Week In The News: Shutdown Day 21, Border Wall And Manafort's Russia Contacts
With David Folkenflik
The government shutdown drags on, President Trump digs in deeper on the border wall and new Russia revelations. The roundtable dives in.
Natasha Bertrand, staff writer at The Atlantic covering national security and politics. ( @natashabertrand)
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. ( @JackBeattyNPR)
From The Reading List
Washington Post: “ ‘He’s a gut politician’: Trump’s go-to negotiating tactics aren’t working in shutdown standoff” — “President Trump has long said that keeping opponents off balance is the best way to win a negotiation. But nearly three weeks into a partial government shutdown, his usual playbook doesn’t seem to be working.
“In his fight for a section of border wall, the president has dispatched aides to negotiate with lawmakers only to undercut their offers. He has declared a ‘crisis’ at the U.S.-Mexico border but abruptly dropped a talking point about an influx of terrorists after it was proved false. And he has vacillated between threatening to declare a national emergency and professing to prefer a negotiated deal with Democrats.
“On Wednesday, a day after delivering a prime-time Oval Office address to add gravitas to his public appeal, Trump abruptly walked out of a private meeting with lawmakers at the White House.
“A ‘total waste of time,’ Trump fumed on Twitter, lending credence to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s accusations that the president is prone to ‘temper tantrums’ when he doesn’t get his way.”
The Atlantic: “ Manafort’s Own Lawyers May Have Hastened His Downfall” — “When Paul Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed sensitive information about his contacts with a suspected Russian spy on Tuesday because of a redacting snafu, it wasn’t merely a blip. Rather, it was the latest in a series of apparent missteps the legal team for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has made in the nearly two years that it’s been defending the 69-year-old operative in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“From publicly attacking the government’s charges and opting for two trials instead of one to bizarrely maintaining a joint defense agreement with the president even after entering into a cooperation deal with the government, legal experts say Manafort’s lawyers appear to have dug their client into a deep hole. ‘From the beginning to the end, they pursued unconventional strategies that did not follow the usual playbook and appeared to prejudice their client,’ Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois, told me.
“On Tuesday, their mistake was careless. The redaction error showed that prosecutors apparently believe that Manafort shared internal Trump polling data with the suspected spy Konstantin Kilimnik during the campaign.”
New York Times: “ Trump’s Emergency Powers Threat Could End Shutdown Crisis, but at What Cost?” — “President Trump’s repeated threat to declare a national emergency so he can build his border wall without congressional approval has been denounced by Democrats as extreme and an overreach. But it could be the only politically realistic way out of the shutdown crisis in the nation’s capital.
“‘I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t, I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want,’ Mr. Trump told reporters on Wednesday. ‘My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.’
“If the president does invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress, it would be an extraordinary violation of constitutional norms — and establish a precedent for presidents who fail to win approval for funding a policy goal.
“But Mr. Trump’s threatened move offers both sides a face-saving solution in the budget standoff between the president and congressional Democrats that has prompted a partial government shutdown, which, if it lasts to Saturday, will be at 22 days the longest in American history.”
Tania Ralli produced this hour for broadcast.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.