US Politics in Trump era
In the first skirmish in what promises to be an epic impeachment struggle between the executive and legislative branches, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at three congressional committees that are seeking to depose diplomats involved in American policy toward Ukraine, calling their demands for confidential interviews “an act of intimidation.”
President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.
President Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was “completely debunked” long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, a former top adviser said on Sunday.
President Trump on Monday questioned whether the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, should be arrested for treason for his description of a phone call Mr. Trump had with the president of Ukraine during a recent congressional hearing.
After hearing that President Trump tried to persuade Ukraine to investigate a 2020 campaign rival, senior officials at the White House scrambled to “lock down” records of the call, a whistle-blower alleged in an explosive complaint released Thursday.
President Trump told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations on Thursday morning that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blower about his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently.
After months of caution, Ms. Pelosi has become convinced that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, left the House no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry that has the potential to reshape his presidency and cleave an already divided nation just a year before he plans to stand for re-election.
President Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he discussed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Ukraine’s president as Democrats ramped up calls for an investigation into whether he improperly pressured a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent.
The Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake the Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools after concluding that it was offering students a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region.
Investors take for granted that the Federal Reserve controls interest rates. But a surprisingly lively couple of days in short-term money markets has meant that the “how” became nearly as important as the “why.” The stress started on Monday in the market for repurchase agreements, or repos. Repos are short-term loans mainly used by banks and hedge funds in their daily bond trading and brokerage businesses.
The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies. Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.
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.
The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that imposed a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they must receive.
Almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2018, I visited Jeffrey Epstein at his cavernous Manhattan mansion.The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.
Israel on Thursday barred the entry of two American Democratic congresswomen who had planned to visit the West Bank, hours after President Trump had urged the country to block them.Mr. Trump’s intervention was an extraordinary step to influence an allied nation and punish his political opponents at home.
In ominous signs of the damage being done by the trade war between China and the United States, data released on Wednesday indicated that the German economy was hurtling toward recession and that growth at Chinese factories was slowing at a pace not seen in nearly two decades.
Elliott Broidy had the kind of past that might have given a more traditional White House reason to keep him at a distance: A wealthy businessman, he had pleaded guilty in 2009 to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials to help land a $250 million investment from the state’s pension fund.
Attorney General William P. Barr said on Monday that there were “serious irregularities” at the federal jail in Manhattan where Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was long dogged by accusations of sexual abuse of girls, was found dead on Saturday morning after he had apparently hanged himself.
The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.
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 trade war between the United States and China entered a more dangerous phase on Monday, as Beijing allowed its currency to weaken, Chinese enterprises stopped making new purchases of American farm goods and President Trump’s Treasury Department formally labeled China a currency manipulator.
Iran seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Sunday, the third time Tehran has reported detaining a tanker in the last month as the United States applies its campaign of “maximum pressure,” sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the country.
Cheaper mortgages are usually a boon to the housing market. But this year, a sharp drop in mortgage rates hasn’t provided much of a lift, and that could bode poorly for the Federal Reserve’s efforts to shore up economic growth.
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade on Wednesday as it attempted to guard the record-long economic expansion against mounting global risks. The widely expected quarter-point move, the Fed’s first since it cut rates to near zero in 2008, is meant to protect the economy against the potentially harmful effects of a growth slowdown in China and Europe and uncertainty from President Trump’s trade war.
President Trump announced on Sunday that Dan Coats will step down as director of national intelligence after a tenure in which the two were often at odds over Russia, North Korea and the president’s own attacks on the intelligence community.“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” who represents a Baltimore-based district that has become a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
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.
Four of the world’s largest automakers, including the Ford Motor Company, have struck a deal with California to reduce tailpipe pollution, in a setback to the Trump administration as it prepares to weaken national emissions standards and revoke states’ rights to set their own such rules.
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.”
History will record last week as a moment when President Trump turned to raw racial appeals to attack a group of nonwhite lawmakers, but his attacks also underscored a remarkable fact of his first term: His rhetorical appeals to white working-class voters have not been matched by legislative accomplishments aimed at their economic interests.
Mr. Epstein, who was charged this month with sex trafficking of teenage girls, liked to portray himself as a financial wizard, someone whose business and investing acumen made him indispensable to corporate executives and other leaders. But there is little evidence to support that notion. The financial services that Mr. Epstein dispensed appear to have been mostly pedestrian, and his list of clients small.Mr. Epstein nonetheless managed to affix himself to a handful of prominent Wall Street veterans, including Mr. Staley, who is now chief executive of the British bank Barclays.
The American military shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, President Trump said during a ceremony at the White House.Mr. Trump said the unmanned aircraft threatened the Boxer, an amphibious assault ship that can launch attack jets and helicopters from its landing deck.
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to weaken rules that for the past quarter-century have given communities a voice in deciding how much pollution may legally be released by nearby power plants and factories.
Mr. Epstein is routinely described as a billionaire and brilliant financier, and he rubbed elbows with the powerful, including former and future presidents. Even after his 2008 guilty plea in a prostitution case in Florida, he promoted himself as a financial wizard who used arcane mathematical models, and he often dropped the names of Nobel Prize-winning friends. He told potential clients that they had to invest a minimum of $1 billion. At his peak in the early 2000s, a magazine profile said he employed 150 people, some working out of the historic Villard Houses on Madison Avenue.Much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they have no following in Congress. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shot back that she and three of her fellow liberal freshmen, darlings of the left known collectively as “the squad,” are wielding the real power in the party.
A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, Justice Department officials reversed course on Wednesday and said they were hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against the challengers opposed to partisan gerrymandering, the practice in which the party that controls the state legislature draws voting maps to help elect its candidates. The vote in two cases was 5 to 4, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. The court appeared to close the door on such claims.
Congress sent President Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters.
In the hours before and after leaving for an international summit meeting, Mr. Trump assailed Japan, Germany and India. He complained that under existing treaty provisions, if the United States were attacked, Japan would only “watch it on a Sony television.” He called Germany a security freeloader and chastised India for raising tariffs on American goods.
At the squat, sand-colored concrete border station in Texas that has become the center of debate over President Trump’s immigration policies, a chaotic shuffle of migrant children continued on Tuesday as more than 100 were moved back into a facility that days earlier had been emptied in the midst of criticism that young detainees there were hungry, crying and unwashed.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Tuesday called the White House “mentally retarded” and vowed that Tehran would not be intimidated by American sanctions — drawing a blistering threat of “obliteration” from President Trump.“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, calling Mr. Rouhani’s comments “ignorant and insulting.”
Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland,” but the milk makers who gave the state its moniker are vanishing, falling prey to a variety of impediments, including President Trump and his global trade war.
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.
Iran shot down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, both nations said, but they differed on the crucial issue of whether the aircraft had violated Iranian airspace, in the latest escalation in tensions that have raised fears of war between the two countries.Iranian officials said that the drone was over Iran, which the American military denied — an important distinction in determining who was at fault — and each side accused the other of being the aggressor.
Administration officials are briefing Congress on what they say are ties between Iran and Al Qaeda, prompting skeptical reactions and concern on Capitol Hill that the White House could invoke the war authorization passed in 2001 as legal cover for military action against Tehran.
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.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that intelligence reviewed by American officials showed that Iran was responsible for attacks earlier in the day on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a critical waterway for the transit of much of the world’s oil.Mr. Pompeo did not present any evidence to back up the assessment of Iran’s involvement.
A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt of Congress, hours after President Trump invoked executive privilege to block disclosure of crucial documents on the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday.
President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.
Many of the world’s largest automakers joined together Thursday to tell President Trump that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles — threatens to hurt their profitability and produce “untenable” instability in one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors.
When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds. It also raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago.
The latest report was a disappointing showing that will stoke fears the economy is softening as the Trump administration’s trade war with China and potentially Mexico escalates. The Federal Reserve has signaled that it would consider a rate cut in the event of economic weakness, and May’s data is likely to be an important factor in their decisions.
The Trump administration’s practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, urging an immediate halt to the practice.
Prince Mohammed bin Zayed grew the U.A.E.’s power by following America’s lead. He now has an increasingly bellicose agenda of his own. At times, the prince has contradicted American policy and destabilized neighbors. Rights groups have criticized him for jailing dissidents at home, for his role in creating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and for backing the Saudi prince whose agents killed the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Kim Yong-chol, a former North Korean spy master and vice chairman of its ruling Workers’ Party, had been the country’s most internationally visible diplomat in the past year, visiting the White House twice and leading negotiations for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s two summit meetings with President Trump. This week, leading South Korean newspapers reported Kim Yong-chol’s fall from grace. One of them, the conservative daily Chosun Ilbo, went so far as to report that Mr. Kim had been banished to forced labor, with many of his negotiating team members either executed or sent to prison camps.
When the Trump administration first imposed tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports in July, Andy LaFrazia figured it was just another curveball for his company. “Everyone was saying: ‘Oh, it’s a negotiating tactic. It won’t last long,’” Mr. LaFrazia recalled. But nearly a year later, the trade war shows no sign of cooling off. Evidence is mounting that the conflict has taken an economic toll.
President Trump publicly undercut John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, on Iran and North Korea in recent days, raising questions about the administration’s policy and personnel in the middle of confrontations with both long-term American adversaries.
President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis.
Manipulated videos of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it seem as if she were stumbling over and slurring her words continued to spread across social media on Friday, fueled by President Trump’s feud with the Democratic leader.
President Trump on Thursday unveiled a $16 billion bailout for farmers hurt by his trade war with Beijing, signaling a protracted fight ahead that is already prompting some American companies to shift business away from China.
Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, defied a House subpoena on Tuesday under order of the White House, stoking outraged Democrats to contemplate anew punitive measures, including opening an impeachment inquiry, to try to enforce Congress’s oversight powers.
Mr. Betras, who recently stepped down as Democratic chairman of populous Mahoning County, said that while Democrats in Washington harp on President Trump’s unfitness for office, his taxes and possible impeachment, the president is solidifying blue-collar support through an aggressive trade war with China, even if his tariffs mean economic pain in the short term.
Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba’s disastrous unraveling in the 1990s. The crumbling of Venezuela’s economy has now outpaced them all. Venezuela’s fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, economists say.
With strong memories of the last catastrophic war in Iraq, Europeans are united in opposing what many consider the United States’ effort to provoke Iran into a shooting war. Yet, despite the strains in trans-Atlantic relations in the Trump years, flat-out opposition to Washington remains an uncomfortable place for European nations.
The photographs fueled fears that Iran would fire missiles at U.S. naval ships in the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon has not released the photograph. On its own, two American officials said, the photograph was not compelling enough to convince the American public and lawmakers, or foreign allies, of the new Iranian threat. But releasing other supporting images could compromise secret sources and methods of collecting intelligence, the officials said.
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, administration officials said.
The United States and China escalated their trade fight on Monday as Beijing moved to raise tariffs on nearly $60 billion worth of American goods in retaliation for President Trump’s decision to punish China with higher tariffs on a slew of imports.China’s finance ministry announced that it was raising tariffs on a wide range of American goods to 20 percent or 25 percent from 10 percent in response to Mr. Trump’s decision to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods
President Trump said on Thursday that the United States would raise tariffs on $200 billion of worth of Chinese goods on Friday morning and begin the process to tax nearly all of China’s imports as he accused Beijing of trying to “renegotiate” a trade deal.
President Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report and the evidence he collected from Congress. The assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same material.
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 said on Sunday that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, should not testify before Congress, setting up another confrontation with Democrats over presidential authority and the separation of powers.
The labor market the United States is experiencing right now wasn’t supposed to be possible. Not that long ago, the overwhelming consensus among economists would have been that you couldn’t have a 3.6 percent unemployment rate without also seeing the rate of job creation slowing (where are new workers going to come from with so few out of work, after all?) and having an inflation surge (a worker shortage should mean employers bidding up wages, right?).
The Trump administration escalated its defiance of Congress on Wednesday, as the Justice Department refused to let an official testify on Capitol Hill and President Trump vowed to fight what he called a “ridiculous” subpoena ordering a former top aide to appear before lawmakers. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House. “These aren’t, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.”
Robert S. Mueller III revealed a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, cataloging in a report released on Thursday the attempts by Mr. Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start.
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.
President Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution on Tuesday that would have forced an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen, rejecting an appeal by lawmakers to his own deeply rooted instincts to withdraw the United States from bloody foreign conflicts.
In small but politically significant ways, the economy under President Trump has favored regions and constituencies that supported him in 2016. These are the men and women whom Trump called forgotten Americans.
From canapé-filled fund-raisers on the coasts to the cloakrooms of Washington, mainstream Democrats are increasingly worried that their effort to defeat President Trump in 2020 could be complicated by Mr. Sanders, in a political scenario all too reminiscent of how Mr. Trump himself seized the Republican nomination in 2016.
As long as President Trump has focused on what he said was the danger lurking at the southwestern border, he has also talked about the supposed threat from one specific group already in the country: Muslims.During the 2016 campaign, he would not rule out creating a registry of Muslims in the United States. He claimed to have seen “thousands” of Muslims cheering on rooftops in New Jersey after Sept. 11, a statement that was widely debunked. After deadly attacks in Paris and California, Mr. Trump called for a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States.
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
President Trump and his Republican allies went on the offensive on Monday, vowing to pursue and even punish those responsible for the Russia investigation now that the special counsel has wrapped up without implicating him or his campaign in a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.
Democrats hoped to put their wrenching intraparty debate over anti-Semitism to rest when they passed a catchall antibigotry resolution in the House this month, but Senate Republicans, eager to court American Jews outraged by the rise of anti-Semitism, have other plans.
Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction of Justice
The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found that neither President Trump nor any of his aides conspired or coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr.Mr. Barr also said that Mr. Mueller’s team drew no conclusions about whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice.
President Trump undercut his own Treasury Department on Friday by announcing that he was rolling back North Korea sanctions that it imposed just a day ago. The move, announced on Twitter, was a remarkable display of dissension within the Trump administration and represented a striking case of a White House intervening to reverse a major national security decision made only hours earlier by the president’s own officials.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information on Thursday that he said showed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private messaging services for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws.
A Harvard study found that executives donate more heavily to Republicans. For the study, to be released Tuesday, they tracked personal political contributions for more than 3,500 chief executives that occupied the corner office anytime from 2000 to 2017. Just 18.4 percent of the executives studied were designated as Democrats. The clear majority — 57.7 percent — demonstrated their affiliation through donations to the Republican Party. Indeed, 75 percent of donations from the median chief executive were directed to Republicans.
Federal regulators moved on Wednesday to ease oversight of the country’s largest banks and other financial firms, continuing a push by the Trump administration to reverse rules that were put in place following the 2008 financial crisis.The Federal Reserve said it would adjust the structure of its annual “stress tests,” which measure the ability of leading banks to withstand a potential economic or financial storm. The changes are likely to make it easier for banks to get regulatory approval to pay higher dividends or buy back their own shares.