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Washington Report June 15, 2018

18 Jun 2018

Washington Report June 15, 2018

Kim Jong Won … Welcome To The 1920’s … The New World Order … New Era Of Global Trade Wars … Congressional Interns … A Report On Comey … Public Servants Make $82 Million … Asylum … Separating Families … Takeaways From Tuesday … and other news of the week.
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Kim Jong Won
WaPo “President Trump expressed a bewilderingly high degree of confidence after meeting with Kim Jong Un that the North Korean leader is personally committed to giving up the nuclear weapons that ensure his grip on power. Trump referred to the communique that the two leaders signed at the end of their time together as “very comprehensive,” … but it is not.
… The pageantry and spectacle surrounding the first meeting between a U.S. president and a leader of North Korea’s autocratic regime also obscured the fact that the North Koreans agreed to little in the way of specific or tangible concessions. Although Kim signed a statement committing to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the joint statement between the two leaders included no timetable for when or how North Korea would reveal, destroy and allow verification of its nuclear arsenal.”
Israeli Doubts Axios “A classified report from Israel’s foreign ministry raises doubts over President Trump’s optimistic statements about his summit with Kim Jong-un, and determines that the U.S. retreated from its positions on several issues relating to North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Regardless of the smiles in the summit many in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. Congress doubt that North Korea is sincere in its intentions. Our assessment is that regardless of President Trump’s statements about quick changes that are expected in North Korean policy, the road the real and substantive change, if it ever happens, will be long and slow.”
-From the Classified [leaked] Report.

Party Like It’s The 1920’s
The Atlantic “The last few days—as President Donald Trump has savaged America’s allies over trade, demanded that they readmit Russia to the G7, and embraced North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un—make something clear: Cold War conservatism is dead. What’s replacing it resembles less the foreign-policy outlook that has animated conservatives since World War II than the sentiment that prevailed before it.In the 1920s, conservative Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover rejected both binding alliances and the notion that America should make economic sacrifices to uphold the geopolitical order. They saw little difference between Britain and France, which were more democratic, and Germany, which was more authoritarian, and insisted that America remain independent from them all. They opposed Woodrow Wilson’s dream of requiring America to aid European nations threatened with aggression through the League of Nations. And, among some conservatives, this fear of binding international commitments continued well into the 1940s. As late as 1949, Ohio Senator Robert Taft—dubbed “Mr. Republican”—voted against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization because NATO, like the League, restrained America’s freedom of action. “It obligates us,” Taft warned, “to go to war if at any time during the next 20 years anyone makes an armed attack on any of the 12 nations.”

But over time, the impact of World War II, and fear of the Soviet Union, largely overcame these anxieties, and Cold War conservatism was born. To justify America’s struggle against virulently anti-democratic powers, conservatives began defining America’s global role ideologically. The United States would lead the free world against its despotic foes. Excellent Read, Click Here.
Crimea Is Russian Because Everyone Speaks Russian
Politico ” President Donald Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian, according to two diplomatic sources. Trump made the remarks over dinner last Friday during a discussion on foreign affairs at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed News.”
Upcoming … A Russian Summit
NewYorker “‘There’s No Stopping Him’: Trump Insists on a Russia Summit”: “A senior Administration official familiar with the internal deliberations … [said]: “He’s going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he’s going to have a meeting with Putin.’ Two former senior U.S. officials told me that they had also been briefed on Trump’s orders to his staff to plan for the Putin summit soon. One of them said it could even occur on the first leg of Trump’s trip to Europe next month, before Trump attends the annual NATO meeting.”

New Era Of Global Trade Wars
Axios “President Trump … [according to] sources familiar with his thinking say he has no hesitation about potentially disrupting the world economy.
Trump today “will announce a 25% tariff on $50 billion of Chinese products,” the WashPost reports. “The tariffs, which Trump set in motion in March, are a response to China’s practice of compulsory technology licensing for foreign companies and its efforts to steal U.S. trade secrets via cybertheft.”

The Wall Street Journal adds that the decision follows a 90-minute meeting yesterday “of senior White House officials, national-security officials and … Treasury, Commerce Department, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday that China and the U.S. faced a choice between cooperation and confrontation, per the Journal.

A key point: “If China continues to help with North Korea, you could definitely see him walk back some tariffs.”

The frenetic reaction to the plan to pull the trigger on tariffs “shows how thoroughly the political elites misunderstand President Trump,” said an informal adviser to the West Wing: “He is committed to rewriting U.S. trade relationships across the board. He was not posturing when he ran as a trade skeptic. The advisers from his ‘let’s keep negotiating’ faction were never going to prevail. … [O]ur trading partners were convinced Trump would not risk the robust U.S. economy, so they never brought enough concessions to the negotiations.” Be smart … The adviser told me: “Turns out these moves were totally predictable but only to those with eyes, ears and memory.”
GARY COHN SPEAKS … “An escalating trade war could wipe out the benefits of the Republican tax law passed last fall, President Trump’s former top economic adviser said Thursday. … ‘If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation, and you could end up with consumer debt,’ Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, said at a Washington Post event. ‘Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown.’ Asked if the trade battle could erase the gains to the American economy from the tax law, Cohn said: “Yes, it could.’

Pay Congressional Interns .. FINALLY!
Roll Call “An approximate $50,000 will be allocated to each office for intern compensation with adjustments that reflect state population variation and noncontiguous state increases. For instance, Florida senators are estimated to be allocated $66,200 while Rhode Island senators are estimated to be allocated $46,000, according to the report text. The committee approved the money adopting by unanimous consent a manager’s amendment during its 2019 legislative branch appropriations bill markup.”

A Report On Comey
theSkimm “Yesterday, the report on the FBI’s handling of its Hillary Clinton investigation finally dropped. Unwrap It For Me The DOJ’s inspector general has been looking into how the FBI handled the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while sec of state. A 500-page report says former FBI director James Comey was “insubordinate” when he did things like share investigation updates with the public. It also says there’s no evidence that bias played a role in the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges against Clinton. The report did call out one FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts – including one that said “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. The report said that actions like that undermine FBI credibility. Was this a good or bad present? Depends who you ask. Both Republicans and Democrats found something they liked. Republicans say it shows that Comey wasn’t that great at his job. And that there are agents within the FBI who are against Trump. Dems say it shows that Clinton didn’t do anything wrong, now can we please stop talking about her emails?

Anything else? Plot twist: the report says Comey also used his own private email account for official FBI business. Clinton noticed. Trump’s been waiting for this report to come out, hoping it’ll vindicate his decision to fire Comey and prove there is bias in the FBI. Now, both Republicans and Democrats are using it to defend their separate narratives about Comey and the FBI.”

New York Is Sueing The Trumps
Axios “The state alleges Trump used “charitable assets to pay off the legal obligations of entities he controlled, to promote Trump hotels, to purchase personal items, and to support his presidential election campaign.” theskimm Unwrap it for me.The Trump Foundation is tax-exempt. So there are rules on how it can use its money. For years, New York AG’s office has been peeking under the Trump Foundation hood. Now, it’s saying the charity – which has no employees – was “little more than a checkbook” for President Trump. It says he used the org to pay off biz fees, campaign for prez, and decorate one of his golf clubs. The AG is calling on a judge to dissolve the foundation and get Trump to fork over $2.8 million. And says the IRS and election officials should dig deeper. Trump’s calling the suit politically motivated. And says his foundation donated more than $19 million to charity.”

Public Servants Make $82 Million Last Year
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump last year made at least $82 million in outside income while serving in the White House, according to financial disclosure forms released at the same time as the Singapore summit. … The filings show how the couple is collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests. Both Kushner and Trump have given up daily oversight of their companies as they work as unpaid senior advisers to the president. But while Kushner divested some holdings, he and his wife have maintained large stakes in businesses with domestic and foreign ties.”

@DaviSusan … “For comparison, members of the U.S. House and senior House staff can’t earn more than $28,000 in outside income in 2018.”

Asylum
WaPo “Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence generally will not qualify for asylum under U.S. law. “Sessions’ ruling overturned a 2016 decision by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals that said a battered woman from El Salvador was eligible for asylum under federal law. The administrative appeals court is normally the highest authority in the issue, but the attorney general has the power to assign cases to himself and set precedents. … To qualify for asylum, foreign nationals must establish that they have a fear of persecution in their homeland based on their race, religion, national origin, political opinion or ‘membership in a particular social group’ … Past appeals court rulings granted asylum to migrants who said they suffered persecution because they were victims of gang violence or domestic abuse in nations that were unwilling or unable to protect them.

“Critics say Monday’s ruling is the Trump administration’s latest effort to erode asylum protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, particularly those fleeing violence in Central America. They said it overturns decades of legal efforts to persuade the courts to protect women fleeing abuse. They also worry the ruling could affect migrants escaping gang violence or attacks on gays and lesbians. … Sessions used misleading statistics to justify turning away victims of domestic violence: “… The number of people receiving asylum in 2016 [was] about what it was in 2010, and, excluding 2010, lower than every other year since 1995.”

Separating Families At The Border As Policy
Vox “As a matter of policy, the US government is separating families who seek asylum in the US by crossing the border illegally. Dozens of parents are being split from their children each day — the children labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care, the parents labeled criminals and sent to jail. … the horror can make it hard to wrap your head around the policy. Family separation isn’t sudden, nor is it arbitrary. While the Trump administration claims it’s taking extraordinary measures in response to a temporary surge, it is entirely possible this will be the new normal. Here’s what you need to know to understand it.

There is no official Trump policy stating that every family entering the US without papers has to be separated. What there is is a policy that all adults caught crossing into the US illegally are supposed to be criminally prosecuted — and when that happens to a parent, separation is inevitable. Typically, people apprehended crossing into the US are held in immigration detention and sent before an immigration judge to see if they will be deported as unauthorized immigrants. Trump’s policy is to refer migrants for criminal prosecution so they are sent to a federal jail and brought before a federal judge a few weeks later to see if they’ll get prison time. That’s where the separation happens — because you can’t be kept with your children in federal jail.
The Trump administration is defending its decision to separate migrant children from their parents at the border as democrats slam the “zero tolerance” policy as “inhumane” and “un-American”. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) slams the Trump administration for “abusing” children in this way, saying: “For god’s sake America, what is happening to your soul?”
UPDATE: The Hill “Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he does not support children being separated from their parents when detained at the border. He said … “We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation.” The Speaker’s remarks follow Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s new “zero tolerance” policy dealing with undocumented families crossing the southern border.

Takeaways From Tuesday’s Primary Results
NYTs Virginia Republicans voted for Corey Stewart. South Carolina decided it was done with Mark Sanford. And Democrats spurned insurgents from the activist left.
1. It’s A New G.O.P For many years, Republican voters in Virginia’s affluent and highly educated Washington suburbs tended to reward mainstream candidates who could be competitive in the general election. But on Tuesday, it was Fairfax County, the population hub of the region, that delivered victory for Corey Stewart, the flame-throwing Trump acolyte who has won national attention with his paeans to Confederate emblems.Mr. Stewart narrowly defeated Nick Freitas, a state lawmaker, thanks to a decisive win in Fairfax County.
So what is happening in Fairfax? As the county has, like other high-income suburbs around the country, become more Democratic-leaning, the Republican Party has thinned out. The moderate wing of the party has dissipated, leaving a smaller and firmly conservative activist bedrock. And such voters care little about appeals to pragmatism — they are drawn to candidates who echo the president they embrace.
2. Dems Love the Party Establishment Across four states with contested primary elections, Democratic voters embraced the candidates favored — and in some cases handpicked — by party leaders in Washington and the states, spurning insurgents who tried to align themselves with the activist left.The night of triumph for the Democratic establishment was no aberration. Upstart liberals have won a few important primary elections in recent months, but for the most part Democratic voters and Democratic leaders have worked in concert rather than conflict. There is little sign of a Democratic version of the Tea Party rebellion that rocked the Republican Party in 2010, when G.O.P. activists revolted against a president they loathed — and also against officials atop their own party.
3. It Is The Trump Party Representative Mark Sanford carried the sort of conservative credentials that once were all but certain to inoculate a Republican against a primary challenger. He was a member of the House class of 1994, won an insurgent bid for governor in 2002 and earned acclaim on the right for being such an unswerving fiscal hawk he once brought squealing pigs into the state capitol to make a point about pork-barrel spending. Then he returned to Congress and became a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus. But none of that matters much in the era of Trump. Mr. Sanford saw his career extinguished, at least for the moment, because he refused to curb his criticism of Mr. Trump and complaints that the G.O.P. had become “a cult of personality.” The South Carolinian, once seen as a candidate for president, was able to mount a comeback after his well-publicized extramarital affair nearly a decade ago. But his infidelity to Mr. Trump proved fatal.”

Play Ball
“Rs & Ds put aside the sectarian hostilities that have increasingly defined this town and came together on the baseball diamond [last night, a year to the day] after bullets from a would-be mass assassin shook Congress,” AP’s Bill Barrow reports:
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who suffered life-threatening injuries at the baseball-practice shooting, got the first out at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity at Nats Park.

Dems bested Rs, 21-5!

 

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