Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 01 May 2019.
Politics & Governance
The ‘constitutional crisis’ continues. Last week, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) described the ongoing battle between Congressional subpoenas and Trump administration officials as a “constitutional crisis”. There’s a continuation of that this week, and there are two developments driving it.
Number one, the Washington Post reported that former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr last month that criticized Barr’s description of the 400-page Mueller Report. Specifically, Mueller writes that Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the report when he offered a four-page summary. Congressional Democrats are using that as further justification to bring Trump officials to testify before Congress. (AG Barr is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.)
Number two, administration officials show no signs of backing down from President Trump’s declaration that they’ll no longer be cooperating with Congressional oversight and investigations. Last week, former White House official Carl Kline was held in contempt of Congress for not appearing before a House Oversight Committee hearing, and now Kline is being threatened with potential arrest and imprisonment if he fails to fully cooperate. Kline is scheduled to appear before the committee today.
“There is no tool in our toolbox that we should not explore [to enforce cooperation],” said House Oversight chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “I’m going to make it clear… that if he comes in there [on Wednesday, today] and if all he wants to talk about is process, which we already know, and does not want to talk about his actions with regard to retaliation and what happened in these cases, then we will move forward to take whatever action we have to take to enforce our subpoena.”
Among other things, the House Oversight Committee is investigating the security clearance procedure used by the White House to force through clearance for senior advisor Jared Kushner, whose security clearance was initially denied.
As for what lays ahead, former House Democratic aid Julian Epstein said, “There’s a big sentiment amongst some [Democrats] that they should ‘Benghazi’ Trump,” by digging into Trump officials until something new turns up. “Democrats are trying to figure out what their off-ramp is here.”
Outlook: The Trump administration believes they can wait this out and make Democrats enforce cooperation through the courts. Democrats aim to keep this a central issue until Election Day 2020, and use noncompliance with Congressional subpoenas as further evidence of obstruction. House Democrats are serious about using fines and potential imprisonment to coerce cooperation with their subpoenas. In short, this could get very ugly, and it could become every bit as much a ‘constitutional crisis’ as Democrats make it out to be.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, specifically, is encouraging Democrats to table impeachment for now and allow the election to be the de facto impeachment process. Until then, it’s up to Democrats to uncover whatever they can and cast the Trump administration in the worst light possible.
“I would like to do something. It may not be typically Republican,” President Trump reportedly said in a meeting yesterday with top Democrats. The two sides agreed on a $2 trillion infrastructure spending plan — double what Trump promised early in his administration. But acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is warning that new major infrastructure projects could be delayed by 2-10 years due to existing environmental regulations. Mulvaney wants to change environmental laws, which won’t sit well with Democrats. And Democrats want funding for climate change and curbing emissions. Despite the news, this is no where close to a ‘done deal’.
Far Left Daily
“We’re in the middle of a constitutional crisis here. The most important job the Democrats have right now is to uphold the rule of law against a president who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him. We have bigger fish to fry than trying to look like we gave it a shot on infrastructure. This was the play in 2016. It strikes me as a very pre-Trump approach for how to manage.” – Brian Fallon, Demand Justice
“All self-identified white people (no exceptions) are invested in and collude with systematic white racism/white supremacy.” – Johnny Williams, Trinity College professor of sociology
“I think that reparations make sense… But we have to acknowledge that in the United States of America it wasn’t simply that we didn’t like a certain group, we’ve built — no. Not we, they. The government built systems designed to exclude and to diminish the capacity of communities to participate in their own economic survival.” – Stacey Abrams
“Let’s face it, most Americans are not going to read a 400-plus page report. They would much rather see something on TV that they can make conclusions for themselves about. That’s the age we’re living in. It’s almost entertainment.” – Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Is America at risk of imminent decline and collapse? Consider this: the U.S. is still a top destination for the world’s millionaires as they leave China and Russia in droves. That suggests to me that millionaires see greater safety and security in the U.S. than they do in the East.
The Federal Reserve wraps up its 2-day meeting today with a decision on interest rates. Fed watchers expect no change to the Federal Funds Rate, despite President Trump’s strong desire for the Fed to cut interest rates for greater economic growth.
“China is adding great stimulus to its economy while at the same time keeping interest rates low. Our Federal Reserve has incessantly lifted interest rates, even though inflation is very low, and instituted a very big dose of quantitative tightening… Yes, we are doing very well at 3.2% GDP, but with our wonderfully low inflation, we could be setting major records &, at the same time, make our National Debt start to look small,” President Trump tweeted out yesterday afternoon.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow is also calling for the Fed to cut rates as long as inflation remains below the Fed’s target of 2 percent. Why? Because this is part of the “Trump put”. From day one, Trump’s bet was that he could grow the economy out of the coming fiscal tsunami. (For additional information, refer to the 23 March 2018 National Intelligence Bulletin.)
Strategic/Defense Situational Awareness
Trump World “still appears to face 16 known criminal and civil probes, from as many as a dozen different federal, state, and local prosecutors.” – Garret Graff, in WIRED [source]