Nancy Pelosi

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Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., tweeted that President Trump’s immigration policies “are hateful, ineffective and based on a lie.”

Kennedy predicted Friday that Trump will pay politically for his newly announced tariffs on Mexico.

“The president just raised taxes on working families buying everything from cars to tomatoes,” Kennedy tweeted Friday. “Result? You lose. American companies lose. Immigrants lose. And he will lose, too.”

Trump announced late Thursday his administration plans to levy a 5% tax on a large swath of Mexican goods entering the country.

The tariffs, slated to begin June 10, are designed to motivate Mexican officials to do more to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants attempting to seek asylum in the United States.

The president’s economic aides have also been attempting to negotiate a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada — a measure that has been stonewalled by the Democrat-controlled House.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the tariffs have nothing to do with the ongoing trade negotiations. “These are not tariffs as part of a trade dispute,” he said. “These are tariffs as part of an immigration problem.”

Stopping illegal immigration was a hallmark of Trump’s 2016 campaign, during which he promised to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

[ Opinion: Trump’s latest Mexico tariff gambit is reckless and mindbogglingly stupid]

The president has threatened to close the border on more than one occasion.

Democrats have called Trump’s policy on immigration inhumane and racist.

“I don’t know if merit counted for when his wife’s family came into the country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week, taking a swipe at first lady Melania Trump, an immigrant who brought her parents into the country. “I don’t know. Maybe it did. God bless them if it did. But he calls that ‘chain migration,’ which he wants to get rid of.”

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President Trump on Thursday said he would impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods entering from Mexico unless it stopped the flow of illegal immigration to the United States, a dramatic escalation of his border threats that could have sweeping implications for both economies.

The White House plans to begin levying the import penalties on June 10 and ratchet the penalties higher if the migrant flow isn’t halted. Trump said he would remove the tariffs only if all illegal migration across the border ceased, though other White House officials said they would be looking only for Mexico to take major action.

After the 5 percent tariffs are imposed on June 10, the White House said it would increase the penalties to 10 percent on July 1 and then an additional 5 percent on the first day of each month for three months. The tariffs would stay at 25 percent “until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” a statement by the president said.

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The economic consequences of Trump’s new plan could be swift and severe. Tariffs are paid by companies that import products, so U.S. firms would pay the import penalties and then likely pass some costs along to consumers. Mexico exported $346.5 billion in goods to the United States last year, from vehicles to fruits and vegetables. And many manufactured items cross the border several times as they are being assembled.

White House officials did not immediately explain how driving up the cost of Mexican goods might stem the flow of migrants. If the tariffs damaged the Mexican economy, more of its citizens would try to cross the border to find work in the United States, experts said.

“Mexico is our friend and neighbor, a partner in trade and security,” said Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Glenn Hamer. “The president’s announcement is baffling and, if carried out, will be terribly damaging.”

Mexico vowed a response that could pitch the Trump administration into a full-scale trade war with one of its largest trading partners. This comes just days after the White House and China imposed stiff penalties on each other’s exports.

At a news conference, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said the threatened tariffs would be “disastrous” and added that Mexico would respond “strongly.”

a couple of people standing on top of a mountain: In this April 5 file photo, President Trump visits a section of border with Mexico in Calexico, Calif.© Jacquelyn Martin/AP In this April 5 file photo, President Trump visits a section of border with Mexico in Calexico, Calif.

Trump has often tried to use tariffs and other import penalties as a way to pressure countries into changing behavior, but he has not yet done it on such a scale. In addition, he wrongly has said the cost of tariffs are shouldered by the countries that he targets.

Even some White House officials were caught off guard by the announcement, though planning within the West Wing escalated on Thursday afternoon. Vice President Pence was in Canada on Thursday, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about ratifying an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, but it’s unclear if Trump’s newest tariff threat could upend those discussions.

White House officials believe Trump has powers under a 1977 law to impose tariffs on all imports from certain countries if he cites a “national emergency.” And several months ago, Trump declared a national emergency along the Mexico border because of a surge in migrants crossing into the United States.

But the 1977 law has never been used to impose tariffs in this way before, and Trump’s new actions could face legal challenges due to the scope of companies that would be impacted.

The new tariff threat combines two of Trump’s favorite issues — immigration and trade — and comes as he has struggled to score victories on either one.

A central element of Trump’s campaign was his assertion that the United States was being “invaded” by people across the Mexico border, a sentiment that resonated with many supporters. He has tried to rework trade rules and build a wall to stop the flow of migrants, but so far his efforts have failed to stem the surge of people crossing the border. Crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, driven by Central American migrants seeking asylum, have peaked to their highest level in more than a decade.

One senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said there is broad support across the administration to push Mexico further by using tariffs to force action. Other aides, however, tried to talk Trump out of the idea, arguing that the threat would scare global markets and undermine passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA , which was just sent to Congress on Thursday by the White House. The trade deal aims to curb the type of tariffs Trump is now threatening to impose on Mexico.

a view of a city with a mountain in the background: A view of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, on May 20. About 7,000 migrants are waiting to enter the United States via El Paso.© Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images A view of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, on May 20. About 7,000 migrants are waiting to enter the United States via El Paso.

“Trade policy and border security are separate issues,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent. Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country.”

The president teased his plans on Thursday morning, telling reporters outside the White House that he was preparing a “big-league statement” about the border surge, without going into detail.

“We are going to do something very dramatic on the border because people are coming into our country,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 Central Americans crossed into the El Paso area to surrender to U.S. authorities, the largest group of migrants that U.S. border agents have taken into custody at a single time. Trump tweeted a video of the apprehension late Thursday, declaring that “Democrats need to stand by our incredible Border Patrol and finally fix the loopholes at our Border!”

Deportations by Mexican authorities have increased threefold compared with the same period last year, according to the latest statistics, but the vast majority of Central American migrants appear to be successful at evading arrest en route to the U.S. border.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador campaigned last year on a promise to decriminalize migration and told audiences it was not Mexico’s job to assist the United States with the “dirty work” of deportations.

Trump has backed down on previous threats aimed at Mexico. He abandoned his oft-repeated campaign promise to make that country pay for a border wall. Trump is now using the powers of his national emergency to redirect U.S. taxpayer funds for the construction of replacement fences and barriers along the border.

In late March, Trump said he would immediately shut down the entire border if the Mexican government didn’t take more steps to prevent the flow of migrants, only to announce a week later that he would delay any action for a year. White House officials had spent days frantically trying to design how such a shutdown would be implemented.

The draft trade agreement sent to Congress on Thursday would, if ratified, replace the 1994 NAFTA deal. The draft allows Trump to send a final agreement in 30 days, a timeline intended to pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who along with other Democrats wants changes to the agreement before any vote.

The top imports from Mexico include vehicles, electrical machinery, machinery, mineral ­fuels, and optical and medical instruments, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The United States also imports a large amount of agricultural products from Mexico.

March 2019 report from the Congressional Research Service said that the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act had never been used before “to place tariffs on imported products from a specific country” but that it could be interpreted as giving the White House that power.

Along the Mexico border, U.S. agents have detained more than 100,000 migrants for each of the past two months, and the numbers in May are expected to be the highest yet.

In recent months, smuggling organizations have been moving large numbers of migrants from southern Mexico using “express buses” that reach the U.S. border in a matter of days. The buses make few stops and have lowered the costs for migration, making the journey faster, easier and cheaper for would-be customers.

U.S. officials say corrupt Mexican officials are allowing the ­buses to pass through highway checkpoints and in other cases facilitating their travel to the border by providing security escorts.

Mexican officials have said they’re doing everything they can to regulate the migration surge, and they provide police escorts in some cases to prevent criminal organizations from kidnapping and extorting families traveling with small children.

A Mexican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic negotiations, said trade-related talks with U.S. officials have remained “positive,” and noted that López Obrador was also preparing to send the trade deal to lawmakers for approval. The official declined to say whether the White House has conditioned the deal on a migration crackdown by Mexican authorities.

damian.paletta@washpost.com

nick.miroff@washpost.com

josh.dawsey@washpost.com

Kevin Sieff in Mexico City and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.

Leaders of the veterans group Rolling Thunder are poised to roar back to Washington to defend President Trump if Democrats move to impeach him.

They say Trump hasn’t changed their mind about ending their annual massive Memorial Day biker gathering. But some bikers will be back to demand House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., halt impeaching proceedings if she cranks them up.

“I think he’s doing a great job, and I wish Nancy Pelosi and her cronies would get off his back,” executive director Artie Muller said Thursday after returning to New Jersey from the group’s final planned national gathering in Washington.

Muller predicted a large convergence that would feature “not just bikers, but patriotic Americans.”

Muller, 74, a former Army sergeant who served in Vietnam, said he appreciates that Trump “speaks the truth” and said he considers Pelosi an “arrogant little bitch.”

“Same with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi should open up their closets and put some charges against them,” he said.

Muller is likely to be joined by throngs of fellow bikers if a pro-Trump rally were to take place. Many members of the POW/MIA organization are fiercely supportive of Trump, even if they are sticking to their plan to fragment the Memorial Day gathering into regional rides after 32 years of descending on Washington.

Francis “Mac” MacDonald, the president of a Rolling Thunder chapter in Virginia, said he “and most of our chapter” would ride in Trump’s defense but stressed it would be in a personal capacity. He bans political and religious talk among his chapter in favor of unifying ideals.

The numbers involved in a pro-Trump rally could be large. More than 1 million bikers are believed to have traveled to D.C. for this year’s Rolling Thunder rally. And infrequent, unrelated biker activism has drawn large numbers, including a 2013 ride that brought thousands of bikers to counter-protest a 9/11 event originally billed as the Million Muslim March.

Gus Dante, a national board member of Rolling Thunder, said he’s not sure that he would join an anti-impeachment protest, wanting to preserve a working relationship with Democrats such as his “dear friend” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Dante, however, said “everyone is fed up” with Washington politics, and that it was conceivable large numbers of bikers would participate.

Organizers expect smaller D.C. ride

The Rolling Thunder organization campaigns for missing and imprisoned soldiers and decided in November, after a bitter disagreement with Pentagon parking lot officials, to end the national trek to Washington.

Trump tweeted on Sunday, however, that the bikers “WILL be coming back” and thanked “our great men & women of the Pentagon for working it out!”

Muller said the White House has not contacted the group, and Trump wasn’t entirely accurate.

“Technically yes and technically no. We have chapters in Virginia and Maryland that will do it, but we want them to stay the f— out of the Pentagon parking lot,” Muller said.

Muller said during the 2018 event, Pentagon officers refused to let bikers into a section of the parking lot where food and water were waiting. He viewed it as a power trip. “It’s their part to say, ‘F— you, we’re in charge,’” he said. For the final ride this year, he said large numbers prevented problems. “They couldn’t f— with us. We had too many people,” he said.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough defended the past conduct of the parking lot attendants but said she “can’t speculate on what may or may not happen in the future regarding Rolling Thunder.”

“As federal police officers, Pentagon Force Protection Agency personnel consider all relevant safety and security-related information while facilitating access,” Gough said. “Effective preparation for an event the size and scale of a Rolling Thunder ride is a complicated and lengthy process.”

Few alternatives to the Pentagon parking lot are available. RFK Stadium in Washington was considered, but its lot was found insecure, Muller said.

Although parking issues prompted the regional plan, organizers also cited aging veterans and the possibility of having more impact locally. Costs also were mentioned, but organizers have not yet accepted a $200,000 funding offer from fellow veterans organization Wreaths Across America.

MacDonald, the Virginia chapter president, said he would eagerly join a White House summit with Trump, but that at a minimum he plans to continue a Memorial Day weekend “blessing of the bikes” at the Washington National Cathedral and a ride past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which would not require permits.

“Nothing says I can’t roll down Constitution Avenue going the speed limit,” MacDonald said. “It might piss off a lot of people in the city, but oh well.”

The Trump administration on Thursday began the process for seeking congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, starting the clock on when the House would be required to vote in order to ratify it.

The White House had waited on a greenlight from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to submit the deal but indicated in recent weeks it had grown impatient. Pelosi said the White House was jumping the gun.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer submitted a Statement of Administrative Action letter to congressional leaders on Thursday. The letter allows the White House to formally submit the deal to Congress within 30 days. Once the draft deal itself is submitted to Congress, the House must vote on it in 60 days, according to Trade Promotion Authority, the law covering congressional approval of deals.

“The Trump Administration’s decision to send Congress a draft statement of administrative action before we have finished working with U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to ensure the USMCA benefits American workers and farmers is not a positive step,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday. “It indicates a lack of knowledge on the part of the Administration on the policy and process to pass a trade agreement.”

The White House had been engaged in talks with the speaker, who had held up the vote until issues such as the deal’s labor rights enforcement provisions were shored up. Last week, President Trump said, “Bob Lighthizer is waiting to get the okay from her to send it in. But we’re at a point where we’re just going to have to send it in.”

Whether a vote on the deal is scheduled is completely at Pelosi’s discretion. Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said on Wednesday that the speaker “has the keys here about when this gets brought up and what the process is,” but that the administration was trying to pressure her to get a vote scheduled by getting businesses and pro-trade Democrats to lobby her office.

Democrats argued the move was sabotaging attempts to reach consensus on the remaining issues. “With trademark chaos, this preemptive move seeks to supplant what could have been a productive process. Without strong labor provisions, environmental protections, and real enforcement that promotes American job creation, we are still miles away from the finish line,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

The White House’s move comes as U.S. trade partners were making their own moves to ratify the deal. Canada launched its process to gets its parliament to approve it on Wednesday. Mexico submitted the deal to its Republic of the Congress on Thursday.

Spokesmen for the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

“I want to assure you that we’re making energetic efforts to move approval through the Congress of the United States this summer,” Pence said at a joint press conference Thursday in Ottawa with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

#Mueller May Have Quit, But The Democrats Won’t Give Up On Their #Trump #Impeachment Dreams! Whos Campaign Does This Really Hurt?

How Robert Mueller may have set the tone for the 2020 election

As Mueller bows out, more Democrats call for Trump’s impeachment
If Robert Mueller thought his only public remarks since being appointed special counsel would put the Russian collusion allegations and Democrats’ calls to impeach President Trump to rest, he was mistaken. If anything, See More Mueller’s statement Wednesdaymay have assured that the debate over whether to impeach Trump will be a dominant issue heading into the 2020 president election.

Speaking from the Justice Department, Mueller announced the closing of his office and told reporters he did not plan to testify before Congress. He explained that his team did not have the “option” to charge President Trump with a crime, citing longstanding Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. However, Mueller also stressed that there “was not sufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy” with regard to whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

On the question of obstruction, Mueller said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that. We did not determine whether the president did commit a crime.” Prominent Democrats seized on Mueller’s words to call for Trump’s impeachment. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that all options were “on the table” and that it was up to Congress to hold Trump accountable for any alleged crimes. 2020 Democratic presidential candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Beto O’Rourke all called for impeachment proceedings to begin.

Pelosi under new impeachment pressure
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walked a fine line on Wednesday as she tried to assure party colleagues that lawmakersin the House will continue looking into impeaching President Trump, while advocating against rashness. Pelosi, speaking hours after Mueller’s statement, praised his work but promised to continue investigating Trump. The House speaker has maintained that Democrats should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, but has faced increasing pressure from members in her caucus to reverse course. Fellow Democrats have accused Pelosi of holding off on impeachment for political reasons.

Mystery over USS John S. McCain ‘out of sight’ directive as Meghan McCain blasts Trump
A mystery continues to surround a reported U.S. military email that called for the USS John S. McCain to be “out of sight” during President Trump’s recent visit to U.S. troops stationed in Japan, where the ship was docked. On Wednesday, both President Trump and acting Defense SecretaryPatrick Shanahan denied any knowledge of the order, which led to the ship’s name first being covered with a tarp and then being obscured by a paint barge prior to Trump’s visit over Memorial Day weekend. The Wall Street Journal, which reported the story, directlycontradicts Shanahan. The Journal cites an unnamed U.S. official as saying that Shanahan was aware and approved measures to ensure the ship did not interfere with the president’s trip.

The ship is named for the father and grandfather of the late U.S. Sen. John S. McCain III, with whom Trump had feuded prior to the Arizona Republican’s death from cancer last year at age 81.The Journal feature apparently infuriated Meghan McCain, daughter of the late senator, who tweeted, in part, the following: “Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads [sic] incredible life … Trump won’t let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him.”

Private company building border fence gets cease-and-desist order
A legal dispute unfolded this week between private contractors who have built a half-mile fence between a New Mexico city and Mexico, and the mayor of that city who is arguing that the fence didn’t get proper authorization. “We Build the Wall,” began construction of the border fence on private land in Sunland Park, N.M., last Friday using money raised through crowdfunding, the Dallas Morning News reported. The city shares a border with El Paso, Texas, and Mexico. The company had planned to finish construction by Friday, but Sunland Park’s Mayor Javier Perea said Tuesday that the 18-foot fence surpasses the city’s maximum height of 6 feet. On Wednesday, he issued a cease-and-desist order.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo faces backlash for appearing to mock armed rape survivor
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo responded to several critics who slammed him Wednesday over a tweet they said appeared to mock a National Rifle Association (NRA) member and rape survivor. Kimberly Corban appeared in an NRA ad advocating her Second Amendment right after going into detail how she survived a rape when she was 20 years old. “I’m a mother of two, and if a predator or anyone else tries to harm me or my family, they have to come through my firearm first,” Corban said. Cuomo reacted to the ad, tweeting “Only in America.”

TODAY’S MUST-READS
Gregg Jarrett: The two faces of Robert Mueller, and Trump’s presumption of guilt.
LAPD employee contracts contagious bacteria that causes deadly typhoid fever.
Ashton Kutcher testifies in trial of alleged serial killer accused of murdering his friend.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Stocks slump to three-month lows, bonds rally, as recession fears rise with trade war.
AOC’s minimum wage push to land her behind the bar once again.
This city is home to the ‘nation’s hottest housing market’ this season.

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WASHINGTON – To many Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scored a political victory over President Donald Trump this week, making him so incensed that he hurled insults at her and blew up negotiations on the one issue that held the promise of a rare bipartisan deal – infrastructure.

To the president’s allies, a weakened Pelosi, D-Calif., needed to mollify her fractious Democratic caucus, with a growing number demanding that she launch an impeachment inquiry, a move that would give the president a fresh argument that he was a victim of overzealous Democrats incapable of legislating and only interested in investigations.

Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved while the dispute over oversight between the White House and Congress rages.


Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and childishly that he is unfit for office – a clear message to voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.

“She has very challenging dynamics in her conference, and she’s trying to appease her conference,” said Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. “She has a very difficult job.”

Some White House aides also said it was better for Trump to be fighting with Pelosi than former vice president Joe Biden or other 2020 candidates, as the president has done recently, elevating their status.

For Trump and Pelosi, the series of salvos was a break from past practices. Trump has derided other politicians with nicknames, but refrained from mocking Pelosi, the most powerful woman in Democratic politics. During the 2018 midterm election, the speaker had instructed Democratic candidates to focus on health care, education and other issues rather than on Trump, who was not on the ballot. The strategy, which she also adopted, paid off as the party reclaimed the House majority.

Pelosi’s allies said her taunting of Trump now is intentional, designed to get under his skin and elicit an angry reaction, according to officials close to her who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. She contended that his resistance to investigations was to goad her members to back impeachment, which would undermine her party.

Emerging from a special closed-door caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Pelosi took the unusual step of speaking to reporters and in front of television cameras, accusing Trump of “engaging in a coverup” in response to congressional subpoenas.

At the White House a short time later, Trump angrily walked out of a meeting with Pelosi and other Democrats on infrastructure after three minutes. The president told reporters in remarks in the Rose Garden that he could not work with Democrats until they “get these phony investigations over with” and argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Back on Capitol Hill, Pelosi and the Democrats kept up their criticism, with the speaker suggesting Trump’s possible “lack of confidence” prevented him from reaching a deal on infrastructure and saying she prayed for the president.

Pelosi wrote of Trump’s “temper tantrum” in a letter to colleagues Wednesday afternoon, and the next day was relentless in her attacks, suggesting his White House aides and family “should stage an intervention for the good of the country.”

Hours later, Trump called her “crazy Nancy” at a White House event on aid to farmers, impugned her mental clarity and intelligence and pressed aides to attest to his calmness during the meeting the previous day. He later tweeted a spliced video that made her appear confused.

White House aides say Trump was more frustrated by the “coverup” comment than her Thursday commentary likening him to a toddler. He flew into a rage Wednesday morning after she made those remarks – and then stewed as she continued to taunt him from Capitol Hill. The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

Pelosi’s allies insist the events left Trump as the one to blame for the failure to reach a deal on infrastructure, as he had taken responsibility in advance for the government shutdown in an Oval Office meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in December.

When the shutdown – the longest in history – ended earlier this year after 35 days, Pelosi was seen as the winner in the standoff.

“The speaker knows how to use power,” said longtime Pelosi ally Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. “She knows who. She knows how. She’s a master negotiator. . . . I think the president is really befuddled by her.”

Her allies argued that his angry reaction feeds the narrative of an erratic president.

“The more unhinged he looks, the better it is for us,” said one senior House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. “We want to govern, and he’s the crazy man.”

Trump’s proponents pushed back.

“She talks about him like he’s incompetent. It’s totally ridiculous,” said Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer. “You may not like him, you may despise him, but there’s no question he is mentally and physically capable to do the job.”

As for Pelosi, Giuliani said she is “not exactly the most articulate person in the world. The last couple of weeks, she’s been talking funny. I’ve noticed it, and a lot of other people have noticed it.”

Until recently, Trump was telling advisers that he wanted to reach a deal on infrastructure and had even talked to the trucking industry about a gas tax to help finance upgrades to the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels. He also telephoned Pelosi to tell her how good her television coverage was after the two of them huddled to discuss infrastructure three weeks ago.

Trump, who has long admired Pelosi and showered her with compliments for her grip on her caucus, also recently told West Wing aides how tough she is – and how she keeps her party in line with an iron fist. “She has some real crazies,” he said recently to an adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Privately, Pelosi repeatedly has said Trump is not worth impeaching. When a Democrat compared Trump to a fifth-grader, Pelosi responded that such a remark was an insult to fifth-graders, according to an individual who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversation.

“Don’t say that. Children are wonderful!” said the mother of five and grandmother of nine.

Pelosi managed to tamp down the clamor for impeachment from an increasing number of Democrats, arguing that Trump would welcome the move and an acquittal vote in the Republican-led Senate. For now, the talk of impeachment has quieted.

“She was trying to throw a little red meat to her caucus right before they headed home to the long recess,” said David Urban, a Trump ally who worked on the 2016 campaign and the GOP convention. “And Pelosi, who is usually a masterful politician, misjudged the president’s reaction. She made a statement that overplayed her hand. Now we’re going to be at some place of an impasse we haven’t seen before.”

Fights loom in coming months between the White House and Congress on legislation to keep the government running and raising the nation’s borrowing authority. Against that backdrop, the two sides are bitterly divided over investigations.

Published

House Democrats, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are slowly marching themselves toward the opening of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. What seemed out of the question earlier in the year now seems, if not inevitable, increasingly difficult to resist.

Pelosi will not say anything like that at this point. She will continue to try to communicate to both sides of her divided party, nodding to hard-liners by suggesting that Trump’s actions constitute potentially impeachable offenses while bowing to vulnerable members in swing districts by speaking cautiously about impeachment itself.

“We’re not at that place,” Pelosi said at a Thursday news conference, when the question of impeachment came up. That caution came after she noted that the investigations currently underway in the House could lead to “a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment.” She also asserted that the White house “is just crying out” for impeachment, which she likely sees as a trap.

Trump has certainly put the Democrats in a difficult position. His past actions to disrupt and interfere with the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller are spelled out in detail in Mueller’s report. Attorney General William Barr has said the evidence does not constitute obstruction of justice. Others strongly disagree, including many House Democrats who want to hear more about those episodes.

Beyond the contents of the Mueller report and what they say about the question of obstruction, the administration has further inflamed things by blocking virtually all requests from congressional committees for documents for investigations into various Trump-related matters. The president also ordered former White House counsel Donald McGahn not to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. When McGahn defied a subpoena from the committee, chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., threatened to hold a vote to hold him in contempt.

The administration’s resistance has put before Pelosi and other House leaders the question of whether an administration can indefinitely stonewall the legislative branch with impunity, a question with constitutional and practical significance for this and future presidencies. The time for an answer might still be premature, given current legal proceedings. But as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., put it during a CNN town hall last month, “There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution.”

The politics of impeachment remain fraught. Many Democrats still believe the party should focus all its energies on the 2020 election and seek to deny the president a second term through the ballot box. That’s a far cleaner remedy than the high stakes of an impeachment proceeding that would die in the Senate if it reached fruition in the House.

But for Democrats, there is no guarantee of victory in the 2020 election. For all his vulnerabilities, Trump presides over a strong economy and enjoys the power of incumbency, which he is prepared to use to the fullest. Few Democrats are unduly optimistic about victory in 2020, despite the party’s strong performance in the 2018 midterm elections and signs of continued energy by the same kinds of voters who helped deliver that election outcome. The Democrats remain scarred by what happened in 2016.

Pelosi knows that public opinion overall is not on the side of the Democrats. A majority of Americans continue to oppose impeachment. But public opinion among Democrats is in a different place. That’s why a number of candidates for the Democratic nomination have expressed their support for at least the opening of an inquiry. It’s a popular position with the base.

Pelosi can play both sides only for so long. At some point, she and her committee chairs will have to make a decision. That may not be for months, given the legal machinery now clanking along. She will try to keep deferring an ultimate decision, but the consequences of acting or not acting become more pressing as time passes.

Pelosi and Trump continue to circle one another with taunts and insults. Pelosi criticized Trump for abruptly walking out of a meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure on Wednesday at the Oval Office, after she had accused him of a coverup during a meeting with her own troops. Pelosi on Thursday said the president could benefit from a “leave of absence” and perhaps needs “an intervention, for the good of the country” by family or staff.

Trump responded on Thursday by polling his staff at a news conference, asking them to explain to reporters that he wasn’t angry or intemperate when he walked out of the meeting with Pelosi and other congressional leaders. It was an extraordinary display on the part of a president. Trump called himself a “stable genius.” He said the speaker is a “different person” than the leader he began dealing with earlier. He called her “crazy Nancy.” He said, “She’s lost it.”

Such is the state of the relationship between the president and the most powerful Democrat in the country.

Pelosi bested Trump earlier in the year during the government shutdown when she called his bluff and forced him to reopen agencies without giving him funding for his border wall. He responded later by declaring a national emergency to allow him to take the money from other funds in the Defense Department.

In this latest standoff, each has pushed the other into a corner. Pelosi certainly knows how to provoke the president, as she demonstrated again the past few days. But his defiance of Congress has left her with the most difficult of choices, for the country and for her party.

Trump is pushing the country toward a constitutional crisis – many believe it is already here. His actions have riled the Democrats on Capitol Hill and generated anger in the party’s base. Pelosi is now buffeted as she weighs what to do. Sliding into impeachment is hardly the preferred choice, but can she resist the political forces inside her party that are pushing in that direction?

The speaker plays a long game. As Trump has learned, she is shrewd, tough and experienced. Still, the coming test over impeachment could be the most difficult of her career.

WASHINGTON — Sometimes, as the light comes in my bedroom window and I start to wake up, my mind drifts to other things.

I think about how talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge is, with her two mordant shows, “Killing Eve” and “Fleabag.” I think about how cool it will be to see Idris Elba resume his role as a world-weary London homicide detective in “Luther.” I think about what a harrowing tale Patrick Radden Keefe has woven in “Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.”

But once I’m completely awake, a gravitational pull takes hold and I am once more bedeviled by our preposterous president.

I flip on the TV and gird for the endless stream of vitriol coming from the White House, bracing for another day of overflowing, overlapping, overwrought news stories about Trump. I’m sapped before I rise.

As Mayor Pete said on his Fox town hall about the national Trump preoccupation, “It is the nature of grotesque things that you can’t look away.”

My head hurts, puzzling over whether Trump is just a big blowhard who’s flailing around, or a sinister genius laying traps to get himself impeached to animate the base ahead of the election.

A minute ago, we were fixated on the half of the Mueller report that vividly details how Trump tried to shut down and hinder the Mueller investigation. But now the president has triggered the media’s shock collar, so everyone is fixated on how he gave William Barr vast new powers to use the intelligence agencies to investigate the investigators.

Just as Trump once wore out contractors, bankers, lawyers and businesspeople in New York with his combative, insulting and wayward ways, now he’s wearing out the political crowd, as he tries to beat everybody here into submission with his daily, even hourly, onslaught of outrage piled upon outrage.

Journalists must not become inured to Trump’s outlandish, transgressive behavior. Mitch McConnell, Barr and almost everyone else in the G.O.P. have made themselves numb to his abhorrent actions because of self-interest.

But for those who are concerned about the scarring of the American psyche, it’s exhausting to find the vocabulary to keep explaining, over and over, how beyond the pale and out of the norm the 45th president is.

How do you ratchet up from “remarkable,” “extraordinary,” “unprecedented”?

What words can you use about someone who considers pardoning war criminals on Memorial Day? Who wants to make it simpler for adoption agencies to bar same-sex couples? Who circumvents Congress to complete arms deals to benefit the same Saudis who are clearly culpable in the case of the dismembered Washington Post columnist?

Pete Buttigieg and Nancy Pelosi have both mastered the art of puncturing Trump — far better than his Republican primary debate rivals did.

“I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on Season 7 of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan,” Buttigieg told The Post’s Robert Costa, saying he took a dim view of Trump’s bone-spurs excuse to get out of serving in Vietnam.

Pelosi winds Trump up when she drips condescension worthy of a Jane Austen grande dame, saying she will pray for the president or pleading for someone to stage an intervention with the poor soul.

After Pelosi remarked that the president was engaged in a cover-up, Trump dynamited his own meeting with “Crazy Nancy,” as he called her. His I’m not crazy, you’re crazy rebuttal to Pelosi echoed his I’m not a puppet, you’re a puppet line to Hillary Clinton during the debate.

Trump tweeted a video of Pelosi that was manipulated to make her look as if she were slurring her words.

“Well, I don’t know about the videos,” the president told reporters as he left on his trip to Japan.

“He does outrageous, nasty, destructive things, knowing full well he’s crossing a line, and then he pretends he didn’t,” said Trump biographer Tim O’Brien. “He has spent five decades going to gossip columnists, radio shows, TV interviews and newspapers to stick a knife into almost anybody who crosses his path that he doesn’t like and he revels in it. There is something amazing in the Energizer Bunny aspect of his nastiness and his ignorance. He doesn’t care what people think about how mean or dumb he is. He just keeps going.”

O’Brien said Pelosi “hit on something that is core to his con. His whole life is about the cover-up. He has covered up his academic record, his health reports, his dalliances with women, his finances, his family history. Even while he was saying he was the most transparent president in history, his Treasury secretary was across town telling Congress, ‘I’m not giving you the president’s tax returns.’

“One of the biggest motivating factors in Trump’s life — other than food, greed, sex and revenge — is mythmaking. Deep down, he knows he’s a pathological liar and he’s not the person he says he is. But any time anyone pierces that veil, it sends him into a rage.”

It’s wearing, not letting this petulant man wear us all out.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump boarded Air Force One Friday for a visit to Japan. Photo: Evan Vucci/Associated Press

WASHINGTON—President Trump questioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mental acuity the day after she suggested his family stage an “intervention,” the culmination of a weeklong battle of words between the nation’s top Republican and Democrat.

The feud between the two leaders has become personal and leaves in question whether they will be able to work together on major legislation before the presidential election gets under way in 2020.

“You think Nancy is the same as she was? She’s not. Maybe we can all say that,” Mr. Trump told reporters Friday as he departed on a trip to Japan. Mrs. Pelosi is 79 and has led the House Democratic caucus since 2003. Mr. Trump is 72.

Mr. Trump also tweeted a video on Thursday evening of a Fox Business segment that included tightly edited clips of moments where she stammered during her press conference earlier in the day, with the segment’s hosts questioning whether she may be exhausted due to her age.

President Trump lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling her “crazy” after she suggested the president’s family stage an intervention, and asked his staff to vouch for his calm and collected behavior as a dozen farmers looked on. Photo: EPA

Just hours before Mr. Trump had tweeted the video, he called Mrs. Pelosi “crazy” at a news conference and said, “She is not the same person. She has lost it.”

The week began with new hope the White House and Congress would collaborate on an infrastructure bill, with a meeting on the issue planned for Wednesday. Mr. Trump then blocked the former White House counsel from appearing under a House subpoena, prompting more House Democrats to call for the House to begin impeachment proceedings.

Mr. Trump declared the infrastructure talks were off and blamed Mrs. Pelosi, who had remarked the president was engaged in a “coverup.” The president said he would not move forward on legislation until House Democrats ended their investigations of his administration and personal business dealings. Mrs. Pelosi called it a temper tantrum.

“I wish that his family or his Administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country,” she told reporters.

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com

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US President Donald Trump is daring opponents to initiate proceedings against him — but Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge against impeachment

US President Donald Trump is daring opponents to initiate proceedings against him — but Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge against impeachment (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB, Jim WATSON)

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump doubled down Friday on his claim of an “attempted coup” against him as his battle with Democratic foes entered a vicious new phase of personal insults and strong-arm tactics.

Hovering over it all: the looming question of whether or not the Republican leader will be impeached — “the big I-word,” as Trump put it recently.

The president said he has given his attorney general wide latitude to declassify intelligence information as he probes the origins of the government’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia.

“They will be able to see … how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it started,” he told reporters as he departed on a trip to Japan. “It was an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States.”

“There’s word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved with the UK, having to do with the Russian hoax,” he said, adding that he might talk to the outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May about it.

“We’re exposing everything,” he added.

Trump’s bid to turn the tables on his political opponents comes amid an escalating constitutional clash of powers with the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

House Democratic leaders have launched numerous probes aimed at getting evidence gathered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign — only to be stonewalled by the White House.

That has raised calls by Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump.

In an odd turn however, it has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s congressional nemesis, who has pumped the brakes on impeachment — even as she accuses the president of a potentially impeachable cover-up.

The president, for his part, is daring his opponents to initiate proceedings against him — confident that an impeachment by the House would most certainly be blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“‘If they try to Impeach President Trump, who has done nothing wrong (No Collusion), they will end up getting him re-elected,'” the president wrote Friday, approvingly retweeting a warning to Democrats by a fellow Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham.

– Cutting words –

Trump, meanwhile, is pulling out the stops in the fight for political supremacy as the country heads toward the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, he gave Attorney General William Barr sweeping and unprecedented new authorities to investigate the investigators of his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia — directing all US intelligence agencies to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s review.

The intelligence agencies had previously rebuffed, on national security grounds, declassification demands by Republican lawmakers seeking to spotlight alleged misdeeds by investigators.

As pressure mounts, a cutting war of words has erupted between Trump and Pelosi, with each questioning the other’s mental stability.

On Friday, Trump posted a video of Pelosi remarks that had been edited to mash up instances in which she stumbled over her words.

Asked why he was attacking her personally, Trump bristled: “Did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her?”

“She said terrible things, so I just responded in kind. Look, you think Nancy is the same as she was? She’s not,” he said.

On Thursday, speaking to a room full of farmers and ranchers who had been invited to the White House for an unrelated event on China tariffs, Trump said Pelosi — the most senior female politician in American history — was “a mess.”

Pelosi had spent the previous few days needling Trump, claiming he threw a “temper tantrum” during a meeting with Democrats, saying she would “pray” for him, and suggesting those close to him should stage an “intervention.”

“She’s obviously gotten under the president’s skin,” House Democrat Ro Khanna told CNN.

Where this goes from here is unclear — although there is an opportunity to lower the political temperature, with Trump off to Japan and Pelosi out of Washington next week on a holiday recess.

Pelosi must contend with a restless Democratic caucus that is divided over whether or not to impeach the president.

Progressives including Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin have argued that, in the face of White House stonewalling, the time has come to begin impeachment proceedings.

Raskin argued recently that this would consolidate the varied House inquiries in a single centralized process that would have greater standing in the inevitable court battles to come.

But Pelosi also must consider the impact of what she said would be a “very divisive” impeachment battle on some 30 vulnerable Democrats in districts carried by Trump.

Their loss in the next election could threaten her party’s hold on the House, which puts Pelosi at a fateful crossroads.


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