Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 09 May 2019.
Politics & Governance
Biden: While campaigning in California yesterday, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden said that he had an “obligation” to provide healthcare to illegal immigrants. “I think that anyone who is in a situation where they’re in need of healthcare, regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented, we have an obligation to see that they are cared for. That’s why I think we need more clinics around the country.” [source]
Circus: The House Judiciary voted to recommend Attorney General Bill Barr for contempt of Congress yesterday, and now the vote goes to the whole Congress. That makes two Trump officials who will be held in contempt, as House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) threatens more to come. (Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could be next up.) Barr’s situation is expected to be escalated to the courts, where Democrats hope a judge will issue an order for Barr to release the fully-unredacted Mueller report, instead of the 98% unredacted report.
Meanwhile Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena for Donald Trump, Jr. to testify, despite Republicans’ best efforts to move past the entire Mueller debacle. Don, Jr. has already spent 27 hours testifying in front of various Senate committees, including a previous eight hours before the Senate Intel Committee itself. President Trump has previously instructed all White House officials not cooperate with Congressional investigations, and it right now appears that Don, Jr. is not going to appear.
House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) continues to campaign against Trump without crossing the line of supporting impeachment. Speaking at Cornell this week, Pelosi said:
“We have to make sure — this will sound political but we have to make sure that the Constitution wins the next presidential election. We can’t be worrying about well, how long is this going to take? Well, that will take as long as it does. And we will press the case so that in the court of public opinion, people will know what is right. But we cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump if we are going to be faithful to our democracy and to the Constitution of the United States.”
Sticking to her guns against impeachment, Pelosi continued: “So we have to operate on many fronts. We have to operate in the Congress, in the courts, and in the court of public opinion, and we must win the next election.”
China: I’ve noticed an uptick in House and Senate hearings on China. In three separate hearings today, the House is looking at China’s role in Eurasia, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on national security concerns for Chinese 5G technology.
The New York Fed released its latest data on the likelihood of recession: just 27 percent over the next 12 months. For what it’s worth, the New York Fed’s 12-month recession likelihood was at 25 percent before the start of the 2001 recession, and about 40 percent before the start of 2008 recession. Based on what we know today, I don’t expect a recession until late 2020 at the earliest.
A new round of tariffs against Chinese goods is scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. Chinese officials have vowed to retaliate, seeking “necessary countermeasures” if the new round goes through. That could mean additional tariffs levied on U.S. goods, or the suspension of Chinese purchases of some U.S. goods. Meanwhile, Chinese officials are in D.C. today to negotiate an end to the trade war after being accused by President Trump of breaking their previous negotiation commitments.
Global/Defense Situational Awareness
Overnight, North Korea test fired two short-range ballistic missiles in another provocation. It’s Kim Jong-Un’s way of expressing dissatisfaction with President Trump’s unwillingness to lift sanctions before measurable steps toward denuclearization take place.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani vowed to end two commitments under the 2015 Iran Deal while the Trump administration leveled additional sanctions against Iran. Despite restarting uranium enrichment, Rouhani said, “The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy.” But uranium enrichment — and acquiring more nuclear material — is more likely to lead to war than diplomacy without enrichment. National Security Advisor John Bolton is on record as saying that Iran would never give up its nuclear weapons program under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), often referred to as the “Iran Deal,” and therefore the JCPOA was useless. Bottom line: Bolton is still pressing for regime change in Iran, more likely through actions designed to weaken the Iranian government than through military action. Meanwhile, officials will confer and decide on some next steps during a meeting scheduled at the Pentagon this week.
“China steals intellectual property for military purposes. It wants to dominate A.I., space technology, ballistic missiles and many other areas.” – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a warning to European nations adopting Chinese 5G technology from Huawei