The Trump administration is not aiming to “cleve off” the U.S. economy from China’s, but it intends to continue pressuring the Asian giant even though tough moves like repeated rounds of tariffs have yet to bring the fundamental changes President Donald Trump is demanding.
“Our goal is not to totally divorce our economies from each other,” said a senior official who briefed reporters Friday at the White House about trade matters. “Our goal is for China to stop behaving unfairly.”
And the official also gave no indication that talks with Canada are any closer than where they were weeks ago to bring Ottawa into a preliminary U.S.-Mexico deal that might replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Even as some lawmakers and economists warn the world’s two largest economies trading blows has the global economy teetering on the cusp of a trade war with economic ripple waves, the senior official made clear the administration has no plans to dial back its actions toward China.
Trump’s trade rhetoric and actions have “gotten more attention because it’s been bigger and bolder, but I think it’s consistent with the way past administrations have used tariffs, which is: If we see unfair practices, we’re going to take action to address them with the hope that ultimately we get to a world where there are less tariffs, less non-tariff barriers, and less subsidies.”
The senior official did not hide his frustration, repeatedly telling reporters not to buy Chinese officials’ alleged confusion about what the U.S. side wants out of ongoing — but stalled — negotiations because “they know what we need.”
But it is not clear just how far Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are willing to take what the senior official described as a “little dispute” — rejecting a reporter’s use of the term “economic warfare” — between the two countries. What is more clear is Xi and his government have yet to blink in a high-stakes game of economic chicken.
“We tried to work through the Global Steel Forum. I’ll be the first to say, I wish that would yield some results, but it hasn’t,” the senior official said, using an long-running U.S.-Chinese dispute about the latter’s practices with that commodity.
“China still will not turn over the most basic information about its steel industries. They won’t get rid of the subsidies [for their companies] that the Steel Forum has recognized they need to.”
American farmers and other agriculture-based industries have been hit hard by Trump’s tariffs and China’s retaliatory ones. Asked if those sectors should expect the import fees to remain in place indefinitely, the senior official also blamed Beijing.
“I don’t know when China will commit” to the changes the Trump administration is demanding, he said. “I hope it will be soon.”
As Trump’s aides often do, the senior official delivered his often-tough words with a lighter touch - but still sending a message to China: “The president is willing to do what it takes to solve this problem. … The hope is China realizes that.”
Another senior official told reporters in late August that Chinese officials had yet to move toward the changes in behavior the U.S. would like to see. “But so far,” that official said, “we have yet to see those.” It appears little progress was made in the weeks since.
On the talks with Canada, the senior official repeatedly described himself as “still optimistic” the U.S.-Mexico pact soon will become a three-way deal. But he acknowledged time is running out as a Sept. 30 congressionally set deadline nears.
“Canada needs to decide what it wants to do,” the official said. “Until we hit that date, there’s still an opportunity to get this done.”
He said the question remains whether Canadian officials “will kill this deal because of its dairy farmers” which he dubbed a small part of its overall economy.
Some lawmakers have warned the White House to do what it must to get Canada to join the deal, saying a two-way pact with Mexico would not be economically viable - especially since Canada is America’s No. 1 export market.
The officials declined to provide the White House’s whip count or say just how close votes might be should it submit the deal without Canada. But he did say Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and other agriculture-state members routinely tell Trump officials to “fix this agriculture problem.”
Insisting Congress ultimately would approve a U.S.-Mexico agreement, the official said “there’s a lot for Congress to like” while acknowledging this: “I’m not going to tell you it wouldn’t be better if we had all three.”
Watch: McConnell, Schumer React to Trump Trade Deal
President Donald Trump reversed himself on Friday on the release of reams of Justice Department and FBI documents he claims show an internal bias to wreck his 2016 campaign and then his presidency.
Trump earlier this week announced the text messages and other documents would soon be made public, per the request of House Republicans. But he backtracked in a Friday tweet, saying Justice Department officials and “key allies” urged him to avoid a huge document dump.
Instead, the DOJ inspector general will review the materials before any are released.
“In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary,” Trump wrote in a tweet that was apparently aimed at his supporters and House conservatives. “Speed is very important to me — and everyone!”
I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General.....
....has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!
Trump for months has criticized former FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a lawyer who traded texts with Strzok about Trump during the 2016 campaign while they were romantically linked.
On Sept. 11, Trump reacted to a Fox News report about an apparent plan Strzok and Page had devised to leak information to the media as “So terrible” before turning his anger, as he often does, toward Justice Department and FBI officials, tweeting his outrage that “NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI — but the world is watching, and they get it completely.”
Trump did not mask his frustration with the top law enforcement entities during a Thursday night campaign rally in Las Vegas, asking the crowd derisively: “How’s the Justice Department doing?”
On Sept. 12, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News this about the unreleased documents: “And I can tell you, there are dozens of other documents that would support the fact that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had ongoing relationships with multiple reporters, and that they were feeding them information to spin a narrative against this president.”
Strzok and Page were actually discussing a new DOJ effort to stop officials from leaking information about ongoing investigations to the media.
Watch: Can Trump Resist Lighting the Fuse Ahead of Kavanaugh's Senate Showdown?
President Donald Trump has a message for Senate Democrats and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser about an upcoming hearing to discuss the sexual assault allegations against the judge: “Get on with it.”
“I don’t think you can delay it a little longer,” Trump said of that session during a Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “I have been accommodating,” he added, saying Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, should be allowed to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Let’s see how it all comes out,” he said in Las Vegas before a rally. “They’ve delayed it a week and they have to get on with it.”
Ford, now a California professor, has said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her during a 1982 party when they were high school students; he again denied the charges in a Thursday letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley.
The Judiciary panel has been working with Ford’s lawyers about a hearing for both to state their cases. They had planned a Monday hearing, but the accuser’s camp wants that session held next Thursday, Sept. 27, at the earliest as negotiations continue about the format and date of that highly anticipated hearing.
Trump and Senate Republicans are eager to either hold the hearing or move to a committee vote that would set up a floor vote. Both are expected now to fall along party lines, but Republicans have enough seats to narrowly make Kavanaugh the ninth high court justice.
Trump spoke to Hannity live on air at the Las Vegas Convention Center before the campaign rally for several GOP House and Senate candidates. It marked the latest time this week he has catered to conservative media outlets.
On Tuesday, Trump called on reporters from two conservative media outlets — One America News and Fox News Radio — during a joint press conference at the White House with his Polish counterpart. The same day, he conducted a friendly interview with Hill.TV in which he again slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Hannity, notably, is perhaps his biggest defender on television, and certainly in the weeknight primetime hours.
ICYMI: Can Trump Resist Lighting the Fuse Ahead of Kavanaugh's Senate Showdown?
A group of female Democratic lawmakers launched an effort Thursday to recruit pro-choice women to run for office, a campaign they tied to efforts to peg 2018 as the second “Year of the Woman.”
Elect Democratic Women will be chaired by Florida Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and raise money for female candidates within the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees “Red to Blue” program, which seeks to identify and funnel support to candidates with a strong shot of unseating Republican incumbents.
“Diversity is a cornerstone of our democracy and right now, only 20 percent of Congress is female,” Frankel said. “We need our elected officials to better reflect our country and we can do that by electing more women who will bring different perspectives and experiences, thus making better decisions for American families.”
Other congresswomen behind the project include Reps. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Julia Brownley and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire.
The announcement is the latest sign both parties are seeking to capitalize on a surge in interest from female candidates sparked by the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the #metoo movement and most recently, the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Those factors have resulted in speculation that the 2018 midterms could see more new female congress members than any year since 1992, when record numbers of women were inspired to run by the way Anita Hill was treated when she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Republicans have a group called VIEW PAC dedicated to electing women in the GOP. And New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the first chairwoman of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee, focused this year “pounding the pavement” to look for viable female candidates.
Such efforts have already paid off. Record numbers of women have run for and won, their parties nominations in 2018, with Democratic women faring particularly well in the primary cycle, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. But women are still underrepresented as a proportion of all congressional candidates and nominees. While 51 percent of Americans are female, only one in five Members of Congress are women, a statistic the newly formed Elect Democratic Women pointed out in its press release.
Women who have won offices from both sides of the spectrum have shown interest in supporting future generations of female political leaders, said Kelly Dittmar, an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University — Camden and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
“They make the point that not only do they want to be in Congress themselves,” Dittmar said, “but they want to increase the numbers of females in this body in which they are underrepresented.”
Individual women in Congress have previously offered support to candidates through their own leadership PACs, political action committees that can be founded by current and former members to support their colleagues and gain clout within their own party, Dittmar said.
Democratic women have also long had the added support of the fundraising juggernaut EMILY’s list, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights. There is no Republican equivalent.
Dittmar said the new organization would offer Democratic women in Congress the ability to pool their resources and wield more control over which candidates they support.
Candidates who would receive initial support were singled out in the press release. They include Mikie Sherrill, a Navy pilot running in New Jersey’s 11th District; Lauren Underwood, a nurse running in Illinois’ 14th District and Katie Hill, a non-profit executive running in California’s 25th District.
Seven former congressional staffers who experienced sexual harassment or assault while working on Capitol Hill sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Thursday urging them to enact changes to harassment and discrimination policies.
“We write to remind you, and every member of the 115th Congress, not only of the pain we suffered, but also of the shame and humiliation that current staffers must bear when they too are victimized by harmful and discriminatory actions from a member of Congress, a supervisor, or a colleague,” wrote the seven women.
The former staffers include Lauren Greene, whose harassment claim against Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, prompted his resignation, and Anna Kain, whose harassment by a top aide in Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s, D-Conn., office led Esty to abandon re-election and acknowledge she had mishandled Kain’s complaint.
The letter comes as the Senate is grappling with a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and nearly a year after the #MeToo movement brought workplace sexual harassment into the national spotlight.
“In every building, down every hallway, and behind every door in Congress are good, honest people — often young people — working long hours for little pay in hopes of making our country and the world fairer and more just,” the seven women wrote.
“But for too many of us, the work was tainted by harassment and abuse nurtured by a culture of secrecy and an unforgiving, flawed system that protects those in power rather than those who need protection most. This included sexual harassment, verbal beratement, public humiliation, being punched, being grabbed, being threatened. And in every instance, our current jobs and future careers in politics were integrally tied to our willingness to stay quiet.”
The House and Senate each passed bills to overhaul the Congressional Accountability Act, which set up and oversees the process for how sexual harassment complaints are made and handled on Capitol Hill. Both proposals would hold lawmakers personally liable for paying settlements.The House passed its version of the legislation in February. The Senate wrote its own bill, with significant differences, in May.
The proposals are not going through the traditional conference committee process, instead staff and key players in each chamber are engaged in behind-the-scenes talks. But there are still major sticking points, including the scope of lawmaker liability for harassment. There is limited time left in the legislative calendar before Election Day in November, which narrows the chance for action on a completed compromise bill.
Among the letter’s other signatories are Winsome Packer, who settled a harassment claim against Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.; Rebecca Weir, who shared a story of being asked to “twirl” by former Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif.; Ally Coll Steele, who shared her experience of harassment by a former Democratic senator and founded a nonprofit focused on combating sexual harassment; Melanie Sloan, who joined others in alleging harassment by former Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Katherine Cichy, who shared her story of harassment while working in former Sen. Tim Johnson’s, D-S.D., office.
“We are dismayed and disheartened by Congress’s failure to act and take care of its own,” the group wrote.
Watch: The #MeToo Impact on 2018
Florida congressional candidate Michael Waltz originally did not divulge on his financial disclosure form to run for office that he owned a 50 percent stake in a consulting firm that led U.S. aerospace and defense manufacturers on a trip to Libya in 2013 to meet with government officials there.
Waltz, the Republican candidate for Florida’s open 6th District seat and a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, has since filed an amendment to his financial disclosure form listing himself as a partner in the defense consulting firm, Askari Associates, LLC.
The amendment was added to his file at the House Clerk’s office this past Sunday, Sept. 16.
Askari co-founder and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long confirmed in a Sept. 11 interview with Roll Call that Waltz, who is listed on multiple defense think tank websites as a co-founder and partner at Askari, still has an ownership stake in the company.
Long said Askari produces minimal revenue — and one year did not produce any at all — because their sole client has “a different fiscal calendar” and “they tend to catch up sporadically.”
“It’s maddeningly delayed some years,” Long said.
The House Ethics Committee’s disclosure rules state that any “partner” in a limited liability company who is running for a House seat must report that position on his financial disclosure forms “regardless of whether or not compensation was received.”
It’s not unusual for candidates to file amendments to their financial disclosures since many of them have extensive financial portfolios and sources of income, Adav Noti, the senior director at the Campaign Legal Center who worked at the Federal Elections Commission’s Office of General Counsel from 2007 to 2017, said.
Waltz is unlikely to face much scrutiny from ethics officials over his disclosure, especially now that he has amended it.
“Amendments to the personal financial disclosures are pretty common and they very rarely lead to any sort of penalty,” Noti said.
Waltz submitted his original disclosure July 28, but soon realized he had left off Askari and Campaign Partners, Inc., a fundraising software for charities, his campaign said.
“When I realized I had inadvertently left off two companies, I attempted to amend my financial disclosure the same day,” Waltz said in a statement.
“I apparently missed a field which caused an error and prevented the form from fully submitting and leaving the form in limbo. I appreciate the House Clerk’s Office assistance in helping me correct the issue,” he said.
Waltz left a message with the House Clerk’s office to ask about the status on his amendment form on Sept. 12, a day after Roll Call had spoken with Long, his former business partner, about the discrepancy on the financial disclosure form.
A representative at the Clerk’s office left him a message, reviewed by Roll Call, saying he had not completed the amendment, which is why it wasn’t “showing up.”
On Sept. 16, Waltz submitted the amendment listing his stakes in Askari and Campaign Partners and received an automated email notification that the file had been received, which was provided to Roll Call.
“That is not an implausible scenario,” Noti said of Waltz’ struggle to submit his amendment.
Candidates submit their forms to the Federal Elections Commission, which does not have any oversight over the process but merely acts as a collection service. They file their disclosures on the same online portal as high-ranking federal officials in the executive branch.
“It really is possible that somebody could fill it out and not click the final step because it’s not a well-designed system,” Noti said.
In September 2013, Askari led a contingent of roughly eight to 11 aerospace and defense manufacturers — including Lockheed Martin, Iomax, and others — to Tripoli where they met with the newly installed minister of defense and other military leaders, according to Long, who represented Askari on the trip, and a press release from October of that year on Askari’s website.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce set up all the meetings with the Libyan officials, where they focused mostly on “understanding Libya’s border situation more clearly, specifically with Egypt,” Long said.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed a year earlier in the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, had asked Long at a breakfast shortly before he died to help bring U.S. and Canadian manufacturers to the country that was plunged in civil war, she said.
GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, who represented Florida’s 6th District resigned last week to focus on his bid for governor against Democrat Andrew Gillum.
He will be replaced by either Waltz or Democrat Nancy Soderberg.
Soderberg had nearly quadruple the amount of cash on hand as Waltz at the end of the second filing quarter, the FEC’s online database shows.
But Waltz has a distinct advantage given the district’s recent voter history: President Donald Trump carried Florida’s 6th District by 17 points in 2016.
Capitol Police arrested 56 protesters Thursday who flooded Senate office buildings to voice opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and express support for his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
Thirty three protesters were arrested outside of Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building Thursday afternoon. The demonstrators were charged with “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.” Earlier in the day, Capitol Police arrested 23 protesters outside of Sen. Susan Collins office in Dirksen for “unlawful demonstration activities.” They faced the same charges.
In addition to the protesters arrested, scores of people staged quiet demonstrations all day at different senators’ offices. Many wore pins reading “I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford,” which are a throwback to pins worn during the 1991 hearings in which Anita Hill testified about sexual harassment while working for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. One of the buttons that reads “I believe Anita Hill” is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Thursday’s protesters came from a variety of groups, from healthcare organizations, disability rights groups and the Womens’ Marches.