Trump-Putin II: Planning fall event in aftermath of Helsinki
By ZEKE MILLER, KEN THOMAS and LISA MASCARO
Friday, July 20
WASHINGTON (AP) — Unbowed by swirling criticism of his summit encounter with Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump swiftly invited the Russian leader to the White House this fall for a second get-together. Putin’s ambassador to the U.S. said Moscow is open to discussing such a meeting, even as confusion abounds over exactly what they discussed the first time.
Cleanup has continued from Monday’s two-hour private meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with Trump belatedly saying Putin’s “incredible offer” of shared U.S.-Russia investigations was no good after all.
A White House meeting would be a dramatic extension of legitimacy to the Russian leader, who has long been isolated by the West for activities in Ukraine, Syria and beyond and is believed to have interfered in the 2016 presidential election that sent Trump to the presidency. No Russian leader has visited the White House in nearly a decade.
Trump asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, and “those discussions are already underway,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday. Trump earlier had tweeted that he looked forward to “our second meeting” as he defended his performance at Monday’s summit, in which the two leaders conferred on a range of issues including terrorism, Israeli security, nuclear proliferation and North Korea.
“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems … but they can ALL be solved!” Trump tweeted.
In Moscow, Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the U.S., said it is important to “deal with the results” of their first summit before jumping too fast into a new one. But he said, “Russia was always open to such proposals. We are ready for discussions on this subject.”
The Kremlin has the final say, but hasn’t responded yet to Trump’s invitation.
News of Trump’s invitation to Putin appeared to catch even the president’s top intelligence official by surprise.
“Say that again,” National Intelligence Director Dan Coats responded, when informed of the invitation during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
“OK,” he continued, pausing for a deep breath. “That’s going to be special.”
The announcement came as the White House sought to clean up days of confounding post-summit Trump statements on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s public doubting of Russia’s responsibility in a joint news conference with Putin on Monday provoked withering criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats and forced the president to make a rare public admission of error.
Then on Thursday, the White House said Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s offer to allow U.S. questioning of 12 Russians who have been indicted for election interference in exchange for Russian interviews with the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and other Americans the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes. Trump initially had described the idea as an “incredible offer.”
The White House backtrack came just before the Senate voted overwhelmingly against the proposal. It was Congress’ first formal rebuke of Trump’s actions from the summit and its aftermath.
Asked about the Putin invitation, Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said “I wouldn’t do it, that’s for damn sure.”
“If the Russians want a better relationship, trips to the White House aren’t going to help,” he added. “They should stop invading their neighbors.”
Mixed messages from Trump have increased worries in Congress that the White House is not taking seriously the threat that senior officials say Russia now poses to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Democrats in the House sought Thursday to extend a state grant program for election security but were blocked by Republicans. There is $380 million approved in the current budget for the program, which is intended to help states strengthen election systems from hacking and other cyberattacks.
Democratic lawmakers erupted into chants of “USA! USA!” during the debate,
As for Putin’s offer on investigations, Sanders it was “made in sincerity” and the U.S. hopes he will have the indicted Russians “come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”
Just a day earlier, the White House had said the offer was under consideration, even though the State Department called Russia’s allegations against the Americans, including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, “absurd.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday of the proposed Russian questioning, “That’s not going to happen.”
“The administration is not going to send, force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team,” Pompeo said in an interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Senate Republicans joined Democrats in swiftly passing a resolution, 98-0, that put the Senate on record against the questioning of American officials by a foreign government.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell hastily arranged the vote as lawmakers unleashed an avalanche of resolutions and other proposed actions expressing alarm over Trump’s meeting with Putin and the White House’s shifting response.
Coats said Thursday he wished the president hadn’t undermined the conclusions of American intelligence agencies while standing next to Putin and felt it was his duty to correct the record. He restated the U.S. intelligence assessment about Russian meddling and Moscow’s “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”
While they had met privately on three occasions in 2017, Trump opened the door to a potential White House meeting with Putin earlier this year. The Kremlin had said in April that the president had invited the Russian leader to the White House when they spoke by telephone in March. At the time, White House officials worked to convince a skeptical president that the Nordic capital would serve as a more effective backdrop — and warned of a firestorm should a West Wing meeting go through.
Still, Trump has expressed a preference for the White House setting for major meetings, including floating an invitation to Washington for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un after their meeting in Singapore last month.
Putin would be setting foot inside the building for the first time in more than a decade.
He last visited the White House in 2005, when he met President George W. Bush, who welcomed the Russian leader in the East Room as “my friend.”
President Barack Obama welcomed then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the White House in 2010, and took him on a burger run at a joint just outside the capital.
Putin, in his first public comments about the summit, told Russian diplomats that U.S.-Russian relations are “in some ways worse than during the Cold War,” but that the meeting with Trump allowed a start on “the path to positive change.”
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she still has not seen evidence that Moscow tried to help elect Trump. She said at the Aspen Forum that Russia is attempting to “cause chaos on both sides.”
Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Aspen, Colorado, and Mary Clare Jalonick, Matthew Daly, Tami Abdollah, Darlene Superville and Susannah George in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Miller on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller , Thomas at http://twitter.com/KThomasDC , and Mascaro at http://twitter.com/LisaMascaro
This story has been corrected to show vote now underway, not canceled.
Frustrated US lawmakers threaten action on Trump’s tariffs
By KEVIN FREKING
Thursday, July 19
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are losing patience with the Trump administration’s reliance on tariffs to win trade disputes and are talking increasingly about legislative action to protect U.S. jobs.
A senior Republican senator has threatened legislation to curb President Donald Trump’s trade actions, and other senators joined him on Wednesday in promising a complementary bill. Meanwhile, lawmakers are using congressional hearings to put the spotlight on the economic fallout for local farmers and businesses.
The prospects for any votes on trade legislation before the August recess are dim. Still, lawmakers appear to be putting the Trump administration on notice.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that if the administration continues “with its misguided and reckless reliance on tariffs,” he’ll push for legislation. He said he’s discussing options with colleagues now.
Hatch has been a critic of the administration’s imposition of tariffs but has so far focused on working behind the scenes to influence the White House. His speech on the Senate floor served as a pointed warning to the administration not to move forward with tariffs on imported vehicles and auto parts on the grounds that they pose a threat to America’s national security.
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., followed his cue. They said the president’s proposed auto tariffs threaten tens of thousands of jobs in the South, where foreign automakers have invested heavily in recent decades.
They announced on the Senate floor Wednesday that they’ll introduce legislation as soon as next week that would freeze the Commerce Department’s investigation into whether auto imports present a national security threat. The bill would halt the Commerce Department probe while the International Trade Commission conducts a study.
Alexander urged Trump to reconsider his trade policy and “drop the tariffs.”
“These tariffs are dangerous. These tariffs are going to cost us jobs. These tariffs are going to lower our family incomes,” Alexander said.
While Jones and Alexander went to bat for auto manufacturers in their state, lawmakers from farm country sought to highlight concerns that retaliatory tariffs will dry up export markets as consumers in China, Europe and other places look elsewhere to buy soybeans, pork and other farm goods.
“Our farmers and our ranchers are being used as pawns in a trade war that I can guarantee you not one of them asked for,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said on the Senate floor. “This trade war is eliminating access to foreign markets that have taken generations to develop.”
On the House side, a trade subcommittee heard from farm groups directly on Wednesday. The same panel will examine next week the process that U.S. companies must go through to be excluded from the administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. No witnesses from the administration testified, much to the dismay of Democrats.
Kevin Paap, a corn and soybean farmer from Minnesota, said the tariffs are hitting farmers from all sides, increasing their costs at a time when prices for their products are falling.
“Agriculture is facing the perfect storm: trade uncertainties, decade lows in farm income, agricultural labor shortages and the uncompleted farm bill,” Paap said. “It’s quickly becoming more than we can handle.”
Cass Gebbers, a fruit grower from Washington state, said China this month increased tariff rates to 50 percent for U.S. cherries, apples and pears. He said that customers have canceled orders as a result of the tariffs and that has pushed down prices as a result of the extra product in the domestic market.
If the tariffs remain in place next year, competitors elsewhere in the world “will snatch up these markets as soon as we stumble.”
Behind the scenes, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., is urging constituents to make their voices heard at the White House. He said they may have better luck convincing Trump than lawmakers.
“He puts a lot more stock in what he sees and hears from his base than he does from elected members in Congress,” Rounds said.
While concern about a trade war is clearly growing on Capitol Hill, many Republican lawmakers are still giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, hoping the tariffs will lead trading partners, particularly China, to make concessions.
“I think what he had to do is get their attention, particularly China,” said Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., adding that tariffs did just that.
Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest GOP caucus in the House, said members have been talking about the tariffs at all their recent meetings but are admittedly “slow-walking” the issue.
“The majority is wanting to kind of wait and give President Trump time to see if he can seal the deal,” Walker said. “But, yeah, there are some concerns, and it seems to be growing with each passing week.”
As lawmakers deal with the series of tariffs announced in recent months, the Trump administration opened another front on that issue Wednesday with the Department of Commerce initiating an investigation into whether imports of foreign uranium, especially from Russia and nations under its influence, are a national security risk. Uranium is used in producing fuel for the nation’s nuclear power plants.
AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
6-State Trooper Project to focus on Move Over
Ohio State Highway Patrol
July 20, 2018
COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Highway Patrol and other members of the 6-State Trooper Project will collaborate to focus on enforcing the Move Over law. This initiative will begin on Sunday, July 22 at 12:01 a.m. and end on Saturday, July 28 at 11:59 p.m. The high-visibility enforcement will include the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, West Virginia State Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
From 2013-2017, Ohio State Highway Patrol cruisers were involved in 58 crashes that appear to be related to the Move Over law. These crashes resulted in the deaths of two civilians, and injured 34 civilians and 24 officers. From 2013 to 2017, the Patrol has recorded 14,202 Move Over violation citations.
“When drivers see any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside, moving over just isn’t the law, it’s the right thing to do,” said Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol superintendent. “When drivers Move Over, they can help protect the lives of everyone who works on or uses Ohio’s roadways.”
Ohio law requires all drivers to move over to an adjacent lane when approaching any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside. If moving over is not possible due to traffic or weather conditions, or because a second lane does not exist, motorists should slow down and proceed with caution. The Move Over law now exists in all 50 states.
The 6-State Trooper Project is a multi-state law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.
Secretary of State Receives Libertarian Party Statewide Candidates Petitions for General Election
Thursday, July 19, 2018
COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced the complete list of individuals who have filed to run for statewide offices as candidates of the Libertarian Party of Ohio in the November 6 General Election. Candidates filing petitions include:
- Governor/Lt. Governor Travis Irvine/J. Todd Grayson
- Auditor of State Robert C. Coogan
- Secretary of State Dustin R. Nanna
- United States Senate Bruce E. Jaynes
The Secretary of State’s office will process and catalog the petitions prior to sending them to the county boards of elections, which are tasked with verifying signatures. County boards have been instructed to complete their review of statewide candidate petitions by Tuesday, July 24.
Last week Secretary Husted announced that a committee seeking minor party status for the Libertarian Party of Ohio met the necessary requirements and can now seek office in the upcoming general election. Being a newly established minor party, candidates for statewide office must have collected at least 50 valid signatures, and candidates for all other offices must have collected at least five valid signatures.
Opinion: How Political Polarization Affects the Supreme Court
By Trevor Burrus
How much can a Supreme Court ignore public opinion in a polarized nation? With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that question has become more pressing. Assuming he’s confirmed, a court with Justice Kavanaugh rather than Justice Anthony Kennedy is going to be more conservative, but not much more. While it’s possible that some long-standing precedents are on the chopping block, our current political polarization will help stay the court’s hand from being too disruptive.
Supreme Court justices understand the somewhat precarious place the court inhabits in our constitutional system. If its judgments are to be enforced, the court depends upon respect from the legislative and executive branches and broad support from the public. In the words of Alexander Hamilton, writing in the “Federalist Papers,” the judiciary has neither “the sword or the purse” and it “must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.”
Throughout American history, Supreme Court justices, and particularly chief justices, have been sensitive to public opinion. While many would argue they shouldn’t be, the court ignores public opinion at its own peril. Without sword or purse to enforce its rulings, how will the people react if a Supreme Court decision undermines their deeply held convictions?
That question was put to the test in 1954, when the Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education and all hell broke loose. America was polarized then too, with the Southern states being much more in favor of segregation than the Northern ones. When the Supreme Court announced its ruling, the resistance began almost immediately. Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas called out the Arkansas National Guard to help block nine African-American children from entering a high school. In response, President Dwight Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock to escort the children into school. It was a true constitutional crisis, the likes of which had not been seen since the Civil War.
Chief Justice Earl Warren was aware of the dangers of striking down school segregation. Fearing that any dissenting vote would embolden a resisting South, Warren worked behind the scenes with Justices Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter to ensure a unanimous ruling. Warren visited Justice Robert Jackson in the hospital, where he was after suffering a heart attack, to persuade him not to file a separate opinion. Only Justice Stanley Forman Reed was left, and Warren told him,. “Stan, you’re all by yourself in this now.” Reed ultimately joined the opinion, and Jackson left the hospital on the day the opinion was announced so the court could present a united front.
Like Earl Warren, Chief Justice John Roberts is deeply concerned with his court’s respect and legitimacy. His crucial vote upholding the Affordable Care Act can be seen in that light, as can his numerous opinions seeking to unite the broadest consensus of justices on the narrowest grounds. In doing so, he often crosses ideological lines, as he did this term in Carpenter v. United States, when he was joined by the four “liberal” justices in striking down the warrantless acquisition of cell-site location data.
If confirmed, Justice Kavanaugh is likely to have the same concerns as Roberts. Like Roberts, Kavanaugh has had a long career in high-level Republican legal positions. He is a consummate insider, and he understands the political game needs to be played with honor and due respect for our constitutional system.
That respect entails understanding the difficult job Congress has been given, especially in our polarized political climate. Cobbling together legislative fixes to our myriad problems takes a lot of time, and a Roberts Supreme Court with Justice Kavanaugh is unlikely to disrupt Congress’s work unless the Constitution clearly requires it.
The same goes for contentious social issues like abortion and gay marriage. The court will not undo its 2015 gay marriage decision; it’s simply too disruptive to invalidate hundreds of thousands of marriages, if not more, as well as to throw into chaos tax statuses, property ownership and inheritances. Similarly, a decision overturning Roe v. Wade would significantly shift public opinion against the court — 57 percent currently support legal abortion.
Neither Chief Justice Roberts nor a Justice Kavanaugh wants to see the Supreme Court’s approval rating reach Congress’s low levels —18 percent in April. While Congress can weather such abysmal numbers, such broad disapproval would do lasting damage to the court, and that’s a legacy no one wants.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Trevor Burrus is a research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, as well as managing editor of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.