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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 105)

Trump Dealt the Fed a Losing Hand. Now It’s Powell’s Play.

Westlake Legal Group 09DC-FEDJULY-01-facebookJumbo-v3 Trump Dealt the Fed a Losing Hand. Now It’s Powell’s Play. United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Powell, Jerome H Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) Federal Reserve System Deflation (Economics) Banking and Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s meeting this month was never going to be an easy one given that officials remain split over when — or whether — to cut interest rates. The last few weeks could set the Fed up for an even more difficult call.

President Trump has put the Fed under a microscope, jawboning officials for months to cut rates and calling the central bank America’s “most difficult problem” in a series of posts on Twitter on July 5.

The Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, and his colleagues say they ignore politics when making decisions. But if they do reduce interest rates, as markets expect, some slice of the Fed-watching public will interpret that as a sign that they have caved under pressure even as job gains remain solid and economic growth is still strong.

If they stand pat, they’ll deliver an unwelcome surprise to markets and could incur the White House’s wrath.

Mr. Powell will get a chance to lay the groundwork for the Fed’s meeting on July 30 and 31 when he testifies before lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday. Markets are fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage-point rate cut this month and the Fed’s pre-meeting blackout period starts July 20, so officials have just this week and next to manage expectations.

As of last reading, they seemed unsure about what to do.

The 17-member Fed policymaking committee split sharply in June over whether the central bank should cut rates this year, with eight officials projecting a cut before the end of the year and nine pointing to no change or a rate increase. Mr. Powell said many of the officials who did not project a rate cut saw the case for one strengthening.

Data since have provided little clarity — if anything, the economic snapshot may be blurrier. Job gains have rebounded after a slow May, and Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China spoke at a summit in Osaka, Japan, averting an immediate escalation of the trade war between their nations.

But temporary relief is not a permanent solution, and tensions could reignite, creating uncertainty that threatens economic growth. The global economy continues to struggle, manufacturing data are flagging, and price increases in the United States remain mired below the Fed’s goal.

“They are in a bit of a bind,” said Joseph Song, United States economist at Bank of America. “It’s going to be difficult. The committee is clearly divided.”

Mr. Song said the he expected the Fed to hold off on cutting interest rates until September, and that he thought Mr. Powell would need to communicate that later timing at his congressional appearance this week.

If there’s a case for cutting rates sooner, it hinges on inflation data, he said. Price gains have been mired below the Fed’s 2 percent goal almost permanently since the central bank formally adopted the target back in 2012. That’s a problem because it creates a credibility issue for the Fed and increases the risks that prices could fall into economy-harming price declines in a recession. Deflation would be bad news since it could encourage consumers to hold off on purchases, knowing that they’ll be cheaper tomorrow, and would exacerbate a downturn.

The Fed’s preferred inflation index increased just 1.5 percent in the year through May, and June figures will be released on July 30, the first day of the Fed’s meeting.

Against that backdrop, and with trade tensions still humming in the background, the Fed may feel justified cutting rates this month even as economic growth data hold up. They set policy with an eye toward the future, since monetary policy moves take time to kick in.

“The question my colleagues and I are grappling with is whether these uncertainties will continue to weigh on the outlook and thus call for additional policy accommodation,” Mr. Powell said in a speech last month.

Moving now could signal the Fed’s commitment to hitting the inflation target and a willingness to proactively offset any fallout as trade tensions drag on.

“The case for an insurance rate cut was never about the labor market, or the consumer, which seemed pretty good,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, who expects a rate cut with the message that the economy “is in a good place, and we’re going to keep it there.”

But even if the Fed delivers on a rate cut, the move is unlikely to insulate the central bank from political fire.

Mr. Trump has continued to criticize the Fed even as it has pivoted from raising rates steadily to pledging “patience” in the first half of this year and, more recently, to setting up for coming rate cuts. The president said over the weekend that “our Federal Reserve doesn’t have a clue!” and that “they raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened.”

The White House has reportedly looked into firing Mr. Powell, though that may prove legally impossible. Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council director, said at a CNBC event Tuesday that there was no immediate move to get rid of Mr. Powell.

“I will say that unequivocally, at the present time, yes, he is safe,” he said.

Political strife makes this week’s appearance all the more important for Mr. Powell. While the president may take issue with the Fed’s policy setting, lawmakers in the House and Senate are the Fed’s bosses. They give the Fed its goals, have the ability to change the law that sets out its rules and responsibilities, and are able to support or reject the White House’s nominees for future central bank leaders.

Mr. Powell has cultivated relationships on Capitol Hill, meeting regularly with members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees. He got together with nine members in May, and has had 44 congressional meetings this year, seeing some lawmakers who oversee the Fed twice, based on his calendars.

“There’s really no way that the Fed can win with President Trump,” Ms. Coronado said. She said the Fed was concentrated on communicating with lawmakers and, importantly, making moves that could stand on merit. “Chair Powell is focused first on making careful, methodical decisions.”

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

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Faces Calls to Resign Over Epstein Plea Deal

WASHINGTON — Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta on Tuesday faced fresh calls to resign — and rising pressure from inside the Trump administration — over his role in brokering a lenient plea deal over sex crimes for the New York financier Jeffrey E. Epstein when he was a federal prosecutor in Miami more than a decade ago.

Mr. Acosta, 50, told a friend this week that the plea agreement, in which Mr. Epstein served 13 months after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of young women and underage girls, was the “toughest deal” available in a complex and difficult case. The prosecution, he said, would have stood a far better chance of succeeding in the state courts — the same argument he has been making for years.

“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Mr. Acosta wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

“With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator,” he continued. “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

That is not likely to satisfy critics. “Mr. Acosta has a lot of explaining to do and none of his public statements to date come anywhere close to providing a rational explanation,” said Jack Scarola, a Florida lawyer who represents several of the victims.

The indictment on Monday of Mr. Epstein by the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, on child sex trafficking charges — and a raid on the hedge fund billionaire’s mansion that uncovered a cache of lewd photographs — represents a grave threat to Mr. Acosta, and an implicit rebuke of the deal he cut as United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Congress’s top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, called for his resignation, as did The Miami Herald, which uncovered the details of the plea deal, which was initially kept secret from victims under the agreement between Mr. Acosta and one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, Jay Lefkowitz.

“If Acosta, when he was U.S. attorney in Miami, had shown an ounce of sympathy for the vulnerable girls Epstein sexually exploited, they would have had a powerful voice on their side,” the paper’s editors wrote. “If Acosta had not shown himself to be ethically challenged 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be calling for his resignation as U.S. secretary of labor now.”

For the moment, President Trump supports Mr. Acosta, although two senior administration officials said that could quickly change if more damaging details emerged about the plea agreement.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he felt “badly” for Mr. Acosta and praised him as “an excellent secretary of labor” as he met with the emir of Qatar. He added, “I do hear there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him,” a reference to the Epstein plea deal. But he said the White House would look into the matter “very carefully.”

Former law enforcement officials who referred the case to state and federal prosecutors in South Florida in 2006 praised the New York prosecutors for completing a job they said Mr. Acosta could not, or would not, do more than a decade ago.

“Thankfully, U.S. Attorney Berman and the other authorities in New York have the good judgment to investigate and prosecute Epstein in the way that should have occurred in Florida over a decade ago,” said Michael Reiter, the former chief who ran the Palm Beach Police Department at the time of the Epstein investigation.

“Ultimately, the appropriate authorities should apologize to the victims for the way that this was handled by prosecutors in Florida, change the laws that allow children to be labeled prostitutes and do whatever is necessary to make sure that this miscarriage of justice cannot happen again,” he said.

The evidence against Mr. Epstein a decade ago in Florida was “overwhelming,” said Mr. Scarola, calling the terms of the nonprosecution agreement signed in secret by Mr. Acosta’s team “totally unjustifiable.”

“Even more egregious was the fact that Epstein was not only given personal immunity, his named and unnamed co-conspirators were also immunized for all of their unspecified crimes,” he said. “That kind of get-out-of-jail-free card is unprecedented and a patent abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”

Several Democrats in the 2020 presidential field attacked Mr. Trump, who socialized with Mr. Epstein and once described him as a “terrific guy,” for standing by Mr. Acosta.

“The charges against Jeffrey Epstein are sickening, and I am enraged that President Trump, who himself has been credibly accused of sexual assault, is harboring someone in his cabinet who sold out these survivors,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “Secretary Acosta should be fired immediately but this President shamefully never stands up for women.”

The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, did not reply to a request for comment. “I’m giving you a ‘no comment,’” said Eric Holland, Mr. Acosta’s spokesman.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157651080_ab62aecf-52ee-4937-abac-f934f3d6b5a5-articleLarge Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Faces Calls to Resign Over Epstein Plea Deal United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sex Crimes human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect Acosta, R Alexander

Protests against Mr. Epstein in front of the federal courthouse in New York on Monday.CreditStephanie Keith/Getty Images

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on personnel matters, said Mr. Trump had no plans to fire Mr. Acosta, whom he regarded as a loyal and, until now, no-drama member of his cabinet.

Mr. Trump has often stood by embattled cabinet members and other subordinates at first, only to turn on them later when their plight has become a personal embarrassment or political liability. Mr. Acosta has not spoken with the president about the Epstein case recently, according to a senior White House official familiar with the situation.

Trump aides said the decision ultimately rested with Mr. Acosta, and whether he was willing to ride out the ugliest episode of his career. A key moment to watch, aides said, will be next week’s scheduled cabinet meeting. If Mr. Acosta quits, it will likely happen before then, aides said.

Mr. Acosta has rankled some in the West Wing over his reluctance to move rapidly on Mr. Trump’s deregulatory agenda, which could cause him trouble now, aides said.

Joe Grogan, Mr. Trump’s domestic policy adviser, has long been skeptical of Mr. Acosta for failing to expedite Mr. Trump’s apprenticeship agenda, which is backed by the president’s daughter Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Earlier this year, Mr. Grogan forced out Mr. Acosta’s chief of staff, in a move aimed at prodding Mr. Acosta to comply with White House demands.

Their relationship has improved recently, aides said. But the Epstein controversy has damaged Mr. Acosta’s reputation in the White House — and all but killed Mr. Acosta’s ultimate goal of getting a judicial appointment in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which encompasses Florida, aides said.

None of Mr. Acosta’s fellow prosecutors in the Miami United States attorney’s office have come forward to publicly defend his conduct in the Epstein case. But two former Acosta colleagues and another former Justice Department lawyer familiar with the case cast his role in a more favorable light.

The case, they said, was flawed from the moment that F.B.I. officials, frustrated that local prosecutors could not get Mr. Epstein labeled a sex offender, presented it to Mr. Acosta’s office in hopes of getting a tougher penalty.

The case was a headache from the start. In 2006, Mr. Epstein’s high-powered legal team met with senior prosecutors in Mr. Acosta’s office to persuade them to drop the case. Alan Dershowitz, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, argued that the federal sex trafficking law cited in the 53-page indictment prepared by the F.B.I. made the case difficult because Mr. Acosta’s team would have to prove that Mr. Epstein crossed state lines with the intent to abuse minors.

Mr. Acosta and his team were already aware of the complications; at the time, only a handful of Mr. Epstein’s young accusers were known, and local prosecutors in Palm Beach had been frustrated by the lack of cooperation among some alleged victims, whom they suspected were either being paid off or intimidated by Mr. Epstein. Others gave contradictory statements that Mr. Epstein’s legal team would likely pick apart in court, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Mr. Acosta also had to persuade his superiors in Washington to ignore a request by Ken Starr, the former Whitewater special counsel working for Mr. Epstein, who went over Mr. Acosta’s head to try to kill the case with Republican appointees at Department of Justice headquarters.

In a three-page defense of his actions, written in 2017, Mr. Acosta argued that Mr. Epstein’s team engaged in a “yearlong assault on the prosecution and prosecutors” that included hiring private investigators to look into the personal lives of his team.

“I use the word ‘assault’ intentionally, as the defense in this case was more aggressive than any which I, or the prosecutors in my office, had previously encountered,” he wrote in the letter, first reported by The Daily Beast in 2017.

Mr. Acosta’s team became convinced that getting a settlement that fulfilled two nominal goals — labeling Mr. Epstein a registered sex offender and putting him in prison — was the most likely positive outcome for the case.

A. Marie Villafaña, a top Acosta deputy who still works in the West Palm Beach office, argued to bring the case to trial, in hopes of getting a stiffer sentence, according to former prosecutors who worked with her.

But Mr. Acosta decided to settle, and Ms. Villafaña, the aggressive lead prosecutor, worked with Mr. Epstein’s legal team, going so far as to suggest she would file a charge in district court to “cut the press coverage” of the deal, according to emails first obtained by The Miami Herald. She also at times pushed back and seemed exasperated by the many demands by Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, the emails show.

“The bottom line,” Mr. Acosta concluded in his letter, “is that Mr. Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire, is now a registered sex offender.”

But to Mr. Acosta’s critics, it was not only the substance of the plea deal that was troubling but also Mr. Acosta’s apparent coordination with Mr. Epstein’s lawyers to keep details quiet. That was done so victims would not have time to scuttle the deal.

“Pursuant to the illegal agreement the victims were not only kept in the dark, they were actively lied to by government agents,” Mr. Scarola said. “Hiding the secret deal was inexcusable.”

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

Trump Dealt the Fed a Losing Hand. Now It’s Powell’s Play.

Westlake Legal Group 09DC-FEDJULY-01-facebookJumbo-v3 Trump Dealt the Fed a Losing Hand. Now It’s Powell’s Play. United States Politics and Government United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Powell, Jerome H Interest Rates Inflation (Economics) Federal Reserve System Deflation (Economics) Banking and Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s meeting this month was never going to be an easy one given that officials remain split over when — or whether — to cut interest rates. The last few weeks could set the Fed up for an even more difficult call.

President Trump has put the Fed under a microscope, jawboning officials for months to cut rates and calling the central bank America’s “most difficult problem” in a series of posts on Twitter on July 5.

The Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, and his colleagues say they ignore politics when making decisions. But if they do reduce interest rates, as markets expect, some slice of the Fed-watching public will interpret that as a sign that they have caved under pressure even as job gains remain solid and economic growth is still strong.

If they stand pat, they’ll deliver an unwelcome surprise to markets and could incur the White House’s wrath.

Mr. Powell will get a chance to lay the groundwork for the Fed’s meeting on July 30 and 31 when he testifies before lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday. Markets are fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage-point rate cut this month and the Fed’s pre-meeting blackout period starts July 20, so officials have just this week and next to manage expectations.

As of last reading, they seemed unsure about what to do.

The 17-member Fed policymaking committee split sharply in June over whether the central bank should cut rates this year, with eight officials projecting a cut before the end of the year and nine pointing to no change or a rate increase. Mr. Powell said many of the officials who did not project a rate cut saw the case for one strengthening.

Data since have provided little clarity — if anything, the economic snapshot may be blurrier. Job gains have rebounded after a slow May, and Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China spoke at a summit in Osaka, Japan, averting an immediate escalation of the trade war between their nations.

But temporary relief is not a permanent solution, and tensions could reignite, creating uncertainty that threatens economic growth. The global economy continues to struggle, manufacturing data are flagging, and price increases in the United States remain mired below the Fed’s goal.

“They are in a bit of a bind,” said Joseph Song, United States economist at Bank of America. “It’s going to be difficult. The committee is clearly divided.”

Mr. Song said the he expected the Fed to hold off on cutting interest rates until September, and that he thought Mr. Powell would need to communicate that later timing at his congressional appearance this week.

If there’s a case for cutting rates sooner, it hinges on inflation data, he said. Price gains have been mired below the Fed’s 2 percent goal almost permanently since the central bank formally adopted the target back in 2012. That’s a problem because it creates a credibility issue for the Fed and increases the risks that prices could fall into economy-harming price declines in a recession. Deflation would be bad news since it could encourage consumers to hold off on purchases, knowing that they’ll be cheaper tomorrow, and would exacerbate a downturn.

The Fed’s preferred inflation index increased just 1.5 percent in the year through May, and June figures will be released on July 30, the first day of the Fed’s meeting.

Against that backdrop, and with trade tensions still humming in the background, the Fed may feel justified cutting rates this month even as economic growth data hold up. They set policy with an eye toward the future, since monetary policy moves take time to kick in.

“The question my colleagues and I are grappling with is whether these uncertainties will continue to weigh on the outlook and thus call for additional policy accommodation,” Mr. Powell said in a speech last month.

Moving now could signal the Fed’s commitment to hitting the inflation target and a willingness to proactively offset any fallout as trade tensions drag on.

“The case for an insurance rate cut was never about the labor market, or the consumer, which seemed pretty good,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, who expects a rate cut with the message that the economy “is in a good place, and we’re going to keep it there.”

But even if the Fed delivers on a rate cut, the move is unlikely to insulate the central bank from political fire.

Mr. Trump has continued to criticize the Fed even as it has pivoted from raising rates steadily to pledging “patience” in the first half of this year and, more recently, to setting up for coming rate cuts. The president said over the weekend that “our Federal Reserve doesn’t have a clue!” and that “they raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened.”

The White House has reportedly looked into firing Mr. Powell, though that may prove legally impossible. Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council director, said at a CNBC event Tuesday that there was no immediate move to get rid of Mr. Powell.

“I will say that unequivocally, at the present time, yes, he is safe,” he said.

Political strife makes this week’s appearance all the more important for Mr. Powell. While the president may take issue with the Fed’s policy setting, lawmakers in the House and Senate are the Fed’s bosses. They give the Fed its goals, have the ability to change the law that sets out its rules and responsibilities, and are able to support or reject the White House’s nominees for future central bank leaders.

Mr. Powell has cultivated relationships on Capitol Hill, meeting regularly with members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees. He got together with nine members in May, and has had 44 congressional meetings this year, seeing some lawmakers who oversee the Fed twice, based on his calendars.

“There’s really no way that the Fed can win with President Trump,” Ms. Coronado said. She said the Fed was concentrated on communicating with lawmakers and, importantly, making moves that could stand on merit. “Chair Powell is focused first on making careful, methodical decisions.”

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

Twitter Backs Off Broad Limits on ‘Dehumanizing’ Speech

SAN FRANCISCO — Last August, Twitter’s top executives gathered at the company’s headquarters to discuss how to make the site safer for its users. Two attendees proposed banning all speech that could be considered “dehumanizing.” For an example of what they meant, they showed a sample post that featured the words President Trump used to compare certain nations to excrement.

By January, Twitter had backed off from deeming that sample tweet dehumanizing. Instead, the post was included in an internal company slide show, which helps train Twitter moderators, as the kind of message that should be allowed on the platform.

And on Tuesday, when Twitter rolled out its first official guidelines around what constitutes dehumanizing speech on its service, the sample post was nowhere in sight. The company had narrowed its policymaking to focus only on banning speech that is insulting and unacceptable if directed at religious groups.

“While we have started with religion, our intention has always been and continues to be an expansion to all protected categories,” Jerrel Peterson, Twitter’s head of safety policy, said in an interview. “We just want to be methodical.”

The scaling back of Twitter’s efforts to define dehumanizing speech illustrates the company’s challenges as it sorts through what to allow on its platform. While the new guidelines help it draw starker lines around what it will and will not tolerate, it took Twitter nearly a year to put together the rules — and even then they are just a fraction of the policy that it originally said it intended to create.

Twitter said it had ratcheted down the policy’s scope partly because it kept running into obstacles. When the company sought users’ feedback last year on what it thought such speech might include, people pushed back on the proposed definitions. Over months of discussions late last year and early this year, Twitter employees also worried that such a policy might be too sweeping, potentially resulting in the removal of benign messages and in haphazard enforcement.

“We get one shot to write a policy that has to work for 350 million people who speak 43-plus languages while respecting cultural norms and local laws,” Mr. Peterson said. “It’s incredibly difficult, and we can’t do it by ourselves. We realized we need to be really small and specific.”

Twitter unveiled its new policy ahead of a social media summit at the White House on Thursday that is likely to thrust it and other Silicon Valley companies under the spotlight for what they will and won’t allow. For the event, Mr. Trump has invited conservative activists who have thrived on social media, such as Charlie Kirk, president of Turning Point USA, which advocates limited government and other issues. Many of the attendees have accused social media companies of anti-conservative bias.

Twitter declined to comment on the meeting.

In the past, Twitter has focused its removal policies on posts that may directly harm an individual, such as threats of violence or messages that contain personal information or nonconsensual nudity. Under the new rules, the company is adding a sentence that says users “may not dehumanize groups based on their religion, as these remarks can lead to offline harm.” Twitter said that included any tweets that might compare people in religious groups to animals, insects, bacteria and other categories.

Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change, a civil rights group, said Twitter’s new policy fell short of where it should go.

“Dehumanization is a great start, but if dehumanization starts and stops at religious categories alone, that does not encapsulate all the ways people have been dehumanized,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_143304189_8394a7bb-2331-41d8-9719-c639f40285cc-articleLarge Twitter Backs Off Broad Limits on ‘Dehumanizing’ Speech twitter Trump, Donald J Social Media Fringe Groups and Movements Dorsey, Jack Computers and the Internet Censorship

Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has said “that safety should come first” on the social media service.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

Twitter’s work around a dehumanization policy began in August after the company faced a firestorm for not immediately barring Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist, when Apple, Facebook and others did. Twitter eventually did bar Mr. Jones, and its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, said at the time that the incident had forced the company to consider “that safety should come first.”

“That’s a conversation we need to have,” he added.

Mr. Dorsey delegated the task of figuring out what makes up dehumanizing speech on Twitter to the company’s legal, policy and safety teams, which are led by Vijaya Gadde. Mr. Dorsey took a hands-off approach because he wanted to empower Ms. Gadde to make the decisions, a Twitter spokeswoman said.

The discussions began with the meeting at Twitter’s headquarters, which included the sample tweet featuring Mr. Trump’s unflattering description of nations such as Haiti. At the end of that meeting, executives agreed to draft a policy about dehumanizing speech and open it to the public for comments.

In September, Twitter published the draft policy of what dehumanizing speech would be forbidden. It included posts likening people to animals or suggesting that certain groups serve a single, mechanistic purpose.

“I like to think of this as us trying to be experimental, the way that our colleagues in product and engineering are very experimental and they’re trying new things,” Ms. Gadde said in an interview at the time.

The response from users was swift — and critical. Twitter received more than 8,000 pieces of feedback from people in more than 30 countries. Many said the draft made no sense, pointing out cases in which the policy would lead to takedowns of posts that lacked any negative intent.

In one example, fans of Lady Gaga, who call themselves “Little Monsters” as a term of endearment, worried that they would no longer be able to use the phrase. Some gamers complained that they would be unable to discuss killing a character in a video game. Others said the draft policy didn’t go far enough in addressing hate speech and sexist comments.

In October and November, Twitter employees began revising the policy with the public input.

“We knew the policy was too broad,” Mr. Peterson said. The solution, he and others decided, was to narrow it down to groups that are protected under civil rights law, such as women, minorities and L.G.B.T.Q. people. Religious groups seemed particularly easy to identify in tweets, and there were clear cases of dehumanization on social media that led to harm in the real world, Twitter employees said. Those include the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which was preceded by hate campaigns on social networks like Facebook.

Early this year, Twitter further limited the scope of the policy by carving out an exception. The company prepared a feature to preserve tweets from world leaders, like Mr. Trump, even if they engaged in dehumanizing speech. Twitter reasoned that such posts were in the public interest. So if any world leaders tweeted something insulting and unacceptable, their posts would be kept online but hidden behind a warning label.

Twitter then trained its moderators to spot dehumanizing content, using a list of 42 religious groups as a guide and the tweet of Mr. Trump’s uncomplimentary phrase about certain countries as an example of what to allow. It assigned 10 engineering teams to design the warning label and to make sure that any offending tweets would not appear in search or other Twitter products. It announced the exception for world leaders last month.

On Tuesday, Twitter also said it would require the deletion of old tweets that dehumanize religious groups but would not suspend accounts that had a history of such tweets, because the rule did not exist when they were posted. New offending tweets, however, will count toward a suspension.

“We constantly keep changing our rules, and we try to improve across the product,” said David Gasca, Twitter’s head of product health. “We’re never fully done.”

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

House Committee to Issue Blitz of Subpoenas, Raising Heat on Trump

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-judiciary-facebookJumbo House Committee to Issue Blitz of Subpoenas, Raising Heat on Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Family Separation Policy (US Immigration)

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee will vote this week to authorize a bevy of new subpoenas on the Trump administration’s practices of separating families from their children at the border and on President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice, summoning some of the biggest names to surface in Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

The votes, scheduled for Thursday, will jolt two of the Democrats’ highest-profile oversight investigations into Mr. Trump and his administration and are certain to further inflame relations with the White House.

Among the targets are Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general; Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser; John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller; Corey R. Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and David J. Pecker, who as the head of American Media took part in a hush money scheme.

Taking aim at the administration’s border policies, the committee will seek new authority that would allow the panel to subpoena current and former officials to answer questions and provide documents related to Mr. Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” — which separated children apprehended at the border from their families — and any talk of presidential pardons for Department of Homeland Security officials involved in implementing the policy.

“For months, we have held hearings and sent letters to the agencies of jurisdiction involved with implementing a catastrophic and inhumane family separation policy at the Southern border,” the committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said in a statement. “Many questions remain and it is past time for a full accounting of this policy and practice.”

The tranche of subpoenas related to the committee’s ongoing investigation of possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Mr. Trump targets former law enforcement and White House officials and individuals connected to hush money payments during the 2016 campaign, part of efforts aimed at buying the silence of a pornographic film actress and of a Playboy model who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The targets also include Jody Hunt, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, and Rick A. Dearborn, a Sessions confidant who served on the Trump campaign and in the White House. The committee will also authorize subpoenas for Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser.

If the committee votes to authorize the subpoenas as expected, Mr. Nadler will have the discretion to decide when to issue them.

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Global Recession Risks Are Up, and Central Banks Aren’t Ready

Central bankers have a favorite mantra: Patch the roof while the sun is shining.

But 10 years after the Federal Reserve worked alongside the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan to bring the global economy back from the brink, their ability to prevent the next downturn is limited.

Whether the world’s central banks are prepared to combat another slump is becoming less of a hypothetical question as the global economy shows signs of strain. The chances that the United States will enter a recession by next year have grown as manufacturing weakens and trade uncertainty drags on. In Germany, the unemployment rate has ticked higher, and industrial production is slowing. In Japan, weak factory production and waning exports heighten vulnerability.

A recession is far from inevitable — particularly one as deep and painful as the last. But the capacity for the type of decisive response that prevented an even worse outcome in 2008 has been hindered. Back then, central banks cut rates, bought up bonds, extended government backing to financial products, lent money to banks and in some cases coordinated with government authorities to make sure their rescue packages didn’t work at cross-purposes. It was an unprecedented period of experimentation, one that saved economies careening toward collapse.

But today, interest rates remain below zero in Japan and Europe. They are low by historical standards in the United States, leaving less room to cut in a downturn. Most central banks still hold huge amounts of the bonds and other securities they bought to prop up their economies the last time, which could make another buying binge more difficult and dampen its effects.

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Global leaders like Christine Lagarde, who was nominated to be the next leader of the European Central Bank, are urging central bankers to act decisively in case of a downturn.CreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Monetary policy is also running low on credibility. Major central banks have failed to hit their 2 percent inflation targets during this expansion, heightening the risk that prices will slip dangerously low come the next downturn. And while promises of lower-for-longer interest rates have been a major source of stimulus in recent years, those pledges might lose some of their punch in a world where investors already expect permanently low rates.

Those constraints are especially worrying at a time when governments show little appetite for working together to offset a broad-based global slowdown. The United States and Europe are in the midst of a trade dispute that followed President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum and his threat to levy taxes on German and other European cars. Mr. Trump has criticized the European Central Bank for taking steps to protect the eurozone economy, accusing it of trying to weaken the euro and put America at a disadvantage.

Mr. Trump suggested last week that central banks were in something of an arms race, saying on Twitter that China and Europe were manipulating their currencies to gain an edge over the United States and that the Fed should start doing the same.

“We should MATCH, or continue being the dummies who sit back and politely watch as other countries continue to play their games — as they have for many years!” he wrote.

Central bank officials insist that they are prepared to act aggressively if another recession flares. The E.C.B. stands prepared to stimulate the eurozone, and the Fed is signaling that it could soon cut interest rates to try to get ahead of mounting risks in the United States.

But economists across the globe say central banks can no longer be sole saviors the next time a downturn hits. That reality is colliding with political constraints in the United States and Europe, where lawmakers may prove unable — or unwilling — to quickly roll out expensive stimulus packages.

“Fiscal policy has a much more active role to play, and it is not yet equipped to do so,” Olivier Blanchard, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist, said last month at a central banking forum in Sintra, Portugal, specifically referring to Europe.

When it comes to monetary policy, “surely there is not enough room to respond to even a run-of-the-mill recession,” he said.

Christine Lagarde, who has been nominated to succeed Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank and currently heads the International Monetary Fund, has warned that central banks are likely to be the main line of defense given fiscal constraints.

“High public debt and low interest rates have left many countries with limited policy room for maneuver,” Ms. Lagarde said in a June blog post. She added that in a downturn, nations would need to use their economic tools together, with “decisive monetary easing and fiscal stimulus wherever possible.”

Global economic growth has crept back after a deep recession, and as recently as early 2018 a coordinated international expansion was underway. But progress has shown cracks in recent months, with trade flows slumping and manufacturing indexes pulling back from Asia to Europe.

The Morgan Stanley economist Chetan Ahya estimates that if Mr. Trump’s trade war with China isn’t resolved and the administration follows through with its threats to increase tariffs, growth could fall enough that “we could wind up in a global recession in about three quarters.” Risks seem to have abated slightly after the recent Group of 20 meeting, where Mr. Trump suspended a tariff escalation and restarted trade talks with China.

But uncertainties persist. Those talks could crumble again, leading to additional import taxes. And beyond America’s trade wars, the threat of a disorderly British withdrawal from the European Union and a continuing slowdown in China pose further risks to international activity.

Those factors prompted Mr. Draghi to strongly signal in June that the central bank was planning to revive stimulus measures it had used during the eurozone debt crisis.

While Mr. Draghi insisted the bank still had “considerable headroom” to buy bonds as a way of pumping money into the economy, some analysts think he acted pre-emptively precisely because he knows the central bank’s capacity is finite. Better to use the bank’s limited resources now when they can still do some good.

In the United States, the Fed is also considering acting sooner rather than later as it tries to judge whether a rate cut is warranted. Emerging research suggests that moving quickly and decisively might be the central bank’s best defense.

While the Fed is in comparatively good shape because it has gotten rates off rock bottom — they’re at 2.25 to 2.5 percent — that leaves it just half as much room to cut borrowing costs as policymakers had back in 2007. In fact, the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, has started a yearlong review of just what its options are.

“Having low interest rates really challenges the existing tool kits of central banks,” Mr. Powell said during remarks in New York last month.

Fed officials say they are prepared to revive large-scale bond-buying programs to stoke economic activity when the next downturn comes. The central bank is also contemplating new policy approaches that would leave rates lower for a longer period after a downturn. Recent research suggests such policies would have had benefits — though in some cases small ones — if applied after the 2008 recession.

Japan offers a cautionary example that mere willingness to act doesn’t guarantee success. Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Bank of Japan, has pulled out all stops to reignite the country’s economy, cutting rates into negative territory and buying government debt and stocks in a bid to bolster markets and stoke confidence. The government has helped, spending readily to stimulate demand.

Despite all of that effort, inflation remains mired below Japan’s target, which is bad news since it increases the risk of outright deflation should growth weaken.

It is now unclear how much room Mr. Kuroda has for action should a deep downturn come, according to Makoto Hara, the author of a recent book on Japan’s central bank.

“Those taboo policies have become normal,” he said. “They’ve continued them until they became numb to them.”

Central banks in major economies are in their diminished positions largely because sustainable growth, inflation and interest rates have all fallen, trends that are attributable to long-running structural forces in the economy including aging populations and weakening productivity.

In the United States, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sees gross domestic product increases leveling off near 2 percent. The International Monetary Fund estimates that output could drift lower in emerging markets and advanced economies alike.

That has coincided with fiscal restraint across the globe, as governments try to rein in spending and avoid further bloating debt levels.

American politicians restrained government spending after the 2008 recession, even when unemployment remained high and growth was tepid. Recent tax cuts and spending increases, ushered in by Republican lawmakers, have increased the federal debt, but there does not appear to be a broader embrace of deficit spending underway, particularly as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

America’s budget deficit is on track to surpass $1 trillion this year, and some lawmakers are already looking for ways to cut, not add to, federal spending.

Central bank leaders have increasingly warned that their firepower will be limited without help from fiscal authorities.

“Monetary policy will continue to do its job no matter what happens to fiscal capacity,” Mr. Draghi said, just a few days after European leaders largely failed to set up a mechanism to jointly provide stimulus when needed. But aid from governments “would do the same job faster and with less side effects.”

Mr. Powell echoed that sentiment last month. “It’s not good to have monetary policy be the main game in town, let alone the only game in town,” he said.

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Barr Says Legal Path to Census Citizenship Question Exists, but He Gives No Details

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EDGEFIELD, S.C. — President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr began working to find a way to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census just after the Supreme Court blocked its inclusion last month, Mr. Barr said on Monday, adding that he believes that the administration can find a legal path to incorporating the question.

“The president is right on the legal grounds. I felt the Supreme Court decision was wrong, but it also made clear that the question was a perfectly legal question to ask, but the record had to be clarified,” Mr. Barr said in an interview. He was referring to the ruling that left open the possibility that the citizenship question could be added to the census if the administration came up with a better rationale for it.

“It makes a lot of sense for the president to see if it’s possible that we could clarify the record in time to add the question,” Mr. Barr added.

But he also acknowledged that the career Justice Department lawyers who had worked on the census question had little appetite to continue on the case after Mr. Trump inserted himself into the process. “We’re going to reach a new decision, and I can understand if they’re interested in not participating in this phase,” Mr. Barr said. The Justice Department announced a day earlier that it was replacing them, a nearly unheard-of move.

In a court filing on Monday in New York, though, plaintiffs in the case asked a judge to block the lawyers’ withdrawal because they did not demonstrate “satisfactory reasons” for the change.

The talks between Mr. Barr and Mr. Trump and the decision to replace the legal team underscore administration officials’ difficulty in adding a citizenship question to the census. Democrats have criticized the pursuit as an effort to reshape the results of the census — which affects the allocation of hundreds of billions of federal dollars each year — to benefit Republicans.

Mr. Barr said that the Trump administration would soon reveal how it plans to add the question, but he would not detail potential legal pathways. The main challenge, he said, would be adding the question without disrupting the census.

At a news conference later on Monday after touring a federal prison in Edgefield, S.C., with Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, the Republicans who represent the state, Mr. Barr declined to say whether the president would issue an executive order to add the question. It was not clear what such an order would accomplish; the Constitution makes Congress responsible for overseeing the census, not the president, though the administration carries it out.

The Trump administration’s handling of the census has already put Mr. Barr in the cross hairs of House Democrats, who strongly oppose the addition of a citizenship question. And the hostilities may soon spike.

In a warning shot on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed colleagues that she intended to schedule a full House vote “soon” to hold Mr. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas for documents related to the census question. Ms. Pelosi called the census dispute “essential to who we are as a nation” and asserted that the materials in question would “shed light on the real reason the administration added a citizenship question.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Trump administration’s decision to add the question, voted last month to recommend that the two cabinet officials be held in contempt, mostly along party lines, despite protests from the administration that it was working in good faith to meet the requests.

If the House follows through with a contempt vote on the floor — and no date for a vote has yet been set — it would be empowering the Oversight Committee to take Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross to court to ask a judge to enforce their subpoenas. Doing so is an exceedingly rare step and puts a black mark on both officials’ public records.

The House has already threatened to hold Mr. Barr in contempt once over a separate case related to a subpoena for material connected to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation as special counsel. But in the end, lawmakers struck a deal with the attorney general and voted on a resolution that merely authorized them to go to court to enforce the subpoena rather than formally accusing Mr. Barr of being in criminal contempt.

House Democrats intend to go further this time, formally accusing both officials of criminal defiance of their summons if the administration does not relent beforehand, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Still, the practical outcome could be the same since the Justice Department would almost certainly refuse to bring a criminal case against the men.

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the contempt issue.

The conversations between Mr. Barr and Mr. Trump came amid a series of abrupt reversals on the issue. After the Supreme Court delayed the administration’s effort to add the citizenship question, ruling that its rationale was “contrived,” Mr. Ross and Justice Department lawyers declared the issue all but dead last week in the near term.

Mr. Ross said that the Census Bureau, which the Commerce Department oversees, would focus on conducting “a complete and accurate census” and had begun to print forms that did not include the citizenship question. Justice Department lawyers, who had argued that they faced a strict June 30 cutoff for printing the census forms, also concluded as that deadline passed that the question would have to wait for the next census in another decade.

But Mr. Trump, who had been strategizing with Mr. Barr to come up with a way to add the question, overruled Mr. Ross and the lawyers a day later, denouncing their statements as “fake news.”

“We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

His discussions with Mr. Barr did not appear to make their way to the Commerce Department officials or the Justice Department lawyers working on the case. Mr. Barr did not say why, and a Justice Department spokeswoman would not say whether he had told aides about the discussions or instructed the lawyers on the case to keep pursuing the issue.

A Justice Department official said that even though Mr. Trump told Mr. Barr immediately after the ruling that he still wanted the question added, Mr. Barr, and subsequently the department, thought the issue was settled for the time being, in part because the census forms were already being printed.

Because of their conversations, however, Mr. Barr was not surprised by the message on Twitter and he knew he had to get the department to switch gears.

But the lawyers expressed surprise last week at the president’s assertion, telling a federal judge who had summoned them to a conference call that they would most likely recant their earlier admission of defeat.

“The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president’s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and your honor,” Joshua Gardner, a lawyer working on the census issue, told Judge George J. Hazel of the United States District Court in Maryland.

But Mr. Barr said on Monday that the president’s statement did not surprise him because “he and I had talked” about the census issue “several times” after the Supreme Court tossed out the citizenship question.

Mr. Barr confirmed that lawyers in the Justice Department’s federal programs branch, who typically defend the administration’s positions in court, would no longer work on the census question. He said that James Burnham, the No. 2 official in the department’s civil division who had led the census team, recommended that lawyers in its consumer protection branch work on the question instead.

The Justice Department was still seeking lawyers to work on the census case on Monday, reaching out to lawyers in the office of immigration litigation to work on the matter, according to an email reviewed by The New York Times.

“They did a super job,” Mr. Barr said of the departing team. “They were very professional.”

Mr. Barr said that he did not know whether any of the original team members wanted to stay on. “I didn’t really get into the details,” he said.

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Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

[Read our fact check of the president’s speech.]

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’ Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

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Judge Blocks Trump Rule Requiring Drug Companies to List Prices in TV Ads

Westlake Legal Group 14DRUGADS-facebookJumbo Judge Blocks Trump Rule Requiring Drug Companies to List Prices in TV Ads your-feed-healthcare United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Merck&Company Inc Health and Human Services Department Eli Lilly and Company Drugs (Pharmaceuticals) Decisions and Verdicts Azar, Alex M II Amit P. Mehta Amgen Inc

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the Trump administration cannot force pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their drugs in television ads, dealing a blow to one of the president’s most visible efforts to pressure drug companies to lower their prices.

Judge Amit P. Mehta, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its regulatory authority by seeking to require all drugmakers to include in their television commercials the list price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month. The rule was to take effect this week.

With the 2020 presidential election race underway, the Trump administration has searched for ways to appeal to Americans burdened by the high cost of health care and prescription drugs.

The Affordable Care Act was once a reliable campaign trail villain for President Trump, but leading Republicans in Congress have become reluctant to revisit repealing the federal health care law. An appeals court in New Orleans on Tuesday is set to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

In some ways, rising drug prices have provided a more populist issue for the president and members of Congress. Politicians in both parties have clamored to show they are doing something, but little has changed and many companies have continued to raise their prices.

The administration’s effort to provide transparency in drug pricing was seen as largely symbolic — a way to hold drugmakers accountable for their prices, even if it did not directly do anything to lower costs and even if those prices were not what consumers usually paid.

On Monday night, Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said: “It is outrageous that an Obama-appointed judge sided with big pharma to keep high drug prices secret from the American people, leaving patients and families as the real victims.”

And Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for H.H.S., said the administration was disappointed and was consulting with the Justice Department on what to do next. “Although we are not surprised by the objections to transparency from certain special interests,” she said, “putting drug prices in ads is a useful way to put patients in control and lower costs.”

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment on whether the administration would immediately appeal the ruling.

David Mitchell, the founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, which advocates lower drug prices, said his group never thought the television-ad rule would get drugmakers to reduce their prices. “But if you take that away, at least it was something visible they could point to that they’d done,” he said.

Last week, the president said he would be issuing an executive order on drug pricing, but the breadth of the order remained unclear. His administration has proposed other moves, including allowing older adults to more directly benefit from drug rebates in Medicare, and tying the cost of some drugs to their price in other countries.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have also put forward a range of legislation that would address the issue, from limiting out-of-pocket costs for people covered by Medicare to allowing the federal government to directly negotiate the price of drugs.

Merck, Eli Lilly and Amgen had sued to block the television-ad rule in June, arguing that forcing companies to disclose their list prices was beyond the reach of the federal government as well as a violation of the First Amendment. The companies also said many patients have health insurance that lowers their out-of-pocket costs, and seeing the higher list price might lead them to stop taking drugs they needed.

The Trump administration, including Secretary Alex M. Azar II of Health and Human Services, had argued that requiring such disclosure could shame the drugmakers into lowering their prices.

In a statement, Lilly said it was pleased with the ruling. “We are committed to working with stakeholders across the health care system to find better solutions for the larger issue, namely, lowering out-of-pocket costs for Americans who still struggle to pay for their medicines,” the company said.

AARP, which represents older Americans, expressed disappointment in the judge’s decision. “Today’s ruling is a step backward in the battle against skyrocketing drug prices and providing more information to consumers,” the group said. “Americans should be trusted to evaluate drug price information and discuss any concerns with their health care providers.”

Judge Mehta, who was nominated to his position by President Barack Obama in 2014, did not delve into whether the proposed rule violated the First Amendment. He relied instead on whether the Department of Health and Human Services had overstepped its bounds because it sought to issue the rule under the authority of the Social Security Act.

While saying the court did not question the agency’s motives, he wrote: “Nor does it take any view on the wisdom of requiring drug companies to disclose prices. That policy very well could be an effective tool in halting the rising cost of prescription drugs. But no matter how vexing the problem of spiraling drug costs may be, H.H.S. cannot do more than what Congress has authorized. The responsibility rests with Congress to act in the first instance.”

Last year, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, proposed legislation that was similar to the Trump administration’s proposal. It passed the Senate in August 2018, and in May, the senators said they were still pursuing the legislation.

Mr. Trump has faced hurdles — some of his own making — as he has sought to make changes either unilaterally or with the help of Democrats. In May, the president said during a speech in the Roosevelt Room that his administration would work with Democrats to eliminate surprise medical billing — the practice of billing patients with undisclosed costs at the time of care.

He also singled out the drug-price disclosure rule.

The rule was “going to be something, I think, very special,” Mr. Trump said. “You may have heard about it. Maybe not. But it’s the beginning of a plan of transparency.”

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Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

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