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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 54)

Trump Wants Big Diplomatic Wins. Here Are the Odds.

WASHINGTON — John R. Bolton has left the Situation Room, and President Trump is left at the table with a giant set of chips set on hot spots around the world.

In Mr. Trump’s view, the clock is ticking: He needs some big victories between now and the election in November 2020. But he also wants to prove that his idiosyncratic approach to foreign policy — as a series of deals rather than a philosophy of how American hard and soft power is deployed — can produce results that have eluded Washington’s foreign policy establishment for a decade or more.

Here’s a look at six issues on the table.

Ask Mr. Trump about his negotiations with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and he will tell you he is already winning: He was the first American president to meet a North Korean leader — three times now — and the first to step, briefly, into North Korean territory. He has gotten back the remains of American soldiers and won a pause, which has lasted nearly two years, in nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. It all led Mr. Trump to declare on Twitter, after his first meeting with Mr. Kim in Singapore, that North Korea was “no longer a Nuclear Threat.”

The only problem is that the North’s nuclear ability has increased since that meeting, by some estimates significantly. Intelligence estimates indicate that the North’s stockpile of fuel has swelled, and so has its missile arsenal. Short-range missile tests have improved Mr. Kim’s ability to strike American bases in South Korea and Japan with a new generation of weapons intended to avoid missile defenses. And the North hasn’t turned over a list of its weapons, missiles and facilities, which was supposed to be the first step.

Mr. Trump remains convinced that Mr. Kim will be impressed by the prospect of new hotels on the (heavily mined) beaches of North Korea’s east coast. The whole country, he notes, is a great property, with easy access to China, Russia, South Korea and Japan. The only issue is whether he can persuade his new friend to give up the weapons that, in the North Korean leader’s view, have kept him in office. That may mean settling with partial steps — starting with a nuclear freeze — on the way to a bigger deal that may or may not happen.

Prospects for a win: Next to none, unless Mr. Trump changes the goals. It is more likely he will agree to incremental reductions and call it a victory.


ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160210131_b9fd2d00-0986-4f9a-b012-dc2a82d262e3-articleLarge Trump Wants Big Diplomatic Wins. Here Are the Odds. Xi Jinping United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons North Korea Middle East Kim Jong-un Iran General Assembly (UN) Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R Afghanistan

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear technology organization, in April.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

To the Trump administration, there is no more existential threat than Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sees it as the source of virtually all trouble in the Middle East, and Mr. Trump kept insisting to a series of aides that the only way to get a good deal with Iran was to destroy the 2015 nuclear agreement, which he dismissed as “terrible” and a giveaway because it did not forever ban Iran from making nuclear fuel.

Mr. Bolton, who before joining the administration was an advocate of American-led regime change in Iran, was an enthusiast of the “maximum pressure” campaign. And indeed it has been more successful than most experts expected. Iran’s oil revenues have plunged, its economy is shrinking and some of its elites are beginning to wonder whether it’s time to acknowledge the inevitable, which is to negotiate with a president they can’t stand.

All eyes are on the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in 10 days. Mr. Trump and even Mr. Pompeo have said they are ready to negotiate without preconditions, and could meet with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.

“I do believe they would like to make a deal,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “If they do, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s great, too.”

He insisted the goal remained the same. “They never will have a nuclear weapon,” he said. “If they are thinking about enrichment, they can forget about it.”

The wild card here is Mr. Rouhani because he is unwilling to meet until sanctions are lifted, or so he says.

Prospects for a win: Not bad. The Iranians have a long history of changing their minds and negotiating when there are no other options. And unlike North Korea, they have no nuclear weapons, so they have less to give up.


Every time Mr. Trump goes to Camp David, he sees pictures of Jimmy Carter, whose cabin-to-cabin diplomacy in 1978 brought peace between Israel and Egypt. Some aides think that inspired Mr. Trump to invite the Taliban — who gave haven to Al Qaeda to plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to the presidential retreat. Mr. Bolton’s argument that this was a crazy idea precipitated this week’s rupture.

But it’s hardly over. The “peace deal” Mr. Trump is touting isn’t the Camp David accords. It would call for a “reduction in violence” and the beginning of a dialogue about power sharing between the Taliban and the American-backed Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani. Few think it will lead to true peace. But it may be enough to give Mr. Trump the chance to significantly reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

Prospects for a win: Fairly high. The only people who want American troops out more than Mr. Trump are the Taliban.


President Xi Jinping of China at the Group of 20 summit this year in Osaka, Japan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump miscalculated when it came to challenging President Xi Jinping of China: He thought Mr. Xi would fold as tariffs took their toll. So far, Mr. Xi has not folded, and market jitters are a reflection of the fear that the world’s two largest economies could tank simultaneously.

The bigger problem facing the Trump administration is that after nearly 32 months in office, it has no integrated China strategy.

Mr. Pompeo and many in the military establishment view Mr. Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, as determined to spread the country’s influence through Africa, Latin America and, increasingly, Europe — and to use its technology, led by Huawei-produced networks, to exercise control. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other members of the economics team are convinced that Mr. Xi, in the end, will take the best economic deal he can.

And Mr. Trump, forever seeking flexibility, gyrates between these two posts, sometimes declaring China’s progress on 5G networks, artificial intelligence and quantum computing a national security threat, and at other times suggesting that supplying those efforts is up for negotiation.

Prospects for a win: Poor. Mr. Xi is playing a long game, and Mr. Trump is playing for November 2020.


The president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have taken two years to study Middle East peace — “the deal of the century,” Mr. Trump called it — and when they revealed the first part of the plan, it was all about getting wealthy Arab states, among others, to invest tens of billions of dollars in the Palestinian territories, as well as in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

But key decision makers avoided the conference, and with Israel in the midst of its own campaign season, the political side of the plan won’t be released until after the election — if then. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pre-empted the whole proposal this week with his pre-election promise to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank — reducing any future Palestinian state to an enclave encircled by Israel.

Prospects for a win: On life support. No evidence supports the idea that Mr. Kushner will succeed where others have failed.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this month. Mr. Trump pushed for Russia to be allowed back into the Group of 7, despite the country’s annexation of Crimea.CreditMikhail Klimentyev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Alone among his foreign policy advisers, Mr. Trump believes the key to dealing with Russia is reintegration, letting the country back into the Group of 7, forgiving (or ignoring) its annexation of Crimea and never mentioning its effort to influence the 2016 election, a charge he has dismissed as a “hoax.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is gearing up for a fundamental shift in policy in which Russia and China are regarded as “revisionist” states that must be challenged. And the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency say they are constantly creating plans to counter Russian malign influence in the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump argues “there is no reason for this,” and says that with a little help to the Russian economy, President Vladimir V. Putin would be a lot easier to deal with. With Mr. Bolton gone, Mr. Trump may well try to negotiate an extension to the New START treaty, the last remaining arms control agreement between the United States and Russia.

But when it comes to lifting sanctions, Mr. Trump has run into a brick wall with his own party, whose leaders say they have no intention of reversing decades of hawkish views on containment.

Prospects for a win: Mr. Trump is not playing poker here — he’s playing solitaire. The only possible victory is an arms control treaty extension.

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

Trump Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Good Will’ to China

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday night that the United States would delay its next planned tariff increase on China by two weeks, as “a gesture of good will” that may help to mend the seriously damaged ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

The United States would delay a planned increase in its 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese goods from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, a move that was made “at the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st,” the president said in a tweet.

The move comes as trade talks between the United States and China have stagnated, leading to stock market volatility and consternation among businesses that have paid higher prices to import and export goods. Despite months of talks, negotiators still appear far from a comprehensive trade deal that would resolve the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese economic practices, including its infringement on American intellectual property.

The president’s announcement will delay tariffs by only two weeks. But it could allow negotiators to meet ahead of the next round of tariffs, raising the potential for that increase to be averted.

The two sides were on the cusp of a trade deal this spring, when Chinese leaders decided that some American demands to change their laws infringed too much on Chinese sovereignty. Since then, Mr. Trump has moved ahead with taxing an additional $112 billion of Chinese products, and he was expected to raise tariffs even further on Oct. 1. China imposed additional tariffs on $75 billion worth of American goods in retaliation.

Tensions between the two sides have eased slightly in recent weeks, with Chinese officials agreeing to travel to the United States in October for the next round of talks. On Wednesday, China published a short list of American products that would be exempt from its new tariffs, and said it would announce more exemptions in coming weeks. The exemptions included cancer drugs and certain chemicals that China does not produce domestically, but it did not include American exports like pork and soybeans, which have been targeted by Beijing as punishment for Mr. Trump’s tariffs.

In remarks in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Mr. Trump greeted the exemptions as a sign that China would soon compromise, saying that the trade war “was only going to get worse” and “they want to make a deal.”

“They took tariffs off, certain types,” he said. “I think it was a gesture. It was a big move. People were shocked. I wasn’t shocked.”

On other fronts, the Trump administration continues to move ahead with more stringent treatment of China. The administration has drafted an executive order that would increase inspections of mailed packages, in an effort to crack down on shipments of counterfeit goods and deadly drugs from foreign nations including China.

The order would empower the United States Postal Service to increase inspections of small packages that arrive in the country by air, according to several people familiar with the draft, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. That would help to close a loophole that has allowed dangerous drugs like the opioid fentanyl and other contraband to pass into the United States unchecked.

The measure is not aimed specifically at China. But Mr. Trump has often accused China of failing to stop shipments of fentanyl from flowing into the United States. Mr. Trump said late last month that he was directing the Postal Service and private American companies like FedEx, Amazon and UPS to search packages from China for fentanyl and refuse delivery. On Sept. 1, Mr. Trump placed more tariffs on Chinese imports as punishment for Beijing’s failure to stop fentanyl shipments and its refusal to buy more agricultural goods from the United States.

“Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop — it didn’t,” Mr. Trump said in a tweet last month, referring to Xi Jinping, China’s president.

The executive order would apply solely to the Postal Service, not private companies like FedEx or UPS. The order is drafted to apply to all countries, though the effects would fall most heavily on China, a major source of both counterfeit products and fentanyl as well as small packages shipped into the United States.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11DC-TRADE--1-articleLarge Trump Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Good Will’ to China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Postal Service (US) International Trade and World Market fentanyl Executive Orders and Memorandums Economic Conditions and Trends Counterfeit Merchandise China

The executive order drafted by the Trump administration would increase inspections of packages mailed through the United States Postal Service but would not apply to private companies like FedEx or UPS.CreditChristopher Lee/Bloomberg

Regarding the trade talks, China and the United States appear to still have substantive differences. Chinese officials have emphasized recent changes they have made to laws governing foreign investment and intellectual property, rather than discussing the more significant changes the Trump administration has demanded.

Mr. Trump has ordered American companies out of China and expressed satisfaction at the damage his tariffs are wreaking on its economy.

Business leaders say they are already struggling under the tariffs, and predict lower profits and wage cuts if further levies — more are set for December — go into place. A poll by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai published Wednesday said the trade war was weighing on its members’ projections for revenue growth, optimism about the future and future investment plans. Moody’s Analytics estimates that the trade war has already cost 300,000 American jobs, a toll that could increase to nearly 450,000 by the end of this year and nearly 900,000 jobs by the end of next year, assuming Mr. Trump’s planned tariff increases go into effect.

In recent months, some of the focus has shifted away from the terms of the trade deal itself to whether there can be an interim agreement that would involve Chinese purchases of American agricultural products and smooth over relations between the countries.

Chinese officials and their contacts have floated the idea of restarting agricultural purchases, in return for the United States postponing further tariff increases and offering some relief for Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that has been blacklisted from buying American products, several people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Trump has been deeply frustrated by China’s refusal to purchase American agricultural products in recent months. The move would help the president by buoying a constituency that is important for him politically and also increasingly opposed to the trade war.

But such an interim agreement has also proved elusive. The president and his advisers are increasingly aware of the national security risk posed by Huawei, and cognizant that they would face criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike if they relent. Companies have submitted more than 120 applications to the Commerce Department to supply certain nonsensitive products to Huawei, but no applications have yet been approved.

American officials may consider removing some tariffs in return for economic concessions from China, but they are unlikely to do so for agricultural purchases, Mr. Trump’s allies say.

The Chinese, meanwhile, know that agricultural purchases would reduce the political pressure on Mr. Trump and potentially increase his chances of re-election, and they are not likely to trade away this source of leverage easily, people familiar with their thinking said.

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two countries were discussing soybean purchases, but pushed back on suggestions that the United States would be easily bought off.

“I’ve been accused at times of just wanting to sell soybeans. That’s not what we’re trying to do,” Mr. Mnuchin told lawmakers in the hearing. “We want to make sure that China treats our farmers fairly and doesn’t retaliate against the farmers in an unfair way.”

“As part of any discussion, we are talking about ag purchases,” he told reporters after the hearing. “That’s very important to us, defending our farmers.”

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

Trump Won’t Order a Capital Gains Tax Cut, for Now

Westlake Legal Group merlin_150683208_9c41ddae-6e59-471f-ba7f-5575fc55bd68-facebookJumbo Trump Won’t Order a Capital Gains Tax Cut, for Now United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Norquist, Grover G Federal Taxes (US) Cruz, Ted Capital Gains Tax

WASHINGTON — President Trump told his top economic advisers on Wednesday that he had decided, for now, to forgo using executive authority to deliver a tax cut that would primarily benefit wealthy investors.

The decision, which Mr. Trump disclosed at a White House meeting focused on tax issues, ended more than a year of debate inside his administration over a proposal that would have reduced the taxes investors pay on the profits they earn when selling assets like stocks or bonds.

Mr. Trump’s economic team had been exploring the idea of taking unilateral action on capital gains and delivering a tax break to investors without congressional approval. The president said last month he believed this could be accomplished with his executive authority.

But the idea of circumventing Congress was challenged by some within the administration who argued it would defy a legal opinion issued in 1992, under President George Bush.

The decision not to push for an investor tax cut spares Mr. Trump from what would have been a new round of attacks by Democrats, who have assailed the tax cut on so-called capital gains as a handout to the rich, and most likely a prolonged court fight over whether the executive branch has the authority to enact the cut without action from Congress.

“President Trump was thoroughly briefed on the complex economic, legal and regulatory issues, and concluded that at this time he does not feel enough of the benefits will go to the middle class,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Wednesday evening in an email.

Mr. Trump left open the possibility that he could revisit the idea. The Wall Street Journal first reported the decision.

Republican senators and conservative anti-tax groups have pushed Mr. Trump over the past year to order the Treasury Department to change the definition of “cost” for calculating capital gains. Such a move would allow taxpayers to adjust the initial value of an asset for inflation when it sells, effectively reducing the profit earned on the sale and, with it, the tax liability.

Analyses by outside groups, including the Penn Wharton Budget Model, have found that the vast majority of the gains from the move would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who disproportionately pay capital gains taxes. Advocates of the tax cut had argued that millions of middle-class Americans would also benefit, by reducing taxes on the sale of stocks held in their portfolios or pension funds.

Supporters of the plan included Larry Kudlow, the director of Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council, the conservative anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist and a group of Republicans led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Twenty-one Republican senators wrote Mr. Trump this summer to champion the move.

Critics of the idea included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department is bound by a 1992 opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel that determined the Treasury Department does not have the authority to index capital gains to inflation by regulation. Democrats also opposed it overwhelmingly: 42 Democratic senators wrote Mr. Mnuchin, asking him to reject the idea.

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

Supreme Court Says Trump Can Bar Asylum Seekers While Legal Fight Continues

Westlake Legal Group 12Mexico-Migrants-03-facebookJumbo Supreme Court Says Trump Can Bar Asylum Seekers While Legal Fight Continues United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Supreme Court (US) Sotomayor, Sonia Immigration and Emigration Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Decisions and Verdicts Asylum, Right of

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States. The court said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from people who had traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country.

The court’s order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation’s southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.

A federal appeals court had largely blocked the policy, but the justices, in a brief, unsigned order, allowed it to go into effect while legal challenges move forward. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, saying the court’s action will “upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.”

This was the second time in recent months that the Supreme Court backed a major Trump administration immigration initiative. In July, the court allowed the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction of a barrier along the Mexican border. Last year, the court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the challengers in the new case, stressed that the Supreme Court’s action was provisional. “This is just a temporary step,” he said, “and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day. The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

The case will almost certainly return to the Supreme Court after an appeals court rules, but that will take many months.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, pledged on Wednesday night to “commence implementing the asylum rule ASAP.”

“While congress continues to do nothing,” he wrote on Twitter, “@realDonaldTrump’s administration uses every tool in the toolbox to try and solve the crisis at our southern border.”

In a Supreme Court brief in the case, the solicitor general, Noel J. Francisco, representing the administration, said the new policy was needed to address “an unprecedented surge in the number of aliens who enter the country unlawfully across the southern border and, if apprehended, claim asylum and remain in the country while their claims are adjudicated.”

Under the policy, which was announced July 15, only immigrants who have been denied asylum in another country or who have been victims of “severe” human trafficking are permitted to apply in the United States. “The rule thus screens out asylum seekers who declined to request protection at the first opportunity,” Mr. Francisco wrote.

Under the rules, Hondurans and Salvadorans must seek and be denied asylum in Guatemala or Mexico before they can apply in the United States. Guatemalans must seek and be denied asylum in Mexico.

Migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have made up the vast majority of asylum seekers who have tried to enter the United States in record numbers this year. The Border Patrol has arrested 419,831 migrant family members from those three countries at the southwest border so far this fiscal year, compared with just 4,312 Mexican family members.

The rules reversed longstanding asylum policies that allowed people to seek haven no matter how they got to the United States.

The administration made the unilateral move after months of pushing Guatemala and Mexico to commit to going along with the plan. Mr. Trump went as far to threaten both countries with tariffs unless they did more to halt the migration.

The administration struck such a deal with Guatemala in July, which would force the country to absorb Central American migrants. But Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the deal needs further approval, and the countries are still working on an implementation plan for the deal.

The Mexican government, however, has pushed back against the so-called safe-third-country agreement, which would force Mexico to absorb Guatemalan asylum seekers.

Instead of agreeing to the deal, Mexico deployed thousands of security personnel to its southern border and agreed to collaborate with the United States on a program that returns migrants to Mexico to wait out their cases.

Two federal trial judges had issued conflicting rulings on whether the new plan was lawful.

In July, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, who was appointed by President Trump, refused to block the administration’s rules.

That same day, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, blocked the new rules, saying they were put in place without following the required legal procedures.

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor said Judge Tigar’s ruling “warrants respect.”

“The rule the government promulgated,” she wrote, “topples decades of settled asylum practices and affects some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere — without affording the public a chance to weigh in.”

The two other members of the court’s liberal wing, Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, had dissented in earlier cases on Trump administration immigration policies. They did not note dissents from Wednesday’s order.

Judge Tigar ordered the administration to continue accepting applications from all otherwise eligible migrants, even if they had not sought asylum elsewhere on their journey north.

Judge Tigar said his ruling applied across the nation. Such nationwide injunctions have been the subject of much criticism, but the Supreme Court has never issued a definitive ruling on whether and when they are proper.

In August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, narrowed the geographic scope of Judge Tigar’s more recent ruling while it considered the administration’s appeal, saying it should apply only in the territorial jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, which includes two border states, California and Arizona. (Two other border states, Texas and New Mexico, are in the jurisdictions of other federal appeals courts.)

On Monday, however, Judge Tigar again imposed a nationwide injunction, saying he had been presented with additional evidence justifying one. “Anything but a nationwide injunction,” he wrote, “will create major administrability issues.” On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit temporarily blocked the new injunction and ordered the two sides to submit briefs on whether it should issue a stay.

In an emergency application to the Supreme Court last month seeking a stay of Judge Tigar’s initial ruling while the case moved forward, Mr. Francisco argued that the administration was entitled to skip ordinary notice and comment requirements for new regulations because foreign affairs were at issue and because a delay after the announcement of the procedures “may prompt an additional surge of asylum seekers.”

In any event, Mr. Francisco wrote, the Ninth Circuit’s narrower injunction, covering only the states in its jurisdiction, was still too broad. At most, he wrote, the injunction should cover only clients of the four groups challenging the new policy — East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the groups along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the administration was trying to rewrite a federal immigration law enacted in 1980. There was no reason, the A.C.L.U. said, to alter “the 40-year-long status quo while this case is heard on an expedited basis in the court of appeals.”

“The current ban would eliminate virtually all asylum at the southern border, even at ports of entry, for everyone except Mexicans (who do not need to transit through a third country to reach the United States),” the A.C.L.U.’s brief said. “The court should not permit such a tectonic change to U.S. asylum law.”

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

Trump Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Goodwill’ to China

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday night that the United States would delay its next planned tariff increase on China by two weeks, as “a gesture of goodwill” that may help to mend the seriously damaged ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

The United States would delay a planned increase in its 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese goods from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, a move that was made “at the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st,” the president said in a tweet.

The move comes as trade talks between the United States and China have stagnated, leading to stock market volatility and consternation among businesses that have paid higher prices to import and export goods. Despite months of talks, negotiators still appear far from a comprehensive trade deal that would resolve the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese economic practices, including its infringement on American intellectual property.

The president’s announcement will delay talks by only two weeks. But it could allow negotiators to meet ahead of the next round of tariffs, raising the potential for that increase to be averted.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11DC-TRADE--1-articleLarge Trump Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Goodwill’ to China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Postal Service (US) International Trade and World Market fentanyl Executive Orders and Memorandums Economic Conditions and Trends Counterfeit Merchandise China

The executive order drafted by the Trump administration would increase inspections of packages mailed through the United States Postal Service but would not apply to private companies like FedEx or UPS.CreditChristopher Lee/Bloomberg

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

North Carolina Election Shows How Political Lines Are Drawn. And They Are Fixed.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — The red is getting redder and the blue is getting bluer.

The special congressional election in North Carolina may have involved just about 190,000 voters, but it showed that the class, racial and regional divides among voters have only hardened since that demographic chasm helped drive President Trump’s election in 2016 and the Democratic rebound in the House in 2018.

Dan Bishop, a Republican state lawmaker, eked out a two-point victory in a historically conservative seat because he improved on his party’s performance with working-class whites in more lightly populated parts of the district. And even though Democrats nominated a Marine veteran, Dan McCready, who highlighted his baptism while serving in Iraq, his gains in Charlotte, the state’s biggest city, were not enough to offset the drop-off he suffered across several hundred miles of sprawling farms and small towns.

The bracing takeaway for Republicans is that their tightening embrace of Mr. Trump and his often demagogic politics is further alienating the upper middle-class voters — many in cities and their suburbs— who once were central to their base. At the same time, the Democrats are continuing to struggle with the working-class whites who once represented a pillar of their own coalition.

The results here in a district stretching from Charlotte to Fayetteville presage a brutal, national campaign that seems destined to become the political equivalent of trench warfare, with the two parties rallying their supporters but clashing over a vanishingly small slice of contested electoral terrain.

Such a contest could prove difficult for Mr. Trump, who helped deliver Mr. Bishop a victory by mobilizing their shared base of working-class whites at an election-eve rally, because his core support could well be insufficient to win him a second term without improving his standing with the suburbanites and women who reluctantly backed him in 2016.

Even as the president and his top aides crowed over their role in securing Mr. Bishop a two-point win in a seat Mr. Trump carried by 12 points, their next-day glow was jarred by a new Washington Post-ABC poll that delivered grim tidings. Mr. Trump would lose to a handful of the Democratic candidates, the survey indicated, and a trial heat between the president and Joseph R. Biden Jr. showed Mr. Biden thrashing Mr. Trump 55-40 among registered voters.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160520535_e23f50ea-e8f6-4c7a-8384-72e7dddf8b33-articleLarge North Carolina Election Shows How Political Lines Are Drawn. And They Are Fixed. 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 Bishop, right, won the election by two points in a district President Trump carried by 12 points in 2016.CreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But Republicans note that the election will not be held this week and they believe Mr. Trump can pull out another Electoral College victory if the Democrats veer out of the political mainstream next year and send just enough of those political moderates scrambling back to the G.O.P.

“Their run to the left is the great opportunity for us to get back the majority and for the president to get re-elected,” said Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, pointing to how many more House seats are now held by Democrats in districts won by Mr. Trump than by Republicans in seats Hillary Clinton carried.

More striking than Mr. McHenry’s rosy assessment is what he and other political veterans from both parties are now willing to acknowledge: that new lines of demarcation are making Democrats out of college-educated voters tooling around Charlotte in BMWs and Republicans out of blue-collar workers further out on Tobacco Road. And those lines are now fixed.

“We are living in, to take an old John Edwards term, Two Americas,” Mr. McHenry said, alluding to the former North Carolina senator. He added that “the view of the president is cemented in voters’ minds” and conceded that Mr. Trump can only improve his standing in the suburbs “along the margins.”

The gains Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate, made in Charlotte were not enough to offset the drop-off he suffered across sprawling farms and small towns of rural North Carolina.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

Former Representative Brad Miller, a longtime North Carolina Democrat with ancestral roots in this district, was just as blunt.

“It does grieve me greatly that the areas where my family was from have gone so Republican,” said Mr. Miller, noting that many of the voters who cast Republican ballots Tuesday “probably had grandparents with pictures of F.D.R. up in their living room.”

But Mr. Miller said the implications from Tuesday’s special election and last year’s midterms were undeniable if demoralizing in some ways.

“Democrats have a clear advantage in 2020, but there is no way to break into a lot of the folks who are for Trump. They’re just not going to vote for a Democrat, doesn’t matter who it is,” he said. “So Democrats can still win and probably will win but we’re going to be a very divided nation.”

Those divisions were easy to detect Wednesday in Rockingham, a county seat community well east of Charlotte best known for its famed Nascar track. Mr. McCready won the surrounding county by 2.5 percent last year but on Tuesday Mr. Bishop carried it by 5 percent.

Standing behind the counter at Iconic Wellness CBD, and surrounded by tasteful posters extolling the benefits of legal cannabis products, Pam Mizzell said she voted for Mr. Bishop in part because he had the strong backing of Mr. Trump.

Ms. Mizzell, who is white, said she wanted more Republicans in Washington supporting the president’s agenda. She accused former President Barack Obama of pitting “one race against the other race” (she did not cite any examples) and said she hoped that the Trump administration would help bring about an era of racial healing.

Diane McDonald, a school cafeteria worker who is African-American, offered a markedly different viewpoint, saying she was worried that Mr. Trump is promoting racism. “And they’re letting him get away with it,” Ms. McDonald said of Washington Republicans. “I thought McCready would make a difference.”

In Charlotte, it was not difficult to find white, Republican-leaning voters who also backed Mr. McCready.

Chris Daleus, a salesman, said he backed the Democrat Tuesday even though he supported Mr. Trump three years ago. “He seems to have embarrassed us in a lot of ways,” Mr. Daleus said of the president.

National Democrats took heart in such sentiments, believing their narrow defeat in a district they have not held since the 1960s foreshadows how a Trumpified Republican Party will run into the same suburban wall in 2020 as they did last year.

“There are 34 seats held by Republicans that are better pick-up opportunities for Democrats than this seat,” said Lucinda Guinn, a Democratic strategist. “Democrats can grow their majority.”

The more pressing matter for Democrats, though, may be whether they can improve their performance with working-class whites to reclaim the Senate and presidency in 2020, a question that will turn in part on whether they can defeat the North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis and reclaim this state from Mr. Trump, who won here by 3.6 points in 2016.

“Back in the 80s and 90s, North Carolina Democrats who bucked party affiliation were called Jessecrats,” said Doug Heye, a North Carolina-reared Republican consultant, referring to the late Senator Jesse Helms. “Now we may have to called them Trumpocrats. And if Democrats want North Carolina to truly be in play, they have to figure out how to appeal to these voters.”

Mr. Bishop’s campaign correctly determined that these mostly rural Democrats would hold the key to their success, even though their candidate’s state senate district includes parts of Charlotte. Jim Blaine, one of Mr. Bishop’s top aides, said that 75 to 80 percent of their paid advertising was directed toward the eastern, and more sparsely-populated, part of the district.

“It was focused on the core, long-standing, working-class Democratic constituency that makes up a huge piece of the population in those counties,” said Mr. Blaine, adding: “We had to persuade them not that Dan Bishop is the Republican, but the guy who would look out for them.”

He said their job was made easier in part because of the national Democratic Party’s drift left, but also because Mr. McCready did not make any major break from party orthodoxy that would have allowed him to present himself as a different sort of Democrat.

Mr. Trump’s high command, not surprisingly, had their own theory of why Republicans won here: Mr. Trump.

Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that the president’s election eve rally in Fayetteville 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.

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

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 North Carolina Election Shows How Political Lines Are Drawn. And They Are Fixed. 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 North Carolina Election Shows How Political Lines Are Drawn. And They Are Fixed. 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 North Carolina Election Shows How Political Lines Are Drawn. And They Are Fixed. 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 Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Goodwill’ to China

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday night that the United States would delay its next planned tariff increase on China by two weeks, as “a gesture of goodwill” that may help to mend the seriously damaged ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

The United States would delay a planned increase in its 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese goods from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, a move that was made “at the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st,” the president said in a tweet.

The move comes as trade talks between the United States and China have stagnated, leading to stock market volatility and consternation among businesses that have paid higher prices to import and export goods. Despite months of talks, negotiators still appear far from a comprehensive trade deal that would resolve the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese economic practices, including its infringement on American intellectual property.

The president’s announcement will delay talks by only two weeks. But it could allow negotiators to meet ahead of the next round of tariffs, raising the potential for that increase to be averted.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11DC-TRADE--1-articleLarge Trump Delays Planned Tariff Increase in ‘Gesture of Goodwill’ to China United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Postal Service (US) International Trade and World Market fentanyl Executive Orders and Memorandums Economic Conditions and Trends Counterfeit Merchandise China

The executive order drafted by the Trump administration would increase inspections of packages mailed through the United States Postal Service but would not apply to private companies like FedEx or UPS.CreditChristopher Lee/Bloomberg

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Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That 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 — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s 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 by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That 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 — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s 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 by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That 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 — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s 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 by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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