web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 187)

U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-military1-facebookJumbo U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks Yemen Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

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, including at least one mostly intact cruise missile recovered from the area, officials said.

American military investigators are in Saudi Arabia working with counterparts to examine the guidance mechanism in the cruise missile that was recovered. Investigators are hoping they can trace the missile’s flight path, using data in the guidance system, back to its origin — possibly to precise geographic coordinates.

Within the administration, there is much discussion over what retaliatory action to take, if any, and whether such a response would appear to be just doing the Saudis’ bidding.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have presented President 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.

Michael 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. He also said it would be important to have allies such as Britain and France join any retaliation so it was not just the United States 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,” 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 

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

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 Payback 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.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 15UAW2-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Payback 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 

With Oil Under Attack, Trump’s Deference to Saudis Returns

WASHINGTON — After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

Whether, and how, to commit forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump’s comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision.

The fact that the other country was Saudi Arabia — a difficult ally that came under intense criticism for the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist — reinforced the longstanding criticism that the energy-rich kingdom buys American support.

“What struck me about that tweet was not just that it’s obviously wrong to allow Saudi Arabia to dictate our foreign policy, but that the president doesn’t seem to be aware of how submissive it makes him look to say that,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former assistant secretary of state.

“It is a big deal to attack oil fields,” Mr. Malinowski added. “It does affect more than just Saudi Arabia’s interests. But whatever we do, we have to do what’s best for us and we have to recognize that the Saudis have a profound bias.”

Mr. Trump told reporters on Monday that he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis and that he would “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.” But he expressed caution, suggesting that for all of his bellicose language, he was not rushing toward a military conflict.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, “It is looking that way.” But he stopped short of definitive confirmation. “That is being checked out right now,” he added.

Mr. Trump warned that the United States had fearsome military abilities and was prepared for war if necessary.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160902594_d4b298b2-a01e-4e33-88b7-880ddeb56f9d-articleLarge With Oil Under Attack, Trump’s Deference to Saudis Returns United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Pompeo, Mike Khashoggi, Jamal Iran Human Rights and Human Rights Violations

A satellite image showing damage to oil and gas infrastructure after an attack in Abqaig, Saudi Arabia.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

“But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it,” he added. “I know they would like to make a deal,” he said of the Iranians, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. “At some point, it will work out.”

There is no evidence it will work out soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the notion on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Mr. Trump in New York next week when both are scheduled to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. While Mr. Trump said in June that a meeting could happen without preconditions, and his own aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, repeated it last week, Mr. Trump called that “fake news” over the weekend and falsely blamed the news media for making it up.

The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long, bristling history. Critics complained that Saudi Arabia effectively hired out the American military to protect itself from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and reverse his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The Saudi government even forked over $16 billion to reimburse the United States for about a quarter of the cost of the war that followed in 1991 — along with Kuwait, the most of any country.

The resentment felt over the years by American officials crossed the ideological spectrum, summed up pithily in a leaked 2010 cable by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Saudis, Mr. Gates told the French foreign minister at the time, always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American.”

Among those who seemed to share the sentiment in the past was a New York businessman and television entertainer named Donald J. Trump.

“Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won’t, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!” he tweeted in 2014.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has made Saudi Arabia his closest ally in the Middle East other than Israel, and has strongly supported its multifront struggle with Iran for dominance in the region. He has also left little doubt about the primacy of money in the relationship, openly citing the value of arms contracts in explaining why he would not criticize the Saudi government for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

When two Saudi oil processing centers were hit by an aerial assault over the weekend, Mr. Trump spoke out quickly, much as any president might given the effect on world oil supplies.

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

Mr. Trump meeting with Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, during the Group of 20 summit in June in Osaka, Japan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The statement was strange for many reasons. Mr. Pompeo had already named the Iranians as the culprits; Mr. Trump did not. But the seeming abdication of fact-finding and decision-making to the Saudis gave Democrats a moment to argue that the president was willing to let the Saudi monarchy make decisions for the United States.

“If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress, not the Saudi royal family, to authorize it,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, wrote on Twitter.

Heather Hurlburt, a national security official under President Bill Clinton who is now at New America, a Washington-based research organization, said it would be perfectly normal for a president to consult an ally before taking action in such a circumstance.

“It’s not remotely normal for a president to talk publicly about that, to use language that sounds as if we aren’t making our own decisions about whether to use force — or trusting our own intelligence,” she said. “And it’s completely unprecedented with a country that is not a treaty ally.”

The White House declined to comment on Monday beyond Mr. Trump’s remarks, but some national security conservatives were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to know for sure what’s going through the president’s mind,” said John P. Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

But he said that his guess was that Mr. Trump “wants the country most affected and threatened by the attack to step up publicly, pin responsibility squarely on Iran and put some real skin into the game by formally requesting that the U.S. and international community come to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the global economy.”

That could help mobilize international opinion and perhaps forge a coalition against Iran, “rather than an excuse to do nothing,” Mr. Hannah added.

In his comments to reporters on Monday, Mr. Trump seemed intent on avoiding the perception that he was taking direction from the Saudis. If there is any response to the strikes on the oil facilities, he said, then the Saudis would play a part themselves — if nothing else, by financing it.

Which, of course, made it sound as if the United States was willing to be, in effect, a mercenary force for the Saudis.

“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something,” he said. “They’ll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

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

G.M. Workers Say They Sacrificed, and Now They Want Their Due

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.”

The across-the-board 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.

In negotiations that resumed Monday morning and continued into the evening, the company has offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants and add 5,400 jobs. It also said it was willing to increase pay and benefits, without offering details.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16gmexplainer2-articleLarge G.M. Workers Say They Sacrificed, and Now They Want Their Due Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors 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

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.”

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.

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.

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

“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,” the company said on Sunday.

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 

Trump Says U.S. and Japan Have Reached Initial Trade Agreement

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-japantrade2-facebookJumbo Trump Says U.S. and Japan Have Reached Initial Trade Agreement United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trans-Pacific Partnership Japan International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) Agriculture and Farming Abe, Shinzo

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Monday that his administration had reached an initial trade agreement with Japan and would announce a deal in the coming weeks.

The trade pact, while limited, is expected to increase access for American agricultural products like beef and chicken to the Japanese market. That would provide some relief to farmers who have been hurt by Mr. Trump’s trade war with China.

Exact details of the deal have not been released. But people briefed on the negotiations said the pact would lower Japanese tariffs on beef and other American farm products in return for cutting American tariffs on industrial goods like machinery. Unlike most trade deals, the pact is expected to be limited to a few industries.

It is not clear how much protection the deal would offer Japan against Mr. Trump’s threats to place tariffs on its cars, a penalty Japan is eager to avoid. And the deal also appeared unlikely to exempt Japan from Mr. Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter notifying Congress of its plans Monday, the administration said it would enter into a trade agreement with Japan regarding tariffs, as well an agreement on the rules governing digital trade.

Mr. Trump teased a breakthrough in trade talks with Japan during the Group of 7 meeting in France last month, saying that the two countries were “very close” to a major deal.

“We’re working on a very big deal with Japan, and we’re very close to getting it,” he told reporters after he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. “It will be one of the biggest deals we’ve ever made with Japan.”

Mr. Abe said the two sides had successfully “reached consensus with regard to the core elements related to agricultural and industrial trade,” but noted that the precise language of the pact was still under discussion.

Speaking to reporters at the event, the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said the deal would open up $7 billion of new access to Japanese markets.

The administration has been racing to conclude the deal before Mr. Trump travels to New York next week, where he will meet again with Mr. Abe at the United Nations General Assembly.

A deal with Japan would give Mr. Trump a big talking point as he heads into his re-election campaign. Within days of assuming the presidency, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — that would have given America greater access to Japan’s market and lower tariffs, along with the markets of countries like Australia, Singapore and Vietnam. The pact was welcomed by farmers but disliked by many Republicans and Democrats, and Mr. Trump said he would use America’s leverage to cement a better trade deal with Japan.

Since Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the T.P.P., Japan and the pact’s 10 other remaining members have proceeded with ratifying the deal, and Japan has entered into a major trade agreement with the European Union.

While Japan initially resisted a bilateral trade deal with the United States and instead insisted that it rejoin the T.P.P., Mr. Abe ultimately agreed to one-on-one trade talks.

The Trump administration’s deal is likely to address a much narrower range of issues than the T.P.P. would have. American and Japanese officials have been eager to announce an “early harvest” deal that would buoy their partnership, as well as Mr. Trump’s chances at re-election, and then continue on to further negotiations on other industries.

The agreements on agriculture are unlikely to go beyond those Japan would have given to the United States under the terms of the T.P.P. Tokyo agreed to lower tariffs on a wide range of agricultural goods, including those from the United States, when it joined the T.P.P., and it has consistently said it would not offer the United States terms better than those enjoyed by the group’s member countries.

The new deal will not touch on many other areas of trade addressed in that agreement. Instead, negotiators envision tackling issues such as pharmaceuticals, energy and services in future talks.

“We have other issues that we’re concerned about and we’d like to see addressed,” said Christopher LaFleur, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The current deal is “fine for the moment, fine in terms of seeing some early results,” he said, adding, “We very much hope though that the negotiators will stick with it.”

At the G7 in France, Mr. Trump also said Mr. Abe had agreed to buy hundreds of million dollars of surplus corn that would have been sold to China, but has instead piled up in American silos as a result of the trade war with Beijing.

In Japan, ranchers and farmers have greeted the announcement with puzzlement. The country is already a major buyer of American feed corn and has sufficient stocks of the grain.

“Even if we import it, there’s no path for using it,” said Akio Shibata of Japan’s National Resource Research Institute.

For Mr. Abe, the deal is a sort of quid quo pro, according to a person familiar with the leader’s thinking, who asked for anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue. In the spring, Mr. Trump agreed to delay trade negotiations with Japan while Mr. Abe campaigned for a critical parliamentary election in July. The announcement on corn, the person said, was seen as returning the favor by giving Mr. Trump a political lift among voters in farm states, such as Iowa.

“If Mr. Trump doesn’t have farmers’ votes, he can’t win,” said Kazuhito Yamashita, an expert on trade at Japan’s Canon Institute for Global Studies. “That’s why they made this agreement.”

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

Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve

WASHINGTON — After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

Whether, and how, to commit American forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump’s comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision. The fact that the other country was Saudi Arabia — a difficult ally that came under intense criticism for the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist — reinforced the longstanding criticism that the energy-rich kingdom buys American support.

“What struck me about that tweet was not just that it’s obviously wrong to allow Saudi Arabia to dictate our foreign policy, but that the president doesn’t seem to be aware of how submissive it makes him look to say that,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former assistant secretary of state.

“It is a big deal to attack oil fields,” Mr. Malinowski added. “It does affect more than just Saudi Arabia’s interests. But whatever we do, we have to do what’s best for us and we have to recognize that the Saudis have a profound bias.”

Mr. Trump told reporters on Monday that he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis and that he would “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.” But he expressed caution, suggesting that for all of his bellicose language, he was not rushing toward a military conflict.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, “It is looking that way.” But he stopped short of definitive confirmation. “That is being checked out right now,” he added.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160902594_d4b298b2-a01e-4e33-88b7-880ddeb56f9d-articleLarge Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Pompeo, Mike Khashoggi, Jamal Iran Human Rights and Human Rights Violations

A satellite image showing damage to oil and gas infrastructure after an attack in Abqaig, Saudi Arabia.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Trump warned that the United States had fearsome military abilities and was prepared for war if necessary. “But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it,” he added. “I know they would like to make a deal,” he said of the Iranians, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. “At some point, it will work out.”

There is no evidence it will work out soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the notion on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Mr. Trump in New York next week when both are scheduled to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. While Mr. Trump’s aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said last week that a meeting could happen with no preconditions, Mr. Trump called that term “fake news” over the weekend — though he blamed the news media for making it up, not his cabinet secretaries.

The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long and bristling history. Critics complained that Saudi Arabia effectively hired out the American military to protect itself from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and reverse his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Saudi government even forked over $16 billion to reimburse the United States for about a quarter of the cost of the war that followed in 1991 — along with Kuwait, the most of any country.

The resentment felt over the years by American officials crossed the ideological spectrum, summed up pithily in a leaked 2010 cable by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Saudis, Mr. Gates told the French foreign minister at the time, always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American.”

Among those who seemed to share the sentiment in the past was a New York businessman and television entertainer named Donald J. Trump. “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won’t, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!” he tweeted in 2014.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has made Saudi Arabia his closest ally in the Middle East other than Israel, and has strongly supported its multifront struggle with Iran for dominance in the region. He has also left little doubt about the primacy of money in the relationship, openly citing the value of arms contracts in explaining why he would not criticize the Saudi government for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

When two Saudi oil processing centers were hit by an aerial assault over the weekend, Mr. Trump spoke out quickly, much as any president might given the effect on world oil supplies.

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

The statement was strange for many reasons. Mr. Pompeo had already named the Iranians as the culprits; Mr. Trump did not. But the seeming abdication of fact-finding and decision-making to the Saudis gave Democrats a moment to argue that the president was willing to let the Saudi monarchy make decisions for the United States.

Mr. Trump meeting with Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, during the Group of 20 summit in June in Osaka, Japan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress – not the Saudi royal family – to authorize it,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, wrote on Twitter.

Heather Hurlburt, a national security official under President Bill Clinton who is now at New America, a Washington-based research organization, said it would be perfectly normal for a president to consult an ally before taking action in such a circumstance.

“It’s not remotely normal for a president to talk publicly about that, to use language that sounds as if we aren’t making our own decisions about whether to use force — or trusting our own intelligence,” she said. “And it’s completely unprecedented with a country that is not a treaty ally.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, but some national security conservatives were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to know for sure what’s going through the president’s mind,” said John P. Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

But he said his guess was that Mr. Trump “wants the country most affected and threatened by the attack to step up publicly, pin responsibility squarely on Iran and put some real skin into the game by formally requesting that the U.S. and international community come to the defense of Saudi Arabia and global economy.”

That could help mobilize international opinion and perhaps forge a coalition against Iran, “rather than an excuse to do nothing,” Mr. Hannah added.

In his comments to reporters on Monday, Mr. Trump seemed intent on avoiding the perception that he was taking direction from the Saudis. If there is any response to the strikes on the oil facilities, he said, then the Saudis would play a part themselves — if nothing else, by financing it. Which, of course, made it sound like the United States was willing to be, in effect, a mercenary force for the Saudis.

“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something,” he said. “They’ll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

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

Iran Rules Out Meeting Between Trump and Rouhani

Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, Iran’s state-run news media reported.

“Neither is such a plan on our agenda nor will such a thing happen,” Seyed Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference on Monday, according to Fars, a state-run outlet. “This meeting will not be held.”

Mr. Mousavi added that if the United States “stops economic terrorism and returns to the nuclear deal, then they may sit at a corner and be present within the framework of the nuclear deal member states.”

His comments come after an attack on two major oil installations in Saudi Arabia on Saturday further escalated tensions between Iran and the United States. The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who receive support from Iran, claimed responsibility for the strikes, but the Trump administration has accused Tehran of being behind the attack.

On Sunday, American officials cited intelligence assessments to support the accusation, and Mr. Trump warned that he was prepared to take military action.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160685772_b7fa2feb-52d6-4166-87a9-409b28c60fd0-articleLarge Iran Rules Out Meeting Between Trump and Rouhani United States United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Iran General Assembly (UN)

President Trump has refrained so far from directly accusing Iran of the Saturday attacks on Saudi oil facilities, but other administration officials have not.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Earlier, the White House had said that it was not ruling out the possibility of a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations summit. But the events of the weekend have jeopardized any potential for discussion.

The relationship between the two nations has devolved since last year, when Mr. Trump abruptly withdrew the United States from the 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed punishing economic sanctions.

Last week, Mr. Trump said that he was open to the idea of meeting with Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations summit.

But on Sunday, he walked back those statements, saying on Twitter that reports that he was willing to meet with Iran with no conditions were “incorrect.”

Mr. Trump has refrained so far from directly accusing Iran of the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, but other administration officials have not.

Shortly after the attacks on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind what he called “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” and asserted that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” He did not, however, specify an alternative launch site.

Iran has forcefully rejected Mr. Pompeo’s accusation, with the foreign minister dismissing it as “max deceit.”

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

Schumer and Pelosi, Talking to Trump on Guns, Try to Sweeten the Deal

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-guns-facebookJumbo Schumer and Pelosi, Talking to Trump on Guns, Try to Sweeten the Deal United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Second Amendment (US Constitution) Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy mass shootings Law and Legislation House of Representatives gun control firearms El Paso, Tex, Shooting (2019) Dayton, Ohio, Shooting (2019)

WASHINGTON — The top two Democrats in Congress, seeking to ramp up pressure on Republicans to pass legislation extending background checks to all gun buyers, told President Trump on Sunday that they would join him at the White House for a “historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden” if he agreed to the measure.

The offer, made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, during an 11-minute phone conversation with Mr. Trump, comes as the president is considering a package of measures to respond to the mass shootings that have terrorized the nation in recent months. The three spoke only about gun legislation, according to aides.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement that the conversation was cordial but that Mr. Trump “made no commitments” on a House-passed background checks bill that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer are urging him to support.

Mr. Trump “instead indicated his interest in working to find a bipartisan legislative solution on appropriate responses to the issue of mass gun violence,” Mr. Deere said.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer want Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, to take up the bill, but the senator has refused to do so without knowing whether the president would sign it.

The Democratic leaders’ offer to the president was a bit of public posturing; they know that it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will embrace the House bill, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobbying group and a major backer of the president. Polls show that roughly 90 percent of Americans favor extending background checks, and Democrats believe gun safety is a winning issue for them with voters, but Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on the issue.

“This morning, we made it clear to the president that any proposal he endorses that does not include the House-passed universal background checks legislation will not get the job done, as dangerous loopholes will still exist and people who shouldn’t have guns will still have access,” their statement said, adding, “We know that to save as many lives as possible, the Senate must pass this bill and the president must sign it.”

Their pressure continued a campaign on an issue that has dominated the political debate in Washington and on the Democratic presidential campaign trail since a string of mass shootings over the summer.

At last week’s Democratic presidential debate, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who has proposed a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons, declared, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

The comment quickly went viral, playing into the hands of Republicans who fight gun bills by warning that Democrats will violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights. It also turned into a headache for Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are trying to propose what they often describe as “reasonable” gun legislation and are single-mindedly focused on forcing Republicans to take up the background checks bill, having decided to drop a push for an assault weapons ban.

“We know background checks work,” Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of leadership, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “The American people are demanding that we do something. It is no longer safe to be in synagogues and churches and shopping malls and schools.”

After back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Tex., in early August, the White House initiated bipartisan talks with senators to determine what, if any, gun bills they might work on together. Aides to Mr. Trump presented the president with his options last week, but the White House has not said precisely what Mr. Trump is considering.

The talks have included discussion of the so-called Manchin-Toomey bill, a bipartisan Senate measure named for its chief sponsors, Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. That bill is not as far-reaching as the House measure; it would extend background checks only for commercial sales, not for private sales, and includes some exemptions for friends and family members.

A White House official, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations, said on Sunday that the president had instructed his advisers to continue to work to find a range of policies that would go after illegal gun sales while protecting the Second Amendment, and expand the role of mental health professionals.

Senators participating in the talks say they also have included consideration of “red flag” legislation, which would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns from people deemed dangerous by a judge. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is working on such a bill in the Senate.

In arguing for the background checks bill, Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said people subject to such orders might still be able to purchase firearms if the background checks system is not expanded. They vowed in their statement to “accelerate a relentless drumbeat of action to force Senator McConnell to pass our background checks bills.”

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

Despite Turning Down Inauguration Gig, Elton John Has a Recurring Role in Trump’s Presidency

Westlake Legal Group 15dc-elton-facebookJumbo Despite Turning Down Inauguration Gig, Elton John Has a Recurring Role in Trump’s Presidency Trump, Donald J State of the Union Message (US) Republican Party Pop and Rock Music John, Elton Inaugurations Furnish, David J Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

The email was cordial, warm and deferential.

“Thank you so much for the extremely kind invitation to play at your inauguration,” wrote one of President Trump’s favorite musicians, Sir Elton John. “I have given it at lot of thought, and as a British National I don’t feel that it’s appropriate for me to play at the inauguration of an American President. Please accept my apologies.”

Mr. Trump had been hoping Mr. John would croon him into the presidency. He had gone so far as to tell people it was happening even though Mr. John had not yet agreed to such a performance.

The organizers of Mr. Trump’s inauguration had been struggling to find notable musicians to perform at the coming festivities, often considered a high honor. Barack Obama had been able to draw the likes of Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé.

Mr. John, whom Mr. Trump considered something of a friend, joined other celebrities in declining the opportunity to perform.

But for Mr. Trump, the rejection from Mr. John was probably particularly tough to swallow. In multiple books, Mr. Trump had praised Mr. John’s talent and drive. In 2005, Mr. Trump had arranged for Mr. John to perform at his third wedding, to Melania Knauss. Eleven years later, Mr. John sent his carefully-worded email passing on an encore performance, this time at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

“Tiny Dancer,” one of Mr. John’s most well-known songs, still rings out at the president’s rallies, part of a playlist that Mr. Trump personally selects. The president nicknamed the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, “Little Rocket Man,” a homage to the song by Mr. John and a reference to the strongman’s missile tests. When the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, went to a meeting with Mr. Kim, he came bearing an Elton John record. And aides say the president has seen the singer’s biopic, “Rocketman.”

Still, Mr. John’s music has become the soundtrack not just of the Trump rallies but of the Trump presidency itself — a persistent aural reminder of the president’s interest in showmanship and celebrity and his belief that he is never being given proper credit by the news media for what he views as his successes.

While previous presidents have generally measured their victories against those of their predecessors, Mr. Trump prefers comparing himself against an international superstar known for his flashy style.

Mr. Trump was giddy when his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told the crowd at a Manchester, N.H., rally last month that the attendance numbers for the event had bested Mr. John’s ticket sales in the same venue.

“Great news! Tonight, we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena in Manchester, New Hampshire!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

In the days that followed, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked aides if his victory over Mr. John was capturing headlines. It wasn’t. Though aides were not surprised as they did not view the accomplishment as a major story, to the president, it represented an emotional wound — his belief that he is perpetually demeaned and never receives his due, according to people close to him.

It was not the first time that Mr. Trump focused on topping the attendance records of Mr. John, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

In Montana last summer, Mr. Trump asserted he had broken Mr. John’s record at the arena where he appeared — and again complained that he was not getting credit.

“I have broken more Elton John records. He seems to have a lot of records,” Mr. Trump said. “And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No, we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record.”

Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said in an interview that that year, Mr. Trump had pressed him on how big Mr. John’s crowd had been at a concert in Fargo — and was laser-focused on beating those numbers.

During the campaign in 2016, Mr. Trump would blast Mr. John’s music aboard his private airplane so loudly that people could not sleep, according to former campaign aides. And at the time, Mr. Trump’s advisers pointed to his public celebration of Mr. John’s civil union with his partner, David Furnish, in 2005, as evidence of his tolerance toward gay rights. (That support, expressed on Mr. Trump’s now-defunct blog, has been deleted, and the president’s administration has established a track record of repeatedly curtailing rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, targeting transgender people in particular).

Still, when the president was elected, he knew exactly who he wanted to perform at his inauguration. He informed his friend Anthony Scaramucci that Mr. John would play, without waiting for an actual response from the singer, according to Mr. Scaramucci.

“This will be the first American president in U.S. history that enters the White House with a pro-gay-rights stance,” Mr. Scaramucci said on television at the time. “Elton John is going to be doing our concert on the mall for the inauguration.”

Mr. John’s spokeswoman, Fran Curtis, quickly made clear that that was “incorrect.”

A day later, Mr. John sent an email, through Mr. John’s personal assistant, to an official on the inaugural committee.

The musician said that he appreciated that Democrats and Republicans had worked on ending H.I.V. and AIDS, and that he hoped to work with the new president on the issue.

“It’s been my duty be a part of this battle, and I won’t stop fighting the war against AIDS until we have won,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly focused on ending AIDS in his public statements, announcing a plan to end the epidemic by 2030 in his State of the Union address this year. Ms. Curtis did not immediately respond to a question about whether Mr. Trump and Mr. John have continued talking about H.I.V. and AIDS since the inauguration.

Asked about the inauguration email from the singer, Mr. John’s husband, Mr. Furnish, initially denied it existed, saying, “No correspondence sent to President-elect Trump with an apology and no offer was ever made to perform at a U.K. state dinner in the U.S.” When told of the details, which were provided by two people who had seen it, he quickly said it was so far back that no one immediately remembered it, and provided a copy to a reporter.

Mr. John has made clear since then that he wants daylight between himself and Mr. Trump’s politics. Yet in the final sentences of his letter, Mr. John suggested something of a compromise.

“I was honoured to perform at a White House State Dinner for the UK during the Clinton presidency and I would be delighted to do the same for you if the opportunity arises,” Mr. John wrote. “I also want to wish you every success with your presidency. I love America deeply, a country that has always welcomed me and my music with kind, tolerant and open arms.”

So far, no such dinner has been scheduled.

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

Impeachment Inquiry or Just Plain Oversight? It Depends on Who You Ask

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-impeach-facebookJumbo Impeachment Inquiry or Just Plain Oversight? It Depends on Who You Ask United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Nadler, Jerrold impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on the Judiciary Democratic Party Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — An impeachment investigation to potentially try to remove the president of the United States for high crimes and misdemeanors would seem to be fairly clear-cut.

But as the House Judiciary Committee pushed ahead this week with a wide-ranging investigation it said was designed to determine whether to recommend impeaching President Trump, Democrats found themselves tripped up again and again by a seemingly straightforward question: Is what they are doing an impeachment inquiry, or not?

The Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment cases are typically built, insisted it is, and hastened on Thursday to add that he sees no more room for debate. But his Republican counterpart is just as adamant that it is not. And the Justice Department is trying to capitalize on the confusion to argue the panel has no right to any secret evidence the department has that’s relevant to its case.

Those looking on, including some Democrats, have been left scratching their heads.

Which answer is right could matter a great deal for the Democrats and President Trump, though maybe not for the reasons one might think.

Here’s what you need to know about the history of impeachment and the arguments both sides are making.

Democrats are deviating in key ways from the way the House launched the two presidential impeachment inquiries of the modern era.

When the Judiciary Committee was investigating whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon in the 1970s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, it ultimately sought and received explicit authority to conduct each of those inquiries by a vote of the full House.

In this case, the Judiciary Committee led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has neither asked for nor received such a vote.

Instead, Democrats used a court filing and news conference in July, on the day they were leaving Washington for a six-week summer recess, to declare that an investigation that had been going on for months should now be considered primarily one “investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment” against Mr. Trump.

The panel did cast its first impeachment-related vote on Thursday, but while that action may have drawn attention to their work, it did not change the nature of the probe. The action merely adopted formal procedures to govern the inquiry that was already underway.

Mr. Nadler laid out the committee’s views at the outset of Thursday’s vote on investigative procedures, but only after swatting away some of the questions about its work.

“Some have said that, absent some grand moment in which we pass dramatically from ‘concerned about the President’s conduct’ to ‘actively considering articles of impeachment,’ it is hard to know exactly what the committee is doing here. Others have argued that we can do none of this work without first having an authorizing vote on the House floor.”

Not so, he continued. Nothing in House rules or the Constitution, he said, requires any such action. As long as it is considering articles of impeachment, Mr. Nadler contended, the committee has all the authority it needs to designate that work an impeachment investigation or inquiry.

In the Nixon and Clinton cases, Democrats argue, a House vote was necessary to grant the committee special powers it did not already possess during those periods under the standing rules of the House, like the ability to issue subpoenas and conduct depositions. Under the current House rules, the committee already has all of those authorities.

Mr. Nadler and the lawyers have also pointed to past examples of the House Judiciary Committee acting on its own authority to open inquiries and recommend articles of impeachment against judges and other officials and not drawing any complaints.

Under normal circumstances, the distinction might not matter. It does this time because Democrats have asked for the help of the federal courts to obtain grand jury material related to the special counsel’s Russia investigation and speedily secure the cooperation of witnesses. To get it, they have to convince a judge in the coming weeks that they have met the criteria for an impeachment inquiry.

The list of former Trump administration officials whose testimony the committee is seeking seems to grow by the day; on Friday, an aide confirmed that lawyers have initiated negotiations to get Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, to appear. Those talks were first reported by The Washington Post.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, argued over and over at Thursday’s committee hearing that without a House vote authorizing it, the inquiry is merely regular oversight work dressed up to look more menacing than it is. Democrats were choosing to not formalize their inquiry because they do not have the votes they need to do so, he said.

“The ambiguity — the confusion — is a product of my colleagues’ own making, because there is an easy way to know exactly whether this committee is in impeachment proceedings,” Mr. Collins said. “It’s called a vote — a vote of the full House of Representatives.”

The Republicans argue that the Judiciary Committee does not inherently have the authority to conduct a presidential impeachment investigation on its own. The standing rules of the House explicitly outline the panel’s jurisdiction, including the impeachment of judges, but they do not mention presidential impeachments, proving that the two are different, Republicans aides say.

The Justice Department echoed some of those arguments on Friday as it sought to thwart the panel in court. Citing Democrats’ conflicting statements about the nature of the inquiry, the department argued to a federal judge that the Judiciary Committee’s request for grand jury information should be rejected.

The Constitution gives little guidance on impeachment aside from the most basic facts: the House can vote to charge presidents or other officials, and the Senate holds a trial to determine whether to remove the officeholder. It does not dictate what impeachment proceedings should look like, and is completely silent on what, if any, preliminary investigative steps must be taken.

Historians of impeachment and lawyers who have worked for the House or studied its rules have taken that to mean that the chamber is free to decide how to handle the investigative work related to an impeachment inquiry as it sees fit.

“Whatever procedure the House adopts for this impeachment or any other is really up to it,” said Michael J. Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor and an impeachment scholar at the University of North Carolina. “There is no formula.”

Raymond W. Smock, the House’s official historian in the 1980s and 1990s, agreed, noting that there was a long history of rewriting the rule book around impeachment.

But Democrats’ strategy is not without risk. House parliamentarians, nonpartisan aides who help interpret and enforce the rules of the House, would likely make a more conservative recommendation, people who work with them said. If lawmakers want to ensure that a judge will recognize what they are doing as impeachment, it would be better to follow the most well-worn path.

“They can say they are doing it, but what will a judge think, given the precedent in the past?” said Michael Conway, who served as a Judiciary Committee lawyer in 1974 during the Nixon impeachment.

House Democrats have good reasons to avoid a House vote that might land them on firmer legal ground. Unlike in the Nixon or Clinton cases, when the House voted overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis to authorize investigations, a vote now would almost certainly be strictly partisan, potentially sapping the investigation of momentum. It could also deepen rifts among Democrats, given that many moderates in conservative-leaning districts have been reluctant to embrace the idea of impeachment, and there is no guarantee Democrats could secure a majority on the House floor.

Republicans argue that Democrats are moving forward with a not-quite-legitimate impeachment simply to spare their moderates from taking a potentially difficult vote.

“You can have your impeachment and deny it too,” Representative Tom McClintock, Republican of California, needled on Thursday.

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