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December 4, 2018

President Trump's awkwardly-phrased "BIG leap forward" with China on trade got a little smaller on Monday, as his economic team said that contrary to a Trump tweet on Sunday night, China did not agree to "reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S." China raised tariffs on U.S. auto imports to 40 percent, from 15 percent, in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary truce on Saturday night. Getting auto tariffs down to zero is aspirational, Trump's advisers said.

"We don't yet have a specific agreement on that, but I will just tell you ... we expect those tariffs to go to zero," Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, told reporters Monday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said "there is an immediate focus on reducing auto tariffs," but "there's a lot of work to be done over the next 90 days." Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said auto tariffs "certainly came up in discussions" with China, but "that's just one of the many tariffs that have to be reduced."

Trump's trade talks with China, with more tariff hikes paused for 90 days, and his push for a skeptical Congress to ratify his revised NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico, "are at the center of the White House's agenda and could have profound implications for the global economy if negotiations collapse," The Washington Post notes. "At the same time, they are also fraught with confusion and ambiguity, complicating urgent timelines set by Trump." You can read Jeff Spross' anaysis of Trump's China truce at The Week. Peter Weber

1:02 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is making money moves, and they aren't even subject to his often touted wealth taxes.

In a Tuesday tweet, rapper Cardi B said she's been "reading about Bernie Sanders" and felt that "we let him down in 2016." After all, Sanders has "been fighting for equal rights, human rights for such a long time," Cardi continued. And well, she likes it like that.

A Twitter user responded to Cardi B's endorsement to point out she's complained about paying taxes in the past, seeing as Sanders' policies would likely lead to more of them. But Cardi noted she only has an issue with having no idea where her tax dollars end up.

The several conservatives who praised Cardi B's supposedly conservative tax stances may want to reconsider their support, especially after Sanders gratefully accepted Cardi's. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:25 p.m.

A divisive final season didn't prevent Game of Thrones from setting a new Emmys record.

The hit HBO series scored a total of 32 Emmy nominations on Tuesday, including for Outstanding Drama Series and acting nominations for stars Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, and Gwendoline Christie. Game of Thrones received not only the most nominations of any show this year but the most nominations that any show has ever received in one year, according to The Associated Press. The previous record was set when NYPD Blue in 1994 earned 27 nominations.

Also making up the Outstanding Drama Series category was Better Call Saul, Bodyguard, Killing Eve, Ozark, Pose, Succession, and This Is Us. The 2017 winner, The Handmaid's Tale, wasn't eligible because it didn't air a full season within the nominating window. The Outstanding Comedy Series category consisted of Barry, Fleabag, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Russian Doll, Schitt's Creek, and Veep.

Some notable surprises from the announcement included the comedy series nod for Schitt's Creek, which also received nominations for stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, and the absence of Bodyguard's Richard Madden from the lead actor in a drama series category.

Thanks both to Game of Thrones and Veep, as well as other nominees like Chernobyl, HBO received the most nominations of any network with 137, with this coming after Netflix stole its thunder by claiming that title last year, The New York Times reports. Netflix, which released Emmy nominees like When They See Us and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, picked up 117 nominations. Thrones and Veep, both of which recently aired their final seasons, are widely expected to take home the top prizes in September, unless Thrones does unexpectedly get dinged for its controversial last set of episodes.

The 2019 Emmys, which don't currently have a host, will take place on Sept. 22. Read the full list of nominees here. Brendan Morrow

11:54 a.m.

Ever heard the one about infrastructure week?

As politicians make calls to rectify the decline of U.S. infrastructure investment, a new study from Leah Brooks of George Washington University and Zachary of Liscow of Yale University provides "suggestive evidence" as to how and why infrastructure costs could have changed over time.

After digitizing annual state-level data on interstate highway construction — one of the largest projects in American history — they found that per-mile construction costs increased dramatically over time, tripling between the early 1960s and the 1980s. But why?

Brooks and Liscow ruled out some old theories such as the idea that highway planners procrastinated and left the most geographically challenging routes for last, or that costs for labor and materials changed. Instead, one possible explanation they found is that as incomes and home values rose, so did demand for more expensive interstates. For example, the doubling in real median per capita income between the '60s and '80s accounts for about half the increase in construction costs per mile. States were also building more bridges and ramps as incomes increased. The study suggests all this could have occurred simply because the more money people had, the more willing they were to spend it.

One other factor that the study finds consistent with the data is the rise of the "citizen voice" in the late '60s and early '70s. That includes the growth of environmental activism, the civil rights movement, and homeowners organizing as lobbyists. Basically, more power to the people possibly meant more expensive highway construction. The timing checks out, at least.

The findings, the paper says, are suggestive, but not causal. Still, it looks like a good start in bettering our understanding of infrastructure investment over time. Read the full study here. Tim O'Donnell

11:31 a.m.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday insisted that President Trump's tweets telling four minority congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from were not racist.

McCarthy in a press conference was asked whether Trump's weekend tweets were racist, to which he flatly responded, "No," saying that "this is about ideology" and criticizing the so-called "squad" that Trump attacked while not offering a specific defense of the language used. McCarthy also said he will vote against the resolution condemning Trump's tweets, suggesting "individuals on the other side of the isle" have also made comments that should be condemned and insisting that Trump has "clarified" his tweets sufficiently.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during this conference also said that Republicans' "opposition to our colleagues' beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with race" while arguing that their policies "would destroy America" and that some of their comments are actually what's racist.

This press conference came shortly after Trump once again insisted on Twitter that his tweets were not racist and that he doesn't "have a racist bone in my body!" Trump shortly after the press conference thanked McCarthy for defending him with a misquote of McCarthy's statement, even as he faced backlash from some Republicans. Watch McCarthy's response below. Brendan Morrow

11:10 a.m.

The New York Police Department officer accused of strangling Eric Garner will not face federal charges.

NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo will not be charged in the chokehold death of Garner, whose repeated last words of "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. That decision reportedly comes after the DOJ's civil rights division recommended charges, but Attorney General William Barr overruled that suggestion, a senior DOJ official tells ABC News' Alex Mallin.

Garner's July 17, 2014 death was caught on camera after NYPD officers stopped him for allegedly selling cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner. Federal prosecutors then had five years to press charges against Pantaleo, who appeared to use an illegal chokehold on Garner to restrain him and could've been accused of violating Garner's civil rights. But with the statute of limitations on Garner's death expiring Wednesday, prosecutors declined to press charges.

That decision, officials tell ABC News and NBC News, comes against the wishes of lawyers in the DOJ's civil rights division. But it's in line with what the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York recommended, those officials continued.

Pantaleo did face disciplinary action from the NYPD and has been on desk duty without a gun since Garner's death, The New York Times notes. The NYPD also wrapped a disciplinary trial against Pantaleo in June to determine if he should face further punishment. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:00 a.m.

Former Republican congressman Mark Sanford, who lost his primary in 2018 to a Republican opponent Trump endorsed, says he's considering challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination.

Sanford told The Post and Courier on Tuesday that he plans to weigh a possible 2020 run over the next month, saying that "I feel convicted" and that "the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters." Should he decide not to challenge Trump, Sanford, who specified he would run as a Republican, said he might instead set up a deficit-focused think tank.

Sanford, who as governor of South Carolina disappeared for six days while secretly having an affair even as his staff claimed he was hiking, often criticized Trump while in Congress, in 2017 telling Politico Trump has "fanned the flames of intolerance." Trump in 2018 went after Sanford on Twitter on the day of his Republican primary as "very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA," endorsing his Republican challenger, Katie Arrington. Sanford was ultimately defeated by Arrington, who lost in the general election. After Sanford's primary loss, Trump reportedly described him in a meeting as a "nasty guy." Brendan Morrow

10:12 a.m.

In the not-so-distant past, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) was the fundraising king. He excelled at reeling in the dough during both his 2018 Texas Senate run and his early presidential campaign. But those days are seemingly over for the 2020 candidate.

O'Rourke has struggled recently when it comes to polls and funding, which is raising questions about whether his once-promising campaign has run out of gas. He is expected to report just $3.6 million between April and June, less than half the $9.4 million he raised in the first quarter. The number also falls short of the $6.1 million he raised in the 24 hours after he first announced his campaign, which is what had people thinking he could be a contender in the first place. Politico called the April through June figure "startlingly small."

The fundraising decline reportedly has O'Rourke's allies on edge, though they think he still has time to get things back on track. If that's to be the case, he probably needs to simultaneously improve his polling numbers, which have also dipped.

It doesn't sound as if O'Rourke is ready to bow out, however. Instead of scaling back, the campaign is making a push by expanding its number of field offices in Iowa.

But in the larger picture, the numbers indicate O'Rourke is fading into the primary's muddied waters. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden have begun to separate themselves from the pack in terms of cash and polling data. O'Rourke was never a frontrunner, but he appears to have been displaced by Buttigieg as the election's upstart candidate. Tim O'Donnell

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