Macron’s Gamble

Monday, April 23, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 9.51.35 AM

Good Monday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • Emmanuel Macron, the French president leaves for a state visit to Washington, where he will try, once again, to close the gap with President Trump on climate change, Iran and trade.
  • Even as private employers have rebounded from the recession, the public sector’s ranks have withered, and pay and benefits have lagged.
  • China is concerned that a grand deal with North Korea’s longtime enemiescould diminish its influence over Pyongyang, experts said.
  • Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is confronting the political fight of his career, battling sustained criticism from the president and Republican demands. But in trying to deflect those attacks, some say, Mr. Rosenstein hasrisked eroding the Justice Department’s historic independence from political meddling.
  • Greg Pence, the vice president’s brother, is running for Congress on his business record and famous name. But both have raised questions.
  • An examination of Scott Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington as head of the Environmental Protection Agency have echoes in his past.
  • Republican candidates all over are parroting the president, spouting his catchphrases and donning his hats as they try to show loyalty.
— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

What Does Kim Jong-un Want? U.S. Fears Answer Is ‘Give a Little, Gain a Lot’

By MARK LANDLER AND CHOE SANG-HUN
Meeting rooms that straddle the border between North and South Korea in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone are one possible location for a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

Meeting rooms that straddle the border between North and South Korea in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone are one possible location for a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

As North Korea’s reclusive ruler, Kim Jong-un, prepares for a landmark meeting with President Trump, he has seized the diplomatic high ground, making conciliatory gestures on nuclear testing and American troops that have buoyed hopes in South Korea and won praise from Mr. Trump himself, who called it “big progress.”
But Mr. Kim’s audacious moves are unsettling officials in the United States, Japan and China. Some suspect he is posturing in advance of the summit meeting, as well as a separate meeting this coming week with South Korea’s president, and has no real intention of acceding to demands that he relinquish his nuclear weapons.
They worry that his gestures could put Mr. Trump on the defensive in the difficult negotiations to come, by offering symbolically potent but substantively modest concessions in place of genuine disarmament — what one senior American official labeled a “freeze trap.”
The sudden offer of olive branches, from a leader who only four months ago warned the United States that he was ready to launch missiles from a nuclear button on his desk, is sharpening a question that has long bedeviled North Korea watchers: What does Mr. Kim want?
Read more »
A campaign poster in Orange County, Calif., for Mai Khanh Tran, a Democratic candidate for Congress. National Democrats tried to get her to drop out of the crowded race as a way to help their preferred candidate beat Republicans in the June primary.

Fearing Chaos, National Democrats Plunge Into Midterm Primary Fights

By ALEXANDER BURNS

Democratic leaders are intervening aggressively in California, where the state’s unusual voting system could undercut their chances in crowded congressional races.

Activists protesting outside the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan last year after the Trump administration cut protections for transgender people in schools.

Trump Plan Would Cut Back Health Care Protections for Transgender People

By ROBERT PEAR

Advocates said the change could jeopardize the significant gains that transgender people have seen in access to care, including treatments for which many insurers denied coverage in the past.

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, has been promoting the release of his tell-all book, which includes descriptions of the memos released Thursday.

Pressure to Release Comey Memos May Have Backfired on G.O.P.

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR AND NICHOLAS FANDOS

The deputy attorney general’s decision to release the memos did little to help Republicans undermine the credibility of James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director.

President Trump incorrectly claimed on Twitter on Sunday that North Korea had “agreed to denuclearization.”

Trump Rejects Notion He Has Made Too Many Concessions to North Korea

By KATIE ROGERS

President Trump, in defending his actions before a planned summit meeting, incorrectly claimed that North Korea had “agreed to denuclearization.”

President Trump on Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson,” the president said on Saturday.

After Sylvester Stallone Call, Trump Considers ‘Full Pardon’ of Long-Dead Boxer

By KATIE ROGERS

Once the televised funeral for Barbara Bush was over, President Trump notified Americans that he’d been on the phone with Rambo.

In announcing a trade pact with Mexico on Saturday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said, “Trade can and should be a win-win process and today’s agreement shows just that.”

In Message to Trump, Europe and Mexico Announce Trade Pact

By ANA SWANSON AND MILAN SCHREUER

The update of an existing pact will lift trade in dairy, digital goods and other products, and sends a message that some of America’s trading partners are moving on.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has been criticized for the ways that his professional actions overlap with personal relationships.

Scott Pruitt Met With Lobbyist Whose Wife Rented Him a $50-a-Night Condo

By ERIC LIPTON

The disclosure contradicts earlier statements that lobbying by J. Steven Hart before the E.P.A. hadn’t occurred.

Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who created an app to harvest data from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, said the company knew what he was doing.

Professor Apologizes for Helping Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG

Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who helped harvest tens of millions of Facebook profiles in 2014, said he “never heard a word” of objection from the social media giant.

President Trump’s attacks on Amazon and its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, have opened the door for the company’s critics.

Amazon’s Critics Get New Life With Trump’s Attacks on the Company

By CECILIA KANG, NICK WINGFIELD AND DANIELLE IVORY

Many of Amazon’s opponents have struggled for years to be heard. Now they have the country’s most powerful bullhorn — President Trump — on their side.

In their own way, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are both vying to define the Democratic Party’s future in New York and beyond: the mayor as a progressive beacon for unrepentant liberalism succeeding, the governor as a deal-cutting Democrat who can actually make good on progressive promises.

Inside One of America’s Ugliest Political Feuds: Cuomo vs. de Blasio

By SHANE GOLDMACHER AND J. DAVID GOODMAN

How did two Democrats, whose politics and goals often mesh, allow their onetime friendship to deteriorate to the point of pure contempt?