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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 192)

North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Voters in a Republican-leaning North Carolina congressional district were choosing a new representative on Tuesday in a special election that will test President Trump’s clout ahead of 2020 and Democrats’ ability to make inroads with the sort of suburban voters who propelled them to a majority in the House last year.

Most polls closed at 7:30 p.m. in a race pitting Dan McCready, a Democrat and Marine veteran whose motto is “country over party,” against Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump and who has welcomed the president’s characterization of Mr. McCready as an “ultra liberal” who “really admires socialism.”

Putting his political capital on the line, Mr. Trump campaigned with Mr. Bishop on Monday evening in Fayetteville, in the conservative eastern edge of the district, just hours before polls opened. Vice President Mike Pence also lent a hand on Monday, holding a rally in Wingate, N.C., on Mr. Bishop’s behalf.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160551399_e860c37d-1133-40cb-a1cc-52ea7aed1f9f-articleLarge North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

Dan McCready, a Democrat, is running to flip control of the longtime Republican-held Ninth Congressional District.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

The Ninth District covers part of Charlotte and a number of exurban and rural counties to the east. It has not been represented by a Democrat since the early 1960s, and Mr. Trump won it by nearly 12 percentage points in 2016. But in the midterms of 2018, Mr. McCready, surfing the national anti-Trump mood, ran a close race, losing by 905 votes to the Republican candidate at the time, Mark Harris.

Then came one of the more bizarre plot twists in recent American politics: The state elections board threw out the entire election and ordered a new one after evidence surfaced that Mr. Harris’s campaign had funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme in rural Bladen County.

Mr. McCready, 36, a businessman, decided to keep running, and has now been on the campaign trail for 27 straight months. A centrist, he has been focusing on the issue of health care affordability and criticizing Mr. Bishop for opposing the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Bishop, 55, a Charlotte lawyer, is perhaps best known statewide for sponsoring the so-called bathroom bill that required transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. He boasts of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and he has repeatedly attacked Mr. McCready by lumping him in with the more left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party.

Dan Bishop, the Republican nominee, spoke with supporters and staff in Monroe.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

Mr. Trump has tweeted his endorsement for Mr. Bishop and sent out a fund-raising email on his behalf. In July, Mr. Bishop spoke at Mr. Trump’s rally in Greenville, N.C., in which the crowd responded to the president’s attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born Democrat, with chants of “Send her back!”

The election is effectively the last campaign of the 2018 season, and what alarms national Republicans is how ominously it recalls the midterm elections: As with so many races last year, a centrist Democrat has raised significantly more money than the Republican candidate in a historically conservative district that is now tilting toward the political center because of the suburban drift away from the G.O.P.

And just as in so many of the special elections leading up to Democratic victories, or near-wins, since 2017, local Republicans have beckoned Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence to compensate for the disparity in enthusiasm between the two candidates.

But as officials in both parties recognize, the president is not just a turnout lever for Republicans — he also inspires Democrats and some left-leaning independents.

At Olde Providence Elementary School in Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon, voters moved in and out of their polling place at a steady trickle, braving 93-degree heat and a gauntlet of volunteers for local campaigns who lined the sidewalk outside.

The elementary school is surrounded by a relatively prosperous clutch of neighborhoods in South Charlotte — exactly the kind of place where Mr. McCready needs to rack up votes if he is to score an upset.

Lisa Rockholt, 58, a registered nurse, said she voted for Mr. McCready. She said she typically votes for both Republicans and Democrats, but was fed up with all the available options in the last presidential election, and wrote in her boyfriend’s name.

Ms. Rockholt said she disagreed with Mr. Bishop’s opposition to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in this state. As an R.N., she said, she has seen the toll that a lack of insurance can take on North Carolinians. And she liked Mr. McCready’s talk about keeping down the price of prescription drugs.

But she was mostly motivated by displeasure with Mr. Bishop’s attacking tone.

“I hated Bishop’s constant negative campaigning,” she said, adding that she never really heard what it was that Mr. Bishop stood for through all of the attacks. “It was all negative about McCready.”

Stephanie Dillon exited the polling place with her seven-week-old son, Wells, in a stroller. She considers herself a political independent and she recalled voting for Mitt Romney in a previous presidential election.

Ms. Dillon, 34, might represent a kind of nightmare-scenario voter for Mr. Bishop and Mr. Trump. Her conservatism is of the fiscal and business-friendly variety. She works in human resources, though she is on maternity leave now, and has seen the pressures that businesses must overcome to survive. But this time around, she voted for Mr. McCready.

She is not an immigration hard-liner (Mr. Bishop has referred to himself as “pro-wall”) and she has very few kind things to say about President Trump. “The whole kind of sexist persona totally turns me off,” she said, adding, “Why is he spending his time tweeting to celebrities?”

Chris Daleus, 38, a salesman, tends to vote Republican, but he, too, said he had voted for Mr. McCready. “I just really got a good vibe from him,” he said.

Mr. Daleus was impressed by Mr. McCready’s record of military service. Mr. Daleus also considers himself a libertarian conservative who values personal freedom, and was not a fan of Mr. Bishop’s bathroom bill.

Mr. Trump’s rally in Fayetteville on Monday did not sway Mr. Daleus, even though he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016. Although Mr. Daleus said he likes the president’s tax cuts, and his efforts to keep the country “internally focused,” he bristles at Mr. Trump’s unorthodox comportment. “He seems to have embarrassed us in a lot of ways,” he said.

Caroline Penland, 44, a Republican, said she voted for Mr. Bishop. She is a reliable Republican voter, and a Christian who opposes abortion and favors “keeping God in schools.” She also favors some gun control, after being deeply affected by a 2012 shooting that occurred at the high school from which she graduated.

But now, she said, was not a time to stray from the Republican fold. She voted for Mr. Trump and would do so again. “From an economical standpoint he’s doing really well.”

“First of all, he’s in my party. And I’m going to stick to my party right now,” Ms. Penland said of Mr. Bishop.

Ms. Penland, who works in marketing, also said that Mr. Bishop’s incessant ads targeting Mr. McCready stuck with her. She said her children were even referring to Mr. McCready as “McGreedy,” the epithet used against him in some attack ads.

North Carolina Politics
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Westlake Legal Group merlin_160520076_b90154dd-663a-4e83-b77c-df30cc81e5b0-threeByTwoSmallAt2X North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
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Westlake Legal Group 08dc-northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
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Westlake Legal Group 09carolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
A Rare Do-Over Congressional Election Is a Chance to Battle-Test 2020 Strategies

July 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 31northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 North Carolina’s Special Election to Provide Test of Trump’s Clout United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

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

Five Policy Clashes Between John Bolton and President Trump

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday fired his third national security adviser, John R. Bolton, as their positions on major foreign policy issues clashed, most recently on pursuing a peace plan with the Taliban.

The two men have regularly been at odds over how to take on major foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Mr. Bolton, a longtime national security hawk, held some views that contrasted with Mr. Trump’s, favoring sanctions and pre-emptive military action against some countries even as the president pursued diplomacy.

And on Tuesday, the two men also disagreed on the circumstances of Mr. Bolton’s ouster.

In a midday Twitter post, just 90 minutes before Mr. Bolton was scheduled to join Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for a briefing for reporters, Mr. Trump wrote that, on Monday night, he asked Mr. Bolton to submit his resignation and that Mr. Bolton complied Tuesday morning. But responding to a question from The New York Times via text, Mr. Bolton said he had offered Mr. Trump his resignation “last night without his asking,” and submitted it in the morning.

Here are five countries that prompted policy disagreements between Mr. Trump, who has been reluctant to expand military America’s footprint abroad, and Mr. Bolton during his 17 months in the post.

Most recently, Mr. Bolton was the leading voice against negotiating a peace plan with the Taliban — an idea supported by Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo with the goal of removing American troops from Afghanistan after almost 18 years of war. Mr. Trump went so far as to schedule negotiations to take place at Camp David over Labor Day weekend.

Mr. Bolton had argued that the United States could withdraw some troops from Afghanistan — and keep one of the president’s campaign promises — without making a pact with members of a terrorist group.

Mr. Trump ultimately canceled the meeting, but aides in support of the negotiations blamed Mr. Bolton for public leaks about his opposition.

Mr. Trump views one of his major foreign policy achievements to be the melting of tensions between the United States and North Korea. While Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he was “not happy” that North Korea chose to conduct weapons tests in May, he has played down their significance and said that the tests did not distill his optimism that the two countries could continue negotiations over American sanctions and the North’s denuclearization efforts.

But Mr. Bolton saw no gray area in those tests and declared that they violated United Nations Security Council resolutions.

After Mr. Trump became the first sitting American president to set foot in North Korea when he met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in June, Mr. Bolton reacted angrily to a New York Times report about a possible agreement in which the United States would make concessions in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear activity. Mr. Bolton had long argued that North Korea should dismantle its entire nuclear program before getting any reward. But others in the administration, including the president, were open to considering a step-by-step process.

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Tensions between the United States and Iran have sharply increased. John Bolton, the national security adviser, has long pushed for regime change in Iran. One of his chosen replacements is the dissident group Mujahedeen Khalq, known as M.E.K.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Long before he was Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Mr. Bolton had advocated military action against Iran. Mr. Trump has recently focused on a diplomatic approach to Iran, saying he was willing to meet with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran under the right circumstances. The meeting would be the first of its kind since the Tehran hostage crisis that began in 1979 and ended in 1981.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolton did agree on one major policy decision: withdrawing the United States from the Obama-era nuclear deal in May 2018. Tensions between the two countries have risen due to that decision and the crippling sanctions the United States reimposed on Iran. In June of this year, the president rejected a plan by his advisers, led by Mr. Bolton, to retaliate with military action after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, saying that such an attack would have been disproportionate.

After the United States and allied countries declared that President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian government was illegitimate and threw their support behind the opposition movement led by Juan Guaidó, Mr. Trump grew frustrated that the efforts to push out Mr. Maduro had not met with immediate success.

The Trump administration learned it had less influence in the region than anticipated, leaving the White House-backed opposition in a stalemate with the Maduro government for months. Mr. Trump has questioned his administration’s strategy there, while Mr. Bolton continued to push for more pressure from the United States, and in August said, “now is the time for action.”

As recently as last month, Mr. Bolton assured Ukranians that they would receive support in their conflict with Russian separatists, but the White House has done little to show it backs that promise. In recent days, the White House has delayed a military assistance package for the Ukranian government. And Mr. Trump has privately told aides that he considers Ukraine to have a corrupt government.

Mr. Bolton has also confronted Russia over its election interference, a notoriously touchy subject for Mr. Trump, who sees discussion of it as undermining his legitimacy.

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

What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Voters in a Republican-leaning North Carolina congressional district will choose a new representative on Tuesday in a special election that will test President Trump’s clout ahead of 2020 and Democrats’ ability to make inroads with the sort of suburban voters who propelled them to the House majority last year.

The polls close at 7:30 p.m.

The race pits Dan McCready, a Democrat and Marine veteran whose motto is “country over party,” against Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump and welcomed the president’s characterization of Mr. McCready as an “ultra liberal” who “really admires socialism.”

Putting his political capital on the line, Mr. Trump campaigned with Mr. Bishop on Monday evening in Fayetteville, in the conservative eastern edge of the district, just hours before polls opened. And Vice President Mike Pence also lent a hand on Monday, holding a rally in Wingate, N.C., on Mr. Bishop’s behalf.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160551399_e860c37d-1133-40cb-a1cc-52ea7aed1f9f-articleLarge What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

Dan McCready, a Democrat, is running to flip control of the longtime Republican-held Ninth Congressional District.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

The Ninth District covers part of Charlotte and a number of exurban and rural counties to the east. It has not been represented by a Democrat since the early 1960s, and Mr. Trump won it by nearly 12 percentage points in 2016. But in the midterms of 2018, Mr. McCready, surfing the national anti-Trump mood, ran a close race, losing by 905 votes to the Republican candidate at the time, Mark Harris.

Then came one of the more bizarre plot twists in recent American politics: The state elections board threw out the entire election and ordered a new one after evidence surfaced that Mr. Harris’s campaign had funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme in rural Bladen County.

Mr. McCready, 36, a businessman, decided to keep running, and has now been on the campaign trail for 27 straight months. A centrist, he has been focusing on the issue of health care affordability and criticizing Mr. Bishop for opposing the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Bishop, 55, a Charlotte lawyer, is perhaps best known statewide for sponsoring the controversial so-called bathroom bill that required transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. He boasts of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and he has repeatedly attacked Mr. McCready by lumping him with the more left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party.

Dan Bishop, the Republican nominee, spoke with supporters and staff in Monroe.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

Mr. Trump has tweeted his endorsement for Mr. Bishop and sent out a fund-raising email on his behalf. In July, Mr. Bishop spoke at Mr. Trump’s rally in Greenville, N.C., in which the crowd responded to the president’s attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born Democrat, with chants of “send her back!”

The election is effectively the last campaign of the 2018 season, and what alarms national Republicans is how ominously it recalls the midterm elections: As with so many races last year, a centrist Democrat has raised significantly more money than the Republican candidate in a historically conservative district that is now tilting toward the political center because of the suburban drift away from the G.O.P.

And just as in so many of the special elections leading up to Democratic victories, or near-wins, since 2017, local Republicans have beckoned Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence to compensate for the disparity in enthusiasm between the two candidates.

But as officials in both parties recognize, the president is not just a turnout lever for Republicans — he also inspires Democrats and some left-leaning independents.

With Democrats aggressively banking early votes and Mr. McCready enjoying a sizable fund-raising advantage until outside conservative groups rushed in advertising, Republicans had little choice but to call in 11th-hour reinforcements.

A Republican loss after such a presidential intervention would sow doubts about Mr. Trump’s appeal in a state his re-election campaign is depending on. But it could prove even more worrisome to the House G.O.P. A number of incumbent Republicans were already choosing to retire rather than run again in a year when Mr. Trump will be on top of the ticket and their chances of retaking the majority look increasingly poor.

Were Mr. Bishop to lose or even win narrowly, it might trigger a fresh wave of congressional Republican retirements: 15 House Republican lawmakers have already said they will not seek re-election.

North Carolina Politics
Read more about the special election.
With the Faithful at Trump’s North Carolina Rally: ‘He Speaks Like Me’

Sept. 10, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160520076_b90154dd-663a-4e83-b77c-df30cc81e5b0-threeByTwoSmallAt2X What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
In North Carolina Do-Over Vote, a Reliable Republican District Is Up for Grabs

Sept. 8, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much

Dec. 8, 2018

Westlake Legal Group 09carolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
A Rare Do-Over Congressional Election Is a Chance to Battle-Test 2020 Strategies

July 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 31northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

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

Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices

A draft proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower the federal government to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not only for Medicare but for the private market as well, injecting new urgency into Washington’s efforts to control the soaring price of pharmaceuticals.

The plan would revive an idea loathed by most congressional Republicans but long embraced by Democrats; President Trump expressed support for it during his 2016 campaign. By the time he hits the campaign trail again next year, Mr. Trump wants to persuade voters that he lowered the cost of prescription drugs — an issue that resonates with Americans of all political persuasions and a promise he has made repeatedly.

The speaker’s plan is the latest in a growing constellation of proposals. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to kill them.

A potential curveball is a plan the Trump administration has been working on that would base the price that Medicare pays for some drugs that are administered by doctors, such as chemotherapy and other intravenous infusions, on what other countries, including Canada and Germany, pay for the same medications.

Here is a roundup of where the various proposals stand.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill, expected soon, would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition. The response from the White House will be critically important, as will the reaction from House liberals. Some of them pushed back on an initial proposal to let the Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, decide a drug’s price if the government and manufacturer cannot agree.

Ms. Pelosi apparently listened: a draft of her plan published by The Hill on Monday night did not include that idea. The draft would not only allow the government to negotiate prices for 250 drugs in Medicare, but would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach. A senior Democratic aide said that the draft was “out of date,” adding, “Nothing is being distributed to the caucus yet because the committees are still discussing.”

Ms. Pelosi’s plan would impose a large fee on companies that refuse to negotiate — equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of the drug, according to the draft. But liberals may want to take an even harder line with drug companies. One competing plan, from Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would let another manufacturer produce the drug in question as a generic if a company refused to “negotiate in good faith.”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said the speaker was reaching out widely for input.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160510584_bec2b2c7-2b27-4164-ae6c-6717e3285500-articleLarge Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on Finance Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pelosi, Nancy Medicare Law and Legislation Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.

“I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,” he said of his bill in an interview Monday, “because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”

The House has already passed a package of three bipartisan drug-pricing provisions that restrict anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies, but they were bundled with another measure that would also reverse Trump administration policies intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That turned House Republicans against it and ensured it would go nowhere in the Senate.

The Finance Committee leadership’s bill cleared the panel in late July — but with most Republican members against it. Republicans were particularly concerned with a requirement that drug companies pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation, which some called government price-fixing.

The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.

But opposition is mounting. One conservative advocacy group, the dark-money American Future Fund, has run ads praising Republican members of the Finance Committee who voted against the bill, warning it would usher in “socialist price controls.”

Another bipartisan team, Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, introduced a bill in June that is largely focused on ending so-called surprise medical billing.

But their plan also addresses drug prices. One proposal takes aim at the games pharmaceutical manufacturers play to protect their monopolies and market share. Another seeks to ban so-called pay-for-delay deals in which brand-name manufacturers pay generic companies to delay bringing lower-cost drugs to market. Yet another would tinker with the exclusive six-month sales period that a generic drug maker gets when it is the first to market after a drug loses its patent protection.

The health committee approved the package overwhelmingly in June, but Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray said a Senate vote would be delayed. The bill is facing stiff opposition from doctor and hospital groups because of the piece addressing surprise billing, which happens when patients unwittingly get hospital care from doctors who are not in their insurance network. In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” President Trump told reporters in early July.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Over the summer, the president suffered setbacks on his own efforts to address drug costs: He killed a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries out of concern that it would raise insurance premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

For the past few months, White House budget officials have been honing a more ambitious plan to base Medicare payments for certain drugs administered by doctors on the much lower prices that other countries pay, which the administration has said could bring down prices by 30 percent.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “Why should other nations like Canada — why should other nations pay much less than us? They’ve taken advantage of the system for a long time.”

Perhaps to court Mr. Trump’s support, Ms. Pelosi’s plan includes essentially the same idea, directing the government to base drug prices to the average paid in six other countries.

Despite intense industry lobbying against the idea and opposition from influential members of Congress, including Senator Grassley, it seems most likely that the administration will at least release a proposed rule. In a recent meeting with reporters, Seema Verma, the head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, called it “a top priority for my department,” adding, “We are fast and furious on it.”

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

Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move to annex much of the occupied West Bank if voters return him to power in the election next week, a change that could dramatically reshape the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The move would give the nation “secure, permanent borders” for the first time in its history, he said. But it would also reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu said he wanted to seize what he called the “unique, one-off opportunity” afforded him by the Trump administration, which has expressed openness to Israeli annexation of at least parts of the West Bank.

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By The New York Times

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in Ramat Gan. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Most of the world considers it occupied territory and Israeli settlements there to be illegal.

Battling for political survival, and in a dead heat or slightly behind in the polls against Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief of staff, Mr. Netanyahu has tried mightily to shift the focus of the contest from the corruption cases against him to his strong suit: national security.

He has highlighted Israel’s increasingly overt military campaign against Iranian expansion and even unveiled a new site where he said Iran had pursued nuclear weapons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jerusalem (Israel) Israel elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he wants to swiftly to annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

But Tuesday’s announcement was a daring bid to bring the Palestinian conflict back to center stage in the election campaign. The issue has largely receded from Israeli electoral politics because few voters believe a peace process has any chance.

Mr. Netanyahu said he hoped to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but would move immediately after forming a new government to proceed in the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of territory running along the border with Jordan from Beit Shean in northern Israel to the shores of the Dead Sea.

Days before the previous election, in April, Mr. Netanyahu announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

In so doing — no matter what comes of his promises — Mr. Netanyahu dealt severe blows to rivals to his left and right. Right-wing voters who have supported annexing the West Bank now will be sorely tempted to give Mr. Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt.

Mr. Netanyahu visiting an Israeli army post overlooking the Jordan Valley in June with John R. Bolton, then President Trump’s national security adviser.CreditAbir Sultan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And Mr. Gantz and his fellow former army chiefs in the Blue and White party, who have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, will have a difficult time opposing Mr. Netanyahu, said David Makovsky, an expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Predictably, his opponents dismissed Mr. Netanyahu’s appeal for an election mandate, delivered as it was at a Likud Party news conference, not from the prime minister’s office.

And Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring the decision to annex the Jordan Valley before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had fired John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser, amid fundamental disagreements over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and most recently Afghanistan.

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service.”

Mr. Bolton offered a different version of how the end came in his own message on Twitter shortly afterward. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating.

Responding to a question from The New York Times via text message, Mr. Bolton said it was his initiative. “Offered last night without his asking,” he wrote. “Slept on it and gave it to him this morning.”

Mr. Trump said he would appoint someone “next week,” setting off a process that should reveal where the president wants to take his foreign policy in the remaining time before next year’s election. In the meantime, a White House spokesman said Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, would be his acting adviser.

The national security adviser’s dismissal came so abruptly that it was announced barely an hour after the White House scheduled a briefing for 1:30 p.m. where Mr. Bolton was supposed to appear alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But Mr. Bolton is reported to have now left the White House.

Mr. Bolton’s departure came as Mr. Trump is pursuing diplomatic openings with some of the United States’ most intractable enemies, efforts that have troubled hard-liners in the administration, like Mr. Bolton, who view North Korea and Iran as profoundly untrustworthy.

He spent much of the last week waging a last-minute battle to prevent Mr. Trump from signing off on a peace agreement with the Taliban militant organization, which he viewed as anathema — a deal that the president was preparing to finalize by inviting the Taliban leaders to Camp David.

Mr. Bolton urged Mr. Trump to reject the agreement, arguing that the president could still withdraw troops from Afghanistan to fulfill his campaign promise without getting in bed with an organization responsible for killing thousands of Americans over the last 18 years.

Mr. Trump ultimately did scrap plans for the Camp David meeting and said on Monday that talks with the Taliban were now “dead.” But Mr. Trump’s aides were furious over news stories reporting that Mr. Bolton opposed the Camp David meeting because they saw them as working against the president’s interests.

Vice President Mike Pence’s camp likewise grew angry at news stories reporting that he also opposed the Camp David invitation, seeing it as an effort by Mr. Bolton’s camp to argue that he was not alone in his position. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence publicly denied the reports, and some White House officials said they believed it was the last straw for the president.

Mr. Bolton saw his job as stopping Mr. Trump from making unwise agreements with America’s enemies. “While John Bolton was national security adviser for the last 17 months, there have been no bad deals,” a person close to Mr. Bolton said minutes after the president’s announcement on Tuesday, reflecting the ousted adviser’s view.

To Mr. Bolton’s aggravation, the president has continued to court Kim Jong-un, the repressive leader of North Korea, despite Mr. Kim’s refusal to surrender his nuclear program and despite repeated short-range missile tests by the North that have rattled its neighbors.

In recent days, Mr. Trump has expressed a willingness to meet with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran under the right circumstances, and even to extend short-term financing to Tehran, although the offer has so far been rebuffed. Such a meeting could take place later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

The rift between the president and his national security adviser owed as much to personality as to policy. The president never warmed to him, a dynamic that is often fatal in this White House. Mr. Bolton’s critics inside the administration said he irritated the president by undermining policies even after they were decided.

At its core, the schism reflected a deep-seated philosophical difference that has characterized the Trump presidency. While given to bellicose language, Mr. Trump came to office deeply skeptical of overseas military adventures and promising negotiations to resolve volatile conflicts. Mr. Bolton, however, has been one of Washington’s most outspoken hawks and unapologetic advocates of American power to defend the country’s interests.

To his admirers, Mr. Bolton was supposed to be a check on what they feared would be naïve diplomacy, a cleareyed realist who would keep a president without prior experience in foreign affairs from giving away the store to wily adversaries. But Mr. Trump has long complained privately that Mr. Bolton was too willing to get the United States into another war.

The tension between the men was aggravated in recent months by the president’s decisions to call off a planned airstrike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of an American surveillance drone and to meet with Mr. Kim at the Demilitarized Zone and cross over into North Korea.

Westlake Legal Group all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration-promo-1530825933054-articleLarge Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Bolton, John R Appointments and Executive Changes

The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers and cabinet officials have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

Mr. Bolton favored the strike on Iran and publicly criticized recent North Korean missile tests that Mr. Trump brushed off. After the president arranged the DMZ meeting with Mr. Kim via a last-minute Twitter message, Mr. Bolton opted not to accompany him and instead proceeded on a previously scheduled trip to Mongolia.

Mr. Bolton’s departure caught White House aides and lawmakers off guard. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and a former party nominee for the presidency, called the news “an extraordinary loss for our nation and the White House.” Mr. Romney said he was “very, very unhappy.”

“John Bolton is a brilliant man with decades of experience in foreign policy,” he said. “His point of view was not always the same everybody else in the room. That’s why you wanted him there. The fact that he was a contrarian from time to time was an asset, not a liability.”

But senators who have tried to push Mr. Trump away from foreign intervention were pleased. “The threat of war worldwide goes down exponentially with John Bolton out of the White House,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, told reporters. “I think his advocacy for regime change around the world is a naïve worldview, and I think that the world will be a much better place with new advisers to the president.”

A former under secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, Mr. Bolton, 70, never fully subscribed to Mr. Trump’s courtship of Mr. Kim and privately expressed frustration that the president was unwilling to take more meaningful action to transform the Middle East in the service of American interests.

Mr. Bolton was hamstrung in his ability to steer Mr. Trump in what he saw as the right direction. He also clashed with officials at the Defense Department. At one point, military officials expressed alarm at Mr. Bolton’s requests for contingency war plans.

While in office, Mr. Bolton sought to minimize his differences with the president in public. After Mr. Trump said he would be open to meeting with Mr. Rouhani and even to extending a line of credit to help Tehran get through its financial difficulties while talks proceeded, Mr. Bolton insisted that did not reflect a concession by the president.

“He’ll meet with anybody to talk,” Mr. Bolton told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “He is a negotiator. He is a deal maker. But talking with them does not imply — for President Trump, does not imply changing your position.”

Appointed in spring 2018, Mr. Bolton followed Michael T. Flynn — who stepped down as national security adviser after 24 days and later pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. — and his successor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who never forged a strong connection with the president and was forced out.

In choosing Mr. Bolton, Mr. Trump appreciated his outspoken performances on Fox News and wanted a contrast to the current and retired generals who were perceived as running his foreign policy team. Mr. Bolton also had the strong backing of Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino magnate and Republican megadonor who is a key supporter of Mr. Trump.

Long before Mr. Trump popularized his “America First” slogan, Mr. Bolton termed himself an “Americanist” who prioritized a cold-eyed view of national interests and sovereignty over what they both saw as a fuzzy-headed fixation on democracy promotion and human rights. They shared a deep skepticism of globalism and multilateralism, a commonality that empowered Mr. Bolton to use his time in the White House to orchestrate the withdrawal of the United States from arms control treaties and other international agreements.

With Mr. Trump’s backing, Mr. Bolton likewise helped enact policies meant to pressure the Communist government in Cuba, reversing some but not all of the measures taken by President Barack Obama in a diplomatic opening to the island. Among other things, the Trump administration imposed limits on travel and remittances to Cuba and opened the door to lawsuits by Americans whose property was seized in the revolution in 1959.

But if Mr. Trump’s original national security team was seen as restraining a mercurial new commander in chief, the president found himself sometimes restraining Mr. Bolton. Behind the scenes, he joked about Mr. Bolton’s penchant for confrontation. “If it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now,” one senior official recalled the president saying.

Mr. Trump also grew disenchanted with Mr. Bolton over the failed effort to push out President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Rather than the easy victory he was led to anticipate, the president has found himself bogged down in a conflict over which he has less influence than he had assumed. The political opposition backed by the White House could not turn Venezuela’s military against Mr. Maduro and has been stuck in a stalemate for months.

The divergence between the two men was on display in May during the president’s first trip this year to Japan. After Mr. Bolton told reporters then that “there is no doubt” that North Korean short-range missile launches violated United Nations resolutions, Mr. Trump dismissed the concern, still eager to preserve his strained relationship with Mr. Kim.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” the president told reporters. “I view it differently.”

Mr. Trump likewise repudiated an idea of working to overthrow the government of Iran, a goal Mr. Bolton long advanced as a private citizen. “We’re not looking for regime change,” Mr. Trump said. “I just want to make that clear.”

After Iran was accused in June of damaging two tankers with explosives and then shot down the drone, Mr. Bolton favored a demonstration of force. He facilitated a recommendation by the national security team for an airstrike against Iranian radar and other facilities, which Mr. Trump initially accepted, only to change his mind at the last minute out of what he said was concern over casualties that would result.

Mr. Bolton’s later absence from Mr. Trump’s trip to the DMZ and hourlong meeting with Mr. Kim seemed conspicuous. Mr. Bolton’s staff said he was only following through on his schedule by going to Mongolia, but right or wrong, it was taken as a sign that he was not fully on board with the president’s diplomatic overture to North Korea.

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Pelosi Enlivens Battle to Lower Drug Prices

A draft proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower the federal government to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not only for Medicare but for the private market as well, injecting new urgency into Washington’s efforts to control the soaring price of pharmaceuticals.

The plan would revive an idea loathed by most congressional Republicans but long embraced by Democrats; President Trump expressed support for it during his 2016 campaign. By the time he hits the campaign trail again next year, Mr. Trump wants to persuade voters that he lowered the cost of prescription drugs — an issue that resonates with Americans of all political persuasions and a promise he has made repeatedly.

The speaker’s plan is the latest in a growing constellation of proposals. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to kill them.

A potential curveball is a plan the Trump administration has been working on that would base the price that Medicare pays for some drugs that are administered by doctors, such as chemotherapy and other intravenous infusions, on what other countries, including Canada and Germany, pay for the same medications.

Here is a roundup of where the various proposals stand.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill, expected soon, would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition. The response from the White House will be critical, as will the reaction from House liberals. Some of them pushed back on an initial proposal to let the Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, decide a drug’s price if the government and manufacturer cannot agree.

Ms. Pelosi apparently listened: a draft of her plan published by The Hill on Monday night did not include that idea. The draft would not only allow the government to negotiate prices for 250 drugs in Medicare, but would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach. A senior Democratic aide said that the draft was “out of date,” adding, “Nothing is being distributed to the caucus yet because the committees are still discussing.”

Ms. Pelosi’s plan would impose a large fee on companies that refuse to negotiate — equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of the drug, according to the draft. But liberals may want to take an even harder line with drug companies. One competing plan, from Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would let another manufacturer produce the drug in question as a generic if a company refused to “negotiate in good faith.”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said the speaker was reaching out widely for input.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160510584_bec2b2c7-2b27-4164-ae6c-6717e3285500-articleLarge Pelosi Enlivens Battle to Lower Drug Prices United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on Finance Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pelosi, Nancy Medicare Law and Legislation Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.

“I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,” he said of his bill in an interview Monday, “because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”

The House has already passed a package of three bipartisan drug-pricing provisions that restrict anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies, but they were bundled with another measure that would also reverse Trump administration policies intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That turned House Republicans against it and ensured it would go nowhere in the Senate.

The Finance Committee leadership’s bill cleared the panel in late July — but with most Republican members against it. Republicans were particularly concerned with a requirement that drug companies pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation, which some called government price-fixing.

The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.

But opposition is mounting. One conservative advocacy group, the dark-money American Future Fund, has run ads praising Republican members of the Finance Committee who voted against the bill, warning it would usher in “socialist price controls.”

Another bipartisan team, Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, introduced a bill in June that is largely focused on ending so-called surprise medical billing.

But their plan also addresses drug prices. One proposal takes aim at the games pharmaceutical manufacturers play to protect their monopolies and market share. Another seeks to ban so-called pay-for-delay deals in which brand-name manufacturers pay generic companies to delay bringing lower-cost drugs to market. Yet another would tinker with the exclusive six-month sales period that a generic drug maker gets when it is the first to market after a drug loses its patent protection.

The health committee approved the package overwhelmingly in June, but Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray said a Senate vote would be delayed. The bill is facing stiff opposition from doctor and hospital groups because of the piece addressing surprise billing, which happens when patients unwittingly get hospital care from doctors who are not in their insurance network. In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” President Trump told reporters in early July.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Over the summer, the president suffered setbacks on his own efforts to address drug costs: He killed a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries out of concern that it would raise insurance premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

For the past few months, White House budget officials have been honing a more ambitious plan to base Medicare payments for certain drugs administered by doctors on the much lower prices that other countries pay, which the administration has said could bring down prices by 30 percent.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “Why should other nations like Canada — why should other nations pay much less than us? They’ve taken advantage of the system for a long time.”

Perhaps to court Mr. Trump’s support, Ms. Pelosi’s plan includes essentially the same idea, directing the government to base drug prices to the average paid in six other countries.

Despite intense industry lobbying against the idea and opposition from influential members of Congress, including Senator Grassley, it seems most likely that the administration will at least release a proposed rule. In a recent meeting with reporters, Seema Verma, the head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, called it “a top priority for my department,” adding, “We are fast and furious on it.”

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Trump Fires John Bolton as National Security Adviser

WASHINGTON — President Trump fired John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser, on Tuesday amid fundamental disagreements over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump announced the decision on Twitter. “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”

His departure comes as Mr. Trump is pursuing diplomatic openings with two of the United States’ most intractable enemies, efforts that have troubled hard-liners in the administration, like Mr. Bolton, who view North Korea and Iran as profoundly untrustworthy.

The president has continued to court Kim Jong-un, the repressive leader of North Korea, despite Mr. Kim’s refusal to surrender his nuclear program and despite repeated short-range missile tests by the North that have rattled its neighbors. In recent days, Mr. Trump has expressed a willingness to meet with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran under the right circumstances, and even to extend short-term financing to Tehran, although the offer has so far been rebuffed.

To his admirers, Mr. Bolton was supposed to be a check on what they feared would be naïve diplomacy, a cleareyed realist who would keep a president without prior experience in foreign affairs from giving away the store to wily adversaries. But Mr. Trump has long complained privately that Mr. Bolton was too willing to get the United States into another war.

The tension between the men was aggravated in recent months by the president’s decisions to call off a planned airstrike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of an American surveillance drone and to meet with Mr. Kim at the Demilitarized Zone and cross over into North Korea.

Mr. Bolton favored the strike on Iran and publicly criticized recent North Korean missile tests that Mr. Trump brushed off. After the president arranged the DMZ meeting with Mr. Kim via a last-minute Twitter message, Mr. Bolton opted not to accompany him and instead proceeded on a previously scheduled trip to Mongolia.

The rift between the president and his national security adviser owed as much to personality as to policy. The president never warmed to him, a dynamic that is often fatal in this White House. Mr. Bolton also clashed with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

At its core, the schism reflected a deep-seated philosophical difference that has characterized the Trump presidency. While given to bellicose language, Mr. Trump came to office deeply skeptical of overseas military adventures and promising negotiations to resolve volatile conflicts. Mr. Bolton, however, has been one of Washington’s most outspoken hawks and unapologetic advocates of American power to defend the country’s interests.

A former under secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, Mr. Bolton, 70, never fully subscribed to Mr. Trump’s courtship of Mr. Kim and privately expressed frustration that the president was unwilling to take more meaningful action to transform the Middle East in the service of American interests.

Mr. Bolton was hamstrung in his ability to steer Mr. Trump in what he saw as the right direction. He also clashed with officials at the Defense Department. At one point, military officials expressed alarm at Mr. Bolton’s requests for contingency war plans.

Westlake Legal Group all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration-promo-1530825933054-articleLarge Trump Fires John Bolton as National Security Adviser United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Bolton, John R Appointments and Executive Changes

The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration

Since President Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers and cabinet officials have left in firings and resignations, one after the other.

While in office, Mr. Bolton sought to minimize his differences with the president in public. After Mr. Trump said he would be open to meeting with Mr. Rouhani and even to extending a line of credit to help Tehran get through its financial difficulties while talks proceeded, Mr. Bolton insisted that did not reflect a concession by the president.

“He’ll meet with anybody to talk,” Mr. Bolton told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “He is a negotiator. He is a deal maker. But talking with them does not imply — for President Trump, does not imply changing your position.”

Appointed in spring 2018, Mr. Bolton followed Michael T. Flynn — who stepped down as national security adviser after 24 days and later pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. — and his successor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who never forged a strong connection with the president and was forced out.

In choosing Mr. Bolton, Mr. Trump appreciated his outspoken performances on Fox News and wanted a contrast to the current and retired generals who were perceived as running his foreign policy team. Mr. Bolton also had the strong backing of Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino magnate and Republican megadonor who is a key supporter of Mr. Trump.

Long before Mr. Trump popularized his “America First” slogan, Mr. Bolton termed himself an “Americanist” who prioritized a cold-eyed view of national interests and sovereignty over what they both saw as a fuzzy-headed fixation on democracy promotion and human rights. They shared a deep skepticism of globalism and multilateralism, a commonality that empowered Mr. Bolton to use his time in the White House to orchestrate the withdrawal of the United States from arms control treaties and other international agreements.

With Mr. Trump’s backing, Mr. Bolton likewise helped enact policies meant to pressure the Communist government in Cuba, reversing some but not all of the measures taken by President Barack Obama in a diplomatic opening to the island. Among other things, the Trump administration imposed limits on travel and remittances to Cuba and opened the door to lawsuits by Americans whose property was seized in the revolution in 1959.

But if Mr. Trump’s original national security team was seen as restraining a mercurial new commander in chief, the president found himself sometimes restraining Mr. Bolton. Behind the scenes, he joked about Mr. Bolton’s penchant for confrontation. “If it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now,” one senior official recalled the president saying.

Mr. Trump also grew disenchanted with Mr. Bolton over the failed effort to push out President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Rather than the easy victory he was led to anticipate, the president has found himself bogged down in a conflict over which he has less influence than he had assumed. The political opposition backed by the White House could not turn Venezuela’s military against Mr. Maduro and has been stuck in a stalemate for months.

The divergence between the two men was on display in May during the president’s first trip this year to Japan. After Mr. Bolton told reporters then that “there is no doubt” that North Korean short-range missile launches violated United Nations resolutions, Mr. Trump dismissed the concern, still eager to preserve his strained relationship with Mr. Kim.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” the president told reporters. “I view it differently.”

Mr. Trump likewise repudiated an idea of working to overthrow the government of Iran, a goal Mr. Bolton long advanced as a private citizen. “We’re not looking for regime change,” Mr. Trump said. “I just want to make that clear.”

After Iran was accused in June of damaging two tankers with explosives and then shot down the drone, Mr. Bolton favored a demonstration of force. He facilitated a recommendation by the national security team for an airstrike against Iranian radar and other facilities, which Mr. Trump initially accepted only to change his mind at the last minute out of what he said was concern over casualties that would result.

Mr. Bolton’s later absence from Mr. Trump’s trip to the DMZ and hourlong meeting with Mr. Kim seemed conspicuous. Mr. Bolton’s staff said he was only following through on his schedule by going to Mongolia, but right or wrong, it was taken as a sign that he was not fully on board with the president’s diplomatic overture to North Korea.

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Share of Americans With Health Insurance Declined in 2018

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Fewer Americans are living in poverty but, for the first time in years, more of them lack health insurance.

About 27.5 million people, or 8.5 percent of the population, lacked health insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9 percent the year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first increase since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014, and experts said it was at least partly the result of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine that law.

The growth in the ranks of the uninsured was particularly striking because the economy was doing well. The same report showed the share of Americans living in poverty fell to 11.8 percent, the lowest level since 2001. Median household income was $63,200, essentially unchanged from a year earlier after adjusting for inflation, but significantly above where it was during the Great Recession.

“In a period of continued economic growth, continued job growth, you would certainly hope that you wouldn’t be going backwards when it comes to insurance coverage,” said Sharon Parrott, senior vice president at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

But there was good news in the Census Bureau report for the White House. The decade-long recovery is at last delivering income gains to middle-class and low-income families. After decades of rising inequality, recent wage gains have been strongest for people at the bottom of the earnings ladder, said Michael R. Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“You’re seeing improvements in employment outcomes for people with disabilities. You’re seeing improvements in employment outcomes for the formerly incarcerated,” Mr. Strain said. “These workers who are potentially more vulnerable, you’re seeing the recovery reach them.”

Democrats, however, are likely to highlight evidence that income gains have slowed since President Barack Obama’s final years in office. Median income grew 5.1 percent in 2015 and 3.1 percent in 2016.

And while Tuesday’s report showed the benefits of what now ranks as the longest economic expansion on record, it also showed the limitations of that growth. Median household income is only modestly higher now than when the recession began in late 2007 and is essentially unchanged since the dot-com bubble burst in 2000.

Democrats and Republicans alike have tapped into the sense among many voters that the economy is not working for them.

“It’s two solid economic cycles of struggling to either stay in place or get back out of a hole,” said Arloc Sherman, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “You can see why people would be impatient for real progress.”

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Presidential Power Must Be Curbed After Trump, 2020 Candidates Say

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidates broadly agree that President Trump has shaken the presidency loose from its constitutional limits and say that the White House needs major new legal curbs, foreshadowing a potential era of reform akin to the post-Watergate period if any of them wins next year’s election.

In responses to a New York Times survey about executive power, the Democrats — along with two Republicans mounting primary challenges to Mr. Trump — envisioned a rebuke of his term by enshrining into law previous norms of presidential self-restraint.

Many called for new laws that would require presidents to disclose their tax returns and to divest from significant assets; bar them from appointing close relatives to White House positions; and constrain their abilities to award security clearances and to fire special prosecutors investigating their administration, among other potential reforms.

The survey is the first and most detailed collection of the candidates’ views on a set of issues that they are rarely asked about, yet often prove crucial to the outcome of political fights: the scope and limits of a president’s power to act unilaterally or even in defiance of statutes.

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Executive Power Survey

The Times sent a survey to the presidential candidates about their understanding of the scope and limits of the presidential authority they would wield if elected.

The survey — which elicited answers from 15 Democrats, including all in the top polling tier and eight of the 10 in Thursday’s debate — also focused on recurring constitutional disputes that have arisen under recent presidents of both parties on matters including secrecy and war.

“The American people should fully know how candidates will use the power of the presidency,” Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote, echoing other candidates who agreed that voters should know their views before deciding whom to entrust with the power of the White House.

Presidents have “a responsibility to make sure excess power is not used to start endless wars, attack the privacy of Americans, or undermine the democratic values of our country,” she added.

But though the candidates “seem committed to reforming the presidency,” they might have second thoughts from the vantage point of the Oval Office, said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration who reviewed their responses.

“The next Democratic president will happily accept new rules on tax releases, but will have a harder time accepting constraints on security clearances and emergency or war powers,” he said. “Institutional prerogative often defeats prior reformist pledges.”

Indeed, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. expressed a more expansive view of presidential war powers after eight years in the Obama White House than he did in 2007 during an earlier run for president.



The 2020 candidates agreed on some issues, including that Mr. Bush was wrong to claim after the Sept. 11 attacks that he could override surveillance and anti-torture laws because he was the commander in chief.

But they diverged about others, like whether President Barack Obama’s invocation of the same power was legitimate. Mr. Obama used similar reasoning to disregard a requirement that he give Congress 30 days’ notice before transferring Guantánamo Bay detainees as part of the 2014 Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap.

Senator Kamala Harris, for example, wrote that while a president can lawfully override or bypass statutes that are clearly unconstitutional, she thought the detainee transfer law — along with the surveillance and anti-torture laws — was a constitutional limit that presidents must obey.

“The executive branch is not above the law,” she wrote, adding, “As president, I would respect these laws.”

By contrast, Mr. Biden defended the decision by Mr. Obama — then his boss — to immediately carry out the exchange after the deal was struck instead of waiting 30 days. Obama administration officials argued that a delay would have endangered the captive soldier’s life.

“The transfer of detainees from Guantánamo was an exchange of prisoners in a conflict, and therefore a valid exercise of the commander-in-chief power,” Mr. Biden wrote.

He participated in an earlier iteration of the survey as a senator seeking the 2008 presidential nomination, and his new answers reflected the understanding of executive authority that he gained from watching close up as Mr. Obama wielded it.

In late 2007, for example, Mr. Biden offered a restrictive view of when presidents may unilaterally direct the military to attack other countries, writing: “The Constitution is clear: Except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.”

But in the new survey, Mr. Biden called it “well established” that presidents may launch limited strikes “without prior congressional approval when those operations serve important U.S. interests.”

That legal rationale for ordering limited attacks without congressional approval echoed the Obama administration’s stance during the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011. But the bombing campaign violated a limit on executive war-making powers that both Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden had said they would respect in the 2007 candidate survey.

Importantly, however, Mr. Biden said both then and now that any bombing of Iranian nuclear sites — a prospect in which the scope of unilateral presidential war-making authority has repeatedly come up — would require prior authorization from Congress because it would carry too much risk of escalation into a major war.

Still, several of Mr. Biden’s rivals took a more constrained view, suggesting that a rationale of serving American “interests” is not enough to justify even limited strikes without Congress.

“In situations where the use of force is necessary, absent an imminent threat to our national security, I will take that case to Congress and the American people to seek authorization,” former Representative Beto O’Rourke wrote.

Most candidates left the door open to using presidential signing statements, when approving bills, to claim a right to bypass provisions they see as unconstitutionally infringing on executive powers. But the answers submitted by the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders — which were written in third person — pledged he would never use them.

“Signing statements circumvent the will of Congress and have no constitutional or legal legitimacy,” the response said. “As president, Bernie would not issue signing statements.”

The survey revealed broader disagreements about the wisdom of several other potential reforms raised by Mr. Trump’s record. Significant numbers of candidates stood on both sides of ideas like curtailing future presidents’ latitude to invoke emergency powers and to choose acting agency heads when temporarily filling vacancies.

But the candidates were largely united in rejecting the view of Mr. Trump’s legal team, including Attorney General William P. Barr, that obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents who abuse their official powers to interfere with investigations for corrupt reasons.

Many also expressed skepticism of the Justice Department’s view that sitting presidents are immune from indictment, which bound the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as he weighed Mr. Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation. Most said they would sign a law pausing the statute of limitations for offenses by presidents, ensuring that they can still be prosecuted after leaving office.

But they split over what else to do about it. Several said they would direct the department’s Office of Legal Counsel to rescind its opinion, while others sidestepped that question. Mayor Pete Buttigieg argued that it would interfere with Justice Department independence for a president to simply direct the office, commonly called O.L.C., to change its legal interpretation.

“Because the integrity of the Justice Department is critical to the rule of law, I do not think it would be appropriate for any president to dictate the legal conclusions that O.L.C. may issue or retract,” Mr. Buttigieg wrote.

After The Times began the survey, Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan group of former officials seeking to prevent a decline “into a more authoritarian form of government,” lobbied the candidates to participate. Justin Florence, a former Obama White House lawyer and the group’s co-founder, praised those who answered the questions.

“With democracy in retreat and autocratic politics on the rise here and around the world, this survey provides critical insights into how each candidate understands the limits on the immense powers they’re seeking,” Mr. Florence said.

Several prominent Democratic candidates have not answered the questions. They include Mayor Bill de Blasio; Julian Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary; former Representative John Delaney; and the businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

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