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It’s been 27 years since an incumbent U.S. president lost re-election, and judging by the health of the economy and other traditional metrics, Donald Trump looks unlikely to break the trend.

In addition to presiding over sustained growth and low unemployment, Trump enjoys a nation at relative peace, a well-funded campaign and the strong backing of the Republican Party. And yet, as he prepares to formally kick off his 2020 re-election bid with a prime-time speech in Florida, he has reason to be circumspect, Shannon Pettypiece and Mike Dorning report.

Most private forecasters expect the economy to slow entering the election year, as U.S. trade disputes threaten global commerce — hurting core voters like farmers — and the fiscal stimulus from Trump’s 2018 tax cut fades.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election meddling by Russia, alongside other controversies that have dogged Trump’s administration, are also potential liabilities.

Trump trails six of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical head-to-head contests, a poll showed last week. And no president since 1952 has been re-elected with an approval rating below 48%. Trump has not exceeded 46% in Gallup polls since taking office.

Much hinges on the Democrats. The question is whether they can select a challenger able to attract the funding and support in battleground states needed to deny Trump a second term.

Global Headlines

Iran under pressure | The Pentagon plans to send about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, even as Trump described as “very minor” the recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. has blamed on Iran. The Pentagon also released new photos and a timeline it said bolstered the case that Iran was behind the incidents. Tehran denies any involvement.

Click here to read how Trump’s campaign vow to get the U.S. out of costly foreign entanglements is colliding with the messy reality of commitments in the Middle East.

Trade turmoil | The chairwoman of the world’s biggest bicycle maker delivered an ominous message to China that its days as a global manufacturing hub may be numbered. Giant Manufacturing started rolling production of its U.S.-bound orders back home to Taiwan when Trump made his tariff threats last year, Cindy Wang reports. Trump’s top trade envoy, Robert Lighthizer, is due to appear before Congress this week to account for the trade conflict.

Scottish dilemma | Scots didn’t vote for Brexit and neither did they elect the Conservatives. So the likelihood of a Brexiteer such as Boris Johnson winning the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and prime minister is forcing some hard choices north of the border. As Alan Crawford and Rodney Jefferson report, the sense in Edinburgh is that another referendum on Scottish independence is now inevitable.

As the Conservative field narrows further today, Alex Morales profiles Rory Stewart, the lesser-known candidate suddenly making waves.

Fall from grace | The holding company of the Brazilian construction and energy giant at the center of a massive Latin America graft probe has filed for bankruptcy protection. Odebrecht has struggled since the “Carwash” investigation, which started in 2014 and brought the construction industry to a halt as access to government projects was cut and executives jailed. The political fallout is still reverberating from Ecuador to Mexico, Peru and Brazil.

Waiting game | Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi still hasn’t named a cabinet five months after taking office, leaving investors in the mineral-rich nation facing endless delays. After a disputed election, Tshisekedi’s protracted talks with his coalition partner have almost paralyzed a nation ranked by the World Bank as one of the most difficult and corrupt places to do business.

What to Watch

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam today apologized for backing a bill to allow extraditions to China, as she seeks to defuse protests that have rocked the city. She declined to resign or withdraw the bill completely — key demands of protest leaders. Rights groups have urged a transparent probe into the death of Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood foot soldier who became Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president. He collapsed during a court hearing over an espionage case, with state-run media saying he suffered a “sudden heart attack.” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s candidate to head the European Commission — Manfred Weber, a German lawmaker in the European parliament — is struggling for momentum, which means she may need to instead focus on getting her preferred person into the European Central Bank’s top job. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo meets today with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Washington. Mogherini said yesterday the EU will not support Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan without a two-state solution included.

And finally…You used to catch only rare glimpses of them in public — a waiter willing to risk jail time might accept them for the right price, street hawkers making offers for them under their breath. Today, U.S. greenbacks are widely used in Venezuela’s supermarkets and bodegas. As Andrew Rosati reports, with the bolivar devalued into irrelevance by Nicolas Maduro’s regime, the cash printed by the gringos he rails against is king. 

 

–With assistance from Karl Maier and Jon Herskovitz.

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Alan Crawford

bloomberg.com” data-reactid=”35″>For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump captured the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016 as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. As he mounts his bid for reelection, Trump is offering himself as the outsider once again — but it’s a much more awkward pitch to make from inside the Oval Office.

Trump is set to formally announce his 2020 bid on Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Florida, where advisers said he aims to connect the dots between the promise of his disruptive first-time candidacy and his goals for another term in the White House. His promises to rock the ship of state are now more than an abstract pledge, though, complicated by his tumultuous 29 months at its helm.

Any president is inherently an insider. Trump has worked in the Oval Office for two years, travels the skies in Air Force One and changes the course of history with the stroke of a pen or the post of a tweet.

“We’re taking on the failed political establishment and restoring government of, by and for the people,” Trump said in a video released by his campaign Monday to mark his relaunch. “It’s the people, you’re the people, you won the election.”

That populist clarion was a central theme of his maiden political adventure, as the businessman-turned-candidate successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning it, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

Those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.

“He’s still not viewed as a politician,” said Jason Miller, Trump’s 2016 senior communications adviser. “Voters don’t define him by the party label, they define him by his policies and his message of shaking up the status quo in Washington. That’s the biggest reason he was able to win blue states in 2016.”

Democrats, though, predict Trump won’t be able to get away with the outsider branding.

“How can you say: Forget about the last two years, he is an outsider, he is bashing down doors,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, a former senior Obama campaign official now at MoveOn.org. “People’s lives are harder because of what he has done as president. Voters are paying their attention and are not going to buy it.”

Republicans working with the Trump campaign but not authorized to speak publicly about internal conversations said campaign advisers believe that Trump is still perceived as a businessman and point to his clashes with the Washington establishment — including Congress, the so-called Deep State and members of his own party — as proof that he is still an outsider rather than a creature of the Beltway. Helping further that image, Trump advisers believe, is that his main Democratic foils are all career politicians: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Vice President Joe Biden and, yes, Hillary Clinton.

“He promised that he’d go to Washington and shake things up, and he certainly has,” said Trump campaign manager Tim Murtaugh.

Still, it’s not as though Trump is running from Washington. If anything, he’s wrapping himself in the trappings and authorities of his office. Last week, Trump granted behind-the-scenes access to his limousine, Marine One helicopter and Air Force One for an hourlong ABC News special meant to highlight the singular advantage he has over his rivals — that he already has the job they want.

And Trump is eager to use the power of the office to further his case for reelection. Last month in Louisiana, he promised voters a new bridge if he wins, and in the pivotal Florida Panhandle, he pledged new disaster relief money would flow in a second Trump term.

Trump advisers also point to his popularity among white working-class voters, who consider themselves “forgotten Americans” left behind and mocked by elite insiders. For those voters, many of whom in 2016 cast their first ballots in decades, Trump remains the embodiment of their outsider grievances, their anger stoked by his clashes with political foes and the rest of government (even when his party controls it).

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel.

Americans acknowledge Trump is a change agent, but they are divided in their views of that change. Early this year, a CNN poll found about three-quarters of Americans saying Trump has created significant changes in the country, and they split about evenly between calling it change for the better and change for the worse. More recently, a March poll from CNN showed 42% of Americans think Trump can bring the kind of change the country needs.

___

Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Miller at http://twitter.com/@zekejmiller

Is War With Iran In Our Future? As Tensions Rise What Do You Think Trump’s Next Move Should Be?

Iran-US tension rises as Pentagon OKs sending more troops to Middle East and Rep. Omar blames Trump
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, one of Congress’ most vocal critics of President Trump, placed the blame squarely on the White House after Iran announced it could enrich uranium up to 20 percent — just a step below weapons-grade level. Omar took to Twitter on Monday condemning Trump’s See More decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal shortly before the Pentagon approved sending 1,000 more troops to the Middle East in response to the attack.

“None of this would be happening if Trump didn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal,” she tweeted. Omar said the U.S. should get back to negotiations with Tehran and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. The tension between the U.S. and Iran has been increasing in recent days after a high-profile attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attacks, which the country denied. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released new images Monday showing the aftermath of attacks, including some images purporting to show Iranian forces removing an unexploded device from the hull of one of the vessels.

Trump threatens to remove ‘millions’ of illegal immigrants starting next week
President Trump late Monday announced on Twitter that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin the process of “removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the U.S.,” but did not elaborate on what new measures will be taken. “They will be removed as fast as they come,” Trump wrote. Mike Morgan, the acting director of ICE, did not announce any new initiatives during his stop in Louisville on Sunday, where he spoke about the humanitarian and national security crisis at the border.

Trump re-election campaign set to officially launch at Orlando rally
President Trump is expected to officially kick off his re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Fla. Tuesday night, and supporters have been lining up for days. Trump voters started gathering outside Orlando’s Amway Center more than 40 hours before the event is scheduled to start. The president tweeted on Monday morning that his campaign has received more than 100,000 ticket requests for the event in an arena that only holds 20,000 people.Tune in to Fox News tonight at 8 p.m. ET for live coverage of Trump’s rally.

New Jersey man the latest American tourist to die in the Dominican Republic: Report
The State Department has confirmed to Fox News that another American tourist has died in the Dominican Republic. Reportedly, it was a New Jersey man who was found dead on his hotel room floor. Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead last Thursday morning, WABC reported. The popular Caribbean vacation destination has been grappling with a rash of deaths of U.S. tourists in their hotel rooms at various resorts. Of the seven other recent deaths that have become publicly known, Dominican investigators said five were caused by a heart attack.

Parkland shooting survivor apologizes for racist comments after Harvard rescinds his admission offer
The conservative Parkland shooting survivor and pro-Second Amendment activist who was dropped by Harvard University after past offensive remarks and racial slurs surfaced appeared Monday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” where he apologized and asked for forgiveness. “I’m extremely sorry for it and I wish I could take it back but I can’t,” Kyle Kashuv told guest host Ed Henry. “All I can do now is seek to right the wrong.” Kashuv revealed on Twitter that Harvard rescinded his admission after the remarks he made as a 16-year-old came to light. The student, now 18, called comments “offensive,” “idiotic” and “inflammatory” and said he made them before the mass shooting — which transformed him as a person.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones faces racist taunts from protesters at ‘Impeach Trump’ rally.
Paul Manafort not going to Rikers Island, will remain in federal custody after DOJ rejects move, source say.
2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards list of winners | Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s moving speech.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
How Gloria Vanderbilt became a designer jeans pioneer, fashion industry leader.
China’s Huawei gives Fox rare look inside headquarters amid US ban.
Facebook cryptocurrency launch: Why ‘Libra’ could be worth billions.

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Is War With Iran In Our Future? As Tensions Rise What Do You Think Trump’s Next Move Should Be?

Iran-US tension rises as Pentagon OKs sending more troops to Middle East and Rep. Omar blames Trump
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, one of Congress’ most vocal critics of President Trump, placed the blame squarely on the White House after Iran announced it could enrich uranium up to 20 percent — just a step below weapons-grade level. Omar took to Twitter on Monday condemning Trump’s See More decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal shortly before the Pentagon approved sending 1,000 more troops to the Middle East in response to the attack.

“None of this would be happening if Trump didn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal,” she tweeted. Omar said the U.S. should get back to negotiations with Tehran and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. The tension between the U.S. and Iran has been increasing in recent days after a high-profile attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attacks, which the country denied. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released new images Monday showing the aftermath of attacks, including some images purporting to show Iranian forces removing an unexploded device from the hull of one of the vessels.

Trump threatens to remove ‘millions’ of illegal immigrants starting next week
President Trump late Monday announced on Twitter that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin the process of “removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the U.S.,” but did not elaborate on what new measures will be taken. “They will be removed as fast as they come,” Trump wrote. Mike Morgan, the acting director of ICE, did not announce any new initiatives during his stop in Louisville on Sunday, where he spoke about the humanitarian and national security crisis at the border.

Trump re-election campaign set to officially launch at Orlando rally
President Trump is expected to officially kick off his re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Fla. Tuesday night, and supporters have been lining up for days. Trump voters started gathering outside Orlando’s Amway Center more than 40 hours before the event is scheduled to start. The president tweeted on Monday morning that his campaign has received more than 100,000 ticket requests for the event in an arena that only holds 20,000 people.Tune in to Fox News tonight at 8 p.m. ET for live coverage of Trump’s rally.

New Jersey man the latest American tourist to die in the Dominican Republic: Report
The State Department has confirmed to Fox News that another American tourist has died in the Dominican Republic. Reportedly, it was a New Jersey man who was found dead on his hotel room floor. Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead last Thursday morning, WABC reported. The popular Caribbean vacation destination has been grappling with a rash of deaths of U.S. tourists in their hotel rooms at various resorts. Of the seven other recent deaths that have become publicly known, Dominican investigators said five were caused by a heart attack.

Parkland shooting survivor apologizes for racist comments after Harvard rescinds his admission offer
The conservative Parkland shooting survivor and pro-Second Amendment activist who was dropped by Harvard University after past offensive remarks and racial slurs surfaced appeared Monday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” where he apologized and asked for forgiveness. “I’m extremely sorry for it and I wish I could take it back but I can’t,” Kyle Kashuv told guest host Ed Henry. “All I can do now is seek to right the wrong.” Kashuv revealed on Twitter that Harvard rescinded his admission after the remarks he made as a 16-year-old came to light. The student, now 18, called comments “offensive,” “idiotic” and “inflammatory” and said he made them before the mass shooting — which transformed him as a person.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones faces racist taunts from protesters at ‘Impeach Trump’ rally.
Paul Manafort not going to Rikers Island, will remain in federal custody after DOJ rejects move, source say.
2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards list of winners | Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s moving speech.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
How Gloria Vanderbilt became a designer jeans pioneer, fashion industry leader.
China’s Huawei gives Fox rare look inside headquarters amid US ban.
Facebook cryptocurrency launch: Why ‘Libra’ could be worth billions.

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(Adds Guatemala, background)

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that U.S. authorities would begin next week removing millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. He did not offer specifics.

There are an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, mainly from Mexico and Central America.

Under a deal reached earlier this month, Mexico has agreed to take Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States until their cases are heard in U.S. courts.

The agreement, which included Mexico pledging to deploy National Guard troops to stop Central American immigrants from reaching the U.S. border, averted a Trump threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs.

Trump also said in the tweet that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested last week that Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors as a so-called safe third country.

Details of the plan have not been made public, and Guatemala has not publicly confirmed talks that the U.S. State Department said were taking place in Guatemala on Friday.

U.S. rights group Human Rights First said, however, it was “simply ludicrous” for the United States to assert that Guatemala was capable of protecting refugees, when its own citizens are fleeing violence.

Mexico has agreed that if its measures to stem the flow of migrants are unsuccessful, it will discuss signing a safe third country agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Peter Cooney)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

[unable to retrieve full-text content]


STARTING NEXT WEEK!

(Main headline, 2nd story, link)


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people living in the country illegally on the eve of formally announcing his re-election bid.

In a pair of tweets Monday night, Trump said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would next week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place. Some in Trump’s administration believe that decisive shows of force — like mass arrests — can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the U.S. that it’s not worth coming.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts.

A senior Mexican official said Monday that, three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the U.S. border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600.

Immigration was a central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida — a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House.

Visitors lined up at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning as the justices prepared to hand down decisions. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

With less than two weeks left in the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, the justices handed down four decisions on Monday. Defying predictions, three were decided by shifting liberal-conservative coalitions.

Here, in a nutshell, are the results, as well as the fascinating shifting votes:

Dual sovereignty upheld, with Ginsburg, Gorsuch dissenting

In a 7-2 vote, the court reaffirmed its 100-year-old rule declaring that state governments and the federal government may each prosecute a person separately for the same crime, without violating the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause. Dissenting were the court’s leading liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and one of its most conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch.

Racial gerrymandering case thrown out with a mix of liberals, conservatives

Spurning pleas from Virginia Republicans, the court let stand decisions by lower courts finding that 11 state House districts were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court said the Republican-dominated Virginia House of Delegates had no legal standing to appeal to the Supreme Court on its own when the state Senate and the state’s attorney general had decided against appealing.

Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority. She was joined by conservative justices Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas and liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenting were conservative justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as liberal justice Stephen Breyer.

Uranium ban upheld again with an ideological mix

The court upheld Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. In a 6-3 vote, the justices said that the state law was not superseded by the federal Atomic Energy Act.

Writing for the court’s majority, Gorsuch said the Atomic Energy Act gives the federal government the authority to regulate nuclear safety but not the authority to regulate mining itself. Fellow conservatives Thomas and Kavanaugh joined the Gorsuch opinion in full, but liberal justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan agreed only with his bottom line. They refused to sign on to Gorsuch’s broad language about matters that they said, “sweep well beyond the confines of this case.”

Dissenting were Roberts, Breyer and Alito.

One traditional 5-4 split

The only classic conservative-liberal split on Monday came in a case testing whether a private corporation that runs a public access TV channel in New York City is a public forum that, like a public park, cannot discriminate against speakers.

The court, in a 5-4 vote, concluded that the public access channel was owned by Time Warner, not by the city. And because it was privately owned, the channel could not be sued for refusing to air a movie.

Kavanaugh wrote the decision for the five conservative justices, declaring that “[M]erely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function.”

Therefore, channel operators cannot be sued for violating the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. At first blush, at least, the decision would seem to preclude First Amendment lawsuits against private platform operators, like Twitter and Facebook, though Kavanaugh warned that the decision should not be read “too broadly.”

Dissenting were the court’s four liberal justices.

What’s still left?

On Thursday, the court is expected to hand down more of the 20 remaining decisions on its docket. Among those are the three blockbuster cases of the term:

  • The American Legion v. American Humanist Association: a case from Maryland that tests whether a giant World War I memorial in the shape of a Latin cross is, as the challengers maintain, a symbol of Christianity that violates the Constitution’s ban on establishment of religion. The objectors are seeking its removal to private property and an end to taxpayer funding of the cross.
  • Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina) and Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland): cases from North Carolina and Maryland that test whether there is any constitutional limit to extreme partisan gerrymandering that serves to entrench one-party domination of congressional seats in states that are more narrowly divided.
  • Department of Commerce v. New York: State and local governments are challenging the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Census Bureau’s own experts have warned that adding the question will lead to a serious and uneven undercount of the population, with potentially profound political consequences.

These three decisions (and 17 others) remain in the wings.

Establishing free and fair trade agreements between the United States and other nations has been a challenging task for President Trump. But in recent weeks, the Trump administration took a critical step forward when it brokered agreements with Mexico and Canada to lift steel tariffs and avoid costly quotas. The deal is a major step forward in the move to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that the President and his team negotiated.

With a narrow window of opportunity, the tariffs, or quotas, on steel were a serious roadblock to finalizing this important trade deal. The tariffs were strongly opposed by many free-trade supporters in Congress and created a standoff with our trading partners. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer referenced this impasse and told lawmakers, “If the USMCA doesn’t pass, it would be a catastrophe across the country.”

One year ago, the Trump administration decided to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum on a number of trading partners, including the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. The international response was unanimous; many in the trade community regarded the tariffs as an unprecedented strike against good faith efforts to reduce trade deficits among historically strong allies. The White House should be commended for trying to recover lost manufacturing jobs and protect national security interests, but extensive tariffs and quotas have proven to be a bridge too far and have resulted in a bitter standoff. They have resulted in retaliatory actions by our trading partners and have raised prices for numerous U.S. industries which use imported steel.

The protectionist route of tariffs and the application of strategic trade, not free trade, matches Trump’s populist “America First” message. There is certainly justification for addressing various concerns about our trading allies and modernizing certain trade deals (such as NAFTA) to look out for America’s interest. However, there is growing recognition that widespread tariffs, especially on steel and aluminum, is causing harm and undermining President Trump’s thriving economy.

American economic interests have been damaged by the past year’s tariff war. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that U.S. businesses and consumers saw an increase in the price of goods to the tune of at least $6.9 billion. A recent study from Trade Partnership Worldwide shows that while steel workers have experienced increased levels of employment, a far greater number of workers in steel-consuming sectors have lost jobs. An estimated 126,900 workers gained jobs because of the tariffs, but an astounding 1,061,400 people lost employment.

It’s also impossible to ignore the effect of tariffs on a variety of industries. The oil and gas industry uses specialty pipeline-grade steel in nearly every aspect of the energy production process. Drilling rigs, pipelines, production facilities, refineries, and petrochemical plants all need highly specialized imported steel. Tariffs ultimately mean higher production expenses which ultimately translates into higher energy costs for consumers. Construction, automobile, machinery, and many other steel-consuming industries also rely on competitively priced sources of steel.

While tariffs increase the cost of production, replacing them with a hard quota, as some in the administration had floated as a compromise, would have made it impossible to obtain at any price some of the specialty steels required for U.S. energy projects. As Kyle Isakower of the American Petroleum Institute pointed out, “to replace tariffs with quotas is to exchange the frying pan for the fire.”

Beyond the economic damage was the political damage of the tariffs. A failure to resolve the steel tariff issue was putting the USMCA deal in serious danger. Opting to save the USMCA, the Trump administration eliminated these barriers, giving the regional partners hope of ratifying what would be the largest trade deal in U.S. history. The White House deserves credit for working to recover lost manufacturing jobs and protect national security interests.

The USMCA is a modern, rebalanced trade agreement with our strongest regional partners, and removing these trade barriers will ultimately advance the interests of American workers and businesses. It’s a good deal for all countries, and for Trump it would represent one of his most significant economic achievements to date.

Gerard Scimeca is vice president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a free-market consumer advocacy organization.

A federal agency recommended counselor Kellyanne Conway be fired for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act, but didn’t offer similar guidance for Obama-era officials cited for Hatch Act rule-breaking.

The Office of the Special Counsel, headed by Henry Kerner, said last week Conway had repeatedly violated the federal law during official media appearances through her endorsements of President Trump’s reelection and attacks on Democrats and recommended she be removed as counselor.

But that investigative body didn’t make similar recommendations when two Obama Cabinet officials — Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro — violated the same law, and then-President Barack Obama never fired nor disciplined the top officials for the one-time judgments.

The inconsistently enforced 1939 law precludes most executive branch federal employees aside from the president and vice president from engaging in electioneering and political activity.

When asked about her Hatch Act violations last month, Conway quipped, “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.” Kerner’s report criticized Conway’s “defiant attitude” while labeling her “a repeat offender” and calling upon Trump to “remove Ms. Conway from her federal position immediately.”

When faced with Sebelius and Castro violating the Hatch Act, Obama fired neither official, and his administration defended them.

The OSC said Sebelius violated the Hatch Act “when she made extemporaneous partisan remarks in a speech delivered in her official capacity” in 2012. Sebelius was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign gala in North Carolina, during which she told the crowd to vote against a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Sebelius also told the crowd that “it’s hugely important to make sure that we reelect the president and elect a Democratic governor.”

“These statements were made in Secretary Sebelius’ official capacity and therefore violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against using official authority or influence to affect the results of an election,” the OSC said.

But the OSC did not recommend that Obama fire Sebelius or recommend any punishment, simply submitting the report along with a response from Sebelius to the president.

Sebelius pushed back against the ruling, telling the agency that “I believe that you should have concluded that any violation was corrected when the event was reclassified as political.” Sebelius said she was happy that “the OSC has not recommended to the President that any particular action be taken” and told the OSC that “I don’t believe that any action would be appropriate.”

Eric Schultz, an Obama White House spokesman, defended Sebelius as well as the Obama administration’s lack of disciplinary action at the time, saying, “This error was immediately acknowledged by the secretary, promptly corrected, and no taxpayer dollars were misused.”

The OSC also said Castro, now a 2020 presidential contender, violated the Hatch Act’s “prohibition against using one’s official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election” when he “advocated for and against presidential candidates while appearing in his official capacity” during the 2016 election.

Castro praised Hillary Clinton in a 2016 video interview, saying that “the American people understand that she has a positive vision for the country that includes opportunity for everybody and she can actually get it done” and that “it is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful, and prepared candidate for president that we have this year.”

Castro, at the time a potential Clinton running mate, told Katie Couric, “I don’t believe that is going to happen, but I am supportive of Secretary Clinton and I believe she is going to make a great president.”

The OSC concluded he “impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official government agency business” but did not recommend he be fired or that any disciplinary action be taken, instead just referring their report and Castro’s response to the president.

Castro acknowledged that, even if it wasn’t his intent to violate the law, he’d made an error.

Joshua Earnest, the Obama White House press secretary, at the time defended Castro along with the Obama administration’s decision not to punish him. “To his credit, Secretary Castro acknowledged the mistake that he made. He owned up to it, and he’s taken the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.”

Castro said last week he thinks Conway should be fired.

“The difference between me and Kellyanne Conway is … instead of saying, ‘Look, I’m going to take these efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen again,’ she said, ‘to hell with that, I’m going to do it,’” he said at a Fox News town hall.

“She did the wrong thing,” said Castro. “And I support the Office of Special Counsel’s determination that because she repeatedly violated it, even though she was clearly told that it was a violation, that she should be removed from office.”

Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, said on Thursday that “the report is based on numerous grave legal, factual, and procedural errors.”

Trump defended Conway on Friday, saying “it looks like they’re trying to take away her free speech” and “I’m not going to fire her.”


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