Budget

FILE PHOTO: Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria looks on before a joint news conference with Eurogroup President Mario Centeno at the Treasury ministry in Rome
FILE PHOTO: Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria looks on before a joint news conference with Eurogroup President Mario Centeno at the Treasury ministry in Rome, Italy, November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi -/File Photo

June 18, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Italy will cut spending to meet its fiscal deficit targets this year and can reach an agreement with the European Commission over its budgetary plans, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said on Tuesday.

Speaking to bond investors and bankers at a conference in London, Tria sought to reassure the international financial community that Italy would not breach European rules but instead seek to limit its budget by reducing expenditure rather than raising taxes.

“This year we will compensate for the failures of the compliance of (European) fiscal rules (last year). We are going for a deficit of 2.1%. We will do better than the agreement of last year,” he said.

Tria said the main problem for Italy remained low economic growth rather than debt.

(Reporting by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes and Dhara Ranasinghe)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Sydney businessman walks into the light outside the Reserve Bank of Australia
FILE PHOTO: A Sydney businessman walks into the light outside the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), February 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

June 18, 2019

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s central bank believes it will likely have to cut interest rates further from the current record low of 1.25% in order to push down unemployment and revive growth in wages and inflation.

Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) June policy meeting showed its Board decided cutting rates by a quarter point at that meeting would help speed up the economy, but would not be enough on its own.

“Given the amount of spare capacity in the labor market and the economy more broadly, members agreed that it was more likely than not that a further easing in monetary policy would be appropriate in the period ahead,” the minutes showed.

Financial markets have already priced in another rate cut to 1% by August and a further move to 0.75% by early next year.

The Board also noted that lower rate were not the only policy option available to assist with unemployment, echoing calls by RBA Governor Philip Lowe for government action on infrastructure spending and economic reform.

So far, the newly re-elected government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has downplayed the need for fiscal stimulus and stuck to plans for returning the budget to surplus in 2019/20.

The Liberal National Coalition won re-election in mid-May, beating the favored Labor Party.

Tuesday’s minutes showed the Board judged lower rates would support the economy by pushing down the value of the Australian dollar. The currency has duly fallen to five-month lows since the RBA’s June 4 meeting.

Lower rates would also reduce debt repayments by households, so freeing up extra cash, while lowering borrowing costs for business, the minutes showed.

The Board acknowledged that cutting rates crimped returns for savers, but felt the overall impact would be to support economic growth.

Members also saw little risk that easing policy would lead to a risky rise in household borrowing or to an unexpectedly strong pick up in inflation.

Indeed, the Board judged that the factors suppressing inflation and wage growth would last for some time given the extent of spare capacity in the labor market.

Source: OANN

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia passes budget with health insurance for some undocumented immigrants California passes budget with health insurance for some undocumented immigrants Newsom calls on racetrack to halt races until further inspection following 29th horse death MORE (D) in an interview published Monday said the Republican Party is headed for the “waste bin of history.”

In an interview with Politico, Newsom compared national Republicans to the GOP in California in the 1990s. 

California Republicans were once a force, but have seen their power disappear over the last two decades. 

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Washington Republicans will “go the same direction — into the waste bin of history, the way Republicans of the ’90s have gone. That’s exactly what will happen to this crop of national Republicans,” Newsom told Politico.

Former California Gov. Pete Wilson’s (R) push for a ballot measure in 1994 that prohibited illegal immigrants from gaining access to public schools and health care has been widely linked to the GOP’s erosion in the state. 

Newson drew a connection between that and today’s politics.

“America in 2019 is California in the 1990s,” he told Politico. “The xenophobia, the nativism, the fear of ‘the other.’ Scapegoating. Talking down or past people. The hysteria. And so, we’re not going to put up with that. We are going to push back.”

Newsom also took several shots at President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE, though he stopped short of calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. He instead voiced his support for House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOcasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown MORE (D-Calif.), a longtime friend and fellow San Franciscan.

“What’s so remarkable about someone with the experience and temperament of Speaker Pelosi is that she’s seen a lot of movies,’’ Newsom said. “She’s been there. She’s got a better sense than a lot of folks. So I think we should stay the course. What we’re doing is working … I think Democrats are winning right now.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte casts his vote at a polling station in Rome
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte casts his vote for the European Parliament elections at a polling station in Rome, Italy May 26, 2019 REUTERS/Remo Casilli

June 11, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s coalition leaders have agreed to work together to avert European Union disciplinary action over Rome’s worsening public finances after a late-night meeting with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday, the PM’s office said.

In a statement published overnight, Conte said he and his two deputies – League leader Matteo Salvini and 5-Star Movement head Luigi Di Maio – would meet with Economy Minister Giovanni Tria and his staff to draw up a strategy to avoid an infringement procedure for the country.

He also said they would set up a shared budget package.

Officials from the 28 EU states will meet on June 11-12 and are expected to say an EU disciplinary procedure against Italy over its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.6 trillion) debt is warranted.

“All’s well, it was a good meeting. Our shared goal is to avoid the infringement while safeguarding economic growth, employment, as well as tax cuts,” Salvini said in a statement after the coalition meeting.

“There won’t be any budget correction nor tax increases.”

Rome’s debt has been rising steadily from a pre-crisis low of 104% of domestic output in 2007 and now stands at 1.3 times economic output, second only to Greece’s within the euro zone.

Market concerns have been heightened by the spending plans of the eurosceptic government which took office a year ago.

Emboldened by the League’s strong showing in last month’s European election and local polls across Italy, Salvini has made tax cuts a priority for the government.

Rome is also scrambling to avoid a sales-tax increase worth 23 billion euros from kicking in next year.

On Monday Salvini expressed confidence that Rome would be able to reach an accord with the EU.

PM Conte has threatened to resign if the two coalition leaders fail to reach a compromise to settle the budget tussle with Brussels, removing the threat of financial penalties and ending weeks of bickering.

Tria is due to speak to parliament later on Tuesday about a letter in which the European Commission requests an explanation on the deterioration of the country’s public finances.

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; editing by Valentina Za and Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

Trump Said Dems do not get “do-overs” in the Russia investigation. Sadly They Are Full Steam.. Are You Tired Of The Left Wasting Our money?

Watergate figure in the spotlight as Dems begin hearings on Mueller report
John Dean, the former White House counsel to Richard Nixon and a key figure in the Watergate scandal, is expected to be frontand center on Capitol Hill on Monday, as House Democrats are set to begin a series of hearings this coming week seeking to keep the spotlight on See More Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Although the week could end with Attorney General William Barr and formerWhite House counsel Donald McGahn in contempt of Congress, no formal impeachment inquiry is on the table, and the way forward remains unclear. Prominent Democrats have continued to support the investigative “path” — in the words of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — that some of them publicly hope will lead to impeachment. Trump slammed the hearings on Sunday, calling Dean, who is also a CNN contributor, a “sleazebag attorney” and that Dems do not get “do-overs” in the Russia investigation.

Mexico still in Trump tariff crosshairs
Even as he again hailed his administration’s last-minute deal on Friday with Mexico as a “successful agreement” to address illegal immigration at the southern border, President Trump on Sunday bluntly suggested he might again seek to impose punishing tariffs on Mexico if its cooperation falls short in the future. The president and other key administration officials also sharply disputed a New York Times report claiming the deal “largely” had been negotiated months ago, and hinted that not all major details of the new arrangement have yet been made public.

California to give illegal immigrants full health benefits
In a stance to distance itself from President Trump’s administration, California is set to become the first state in the country to pay for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to have full health benefits. Under an agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats in the state legislature as part of a broader $213 billion budget, low-income adultsbetween the ages of 19 and 25 living in California illegally would be eligible for California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. The plan would take effect in January 2020, the Sacramento Bee reported.

‘Big Papi’ shot in the Dominican Republic
Former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was ambushed by a man who got off a motorcycle and shot him in the back at nearly point-blank range in a nightclub in his native Dominican Republic on Sunday. A local reporter who said he’d spoken with the doctor who treated Ortiz told ESPN that a bullet had hit Ortiz’s lower back and came out his stomach. Police said Ortiz was transferred to a hospital where he underwent surgery. He’s reportedly now in stable condition. A witness at the scene said a suspect who was at the scene is in custody. Other circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear.

ICYMI: A fourth U.S. tourist death at Dominican Republic resort
A fourth U.S. tourist died after he fell critically and suddenly ill at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic this past April, about a month before three others died in their rooms, Fox News has learned. Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became ill almost immediately after he had a scotch from the room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana, his niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News on Sunday. He was in the Dominican Republic to attend his stepson’s wedding.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
GOP opponent says AOC ‘literally ran’ away when challenged to debate. 
Joe Biden’s bracelet tweet to honor Obama on ‘Best Friends’ Day goes viral.
Justin Bieber challenges Tom Cruise to a fight.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
CBS-Viacom talks near critical stage with board meeting this Friday.
United Technologies, Raytheon to combine in all-stock ‘merger of equals.’
California sees surge in ammo sales ahead of new gun regulations.

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President Trump appeared to contradict his previous statements about space exploration, saying NASA should be looking beyond just the moon in its quest to explore outer space.

“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” Trump said in a Friday tweet.

The syntax of the presidential tweet made unclear whether he was referring to moon exploration as being a subset of the larger goal to get to Mars, especially since Trump has previously expressed support for exploring the moon.

Trump tweeted just last month about how he wanted to send humans back to the moon.

“Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” Trump tweeted last month.

Under the Trump administration, NASA has an ongoing “Moon to Mars” program, which looks to put humans back on the moon by 2024 and then use that as a segue to explore Mars.

“President Donald Trump has asked NASA to accelerate our plans to return to the Moon and to land humans on the surface again by 2024,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. And then we will use what we learn on the Moon to take the next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars.”

Democrats are planning to host a Capitol Hill event featuring psychiatrists who will warn that President Trump is unfit for office based on his mental health.

The event will be led by Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book that argues psychiatrists have a responsibility to warn the public when a president is dangerous. The position is controversial because psychiatric associations urge members never to diagnose patients they haven’t personally evaluated, saying it undermines the scientific rigor of the profession.

But Lee and others who agree with her stance say that their description of the president’s behavior, of his showing mental instability and dangerousness, shouldn’t be interpreted as issuing a diagnosis.

“The president’s condition has been visibly deteriorating to the point where there’s a lot of talk right now about his mental state beyond mental health professionals,” Lee said. “It no longer takes a mental health professional to recognize the seriousness of the current presidency.”

The date for the town hall hasn’t been set but would be held “imminently soon within the next couple of weeks,” said Lee, who said the event was meant to be bipartisan. Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who has called for Trump’s impeachment, confirmed the event was in the works, but said it would be more likely to occur in July because lawmakers have a full plate in June with spending bills.

“We’re planning to put together an event,” Yarmuth said. “She’s calling it a town hall. We haven’t actually determined the format, but it’s going to be an event where she is going to present her findings, and media will be invited.”

Yarmuth said every House member would be invited but that he hadn’t yet gauged who would be interested because not many people knew about it. Lee said the group would reconsider the event if no Republicans planned to show up.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to Lee, attendees at the town hall would watch a condensed video that was recorded at a Washington, D.C., event held at the National Press Club in March that featured 13 experts discussing how they didn’t think Trump was fit for office. The experts, who came from the fields of mental health, philosophy, history, and journalism, said they were worried about the president’s access to nuclear weapons and the impact his administration would have on climate change.

Lee said the event is to allow members of Congress to ask her and other experts questions, but planners hope the town hall will be broadcast live so that people who aren’t in D.C. also would be able to watch and submit questions.

Lee said the experts won’t make specific recommendations about whether Congress should consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office or whether they should do so by impeachment. The political process should be determined by members of Congress, she said.

Yarmuth said that, to him, the event was a separate question from impeachment. “I don’t think an assessment of someone’s mental health is an impeachable issue,” he said.

He decided to hold the event “for the same fears she has,” he said, referring to Lee. “That the president is manifesting dangerous behavior and the American people need to be alert to it.”

“Their position is that as professionals, when they see patterns of behavior that are endangering people, that they have a professional obligation to go public and alert the people who are threatened, and in this case it’s the American people,” Yarmuth said. “I think the American people deserve to have wider dissemination of that perspective.”

It’s not yet clear who else will participate. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who has a 25th Amendment bill that would set up a body in Congress to determine presidential fitness, had been asked to be on a panel that was based on the topic and set for sometime around May 20. The panel was then canceled or postponed because of scheduling conflicts, and Raskin’s office said it hadn’t heard about a new one in the works.

His deputy communications director, Samantha Brown, said in an email that he likely would have discussed the 25th Amendment from a historical and legal perspective.

Lee has been outspoken about Trump’s mental state. She’s the public face of a five-person group that is meeting regularly in D.C. and working to set up a medical panel to evaluate the mental capacity of Trump and Democratic presidential candidates.

“It’s deceptive because it seems like he’s alert, it seems like he’s responding to things in a rational manner, but it is not the case from every measure that we have taken,” Lee said of Trump. “And this is very serious. In fact, worse than if he had a stroke and were unconscious because he can mislead the country in destructive or nefarious ways.”

One of the other members of the working group is Dr. James Merikangas, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, but the others haven’t identified themselves publicly and aren’t known to the Washington Examiner.

In April, Lee and other psychiatrists wrote a report using the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference to make an assessment about the president’s mental health. They at first refrained from issuing a conclusion and gave Trump three weeks to undergo an evaluation. After they didn’t hear back, they released a conclusion that Trump “lacks mental basic mental capacity for duties of office” and recommended his access to nuclear weapons and war powers be curtailed.

“Our concern is that the dangers be contained — the dangers of having a president who lacks the mental capacity, lacks the fitness to discharge his duties of office for the remainder of his term,” Lee said. “I mean, this is really a national emergency.”

The Trump administration is fighting on two fronts to help justify its deregulatory agenda in court, downplaying both the damage from climate change and the public health benefits of environmental rules.

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to propose new rules for regulatory cost-benefit analysis that critics fear could undermine the agency’s regulation of climate pollution by saying it costs too much.

At the same time, the Trump administration plans to reexamine how government scientists study the consequences of climate change by potentially limiting consideration of worst-case projections.

Legal experts critical of the Trump administration’s deregulatory approach say the maneuvers together are designed to weaken legal and public scrutiny of the damages from its pro-business, hands-off approach to climate change.

“This is an across the board effort to find a way to sideline facts and science that are inconvenient to the administration’s thesis that any regulation has some cost to industry,” said David Hayes, executive director of the State Energy and Environment Impact Center, a coalition that assists state attorneys general contesting President Trump’s deregulatory agenda. “They are playing games to obscure the reality of how serious the climate situation is, and how damaging their pro-fossil fuel agenda is.”

The Trump administration has justified its review of cost-benefit analysis and climate change modeling by arguing previous administrations have overstated the cost of carbon emissions and underestimated the impact of regulations to state and local economies.

When making major regulations, the EPA must weigh the public health benefits of a rule and its cost to society at large.

The Obama administration, in writing major regulations such as the Clean Power Plan that aimed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, relied heavily on counting “co-benefits” resulting from the rule reducing other pollutants. The Trump administration argues co-benefits overstate the intended impact of a rule directed at a specific pollutant, such as carbon.

“The Obama administration misused cost-benefit analysis as a way to promote their regulatory agenda on climate change,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a former deputy administrator of the EPA in the George W. Bush administration who represents energy industry clients at the Bracewell law firm. “If the Trump administration does a careful job to change the analysis, it will make it harder for future administrations to claim unrealistically high benefits or low costs.”

Other experts said the Trump administration’s effort would be challenged and blocked in court.

Democratic attorneys general have already successfully challenged the Trump administration, with judges finding the government has not always followed proper legal procedures and laws to unwind environmental regulations and has failed to justify its actions.

“This fraudulent attack on co-benefits is also very unlikely to succeed in court,” said Richard Revesz, an environmental law professor at New York University. “It’s totally crazy to promote a rule that says the indirect consequences of a regulation must be taken into account if they are negative, but can be ignored if they are positive. That seems like the textbook definition of arbitrary and capricious conduct.”

John D. Graham, dean of the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, agrees with Revesz.

Graham said the Trump administration must prove its weaker regulations do enough to fulfill a government legal finding, upheld by the Supreme Court, that says carbon dioxide is a pollutant endangering public health and the EPA must regulate it under the Clean Air Act.

“There are no shortcuts here,” said Graham, a former head of regulatory affairs in George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget. “The Trump EPA will have to supply a strong cost-benefit justification for the deregulatory actions on climate change, regardless of what happens down the road.”

Critics say the Trump administration has an uphill battle in proving the cost savings of its weaker regulations outweigh the public health damages.

A report produced by the State Energy & Environment Impact Center in March found the savings to industry of some of the key Trump administration deregulatory moves “are minuscule in comparison to the public costs of these rollbacks.”

Legal experts said the Trump administration could encounter similar problems with its review of climate change modeling.

The Trump administration, the New York Times reported this week, is seeking to ensure worst-case scenario projections “will not automatically” be included in scientific reports produced by the government projecting the impacts of climate change.

The administration is primarily targeting the National Climate Assessment, a report required by Congress and produced every four years by scientists from 13 government agencies.

Trump administration officials have sought to downplay the findings of the latest version of the report released last year, which included scenarios showing that global warming will impose hundreds of billions of dollars of damages on the U.S. economy.

James Hewitt, an EPA spokesman, denied his agency is currently undertaking a “specific effort” to block worst case scenarios from future climate assessments, but he confirmed Administrator Andrew Wheeler is concerned about how the reports are developed.

“The previous use of inaccurate modeling that focuses on worst-case emission scenarios, that does not reflect real-world conditions, needs to be thoroughly reexamined and tested if such information is going to serve as the scientific foundation of nationwide decision-making now and in the future,” Hewitt said.

Legal experts say the Trump administration’s scrutiny of worst case scenarios reflects a desire by the agency to minimize the consequences of its pro-fossil fuel deregulatory agenda, which could worsen climate change.

“The term ‘worse case scenario’ suggests it is highly unlikely to happen, but this is an administration that is hawking fossil fuels left and right,” Hayes said. “They want to take out from the National Climate Assessment the scenario that assumes a continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

Graham also predicted efforts to limit the scope of the National Climate Assessment would backfire.

“Until they have a well-argued position, dropping those scenarios is more likely to hurt rather than help the administration in judicial proceedings, since pro-regulation advocates will point to the dropping as additional evidence that the administration has its head in the ground on climate science,” Graham said.

Trump Vs Biden Who Do You Think Will Win?

Trump doubles-down on ‘low IQ’ attacks on Biden, targets past support of 1994 crime bill 

President Trump on Monday did not let criticism over his siding with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an attack on 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden muzzle him. In fact, just before beginning his journey home from his trip to Japan, the president doubled-down on his attacks on the former vice president. “Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe See More Biden is a low-IQ individual based on his record…I think I agree with him on that,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trump slammed Biden’s support of a controversial 1994 crime bill, tweeting that he hasn’t “apologized” for backing it.

Trump claimed “anyone associated” with the bill “will not have a chance of being elected.” The president tweeted that his own criminal justice reform legislation – the First Step Act – “had tremendous support” and “fixed” problems in the law Biden championed. The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed by then-President Bill Clinton, was seen by many analysts as the culmination of efforts to fight violent crime. However, in the decades that followed, critics blamed the law for an increase in prison populations, among other problems.

Trump not bothered by recent North Korea missile tests
President Trump, in his press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, said he didn’t think North Korea’s recent short-range missile launches were a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, despite his advisers’ beliefs otherwise. Trump said perhaps North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was trying to get attention. Both Abe and Trump national security adviser John Bolton agree North Korea violated U.N. resolutions and that sanctions must remain in place. In addition, Trump appeared to tone down his rhetoric on Iran and said the U.S. is not seeking a regime change just a week after he warned Tehran that a confrontation between the two countries would lead to its demise.

At least 5 million in Ohio left without power after ‘large and dangerous’ tornado
A powerful storm system that included at least one tornado considered “large and dangerous”passed through Ohio late Mondaythat resulted in widespread damage, including 70,000 power outages currently affecting over 5 million people. Social media accounts claim to show a massive funnel cloud as it hit near Trotwood, Ohio, 8 miles northwest of Dayton. At least half a dozen communities from eastern Indiana through central Ohio suffered damage from the storm system, according to the National Weather Service. There have been no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

Japan stabbing attack leaves at least two dead, 16 hurt
A knife-wielding man screaming “I will kill you!” attacked commuters — mostly schoolchildren — waiting at a suburban Tokyo bus stop during the morning rush hour Tuesday, killing at least two people, a schoolgirl and an adult man, according to Reuters, and wounding at least 16 others before he killed himself. Three of the injuries were serious while the others were not life-threatening,according to an official at the Kawasaki city office. Officials told NHK the suspect, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, attacked people near Noborito Park in a residential area of Kawasaki City. The number of wounded reportedly included 13 children. Television footage showed emergency workers giving first aid to people inside a tent set up on the street, and police and other officials carrying the wounded to ambulances.

Avenatti’s case of the Terrible Tuesday
Embattled attorney Michael Avenatti will have a busy day in Manhattan federal court Tuesday afternoon — but as a defendant, not as counsel. Avenatti, 49, is scheduled to be arraigned on charges that he stole nearly $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels, the client who rocketed him to national prominence. Approximately three-and-a-half hours later, Avenatti is scheduled to be arraigned on charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from athletic apparel giant Nike by threatening to expose claims that the shoemaker paid off high school basketball players to steer them to Nike-sponsored colleges. If convicted on all counts, Avenatti could face a total of 69 years in prison. Avenatti repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing and is expected to plead not guilty to all charges.

NRA-opposed measure tests Texas governor
A Texas gun storage safety measure added to a massive spending bill sets up a political test for Gov. Greg Abbott as the legislation heads to his desk, the Associated Press reported. The $1 million measure was added late Sunday by budget negotiators — most of whom are Republicans. The bill was approved Sunday night by the GOP-controlled legislature. The campaign for safe home gun storage, just one part of the much broader $250 billion state budget, was fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun-rights activists. Abbott, a Republican who has line-item veto power in regard to the budget, must decide whether to nix the measure or ignore pressure from some gun rights groups and approve it.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Privately funded organization ‘We Build the Wall’ starts construction of border barrier in El Paso area.
Trump seizes on NYU professor’s tweet to push change of libel laws.
Remembering Major League Baseball great Bill Buckner.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
New auto giant? Fiat Chrysler wants to merge with Renault.
China shouldn’t ban Apple, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei says.
Car depreciation by model: How quickly these popular brands lose value.

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WASHINGTON – To many Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scored a political victory over President Donald Trump this week, making him so incensed that he hurled insults at her and blew up negotiations on the one issue that held the promise of a rare bipartisan deal – infrastructure.

To the president’s allies, a weakened Pelosi, D-Calif., needed to mollify her fractious Democratic caucus, with a growing number demanding that she launch an impeachment inquiry, a move that would give the president a fresh argument that he was a victim of overzealous Democrats incapable of legislating and only interested in investigations.

Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved while the dispute over oversight between the White House and Congress rages.


Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and childishly that he is unfit for office – a clear message to voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.

“She has very challenging dynamics in her conference, and she’s trying to appease her conference,” said Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. “She has a very difficult job.”

Some White House aides also said it was better for Trump to be fighting with Pelosi than former vice president Joe Biden or other 2020 candidates, as the president has done recently, elevating their status.

For Trump and Pelosi, the series of salvos was a break from past practices. Trump has derided other politicians with nicknames, but refrained from mocking Pelosi, the most powerful woman in Democratic politics. During the 2018 midterm election, the speaker had instructed Democratic candidates to focus on health care, education and other issues rather than on Trump, who was not on the ballot. The strategy, which she also adopted, paid off as the party reclaimed the House majority.

Pelosi’s allies said her taunting of Trump now is intentional, designed to get under his skin and elicit an angry reaction, according to officials close to her who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. She contended that his resistance to investigations was to goad her members to back impeachment, which would undermine her party.

Emerging from a special closed-door caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Pelosi took the unusual step of speaking to reporters and in front of television cameras, accusing Trump of “engaging in a coverup” in response to congressional subpoenas.

At the White House a short time later, Trump angrily walked out of a meeting with Pelosi and other Democrats on infrastructure after three minutes. The president told reporters in remarks in the Rose Garden that he could not work with Democrats until they “get these phony investigations over with” and argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Back on Capitol Hill, Pelosi and the Democrats kept up their criticism, with the speaker suggesting Trump’s possible “lack of confidence” prevented him from reaching a deal on infrastructure and saying she prayed for the president.

Pelosi wrote of Trump’s “temper tantrum” in a letter to colleagues Wednesday afternoon, and the next day was relentless in her attacks, suggesting his White House aides and family “should stage an intervention for the good of the country.”

Hours later, Trump called her “crazy Nancy” at a White House event on aid to farmers, impugned her mental clarity and intelligence and pressed aides to attest to his calmness during the meeting the previous day. He later tweeted a spliced video that made her appear confused.

White House aides say Trump was more frustrated by the “coverup” comment than her Thursday commentary likening him to a toddler. He flew into a rage Wednesday morning after she made those remarks – and then stewed as she continued to taunt him from Capitol Hill. The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

Pelosi’s allies insist the events left Trump as the one to blame for the failure to reach a deal on infrastructure, as he had taken responsibility in advance for the government shutdown in an Oval Office meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in December.

When the shutdown – the longest in history – ended earlier this year after 35 days, Pelosi was seen as the winner in the standoff.

“The speaker knows how to use power,” said longtime Pelosi ally Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. “She knows who. She knows how. She’s a master negotiator. . . . I think the president is really befuddled by her.”

Her allies argued that his angry reaction feeds the narrative of an erratic president.

“The more unhinged he looks, the better it is for us,” said one senior House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. “We want to govern, and he’s the crazy man.”

Trump’s proponents pushed back.

“She talks about him like he’s incompetent. It’s totally ridiculous,” said Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer. “You may not like him, you may despise him, but there’s no question he is mentally and physically capable to do the job.”

As for Pelosi, Giuliani said she is “not exactly the most articulate person in the world. The last couple of weeks, she’s been talking funny. I’ve noticed it, and a lot of other people have noticed it.”

Until recently, Trump was telling advisers that he wanted to reach a deal on infrastructure and had even talked to the trucking industry about a gas tax to help finance upgrades to the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels. He also telephoned Pelosi to tell her how good her television coverage was after the two of them huddled to discuss infrastructure three weeks ago.

Trump, who has long admired Pelosi and showered her with compliments for her grip on her caucus, also recently told West Wing aides how tough she is – and how she keeps her party in line with an iron fist. “She has some real crazies,” he said recently to an adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Privately, Pelosi repeatedly has said Trump is not worth impeaching. When a Democrat compared Trump to a fifth-grader, Pelosi responded that such a remark was an insult to fifth-graders, according to an individual who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversation.

“Don’t say that. Children are wonderful!” said the mother of five and grandmother of nine.

Pelosi managed to tamp down the clamor for impeachment from an increasing number of Democrats, arguing that Trump would welcome the move and an acquittal vote in the Republican-led Senate. For now, the talk of impeachment has quieted.

“She was trying to throw a little red meat to her caucus right before they headed home to the long recess,” said David Urban, a Trump ally who worked on the 2016 campaign and the GOP convention. “And Pelosi, who is usually a masterful politician, misjudged the president’s reaction. She made a statement that overplayed her hand. Now we’re going to be at some place of an impasse we haven’t seen before.”

Fights loom in coming months between the White House and Congress on legislation to keep the government running and raising the nation’s borrowing authority. Against that backdrop, the two sides are bitterly divided over investigations.


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