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Essential Politics: Twenty-four hours of President Trump

Essential Politics: Twenty-four hours of President Trump
Essential Politics (LAT)

President Trump and his administration have routinely dominated the news since taking office a little more than 14 months ago.

But the past 24-hours saw a gusher of Trump news, perhaps none as notable as his pledge to send troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.

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MISSION: BORDER DUTY

"Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with our military. That's a big step," Trump said during a lunchtime meeting on Tuesday with leaders of three Baltic nations.

The announcement, which came without many details, was seen as a sign of his growing frustration as allies criticize him for failing to fully fund construction of a new border wall. And it comes on the heels of his Twitter critique of a caravan of Central American migrants.

Trump’s threat to Honduras on Tuesday over the issue marked an about-face after his administration has sought close ties with the Central American nation, and illustrates how his tweets can send confusing signals to allies.

And that wasn’t all on the topic of illegal immigration, as the Trump administration announced it will pressure U.S. immigration judges to process cases faster by establishing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews.

TRADE WAR LOOMS

Meanwhile, the president’s administration on Tuesday escalated the brewing trade war with China by releasing a long list of imports that could soon be slapped with 25% tariffs. The move is likely to be met with retaliatory action from China and could further rattle stock markets and raise fears of higher consumer prices in China and the U.S.

While the stock market recovered by its close on Tuesday, one analyst said things will continue to bounce around as investors worry about changes in trade that could slow down the global economy.

TRUMP VS. CALIFORNIA, NO. 842

First, officials said they may revoke the state's ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions. The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules that formed a key part of the effort by the Obama administration and California officials to combat global warming.

Then, it was the Justice Department’s turn, with a new lawsuit to block a state law that limits the federal government's ability to sell any of the 46 million acres it controls in California.

Both actions were panned by state leaders, with Gov. Jerry Brown calling the fuel efficiency decision a “cynical and meretricious abuse of power."

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION SENTENCING

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A federal judge sentenced attorney Alex van der Zwaan to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine on Tuesday for lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, making him the first defendant in the special counsel case to face sentencing.

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February to lying about his conversations with Rick Gates, who was Trump's deputy campaign chairman in 2016, and an unnamed person who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

By day’s end, a news report said that special counsel Robert Mueller III does not consider Trump a criminal target at this point.

As always, we’ll have the latest on our Essential Washington news feed.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

-- Trump asked a federal judge on Monday to order private arbitration in a case brought by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with him.

-- Young people are one of the biggest untapped forces in U.S. politics. By next year, millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are projected to outnumber baby boomers. But they go to the polls in staggeringly small numbers.

-- The Supreme Court has shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force — even against an innocent person.

-- The Federal Reserve's top official on the West Coast has been chosen to head its powerful New York regional bank but is a controversial pick because he helped regulate Wells Fargo & Co. during its fake-accounts scandal.

-- The Kremlin said on Monday that Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House when the two men spoke by phone last month.

-- The James Comey book tour tickets are hot — and expensive.

MLK: 50 YEARS AGO TODAY

Around the nation and across the world, there are a number of events today honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

The day is especially poignant in Memphis, Tenn., the city where King had come to support sanitation workers on strike in the spring of 1968. Memphis is a majority-black city and the most impoverished metropolitan area in the nation. Blacks in the city suffer disproportionately, with a median household income of about $31,000 — barely more than half that of whites.

A MAJOR NEW CALIFORNIA BILL ON POLICE SHOOTINGS

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In the state Senate, tempers flared Monday as the chamber adjourned in memory of Stephon Clark, the black man shot to death by Sacramento police officers two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, state lawmakers announced a new bill that would make it easier to criminally charge police officers who have used deadly force against civilians.

The legislation from Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) would allow prosecutors to consider an officer’s actions before the use of force and whether they attempted to de-escalate a situation when deciding to file charges. Weber and other lawmakers said the bill would be the first of its kind in the country.

Police groups are lining up strongly against the measure. The head of the union representing Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said that the bill provides “an unworkable standard whose goal is to criminalize use of force by law enforcement."

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Los Angeles community college trustee Sydney Kamlager won a special election Tuesday for a West L.A. seat in the state Assembly.

-- The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has dropped plans to push ahead with a two-tunnel proposal to revamp the state's water delivery system, opting to pursue a scaled-back version instead.

-- Former Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment last year, has opened a campaign account that could allow him to use previously raised funds if he chooses to run for office in the future.

-- A former aide to ex-state Sen. Tony Mendoza sued him and the California Senate alleging retaliation for whistleblowing.

-- State officials on Monday proposed expanding a task force that has gone after tax scofflaws operating in the underground economy in Los Angeles and Sacramento, saying California continues to lose billions of dollars in revenue from the illicit activity.

-- A federal judge said Tuesday that he could prohibit cities in Orange County from enforcing laws that ban people from camping in public spaces if they can’t find a solution to shelter the homeless.

-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein was among the California elected officials who took to social media to react to reports on Tuesday of a shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno. Gun violence has defined the veteran lawmaker’s career.

-- Republican candidate for governor John Cox has a new radio ad criticizing Democratic rival Antonio Villaraigosa, an indication of where Cox believes his path lies in securing the second spot in the June 5 primary.

-- One of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most devoted and important advisers, Bonnie Reiss, died on Monday night. Reiss, a key voice on environmental and education issues, was 62.

LOGISTICS

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