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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 186)

‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing

WASHINGTON — Corey Lewandowski, one of President Trump’s most loyal political confidants, confirmed in congressional testimony on Tuesday that the president had once asked him to help curtail the scope of the Russia investigation, possibly obstructing justice.

But under sharp questioning from Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee conducting an impeachment inquiry, Mr. Lewandowski refused to provide new details about his encounters with Mr. Trump beyond what the special counsel documented. And a combative Mr. Lewandowski, the president’s first campaign manager, insisted that Mr. Trump’s request did not amount to “anything illegal.”

The first in a series of hearings to determine whether the committee should recommend impeachment, the five-hour session brimmed with bitterness and drama. Democrats secured statements they needed from Mr. Lewandowski both confirming his role in Mr. Trump’s attempts to impede the Russia inquiry and vivifying investigators’ accounts with a witness on live television.

Yet the hearing underscored Democrats’ uphill battle as they seek to build a case for impeachment in the face of the entrenched opposition from the White House and potential witnesses. Mr. Lewandowski tried to slow-walk his answers, displayed an attitude of taunting obstinacy and obeyed the White House’s request that he not disclose any private details about his discussions with Mr. Trump. His evasions and occasional outright attacks infuriated Democrats.

Key Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress

Sept. 17, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160966410_d26ee353-28ad-4457-aeda-57327340cffa-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Ethics and Official Misconduct

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the committee’s chairman, told Mr. Lewandowski near the hearing’s conclusion that the panel would consider holding him in contempt of Congress for his refusal to cooperate. But Mr. Nadler trained most of his ire on the White House, mentioning the possibility of drafting an article of impeachment based on its interference in the committee’s investigation.

“The pattern of obstruction laid out in the Mueller report has not stopped,” Mr. Nadler said. “You showed the American public in real time that the Trump administration will do anything and everything in its power to obstruct the work of the Congress.”

One Democrat on the judiciary panel, Representative Val B. Demings of Florida, wrote on Twitter during the hearing, “This president must be impeached.”

Democrats’ threats did little to change the reality in the hearing room. Mr. Lewandowski was flanked by two empty chairs meant to be filled by two former senior White House aides, Rick A. Dearborn and Rob Porter, whom the committee had subpoenaed. But late Monday, the White House directed both men not to appear, declaring that they were immune from congressional subpoenas.

Democrats have challenged that assertion in court with regard to another witness, the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II, but a ruling could take months, perhaps after the window closes to make an impeachment case before next year’s elections overtake Washington.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Democrats focused on trying to draw out details about how Mr. Trump asked Mr. Lewandowski to pressure the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, to diminish the scope of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Democrats view the episode as an attempt to gut the inquiry, and Mr. Mueller’s investigators suggested that it provided sufficiently plausible evidence of criminal obstruction of justice to present to a grand jury.

As Mr. Mueller recounted, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Lewandowski in the Oval Office in mid-2017 and criticized Mr. Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

The president asked Mr. Lewandowski, a private citizen who has never served in the administration, to deliver a message that Mr. Trump dictated on the spot. Mr. Sessions should give a speech announcing that Mr. Trump had been treated unfairly and that he would limit the scope of the special counsel investigation, the president said.

Mr. Lewandowski made some effort to follow through, setting up a meeting with Mr. Sessions and trying to enlist Mr. Dearborn, a former Sessions aide, in the task, but ultimately Mr. Lewandowski never conveyed the directive.

Democrats pounced on the strange situation as evidence that the president was illegally trying to interfere with the inquiry and hide his efforts to do so.

“Didn’t you think it was a little strange the president would sit down with you one-on-one and ask you to do something that you knew was against the law?” asked Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee. “Did that strike you as strange?”

Mr. Lewandowski curtly disagreed: “I didn’t think the president asked me to do anything illegal.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160966476_763011d8-f4a6-4ed4-9978-f0dc6e09a25c-articleLarge ‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Ethics and Official Misconduct

“The White House is advancing a new and dangerous theory: the crony privilege,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the committee.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Pressed about other conversations he may have had with Mr. Trump or other advisers close to the president, Mr. Lewandowski repeatedly declined to answer.

“The White House has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussion with the president or his advisers to protect executive branch confidentiality,” he said multiple times.

Mr. Lewandowski, who is considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, also used the hearing as an opportunity to promote his allegiance to Mr. Trump in a way that could benefit him politically.

“As for actual ‘collusion,’ or ‘conspiracy,’ there was none,” Mr. Lewandowski said during his opening remarks. “What there has been, however, is harassment of this president from the day he won the election.”

Much of his testimony appeared to be calculated to simply irritate or embarrass Democrats, robbing their proceedings of the gravity of impeachment. In his opening remarks, he took a swipe at Hillary Clinton and echoed the president’s apocalyptic and misleading language “about illegal immigrants pouring across our borders killing innocent Americans.”

During a break that he requested, Mr. Lewandowski tweeted a link to a website for a super PAC that was created Tuesday, Stand With Corey.

Mr. Trump, who watched the proceedings from Air Force One, cheered on Mr. Lewandowski. “Such a beautiful Opening Statement,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thank you Corey.”

Republicans derided Democrats’ investigation as a stunt.

“My majority made a promise: We’ll impeach him. We’ll investigate him. For most of them, it happened in November 2016 because they couldn’t believe that Donald Trump won,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel. “And they still can’t get over it today. So what do we do? We have public hearings, lots of flashbulbs, embarrassing the president — not gathering facts, not investigating, not doing oversight.”

Democrats intend to stay the course, though divisions persist in their caucus over impeachment.

The Judiciary Committee is sitting on unused subpoenas that it could deploy in the coming weeks to compel testimony from a handful of the most prominent Trump administration figures connected to Mr. Mueller’s report. Those include John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff; Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser; Mr. Sessions; and Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller and oversaw his work.

Democrats will also try to broaden their inquiry to other accusations of corruption and malfeasance. On Tuesday, they announced a hearing for next week focused on whether Mr. Trump’s businesses have illegally profited from spending by foreign and domestic government spending in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.

The committee had also set a deadline Tuesday for homeland security officials to produce any relevant documents related to reported meetings in which Mr. Trump dangled pardons for any officials fearful that they might break the law by enforcing his policies at the border. It was not immediately clear whether the administration complied.

Maggie Haberman, Catie Edmondson and Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.

Impeachment Inquiry
Read more about Mr. Lewandowski and Democrats’ impeachment investigation.
Key Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress

Sept. 17, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160966410_d26ee353-28ad-4457-aeda-57327340cffa-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Ethics and Official Misconduct
House Judiciary Committee Inches Toward Impeachment

Sept. 12, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 12dc-impeach1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Ethics and Official Misconduct
Impeachment Inquiry or Just Plain Oversight? It Depends on Whom You Ask

Sept. 13, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160673463_69a63484-72dc-463b-9efd-6a17f3438865-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘I Wasn’t Asked to Do Anything Illegal,’ Lewandowski Says in Hearing United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Ethics and Official Misconduct

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

Trump’s Challenge: Can His Word on Iran Be Trusted?

For a president with a loose relationship with the facts and poisonous relationships with allies, the attack on the Saudi oil fields poses a challenge: how to prove the administration’s case that Iran was behind the strike and rally the world to respond.

President Trump must now confront that problem as he struggles with one of the most critical national security decisions of his presidency. Over the next few days or weeks, he will almost certainly face the reality that much of the world — angry at his tweets, tirades, untruths and accusations — could be disinclined to believe the arguments advanced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others that Iran bears responsibility for the attack.

If Mr. Trump tries to gather a coalition to impose diplomatic penalties, tighten sanctions to further choke off Iranian oil exports or retaliate with a military or cyberstrike, he may discover that, like President George W. Bush heading into Iraq 16 years ago, he is largely alone.

Already, intelligence officials are hinting, in background conversations, that the evidence implicating Iran is just too delicate to make public. One theory gaining support among American officials is that the cruise missile and drone attack was launched from southwest Iran or in the waters nearby.

But the evidence gathered so far, one official said, “isn’t a slam-dunk,” deliberately using the phrase that George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director in 2003, came to regret when he employed it to argue, incorrectly it turned out, that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction.

After the bitter Iraq experience, it would be hard for any American president to persuade the country and its allies to take his word that it is time to risk another war in the Middle East, barring incontrovertible evidence that could be made public. For Mr. Trump, it could be an especially tough sell.

“Painfully, the word of the president will be suspect,” Wendy R. Sherman, who negotiated the details of the Iran deal for the Obama administration, said on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump’s “hyperbole and outright fabrications through a daily tweet diet,” she said, has left him with “little credibility with Congress, allies and partners, let alone the American people.”

“All will be challenged to accept a Trump assessment of what occurred in the attack on Saudi oil facilities,” she added.

Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s first secretary of state, warned on Tuesday that his former boss, who fired him a year and a half ago, will have to tread carefully.

“Setting aside the question of U.S. credibility, that challenge would be there,” said Mr. Tillerson, who as a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil spent much of his life operating in the Middle East.

Speaking to Harvard’s American Secretaries of State Project, where he was explaining his tumultuous 14 months in the Trump administration, Mr. Tillerson said that building a concrete case against Iran would be difficult.

“I have no doubt that we will find Iran’s fingerprints on this,” he said, “but we may not find their hands on it.”

Even if American and other experts who are now in Saudi Arabia to conduct a forensic study conclude that Iran built the drones or cruise missiles, they may have a hard time establishing — especially for the public — where the weapons were launched from, or who shot them toward the Saudi oil fields.

“A military response on the sovereign territory of Iran is a very serious matter,” Mr. Tillerson cautioned. “And not one that anyone should take with less than fully conclusive information.”

Pentagon officials appear to agree. That is why the options now being discussed include alternatives like retaliating against Iranian facilities outside of Iranian territory and conducting cyberstrikes. If the latter option were chosen, it would be akin to the cyberoperations that blew up Iran’s nuclear centrifuges a decade ago and the move to wipe out military databases several months ago, after the shooting down of an American drone by Iran.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160939863_b49fbf8c-ba72-4694-81f4-194b0a5800b9-articleLarge Trump’s Challenge: Can His Word on Iran Be Trusted? United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Tillerson, Rex W Sherman, Wendy R Saudi Arabia Pompeo, Mike Iran Defense and Military Forces

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on Tuesday in Tehran. Mr. Trump will have to convince the international community that Iran is responsible for the attacks in Saudi Arabia.CreditOffiice of the Iranian Supreme Leader, via Reuters

The Saudis seem to sense the credibility problem.

Even they have not yet publicly followed Mr. Pompeo in accusing Iran of responsibility. In a statement on Monday, the Saudi government urged an international investigation, led by the United Nations, to determine responsibility.

That move, unusual for a country that disdains the United Nations almost as much as the Trump administration does, seemed an acknowledgment that the world would not take Mr. Trump’s word, nor that of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Over the past year, the crown prince has encountered credibility problems of his own. He has repeatedly denied that he sent or had knowledge of the Saudi team that killed the Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. The evidence suggests otherwise.

For Mr. Trump, the suspicions about any American assessment of responsibility will be colored by another problem: European officials blame him, as much as the Iranians, for creating the circumstances that led to the attack.

In their telling, it was Mr. Trump’s decision, soon after he fired Mr. Tillerson, to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal that set in motion the events that culminated in the crippling of the two Saudi oil fields.

For the past 18 months, Mr. Trump has been steadily reimposing sanctions on Iran. At first, the Iranians largely ignored those steps and remained part of the four-year-old agreement that limited Iran’s nuclear ability in return for lifting most sanctions on the country.

But as the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign took its toll, Iranian officials began breaking out of the accord’s limits — arguing they would not be bound by an agreement Mr. Trump had abandoned — and seizing oil tankers.

The European argument is that Mr. Trump has unnecessarily provoked the Iranians. That is why France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is leading an effort to undermine the American sanctions by issuing a $15 billion line of credit to Iran, in hopes of getting them back in compliance with the deal to which France was a partner.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Tuesday that the best strategy for defusing tensions with Iran was for Mr. Trump to back down.

“The deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to,” she said.

Mr. Trump’s envoy for Iranian issues, Brian H. Hook, has argued that the Europeans fundamentally misunderstand Iran’s strategy. Even after Tehran signed the 2015 agreement, Mr. Hook has said, they were arming terrorist groups, supporting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, building more powerful missiles and conducting cyberoperations against the United States.

That argument will not be easily resolved. European leaders will most likely be cautious about siding with Mr. Trump and the Saudis if they propose steps that could escalate into a broader conflict.

Americans may wonder, too, whether it is worth it, noted Meghan L. O’Sullivan, Mr. Bush’s Iraq coordinator and the author of “Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power.”

“Many Americans think U.S. interests in protecting Middle Eastern oil supplies have dramatically declined,” she said on Tuesday.

“They are largely wrong about this,” she said, “but certainly, most Americans think the days of going to war over oil are in the past.”

The next few days will be critical. Michael J. Morell, the former deputy director of the C.I.A., who briefed Mr. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001, said Mr. Trump will face a difficult trade-off.

After he gets the intelligence agency’s “best assessment on who was behind the attack,” Mr. Morell said, Mr. Trump “must then balance the need to protect sources and methods with the need to inform Congress and the American people about why he takes or doesn’t take any action.”

“The credibility of the United States matters every single day,” he added. “And when it is eroded in the eyes of our allies over time, it then ultimately makes moments like this even more difficult.”

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G.M. Chief’s Test: Satisfy Striking Workers and Sustain Bottom Line

Mary T. Barra has often referred to her years of experience on the General Motors factory floor. So it was familiar terrain when the chief executive embarked this year on a tour of plants across the Midwest and South, a mission to create good will among unionized workers ahead of contract talks.

At the Lake Orion assembly plant near Detroit, she said G.M. was going to spend $300 million to prepare the plant to make a new electric vehicle, creating 400 jobs. She traveled to Spring Hill, Tenn., to announce $22 million in spending, and chatted with workers in Lansing, Mich., where G.M. had chosen to make a new sport utility vehicle.

“The success of our new trucks and S.U.V.s and crossovers is allowing us to create jobs all over the company,” she said at a pickup plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., which was tabbed for $24 million in upgrades.

The effort hasn’t engendered as much harmony as G.M. might have hoped. Negotiations that started over the summer failed to head off a walkout by 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers on Sunday night, the first against G.M. since 2007.

“It was just a show,” Sergio Cristian, 60, who works in paint repair at the Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, said of Ms. Barra’s visit there. “If she cares about us, where is she now? She figured she’d step in there, show her face, show that she’s concerned. You are? I don’t think so.”

Finding a formula that will satisfy a restive work force without upending the company’s financial calculus has become Ms. Barra’s biggest challenge.

[Read more: The key issues and impacts in the dispute between General Motors and the United Auto Workers.]

A Michigan native, she started working at G.M. at 18, studied electrical engineering at the company’s own university, and rose through the ranks to hold senior positions in manufacturing, personnel and product development. In 2014, she became the first woman to head a major automaker.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160976175_1e00cc87-a8a8-4a98-9e46-95f30a32560b-articleLarge G.M. Chief’s Test: Satisfy Striking Workers and Sustain Bottom Line United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Barra, Mary T Automobiles

Ms. Barra in February with employees at a transmission plant in Romulus, Mich., where the company plans a new investment. She has often spoken of her experience on G.M.’s factory floor.CreditJeffrey Sauger for General Motors

She came into the job just in time to manage G.M. through a scandal in which faulty ignition switches had caused a series of fatal accidents. Under her watch, which has coincided with a surge in demand for big, high-margin vehicles, G.M. has generated record profits and won plaudits for forging a future of electric and autonomous vehicles.

“She has done a good job setting a vision and moving the company in the right direction,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Navigant Research. “She’s made some tough decisions, like getting rid of cars and products that weren’t performing and getting out of Europe.”

Now she faces a worldwide decline in the industry’s sales that has forced the company to reconsider its model choices and production.

G.M. hasn’t gained much ground so far with the electric model Ms. Barra has championed, the Chevrolet Bolt compact, Mr. Abuelsamid said. “They haven’t executed as quickly as people would have liked,” he added. “The Bolt is not the right car for the market at this time.”

And as the company ponders cutbacks — like its decision this year to shut its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio — Ms. Barra must contend with opposition not only from the union but sometimes from the White House. President Trump has been a frequent antagonist of the company over its foreign operations, including its use of plants in Mexico while paring its head count in the United States, a criticism he reiterated on Monday after the strike began.

“I don’t want General Motors building plants in China and Mexico — this was before my watch, and I don’t think they’ll be doing that,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I had meetings with Mary Barra, the head of G.M., and I don’t want them leaving our country.”

The president and Ms. Barra met at the White House early this month, though it is not clear how broad the discussions were.

Contract negotiations continued Tuesday, the second full day of the strike, in a conference room at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, where G.M. has its headquarters. While Ms. Barra is not at the table with U.A.W. leaders, she is staying nearby and taking an active role, people close to the negotiations say.

Union and management officials were breaking into groups to discuss specific issues, like the use of temporary workers and how production is allocated to various sites, and then reconvening in larger meetings, according to people with knowledge of the talks.

Gary Jones, the United Auto Workers president, greeting Ms. Barra as contract negotiations began in July. An impasse in the talks led the union to call G.M. workers out on strike on Sunday for the first time in 12 years.CreditBill Pugliano/Getty Images

G.M. is hoping to bring its labor expenses — especially health care costs — more in line with those of Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers that operate nonunion plants in the South. According to the Center for Automotive Research, an hour of U.A.W. labor costs G.M. $63 in wages and benefits, compared with $50 for labor in foreign-owned nonunion plants.

Tensions between the two sides increased on Tuesday after G.M. stopped covering the cost of health care premiums for striking workers. The U.A.W. told members that it would provide heath care assistance or temporary coverage until the matter was settled.

The union counters that G.M. is highly profitable in North America under the current labor contract. Last year, the company made $10.8 billion in the region — more than the North American units of Toyota, Honda and Nissan combined.

In addition to resisting higher payments for health care, the U.A.W. wants G.M. to rework its pay structure, which differentiates between those hired before and after 2007, and to increase pay for temporary workers. Many of the more recent hires and temps make $15 to $25 an hour, or roughly $30,000 to $50,000 a year before overtime or the profit-sharing checks that have averaged $11,000 in the last three years. Veteran workers doing comparable work can make $31 an hour and many take home $90,000 a year and up with overtime and profit-sharing.

Over the weekend, G.M. offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants, and create 5,400 new jobs. The offer, a person close to the talks said, included building a battery plant near the shuttered Lordstown factory and keeping open a Detroit car plant slated to close in March, and leaving worker heath care contributions largely unchanged.

In a letter to G.M., Terry Dittes, the U.A.W. vice president leading the negotiations, complained that those offers arrived two hours before the contract expired Saturday night. “Had we received this proposal earlier in the process, it may have been possible to reach a tentative agreement and avoid a strike,” he said in a letter to G.M.

The union’s decision to strike took place the next morning, about 12 hours after G.M. made its offer, and the walkout did not begin until midnight that night.

While the details of the talks are particular to G.M., the outcome is meant to serve as a template for contracts with the other Detroit automakers, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. In 2014, an accord was reached just before the previous contract expired, and the union’s G.M. membership approved it in a close vote. Some workers say the U.A.W. failed to gain enough in that round, and are pressing for a better outcome.

The good will that Ms. Barra set out to gain this year remains elusive.

“I hope she stands for what she said,” said Mr. Cristian, the paint-repair worker in Lansing and a 40-year G.M. veteran. “Everybody makes promises. We’ll wait and see on her. I’m hoping for the best.”

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Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif3-articleLarge Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

An encampment in July in San Francisco. California is home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

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

Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif-facebookJumbo Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

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

To Find Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile and Drone Parts

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts and military investigators are examining a missile guidance mechanism recovered in Saudi Arabia that may provide clues as to the missile’s origins and flight path, as they continue gathering information to make the administration’s case that Iran was responsible for last weekend’s attack against Saudi oil facilities.

Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials.

And, perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites. The Saudis have recovered pristine circuit boards from one of the cruise missiles that fell short of its target, providing forensics specialists the possibility of tracing the missile’s point of origin, according to a senior American official briefed on the intelligence.

Within the administration, there is much discussion over what retaliatory action to take, if any, and whether such a response would appear to be doing the Saudis’ bidding. The question is a challenging one for President Trump, who first declared after the attacks that the United States was “locked and loaded,” but then softened his tone and said he would like to avoid conflict.

The attack is viewed as the most destructive strike to Saudi Arabia since it opened an offensive in Yemen more than four years ago. By Monday, the damage in Saudi Arabia helped drive world oil prices up 10 percent, the speediest increase in more than a decade. The attack closed facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which are responsible for most of the crude oil produced by the kingdom, the supplier of about a tenth of the worldwide total.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have presented Mr. Trump with an array of military options — presumably both bombing targets such as the missile-launching sites and storage areas and covert cyber operations that could disable or disrupt Iran’s oil infrastructure.

A big concern is to ensure that any strikes be proportional and not escalate the conflict, particularly with world leaders gathering in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. Officials also voiced worry about the cost of doing nothing, at least openly, in response to attacks that have cut in half the oil production of one of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East.

American officials say they have no doubt that the drones and missiles used in the attacks were Iranian technology and components. But they have not yet released information on whether the strikes were planned and directed by Iran, and launched by Iran’s proxies in the region — or whether they actually were launched from Iranian territory.

Intelligence officials have ruled out Yemen as the origin of the attacks and do not believe they emanated from Iraq, either. That leaves Iran or possibly some vessel in the northern Persian Gulf as the staging ground.

Several American military and intelligence officials said they believed they would ultimately conclude that the attacks were launched from Iran. Officials have said Iran is almost certainly behind the strike, given the scope, scale and precision of the attacks.

One theory gaining traction is that the cruise missiles were launched from Iran and programmed to fly around the northern Persian Gulf through Iraqi air space instead of directly across the gulf where the United States has much better surveillance, the senior official said. But that has not been confirmed.

Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack-promo-1568672150666-articleLarge-v2 To Find Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile and Drone Parts Yemen Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

Who Was Behind the Saudi Oil Attack? What the Evidence Shows

American officials have offered only satellite photos, which analysts said were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia appear in no rush to pinpoint the source of the attack or call for any specific response.

A Saudi military spokesman said Monday that the kingdom’s initial investigation had indicated that the weapons were Iranian-made and that the attack was not launched from Yemen. But so far the Saudis have lagged American officials in their willingness to openly blame Iran for carrying out the attack.

Underscoring its go-slow approach, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it intended to invite the United Nations and other international experts to visit the site of the attacks and participate in the investigations. “The kingdom will take appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation,” the statement said, suggesting that the Saudis would wait a prolonged period before taking action.

Analysts said Saudi Arabia might be reluctant to engage in a military confrontation before confirming the American response. The rulers of the kingdom may also be worried because the attack demonstrated ominous vulnerabilities in their air defense systems. Although Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest spenders in the world on military hardware, the damage from Saturday’s airstrike suggested scant preparation for a full-fledged air war.

Saudi rulers have at least once actively covered up an Iranian attack inside the kingdom to avoid making accusations that could lead to a clash. After a terrorist bombing at the Khobar Towers complex killed 19 United States Air Force personnel in 1996, scholars say, the Saudis deliberately sought to obfuscate Iran’s responsibility in an attempt to avoid a military conflict. (The United States still ultimately concluded that Iran was responsible.)

Michael J. Morell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., said in remarks at a speech in Northern Virginia on Monday night that if Iran was found responsible for directing or carrying out the attacks, that would amount to an act of war and the United States would “need to respond.”

Mr. Morell, who said he had no inside information, said he favored some kind of proportional military strike, perhaps against Iranian missile sites and storage areas but not against Iranian oil infrastructure.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, who retired from the military after serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the danger of the situation because there was little effective way to communicate with the Iranians to avoid escalation and misjudgment.

“It’s a situation ripe with the possibility of miscalculation,” he said. “We have not had a good line of communication with Iran since 1979, so if something happens, the odds of us getting it right are pretty small.”

Mr. Morell said it would be important to have allies such as Britain and France join any retaliation so the United States was not going it alone.

France has no evidence showing where drones that attacked the Saudi oil facilities came from, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“Up to now France doesn’t have evidence to say that these drones came from one place or another, and I don’t know if anyone has evidence,” the minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told reporters in Cairo.

Several top administration and military officials said they remained keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s reluctance to carry out military strikes that could pull the United States into a larger, longer conflict in the Middle East.

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

Trump and Warren Lay Out Competing Visions of Populism

Senator Elizabeth Warren stood beneath a marble arch in New York City, telling a crowd of thousands that she would lead a movement to purge the government of corruption. Not far from the site of a historic industrial disaster, Ms. Warren described Washington as utterly compromised by the influence of corporations and the extremely wealthy, and laid out a detailed plan for cleansing it.

“Corruption has put our planet at risk, corruption has broken our economy and corruption is breaking our democracy,” Ms. Warren said Monday evening. “I know what’s broken, I’ve got a plan to fix it and that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.”

Only a few hours later, on a stage outside Albuquerque, President Trump took aim at a different phenomenon that he also described as corruption. Before his own roaring crowd, Mr. Trump cast himself as a bulwark against the power not of corporations but of a “failed liberal establishment” that he described as attacking the country’s sovereignty and cultural heritage.

“We’re battling against the corrupt establishment of the past,” Mr. Trump said, warning in grim language: “They want to erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

[Read about Elizabeth Warren’s speech on corruption in government, and President Trump’s speech at a rally in New Mexico.]

The two back-to-back addresses laid out the competing versions of populism that could come to define the presidential campaign. From the right, there is the strain Mr. Trump brought to maturity in 2016, combining the longstanding grievances of the white working class with a newer, darker angst about immigration and cultural change. And on the left, there is a vastly different populist wave still gaining strength, defined in economic terms by Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The messages underlined the possibility that the 2020 election could be the first in a generation to be fought without an ally of either party’s centrist establishment on the ballot. While it is by no means certain that Ms. Warren will emerge as the Democratic nominee, two of her party’s top three candidates — Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders — are trumpeting themes of economic inequality and promises of sweeping political and social reform.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17warrentrump2-articleLarge Trump and Warren Lay Out Competing Visions of Populism Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Corruption (Institutional)

President Trump at a campaign rally in Albuquerque on Monday. He cast himself as a bulwark against a “failed liberal establishment.” CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Their version of populism, which Mr. Sanders pioneered but did not bring to fruition when he challenged Hillary Clinton in 2016, is about attacking concentrated wealth and economic power and breaking its influence over government. Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, effectively tied for second place in their party’s primary, both describe the country’s political institutions as rotten and vow to make vast changes to the economy.

They are both trailing behind Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president, in the Democratic race; Mr. Biden has run on a far more conventional message of making gradual policy improvements from the center-left, and he has expressed reservations about the rhetoric of his more liberal rivals about corporations and billionaires. The party is currently locked in a grand debate over how best to build an electoral majority, and whether Democrats would be better off appealing to voters with a soothing promise of returning to normalcy or with a more activist message about economic and social injustice.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

These divergent strains of populism are far from new in American politics: for much of the country’s modern history, mass social movements channeling grievances with government or big business have competed with other forces directing outrage at racial and cultural minorities, immigrants and foreign countries.

To some Democrats, the task of delivering a credible message of changing a broken system in Washington is a defining challenge of the 2020 election. Tiffany Muller, head of the influential clean-government group End Citizens United, said her organization’s research showed that many swing voters still see Mr. Trump as a political outsider with what Ms. Muller called an undeserved veneer of ethical independence.

“What we’ve seen is that Trump actually maintains strength on this issue — that, frankly, voters don’t know who to trust on the issue of corruption and cleaning up Washington,” Ms. Muller said in an interview on Monday afternoon. “We have got to go after his strength on this issue and win back some of the voters we lost in 2016.”

Ms. Warren delivered her speech from  beneath a marble arch at Washington Square Park on Monday.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

Ms. Warren proposed a battery of new reforms in her remarks in New York City’s Washington Square Park, near the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that she cited as an example of the oppression of the working class. And she highlighted an array of other reforms she has previously outlined, including a ban on lobbying by foreign governments and new ethics regulations on presidents and judges. She presented herself not just as an opponent of Mr. Trump, whom she called “corruption in the flesh,” but of the Washington system writ large.

“Too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done,” Ms. Warren said, vowing to do things differently: “No more business as usual. Let’s attack the corruption head-on.”

Mr. Trump’s version of populism is starkly different and, to most voters, already well known. While he has periodically taken rhetorical aim at certain big corporations, like pharmaceutical companies, he has largely abandoned early efforts to make good on his drain-the-swamp rhetoric from the 2016 campaign, and he has faced a barrage of ethical questions about the intermingling of his hotel and real estate business with the work of the government. He has invited business executives and lobbyists into his administration and a number of cabinet departments and agencies have drawn close scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.

But Mr. Trump has still positioned himself for re-election as an anti-establishment brawler, in the same mode that helped him pull away blue-collar whites from Mrs. Clinton three years ago. He has continued to combine blue-collar concerns about issues like foreign trade with culturally conservative priorities like gun rights and immigration restriction. And Mr. Trump has at times aligned himself with leaders of right-wing movements in countries like France and Brazil who share his contempt for cultural elites.

Supporters at Mr. Trump’s campaign rally in Albuquerque.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

In New Mexico on Monday, Mr. Trump avoided some of the more incendiary appeals to bigotry that he has made in the past, but still repeated a set of blunt warnings to the crowd: Democrats, he said, would enact immigration policies that would imperil their jobs and “turn every city in America into a sanctuary for criminal aliens.”

And in a state where oil and gas production is a major source of employment, Mr. Trump claimed Democrats would impose environmental policies that would empower “foreign producers” and sap profitable industries.

“Under the Green New Deal, that all goes away,” Mr. Trump said, caricaturing Democrats as seeking to eliminate cars and airplanes. “They’ll call us the hermit nation — we’ll never leave our house.”

If Mr. Trump castigated Democrats and liberals as a collective group, he offered no particular critique of Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders, or the distinctive policies they have put forward, with the exception of their shared endorsement of a “Medicare for all”-style health care system. His lone reference to Ms. Warren was a jab at her contested claims of Native American ancestry, a mocking personal attack that Mr. Trump said was “coming back.”

Ms. Warren, for her part, only mentioned Mr. Trump in a relatively brief passage of her speech, saying that he pits people against each other on the basis of their identity so that they won’t “notice that he and his buddies are stealing more and more of our country’s wealth.”

More Coverage of President Trump and Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren Has Lots of Plans. Together, They Would Remake the Economy.

June 10, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious

June 17, 2019

Opinion | Thomas B. Edsall: If Trump Country Soars, Will the President Glide to a Second Term?

April 17, 2019

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

Warren and Trump Speeches Attack Corruption, but Two Different Kinds

Senator Elizabeth Warren stood beneath a marble arch in New York City, telling a crowd of thousands that she would lead a movement to purge the government of corruption. Not far from the site of a historic industrial disaster, Ms. Warren described Washington as utterly compromised by the influence of corporations and the extremely wealthy, and laid out a detailed plan for cleansing it.

“Corruption has put our planet at risk, corruption has broken our economy and corruption is breaking our democracy,” Ms. Warren said Monday evening. “I know what’s broken, I’ve got a plan to fix it and that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.”

Only a few hours later, on a stage outside Albuquerque, President Trump took aim at a different phenomenon that he also described as corruption. Before his own roaring crowd, Mr. Trump cast himself as a bulwark against the power not of corporations but of a “failed liberal establishment” that he described as attacking the country’s sovereignty and cultural heritage.

“We’re battling against the corrupt establishment of the past,” Mr. Trump said, warning in grim language: “They want to erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

[Read about Elizabeth Warren’s speech on corruption in government, and President Trump’s speech at a rally in New Mexico.]

The two back-to-back addresses laid out the competing versions of populism that could come to define the presidential campaign. From the right, there is the strain Mr. Trump brought to maturity in 2016, combining the longstanding grievances of the white working class with a newer, darker angst about immigration and cultural change. And on the left, there is a vastly different populist wave still gaining strength, defined in economic terms by Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The messages underlined the possibility that the 2020 election could be the first in a generation to be fought without an ally of either party’s centrist establishment on the ballot. While it is by no means certain that Ms. Warren will emerge as the Democratic nominee, two of her party’s top three candidates — Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders — are trumpeting themes of economic inequality and promises of sweeping political and social reform.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17warrentrump2-articleLarge Warren and Trump Speeches Attack Corruption, but Two Different Kinds Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Corruption (Institutional)

President Trump at a campaign rally in Albuquerque on Monday. He cast himself as a bulwark against a “failed liberal establishment.” CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Their version of populism, which Mr. Sanders pioneered but did not bring to fruition when he challenged Hillary Clinton in 2016, is about attacking concentrated wealth and economic power and breaking its influence over government. Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, effectively tied for second place in their party’s primary, both describe the country’s political institutions as rotten and vow to make vast changes to the economy.

They are both trailing behind Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president, in the Democratic race; Mr. Biden has run on a far more conventional message of making gradual policy improvements from the center-left, and he has expressed reservations about the rhetoric of his more liberal rivals about corporations and billionaires. The party is currently locked in a grand debate over how best to build an electoral majority, and whether Democrats would be better off appealing to voters with a soothing promise of returning to normalcy or with a more activist message about economic and social injustice.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

These divergent strains of populism are far from new in American politics: for much of the country’s modern history, mass social movements channeling grievances with government or big business have competed with other forces directing outrage at racial and cultural minorities, immigrants and foreign countries.

To some Democrats, the task of delivering a credible message of changing a broken system in Washington is a defining challenge of the 2020 election. Tiffany Muller, head of the influential clean-government group End Citizens United, said her organization’s research showed that many swing voters still see Mr. Trump as a political outsider with what Ms. Muller called an undeserved veneer of ethical independence.

“What we’ve seen is that Trump actually maintains strength on this issue — that, frankly, voters don’t know who to trust on the issue of corruption and cleaning up Washington,” Ms. Muller said in an interview on Monday afternoon. “We have got to go after his strength on this issue and win back some of the voters we lost in 2016.”

Ms. Warren delivered her speech from  beneath a marble arch at Washington Square Park on Monday.CreditCalla Kessler/The New York Times

Ms. Warren proposed a battery of new reforms in her remarks in New York City’s Washington Square Park, near the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that she cited as an example of the oppression of the working class. And she highlighted an array of other reforms she has previously outlined, including a ban on lobbying by foreign governments and new ethics regulations on presidents and judges. She presented herself not just as an opponent of Mr. Trump, whom she called “corruption in the flesh,” but of the Washington system writ large.

“Too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done,” Ms. Warren said, vowing to do things differently: “No more business as usual. Let’s attack the corruption head-on.”

Mr. Trump’s version of populism is starkly different and, to most voters, already well known. While he has periodically taken rhetorical aim at certain big corporations, like pharmaceutical companies, he has largely abandoned early efforts to make good on his drain-the-swamp rhetoric from the 2016 campaign, and he has faced a barrage of ethical questions about the intermingling of his hotel and real estate business with the work of the government. He has invited business executives and lobbyists into his administration and a number of cabinet departments and agencies have drawn close scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.

But Mr. Trump has still positioned himself for re-election as an anti-establishment brawler, in the same mode that helped him pull away blue-collar whites from Mrs. Clinton three years ago. He has continued to combine blue-collar concerns about issues like foreign trade with culturally conservative priorities like gun rights and immigration restriction. And Mr. Trump has at times aligned himself with leaders of right-wing movements in countries like France and Brazil who share his contempt for cultural elites.

Supporters at Mr. Trump’s campaign rally in Albuquerque.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

In New Mexico on Monday, Mr. Trump avoided some of the more incendiary appeals to bigotry that he has made in the past, but still repeated a set of blunt warnings to the crowd: Democrats, he said, would enact immigration policies that would imperil their jobs and “turn every city in America into a sanctuary for criminal aliens.”

And in a state where oil and gas production is a major source of employment, Mr. Trump claimed Democrats would impose environmental policies that would empower “foreign producers” and sap profitable industries.

“Under the Green New Deal, that all goes away,” Mr. Trump said, caricaturing Democrats as seeking to eliminate cars and airplanes. “They’ll call us the hermit nation — we’ll never leave our house.”

If Mr. Trump castigated Democrats and liberals as a collective group, he offered no particular critique of Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders, or the distinctive policies they have put forward, with the exception of their shared endorsement of a “Medicare for all”-style health care system. His lone reference to Ms. Warren was a jab at her contested claims of Native American ancestry, a mocking personal attack that Mr. Trump said was “coming back.”

Ms. Warren, for her part, only mentioned Mr. Trump in a relatively brief passage of her speech, saying that he pits people against each other on the basis of their identity so that they won’t “notice that he and his buddies are stealing more and more of our country’s wealth.”

More Coverage of President Trump and Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren Has Lots of Plans. Together, They Would Remake the Economy.

June 10, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious

June 17, 2019

Opinion | Thomas B. Edsall: If Trump Country Soars, Will the President Glide to a Second Term?

April 17, 2019

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

Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy

President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions.

But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. The officials have accused Iran of orchestrating or even launching a major attack on Saturday against critical Saudi Arabian oil installations, jolting international energy markets and humiliating a key American ally.

But the slap-the-other-cheek tactic is hardly surprising, Iranian scholars say. Tehran, they said, has concluded that its recent aggressions have effectively strengthened its leverage with the West and in the region. And despite his occasional outburst of threats, Mr. Trump is deeply reluctant to risk an open-ended military confrontation in the Middle East that would endanger world oil supplies in the middle of a re-election campaign.

“Iranian hard-liners consider Trump’s inconsistency to be weakness,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. For Iranian hard-liners, he said, “their policy of ‘maximum resistance’ is working.”

Mr. Trump has imposed punishing sanctions that Iranian leaders call “economic warfare,” but he has already demonstrated his aversion to using military force.

American officials concluded that Iranian forces sabotaged a handful of oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in May and June, and shot down an American surveillance drone in June. Mr. Trump initially ordered a wave of American airstrikes in retaliation for the downing of the drone, but he called it off at the last moment.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159492459_a53b4fd9-14a5-4e20-88d0-d4656a0a76bd-articleLarge Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Defense and Military Forces

John Bolton was forced out as President Trump’s national security adviser, reportedly over a disagreement with the president over talks with Tehran.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Then the administration’s leading Iran hawk, John Bolton, was forced out as national security adviser, reportedly over a disagreement with the president over talks with Tehran.

Iran, demanding relief from sanctions, appears to be lashing out, whether directly or through allies. The muted reactions from Washington — including the initial response to Saturday’s attack — appear to have validated that strategy, several analysts said.

Even as Mr. Trump added his voice to the chorus of officials pointing to Iranian responsibility for the attack, he repeated his aversion to armed conflict and hopes for negotiations, saying, “I know they want to make a deal.” He had already said any retaliation over the attack would depend on input from Saudi Arabia, which put off the question by calling for a United Nations inquiry.

Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and an Iranian-backed faction in Yemen, the Houthis, has claimed it. But the strikes demonstrated more clearly than ever that Iranian forces or their regional surrogates can imperil American clients and global oil supplies, even while under punishing sanctions.

“The Saudi air defenses have been proved completely worthless,” said Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They are not going to be ready for Round 2.”

Nor does Iran appear to be suffering any penalty in international diplomacy, said Ellie Geranmayeh, a scholar of Iran at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The European powers, she said, blame Mr. Trump for starting the escalation that led to the attack by withdrawing the United States from the 2015 deal that world powers had signed with Iran to remove sanctions in exchange for limitations on the country’s nuclear program.

Iranian forces near Bandar Abbas, Iran, in July patrolling after the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.CreditHasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After abandoning the accord last year, the Trump administration imposed punishing sanctions on Iranian oil sales in a bid to win a more restrictive nuclear pact. European powers, opposing the American sanctions and hoping to salvage the 2015 deal, have sought to offer relief.

President Emmanuel Macron of France has recently proposed a $15 billion line of credit to encourage Iran to comply with the deal, apparently hoping that the United States will return to it — possibly after the election of a new president. And none of the European powers have indicated that they are pulling back from their diplomatic efforts.

Ms. Geranmayeh argued that the attack on Saudi oil facilities was “a warning shot” that may have been calculated to improve Iran’s leverage in any negotiations with Mr. Trump or the Europeans. Or, if the Iranians were impatient with the pace of European diplomacy, she argued, the attacks might goad the Europeans to hurry.

Iranian hard-liners have long held a cynical view that American decision makers understand only the threat of force, scholars say. But in the first year after Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear accord, Iran continued to abide by it and refrained from any retaliation, a policy it called “strategic patience.”

It got them nothing, analysts say. Initial European efforts to coax Washington back to the deal went nowhere. American allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — all regional rivals to Iran — urged Washington to increase the pressure.

Then the Trump administration began using the global reach of the American financial system to try to block Iranian oil sales anywhere in the world, cutting off the lifeblood of the Iranian economy.

Tehran embarked on a dual strategy to fight back. Publicly, it began taking calibrated steps to exceed the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, citing certain provisions in the agreement as justification for its noncompliance.

Houthi rebel fighters in Sana, Yemen, in August. United Nations experts say Iran has supplied the group with drones and missiles.CreditHani Mohammed/Associated Press

At the same time, Western officials have concluded, Iran began to demonstrate that it can threaten global oil markets, forcing others to share its economic pain. In addition to the attacks on tankers, which American officials say Iranian forces carried out with naval mines, Iran has also seized a few ships, including a British-flagged oil tanker that was taken in an apparent retaliation for the capture of an Iranian tanker by British forces near Gibraltar.

It suffered little penalty. The United States declined to retaliate for the tanker sabotage. With Britain eager to lower the temperature, officials in Gibraltar, a British territory, freed the detained Iranian vessel last month.

The European powers accelerated their efforts to provide sanctions relief and preserve the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Even the United Arab Emirates appeared to step back from conflict. The Emirates declined to publicly blame Iran for the damage done to tankers in its waters. Instead, Emirati officials held talks with Iran about maritime security. And at the same time, the Emirates began to withdraw from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthis.

The Emirates “have awoken to the fact that they are very exposed,” said Sanam Vakil, a scholar of Iran and the Persian Gulf at Chatham House, a policy institute in London.

With the Emirates signaling that it wants to avoid further escalation, she said, Tehran was beginning to succeed in its long-held goal of dividing the anti-Iran alliance in the region.

“They have already been able to split off the U.A.E., so Saudi Arabia is next,” Ms. Vakil said.

Ultimately, Ms. Vakil said, the Iranians appear to have concluded from the recent American actions that confrontation cannot lose, because even a potential American military action would almost certainly be a limited strike designed to avoid a prolonged ground war. Domestically and in the region, surviving such a strike could strengthen the current Iranian government by rallying public opinion.

“They are challenging American supremacy and forcing the international community to come to terms with a new relationship with the Islamic Republic,” she said. “They come out ahead no matter what happens.”

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

For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward

DETROIT — A decade ago, when General Motors was on the brink of collapse and was ushered into bankruptcy by the federal government, the company’s unionized workers bore a significant portion of the pain to bring the automaker back to financial health.

The United Auto Workers agreed to allow General Motors to hire significant numbers of new workers at roughly half the hourly wage of those already on the payroll and with reduced retirement benefits. In the following years, G.M. was also able to bring in temporary workers with even slimmer wage-and-benefit packages and little job security.

The bitter medicine helped reinvigorate the automaker, and for the last several years it has been reaping record profits. Along the way, it has pared its United States payrolls, closed several plants and moved more work to Mexico.

Now nearly 50,000 workers have walked off the job at more than 50 G.M. plants and other locations across the Midwest and South, striking to get what they see as their fair share of the company’s hefty returns and block further erosion of their ranks.

“We have given away so many concessions over the last eight-plus years, and this company has been ridiculously profitable over that time,” said Chaz Akers, 24, an assembler at G.M.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is set to close in January unless the labor talks can win a reprieve. “That’s why we’re here. We’re fighting to get everything that we lost back.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16gmexplainer2-articleLarge For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

Chaz Akers, 24, walking the picket line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He said General Motors workers needed to recoup past concessions.CreditSteve Koss for The New York Times

The strike, the first by the U.A.W. since 2007, began at midnight Sunday, a day after the G.M. contract expired. Industry analysts said the walkout could cost the company tens of millions of dollars a day.

The company had no comment on the talks on Monday but said on Sunday, “We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways, and it is disappointing that the U.A.W. leadership has chosen to strike.”

In negotiations that lasted most of the day Monday and were to resume at midmorning Tuesday, the company has offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants and add 5,400 jobs. It has also said it is willing to increase pay and benefits, without offering details.

That’s not enough for Wiley Turnage, president of U.A.W. Local 22, who represents the 700 workers at the Hamtramck plant. “I don’t like where we’re at,” he said at the plant’s main gate Monday, a picket sign reading “U.A.W. on Strike” propped on his shoulder. “We need job security. Our plant doesn’t have production beyond January. We have a lot of young, growing families and we need work for them.”

[Watch “The Weekly,” our TV show, where autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, say G.M. owes them more than it does it’s stock holders.]

Focusing on a single company is standard practice in the talks between the U.A.W. and the Detroit automakers every four years. And although G.M. has a smaller domestic work force than its American rivals, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, it presented an inviting target.

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Westlake Legal Group 15UAW2-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

The United Automobile Workers union members organized a strike against General Motors in an effort to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs and narrow the pay difference between new hires and veteran workers.CreditCreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

The automaker has earned solid profits — it made $35 billion in North America over the last three years — while closing plants in the United States. Ford, in contrast, canceled plans to build a plant in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler has announced plans for a new factory in Detroit.

“The U.A.W. is making a significant move here and sending a strong signal that what G.M. has been offering is not acceptable,” said Peter Berg, a labor-relations professor at Michigan State University.

Among autoworkers, there is a strong sense that G.M. is not only making enough profit to increase wages but should be obligated to do so because the federal government rescued the company in 2009.

“We literally gave up a lot during the bankruptcy and the American taxpayer gave up a lot,” said Ashley Scales, 32, a G.M. worker walking the picket line outside the Hamtramck plant’s main gate. “We gave up twice because we pay taxes and we gave up in the contractual agreement. And now the corporation is making more profit than ever and they still want to play games.”

It also does not sit well with workers that G.M. has chosen to make certain vehicles in Mexico rather than in American plants. For example, the new Chevrolet Blazer, a sport utility vehicle that years ago was made in the United States, was assigned to a Mexican plant when it was reintroduced last year.

President Trump, who even before taking office castigated G.M. for shifting production to Mexico, returned to the theme on Monday in comments at the White House. While he said he was “sad to see the strike” and hoped it would be short, he emphasized his relationship with autoworkers, and added: “I don’t want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country. You know they built many plants in China and Mexico, and I don’t like that at all.”

Under the contract just ended, workers have gotten a share of G.M.’s profits averaging $11,000 a year over the last three years. But some contend that the U.A.W. failed to push hard enough as G.M. and the other automakers bounced back over the last decade, including the union’s efforts in the last contract talks four years ago.

“The leadership is feeling some pressure from below to deliver something better than what we got in 2015,” Martha Grevatt, a U.A.W. member who retired from a Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan earlier this year, said in an interview in August.

[See what the strike looked like outside the Flint, Mich., plant.]

After making G.M. its target, the U.A.W. extended its contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The G.M. outcome is meant to set a pattern for the other companies.

But G.M. is looking to cut costs, or at least avoid cost increases, in a difficult business environment. Auto sales are slowing in the United States and China, the world’s largest and most lucrative markets, and the company is spending billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It still has room to get leaner. At the end of last year, G.M. had the capacity to make one million more vehicles that it was selling, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

To trim capacity, it has closed a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and components plants in Baltimore and Warren, Mich. The Hamtramck plant makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, two slow-selling sedans that would need to be retained or replaced to keep the factory running.

Linda Crooks picketing at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Monday. She has worked for General Motors for 35 years, and her father, her brother and her father-in-law were all autoworkers.CreditEmily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

Aside from keeping the Hamtramck plant open, the biggest issue for strikers is the tiered wage system, which leaves some workers making significantly less than others for comparable work.

Workers hired before 2007 make about $31 an hour, and can retire with a lifelong pension. Those hired after them (now more than a third of the work force) start at about $17 an hour and can work their way up to about $29 an hour over eight years. They also have to rely on 401(k) retirement accounts instead of pensions.

In addition, G.M. uses temporary workers (about 7 percent of the staff) who earn about $15 an hour, and do not have vision or dental benefits. The system has helped G.M. compete with Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers operating nonunion plants in Southern states where hourly wages tend to range from $15 to $18 an hour.

But Hamtramck workers said the disparity in compensation under one roof created tension and resentment on the assembly line. “It’s a matter of fairness if someone next to you is making double for the same work,” said Stephanie Brown, 35, a Head Start teacher for 10 years until she took a temp position at G.M. three months ago.

Mr. Akers said he was paid $18 an hour for installing passenger-side headlights, while the driver’s-side headlights were installed by a temporary worker making $3 less.

“That guy has been a temp for two-and-a-half years,” Mr. Akers said. “Is that temporary to you?”

Depending on its length, the strike could have far-reaching effects, potentially hurting some of the thousands of companies that supply G.M. with parts like seats, motors and brake systems, as well as the components that go into those parts.

Other parts of the labor movement may be an asset to the U.A.W. Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman, said that his union represented about 1,000 drivers who transport G.M. vehicles to dealerships and that their contracts allowed them to avoid crossing a picket line.

Mr. Caldwell said he expected almost all of the car haulers to be idle throughout the strike. “That’ll be a big impact holding up any remaining inventory G.M. has, anything they try to bring in from out of the country,” he said. “It’s the main area of support we’re able to show.”

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