The Hill’s Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7?
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President Trump turns his attention to an influential club of leaders at an annual economic summit this weekend during a time of sluggish global growth and deep divisions over how to handle both Iran and climate change, as well as political upheaval that appears contagious around the globe.
At the Group of Seven summit hosted by France, the president will lean on relationships he’s developed since 2017, some now frayed, and hope to cement warmer alliances, including with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain, a man the president sees as a kindred spirit. The two will meet on Sunday on the sidelines of the G-7 near the sea in Biarritz.
Trump finds ways to seize center stage at international summits regardless of protocol or the tedium of pre-prepared agendas and communiques. At last summer’s gathering in Canada, Trump lashed out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and retracted his endorsement of the group’s joint statement. He accused Trudeau of acting “meek and mild” during meetings, many of which were dominated by disagreements, notably over trade. He pouted, his arms crossed with an unhappy expression on his face and a photo itself became news. It was reported soon after that the president threw two pieces of Starburst candy on a table in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling her, “Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything.”
The Washington Post: France tries to orchestrate a no-drama G-7, but Trump is the X factor.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that Trump wants to steer the itinerary by calling for a global economic session at the beginning of a G-7 working meeting on Sunday. The president has in mind a “pro-growth message.”
“We have unemployment at a level that it hasn’t been at for many, many years,” Trump said of the United States in remarks to reporters on Thursday. “Fantastic numbers. The economy has been really doing fantastic. If you look at the world economy, not so good.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is the summit host this year, announced on Twitter his own interest in focusing the attention of leaders from industrialized nations on commercial deforestation and fires decimating the Amazon rainforest in Latin America, resulting in dire warnings from scientists about irreversible global calamity. One of every 10 species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest. This is not a problem on which Trump has focused.
The president will meet privately with Macron, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trudeau (The Hill).
Ahead of the G-7, Macron meets today with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as major world powers continue to part company with the Trump administration in seeking to salvage the international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015 (Reuters).
Trade is much on the president’s mind, according to administration officials — along with his reelection. Advisers told the president early this month in a briefing that the economy could slow markedly over the next year, complicating his path to a second term, but his stubbornness has contributed to seesawing, contradictory messages, The Washington Post reports after interviewing two dozen sources in contact with Trump and the White House this month.
A large majority of Americans – 62 percent – disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, according to the latest Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. It’s a gloomy but consistent measure of Trump’s performance in office, varying little from similar findings since he was elected, according to the pollsters (The Hill).
Trump arrives in Europe amid tough questions about the wisdom of his trade war with China, his shifting rhetoric about economic stimulus and his repeated attacks on the Federal Reserve. His international peers are cautious about the U.S. posture in the Middle East, especially with Iran, as well as the president’s approach to North Korea, Russia and China. And Trump’s recent dust-up with NATO ally Denmark over Greenland was greeted with puzzlement throughout Europe (The Hill).
The New York Times: With Amazon ablaze, Brazil faces an international backlash.
The Washington Post: As Amazon burns, Brazil’s right-wing president dismisses the crisis.
Reuters: Russian President Vladimir Putin today instructed his government to analyze the threat posed by a recent U.S. cruise missile test and to prepare a reciprocal response.
The Associated Press: Israel in July bombed an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq, U.S. officials confirm.
LEADING THE DAY
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Tick tick tick: This weekend marks one year until the Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte.
At the outset of the Democratic primary contest, when an astonishing seven contestants emerged from Congress to compete for the White House, analysts wondered how sitting and ex-governors would fare as they boasted about “getting things done” and working with Republicans to deliver “pragmatic” solutions to the people in their states. These have not been the boasts of most of the primary competitors from Congress. After just a few months, the verdict is in: Democratic governors have fizzled, reports Jonathan Easley.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper bowed out of the White House race and said on Thursday he will instead run for the Senate. As a presidential aspirant, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tried to push the national conversation toward climate change but quit the race this week to instead run for a third term as governor. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who entered the 2020 contest late, may be shut out of the third debate next month in Houston because of the Democratic National Committee’s rules. Without the exposure from the televised event, Bullock is likely to struggle for momentum.
What is it about Democratic governors this year – governors who hail from states west of the Great Plains and possess executive, legislative, economic and negotiating experience? A too-crowded and progressive field? Arbitrary DNC debate rules? The Trump era? Lack of national name recognition? For every theory broached this cycle, there’s a counter-argument and loads of second-guessing.
The Democratic debate next month in Texas, in which 10 candidates have already qualified to participate, is on the precipice of expanding, which might mean that ABC News and Univision cover two nights of give-and-take among the contestants on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13. Candidates still have until Wednesday to qualify under the DNC requirements to be invited onstage. Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist, is almost in. Another 2020 contender, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), must register at least 2 percent in two additional polls to qualify (The Hill).
In other political news … The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre survived a revolt inside the gun lobby. The New York Times reports how he did it, and how he’s purging opponents … Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) said on Thursday he is “strongly, strongly” considering a challenge to Trump for the GOP nomination (CNN) … The Trump campaign worked in battleground states on Thursday to mobilize suburban women voters, which it needs next year if the president hopes to win a second term (Reuters) … The summer of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) (GQ).
More in politics … Electoral College members can defy voters’ wishes and choose the presidential candidate they favor, regardless of a state’s popular vote, a federal court ruled this week (The New York Times) … Trump’s 2020 campaign team defends manager Brad Parscale’s compensation (ABC News) … Our colleague Niall Stanage analyzes how immigration issues are important to Trump’s bid for a second term … The Michigan Republican Party is suing to try to block the formation of a voter-approved independent redistricting commission, which would draw new state legislative and congressional district boundaries for 2022 and beyond (The Detroit News) … NPR reports this morning on the details behind a revolt by top House Republican moderate lawmakers aimed at the GOP’s Main Street Partnership, an outside group.
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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
ADMINISTRATION: The White House backed away from a proposal to claw back some of $4.3 billion in foreign assistance approved by Congress and included in the latest budget deal, a senior administration official said on Thursday.
The plan to rescind foreign aid was abandoned amid pushback from some top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as key lawmakers, the official said.
“The president has been clear that there is waste and abuse in our foreign assistance and we need to be wise about where U.S money is going. Which is why he asked his administration to look into options to doing just that. It’s clear that there are many on the Hill who aren’t willing to join in curbing wasteful spending,” a senior administration official told The Hill.
> Trade: Trump is showing solidarity with pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong to gain leverage in trade talks with China (The New York Times). White House adviser Kudlow on Thursday said talks between the United States and China are expected to resume next month. … Meanwhile, economic analysts and conservative groups say the best way for Trump to boost the U.S. economy would be to roll back his tariffs on imported Chinese goods rather than try to cut taxes (The Hill). Kudlow told reporters on Thursday that Trump and his team are working on a “2.0” version of tax cuts that likely will be unveiled next year.
> Election security, cybersecurity at federal agencies and the “persistent threat” posed by China are goals of part of the Department of Homeland Security known as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The agency laid out its key priorities in a new “strategic intent” document released on Thursday. CISA Director Christopher Krebs described as his aims thwarting Chinese threats to U.S. supply chains and to the rollout of 5G networks, bolstering election security efforts at the state and local levels, and protecting the cybersecurity of industrial control systems.
Krebs’s agency has primary responsibility for assisting state and local governments with securing elections (The Hill).
> The United State withdrew an offer to sell Turkey a Patriot missile defense system, a State Department official confirmed Thursday, amid ongoing tension over Ankara’s defense dealings with Russia.
“We have consistently told Turkey that our latest offer of PATRIOT would be off the table if it took delivery of the S-400 system. Our PATRIOT offer has expired,” the official told The Hill.
Turkey took delivery of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system in July, despite repeated U.S. warnings about the consequences of following through with the purchase (The Hill).
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No, it is not racist to question birthright citizenship, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Nqwx2L
Fires in the Amazon, the planet at risk, by Tierra Curry of the Center for Biological Diversity, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/30thnx8
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Joe Pesce, a National Science Foundation astrophysicist, who discusses life in a computer simulation; Christopher Leonard, author of “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America”; and The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack, who makes sense of another newsy week during The DeBrief segment. Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.
The House is in pro forma sessions until lawmakers return to Washington on Sept. 4 to begin consideration of legislation to respond to mass shootings.
The Senate is not scheduled to return for votes until Sept. 9.
The president will have lunch with Secretary Pompeo. He’ll depart at 11 p.m. for France with first lady Melania Trump to attend the annual G-7 economic summit, which begins on Saturday through Aug. 26, bringing together leaders of leading industrialized nations. Information is HERE.
Vice President Pence has no public events today.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivers a speech at 10 a.m. about “challenges for monetary policy” at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin heads to France for the G-7 summit.
The U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Saturday hosts a free day of programs and activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to mark the anniversary of the “British invasion” and burning of the building in 1814. Information is HERE.
➔ Fed ahead: Chairman Powell faces intense scrutiny today as he delivers a high-wire speech amid pointed criticism from Trump. “The Federal Reserve has let us down. They missed the call,” the president said on Wednesday, arguing that the central bank’s rate hike in December was a mistake. Audiences are hoping to gain real-time insights from Powell when he speaks in Jackson Hole, Wyo., about the Fed’s approach to a potential U.S. recession and its outlook for interest rates this fall (The Hill).
➔ South Korea: The government in Seoul said on Thursday it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo and deepening a decades-old disagreement over history that has impacted trade and undercut security cooperation dealing with North Korea (Reuters). The Pentagon on Thursday expressed “concern and disappointment” (The Hill).
➔ Arctic: It’s been described as “the end of the planet.” What Greenland harbors under Arctic ice is worth a lot to Russia, China and the United States. If Trump’s rationale in trying to purchase Greenland was for its natural resources and U.S. strategic gains, he “may not be as crazy as he sounds,” said one analyst at a Canadian think tank (The Associated Press).
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And finally … Bravo to Morning Report Quiz winners! This week, we asked readers about islands in the news and received waves of responses.
Those who deserve the applause today are Tom Chabot, Ki Harvey, Donna Nackers, John Carlan, Carol Katz, Sandy O’Neil, Dennis Fleishood, William Chittam, Phil Williams, Julia Walters-Burns, Lorraine Lindberg, Ben Roth, Itillery, Virginia Hotchkiss, Dara Umberger, Patrick Kavanagh, Ken Stevens, Bruce Porter, Richard Mathews, Candi Cee, Jerry Lentz, Caroline Fisher, Bob Schneiderman, Luther Berg, Mark O’Luck, Allyson Foster, Anne Palmer, Steve Jenning, Randall S. Patrick, Rose DeMarco, Marilyn Leland, Joan Domingues, Jack Barshay, Renee Rodriguez, Elizabeth Morrissey, Sharon Ziemian, Norm Roberts and Buzz Watkins.
They knew that Trump canceled a planned state visit to Denmark after he was told in no uncertain terms that the island of Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, is not for sale.
The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island displays a plaque with the 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus.” Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, recast the poem during an NPR interview to reflect Trump’s immigration policy, earning some headlines.
Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself on Aug. 10 while facing charges of sex trafficking, made news on the islands of Manhattan (where he owned a mansion, was jailed and died), Little St. James (a private oasis he owned in the U.S. Virgin Islands) and St. Thomas (where his lawyers filed Epstein’s Last Will and Testament, which he signed on Aug. 8).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the island of Great Britain will separate from the European Union on Oct. 31.
Sharks have been big news this summer, including on Cape Cod, the Big Island of Hawaii, where a young woman was twice bitten by a shark this week, and Rose Island in the Bahamas, where a 21-year-old woman was killed by a group of sharks while vacationing in June. Lots of readers focused on Massachusetts, but the correct answer was “all of the above.”
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