×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
October 12, 2017
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

As a fourth round of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement commenced outside Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, President Trump hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and said he's still considering killing the 23-year-old free trade pact. "I've been opposed to NAFTA for a long time, in terms of the fairness of NAFTA," Trump said. "I think Justin understands that if we can't make a deal, it will be terminated and that will be fine. ... We have a tough negotiation, and it's something you will know in the not too distant future." He suggested bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada would be better for America.

Trudeau said later that he's optimistic about NAFTA's prospect but Canada must be "ready for anything." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is much less sanguine — in Mexico City, its president, Tom Donahue, said it's time to "ring the alarm bells" on NAFTA. "Let me be forceful and direct," he said. "There are several poison pill proposals still on the table that could doom the entire deal," and its failure would pose an "existential threat" to North America's national and economic security. On Monday, more than 310 state and local chambers of Congress urged Trump to stay in NAFTA.

If NAFTA is jettisoned, tariffs would go up on all products, and while the tax would be relatively low overall, U.S. agriculture would be hit especially hard, and U.S. automakers would have to rework their entire supply chains. Trump, a longtime critic of NAFTA, told Forbes this week, "I happen to think that NAFTA will have to be terminated if we're going to make it good." Trade advisers to former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush told The New York Times they think Trump's nonstarter demands for Canada and Mexico are a pretext for killing NAFTA. Peter Weber

10:46 p.m. ET

During a combative interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said she does not want to see kids and their parents separated at the border "unduly," but there are several reasons why the Trump administration has enacted its zero-tolerance policy.

Conway said children are coming to the border, clearly uncomfortable with the adult accompanying them, and Border Patrol agents need to figure out if that is their actual parent. She also said that over the last several years, thousands of girls have come to the U.S. from Central America, but the government lost track of them and now no one knows their whereabouts.

Cuomo wasn't interested in her talking points. "I don't think tonight's the night to fight," he said. "I think this is black and white." The Trump administration "created this situation," and had to know that there would be an outcry over separating kids and their parents. "You don't have the high moral ground on this," he said. "You changed a policy to impress your base, you got a pop in the polls with them, and you're OK with the instruction and harshness. Just own it." "How dare you," Conway responded. Watch the tense interview below. Catherine Garcia

9:58 p.m. ET

Tucker Carlson spent part of his Monday night Fox News show smugly accusing "elites" of using the "spectacle" of children being separated from their parents at the border to try to "take the moral high ground."

Carlson — who, let's not forget, is a millionaire with his own cable show who attended boarding school and famously used to wear a bow tie 24/7 — just could not stop railing against those "elites," claiming their concern over families being split up is "performance art" and that most of the people "yelling at you on TV don't even have children, so don't for a second let them take the moral high ground. Their goal is to change your country, forever — and they are succeeding, by the way."

In the world according to Carlson, "the ruling class" cares "more about foreigners than their own people," and they want to see the collapse of "strong families" because that helps their political power. "The left" wants "immediate amnesty for anyone who crosses our borders with a minor in tow," he declared, and their elitist neighborhoods "look exactly like they did in 1960 — no demographic change at all, just like they like it," but if you think that's a problem, it's best to keep those thoughts to yourself. "There is no cost to them," he said. "The cost is entirely on you — but don't complain, or else they will call you 'Hitler.'" Watch the eye-roll-inducing video below. Catherine Garcia

9:15 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Monday, President Trump ordered the U.S. Trade Representative to find $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that could be subject to new tariffs.

"China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology," Trump said in a statement. "Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong."

Trump has already ordered tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual property theft, which China matched on U.S. exports. Trump said the new tariffs will go into effect if "China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced," and added he is willing to pursue "additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods." Catherine Garcia

8:13 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is calling on the White House to "end the cruel, tragic separation of families" at the border, saying the policy is "not consistent with our values."

In a statement released Monday evening, Murkowski said that the "thousands of children taken from their parents and families must be reunited as quickly as possible and be treated humanely while immigration proceedings are pending." There is no need for a "policy designed to separate families, particularly mothers with young children, without a clear process and focus on the needs of the children," she added. "To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable."

Murkowski is also "troubled that those seeking asylum are being turned away before they even have the opportunity to file their papers." If Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen can't "fix this and fast," she said, "we in Congress must." Catherine Garcia

7:27 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By passing the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday evening, the Senate voted to reimpose the ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

The defense spending bill was passed by a vote of 85-10, and must still be reconciled with the House version. U.S. lawmakers consider ZTE a national security threat, and are concerned that its equipment could be used to spy on the U.S. and carry out cyberattacks. In April, the Commerce Department enacted a seven-year-ban on American companies doing business with ZTE, but President Trump in May tweeted that he was working to keep ZTE afloat because "too many jobs in China" were being lost.

A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the U.S. government from buying or subsidizing equipment from ZTE and another Chinese telecom company, Huawei, among other penalties. Catherine Garcia

6:49 p.m. ET
Miami Dade County Corrections via Getty Images

Rapper XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday afternoon outside of a motorcycle dealership in South Florida. He was 20.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office confirmed XXXTentacion's death. Witnesses said the rapper, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was leaving the dealership when a gunman ran up to his vehicle and shot him.

XXXTentacion's second album, ?, was released in March and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. He had been under house arrest while awaiting trial for domestic violence, but a judge let him out so he could go on tour, TMZ reports. Catherine Garcia

5:36 p.m. ET

The horrors of the Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant families at the border can be hard to fathom, even as images and descriptions of the detention facilities circulate the web. On Monday, ProPublica published alarming audio from a facility where children had just been separated from their parents, illustrating the trauma and desperation inflicted by the practice.

In the excruciating recording, children sob and wail for their parents, begging to contact their family members and desperately trying to figure out what's going to happen to them. ProPublica reports that the children are between 4 and 10 years old, and were only separated from their parents for about 24 hours at the time of the audio, which was recorded last week. As many as 30,000 children could be detained by August if the Trump administration continues to separate families at its current pace, a senior administration official said.

The "zero tolerance" policy announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has led to hundreds of children being held in facilities where they spend most of the day in cages awaiting placement with temporary foster families or to be picked up by a family member who is legally authorized to live in the U.S.

It's a difficult listen, but the recording demonstrates just how painful these separations are for children and families fleeing violence and instability in their home countries. Listen to the devastating audio below, via ProPublica. Summer Meza

See More Speed Reads