TrumpWatch, Day 87: Facing North Korea, Trump Backs Off China Threats

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Trump: “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?”


Developments on Day 87 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Backs Off Pressure on China

Amid tension over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, Donald Trump backs off threats of an economic showdown with China.

During his campaign, Trump promised tough action against Beijing, claiming that China is “raping our country” over the large US trade deficit. He has continued to snipe at the Chinese after his inauguration, both over economic matters and over the alleged Chinese inaction over North Korea.

But on Sunday, Trump used Twitter to signal that he would not press for any punishment of China over its currency policies:

Trump’s public involvement in the North Korean matter was limited to the tweet, although Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland said she had briefed the President — who spent another weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, including golf on Saturday — on latest developments, including a failed test of a medium-range missile by Pyongyang.

Instead, action was left to other officials, including a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to South Korea and a televised interview with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

After attending church services, Pence said:

This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world. Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world.

A “White House foreign policy advisor” traveling with Pence said no US response to the missile launch is expected, as there is no need for the US to reinforce the failure.

After a previous North Korean missile test and the prospect of more nuclear or missile testing, the US dispatched an aircraft carrier group to waters off the Korean Peninsula, and thousands of US and South Korean troops, tanks, and other weaponry were deployed in their biggest joint military exercises.

McMaster said on ABC Television that Trump’s recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after the Assad regime’s latest chemical attack showed Trump “is clearly comfortable making tough decisions”: “It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

He also indicated that Washington sees China as central to a resolution, “North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese.”

US officials said on Friday that, after a two-month policy review, a policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” will be pursued with the help of Beijing.

TOP PHOTO: Vice President Mike Pence at the South Korean National Cemetery on Sunday (Ahn Young-Joon/AP)


White House “Inclined” to Adopt Scores of Industry Suggestions to Cut Regulations

Three White House officials say the Administration is “inclined” to adopting scores of suggestions by industry to cut regulations.

The Trump Administration has already repealed rules, most from the Obama era, on the environment, transparency of energy companies, and workplace protections. However, many more changes may be made amid 168 comments submitted to the Government after Trump signed a Presidential memorandum on January 24 instructing the Commerce Department to trim regulations with the aim of boosting domestic manufacturing.

The Environmental Protection Agency, already curbed by the Administration, is named in almost half of the comments and the Labor Department in more than 20%.

Among the possible steps:

●BP wants to make it easier to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing how often companies must renew their leases.

●A trade association representing the pavement industry wants to the U.S. Geological Survey from conducting what the group says is “advocacy research” into the environmental impact of coal tar. The Pavement Coatings Technology Council says this research could limit what it uses to seal parking lots and driveways.

●The US Chamber of Commerce wants to reduce the amount of time opponents have to challenge federal approval of projects, with filing within two years rather than six.

●The Chamber of Commerce wants to rescind the rule that employers report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department.

●The Associated General Contractors of America recommended repealing 11 of President Barack Obama’s executive orders and memorandums, including one establishing paid sick leave for government contractors.


Pro-Trump Group’s $3 Million Campaign for GOP Legislators Who Backed Healthcare Bill

A pro-Trump group is starting a $3 million advertising campaign for 12 Republican legislators who backed the unsuccessful bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Leaders of America First Policies said the campaign is a gesture of appreciation to Trump’s friends in the House of Representative, as well as a signal to other GOP lawmakers to get behind any renewed healthcare effort.

Before and after the abandonment of the GOP bill, hours before a vote in the House, Trump and White House officials blasted GOP legislators expressing reservations, especially the conservatives of the Freedom Caucus.

An advisor said the next stage of the campaign could target those opponents, “We’re starting positive, but all options are on the table.”

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