Edging Back From the Brink

Thursday, April 5, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 7.54.27 AM

Good Thursday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • White House officials moved quickly to calm fears of a potential trade war with China, saying the administration’s proposed tariffs were a threat that would ultimately help, not hurt, the United States economy.
  • The White House said that the United States was committed to continuing to fight the Islamic State in Syria, signaling a retreat by President Trump from his insistence that the 2,000 American forces there quickly return home.
  • Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video imagery and that could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.

  • A witness who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, George Nader, has connections to both Persian Gulf states and Russia and may have information that links two important strands of the inquiry.
  • Speaker Paul D. Ryan still projects power in Washington, but back home in Janesville, Wisc., he has political challengers on the right and the left.

— The First Draft Team

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: The Scandal and the Fallout So Far

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
The headquarters of Cambridge Analytica in London. The company has faced a backlash after using Facebook to create psychological profiles of voters.

The headquarters of Cambridge Analytica in London. The company has faced a backlash after using Facebook to create psychological profiles of voters. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Revelations that digital consultants to the Trump campaign misused the data of millions of Facebook users set off a furor on both sides of the Atlantic. This is how The New York Times covered it.
In March, The Times, working with The Observer of London and The Guardian, obtained a cache of documents from inside Cambridge Analytica, the data firm principally owned by the right-wing donor Robert Mercer.
The documents proved that the firm, where the former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon was a board member, used data improperly obtained from Facebook to build voter profiles. The news put Cambridge under investigation and thrust Facebook into its biggest crisis ever.
Read the rest of our guide »
Students boarded a bus after school in Houston in September.

Government Watchdog Finds Racial Bias in School Discipline

By ERICA L. GREEN

The Government Accountability Office found that black students continue to bear the brunt of tough school discipline, despite efforts to examine the problem.

Rebecca Dallet after her win over Michael Screnock on Tuesday in Wisconsin, a state that narrowly chose President Trump in 2016.

Liberal Judge Wins Wisconsin Supreme Court Seat, Buoying Democrats

By MONICA DAVEY

The election was a chance to hear from voters across Wisconsin, a state that voted for Donald Trump after picking Democrats for president for years.

From left, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York; Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York; and Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum of Oregon at a news conference Tuesday announcing a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Cities and States Mount Court Challenge to Census Question on Citizenship

By MICHAEL WINES

Opponents say the question will deter immigrants from participating in the 2020 tally, thwarting the Constitution’s mandate to conduct an accurate count of residents.

The Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is expected to appear before multiple congressional committees.

Zuckerberg Set to Testify to Congress on Facebook’s Handling of Data

By CECILIA KANG

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, will appear before a House committee next Wednesday. He is also expected to testify before at least one Senate committee.

Representative Beto O’Rourke at a campaign event in February in Lufkin, Tex. He has raised $13.2 million in his race against Senator Ted Cruz — more than any other Democratic Senate candidate in Texas history.

In Texas, Cruz Faces Unusual Challenge: A Formidably Financed Democrat

By MANNY FERNANDEZ

Senator Ted Cruz kicked off his re-election bid this week. His opponent, Beto O’Rourke, has raised more money than any Democrat running for Senate in Texas ever has.

The Iron Man stands as a tribute to the men and women who built the mining industry in the Iron Range region of Minnesota.

Trump Is ‘Saving Us’: Minnesota Mining Country Warms to Tariffs and the G.O.P.

By MITCH SMITH

Republicans see a chance to flip a congressional seat in northern Minnesota, where Mr. Trump’s steel tariffs are being celebrated as a boost for the mining industry.

President Trump’s reversion to his campaign themes comes as he has reshuffled his national security team, ousting aides with more conventional views of American power in favor of more hawkish figures.
WHITE HOUSE MEMO

On Foreign Policy, President Reverts to Candidate Trump

By MARK LANDLER

Far from learning on the job or modifying his views, Mr. Trump is falling back on the familiar mix of belligerence and isolationism that fueled his campaign.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who visited New Hampshire on Tuesday, is one of the few prominent Republicans now willing to knock President Trump in front of any television camera that will have him.

Kasich Is Back in New Hampshire, and It’s Not for the Foliage

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER

On the itinerary for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the 2016 presidential hopeful: a diner visit, a Q. and A. with students and criticism of Mr. Trump amid speculation about a 2020 run.

Tucker Carlson, a Fox host, shouting “You hate America!” at Enrique Morones, an immigrants rights activist, who had defended the people marching through Mexico.

‘You Hate America!’: How ‘the Caravan’ Story Exploded on the Right

By JEREMY W. PETERS

The coverage tends to play on the fears that hiding among mass groups of immigrants are criminals, vectors of disease and terrorists.

Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? Or Its Savior?

By NICK WINGFIELD

Mr. Trump says Amazon costs the U.S. Postal Service billions of dollars. But the available evidence is far less certain, and some of it suggests the opposite.

Defense Department officials say that Secretary Jim Mattis, right, backs the proposal if it mirrors deployments made under President Trump’s predecessors, when troops were sent in a support, but not enforcement, role.

‘All It Takes Is One Mistake’: Worries on Sending Guard to Border

By HELENE COOPER

Pentagon officials have expressed concern about being seen as picking a fight with an ally at a time when the military has plenty of adversaries to contend with.

A Boeing 737 on the assembly line in Renton, Wash. Aircraft and their parts are the single largest American export to China, making Boeing a tempting target in a trade war.

How U.S.-China Trade Spat Could Threaten Manufacturing

By NATALIE KITROEFF AND BEN CASSELMAN

If the tariffs stand, along with China’s retaliatory moves, they could damage industries that have relied on a global supply chain for their recovery.