Dutch Hope for Smooth Brexit, Russians Have Little Faith in Trump

Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Justin Trudeau of Canada pose for photographs outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Justin Trudeau of Canada pose for photographs outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Mehreen Khan reports for the Financial Times that the Dutch are lobbying both sides in the Brexit negotiations: They are pleading with the Brits to decide what they want and trying to ensure in Brussels that the United Kingdom is given plenty of room to reverse course or rethink red lines, whether it be on the customs union or anything else.

The reason: close relations across the North Sea.

Britain’s erstwhile continental ally has been a reliable partner on everything from EU budget contributions to the single market but is now uniquely exposed to the economic and emotional side-effects of Brexit.

In France, by contrast, attitudes have hardened. Since Emmanuel Macron’s election last summer, the share of French voters who wish Britain would change its mind has fallen. Tony Barber argues that Brexit is now seen not a loss but a potential gain to France. Read more

Trump Lashes Out, Merkel Looks for Successor

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

An apt headline from Politico: Trump attacks everyone but Russia.

Since thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities were indicted on Friday for violating criminal laws to interfere in the 2016 election, the president has lashed out at CNN, the FBI, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee — everyone but the people who tampered with American democracy.

The New York Times reports that Trump’s “conspicuous silence” on Russia’s actions, and his acceptance of Vladimir Putin’s denial, has startled experts and leaves the country leaderless as it fends off more cyberattacks.

Both left-wing blogger Heather Digby Parton and conservative author Max Boot can think of only two ways to explain Trump’s behavior:

  1. The best-case scenario: The president was an unwitting dupe and is actively covering up the scandal to assuage his fragile ego.
  2. The worst-case scenario: He conspired with a foreign power to win the election.

If there is a third option, I’d love to hear it. Read more

Lies and Distraction from Trump, Putin’s Dangerous War in Syria

American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017
American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

First the lies:

Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration. Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk!

  1. It’s the president who unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year and who is now blocking a compromise. Democrats and center-right Republicans are ready to do a deal.
  2. Democrats tried to get tougher guns laws under Barack Obama. They were frustrated at every turn by Republicans, who turned the filibuster into standard operating procedure in the Senate, as a result of which it now takes sixty votes to get anything of consequence done. When Democrats could briefly muster sixty votes in the early years of Obama’s presidency, they used that opportunity to reform health care. Read more

Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6, 2017
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6, 2017 (KPRP/Krzysztof Sitkowski)

American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.

The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.

The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:

  • First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
  • He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
  • He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
  • He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.

Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.

Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s. Read more

How Is the Liberal World Order Holding Up?

German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Donald Trump’s election caused many foreign-policy hands to worry that America could abandon its stewardship of the liberal world order: that constellation of alliances and institutions that has promoted peace and prosperity since World War II.

One year into Trump’s presidency, the results are mixed.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, four experts reflect on the state of the world. Their consensus: The world America built has by no means disappeared, but there is no time for complacency. Read more

Debunking Trump in the Russia Scandal

American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12, 2017 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

American president Donald Trump and his allies have come up with various defenses in the Russia scandal: There was no collusion; Collusion isn’t a crime anyway; The FBI is biased; Trump had every right to fire James Comey; And what about Hillary Clinton?

Here I’ll debunk those arguments. Read more

Avoidable Resignations in DC, An Unavoidable Resignation in Germany

Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017
Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

Donald Trump has recently lost two more staffers: Rob Porter and David Sorensen. Both have been accused by ex-wifes of domestic abuse.

The reason this is a big story is that the president and his staff have given contradictory statements about what they knew, when they knew it and whether or not Porter in particular deserved the benefit of the doubt.

The specifics are of little political consequence, but the scandal does underscore what a terrible manager Trump is (although we already knew that) and what a terrible effect he has on the people who work for him.

  • David A. Graham argues in The Atlantic that Team Trump doesn’t have a chaos problem. It has a dishonesty problem. “Insofar as the administration is engulfed in chaos, it is a result of its inability to tell the truth.”
  • Conor Friedersdorf writes in the same magazine that Trump has corrupted the conservative movement. “I expect that its moral failures will echo across American politics for years, undermining the right’s ability to credibly advance its best and worst alike.”
  • Ezra Klein blames Trump’s volatility in Vox. “No one knows quite what he will do or say or want, and so staffers spend their days working on deals and plans that they know could be wrecked by a tweet or a late-night phone call or something the president saw on Fox & Friends.” Read more