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Week In The News: Cohen's Claims, North Korea Summit, Emergency Declaration

President Donald Trump speaks as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Donald Trump speaks as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Evan Vucci/AP)
This article is more than 4 years old.

With David Folkenflik

Michael Cohen’s explosive claims about his former boss. Eight thousand miles away, a second U.S. summit with North Korea. The House rejects the president’s emergency declaration. Kushner and security clearance. The roundtable is here.

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Kimberly Atkins, senior Washington correspondent for WBUR. (@KimberlyEAtkins)

Tiana Lowe, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. (@TianaTheFirst)

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

From The Reading List

WBUR: "In Questioning Of Cohen, Pressley Focuses On Trump Charity" — "Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley took an aggressive approach during her questioning of Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, on Wednesday."

WBUR: "Pressley And Her Fellow Progressive Women Colleagues Prepare To Take On Cohen" — "Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley promises to pull no punches when she questions President Trump’s former lawyer and 'fixer' Michael Cohen, who will testify publicly before the House Oversight and Reform Committee Wednesday.

"'I don’t want to tease or reveal too much about my line of questioning, but just trust that it will be hard and direct,' Pressley said of her plans for Cohen, who will reportedly detail wrongdoing by the president both before and after he was elected.

"Pressley is among a group of freshmen lawmakers on that committee who have already made their voices heard in a direct way. Earlier this month they voted against a spending package negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to avert a second partial government shutdown."

Washington Examiner: "Opinion: The Cohen hearing conclusion catastrophe proves the obvious: Congress is broken" — "The House Oversight Committee, the premier investigative body in Congress, devolved into a group therapy session on Wednesday as one of the nation's leading legislators openly accused another of racism during the testimony for Trump fixer-turned-foe, Michael Cohen.

"It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was so bad that freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., somehow managed to get the chairman of the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to defend one of the president's closest allies, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., from a charge of racism.

"Cohen was expected to use his testimony to paint Trump as a racist, and Meadows brought Lynne Patton, who is black, a longtime friend of Trump's, and current HUD administrator, to testify to the contrary. The defense itself didn't prove much. It certainly didn't come from any malicious intent. Plenty of racist people can have individual friends of color. But Meadows' move at worst was ineffective.

"Tlaib evidently disagreed.

"Rather than use her position — a remarkable appointment for a freshman, especially given the number of Democrats who've waited their turns for the post — to garner substantive evidence that Trump's corruption has interfered with his governance, Tlaib decided to attack a fellow member of the Oversight Committee, warranting a full-scale meltdown in Congress."

NBC News: "Trump overruled security officials to demand Jared Kushner get top-secret clearance, report says" — "President Donald Trump overruled concerns of security officials and his own White House counsel and ordered that a top-secret security clearance be given to Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"According to the account, the president ordered John Kelly, then his chief of staff, to give Kushner a top-secret security clearance in May 2018, a move that upset some senior administration officials and led Kelly and the White House counsel at the time, Donald McGahn, to each write internal memos about the incident.

"McGahn's memo laid out concerns raised about Kushner and the fact that McGahn had recommended against giving him a clearance that high-level."

The New York Times: "Trump’s Talks With Kim Jong-un Collapse Over North Korean Sanctions" — "President Trump and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, abruptly ended their second summit meeting on Thursday after talks collapsed with the two leaders failing to agree on any steps toward nuclear disarmament or measures to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"'Sometimes you have to walk,' Mr. Trump said at an afternoon news conference in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

"He said Mr. Kim had offered to dismantle the North’s most important nuclear facility if the United States lifted the harsh sanctions imposed on his nation — but would not commit to do the same for other elements of its weapons program. That, Mr. Trump said, was a dealbreaker.

"'It was about the sanctions,' Mr. Trump said. 'Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.' "

The New Yorker: "The Challenge to Republicans in the Vote to Terminate Trump’s Emergency" — "At around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to terminate President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, 245–182. The interesting number within that tally is thirteen: the number of Republicans who broke with Trump to vote yes on the bill. Their votes, strictly speaking, weren’t needed to get the termination through the House, which the Democrats control. The same won’t be true in the Senate, which the Republicans narrowly control and which, under the terms of the law allowing Presidents to declare national emergencies, must now take up the House bill within eighteen days. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, can’t simply push this one aside. The vote will be an open test of the willingness of Republicans to place a limit on this President’s grab for power. Speaking to reporters on Monday, McConnell said that he could not 'handicap the outcome' of the vote. 'All I can tell you is that it certainly will occur.'

"Republicans have fifty-three Senate seats, which means, once Vice-President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking ability is factored in, that four G.O.P. senators would have to vote for the termination. Three have already said that they will: Susan Collins, of Maine; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska; and Thom Tillis, of North Carolina. They have framed their votes less in terms of opposition to the wall that Trump wants to use the emergency powers to build than to his particular vision, or daydream, of expansive executive powers. Tillis wrote, in an op-ed for the Washington Post on Monday, that 'President Trump has few bigger allies than me' when it comes to border security, and that, if he, Tillis, were President, he, too, would 'probably declare an emergency.' (Similarly, McConnell said, 'You can’t blame the President for trying to use whatever tool he thinks he has' — a statement that, like much of McConnell’s response to Trump, reflects a seamless melding of cynicism and complacency.) As a senator, though, Tillis has 'grave concerns when our institution looks the other way at the expense of weakening Congress’s power.' Looking the other way has become a state of being for many in the congressional G.O.P. But the President’s emergency declaration has been such a florid spectacle that even their most practiced contortions haven’t spared them the sight of it."

Tania Ralli produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on March 1, 2019.



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