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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 38)

Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Easing Iranian Sanctions to Spur Nuclear Talks

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-diplo-facebookJumbo Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Easing Iranian Sanctions to Spur Nuclear Talks United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Rouhani, Hassan Pompeo, Mike Nuclear Weapons Iran General Assembly (UN) Embargoes and Sanctions

WASHINGTON — President Trump left open the possibility on Wednesday of relaxing economic sanctions against Iran before starting new nuclear negotiations, seeming to undercut his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran in favor of striking a diplomatic deal.

Hours earlier, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said that the United States must lift its bruising sanctions before officials in Tehran would be ready to talk.

Mr. Trump stressed his view that Iran’s economy is suffering, and that the leadership in Tehran is eager for negotiations.

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “If they do, that’s great; and if they don’t, that’s great too. But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.”

He shrugged when asked if he would consider easing the sanctions to secure a meeting with Iran.

“We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said.

Though Mr. Trump has previously offered to talk to Iran’s leaders, his comments on Wednesday appeared to be the first time he has publicly left open the door to softening his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. The shift would have been stridently opposed by John R. Bolton, the White House national security adviser who was unceremoniously ousted on Tuesday.

For nearly a year, the Trump administration has threatened economic penalties against foreign governments and businesses seeking to invest in Iran, or to buy its oil and other goods. The isolation campaign has crippled Iran’s economy and frustrated countries, including China and India, that rely on its oil.

Other allies, particularly in Europe, were infuriated in May 2018 when Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from a nuclear accord that Iran struck with world powers during the Obama administration. They have sought to create a barter system with Tehran that would keep financial channels open but not violate the American sanctions, and President Emmanuel Macron of France has dangled the possibility of a $15 billion bailout to bring Iran back into compliance with the 2015 deal.

Under the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, the Treasury and State Departments have ramped up sanctions against Iran to force it back into negotiations. Brian H. Hook, the State Department envoy overseeing Iran issues, told reporters last week that sanctions were essential to financially starving the government in Tehran and, in turn, making it more difficult to fund Iranian-allied fighters in conflicts across the Middle East.

“We are maintaining the maximum-pressure campaign,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

In a telephone call with Mr. Macron, reported on Wednesday by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, Mr. Rouhani said that “if the sanctions remain in place, negotiations with the U.S. administration have no meaning.”

As he faces re-election next year, Mr. Trump has been searching for a diplomatic victory — not just with Iran, but also with North Korea and Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly offered to open talks with Iranian officials, without setting any conditions for the negotiations, and has raised the possibility of a meeting at the annual global forum at the United Nations this month.

A similar effort in 2017 to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani at the United Nations collapsed.

President Barack Obama never managed to meet with Mr. Rouhani, even after the nuclear deal was signed.

The closest the two presidents came was a 2013 phone call that lasted 15 minutes and was arranged by Mr. Rouhani as he departed the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Obama took the call at the White House; it was the first direct conversation between the leaders of the two countries since the 1979 Iranian Revolution that ousted the American-backed shah.

But Mr. Trump also made clear on Wednesday that he would not bend on his vow to block Iran’s efforts to escalate the country’s nuclear program, which had been largely shelved as a result of the 2015 agreement. “If they’re thinking about enrichment, they can forget about it,” Mr. Trump said. “Because it’s going to be very dangerous for them to enrich.”

Mr. Rouhani said over the weekend that Iran was preparing to restart its production of highly enriched uranium, the material needed to build a nuclear weapon. Doing so would most likely scuttle any hope of resurrecting the nuclear accord with world powers, as Mr. Macron has been trying to do.

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With Trump Hungry for Credit, Advisers Brag About North Carolina Win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Trump’s top advisers claimed credit Wednesday for a Republican’s narrow victory in a special House election in North Carolina the night before, even as Democratic and Republican officials alike said Dan Bishop’s two-point win in a district Mr. Trump easily carried only underscored how the widening urban-rural divide is complicating 2020 for both parties.

Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, told reporters on a conference call that the president’s Monday night rally in Fayetteville, N.C., was pivotal to Mr. Bishop’s success in energizing Election Day voters after the Democrats mobilized many of their supporters to cast early ballots.

“There’s no question that he is the congressman-elect this morning because of the personal efforts of President Trump,” Mr. Parscale said of Mr. Bishop.

Mr. Parscale’s victory lap was conducted on behalf of a president who privately grumbled to several aides on Tuesday that he was not getting the credit he deserved for delivering a Republican victory in the closely watched special election.

And it came with a dose of ribbing for Democrats, who believed their nominee, Dan McCready, a Marine veteran, could eke out a win in a district Mr. Trump carried by 12 percentage points in 2016. Bill Stepien, one of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, sarcastically congratulated Democrats for a “moral victory” before saying his party would gladly take the “actual victory.”

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

Yet what was effectively the final contest of the 2018 election — state officials ordered a redo of the race after Republicans were discovered to have funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme in a rural county — was most revealing for demonstrating that the demographic divisions that shaped the midterms are only growing.

Mr. Bishop, who was not on the ballot in 2018, won in large part because he improved on the Republican performance in the more lightly populated parts of the sprawling, Fayetteville-to-Charlotte district. And Mr. McCready, who was the Democratic nominee in 2018 and ran again in the special election, performed even better in the upscale Charlotte suburbs on Tuesday than he did last November, even as he lost by a larger overall margin.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160593990_56e6e049-feda-492e-b738-c8b7739c8de1-articleLarge With Trump Hungry for Credit, Advisers Brag About North Carolina Win Trump, Donald J Robeson County (NC) Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- ) North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Lumberton (NC) House of Representatives Fayetteville (NC) Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Bishop, Dan

Dan McCready and his wife, Laura, after he conceded to Mr. Bishop on Tuesday night.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

“The national pattern seems to have played out,” said Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., adding of the county that includes Charlotte: “I think certainly the collapse of the Republicans in Mecklenburg is continuing.”

More Coverage of the Special Election
Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election

Sept. 10, 2019

North Carolina Special Election Results: Ninth House District

Sept. 10, 2019

These seemingly inexorable trends — the red growing redder while the blue gets bluer — underscore how difficult it will be for Republicans to reclaim the sort of metropolitan seats they need to win back the House majority next year. But the same pattern also illustrates why it will be difficult for Democrats to retake the Senate in 2020 unless they can improve their performance with rural voters.

For Mr. Trump, the North Carolina results amounted to proof that he enjoys rock-solid support with his base of working-class white voters — but that such devotion may not be sufficient for him to win a second term if he cannot improve his standing with suburbanites, particularly women.

Even as he and his high command were crowing about their success on Wednesday, their morning-after glow was jarred by a new ABC News/Washington Post national poll. The survey showed Mr. Trump with lackluster approval ratings and indicated that, if the election were held today, he would lose to a handful of his potential Democratic rivals. Most striking was the test heat between the president and Joseph R. Biden Jr.: Mr. Biden was leading Mr. Trump by 55 percent to 40 percent among registered voters, according to the poll.

But it is far from settled whom Democrats will ultimately nominate, and whether they will rally behind a candidate who aims an appeal at moderate voters or someone further left who can motivate progressives in a way Hillary Clinton failed to in 2016.

Many leading officials in the party are fretting about what many Republicans are counting on: that Democrats will put forward a candidate Mr. Trump can portray as out of the political mainstream.

If that happens, there could be a repeat in some states of what took place Tuesday in and around Lumberton, N.C., at the eastern edge of the district.

Mr. McCready won the surrounding county, Robeson, by more than 15 percentage points in 2018 against Mark Harris, his previous Republican opponent. On Tuesday, Mr. McCready won the county by only 1.1 percent.

Phillip M. Stephens, chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party, said the county remained majority Democratic but also very conservative. “Robeson County is a county with some of the last Blue Dog Democrats on the face of this earth,” he said.

Mr. Stephens said he believed that Mr. Bishop outperformed Mr. Harris in the county because of his relentless and focused messaging that reminded voters that Mr. McCready supported abortion rights and was aligned with a party that had drifted too far left.

“That doesn’t play well with these unaffiliateds and these conservative Democrats,” Mr. Stephens said. “It plays very well within the Democratic Party, but it does not play very well with Robeson County.”

North Carolina Politics
Read more about the special election.
North Carolina Special Election Results: Ninth House District

Sept. 10, 2019

Westlake Legal Group results-north-carolina-house-district-9-special-general-election-1568140508937-threeByTwoSmallAt2X With Trump Hungry for Credit, Advisers Brag About North Carolina Win Trump, Donald J Robeson County (NC) Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- ) North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Lumberton (NC) House of Representatives Fayetteville (NC) Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Bishop, Dan
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 With Trump Hungry for Credit, Advisers Brag About North Carolina Win Trump, Donald J Robeson County (NC) Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- ) North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Lumberton (NC) House of Representatives Fayetteville (NC) Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Bishop, Dan
North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much

Dec. 8, 2018

Westlake Legal Group 09carolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X With Trump Hungry for Credit, Advisers Brag About North Carolina Win Trump, Donald J Robeson County (NC) Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Parscale, Brad (1976- ) North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Lumberton (NC) House of Representatives Fayetteville (NC) Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Bishop, Dan

Richard Fausset reported from Charlotte, and Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman from Washington.

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Trump Administration Weighs Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials said on Wednesday they would move toward a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, at a time when hundreds of people have been sickened by mysterious vaping-related illnesses.

Sitting in the Oval Office with Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner, President Trump acknowledged that there was a vaping problem, and said, “We’re going to have to do something about it.”

Mr. Azar said that the F.D.A. would outline a plan within the coming weeks for removing most flavored e-cigarettes that are not tobacco products from the market.

The move follows increasing pressure by lawmakers, parents and educators, who have been overwhelmed by the popularity of vaping among youths, and felt powerless to keep e-cigarettes out of their schools.

The first lady, Melania Trump, also attended the White House meeting. “She’s got a son,” the president said of their teenage child, Barron. “She feels very strongly about it,” he said of Mrs. Trump’s interest in the vaping issue.

What You Need to Know About Vaping-Related Lung Illness
Coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath are warning signs for anyone who has vaped within the last 90 days.

Sept. 7, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160293528_5b0b0b27-3c5e-49cf-b7eb-bb1ddce4646d-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Trump Administration Weighs Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes your-feed-healthcare Trump, Donald J Smoking and Tobacco Sharpless, Norman E Recalls and Bans of Products Nicotine Marijuana Juul Labs Inc Food and Drug Administration E-Cigarettes

Just this week, Michigan became the first state to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also called for a ban, and Massachusetts and California are considering similar measures. San Francisco approved an e-cigarette ban earlier this year, which Juul Labs, the dominant seller in the United States, is lobbying to reverse through a ballot initiative this November.

Last week, Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and a longtime opponent of tobacco and e-cigarettes, warned Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, that if the agency failed to remove e-cigarette flavors from the market, he would call for the commissioner’s resignation. After Kansas reported a sixth vaping-related death on Tuesday , Senator Durbin again slammed the F.D.A. for failing to take decisive action to protect the public from e-cigarettes.

Pressure also began to mount as Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, decided to step in by announcing a $160 million push to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Long an opponent of traditional smoking, the former mayor said his organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, would seek prohibitions of flavored e-cigarettes in at least 20 cities and states.

In New York, Governor Cuomo also directed state health officials to subpoena companies that market or sell so-called thickening agents, which are sometimes added to illicit vaping products. A state laboratory, which detected the agents in vaping products collected from New York’s patients, found that they were nearly pure vitamin E acetate oil, which officials have said is a potential cause of some of the illnesses.

Hospitals and health officials in nearly three dozen states have reported nearly 500 cases of vaping-related illnesses since the beginning of the summer. Doctors have said that many patients appear to have vaped some THC or cannabis-related products, although others have reported using e-cigarettes as well. No one has singled out a particular company, device or product as the possible culprit.

Deaths have been reported in Illinois, Kansas, California, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon. The patients’ ages ranged from the 30s to middle-aged or older, and some had underlying lung or other chronic conditions, health officials said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11ECIGARETTES2-articleLarge Trump Administration Weighs Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes your-feed-healthcare Trump, Donald J Smoking and Tobacco Sharpless, Norman E Recalls and Bans of Products Nicotine Marijuana Juul Labs Inc Food and Drug Administration E-Cigarettes

From left, Dr. Norman Sharpless, the acting F.D.A. commissioner, Melania Trump, President Trump and Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, discussing flavored e-cigarettes in the Oval Office on Wednesday.CreditKevin Lamarque/Reuters

Months ago, public and agency pressure forced Juul to yank its flavored pods — which were considered to appeal particularly to youths — from store shelves. The F.D.A. said at the time that it would seek to have retailers curb access to products to keep them away from minors.

Since Dr. Scott Gottlieb resigned as F.D.A. commissioner in April, the agency has appeared to be more sluggish in its efforts to control the epidemic of youth vaping. Although Dr. Sharpless had said he planned to continue the agency’s work to reduce both cigarette and e-cigarette use, not much moved forward. Dr. Gottlieb’s proposal to ban menthol in cigarettes, for example, has languished, as has his call for reducing nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive amounts.

That appears to have changed this week. On Monday, the F.D.A. took action against Juul, sending a warning letter accusing the company of violating federal regulations by promoting its vaping products as a healthier option than cigarettes.

There is little conclusive research on the long-term safety of using Juul or other e-cigarettes. The company’s flavor pods have a higher level of nicotine than cigarettes do, which is of concern because of the impact nicotine can have on the still-developing teenage brain.

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Coverage of flavored e-cigarettes

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White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mulvaney, Mick Jacobs, Neil Hurricane Dorian (2019) Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning.

In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which is controlled by Democrats, announced on Wednesday that it too has opened an investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions.

The White House had no immediate comment on Wednesday, but the senior administration official said Mr. Mulvaney was interested in having the record corrected because, in his view, the Birmingham forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been forecasts showing possible impact on Alabama.

Mr. Trump was furious at being contradicted by the forecasters in Alabama. On Sept. 1, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

For nearly a week, Mr. Trump kept insisting he was right, displaying outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

Mr. Ross called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings, and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.

The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed to their jobs by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain in their jobs as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday called the Birmingham office’s statement “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. Jacobs said. “What it did not say, however, is that we understand and fully support the good intent of the Birmingham weather forecast office, which was to calm fears in support of public safety.”

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Bolton Ouster Underscores a G.O.P. Divided on Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s abrupt ouster of John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser, has reignited concerns among some Republicans in Congress about the White House’s waning interest in projecting American military power around the world, a doctrine that was once the subject of a powerful consensus in their party.

It is the latest sign of the divide among Republican lawmakers on national security, pitting a camp of hawkish conservatives including Representative Liz Cheney, the House’s third-ranking Republican, and Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, against a newer, anti-establishment group aligned with Mr. Trump’s impulses to put an end to the nation’s intractable military conflicts.

Mr. Bolton’s exit, announced by Mr. Trump on Twitter on Tuesday, following Mr. Trump’s revelation that he had scheduled — and then scrapped — plans to meet with the Taliban for peace talks at Camp David, dramatized the rift.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, praised Mr. Bolton’s leadership on Wednesday in comments that appeared to be directed at the White House.

“He knows there are many threats to American interests and that those threats will not recede if we retreat,” Mr. McConnell said from the Senate floor. “He understands that American leadership is essential to keeping these threats and enemies at bay, and that our partners and allies rarely act without us.”

Mr. Romney called Mr. Bolton’s departure “an extraordinary loss for our nation and the White House,” expressing deep concern about how Mr. Trump would move forward in Afghanistan following his departure.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160518498_13917e1f-2d33-4607-b27e-2dfa024aa2eb-articleLarge Bolton Ouster Underscores a G.O.P. Divided on Foreign Policy United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Republican Party Defense and Military Forces Bolton, John R Afghanistan War (2001- )

“I’ve talked to him dozens of times and I do believe the president wants to end the war in Afghanistan,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

“We have to regroup and decide how we’re going to proceed, but it’s certainly essential that Afghanistan not be allowed to return as a base for terrorist activity,” said Mr. Romney, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. “And that will mean an ongoing American presence there unless we see a very different response from the Taliban.”

Ms. Cheney, an ally of the president, had expressed alarm about Mr. Trump’s apparent willingness to host the Taliban at the presidential retreat.

“Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after Al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3,000 Americans,” Ms. Cheney, wrote on Twitter. “No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors Al Qaeda. The President is right to end the talks.”

But in the Senate, Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian-minded Republican who has made disengaging from foreign military conflict a calling card, hastily scheduled a conference call with reporters to congratulate Mr. Trump for jettisoning Mr. Bolton.

During a separate interview, on the heels of the president’s decision to abandon negotiations with the Taliban, Mr. Paul again made the case for a withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan.

“I think they will fight until the end of time,” Mr. Paul said, noting that he has several family members and friends in the military. “I have a tough time sending them to potentially lose their lives in Afghanistan when I can’t delineate what their mission is, the reason we’re there any more.”

Mr. Trump’s allies argued that Mr. Bolton’s departure signaled that Mr. Trump was reasserting his own stamp on foreign policy.

“There are several areas where there’s been this sincere philosophical conflict and this is certainly one of them,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“The president is very hawkish when it comes to dealing with the economic realm, but when it comes to war fighting, he’s got that more populist, even libertarian strain to him,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, who is an ally of the president and sits on the Armed Services Committee. “The Bolton dismissal is an outcome of that push and pull,” Mr. Cramer continued, adding that Mr. Bolton “pushed maybe too hard.”

It is not the first time the president’s foreign policy has left Republican lawmakers crosswise with the White House, provoking their dissent in a way that perhaps no other issue has. In June, when Mr. Trump abruptly reversed his decision to launch a military strike against Iran after an American spy plane was shot down, national security hawks in his party, including Ms. Cheney, publicly lamented the decision. Mr. McConnell led Senate Republicans in January — as well as a group of Democrats — in delivering a pointed rebuke of the president’s announced withdrawal of United States military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Those who have frequently found themselves in lock step with Mr. Bolton, a cadre of hawkish lawmakers, many of whom have defense and military backgrounds, are now without a key ally in the White House. But they walked away early this week with a victory, praising Mr. Trump’s decision to cancel the negotiations to end the war with the Taliban. Those lawmakers have argued that Mr. Trump must not withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan based on a political timetable, and that any deal with the Taliban should be viewed with the utmost skepticism.

“We can’t just wish the war away because it’s been long, hard and difficult,” said Representative Michael Waltz, Republican of Florida, who is a former Army Special Forces officer who served in Afghanistan. “Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And in my view, we need to stay on offense, we need to keep our foot on their neck, we need them worrying about where they can sleep at night.”

The president’s frequent changes of heart on national security issues have also taught Republicans to hope that on crucial decisions, he will oscillate toward their preferred approach. He routinely voices frustration with the worldview that suggests the United States bears responsibility for patrolling the globe, and on Monday groused that soldiers in Afghanistan were serving, to a large extent, as policemen. Those comments have stoked hope among noninterventionists like Mr. Paul that the president will follow his instincts and make good on his campaign pledge.

“I’ve talked to him dozens of times, and I do believe the president wants to end the war in Afghanistan,” Mr. Paul said. “But he’s surrounded by people telling him all kinds of reasons why he can’t.”

Intent on ensuring Mr. Trump delivers on his campaign promise to end the forever wars, organizations like FreedomWorks, a libertarian advocacy group associated with the Tea Party, and Concerned Veterans for America, one of the arms of the Koch network, have mounted lobbying campaigns on Capitol Hill in an effort to provide political cover for Republicans who back ending military engagement in Afghanistan. They have found support from strident conservatives in the House, like Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t end up in an endless war in Syria or Iran, and I think that is more reflective of the president’s view than his staff’s,” said Mr. Gaetz, a close ally of Mr. Trump. “I think the president has been pretty consistent in his desire to not start a new forever war, and I think the country can even be more heartened in that ideology with Mr. Bolton’s departure.”

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Trump Calls for Fed’s ‘Boneheads’ to Slash Interest Rates Below Zero

Westlake Legal Group 11DC-TRUMPFED-facebookJumbo Trump Calls for Fed’s ‘Boneheads’ to Slash Interest Rates Below Zero United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Powell, Jerome H Interest Rates Federal Reserve System European Central Bank Europe Banking and Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON — President Trump urged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates below zero, suggesting a last-ditch monetary policy tactic tested abroad but never in America.

His comments came just one day before European policymakers are widely expected to cut a key rate further into negative territory.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said that “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt,” adding that “the USA should always be paying the the lowest rate.”

Mr. Trump continued to criticize his handpicked Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, saying “it is only the naïveté of Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve that doesn’t allow us to do what other countries are already doing.”

He concluded by calling Mr. Powell, whom he nominated to head the central bank in 2017, and his colleagues “Boneheads.”

Mr. Trump’s request is extraordinary for several reasons. The United States economy is still growing solidly and consumers are spending strongly, making this an unusual time to push for monetary accommodation, particularly negative rates, a policy that the Fed debated but passed up even in the depths of the Great Recession. It is also typical for countries with comparatively strong economies to pay higher interest rates, not the “lowest” ones.

Negative rates, which have been used in economies including Japan, Switzerland and the Eurozone, mean that savers are penalized and borrowers rewarded: Their goal is to reduce borrowing costs for households and companies to encourage spending. But they come at a cost, curbing bank profitability.

While it’s unclear how effective they have been as a policy tool — some research suggests negative rates could curtail lending — they are increasingly a reality in much of the world as central banks rush to support economic growth and investors look for safe assets.

The timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet is also significant. The European Central Bank is expected to cut a key interest rate to a record-low negative 0.5 percent and roll out additional stimulus measures at its meeting on Thursday, in a bid to shore up very-low inflation and waning growth in important economies like Germany. Central banks around the world have been lowering their policy rates, partly because Mr. Trump’s trade war is combining with Brexit jitters and a global manufacturing slowdown to threaten growth in many nations.

The American president has commented on foreign central bank rate moves before, tweeting in June that “they have been getting away with this for years,” when Mario Draghi, who heads the European Central Bank, indicated that officials might provide additional stimulus to shore up the eurozone economy.

The Fed itself has already cut rates for the first time in more than a decade in July and is poised to lower borrowing costs further as risks to economic growth loom. Mr. Powell and his colleagues lowered interest rates to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent at their July meeting, and they are widely expected to cut by another quarter of a percentage point at their meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington.

“The Fed has, through the course of the year, seen fit to lower the expected path of interest rates,” Mr. Powell said in a speech last week, adding “that’s one of the reasons why the outlook is still a favorable one, despite these crosswinds we’ve been facing.”

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‘Trump Unplugged’: A President as His Own National Security Adviser

WASHINGTON — On one foreign policy issue after another, John R. Bolton was the in-house skeptic who checked President Trump’s most unorthodox instincts. Whether it was talking to North Korea, cooperating with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia or inviting the Taliban to Camp David, he was the national security adviser who said no.

Mr. Bolton’s exit from the West Wing on Tuesday removes one of the last constraints on Mr. Trump’s sense of the possible in world affairs. In not quite three years in the White House, Mr. Trump has cycled through more senior foreign policy and national security advisers than any other president, leaving him without the men who once were considered the adults in the room: Jim Mattis, Rex W. Tillerson, H. R. McMaster, John F. Kelly and more.

“The departure of Bolton suggests that President Trump is going to be his own foreign policy adviser,” said Martin S. Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served as a diplomat and National Security Council official during the Clinton administration.

And no matter who replaces Mr. Bolton, “it’s not going to be an important position anymore — there really isn’t going to be much of a process under Trump,” said Eliot A. Cohen, who worked for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the administration of President George W. Bush.

“It’s going to be whatever is most conducive to his re-election,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Bolton followed the Cold War model of foreign policy, but to an extent that Democrats and some moderate Republicans found to be extreme. He pushed for military action against Iran and Syria over their weapons policies, called for the “end of North Korea” and most recently said the United States must be more forceful in confronting the Venezuelan government.

Still, he was firmly tied to the Republican foreign policy establishment.

Mr. Trump came into office with a completely unconventional foreign policy that combined an instinctive isolationism with theatrical attempts at deal-making. And he has shown himself to be uninterested in working through the alliances that largely defined 50 years of bipartisan American foreign policy.

Mr. Trump’s diplomacy of showmanship has produced few big successes beyond a precedent-breaking series of meetings with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and declaring the defeat of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, at a news conference with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will now have the most influence over Mr. Trump’s foreign policy.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

To make headway in negotiations, Mr. Trump will almost certainly have to soften some of his absolutist foreign policies. That means returning to peace talks with the Taliban — even though Mr. Trump declared that process “dead” on Monday.

In North Korea, that could mean a phased rollback of its nuclear abilities instead of an immediate and full denuclearization, as the Trump administration has demanded.

And in dealing with Iran, American officials may need to ease a “maximum pressure” campaign of bruising economic sanctions before President Hassan Rouhani will agree to meet with Mr. Trump — perhaps as soon as this month at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Mr. Bolton would have opposed all of those moves. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, now the senior national security official on Mr. Trump’s team, is not likely to stand in the president’s way.

It is not known what Mr. Pompeo — or Mr. Trump, for that matter — will do to resolve a range of intractable problems, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel holds elections next week that could determine the fate of Mr. Trump’s ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after which the White House has promised to release its long-awaited blueprint.

Mr. Trump also has no clear endgame for his trade fight with China, and must find a way to reconcile his staunch refusal to back down with the risk that higher tariffs will spoil the economic growth on which his re-election largely depends.

Mr. Pompeo has taken pains to ensure that he is marching firmly in step with his commander in chief. Mr. Bolton’s ouster — which he insists was a resignation — will further enhance Mr. Pompeo’s substantial influence over Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, even at the risk of overriding his own hawkish impulses.

It was Mr. Pompeo who directed and oversaw the special envoy who conducted months of peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, a process Mr. Trump called off last week but may yet resume. Mr. Bolton saw no reason to negotiate with the Afghan insurgent group, which harbored the Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It was opposition to Mr. Trump’s effort to strike a peace deal that was Mr. Bolton’s ultimate undoing.

Mr. Bolton “understands the world for what it is and the dangers that threaten America’s national security interests,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s personal diplomacy of showmanship has so far produced few big successes beyond a precedent-breaking series of meetings with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and declaring the defeat of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria and Iraq.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

And as impulsive and unpredictable as the president’s actions may be, firing Mr. Bolton reveals a certain consistency in Mr. Trump’s worldview: Though attracted to never-been-done theatrics like bringing the Taliban to Camp David or meeting with Mr. Kim, the president is also moored by suspicion of military adventures and has a huge appetite for deals.

What Mr. Trump really wants from his foreign policy is a diplomatic victory as he heads into his 2020 re-election campaign.

“The irreconcilable difference between Bolton and Trump was that Bolton fundamentally doesn’t believe in diplomacy with adversaries, and President Trump seeks diplomacy with adversaries as must-see TV,” said Jake Sullivan, a top Democratic adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He said Mr. Pompeo “is much more deferential to the president, and more interested in cultivating a good relationship with the president than sticking to his ideological guns.”

Among Mr. Trump’s national security team, Mr. Pompeo is now widely considered the first among equals.

At least three contenders mentioned on Tuesday to replace Mr. Bolton — the Iran envoy Brian H. Hook; Stephen E. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea; and Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany — are among Mr. Pompeo’s top lieutenants at the State Department.

But should Mr. Trump again look for a scapegoat should his foreign policy founder, Mr. Pompeo has an exit strategy — the prospect of running for the Senate from his adopted home state of Kansas, as Republican Party leaders are lobbying him to do. Mr. Pompeo has brushed off the political campaign by maintaining that he will remain at the State Department as long as Mr. Trump wants, but he has not shut the door on entering the race, according to Republicans who have spoken with him about running.

For now, “Pompeo is not going to allow for any daylight to show between himself and the president,” Mr. Indyk said. “What we are going to see now is Trump unplugged — and God knows where that is going to lead America.”

The president said he would name a new national security adviser next week.

“It’s hard for me to imagine Trump not choosing someone whose only agenda is to carry out the president’s agenda,” said Matthew C. Waxman, who held multiple national security posts in the George W. Bush administration and is now a law professor at Columbia University. “And it’s hard for me to imagine someone taking the job without that idea in mind.”

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Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator, scored a narrow victory on Tuesday in a special House election in North Carolina that demonstrated President Trump’s appeal with his political base but also highlighted his party’s deepening unpopularity with suburban voters.

Mr. Bishop defeated Dan McCready, a moderate Democrat, one day after Mr. Trump made a full-throated plea for support for the Republican at a rally on the conservative, eastern end of a Charlotte-to-Fayetteville district, which the president carried by nearly 12 points in 2016.

With most votes counted on Tuesday night, Mr. Bishop was ahead by about two percentage points, according to The Associated Press.

As Mr. Trump heads into a re-election year, the closeness of the outcome in a district that hasn’t been held by a Democrat since the 1960s confirmed once more that he energizes Democrats and some independents to fight against him just as much as he inspires Republicans to fight for him. In 2018, Democratic candidates flipped several G.O.P.-held House seats in districts that Mr. Trump had won, a sign of distaste among moderate and suburban voters who reluctantly backed him in 2016.

For Democrats looking ahead to 2020, those midterm results and Mr. Bishop’s slim margin in a conservative seat offer more evidence that Mr. Trump could face trouble in states such as North Carolina, which is Republican-leaning but filled with the sort of college-educated voters who have grown uneasy with the president.

As even some Republican pollsters and officials acknowledge, Mr. Trump — who enjoys high approval ratings with Republicans, but slipping ratings with voters overall in some recent polls — needs to improve his standing with suburban voters, particularly women. He carried North Carolina by 3.6 percentage points in 2016.

In Washington, Mr. Bishop’s victory is unlikely to be seen among Republicans as improving their chances of winning the House back in 2020. Indeed, Mr. Bishop’s win came only after outside Republican groups poured over $5 million into the district. Republican strategists said they do not see a Bishop win as slowing the steady trickle of G.O.P. lawmakers who are retiring rather than seeking re-election with an unpopular president on top of the ticket.

The House district, which extends from Charlotte through a number of exurban and rural counties to the east, has not been represented by a Democrat since the early 1960s. 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.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160551399_e860c37d-1133-40cb-a1cc-52ea7aed1f9f-articleLarge Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins 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, ran seeking to flip control of the longtime Republican-held Ninth Congressional District.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

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 had been on the campaign trail for 27 straight months. A centrist, he focused on the issue of health care affordability and criticized 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 boasted of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and he repeatedly attacked Mr. McCready by lumping him with the more left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party.

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

Live Results
North Carolina Special Election Results: Ninth House District
See full results and maps from the North Carolina special election.

Sept. 10, 2019

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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 needed to rack up votes if he was to score an upset.

Lisa Rockholt, 58, a registered nurse, said she voted for Mr. McCready. She said she typically voted 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.

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, represented 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?”

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,” she said.

“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.

In the late afternoon, Mr. Bishop arrived at an elementary school in a suburb southeast of Charlotte, wearing a Carolina-blue dress shirt and slacks. A group of reporters surrounded him and he reiterated his vision, which is squarely pro-Trump.

“The principles I stand for are timeless,” he said. “I think one problem we have is too many politicians shape-shift, and mold themselves to what they think people will want to hear and I don’t do that.”

Indeed, the fliers his supporters handed out painted a stark contrast between Mr. Bishop (“The Right Dan”) and Mr. McCready (“The Wrong Dan”), noting Mr. Bishop’s support for Mr. Trump’s border wall, his N.R.A. endorsement, his anti-abortion stance and his endorsement from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bishop criticized the Democratic Party for a leftward lurch, and said that his opponent, who considers himself a moderate, has received funding from “the farthest-left sources of money in the country.”

The race, he said, was “a clear clash of different visions.”

“I represent a Trump vision of America. I join in President Trump’s vision of America of a booming economy and taxes that are lower and jobs that are more plentiful and border security and the idea of American exceptional continuing into the indefinite future.”

Mr. Bishop shook a few hands of voters as they made their way in to the polls, then huddled for an extended period of time with one man in shorts and a ball cap. After the man went inside, Mr. Bishop spoke with William Brawley, a former state representative who was defeated in 2018, and was handing out pro-Bishop fliers.

“What was his beef?” Mr. Brawley said of the man in the cap.

“Doesn’t like Donald Trump,” Mr. Bishop replied.

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

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In North Carolina Do-Over Vote, a Reliable Republican District Is Up for Grabs

Sept. 8, 2019

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North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much

Dec. 8, 2018

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A Rare Do-Over Congressional Election Is a Chance to Battle-Test 2020 Strategies

July 31, 2019

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Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California

Westlake Legal Group 10dc-homeless-facebookJumbo Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California Urban Areas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Los Angeles (Calif) Homeless Persons Executive Orders and Memorandums California Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON — President Trump is pushing aides to find ways to curtail the growing number of homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles, part of broader discussions his aides have held for weeks about urban problems in liberal locales, according to his personal lawyer and administration officials.

A team of administration officials is in California on what was described as a “fact-finding” mission as they weigh proposals to address the burgeoning crisis. But it is not clear what steps the administration could legally take on an issue that has traditionally been handled at the local level.

“Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. He said that the president signed an executive order to ease affordable housing development in June, and that he had “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

The visit of the administration officials to California was first reported by The Washington Post. The intensified discussions took place as the president, who has frequently criticized how urban areas in Democratic states are managed, prepares for a swing through California next week.

California has the largest homeless population in the country, according to a 2018 report compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at an estimated 130,000 people.

And the nature of homelessness in California is markedly different than in other parts of the country; the state also has the highest percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, with nearly 70 percent of the homeless — or about 90,000 people — living on the street. That report estimated that nearly half of all people without shelter in the United States were in California in 2018. New York State had the second largest homeless population, nearly 92,000, according to the report. But of those, fewer than 5 percent lacked shelter.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, who was known for his aggressive crackdowns on street-bound homelessness, said he had been discussing the issue with administration officials.

“I think they feel that there’s got to be something that creates an incentive, carrot and stick, for cities to do something about it,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that the discussions had been going on for two months.

Word of the efforts by the administration, which has repeatedly sought to cut housing assistance in its budget requests, alarmed advocates for the homeless and angered city leaders across California.

“Simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing that people need is not a real solution and will likely only make the situation worse,” said Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, whose city has been an object of the president’s scorn.

An estimated 59,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County, according to a count conducted this year by the county, about a 12 percent increase over 2018. Of those, an estimated 44,000, or 75 percent, were unsheltered. Within the city of Los Angeles, which is distinct from the county, there were 36,000 homeless, including 27,000 who were unsheltered, according to that same count.

Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric M. Garcetti, and other political leaders faced intense scrutiny this summer after the release of the results of the 2019 count, which also showed that the number of homeless had increased 16 percent in the city. The surge was especially shocking because the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018 to address the problem.

Voters approved two high-profile initiatives in recent years to fund homeless services in the region, including a 2016 city bond that earmarked $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless and a 2017 county quarter-cent sales tax increase to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. The mayor’s defenders and city officials have pointed out that the city housed nearly 22,000 people in 2018, a record number for the government and an increase of 23 percent from 2017. But even amid those efforts, the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, one of the priciest rental markets in the country, has continued to push more individuals and families out of their homes.

While Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles has often been a focal point for national conversations about homelessness, the high rate of unsheltered people has become a source of friction across the state, in cities including Eureka, Oakland and San Francisco. With nowhere else to go, the homeless often set up encampments on sidewalks and beneath highway overpasses. Increasingly, encampments are nestling against wild lands, raising concerns amid increasingly intense and volatile wildfire seasons.

But while the displeasure of middle-class urban residents often receives attention, the homeless themselves — many of whom have full-time jobs but cannot afford California’s high rents — have the most to be frustrated about. Safety is a huge concern: An analysis published earlier this year by Kaiser Health News found that a record 918 homeless people died last year in Los Angeles County.

The administration has discussed refurbishing homeless facilities or building new ones, The Post reported. An administration official said that while those ideas have been discussed, nothing has been settled.

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

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Tuesday that he would move swiftly to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if voters returned him to power in the election next week, seizing what he called a historic opportunity from a sympathetic White House to give Israel “secure, permanent borders.”

His plan to annex territory along the Jordan River would reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would reduce any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals on the left and right largely greeted the announcement, made in the heat of a campaign in which he is battling for survival, as a transparent political ploy.

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

He said he wanted to capitalize on 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.

“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 the Tel Aviv suburb of 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 or annexations there to be illegal.

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

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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.

This was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised annexation days before an election. Before the previous election, in April, in which he was also fighting to shore up right-wing support, he announced his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, but he gave no specifics and no timetable.

This time, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

The White House said in a statement that there was “no change in United States policy at this time,” and confirmed that the administration’s long-promised Middle East peace plan would be released after the election.

Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief Palestinian negotiator, warned Tuesday night that if Mr. Netanyahu manages to put through his plan, he will have “succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that unilateral annexation of occupied territory was a war crime. “The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” he said. “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

In a possible sign of Palestinian displeasure, rockets fired from Gaza later Tuesday night set off alarms in southern Israel, including in Ashdod, where Mr. Netanyahu was hustled offstage by bodyguards to take cover in the middle of a campaign speech.

Reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement was muted in the Arab world, where the Palestinian cause no longer stirs the passions it once did.

[Why the Arab world isn’t outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank vow.]

Palestinians see the Jordan Valley as their future breadbasket. Israel’s critics say it has been steadily uprooting Arab farmers and herders from the area.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160556991_963f6286-799f-4c92-89ef-add42b0970c8-articleLarge Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex a Third 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 annex the Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.CreditOded Balilty/Associated Press

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said there was a consensus within Israel’s national-security establishment that Israel should retain control of the valley for some period after a peace treaty is signed, to ensure that the Palestinians continue to cooperate with Israel to maintain security.

But unilateral annexation was another thing, he said.

“If Netanyahu now says forever,” Mr. Kurtzer said, “this clearly will not be acceptable to any present or future Palestinian leader.”

As for the American support, Daniel B. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel under President Obama, warned that any celebration of a Trump recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank could be short-lived. “A Democratic successor to Trump would certainly withdraw U.S. recognition,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s gambit also met deep skepticism among Israeli analysts, who said he has frequently made election-eve promises that went unfulfilled, and noted that earlier right-wing attempts at annexing parts of the West Bank were blocked by none other than him.

But his career could end if he does not siphon enough votes from parties to his right in the campaign’s final days, and his announcement was clearly aimed at tempting Israelis who support annexing the West Bank into giving him the benefit of the doubt.

His main opponents from the center — Mr. Gantz and the other former army chiefs who are running in his Blue and White party — have said publicly that Israel must not yield the Jordan Valley for security reasons, leaving them little room to challenge his plan.

In a speech late Tuesday, Mr. Gantz looked past the specific proposal to assail Mr. Netanyahu for damaging the long-term relationship with the United States by exploiting it for short-term political needs.

“Netanyahu is using and hurting the ties between Israel and the U.S.” he said. “He is harming our ties with the Jewish community in the U.S. He is linking our politics with the Americans, and this is wrong. Our ties are strategic, these connections are deep and vital and are based on shared interests and not on election-time deals.”

Several American Jewish groups supporting a two-state solution immediately condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s plan.

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

“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

[Why is the Jordan Valley strategically important? A closer look.]

In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

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

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.

Either action could lead to violence that could force Israel to send troops back into territory where Palestinians have largely policed themselves under the quarter-century-old Oslo peace accords, said Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli negotiator.

“Unlike many of his coalition colleagues, Netanyahu cannot get a pass for not understanding the potentially devastating consequences,” Mr. Novik said. “Consequently, risking chaos on the West Bank and likely spillover to Gaza is worse than reckless. It is stupid.”

“If it is just electioneering, it signals panic,” he added. “If there is a risk that he will make good on it, that is probably the most important reason to hope that he is not re-elected.”

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