Cracking Down on Iran

Friday, October 6, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 9.41.55 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump has approved a broad strategy to crack down on Iran for its ballistic missile program and support for militant groups, according to a senior administration official, although he has yet to sign off on decertifying the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration.

  • Republican leaders in Congress find themselves under attack from the right and left, questioned by their donors and threatened by the White House.

  • The National Rifle Association endorsed tighter restrictions on rapid-fire devices like the one used by the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock. It was a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls.

  • Even if Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson does not resign, he has become a wounded figure, his credibility diminished by his rift with President Trump.

  • An inquiry into around $800,000 worth of air travel by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin found he broke no laws but lamented the loose justification provided to substantiate costly flights.

  • The deaths of three Special Forces troops in Niger raised questions about how they assess threats, as well as about their oversight, Pentagon officials said.
— The First Draft Team

Nothing Divides Voters Like Owning a Gun

By NATE COHN AND KEVIN QUEALY
Americans are deeply split along demographic lines, but there aren’t many demographic characteristics that embody America’s cultural divide better than gun ownership.
In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, the polling firm SurveyMonkey published a pair of maps from its 2016 presidential election exit polls. It showed the electoral maps for voters who said they had a gun in their home, and for those who said they did not.
In every state but Vermont – perhaps the most liberal state in the country, but one where Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, often support gun rights – voters who reported living in gun-owning households overwhelmingly backed Donald J. Trump.
The opposite is true for voters who said they did not live in a home with a gun. In all but one state that could be measured, voters overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton. (The exception was West Virginia; not enough data existed for Wyoming.)
Read more »

Conservative Pennsylvania Congressman Resigns Amid Abortion Scandal

Representative Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania, had initially said he would serve out the remainder of his term, but would not seek re-election in 2018.By EMILY COCHRANE

Representative Tim Murphy said he would step down this month, after a backlash over reports that he encouraged his lover to consider terminating a pregnancy.

Unloading coal at a power plant in Kentucky. The nominee, Andrew R. Wheeler, has worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, one of the largest coal companies in the United States.

Trump Nominates a Coal Lobbyist to Be No. 2 at the E.P.A.

By LISA FRIEDMAN

The nominee, Andrew R. Wheeler, is a former aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, an outspoken denier of established science on climate change, and has worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy.

Workers assembled washing machines at a Whirlpool plant in Clyde, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Washing Machine War Will Test Trump’s Mettle on Trade

By ANA SWANSON

The president will be the ultimate arbiter in a trade case over imports of washing machines made by Samsung and LG.

Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday a fresh push to put Americans in space, including on the moon, at a meeting of a reinstated National Space Council.

Space Council Chooses the Moon as Trump Administration Priority

By KENNETH CHANG

Vice President Mike Pence accused the Obama administration of neglecting the space program, while others saw a continuing renaissance.

MATTER

The American Embassy in Havana. The State Department withdrew nonessential personnel after diplomats were found to have mysterious medical symptoms.A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It

By CARL ZIMMER

The symptoms reported by U.S. embassy staff in Havana probably were not caused by a mysterious sonic weapon, experts said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s move means the Justice Department will no longer side with transgender plaintiffs in workplace discrimination lawsuits invoking the Civil Rights Act.

In Shift, Justice Dept. Says Law Doesn’t Ban Bias Against Transgender People

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

The move was the Trump administration’s latest contraction of the Obama-era approach to civil rights enforcement.

The new report found that the I.R.S. was inappropriately targeting progressive-leaning groups like the now defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now also known as A.C.O.R.N.

In Targeting Political Groups, I.R.S. Crossed Party Lines

By ALAN RAPPEPORT

A federal watchdog investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups said the agency also scrutinized liberal organizations.

Two cases involving President Trump’s travel and refugee bans are in front of the Supreme Court.

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Dismiss Travel Ban Cases

By ADAM LIPTAK

The two sides disagreed on whether recent changes in travel restrictions required the Supreme Court to dismiss earlier challenges to the ban.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said that the budget blueprint, for the 2018 fiscal year that began on Sunday, “paves the way for historic tax reform.”

House Passes Budget Blueprint, Taking Step Toward Tax Overhaul

By THOMAS KAPLAN

The approval of the budget blueprint is critical to Republicans’ hopes of remaking the tax code even if Democrats are unified in opposition.

Scott Pruitt in July 2014, during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general.

Deep in 316-Page E.P.A. Doc, Reporter Finds Hint of Unexpected Turn in History

By ERIC LIPTON

There it was on Scott Pruitt’s schedule: a meeting with an acquaintance he knew from Oklahoma.

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
Kevin D. Williamson in National Review:
“Say this for Donald Trump: He has been successful at one thing — bringing American politics down to his level. It’s asinine, childish and emotionally incontinent, but that is where he is comfortable. One recalls the proverbial advice about wrestling a pig: You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”
Mr. Williamson is concerned about reports that Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, suggested that the Republicans conduct a “purge” of those in the party who may not fully support President Trump’s agenda. In Mr. Williamson’s view, “Republicans have not rallied behind the Trump agenda because there isn’t anything to rally behind.” And the Trump movement, he writes, is turning into a “nervous breakdown inside the Republican Party.” Read more »
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From the Left
Zack Beauchamp in Vox:
“Public clashes between the president and top aides can literally undercut the administration’s foreign policy goals. This past weekend, for example, Tillerson said that he was negotiating directly with North Korean officials — but then Trump tweeted that he should knock it off.”
The “mixed signal” between Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson “makes it hard for the North Koreans to figure out what the U.S. government wants from them,” Mr. Beauchamp explains. It also has a more pernicious effect on the administration’s ability to carry out its business: “The fact that Trump’s rough management style has been publicly reported makes all of this worse. It makes it hard to fill vital open positions.” Read more »
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