President Donald Trump has attacked the new military spending bill he signed on Monday, claiming it contains unconstitutional clauses. The President issued a statement Monday evening criticizing the bill despite the fact he signed it at a public ceremony.
Trump signed the John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on Monday and several media outlets noted that he did not mention or thank Senator John McCain, for whom the act is named. But late on Monday the White House issued a statement explicitly attacking the act, which is now law.
The President claims the act contains unconstitutional restraints on his office. These include provisions that would prevent Trump from recognizing Russian sovereignty in Crimea and his power to send detainees to Guantanamo Bay.
“I reiterate the longstanding position of the executive branch that, under certain circumstances, restrictions on the President’s authority to transfer detainees violates constitutional separation-of-powers principles,” Trump’s statement said.
The President wants to retain the right to recognize Russian claims to Crimea, as well as keeping Guantanamo Bay prison camp open.
Trump is claiming that a law he signed is partially unconstitutional. He may also be indicating that he is open to recognizing Russia’s position in Crimea. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that was condemned by many Republicans at the time. But the President has previously hinted that Russian rule there should be recognized.
It is highly unusual for a president to claim a bill s unconstitutional once he’s signed it into law.