Lost His Mind’

Thursday, January 4, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.54.22 AM

Good Thursday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump fired back at Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, who had made caustic comments about the president and his family to the author of a new tell-all book. The president excoriated Mr. Bannon as a self-promoting exaggerator who had very little to do with our historic victory and has now lost his mind.

  • A highly unusual lawsuit from Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, says the special counsel in the Russia inquiry, Robert S. Mueller III, was given an overly broad mandate and needs to be reined in.

  • Mr. Trump signed an executive order to disband his commission on voter fraud, ending its inquiry into his false claims of voter fraud. He said the decision came after several states refused to turn over data.

  • The Trump administration doesn’t oppose diplomatic talks on the Korean Peninsula but worries the North will try to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea.
  • Russia and Venezuela have floated plans to create homegrown virtual currencies that would put them outside the global financial and banking system.

— The First Draft Team

Will 2018 Be the Year of Protectionism? Trump Alone Will Decide

President Trump signing an order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim trade pact, last January.

President Trump signing an order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim trade pact, last January. Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Trump administration will soon face several major trade decisions that will determine whether the White House adopts the type of protectionist barriers that President Trump campaigned on but that were largely absent during his first year in office.
So far, the president’s actions on trade have been more moderate than his campaign speeches suggested. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from a Pacific Rim trade pact and opened other, existing trade deals to renegotiations. But he has yet to impose any of the broad tariffs that he has argued are necessary to give American companies a fair shot in a global economy.
In 2018, Mr. Trump will have several opportunities to punish foreign rivals as the final decider in a series of unusual trade cases that were initiated last year. These cases, which were brought under little-used provisions of trade laws, give the president broad authority to impose sweeping tariffs or quotas on foreign products.
The United States has numerous other routine trade cases in the works — like Boeing’s fight with the Canadian plane maker Bombardier. But the ones heading to Mr. Trump’s desk are unique because they fall to the president alone, rather than career bureaucrats, to decide.
Read more »

Trump’s First Big Twitter Day of 2018: Analyzing Nuclear Buttons and the ‘Corrupt Media’

By EILEEN SULLIVANPresident Trump returning to Washington on New Year’s Day. On Tuesday, his first full day back in the White House, he had a prolific number of Twitter posts.

The president’s 17 posts on Tuesday can be read as an outline of his agenda but also a glimpse at the challenges he faces this year.

AT&T was among the first companies to announce it would use some of its tax savings for employee bonuses.

Companies Are Handing Out Bonuses Thanks to the Tax Law. Is It a Publicity Stunt?


Following the big tax cut, companies have announced bonuses or wage hikes for employees. Will they make a difference? Or are they publicity stunts?

Harold T. Martin III worked for the National Security Agency’s hacking unit, and the material he is accused of taking included most or all of the agency’s hacking tools.

Ex-N.S.A. Worker Accused of Stealing Trove of Secrets Offers to Plead Guilty


Harold T. Martin III, who stored classified documents in his shed and car, gambles on a plea to one charge, with no guarantee that 19 more will be dropped.

A television station at Seoul Railway Station in South Korea broadcast a report on Wednesday about President Trump’s tweet, which boasted about the United States’s nuclear capabilities.

Would Twitter Ever Suspend Trump’s Account?


Critics have wondered whether the president’s more violent tweets — including those directed at North Korea — could merit a suspension or ban. Here’s what Twitter says.

Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, speaking at a news conference at the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting in December.

Fed Plans to Raise Rates in 2018 but Lacks Consensus on Frequency


Federal Reserve officials agreed that additional rate hikes were coming but disagreed about the frequency of such increases, according to minutes of the December meeting.

Doug Jones, the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in 25 years, was sworn in on Wednesday by Vice President Mike Pence.

Two Democrats Sworn In to Senate, Cutting the Republican Edge to One


The arrival of Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota gave the first tangible lift to Democratic power in Washington since the defeats of Election Day 2016.

Palestinians protesting President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week.

Trump’s Threat to Cut Palestinian Aid Worries Many in Israel


Far from encouraging a return to peace talks, a pair of blunt tweets from the American president appeared to distance the Palestinians and confuse the Israelis.

A rally outside the Capitol last month in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Ex-Homeland Security Officials Urge Faster Action on DACA


The window for legislative action to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children will close by the middle of January, three former officials said in a letter.

The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button


The image of a leader being able to launch missiles with the push of one finger has, for decades, instilled fear.

President Trump leaving Florida on Monday.

Social Media Shudders After Trump Mocks North Korea’s ‘Button’


The president’s tweet that he has a “much bigger” arsenal of nuclear weapons was met with dread and humor, of both the gallows and locker-room varieties.