Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co BA.N, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed

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Exclusive: White House Moves Forward on Two More Arms Sales to Taiwan – Sources | World News

By Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, five sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales, which are likely to anger China in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, follows three notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the MQ-9 drone case is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

(Reporting by Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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White House moves forward on three arms sales to Taiwan – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, five sources said on Monday, while China threatened retaliation.

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The move in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, first reported by Reuters, is likely to anger China, which considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

The informal notifications were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Notifications for the sale of other weapons systems, including large, sophisticated aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines, to deter amphibious landings, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but these were expected soon, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests, urging Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them.

“China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops,” Zhao told reporters in Beijing, without elaborating.

CONGRESSIONAL BACKING FOR TAIWAN

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Lawmakers, who are generally wary of what they perceive as Chinese aggression and supportive of Taiwan, were not expected to object to the Taiwan sales.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said it would comment only when there was formal notification of any arms sale. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said the government had not yet been formally notified.

“China continues to use military provocation to undermine cross-strait and regional stability, highlighting the importance of Taiwan’s strengthening of self-defense capabilities,” Ou said.

News that new arms sales were moving forward came after senior U.S. officials last week repeated calls for Taiwan to spend more on its

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White House moves forward on three arms sales to Taiwan: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, five sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The move in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, first reported by Reuters, is likely to anger China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Asked for a response to Monday’s news, the Chinese embassy urged Washington in an emailed statement to stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan, “lest it should gravely harm China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability.”

In the emailed statement, an embassy representative said: “China consistently and firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and has firm resolve in upholding its sovereignty and security.”

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The informal notifications were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Notifications for the sale of other weapons systems, including large, sophisticated aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines, to deter amphibious landings, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but these were expected soon, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

CONGRESSIONAL BACKING FOR TAIWAN

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Lawmakers, who are generally wary of what they perceive as Chinese aggression and supportive of Taiwan, were not expected to object to the Taiwan sales.

Taiwan’s representative office in Washington said it had no comment.

News that new arms sales were moving forward came after senior U.S. officials last week repeated calls for Taiwan to spend more on its own defense and to carry out military reforms to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade.

It comes at a time when China has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan and as U.S.-China

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Exclusive: White House asks Congress to approve three arms sales to Taiwan – sources

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

There was no immediate comment from Taiwan’s representative office in Washington.

The sales notified to Congress were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Matthew Lewis

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Trump planning to host 1st in-person event since diagnosis at White House on Saturday: Sources

ABC News Corona Virus Government. Response

His doctor said the president can hold “public engagements” starting Saturday.

The event will feature “remarks to peaceful protesters for law and order” by the president, according to an invite obtained by ABC News and confirmed by two White House sources familiar with the planning.

The gathering is scheduled to take place on the South Lawn of the White House in conjunction with a previously planned event organized by controversial conservative activist Candace Owens’ group Blexit, a campaign to urge Black Americans to leave the Democratic Party, sources said.

Trump according to a source is expected to address the crowd from the balcony of the White House.

With just days separating the president from his stay at Walter Reed Medical Center, experts fear this type of event threatens to exacerbate the crisis already engulfing the White House and further spread the disease. On Wednesday, ABC News reported that the coronavirus outbreak had infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts” in recent days, citing an internal government memo.

“All attendees must bring a mask with them and will be instructed to wear it on the White House Complex,” a source familiar with the planning of the event told ABC News. “All attendees must submit to a Covid-19 screening tomorrow morning. This will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire. The health and safety of all attendees is our priority and following CDC guidelines is strongly encouraged.”

PHOTO: This invitation to a White House event scheduled for October 10 was obtained by ABC News.

This invitation to a White House event scheduled for October 10 was obtained by ABC News.

“The Trump administration continues to have disregard for the science,” said Dr. Jay Bhatt, an ABC News contributor and practicing internist. “This statement is premature given that we don’t know what will happen between now and Saturday given that symptoms can pop at any time. He put many people at risk and we saw the aftermath. This can’t happen again.”

The Trump campaign also announced a rally on Monday night in Sanford, Florida. On Twitter, the president referred to it as “a very BIG RALLY!”

The Biden camp quickly responded to the news, with Mike Gwin, Biden’s deputy direct response coordinator, saying in a statement, “Donald Trump seems to be living in an alternate reality where he isn’t sick and contagious with COVID-19 and where he didn’t just hold what Dr. Fauci himself described as a super-spreader event at the White House that likely infected dozens more. This decision is stunningly reckless and irresponsible, and it’s only the latest evidence that Trump has waved the white flag of defeat against this virus

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President Trump furious at chief of staff for contradicting White House physician, sources say

President Donald Trump is furious with chief of staff Mark Meadows after the top West Wing official contradicted the White House physician’s assessment Saturday of the President’s health, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Sunday.



Mark Meadows wearing a suit and tie: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media about US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020. - Meadows addressed the positive Covid-19 tests of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. "They remain in good spirits. The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the american people," Meadows said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)


© SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media about US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020. – Meadows addressed the positive Covid-19 tests of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. “They remain in good spirits. The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the american people,” Meadows said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Meadows is now widely known inside the White House to be the unnamed source who spoke to reporters following the medical briefing Saturday and offered a more dire assessment than Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley had given shortly before. That reporting was initially given to a pool of reporters attributed to an official familiar with the President’s condition. Later, the Associated Press and the New York Times identified that official as Meadows.

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“The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” Meadows said to reporters.

Trump is outraged at Meadows over the botched message, according to a senior Trump adviser.

Officials in the Trump White House have carefully calibrated their statements about the President’s health over the past few days. Meadows’ statement on Saturday capped a 24-hour period of mixed messages from the administration that raised major questions about the President’s health.

CNN previously reported that the President was unhappy with Meadows.

Video: NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools (CNN)

NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools

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A separate White House official confirmed Trump is unhappy with Meadows, as the chief of staff is now viewed by Trump advisers as having damaged the credibility of the current medical briefings on the President’s bout with the coronavirus.

Conley had talked with the President before briefing members of press on Saturday, one White House official said. The official added Conley is unlikely to say more than the President wants said.

During a press conference on Trump’s health on Sunday, Conley appeared to blame the media when asked about Meadows’ comments contradicting him, saying the top aide’s remarks had been “misconstrued.”

“The chief and I work side by side, and I think his statement was misconstrued. What he meant was that 24 hours ago when he and I were checking on the President, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever and that temporary

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Trump received oxygen at the White House before heading to Walter Reed, sources say

 

White House official says Trump received first rapid test on Thursday night

A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Trump received a rapid test Thursday night after he returned from an event at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The White House learned of Trump adviser Hope Hicks’s positive test on Thursday, “minutes” before the president was supposed to leave for New Jersey. Several staff members were then pulled from the trip at that time. 

The official told CBS News that Mr. Trump took the rapid test when he returned to Washington because of Hicks’ diagnosis. The rapid coronavirus test came back positive, which prompted the PCR test to confirm. When Mr. Trump called into “Hannity” on Thursday evening, he had already received the positive rapid test and was awaiting the PCR results. The results came late Thursday evening, and he tweeted them shortly after, the official said. 

The official said the president had not exhibited symptoms in New Jersey. The official noted he seemed “a little tired,” though the official chalked that up to the late returns to the White House the previous two nights. 

Asked repeatedly why the president had not taken a test prior to his departure to New Jersey upon the White House learning of Hope’s positive result, the official said they assumed the president had received a negative test earlier in the day, but was unable to confirm whether that was the case. The official noted the president has said in the past both that he is tested “regularly” and “daily.” 

 

McConnell says Trump “sounds well” after phone call

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Saturday afternoon that he had spoken to Mr. Trump by phone, and that the president “sounds well.”

“Just had another great call with @POTUS. He sounds well and says he’s feeling good. We talked about the people’s business — fighting the pandemic, confirming Judge Barrett, and strengthening the economy for American families. Let’s keep our President & First Lady in our prayers,” McConnell said.

McConnell announced earlier on Saturday that he would seek to obtain a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions until October 19. However, he said that the Judiciary Committee would continue with confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett as planned.

 

Trump campaign launches “Operation MAGA” for surrogates to take to the trail

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has tested positive for COVID-19, said in a statement that the campaign would launch “Operation MAGA” for surrogates to take to the campaign trail while the president is recuperating.

“Operation MAGA will fire up the entire MAGA universe to keep President Trump’s campaign at full speed until our Commander-in-Chief returns to the campaign trail,” Stepien said. “Vice President Mike Pence, the First Family, our coalitions, and our grassroots supporters will be out in full force to show the real enthusiasm behind the President’s re-election and to show we’re working as hard as he always

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AP sources: Woman accused of sending ricin letter addressed to White House arrested

A woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the poison ricin, which was addressed to White House, has been arrested at New York-Canada border, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The letter had been intercepted before it reached the White House. The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo and is expected to face federal charges, the officials said. Her name was not immediately released.

The letter addressed to the White House appeared to have originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said. It was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to the White House and President Trump, and a preliminary investigation indicated it tested positive for ricin, according to the officials.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

There have been several prior instances in which U.S. officials have been targeted with ricin sent through the mail.

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived. The letters were intercepted, and no one was hurt.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to President Obama and other officials.

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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi to Confer With Airline CEOs on Aid: Sources | Top News

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak on Friday afternoon with the chief executives of the country’s top airlines, who are urging Congress to approve another $25 billion in assistance to keep tens of thousands of U.S. workers on the payroll past Sept. 30, sources said.

Pelosi and House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio are expected to hold a 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT) call with the chief executives of United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others, a Democratic aide told Reuters.

The end of this month marks expiration of the $25 billion in federal payroll assistance that airlines received when the coronavirus first began spreading around the world.

Airlines and unions are pleading for a six-month extension as part of a bipartisan proposal for another $1.5 trillion in coronavirus relief. At the same time, airlines are negotiating with employees to minimize thousands of job cuts that are expected without another round of aid.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met with major airline chief executives on Thursday. He said President Donald Trump is also open to a stand-alone measure for airlines, though congressional aides say that is unlikely to win support given aid requests from so many other struggling industries.

Pelosi has said cited airlines and restaurants as two industries that need additional help but said that could mean less for other parts of the coronavirus relief bill.

“We recognize the severe impact the virus is having on our entire economy and the need for support touches many other individuals, organizations and programs. Assistance now can help to lessen the long-term impact to the economy and ultimately speed recovery,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a letter to Congress on Friday.

“The aviation industry is a critical driver of the larger economy,” he said in the letter, which was also signed by the leaders of five unions.

Up to 16,000 United jobs are at risk without aid, he said. American has said it plans to end service to 15 small communities without additional government assistance and furlough about 19,000 workers.

Air travel has plummeted over the last six months as the coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 196,000 American lives and prompted many to avoid airports and planes, seriously depressing airline revenues.

Congress also set aside another $25 billion in government loans for airlines, but many have opted not to tap that funding source.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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