Trump attacks Russia provisions in signed defense bill

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE said in a signing statement that he reserves the right to ignore a recently signed defense authorization law’s ban on recognizing Russian sovereignty of Crimea.

The provision was just one of 50 Trump says infringes on his presidential authority.

In the signing statement issued Monday, the president objected to four of the eight provisions related to Russia. Included in the four is provision 1241, which states that none of the defense bill’s funds “may be obligated or expended to implement any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea.”


Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in a disputed 2014 referendum, an act much of the international community viewed as a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. The annexation resulted in increased sanctions against Russia and the country being booted from the then-Group of Eight.

Trump also argued the bill would unjustly limit his presidential authority by restricting military-to-military cooperation with Russia and mandating he report to Congress if Russia violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or if he discusses a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges Democrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices MORE (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement slamming the president’s statements on the Russia provisions, particularly that regarding Crimea.

“This signing statement is troubling because, yet again, the President is showing the world he cannot be trusted when it comes to standing by U.S. commitments and promoting our interests over his own. ... Last month, I welcomed a statement from the Administration saying it would not do so. Now, again we have to call on the President to unequivocally stand strong for the United States and our allies and against Kremlin aggression,” he said.

The White House’s criticism of the bill extended beyond Russia-related provisions.

The signing statement argues that provisions limiting U.S. support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, the transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees and the number of troops in South Korea, as well as a provision mandating the president report on North Korea’s nuclear activities, among others, would limit Trump’s presidential powers.