain ownership of his business interests.
Six of his cabinet choices had confirmation hearings, and a number look likely to sail through. Many Democrats offered eager support for his pick for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.
Mr. Trump also brought his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on as a senior White House adviser, although the appointment could be challenged under antinepotism laws. And he got closer to fulfilling a campaign promise as the Senate and then the House took procedural steps that begin rolling back or repealing the Affordable Care Act.
He got elected as a fighter and hes going to be president as a fighter, said Ed Brookover, a former Trump campaign adviser. He added that Mr. Trump is going to be a very active president and push a lot of buttons along the way.
At a jam-packed news conference on Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump was both combative and flattering, shouting down one journalist but praising news outlets who he said covered him fairly. During the session, he accused intelligence agencies of allowing the dossier information to be leaked, and on Twitter he said they were employing the tactics of Nazi Germany. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said he doesnt believe intelligence officials leaked the information.
Amid a flurry of questions about the dossier, Mr. Trump avoided most direct answers and made just one admission. For the first time, he said he agrees that Russia was behind the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee and a top aide to campaign rival Mrs. Clinton during the election.
He also tossed in the announcement of his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, said he would sign executive orders beginning on Jan. 23, and promised to begin negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies to drive costs down.
Questions about his refusal to divest himself of business holdings lingered, though. A few hours after his press conference, U.S. Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub criticized Mr. Trumps new business arrangement, saying his actions were insufficient to remove potential conflicts.
Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture, Mr. Shaub said. Officials in an administration need their president to show that ethics matter, not only through words but through deeds. This is vitally important if were going to have any kind of ethics program.
On Thursday, Gen. Mattis, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, appeared to buck Mr. Trump numerous times, questioning the motives of Mr. Putin, lauding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and saying the U.S. should closely monitor Irans compliance with a nuclear agreement, but he stopped short of rejecting the deal, as Mr. Trump has.
Gen. Mattis also suggested that some national security discussions could be contentious, which he said would lead to the best outcomes.
Its not tidy, he said of the process he is expecting. Itll anticipate that anything but the best ideas will win.
A day earlier, Rex Tillerson , the pick for secretary of state, had told lawmakers he supported arming Ukraine against Russia and said he was supportive of a trade deal Mr. Obama struck with Asian countries, two statements that conflict with Mr. Trumps platform.
Later that night, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said during a CNN town hall that he was working closely with the president-elect to repeal the health-care law but shot down the idea that there would be a deportation force to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S. Mr. Trump had said during the campaign that there would be such a force.
Later in the week, Mr. Trump weighed in on the latest development of the issue that dominated the end of the campaign.
He has spent weeks trying to deflect criticism about his election victory, as Democrats argued that Mrs. Clinton had been sandbagged by the Federal Bureau of Investigations handling of a probe into whether her private email server had been hacked and whether classified material was improperly moved on it.
The FBI ultimately brought no charges, and on Thursday, the Justice Departments inspector general confirmed it had opened an investigation into decisions by FBI Director James Comey to make public, days before the election, that agents were scouring a new batch of emails for possible example…
puplicado: January 14, 2017 at 09:28AM