Leaving a Trail

Thursday, March 2, 2017Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 9.01.48 AM

Good Thursday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Obama administration officials scrambled to ensure intelligence of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials was preserved after they left office. The information concerned Russia’s attempt to undermine the election and its possible contacts with associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump. Questions have also been raised about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is said to have met twice with the Russian ambassador in the past year, which would contradict his confirmation testimony.
  • While President Trump appeared to back a health plan being drawn up by Republican leaders, it became clear Wednesday that lawmakers were still arguing over its details, and how to pay for it.
  • The Dow has reached another high and financial markets are shrugging off imminent Fed rate increases — and making a mockery of economic forecasts under a Trump presidency.
  • The president’s conciliatory address to Congress was a recognition that a softer sales tactic was needed to sell the hard-edged populism on which he campaigned.
The First Draft Team

How Trump’s ‘Merit-Based’ Immigration System Might Work

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS
Migrant farmworkers in Merced, Calif., in January. The president proposed a “merit-based” immigration system in a speech on Tuesday that could change the makeup of who is allowed into the United States.

Migrant farmworkers in Merced, Calif., in January. The president proposed a “merit-based” immigration system in a speech on Tuesday that could change the makeup of who is allowed into the United States. Max Whittaker for The New York Times

President Trump spent his first weeks in office vowing to crack down on illegal immigration with deportations and other get-tough proposals. But when he went before Congress on Tuesday to lay out his agenda, he offered a far broader plan that echoes an approach long favored by mainstream Republicans for reshaping the nation’s immigration laws.
Mr. Trump’s call for a “merit-based” immigration system — one that puts a priority on skills and employability over family ties — revived a central element of the broad immigration compromise sought in 2007 by President George W. Bush, which paired stricter border enforcement with an eventual grant of legal status for many of the estimated 11 million immigrants illegally living in the United States. In a conversation with television news anchors at the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he would be open to such a deal, although he did not mention that in his speech to Congress.
Mr. Trump’s remarks in the speech focused instead on the merit-based system. “It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially, yet in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon,” Mr. Trump said. “Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits.”
But such a system is viewed with skepticism by some Republicans who fear it would harm the economy by shutting out less-educated immigrants who fill vital jobs, such as farm and kitchen workers.
“It sounds great just to bring the total brainiac, most-skilled people here, but when you look at the economy, it’s not that simple — you need the brainiacs, but you need the low-skilled people as well,” said Tamar Jacoby, the president of ImmigrationWorks USA, who advises Republicans on immigration issues.
Democrats and those on the left have an even more sinister view of the idea, arguing that Mr. Trump’s emphasis on choosing the most-skilled immigrants is a backdoor way to re-engineer American laws to filter out certain ethnicities and nationalities.
Read more »

Obama Officials Raced to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Hacking

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, ADAM GOLDMAN AND MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Obama administration officials scrambled to ensure intelligence of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials was preserved after they left office.

Republican Unity on Health Care Is Elusive, Despite Trump’s Support

By THOMAS KAPLAN AND ROBERT PEAR

Fundamental disagreements remain between Republican leaders and the party’s most conservative members, particularly over the details of a proposed tax credit.

ECONOMIC TRENDS

What Booming Markets Are Telling Us About the Global Economy

By NEIL IRWIN

Shedding pessimism after seeming to be hopelessly trapped in a cycle of low growth and inflation.

In Address, Trump Tests a New Tactic: Toning It Down

By GLENN THRUSH AND MAGGIE HABERMAN

The president’s address to Congress was a recognition that a softer sales tactic was needed to sell the hard-edged populist agenda he campaigned on.

5 Key Takeaways From the Speech

By GLENN THRUSH

At precisely the moment he needed to project sobriety, seriousness of purpose and self-discipline, Mr. Trump delivered the most presidential speech he has ever given.

Trump Moves to Become Master of His Own Messages

By MAGGIE HABERMAN AND MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

The president has privately expressed frustration with a White House press office distracted by small grievances and under siege amid leaks and infighting.

Devices Seized in Yemen Raid Offer Some Clues to Qaeda Tactics

By ERIC SCHMITT AND DAVID E. SANGER

The information provides insight into hidden explosives the group is making and new training tactics, but it is unclear how much it advances the military’s knowledge.

Backed by Police, Undocumented Immigrant Gets Reprieve

By MONICA DAVEY

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, awaiting hearings in the government’s case against him, was freed from jail after posting a $3,000 bond.

Jon Huntsman Is in Running to Be Russia Ambassador

By MARK LANDLER

Sending Mr. Huntsman to Moscow would remove him as a primary challenger to Utah’s 82-year-old Republican senator, Orrin Hatch.

He Will Soon Run a Fifth of the Nation. Meet Ryan Zinke.

By JULIE TURKEWITZ

Representative Ryan Zinke, a fifth-generation Montanan, views himself as a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, but some in the state are skeptical.

Trump’s Call for School Vouchers Is a Return to a Campaign Pledge

By YAMICHE ALCINDOR

In his address to Congress, the president backed his controversial education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has built her career on promoting the voucher program.

Senate Will Weigh In on H. R. McMaster’s Appointment

By PETER BAKER

Because General McMaster is on active duty and the Senate votes on any major change in assignment for general officers, it will take up his appointment on Tuesday.

Fact Check: Trump and Military Spending

By LINDA QIU

The president’s speech to Congress offered fewer inaccuracies than is often the case, except when he went off script or talked himself up.

Supreme Court Returns Virginia Voting District Case to Lower Court

By ADAM LIPTAK

The court tried to clarify the role race can play in drawing districts but left it to the trial court to apply a slightly refined definition of racial gerrymandering.

F.C.C., in Potential Sign of the Future, Halts New Data Security Rules

By CECILIA KANG

The F.C.C. delayed data security rules requiring internet providers like AT&T and Comcast secure their customers’ data against hacking.

Corporations Show Support for Transgender Boy in Supreme Court Case

By NIRAJ CHOKSHI

Dozens of companies, including Amazon and Apple, signed on to a brief in support of Gavin Grimm’s fight against his school district over which bathrooms he may use.