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Trump sets another wall brawl for the fall

President Donald Trump talks with reporters on March

President Donald Trump talks with reporters on March 13, 2018, as he reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego. Photo Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

He'll keep throwing up bricks

It's hard to see why Donald Trump would expect a different result. After all, through the end of 2020 at least, the House will remain in the Democratic hands that thwarted his demand, even in the face of a government shutdown, to write a $5.7 billion check for a wall on the Mexican border.

But there he'll go again. The president on Monday will seek $8.6 billion in new border wall funding as part of his plan for the fiscal year 2020 budget, which is due this Oct. 1, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on "Fox News Sunday." So get ready for what the late great Yogi Berra once described as "déjà vu all over again."

“I suppose there will be” a fight, Kudlow said. That's a solid prediction.

"Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. After Congress approved only $1.375 billion in late January, Trump declared a national emergency to free up $3.6 billion more, but the courts will decide if he exceeded his constitutional authority

With the 2020 elections in mind, it's not just about winning or losing the wall money for Trump. He needs his core supporters to trust that he's still playing the game to win. He's getting touchy with those who no longer believe it, such as far-right commentator Ann Coulter, who has mocked Trump as an "idiot" and "wimp" for not getting the wall done.

Trump tweet Saturday attacked "Wacky Nut Job @AnnCoulter, who still hasn’t figured out that, despite all odds and an entire Democrat Party of Far Left Radicals against me (not to mention certain Republicans who are sadly unwilling to fight), I am winning on the Border. Major sections of Wall are being built … With another President, millions would be pouring in …"

For more on the wall battles past, present and future, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.

The knives are out

The wall won't be the only battlefront in Trump's 2020 budget. It calls for cutting domestic spending by about 5 percent.

The request proposes to cut $1.1 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs over the next decade by turning over more control to states, according to a summary reviewed by The Washington Post.

It would slash another $327 billion from a range of other welfare programs, including those for food and housing assistance. It would cut another $207 billion by making changes to student loan programs over 10 years and an additional $200 billion by changing federal retirement programs and making major changes to the U.S. Postal Service. 

Steep reductions are proposed for several federal agencies, including Education (12 percent), HHS (12 percent), Interior (11 percent), the State Department (23 percent), EPA (32 percent) and Transportation (22 percent).

Janison: West Side story

The battle shaping up between Trump and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who is ratcheting up an investigation of the president, is something of a rematch, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

They squared off before in the 1980s and 1990s when the Manhattan Democrat fought Trump's plans for development above old rail yards along the Hudson River, including a failed attempt to get the West Side Highway moved. The presidential-Trump tone was already evident when the real estate mogul ridiculed Nadler as "Fat Jerry."

Nadler, who declares flat-out that Trump "obstructed justice," has been on both sides of presidential misbehavior arguments. In 1998, he strenuously opposed impeaching Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, arguing so drastic a sanction is "reserved under the Constitution only for abuses of presidential power that undermine the structure of functioning of government or of constitutional liberty."

Familiarity breeds early leads

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who isn't running yet, leads the 2020 contenders in an early poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers at 27 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders close behind at 25 percent.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a distant third at 9 percent in the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll. She was followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (7 percent), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (5 percent) and Sens. Corky Booker and Amy Klobuchar at 3 percent each. New Yorkers Kirsten Gillibrand and Bill de Blasio were zeros.

Even though Biden and Sanders came out on top, their ages — 76 and 77 — may be giving some voters pause. A sizable 43 percent said Sanders' time has passed and he shouldn't be running, and 31 percent said that about Biden.

One way to kill a brand 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's trademark in running for president is based in the #MeToo movement. Now Politico is reporting: "A mid-20s female aide to Gillibrand resigned in protest over the handling of her sexual harassment complaint by Gillibrand's office, and criticized the senator for failing to abide by her own public standards."

Dim expectations of Kim

Trump said last week he would be "very disappointed" if Kim Jong Un is breaking a pledge by rebuilding a missile launch facility. National Security Adviser John Bolton, appearing on ABC's "This Week," didn't sound like he would be very surprised.

"The North Koreans for example, have pledged to give up their nuclear weapons program at least five separate times, beginning in 1992 with the joint North/South denuclearization agreement. They never seem to get around to it though," Bolton said. 

But Bolton contended that time isn't on North Korea's side now, as it was in the past, because of the strength of the sanctions against it. "The leverage is on our side right now, not on North Korea's," he said.

What else is happening:

  • Will it be transparent or opaque? Newsday's Tom Brune looks at the options Attorney General William Barr faces on how to handle the highly anticipated final report of special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • U.S. airstrikes on Shabbab militants in Somalia, often ignored among foreign policy issues, killed 326 suspected enemy fighters in 47 disclosed attacks, Defense Department data show. 
  • This was Trump 2020 senior adviser Katrina Pierson's comeback when pressed about the lack of black staffers in Trump's West Wing: "Is Abraham Lincoln a racist because he didn't have a black person in his White House?"
  • Trump administration officials jumped the gun in blaming Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's security forces for burning a humanitarian aid convoy, according to a New York Times analysis of video evidence. The culprit was an anti-Maduro protester whose faulty Molotov cocktail intended for the police set a truck ablaze.
  • CNN president Jeff Zucker has no sympathy for rival Fox News over its exclusion from hosting Democratic debates. “I think the question should be, is Fox state-run TV or is the White House state-run government by Fox TV?” he said.
  • Trump told a GOP donors group at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night that if he could run to be prime minister of Israel, he would be at 98 percent in the polls, Axios reported.

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