The Week on Planet Trump: Jerusalem and Davos Visits See America Shrink on the World Stage

Monday: Jerusalem Plans Put Two-State Solution in Doubt

The US will open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, US Vice President Mike Pence said Monday in Israel's parliament, confirming that the controversial move is speeding up after officials earlier said it could take three to four years.

Pence told Israeli lawmakers that Jerusalem was "the capital of the state of Israel," reiterating President Donald Trump's change of policy last month.

The US' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has prompted concerns that it could derail any attempts to restart a peace process, and cast further doubt on the likelihood of any two-state solution being reached.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly condemned and rejected Trump's decision, saying, among other things, that it would aid extremist organizations to wage holy wars.

The United States Congress in 1995 passed a law requiring the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But all US presidents before Trump have resisted acting on the law, signing a waiver in the national interest.

Allison Malloy, Andrew Carey and Angela Dewan, CNN

Tuesday: “America First” Tariffs Will Damage Solar Industry

President Donald Trump's decision on Monday to impose stiff tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines has stirred concerns around the world, including North America. Mexico says it regrets the U.S. decision not to exclude it from these new tariffs.

President Trump said approving the tariffs will help U.S. manufacturers. The Republican casts Monday's decision as part of his pledge to put American companies and jobs first.

His administration is imposing an immediate tariff of 30 percent on most imported solar modules, with the rate declining before phasing out after four years. For large residential washing machines, tariffs will start at up to 50 percent and phase out after three years.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says the tariff will result in the loss of 23,000 industry jobs this year. Group member Bill Vietas, president of RBI Solar in Cincinnati, said government tariffs will increase the cost of solar and depress demand, reducing orders and costing manufacturing workers their jobs.

CBS News

Wednesday: Mueller Probes Obstruction of Justice

Special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to question President Trump about his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey and ask him questions regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a new report Wednesday.

Mueller also wants to learn more about Trump reportedly asking Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into Flynn, which Trump called a "Comey lie."

The special counsel is also interested in Trump's outreach to lawmakers about congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN reported.

Trump said Wednesday he is willing to speak with Mueller as part of the investigation, and willing to do so under oath. He told reporters that he expects the interview to occur in the next two to three weeks, but said his lawyers are still determining the specifics.

Brett Samuels, The Hill

Thursday: White House Drives Hard Bargain on DACA Deal

The Trump administration is finally playing ball on immigration.

On Wednesday, it announced it would release a “framework” for a bill it hoped to see pass Congress. On Thursday, details of that framework leaked to several news outlets, including NBC and the Daily Beast.

Those reports say that the administration is willing to allow 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children to become legal residents and ultimately apply for US citizenship — including the 690,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as others who would have been eligible for DACA but did not apply — in exchange for a $25 billion fund for its wall on the US/Mexico border; reallocating slots currently given to immigrants via the diversity visa lottery on the basis of “merit”; and preventing people from sponsoring their parents, adult children, or siblings to immigrate to the US.

With little room to maneuver on policy (for a bill to pass, it will have to be liberal enough to attract 60 votes in the Senate and conservative enough to satisfy a majority of House Republicans) and very little time to debate the issue, a Trump-endorsed framework could be a game changer.

Dara Lind, Vox

Friday: Attacks on Press Derided in Davos

President Donald Trump defended his “America First” policy agenda on center stage Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, telling business and political leaders the United States “is open for business.”

“Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs, your investments to the United States,” he said. “When the United States grows, so does the world.”

Trump also said the international system “needs to be fair ... unfair trade undermines us all.”

Calling on other countries to work together in the fight against ISIS and to address North Korea’s nuclear program, Trump said “our common security requires everyone to contribute their fair share.”

The first president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton, Trump was politely received, though some attendees in the audience booed when he criticized media coverage of his administration in a brief question and answer session following his speech.

Benjamin Siegel, ABC News

Saturday: President Backed Off on Explosive Firing Order

President Donald Trump reportedly ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in June. Had the firing been executed, Mueller would have become the second person in charge of the Russia investigation to be fired by the president following the ouster of former FBI Director James Comey last May.

Trump argued that Mueller had three conflicts of interest preventing him from leading a fully unbiased investigation, according to the New York Times. The first two conflicts being Mueller’s previous work for a law firm that represented Jared Kushner; the second being Mueller interviewing to return for a second stint as FBI director immediately before being appointed as special counsel in May.

Trump's reported order to fire Mueller last June was refused by White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II, who threatened to quit instead of carrying out the order.

The president has dismissed the Times report, calling it "fake news."

The White House has denied previous rumors of Trump's desire to fire Mueller, expressing a similar "fake news" sentiment.

Leah Thomas, Newsweek

Sunday: A “New Deal” With Strings Attached

President Donald Trump won the White House promising a $1 trillion, 10-year blueprint to rebuild America — an initiative he said would create millions of jobs while making the nation’s highways, bridges, railroad and airports “second to none.

But the infrastructure plan he's poised to pitch in Tuesday’s State of the Union is already drawing comparisons to the “The Hunger Games.

Instead of the grand, New Deal-style public works program that Trump's eye-popping price tag implies, Democratic lawmakers and mayors fear the plan would set up a vicious, zero-sum scramble for a relatively meager amount of federal cash — while forcing cities and states to scrounge up more of their own money, bringing a surge of privately financed toll roads, and shredding regulations in the name of building projects faster.

The administration isn't expected to issue full details for two to four weeks. But already, the details that have emerged are unnerving some key infrastructure supporters in Congress, who say it's unrealistic to propose such a mammoth program without money to pay for it. They also note that Trump's budget proposals have called for cutting existing infrastructure programs at the Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Lauren Gardner, Politico

 

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