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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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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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