Menendez, with eye on committee chairmanship, blasts Trump in new report

The report details what Menendez characterized as four years of foreign policy chaos under Trump.

10/21/2020 4:35:00 PM

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez released a blistering report today detailing what he characterized as four years of foreign policy chaos under President Trump

The report details what Menendez characterized as four years of foreign policy chaos under Trump.

By10/21/2020 09:30 AM EDTLink CopiedShortly after Viktor Orbán visited him in the White House, President Donald Trump called one of his biggest critics in Congress to defend his decision to meet with the autocratic Hungarian leader.Orbán is a “good guy,” Trump told New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, following the May 2019 meeting. The president also noted that Hungary had agreed to buy a lot of U.S. military equipment.

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Trump’s assurances did not comfort Menendez, who has remained a fierce critic of the president throughout Trump’s first term. On Wednesday, the New Jersey senator released a blisteringreportdetailing what he characterized as four years of foreign policy chaos under Trump.

The report, which describes Trump’s call to Menendez about Orbán, also signals what Menendez may prioritize if Democrats win control of the Senate and he becomes the Foreign Relations Committee chair next year. For one thing, the report calls, albeit somewhat vaguely, for holding the Trump administration “accountable for its attacks on democratic norms and values.”

“The state of the United States in the world hangs in a tenuous balance,” the report declares. “Our allies are weary and alienated; our own diplomats struggle to uphold the values we have promoted to the world for decades; and a U.S. president’s eschewing of democracy has helped to fuel autocratic trends abroad.”

The report, pulled together by the Democratic staff of the Senate committee, relies heavily on news accounts from the past four years, as well as interviews with dozens of former U.S. officials, foreign policy experts and foreign officials.The report largely reflects positions repeatedly articulated by Menendez and other leading Democrats, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, throughout the Trump presidency.

For instance, it castigates Trump for imposing tariffs, belittling and otherwise undermining U.S. allies such as Germany. It argues that even countries friendly to America now view it as a “destabilizing global force they need to manage.”It alleges that Trump’s domestic policies, such as separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, have dramatically undermined U.S. credibility when it comes to promoting human rights and democracy abroad.

It also insists that foreign leaders feel freer to oppress their people because they do not fear blowback from a Trump-led America. Leaders in countries such as Turkey, the Philippines and Cambodia even use favorite Trump phrases such as “fake news” to try to suppress journalistic freedom, the report states.

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The report’s recommendations include calls for Congress to be more involved in helping set the terms for U.S. foreign policy.“Decades of Congress underinvesting in its own structures, expertise, and personnel have left it unprepared to effectively stand up to the Trump administration’s rampant disregard for laws and norms, and overt circumventing of Congress,” the report states. “Congress must be an effective partner and counterbalance to the Executive in charting a whole-of-government path forward to reestablishing the United States as a credible ally and principled world power.”

The report also calls for the executive branch to try to gain bipartisan support from Congress for its foreign policy actions. “Although difficult, it would demonstrate to international partners that U.S. policies and positions will endure from one administration to the next,” it states.

Trump and his aides have been accused of everything from corruption to discrimination. The report does not get specific on how to deal with those allegations, but it also doesn’t ignore the widespread desire among Democrats for some accountability.“While the U.S. will need to move forward and set a strong example, it cannot ignore the damage done by the Trump administration to democratic institutions and values,” it states. “Our country must engage in some accounting of the damage done and take steps to protect our democracy from future abuses.”

Menendez may be in a rarefied position to build bridges with Republicans should he become the committee chair. Although he’s a vociferous critic of the Trump administration’s overall foreign policies, he at times sided with Republicans during the years Barack Obama, a Democrat, was president.

In particular, Menendez opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and Obama’s efforts to improve relations with Cuba. Menendez also has joined forces at times with the current committee chair, Republican James Risch of Idaho.Prior to Orban’s visit to the White House, for instance, Menendez and Risch both signed on to a

to Trump expressing concerns about the Hungarian prime minister’s growing grip on his country. Read more: POLITICO »

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If only President Trump had a multi millionaire Dr. that paid for all his ‘Foreign Relations’ trips like BobMenendezNJ had Yay There's increased peace in the middle east, something your Savior in the last administration could not accomplish. And this is after the Soleimani killing, something that you experts said would usher in World War III.

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