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Mexico, U.S. business groups urge Trump to back down on tariff threat

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Mexico, U.S. business groups urge Trump to back down on tariff threat

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s president and the top U.S. business lobbying group called on President Donald Trump to back down from a threat to impose punitive tariffs on Mexican imports, in a dispute over migration that could shock Mexico’s economy.

Trump said he will introduce the tariffs on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration, largely from Central America, across the U.S.-Mexican border, battering Mexican financial assets and denting global stocks.

The ultimatum from Trump is the biggest foreign policy test to date for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and a tall order for Mexican security forces struggling not only to combat migrant flows but also to fight a record level of gang violence and homicide.

Mexico’s economy, which is heavily reliant on exports to the United States, shrank in the first quarter and would reel under U.S. tariffs which could reach as high as 25% under Trump’s plan.

In his six months in office, veteran leftist Lopez Obrador has consistently sought to deflect the U.S. president’s barbs and avoid embroiling himself in a confrontation.

He predicted that Trump, who is also engaged in a worsening trade war with China, would rectify his demand.

“I tell all Mexicans to have faith, we will overcome this attitude of the U.S. government, they will make rectifications because the Mexican people don’t deserve to be treated in the way being attempted,” Lopez Obrador told reporters.

In April, Trump took a step back from an earlier threat to close the southern border to fight illegal immigration, under pressure from companies worried that a shutdown would cause chaos to business.

Global equities tumbled and safe-haven sovereign bonds surged Friday after Trump’s unexpected threat added to fears that escalating trade wars will push the United States and other major economies into recession.

The influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group is looking at ways to challenge Trump’s tariff move against Mexico, including legal options.

“We have no choice but to pursue every option available to push back,” Neil Bradley, the group’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, told reporters.

Other industry groups also criticized Trump’s threat, saying it would cost American businesses, farmers and consumers who have already been bearing the brunt of the separate, lingering U.S. trade dispute with China.

“These proposed tariffs would have devastating consequences on manufacturers in America and on American consumers,” Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement.

Auto trade organizations expressed concern a tariff war with Mexico would undermine efforts to win U.S. congressional approval for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

STEEP TARIFFS

Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda aimed at reshaping global trade, ignited fears in Mexico and on global financial markets on Thursday when he announced he would ratchet up tariffs on Mexico “until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied.”

The plan would impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports starting on June 10 and increase monthly, up to 25% on Oct. 1.

Such levies would deliver a heavy blow to Mexico’s economy, which is underpinned by exports to the United States of goods from avocados and tequila to televisions and cars made by companies such as Ford Motor Co and Nissan.

Mexico sends around 80 percent of its exports to the United States and is one of America’s top trading partners in goods.

Mexico’s main stock index was down 1.3% on Friday after opening the session sharply lower, and the peso currency was down more than 2.5% against the dollar.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was due to travel to Washington on Friday, on Twitter called Trump’s treatment of Mexico “unfair” and said the tariffs made “no economic sense for anyone.”

But Trump sought to turn up the pressure again on Friday.

“Mexico makes a FORTUNE from the U.S., have for decades, they can easily fix this problem. Time for them to finally do what must be done!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump vowed frequently during his 2016 election campaign to make Mexico pay for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to curb illegal immigration but successive Mexican governments have firmly rejected that idea.

The U.S. Congress also refused a request from Trump for $5.7 billion to help build the wall, prompting him to declare a national emergency and try to divert funds from other areas of the U.S. government. The issue is now in the courts.

Trump and his fellow Republicans say something needs to be done to stem the biggest migrant surge on the southern border in a decade.

U.S. officials say 80,000 people are being held in custody, with an average of 4,500 mostly Central American migrants arriving daily, overwhelming the ability of Border Patrol officials to handle them.

A senior White House official said Trump was particularly concerned that U.S. border agents apprehended a group of 1,036 migrants illegally crossing the border from Mexico on Wednesday. Officials said it was the largest single group since October. Before unveiling the tariff threat, Trump posted a video purporting to be of the crossing on his Twitter feed.

Since taking office in December, Mexico’s Lopez Obrador has urged Trump to help him tackle migration by promoting economic development in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where most of the migrants apprehended on the U.S. border come from.

Pledging to exercise “great prudence” in seeking a resolution to the tariff dispute, the Mexican president said he did not want to involve the World Trade Organization for now.

Though Lopez Obrador again stressed the need for diplomacy on Friday, he has in the past offered pointed criticism of Trump over migration policy. He was adamant that he had the support of Mexicans living in Mexico and the United States.

FILE PHOTO: Trucks wait in a long queue for border customs control to cross into the U.S., at the Zaragoza-Ysleta border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico April 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Lopez Obrador, who won election last year in a landslide, in 2017 likened Trump’s attitude towards migrants to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews.

In a letter responding to Trump’s announcement on Thursday, Lopez Obrador called Trump’s America First policy “a fallacy” and accused him of turning the United States into a “ghetto” that stigmatized and mistreated migrants.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher in Mexico City, Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland and Makini Brice in Washington; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Paul Simao

Politics

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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