July 17, 2018
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President Trump's tariffs and the trade war they launched have not been kind to American farmers, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has conceded.

"Farmers love their lifestyle, but they're businesspeople," he said at an event hosted by Axios. "They have to make a profit. They're some of the best patriots in America, but they can't pay the bills with patriotism." Perdue said he hopes to have a relief plan in place by the end of the summer.

The secretary made similar comments in a late June interview with the Chicago Tribune. "There's legitimate anxiety if it's your livelihood," he admitted, but argued farmers are "patriots" who understand trade war is necessary retaliation against "a country that has been unfair at trade practices for a number of years." Still, Perdue added, "it's kind of like a drought: 'When will it end?'"

China has levied a 25 percent tax on 545 U.S. imports, including agricultural products like soybeans, rice, beef, pork, and more. Soybean farmers expect a particularly hard hit, as China previously bought fully one-third of their product. Maine lobster harvesters are already suffering, as Chinese buyers turn to Canada — subject to a 7 percent lobster tariff — to avoid 35 to 40 percent tariffs on American lobsters.

Farmers may be willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, said the National Farm Union's Matt Purdue, but "there's a lot of anxiety and I think that anxiety is growing over time." Bonnie Kristian

July 15, 2018

Asked who he considers to be the United States' "biggest competitor" or "biggest foe globally" in a CBS interview aired Sunday, President Trump named Europe, Russia, and China.

"Well, I think we have a lot of foes," Trump said. "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe," he continued. "But that doesn't mean they are bad. It doesn't mean anything. It means that they are competitive. They want to do well, and we want to do well."

In the same CBS interview, Trump said he has "low expectations" for Monday's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read the president's foe comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

July 12, 2018

President Trump told NATO leaders in person and on Twitter at a Wednesday-Thursday summit in Brussels that he wants them to raise their national defense spending to 2 percent of GDP more quickly than the 2024 deadline agreed to in 2014, and maybe raise it to 4 percent, prompting an emergency session of NATO leaders Thursday morning. Trump also threatened to break with NATO and have America go it alone if other members don't raise defense spending quickly enough, NATO officials and diplomats tell Politico. "NATO officials said Trump was furious over media coverage suggesting that the first day of the summit had proceeded calmly, and that he had demanded to hold a press conference immediately after the morning meeting."

In that news conference, Trump called the NATO summit a success, insisted "the United States was not being treated fairly, but now we are," and said “I believe in NATO." When asked, Trump said he thinks he "probably can" pull the U.S. out of NATO without the explicit approval of Congress, "but that's not necessary" now that other countries have made "a real commitment" to raise defense spending to 2 percent of GDP in a "relatively short period of years."

Trump painted the commitment to increase defense spending as a personal victory, though French President Emmanuel Macron said the "very detailed" final communiqué "confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That's all." Trump also said fellow NATO leaders had thanked him for making them agree to spend more on defense and for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, promoted the quality of U.S. defense contractors and his golf resort in Scotland, and touted his Electoral College victory. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump had reportedly singled out by first name in a breach of protocol, called the summit "intense." Peter Weber

June 27, 2018
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The president of a conservative political organization is thrilled with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's impending retirement, calling it an "answer to prayer."

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Bob Vander Plaats of the Iowa-based group The Family Leader said with Kennedy leaving the bench and President Trump having an opportunity to nominate a conservative replacement, "we have a chance to take down Roe v. Wade. This is a historic moment in the pro-life community today."

Trump has already said he will nominate "pro-life judges," and Vander Plaats is hopeful that means another person like Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in last year. "If Gorsuch is the standard, we'd like to see another Gorsuch on that court," he said. Catherine Garcia

June 22, 2018
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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen found it "offensive" to suggest President Trump's administration intended to split up immigrant families, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders thought it was "absolutely ridiculous" to ask whether Trump would step down, and now United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is refuting the notion that the U.N. should concern itself with American poverty.

Haley on Thursday said it was "patently ridiculous" that the U.N. was interested in analyzing poverty in the U.S., writing a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that denounced his suggestion that Trump review a recent U.N. report that blamed poverty on "political will," reports The Hill.

"The Special Rapporteur wasted the U.N.'s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world's worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world," wrote Haley, who withdrew the U.S. from the U.N.'s Human Rights Council on Tuesday. "It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America."

The report, which Haley criticized without evidence as "misleading and politically motivated," concluded that American democracy "is being steadily undermined" by politics that allow poverty and wealth inequality to continue. "With political will, it could readily be eliminated," the report reads. Sanders wanted the Trump administration to work with the U.N. to craft new policies based on the conclusions of the report, but Haley accused the researchers of "purposely [using] misleading facts" to publish a "biased" document. Summer Meza

June 19, 2018
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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen faced the White House press corps for 20 minutes Monday afternoon to defend the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" border policy and the resulting separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents. Her at times contradictory responses, The Washington Post says, "offered evidence that the administration — and perhaps Nielsen herself — was still struggling to formulate a message to counter critics who have accused the Trump White House of creating a humanitarian disaster."

In fact, inside the administration, Nielsen "is not seen as a supporter" of the policy, Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni report at Politico. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a mentor to Nielsen, urged her not to do Monday's press conference. But Nielsen is under tremendous pressure from President Trump, who blames her for the rise in illegal immigration and drove her to the brink of quitting in a Cabinet meeting berating that "several of those present at the meeting" tell Politico was "the most uncomfortable scene they have witnessed in their professional lives."

At the same time, Kelly "and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another," Politico reports, throwing in this anecdote:

According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment — at least this chapter of American history would come to a close. [Politico]

"It wasn't a joke, according to my source," Johnson tweeted, "who said his attitude is let the sh-t hit the fan, make Corey [Lewandowski] chief of staff, instruct Cabinet secretaries to do things that are illegal — so be it." Read the entire article at Politico. Peter Weber

June 17, 2018
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In her first comments on the Trump administration's policy of separating parents from their children at the border, first lady Melania Trump said she "believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN on Sunday that the first lady "hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform."

The Trump administration is arresting every adult found crossing the border illegally and charging them with a federal crime, resulting in their children being taken and placed in government custody. People who are following legal procedure and trying to seek asylum are also being arrested at the border and separated from their children. Catherine Garcia

June 15, 2018

President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, spent Thursday night and Friday morning calling for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia to be "suspended," CNN reports. Giuliani's demand was prompted by the Justice Department inspector general's report, released Thursday, which revealed that FBI agent Peter Strzok assured FBI lawyer Lisa Page in a 2016 text message that "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president. Strzok had briefly worked for Mueller, but was removed after other messages to Page surfaced earlier.

The inspector general's report notably said that while Strzok and Page "cast a cloud" over the FBI, there was no evidence that they "directly affected" decisions made in the investigation, contrary to Giuliani's insinuation. Speaking Friday morning on Fox News, Giuliani nevertheless insisted: "Let's take a halt to the Mueller investigation. Let's stop that and get rid of all the agents doing the Mueller investigation." The night before, he'd also urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "redeem themselves" by suspending Mueller. Giuliani additionally said Strzok should be "in jail by the end of next week."

Responding to Giuliani's comments, The New Yorker's John Cassidy notes: "Rather than focusing on [the Justice Department's] conclusion, which runs counter to what Trump has been saying for almost two years, the president's supporters, with Giuliani in the lead, are cherry-picking from the report to try and scuttle the Mueller investigation, which didn't even start until May of 2017, after Trump had fired [former FBI Director James] Comey." Watch Giuliani's appearance on Hannity on Thursday below. Jeva Lange

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