Confronting Pruitt

Friday, April 6, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 9.03.39 AM

Good Friday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • At least five officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, four of them high-ranking, were reassigned or demoted or requested new jobs after raising concerns about the spending and management of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt.

  • In West Virginia, President Trump continued his tirade against American immigration laws and accused Democrats of embracing dangerous policies to win votes. Here’s a fact check.
  • Mr. Trump said he would consider hitting China with an additional $100 billion in tariffs, on top of the $50 billion already authorized, doubling down on threats of a trade war that his top advisers had tried to minimize. Here’s how the conflict developed.
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement has become a flash point in the debate over the administration’s embrace of socially conservative policy, as its director tries to stop the young, undocumented refugees he oversees from having abortions.
  • In his first public remarks about the matter, Mr. Trump denied knowing of a $130,000 payment his lawyer made to a pornographic film actress who claims to have had a sexual encounter with him.

  • After months of fraught negotiations and stalled talks, the Trump administration is aiming to announce a preliminary deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement this month, moving to resolve one trading conflict as the separate clash with China looms.
— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

They Have Many Differences, but on Syria, Trump Seems Much Like Obama

By MARK LANDLER
An American soldier in Syria on Wednesday. Mr. Trump, a former senior adviser said, does not believe that Syria's civil war is a vital national security interest of the United States.

An American soldier in Syria on Wednesday. Mr. Trump, a former senior adviser said, does not believe that Syria’s civil war is a vital national security interest of the United States. Hussein Malla/Associated Press

Whether it is the Paris climate accord or the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has moved methodically to dismantle the foreign policy legacy of his predecessor Barack Obama. Except for Syria, on which Mr. Trump has faithfully echoed Mr. Obama’s hands-off policy.
Mr. Trump’s statement on Tuesday — that “I want to bring our troops back home; I want to start rebuilding our nation” — underlined again how similarly he and Mr. Obama view the United States’ role in the overlapping conflicts in Syria.
Both men have doubted the wisdom of a long-term American military commitment in the country. Both have complained that Saudi Arabia expects the United States to bear the burden of a costly war against President Bashar al-Assad. Both have viewed Syria primarily through the prism of combating the Islamic State.
Though Mr. Trump’s aides made much of his order to fire Tomahawk missiles at Mr. Assad’s airfields last spring — an order that Mr. Obama famously refused to give four years earlier — it was the exception that proved the rule.
Mr. Trump, a former senior adviser said, does not believe that Syria’s civil war is a vital national security interest of the United States. Neither did Mr. Obama, which is why he initially rebuffed proposals to funnel weapons to the rebels in Syria or to impose a no-fly zone over parts of the country.
Read more »
Smog blanketing downtown Los Angeles. The next major court fight between California and the Trump administration may involve greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump v. California: The Biggest Legal Clashes

By ADAM LIPTAK

With 29 suits filed, the federal government and California are engaged in “bloody combat” over issues like immigration, the environment and the census.

A Bahraini man suspected of aiding ISIS was detained by Kurdish forces in Syria in February. Several thousand detainees are being held in camps in northern Syria, American and Kurdish officials said.

Pentagon Wades Deeper Into Detainee Operations in Syria

By ERIC SCHMITT

The United States military is spending about $1 million to secure several makeshift detention camps for Islamic State prisoners, broadening its involvement in operations it had sought to avoid.

Unloading imported soybeans at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China, on Wednesday. China has said it will raise tariffs on American soybeans, among other products.

If There’s a U.S.-China Trade War, China May Have Some ‘Unconventional Weapons’

By NEIL IRWIN

There are ways to make life harder for American companies in China that need not be formal, or widely publicized.

FEATURE

How Lisa Murkowski Mastered Trump’s Washington

By SUSAN DOMINUS

The Alaska senator is one of the few Republicans to go toe-to-toe with the president and thrive.


Sally Yates Says While ‘Elections Have Consequences,’ Trump Goes Too FarSally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, and the New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo had a wide-ranging conversation at a TimesTalks event.

By MAGGIE ASTOR

Ms. Yates, the acting attorney general fired by President Trump for refusing to defend his travel ban, said in a TimesTalks conversation that he is breaking democratic norms.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, announced a set of indictments in February.

For Mueller, a Feared Weakness Becomes a Strength

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

The special counsel is emphasizing his relative lack of independence to defend the indictment of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman.

Two former detainees at the Guantánamo Bay wartime prison have disappeared from their resettled home in Senegal.

Senegal Eyes Deporting Ex-Detainees as Critics Accuse U.S. of Neglect

By DIONNE SEARCEY AND CHARLIE SAVAGE

A move by Senegal to deport former Guantánamo detainees spotlights the Trump administration’s closing of a State Department office that monitored resettlements.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. California has vowed to stick to its own stricter auto emissions standards even if the Trump administration relaxes federal rules.

Quietly, Trump Officials and California Seek a Deal on Car Emissions

By HIROKO TABUCHI

Behind-the-scenes talks could preserve some rules targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency for elimination.

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has recently approved high salaries for top appointees while using its cash reserves to fund its budget.

Consumer Bureau’s Chief Gives Big Raises, Even as He Criticizes Spending

By STACY COWLEY

Mick Mulvaney, who is trying to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, awarded large pay increases to two recent recruits.

Employees at work at Taco Bamba Taqueria in Falls Church, Va., where business is robust and staff is in short supply.

A Worker Shortage Is Forcing Restaurants to Get Creative

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

As Americans increasingly eat out, owners are scrambling to find employees wherever they can.

Juli Briskman raised her middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade in October and lost her job with a government contractor a few days later. “Criticism of our leaders should be encouraged,” she said.

Woman Who Was Fired for Giving Trump the Middle Finger Sues Former Employer

By MATTHEW HAAG

Juli Briskman said Akima L.L.C., a government contractor, dismissed her because it feared her gesture would hurt its business. “Criticism of our leaders should be encouraged,” she said.

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, with his top policy adviser, Samantha Dravis, at Trump Tower in 2016. Ms. Dravis has resigned.

Growing Crisis Threatens Scott Pruitt, E.P.A. Chief, as Top Aides Eye the Exits

By CORAL DAVENPORT AND LISA FRIEDMAN

A star in President Trump’s campaign to roll back regulations, he now faces a swirl of ethics questions and may be losing the confidence of the White House.

Shenidegabier Rodriguez Iliaz from Honduras held his daughter, Ixamar, after they were released from detention after crossing the border in McAllen, Tex.

Trump Says He’s Sending the National Guard. On the Border, Many Aren’t Sure Why.

By MANNY FERNANDEZ

In the Rio Grande Valley, there is a steady flow of immigrants crossing illegally every day. Most are being quietly processed and sent on their way.

Visitors at the Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park, in southwest Utah, one of the 17 parks targeted for a possible entrance fee increase by the Trump administration.

National Park Service Reconsiders Steep Fee Increase After Backlash

By DANIEL VICTOR

Trump administration officials proposed raising the car entrance fee for its most popular national parks to $70. They received 109,000 comments, many of them critical.