Bannon Subpeonaed

Wednesday, January 17, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 11.14.47 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, was subpoenaed last week by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Bannon is to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.​

  • A former C.I.A. officer is suspected of compromising the spy agency’s informants in China, many of whom were killed in a systematic dismantling of the agency’s network there, officials said.
  • While Mr. Trump could benefit from more exercise, he scored perfectly on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, his doctor said after Mr. Trump’s annual physical.
  • The secretary of homeland security was quizzed repeatedly about the vulgar word, or words, said to have been uttered by Mr. Trump describing African countries.
  • With no immigration deal in sight, Republicans are eyeing a stopgap bill to keep the government open past Friday, sweetening it with an extension of the child health insurance program.
  • newly drafted U.S. nuclear strategy that has been sent to Mr. Trump for approval would expand “extreme circumstances” for nuclear retaliation to include a crippling cyberattack.
  • A request by the Trump administration for an immediate Supreme Court review is an unusual step after a judge ordered the administration to restart the program that shields some young immigrants from deportation.

— The First Draft Team
White House Memo

Debate Continues Over What Trump Said. Does the Exact Word Matter?

President Trump on Tuesday at the White House.

President Trump on Tuesday at the White House. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Over a three-day weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., President Trump showed little or no concern about the angry reaction set off by his use of obscenities to describe the third world countries he fears immigrants could come from under a new immigration bill. His base loved what he said, he told guests at the club, Mar-a-Lago, a refrain he repeated in phone calls over the holiday weekend.
But back in Washington on Tuesday, his advisers and congressional allies have tried to limit the fallout from his remarks in an Oval Office meeting last week, insisting that he had never described the countries as “shitholes.” Some who had been in the meeting said they had not heard his descriptions. Others insisted in background conversations with reporters that they were told the word he had spoken was “shithouse,” a phrase that he often uses to describe physical structures that he finds unsavory.
It was an unusual debate over words that until last Thursday had rarely, if ever, appeared in any mainstream news media. And if the argument seemed to amount to a distinction without a difference, neither the White House nor its allies have publicly acknowledged it, although some Trump aides have privately. There has also not been any acknowledgment that both words, as well as reports of Mr. Trump’s stated preference for immigrants from places like Norway, were offensive and that many considered them racist.
Read more »
From left, Senators Steve Daines, Republican of Montana; Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont; Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon; Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky; and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts; held a news conference on Tuesday to argue that a bill authorizing the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program made insufficient changes to it.

Senate, Rebuffing Privacy Concerns, Clears Path to Extend Surveillance Law


The outcome of a procedural vote signals that the bill has sufficient support to pass in the Senate.

Palestinians received food aid at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency warehouse at a refugee camp in Gaza City this month.

U.S. Withholds $65 Million From U.N. Relief Agency for Palestinians


The Trump administration cut by more than half the funding it provides to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which funds schools and clinics for Palestinians.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, called the report’s findings “truly chilling data” during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

White House Fuels Immigration Debate With Terrorism Statistics


A Trump administration report concluded that the vast majority of convicted terrorists were immigrants. But it relied on confusing and misleading data.

Big banks like J.P. Morgan are reporting short-term losses as a result of the tax bill but see long-term benefits, including stronger profits, from the overhaul.

Banks Are Big Winners From Tax Cut


Financial firms are benefiting from the $1.5 trillion tax cut and make up the majority of companies so far handing out raises and bonuses as a result of the law.

A new American-backed border force will essentially be a restructured version of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, an official said.

U.S.-Backed Force Could Cement a Kurdish Enclave in Syria


The creation of a new military force in Syria raises fears of fighting among American allies and could draw the U.S. deeper into the conflict.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his $168 billion spending plan Tuesday at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Cuomo Says Budget Will Defend New York Against Trump’s ‘Economic Missile’


Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a $168 billion spending plan that called for a raft of ideas to counter the president’s tax changes.

Hasan Shafiqullah, the director of the immigration unit at the Legal Aid Society of New York, takes Marcela Alcaide Eligio’s photograph Tuesday for her DACA renewal application.

Fearing DACA’s Return May Be Brief, Immigrants Rush to Renew


With the government temporarily blocked from ending the immigration program, some lined up to file applications before circumstances changed again.

The tax bill that President Trump signed last month remains relatively unpopular, although support for it has grown, according to a new survey conducted for The New York Times.

Poll Finds Upturn in Sentiment on Tax Overhaul and Economy


The finding could be good news for Republicans looking to the midterm elections, but less comfort for President Trump, who was given little credit.

The leadership team of General Motors discussed the company’s prospects at an investor conference in Detroit on Tuesday. From left, Mary T. Barra, chief executive; Dan Ammann, president; and Chuck Stevens, chief financial officer.

G.M. Chief Cautions Trump Administration on Upending Nafta


Mary Barra said that the United States should not scrap the trade pact and that any changes should account for the interests of American automakers and workers.

Eric Schneiderman, New York State’s attorney general, is leading a lawsuit to block the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality regulations.

Flurry of Lawsuits Fight Repeal of Net Neutrality


The filings kick off what is expected to be an extended legal and political debate about the future of internet policy.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist:
“Although his phrasing was crude and unnecessary, Trump wasn’t wrong about the actual countries in question. Haiti, El Salvador, and many countries in Africa — and all over the world, for that matter — are indeed a horrible mess by any objective measure.”
Mr. Davidson turns the conversation around the president’s words toward American exceptionalism. It is not because “Americans are uniquely virtuous or somehow better than people from poor countries,” but because the American “system of government and the constitutional order our founding fathers bequeathed us” make the United States a country worth immigrating to, he writes. That is why, he says, so many immigrants from those countries “come to America and prosper.” Read more »
From the Left
Dara Lind in Vox:
“[Mr. Trump’s] comment was a clarifying moment. Such moments often make clear fundamentally contradictory visions of America. It’s impossible to negotiate with people who believe any change to America-as-they-see-it is an existential threat — and when they’re direct or boorish enough to say that out loud, it saves everyone the time and trouble of trying to compromise.”
Even if it appears “almost unimaginably hard to figure out a way to ‘end chain migration’ that would both pass Congress and avoid a collapse of the immigration system,” a policy debate can still be had. But, Ms. Lind argues, “you can’t negotiate” with those who want no immigration. She sums up: “Either America is a nation of immigrants or it is a nation of blood and soil. It cannot be both.” Read more »
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