Doubts and redoubts
As Democrats push ahead with legislation rejecting Donald Trump's national emergency declaration, an obstacle looms that may prove more insurmountable than a border barrier: the president's veto pen.
But if it comes to that, it will be an embarrassment to Trump. It would mean that enough Senate Republicans defected to give his opponents a majority. Before flying off Monday for the summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump left a tweet of warning:
“I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security,” Trump said. “Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country — and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!”
The Democratic-controlled House is expected Tuesday to pass the resolution of disapproval and send it on to the Senate. Republicans hesitant to go along with Trump worry that the emergency declaration for wall money is an attempt to usurp Congress' constitutional power over appropriations. Nearly two dozen former GOP members of Congress made that case in an open letter to current Republican lawmakers.
A group of 58 former national security officials have put their names on a statement that they “are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies” Trump’s invocation of emergency powers.
Sen. Thom Tillis, a conservative North Carolina Republican, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that while he believes Trump is right on border security, "I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress."
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has already said she would support a resolution against Trump's declaration, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she will likely back it, too. If four Republicans vote for the resolution, Trump will need to go to the veto.
Trump: If no nukes, opportunity knocks
How does Trump persuade Kim to give up nuclear weapons? One of the president's sales pitches boils down to this: You can get rich quick!
"Chairman Kim realizes, perhaps better than anyone else, that without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World. Because of its location and people (and him), it has more potential for rapid growth than any other nation!" Trump tweeted on Sunday.
The outlook for what the meetings in Hanoi will accomplish remain hazy, but Trump said before departing for Hanoi on Monday: "I think we'll have a very tremendous summit." For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Ready for Cohen's close-up
Former Trump fixer-lawyer Michael Cohen is prepared to give behind-the-scenes accounts of what he will claim is Trump's lying, racism and cheating as a businessman through specific instances and anecdotes, The Associated Press reports, citing a source familiar with the details.
His Congressional testimony on Tuesday will be behind closed doors, but on Wednesday will be public, followed by another closed-door session on Thursday.
Cohen will also offer documents of what he calls criminal conduct by Trump since taking office, the source told the AP.
Janison: Fireman Pence
While Trump heads off to Hanoi for "no rush" North Korea nuclear talks, Vice President Mike Pence is dealing with a hotter international crisis, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Pence went to Colombia and announced new sanctions aimed at pressuring Venezuelans still aligned with President Nicolas Maduro to step away from the regime. Pence sat beside opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. favors to take over as interim president.
Reading between Spike's lines
Filmmaker Spike Lee never mentioned Trump's name when collecting his screenplay Oscar for "BlacKkKlansman."
In his acceptance speech, Lee spoke of "the moral choice between love versus hate" and mobilizing for the 2020 election to "be on the right side of history." For some reason, Trump decided Lee was talking about him, and he tweeted Monday to complain about "his racist hit on your President."
Rosenstein raising Barr on disclosure?
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said he believes the Justice Department should not reveal information about people it does not charge with crimes. Some listeners took that as a sign that parts of special counsel Robert Mueller's report could be withheld by Attorney General William Barr.
Though he asserted his comments at a Washington think tank event were not about any particular case, Rosenstein noted the issue was one “that we’ll be discussing nationally,” The Washington Post reported.
House intelligence committeeman chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) shot back that "this double standard won't cut it," alluding to the documents Justice handed over to Republicans trying to discredit the Russia investigation when the GOP controlled the House.
Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, said, “I think Attorney General Barr is going to make the right decision." He also said Trump, long openly suspicious of Rosenstein, had shown his commitment to the rule of law through his “superb appointments.”
What else is happening:
- For those looking to track the Trump-Kim summit live, Hanoi is 12 hours ahead of Hicksville. They will meet over dinner Wednesday evening, Vietnam time, and again on Thursday.
- A former Trump campaign worker, Alva Johnson, filed a federal lawsuit Monday charging that he forcibly kissed her on the mouth prior to an August 2016 rally in Florida. Two Trump supporters she identifies as witnesses told The Washington Post they saw no such thing.
- The Trump Organization demanded the House Judiciary Committee stop investigating the company, charging a conflict of interest. The panel hired a lawyer, Barry Berke, whose firm, Kramer Levin, once represented Trump's business. The firm called the complaint "baseless." There was no comment from the committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan).
- Billionaire Warren Buffett told CNBC that if billionaire Michael Bloomberg ran for president, he'd support him.
- The Trump Organization said that it had donated $191.538 to the U.S. Treasury, representing the company’s 2018 profits from its business with foreign governments.