just passing through
June 2, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were walking with President Trump when he posed for a photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., on Monday, shortly after police dispersed peaceful protesters in the surrounding area with tear gas and flash grenades. Now, a senior defense official claims Esper and Milley weren't aware police had cleared the area prior to Trump's arrival, PBS Newshour reports.

Moreover, the official said Esper and Milley didn't know Trump was going to get his picture taken in front of the church; they thought they were headed outside the White House "to review efforts to quell the protests" against police brutality.

Despite Trump threatening to call in the military to supplement city police across the country, the defense official said the Pentagon isn't keen on deploying any troops, and that Esper referring to demonstration sites as a "battlespace" was merely jargon used to discuss the situation.

Nevertheless, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wants both Milley and Esper to testify about the possible role the military played in clearing the protesters, even though he was told it was not involved. Tim O'Donnell

June 19, 2019

President Trump's tariff threat didn't hurt the USMCA after all.

On Wednesday, Mexico's senate overwhelmingly voted to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The deal is an update of North American Free Trade Agreement the three countries squabbled over last fall, and comes despite Trump threatening tariffs on Mexico a few weeks ago.

Mexico's Senate voted 114-4 to approve the deal, with three lawmakers abstaining from the vote. Some of those voting for the deal were cautious, seeing as Trump has been notoriously unpredictable when dealing with his southern neighbor, but said the bill was essential in guaranteeing Mexico's economic viability, Politico reports. Despite largely voicing opposition to Trump, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also pushed for the deal, essentially ensuring its passage in a Senate held by his party. The deal contains many of the same provisions as NAFTA, but calls for more automotive manufacturing within the three countries, per The Washington Post.

The approval came despite Trump threatening in late May to impose tariffs on Mexico unless it curbed the flow of migrants into the U.S. Several GOP lawmakers broke with Trump over the tariff threat, with some saying it would jeopardize the USMCA's passage. Trump later called off the threat after successful discussions with Mexican authorities. Kathryn Krawczyk

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