Hello and welcome to the Top 5 by Sam Jenkins. The Top 5 consists of the top five things happening right now in politics. Be sure to click that like button, leave a comment, or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big Thing: Trump Imposes Tariffs on Allies
On Friday, President Trump and his administration will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from allies like Canada, Mexico and several European countries. Because of these tariffs, American steel and aluminum producers are rejoicing, while American steel and aluminum consumers are worrying.
- The Trump administration claimed these tariffs were implemented because of national security reasons, specifically the threat to the U.S. metal industry.
- Mexico and the European Union have already threatened to retaliate with tariffs on U.S. exports like Kentucky bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and apples.
- Additionally, the Trump administration negotiated exemptions to the tariffs for select allies like South Korea and Australia. However, negotiations of tariff exemptions with Canada, Mexico and the European countries are likely to be more difficult with persistent aggressive U.S. trade actions and larger trade contexts like NAFTA.
The Summit is Back on…Maybe
Since last week’s cancellation of the summit, President Trump and his administration have reopened the possibility of the meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea. At the moment, both countries are discussing the logistics of the June 12th summit.
- On Friday, Kim Yong Chol, who is described as Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man, will deliver a personal letter from the North Korean leader to President Trump at the White House.
- However, there are still divisions within the Trump administration over whether to hold the summit. On one hand, National Security Advisor John Bolton is wary of the summit because of North Korea’s empty promises in exchange for concrete concessions from the U.S. during past summits. On the other hand, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis are in favor of the diplomatic opportunity because it might lead to progres.
- Despite the tricky logistics of the summit, the real questions arise over denuclearization of North Korea. Will denuclearization be complete or partial? Rapid or phased? Will there be security or monetary guarantees for the regime? What will the U.S. concede, if anything?
Immigration Discussion is Revived
On Monday, Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican and the leader of the Senate’s GOP campaign arm, told President Trump to act on immigration reform. In addition to Gardner’s urgency in the Senate, several Republican members in the House are circulating a discharge petition, which would force a floor vote on immigration reform if it attains the requisite number of signatures.
- The most discussed bipartisan compromise circulating Capitol Hill is an exchange of border security for the protection of Dreamers. However, even this compromise is undercut by other points in the immigration debate like the erosion of the Temporary Protected Status program by the Trump administration, which would cut legal immigration levels.
- Despite the discharge petition in the House, no bill is likely to become law for several reasons: 1) the content of the bill is still uncertain, 2) President Trump’s veto and 3) extremists in both parties have their own agenda.
- In the Senate, a variety of factors, including the Midterm elections, the House’s discussion and the possibility of a court’s decision on immigration, are leading to some bipartisan meetings. However, many senators are doubtful of any progress on the floor, especially following the dysfunctional and ineffective Senate debate in February.
Rising Gas Prices
Gas prices have been rising recently. This week, the national average for a gallon of gas reached $2.82. Unfortunately, these prices are continuing to rise. As always, politics are part of the discourse:
- Democrats claim that the rising gas prices are due to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran Deal. However, other people argue this claim is misleading because the real causes of price increase include things like global oil supply and demand adjustments and more family road trips in the summer.
- However, many people – many Midterm election voters – don’t understand nor care about the nuances of the world oil prices. This reality could leave some people to mistakenly point fingers at Trump for the rising prices at the pump during the Midterm elections.
Credit: [Gage Skidmore/Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/13001194003/in/photolist-kNSw2i-p3m9P3-oMTqob-p5o6GV-p3maWd-p3mbPA-p5m5Rs-6zorf-dkFBA1-p5m5yy-kNS5va-p57Loa-p5kUDU-oMT81K-oMTPgn-p3m7eU-e4kq6e-p57MBn-p3kZkd-oMT3P8-p5m7if-oMTKXD-oMTTGX-oMTXoK-oMTLG4-oMT5b6-oMToGW-oMTjQh-oMTNJF-p5o2Vg-dnvjah-p5kVXq-oMTQ18-p5m5p5-p3m8AS-oMT7dH-p5nYS2-p57FMB-oMTQTw-p3m2wC-oMTSZp-oMTnyd-oMTQVz-f7ihZW-ESKjh3-K7SXWF-oMTPRm-p5nXLV-oMT9uM-f7ihEL)
Last week in the Top 5, I reported President Trump pardoned the late boxer, Jack Johnson. While this pardon was pushed by members of both parties, many people still perceived it as political because the post-humorous pardon broke Justice Department clemency norms. In the past, the Justice Department said its scarce resources are better spent investigating cases from people "who can truly benefit from a grant of clemency."
On Thursday, President Trump continued to break clemency norms as he pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative media presence who pled guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in 2014. Trump claimed, “[D’Souza] was treated very unfairly by our government.” Similarly, Trump is considering pardoning other high profile people, whose cases would also break pardon norms. Where will this unlimited presidential power of pardons stop?