White House Shake-Up Continues

Friday, March 23, 2018Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 10.07.50 AM

Good Friday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser, replacing Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster and creating one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history.

  • If Mr. Trump wanted a national security adviser who would match his confrontational approach to the world, then Mr. Bolton, perhaps the most undiplomatic of diplomats, fits the bill.

  • In his strongest trade action yet against a country he has called an economic enemy, Mr. Trump said he would impose about $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports. The measures came as the White House granted American allies a long list of exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs that take effect Friday.

  • Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, John Dowd, resigned. His strategy for cooperating with the inquiry had been increasingly at odds with Mr. Trump’s desire for a more aggressive posture.

  • Congress gave swift approval to a $1.3 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government open through September but broadly defies the Trump administration’s wishes to reshape it.
— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

With Bolton, Trump Creates a Historically Hard-Line Foreign Policy Team

By DAVID E. SANGER
President Trump's new team of hard-liners could be cast, in their first month together, into two of the most volatile nuclear issues of the post-Cold War era.

President Trump’s new team of hard-liners could be cast, in their first month together, into two of the most volatile nuclear issues of the post-Cold War era. Doug Mills/The New York Times

When President Trump suddenly announced two weeks ago that he would meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, John R. Bolton suggested a pithy strategy for how the meeting should proceed.
It should “be a fairly brief session where Trump says: ‘Tell me you have begun total denuclearization, because we’re not going to have protracted negotiations. You can tell me right now or we’ll start thinking of something else,’” Mr. Bolton, the hard-line former diplomat, said on a radio program the next day.
He made no secret of what the “something else” should be: a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, which he wrote last month would be a “perfectly legitimate” response to what he views as an imminent threat.
Mr. Bolton’s ascension to national security adviser, replacing Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, creates the most radically aggressive foreign policy team around the American president in modern memory.
Just a month ago, the prevailing wisdom in Washington was that the triumvirate of General McMaster, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was the only restraining influence on Mr. Trump’s confrontational urges. Now only Mr. Mattis is left, and there are increasing questions about how long he will last.
Read more » 
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke at a rally in Pittsburg earlier this month.

Trump and Biden Exchange Taunts and Threats

By EILEEN SULLIVAN

President Trump said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “would go down fast and hard” if the two men fought. Mr. Biden had said that, if he was in high school, he would “beat the hell” out of Mr. Trump for disrespecting women.

President Trump in San Diego last week to inspect prototypes for a border wall. Days after his inauguration last year, Mr. Trump ordered construction to begin immediately on a wall.

Border Wall Not High Priority for Front-Line Agents, Study Finds

By RON NIXON

A report released by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee found that agents more often cited needs for technology and personnel to secure the border with Mexico.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, center, spoke with Senators Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, and Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday.

U.S. Exempts Allies From Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

By JIM TANKERSLEY AND JACK EWING

Robert Lighthizer, the American trade representative, said Mr. Trump believed that “based on a certain set of criteria, some countries should be out,” at least temporarily.

The site of a former steel mill in Guangzhou, China. China produces only about 2 percent of the steel used in the United States.<br /><br />

Trump Says Getting Tough on Chinese Trade Will Empower U.S. He Risks the Opposite.

By PETER S. GOODMAN

The president’s moves could undermine the potential for collective action among countries nursing shared grievances with China.

“I think I still am a Fox News contributor,” John R. Bolton, laughing, told Martha MacCallum after being named President Trump’s national security adviser.

John Bolton, Fresh From Fox News, Joins the Trump Cast

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

Mr. Bolton, the next national security adviser, was a longtime commentator. He’s the latest TV personality to go from the small screen to the White House.

Where Protests Against Gun Violence Will Be on Saturday, in the U.S. and Around the World

By JUGAL K. PATEL

Just over a month after the Parkland mass school shooting, organizers have planned hundreds of demonstrations calling for stricter gun laws.

President Trump discussing weapons sales this week with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, which is leading a bombing campaign in Yemen that has been criticized by human rights groups.

State Dept. Approves $670 Million Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia

By HELENE COOPER

The proposed sale, which is bound to be questioned by Congress, came hours after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Pentagon leaders to discuss the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

Even with Republicans in charge, the spending plan increases funding for many programs President Trump had sought to cut or kill, and in some cases bars him from pursuing his goals.

Spending Plan Passed by Congress Is a Rebuke to Trump. Here’s Why.

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS

Even with Republicans in charge, the measure increases funding for many programs the president had sought to cut or kill, and in some cases bars him from pursuing his goals.

David Hogg, right, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., spoke on Thursday to students at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., about activism and Saturday’s marches against gun violence.

Beyond Gun Control, Student Marchers Aim to Upend Elections

By ALEXANDER BURNS AND JULIE TURKEWITZ

High school students say this is a moment of political awakening for their generation.

Outgoing Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was hailed on Thursday by employees in a department that had never embraced his distant and disorganized leadership.

Tillerson Says Goodbye to a Very Mean-Spirited Town

By GARDINER HARRIS

In a farewell speech to employees, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who was fired in a presidential tweet, urged respect and civility.

Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas, on Thursday in Washington. He said that the House Intelligence Committee had found “a pattern of Russian active measures in the United States, both through cyberattacks and their use of social media to sow discord.”

House Republicans Say G.O.P. Establishment Opened Way for Russian Influence

By NICHOLAS FANDOS

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said opposition to Mr. Trump by the party’s national security establishment had opened the door for advisers whose interaction with Russian intelligence prompted scrutiny.

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, testifying before a House committee last week. On Thursday, Mr. Carson faced withering criticism from Democrats on a Senate subcommittee.

‘I Take Responsibility,’ Ben Carson Says of $31,000 Furniture Purchase for His Office

By GLENN THRUSH

Facing withering criticism from a Senate subcommittee, the secretary of housing and urban development followed the advice of his aides, who in recent days have urged him to apologize.

The Pentagon’s abrupt ouster of the convening authority of the Guantánamo Bay war prison courts has contributed to the disarray at its troubled military commissions system.

Mattis Says Guantánamo Lawyers Were Fired Over Temperament, Not Legal Work

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

The Pentagon’s abrupt ouster of the top two officials overseeing the Guantánamo military commissions system stemmed from management concerns, the defense secretary said.

John R. Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, was considered a hawk among hawks in President George W. Bush’s administration.

How the Left and the Right Reacted to Bolton as National Security Adviser

By MIKAYLA BOUCHARD AND EMILY COCHRANE

The news that Mr. Bolton will become Mr. Trump’s third national security adviser was met with immediate acclaim and criticism. We rounded some of it up for you.