Not surprisingly, the administration rejects the notion that it has given Mr. Putin free rein. Mr. Trump regularly says no American president has been tougher on Russia than he has, “maybe tougher than any other president.”
The president’s advisers point out that Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for breaking into the Democratic National Committee and running the social media campaign — though Mr. Trump has questioned Russia’s ability for both. Under authorities given to it by the president, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, General Paul A. Nakasone, briefly paralyzed the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the 2018 midterm elections to send a message. (Mr. Trump later said he was responsible for the action.)
And Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, declared the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea — “Crimea is Ukraine,” he said on the sixth anniversary of the unilateral seizure of the territory, not mentioning that Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in 2016 that he did not understand why the United States was penalizing Russia for events that primarily affected allies far away.
But it is the withdrawal of troops from Germany, and the absence of any response to the intelligence on the bounties offered to the Taliban for killing Americans, that seems to encapsulate the administration’s absence of a strategy.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Mr. Pompeo struggled to offer up a defense on either in Senate testimony on Thursday. He noted that as a newly-minted Army officer during the final days of the Cold War, he himself “fought on the border of East Germany,” leading Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, to note wryly that under Mr. Trump’s orders “your unit is coming back to the United States.”
But Mr. Pompeo’s testimony was more notable for what he failed to say. He provided no strategic rationale for the reduction of 12,000 troops in Germany, including 6,400 returning to the United States. He made the case that they could return to Europe quickly, but never addressed the fundamental issue: that the decision was part of presidential pique that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was not devoting a big enough portion of the national budget to her nation’s defense — and that reducing the American military presence in German fulfilled one of Mr. Putin’s greatest dreams.
“Germany is supposed to pay for it,” Mr. Trump said of the American presence, as if the forward deployment was not a central part of the United States’ own defense strategy for the past 75 years. “Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers any more. The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills.”