Progressive Breakfast for May 25

Morning Message

Trade Negotiations Require a Steel Spine

The first concern of a U.S. president should be the millions of jobs Americans lost because of China’s predatory trade practices. Yet after months tough talk, Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have inexplicably reversed course to save jobs at ZTE, a Chinese phone company. To fix this mess, it will take a spine of steel - not smoke and mirrors.

Trump Violates Constitution With Asia Self-Dealing

President moves to rescue Chinese telecom as Beijing funds major Trump project. Common Dreams: “‘This affair is a screaming violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause’. That was how Robert Weissman of Public Citizen described President Donald Trump’s efforts this week to negotiate a ‘sweetheart deal’ for the failing Chinese telecom giant ZTE just after news broke that a Chinese government-run entity dumped a $500 million loan into a major development project in Indonesia, which will reportedly include a Trump-branded hotel and golf course. ‘In this case, there’s nothing hypothetical about how the emolument—the loan—might affect the president’s actions [on behalf of ZTE]. It’s almost inconceivable that it didn’t,’ Weissman argued in a statement on Tuesday. ‘Is there anyone in America who believes that benefiting indirectly from a Chinese loan would not influence Trump’s decision to intercede?'”

Trump Ignores Federal Court Ruling On Free Speech

Trump thinks he’s above the law. Newsweek: “President Donald Trump defied a federal court judge who ruled Wednesday that it was unconstitutional for the president to block people on Twitter over their dissenting political views. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan ruled that comments on Trump’s personal Twitter account—and those of other officials in the U.S. government—were public forums and that blocking critics for voicing their views breached the First Amendment of the Constitution. Eugene Gu, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and one of the seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told Newsweek on Thursday that Trump still hasn’t complied with the court’s ruling. ‘I am still blocked,’ Gu said at 11 a.m. ET. ‘I have spoken to the other plaintiffs, and they are still blocked as well.'”

Trump-Kim Summit Plans Collapse

Summit gone wrong as Trump dumps North Korea talks. The Guardian: “Donald Trump’s cancellation of 12 June talks with Kim Jong-un in Singapore is being seen this morning as a typical development in his chaotic presidency. ‘Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,’ the US president wrote to the North Korean leader, in a letter that was released publicly. Trump verbally brandished the ‘massive and powerful’ nuclear capabilities of the US compared with North Korea’s. Overnight, the North Koreans called the talks ‘desperately necessary’ while the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, expressed bewilderment at Trump’s decision. After initial enthusiasm for talks, North Korean officials had bristled, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the US secretary of state and the vice-president both talking of a ‘Libya’ option for dealing with North Korea – which conjured the idea of an upfront handover of nuclear weapons. Responding to the cancellation, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, said in a statement: ‘We tell the United States once more that we are open to resolving problems at any time in any way.'”

Sessions Wants To End Asylum For Domestic Violence Victims

Sessions seeks to end protected status for domestic violence survivors. WNYC: “‘We’ve had situations in which a person comes to the United States and says they are a victim of domestic violence, therefore they are entitled to enter the United States’ he told Phoenix radio station KTAR this month. ‘Well that’s obviously false but some judges have gone along with that.’ Sessions is now looking into whether judges should find domestic violence victims eligible for asylum… He’s called domestic violence ‘private criminal activity’ by individuals, questioning whether such cases are the same as more typical asylum cases involving government persecution. But immigration lawyers say that’s missing the point. Domestic violence victims can currently win protection because they’re considered members of a particular social group: women who are attacked by spouses and partners but can’t get help from their governments.”

ICE Indefinitely Detains Gay Man Married to U.S. Citizen

ICE indefinitely detains gay man fleeing persecution at routine interview. Alternet: “Jose ‘Ivan’ Nuñez, arrested in Philadelphia by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during an routine interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is now approaching his fifth month of detention. Nuñez, an undocumented immigrant originally from Mexico, had gone to the January 31 interview as part of a process to gain legal status through his U.S. citizen husband, Paul Frame. It was supposed to be a routine interview. ‘It was anything but routine’. Since Jan. 31, Ivan has been locked up by ICE at a prison facility in York, Pennsylvania. He has been given no opportunity to explain to an immigration judge why his confinement is unnecessary. Ivan doesn’t understand why ICE is imprisoning him. Neither does Paul or anyone else who knows Ivan. ‘In the meantime,’ the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports, ‘detention is taking a heavy toll. Ivan has been losing weight, losing sleep, at times fearing for his safety in ICE custody. Paul has been suffering, too,’ worrying about what could happen to his husband in detention—and what could happen to him if he’s torn from him and deported.”