Early Warning for 12 July 2018

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for 12 July 2018. (All times Eastern.)

Advanced Early Warning: President Trump, by now finishing up Day Two of a two-day NATO summit in Brussels, said that member nations had agreed to his request to increase spending on their own militaries beyond the required 2 percent of GDP (for most members). He also said he believes he has authority as president to withdraw from the alliance without congressional approval, but added that won’t be necessary now that spending increases had been secured.

ALSO: An analysis by USA Today found that following the 2015 death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray while in police custody, and the resulting riots and unrest, police officers began making less contact with the public and began noticing less crime. The study suggests that because of the withdrawal — led in part by Baltimore’s unsuccessful prosecution of six officers and the Obama Justice Department’s added scrutiny — the city’s murder rate has skyrocketed. We will have additional analysis on this in Friday’s National Intelligence Bulletin because it has implications for other cities around the country.


White House

President Trump finished a two-day NATO summit in Brussels and has arrived in London, where he will stay overnight.

Vice President Pence is continuing to campaign for GOP candidates in the Midwest.


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is with POTUS Trump in Brussels.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan will meet with Omani Royal Minister Sultan bin Mohammed Al Numani at the State Department at 2:30 p.m.


Defense Department

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis is traveling. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. have no public or media events on their schedules.

Mattis will discuss U.S. support to Europe with leaders during visits to Croatia and Norway following the NATO summit.

Aircraft carrier activity:

The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is now operating in the Pacific in the Hawaii Operating Area.

The Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) is on patrol in the Atlantic.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in the Philippine Sea.

All other carriers are in homeport.

No conflicts requiring a Carrier Strike Group appear imminent.


Congress

House:

The House has a heavy committee hearing schedule today. We will cover significant developments in this space as they happen.

Senate:

The Senate also has a moderately heavy committee schedule today. Of note: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the issue of tariffs while focusing on the implications of same for United States foreign policy and the international economy.

Significant political/congressional reporting:

  • Trump administration officials say they have completed initial reunifications of migrant children and family members. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 57 children out of 103 in HHS custody were reunified with parents, completing the effort two days after a court-mandated deadline. HHS said that 46 other children were not eligible for reunification under court guidelines.
  • The tariffs President Trump has imposed on imports from China are causing increasing angst with American business organizations and some Republican lawmakers. They want U.S. and Chinese negotiators back at the table to work out a mutually acceptable agreement that will see a repeal of tariffs they say are beginning to harm some businesses. Trump this week said he was willing to impose a 10-percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Experts believe China would retaliate in kind.
  • FBI official Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump text exchanges with his one-time paramour, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, sparked accusations of bias from congressional Republicans regarding his roles in the Hillary Clinton email probe and so-called “Spygate” investigation, appears on Capitol Hill again today for more testimony. Republican leaders have given Page 48 hours to comply with a subpoena that she flouted on Wednesday morning. House Speaker Paul Ryan is said to be supporting a possible contempt charge against her if she continues to flout the subpoena. As for Strzok, he is expected to tell two congressional panels the Trump-Russia investigation was not a “hoax.”
  • North Korean officials failed to show up for a scheduled meeting at the border with South Korea to talk about turning over remains from some U.S. troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. The two sides had been expected to meet at the Korean Peninsula’s demilitarized zone, an arrangement that the State Department had announced after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang last Friday and Saturday.

Economy/Finance

(1) New applications for unemployment insurance benefits dropped 18,000 to 214,000 in the first week of July, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Forecasters had expected around 225,000 new jobless claims. Instead, they fell more than expected to the lowest since May, when claims were plumbing the lowest levels since the 1970s. Low claims are a good sign. They suggest that layoffs are rare and that job creation is high.

(2) Consumer prices are rising at the fastest clip in six years, edging up 0.1 percent as gasoline price increases moderate and clothing prices fell. The CPI rose 0.2 percent in May. In the 12 months through June, the CPI increased 2.9 percent, the biggest gain since February 2012, after advancing 2.8 percent in May. As inflationary pressures increase, economists believe the Federal Reserve will remain on a path of gradual interest rate increases.


Weather

(1) Tropical Storm Chris continues its northeasterly path well off the east coast of the United States.

(2) An area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms associated with the remnants of Beryl is located about midway between the Bahamas and Bermuda. Little or no development is expected through Friday while the system moves northeastward. However, environmental conditions could become a little more favorable over the weekend when the disturbance will be moving northward over the warm waters of the western Atlantic and interacting with a strong upper-level trough.


Yesterday’s Significant Reporting

Democrats Hold Overall Turnout Edge in Competitive House Races

New Dem star to rattle DC establishment

Trump and Merkel clash at fraught NATO summit


Notable Quotable

“Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia. Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” — President Trump at the opening of NATO summit being critical of the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline, a deal between Russia and Germany.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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