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Week In The News: Manafort Sentenced, Ilhan Omar, Trade Deficit, Security Clearances

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sits with fellow Democrats, Rep. David Trone, D-Md., left, and Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., right, on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sits with fellow Democrats, Rep. David Trone, D-Md., left, and Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., right, on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

With Anthony Brooks

Manafort learns his fate. House votes on anti-Semitism resolution. Jared and Ivanka’s security clearances. Record-high trade deficit. The roundtable is here.


Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR. ( @MaraLiasson)

Toluse Olorunnipa, White House reporter for the Washington Post. ( @ ToluseO)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. ( @JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

NPR: “ Trump Responds To Expanding House Investigations” — “In the past, the president has said he’d cooperate with Bob Mueller, for instance, and then fought tooth and nail to turn over certain things to him. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the White House does claim executive privilege for some of these requests.

“The other thing that’s working against the White House is that Donald Trump ordered his own Justice Department to turn over documents and information to Republican investigators about the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails, about the spurious allegations he made that somehow Obama had wiretapped him. So he now is setting a precedent for his own Justice Department to turn things over to Democrats.

“But the other thing is despite what the president just said, these investigations are not just about collusion – possible collusion with the Russians. They’re about possible financial crimes, obstruction of justice, violations of the Emoluments Clause. The facts on the ground have changed. And now you have Democrats with subpoenas.

“The president does not like being investigated. As a matter of fact, he tweeted, I am an innocent man being persecuted. And he also tweeted that somehow the Cohen hearings had something to do with the failure of the summit with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. So this is clearly on his mind 24 hours a day.”

Washington Post: “ ‘The silence is deafening’: Major brands avoid Trump even as he promotes them from the White House” — “In a scene probably worth millions of dollars in free advertising, President Trump displayed a spread of burgers from some of the country’s biggest fast-food chains inside the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday as hungry football players looked on.

“With cameras rolling, he offered a presidential endorsement of ‘all-American’ restaurants including McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s.

“‘We like American companies, okay?’ Trump said, standing before hundreds of Big Macs and chicken sandwiches alongside the North Dakota State football team. ‘Go eat up. Enjoy yourselves, everybody.’

“But the companies haven’t been quick to return the affection or attempt to cash in on the presidential product placement, with McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s all remaining silent about Trump’s endorsements. When Trump held a similar event in January, Burger King was the only company to reference it on social media — by mocking Trump for misspelling the word hamburger in a tweet.”


NPR: “ Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chairman, Sentenced To Just Under 4 Years” — “President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to just under four years in prison on Thursday after being convicted last year of tax and bank fraud.

“The 47-month sentence by federal Judge T.S. Ellis III was the culmination of the only case so far brought to trial by the office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The judge also ordered Manafort to pay $24.8 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine.”

NPR: “ House Votes To Condemn Anti-Semitism After Rep. Omar’s Comments” — “The House approved a resolution Thursday to condemn “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry” in a move that Democrats hope will quell the latest uproar over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel.

“The vote on the measure was 407-23. The 23 opposed were all Republican lawmakers.

“For the second time in as many months, the freshman Minnesota Democrat has provoked contentious debate on Capitol Hill over rhetoric that many lawmakers — including senior Democrats — view as anti-Semitic.”

New York Magazine: “ What We Know About Jared and Ivanka’s Security Clearance Scandal” — “Donald Trump, who inherited much of his wealth from his father, has never had much of a problem with nepotism. Two of his sons run the family business and his daughter and son-in-law work in the White House. He clearly prefers to be surrounded by Trumps, and recent reports from the New York Times and CNN demonstrate just how far he’ll go to make sure he is.

“According to those reports, Trump pushed for security clearances to be granted to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner against the wishes of intelligence officials and his own White House staff. Trump has denied intervening in the security clearance process and the White House is now refusing to comply with the House’s investigation into the issue. Here’s what happened and why it matters.”

New York Times: “ In Blow to Trump, America’s Trade Deficit in Goods Hits Record $891 Billion” — “America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history last year as the United States imported a record number of products, including from China, widening the deficit to $891.3 billion and delivering a setback to President Trump’s goal of narrowing that gap.

“The increase was driven by some factors outside Mr. Trump’s control, like a global economic slowdown and the relative strength of the United States dollar, both of which weakened overseas demand for American goods. But the widening gap was also exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which has been largely financed by government borrowing, and the trade war he escalated last year.

“It is a case of textbook economics catching up with some of Mr. Trump’s unorthodox economic policies. Economists have long warned that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts would ultimately exacerbate a trade deficit he has vowed to reduce, as Americans, flush with extra cash, bought more imported goods.”

Brian Hardzinski produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.