Beltway Insider: Trump/Pelosi SOTU, US/Russian Nukes, Jobs Report, Venezuelan Sanctions, 2020

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President Donald Trump, at the invitation of Speaker of the House, Democratic Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, will deliver the 2019 State of the Union Address on February 5, 2019 which will be attended by both members of Congress.

According to Gallup, President Trump job approval, for the month of January 2019, decreased one percentage point to 37% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased by three percentage points to 59%.

Trump/Pelosi SOTU

After what appeared to be an indefinite delay, President Donald Trump will deliver what is expected to be a visionary and unifying State of the Union Address, February 5, 2019.

Immediately following the President's speech, gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams of Georgia will give the democratic response to the president's message and former U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra will give the Spanish language reply.

The President will use the time to reiterate the need for Border Wall funding and the failure of the democrats to maintain transparent negotiations. The government has reopened on a temporary basis and both parties insist they are working on behalf of the parties constituents.

The agreement that put the more than 800,000 government employees back to work is set to expire on February 21, 2019, just shy of two weeks from the date of the State of The Union. Government is essentially running on a "No Confidence" vote when it comes to ensuring workers will remain employed come February 21st.

When asked by members of the White House Press Corp if employees should be concerned that they might not get another paycheck so soon, Ms. Sanders replied, "My advice would be to call your Democrat members of Congress and ask them to fix the problem so that we don't have to continue having this process, and so that we actually secure the border and protect American citizens."

US/Russian Nukes

President Trump announced this week that he would be suspending its obligations under the INF treaty and begin the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate Range Force (INF) treaty which will be completed in six months unless Russia returns to compliance.

"The US has held to the INF Treaty for more than thirty years. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty.  We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO, our allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage. We stand ready to engage with Russia on arms control negotiations that meet these criteria, and, importantly, develop an outstanding relationship on economic, trade, political, and military.  This would be a fantastic thing for Russia and the United States, and would also be great for the world," the President said.

Jobs Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the January 2019 job numbers which continued to show steady growth with employment increasing by 304,000 jobs although overall numbers show unemployment rate inched up to 4.0% and 6.5million workers still unemployed.

Statistics show job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction, health care and transportation and warehousing.

Professional and business services continued to increase with 30,000 persons hired in January 2019, and more than 546,000 new opportunities secured over the course of 2018.

Throughout the course of seven years of covering the White House, the only sector of employment that remained steady through the height of the great recession of 2009 and 2010, when the national unemployment figure remained cemented at 8% for forty straight months and remained at double digits in many major cities, was the healthcare field.

The 4% unemployment rate factors in many considerations including marginally attached or part-time workers and also underemployed workers, those members of the labor force who are employed, although not in their chosen field as positions are not available.

Press Conference Takeaways 1/28

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who has made her disdain for the White House Press Corps well known, held a Press Conference this week, the first in 41 days. Joined at the podium were National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, as they were used to brief the media on the fluid Venezuelan situation and the position of the United States.

After the briefing buffeted Ms. Sanders from direct questioning, she opened the floor to additional questions. Her average of one monthly press briefing usually consists of thirty-five questions per press conference which results in an above average number of contentious sparring rounds with members of the White House Press Corps.

With the diminishing interaction with the media, barring any catastrophic need in which a statement is usually released or the president participates in a gaggle prior to departure, at landing, or inflight, the monthly press conference has taken on new significance.

The White House Press Corps has been highly critical of the cloak of secrecy under which President Trump and his press Secretary Sarah Sanders operates.

The failure to provide a continual flow of information, outside of the very active social media account of the president, adds to the general belief the President aligned himself with a foreign entity in order to manipulate the electoral system, and influence the 2016 election in order to win the presidency and presents a general compliance by his team.

From the January 28, 2019 Press Conference, a few takeaways of importance.

On a Second Government Shutdown "The President doesn't want to go through another shutdown.  The goal is border security and protecting the American people.  Ideally, Democrats would take these next three weeks to negotiate in good faith, and come up with a deal that makes sense, that actually fixes the problem so we don't have to go through that process. As the President indicated on a number of occasions, they could get this done in 15 minutes.  We agree on the fundamentals that border security is important.  We agree on the fact that there is a problem and we should do something about it."

The Trump Organizations recent red-handed undocumented worker fiasco "Look, I can't get into specifics about the President's organization outside of the White House.  I'm only allowed to speak on behalf of the President in his official capacity.  I do know that the Trump Organization has put out a statement addressing that issue.  I would refer you to that and to them for further questions."

The possibility of an State of Emergency should the temporary deal expire "Certainly the President listens to members of Congress, as well as constituents across the country, but the President's number one duty and the number one responsibility he sees as Commander-in-Chief is protecting the American people.  He sees the crisis at the border to be a real one.  I don't think anybody in the country can argue the fact that there is a real problem at our border.  It needs to be fixed and the President is going to do what it takes to address it."

Pressed on the status of the "State of Emergency" It is not just an emergency, it's a crisis at the border — both a national security and a humanitarian crisis.  But there is a process in which the President wants to exhaust all options, primarily doing what we feel is the best one, which is a legislative fix.  But if Congress doesn't do their job, then the President will be forced to make up for all of their shortcomings.

Maintaining the campaign promise of a southern border wall by the end of first term "Again, as you know, the President and his administration have engaged and built roughly 100 — or contracted to build roughly 115 miles of the border.  This three-week package that just passed that the Democrats actually voted for included over $200 million in funding for the wall.  And the President is not going to stop until the border is secure, and that includes having a border wall."

Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal "Our priority is to end the war in Afghanistan, and to ensure that there is never a base for terrorism in Afghanistan again.  Negotiations are going to continue.  For anything specific, I can't get into that right now, but I'd refer you to the State Department beyond that."

Working with Wikileaks a crime "Look, I think every single outlet that you all represent looked for and searched for information that WikiLeaks was providing, including reporting on it.  So I think there is a responsibility by members of the media. I'm not aware of anybody here ever working with WikiLeaks in any capacity, but I do know that every individual that represents a media organization here looked for that information.  Most of you reported on that information, so I think you're just as accountable as anybody else in that process."

Is the President concerned over the continued indictments and guilty pleas by his associates - "Not at all.  In fact, I think nothing could be further from the truth.  The more that this goes on, the more and more we see that none of these things have anything to do with the President.  In Roger Stone's case, the charges of that indictment have literally nothing to do with the President and have to do with his communications with Congress. What I can tell you is that the President did nothing wrong throughout this process.  And the charges — of the indictment against Mr. Stone have absolutely nothing to do with the President."

Venezuelan Sanctions

President Trump, along with twenty-one other nations, have endorsed President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Juan Gaido as the rightful Interim President of the nation of Venezuelan. After the Venezuela's National Assembly invoked Article 233 of the country's constitution the Nicolas Maduro government was declared illegitimate.  This action was a statement that the people of Venezuela have had enough of oppression, corruption, and economic hardship.

Standing by the leader, President Trump announced sanctions against the Nicolas Maduro regime. Joining White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to discuss the sanctions were National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow.

"We're announcing sanctions against Petróleos de Venezuela Sociedad Anónima, or PDVSA, the state-owned oil monopoly. We continue to expose the corruption of Maduro and his cronies, and today's action ensures they can no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people.  We expect today's measure totals $7 billion in assets blocked, plus over $11 billion in lost export over 2019. We also call on the Venezuelan military to accept the peaceful, democratic, and constitutional transfer of power.  The United States will hold Venezuelan security responsible for the safety of all U.S. diplomatic personnel, the National Assembly, and President Guaidó," Ambassador Bolton explained.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke on the purchase of oil by US refineries.

"Citgo assets in the US will be able to continue to operate, provided that any funds that would otherwise go to PDVSA instead will go into a blocked account in the United States. Refineries have already been taking steps to reduce their reliance on imports from Venezuela.  Those imports have fallen substantially in recent months. We have also issued general licenses to ensure that certain European and Caribbean countries can make an orderly transition.  We continue to call on all of our allies and partners to join the United States and blocking Maduro from being able to access PDVSA funds," Mnuchin said.

2020 Presidential Race

The 2020 Presidential Race gained another candidate this week with the announcement from New Jersey Senator and former Newark, New Jersey Mayor Corey Booker, who declared his candidacy on February 1, 2019.

Booker joins California Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Hawaiian Representative Tulsi Gabbard, former U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration, Julian Castro.

Other more well-known politicians could announce over the next six months including former Vice President Joe Biden, New Hampshire Senator Bernie Sanders and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

February 2020 delivers a one-two punch for presidential candidates with the Iowa Caucus' and New Hampshire primary one week apart. Voters in the Hawkeye state will have the opportunity to separate the pack from hopefuls to contenders and send the candidates into the Granite State where the home town senator Bernie Sanders, should he declare, can be assured the victory.

The Republican field may also grow even as the sitting president is expected to announce his intention to seek a second term (and one can hear him explaining "and win the second term by a landslide"). Republican party members may be fed up with his lack of a moral compass, the continued investigation and indictments of his inner circle of cohorts, the shadow of a US sellout to the Russians in order to secure a hostile takeover of the presidency as if it were a boardroom position as well as his separationist and divisive politics.

The primary season could be a replay of the 2016 primary race which would result in another candidate, perhaps Utah Senator and former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has a life time of political service or former Ohio Governor John Kasich, seeking and securing the Republican Party nomination.

No matter how it unfolds in 23months the United States will either have a new President or will have endorsed President Trump and his politics for a second term.


For more information on President Donald Trump:


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