Auto industry’s Trump fear: ‘Everyone dreadeds being subject of a tweet’

Auto executives and analysts are fretting about how Trump will use the bully pulpit of his office and his Twitter account to try and force radical change

I like the car Im in now. Its a Chevrolet Suburban. Made in the USA, Donald Trump told the Detroit News last year when the then presidential hopeful was asked to name his favorite car from his 100-plus vehicle fleet that includes a scissor-door Lamborghini Diablo and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

For General Motors, Chevys owner, it was nice PR, the latest in a series of endorsements from the Trumps that reach back like a stretch limo to the Cadillac Trumps landlord father Fred used to pick up his rent checks. In the 1980s Donald Trump even worked on building a Trump-branded Cadillac, complete with VCR and paper shredder. The Trumps may be fans of the USs largest car manufacturer but GM, and the car industry in general, should have been paying more attention to the final sentence of his pre-election endorsement: Made in the USA.

Trump hit out at the car industry last week like a drive-by shooter, firing off a series of angry tweets about their outsourcing of US jobs. Those tweets will be the hottest topic this week as Detroits annual car jamboree, the North American International Auto Show, gets started. Its a chance for the industry to show off all its latest products and for its executives to address the media about the future. Trumps blimp-like shadow is overhanging the event as executives and analysts fret about how this overtly interventionist president will use the bully pulpit of his office, and his Twitter account, to try and force a radical change in the way they do business.

Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Inside
Inside Donald Trumps 1988 Cadillac: the best limo in the world had rosewood interiors and was equipped with a fax machine, TV, VCR, paper shredder and built-in safe. Photograph: Jules Annan / Barcroft Images

The auto industry matters to the US and to Trump. Six years after a recession that almost destroyed it, the US car industry has made a miraculous recovery. Last week it reported record sales for 2016. Auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers employ over 1.5 million people and directly contribute to the creation of another 5.7m jobs, according to the CAR.

Trump won thanks in large part to states where the auto industry is strongest. The Republican candidate took Michigan, home to the auto show and still the industrys hub, from the Democrats for the first time since 1988 with a campaign that tore into companies that have sent those voters jobs abroad, especially to Mexico. Ford bore the brunt of Trumps attacks during the election. Last week it was GMs turn. Then Toyotas.

General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax! the president elect warned via his favorite megaphone, Twitter.

Two days later, he was after Toyota. Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax, he tweeted. Toyotas plans were old news but the tweet came on the same day that its president, Akio Toyoda, had told reporters he was keen to work with the president-elect.

Auto industry jobs across the US.

These were the latest in a series of attacks on major US employers, including Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have so far brought CEOs running, cap in hand, to Trump Tower to make up for their alleged corporate misdeeds. Shortly after the GM tweet, Ford announced it had canned plans to open a $1.6bn plant in Mexico and would add new jobs building electric and hybrid vehicles at a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Trump hailed the move: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the US. This is just the beginning much more to follow, he tweeted.

Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said Trump was playing to his base and a lot of the voters who put him in office were industrial midwest, blue collar, union workers. All his tweets and pronouncements have been geared to addressing that audience, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

Ford had already warned that the car industry was expecting a slowdown in sales, especially of smaller vehicles like the ones that would have been built in Mexico. So scrapping the plan makes economic as well as political sense for the company, but market watchers doubt the industry and Trumps agendas will remain compatible.

GM is expected to start laying off more than 3,000 factory workers in Michigan and Ohio, another state that voted for Trump, starting later this month. Will they defend that decision if Trump goes on the attack?

The car industry is truly international and China is its largest market. GM and its joint venture partners sold 3.87m vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1% from the previous year. China accounts for a third of GMs sales. Like its corporate peers, GM has so far remained silent over Trumps anti-China rhetoric, but a trade war would be a disaster for the company.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Trump begins rollback of Obama’s car pollution standards to curb emissions

Automakers welcome presidents plan for EPA to review fuel efficiency mandate while critics warn reversal would endanger health and environment

Donald Trump has begun the process of rolling back carbon pollution standards for vehicles following a meeting with automakers in Detroit, Michigan.

Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review fuel efficiency standards that were a key plank of Barack Obamas effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move is a victory for carmakers who have claimed the standards are too onerous and out of step with Americans car buying habits.

These standards are costly for automakers and the American people, said the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

We will work with our partners at the department of transport to take a fresh look to determine if this approach is realistic. This thorough review will help ensure that this national program is good for consumers and good for the environment.

In an agreement struck with automakers in 2012, the Obama administration required that cars run 54.4 miles per gallon of fuel by 2025. This standard, up from 27.5 miles per gallon, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6bn tons over the lifetime of new vehicles and save 2m gallons of oil per day by 2025.

In the final month of Obamas presidency, the EPA affirmed in a midterm review that automakers are well positioned to meet the new standard. Trump is ordering a review of this finding, opening the way for a weaker standard to be drawn up. The White House said the new review will rely on the best available data and information, which the previous administration ignored.

A White House official said the automakers feel the EPA shoved it down their throats and that the standards needed to be redone.

The process was very short-circuited, said the Trump official, who spoke anonymously before the presidents announcement. There was a lot of data that was submitted, and I think it is fair to say the Obama EPA just ignored it.

Trump unveiled the review at an event in Detroit where he met with executives from companies, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat. The president said he was going to bring a lot of jobs back to Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Dennis Williams, president of the United Auto Workers union, raised concerns about the environmental impact of more loose fuel efficiency standards. In response, Trump said: We all agree with you 100%. One hundred percent. We want you to make great cars, but if it takes an extra thimble of fuel, we want you to do it.

Former EPA officials and environmental groups have decried the reversal, pointing out that carmakers had previously complained about fuel efficiency standards only to easily meet the requirements due to the evolution of technology. There are already more than 100 car and SUV models that meet standards that stretch beyond 2020, with the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Spark and Smart ForTwo already matching the 2025 standard.

American drivers are also set to lose out, with the Obama rules forecast to save an average of $8,000 on gasoline costs for a new car.

We need to put clean car standards in the fast lane to keep our air clean and our climate safe, said Michael Brune, executive director of environmental group, the Sierra Club. Donald Trump and the automakers are endangering the health of our children and families by abolishing lifesaving vehicle emissions protections that cut down on dangerous smog pollution and asthma attacks.

Kristin Igusky, climate program associate at the World Resources Institute, added: Theres no doubt that the current standards are reasonable and achievable. In fact, the industry as a whole has surpassed the vehicle standards in each of the last four years, while creating jobs and selling more vehicles than ever.

Carmakers welcomed the review. Mitch Bainwol, president and chief executive of trade lobby group, Auto Alliance, said:By restarting this review, analysis rather than politics will produce a final decision.

Trumps rolling back of fuel efficiency standards is set to be followed by further actions to dismantle climate policies enacted by Obama. The administration is set to lift a moratorium on coalmining on federal land and start to unpick various climate rules, including the Clean Power Plan, which imposes emissions limits on the states.

Trump is also mulling whether to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. On Wednesday, an alliance of 1,000 US companies took out ads in Washington DC publications to urge Trump to stay in the deal and work towards a low-carbon economy.

The group, which includes Mars, General Mills and Ikea, warned that failure to tackle climate change could put Americas economic prosperity at risk.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Toyota will face ‘big border tax’ if Mexico plant attains US automobiles, Trump says

The foreign vehicle company plans to fabricate 200,000 Corollas in Baja, as Trump continues to threaten automakers to move production out of Mexico

Donald Trump threatened Toyota on Thursday with a big perimeter tax if it didnt build cars meant for the US within the states, the latest in a series of attacks on car manufacturers and the first time since his election that he has threatened a foreign company.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Toyota Motor told will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla automobiles for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big perimeter tax.

January 5, 2017

The$ 1bn plant will be located Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico , not Baja California, as Trump tweeted. Toyota plans to increase capacity at an existing plant in Tijuana, Baja California, that makes Tacoma pickup trucks.

Toyota plans to manufacture 200,000 Corollas at the new plant. The Corolla is the second bestselling compact car in the US behind fellow Japanese producer Hondas Civic.

Trumps latest threat follows a similar one against General Motor over its plans to fabricate compact cars south of the border for US export.

Jorge Guajardo, the former Mexican ambassador to China, immediately lit into Trump: If you think intentionally wrecking your neighbors economy is whats going to bring peace and stability to US youre in for a big amaze, he tweeted.

Trump, who was elected on a promise to restore US manufacturing jobs, has expended the week informing automakers to move their compact car production out of Mexico. On Tuesday he told GM that it too must weigh his opinion favorably against the financial efficiencies offered on foreign clay. Make in U.S.A. or pay big perimeter tax! Trump tweeted.

Last month Trump threatened retribution against companies outsourcing mill work to foreign facilities. There will be a taxation on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies, he tweeted, naming automobile and air conditioner manufacturers in the same series of remarks.

In recent weeks, Trump also threatened aerospace firms Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, both of which rely heavily on government contracts for multibillion-dollar revenues. Those menaces, also tweeted, shocked stockholders and caused stock prices to plummet.

But threatening car companies with taxation has barely caused the market to blink. The US president cannot personally levy taxes; that obligation falls to country legislatures and the US House of Representatives, which holds the power of the purse.

Trumps campaign platform heavily criticized companies for moving labor out of the US, but thus far his preferred method of dealing with corporations has been rewards via back channels, rather than punishment. Instead of taxing air conditioner company Carrier more for exporting undertakings, however, Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence offered the Indiana-based company$ 7m in tax breaks to maintain 700 jobs.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The lies Trump told this week: from post-debate polls to losing US jobs

The Republican nominee did some creative math when talking about how great he did in polls after the debate and used his private plane to talk about jobs

Polls

Wow, did great in the debate polls (except for @CNN which I dont watch). Thank you! 27 September, Twitter

We won every poll. Virtually every poll. 27 September, Melbourne, Florida

Trump did not win the post-debate polls. Trump seized on 11 online surveys, many of which allow people to vote many times, none of which vet respondents, and none of which weigh results according to actual voting demographics.

Two of the online surveys Trump cited on Tuesday came from the Drudge Report, which excoriated his main primary rival almost daily this spring, and Breitbart News, whose executive chairman is Trumps campaign chief executive. None of the 11 polls screened respondents or were predictive or representative of voters. It is therefore impossible to have any idea where those respondents are coming from, who they are, or whether they might be bots.

On Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning, Trump also said: I won CBS. There was no post-debate CBS poll.

Pollsters with more scruples heard Americans say that Trump lost the debate. A quick CNN poll although imperfect showed 62% of voters thought Clinton won versus 27% for Trump. A Politico/Morning Consult poll showed 49% for Clinton versus 26% for Trump. An Echelon Insights poll showed 48% of registered voters thought Clinton won and 22% believed Trump had won. The closest result was a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning pollster: 51% for Clinton to 40% for Trump.

Although these polls are hardly flawless, social media surveys do not compare. Trump did perform well in one poll, by LA Times/USC, which gave him a four-point lead. As a tracking poll, it did not ask about the debate.

And although Trump claims not to watch CNN, this month alone he has tweeted commentary about its programming nine times, including three embedded videos (each of himself).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

From Trump to Merkel: how the world is divided between fear and openness | Ulrich Speck

The Republican candidate and German chancellor are polar opposites in the key struggle of our age

Two major concepts define the political struggle in the west today. One can be termed globalism, which is currently most prominently represented by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The other is territorialism, a view that the very likely Republican candidate for the US elections in November, Donald Trump, represents.

At the core of the debate is the meaning of borders: should they be porous or tightly controlled? Are they mainly an obstacle to the free and productive flow of ideas, people, goods and information and should therefore be largely dismantled? Or are massive borders welcome and indispensable as a protection against all kinds of real or perceived threats such as competition and terrorism?

For globalists such as Merkel, interconnectedness is a good thing because it is what drives progress towards more prosperity and freedom everywhere. For territorialists such as Trump, interconnectedness is mainly a threat. What is good and healthy is attributed to the natives and what is dangerous comes from outside: unfair Chinese competition, dangerous Mexican immigrants and Middle Eastern terrorists.

Globalists want to manage the cross-border streams and minimise the disruptive character of borders to maximise the gains from connected markets and societies. Of course those streams have to be managed and this is why governance cannot any more be limited to the national territory. Governments need to co-operate and set up regional and global institutions; they need to set rules and make sure that these rules are upheld. Globalists argue among themselves about how to police the wider spaces but not about the principle.

Territorialists, by contrast, dont believe in international and transnational institutions they believe in national strength and power. Donald Trump wants to invest in the US military so that its so big and strong and so great that nobodys going to mess with us. The world outside the borders is anarchical and dangerous and the way to deal with threats is to fight them by using force. Bomb the shit out of Isis, Trump said. Allies are not an asset, they are a burden because they are free riders, cheating on Americas taxpayers: We can no longer defend all of these countries, he said, citing Japan, South Korea and Germany.

The man who may be the next US president also proposed closing off parts of the internet so terrorists could not use to recruit. The territorialists answer to the abuse of freedom and openness is to use force abroad and to disrupt the flow of people or information. Trump wants to build the greatest wall that youve ever seen on the US-Mexican border, to keep illegal immigrants out.

Territorialists believe they can prosper economically even while interrupting, diminishing and shutting cross-border flows. Jobs must be brought back, free trade agreement renegotiated because they are unfair to Americans. US companies such as Ford must be punished for investing abroad. Apple should build its damned computers in the US and not in China. Countries such as China, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and India are ripping us off and need to be punished.

Trump is, rhetorically, the most aggressive politician of this sort, but hes far from alone. US commentators have blamed the Republican party for capitulating to populists for years, allowing Trump to harvest what others have planted. And Europe has its own share of territorialists, who share many of Trumps views. Marine Le Pen in France, leader of the Front National, stands a good chance of winning the first round of next years French presidential elections. Then theres Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, who rose to international prominence by making the case for illiberal democracy and for his determination to respond to the refugee crisis solely by building massive fences. Territorialism is a form of populism: simple, inconsistent answers to complex challenges, based on the politics of fear. Territorialists divide the world into friends and foes; they attribute everything positive to the natives and everything negative to those beyond the borders.

But the biggest problem with territorialism is not polarisation, it is that the concept is deeply flawed. Territorialists suggest that people can have their cake and eat it: disrupt globalisation and stay rich, minimise investment in international affairs and alliances and remain safe and free. They take the huge gains in prosperity, security and freedom of the last decades for granted. They fail to understand that those gains depend on massive investments of nation states in international order, and that globalisation is based on open societies and increasingly easy cross-border flows of goods, people and information. In other words, if territorialism wins, globalisation is under threat.

Merkel thinks we are indeed at a crossroads; the refugee crisis is part of a larger challenge that she describes as our rendezvous with globalisation. For her, the key challenge is how to keep globalisation afloat in spite of increasing geopolitical conflicts and tensions. Merkel is one of the few western leaders who has lived in a country that was unfree, poor and isolated from the west by a wall and fences secured by mines. She was 35 years old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. She knows what it means to be shut off from global flows, locked in a country by an insurmountable border. For Merkel, globalisation equals progress. Open spaces and increased interaction across borders are a good thing, as they unleash opportunity and secure freedom and prosperity at home. Globalisation is challenging, but on balance the gains are much bigger than the risks. Also, in a world of large economic regions such as the US and China, the space in which German politics operates cannot be limited to the German territory any more.

Open borders in Europe are deeply in our interest, she argues; no other country gains from those achievements more than us and needs them more because of our geographical location. But responsibilty goes beyond the shared European space: In an open world we also have to take on more responsibility for what happens outside our European borders. Open borders in Europe are under threat. The refugee crisis, driven by the war in Syria, is testing the Schengen system that was set up in 1995. It is unclear whether the system is going to survive this stress test and what a revival of borders means for the EU.

Governments are torn between the desire to protect the joint space created by European integration and the pressure from territorialist forces whose narrative often dominates the debate. If they want to retain the achievements of globalisation, centrist forces need to start pushing back. They need to start making a much stronger case for open borders and open societies.

Ulrich Speck is senior fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, Washington DC

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Auto industry’s Trump fear: ‘Everyone dreadeds being subject of a tweet’

Auto executives and analysts are fretting about how Trump will use the bully pulpit of his office and his Twitter account to try and force radical change

I like the car Im in now. Its a Chevrolet Suburban. Made in the USA, Donald Trump told the Detroit News last year when the then presidential hopeful was asked to name his favorite car from his 100-plus vehicle fleet that includes a scissor-door Lamborghini Diablo and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

For General Motors, Chevys owner, it was nice PR, the latest in a series of endorsements from the Trumps that reach back like a stretch limo to the Cadillac Trumps landlord father Fred used to pick up his rent checks. In the 1980s Donald Trump even worked on building a Trump-branded Cadillac, complete with VCR and paper shredder. The Trumps may be fans of the USs largest car manufacturer but GM, and the car industry in general, should have been paying more attention to the final sentence of his pre-election endorsement: Made in the USA.

Trump hit out at the car industry last week like a drive-by shooter, firing off a series of angry tweets about their outsourcing of US jobs. Those tweets will be the hottest topic this week as Detroits annual car jamboree, the North American International Auto Show, gets started. Its a chance for the industry to show off all its latest products and for its executives to address the media about the future. Trumps blimp-like shadow is overhanging the event as executives and analysts fret about how this overtly interventionist president will use the bully pulpit of his office, and his Twitter account, to try and force a radical change in the way they do business.

Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

Inside
Inside Donald Trumps 1988 Cadillac: the best limo in the world had rosewood interiors and was equipped with a fax machine, TV, VCR, paper shredder and built-in safe. Photograph: Jules Annan / Barcroft Images

The auto industry matters to the US and to Trump. Six years after a recession that almost destroyed it, the US car industry has made a miraculous recovery. Last week it reported record sales for 2016. Auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers employ over 1.5 million people and directly contribute to the creation of another 5.7m jobs, according to the CAR.

Trump won thanks in large part to states where the auto industry is strongest. The Republican candidate took Michigan, home to the auto show and still the industrys hub, from the Democrats for the first time since 1988 with a campaign that tore into companies that have sent those voters jobs abroad, especially to Mexico. Ford bore the brunt of Trumps attacks during the election. Last week it was GMs turn. Then Toyotas.

General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax! the president elect warned via his favorite megaphone, Twitter.

Two days later, he was after Toyota. Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax, he tweeted. Toyotas plans were old news but the tweet came on the same day that its president, Akio Toyoda, had told reporters he was keen to work with the president-elect.

Auto industry jobs across the US.

These were the latest in a series of attacks on major US employers, including Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have so far brought CEOs running, cap in hand, to Trump Tower to make up for their alleged corporate misdeeds. Shortly after the GM tweet, Ford announced it had canned plans to open a $1.6bn plant in Mexico and would add new jobs building electric and hybrid vehicles at a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Trump hailed the move: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the US. This is just the beginning much more to follow, he tweeted.

Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said Trump was playing to his base and a lot of the voters who put him in office were industrial midwest, blue collar, union workers. All his tweets and pronouncements have been geared to addressing that audience, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

Ford had already warned that the car industry was expecting a slowdown in sales, especially of smaller vehicles like the ones that would have been built in Mexico. So scrapping the plan makes economic as well as political sense for the company, but market watchers doubt the industry and Trumps agendas will remain compatible.

GM is expected to start laying off more than 3,000 factory workers in Michigan and Ohio, another state that voted for Trump, starting later this month. Will they defend that decision if Trump goes on the attack?

The car industry is truly international and China is its largest market. GM and its joint venture partners sold 3.87m vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1% from the previous year. China accounts for a third of GMs sales. Like its corporate peers, GM has so far remained silent over Trumps anti-China rhetoric, but a trade war would be a disaster for the company.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Amazon announces plans to create more than 100,000 US chores

Online retailer prepares to expand full-time US workforce by more than 50% over next 18 months, with hires from Florida to California

Amazon plans to create more than 100,000 jobs in the United States, from software developing to warehouse run, becoming the latest company to boast a hire spree since Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November.

The worlds largest online retailer announced on Thursday that it would grow its full-time US workforce by more than 50% to more than 280,000 in the next 18 months.

Amazon is expending heavily on new warehouses in order to be allowed to stock goods closer to customers and fulfill orders quickly and inexpensively. The new hires, from Florida to Texas to California, will be key to the companys promise of two-day shipping to members of its Amazon Prime shopping club, which has given it an edge over rivals.

A BGC Partners analyst, Colin Gillis, said hiring was expected. Amazon continues to meaningfully grow above e-commerce rates and continues to take share from traditional retailers, he said.

The e-commerce giant said in October it would add 26 fulfillment centers in 2016, mostly in North America. More are under construction.

The new jobs will extend beyond Amazons Seattle headquarters to communities across the United States, CEO Jeff Bezos said in the release. Amazon did not break down what share of jobs would go to corporate roles versus fulfillment run.
A spokesman for Trumps transition team devoted the president-elect partial credit for the announcement.

The president-elect met with heads of several of the tech companies and urged them to keep their jobs and production inside the United States, spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.

Job creation has become a hot-button political issue since the 8 November election. Ford Motor Co last week reversed plans for a $1.6 bn factory in Mexico and said it would add 700 employment opportunities in Michigan after receiving criticism from Trump.
The president-elect on Wednesday said he would be the greatest tasks producer that God ever created.

Trump had blamed Amazon during his campaign, saying the technology giant did not pay its fair share of taxes.

Amazon shares were up less than 1% in early afternoon trading.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Donald Trump attacks press as Russia scandal swirls around Jeff Sessions

The morning after appointing a new communications director, president blasts Washington Post in scattershot Twitter tirade

Donald Trumps haphazard attempt to relaunch his communications operation after six months as president will face its first test next week, when his son-in-law testifies about alleged links to Russia.

The appointment as communications director of Anthony Scaramucci, a financier with little experience but a feisty New York style that Trump admires, led to the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer and suggested that White House messaging could take on an even more combative tone. On Saturday, Trump duly fired off 10 tweets on topics ranging from healthcare to old rival Hillary Clinton to the Russia investigations that continue to haunt him.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, responded on the same medium: Glad to see new communications director has things under control. The stream of consciousness strategy never fails, right?

The presidents son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is due to speak behind closed doors with the Senate intelligence committee on Monday and House intelligence committee on Tuesday. Donald Trump Jr and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are set to undergo private interviews with the Senate judiciary committee on a date yet to be determined.

Trump associates are also under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and Manafort who bought three New York properties between 2006 and 2013, including one in Trump Tower in Manhattan could be put under pressure to cooperate because of money laundering accusations against him, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing two unnamed sources.

Russia dominated the first half year of the Trump presidency and this week, billed as Made in America week to champion homegrown manufacturing, was no different. First it emerged that the president had a second, previously undisclosed meeting with Russias Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting in Hamburg.

Then, in an extraordinary interview with the New York Times, Trump said he regretted hiring attorney general Jeff Sessions because Sessions in March recused himself from overseeing an investigation into Russian interference in the election. The president also insisted that the former FBI director would be crossing a line if he scrutinizes his personal business ties.

And on Friday the Washington Post reported that Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, has said he discussed election-related issues with Sessions during the 2016 election. The Post cited anonymous US officials who described US intelligence intercepts of Kislyaks descriptions of his meetings with Sessions, who was then a foreign policy adviser to Trump.

The president responded to the report on Twitter on Saturday. He did not defend Sessions, but he did appear to confirm that the Post had seen a genuine piece of intelligence.

A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions, Trump wrote at 6.33am. These illegal leaks, like [former FBI direcotr James] Comeys, must stop! Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is the chief executive of Amazon.

There are growing fears that Trump is trying to engineer the dismissal of Mueller, which would be likely to trigger a huge political backlash. On Saturday, the president tweeted: So many people are asking why isnt the A.G. or Special Council [sic] looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted? … What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc.

After the Post and Times reported that Trump is looking for compromising information on Muellers team and contemplating pardons for associates, Matt Miller, a former Obama justice department official, tweeted: Takeaway from the Post & NYT pieces is we are headed for certain crisis. Trump just will not, cannot allow this investigation to go forward.

Trump tweeted on Saturday: While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.

The president is also on potential collision course with Congress after Democrats announced on Saturday that a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators have agreed on sweeping sanctions to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election as well as its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

The White House had objected to a key section of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if Trump, whose warm relations with Putin appear out of step with US policy, attempted to ease or end the sanctions against Moscow.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said: Given the many transgressions of Russia, and President Trumps seeming inability to deal with them, a strong sanctions bill such as the one Democrats and Republicans have just agreed to is essential.

With the White House apparently spoiling for more fights, Trumps staff shake-up was internally divisive. Scaramucci, nicknamed Mooch, reportedly had the support of Kushner, his wife Ivanka Trump and strategic communications director Hope Hicks, but was vehemently opposed by chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Spicer, who promptly resigned. That robbed the daily press briefing, which had become a must-watch reality TV show, of its biggest star.

In a valedictory interview on Fox News, Spicer, who had one of the shortest tenures of any White House press secretary, made the improbable claim: We had a very successful Made in America week this week, garnering over millions of impressions.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Trump Tower hosts highly expected tech roundtable

( L to R) Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump
Image: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

The giants of Silicon Valley gathered at Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday to meet with the president-elect and discuss the future of tech for the purposes of the incoming administration and, presumably, to smooth over some linger( one-sided) feuds.

Trump, along with tech billionaire Peter Thiel, beckoned the group to the gold-plated tower for the sit-down, the group comprising of tech leaders whose blended value is around an eye-popping$ 3 trillion.

The tech moguls trickled in slowly ahead of the afternoon session. Some traipsed in through the back entrance, so cameras only got a good look at them as they stepped before the golden elevators now known as the gates that lead to the realm of the president elect.

Others walked right in the front, some surrounded by small entourages, largely dismissing the photographers and video journalists penned along the wall opposite the elevators, screaming whatever questions came to mind. The elevator doors parted, and up they went, speaking only to those around them.

The sit-down

The Silicon Valley luminaries sat a large round table and were joined by several members of the Trump administration including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, chief advisor Steve Bannon, and chief-of-staff Reince Priebus. Also joining the group were three of Trump’s infants: Ivanka, Eric, and Donald, Jr.

The meeting began with a round of introductions in which Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg conveyed optimism about the meeting.

Trump addressed the guests, calling the gathered leaders, “a truly amazing group of people, ” and adding “I’m here to help you folks do well … we want you to keep going with the unbelievable innovation.”

Trump then spoke of “border problems” considering trade and added, “We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders.”

Read Trump’s full opening remarks below.

The attendees exited the building in a staggered procession , no one stopping to speak to the assembled press in the foyer or outside.

The Guests

Trump has few allies in Silicon Valley aside from Thiel, who spoke at this summer’s Republican National Convention. The PayPal founder has also been serving as a is part of Trump’s transition team.

But that didn’t stop the pair from inviting some of the biggest names in tech. According to published reports, guests included: Apple’s Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Palantir’s Alex Karp, Oracle’s Safra Catz, Cisco Systems’ Chuck Robbins, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

Left out in the cold, apparently, was Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, an ironic twisting devoted Trump’s love of the platform which he’s praised as being a direct line of communication to his millions of followers( that’s also allowed him to bypass any press interaction ).

Also absent on Wednesday was Bill Gates, though that’s because Gates talked to Trump on Tuesday. Talking to the media afterwards, Gates made a head-scratching comparing between Trump and JFK in terms of his openness to innovation.

Trump on tech

For his part, Trump has roundly criticized several of the companies in attendance. But his views on tech and apparent lack of understanding are also concerning to many in Silicon Valley. Trump has expressed his support for NASA’s space exploration but, as a climate change denier, he’s dedicated little support to the organization’s Earth science studies.

Trump also displays what can best be described as a “tenuous” grasp as to how the internet runs. Speaking of how to fight ISIS and ISIS recruitment, Trump has said , We must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately. Of course, just simply shutting down the internet, for whatever reason, isn’t exactly how things work.

That same misunderstanding extends to cyber-security. Just this week, speaking to reports that Russian hackers interfered with the presidential election, Trump tweeted, “Unless you catch “hackers” in the purposes of the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking.” Well, that’s incorrect and plenty of cyber-security experts told him so.

Finally, perhaps most worrisome is Trump’s stance on net neutrality. He( in) famously opposed President Obama advocating having the FCC reclassify broadband internet as a utility like water or energy.( This allows for more stringent regulation of companies that provide internet access .) And he could roll back even more Obama regulations over internet service providers.

The feuds

One of the most interesting facet of Wednesday’s meeting is how Trump will treat some of the attendees who were on the receiving aim of Trump’s ire during the campaign.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg( not in attendance Wednesday) was attacked by Trump for his immigration posture and the campaign subsequently slammed Zuck as a “hypocrite” for opposing Trump’s border wall proposal but living in a gated community.

He also took shootings at Jeff Bezos and his two biggest assets, Amazon and the Washington Post .

For his part, Bezos was gracious upon Trump’s electoral victory – a far cry from his suggestion last year that we send Trump to space.

Trump also picked a big fight with Apple, putting the company on blast when they refused to assist the FBI with accessing a locked iPhone used by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack.

After Trump’s victory, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an internal email that called on employees to unify as they moved forward into the Era of Trump.

And, lest they be left out, Trump took a shot at Google in the closing days of the race, accusing them, along with Twitter and Facebook, of interring bad news about Hillary Clinton.

Additional reporting by Colin Daileda

Read more:

Who is the real Melania Trump and what kind of first lady would she be?

A demure political spouse sums up her approach on the campaign trail but beneath the polished exterior she may just be as fiery as Donald

In December 1999, a writer for the New York Times asked the Slovenian-born model Melania Knauss a question that at the time seemed quite fanciful. If her then boyfriend Donald Trump ever made it to the White House, what kind of first lady would she be?

Trump was at that point running for the presidential nomination of the Reform Party and his chances of going all the way to the Oval Office were zero. Besides, his relationship with Knauss was barely a year old. But 16 years later, that question is starting to sound remarkably prescient.

Now Trump is running for the Republican nomination and Tuesdays victory in Nevada, his third in a row, forced Americans to think the unthinkable: the property developer with the implausible hair really might pull off the GOP nomination. From there it takes but a small leap of imagination to conjure up an unnerving vision: President Trump.

So what did Melania now Trump reply to that 1999 question?

I would be very traditional, she said. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him.

The picture of the traditionally demure political spouse sums up Melania Trumps approach to the campaign trail this year. To appreciate just how low-key she has been, standing beside her man at rallies but rarely speaking, compare her with Michelle Obama.

At this point in 2008, Obama was causing headaches for her husband during his first presidential run by making edgy comments in her solo stump performances. She caused a storm of conservative indignation by saying that for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country a remark that was interpreted as revealing a lack of patriotism.

The 45-year-old Melania Trump, by contrast, has stuck in her rare appearances at the podium to bland generalities, uttered with a thick Slovenian accent. At a rally with her husband in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last weekend, she regaled the crowd with nothing more revelatory than the promise that her husband will be the best president.

But blandness in public should not be mistaken for blandness of character, and there are signs that she is beginning to emerge from the passive role she has been playing.

On Thursday she told MSNBCs Morning Joe that her backstage demeanour has been entirely intentional, as a means of ensuring that life remained as normal as possible for her nine-year-old son, Barron.

(In Trumps world normality is a relative concept: Melania recorded the interview seated on a gold-plated chair in a room in their Trump Tower penthouse that looked more Versailles than Manhattan.)

Melania Trump was born in 1970 and grew up in the tiny Slovenian town of Sevnica (population, 5,000). A life of relative obscurity might have followed had a fashion photographer not spotted her when she was a student at the University of Ljubljana, and whipped her off to a modelling career in Milan and Paris.

That brought her to New York in 1996, and to a party at the Kit Kat Club two years later where she was introduced to Trump, 24 years her elder and separated at the time from his second wife, Marla Maples. They married in 2005 at his own Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, inviting 450 guests including Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Were Trump to succeed in confounding his critics and taking the keys to the White House no doubt rebranding it within months as Trump House his wife would become the first foreign-born first lady since 1825 (following English-born Louisa Adams, spouse of John Quincy Adams).

Her immigrant status is paradoxical, given Trumps tirades against Mexican murderers and rapists and his pledge to build a wall along Americas southern border.

But she is having none of it, dismissing the irony of her situation by insisting there is nothing in common between her and the 11 million undocumented people living in the US who her husband has vowed to round up and mass-deport.

I follow the law, she told MSNBC. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa.

Her punchy riposte gave a fleeting glimpse, perhaps, of the real Melania Trump. Beneath that polished veneer of the international model, armed with her own Melania trademark and QVC line selling $150-an-ounce moisturizer infused with caviar, lurks a street-fighter as up for the coming brawl as her pugnacious husband.

Read more: www.theguardian.com