US Politics in Trump era
The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.
President Trump said on Tuesday that Chinese manufacturing would “crumble” if the country did not agree to the United States’ trade terms, as newly released data showed his trade war was washing back to American shores and hurting the factories that the president has aimed to protect.
President Trump began a day set aside for healing in Dayton and El Paso by lashing out against his political rivals and the news media, employing the kind of divisive language that prompted protests in both cities even before he arrived. He mocked Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for president who once represented El Paso in Congress, for having a “phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage” and he linked the Dayton shooter to liberal politicians.
The American economy is slowing, dragged down by trade tensions and weak growth overseas. But there are few signs that the decade-long expansion is on the verge of stalling out.Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the economy, rose at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter, according to preliminary data released by the Commerce Department on Friday.
Dream Center Education Holdings, a subsidiary of a Los Angeles-based megachurch, had no experience in higher education when it petitioned the federal Education Department to let it take over a troubled chain of for-profit trade schools.But the organization’s chairman, Randall K. Barton, told the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, that the foundation wanted to “help people live better lives.”
Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on Theresa May and said the US would no longer deal with the British ambassador to Washington after the diplomat’s frank assessments of the president as “inept” and “dysfunctional” were leaked to the Mail on Sunday.
you want to understand Jared Kushner, I recommend starting with the dimples. When Jared smiles, his dimples do the work, cleaving his supple cheeks in an unconvincing approximation of contentment. The giveaway isn’t merely that his lips don’t seem to lift properly at the corners but that his eyes dissent. You can learn to force a smile, but getting your eyes to play along is a trickier thing.
President Trump said Friday morning that the United States military had been “cocked and loaded” for a strike against Iran on Thursday night, but that he called it off with 10 minutes to spare when a general told him that 150 people would probably die in the attack.
President Trump on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, leaving the Pentagon in transition at a time of escalating tensions with Iran and questions about the role of the military at the border with Mexico.
Homeland Security watchdog retires early after his office was forced to retract ‘feel-good’ audits of disaster response
John V. Kelly, the acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, announced his retirement Monday following revelations that he directed his staff to whitewash audits of the agency’s performance after federal disasters.
Trump’s Mexico tariffs: Republican lawmakers alarmed as president issues 5 percent levy on Mexican imports
President Trump forged ahead Friday with plans to impose import penalties on Mexico, one of the United States’ largest trading partners, brushing aside apoplectic lawmakers, business groups and investors who feared the White House was expanding trade wars without any plan for eventual escape.
Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared President Trump during a key meeting in Germany, putting the U.S. leader at a disadvantage during their first series of tête-à-têtes. The U.S. side anticipated a shorter meeting for exchanging courtesies, but it ballooned into a globe-spanning two-hour-plus session involving deliberations on a variety of geopolitical issues, said committee aides, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Tillerson’s seven-hour closed meeting with the committee.
President Trump abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday, saying he was unable to work with them on legislation following comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was “engaged in a coverup.”
That the Trump administration’s approach to Iran could lead the United States into an inadvertent conflict should come as a surprise to no one. Indeed, from the day Trump took office, many feared that his impulsive behavior, blustering rhetoric, inability to think ahead, disrespect for policy process, and determination to “win” could lead to war. In a spring 2017 essay for this magazine, I raised concerns about his potential to stumble into conflict with Iran, China, or North Korea.
Trump has said that there is no inconsistency in his administration’s messaging but that the image of incoherence can be useful. “At least Iran doesn’t know what to think, which at this point may very well be a good thing!” he tweeted Friday. But as he moves more deeply into the second half of his term with major foreign policy issues unresolved, Trump’s credibility has suffered, and his options have narrowed.
Trump Administration Plans to End Some Protections for Endangered Species After UN Report Warns of ‘Mass Extinction Event’
A United Nations report released this week found that one-eighth of the world’s animals and plants are at risk of extinction and that biodiversity was declining at an “unprecedented pace,” but David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said this dire portrait won’t stop the Trump administration from ending protections for endangered species in the United States.
Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.
President Trump and senior White House officials are working to salvage political support for a revised trade pact with Mexico and Canada, stunned by bipartisan blowback that appeared likely to scuttle a key initiative. Several Democrats said Trump put on a charm offensive Tuesday during a White House meeting, soliciting their feedback on what he would need to do to win their support for an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
During a series of recent congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to respond to a recent report finding the U.S. Department of Education has been scammed for hundreds of millions of dollars by fraudulent or mismanaged charter schools. Her responses reveal not only her inability to counter legitimate concerns over the spread of charter schools but also the charter school industry’s resistance to honestly address a chronic problem with its schools.
Kim Jong-un’s test of what analysts said could be a new short-range guided or cruise missile shows the North Korean leader reverting to saber rattling as he seeks to end sanctions that are derailing his hopes of rejuvenating the North’s economy.
The U.S. saw its highest level of layoffs in a first quarter since 2009, data from staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas released Thursday showed.By the numbers: Employers cut 190,410 jobs in the first 3 months of the year — 10.3% higher than the number of layoffs announced in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 35.6% higher than job cuts announced in the same quarter of 2018.
White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration
A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her “last hope” for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed.
The Trump administration informed a federal appeals court on Monday night that it would no longer defend the Affordable Care Act after a judge in Texas declared that the entire law must be struck down. The judge, Reed O’Connor, is a former Republican Senate staffer with a history of striking down policies opposed by conservatives. O’Connor’s opinion is widely viewed as ridiculous, even by conservative legal scholars and health policy experts.
U.S. posted record-breaking $891 billion goods trade deficit in 2018, despite Trump’s ‘America First’ policies
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.
President Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them “extremely passive and naive” about the “dangers of Iran” and pushing back on their assessments of the Islamic State and North Korea during a congressional hearing. In tweets, Trump offered what amounted to a rebuttal of testimony on global threats provided to the Senate on Tuesday by a panel of top officials from his administration.
A new American intelligence assessment of global threats has concluded that North Korea is “unlikely to give up” all of its nuclear stockpiles, and that Iran is not “currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activity” needed to make a bomb, directly contradicting two top tenets of President Trump’s foreign policy.
President Trump agreed Friday to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations proceeded over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, backing down after a month-long standoff failed to force Democrats to give him billions of dollars for his long-promised wall.
It is true that the global economy is sputtering, and that the stock market is in its worst pullback in a decade, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index down more than 19 percent since Sept. 20 as of Monday’s close. But this sense of gloom and pessimism has gotten ahead of the facts on the ground, especially concerning the United States economy.The real risk is not that insurmountable challenges knock the economy off course. It is that poor leadership converts moderate economic shocks into a crisis.
Beyond his attempts to roll back the agency’s fair-housing rules, Carson is overseeing a department whose fair-housing budget and staffing have been cut. And, notably, he has departed from the practices of recent Democratic and Republican predecessors of using their secretarial power to root out systemic racial discrimination by launching broad-based investigations into bias by banks, real estate companies and others.
President Trump, who aides said has been seething about news coverage of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s pointed resignation letter, abruptly announced Sunday that he was removing Mattis two months before his planned departure and installing Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary.
Exasperated over the market plunge, Trump asks advisers whether he can fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell
President Trump has asked internal and external advisers about whether he can fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell, two people familiar with the exchanges said, in a sign of his mounting frustration with the central bank chief. News of Trump’s discussions about Powell prompted rebukes from lawmakers and alarm among economists and Wall Street executives Saturday
For two years, they tried to tutor and confine him. They taught him history, explained nuances and gamed out reverberations. They urged careful deliberation, counseled restraint and prepared talking points to try to sell mainstream actions to a restive conservative base hungry for disruption. But in the end, they failed.
Jim Mattis, the four-star Marine general turned defense secretary, resigned on Thursday in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State.Mr. Trump announced the resignation in two tweets Thursday evening, and said Mr. Mattis will leave at the end of February.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio broke with his party by blasting last year’s tax overhaul for benefiting corporations rather than workers. “When corporation uses profits for stock buy back it’s deciding that returning capital to shareholders is better for business than investing in their products or workers,” Rubio said in a tweet Thursday. “Tax code encourages this. No surprise we have work life that is unstable & low paying.”
President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address. “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
For stock investors in the United States, the political and economic outlooks have suddenly become ominous. More volatility could be in store this week. “The fact is that politics is driving the economy to an extent that is very atypical,” said Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivatives strategist at BTIG, an institutional brokerage firm. “We would say probably to the greatest extent that we’ve seen in our investing lifetime.”
This “great guy” will leave behind an administration mired in scandal, chaos and corruption; a president perhaps even more reckless and lawless today than he was when Kelly arrived for work at the West Wing on the morning of July 31, 2017. That was a period in which political pundits and correspondents also believed the retired four-star general to be a “great guy.” Remember how his appointment, as replacement for the hapless Republican operative Reince Preibus, was greeted by the liberal press? Kelly, we were told, would be the “adult in the room”; he would rein in a brash and belligerent commander-in-chief.
The US Senate voted to confirm Kathy Kraninger as the next head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal government’s top consumer watchdog. She will take permanent charge over the CFPB and replace Mick Mulvaney. who critics say he’s sought to undermine its mission and scale back its enforcement and oversight efforts. Those same critics have echoed concerns about Kraninger, wondering whether she’ll continue on the same path as Mulvaney at the CFPB. They also point to her lack of experience in the consumer sector.
China seems to have a markedly different view of the trade war cease-fire reached with the Trump administration over the weekend, with state media making no mention Monday of a 90-day time frame or a reduction in tariffs on imported American cars — or indeed any specifics about buying more American products. That raises the prospect that the two sides have come away from their meeting in Buenos Aires, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, with very different ideas about what comes next.
President Trump is demanding top advisers craft a plan to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficits, but the president has flummoxed his own aides by repeatedly seeking new spending while ruling out measures needed to address the country’s unbalanced budget.
President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution.
There's mounting anecdotal evidence that President Donald Trump's trade war is causing trouble for the US economy and businesses. But Friday's report on third-quarter gross domestic product may be the best hard evidence yet that the tariffs are causing major disruptions in the economy.
Early this year, Axios obtained a schedule of President Trump’s activities, revealing hour after hour of “Executive Time” — which means, mostly, binge-watching cable television news and tweeting. Politico has obtained another weekly Trump schedule, and if anything, it appears to contain even less actual work.
One of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history shows no signs of slowing — and the Trump administration barred US health experts who want to help at the outbreak’s epicenter in the Democratic Republic of Congo from traveling there. The relatively tepid response from the US, at a time when the outbreak is spiraling, has former CDC officials and global health experts concerned. “I do worry that in the worst-case scenario, we could have an outbreak of tens of thousands of people,” said Daniel Bausch, the director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, “and complete destabilization of an already unstable region.”
Ford will be making cuts to its 70,000-strong white-collar workforce in a move it calls a "redesign" of its staff to be leaner, have fewer layers, and offer more decision-making power to employees, the company announced.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made “significant progress” over the weekend toward dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The problem is it’s not clear what advancement he’s pointing to.
Last year, before he became a supreme court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh hired the son of a close friend to serve as his clerk, even though the clerk had not earned a spot on the Yale Law Journal, as almost all Kavanaugh’s previous Yale clerks had. The decision to hire Clayton Kozinski, son of the now disgraced judge Alex Kozinski, smacked of the kind of cronyism that is rife in federal courts. It was especially common for Kavanaugh, who not only had a reputation for hiring “model-like” female clerks, but also the children of powerful friends and allies.
The federal government could soon pay more in interest on its debt than it spends on the military, Medicaid or children’s programs. The run-up in borrowing costs is a one-two punch brought on by the need to finance a fast-growing budget deficit, worsened by tax cuts and steadily rising interest rates that will make the debt more expensive.
Released on Monday by the official Xinhua news agency, Facts About the China-US Trade Dispute and China’s Stance, is the first comprehensive document from President Xi Jinping’s administration on the new economic Cold War. “Intimidation” and “bullying” are used frequently while Washington has been accused of “contradicting itself and constantly challenging China.” This, in turn, has caused “serious damage” to trade relations between the world’s two largest economies.
The Trump administration will open a week of high-level meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York with a drug policy event featuring President Donald Trump. Invites to the event are being doled out only to those countries that have signed on to a controversial, nonnegotiable action plan, according to documents obtained by The Intercept — among them the countries with the world’s most draconian drug laws.
The Toronto Star earlier Friday printed remarks Trump made during an interview with Bloomberg News the day before, in which he said the United States won't budge on a trade deal with Canada unless it is "totally on our terms."
The revised death toll is nearly 50 times the previous estimate of 64 Governor Ricardo Rossello "accepted" the findings in a long-awaited independent investigation. Puerto Rico has struggled to repair its infrastructure and power grid since the storm, and is asking US Congress for $139bn (£108bn) in recovery funds.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed back against President Trump’s recent attack on him — namely that Mr. Sessions never took control of the Justice Department — and said on Thursday that he would not be influenced by politics in the job.
President Trump pushed his lawyers in recent days to try once again to reach an agreement with the special counsel’s office about his sitting for an interview, flouting their advice that he should not answer investigators’ questions, three people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.
President Trump’s announcement on trade with the European Union completes a cycle now familiar in his presidency. The commander in chief flogs an issue repeatedly as a crisis-level threat while pursuing a fix that often creates more harm than it solves -- then beats a partial retreat that he frames as a victory.
The amount of corporate taxes collected by the federal government has plunged to historically low levels in the first six months of the year, pushing up the federal budget deficit much faster than economists had predicted. The reason is President Trump’s tax cuts. The law introduced a standard corporate rate of 21 percent, down from a high of 35 percent, and allowed companies to immediately deduct many new investments.
President Trump accused China and the European Union of manipulating their currencies and continued to criticize the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, saying those moves are putting the United States at a disadvantage. His comments once again break with longstanding White House norms, in which American presidents tend to talk sparingly about the United States dollar and, when they do, generally reiterate that a strong dollar is in the national interest.
Donald Trump hailed Boris Johnson as a future prime minister, accused the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, of doing “a bad job” on terrorism and said there had been too much immigration in Europe in an incendiary interview that raised questions about the decision to invite him to Britain.
NATO, a pillar of the global order, emerged from a two-day confrontation with President Trump on Thursday intact but distracted and shaken, a further challenge to the alliance as it faces an expansionist Russia and growing authoritarianism among some of its own members.
Global debt has hit another high, climbing to $247 trillion in the first quarter of 2018, according to a report published Wednesday. Of that figure, the non-financial sector accounted for $186 trillion.. “Firms have used artificially low rates to borrow in the capital markets and only buy back stock in the equity market,” LaVorgna said. “The inherent instability of debt over equity financing suggests that the next downturn could hit investment spending unusually hard.”
While both Trump and Graham are likely right that Beijing had a hand in North Korea’s recalcitrant statement on Pompeo, the turn is likely part of a wider strategy to supplant America’s geopolitical dominance in Asia rather than a reaction to the tiff on tariffs.
As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said that the deficit is “coming down rapidly” in a Friday morning appearance on Fox Business.The problem for President Trump’s top economic adviser is that the deficit is actually rising.
The ‘ultimate deal’ that Jared Kushner is proposing for Palestine would strip the people of all their dignity
“I believe,” quoth Crown Prince Kushner this week, “that Palestinian people are less invested in the politicians’ talking points than they are in seeing how a deal will give them and their future generations new opportunities, more and better paying jobs and prospects for a better life.” Is Trump’s son-in-law – “adviser” on the Middle East, real estate developer and US investor – delusional? After three Arab-Israeli wars, tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths and millions of refugees, does Jared Kushner really believe that the Palestinians will settle for cash?
President Trump on Sunday explicitly advocated depriving undocumented immigrants of their due-process rights, arguing that people who cross the border into the United States illegally must immediately be deported without trial — and sowing more confusion among Republicans ahead of a planned immigration vote this week.
The whole interview is worth reading in full to understand its striking lack of detail. Kushner makes no mention of Israeli settlements, the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, or the 61 Palestinians in Gaza who Israeli forces killed that day for peacefully protesting. Kushner did not say anything about the right of return for Palestinian refugees or returning to the 1967 lines as borders for a future Palestinian state. He did not criticize Israel or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at all.
Despite’s the president’s confidence, details surrounding the document remain vague, with reports suggesting it appears to lack firm commitments by Kim. The document purportedly makes no mention of North Korea’s human rights violations—a topic Trump had promised would not even be broached during the summit. According to Trump, North Korea will begin steps to denuclearize “very quickly,” while the US has agreed to halt military exercises in the region. That significant concession appears to have blindsided the South Korean government.
President Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing. In a subsequent tweet Monday, Trump also claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election had been “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
Prior to becoming Trump’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell was a Republican operative with a history of making bombastic — one might even say “undiplomatic” — statements. Over the weekend, this habit got Ambassador Grenell in trouble when he gave an unguarded interview to Breitbart in which he seemed to imply that he would actively work to topple the current centrist German government.
A highly credible new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the ultimate fallout from Hurricane Maria was 4,600 “excess deaths” — more than twice the mortality of Hurricane Katrina and the deadliest natural disaster on US soil in more than a century. Suspicion will, of course, linger for years that there’s a connection between Trump’s habit of weaponizing anti-Latino hysteria as the centerpiece of his politics and the unfolding of an essentially unprecedented human tragedy in a Spanish-speaking US territory. The possibility that Trump and his team simply have no idea what they’re doing should not, however, be dismissed out of hand.
Trump is blaming Democrats for separating migrant families at the border. Here’s why this isn’t a surprise.
President Trump’s attempt to blame Democrats for separating migrant families at the border is renewing a political uproar over immigration, an issue that has challenged Trump throughout his presidency and threatens to grow more heated as he imposes more restrictions to stem the flow of illegal immigration.
In February, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats deemed cyberwarfare the No. 1 threat to the United States. Yet this month, new national security adviser John Bolton decided to eliminate the cybersecurity coordinator position on the National Security Council. Bolton’s decision, justified as a move to “streamline” what is asserted to be a “core capability,” instead is likely to downgrade the priority of cybersecurity and leave top national security officials ill-equipped.
President Trump has notified Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he has canceled their much-anticipated meeting to discuss steps toward denuclearization and peace because of recent “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang toward members of his administration.
China has called President Trump’s bluff. Chinese negotiators left Washington this weekend with a significant win: a willingness by the Trump administration to hold off for now on imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports. China gave up little in return, spurning the administration’s nudges for a concrete commitment to buy more goods from the United States, and avoiding limits on its efforts to build new high-tech Chinese industries.
Donald Trump has threatened Kim Jong-un with the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi if the North Korean leader “doesn’t make a deal” on his nuclear weapons programme. The US president issued the threat at t he White House when he was asked about the recent suggestion by his national security adviser, John Bolton, that the “Libyan model” be a template for dealing with North Korea at a summit between Trump and Kim planned for 12 June in Singapore.
Mr. Trump’s tweet on Sunday left many scratching their heads. The president has taken a tough stance on what his administration deems unfair trade practices by the Chinese government. And he has trumpeted his efforts to safeguard American jobs even if it means creating economic strain in other countries. The prospective shutdown of ZTE has been seen as major leverage in continuing trade discussions between China and the United States over Chinese trade practices.
More than just an ideologically radical opinion, Judge Ho’s dissent from the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision not to rehear Zimmerman v. City of Austin is a monument to conservative political rhetoric and right-wing historical myths. It’s the sort of commentary one would expect to find in an especially strident political magazine — perhaps one of the publications one of Ho’s current law clerks used to write for. It is emphatically not the sort of writing one expects to find in a judicial opinion.
“If he doesn’t understand what he’s doing to the nation by doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be a one-term president, plain and simple,” said Mr. Runck, a fourth-generation farmer who voted for Mr. Trump. Pausing outside the post office in this town of 2,300, Mr. Runck said the repercussions could be more immediate for Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican whose bid against Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, has been complicated by the proposed tariffs.
Now that Tillerson has been fired, the vaunted "Redesign" initiative he launched faces an uncertain future, but at least one clear legacy: around $12 million spent just for private consultants who in some cases charged the State Department more than $300 an hour.
Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer tapped as President Trump’s national security adviser last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation, will resign and be replaced by John R. Bolton, a hard-line former United States ambassador to the United Nations, White House officials said Thursday.
President Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, John Dowd, resigned on Thursday as his strategy for cooperating with the inquiry grew increasingly at odds with Mr. Trump’s desire for a more aggressive posture.
In Trump’s decision on North Korea, the world glimpses a president who is his own diplomat, negotiator and strategist
Over the past six weeks, the Trump administration’s roster of Korean experts, already depleted, grew even thinner. The White House mysteriously dropped its choice for ambassador to Seoul. The State Department’s top North Korea specialist resigned. And the senior Asia director at the National Security Council was out the past two weeks on paternity leave.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been stripped of his high-level security clearance after months of delays in completing an exhaustive background check, limiting his ability to view highly classified information, a White House official and another person familiar with Mr. Kushner’s situation said.
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him,” White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said in an initial statement Tuesday about allegations that the top White House aide had abused an ex-wife. By Wednesday afternoon, Porter resigned amid allegations that he had abused another ex-wife, who produced photographs of her black eye. And Kelly was suddenly “shocked.”
A home improvement contractor married to one of Donald and Melania Trump’s former household staffers is now working as an official at the Environmental Protection Agency, the latest example of someone with a personal connection to the Trump family finding work in the administration.
Trump is holding the office of president, but he’s not doing the job of president. He seems to have no real idea what’s going on, even with his own signature policy moves. Some of his misstatements have the color of propaganda, but often he seems to be caught up in other people’s propaganda or even to have misunderstood his own talking points. He’s disengaged from the details of big questions like NAFTA — “I may terminate NAFTA, I may not,” he says profoundly. He can’t even describe his own negotiating positions in the immigration standoff accurately.
Once more, the Trump administration has upset the norms. For decades, scientists have provided expert advice to the White House and federal agencies, helping inform decisions that affect the nation’s health and safety. But, according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists released last week, the Trump administration has neglected, suspended, or disbanded many science advisory committees.
In his first year in office, Trump ordered 95 separate reports, performance reviews, instructions, or other activities to be carried out by executive branch agencies. The Intercept has been reviewing these orders for the last year. We found that 48 of the 95 actions were completed, in many cases after the due date stipulated in the order. Federal agencies have yet to complete another 20. In 27 cases, the agency was unresponsive to our requests for information.
Even by the standard of their tumultuous relationship, the growing feud between the United States and Pakistan is unusually serious, with the potential to trigger a breakdown in ties that could threaten cooperation on intelligence, nuclear safety and America’s war in Afghanistan.
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