Today, President Trump will return from a five-country, 12-day trip across Asia, and it certainly was eventful: he blamed the United States for China’s own intransigence on trade and investment, came away with nothing on North Korea aside from a continuation of his juvenile war of words with Kim Jung Un, and couldn’t find a dictator he didn’t like.
On trade, which was Trump’s top focus, he spent plenty of time haranguing leaders for bilateral trade deficits, but continued the trend of his inability to negotiate good trade policies for the U.S. In China, blamed America for the Chinese’s unfair trade practices and gave credit to China for “tak[ing] advantage of another country for the benefit of their citizens.” A larger announcement on trade from Trump is expected tomorrow.
Another key element of the trip was what was missing: human rights. His meeting with Philippine President Rodrgio Duterte particularly stood out, as contradicting reports emerged about whether or not Trump mentioned Duterte’s “war on drugs,” a “bloody, extrajudicial war that has killed thousands.” Instead, Duterte said Trump and him had great “rapport” and was pleased by how the conversation went. Some of this lack of confrontation could be due to Trump conflicts of interests in the Philippines, where he owns millions of dollars in property (his business partner was even in his meeting with Duterte!). Trump was also silent on the issue of the Rohingya, undercutting his Secretary of State’s visit to Burma this week to discuss the issue.
And let’s not forget: Trump also met with his friend (three times!), Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Vietnam. After their meeting, Trump told reporters that Putin assured him that Russia “did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.” That statement was quickly derided by many, including Senator John McCain who wrote, “Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”
ACTION OF THE DAY
#HandsOffMyBC. Last month, the Trump Administration announced its decision to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) birth control benefit under the guise of religious liberty. The new rules issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will potentially cost women hundreds of dollars more a month in out of pocket costs and give their employers control over both their bodies and life plans. Comments on the new rules can be submitted to HHS until December 5, so make your voice heard! Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress’s Women’s Initiative, with support from the Keep Birth Control Copay Free Campaign, have launched a #HandsOffMyBC Campaign Toolkit to provide you with the resources to fight back. The toolkit will empower you to submit formal comments against the rules to HHS, submit letters to the editor, get connected with local organizations involved in the fight, and more. You can also attend a local event on November 15, #ThxBirthControl Day, at 1pm ET.
Moore Allegations. Yesterday, another woman stepped forward, accusing Roy Moore of sexual assault when she was 16 years old. Nelson, the fifth accuser, detailed a graphic, disturbing tale of being trapped in a car with Moore as he tried to force her into sexual acts. Additionally, multiple news outlets reported that Moore’s relationships with teenagers was well-known in his hometown, and is rumored to have been banned from a local mall for his predatory actions. While several Republicans have stepped forward to call for Moore to step aside, the President has remained silent. Trump, who faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment during the 2016 presidential campaign, announced his support for Moore last month on Twitter. Will he speak out—or will he protect a fellow accused predator?
In The Hot Seat. Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying again in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his connections with Russian nationals. Sessions is likely to face tough questions on new reports that indicate that “George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and trumpeted his connections in front of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions.” Yet, he said this morning that he does not remember meeting with Papadopoulos. The inconsistencies will be watched closely by Senate Democrats especially—but they are not the only ones tuning in to the hearing. The White House will be watching the testimony closely, as two White House officials have already suggested replacing Moore with Sessions in the Alabama Senate race. Sessions’ testimony comes just one day after Sessions announced that the Department of Justice may launch new probes into the Clinton Foundation and the sale of uranium, despite saying that the president “cannot improperly influence an investigation.”
Collusion…With WikiLeaks? Speaking of Russia… Yesterday, the Atlantic reported that there was evidence of widespread communications between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks. Although many of WikiLeaks’ messages to Trump Jr. were ignored, “he at times appears to have acted on its requests.” In several instances, Trump tweeted about WikiLeaks just minutes after they messaged his son. In fact, in the last month of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 145 times, always in positive terms. These recent allegations directly refute Vice President Pence’s claims that the Trump campaign was not involved with WikiLeaks.
UNDER THE RADAR
Bad For Our Kids. Trump nominated Mitchell “Mick” Zais as deputy secretary of education. This position is second in command to Secretary DeVos and will play a decisive and important role in the state of the country’s education. In the past, Zais has cast doubt on the effectiveness of early childhood programs, opposed common core standards, and slashed education budgets. Specifically on early childhood education programs, there is a mountain of valid scientific research and evidence that speaks to the contrary and proves that brain development in the first five years of life is crucial to setting children on a strong path. Zais nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee is scheduled for tomorrow at 2:30pm ET. Let’s send a clear message that individuals with a track record against investments in teachers and the country’s youngest students shouldn’t be at the helm of the Department of Education—use the hashtag #AskZais tomorrow during the Twitter storm from noon to 1pm ET.