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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 92)

Fireworks, Maybe, but Will Mueller Hearing Be a Turning Point?

WASHINGTON — After all the swearing at, finally comes the swearing in. When Robert S. Mueller III takes the oath on Wednesday morning in the wood-paneled Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building, he will answer questions for the first time since opening his special counsel investigation into President Trump and Russia more than two years ago.

But for all the anticipation, for all the fighting that it took to get to this day, many in Washington assume it will be more fizzle than sizzle. Mr. Mueller, the famously stoic prosecutor and reluctant witness, has vowed to adhere strictly to the words of his 448-page report and no more, making it unlikely that he will serve as the dramatic accuser Mr. Trump’s critics yearn to see.

“I don’t have high expectations for any additional substantive appreciation of Mr. Mueller’s investigation,” said former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was the Democratic leader during the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “I think he’s going to stick to the script, and the Justice Department has told him to stick to the script, so I think it will be difficult for him to provide any more information.”

That is not to say it will be free of fireworks. Democrats will use Mr. Mueller to argue that Mr. Trump benefited from Russia’s help in the 2016 election even if investigators did not establish a criminal conspiracy and that his efforts to impede the investigation amounted to obstruction of justice even if Justice Department rules bar indictment of a sitting president. Republicans will grill the former special counsel to press their case that the entire investigation represented an illegitimate, partisan coup attempt even though Mr. Mueller himself is a lifelong Republican.

The resulting food fight could prove to be riveting television as cable and broadcast networks carry the proceedings live with back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. And Mr. Mueller may be compelling simply by virtue of his just-the-facts credibility after two years of near silence. The real question, however, is whether it changes anyone’s mind in a highly polarized country that has already digested Mr. Mueller’s findings and dug in on its conflicting views of Mr. Trump and his guilt or innocence.

“I pay close attention, I am interested and I’ll watch him tomorrow morning, but I don’t have great expectations of some dramatic change or shift,” said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian who has written books on Richard M. Nixon, among others. “He’s not going to say, ‘This president is guilty as sin, you should impeach him.’ That’s not his style and it’s not his politics either.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158345598_cb910b2b-9db6-4721-b188-58095ed90373-articleLarge Fireworks, Maybe, but Will Mueller Hearing Be a Turning Point? Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates House Committee on the Judiciary House Committee on Intelligence

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, is one of two panels questioning Mr. Mueller on Wednesday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Kenneth M. Duberstein, who took over as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff after the Iran-contra scandal, said the hearing had become a sideshow. “I think the American people have moved on,” he said. “This is more for TV ratings. I would be shocked if Mueller would say something important that isn’t already out there. I don’t know a lot of people who are planning on listening in this town.”

Washington has seen plenty of dramatic hearings over the years, including John Dean testifying against his own president during the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon and Oliver L. North in his Marine uniform explaining his role in Iran-contra and making himself into a hero of the right. For the first of his two hearings on Wednesday, Mr. Mueller will sit in the same chamber that Ken Starr presented his evidence against Mr. Clinton.

By the time Mr. Mueller takes his seat, however, he will be speaking a full four months and two days after delivering his report to the Justice Department — or after 2,191 presidential tweets as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, to use another measure. By now, whether they have actually read it or not, many Americans and their representatives in Congress have already settled on what they think Mr. Mueller’s findings mean.

The delay in his testimony and the ability of Attorney General William P. Barr to frame the results of his investigation on terms most favorable to Mr. Trump, who appointed him, have cemented a political reality long before Mr. Mueller explained his conclusions in any depth. The only time he has spoken about the investigation in public before now was a nine-minute statement in May when he took no questions.

That by itself makes his appearance important. Ken Gormley, the president of Duquesne University and author of books on Archibald Cox, the Watergate prosecutor, and the battle between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Starr, said no special counsel has been in this position. Mr. Cox resisted testifying to Congress because he was still contemplating criminal charges while Mr. Starr operated under a different law that required him to report what he considered impeachable offenses to Congress.

Mr. Mueller, who acted as a Justice Department subordinate, had no explicit authority to recommend impeachment, a function of Congress. And so many will scrutinize his words carefully to see if they add fuel to the drive by some Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump, a drive that gained the support of the N.A.A.C.P. on Tuesday.

“To me, it’s as dramatic as John Dean testifying,” Mr. Gormley said of Mr. Mueller’s appearance. “It really is unprecedented. We’ve never had this kind of situation.”

For their part, Republicans on Tuesday took on their best nothing-to-see-here demeanor, dutifully repeating the party’s Americans-have-moved-on talking points.

The empty Judiciary Committee hearing room where Mr. Mueller will face lawmakers. Many will scrutinize his words carefully to see if they add fuel to the drive by some Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“We’ve already heard from him,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. “I don’t know how many times we want to see this movie again, but I think the American people have moved on past this.”

Asked how much attention voters would pay, Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, predicted “little to none,” adding: “I think the American people have moved on. I think the issue’s dead as four o’clock. I think people have already drawn their own conclusions.”

While playing down expectations, Democrats were still hoping for a splash. Judiciary Committee Democrats conducted a mock hearing on Tuesday, with Norman L. Eisen, one of their lawyers, playing Mr. Mueller and another aide playing Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio. Party leaders separately coached their members on how to talk about Mr. Mueller’s testimony to make sure they can capitalize on any momentum he provides.

Aides to Speaker Nancy Pelosi circulated a six-page briefing packet, titled, “Exposing the Truth,” charging the Trump administration with “unparalleled abuses of power and corruption while hiding the truth from the American public.” It urged Democrats to talk not just about Mr. Mueller’s findings but also legislative actions the Democrat-controlled House has taken to harden the 2020 elections against foreign interference.

But it also smacked of a field test of something more ambitious, a 2020 campaign message meant to sow doubts about Mr. Trump’s loyalties and actions. And if Washington veterans were jaded about the hearings, Democrats were gambling that it would take only one or two viral video clips to engage the public.

A completely unscientific survey of out-of-town diners in a House cafeteria on Tuesday suggested the potential. Most were in Washington to lobby lawmakers, meaning they keep a closer eye on events in the Capitol than many Americans.

Kia Birkenbuel, 60, a disability rights advocate from Montana, said she had read Mr. Mueller’s report and was more concerned with its findings about Russian interference than its evidence that the president may have obstructed justice. “I’m excited to hear what he has to say,” she said, “even if he has to keep within the boundaries of the report.”

At another table, Gabby Saunders, 22, an advocate for wildlife conservation from Utah, said she had read most of the report — and what she had not read, she listened to on audio. She called the coming testimony “the pinnacle of what we’ve been waiting for,” adding: “I’m from Utah. This is my second time being on the Hill. If I could see that live, it would be extraordinary.”

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

Robert Mueller’s Testimony Is Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-muellerprimer-facebookJumbo Robert Mueller’s Testimony Is Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need to Know. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department House Committee on the Judiciary House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — After two years of silence and one brief public statement, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will finally sit for prolonged questioning at two House hearings on Wednesday. Though he has expressed reluctance about testifying and has vowed to discuss only the contents of his 448-page investigation report, his appearances are nonetheless highly anticipated. Members of Congress will be trying to find ways to highlight the report’s findings or undermine them.

When: The House Judiciary Committee hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday and is expected to last about three hours, followed by a short break and the House Intelligence Committee hearing at noon for about two hours.

Where: Capitol Hill

Who: The Democratic chairmen of the two committees, Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York and Adam B. Schiff of California, will set the tone and lead the questioning for both sessions. But Republicans are preparing to try to counter them, led by Representatives Doug Collins of Georgia and Devin Nunes of California, with an assist from Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the most vocal critics of the Russia investigation.

How to watch: The New York Times will stream Mr. Mueller’s testimony, and our reporters will provide live context and analysis.

  • Obstruction. Much of the discussion at the first hearing, in the Judiciary Committee, is expected to revolve around the second volume of Mr. Mueller’s report, an exhaustive account of the president’s attempts to impede investigators. Mr. Mueller and his team did not decide whether Mr. Trump’s efforts amounted to criminal obstruction of justice but also declined to exonerate him.

  • Collusion. The Intelligence Committee will focus on the first volume of the report, which described Russia’s 2016 election interference. Investigators found repeated contacts between Russian intermediaries and the Trump campaign, whose advisers welcomed the help and expected to benefit from it, but not sufficient evidence to prove a conspiracy.

  • Mr. Mueller is expected to hew closely to his report, though lawmakers do not intend to make his testimony that easy for him. In May, during his only public appearance as special counsel, Mr. Mueller framed that document as his testimony to Congress and said he hoped that he would not have to testify.

  • The Democrats want Mr. Mueller to bring to life the most serious acts of possible obstruction in the report. They believe that many Americans lack a full understanding of Mr. Trump’s efforts to impede the inquiry and that Mr. Mueller’s recounting of it will leave an impression on voters. They may also try to push the taciturn Mr. Mueller to more clearly state whether Mr. Trump could have been charged with obstruction if not for Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be prosecuted.

  • The Republicans want to focus on parts of the report they view as beneficial to the president: namely Mr. Mueller’s decision not to charge anyone with conspiracy. But they have a litany of other questions about the investigation itself, beginning with its length. Republicans disagree about how hard to go after Mr. Mueller, but intend to ask about potential anti-Trump bias in the F.B.I. and among prosecutors on his team, many of whom have worked for or donated to Democratic causes, and some of the questions could get combative.

Their chief accomplishment would be getting Mr. Mueller to say that the president would have been charged with a crime if not for the Justice Department guidelines. But they also hope that he gives tacit or explicit endorsement of an impeachment investigation by Congress. Both are unlikely. More realistically, Democrats want average Americans watching at home to come away outraged by the president’s behavior.

The status quo. Republicans believe that if Mr. Mueller simply reiterates his report and keeps from helping Democrats, they have succeeded. They also hope to sow doubt about the fairness of Mr. Mueller’s investigation itself.

Be boring, very boring. Mr. Mueller wants to avoid entanglement in the political fray and leave with his reputation for independence unblemished.

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

Mark Esper Confirmed as Trump’s Defense Secretary

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-military-facebookJumbo Mark Esper Confirmed as Trump’s Defense Secretary United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Senate Mattis, James N Esper, Mark T Defense Department

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Mark T. Esper as secretary of defense on Tuesday, ending the longest period by far that the Pentagon has been without a permanent leader at its helm.

Mr. Esper, an Army infantryman who fought in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 before becoming a lobbyist for the military contractor Raytheon, replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned in December during a dispute over pulling American troops out of Syria.

In receiving the Senate nod, Mr. Esper has succeeded where Patrick M. Shanahan, President Trump’s original pick to replace Mr. Mattis, did not; Mr. Shanahan abruptly resigned last month, before his Senate confirmation hearing was even scheduled, after news reports revealed details of his 2011 divorce.

Mr. Esper now takes control of the country’s 1.2 million active-duty troops and one of the largest militaries in the world as the Trump administration is wrestling with the results of its so-called maximum pressure campaign of economic sanctions on Iran, which has prodded the two adversaries closer to military confrontation.

Mr. Esper will now add his voice to the senior Trump national security advisers seeking to influence the president on a range of issues, including how to end the war in Afghanistan, and how to negotiate with Turkey as the country, a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, goes against American wishes in buying a missile system from Russia.

How influential Mr. Esper will be is one of the biggest questions facing the new defense secretary. Mr. Mattis was widely viewed as a voice of reason and global stability in a chaotic administration, but those very views helped to poison the relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mattis, and led to Mr. Mattis’s resignation.

Mr. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, by contrast, was seen as far more amenable to White House directives.

Unlike Mr. Shanahan, Mr. Esper joins Mr. Trump’s senior advisers with a solid background in military affairs and a broad understanding of the alliances that the United States has maintained throughout the Cold War era. But the exit of Mr. Mattis and the Pentagon’s seven months without a permanent secretary have diminished the department’s voice in internal White House meetings.

Meanwhile, the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who was a former West Point classmate of Mr. Esper — have largely run national security policy in the months since Mr. Mattis departed. Mr. Esper’s challenge, national security experts said, will be to work to get the Pentagon’s views represented among those strong personalities.

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

Mark Esper Confirmed as Trump’s Defense Secretary

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-military-facebookJumbo Mark Esper Confirmed as Trump’s Defense Secretary United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Senate Mattis, James N Esper, Mark T Defense Department

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Mark T. Esper as secretary of defense on Tuesday, ending the longest period by far that the Pentagon has been without a permanent leader at its helm.

Mr. Esper, an Army infantryman who fought in the Persian Gulf war of 1991 before becoming a lobbyist for the military contractor Raytheon, replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned in December during a dispute over pulling American troops out of Syria.

In receiving the Senate nod, Mr. Esper has succeeded where Patrick M. Shanahan, President Trump’s original pick to replace Mr. Mattis, did not; Mr. Shanahan abruptly resigned last month, before his Senate confirmation hearing was even scheduled, after news reports revealed details of his 2011 divorce.

Mr. Esper now takes control of the country’s 1.2 million active-duty troops and one of the largest militaries in the world as the Trump administration is wrestling with the results of its so-called maximum pressure campaign of economic sanctions on Iran, which has prodded the two adversaries closer to military confrontation.

Mr. Esper will now add his voice to the senior Trump national security advisers seeking to influence the president on a range of issues, including how to end the war in Afghanistan, and how to negotiate with Turkey as the country, a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, goes against American wishes in buying a missile system from Russia.

How influential Mr. Esper will be is one of the biggest questions facing the new defense secretary. Mr. Mattis was widely viewed as a voice of reason and global stability in a chaotic administration, but those very views helped to poison the relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mattis, and led to Mr. Mattis’s resignation.

Mr. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, by contrast, was seen as far more amenable to White House directives.

Unlike Mr. Shanahan, Mr. Esper joins Mr. Trump’s senior advisers with a solid background in military affairs and a broad understanding of the alliances that the United States has maintained throughout the Cold War era. But the exit of Mr. Mattis and the Pentagon’s seven months without a permanent secretary have diminished the department’s voice in internal White House meetings.

Meanwhile, the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who was a former West Point classmate of Mr. Esper — have largely run national security policy in the months since Mr. Mattis departed. Mr. Esper’s challenge, national security experts said, will be to work to get the Pentagon’s views represented among those strong personalities.

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

Robert Mueller Is Testifying Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-muellerprimer-facebookJumbo Robert Mueller Is Testifying Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need to Know. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department House Committee on the Judiciary House Committee on Intelligence

WASHINGTON — After two years of silence and one brief public statement, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will finally sit for prolonged questioning at two House hearings on Wednesday. Though he has expressed reluctance about testifying and has vowed to discuss only the contents of his 448-page investigation report, his appearances are nonetheless highly anticipated. Members of Congress will be trying to find ways to highlight the report’s findings or undermine them.

When: The House Judiciary Committee hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday and is expected to last about three hours, followed by a short break and the House Intelligence Committee hearing at noon for about two hours.

Where: Capitol Hill

Who: The Democratic chairmen of the two committees, Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York and Adam B. Schiff of California, will set the tone and lead the questioning for both sessions. But Republicans are preparing to try to counter them, led by Representatives Doug Collins of Georgia and Devin Nunes of California, with an assist from Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the most vocal critics of the Russia investigation.

How to watch: The New York Times will stream Mr. Mueller’s testimony, and our reporters will provide live context and analysis.

  • Obstruction. Much of the discussion at the first hearing, in the Judiciary Committee, is expected to revolve around the second volume of Mr. Mueller’s report, an exhaustive account of the president’s attempts to impede investigators. Mr. Mueller and his team did not decide whether Mr. Trump’s efforts amounted to criminal obstruction of justice but also declined to exonerate him.

  • Collusion. The Intelligence Committee will focus on the first volume of the report, which described Russia’s 2016 election interference. Investigators found repeated contacts between Russian intermediaries and the Trump campaign, whose advisers welcomed the help and expected to benefit from it, but not sufficient evidence to prove a conspiracy.

  • Mr. Mueller is expected to hew closely to his report, though lawmakers do not intend to make his testimony that easy for him. In May, during his only public appearance as special counsel, Mr. Mueller framed that document as his testimony to Congress and said he hoped that he would not have to testify.

  • The Democrats want Mr. Mueller to bring to life the most serious acts of possible obstruction in the report. They believe that many Americans lack a full understanding of Mr. Trump’s efforts to impede the inquiry and that Mr. Mueller’s recounting of it will leave an impression on voters. They may also try to push the taciturn Mr. Mueller to more clearly state whether Mr. Trump could have been charged with obstruction if not for Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be prosecuted.

  • The Republicans want to focus on parts of the report they view as beneficial to the president: namely Mr. Mueller’s decision not to charge anyone with conspiracy. But they have a litany of other questions about the investigation itself, beginning with its length. Republicans disagree about how hard to go after Mr. Mueller, but intend to ask about potential anti-Trump bias in the F.B.I. and among prosecutors on his team, many of whom have worked for or donated to Democratic causes, and some of the questions could get combative.

Their chief accomplishment would be getting Mr. Mueller to say that the president would have been charged with a crime if not for the Justice Department guidelines. But they also hope that he gives tacit or explicit endorsement of an impeachment investigation by Congress. Both are unlikely. More realistically, Democrats want average Americans watching at home to come away outraged by the president’s behavior.

The status quo. Republicans believe that if Mr. Mueller simply reiterates his report and keeps from helping Democrats, they have succeeded. They also hope to sow doubt about the fairness of Mr. Mueller’s investigation itself.

Be boring, very boring. Mr. Mueller wants to avoid entanglement in the political fray and leave with his reputation for independence unblemished.

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

Trump Administration Expands Fast-Tracked Deportations for Undocumented Immigrants

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-dhs-facebookJumbo Trump Administration Expands Fast-Tracked Deportations for Undocumented Immigrants United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Immigration and Emigration Homeland Security Department Executive Orders and Memorandums Deportation

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said on Monday that it would speed the deportations of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the United States for more than two years, allowing federal agents to arrest and deport more people without a hearing before a judge.

Critics warned that the new rule, set to take effect on Tuesday, could also prevent asylum seekers from applying for refuge in the United States before they are deported. Within hours of its announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to block it in court.

The shift will expand the use of an immigration law that, until now, was used only to fast-track deportations for migrants who had been in the United States for just a few weeks and were still within 100 miles of the southwestern border. Now, those stopped by federal agents anywhere in the country who cannot prove they have been in the United States for more than two years can be deported without a hearing.

The change was announced a week after Trump administration officials said they would severely restrict asylum at the border.

Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said the rule would “help to alleviate some of the burden and capacity issues,” including room at detention facilities for immigrants.

The rule will ensure that deportations could be carried out over “weeks — not months or years,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Omar Jadwat of the A.C.L.U. said it would deport immigrants who lived in the United States for years “with less due process than people get in traffic court.”

In the 2018 fiscal year, migrants who were deported by the Department of Homeland Security under the expedited process were held for an average of 11 days. It usually takes an average of 51 days to remove migrants from the United States, officials have said.

Taken together, the Trump administration’s recent spate of restrictive immigration policies could bar significant numbers of people from seeking asylum in the United States.

Last week, the administration announced that it would deny protections to immigrants who failed to apply for asylum in at least one country they passed through on their way north. The shift prevents nearly all Central Americans who are seeking asylum from entering the United States, and was challenged in court by a coalition of immigrant advocates the day after it was announced.

“It’s a pile-on,” said Royce Murray, a managing director of the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit advocacy organization that also planned to challenge the program’s expansion in court.

The administration, she said, was “definitely throwing everything they have at asylum seekers in an effort to turn everyone humanly possible away and to deport as many people as possible.”

“There’s no other conclusion to draw,” Ms. Murray added.

The former rules for fast-tracking deportations, as enacted in 1996, made clear that the program could be expanded if faced with a surge of illegal immigration.

Ms. Brown, who worked at the department from 2005 to 2011, said officials then were concerned about how someone stopped by immigration agents could prove they had been in the United States for more than two years.

Immigrant rights advocates, who had been preparing for the announcement since early in President Trump’s term, shared those concerns on Monday.

“This is a national ‘show me your papers’ law,” Ms. Murray said, referring to a now-infamous Arizona immigration statute that required the police to question the legal status of anyone who was suspected of being in the United States illegally.

“The burden is on the individual to prove that expedited removal does not apply to them,” she said. “So if you don’t have the necessary paperwork on you — to show that you have a lease, or that you have status — then you could be taken into custody to try to fight this. And the problem is that this is a fast-tracked process.”

Immigrants who are eligible for asylum and placed into expedited removal proceedings will still be entitled to an interview with an asylum officer if they claim a fear of returning to their country.

Given the administration’s attempt to restrict asylum, Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration at Cornell Law School, said some immigrants could be removed in violation of their due process rights.

“Some U.S. citizens may also be erroneously expeditiously removed because they can’t prove their citizenship to the satisfaction of an immigration agent,” Mr. Yale-Loehr said. “This notice is the latest attack in the Trump administration’s war on immigrants.”

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Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158074476_64635c03-fbc9-4e66-b951-0f927a68b120-facebookJumbo Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy National Debt (US) Mnuchin, Steven T Federal Budget (US)

WASHINGTON — White House and congressional negotiators reached accord on a two-year budget on Monday that would raise spending caps and lift the government’s debt ceiling, likely averting a fiscal crisis but splashing still more red ink on an already surging deficit.

If passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the deal would stop a potential debt default this fall and avoid automatic spending cuts next year. The agreement would also bring clarity about government spending over the rest of Mr. Trump’s term.

But it is another sign that a Capitol once consumed by fiscal worries simply no longer cares — even as the government’s red ink approaches $1 trillion a year.

“It’s pretty clear that both houses of Congress and both parties have become big spenders, and Congress is no longer concerned about the extent of the budget deficits or the debt they add,” said David M. McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that advocates for free-enterprise.

The agreement, struck by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, would raise spending by $320 billion, compared to the strict spending levels established in the 2011 Budget Control Act and set to go into effect next year without legislative action. Spending on domestic and military programs would increase equally, a key demand of Ms. Pelosi, offset by about $75 billion in spending cuts, far lower than the $150 billion in cuts that some White House officials initially demanded.

The deal would lift the debt ceiling high enough to allow the government to keep borrowing for two more years, punting the next showdown past the 2020 elections. The negotiators hope to enact the accord before Congress leaves for its August recess.

The president said he was pleased with the added military spending and made no mention of the mounting deficits that he and Republicans once railed against.

The deal is a coup de grâce for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which President Barack Obama signed into law after House Republicans, led by the current acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, pushed the government to the brink of defaulting on its debt. The law, once seen as the Republicans’ crowning achievement in the Obama era, set strict spending caps, enforced with automatic spending cuts.

But since 2014, a succession of budget deals has waived the Budget Control Act caps, and the new deal not only lifts them again but allows the whole law to expire in 2021.

Meantime, the federal debt has ballooned to $22 trillion. Despite healthy economic growth, the federal deficit for this fiscal year has reached $747 billion with two months to go — a 23 percent increase from the year before.

“It appears that Congress and the president have just given up on their jobs,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which blasted out a statement arguing the tentative deal “may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history.”

“The economy is great and able to accommodate changes,” she said in an interview. “But we’re about to make things worse due to nothing other than the lack of political will.”

The rising costs of an aging population, with the baby boom generation drawing Social Security and Medicare benefits, and Washington’s spending habits have led to increases in both federal spending and interest costs on the growing national debt. During the first two years of the Trump administration, the debt increased by more than $2 trillion, in part because of the 10-year, $1.5 trillion tax cut and large spending increases Mr. Trump signed into law.

The president has repeatedly called for deep spending cuts in the budgets he has submitted to Congress — then signed several laws that have boosted the deficit even further.

As president, Mr. Trump has overseen both a binge in discretionary spending and a plunge in expected tax revenues as a result of the tax cut legislation that stands as his signature legislative achievement. The federal budget deficit has increased by an average of 15 percent for each fiscal year he has been in office. (Mr. Obama ran large deficits in his first term in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But his second term saw deficits fall by an average of 11 percent per fiscal year.)

In that first Obama term, which included a large government stimulus package to jump-start job creation in the depths of the recession, discretionary spending on military and domestic items rose by about 3 percent per year, on average. In his second term, such spending declined by an annual average of nearly 2 percent.

Mr. Trump is currently on pace to increase discretionary spending by an average of nearly 4 percent per year.

Mr. Trump’s tax cuts, which reduced rates for businesses and individuals, have not paid for themselves, as some administration officials said they would. Instead, they have reduced individual and corporate tax revenues by about 8 percent per year, compared to what budget forecasters expected before the cuts were passed into law.

Combined with increased costs from paying interest on a larger national debt, the tax cuts are on pace to add nearly $400 billion to the national debt in the course of the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office.

But Democrats are not inclined toward austerity either. In the first round of Democratic presidential debates, the national debt was barely mentioned.

Still, passage of the budget agreement is not certain. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin, who have led the negotiations in private phone calls over the last week, will have to sell the deal to their parties ahead of an anticipated House vote this week, before that chamber leaves on Friday. The Senate is scheduled to leave for its recess next week.

In her caucus, Ms. Pelosi must wrangle votes from both her fiscal hawks and liberal members opposed to increased military spending. Mr. Mnuchin must secure the president’s signature and wave off critics of government spending such as Mr. Mulvaney.

But the threat of an economically disastrous default on the nation’s debt, coupled with widespread desire to avoid automatic cuts to military and domestic programs, are likely enough for the proposed measure to become law.

“I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “We can never play with it.”

Once a deal is enacted, lawmakers have to race to agree on how to allocate the money before Oct. 1, when current spending laws expire.

Meantime, the deficit hawks are getting more disheartened.

“Everybody getting what they want is not bipartisan compromise, it’s irresponsible policymaking that harms the next generation,” said Michael Peterson, chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an advocacy group for debt reduction.

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

Trump Administration to Expand Fast-Tracked Deportations Across the U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-dhs-facebookJumbo Trump Administration to Expand Fast-Tracked Deportations Across the U.S. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Immigration and Emigration Homeland Security Department Executive Orders and Memorandums Deportation

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said on Monday it would speed the deportations of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the United States for more than two years, allowing federal agents to arrest and deport people without a hearing before a judge.

The shift, published in the Federal Register, will more aggressively enforce immigration laws that, until now, generally called for the deportation of migrants who had been in the United States for only a few weeks and remained 100 miles from the southwestern border. It was announced a week after Trump administration officials said they would severely restrict asylum at the border.

Critics warned that the new rule, set to take effect on Tuesday, could also prevent asylum seekers from applying for refuge in the United States before they are deported.

“It’s a pile-on,” said Royce Murray, a managing director of the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit advocacy organization that plans to challenge the program’s expansion in court.

The administration, she said, was “definitely throwing everything they have at asylum seekers in an effort to turn everyone humanly possible away and to deport as many people as possible.”

“There’s no other conclusion to draw,” Ms. Murray added.

Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the expanded rule would “help to alleviate some of the burden and capacity issues,” including freeing beds at detention facilities.

In the 2018 fiscal year, the department expedited deportations for migrants who had been held for an average of 11 days. It usually takes an average of 51 days to remove migrants from the United States, officials have said.

The new rule would ensure that deportations could be carried out over “weeks — not months or years,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Taken together, the Trump administration’s recent spate of restrictive immigration policies could bar significant numbers of people from seeking asylum in the United States.

Last week, the administration announced that it would deny protections to immigrants who fail to apply for asylum in at least one country they pass through on their way north. The shift prevents nearly all Central Americans who are seeking asylum from entering the United States, and was challenged in court by a coalition of immigrant advocates the day after it was announced.

Former homeland security officials and immigration advocates agreed that the policy announced on Monday would also likely be challenged in court.

The former rules for fast-tracking deportations, as enacted in 1996, made clear that the program could be expanded in the future if faced with a surge of illegal immigration.

Ms. Brown, who worked at the department from 2005 to 2011, said officials then were concerned about how someone stopped by immigration agents could prove they had been in the United States for more than two years.

Immigrant-rights advocates, who had been preparing for the announcement since early in President Trump’s term, shared those concerns on Monday.

“This is a national ‘show me your papers’ law,” Ms. Murray said, referring to a now-infamous Arizona immigration statute that required the police to question the legal status of anyone who was suspected of being in the United States illegally.

“The burden is on the individual to prove that expedited removal does not apply to them,” she said. “So if you don’t have the necessary paperwork on you — to show that you have a lease, or that you have status — then you could be taken into custody to try to fight this. And the problem is that this is a fast tracked process.”

Immigrants who are eligible for asylum and placed into expedited removal proceedings will still be entitled to an interview with an asylum officer if they claim a fear of returning to their country.

Given the administration’s attempt to restrict asylum, Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration at Cornell Law School, said that some immigrants could be removed in violation of their due process rights.

“Some U.S. citizens may also be erroneously expeditiously removed because they can’t prove their citizenship to the satisfaction of an immigration agent,” Mr. Yale-Loehr said. “This notice is the latest attack in the Trump administration’s war on immigrants.”

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Tentative Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158074476_64635c03-fbc9-4e66-b951-0f927a68b120-facebookJumbo Tentative Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy National Debt (US) Mnuchin, Steven T Federal Budget (US)

WASHINGTON — White House officials and congressional lawmakers are nearing a deal that would boost government spending levels over the next two years and raise the federal borrowing limit. If passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, it would avert a default crisis this fall and avoid automatic spending cuts next year.

The agreement would raise spending by $320 billion, compared to the strict spending levels established in the 2011 Budget Control Act and set to go into effect next year without legislative action, according to three people familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity to discuss the unfinished deal.

The accord, which negotiators hope to enact before Congress leaves for its August recess, includes equal increases in domestic and military spending, a key demand of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, according to one person familiar with the talks. It would also include offsetting spending cuts of about $75 billion, far lower than the $150 billion that some White House officials initially demanded.

The deal would lift the debt ceiling high enough to allow the government to keep borrowing for two more years, punting the next showdown past the 2020 elections.

People familiar with the negotiations stressed that the talks were continuing, but all sides have strong incentives to come together quickly. Without action, Congress will either have to postpone departure for its monthlong August recess or rush back early to finish the deal before the government runs out of money, which could be as early as September.

At the White House on Monday Mr. Trump said, “we are having very good talks” on the budget and the debt limit. He said he was pleased with additional investment in the military.

Ms. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who have led the negotiations in private phone calls over the last week, will have to sell a deal to their parties ahead of an anticipated House vote this week, before that chamber leaves on Friday. The Senate is scheduled to leave for its recess next week.

In her caucus, Ms. Pelosi must wrangle votes from both her fiscal hawks and liberal members opposed to increased military spending. Mr. Mnuchin must secure the president’s signature and wave off critics of government spending like Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, and Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget.

Some Republican lawmakers and officials within the administration want to reject any budget that is not fully offset by spending cuts or that does not carry a promise from Democrats that they would drop liberal policy changes from future spending bills.

But the threat of an economically disastrous default on the nation’s debt, coupled with widespread desire to avoid automatic cuts to military and domestic programs, may be enough for the proposed measure to become law.

“I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Mr. Trump said on Friday. “We can never play with it.”

Mr. Trump criticized the Republican Party in 2013 for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling, and Mr. Mulvaney and his allies in the House used a looming debt default in 2011 to force passage of the Budget Control Act, which set the spending caps that the new deal would once again lift.

Since 2014, a succession of budget deals has waived the Budget Control Act caps, and the deal in its current form does not revive them past their expiration in 2021.

Meantime, the federal debt has ballooned to $22 trillion. Despite healthy economic growth, the federal deficit for this fiscal year has reached $747 billion with two months to go — a 23 percent increase from the year before.

“It appears that Congress and the president have just given up on their jobs,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which blasted out a statement arguing the tentative deal “may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history.”

“The economy is great and able to accommodate changes,” she said in an interview. “But we’re about to make things worse due to nothing other than the lack of political will.”

The rising costs of an aging population, with the baby boom generation drawing Social Security and Medicare benefits, and Washington’s spending habits have led to increases in both federal spending and interest costs on the growing national debt. During the first two years of the Trump administration, the debt increased by more than $2 trillion, in part because of the 10-year, $1.5 trillion tax cut and large spending increases Mr. Trump signed into law.

Lawmakers and officials who once raised alarm over the growing debt — including Mr. Trump himself, who warned in 2015 that debt over $21 trillion would “have effectively bankrupted our country” — have largely fallen silent. In the first round of Democratic presidential debates, the national debt was barely mentioned, with candidates choosing to focus on countering economic inequality and beefing up government programs.

Once a deal is enacted, lawmakers have to race to agree on how to allocate the money before Oct. 1, when current spending laws expire. The House has passed 10 of the 12 spending bills needed to keep the government open afterward, but that legislation will have to be updated based on funding levels from any budget deal.

The Senate has not yet begun work on any of the bills, which need to be reconciled with the House legislation and approved by the president.

“I want to go to work, I want to do our jobs as appropriators,” said Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It kind of makes the Appropriations Committee the nothing committee.”

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Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists

WASHINGTON — President Trump has made branding Democrats as out-of-the-mainstream, economy-wrecking socialists one of the centerpieces of his re-election strategy. He has sought to do so partly by making four junior Democratic members of Congress — all women of color who are on the left side of the party’s ideological spectrum — the faces of the party, and conflating their views with the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination.

It is a message he has repeated with varying degrees of intensity and accuracy for weeks. And while a few of his fellow Republicans have expressed unease about how he has framed his scathing criticism of one of those four Democrats — Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia and immigrated to the United States as a refugee — as a call for her to “go back” to her native country, Republicans have embraced the president’s broader efforts to cast Democrats as socialists.

How much truth is there to Mr. Trump’s characterization of the Democratic Party? Here is a fact check.

What Mr. Trump said

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream.”

First things first: All Democrats are not socialists. Most Democrats are not socialists. Of the 24 candidates for president, only Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont identifies himself as a democratic socialist. (Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the four House members the president has taken to trashing, rose to fame after running on a democratic socialist platform.)

The rest of the presidential field has rejected the socialism label. While in many cases their policy positions are well to the left of where the party was just a few years ago, that development has other prominent Democrats concerned. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Representative John Delaney of Maryland are arguing that the Democratic Party cannot be defined by a candidate who embraces socialism.

Even Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is the most ideologically aligned with Mr. Sanders among the 2020 contenders, says she is not a socialist. When she is asked about the difference between her and Mr. Sanders, her stock answer has been that she is “a capitalist to my bones.”

It is true that every Democratic presidential candidate vying to replace Mr. Trump has called for increasing the federal commitment to health care, education and the environment, among other proposals. Those plans would generally require substantially more government spending, higher taxes, an increased public-sector role in private markets and a reversal of the deregulatory push championed by Mr. Trump.

While the Democratic agenda is consistent with policies the party has pursued for decades, some proposals from the more left-leaning candidates would be more far-reaching than the party’s platform in the past several election cycles. The proposal supported by some of the 2020 candidates to eliminate private health insurance would be a clear turn to the left, and calls for policies like a wealth tax are unapologetically redistributionist at a time of growing inequality.

But Mr. Trump has hardly produced an Ayn Rand meritocracy during his presidency.

In May, the Agriculture Department said it would give $16 billion in aid to farmers hurt by Mr. Trump’s trade war with China. Farmers in the Midwest — particularly in Iowa, home of the nation’s first presidential nominating contest — have said the funds do not come close to matching income they have lost because of falling commodity prices that followed China’s retaliatory tariffs.

And Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans have long advocated various government giveaways to corporations, which Mr. Sanders and others have deemed “corporate socialism.”

What Mr. Trump said

“There’s a rumor the Democrats are going to change the name of the party from the ‘Democrat Party’ to the ‘Socialist Party.’”

Putting aside the fact that it is called the Democratic Party and stipulating that it is impossible to disprove a rumor that Mr. Trump may or may not have heard, no, the Democrats are not changing their name to the Socialist Party. And there are few similarities between what Democrats are proposing and the types of outcomes Mr. Trump tries to link them to, especially when he invokes Venezuela and its economic and humanitarian crisis as a warning that socialism is a harbinger of catastrophe.

There are, of course, very different strains of socialism. To an immigrant from Cuba or Venezuela who fled countries with centrally planned economies and neighborhood spies who inform on dissenters to the government, socialism means a very different thing than to Mr. Sanders, who envisions a northern European-style social safety net that drastically increases public spending on health care, education and environmental protection.

On economic issues, Democrats in the United States are far to the right of the governing parties in most other western democracies.

Canada and Britain, for instance, have single-payer universal health care systems that are politically sacrosanct, even among their mainstream conservative parties. Northern European governments — Denmark, Norway and Sweden — subsidize far more of their citizens’ lives and tax income at far higher rates than have been proposed by Mr. Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist.

The Nordic countries — with their high tax rates and generous social benefits — are often cited as examples by Mr. Sanders and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as models to emulate. Tax revenue made up more than 40 percent of the gross domestic product in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, for example, in 2017, compared with 27.1 percent for the United States. That revenue finances child care, basic and advanced education, health care and care for the countries’ older residents.

What Mr. Trump said

“You have some of these socialist wackos, they want to double and triple your taxes, and that won’t come close to paying for it.”

The slew of programs many Democratic candidates have supported — universal health care, affordable child care, and higher education and a higher minimum wage — are more accurately labeled proposals of social democrats rather than socialists, said Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and scholar of the left.

But “nobody has a plan to take government ownership of the means of production,” he said, referring to the dictionary definition of socialism. “Nobody’s talking about the government taking over Microsoft or Walmart or Wells Fargo or Disney.”

Some of the Democratic plans — especially when it comes to health care — would entail substantial changes in the way the economy operates now. Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, for example, would eliminate private health insurance entirely, putting all Americans in a government-run system.

Other proposals would be very expensive. Mr. Sanders wants to eliminate the student debt of nearly 45 million graduates and eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year institutions and community colleges. He estimates the cost at $2.2 trillion, to be paid for with a tax on financial transactions.

The big unknown when it comes to cost is health care. The Congressional Budget Office was asked this year to look at the costs of “Medicare for all” programs like the one advocated by Mr. Sanders.

“Government spending on health care would increase substantially,” the report said, but it declined to provide any specific estimates because of the wide range of options about how such a plan would work.

Studies of plans like the one promoted by Mr. Sanders have concluded that patients would spend far less on health care than they do now, and the government would spend far more, presumably requiring higher taxes. For some people, any tax increase might be more than offset by reductions in their spending on premiums, co-payments and other health care costs. But others could end up paying more in new taxes than they save.

Mr. Sanders and other Democrats make the point that Americans already pay far more for health care than people in other countries but often get inferior care.

What Mr. Trump said

“Don’t underestimate the power of socialism to get a vote.”

There is some evidence that more Americans are open to socialism. A Gallup poll released in May found that 43 percent of Americans believe socialism is a “good thing” for the country, as opposed to 51 percent who said it was a “bad thing.” In 1942, the split was 25 percent saying it was a good thing compared to 40 percent saying bad thing — a spread that was twice as large as it is now.

Trying to frame policy proposals that expand the social safety net as socialism is a time-honored tradition in Republican politics, one intended more to motivate Republican voters to turn out than to change minds among Democrats.

Ronald Reagan began his political career calling Medicare “socialized medicine” that would doom the country. The Republican campaign to block the Affordable Care Act, before and since it was enacted, has consisted largely of suggesting it represents the creep of socialism into the country’s health care system.

But Mr. Trump won election in 2016 after promising to maintain the Medicare system and replace the Affordable Care Act with a health care law that would cover all Americans.

In Another About-Face, Trump Refuses to Condemn ‘Send Her Back’ Chant

July 19, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158179401_82d231d7-038d-4a43-9845-79d662047a1a-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Socialism (Theory and Philosophy) Presidential Election of 2020 Omar, Ilhan Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Democratic Party
Examining Trump’s Claims About Representative Ilhan Omar

July 18, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_158094711_dd7d39ae-f445-4617-b114-d2dd6188d351-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Socialism (Theory and Philosophy) Presidential Election of 2020 Omar, Ilhan Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Democratic Party
Trump Tells Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From

July 14, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-trump-hp-promo-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Socialism (Theory and Philosophy) Presidential Election of 2020 Omar, Ilhan Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Democratic Party

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