Tariffs Target China

Thursday, March 22, 2018Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 9.39.18 AM

Good Thursday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump will hit China with at least $50 billion worth of annual tariffs and other penalties  for its theft of technology and trade secrets, which administration officials say has robbed American companies of billions of dollars each year.

  • A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents.

  • To calm Mr. Trump, Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, drew up a broad document barring White House officials from publicly disclosing what they hear and see at work.

  • John O. Brennan, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he thought Russia might have some kind of compromising information on Mr. Trump, setting off furious speculation about what he was basing that assertion on.

  • With government funding set to run out this weekend, congressional leaders agreed on a voluminous $1.3 trillion spending bill that would beef up domestic and military programs and fund the government through September.
— The First Draft Team

Why the Fed Raised Rates for the Sixth Time in Three Years

As expected, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate to a range between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent. As the Fed continues to move away from its post-crisis stimulus campaign, it was the first change in monetary policy under the new chairman appointed by President Trump: Jerome H. Powell.
The Fed lowered its benchmark rate — the rate that banks charge one another to borrow money overnight — to near zero after the financial crisis began in 2008. The goal was to encourage lending and spur the economy. Judging that the economy no longer needed as much help, the Fed began to raise rates at the end of 2015.
View the interactive »
Gov. Bruce Rauner and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Illinois survived a serious challenge to win the Republican primary on Tuesday.

Multimillionaire and Billionaire to Face Off in Illinois Governor Race


Gov. Bruce Rauner survived a Republican primary challenge by a conservative rival and now faces a serious threat from J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who is a billionaire philanthropist.

A TV at a railway station in Seoul, the South Korean capital, showing, from left, President Trump, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader.

South Korea’s Leader Floats Three-Way Talks With Trump and Kim


President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said he hoped that after he and President Trump met separately with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, the three leaders could sit down together.

Trump, Defending Call With Putin, Attacks ‘Crazed’ Media and His Predecessors

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS AND EILEEN SULLIVANPresident Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticize his predecessors for failing to improve relations with Moscow.

The president argued that the conversation in which he congratulated President Vladimir V. Putin could help relations with Russia and, in turn, national security interests.

F.B.I. Investigated Sessions for Possible Perjury Over Russia DenialsAndrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director, right, authorized an investigation into possible perjury over congressional statements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


An inquiry of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was authorized by Andrew G. McCabe, who was fired last week. Mr. Sessions inaccurately testified he had no contacts with Russians.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield had proposed widespread testing for H.I.V. in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, but also cautioned against stigmatizing those who had the virus.

AIDS Researcher Is Named to Lead the C.D.C.


Dr. Robert R. Redfield, a Baltimore AIDS researcher and advocate of medication-assisted therapies to treat addiction, will take over the public health agency. The C.D.C.’s previous director resigned after only six months.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said Wednesday that several of the nation’s top trading partners were in line for potential tariff exemptions.

U.S. in Talks on Tariff Exemptions, Trade Official Says


The trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said steel and aluminum from the European Union and several other exporters might be spared from tariffs about to be imposed.

What Does Brennan Know?


John Brennan, a former C.I.A. director, saw evidence of Russian election meddling. Are his suggestive public statements signs that he knows information that he can’t divulge?

Diplomats from countries that brokered the 2015 Iran nuclear accord met in Vienna this month amid threats from President Trump to tear up the agreement.

U.S. Taking Negotiations ‘One Week at a Time’ on Expiring Iran Deal


The chief American envoy to the Iran nuclear talks is banking on political savvy and Midwestern earnestness to salvage the deal that Mr. Trump wants to scrap.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, and Jeh Johnson, who served in the post under President Barack Obama during the 2016 election, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Efforts to Secure Elections Moving Too Slowly, Senators Tell Homeland Security Chief


“When I listen to your testimony, I hear no sense of urgency to really get on top of this issue,” one member of the Senate Intelligence Committee told Kirstjen Nielsen.

President Trump and an all-male delegation hosted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and members of the Saudi delegation in the Cabinet Room on Tuesday.

Over 20 People Were at the Table When Trump Met the Saudis. None Were Women.


Photos from Tuesday’s meeting show that the dynamics at the table remained relatively unchanged — even amid White House staff shake-ups — and male.