What Now?! – 5/14/2019

Politico: “The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 700 points, or 2.7 percent, in afternoon trading, after a flurry of belligerent tweets from President Trump — and quick retaliation from China in the form of new tariffs — threw gut punches at hopes for a deal between the two nations.”

“The sell-off framed a central conflict inside the White House — and seemingly within the president’s own mind. Trump loves a booming stock market, which he tracks obsessively, and views it as an indicator of success on par with his approval rating. At the same time, he loves his power to unilaterally impose tariffs, and sees winning tough concessions from China as key to his 2020 reelection bid.” “But those two political imperatives are once again at odds.”

The Washington Post reports China said it will raise tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods effective June 1. “The announcement from the finance ministry in Beijing comes days after the United States raised tariffs on some Chinese imports as talks to resolved a trade fight between the countries faltered.”

In a major escalation of the U.S.-China trade fight, President Trump “is preparing to slap tariffs on remaining Chinese imports, which could add levies on roughly $300 billion in additional goods,” the Washington Post reports. “If approved, American consumers would probably see higher prices on everyday products including cellphones and televisions.”

Politico: “Senate Republicans acknowledge that the president’s latest tariff increase on Chinese imports are harming farm state economies, their own constituents and some of Trump’s most reliable voters. But there’s no plan to stop, or even threaten, the president’s tariff regime — just the latest example of Trump imposing his protectionist will on a party that once celebrated free trade.”

Bloomberg: “The European Union is finalizing a list of American goods to target with retaliatory tariffs in the event that U.S. President Donald Trump, who is expected to make a decision by May 18, imposes levies on car imports.”

“A 25 percent U.S. levy on foreign cars would add 10,000 euros to the sticker price of European vehicles imported into the country, according to the European Commission.”

Jonathan Swan: “Senior administration officials — including acting Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought and fiscally conservative chief Mick Mulvaney — have told Republicans that the president doesn’t want Congress to strike a spending deal in September when current funding runs out. Instead, Team Trump wants a short-term solution to preserve the ability to fight for massive spending cuts in the fifth year of a Trump presidency.”

“The White House thinks the most likely scenario this year is that the president signs a one-year ‘continuing resolution’ (a continuation of 2019 spending levels through 2020), followed by another short-term extension next September to get past the November election.”

“Some senior administration officials envision a newly re-elected Trump liberated to slash spending. They view 2021 as the year to have that fight — the final year in which the president can threaten hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. (These automatic cuts, which attack both defense and domestic spending, expire in 2021.)”

“Republican-led states are charging ahead with a spate of restrictive anti-abortion bills designed to trigger a legal battle that lands at the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court,” NBC News reports.

“Alabama, poised to pass the country’s toughest limits this week in what would amount to an outright ban on abortion, is just one of two dozen states that has proposed or passed measures restricting abortion this legislative session, an onslaught abortion rights supporters say is both unprecedented and strategic.”

“With the new conservative majority cemented on the Supreme Court, many politicians and anti-abortion rights groups see an opportunity to provoke a case that could finally put a dagger through Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.”

“At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons,” the New York Times reports.

“The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops.”

“The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.”

Attorney General William Barr “has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation… a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful,” the New York Times reports.

“John Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.”

“The Swedish authorities announced on Monday that they would reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who is serving a prison term in Britain for jumping bail as the United States seeks his extradition for his role in a huge breach of classified data,” the New York Times reports.

“The United States has already begun trying to extradite Mr. Assange, an effort that was expected to be prolonged and complex even before the announcement in Stockholm on Monday, and it could be further complicated by Sweden’s wish to reinstate its investigation.”

“Secretary of State Michael Pompeo made scant progress persuading European Union counterparts to take a harder line toward Iran during a quick visit to Brussels, with the EU standing behind the nuclear accord abandoned by Washington — and warning of a potential military conflict,” Bloomberg reports.

“Pompeo presented what the U.S. says is fresh intelligence on the threat posed by Iran in meetings with counterparts from the three EU nations that joined the landmark 2015 accord that President Trump abandoned a year ago. The top U.S. diplomat received a cool initial response to the surprise visit as foreign ministers from the 28-member bloc convened in the Belgian capital.”

“In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities,” the Washington Post reports.

“The ultimate purpose was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested Donald Trump Jr. ignore a subpoena from his Republican colleague in the Senate and “call it a day.” Said Graham: “If I were Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer, I would tell him, you don’t need to go back into this environment anymore. You’ve been there for hours and hours and nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation.”

“Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned Monday that his colleagues might be too eager to overturn earlier rulings that he said deserve respect as established precedent, mentioning a key abortion ruling as one of them,” NBC News reports.

Said Breyer: “The law can retain the necessary stability only if this court resists that temptation, overruling prior precedent only when the circumstances demand it.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “One possible answer [to the question of why is Trumps stonewalling Congress] is that Trump is trying to hide information from Congress because it would only confirm the parts of Mueller’s report that weren’t exonerating at all. Although the probe didn’t establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian agents, it did find a whole lot of dubious choices and a whole lot of obstruction of justice. It would make sense if the president didn’t want further details of that misconduct made public.”

“What worries me is that there’s another possible answer, and it’s a lot worse.”

“What if Trump is stonewalling Congress because the lesson he took from the Mueller report is that his behavior was perfectly okay? That is, what if Trump isn’t pretending that he didn’t do the misdeeds detailed in the report? What if instead he thinks that Attorney General William Barr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans are now willing to go along with a theory of presidential power so expansive and unrestricted that even John Yoo and other advocates of executive authority are alarmed?”

David Bernstein: “Barring something unexpected, this Tuesday will mark two months since the U.S. Senate held a roll call vote on passage of any type of legislation. That was a joint resolution to nullify President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border (which Trump later vetoed).”

“It’s been three months, as of Sunday, since the Senate last took yeas and nays on a genuine, full-fledged bill: the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. It passed, 92 to 8, and was later signed into law.”

“So there was some eye-rolling last week when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell harshly criticized House Democrats, telling them to ‘move on’ from investigating the Trump administration, and get back to the business of legislating for the country… The United States Senate, that great deliberative body, has effectively ceased legislating this year. It has shut down. Closed for business until 2021.”

Max Boot: “You can debate when the conservative movement became a racket — I nominate 1996, the year Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created Fox News Channel to monetize right-wing outrage — but there is no doubt it has long since passed that point. If you have any doubt, look at the recent revelations about the National Rifle Association, probably the single most powerful conservative lobbying group in America.”

Jonathan Swan: “The top advocate for corporate America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has installed a sign on the front steps of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., comparing Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. Their building is right near the White House.”

“Comparing Trump to Reagan and Eisenhower is quite a leap for a group that got on the wrong side of the president by excoriating his 2016 campaign and clashing with him on everything from tariffs to immigration policy.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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