Patience with Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un hasn’t flung his missiles around for more than two months and Donald Trump hasn’t been warning North Korea of “total annihilation” lately.
Insults did fly during the president’s Asia trip — “short and fat” vs. “old lunatic” — but the nuclear standoff has been settling in to a non-shooting war of economic attrition — “a peaceful pressure campaign,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described it Monday.
Trump announced North Korea was being put back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It had been removed as part of a failed attempt at negotiation in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration.
Trump has denounced 25 years of failures by past presidents to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.
The terror designation means tougher sanctions, but Tillerson acknowledged “the practical effects may be limited.” The United States is also trying to get China to impose an oil embargo, though even that may not be “the magic wand or the silver bullet that is going to bring them to the table,” he said.
See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
Janison: Debt and taxes
Not long ago, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan joined a long line of Republican leaders — dating to the 1930s — who have called for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. So why are they behind tax-cut packages that would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit?
Deficit hawks, like Trump, are buying into the argument that cuts in the right corporate, business and individual taxes will more than pay for themselves through an economic resurgence, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
And no one seems as serene about debt as Trump, who told CBS last year: “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me.”
Order voided, again
A federal judge permanently blocked Trump's order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities, the AP reports.
The latest "sanctuary cities" ruling from U.S. District Judge William Orrick is due to be appealed. The city of San Francisco challenged the cutoff. City Attorney Dennis Herrera called the latest ruling "a victory for the American people and the rule of law."
Keep Alabama crimson?
On the one hand, the White House is making a show of no longer supporting Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama accused by several women of past sexual misconduct.
On the other hand, the White House is signaling to Trump supporters that Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, is worse.
“He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He’s weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners. And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox & Friends.”
“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” she said. Asked if that meant “So vote Roy Moore,” Conway didn’t answer directly.
Don’t lock them up
Trump — despite his tweet Sunday that “I should have left them in jail!” — doesn’t really regret asking China to release three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting, said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
She said Trump’s remarks were a “rhetorical response to a criticism by the father” — LaVar Ball, the dad of one of the players, who suggested Trump deserved little credit and minimized the seriousness of the theft charges.
The president was “happy to intervene,” Sanders said.
Justice: Not targeting CNN
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Monday to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger for what an official called concerns that it would hurt competition, not Trump’s antipathy for a Time Warner property CNN.
The official told reporters that Trump’s hostility to the merger, voiced when he was a candidate, had no influence in Justice’s decision, Politico reported.
Haitians face deport deadline
The Trump administration announced it is ending a temporary residency permit program that has allowed almost 60,000 Haitian citizens to live and work in the United States since a 2010 earthquake devastated their homeland.
The Homeland Security Department said conditions in Haiti have improved significantly, so the benefit will be extended one last time — until July 2019 — to give Haitians time to prepare to return home.
What else is happening:
- Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will unveil plans Tuesday to dismantle the agency’s Obama-era net neutrality regulations, which prohibits internet service providers from slowing or blocking content from sites that don’t pay them for “fast lane” access, Politico reported.
- The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates the opioid addiction crisis cost the nation $504 billion in 2015. That’s more than six times a previous estimate.
- Trump targeted the Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch in his latest attack on players’ protests. In a game played in Mexico City, Lynch stood during the Mexican anthem but sat for the U.S. anthem. “Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season,” Trump tweeted.
- Room rates at 12 of 13 Trump hotels have fallen by as much as 63 percent in year — a slump affecting properties in the United States, Panama, Scotland and Canada, according to a study by a foreign exchange company reported by Britain’s The Telegraph.
- Trump’s foundation sharply increased its giving last year as the charity drew scrutiny during the 2016 campaign. Its donations of $3.1 million were more than those in the three years combined, The Associated Press reported. The foundation is also being shut down, as previously announced.
- Melania Trump and son Barron ceremonially received the official White House Christmas tree on Monday. It’s a 19½-foot Balsam fir from Wisconsin.