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Trump wants new NAFTA deal to cut trade deficit with Mexico

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:17 PM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:18 PM


            President Donald Trump tries on a Stetson hat during a
President Donald Trump tries on a Stetson hat during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, Monday, July 17, 2017, at the White House in Washington. Stetson is base in Garland, Texas. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump vowed Monday to boost U.S. manufacturing by cutting the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico as he showcased products made in all 50 states — everything from a fire truck to a baseball bat.

"No longer are we going to allow other countries to break the rules, to steal our jobs and drain our wealth," Trump said at a White House event that spilled from the East Room to the South Lawn.

Shortly after Trump's remarks, the U.S. trade representative released an 18-page report about its goals for updating the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In addition to reducing the trade deficit, the administration wants to insert a chapter on the digital economy into the deal. It also wants to strengthen labor and environmental obligations, as well as amending the rules of origin so that more of the products traded come from the United States and North America.

Facing an investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia and a tax and health care agenda struggling to make headway as quickly as promised, Trump is turning his focus to trade this week. Administration officials are to meet Wednesday with economic officials from China, a nation the president has accused of dumping steel on the global market to hurt U.S. steelmakers. The White House emphasis on trade follows a string of other recent theme weeks on energy, job-training and infrastructure that mostly failed to draw much attention away from the Russia inquiry.

The president took his time checking out products from all over the country: Trump donned a cowboy hat from Texas. He swung a baseball bat from Louisiana. And he even climbed into the cab of a Wisconsin-built fire truck and pretended to be a firefighter, saying, "Where's the fire? Where's the fire? Put it out fast!"

The new NAFTA objectives, a requirement to begin talks on updating the agreement in the next 30 days, contain the first specifics for a Trump administration that has made bold promises on trade. Trump has pledged to recover factory jobs and boost wages by crafting new trade deals. Supporters note that NAFTA enabled companies to charge cheaper prices for products that range from cars to vacuum cleaners, helping many U.S. consumers.

The president said he only seeks a level playing field for U.S. companies and workers, but "if the playing field was slanted a little bit toward us, I would accept that, also."

But the president has a conflicted relationship with global trade. His namesake clothing business depended on the work of low-wage workers living overseas, as does the fashion line of his daughter and White House aide, Ivanka Trump.

As of now, Ivanka Trump's firm continues to have its products made overseas. Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement Monday that the president's daughter "has resigned from the company, does not control its operations, and has been advised that she cannot ask the government to act in an issue involving the brand in any way, constraining her ability to intervene personally."

Trump has blasted trade deficits as hampering the economy by sending money abroad. But the trade deficit has actually improved from $762 billion in 2006 to $505 billion last year, a change brought about largely because U.S. consumers cut back spending during the Great Recession. His administration already is pursuing multiple trade cases on individual products and is weighing whether to impose tariffs and quotas on foreign steel in hopes of curbing production in China, even though that country represents a fraction of U.S. steel imports.

The Mexican government said in a statement that the administration's NAFTA objectives will give greater clarity to the negotiations.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, said, "NAFTA supports millions of middle class jobs" across North America and Canada welcomes the opportunity to add "progressive, free and fair approaches" to the pact.

Despite the report, it's still not clear exactly how Trump will renegotiate NAFTA to reduce the trade deficit, said Phil Levy, a senior fellow for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a business professor at Northwestern University.

"There's no detail," Levy said. "There's nothing in there where you could say, this is how we get rid of the trade deficit."

When NAFTA went into effect in 1994, the United States ran a small trade surplus in goods with Mexico and a slight deficit with Canada. But the size of the deficits steadily began to increase afterward.

By last year, the United States ran a $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico and a nearly $11 billion gap with Canada. Neither trade deficit is near its peak level. The trade deficit with Canada hit a high in 2008, while the trade gap with Mexico nearly reached $75 billion in 2007.

Paul Manafort subpoenaed to testify about attempts to influence U.S. election

Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

What You Need to Know: Paul Manafort

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday night issued a subpoena to compel President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to testify publicly Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

A spokesperson for Manafort previously confirmed to CNN that he had received a request to testify on Wednesday.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee said Manafort was subpoenaed to testify about attempts to influence U.S. elections.

Read Anthony Scaramucci's old tweets. You'll understand why he deleted them.

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Who Is Anthony Scaramucci?

New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci hasn't always shared the political views of the administration he now serves.

In previous tweets, the Wall Street financier called Hillary Clinton "incredibly competent" and appeared to be at odds with his new boss on issues such as gun control, climate change, Islam and illegal immigration.

But on Saturday, the day after he became Trump's communications director, he announced on Twitter that he's deleting his old tweets, which he said are only a distraction.

"The politics of 'gotcha' are over. I have thick skin and we're moving on to @POTUS agenda serving the American people," he wrote in a follow-up tweet nearly two hours later.

Scaramucci's old tweets began resurfacing Friday. Some have been deleted, but they've since been immortalized by other Twitter users.

» Sean Spicer resigns, Sarah Huckabee Sanders named next White House press secretary

In a pair of 2012 tweets, one of which has not yet been deleted, he said that the United States has too many guns and that he's "always been for strong gun control laws."

"We (the USA) has 5% of the world's population but 50% of the world's guns," he wrote in the deleted tweet. "Enough is enough. It is just common sense it apply more controls."

Laura Goldman, who said she is friends with Scaramucci, came to his defense on the policy matter Saturday, saying his 2012 tweet advocating gun control was a response to her.

"He answered because that's the kind of guy he is. . . . He shouldn't be crucified for his politeness in answering tweets to a friend before he starts his job," Goldman said in an email to The Post.

Scaramucci also praised former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2011 for staying out of the "Trump spectacle" and called former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, an "odd guy" who's "so smart with no judgment."

A few other tweets still appear to be on Scaramucci's profile.

In another 2012 post, he appeared to be advocating liberal causes, describing himself as "for Gay Marriage, against the death penalty, and Pro Choice."

"@cda0519 I am not a partisan. For Gay Marriage, against the death penalty, and Pro Choice. I am for social inclusion, fiscal responsibility"

- Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 8, 2012

That same year, he said: "I like Hillary. Have to go with the best athlete. We need to turn this around."

In a 2016 tweet that appears to contradict Trump's previous statements against Islam, he said:

"'It is a fight within Islam, overwhelming majority see Islam as a religion of peace, want to live in multiracial/ethnic/faith democracies'"

- Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) January 23, 2016

He railed against climate-change deniers:

"You can take steps to combat climate change without crippling the economy. The fact many people still believe CC is a hoax is disheartening," he tweeted in 2016.

» Who is Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director?

And against Trump's plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border:

"Walls don't work. Never have never will. The Berlin Wall 1961-1989 don't fall for it," he tweeted in 2015.

He also appeared to favor another former Republican presidential candidate over Trump:

"Big number for @JebBush people just need to get to know him. Will make a great President."

- Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) October 15, 2015

In a 2015 Fox Business Network interview, Scaramucci called Trump a "hack" and a bully and said he didn't like how the presidential candidate talked about women.

"He's a hack politician. . . . I'll tell you who he's going to be president of - you can tell Donald I said this - the Queens County bullies association," he said.

Now Scaramucci has shifted from criticizing Trump to telling reporters several times he loves the president. He also apologized for calling Trump a hack and said the president still reminds him of his previous comments.

"I should have never said that about him," he told reporters at his first press briefing Friday, adding later: "Mr. President, if you're listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that."

» Sean Spicer swiped mini-fridge from junior White House staff, report claims

Trump weighed in Saturday morning, saying Scaramucci wanted to endorse him but didn't know he was going to run. But as The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out, Trump had been a candidate for a month when Scaramucci called him a hack.

Related

Albuquerque mayor overrules condiment ban placed on free senior meals

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 11:41 AM



tiburonstudios/Getty Images
(tiburonstudios/Getty Images)

Seniors who had been forbidden to season meals provided by the city can thank Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry for intervening in the "condiment wars."

Because the city's congregate meal program is funded through a grant, it is required to follow strict nutritional requirements. However, some seniors felt the requirements were draconian, because they banned all condiments unless they were served with the meal. That meant seniors couldn't use salt, pepper, ketchup or other condiments to season their food, even if they brought their own. The grant also forbid coffee being served with lunches.

>> Read more trending news

Conway Wood, 94, told the  Albuquerque Journal he got reprimanded for using a salt packet he brought from home to season his asparagus.

After reading the complaints from senior diners, the mayor decided to take action on what he said may have been "well-intentioned" guidelines that don't pass the "common sense test." He had city staff review the guidelines, and now the city will provide a variety of condiments, including salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard and salsa that will be available with all senior meals served by the city. Berry also ordered the program to lift the coffee ban.

The new guidelines go into effect immediately.

Sean Spicer resigns: A look at his 6 months as White House press secretary

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 3:37 PM
Updated: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 4:08 PM

Sean Spicer Best Moments

White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday morning, six months and one day after he first started addressing reporters on behalf of President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending news

Spicer was well-known for his often combative exchanges with journalists gathered for the daily White House press briefing. The briefings were considered must-see television, but in recent weeks they’ve moved to an audio-only format as Spicer took on a more behind-the-scenes role.

>> Related: Sean Spicer resigns, Sarah Huckabee Sanders named next White House press secretary

Here’s a look back at some of Spicer’s most well-known moments:

That time he misspoke and made up a terror attack in Atlanta:

Shortly after becoming press secretary, Spicer drew raised brows for referencing a terror attack in Atlanta in an effort to highlight the Trump administration’s need to act on Islamic terrorism.

>> Related: Sean Spicer says he 'clearly meant Orlando' after citing nonexistent Atlanta terror attack

“I don’t think you have to look any further than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino to ask if we can go further,” Spicer said in January. “There’s obviously steps that we can and should be taking, and I think the president is going to continue do to what he can to make sure that this country is as safe as possible."

Of course, no such terror attack has ever occurred in Atlanta. The city has seen attacks at least twice before, in 1958 and 1996. However, the terrorists in those cases were not Muslim.

Spicer later explained in an email to ABC News that he “clearly meant Orlando,” referencing the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.

That time he kind of explained Trump’s use of “covfefe”:

The president is well-known for speaking his mind on Twitter, even when his thoughts run contrary to statements made by his own administration. In an early morning tweet in May, Trump wrote that “despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

>> Related: Sean Spicer's simple response to Trump's 'covfefe' tweet

No, covfefe is not a word, and no, Trump never explained what he meant.

But Spicer didn’t see anything wrong with the message, which was described as “incoherent” and sparked mockery across social media.

“The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant,” Spicer claimed.

That time he tried to say Hitler never used chemical weapons:

Spicer, apparently forgetting the entire Holocaust, claimed at a news briefing in April that “someone as despicable as Hitler … didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

The comment came as he tried to highlight the horror of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin gas on civilians. But Spicer’s comments drew quick rebukes on social media and from reporters in the room.

>> Related: Spicer comments on Hitler, chemical weapons become Twitter fodder 

He attempted to explain himself.

"(Hitler) was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing," he said. "He brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that."

As you can probably guess, people did not like Spicer calling concentration camps “Holocaust centers” either.

WATCH - Spicer "Even Hitler Didn't Use Chemical Weapons"

That time he tried to explain the ridiculousness of the Trump-Russia controversy with salad dressing:

Apparently frustrated over continued scrutiny amid investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, Spicer got short in March with April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks.

>> Related: Sean Spicer gets spicy with reporter April Ryan: 'Stop shaking your head' 

"If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection," Spicer said. He later demanded that Ryan stop shaking her head.

That time he accidentally wore his U.S. flag lapel pin upside-down:

>> Related: Sean Spicer spotted with upside down lapel pin at press briefing

That time he said President Donald Trump had the biggest inauguration audience ever:

Who can forget Spicer’s first news conference as press secretary, when he admonished reporters for comparing images of President Donald Trump’s inauguration to photos of President Barack Obama’s?

>> Related: 'Alternative facts' like differing weather reports, Sean Spicer claims

"Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall," Spicer said on Jan. 21 at a terse news conference. "That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe."

Multiple fact-checking groups subsequently rated Spicer's claim anywhere from unprovable to outright false. Politifact gave his claim a "Pants on Fire" rating, the category used by the group to single out what it determines to be the most flagrant lies.