News Sips 2/13: Unfounded ICE Panic, Mnuchin Monday, Flynn Fighting, and Trudeau Comes to DC

Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the February 13, 2017 edition:

 

Unfounded ICE Panic

Protests have erupted around the country following Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids against criminal illegal aliens in major cities. The arrests of a few hundred people come amid hysteria over Donald Trump’s immigration policies that have been pushed out to the public by the media. Of course, coordinated ICE sweeps of criminal aliens is nothing new and are the same type of raids that were conducted by the Obama Administration. For example, sweeps in Los Angeles have been generally consistent over the past year. The sweeps being reported are completely routine.

The problem comes in the leftist propaganda that is being put out against the Administration that is likely to result in confrontations with immigration authorities. There is also some ambiguity under the Orders put out by President Trump as to whether merely crossing the border is a sufficiently criminal act to qualify an individual as a “criminal” for the purpose of deportation. Critics of Mr. Trump think that this ambiguity is a purposeful attempt to give the Administration carte blanche to deport anyone. This ambiguity is also being welcomed by those on the right who have long held the belief that anyone coming to the country illegally has, de facto, broken the law.

Mr. Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer have been clear that they intend to focus, first, on illegals who have committed violent crimes and then proceed towards addressing the touchier situation of illegals who are gainfully employed and law-abiding (again, despite the crime of coming to the country illegally). Republican lawmakers, especially from states with large Hispanic and Latino populations, are reluctant to lump all illegal aliens in the same pot. Famously, Jeb Bush, the former Florida Governor whose Presidential campaign was savaged by Donald Trump, echoed the “compassionate conservative” line that there should be a pathway to citizenship for people here illegally who have not committed crimes.

It’s unclear what the Administration plans to do about illegals who have not committed additional crimes. However, the current complaints against ICE are wildly unfounded and likely to lead to a violent backlash from illegals and their enablers against law enforcement. In Baltimore alone, a raucous crowd called for ICE to stay off of the streets of Baltimore. It’s interesting that there aren’t protests against the murders, violent crime, muggings, and thefts in Baltimore, but only against the phantom specter of what liberals think President Trump is doing, despite there being no evidence, at all, of him doing it.

The biggest concern we should have, right now, is the panic that is being pushed into Latino communities about the President and potential deportations. At this point, there is no evidence of mass deportations on that scale. Panic can lead people to making very bad decisions and those decisions can lead to a real crackdown.

 

Mnuchin Monday

Around 7pm, the glacial Senate confirmation process with yield up President Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin. This is the longest period of confirmations that a new President has ever had to put up with as Democrats, spurred on by radicals in their base (and the fact that they’re raising money off of it) are seeing every nomination as a way to fight Donald Trump. Of course, they don’t have the votes in the Senate to stop even a single one of Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks, but that doesn’t mean that Senators can’t gum-up the works of the Senate and draw out the nomination process (basically, they can take a little over day in between each one).

There are no Republicans who have voiced opposition to Mnuchin, so he is on track to be confirmed on a Party-line vote despite his impeccable credentials as a Wall Street banker and Hollywood financier. Mnuchin’s time at Goldman Sachs, the much-derided boogeyman of progressive politics, has been a flashpoint of Democratic criticism. However, given that he has worked in the financial services industry, as have many on Trump’s team, he seems to be an effective voice in the fight for pragmatic deregulation. Simply, the theory goes, the regulation pendulum has swung too far to the left after the housing and financial crises. As a result, there’s not enough freedom in the market to get capital and investment flowing. This has led to stagnation in growth and businesses declining to invest, and thereby hire, in America.

There’s no doubt that Mnuchin will face headwinds from the left and the institutional inertia of the Treasury bureaucracy. However, like so many other nominees that Mr. Trump has put forward, Mr. Mnuchin has worked in the industry and understands what needs to be done to help America’s economy grow. More importantly, while there were candidates for the job who may have lined-up with a more libertarian view of capital markets, Mr. Mnuchin is a choice that has not, and likely will not, spook the stock market or investors.

 

Flynn Fighting

National Security Adviser, and retired general, Michael Flynn, has been a target of the left since he was advising Mr. Trump on the campaign trail. General Flynn seemed to be open to dialogue with Russia (a point that doesn’t sit well with Republican hawks or civil libertarian Democrats) and was more-than-willing to look at alternative news sources like Breitbart and Inforwars rather than accept the mainstream views of events. (It’s important to note here that Breitbart should not be lumped in with Infowars. Breitbart, despite, like many media outlets today, writing sensationalized headlines, has an editorial spin in coverage but rarely completely fabricates a story. Infowars, on the other hand, has a tendency to run with stories that haven’t had proper vetting and turn out to be rumors).

General Flynn is accused by his critics of talking with Russian foreign ministry staff before Donald Trump was inaugurated. The substance of the conversations, which took place after the election but before Mr. Trump was sworn in, appears to be in doubt. However, the worst-case scenario for General Flynn is that he, without having the authority to do so, was discussing potential deals between the United States and Russia wherein the United States would attempt to reduce the sanctions burden on the Russian people.

The FBI has confirmed that Flynn’s conversations were picked up as part of a sweep of United States communications with Russia, but, at this point, there is no, public, investigation of General Flynn for breaking any laws. However, in the Court of Public Opinion (and the journalistic blue check marks of Twitter), the allegation, and associated sensationalism (Flynn has met with Putin before, so he’s a double agent! etc.) has been too good for the press to pass-up.

The bigger problem for General Flynn seems to be that his story over what he was actually talking with Russian officials about has changed. Originally, it appears that he told Trump, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the Vice President, and others in the Administration that the calls were innocuous and routine given the transfer of power. Ostensibly just Christmas greetings and working out a way, through backchannels, to arrange soon-to-be President Trump’s call with Vladimir Putin once Mr. Trump was officially in office. This story appears to have changed in that Flynn seems to have had sanctions-related conversations with the Russians. This would, apparently, mean that Flynn attempted to mislead the President and his staff.

It’s important to note that the only sources about this information are places like the New York Times and the Washington Post that have a vested interest in creating dissent within the Administration. Sensationalism and scandal sells. Moreover, given the number of enemies Flynn has made among the hawkish wing of the GOP and in the media, it’s not much of a stretch to understand why he would be a target. However, if even some of the reporting is borne out by the facts, General Flynn may be looking at an early retirement (and some would argue, prosecution).

 

Canada in DC

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, will be in Washington today to meet with President Trump. The Canadian Prime Minister, who has been a vocal critic of the President, will be Mr. Trump’s first real test with a foreign leader who shares an opposite worldview to America’s leader.

Mr. Trudeau, largely seen as a globalist, progressive (referred to both affectionately and derisively as Canada’s attempt at Barack Obama), has led Canada’s economy into a far weaker state than when he found it. Canada’s currency is near all-time lows against the dollar and the liberal policies have done little to improve Canada’s international business climate. There is also a fear among Canadians that Trudeau’s warm acceptance of migrants and refugees could lead to similar acts of criminality and terrorism that are being seen in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Despite the differences in the leaders, Trudeau has far more to lose from an unproductive meeting with Mr. Trump than Trump does with Trudeau. Canada has benefitted from lazy American trade policy over the better part of the last thirty years. Mr. Trump has resolved to amend or scrap existing deals that aren’t beneficial to the United States in favor of bilateral negotiations. It is certainly in Mr. Trudeau’s best interest to try to negotiate a favorable arrangement for Canada with respect to trade with the United States.

Moreover, Mr. Trump’s approval of long-languishing pipeline construction was seen as a boon to both the United States and Canada. Though Mr. Trudeau, an avowed environmentalist, was tepid in his praise, the reality is that pipelines between the two counties are mutually beneficial and the former President’s decision to scrap the projects because of liberal agitators was not helpful to the Canadian economy. Expect the meeting between Trump and Trudeau to be cordial and to avoid the policy areas where they disagree.

 

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Of course, there are more things going on in the world, but these should be enough to get your day started.

 

Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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