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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 100)

Parties Face ‘Crackup’ as Outsiders Wield Social Media Against the Establishment

WASHINGTON — On the night that he conceded defeat in 1992 after the most successful independent presidential campaign of the last century, Ross Perot made it clear that he was not done shaking up the established order. “Believe me,” he declared, “the system needs some shocks.”

So perhaps it was only fitting that on the same week that Mr. Perot died nearly 27 years later, both of the two major political parties were being rattled by the aftershocks of the earthquake that his campaign represented. President Trump was busy quarreling with former Speaker Paul D. Ryan while the current speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was bickering with first-year House Democrats.

In both cases, those who represented the institutional order, Mr. Ryan and Ms. Pelosi, found themselves at odds with rabble-rousers within their own parties agitating for change from outside the traditional system through the power of social media. This was not a week that showcased the competition between the parties but within them. The stress fractures that Mr. Perot identified a generation ago are tearing at the foundations of the Republican and Democratic Parties.

“This really is the crackup,” said Rahm Emanuel, the Democratic former Chicago mayor, congressman and White House chief of staff. “Usually fights are Democrats versus Republicans, one end of Pennsylvania Avenue versus the other, or the left versus the right. Today’s squabbles are internal between the establishment versus the people that are storming the barricades.”

Mr. Emanuel saw up close Mr. Perot’s campaign in 1992 (and then again in 1996) as an aide to Bill Clinton, and today he identifies that moment as “the beginning point of the crackup of the parties.” In the years since, the Bushes and Clintons have given way to Twitter-armed outsiders like Mr. Trump and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and “the squad” of her fellow Democratic insurgents in Congress.

[Ross Perot, a brash Texas billionaire who ran for president, dies at 89.]

The difference is that Mr. Trump successfully staged a hostile takeover of the Republican Party in 2016 and has since brought much of its old establishment to heel, driving the likes of Mr. Ryan out the door or into hiding. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her compatriots have not taken over the Democratic Party, but they are driving the conversation within it to a degree that few first-year House members have ever done, thanks to their online armies of like-minded disrupters tired of what they see as the corrupt status quo.

Mr. Trump’s dust-up with Mr. Ryan this week originated with the publication of “American Carnage,” a new book on the Republican civil war by Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine. In the book, Mr. Ryan, who stepped down as speaker in January, described his frustrations trying to deal with Mr. Trump, who, he said, “didn’t know anything about government.” As Mr. Ryan put it, “I wanted to scold him all the time.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157852272_61c9c88e-b071-4d41-9b4a-bf11fc5a9729-articleLarge Parties Face ‘Crackup’ as Outsiders Wield Social Media Against the Establishment Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Third-Party Politics (US) Republican Party Presidential Election of 1996 Presidential Election of 1992 Perot, Ross Pelosi, Nancy Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Democratic Party

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her compatriots are driving the conversation within the Democratic Party to a degree that few first-year House members have ever done.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Mr. Trump, the first president in American history who arrived in Washington without a single day of government or military experience but with tens of millions of followers on Twitter eager for him to break up the system, characteristically fired back at Mr. Ryan. In late-night tweets from the White House, Mr. Trump dismissed the former speaker as “a long running lame duck failure” whose “record of achievement was atrocious.”

The flare-up between Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her allies, Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, in some ways echoed those themes.

In an interview with the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Ms. Pelosi complained that the upstarts did not understand how government works, dismissing their digital following as “their public whatever.” They in turn complained that Ms. Pelosi’s record of achievement was inadequate because she was too willing to compromise rather than confront Republicans on issues like the migrant crisis at the border.

There is, of course, no little irony that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Ryan are now the beleaguered defenders of the old order, given that both of them were once seen as champions of the ideological extremes of their parties — she as a radical San Francisco leftist, he as a Medicare-destroying right winger.

But they both came up within the system that is now under pressure from impatient newcomers who see no virtue in spending years in the backbenches waiting for their turn when they can be empowered by Twitter to wield influence in ways that would have been unthinkable in the past.

“Because of social media and because people can be their own stars, they don’t need to work through leadership or through hierarchy,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey and a leader of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group seeking to find consensus in a House where that is a dirty word. “They work outside in. That is a huge challenge because technology allows it.”

The outsiders are, in their own ways, tapping into the same disenchantment with the two-party system that Mr. Perot did. When he attracted 19 percent of the vote in 1992 against Mr. Clinton and President George Bush, it was the most any independent presidential candidate had generated since Theodore Roosevelt’s unsuccessful comeback bid in 1912 and the most any independent candidate who had not previously served as president had received since the advent of the two current parties just before the Civil War.

Since then, even more Americans have chosen to dissociate from the two parties. As recently as July 2004, only 27 percent of Americans called themselves independent in Gallup polling; today, 15 years later, 46 percent do. Most of those still vote reliably for one party or the other, so they are not truly swing voters who bounce back and forth depending on the year and the candidate. But they are sufficiently turned off enough by the parties not to want a D or an R next to their names.

President Trump successfully staged a hostile takeover of the Republican Party in 2016 and has since brought much of its old establishment to heel.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

In 2003, 56 percent of Americans interviewed by Gallup said the two political parties did an adequate job. By last year, 57 percent said a third major party was needed. Younger Americans feel that even more strongly; 71 percent in an NBC/GenForward poll in 2017 said that they wanted a third party.

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who supports impeaching Mr. Trump, reflected that when he left the Republican Party on the Fourth of July. “The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

But Mr. Perot’s experience offers a cautionary tale. For all his money and easy access to television — “Larry King Live” was his Twitter — he still could not crack the duopoly. By the time he ran in 1996, again targeting the two-party system with a vow to “kill that little snake this time,” his share of the popular vote fell to 8 percent. The Reform Party that he created was ultimately taken over by marginal figures — Mr. Trump ran for that party’s 2000 nomination before dropping out — and faded from the scene.

What Mr. Trump took from Mr. Perot’s experience was that breaking the two-party system from the outside did not work; instead, he had to take over one of the parties from the inside.

“The two-party system has been bankrupt for at least a decade,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida. But “the barriers to entry in this space are extremely high,” and only Mr. Trump has figured out how to harness Americans’ frustration.

“If the two-party system remains incapable of addressing our nation’s greatest challenges and most controversial issues, younger generations of Americans will find a third way,” Mr. Curbelo said. “Unlike older voters, they will not remain complacent or resign themselves to this political misery.”

Nancy Jacobson, founder and chief executive of No Labels, a bipartisan group created in 2010, said the advent of Mr. Trump, combined with what could be a leftward lurch by the Democrats next year, could set the stage for a third party.

“The outsider populists are making it so the problem-solving voters in each party have more in common with each other than with the extremes in their current parties,” she said. “They could be forced into a new marriage.”

Maybe, maybe not. But the threat of divorce within the parties feels palpable.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Backs Away From Barriers on Foreign Uranium

WASHINGTON — President Trump said he would not impose quotas on imports of uranium, backing away from one of many trade confrontations the administration has threatened as it tries to protect American industry.

Mr. Trump, in an announcement late Friday night, said that he did not agree with the commerce secretary’s findings that foreign uranium poses a threat to national security. It was a rare dissent for a president who has determined that foreign metals, autos and auto parts are a threat to America’s national security and should be restricted.

After several months of deliberation, the commerce secretary determined that the high volume of uranium imports do pose a threat to national security. Mr. Trump rejected that finding.

“Although I agree that the secretary’s findings raise significant concerns regarding the impact of uranium imports on the national security with respect to domestic mining, I find that a fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary at this time,” the president said in a statement.

The potential for trade barriers on foreign uranium stemmed from an investigation into whether imported uranium ore and related products, which are essential components for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, submarines, aircraft carriers and power plants, were a security threat.

Mr. Trump’s decision means that the United States will not impose the quotas that the domestic uranium industry had requested, which would have limited imports to guarantee that American miners supply one-quarter of the uranium used domestically. Instead, the president said he would establish a working group to develop recommendations in the next 90 days for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production.

The announcement was a rare instance in which the Trump administration chose not to exercise the full extent of its powers to give American companies a trade advantage over foreign competitors.

The Trump administration has used similar national security-related investigations to levy tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, and it has threatened to do the same with imported automobiles and auto parts. Foreign leaders from Canada, Mexico, Europe and elsewhere have bristled at being branded a national security threat and imposed retaliatory tariffs on American products in return.

Image<img alt="Mr. Trump took the rare step of disagreeing with his Commerce Department’s findings that imports of uranium pose a threat to national security.

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Mr. Trump took the rare step of disagreeing with his Commerce Department’s findings that imports of uranium pose a threat to national security.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Unlike the investigations in foreign metals and cars, which the Trump administration initiated on its own, two American uranium mining companies, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels, had requested the inquiry into uranium. Both businesses claimed that subsidized foreign products had flooded the American market, putting them at a competitive disadvantage, forcing them to cut jobs and putting the domestic supply of uranium at risk.

But in seeking protection, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels found themselves at odds with American nuclear power plants and the utilities that depend on that power, which would face higher material prices and operating costs if quotas were put into place. Nuclear plants generate about one-fifth of the country’s electricity, but they are rapidly losing market share to cheaper electricity from shale gas and wind turbines.

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of uranium. But it imported 93 percent of the uranium it used in 2017, with the vast majority coming from Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia. In its report, the Commerce Department said that imports had risen from satisfying 85.8 percent of the domestic market in 2009 as a result of increased production by foreign state-owned enterprises that distorted global prices and made it difficult for American miners to compete.

“We are down to where we are effectively producing nothing when it comes to newly mined uranium,” said Mark Chalmers, the president of Energy Fuels. “That should shock people.”

“We’re basically chucking our car keys at the Chinese and the Russians and saying go ahead and produce our uranium for us,” he said.

Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy say they have had to cut their work force because of falling global prices. They claim that Russia and Kazakhstan have heavily subsidized their production, and China has been buying up uranium mines around the world, threatening the supply of uranium from the United States and close allies like Canada and Australia.

But those who criticized the petition — including foreign uranium miners and domestic utilities — viewed the request as a transparent grab for protection of a struggling domestic industry. They say mining uranium has not been economical in the United States for a decade, and note that the country maintains a strategic reserve of uranium that can supply the military for many years.

The Ad Hoc Utilities Group, which runs a majority of the nuclear generators in the United States, said in comments submitted to the Trump administration last September that restricting imports would endanger the viability of nuclear plants and the entire industry. The quota that the petitioners had requested would effectively tax nuclear generators by $500 million to $800 million a year, the utilities group said, risking thousands of jobs in the industry.

“Maintaining nuclear plants is a cornerstone of the present administration’s policy,” the utilities company said. “However, this investigation’s potential impact on restricting nuclear fuel imports would do just the opposite.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A White House Correspondent Departs the Jaw-Dropping Trump Beat

WASHINGTON — Choosing a single day that epitomizes Donald J. Trump’s presidency — amid the endless tangle of jaw-dropping, reality-bending, norm-shattering days — is a fool’s errand. But for a White House correspondent departing the beat after eight years, Thursday came awfully close.

From Mr. Trump’s morning Twitter rant (asking how anyone could vote for a Democrat over “what you have now, so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!”) to his social media summit (in which he praised a room of right-wing agitators for “the crap you think of”), to a news conference that ended with his merry band of provocateurs almost coming to blows with reporters, the White House finally surrendered itself to being a stage set for Mr. Trump’s greatest reality show.

It is not that real business wasn’t transacted there on Thursday. Mr. Trump went to the Rose Garden to announce his retreat, in the face of a Supreme Court ruling, from asking a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. But he upstaged his own effort to spin the defeat — by promoting actions that were underway already — with a theatrical outburst.

“Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” Mr. Trump said to reporters, sarcastically mimicking a data collector for the Census Bureau. “Oh, gee, I’m sorry, I just can’t answer that question.”

Mr. Trump took no questions either. He handed off to Attorney General William P. Barr, who profusely thanked the president for pushing to include the citizenship question on the census. After Mr. Trump stalked off the podium with Mr. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in tow, the real show began.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing commentator who worked briefly in the White House and remains an outspoken supporter of Mr. Trump, got into a shouting match in the Rose Garden over journalism ethics with Brian Karem, who covers the White House for Playboy magazine. Mr. Gorka had been invited to the social media gathering and was sitting near the front, while the working press took seats farther back.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157813707_7c6d9a3c-88d3-4f82-9324-659f57422365-articleLarge A White House Correspondent Departs the Jaw-Dropping Trump Beat United States Politics and Government twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media News and News Media MSNBC Gorka, Sebastian CNN

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing commentator who worked briefly in the White House, argued with Brian Karem, a White House reporter.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“You’re threatening me in the Rose Garden,” Mr. Gorka bellowed at Mr. Karem, who had challenged him to take it outside. “You’re not a journalist. You’re a punk.”

A chant of “Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!” broke out among the other social media activists, while Joy Villa, a singer-songwriter and Trump supporter, who was resplendent in a floor-length red, white and blue gown emblazoned with the word “Freedom,” laughed and declared, “Fake news is over!”

The fracas was filmed by James O’Keefe, who uses undercover videos to embarrass journalists and liberal political figures.

Historically, presidents have used the Rose Garden to dignify important moments. John F. Kennedy welcomed the Mercury astronauts there; Richard M. Nixon had his daughter Patricia’s wedding there. Mr. Trump is the first to turn the garden into a well-manicured mosh pit. Rather than telling his guests to watch their manners, the president scored the slugfest like a referee.

“@SebGorka Wins Big, No Contest!” he tweeted on Friday.

On Friday, Mr. Gorka was further rewarded with an interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Gorka and Mr. Karem are each, in their own way, creations of the Trump era. A national security analyst with a specialty in Islamic extremism, Mr. Gorka labored on the fringes of Washington until he was hired to work with Mr. Trump’s former strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. He left the White House in August 2017, part of a housecleaning ordered by the former chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

On his radio show the day before he was invited to the White House, Mr. Gorka declared that the members of the world-champion United States women’s national soccer team “want to destroy everything that is wholesome in our country and in our Judeo-Christian civilization.”

Mr. Karem was until recently the executive editor of The Montgomery County Sentinel, a chain of newspapers in Rockville, Md. He separated himself from the jostling scrum of reporters at the White House daily briefing in June 2017 by confronting the former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, after she unleashed a lengthy attack on the credibility of the news media.

Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s eldest son, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior Trump campaign adviser, in the Rose Garden on Thursday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“What you just did is inflammatory for people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again the president is right and everybody else out there is fake media,’” he declared.

To judge by Thursday’s events, Mr. Trump has decided that inflammatory attacks on the news media are the best way to position himself for re-election. At the meeting with social media activists, Mr. Trump laid out a strategy of using the media as a foil while going around it to deliver any genuine news.

At times, it seemed, the news itself was less important than the drama of delivering it. Mr. Trump recalled how he electrified the world last March by tweeting that the United States would recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the long-disputed Golan Heights — a decision that upended decades of American policy.

“I go, ‘Watch this — boom!’” the president said. “I press it, and within two seconds, ‘We have breaking news.’”

Journalists were not the only ones surprised by the announcement. Mr. Pompeo, who was in Israel meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time, was blindsided by it.

“It’d be a rocket ship when I put out a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of his most incendiary tweets. “Like when I said, remember I said, somebody was spying on me? That thing was like a rocket.” Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to the tweet, early in his administration, when he accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the 2006 election.

The president spoke of the way the White House used to communicate as if it belonged to another age.

“You know, I used to put out, like, a press release. Right? And people would pick it up, sort of, you know. The next day, two days, they’d find it sitting on a desk,” he explained. “People don’t pick it up. It’s me, same. If I put it on social media, it’s like an explosion. Fox, CNN, crazy, MSNBC.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers

WASHINGTON — The House gave final approval Friday to a sweeping defense bill that would put a liberal stamp on military policy, shackling President Trump’s ability to wage war in Iran and Yemen, restricting the use of military funds at the southwestern border and returning transgender troops to the armed forces.

The sprawling $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act was passed along stark party lines — 220 to 197 — with Republicans uniting to oppose the legislation. The defense policy bill has traditionally been a bipartisan exercise, but House Republicans have come out strongly against this year’s version. The bill still must be reconciled with a Senate version that is considerably less confrontational with the Trump administration. And it is likely Senate negotiators will try to strip out many of the House’s liberal-leaning provisions.

But in amendment after amendment, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle flexed their oversight muscles, reflecting a growing desire to take back long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace from the executive branch, a reclamation that legislators in both parties contend has grown more urgent amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Passage of the measure with support from liberal Democrats — and no Republicans — could set up another difficult showdown between Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her left flank. Negotiations with the Senate will almost certainly result in a compromise measure that jettisons many, if not most, of the amendments secured by House liberals. That could set up a final vote that liberals will oppose, leaving Democratic leaders to appear for Republican votes.

Again, the House’s liberal wing would feel betrayed.

For now, though, the House bill bears the stamp of the resurgent left. The House passed a bipartisan amendment on Friday that would curb Mr. Trump’s ability to authorize a military strike on Iran unless he obtained Congress’s explicit approval. The 251-to-170 vote reflected bipartisan war weariness after 17 years of conflict in the Middle East; 27 Republicans joined all but seven Democrats to approve it.

Last month, Mr. Trump led the United States to the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch. On Thursday, three Iranian boats briefly tried to block passage of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Trump said last month he believes he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran. The vote on Friday amounted to a pointed and bipartisan rebuttal — led by strange ideological bedfellows: Representatives Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat from California, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Mr. Trump’s most strident Republican allies in Congress.

“If my war-hungry colleagues, some of whom have already suggested we invade Venezuela and North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow, if they’re so certain of their case against Iran,” Mr. Gaetz said, “let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.”

Mr. Khanna called the vote “a clear statement from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that this country is tired of endless wars, that we do not want another war in the Middle East.”

The amendment would not restrict the president’s ability to respond to an attack. But Mr. Gaetz’s entreaty failed to persuade the majority of his conference, who castigated the notion of limiting the president’s military options against an antagonistic nation. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the measure “a propaganda win for the Iranian regime and the Houthi allies.”

Understanding Iran’s Threats to the Nuclear Deal

In the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment program but retained some of the technology and material that could give it a head start in making fuel for a weapon.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1 House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

enrichment PROCESS

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

What Iran

said it would

do now

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy_2 House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

By Sergio Peçanha and Juliette Love

“The administration’s measured response to Iran’s shootdown of our U.S. military asset in international airspace shows the president is not looking for a war with Iran,” Mr. McCaul said, referring to the downing of an American drone.

Still, the amendment brought together the oddest of coalitions in Washington, with Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative advocacy group, and VoteVets, the liberal political action committee, joining forces to support the measure. Other lobbying groups, normally foes — including FreedomWorks, the Tea Party advocacy group, and Indivisible, a liberal anti-Trump group — jumped into the fray to urge members to support the bill.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, tried to attach a similar measure to the Senate’s version of the defense policy bill last month, but the amendment failed 50 to 40.

Mr. Khanna and Mr. Gaetz also led a successful effort to continue Congress’s monthslong effort to intervene in the Yemen conflict and punish Saudi Arabia for the killing of the dissident Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Lawmakers voted Thursday to prohibit the administration from using funds to support the Saudi-led military operations — either with munitions or with intelligence — against the Houthis in Yemen, a conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and resulted in a widespread famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Trump vetoed legislation in April that invoked the War Powers Act to cut off American military support to the campaign.

Another amendment, also passed Thursday, would prevent the Trump administration from using its emergency authority to transfer munitions to the kingdom.

Progressives who initially wavered on whether they would support the huge defensive bill were encouraged by those provisions, as well as by an amendment that would reinstate qualified transgender people to military service, reversing Mr. Trump’s transgender ban. Another would phase out the authorization of military force passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which has been used since then to justify military actions around the world.

Those provisions were enough to provoke the ire of House Republicans. But the main objection of Republicans to the defense bill was that it does not allocate enough money to the Defense Department. The legislation authorizes $733 billion in military spending — and includes a 3 percent pay increase for troops — while the Senate version allocates $750 billion, meeting the figure the White House requested.

A series of bipartisan amendments led by Republicans did pass the House, including a measure from Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin that would require the Commerce Department to keep Huawei, the Chinese telecom company, on its blacklist until it can certify the company does not pose a threat to the United States’ telecommunications and infrastructure. Mr. Trump had recently promised to ease the ban for the company, despite concerns that the company could pose a threat to national security.

Lawmakers also roundly defeated twin amendments from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, that would have prevented the president from deploying troops to the Mexican border to enforce immigration law and would have barred the Defense Department from housing undocumented immigrants in its facilities. But taken as a whole, there were still too many “problematic” provisions in the mammoth policy bill for Republicans to support, said Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.

“It’s shameful. They’re failing fundamentally to uphold our constitutional duty, and they’re failing in the most important thing we do, which is be worthy of the sacrifice of those men and women who put on the uniform and go to protect all of us,” said Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the hawkish No. 3 House Republican. “When Congress politicizes the National Defense Authorization Act, we are not worthy of the men and women who are defending us on the front lines today.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers

WASHINGTON — The House gave final approval Friday to a sweeping defense bill that would put a liberal stamp on military policy, shackling President Trump’s ability to wage war in Iran and Yemen, restricting the use of military funds at the southwestern border and returning transgender troops to the armed forces.

The sprawling $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act was passed along stark party lines — 220 to 197 — with Republicans uniting to oppose the legislation. The defense policy bill has traditionally been a bipartisan exercise, but House Republicans have come out strongly against this year’s version. The bill still must be reconciled with a Senate version that is considerably less confrontational with the Trump administration. And it is likely Senate negotiators will try to strip out many of the House’s liberal-leaning provisions.

But in amendment after amendment, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle flexed their oversight muscles, reflecting a growing desire to take back long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace from the executive branch, a reclamation that legislators in both parties contend has grown more urgent amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Passage of the measure with support from liberal Democrats — and no Republicans — could set up another difficult showdown between Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her left flank. Negotiations with the Senate will almost certainly result in a compromise measure that jettisons many, if not most, of the amendments secured by House liberals. That could set up a final vote that liberals will oppose, leaving Democratic leaders to appear for Republican votes.

Again, the House’s liberal wing would feel betrayed.

For now, though, the House bill bears the stamp of the resurgent left. The House passed a bipartisan amendment on Friday that would curb Mr. Trump’s ability to authorize a military strike on Iran unless he obtained Congress’s explicit approval. The 251-to-170 vote reflected bipartisan war weariness after 17 years of conflict in the Middle East; 27 Republicans joined all but seven Democrats to approve it.

Last month, Mr. Trump led the United States to the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch. On Thursday, three Iranian boats briefly tried to block passage of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Trump said last month he believes he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran. The vote on Friday amounted to a pointed and bipartisan rebuttal — led by strange ideological bedfellows: Representatives Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat from California, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Mr. Trump’s most strident Republican allies in Congress.

“If my war-hungry colleagues, some of whom have already suggested we invade Venezuela and North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow, if they’re so certain of their case against Iran,” Mr. Gaetz said, “let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.”

Mr. Khanna called the vote “a clear statement from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that this country is tired of endless wars, that we do not want another war in the Middle East.”

The amendment would not restrict the president’s ability to respond to an attack. But Mr. Gaetz’s entreaty failed to persuade the majority of his conference, who castigated the notion of limiting the president’s military options against an antagonistic nation. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the measure “a propaganda win for the Iranian regime and the Houthi allies.”

Understanding Iran’s Threats to the Nuclear Deal

In the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment program but retained some of the technology and material that could give it a head start in making fuel for a weapon.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1 House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

enrichment PROCESS

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

What Iran

said it would

do now

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy_2 House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

By Sergio Peçanha and Juliette Love

“The administration’s measured response to Iran’s shootdown of our U.S. military asset in international airspace shows the president is not looking for a war with Iran,” Mr. McCaul said, referring to the downing of an American drone.

Still, the amendment brought together the oddest of coalitions in Washington, with Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative advocacy group, and VoteVets, the liberal political action committee, joining forces to support the measure. Other lobbying groups, normally foes — including FreedomWorks, the Tea Party advocacy group, and Indivisible, a liberal anti-Trump group — jumped into the fray to urge members to support the bill.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, tried to attach a similar measure to the Senate’s version of the defense policy bill last month, but the amendment failed 50 to 40.

Mr. Khanna and Mr. Gaetz also led a successful effort to continue Congress’s monthslong effort to intervene in the Yemen conflict and punish Saudi Arabia for the killing of the dissident Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Lawmakers voted Thursday to prohibit the administration from using funds to support the Saudi-led military operations — either with munitions or with intelligence — against the Houthis in Yemen, a conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and resulted in a widespread famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Trump vetoed legislation in April that invoked the War Powers Act to cut off American military support to the campaign.

Another amendment, also passed Thursday, would prevent the Trump administration from using its emergency authority to transfer munitions to the kingdom.

Progressives who initially wavered on whether they would support the huge defensive bill were encouraged by those provisions, as well as by an amendment that would reinstate qualified transgender people to military service, reversing Mr. Trump’s transgender ban. Another would phase out the authorization of military force passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which has been used since then to justify military actions around the world.

Those provisions were enough to provoke the ire of House Republicans. But the main objection of Republicans to the defense bill was that it does not allocate enough money to the Defense Department. The legislation authorizes $733 billion in military spending — and includes a 3 percent pay increase for troops — while the Senate version allocates $750 billion, meeting the figure the White House requested.

A series of bipartisan amendments led by Republicans did pass the House, including a measure from Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin that would require the Commerce Department to keep Huawei, the Chinese telecom company, on its blacklist until it can certify the company does not pose a threat to the United States’ telecommunications and infrastructure. Mr. Trump had recently promised to ease the ban for the company, despite concerns that the company could pose a threat to national security.

Lawmakers also roundly defeated twin amendments from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, that would have prevented the president from deploying troops to the Mexican border to enforce immigration law and would have barred the Defense Department from housing undocumented immigrants in its facilities. But taken as a whole, there were still too many “problematic” provisions in the mammoth policy bill for Republicans to support, said Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.

“It’s shameful. They’re failing fundamentally to uphold our constitutional duty, and they’re failing in the most important thing we do, which is be worthy of the sacrifice of those men and women who put on the uniform and go to protect all of us,” said Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the hawkish No. 3 House Republican. “When Congress politicizes the National Defense Authorization Act, we are not worthy of the men and women who are defending us on the front lines today.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Votes to Check Trump’s Authority to Strike Iran

WASHINGTON — The House voted Friday to curb President Trump’s ability to strike Iran militarily on Friday, adopting a bipartisan provision that would require the president to get Congress’s approval before authorizing military force against Tehran.

The 251-170 vote reflects lawmakers’ growing desire to take back long-ceded authority over matters of war and peace from the executive branch, a reclamation legislators contend has grown increasingly urgent amid escalating tensions with Iran. It also reflected a war weariness on both sides of the aisle after 17 years of conflict in the Middle East; 27 Republicans joined all but seven Democrats to approve it.

Last month, Mr. Trump led the United States to the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch. On Thursday, three Iranian boats briefly tried to block passage of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Trump said last month he believes he does not need congressional approval to strike Iran. The vote Friday amounted to a pointed and bipartisan rebuttal — led by strange ideological bedfellows, Representatives Ro Khanna, a liberal Democrat from California, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of Mr. Trump’s most strident Republican allies in Congress.

“When this passes, it will be a clear statement from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that this country is tired of endless wars, that we do not want another war in the Middle East,” Mr. Khanna said before the amendment vote.

Mr. Gaetz issued a challenge to his Republican peers late Thursday night.

“If my war-hungry colleagues, some of whom have already suggested we invade Venezuela and North Korea and probably a few other countries before lunchtime tomorrow; if they’re so certain of their case against Iran,” Mr. Gaetz said, “let them bring their authorization to use military force against Iran to this very floor. Let them make the case to Congress and the American people.”

Understanding Iran’s Threats to the Nuclear Deal

In the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment program but retained some of the technology and material that could give it a head start in making fuel for a weapon.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1 House Votes to Check Trump’s Authority to Strike Iran United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy House Votes to Check Trump’s Authority to Strike Iran United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

enrichment PROCESS

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

What Iran

said it would

do now

Westlake Legal Group iranweb-Artboard_1_copy_2 House Votes to Check Trump’s Authority to Strike Iran United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Law and Legislation House of Representatives Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019)

Uranium ore

Uranium ore contains less than 1 percent of U-235, an isotope used to fuel reactors and make bombs. A process called enrichment increases the percentage of U-235.

enrichment PROCESS

3.7% enrichment

Iran was allowed to keep up to 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of uranium enriched to 3.7 percent for nuclear power.

Iran announced Monday that it had reached 4.5 percent enrichment, a week after breaking the 660-pound cap.

20% enrichment

Iran had a stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which could have made it faster to accumulate fuel for a weapon. The country agreed to dilute the stockpile or make it unusable.

Iran said it might resume enriching uranium to 20 percent.

90% enrichment

Iran would need to continue enriching to 90 percent or higher to make a weapon, something it had never achieved.

Iran did not say whether it planned to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent.

By Sergio Peçanha and Juliette Love

The amendment, attached to the annual defense policy bill, would not restrict the president’s ability to respond to an attack.

But Mr. Gaetz’s entreaty failed to persuade the majority of his conference, who castigated the notion of limiting the president’s military options against an antagonistic nation. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the measure “a propaganda win for the Iranian regime and the Houthi allies.”

“The administration’s measured response to Iran shoot-down of our U.S. military asset in international airspace shows the president is not looking for a war with Iran,” Mr. McCaul said, referring to the downing of an American drone.

Still, the amendment brought together the oddest of coalitions in Washington, with Concerned Veterans of America, a conservative advocacy group backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, and VoteVets, the liberal political action committee, joining forces to support the measure. Other lobbying groups, normally foes — including FreedomWorks, the Tea Party advocacy group and Indivisible, a liberal anti-Trump group — jumped into the fray to urge members to support the bill.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, attempted to attach a similar measure to the Senate’s version of the defense policy bill last month, but the amendment failed 50 to 40.

If the larger defense bill clears the House on Friday, it must still be reconciled with a Senate version that is considerably less confrontational with the Trump administration. And it is likely Senate negotiators will try to strip out many of the House’s liberal-leaning provisions, including the Iran amendment and another measure passed by the House on Thursday that would cut off American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The defense policy bill has traditionally been a bipartisan exercise, but House Republicans have come out strongly against this year’s version, declaring it a partisan document, a charge Democrats on the Armed Services Committee have contested. The House version of the bill allocates $733 billion in military spending while the Senate version allocates $750 billion, meeting the figure the White House requested.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal

Westlake Legal Group merlin_148265940_3d34f4ca-6938-496a-86fd-8da1c7681316-facebookJumbo As Nations Look to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Scrambles to Broker a Deal United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Treaties tax evasion Mnuchin, Steven T International Trade and World Market Income Tax Great Britain Google Inc France Federal Taxes (US) Facebook Inc Customs (Tariff) Corporations Corporate Taxes Amazon.com Inc

WASHINGTON — For most of the 21st century, wealthy nations have engaged in a race to the bottom on corporate taxes, cutting rates in an effort to poach business activity across borders. Very quickly, that script has flipped.

Developed countries are now moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens’ daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there.

France moved on Thursday to become the first country to impose a so-called digital tax of 3 percent on the revenue companies earn from providing digital services to French users. It would apply to large companies, numbering more than two dozen, with robust annual sales in France, including United States-based Facebook, Google and Amazon. British leaders also detailed plans on Thursday to impose a similar tax, of 2 percent, on tech giants. And the European Union has also been mulling a digital tax.

The digital revenue grab is pitting traditional allies against one another, threatening to set off a cascade of tax increases and tariffs unless political and economic leaders work out a multinational agreement to avert them. Late Wednesday, the Trump administration said it would pursue an investigation into whether France’s tech tax amounted to an unfair trade practice that could be punishable with retaliatory tariffs. Administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have also raised concerns about Britain’s move.

The French tax, which would exact a bigger toll on foreign companies than French ones, has been denounced by the American tech industry, along with Democratic and Republican leaders, who are looking for ways to avoid such one-off decisions by more closely coordinating international digital tax arrangements.

Administration officials have tried to shape an effort being led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to broker an international system for taxing digital profits. A lobbying flurry has broken out in Washington to influence the negotiations.

And in its attempts to show international leadership — and not go it alone, as Mr. Trump has in his trade wars with China and other partners — the administration is pushing the Senate to vote next week on a package of long-foundering updates to international tax treaties, which could demonstrate to allies that it is serious about leading the effort to broker a digital armistice.

Countries have competed to reduce corporate tax rates, and attract business activity both physically and on paper, for two decades. The average rate tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has fallen seven percentage points since 2000, to just over 21 percent today. France and the United States both cut rates substantially for 2018, with Mr. Trump’s signature tax cuts bringing the American rate of 21 percent right to the international average.

Technology companies’ revenue has surged worldwide, but not their tax payments, prompting many wealthy governments to complain that digital businesses are not paying their fair share. The European Union calculates that digital company revenue is growing more than four times as fast as revenue for other multinational companies, partly from ad sales to European consumers.

Because the firms have relatively light physical presences in Europe, they benefit from the current system, which taxes companies based on where their operations and assets are — and not where their sales are generated. The European Union has said this has allowed tech companies to pay less than half the effective tax rate of other multinationals, and European leaders want to tax them in a way that takes into account where their users are.

Mr. Mnuchin has spent much of his time discussing the issue at international forums with finance ministers from around the world.

During meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in April, Mr. Mnuchin said it was a “priority” to find an international solution, and he pressed France and Britain to abandon their own tax plans once a compromise is reached.

At the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Japan in June, Mr. Mnuchin underscored his concerns, and the finance ministers agreed in their communiqué to work toward finding a common set of rules to close loopholes that global technology companies have been using to reduce their tax bills.

“I’m not in favor of the current digital tax that has been proposed by France and the U.K.,” Mr. Mnuchin said, warning a system of unilateral digital taxes would not work. “We have significant concerns with both of those.”

The United States has called for a tax that is based on companies’ income, not sales, and said specific industries should not be singled out with a different standard. The Treasury secretary has dispatched his deputy, Justin Muzinich, to help broker an agreement. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a “road map” in May, agreed to by nearly 130 countries, toward finding agreement on a global digital tax plan.

France has said that it will repeal its tax once a group agreement is reached. The subject will come up again when finance minsters gather in Chantilly, France, for the summit of the Group of 7 industrialized nations next week. Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has suggested that France’s tax will help accelerate an international pact.

“We are willing, especially with Steven Mnuchin, to give new impetus during the G7 in Chantilly on the very specific topic of minimum taxation,” Mr. Le Maire said in an interview last month.

The Treasury Department said in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that it is considering a range of responses to the French tax.

“We have and will continue to urge France to forbear from such unilateral actions and join with us in an intensive effort to reach a comprehensive, multilateral solution,” wrote Kimberly J. Pinter, deputy assistant secretary in Treasury’s office of legislative affairs.

As negotiations persist, administration officials and Republican Senate leaders have worked together to break a decade-long logjam on updating international tax treaties, some of which were negotiated in the early years of the Obama administration.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, moved on Thursday to set up a vote on the quartet of treaties next week, in what would be a bipartisan victory for multinational companies. The package is expected to succeed in garnering the support of two-thirds of senators voting on the issue.

The so-called tax protocols would update existing tax treaties with Spain, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland. They would allow companies with operations in those countries to avoid some previous tax penalties for transferring money to their operations abroad, in a provision proponents say would encourage multinationals to invest more in the United States. They would also update the existing treaties to allow for more detailed sharing of information among countries on individual and corporate taxpayers.

The treaties were held up for years by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who objected to that information sharing. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overrode his complaints and voted to advance the treaties last month.

A host of large and powerful trade groups, including the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Business Roundtable, has been urging Senate leaders to approve the measures. “Tax treaties help the U.S. economy by allowing U.S. companies to more efficiently conduct their businesses abroad and by making the U.S. more hospitable to foreign investment,” the groups wrote this spring in a letter to Senator Jim Risch, the Idaho Republican who leads the Foreign Relations Committee.

One of the companies that stands to benefit is a Spanish-owned steel maker with a large plant in Kentucky, North American Stainless, which has been pushing Mr. McConnell and other senators to schedule a vote.

North American Stainless is the subsidiary of Acerinox, and employs more than 1,300 workers in Kentucky. A company executive told a Senate panel in 2014 that ratifying the tax protocol with Spain could boost Acerinox’s investments in Kentucky, by ending a 10 percent tax on dividend payments from the American subsidiary to the parent company.

In pushing for the tax treaties, Treasury officials have argued that they would promote fair and efficient taxation by the United States and treaty partners, reduce the risk of double taxation and help combat tax evasion by improving the flow of information among tax authorities.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the tax treaties were a priority for Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. McConnell and that the Senate’s bipartisan work on the issue would fuel economic growth.

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Trump Uses Twitter to Govern. I Used It to Cover His Social Media Summit.

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-trumpsocialmedia-oak-facebookJumbo Trump Uses Twitter to Govern. I Used It to Cover His Social Media Summit. Trump, Donald J Social Media News and News Media Gorka, Sebastian

WASHINGTON — President Trump invited some of his most ardent digital warriors to the White House on Thursday for its first social media summit. Twitter was not there and its platform was down in the hours leading up to the event — the company blamed an “internal configuration change.”

But the president’s favorite bullhorn made a timely comeback just as the summit began, and it struck me that there was no better way to document the lovefest between Mr. Trump and 200 of his most passionate online followers.

A little context is in order here. In the business, we call this the “nut graf,’’ which tells you why the story is important.

The president, to no one’s surprise, said early on that he liked the power of his tweets: their ability to blow up the internet or cause CNN and MSNBC anchors to react swiftly. He also mentioned that fewer people were engaging with his missives.

The audience did not include the traditional companies that come to mind for social media: Twitter, Facebook and Google. Instead Mr. Trump gathered a collection of far-right voices who he said often worked with Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

Mr. Trump moved on to a range of topics, including the strategy for beating the Democrats in 2020.

But an uninvited guest distracted Mr. Trump by literally getting in his face. A fly in the White House! History tells us that the president is easily distracted by these household insects. He seemed to recover quickly, though.

Mr. Trump raised the issue of so-called shadow banning last year after an article in Vice News claimed that certain conservatives were being muted by Twitter’s search function. That turned out to be false. Still, the president and his supporters are convinced that conservative suppression online is a real problem.

Several times, Mr. Trump appeared to gesture to individuals in the crowd, simultaneously praising and chiding them for bad behavior.

The president then took questions from his supporters. Conveniently, the White House stopped broadcasting the event, closing it off to observers.

Up next was a news conference about Mr. Trump’s decision to drop the fight to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The president, his attorney general and his commerce secretary were ushered into the Rose Garden, where the social media attendees awaited. It was unclear what right-wing activists had to do with the legal issues surrounding federal data, but they cheered him on anyway.

Just as rain began to fall, Mr. Trump went inside and left his supporters to squabble with journalists who had assembled to cover the event. Sebastian Gorka, a supporter and briefly a Trump administration official, rushed at a reporter.

“Are you threatening me in the Rose Garden?” Mr. Gorka said. The journalist said no. Still, a chant from Mr. Trump’s supporters broke out: “Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!” Mr. Gorka then called the journalist a “punk.” Another attendee from the social media event crudely suggested to the journalist that Mr. Gorka could take him in a fight.

Twitter flickered off again shortly after, bringing the social media event to its conclusion.

Kate Conger contributed reporting from San Francisco.

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Trump Says He Will Seek Citizenship Information From Existing Federal Records, Not the Census

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-trump-sub-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Will Seek Citizenship Information From Existing Federal Records, Not the Census Trump, Donald J Supreme Court (US) Executive Orders and Memorandums Citizenship and Naturalization Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday abandoned his attempt to place a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, and instructed the government to compile citizenship data instead from existing federal records.

Mr. Trump announced in the Rose Garden that he was giving up on modifying the census two weeks after the Supreme Court rebuked the Trump administration over its effort to do so. Just last week, Mr. Trump had insisted that his administration “must” pursue that goal.

“We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Mr. Trump said. But rather than carry on the fight over the census, he said he was issuing an executive order instructing federal departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data from their “vast” databases immediately.

Even that order appears merely to accelerate plans the Census Bureau had announced last year, making it less a new policy than a means of covering Mr. Trump’s retreat from the composition of the 2020 census form.

A frustrated-sounding Mr. Trump struck a sharply combative tone at the opening of his remarks, saying that his political opponents were “trying to erase the very existence of a very important word and a very important thing, citizenship.”

“The only people who are not proud to be citizens are the ones who are fighting us all the way about the word ‘citizen,’” he added.

The Trump administration has argued that including the question on census forms is an important part of its efforts to protect the voting rights of the nation’s minority residents, but the Supreme Court rejected that justification as a “contrived” pretext.

[Barr says legal path to census citizenship question exists, but he gives no details.]

Government experts have predicted that asking the question would result in many immigrants refusing to participate in the census, leading to an undercount of about 6.5 million people. That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are allocated in 2021 and affect how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are distributed.

In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said the department would “promptly inform the courts” that the government would not seek to include a citizenship question in the census.

Relying on existing federal data sources could provide a clearer picture of how many people living in the United States are citizens without distorting census participation. But some Democrats complained on Thursday that the public debate itself might have sown fear among immigrants in the country and could taint their view of the census, even if it does not include a citizenship question.

Following Mr. Trump to the Rose Garden podium, his attorney general, William P. Barr, said that any administration move to modify the census would have survived legal review, but only after a lengthy process that would have jeopardized the administration’s ability to conduct the census in a timely manner.

“Put simply, the impediment was a logistical impediment, not a legal one,” Mr. Barr said. “We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census.”

Thursday’s announcement was an anticlimactic end to a showdown that Mr. Trump escalated, in seeming defiance of the Supreme Court’s June ruling on the census question, with a July 3 post on Twitter announcing that his administration was “absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

Even as he waved a white flag on substance, Mr. Trump was still firing angry rhetorical shots.

“As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst,” he said. “They probably know the number is far greater, much higher than anyone would have ever believed before. Maybe that’s why they fight so hard. This is part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of the American citizen and is very unfair to our country.”

But Mr. Trump’s critics relished the moment as an example of punctured hubris. Dale Ho, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s “attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper.”

“He lost in the Supreme Court, which saw through his lie about needing the question for the Voting Rights Act,” said Mr. Ho, who argued the Supreme Court case. “It is clear he simply wanted to sow fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities.”

Potentially opening a new front in the battle over citizenship, Mr. Trump also said states could use the data he has ordered to be collected to draw voting districts in a new way. States currently draw districts so that they contain equal numbers of people, whether or not they are eligible to vote. Mr. Trump suggested that states will soon have information to allow them to draw districts based on equal numbers of eligible voters.

“Some states,” he said, “may want to draw state and local legislative districts, based upon the voter eligible population.”

If people who were ineligible to vote were evenly distributed, the difference between counting all people and counting only eligible voters would not matter. But demographic patterns vary widely.

Places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote — including children, immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants and people disenfranchised after committing felonies — on the whole tend to be urban and to vote Democratic. Districts based on equal numbers of eligible voters would generally move political power away from cities and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas that tend to vote for Republicans.

Whether districts based on equal numbers of eligible voters are permitted by the Constitution is an open question, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her 2016 majority opinion in Evenwel v. Abbott.

“We need not and do not resolve whether, as Texas now argues, states may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.

When the Evenwel case was argued, opponents of counting only eligible voters said there was a significant practical obstacle: There was no reliable data on which to base such districts. Mr. Trump contended on Thursday that his plan would address that issue.

Opponents of the citizenship question swiftly condemned Thursday’s announcement, calling Mr. Trump’s position largely a face saving measure.

“This news conference was total propaganda,” said Vanita Gupta, the former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the chief executive of the Leadership Conference.

“The government already has access to all of this citizenship data through administrative records, and already studies it,” Ms. Gupta said. “Trump just didn’t want to admit defeat.”

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Trump’s Efforts to Rein In Drug Prices Face Setbacks

Westlake Legal Group 11drugrebate-facebookJumbo Trump’s Efforts to Rein In Drug Prices Face Setbacks your-feed-healthcare United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Rebates and Refunds Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Medicare Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

President Trump’s plan to lower prescription drug prices hit two major obstacles this week. He killed a proposal on Thursday that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for older consumers out of concern that it would raise premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

Administration officials rushed to assure the public that the double setback did not reflect failure on one of the president’s signature issues, one that has fueled public outrage and drawn the attention of both parties.

He has hinted that he is focusing in on a more audacious proposal, especially from a Republican president. It would tie some drug prices to those set by European governments, an idea that is tantamount to price controls and opposed by members of his own party. Yet Mr. Trump is said to be particularly taken with the idea because it fits with his “America First” approach.

“The American senior and the American patient have been too long been asked to overpay for drugs to subsidize the socialist systems of Europe,” said Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services. “It’s time for the American patient to stop propping up the socialism of Europe.”

The administration and leading members of Congress have also been discussing legislative proposals, including negotiating directly with companies to set price caps on some drugs, and placing a limit on out-of-pocket spending by Medicare beneficiaries. The government efforts pack a broad populist appeal, particularly with older Americans, who remain one of the nation’s most reliable voting blocs.

But many of these plans face stiff opposition from the powerful pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies, which have already taken the administration to court on some issues.

Another of Mr. Trump’s goals — ending so-called surprise medical billing, when patients receive medical care, then get unexpected bills from providers who are not in their insurance network — is also on shaky ground. Doctors and hospitals are pushing back fiercely against legislation moving through Congress.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Mr. Azar tried to rebuff impressions that the administration’s efforts to tackle drug prices were flailing.

A former Eli Lilly executive, Mr. Azar had been the architect of the proposal abandoned on Thursday that would have eliminated drug rebates that companies pay pharmacy benefit managers, like CVS Caremark or Express Scripts. Some argue that the hidden rebates help to drive up prices because the discounts are not passed on to consumers.

His briefing also seemed a calculated attempt not only to convince the public that Mr. Trump was making progress, but also that he had strong ideas for improving the nation’s health care system over all.

Democrats successfully used Mr. Trump’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act in last year’s midterm elections, and are gearing up to do so again in 2020, focusing on the administration’s decision to join forces in a court case with several states seeking to invalidate it.

Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw the rebate rule represented a rare loss for the drug industry, which has long cultivated a friendly relationship with Republicans. It had strongly backed the rebate measure, in its attempt to blame pharmacy benefit managers for rising prices.

The stocks of several major drugmakers, such as Merck, Eli Lilly and Pfizer, closed lower on Thursday, while the stocks of large insurers and pharmacy benefit managers were up.

“Now that the administration has abandoned what it was going to do to address the middlemen, pharma is the only one sort of standing there with a target on its back,” said Rob Smith, a director at Capital Alpha Partners. “I don’t think they’ve ever been in a worse situation.”

In a statement, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the lead trade group, called the president’s decision to drop the rebate rule disappointing.

Mr. Azar contended that Congress might have better tools to rein in drug prices, and for now, the legislative package that is still being honed in Congress may offer Mr. Trump and Republicans a rallying point on the campaign trail. Mr. Azar and Joe Grogan, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, met on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with Republican lawmakers to discuss some of the proposals.

Last Friday, Mr. Trump alluded to an executive order that would require pharmaceutical companies to offer the federal government among the lowest prices in the world. And on Wednesday in announcing a kidney-care initiative, he mentioned drug prices again, saying, “I think we have some very big moments coming up very shortly.”

What Mr. Trump meant was not immediately clear. He may have been referring to a more modest plan already under review, which would apply only to drugs administered in doctors’ offices or hospitals.

But his remarks hewed to a familiar theme: The president has long railed against what he describes as “global freeloading” — the fact that other countries negotiate far lower prices for drugs than what pharmaceutical companies charge in the United States.

Mr. Azar has been the leading champion of trying to eliminate rebates as a centerpiece of the administration’s plans to offer relief to consumers from rising drug costs. He was still promoting it as recently as June, to showcase how the market for drugs is broken.

But fiscal conservatives at the White House had long balked at the potential cost, and others had worried about angering Medicare beneficiaries in an election year.

Though it would have lowered out-of-pocket costs for older Americans with expensive drugs, the rule was expected to raise drug-plan premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries. In May, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the rule, if adopted, would cost taxpayers $177 billion within 10 years.

The initiative was intended to eliminate after-the-fact rebates that drugmakers pay to the private companies that operate Medicare’s Part D drug plans, and instead required that any discounts be passed to consumers at the pharmacy counter.

Medicare beneficiaries with high drug costs often pay close to the list price, or a percentage of it, during certain phases of their coverage. They were required to do so even though, in many cases, the companies operating the plans were collecting rebates on the same drug.

The rule had been opposed by the insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, who contended that they wielded the rebates to pressure drug companies to keep prices low, and used the savings to keep Medicare premiums low.

But the drug industry has been campaigning for years that it is unfair for insurers to keep the rebates when consumers are paying the list price through high deductibles.

“At the end of the day, while we support the concept of getting rid of rebates and I am passionate about the problems and the distortions in system caused by this opaque rebate system, we are not going to put seniors at risk of their premiums going up,” Mr. Azar said.

He then tossed the ball to Congress, saying it could take up the rebate issue.

A pilot program announced last year has struck fear among drugmakers, who, like some Republicans in Congress, have described it as akin to foreign price controls. That project, unveiled in October, would tie the price of some drugs administered in medical offices like many cancer treatments to an international index of prices. The test program, under final review at the Office of Management and Budget, would last five years.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, denounced the idea last month, saying it could discourage research investments for new treatments. Conservative groups like Freedom Works and Americans for Tax Reform have been campaigning against the idea, too.

Even if Mr. Trump signs a broader executive order tying federal spending to overseas drug prices, it is not clear how much impact it would have. Most Americans are covered by commercial health insurance, which negotiates with drugmakers themselves. In many other countries with nationalized health care, the government is the negotiator.

The federal government buys drugs for small populations, like veterans and federal prisoners. Medicare’s prescription drug program farms out its purchasing to private companies and is barred from negotiating directly.

Mr. Azar pleaded with reporters to “focus your energies” on a measure that will let employers provide money to workers to buy health insurance on their own, rather than enrolling in an employer-sponsored health plan.

And he pointed to an executive order Mr. Trump signed last month, intended to require insurance companies, doctors and hospitals to provide more transparent prices for medical care.

He also sought to play down the importance of the federal health law known as Obamacare.

“One of my frustrations is that the Affordable Care Act dominates so much of the discussion,” Mr. Azar said. “I’ve got to deliver affordable health care for 350 million Americans.”

He added, however, that the administration would provide “an ironclad protection for those who have pre-existing conditions” — the most popular of the health law’s consumer protections — no matter what happens with the court case.

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