A Window Into Trump Plan to Counter Democrats
With the White House under a barrage of inquiries from freshly empowered Democrats, a dispute over security clearances for the president’s son-in-law and other top officials is providing a primer on the administration’s defensive strategy.
While Donald Trump stormed on Twitter that Democratic committee chairs “have gone stone cold CRAZY” in their demands for information from “innocent people,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone lodged a more measured, tactical response.
Cipollone argued in a letter to the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform -- which is investigating how security clearances were granted to Jared Kushner and others -- that the panel hadn’t established a legitimate purpose for its “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive demands.” He called for “negotiations in good faith” rather than “legally unsupportable ultimatums,” Shannon Pettypiece reports.
The approach mirrors one the Trump team took early on towards Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian election meddling inquiry: pairing the president’s unbridled criticism with lawyers’ more muted overtures towards legal compromise.
With Mueller possibly on the cusp of submitting his long-awaited report, the Democratic House could soon become the primary locus of presidential inquiries. And Trump’s team is signaling they’re ready to fight back on multiple fronts.
Pushing for a win | Trump is pressuring U.S. negotiators to cut a deal with China soon in the hope of fueling a market rally, as he grows increasingly concerned the lack of an agreement could drag down stocks, Jennifer Jacobs and Saleha Mohsin report. With the 2020 election approaching, the self-proclaimed Tariff Man is presiding over a ballooning trade gap, exposing him to criticism the U.S. is falling short of the main metric by which he judges countries to be winning or losing.
Standoff drags on | Expectations that military commanders would abandon Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have so far been dashed. And even though national assembly leader Juan Guaido is back in Caracas — and recognized by 50 nations as the country’s legitimate leader — the push to remove Maduro is growing increasingly chaotic and risky, write Ethan Bronner and David Wainer report.
Political force | Women are becoming an increasingly potent constituency in India, helped in part by a vast government loan program. Archana Chaudhary reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes his $27 billion investment in small loans to 56.3 million rural women will reap dividends at the ballot box — and possibly even swing next month’s increasingly close election his way.
Family squabble | House Democratic leaders’ decision to hold a vote on an anti-Semitism resolution has opened a generational rift in the party. The measure indirectly rebukes comments that one of their own members, Ilhan Omar, has made about Israel. While it doesn’t explicitly mention Omar, that’s done little to calm her supporters, including fellow freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who say there are far worse examples of offensive behavior and statements in Congress.
Laundering losers | Europe’s long-standing resistance to joint policing of its financial system is coming back to haunt it with a widening money-laundering scandal that's exposed weaknesses Russian criminals have been exploiting for years. The revelations are increasing the prospect that U.S. authorities will impose draconian fines of their own as Europe's patchwork of systems and rules hinders the policing of dirty cash.
Tic Tac diplomacy | On the outs with Germany and France, Trump’s getting cozy with Europe's youngest leader, who capitalized on anti-immigration sentiment to get to power. “It was kind of wow, he was asking one question after the other: How is Angela Merkel doing, what about the European elections, how is Brexit going to shake out?” That’s how Sebastian Kurz described his visit last month to the White House, the first for an Austrian chancellor in 13 years. He was even offered some Tic Tacs.
What to Watch
- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May could be on course for another Brexit defeat in Parliament after Julian Smith, the man charged with trying to muster support for her divorce package from the European Union, told top ministers the vote next week will be tight.
And finally ... His spokeswoman insists he was all about the meatier aspects of the presidential transition back in December 2016, but it seems Trump registered his opinion on inaugural plans big and small, from booking the Rockettes to the procurement of tablecloths, Caleb Melby reports. That means the president was actively involved in planning an event that’s now under scrutiny from federal prosecutors.
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