Trump targets ‘pathetic’ Federal Reserve after worst manufacturing reading in a decade

President Donald Trump again attacked the Federal Reserve on Tuesday after the weakest U.S. manufacturing reading in 10 years.

In a tweet, the president wrote Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the central bank “have allowed the Dollar to get so strong, especially relative to ALL other currencies, that our manufacturers are being negatively affected.” He contended the Fed has set interest rates “too high.”

“They are their own worst enemies, they don’t have a clue,” he wrote. “Pathetic!”

As his trade war with China rages on, Trump has repeatedly blamed the Fed’s interest rate policy for concerns about a slowing U.S. economy. He has contended the central bank has not moved quickly enough to ease monetary policy — though the Fed has cut its benchmark funds rate twice this year.

The Fed did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Trump’s tweet comes after the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing reading fell to 47.8 in September, down from 49.1 in August. A reading below 50 shows a manufacturing contraction.

The poor economic data contributed to major U.S. stock indexes sliding Tuesday.

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of global currencies, has climbed more than 3% this year and sits near its highest level since mid-2017. A stronger dollar relative to global currencies is generally expected to reduce exports and increase imports, hurting manufacturers because it makes their products more expensive overseas.

While exchange rates may have contributed to the drag on manufacturing in September, trade also did, according to ISM.

“Global trade remains the most significant issue as demonstrated by the contraction in new export orders that began in July 2019. Overall, sentiment this month remains cautious regarding near-term growth,” Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in a release announcing the data.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed any concerns about a looming American recession. He has also contended his trade conflict with the second-largest economy in the world will not harm businesses or consumers — despite indications that it has already started to hurt some companies and worry Americans.

Seeing concerns about a flagging economy as a ploy to discredit him before the 2020 election, Trump has claimed the central bank bears the blame for any slowdown rather than his own policies.

[NBC News]

Media

Trump demands to meet whistleblower, warns of ‘big consequences’

President Trump on Sunday evening railed against the whistleblower and other individuals at the center of a growing scandal involving his phone call with Ukraine’s president, warning there could be “big consequences.”

“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then [Rep. Adam] Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber,” he continued, before adding that he wants Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”

“In addition,” he added, “I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower.’ Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”

[The Hill]

Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran

President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.

The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future. 

While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at that meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked on Iran policy during the Obama administration, that visit indicated that “Trump must have signaled openness to Macron’s idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute.” 

“Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif, and Zarif a reason to come,” he said.

The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran’s economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called “rotten”—and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term.

Trump’s flirtations with—if not outright enthusiasm toward—chummily sitting down with foreign dictators and America’s geopolitical foes are largely driven by his desire for historic photo ops and to be seen as the dealmaker-in-chief. It’s a desire so strong that it can motivate him to upturn years of his own administration’s policymaking and messaging.

And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he did signal a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times throughout the last month, including at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president’s conversations about the deal.

Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials are expecting Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French deal or to offer to ease some sanctions on Tehran. Meanwhile, President Trump is also considering meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. 

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal. If they do, that’s great. And if they don’t, that’s great too,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.” When asked if he would ease sanctions against Iran in order to get a meeting with Iran Trump simply said: “We’ll see what happens. I think Iran has a tremendous, tremendous potential.”

Spokespeople for the State Department, White House, and Treasury did not provide comment for this story. A spokesperson for the National Security Council simply referred The Daily Beast to Trump’s Wednesday comments on Iran. Bolton didn’t comment on Wednesday, either.

Trump’s willingness to discuss the credit line with the French, the Iranians and also Japanese President Shinzo Abe frustrated Bolton, who had for months urged Trump not to soften his hard line against the regime in Tehran

Bolton, who vociferously opposed the Macron proposal, departed the Trump administration on explicitly and mutually bad terms on Tuesday. On Bolton’s way out of the door, Trump and senior administration officials went out of their way to keep publicly insisting he was fired, as Bolton kept messaging various news outlets that Trump couldn’t fire him because he quit. The former national security adviser and lifelong hawk had ruffled so many feathers and made so many enemies in the building that his senior colleagues had repeatedly tried to snitch him out to Trump for allegedly leaking to the media. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton messaged The Daily Beast to say that allegations about him being a leaker were “flatly incorrect.

At a press briefing held shortly after Bolton’s exit on Tuesday, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin showed much sympathy for Bolton’s falling star in Trumpworld. “There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s to be sure, but that’s true with a lot of people with whom I interact.”

According to those who know Pompeo well, the secretary’s public statement was a glaring understatement.

[The Daily Beast]

NOAA backs Trump on Alabama hurricane forecast, rebukes Weather Service for accurately contradicting him

The federal agency that oversees the National Weather Service has sided with President Trump over its own scientists in the ongoing controversy over whether Alabama was at risk of a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time Trump tweeted Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

Referencing archived hurricane advisories, the NOAA statement said that information provided to the president and the public between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

In an unusual move, the statement also admonished the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Ala., which had released a tweet contradicting Trump’s claim and stating, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

The NOAA statement said: “The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Released six days after Trump’s first tweet on the matter, the NOAA statement was unsigned, neither from the acting head of the agency nor any particular spokesman. It also came a day after the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser released a statement justifying Trump’s claims of the Alabama threat.

The NOAA statement Friday makes no reference to the fact that when Trump tweeted that Alabama was at risk, it was not in the National Hurricane Center’s “cone of uncertainty,” which is where forecasters determine the storm is most likely to track. Alabama also had not appeared in the cone in days earlier, and no Hurricane Center text product ever mentioned the state.

Trump’s tweet that Alabama would be affected by the storm gained national attention Wednesday when he presented a modified version of the forecast cone from Aug. 29, extended into Alabama — hand-drawn using a Sharpie. The crudely altered map appeared to represent an effort to retroactively justify the original Alabama tweet.

The doctored map went viral, becoming a source of ridicule among political pundits and late-night talk show hosts, who accused the president of dishonesty.

[The Washington Post]

Trump’s Unpardonable Admission About His Border Wall

Disagreements about what the law really means are unavoidable. Congress passes laws, government agencies interpret them, advocates dispute those interpretations, and then the courts step in to resolve the arguments.

But that’s not what’s happening with President Trump’s latest push on his border wall. The Washington Post reports that Trump is frantically urging aides to get construction on his border wall underway, overriding their objections that this might require breaking environmental laws, violating contracting rules, or improperly claiming private land. Why? Not because he believes his wall is necessary for national security. Not because he believes he is right about the law, and his aides’ concerns are misplaced. He doesn’t even believe the wall will actually solve an immigration crisis. Trump is urging action on the wall because he believes it is necessary for him to win reelection.

The tell here is that, as the Post reports, Trump “has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.”

Running for office, Trump said he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it, a claim he quickly abandoned. When Congress repeatedly refused to give him money for the wall, he mounted an end-run around Congress, declaring a national emergency. Because Congress has unwisely delegated some of its powers to the president through the National Emergencies Act, he may succeed in defeating legal challenges, since courts tend to give the executive wide latitude to determine what is and isn’t a national emergency.

But Trump keeps undermining the legal rationale for his action. As the Postreports:

Trump conceded last year in an immigration meeting with lawmakers that a wall or barrier is not the most effective mechanism to curb illegal immigration, recognizing it would accomplish less than a major expansion of U.S. enforcement powers and deportation authority. But he told lawmakers that his supporters want a wall and that he has to deliver it.

Other Trump moves also show how unseriously he treats the idea that the wall is a necessary response to a national emergency, and not an enormously expensive campaign prop. He has repeatedly overruled suggestions made by officials because he wants the wall to look a certain way. Trump insists that the wall be painted black and be topped with spikes, even though this will add to the expense, reducing the number of miles that current funds can be used to build. And although the Department of Homeland Security favors including flat panels that can deter climbers, Trump thinks they look too ugly.

This is part of a pattern: Trump declares some far-fetched objective. Administration lawyers concoct a tortured legal rationale to justify it. And then Trump makes clear how pretextual that rationale is. Perhaps the first example was the president’s Muslim ban, but the pattern has repeated itself ever since.

The dangled pardons are especially galling because they underscore how Trump prioritizes winning reelection at any cost over actually following the laws he swore to uphold in his oath of office. Asked about the pardon suggestion by the Post, a White House aide didn’t deny it, but “said Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons.”

Well, maybe. The Trump administration has a long record of making outrageous statements and then insisting after the fact that they were only kidding. Beyond that, the president has already on at least one occasionpromised a pardon to a Customs and Border Patrol official if he was convicted of a crime, and he has also demonstrated his willingness to hand out politically motivated, manifestly undeserved pardons.

Pushing hard to build a border wall carries other dangers for Trump. Though he has had great success in reorienting the Republican Party around some of his other priorities, especially trade, eminent domain remains a controversial and widely disliked maneuver that could alienate conservatives along the border. But the president may be right that actually building the wall is crucial for his reelection effort, and his failure to actually build a single mile of new fencing—as opposed to upgrading current barriers—is a huge political problem for him.  (Even the hurry-up effort described in the Post is relatively insignificant: Only 110 of the 450 miles officials say they’ll finish by Election Day 2020 are new, while the rest replaces existing fencing.)

Trump is not the first president willing to knowingly break the law to win reelection. He is, however, unusually open about it. If the wall gambit works, it will reinforce the idea that lawbreaking is an effective campaign tactic, and that politics comes before fidelity to the Constitution.

The real threat to the national security of the United States isn’t on the southern side of the Mexican border.

[The Atlantic]

Trump blasts Fed for not helping manufacturers

President TrumpOpens a New Window. on Tuesday continued to take on the Federal ReserveOpens a New Window., saying the central bank “loves” to watch American manufacturers struggle.

“The Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world. Has anyone looked at what almost all other countries are doing to take advantage of the good old USA? Our Fed has been calling it wrong for too long!”

Trump has heavily criticized the Fed and its chairman, Jerome PowellOpens a New Window. multiple times over the past several months. The president’s biggest issue with the Fed is over the size of its latest interest rate cut. While the central bank lowered the benchmark federal funds rate by a quarter-point last month, Trump has repeatedly called for a larger cut.

Meanwhile, manufacturing activityOpens a New Window. across Mid-Atlantic States showed little improvement in August, according to data released Tuesday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

“The composite index rose from -12 in July to 1 in August, buoyed by increases in the indexes for shipments and new orders,” the survey found. “However, the third component, employment, fell. Firms reported increasing capital expenditures and inventories, but the measure of local business conditions was slightly negative. Manufacturers were, however, optimistic that conditions would improve in the next six months.”

The survey indicated that while wage growth continues, firms were having difficulty finding employees with the necessary skills for open positions — and it anticipates that both of these trends will continue. Also, “many firms saw employment decline while the average workweek increased in August,” according to the survey.

[Fox Business]

Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”

And Trump said he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.

It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.

Stocks sank to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.

In a statement, UPS said that it “follows all applicable laws and administrative orders of the governments in the countries where we do business. We work closely with regulatory authorities to monitor for prohibited substances.”

FedEx also responded: “FedEx already has extensive security measures in place to prevent the use of our networks for illegal purposes. We follow the laws and regulations everywhere we do business and have a long history of close cooperation with authorities.”

Amazon and the Postal Service were not immediately available for comment.

Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.

In an apparent response, Trump tweeted: “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The new import taxes represent the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.

Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.

[CNBC]

Trump Slams U.S. Military Exercises, Helps Kim Jong Un Blame America for Missile Launches

President Donald Trump released some details of the “beautiful letter” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sent him recently, which apparently included a “small apology” for the recent missile tests, which Kim blamed on the U.S. military exercises that Trump called “ridiculous and expensive.”

During an impromptu press gaggle on the South Lawn of the White House Friday, Trump told reporters that he “got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un yesterday,” and while he gushed about the beauty and three-page (“right from top to bottom”) length of the letter, Trump would not reveal its beautiful contents.

But on Saturday morning, Trump did reveal some of Kim’s letter, writing that the dictator mostly complained about our country’s military exercises, and promised to end missile tests once those exercises stop. Trump called the exercises “expensive and ridiculous.”

Since Trump announced receipt of that beautiful letter, North Koreas has reportedly conducted another missile launch, its fifth in recent weeks. Trump has been a consistent critic of the U.S. military’s joint military exercises with South Korea, which Trump and the North Koreans call “war games.”

Watch Trump describe the beautiful three full page, right from top to bottom, feat of correspondence above, via CBS.

[Mediaite]

Trump praises North Korean dictator’s ‘great and beautiful’ vision for his country

Donald Trump has heaped fresh affection on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un– praising his “great and beautiful” vision for the country.

Earlier this week, the US president played down the significance of a series of short-range missile tests carried out by Pyongyang, saying they were “very standard” and would not impact his ongoing diplomatic engagement with Mr Kim.

Speaking to reporters before he left the White House for a rally in Ohio, Mr Trump was asked about the missile tests, the latest of which was fired from North Korea’s South Hamgyong province.

“I think it’s very much under control, very much under control,” he said, saying the tests were of short-range missiles. “We never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles. They are very standard.”

Mr Trump, who in June made history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit North Korea when he met Mr Kim at the demilitarised zone between the two countries on the Korean peninsula and stepped into the north, on Friday repeated his claim the missile tests were not a problem.

“Kim Jong-un and North Korea tested 3 short range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands,” he said on Twitter. 

He added: “I may be wrong, but I believe that chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as president, can make that vision come true.

“He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, president Trump!”

Mr Trump’s outreach to the North Korean dictator, accused of overseeing widespread human rights abuses, has divided opinion. 

Some have accused the president of giving legitimacy to the North Korean regime, while securing little in return. 

Others, including some of those who frequently criticised the president, have praised his outreach, and said it is better the nuclear-armed nations are talking to each other, after decades of hostility and mutual suspicion.

[The Independent]

Trump slams Fox News polls as ‘terrible to me’ a day after he praised one

The up-and-down relationship between President Donald Trump and Fox News took another negative turn Friday.

A day after praising a Fox News poll that reflected confidence in his economic record, Trump attacked another Fox News poll that shows him losing the 2020 race to former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

“@FoxNews is at it again,” Trump said in a tweet. “So different from what they used to be during the 2016 Primaries, & before – Proud Warriors!”

He added another barb: “Now new Fox Polls, which have always been terrible to me (they had me losing BIG to Crooked Hillary), have me down to Sleepy Joe.”

Just a day before, Trump touted Fox News data on the economy –  “Fox Poll say best Economy in DECADES!” – while ignoring less impressive numbers (a 51% disapproval rating).

Trump continues to give interviews to Fox News hosts – he spoke Thursday with Sean Hannity on his show – but has periodically attacked his favored network on other fronts.

Earlier this month, Trump hit Fox News over the hiring of Democratic consultant Donna Brazile as a political commentator. 

Back in April, Trump attacked Fox News anchor Bret Baier over sponsoring a town hall featuring Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

That one drew a retweet from Baier, who said “thanks for watching Mr. President” and added that “we cover all sides.”

Despite his criticism, there are many examples of Trump praising Fox News polls – when they look good for him.

“New Fox Poll: 58% of people say that the FBI broke the law in investigating Donald J. Trump,” the president tweeted in May. In November, he praised a Fox News poll claiming he had a record approval rating among African Americans. Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump praised numerous Fox News polls showing him leading Republican candidates nationally, inIowa and in New Hampshire. He also boasted about a 2015 Fox News poll showing him ahead of then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. 

As for the latest survey, the one showing him losing to Biden, Fox anchor Julie Banderas tweeted that Trump “is incorrect” when he suggests that the information is coming from Fox News itself. 

“FOX News Opinion Polls are the public’s opinion,” she tweeted.

[USA Today]

1 2 3 17