5 min read

Wake Up To Politics - May 6, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Monday, May 6, 2019. 273 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 547 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Trump tariff threat jolts trade talks, economy

President Donald Trump threw a wrench in his administration's ongoing trade negotiations with China on Sunday, taking to Twitter to threaten to impose harsher tariffs on a slew of Chinese goods.

Trump announced that he would increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on Friday, and would "shortly" impose new 25% tariffs on $325 billion worth of additional Chinese products that had previously gone untaxed. "The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to negotiate," he added.

Trump's missives came as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He was expected to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday with a 100-person delegation to finalize the trade accord with the U.S., which had been expected to be reached by Friday. According to the Wall Street Journal, China is considering responding to the president's threat by canceling the next stage of the trade talks.

"It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump's threat will produce a beneficial trade agreement for the United States — or whether his attempts to pressure China will backfire by pushing already-tense relations past the breaking point," the New York Times reported. "While the United States believes it has leverage over China, huge swaths of the American economy depend on access to the Chinese market for materials, products and sales."

Global markets also immediately responded to the president's tariff threat on Sunday, with Chinese shares falling more than 6%, Hong Kong's stock market falling 2.9%, and the Dow Jones industrial average futures dropping nearly 500 points.

--- A handy explainer on tariffs, via Reuters: "Who pays Trump's tariffs - China and other exporters or U.S. customers?"

Elsewhere on the world stage...

  • The U.S. is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, national security advisor John Bolton announced in a statement on Sunday. Bolton said that the move was "in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran and was intended to "send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force."
  • As nuclear negotiations stall with the U.S., North Korea raised tensions on Saturday by conducting its first missile test since 2017, launching several short-range projectiles.
  • After a weekend of violent fighting between the two sides, Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza reached a ceasefire at 4:30 a.m. local time morning. "We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens," President Trump tweeted on Sunday. His administration's Middle East peace plan, crafted by Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, is expected to be released after Ramadan ends next month.
  • President Trump spoke with Russia president Vladimir Putin over the phone on Friday. Trump tweeted that the two spoke about special counsel Robert Mueller's recently-completed investigation (which he called the "Russian Hoax"), but told reporters that he did not bring up the possibility of Russia interfering in future U.S. elections. The Russian embassy later said that President Trump initiated the call, which lasted more than an hour.

The Rundown

President Trump on Sunday announced his plans to nominate former Obama administration official Mark Morgan as the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Morgan served as the Border Patrol chief during the end of the Obama administration. Amid a larger shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security, Trump withdrew his previous ICE nominee, Ronald Vitiello, last month. "We're going in a tougher direction," he said at the time. According to the Washington Post, Morgan has been a frequent guest on Fox News, where he has asserted himself as "a vocal advocate for some of [Trump's] positions, particularly the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico."

In a reversal, President Trump also tweeted on Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller "should not testify" before Congress. Trump had previously said whether Mueller testified would be "up to our attorney general," William Barr, who told lawmakers last week that he had no objection to the special counsel testifying. Despite the president's stance, the House Judiciary Committee is moving forward with discussions to set a date for Mueller's testimony, with the Democratic majority aiming for a "tentative date" of May 15. Meanwhile, the Judiciary panel is also heading towards opening contempt proceedings against Barr, with a 9 a.m. deadline looming for the AG to comply with the committee's request to produce Mueller's full report and the underlying evidence.

Trump's former personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen is set to report to Otisville federal prison today to begin serving his three-year sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and other crimes. Previously one of the president's most loyal underlings, Cohen turned on Trump last year, cooperating with the Mueller probe and other federal inquiries, and implicating the president in an illegal hush-money scheme involving two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.  

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election next year. Enzi, 75, has served in the Senate since 1997; he has chaired the Senate Budget Committee since 2015. He is the fourth senator to announce plans to step down this cycle, joining Republicans Pat Roberts (KS) and Lamar Alexander (TN) and Democrat Tom Udall (NM). Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the No. 3 House Republican, is widely seen as a potential contender for Enzi's seat.

One more thing: "One million species face extinction, U.N. panel says. And humans will suffer as a result." (Washington Post)

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter to them and tell them to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

White House schedule

--- At 12:15 p.m., President Trump presents the U.S. Military Academy football team with the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, which is awarded annually to the winner of a series of football games between the Army, Navy, and Air Force academy football teams.

At 2:15 p.m., he receives his intelligence briefing.

At 6 p.m., he presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor — to golfer Tiger Woods, who won the Masters Tournament for the fifth time last month.

Related: "In Tiger Woods, Trump Finds a Hero and a Business Opportunity" (New York Times)

Congress schedule

--- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Joseph F. Bianco to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit. Bianco is currently a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, a post he has held since 2006.  

--- The House has no votes scheduled today.

Supreme Court schedule

--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conference scheduled today.

2020 schedules

--- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg visits South Carolina today. He will hold a meet and greet in Orangeburg and a town hall in Columbia.

--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro visits New Hampshire today. He will tour White Mountain Community College in Berlin and meet with school administrators and faculty to discuss economic development and educational opportunities for the North Country, participate in a small business walk with State Rep. Michael Cahill in Newmarket, and hold a town hall in Dover.

--- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) visits Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit and holds a town hall with educators, joined by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten and AFT Michigan president David Hecker.

--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), joined by Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, holds a roundtable on combatting addiction and prioritizing mental health in Nashua, New Hampshire.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke visits Iowa today. He visits Berg Middle School in Newton, holds a climate change roundtable discussion in Des Moines, holds a town hall at Simpson College in Indianola, and participates in an event with the Asian & Latino Coalition in Des Moines.

--- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) holds a meet and greet in Reno, Nevada.

*All times Eastern