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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 200)

Can $100 Million Buy a Spot at the Debate?

DES MOINES — As Tom Steyer, the billionaire former hedge fund investor and impeachment impresario, made his first trip to Iowa as a 2020 candidate this month, he embarked on the usual political circuit.

He delivered a soapbox speech at the state fair (“We have to break the corporate stranglehold on our democracy,” he said), visited the butter cow (“Not my first butter cow,” he corrected one fairgoer; he had been there last year) and professed his desire to see farm animals.

What was unusual for a man who has never held elected office and who has been running for president for only a few weeks was that people kept recognizing him along the way.

“Hey, it’s the YouTube guy!” one woman shouted as Mr. Steyer strode past. He also heard from several fans of his TV ads, including Catherine Rondema of Portland, Ore., who said she liked his commercials so much that she had timed her Iowa fair visit to hear him speak.

Mr. Steyer has spent $12 million on digital and television ads in only six weeks — more than any other Democratic presidential candidate has spent all year.

Whether Mr. Steyer can become something more than the billionaire buying the ads about how “our democracy has been purchased” is an open question.

His barrage of the airwaves has allowed a political novice to accomplish something that far better known governors, senators and the mayor of America’s largest city have not: luring 130,000 donors and topping 2 percent in three polls, which puts Mr. Steyer one poll short of qualifying for the national debate stage next month. His fortune has allowed him to be a force in the race even as other Democrats — the two-term governors Jay Inslee of Washington and John Hickenlooper of Colorado in recent days — have had to call it quits.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 27steyer1-articleLarge-v2 Can $100 Million Buy a Spot at the Debate? United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Steyer, Thomas F Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Iowa Global Warming Democratic Party Debates (Political) Campaign Finance

Mr. Steyer at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines this month.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

White, male, wildly wealthy and, at 62, older than the next-generation candidates in the field, Mr. Steyer would seem an unlikely messenger for a Democratic Party that is passionately debating racial and gender diversity, generational change and inequalities in American society. But his status as a virtual one-man “super PAC” is already upending the carefully laid strategies of Democratic rivals who must now grapple with the fact that they are unlikely to have the airwaves to themselves.

Running as something of a patrician populist, Mr. Steyer brushed aside the dissonance of someone with his résumé — Exeter, Yale, Stanford, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs — paying for ads that castigate the influence of “the powerful and well-connected.”

“I am the outsider in this race,” Mr. Steyer said in an interview. He described Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont as “part of the establishment” and asked whether the front-runner in the polls, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., really understood what this moment called for.

“The question really is for anybody running, including Vice President Biden, are you aware of how much has to change?” Mr. Steyer said, outlining a two-pronged agenda that would begin with rule changes to curb corporate power followed by significant action to address climate change. He has spent more than $7 million on television so far, according to ad trackers, concentrated in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

He has paid up to $10,000 for one 30-second broadcast spot in Boston, even though the New Hampshire voters he is targeting are a small fraction of the audience. No target audience appears too small. In Iowa, he is saturating viewers of Black Entertainment Television in Cedar Rapids seven day a week with spots as cheap as $11.

One tracking poll this week, from Morning Consult, which does not qualify him for the debate stage, showed him leaping to fifth place in the 21-candidate field, with 6 percent support in those four early states where most of his ads have aired.

His rivals have accused him of simply buying his way in. “The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires,” Ms. Warren said on Twitter the day Mr. Steyer entered the race.

Activists and Democratic officials have generally been muted in their criticism of a top party financier who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade. Many privately acknowledged having received Mr. Steyer’s funds in the past and said hopes for his money in the future had kept them silent.

Amanda Litman, the executive director of Run for Something, which encourages Democrats to pursue local office, said that Mr. Steyer could spend his money however he wished but that it would “go a lot further toward making progress on his goals if he invested in state legislatures.”

“We don’t have as many billionaires as the G.O.P. does,” she said. “We need them all to be in the right fight.”

Mr. Steyer greeting attendees at the Iowa State Fair.CreditJordan Gale for The New York Times

The Steyer campaign has floated a $100 million budget, which is more than the top five Democratic candidates — Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Kamala Harris of California — raised in the second quarter combined.

Mr. Steyer has already outspent his opponents online in a fraction of the time they have been running: pouring $1 million into Google and YouTube ads and $3.9 million on Facebook, peaking at $215,000 a day on the social network.

Mr. Steyer is adding to his ranks, too, hiring state directors in far-flung and often unstaffed states like Vermont, Utah, Alabama and Oklahoma.

If Mr. Steyer qualifies for the September debate before the deadline on Wednesday, he will be the 11th candidate and prevent all of the top contenders from sharing a stage, as the field will be split over two nights. If he falls short, he is on track to qualify for an October debate.

“You underestimate my brother at your peril,” said Jim Steyer, who is one year older. He said that when Tom Steyer was considering running for California governor or senator, Ms. Harris and Gavin Newsom, now the governor, would use him as a back channel to find out about his brother’s plans. “People like Gavin and Kamala, they were always afraid of Tom,” he said.

One big unknown is whether Mr. Steyer will use his financial might to obliterate his opponents with negative ads. Those who have worked with Mr. Steyer describe him as fiercely competitive and used to getting his way.

“He’s been thinking about this for a long time,” Gil Duran, a former Steyer adviser, said. “I don’t think there’s a limit on what he’ll do to try to reach this goal.”

Mr. Steyer himself said he would not rule out negative ads. “Look, there’s something I really care about doing, and I’m going to try really hard to do it,” he said.

Of course, Mr. Steyer’s own record at the company that made him rich, Farallon Capital Management, is likely to receive fresh scrutiny. The company has faced accusations of tax sheltering, and its investments in coal and private prisons could prove problematic. In the interview, he pledged to release his tax returns, though he would not commit to a date other than saying that it would happen before the Iowa caucuses in February.

Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail-level politicking, having fielded questions at town-hall-style events across the country held by his group Need to Impeach.CreditRachel Mummey for The New York Times

For Mr. Steyer, his 2020 run is actually the culmination of a decade of political groundwork as he has reinvented himself from investor to political activist to candidate.

He has spent millions of dollars pressing for the impeachment of President Trump in ads that promoted himself and his group Need to Impeach, while building up an eight-million-strong email list (his campaign must technically rent the list, but that is little more than an accounting concern). And he constructed an environmental advocacy group, NextGen America, with nationwide chapters.

“He’s built an infrastructure that can be turned into working for a presidential campaign,” Kevin Mack, chief strategist for Need to Impeach, said.

Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail politicking, having fielded questions at town-hall-style events held by Need to Impeach across the country. Still, he can be stilted.

At the state fair, Mr. Steyer was pushed by an Iowa farmer, Kyle Gilchrist, about how a $15-an-hour minimum wage would work in rural areas. “I respect you’ve built a 37-million — billion — whatever it is,” Mr. Gilchrist said. “I’m a poor man from Van Buren County.” Mr. Gilchrist said he still baled hay himself. The billionaire lifted the farmer’s T-shirt sleeve to inspect his biceps, nodding in approval.

Mr. Steyer is not a self-funded politician in the centrist mold of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York. In some ways, Mr. Steyer is a liberal occupying the same structural reform space as the progressive leaders, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders. He has embraced decriminalizing the border and expanding the Supreme Court and, as a private citizen, proposed a “wealth tax” on assets of the superrich last fall, before Ms. Warren did.

“Virtually everybody else in this race, including those two senators, comes from D.C., is part of the establishment,” Mr. Steyer said. “So if you think the problem is broken government, which is what I think, if you think that the corporations have bought the government, who do you think is going to reform it? Do you think it’s going to be someone from the grass roots, from the outside, who’s done it for 10 years? Or do you think it’s going to be someone from D.C.?”

If the idea of a wealthy mogul running as an unbought outsider against a rigged system sounds familiar, that is no accident.

“Mr. Trump had a point,” Mr. Steyer said. “I think that’s why he got elected. Because the system is broken. It turns out he’s the biggest stooge there is.” Mr. Steyer’s ads have also argued that, as a billionaire, he has standing to take on Mr. Trump on the economy.

When Mr. Trump came to the Iowa State Fair in 2015, he arrived on his own private plane and brought along a helicopter for joy rides. Mr. Steyer says he only flies commercial for environmental reasons. He also refuses bottled water.

“Personal choice is not going to solve this problem,” he acknowledged, speaking of climate change.

His other personal choice — spending $100 million to try to be president — is why he found himself speeding across the Iowa fairgrounds in the early August heat to catch some 4-H farm animals before his scheduled commercial flight. He broke into a light jog as his son, staff members and a couple of journalists followed in a slow-motion chase.

“Run, Forrest, run,” someone shouted as Mr. Steyer pumped his arms.

His eyes widened when he learned that some Democrats flew private planes on the campaign trail. (“Are other people flying private?” “Like who?” “I’d love to know who’s flying private planes.” “How do you find that out?”)

“There’s a real question here about who takes climate seriously,” Mr. Steyer finally said. “It’s a real question.”

When Mr. Steyer arrived, the barn was empty. “Doggone it,” he muttered to no one in particular.

With that, he and his staff were off to the airport.

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

Deutsche Bank Tells Court It Has Some Tax Returns Related to Trump Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 27deutsche1-facebookJumbo-v2 Deutsche Bank Tells Court It Has Some Tax Returns Related to Trump Inquiry Trump, Donald J Federal Taxes (US) Deutsche Bank AG

Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that it was in possession of some tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued earlier this year to President Trump, his family and his businesses.

In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the German lender wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form).” In the publicly available document, the identities of the people or organizations behind the tax returns were redacted. The full unredacted version was submitted under seal.

The letter was a response to a question posed to lawyers for two financial institutions — Deutsche Bank and Capital One — that were issued subpoenas by two House committees in April.

Capital One, which also responded on Tuesday, said it “does not possess any tax returns responsive to the Capital One subpoena.”

The subpoenas request documents related to Mr. Trump’s businesses, his in-laws, his children and even his grandchildren from Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump’s primary lender over the past two decades, and Capital One, where he has also kept some of his money.

Mr. Trump, his company and his three eldest children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — filed a lawsuit to block the banks from complying, but a federal judge denied the family’s request in May.

On Friday, a three-judge appeals court panel heard arguments from lawyers for Mr. Trump and the two Democrat-controlled committees that issued the subpoenas, the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

During the hearing, the panel asked whether the banks had Mr. Trump’s tax returns, and the lawyers said they would provide more information to the court via letter.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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Call Me Maybe? Conflicting Views Show Gap Between U.S. and China

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-calls-facebookJumbo Call Me Maybe? Conflicting Views Show Gap Between U.S. and China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market Dow Jones Stock Average Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

WASHINGTON — The trade conflict between the United States and China has become so caustic that the two countries cannot even agree if they are talking.

President Trump jolted markets and left world leaders scratching their heads on Monday when he said at the Group of 7 summit in France that senior Chinese officials had phoned his advisers over the weekend to engage in trade negotiations. The alleged overtures would have come hours after Mr. Trump raised tariffs on Chinese imports and labeled President Xi Jinping an “enemy” of America in a tweet.

China said the calls never happened.

The back and forth capped a whiplash-inducing 72 hours in the trade war as Mr. Trump alternately suggested he was doubling down in his fight against China while offering hope that trade negotiations were continuing.

It also left Mr. Trump’s top economic aides straining to back up the president without contradicting him. Pressed about the calls on Monday before a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Mr. Trump said that Liu He, China’s vice premier, had reached out to his team. The president called on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was sitting next to him, to verify the call.

Choosing his words carefully, Mr. Mnuchin pointed to a public statement that Mr. Liu had made at a conference in China on Monday, when he called for calm negotiations, and said, “We’ve been communicating through intermediaries back and forth with him.”

Mr. Mnuchin later added that “there has been communication going on” but would not comment on any phone calls.

Press officers for the Treasury Department and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, who usually confirm such calls, did not respond to requests for comment or clarification.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, said he still knew nothing of the conversations.

“I have not heard of this situation regarding the two calls that the U.S. mentioned in the weekend,” he said during a news conference.

Mr. Trump has a long history of citing telephone overtures from unnamed callers to buttress an argument or generate a sense of support for something he is trying to accomplish.

When Mr. Trump faced criticism for espousing anti-Muslim policies during the 2016 presidential campaign, he said on Fox News that “I get calls from many people thanking me, who are Muslim.” As recently as last month, when Mr. Trump decided to insert himself in the effort to get the rapper ASAP Rocky released from police custody in Sweden, he said he was responding to calls from African-Americans.

“Many, many members of the African-American community have called me — friends of mine — and said, ‘Could you help?’” he said.

The confusion over the China calls left commentators in the United States and China grasping for answers about whether one side was lying or if something was lost in translation.

Hu Xijin, the editor of China’s Global Times publication, suggested that conversations between low-level officials in both countries were being overblown by Mr. Trump.

“Based on what I know, Chinese and US top negotiators didn’t hold phone talks in recent days,” he said on Twitter. “The two sides have been keeping contact at technical level, it doesn’t have significance that President Trump suggested.”

Jim Cramer, the CNBC television host, said it did not matter if Mr. Trump was being honest about the phone calls because the president suggested he wanted talks with China to continue.

“Everyone is so focused on whether he’s lying, they’re not even listening to what he’s saying,” Mr. Cramer said. “What he’s saying is, ‘Hey, I’ll deal.’ People are so obtuse.”

It is possible that Mr. Trump was trying to give a lift to markets this week after stocks plunged on Friday amid news that China and the United States were both ratcheting up tariffs. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both climbed by more than 1 percent on Monday, and analysts attributed part of the rise to positive trade comments.

But some analysts said the relatively modest uptick showed that investors were not going to be mollified by Mr. Trump’s offhand statements given how quickly his views tend to shift.

For instance, Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he had second thoughts about escalating the trade dispute with China, only to have the White House press secretary release a statement hours later claiming that he had regrets only about not raising tariffs higher.

“It’s absurd to think that senior Chinese officials would call, looking to restart high-level talks, just two days after Mr. Trump raised tariffs on Chinese imports yet again, and then expressed regret that he had not raised them further,” Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Henrietta Treyz, the director of economic policy research at Veda Partners, said on Tuesday that major investors tuned out Mr. Trump’s comments about telephone calls because they assumed that the two sides were in continuous dialogue to end the trade war.

They are paying less attention to remarks that lack specificity from American officials, she said, because Mr. Trump, Mr. Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, have made many comments that turned out not to be true, including China’s agreement to buy more farm products.

Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Kudlow are “having much less effect on pumping the market as they used to, and Trump as well,” Ms. Treyz said.

Still, Ms. Treyz said that it was impossible for investors to ignore the president and that the volatility of his policy moves was unsettling markets.

“It makes short-term investing a nightmare and long-term investment draining,” she said.

The volatility is unlikely to stabilize anytime soon. Mr. Trump made clear this week that he views his ability to sow instability as a feature rather than a bug.

“It’s the way I negotiate,” Mr. Trump said at his closing Group of 7 news conference. “It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”

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

Fed Could Hit Back at Trump, a Former Top Official Suggests

WASHINGTON — A former top Federal Reserve official implied that the central bank should consider allowing President Trump’s trade war to hurt his 2020 election chances, an assertion that drew a firestorm of criticism and a rare pushback from the Fed itself.

William Dudley, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now a research scholar at Princeton University, said in a Bloomberg Opinion piece that “Trump’s re-election arguably presents a threat to the U.S. and global economy.” Mr. Dudley added that “if the goal of monetary policy is to achieve the best long-term economic outcome, then Fed officials should consider how their decisions will affect the political outcome in 2020.”

It is a controversial statement, particularly coming from an official who ranked among the Fed’s most powerful policymakers as recently as 2018. It also comes at a sensitive moment for the Fed, which has been under attack from Mr. Trump and trying to assert its independence from the White House and politics in general.

“The Federal Reserve’s policy decisions are guided solely by its congressional mandate to maintain price stability and maximum employment,” Michelle Smith, a Fed spokeswoman, said when asked about the column. “Political considerations play absolutely no role.”

Mr. Trump has waged a yearlong campaign to pressure the Fed to cut rates, accusing the central bank of hurting the economy by keeping rates too high and putting the United States at a disadvantage to other nations, like China and Germany.

“The Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world,” Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Has anyone looked at what almost all other countries are doing to take advantage of the good old USA? Our Fed has been calling it wrong for too long!”

The attacks have put the Fed on the defensive, prompting top officials including Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, to insist that the central bank sets policy to achieve economic goals without taking politics into account.

The Fed cut rates for the first time in more than a decade in July and has kept the door open to future cuts, with Mr. Powell saying the central bank is prepared to act to protect the economy against slowing global growth and as Mr. Trump’s trade fights stoke uncertainty.

Mr. Dudley essentially said the Fed should wade into politics, arguing that the central bank should consider the political ramifications of the policy decisions it makes. By lowering interest rates to offset economic harm caused by Mr. Trump’s trade war with China, Mr. Dudley said the central bank could give the White House room to ramp up trade tensions.

“The central bank’s efforts to cushion the blow might not be merely ineffectual,” he wrote. “They might actually make things worse.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158555928_53e2861c-d51c-47ff-a42b-8e322197baeb-articleLarge Fed Could Hit Back at Trump, a Former Top Official Suggests United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 International Trade and World Market Interest Rates Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Conditions and Trends Dudley, William C Banking and Financial Institutions

The opinion piece comes as the Fed has been under attack from Mr. Trump and trying to assert its independence from the White House and politics in general.CreditLexey Swall for The New York Times

Fed watchers responded to Mr. Dudley’s piece with widespread concern, asserting that it could feed conspiracy theories that the central bank is trying to influence political outcomes.

“The Fed for decades has scrupulously avoided doing that, and has tried to avoid giving that perception,” said Adam Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “And this isn’t some ‘deep state’ fake: They genuinely don’t want to get into it, because ultimately they are accountable to Congress.”

Mr. Trump announced an escalation of the trade war with China just a day after the Fed cut rates in July, and the concern that Fed policy is enabling the tariffs is often repeated by analysts. Michael Strain at the American Enterprise Institute said it was a valid point to raise and consider.

But Mr. Strain pushed back against the idea that the Fed’s policymakers should try to guide political outcomes.

“It’s wildly irresponsible,” he said. “The Fed is not elected; it is appointed. It has a responsibility to adhere to a narrow reading of its mandate.”

The central bank’s leadership consists of 12 regional presidents, who are selected by businesspeople and community leaders from their districts and who share four annually rotating votes on interest rates. The New York Fed president is the most powerful regional leader and has a constant vote on policy.

The rate-setting committee also includes seven governors who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Only five of those positions are currently filled, although Mr. Trump has said he intends to nominate another two members to the Fed.

The Fed does not answer to the White House by design: It is removed from politics so that it will make better long-term decisions for the economy, rather than trying to goose the economy going into election years. It is, however, responsible to Congress, which can change the rules that govern it.

That insulation has, historically, helped to fuel criticism that the Fed is removed from the public and in the pocket of bankers. The central bank has long been the target of conspiracy theories, and popular books about it have borne titles like “Secrets of the Temple.”

More recently, the president has placed the central bank firmly in political cross hairs. In a Twitter post last week, he asked whether Mr. Powell or President Xi Jinping of China was a “bigger enemy” of the United States. Mr. Trump has reportedly considered firing or demoting Mr. Powell in the past, and he recently told reporters that he would accept Mr. Powell’s resignation if it were offered.

Despite that pressure campaign, Fed officials have repeatedly pushed back against the idea that they would in any way take the White House’s comments or potential actions into account when setting policy.

“We’re never going to take political considerations into account or discuss them as part of our work,” Mr. Powell said at a news conference in January. “We’re human. We make mistakes. But we’re not going to make mistakes of character or integrity.”

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

Tom Steyer Is Spending Millions to Get Money Out of Politics

DES MOINES — As Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire former hedge funder and impeachment impresario, made his first trip to Iowa as a 2020 candidate this month, he embarked on the usual political circuit.

He delivered a soapbox speech at the state fair (“We have to break the corporate stranglehold on our democracy,” he said), visited the butter cow (“Not my first butter cow,” he corrected one fairgoer; he had been last year), sipped lemonade and professed his desire to see farm animals.

What was unusual for a man who has never held elected office and been running for president for only a few weeks was that people kept recognizing him along the way.

“Hey, it’s the YouTube guy!” one woman shouted as Mr. Steyer strode past.

He is the television guy, too. Mr. Steyer has spent $12 million on digital and television ads in only six weeks — more than any other Democrat has spent all year — often featuring him speaking straight into the camera.

“Your commercials make sense,” John Brinkmeyer of Hubbard, Iowa, told him. “They’re not the ones I turn off,” said Mike Poe of Marshalltown, Iowa. Catherine Rondema almost squealed when she spotted Mr. Steyer. She had come to Des Moines all the way from Portland, Ore., and had timed her fair visit to hear him speak. “I appreciate his commercials,” she explained.

Whether Mr. Steyer can become something more than the billionaire buying the ads about how “our democracy has been purchased” is an open question.

He is one poll away from becoming the 11th candidate to qualify for the September Democratic debate ahead of a Wednesday deadline. If he qualifies, he will prevent all the top contenders from sharing the same stage, as the field will be split over two nights. If he falls short, he is on track to make the stage in October.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 27steyer1-articleLarge-v2 Tom Steyer Is Spending Millions to Get Money Out of Politics United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Steyer, Thomas F Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Iowa Global Warming Democratic Party Debates (Political) Campaign Finance

Mr. Steyer at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Older, white, male and wildly wealthy, Mr. Steyer would seem an unlikely messenger for a Democratic Party passionately debating racial and gender diversity, generational change and inequalities in American society. But his status as a virtual one-man “super PAC” is already upending the carefully laid strategies of Democratic rivals who now must grapple with the fact that they are unlikely to have the airwaves to themselves in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Running as something of a patrician populist, Mr. Steyer brushed aside the dissonance of someone with his résumé — Exeter, Yale, Stanford, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, his own hedge fund — flooding the airwaves with ads that castigate the influence of “the powerful and well-connected.”

“I am the outsider in this race,” Mr. Steyer said in an interview. He described Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as “part of the establishment” and asked if the front-runner in the polls, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., really understood what this moment called for.

“The question really is for anybody running, including Vice President Biden, are you aware of how much has to change?” Mr. Steyer said, outlining a two-pronged agenda that would begin with rule changes to curb corporate power followed by significant action to address climate change.

In a fraction of the time, Mr. Steyer has already outspent his opponents online: $1 million on Google and $3.9 million on Facebook, peaking at $215,000 a day on Facebook as he sought the 130,000 donors needed to qualify for the next debate.

His rivals, including Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, have accused him of simply buying his way in. The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires,” Ms. Warren tweeted the day Mr. Steyer entered the race.

Activists and Democratic officials have generally been muted in their criticism of a top financier who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on political causes in the past decade. Many privately acknowledged having received Mr. Steyer’s funds in the past, or hope to in the future, and said that was part of why they are not speaking publicly against him.

Amanda Litman, the executive director of Run for Something, which encourages Democrats to pursue local office, said that Mr. Steyer could spend his money however he wished — “it’s his money!” — but that it would “go a lot further toward making progress on his goals if he invested in state legislatures.”

“We don’t have as many billionaires as the G.O.P. does — we need them all to be in the right fight,” Ms. Litman said.

Mr. Steyer greeting attendees at the Iowa State Fair.CreditJordan Gale for The New York Times

The Steyer campaign has floated a $100 million campaign budget, which is more than the top five candidates for the Democratic nomination — Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris — raised in the second quarter combined.

He has paid up to $10,000 for a single 30-second spot on broadcast television in Boston, even though the New Hampshire voters he is targeting are only a small fraction of the station’s audience. In Iowa, no target audience appears too small: He is saturating viewers of Black Entertainment Television in Cedar Rapids, for instance, with spots as cheap as $11 that are running seven days a week, according to Federal Communications Commission records.

Mr. Steyer is staffing up, too. His website currently lists roughly 90 job openings, including state directors in far-flung and often unstaffed states like Vermont, Utah, Alabama and Oklahoma.

“Most of the insiders, they don’t have a clue how much money he can spend. They just don’t,” said Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who has seen Mr. Steyer’s spending up close in California, where Mr. Steyer has bankrolled ballot measures against the oil and tobacco industries.

“You underestimate my brother at your peril,” said Jim Steyer, who is one year older. Jim said that when Tom considered runs for California governor or senator, Ms. Harris and Gavin Newsom, now the governor, would use him as a back channel to find out about his brother’s plans. “People like Gavin and Kamala, they were always afraid of Tom.”

One big unknown is whether Mr. Steyer will use his financial might to obliterate his opponents with negative ads. Those who have worked with Mr. Steyer describe him as a fiercely competitive man used to getting his way.

“He’s been thinking about this for a long time,” said Gil Duran, a former Steyer adviser. “I don’t think there’s a limit on what he’ll do to try to reach this goal.”

Mr. Steyer himself said he would not rule out negative ads, regardless of criticism he might face from the party. “Look, there’s something I really care about doing and I’m going to try really hard to do it,” he said.

He spoke with the confidence of someone who had confronted few failures, and predicted his presence on the debate stage without elaboration. “You’re asking me,” he said. “I’m answering.”

Of course, Mr. Steyer’s own record at the company that made him rich, Farallon Capital Management, is likely to be subjected to fresh scrutiny, from tax sheltering to investments in coal and private prisons. In the interview, he pledged to release his tax returns, though he would not commit to a date other than that it would be before the Iowa caucuses in February.

Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail-level politicking, having fielded questions at town hall events around the country held by his group Need to Impeach.CreditRachel Mummey for The New York Times

For Mr. Steyer, his 2020 run is actually the culmination of a decade of political groundwork, as he has reinvented himself, from investor to political philanthropist and activist to candidate.

He has spent millions pressing for the impeachment of President Trump in television ads that promoted himself and his group Need to Impeach, while building up an eight-million-strong email list he can now pay to access (his campaign must technically rent the list, but that is little more than an accounting concern). And he constructed an environmental advocacy group, NextGen America, with chapters across the nation.

“He’s built an infrastructure that can be turned into working for a presidential campaign,” said Kevin Mack, chief strategist for Need to Impeach.

More than most first-time candidates, Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail-level politicking, having fielded questions at town hall events around the country held by Need to Impeach. Still, he can be stilted.

At the state fair, Mr. Steyer was pushed by an Iowa farmer about how a $15-an-hour minimum wage would work in rural areas. “I respect you’ve built a 37-million — billion — whatever it is,” the farmer, Kyle Gilchrist, said. “I’m a poor man from Van Buren County.” Mr. Gilchrist said he still baled hay himself. The billionaire lifted the farmer’s T-shirt sleeve to inspect his biceps, nodding in approval.

Mr. Steyer is not a self-funded politician in the centrist mold of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. In some ways, Mr. Steyer is a liberal occupying the same structural reform space as the progressive leaders in the polls, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders. He has embraced decriminalizing the border, expanding the Supreme Court and, as a private citizen, proposed a “wealth tax” on assets of the super rich last fall, before Ms. Warren did.

“Virtually everybody else in this race, including those two senators, comes from D.C., is part of the establishment,” Mr. Steyer said. “So if you think the problem is broken government, which is what I think, if you think that the corporations have bought the government, who do you think is going to reform it? Do you think it’s going to be someone from the grass roots, from the outside, who’s done it for 10 years? Or do you think it’s going to be someone from D.C.? It’s a fair question.”

If the idea of a wealthy mogul running as an unbought outsider against a rigged system and the political establishment sounds familiar, that is no accident.

“Mr. Trump had a point,” Mr. Steyer said. “I think that’s why he got elected. Because the system is broken. It turns out he’s the biggest stooge there is. His ads have also made an electability argument — that as a billionaire he has the standing to take on Mr. Trump on the economy.

When Mr. Trump came to the Iowa State Fair, in 2015, he arrived on his own private plane and brought along a helicopter for joy rides. Mr. Steyer said he only flies commercial for environmental reasons. He also refuses bottled water.

“Personal choice is not going to solve this problem,” he acknowledged, speaking of climate change. He said he had looked up exactly how much carbon he would have to sequester at his California ranch to offset the emissions from one private flight.

Back in January, Mr. Steyer’s personal choice had been to fly to Iowa and announce that he was not running for president. He reversed himself in July — “couldn’t sleep,” he explained — and is choosing to pour $100 million into running for president.

Which is why in the early August Iowa heat Mr. Steyer found himself belatedly speeding across the state fairgrounds — to see those 4-H farm animals he had been talking up for hours — before his scheduled commercial flight. He broke into a light jog, as his son, staff members and a couple of journalists followed in a slow-motion chase.

“Run, Forrest, run,” someone shouted as Mr. Steyer pumped his arms.

His eyes widened when he learned that some Democrats fly private planes on the trail. (“Are other people flying private?” “Like who?” “I’d love to know who’s flying private planes.” “How do you find that out?”)

“There’s a real question here about who takes climate seriously,” Mr. Steyer finally said. “It’s a real question.”

When Mr. Steyer arrived at the cattle barn, it was empty. “Doggone it,” he muttered to no one in particular.

With that, he and his staff were off to the airport.

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

A Tom Steyer Debate Spot Is in Limbo. His Money Is Poised to Upend 2020 Anyway.

DES MOINES — As Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire former hedge funder and impeachment impresario, made his first trip to Iowa as a 2020 candidate this month, he embarked on the usual political circuit.

He delivered a soapbox speech at the state fair (“We have to break the corporate stranglehold on our democracy,” he said), visited the butter cow (“Not my first butter cow,” he corrected one fairgoer; he had been last year), sipped lemonade and professed his desire to see farm animals.

What was unusual for a man who has never held elected office and been running for president for only a few weeks was that people kept recognizing him along the way.

“Hey, it’s the YouTube guy!” one woman shouted as Mr. Steyer strode past.

He is the television guy, too. Mr. Steyer has spent $12 million on digital and television ads in only six weeks — more than any other Democrat has spent all year — often featuring him speaking straight into the camera.

“Your commercials make sense,” John Brinkmeyer of Hubbard, Iowa, told him. “They’re not the ones I turn off,” said Mike Poe of Marshalltown, Iowa. Catherine Rondema almost squealed when she spotted Mr. Steyer. She had come to Des Moines all the way from Portland, Ore., and had timed her fair visit to hear him speak. “I appreciate his commercials,” she explained.

Whether Mr. Steyer can become something more than the billionaire buying the ads about how “our democracy has been purchased” is an open question.

He is one poll away from becoming the 11th candidate to qualify for the September Democratic debate ahead of a Wednesday deadline. If he qualifies, he will prevent all the top contenders from sharing the same stage, as the field will be split over two nights. If he falls short, he is on track to make the stage in October.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 27steyer1-articleLarge-v2 A Tom Steyer Debate Spot Is in Limbo. His Money Is Poised to Upend 2020 Anyway. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Steyer, Thomas F Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Iowa Global Warming Democratic Party Debates (Political) Campaign Finance

Mr. Steyer at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Older, white, male and wildly wealthy, Mr. Steyer would seem an unlikely messenger for a Democratic Party passionately debating racial and gender diversity, generational change and inequalities in American society. But his status as a virtual one-man “super PAC” is already upending the carefully laid strategies of Democratic rivals who now must grapple with the fact that they are unlikely to have the airwaves to themselves in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Running as something of a patrician populist, Mr. Steyer brushed aside the dissonance of someone with his résumé — Exeter, Yale, Stanford, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, his own hedge fund — flooding the airwaves with ads that castigate the influence of “the powerful and well-connected.”

“I am the outsider in this race,” Mr. Steyer said in an interview. He described Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as “part of the establishment” and asked if the front-runner in the polls, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., really understood what this moment called for.

“The question really is for anybody running, including Vice President Biden, are you aware of how much has to change?” Mr. Steyer said, outlining a two-pronged agenda that would begin with rule changes to curb corporate power followed by significant action to address climate change.

In a fraction of the time, Mr. Steyer has already outspent his opponents online: $1 million on Google and $3.9 million on Facebook, peaking at $215,000 a day on Facebook as he sought the 130,000 donors needed to qualify for the next debate.

His rivals, including Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, have accused him of simply buying his way in. The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires,” Ms. Warren tweeted the day Mr. Steyer entered the race.

Activists and Democratic officials have generally been muted in their criticism of a top financier who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on political causes in the past decade. Many privately acknowledged having received Mr. Steyer’s funds in the past, or hope to in the future, and said that was part of why they are not speaking publicly against him.

Amanda Litman, the executive director of Run for Something, which encourages Democrats to pursue local office, said that Mr. Steyer could spend his money however he wished — “it’s his money!” — but that it would “go a lot further toward making progress on his goals if he invested in state legislatures.”

“We don’t have as many billionaires as the G.O.P. does — we need them all to be in the right fight,” Ms. Litman said.

Mr. Steyer greeting attendees at the Iowa State Fair.CreditJordan Gale for The New York Times

The Steyer campaign has floated a $100 million campaign budget, which is more than the top five candidates for the Democratic nomination — Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris — raised in the second quarter combined.

He has paid up to $10,000 for a single 30-second spot on broadcast television in Boston, even though the New Hampshire voters he is targeting are only a small fraction of the station’s audience. In Iowa, no target audience appears too small: He is saturating viewers of Black Entertainment Television in Cedar Rapids, for instance, with spots as cheap as $11 that are running seven days a week, according to Federal Communications Commission records.

Mr. Steyer is staffing up, too. His website currently lists roughly 90 job openings, including state directors in far-flung and often unstaffed states like Vermont, Utah, Alabama and Oklahoma.

“Most of the insiders, they don’t have a clue how much money he can spend. They just don’t,” said Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who has seen Mr. Steyer’s spending up close in California, where Mr. Steyer has bankrolled ballot measures against the oil and tobacco industries.

“You underestimate my brother at your peril,” said Jim Steyer, who is one year older. Jim said that when Tom considered runs for California governor or senator, Ms. Harris and Gavin Newsom, now the governor, would use him as a back channel to find out about his brother’s plans. “People like Gavin and Kamala, they were always afraid of Tom.”

One big unknown is whether Mr. Steyer will use his financial might to obliterate his opponents with negative ads. Those who have worked with Mr. Steyer describe him as a fiercely competitive man used to getting his way.

“He’s been thinking about this for a long time,” said Gil Duran, a former Steyer adviser. “I don’t think there’s a limit on what he’ll do to try to reach this goal.”

Mr. Steyer himself said he would not rule out negative ads, regardless of criticism he might face from the party. “Look, there’s something I really care about doing and I’m going to try really hard to do it,” he said.

He spoke with the confidence of someone who had confronted few failures, and predicted his presence on the debate stage without elaboration. “You’re asking me,” he said. “I’m answering.”

Of course, Mr. Steyer’s own record at the company that made him rich, Farallon Capital Management, is likely to be subjected to fresh scrutiny, from tax sheltering to investments in coal and private prisons. In the interview, he pledged to release his tax returns, though he would not commit to a date other than that it would be before the Iowa caucuses in February.

Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail-level politicking, having fielded questions at town hall events around the country held by his group Need to Impeach.CreditRachel Mummey for The New York Times

For Mr. Steyer, his 2020 run is actually the culmination of a decade of political groundwork, as he has reinvented himself, from investor to political philanthropist and activist to candidate.

He has spent millions pressing for the impeachment of President Trump in television ads that promoted himself and his group Need to Impeach, while building up an eight-million-strong email list he can now pay to access (his campaign must technically rent the list, but that is little more than an accounting concern). And he constructed an environmental advocacy group, NextGen America, with chapters across the nation.

“He’s built an infrastructure that can be turned into working for a presidential campaign,” said Kevin Mack, chief strategist for Need to Impeach.

More than most first-time candidates, Mr. Steyer has some experience in retail-level politicking, having fielded questions at town hall events around the country held by Need to Impeach. Still, he can be stilted.

At the state fair, Mr. Steyer was pushed by an Iowa farmer about how a $15-an-hour minimum wage would work in rural areas. “I respect you’ve built a 37-million — billion — whatever it is,” the farmer, Kyle Gilchrist, said. “I’m a poor man from Van Buren County.” Mr. Gilchrist said he still baled hay himself. The billionaire lifted the farmer’s T-shirt sleeve to inspect his biceps, nodding in approval.

Mr. Steyer is not a self-funded politician in the centrist mold of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. In some ways, Mr. Steyer is a liberal occupying the same structural reform space as the progressive leaders in the polls, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders. He has embraced decriminalizing the border, expanding the Supreme Court and, as a private citizen, proposed a “wealth tax” on assets of the super rich last fall, before Ms. Warren did.

“Virtually everybody else in this race, including those two senators, comes from D.C., is part of the establishment,” Mr. Steyer said. “So if you think the problem is broken government, which is what I think, if you think that the corporations have bought the government, who do you think is going to reform it? Do you think it’s going to be someone from the grass roots, from the outside, who’s done it for 10 years? Or do you think it’s going to be someone from D.C.? It’s a fair question.”

If the idea of a wealthy mogul running as an unbought outsider against a rigged system and the political establishment sounds familiar, that is no accident.

“Mr. Trump had a point,” Mr. Steyer said. “I think that’s why he got elected. Because the system is broken. It turns out he’s the biggest stooge there is. His ads have also made an electability argument — that as a billionaire he has the standing to take on Mr. Trump on the economy.

When Mr. Trump came to the Iowa State Fair, in 2015, he arrived on his own private plane and brought along a helicopter for joy rides. Mr. Steyer said he only flies commercial for environmental reasons. He also refuses bottled water.

“Personal choice is not going to solve this problem,” he acknowledged, speaking of climate change. He said he had looked up exactly how much carbon he would have to sequester at his California ranch to offset the emissions from one private flight.

Back in January, Mr. Steyer’s personal choice had been to fly to Iowa and announce that he was not running for president. He reversed himself in July — “couldn’t sleep,” he explained — and is choosing to pour $100 million into running for president.

Which is why in the early August Iowa heat Mr. Steyer found himself belatedly speeding across the state fairgrounds — to see those 4-H farm animals he had been talking up for hours — before his scheduled commercial flight. He broke into a light jog, as his son, staff members and a couple of journalists followed in a slow-motion chase.

“Run, Forrest, run,” someone shouted as Mr. Steyer pumped his arms.

His eyes widened when he learned that some Democrats fly private planes on the trail. (“Are other people flying private?” “Like who?” “I’d love to know who’s flying private planes.” “How do you find that out?”)

“There’s a real question here about who takes climate seriously,” Mr. Steyer finally said. “It’s a real question.”

When Mr. Steyer arrived at the cattle barn, it was empty. “Doggone it,” he muttered to no one in particular.

With that, he and his staff were off to the airport.

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

How Emmanuel Macron Positioned Himself as Star of the G7 Show

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron of France seemed to be everywhere at once during the Group of 7 summit. For the space of a weekend, at least, the West appeared to have one person running the show, and it was not the American president.

One day, Mr. Macron was wooing President Trump over a long, private lunch. The next he was flying in the Iranian foreign minister for unannounced talks. He seized the role as chief defender of the global climate, telling Brazilians to get themselves a new president. He even prompted a surprise diplomatic opening on Iran from Mr. Trump, even if both initiatives hit early headwinds on Tuesday.

Mr. Macron missed no opportunity to wring every advantage from his role as host of the summit in the southern resort city of Biarritz. It gave him the perfect stage to pursue his ambition, both grandiose and self-serving, to position France, and himself, as candidates to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Trump’s retreat from traditional Western values.

With Mr. Trump deepening American isolation on major global issues, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on a glide path out of power, Mr. Macron has become the leading champion of European unity and multilateralism.

Mr. Macron clearly wanted to use the Group of 7 forum to show the world that neither are dead letters. He also wanted to show off himself.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159699048_a48ba68b-5883-4ba7-bc87-447bc6248ee7-articleLarge How Emmanuel Macron Positioned Himself as Star of the G7 Show United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Politics and Government International Trade and World Market International Relations Group of Seven France Emmanuel Macron

The airplane that carried Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran at the Biarritz airport.CreditGeorges Gobet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

[President Trump’s changing approach to the trade war has left much of the world off balance. Read more here.]

The Élysée Palace offered several news outlets behind-the-scenes access to the French president during the summit. Mr. Macron organized the events to avoid the missteps that have produced undiplomatic outbursts from Mr. Trump in the past.

His lunch with Mr. Trump lunch on Day 1 established that this forum was for two leaders as much as it was for seven, as did the leaders’ joint news conference at the summit’s end. Those touches went far in sating the American president’s ego, even as they effectively elevated the two men to the status of first among equals.

But Mr. Macron’s objective appeared to be not so much showing up his American counterpart as reasserting the efficacy of the European approach to global problems.

He said as much last week, telling journalists that the summit was a way to demonstrate that the “European civilization project” was an “answer” in a world searching for “global stability.”

“If we can’t redefine the terms of our sovereignty, we can’t defend our project,” Mr. Macron said to reporters before leaving for Biarritz. “Man is at the heart of the project,” he said, adding that the “relationship to the dignity of man, to humanism” was “the foundation of European civilization.”

Fires in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil this week. The president of Brazil accused Mr. Macron of treating the country ‘‘as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”CreditVictor Moriyama for The New York Times

In the context of global diplomacy, that means eschewing the threats, bullying and humiliation favored by Mr. Trump and what Mr. Macron called the “nationalist-sovereignists” in favor of multilateral diplomacy and a refusal to demonize adversaries.

Mr. Macron’s domestic stock, only lately creeping up after being battered by months of Yellow Vest protests, has improved further after what the French media characterized as a successful summit.

He “managed to be at the forefront and sometimes at the center of some of the hottest diplomatic issues of the day,” said Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.

Mr. Macron came out of the Group of 7 meeting “as well as any head of state can,” Mr. Tertrais said, adding that he had “appeared as someone who can achieve results on the key multilateral issues.”

“It does establish its credentials as a global leader for multilateralism and liberal values,” Mr. Tertrais said of the summit. “I’m actually quite favorably impressed.”

Not everyone was as enamored of the presumptive French role, however. Early in the weekend Mr. Trump’s aides complained that the agenda that Mr. Macron set focused more on what they called “niche issues” like climate change than on global economic challenges.

A working session of the Group of 7 leaders in Biarritz on Monday.CreditPool photo by Ian Langsdon

And on Tuesday, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil angrily rejected an aid package of more than $22 million, offered by leaders at the summit, to fight fires in the Amazon rainforest, and said Mr. Macron was treating Brazil ‘‘as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”

There was also little doubt that, try as he might to play the role of global standard-bearer, Mr. Macron would not get far without allies — particularly on issues like trade and climate change — and that their ranks were thinning.

Mr. Macron “seemed dynamic,’’ but relatively alone, said Nicolas Tenzer, who teaches at Sciences Po, a leading university for political science in Paris.

Mr. Tenzer said that Mr. Macron had ‘‘a better grasp of the issues” than Mr. Trump or Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, but added that, with the German chancellor nearing the end of her tenure, ‘‘he’s the only one.”

“It’s a great advantage, and also a source of solitude.’’

On the Iranian question in particular, Mr. Macron appeared to be nudging Mr. Trump in a new direction.

He got Mr. Trump to swallow the surprise visit of an Iranian official, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in the midst of a conflict that has escalated in recent months with a string of episodes involving oil tankers and drones near Iran.

A port in Shanghai. By the end of the summit, Mr. Trump sounded notes on the trade war that were far more conciliatory toward China.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

He even got Mr. Trump to agree, in principle, to a possible meeting with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Such a meeting would be the first between American and Iranian leaders since the Tehran hostage crisis of 1979-81, though Mr. Rouhani said that he would not sit down with Mr. Trump until Washington ended its economic sanctions.

“It’s the beginning of something,” Mr. Macron said.

Mr. Macron was careful to offer guarded praise for the American position, which he said “creates pressure, and conditions for a better agreement.” And he got Mr. Trump to say he was against “regime change” in Iran, reassuring European officials who have been worried about the worst for months.

On the economic front, Mr. Macron said a major issue for him was “Can we pacify international commerce?”

It was “an error in reasoning” to engage in “commercial war and isolationism,” Mr. Macron said. And again, he got Mr. Trump to sound notes on the trade war that were far more conciliatory toward China than over preceding days.

It was in his handling of Mr. Trump, the declared enemy of multilateralism and unabashed wrecker of summits, that Mr. Macron showed his greatest agility.

[World leaders have taken to soft-pedaling disagreements with Mr. Trump. Read more here.]

The relationship has had its ups and downs over the past two years, with the French president’s early efforts to woo his American counterpart proving spectacularly unsuccessful and eroding his popularity back home.

Mr. Trump’s motorcade in Paris in November for events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

The leaders clashed as recently as November, when Mr. Macron denounced nationalism in a speech at events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and Mr. Trump responded with a scathing series of Twitter posts that highlighted the French leader’s low approval rating.

This time was different. Mr. Macron’s technique was evident as the two men stood side by side at the final news conference: Mr. Macron appeared always respectful, sharply curbing his own tendency for long-winded, abstract explanations that might have irritated Mr. Trump.

Nor did Mr. Macron launch into the numbing detail on secondary issues with which he battered French journalists at a later news conference. And he went out of his way to praise a leader who has been openly mocked by a number of his counterparts.

“We’ve worked very closely, with lots of energy, with President Trump these last days,” Mr. Macron said at the news conference. “And we’re going to continue to work together in the coming months. We’ll be side-by-side in all of these fights.”

That one-on-one lunch he organized for Mr. Trump — aides only joined at the end — that evidently went far to mollify the American president. Mr. Trump spoke effusively about the meeting afterward.

“We had a lunch that lasted for quite a while, just the two of us,” Mr. Trump said. “It was the best period of time we’ve ever had. We weren’t trying to impress anybody, just each other.”

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The Federal Election Commission Needs 4 of 6 Members to Enforce the Law. It Now Has 3.

The Federal Election Commission, the beleaguered independent agency that is supposed to serve as the watchdog over how money is raised and spent in American elections, has long been criticized as dysfunctional, if not toothless.

Now the state of affairs at the agency is poised to get even worse: It will no longer even have enough commissioners to legally meet.

The resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen, announced on Monday and scheduled for the end of August, will effectively freeze the F.E.C.’s governance, leaving it one person short of a quorum and thus unable to take on some of its most basic actions, including holding board meetings, starting audits, making new rules and levying fines for campaign finance violations.

“Voters should be extremely concerned,” said Ann M. Ravel, a Democrat and former F.E.C. chairwoman who stepped down in 2017 and who has not been replaced. “If you do not have the ability to do any kind of enforcement, then there isn’t any kind of respect for the law.”

“It could end up being the Wild West,” Ms. Ravel added.

Four F.E.C. commissioners are necessary to meet, and there will be only three left on what should be a six-person governing board. The terms of all three commissioners who are still on the board have expired, though the law allows them to remain.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_50864419_842fc732-99ea-489d-b898-2db7a3abdc2a-articleLarge The Federal Election Commission Needs 4 of 6 Members to Enforce the Law. It Now Has 3. Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Petersen, Matthew Spencer federal election commission Campaign Finance

The resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen, announced on Monday, will effectively freeze the agency’s governance.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

The current chairwoman, Ellen Weintraub, said in a statement that “the United States’ election cop is still on the 2020 campaign beat.”

But she acknowledged that some of the commission’s key functions — such as voting on whether campaign laws have been violated — would be delayed until a fourth member was confirmed, even as staff members continue to work.

Ms. Weintraub urged President Trump to nominate and the Senate to confirm additional members immediately. She noted that the commission would continue to publish millions of campaign donations and “shine a strong spotlight on the finances of the 2020 campaign” even without a quorum.

Mr. Trump did nominate James E. Trainor III, a Republican lawyer in Texas, to serve on the commission in late 2017, but Mr. Trainor has not been confirmed by the Senate. There has been a long tradition of presidents nominating and the Senate confirming Democratic and Republican commissioners simultaneously.

With the resignation of Mr. Petersen, a Republican, the White House could call for Mr. Trainor to be confirmed without a Democratic counterpart. The commission cannot have more than three members of either political party, a balanced arrangement that has often led to gridlock.

Donald J. Simon, counsel to the independent watchdog group Democracy 21, said the agency had gone “from dysfunctional to nonfunctional.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Angelo Roefaro, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who as the top Democrat in the Senate would traditionally have input in the selection of a Democratic commissioner, said, “Congress should address this issue quickly because we need a fully functioning F.E.C.”

The F.E.C. last fell short of a quorum more than a decade ago, during the 2008 election cycle.

Adav Noti, a former associate counsel at the F.E.C. who was at the commission during the last partial shutdown, called it a “potential nightmare” in the short term. “What they can do in absence of a quorum is push paper around,” he said. “Literally.”

Among the challenges noted by Mr. Noti, who is now a senior director for the Campaign Legal Center, was that the F.E.C. could not defend itself in court from lawsuits without a commission vote.

The only potential upside of the crisis, he said, is if it causes the White House and Senate to agree on an entirely new slate of commissioners to “clean house” at the struggling agency.

Mr. Petersen did not say in his resignation letter why he was stepping down with less than a week’s notice. He was nominated by Mr. Trump for a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2017, but he struggled to answer some routine law questions at his confirmation hearing, under questioning by Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana.

His floundering went viral and Mr. Petersen withdrew, writing, “I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television.” He remained on the F.E.C. and his colleagues praised his service on Monday.

Ms. Ravel, who wrote that the agency was “failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws” while she served as vice chairwoman in 2014, said in an interview that the shortage of commissioners had been predictable for more than a year. She laid blame on Donald F. McGahn II, who spent years on the F.E.C. before working for Mr. Trump as White House counsel, saying he had caused some of the agency’s gridlock and dysfunctional culture.

“When I saw initially that Don McGahn went to be the White House counsel, I predicted publicly that what that meant was that all agencies in the federal government whose job it was to protect the public interest were going to be rendered useless,” she said. “And I believe that prediction came to fruition.”

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Farmers’ Frustration With Trump Grows as U.S. Escalates China Fight

WASHINGTON — Peppered with complaints from farmers fed up with President Trump’s trade war, Sonny Perdue found his patience wearing thin. Mr. Perdue, the agriculture secretary and the guest of honor at the annual Farmfest gathering in southern Minnesota this month, tried to break the ice with a joke.

“What do you call two farmers in a basement?” Mr. Perdue asked near the end of a testy hourlong town-hall-style event. “A whine cellar.”

A cascade of boos ricocheted around the room.

American farmers have become collateral damage in a trade war that Mr. Trump began to help manufacturers and other companies that he believes have been hurt by China’s “unfair” trade practices.

More than a year into the trade dispute, sales of American soybeans, pork, wheat and other agricultural products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Lucrative contracts that farmers long relied on for a significant source of income have evaporated, with Chinese buyers looking to other nations like Brazil and Canada to get the commodities they need. Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13 percent from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau.

The predicament of farmers is becoming a political problem for Mr. Trump as he heads into an election year. For months, farmers have remained resolute, continuing to pledge support to a president who says his trade policies will help the agricultural industry win in the end. While there are few signs of an imminent blue wave in farm country, a growing number of farmers say they are losing patience with the president’s approach and are suggesting it will not take much to lose their vote as well.

Mr. Trump, who regularly brags about an economic boom despite signs of a slowdown, has in some cases made matters worse. He recently dismissed sales of American wheat, suggesting Japan was buying it only as a favor to the United States. And his frequent tweets insisting that “farmers are starting to do great again” have rubbed some agriculture groups the wrong way.

“We’re not starting to do great again,” Brian Thalmann, the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, told Mr. Perdue at the event. “Things are going downhill and downhill quickly.”

On Monday, after a 72-hour period during which Mr. Trump twice escalated his trade war with China, Mr. Thalmann said he could no longer support the president as he did in 2016.

“At some point we have to quit playing games and get back to the table and figure this out,” Mr. Thalmann said. “There’s no certainty to any of this.”

Losing the world’s most populous country as an export market has been a major blow to the agriculture industry. Total American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014 and fell to $9.1 billion last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. Exports of farm products to China fell by $1.3 billion in the first half of the year, the agriculture group said this month.

A report from the Agriculture Department this month found that Canadian wheat exports to China have “rocketed” this year, while exports from the United States have plunged.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159751479_d6594336-ce04-4e46-8e56-ecf68b4024a2-articleLarge Farmers’ Frustration With Trump Grows as U.S. Escalates China Fight Wheat United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Perdue, Sonny International Trade and World Market Government Employees Federal Taxes (US) Economic Conditions and Trends Corn Agriculture Department Agriculture and Farming

The predicament of farmers is becoming a political problem for President Trump as he heads into an election year.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The administration has tried to mollify farmers by rolling out two financial aid packages totaling $28 billion. The White House has also dispatched Mr. Perdue, the 72-year-old former governor of Georgia who was raised on a farm and trained as a veterinarian, to places like Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin to calm the nerves of farmers.

But as the trade fight gets uglier, farmers are beginning to panic. Last week, Mr. Trump said he would increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to 30 percent and impose a 15 percent tax on another $300 billion worth later this year. China has already said it will no longer buy American agricultural products and announced on Friday that it would raise tariffs on $75 billion of exports from America.

That prompted Mr. Trump to describe Xi Jinping, China’s president, as an “enemy” and suggest that he wanted to raise tariffs even higher, before declaring on Monday that talks between the two nations continue.

The trade conflict’s toll on farmers is spreading to the manufacturers that serve them. Deere & Company, the maker of agricultural equipment, said this month that it was cutting its profit forecast for the second time this year. The company’s chief executive said farmers were delaying purchases because of concerns about access to export markets.

The administration is looking for other ways to help farmers, including scrambling to secure additional trade deals. At the G7 summit in France this week, Mr. Trump said the United States and Japan were nearing an agreement that would result in Japanese companies buying more American corn.

Mr. Trump is also trying to appease corn farmers who complain that an Environmental Protection Agency decision this month will hamper ethanol production. Farmers say the agency’s decision to exempt small oil refineries from a requirement to blend corn-based ethanol into gasoline has led to a drop in demand for the fuel.

Last Thursday, Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Perdue and Andrew Wheeler, who heads the E.P.A., to the White House to discuss options for increasing ethanol demand. The three came up with a package of policies that Mr. Trump plans to unveil at a White House ceremony in the next week, according to people familiar with the plan. The package would leave the waivers for ethanol refineries in place, while slightly increasing federal mandates for production of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel and allowing vehicles that use high-ethanol blends of gasoline to qualify for special E.P.A. credits.

Mr. Perdue is a somewhat unlikely lieutenant in Mr. Trump’s trade war. As Georgia’s governor, he worked to strengthen ties between the state and China, welcoming Chinese companies and making economic development trips to Shanghai and Beijing. At one point he pushed for Atlanta to become a hub for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a proposed 34-country trade pact that never came to fruition.

“He’s a very strong supporter of free trade,” said Craig Lesser, who worked for Mr. Perdue as Georgia’s commissioner of economic development.

But in the Trump administration, Mr. Perdue has been a staunch backer of the president’s policies, publicly defending tariffs, working to shrink the federal government and expressing doubts about the science behind climate change.

“He’s the Trump whisperer,” said Neill Herring, an environmental activist in Georgia who once worked with Mr. Perdue in the State Legislature. “He can tell Trump exactly what he wants to hear.”

Mr. Perdue declined to be interviewed. His spokeswoman pointed to the extent of his outreach to farmers, noting that as of late July he had visited all 50 states, had traveled more than 113,600 miles and had gone to 104 farms since taking the job in 2017.

Sales of American agricultural products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against Mr. Trump’s tariffs.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

Mr. Perdue, who was once a Democrat, has also shown a penchant for pleasing conservatives. Last year, he pitched the idea of slashing federal food stamp assistance programs by partially replacing food allowance money for the poor with “harvest boxes” of pasta, cereal and canned goods selected by the government. That plan was eventually scrapped, but Mr. Perdue has continued his push to curtail food stamps this year, including last month when he proposed a rule that would cut three million people off from food stamps by changing the eligibility requirements.

Most recently, Mr. Perdue won plaudits from top White House officials for moving part of his agency out of town. After agency research clashed with the administration’s policy agenda, Mr. Perdue decided last year to relocate two of the department’s scientific divisions — the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture — to the Kansas City region from Washington. Mr. Perdue claimed that the relocation was not retaliatory and was about moving researchers closer to their subjects.

According to the American Federation of Government Employees, only about 100 of the approximately 500 employees from the divisions have agreed to relocate.

When Mr. Perdue addressed employees in June about the move, several stood and turned their backs to him, according to people who were in the room. Democrats have been outraged by the relocation, calling it an attack on science. And the Agriculture Department’s inspector general said in a report released this month that moving the research units without congressional approval might be illegal.

In the West Wing, however, Mr. Perdue’s decision was seen as a stroke of brilliance.

At the South Carolina Republican Party’s Silver Elephant gala in early August, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, hailed Mr. Perdue’s maneuver as a case study of how to “drain the swamp.”

“It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I know that because a lot of them work for me and I’ve tried and you can’t do it.”

At Minnesota’s Farmfest, it was clear that Mr. Perdue’s Southern charm could go only so far. His answers to questions about how the trade war with China would end were curt, and his quip about whining farmers left some with a sour taste.

“We shouldn’t have to whine to get paid,” said Joel Schreurs, a farmer from Tyler, Minn., who questioned Mr. Perdue at the event. “They should be grateful that we’re taking one for the team.”

Last week, Agriculture Department staff members in Nebraska left the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour after receiving a threat from an angry farmer. According to an organizer of the event, farmers have been venting to the government employees who attended the annual tour about depressed crop prices, falling farm income and difficulty gaining access to credit.

“This is a stressful time in agriculture,” said Joel Jaeger, the general manager of Pro Farmer. “There’s certainly a lot of stress in the farm community.”

But many farmers continue support Mr. Trump and express hope that the president knows what he is doing in his dealings with China. A July survey from Farm Journal found that 79 percent of 1,100 farmers still back Mr. Trump despite the lack of progress in negotiations with China. And Mr. Perdue largely remains an effective emissary, with the industry still hoping Mr. Trump can pull off the kind of trade deal he has been promising.

“He’s one of us; he’s a farmer,” Brad Kremer, a Wisconsin farmer who is the treasurer of the American Soybean Association, said of Mr. Perdue. “I think he’s got a tough job in a tough administration.”

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The U.S. Election Watchdog Needs 4 of 6 Members to Enforce the Law. It Now Has 3.

The Federal Election Commission, the beleaguered independent agency that is supposed to serve as the watchdog over how money is raised and spent in American elections, has long been criticized as dysfunctional, if not toothless.

Now the state of affairs at the agency is poised to get even worse: It will no longer even have enough commissioners to legally meet.

The resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen, announced on Monday and scheduled for the end of August, will effectively freeze the F.E.C.’s governance, leaving it one person short of a quorum and thus unable to take on some of its most basic actions, including holding board meetings, starting audits, making new rules and levying fines for campaign finance violations.

“Voters should be extremely concerned,” said Ann M. Ravel, a Democrat and former F.E.C. chairwoman who stepped down in 2017 and who has not been replaced. “If you do not have the ability to do any kind of enforcement, then there isn’t any kind of respect for the law.”

“It could end up being the Wild West,” Ms. Ravel added.

Four F.E.C. commissioners are necessary to meet, and there will be only three left on what should be a six-person governing board. The terms of all three commissioners who are still on the board have expired, though the law allows them to remain.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_50864419_842fc732-99ea-489d-b898-2db7a3abdc2a-articleLarge The U.S. Election Watchdog Needs 4 of 6 Members to Enforce the Law. It Now Has 3. Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Petersen, Matthew Spencer federal election commission Campaign Finance

The resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen, announced on Monday, will effectively freeze the agency’s governance.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

The current chairwoman, Ellen Weintraub, said in a statement that “the United States’ election cop is still on the 2020 campaign beat.”

But she acknowledged that some of the commission’s key functions — such as voting on whether campaign laws have been violated — would be delayed until a fourth member was confirmed, even as staff members continue to work.

Ms. Weintraub urged President Trump to nominate and the Senate to confirm additional members immediately. She noted that the commission would continue to publish millions of campaign donations and “shine a strong spotlight on the finances of the 2020 campaign” even without a quorum.

Mr. Trump did nominate James E. Trainor III, a Republican lawyer in Texas, to serve on the commission in late 2017, but Mr. Trainor has not been confirmed by the Senate. There has been a long tradition of presidents nominating and the Senate confirming Democratic and Republican commissioners simultaneously.

With the resignation of Mr. Petersen, a Republican, the White House could call for Mr. Trainor to be confirmed without a Democratic counterpart. The commission cannot have more than three members of either political party, a balanced arrangement that has often led to gridlock.

Donald J. Simon, counsel to the independent watchdog group Democracy 21, said the agency had gone “from dysfunctional to nonfunctional.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Angelo Roefaro, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who as the top Democrat in the Senate would traditionally have input in the selection of a Democratic commissioner, said, “Congress should address this issue quickly because we need a fully functioning F.E.C.”

The F.E.C. last fell short of a quorum more than a decade ago, during the 2008 election cycle.

Adav Noti, a former associate counsel at the F.E.C. who was at the commission during the last partial shutdown, called it a “potential nightmare” in the short term. “What they can do in absence of a quorum is push paper around,” he said. “Literally.”

Among the challenges noted by Mr. Noti, who is now a senior director for the Campaign Legal Center, was that the F.E.C. could not defend itself in court from lawsuits without a commission vote.

The only potential upside of the crisis, he said, is if it causes the White House and Senate to agree on an entirely new slate of commissioners to “clean house” at the struggling agency.

Mr. Petersen did not say in his resignation letter why he was stepping down with less than a week’s notice. He was nominated by Mr. Trump for a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2017, but he struggled to answer some routine law questions at his confirmation hearing, under questioning by Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana.

His floundering went viral and Mr. Petersen withdrew, writing, “I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television.” He remained on the F.E.C. and his colleagues praised his service on Monday.

Ms. Ravel, who wrote that the agency was “failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws” while she served as vice chairwoman in 2014, said in an interview that the shortage of commissioners had been predictable for more than a year. She laid blame on Donald F. McGahn II, who spent years on the F.E.C. before working for Mr. Trump as White House counsel, saying he had caused some of the agency’s gridlock and dysfunctional culture.

“When I saw initially that Don McGahn went to be the White House counsel, I predicted publicly that what that meant was that all agencies in the federal government whose job it was to protect the public interest were going to be rendered useless,” she said. “And I believe that prediction came to fruition.”

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