USA – Trump weighs conditioning foreign aid on religious freedom

Politico | Melanie Zanona and John Bresnahan | Nov. 11, 2019

The effort comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry that hinges in part on whether he froze military aid to Ukraine as a way to pressure its government to investigate his political rivals.

Two White House officials confirmed the basics of the religious freedom aid-conditioning plan. They stressed that the idea is in its early stages and an executive order is still being drafted, meaning questions about whether military aid will be covered remain unanswered.

One said imposing sanctions is being weighed as a method of punishment, too. The other said the idea is patterned in part on existing U.S. legal requirements that restrict aid to countries that do poorly on an annual U.S. report on human trafficking.

During his U.N. General Assembly speech in September, Trump signaled that his administration would keep making religious freedom a priority.

“Hard to believe, but 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely outlawed,” Trump said. “Americans will never tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion.”