Trump preparing for re-election campaign launch

Donald Trump is set to officially launch his re-election campaign next Tuesday – well over a year before the election in November 2020 but this is the US – although he has run campaign style public events for some time, including this week.

It’s hard to know whether this was deliberate or ignorant, or whether it will help or hurt his re-election chances – Trump: I Would Accept Information On My Opponent From Foreign Governments, “It’s Called Oppo Research”

President Donald Trump said he would accept information from a foreign government or foreign nationals that would help him in the 2020 presidential election and not notify the FBI in an Oval Office interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Your son, Don Jr., is up before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. And again, he was not charged with anything. In retrospect though-

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: By the way, not only wasn’t he charged, if you read it, with all of the horrible fake news- I mean, I was reading that my son was going to go too jail — this is a good young man — that he was going to go to jail. And then the report comes out, and they didn’t even say, they hardly even talked about him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?

TRUMP: OK. Let’s put yourself in a position. You’re a congressman, somebody comes up and says, “Hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI? I don’t think-

STEPHANOPOULOS: If it’s coming from Russia, you do.

TRUMP: I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do-

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that’s different, a stolen briefing book. This isn’t a stolen- This is somebody that said, “We have information on your opponent.” Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn’t work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that’s what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don’t- There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country — Norway — “We have information on your opponent.” Oh. I think I’d want to hear it.

A country like Norway is unlikely to try to interfere in a US election by helping one candidate with dirt on their opponent.

I doubt that China would try to help trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It’s not interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. “Oh, let’s call the FBI.” The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it. They always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.

So collusion is now renamed ‘oppo research’.

Axios: Trump’s re-election crisis

The state of play: His internal polls show it, national polls show it and even a poll in reliably conservative Texas shows it — all as Trump should be crushing it. Unemployment is at a near-historic low. The economy is growing. Peace and prosperity abound. But his numbers are sagging.

The warning signs:

  • The N.Y. Times reported“After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win. … Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.”
  • National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar writes that Trump is “in the weakest political shape of any sitting president since George H.W Bush”: “Trump hits 50 percent disapproval … in North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa — all states he carried in 2016.”
  • Pay little attention to national polls in a race where states are what matters. But as a sign of voter mood, six Democrats (Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker) each beat Trump in the first 2o2o Quinnipiac University National Poll, released yesterday.

The other side … A Trump ally familiar with the campaign’s strategy said: “Trump has always under-polled. Until it’s actually a binary contest, though, these polls really don’t matter.”

  • “Educating voters on what Green New Deal and Medicare for All actually mean = an absolute disaster for Democrats.”
  • “When Trump gets a shot at defining someone one-on-one, they’re no longer going to be what they are now, which is for the most part a ‘generic Democrat.'”
  • “Historical data says that with the economy roaring like it is, the incumbent always wins.”

Be smart: Trump is betting polls will swing when it’s a choice between him and someone he can lampoon as a dumb socialist.

  • But, but, but: Even the self-avowed socialists are beating him — Bernie Sanders is up 12 in Michigan.

The bottom line: The 2018 elections were a wake-up call for Trump. Democrats had record turnout; his Midwest presidency-makers of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania reverted to their Democratic form; and conservative states, including Texas, showed the demographic dangers for the GOP.

Some will say that Trump defied and confounded the polls and pundits last tome and could do so again. He could do so.

But it will be different this time. Voters won’t be judging trump on his potential, they will be judging him on his actual performance this term. Some say he has been the best president since 1776 and that Trump’s declaration of his greatness is more historic than the Declaration of Independence, and others see him as a self obsessed narcissist boorish overrated buffoon.

Still, there’s a lot that can happen. The US economy is strong but if that trips up between now and the election it may work against Trump. Any number of international crises could strike.

And a key factor will be who the Democrats choose to stand. They stuffed up last time with Hillary Clinton. Picking someone who is leader-like and credible would be a good contrast to Trump and a good start. Trump is certain to ridicule and name call, but the novelty factor of his derogatory lying attack modus operandi has long worn off.

It will be a long campaign as usual, and could be ugly.

“Never seen the Queen have a better time”

I realise this is just the way he talks, but…

Asked “did you or did you not fist pump with the Queen?”

I did not but I had a relationship. We had a really great time.

There are those who say they have never seen the Queen have a better time and more animated time.

We had a period where we were talking solid straight. I didn’t even know who the other people at the table were, never spoke to them.

We just had a great time together.

She’s a spectacular woman, an incredible woman.

On immigration from Mexico.

But we shouldn’t have anybody. they shouldn’t be able to walk through Mexico, and now I’ve told Mexico if you don’t stop this onslaught, this invasion, people get angry when I use the word invasion. People like Nancy Pelosi, honestly they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

I watch her, she was saying we have to protect Mexico, we have to take care of Mexico. Look. I’m dealing with Mexico now. They send in five hundred billion dollars worth of drugs. They kill a hundred thousand people. They ruin a million families every year. If you look at that that’s really an invasion without the guns.

 

“What could you do to unite the country in a time of great polarisation? What else could you do”

So I think success should unite the country, but I will tell you the more successful we’ve come the more angry people like Nancy Pelosi who don’t have what it takes. They don’t know what’s going on. They get angry.

They should, an example is Mexico. I said we’re going to put tariffs on because we want you to help us with, because they won’t pay us any legislation in congress.

And I have senators, and others, and Pelosi coming out and saying how horrible. What they’re doing is hurting a deal.

A deal to Trump is him saying what he wants and expecting to get it.

They should be saying they’re with the President, we’ll do whatever he wants to do, and Mexico will fold like an umbrella.

Now I have these people, and I’m saying there’s some Republicans too, they should be ashamed of themselves.

But we have Pelosi, we have crying Chuck Schumer who’s a disaster by the way, he’s a total political jerk.

The world’s best ever uniter speaking there.

But we have Schumer, we have all these people, they come out and they talk the tariffs, or this, they’re killing, you know they hurt my negotiation. Because I came into the room with the Mexicans asking for everything, and by the way if they don’t do it I’m putting the tariffs on, we’re going to make a fortune.

One thing with the tariffs, when those tariffs go on companies are going to start moving back once they know they’re going to stay on. Companies are going to move back to the United States. They took thirty two percent of our car industry. All, every single one of those plants will move back into the Unites States.

I thought the tariffs were to try to force Mexico into stopping the flood of people moving across into the US. It now sounds like that was just an excuse to move industry back to the US. Of course less jobs in Mexico and more jobs in the US will really address the problems that contribute to immigration.

If he talked to the Queen like he talked in that interview I’m sure she had the time of her life.

When Trump was in London he talked up the prospects of a trade deal with the UK. I wonder if that will work out like the deals he is doing with China and Mexico.

Ross Barkan, The Guardian:  Why Tariffs Could Be Trump’s Undoing

On Tuesday, Republican senators emerged enraged from a meeting with Trump, unwilling to stomach his threat to level tariffs as high as 25% on Mexican goods in retaliation for migrants crossing the border. Even Senator Ted Cruz, the former Trump punching-bag (“Lyin’ Ted”) who has since become a reliable Trump ally, railed against the proposed tariffs, calling them “new taxes” on Texas farmers, manufacturers and small businesses. Otherwise spineless Republican senators are having this change of heart because of an important political reality: tariffs will make goods more expensive in the states they need to capture in 2020.

Like Texas, Michigan would be hit hard by a trade war. Thanks to the automobile industry’s complex supply chains, it is the state most dependenton imports from Mexico – and, as Republicans know all too well, crucial to Trump’s re-election prospects.

Trump’s ongoing trade war with China has cost him political capital throughout the midwest, where farmers depend on imports and exports. His approval rating in Iowa has dropped a staggering 21 points since he took office. In Wisconsin, he’s lost 19 points, and in Ohio, 18.

Who pays the tariffs? The importing companies in the US, so the US consumers.

And imposing ad hoc tariffs to ‘fix’ immigration and move large industries back to the US are not going to have immediate results. It takes time to relocate large manufacturing plants to another country.

 

Blowing his own Trump

One of Donald Trump’s biggest fans:

As far as the protests, I have to tell you because I commented on it yesterday.

We left the Prime Minister, the Queen, the Royal Family, there were thousands of people on the streets cheering, and even coming over today there were thousands of people cheering.

And then I heard that there were protests. I said where are the protests, I don’t see and protests.

I did see a small protest when I came, very small.

So a lot of it is fake news I hate to say.

But you saw the people waving the American flag, waving your flag. It was tremendous spirit, and love, there was great love, there was an alliance.

And I didn’t see the protesters until just a little while ago and it was a very very small group of people put in for political purposes, so it was fake news. Thank you.

CNN: Jim Sciutto fact-checks Trump’s ‘fake news’ claim

I think the protests were relatively low key and modest.

But it is clear that not everyone loves Trump as much as much as the President does.

Trump wants UK National Health Service included in trade negotiations

Donald Trump’s visit to the UK was always going to be controversial. He has strongly supported Brexit, something that is dividing the UK. But Trump has upped the ante – he says that when US-UK trade takes start after Brexit (if it ever happens) he wants the UK National Health Service to be opened up to US companies.

Fortune: There’s One Subject in the U.K. That’s as Toxic as Brexit. Trump Just Waded Into It

Once, advocates of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union argued that Brexit would mean more government funding for the country’s National Health Service, or NHS.

Now, President Donald Trump has confirmed the opposite: in trade talks between the U.S. and U.K., which will take place once Brexit has gone into effect, the U.S. wants the U.K. to open up the cherished British public health system to American companies.

“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table… NHS and anything else, a lot more than that,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, on the second day of his state visit.

The president was responding to a question about whether he agreed with the U.S ambassador to the U.K., Woody Johnson, who said Sunday that he assumed the NHS “would be on the table” in the imminent trade talks, as the negotiations would account for the entire British economy. And his response has already elicited fury among leading politicians from across the British political spectrum.

The public nature of the NHS, which has been free to use for seven decades, is practically seen as sacred in the U.K., and attempts to change that status are politically toxic. A degree of privatization has been taking place in recent years, but NHS bosses want to reverse the process by squeezing out local for-profit contractors such as Virgin Care and Care U.K.

Further opening up the NHS to American contractors would therefore be an explosive political development. The U.S. ambassador’s comment prompted British Health Secretary Matt Hancock—one of the contenders for May’s job, as she is about to step down—to defend the health service in unequivocal terms.

However it’s hard to see much progress being made on US-UK trade talks at this stage. Brexit looks to be far from resolved, and the Prime Minister who Trump is meeting with, Theresa May, is soon stepping down. The NHS is likely to now feature in the contest for leadership of the Conservative party and the country.

RNZ: Trump praises ‘extraordinary’ US-UK alliance on state visit

US President Donald Trump has said the US and UK have the “greatest alliance the world has ever known”.

That’s what you would expect when the current leaders of the US and UK are the greatest the world has ever known.

The US president met Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House. Mr Farage tweeted that it was a “good meeting” and Mr Trump “really believes in Brexit”.

Mr Trump also said he turned down a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, who addressed protesters in Westminster. Mr Trump said Mr Corbyn was a “negative force”. “I really don’t like critics as much as I like and respect people who get things done,” he said.

Mrs May said the scope of trade talks had to be agreed by both countries.

Asked if the NHS would be included in post-Brexit trade talks, Mr Trump said “everything is on the table”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was among several Conservative leadership candidates hoping to replace Theresa May who said they would not allow the NHS to become part of any trade talks. “Not on my watch,” he tweeted.

Perhaps the US will play a Trump card – impose tariffs on the UK unless they hand their health system over to US companies.

Trump’s insulting introduction to London

Plenty of publicity was assured for Donald Trump’s visit to London, as he and the Mayor of London traded insults. Trump also took aim at the mayor of new York. He tweeted as he arrived:

, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.

Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!

I’m not sure about the great friends thing, but this ensures he will keep plenty of bitter enemies. His feud with Khan goes back some time

Washington Post: The long and bitter feud between Trump and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

When presidents embark on prestigious state visits abroad, in the past they were expected to leave their political disputes at home and put on a friendly face for the nation hosting them.

But when President Trump arrived in London on Monday for a long-delayed state visit to Britain, he ignored both customs. Circling back to a long feud with Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor and a vocal critic of Trump, the president tweeted [as above].

Khan, his own supporters say, has managed to hit the president where it hurts most, by winning election in a liberal and diverse city on promises that go against Trump’s core policies, granting permission for a “Trump baby” balloon to fly over the skies of London during Trump’s work visit there last year and deploying his own biography to try to prove Trump wrong.

Khan has been provocative, and Trump is easily provoked.

Before Khan was elected mayor, he told The Washington Post’s Karla Adam that Trump was seeking “to divide communities rather than unite them.” Khan repeatedly said in jest that his Muslim faith could pose problems during future U.S. visits.

“I’ll need to rush to come to America before November, because if Trump wins, I’ll be banned from coming,” Khan told The Post.

After becoming mayor, Khan, a Hillary Clinton supporter, doubled down, telling the BBC, “Donald Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe: It risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”

Khan comfortably won the London mayoral election in 2016. Initial vote:

  • Shadiq Khan (Labour) 1,148,716 (44.2%)
  • Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) 909.755 (35%)
  • Siân Berry (Greens) 150,637 (5.8%)

Nine other candidates failed to get the 5% required to make the next round. Khan won with 58.8% in the final head to head count with Goldsmith.

In a recent poll Khan was well in front, with 43% support overall and 64% in a head to head with his closest rival.

Trump has now arrived in London:

There are the inevitable tweets:

London part of trip is going really well. The Queen and the entire Royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our Country. Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them.

Great love all around. Also, big Trade Deal is possible once U.K. gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk!

Trump has some support, but a lot more opposition.

Live by social media, truth by social media.

Independent: Trump fans in London defend ‘hero’ president as thousands prepare to protest

Amid the threat of major protests during his UK state visit, a handful of Donald Trump supporters gathered outside Buckingham Palace to welcome the US leader – calling him a “hero” whose presidency the next British prime minister should try to emulate.

Jerry and Lisa Foster, from Hallendale Beach in Florida, said they wanted to show their support for their president, who was the best since Ronald Reagan.

Those views were echoed by Russell, 48, from Shropshire, who, wearing a ‘make America great again’ hat declined to give his surname because of the animosity he said the cap attracted.

“The beloved Mr Trump is a hero,” he said.

“Those people who are calling for him to be banned from the UK are fascist. And don’t forget, not everyone in the UK is against him. We need a Trump-like figure in Downing Street.”

But: Mass protests planned for Trump’s state visit to the UK

Mass protests have been planned for President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit to the U.K., just a year after the giant “Trump Baby” blimp sparked controversy in London.

Protest banners were unfurled over London’s Vauxhall bridge bearing the message: “Resist Trump. Resist Racism. Resist Cruelty. Resist Hate. Resist Sexism.”

Organizers of the protests from the “Together Against Trump” organization told ABC News that protests are planned at Buckingham Palace on Monday, when the president will be attending a state banquet with the Queen, and on Tuesday, when he will be visiting Prime Minister Theresa May.

The protest at Buckingham Palace is expected to be a small event, with only 66 people so far registered as “attending” on the Facebook event entitled: Protest at the Palace: Spoil Trump’s Banquet.

However, the protest on Tuesday, beginning in London’s historic Trafalgar Square at 11 a.m. local time, is expected to be a much more dramatic affair. Nearly 8,000 people are registered for the Facebook event, while another 33,000 social media users have said they are “interested” in it as of Sunday morning.

A spokesperson from the “Together Against Trump” group told ABC News that they expect protests to take place throughout the country, but that the event in Trafalgar Square is the main event.

A number of Facebook groups, including the “Stop Trump Coalition” and “Stand up to Trump,” have come together to organize the protests against his state visit, so that the “world will know that people here reject him and his toxic politics.”

Trump’s visit was always going to be controversial and opposed by some.

 

 

US trade moves

It’s hard to know what Trump is trying to do with trade.

This week he threatened Mexico with tariffs, and he is now ending trade privileges with India.

This probably won’t strengthen his hand with China.

China also talking tougher.

Many opinions on Mueller statement on Russian interference investigation

Perhaps the most important comment from Robert Mueller, but largely lost in the noise:

And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments: That there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.

Of course Donald Trump has an opinion on the Mueller statement.

And of course that totally misrepresents what Mueller said.

We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.

We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to the Volume II of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy, a president can not be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited.

The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.

And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

Here is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Full Statement

And a range of opinions:

Shame on Robert Mueller Alan Dershowitz, The Hill
True to Form, Mueller Delivers the Facts Frank Montoya, New York Daily News
Mr. Mueller, We Need to Hear More Robert De Niro, New York Times
Jim Comey & Robert Mueller: Two Peas in a Pod Julie Kelly, American Greatness

 

 

Mueller says Trump not cleared but couldn’t be charged

Roberty Mueller says that criminal charges against Trump were never an option for his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But he says the investigation didn’t clear Trump and there were other ways to hold the president accountable.

Reuters:  Mueller says he could not charge Trump as Congress weighs impeachment

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller said on Wednesday his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was never going to end with criminal charges against President Donald Trump and indicated it was up to Congress to decide if it should impeach Trump.

In his first public comments since starting the investigation in May 2017, Mueller said Justice Department policy prevented him from bringing charges against a sitting president, telling reporters it was “not an option we would consider.”

But he also said his two-year investigation did not clear Trump of improper behavior and pointed out there were other ways to hold presidents accountable.

“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing,” Mueller said as he announced his resignation from the Justice Department.

Democrats in Congress are debating whether to try to move ahead with impeachment, even though the Republican-controlled Senate would be unlikely to convict the president and remove him from office.

The White House and several top Republicans responded to Mueller’s comments on Wednesday by saying it was time to move on to other matters, while several Democratic presidential candidates called for impeachment.

Matthew Jacobs, a former federal prosecutor, said he thought Mueller was “saying in his own way that a crime was committed.”

A source close to Trump said the Mueller statement amounted to a “bad day for the home team.”

“Mueller’s statement today was a direct assault on the president,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And it will only empower the Democrats to be bolder and more aggressive in their move to impeach him.”

Mueller’s full statement is here.

Reuters: Trump says “nothing changes” after Mueller statement

U.S. President Donald Trump reacted swiftly to a statement by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his Russia investigation on Wednesday, saying nothing had changed and “the case is closed!”

“There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “The case is closed!”

Mueller, however, did not proclaim Trump’s innocence. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so,” Mueller said.

I doubt that the case is closed, politically at least.

 

Defying the US CongressTrump declares national emergency to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, UAE

This has to be somewhat concerning.

A few days ago from Reuters – Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress’ approval: senator

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, even though Congress blocked such sales for months over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Yemen, Senator Chris Murphy said on Wednesday.

“I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. Could happen this week,” the Democratic senator warned on Twitter.

Congressional aides said there are provisions of the Arms Control Act, which sets rules for international arms transactions, that would allow a president to approve a sale without congressional review in case of a national emergency.

In this case, they said the Republican president would cite rising tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he sees as an important U.S. partner in the region. Trump has touted arms sales to the Saudis as a way to generate U.S. jobs.

Trump previously declared an influx of immigrants a national emergency to bypass Congress and get $6 billion to build his wall along the Mexican border. Both Democrats and his fellow Republicans voted to block the move, forcing Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.

Now from Reuters: Defying Congress, Trump sets $8 billion-plus in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

U.S. President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, swept aside objections from Congress on Friday to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration’s action was “unfortunate” and likely to damage future White House interactions with Congress.

“I would have strongly preferred for the administration to utilize the long-established and codified arms sale review process,” McCaul said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that U.S. partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

In his memorandum justifying the emergency declaration, Pompeo listed years of actions by Iran. “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad,” he wrote, and cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran.

Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, which it described as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran against what it sees as a threat of potential attack.

Members of Congress from both parties have worried that Trump is pushing toward war with Iran.

War with Congress, war with Iran – is there nothing that Trump can’t do?

 

 

US-China trade war escalates

President Donald trump has escalated the US-China trade war in while negotiations continue. Playing hardball may be necessary to make decent progress, but it’s risky, not just for the US and Chinese economies, but for all those who trade with them as well, which is most of the world.

.Washington Times: No cheating on friends

A president who talks and acts tough on trade has been a long time coming. Donald Trump made getting fair dealing on trade a major plank in his campaign platform and has followed through. China can’t say it wasn’t warned about the imposition this week of additional tariffs on selected goods coming into the United States.

Bad trade deals have cost the United States billions of dollars and cost millions of American workers their jobs over the last several decades. Supporters of free trade find tariffs against China, Europe, Mexico and Canada hard to take. Tariffs are taxes hiding under another name and lead to higher prices for U.S. consumers. The stock market dropped 500 points after the new China tariffs were announced. Tariffs provide a safe harbor for inefficiencies, and protect markets and manufacturers from the need to innovate and increase productivity.

But as a short-term strategy to get the Chinese to the table to make agreements to protect American intellectual property, for example, it might be that rare occasion on which to do something bad so that good may come.

If it works.

RealClear Politics:  A Don Corleone Offer to China on Trade

You don’t have to like tariffs to like President Trump’s strategy of imposing harsh ones on China. Those he imposed overnight are punishing, not only to China but to American consumers. The longer they last, the more they will cost. Yet serious trade sanctions are the only hope of getting Beijing to roll back its abusive economic practices and open its markets to U.S. exporters and investors.

Half measures and paper promises won’t do. The U.S. wants a big deal, and it wants teeth in it to prevent cheating. To get it, Trump is willing to threaten a trade war. We don’t know if it will work.

We do know that Trump’s threats are credible. He began saying how much he loved tariffs long before he ran for office. The irony is that his protectionist stance could pave the way for freer trade, first with China and then with the European Union.

The problems may be clear, but the solutions are not. No previous administration has figured out how to move China away from its discriminatory policies. Sweet talk and generous gestures don’t work. If they did, President Obama would have succeeded, not only with China but with Iran, Russia, and other hostile powers. Empty threats don’t work either. If they did, several administrations would have gotten China to change its trade and investment practices long ago.

These failed policies don’t leave Washington with many options. The U.S. can either accept Chinese protectionism, as Europeans and previous U.S. administrations have, or it can make them an offer they can’t refuse. The terms are obvious:

  • Threaten China’s export-driven economy
  • Make that threat believable and sustainable
  • Offer China a reasonable deal
  • Make it costly for China to delay, and
  • Buttress the deal with tough enforcement mechanisms

Trump is taking the Don Corleone option. He acted swiftly and ruthlessly when Chinese trade negotiators withdrew concessions they had already made in writing. On Friday, he more than doubled tariffs to 25% on some $200 billion worth of Chinese exports, with promises of more to come.

Trump’s decisive move is directed at China’s economy, but it also sends a sobering message to North Korea’s nuclear negotiators. They are bound to see how costly it is to make empty promises to the Trump administration, as Kim Jong Un has done on denuclearization.

President Trump is forcing Xi to choose between two unhappy alternatives. That’s why he has thrown a severed horse head into the bed. Trump wants to force the issue and make it hard to resist the American offer. If he succeeds, he will present the deal as a huge win for both sides.

But dealing like this can have it’s risks, and it’s down sides.

Washington Post – Another View: Multi-front trade wars hurting U.S

News reports identify the Trump administration’s specific complaint as China’s alleged going back on its promises to put U.S.-requested policy changes into law. For their part, Chinese sources have told Western media that Beijing interpreted Trump’s complaints about purportedly tight Federal Reserve monetary policy as a sign of economic weakness that China could exploit.

It’s anyone guess what will come of the current meetings in Washington between China’s trade delegation and Trump’s team. What should not be in doubt, however, is that throughout the entire bargaining process with Beijing, the administration has undercut its position by attempting to wage simultaneous tariff battles with other countries.

As Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics has shown, Trump’s tariffs now cover 50.5% of Chinese imports — but also 7.3% of imports from Canada, 2.5% of imports from the European Union, 9.6% of imports from South Korea and 3.8% of imports from Japan.

By bracketing old friends with Beijing, even justifying some levies against them (on steel and aluminum) on “national security” grounds, Trump has made it politically difficult for them to rally to the U.S. side in the dispute with China. They were, in fact, obliged to retaliate.

This unforced error is doubly regrettable because Trump arguably had the upper hand going into his talks with China.

In a world where Trump is deeply unpopular, his complaints — shared by previous U.S. presidents — against China represented a rare case in which other nations conceded him the moral high ground. A savvier president would take advantage of that.

The negotiations with China might yet reach a mutually beneficial conclusion, or they might collapse. Either way, Trump will have defied a lesson of history: Multiple-front wars are the hardest to win, whether they are of the military kind or trade wars.

Fighting without allies is harder still.

But for now the big battle is with China, and much will depend on how they react.

Reuters: Trump says no hurry to reach deal with China as trade war escalates

In a series of morning tweets, Trump defended the tariff hike and said he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalize a deal, adding that the U.S. economy would gain more from the levies than any agreement.

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind,” Trump said in one of the tweets.

Despite Trump’s insistence that China will absorb the cost of the tariffs, U.S. businesses will pay them and likely pass them on to consumers. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Global stocks, which have fallen this week on the increased U.S.-China tensions, came under renewed pressure on Friday.

Following the U.S. tariff hike, China’s Commerce Ministry said it would take countermeasures but did not elaborate.

China’s central bank said it was fully able to cope with any external uncertainty.

China responded to Trump’s tariffs last year with levies on a range of U.S. goods including soybeans and pork, which has hurt U.S. farmers at a time when their debt has spiked to the highest level in decades.

Trump escalated the one way war of words. Much now depends on whether China responds by escalating the war of tariffs.

And how markets deal with the war. CNN: Dow Tanks After Trump’s Ballistic Twitter Rant Shellshocks Wall Street

The Dow’s weeklong catastrophe shows no signs of letting up, as the US stock market endured another shellacking at the hands of Donald Trump and his tariff regime on Friday.

The immediate trigger for Friday’s sell-off was the never-ending trade war teeter-totter, which continues to viciously seesaw between dizzying optimism and utter despair.

Less than a day after hinting that Thursday would be a “very strong day” for US-China trade negotiations, President Trump unleashed a ballistic Twitter rant in which he downplayed the need to “rush” into a trade deal.

Time will tell. Trump has a reputation for overstating his abilities and his tactics. Tweeting may be a useful tool for Trump, but like imposing tariffs it has risks.

What is not well known is how China will be approaching the current situation, as they operate far less publicly.

And a number of US businesses will be nervous about how all this will affect them.