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How Trump’s trade tariff tweet put Mexico’s back to the wall

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How Trump's trade tariff tweet put Mexico's back to the wall

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – It should have been a good day for Mexico’s veteran point man for trade with the rest of North America.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

But Jesus Seade had just wrapped up an optimistic speech to a friendly Mexican Senate, aimed at winning ratification for a regional free trade deal, when he was sideswiped.

At 6:30 p.m. (2330 GMT), U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that Washington would impose a 5% tariff, rapidly ratcheting higher, on all goods coming from Mexico unless the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern U.S. border was stanched.

The message reached Seade, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, just as he arrived from the Senate at the Foreign Ministry to tell reporters about the progress on the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) he helped negotiate.

At first, he tried to play down the development, saying “Trump is very active in the use of the tweet,” of which only some are “put into action.”

Then Seade’s demeanor became more serious.

“My colleagues just told me that the tweet mentioned by the last journalist, bad news. It’s no longer just a tweet, it’s now a White House statement,” he said.

Clearly taken aback by the severity and abruptness of the measures, which would take tariffs to 25% by October, Seade swung from advising calm and dialogue to saying a strategy of non-retaliation from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would be unacceptable.

Mexico sends about 80 percent of its exports – mostly manufactured goods like cars and televisions – to the United States.

Seade said the most logical response to would be an “eye for an eye” but then warned reciprocal measures would lead to a trade war “and that is the last thing that we want.”

A gregarious and immensely experienced negotiator, Seade has invested a lot of time in keeping bilateral relations on an even keel.

He helped create the predecessor to the World Trade Association and used an old connection with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to seal the new USMCA over meals at the Metropolitan Club in Washington.

But even before the tariff threat, there were still hurdles to cross.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, perhaps wary of handing Trump a victory and worried the deal is not still not tough enough on labor law enforcement, have indicated they may not approve it.

But U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday he was pushing to get the U.S. Congress to ratify it this summer, after both Canada and Mexico signaled they were ready.

Hours later, nearly 20 months of talks, concessions, and wrangling to seal the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seemed to be slipping away.

“This is difficult … even more so between two nations trying to seal a wonderful trade deal. The best trade deal in history according to Trump himself and suddenly he throws this in the way,” Seade said.

On Friday a delegation led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, which an aide said might include Seade, will travel to Washington to try to defuse the situation before economic disaster strikes.

Mexico imports a great deal of U.S. products, giving it scope for a large-scale retaliation.

Mexico’s Deputy Foreign Minister for North America, Jesus Sead reacts during the delivery of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) deal, at the Senate building in Mexico City, Mexico May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

“If we consider that Mexico exports over $350 billion to the United States, retaliation to the measures by Mexico would be off the charts,” said Kenneth Smith, Mexico’s former chief NAFTA negotiator.

Mexico’s reaction is not yet clear.

In a letter to Trump, Lopez Obrador said he was not looking for confrontation but also jabbed back, calling the U.S. leader’s signature phrase America First “a fallacy.”

Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and John Stonestreet

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White House threatens veto on current House emergency aid bill

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Collins slams 'political hack' Democrats over Trump investigations: American people not part of their agenda

The White House threatened late Monday to veto the $4.5 billion House bill that would provide emergency funding at the border over concerns that legislation in its current form lacks the funds needed for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to function properly and includes provisions thrown in by Democratic lawmakers  “that would make our country less safe.”

In a statement issued by the White House Monday night, the administration warned that the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the South Border Act of 2019 would be vetoed this week if passed.

“After ignoring the Administration’s request for desperately needed funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the border for over a month, and despite the efforts of the House minority, the House majority has put forward a partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe,” the statement reads.

EMERGENCY AID BILL CHALLENGES PELOSI’S GRIP ON DEMOCRATS 

Some of the provisions added by Democrats include measures that withhold funding from detention centers at the border. The push to pass the bill as comes as reports of child deaths after being detained at the border continue to grow.

Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency’s care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.

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Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess. While lawmakers don’t want to depart without acting on the legislation for fear of being accused of not responding to humanitarian problems at the border, it seems unlikely that Congress would have time to send a House-Senate compromise to Trump by week’s end.

“Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its passage,” the White House said.

Fox News Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump accuser says most people think of rape as being ‘sexy’ in interview

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Trump accuser says most people think of rape as being 'sexy' in interview

E. Jean Carroll, the writer who accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s, raised eyebrows when she said in an interview that most people consider rape “sexy.”

The longtime advice columnist for Elle Magazine appeared on the channel to detail the allegations from 23 years ago in a dressing room. She said the incident wasn’t “sexual” and likened it to a “fight.”

LONGTIME ADVICE COLUMNIST E. JEAN CARROLL ACCUSES TRUMP OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN 1990S

“I was not thrown on the ground and ravaged. The word rape carries so many sexual connotations. This was not sexual. It just hurt,” she said.

Anderson Cooper, the CNN host, asked Carroll about her refusal to use word rape and pointed out that most people describe rape as a violent assault.

“I think most people think of rape as being sexy. Think of the fantasies,” Carroll replied. The interview was interrupted by a commercial break.

New York magazine on Friday published the allegations as part of an excerpt from her forthcoming book in which she accuses Trump, and other men, of improper sexual behavior.

She claimed the Trump incident occurred at Bergdorf Goodman in either the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996. Trump has denied the allegations. He was criticized for saying in an interview that she is not his type.

Carroll is known for her “Ask E. Jean” column, which runs in Elle magazine.

WINNING UGLY? MEDIA HIT TRUMP STYLE OVER IRAN, BUT SOMETIMES IT WORKS

In the excerpt, Carroll, who had a daily advice show at the time, said Trump recognized her and asked for her help choosing a gift. She said they eventually made their way into the lingerie section, and then a dressing room.

“The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly and puts his mouth against my lips,” Carroll wrote. In explicit detail, Carroll wrote that Trump held her against a wall and pulled down her tights.

“The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me,” she said. “It turns into a colossal struggle.”

After coming forward with her allegations, Carroll told MSNBC on Friday that despite the alleged ordeal, she won’t pursue the allegations in court due to the migrant detention situation at the southern border, saying it would be “disrespectful.

“I would find it disrespectful to the women who are down on the border who are being raped around the clock down there without any protection,” Carroll said. “As you know, the women have very little protection there. It would just be disrespectful.”

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Trump released a lengthy statement vehemently denying the allegations: “I’ve never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

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Trump reassures Tokyo he will stick with security pact: Japan government

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Trump reassures Tokyo he will stick with security pact: Japan government

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday reassured Japan he was committed to a military treaty that both nations have described as a cornerstone of security in Asia, after a media report said he had spoken privately about withdrawing from the pact.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during delivering a speech to Japanese and U.S. troops as they aboard Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) helicopter carrier DDH-184 Kaga at JMSDF Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan, May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Trump had discussed ending the pact which he believed is one-sided because it obligated the United States to defend Japan if attacked but did not require Tokyo to respond in kind.

The report said Trump was also unhappy with plans to relocate the U.S. base on Japan’s Okinawa island.

“The thing reported in the media you mentioned does not exist,” chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo when asked about the report.

“We have received confirmation from the U.S. president it is incompatible with the U.S. government policy,” he added.

Under the security agreement, the United States has committed to defend Japan, which renounced the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two.

Japan in return provides military bases that Washington uses to project power deep into Asia, including the biggest concentration of U.S. Marines outside the United States on Okinawa, and the forward deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group at the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo.

Ending the pact, which also puts Japan under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, could force Washington to withdraw a major portion of its military forces from Asia at a time when China’s military power is growing.

It would also force Japan to seek new alliances in the region and bolster its own defenses, which in turn could raise concern about nuclear proliferation in the already tense region.

Washington’s close ties to Tokyo have also benefited U.S. military contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, which have sold billions of dollars of equipment to Japan’s Self Defense Forces.

On a visit to Japan in May, Trump said he expected Japan’s military to reinforce U.S. forces throughout Asia and elsewhere as Tokyo bolsters the ability of its forces to operate further from its shores.

Part of that military upgrade includes a commitment by Japan to buy 97 F-35 stealth fighters, including some short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)B variants worth more than $8 billion.

Japan says it eventually wants to field a force of around 150 of the advanced fighter jets, the biggest outside the U.S. military, as it tries to keep ahead of China’s advances in military technology.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; writing by Tim Kelly; editing by Darren Schuettler

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