Trump could raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods

Trump could raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods
Soybeans are going bananas
U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war is making life uncomfortable for some large American corporations, but they have found a way to lessen the pain: Pass it on to customers.

The Trump administration’s tariffs have pushed up the prices of steel and aluminum and have raised costs for companies that make everything from cars and tractors to dishwashers. These companies face a choice. They can bear the higher costs themselves and report weaker profits, which might crater their stocks. Or they can charge more for their products, in effect making their customers bear much of the financial burden of the tariffs, at least for a while.

With this new offer to abolish tariffs, Mr. Trump might be borrowing a page from Ronald Reagans playbook. Throughout much of his presidency, Mr. Reagan was portrayed as an anti-Soviet hawk because he oversaw a huge expansion in American military spending. But at a 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, Mr. Reagan proposed to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, the radical idea that both countries should abolish their nuclear arsenals. This caught the Soviets by surprise, and though the two leaders left Iceland with no agreement in hand, Mr. Reagans bold strategy ultimately laid the path to the greatest period of nuclear disarmament in history.

China accuses Trump of igniting ‘biggest trade war in economic history’ as U.S. tariffs take effect

If Mr. Trumps goal is‎ more jobs and higher wages, America comes out the big winner under the zero tariff scenario. Most of our major trading partners have higher tariffs than we do. A study by the presidents Council of Economic Advisers calculates that the average American tariff is 3.5 percent, while the average European Union rate is 5 percent, Chinas is nearly 10 percent and the world average is around 10 percent. On a level playing field, American companies can compete with anyone, and our exporters will gain advantage if trade barriers are abolished.

As companies report second-quarter earnings, they are going out of their way to let their shareholders know that it is customers who are paying.

‎Finally, if Mr. Trump can secure zero tariff deals with the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea, this will put America in a much stronger position as he negotiates with China. It greatly increases the odds that Mr. Trumps hard-line stance with China will deliver long overdue concessions from Beijing that could enhance American economic and national security while averting a brutal escalation in the trade war that could hurt both our economies.

Caterpillar, while reporting record profits Monday, predicted that tariffs would add as much $200 million to its costs in the second half of this year. The company added, however, that it would try to partly offset the hit by increasing the prices of its products. Whirlpool, which uses steel and aluminum in its dishwashers and washing machines, said it had hoisted its prices this year. Coca-Cola said last week that it had increased prices in the United States in part because of tariff-related cost increases.

We cant predict how other nations would respond to this idea. But the European Union negotiations last week should provide Mr. Trump a clear signal that he cant win just by swinging the stick of higher tariffs. He also needs to offer the carrots of lower barriers. By putting zero tariffs on the table, Mr. Trump will also be able to determine which nations are genuinely committed to freer trade and which prefer to keep their protectionist barriers in place.

Opinion | How Trump Could Be Like Reagan

“It’s been very hard for companies to pass costs through to prices for many years,” said Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research. “The thing about tariffs is that they make a very good excuse: Blame it on Trump.”

Some of our friends in the administration question whether this policy would work because in China and other countries, nontariff barriers are the biggest deterrents to American exports. We agree that nontariff trade restraints — such as foreign companies stealing our patents with impunity, subsidies to state-owned enterprises and currency manipulation — are a problem. But reducing tariffs creates momentum for tearing down other trade restraints.

Trump officials consider more than doubling tariffs on Chinese goods, ramping up trade war with Beijing

The impact of the tariffs, and who bears their brunt, could have big implications for the wider economy. The tariffs are raising expenses at a time when companies are paying more for other materials and labour. If most of these costs are passed on to consumers, inflation, already rising after being dormant for years, could accelerate. What is more, since the metals tariffs have been in effect only since the start of June, their full impact has not been felt.

President Trump won a victory for freer trade last week when he and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed to find ways to lower tariffs and other barriers to each others exports. The outlines of the deal are still sketchy, but it calls for the Europeans to buy more American petroleum, soybeans and manufactured goods and for Mr. Trump to reduce his auto and steel tariffs.

Some companies can’t foist higher prices on their customers because of the risk to their sales. General Motors, for instance, slashed its profits forecast last week in part because of higher steel prices.

Weve often reminded politicians that free trade is a pillar of prosperity and a win-win for trading partners. Just as no one ever thought Mr. Reagan would stem nuclear proliferation, if Mr. Trump aggressively pursues this policy, he could build a legacy as the president who expanded world commerce and economic freedom by ending trade barriers rather than erecting them.

Still, some economists say companies may be able to get away with charging more for a while longer. With the economy buoyant, there may be enough customers who can afford the increases. David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, noted that a deeper dig into wage data showed strong rates of growth, and, he added, a recent survey showed that consumers appeared to be stepping up purchases of big-ticket items in anticipation of price increases.

A no-tariffs trade strategy would also allow the United States to seize the moral high ground in the debate. Mr. Trump would be transformed from the evil disrupter of international commerce to a potential savior — just as 30 years ago Mr. Reagans international image changed from superhawk to peacemaker almost overnight.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to prevent the economy from overheating. But the tariffs, along with other pressures, could prompt the Fed to tap the brakes more firmly, which could spook the stock market.

The alternative is higher tariffs on steel, aluminum, autos and hundreds of products imported from other countries, particularly China. Those actions have led to retaliatory tariffs imposed on products grown or manufactured in America. This has hurt farmers, the stock market and economic growth.

“We are seeing tariffs adding to classic late-cycle inflation pressures,” Rosenberg said. “This may force the Fed to do more than the market has priced in.”

What Mr. Trump has proposed to our trading partners is similar: the United States will abolish all its tariffs, subsidies and other trade restraints on their exports if they do the same for American exports. This solution would be the economic equivalent to total trade disarmament.

Much depends on whether Trump follows through on his proposed trade policies. To some extent, the strength of corporate earnings has bolstered the United States’ position in its trade fights. Profit margins for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are at their highest in many years, in part because of Trump’s tax cuts, Yardeni noted. But the longer the trade war drags on, the harder it will be for corporate America’s bottom line to hold up.

This is a winning strategy that weve long endorsed with our friends at the White House because it is fully consistent with what Mr. Trump has often told us: his threat of tariffs is a negotiating tactic to get to lower trade barriers and a level playing field.

“Trump gave companies a record profit margin, and now he might take some of that away,” Yardeni said.

We know lowering tariffs will be an uphill battle. Freer trade has always been an elusive pursuit because vested interests on both sides of the Atlantic, whether farmers or manufacturers, will fight to maintain tariffs that benefit their products.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war is making life uncomfortable for some large American corporations, but they have found a way to lessen the pain: Pass it on to customers.

This was Mr. Trumps idea. The night before the agreement, he proposed in a tweet that Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Amen.

The Trump administration’s tariffs have pushed up the prices of steel and aluminum and have raised costs for companies that make everything from cars and tractors to dishwashers. These companies face a choice. They can bear the higher costs themselves and report weaker profits, which might crater their stocks. Or they can charge more for their products, in effect making their customers bear much of the financial burden of the tariffs, at least for a while.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Arthur B. Laffer is chairman of Laffer Associates. Steve Forbes is chairman of Forbes Media. They are co-founders of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

China accuses Trump of igniting ‘biggest trade war in economic history’ as U.S. tariffs take effect

We were particularly heartened that Mr. Trump and the Europeans now have a handshake agreement to aim for zero tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic.

As companies report second-quarter earnings, they are going out of their way to let their shareholders know that it is customers who are paying.

Caterpillar, while reporting record profits Monday, predicted that tariffs would add as much $200 million to its costs in the second half of this year. The company added, however, that it would try to partly offset the hit by increasing the prices of its products. Whirlpool, which uses steel and aluminum in its dishwashers and washing machines, said it had hoisted its prices this year. Coca-Cola said last week that it had increased prices in the United States in part because of tariff-related cost increases.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Laffer are informal economic advisers to President Trump. Mr. Forbes is chairman of Forbes Media.

“It’s been very hard for companies to pass costs through to prices for many years,” said Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research. “The thing about tariffs is that they make a very good excuse: Blame it on Trump.”

Just as Ronald Reagan once pushed for abolishing nuclear weapons, President Trump should call for ending tariffs.

The impact of the tariffs, and who bears their brunt, could have big implications for the wider economy. The tariffs are raising expenses at a time when companies are paying more for other materials and labour. If most of these costs are passed on to consumers, inflation, already rising after being dormant for years, could accelerate. What is more, since the metals tariffs have been in effect only since the start of June, their full impact has not been felt.

Some companies can’t foist higher prices on their customers because of the risk to their sales. General Motors, for instance, slashed its profits forecast last week in part because of higher steel prices.

Still, some economists say companies may be able to get away with charging more for a while longer. With the economy buoyant, there may be enough customers who can afford the increases. David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, noted that a deeper dig into wage data showed strong rates of growth, and, he added, a recent survey showed that consumers appeared to be stepping up purchases of big-ticket items in anticipation of price increases.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to prevent the economy from overheating. But the tariffs, along with other pressures, could prompt the Fed to tap the brakes more firmly, which could spook the stock market.

“We are seeing tariffs adding to classic late-cycle inflation pressures,” Rosenberg said. “This may force the Fed to do more than the market has priced in.”

Much depends on whether Trump follows through on his proposed trade policies. To some extent, the strength of corporate earnings has bolstered the United States’ position in its trade fights. Profit margins for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are at their highest in many years, in part because of Trump’s tax cuts, Yardeni noted. But the longer the trade war drags on, the harder it will be for corporate America’s bottom line to hold up.

“Trump gave companies a record profit margin, and now he might take some of that away,” Yardeni said.

According to the business organization, the bill for extending a bailout to everyone screwed by the president’s ongoing trade wars would come in at $39 billion. The Chamber came up with the figure by comparing the amount of aid given to farmers with the amount of exports affected by the levies, and applying the ratio to other impacted groups. Some industries, like starch and glue, would only require small packages of around $43 million, while auto, motorcycle, and parts manufacturers would need something in the range of $7.6 billion. Obviously, the more trade tensions escalate, the more money would be necessary to bail industries out. “The best way to protect American industries from the damaging consequences of a trade war is to avoid entering into a trade war in the first place,” Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said in a statement. “The administration’s focus should be expanding free trade and removing these harmful tariffs, not allocating taxpayer’s money to only marginally ease the suffering for some of the industries feeling the pain of the trade war.” He added that the farm bailout is “a slippery—and costly—slope.”

At present, the White House has not indicated that it would swoop in to offer relief to other groups affected by Trump’s attempt to send the message America is nobody’s fool. At least part of the motivation for the farm bailout was the fear that farmers would punish the president by refusing to help Republicans hang onto the House during November’s midterm elections. There’s also the issue of Trump’s ongoing cognitive impairment, as exhibited during a speech last Friday in which he claimed America is winning respect abroad as a result of the tariffs. His twisted logic suggests he’s not ready to give up on his “easy to win” trade wars any time soon, making the highly unlikely event of a universal bailout just a little bit more plausible.

O.K. so the bill wasn’t all about the middle class. The C-suite, too, fared pretty well for itself in a turn of events no one could have predicted. Per Politico:

A Politico review of data disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings shows the executives, who often receive most of their compensation in stock, have been profiting handsomely by selling shares since Trump signed the law on Dec. 22 and slashed corporate tax rates to 21 percent. That trend is likely to increase, as Wall Street analysts expect buyback activity to accelerate in the coming weeks.

“It is going to be a parade of eye-popping numbers,” said Pat McGurn, the head of strategic research and analysis at Institutional Shareholder Services, a shareholder advisory firm.

Of course, the administration is still insisting that the benefits will ultimately trickle down to the middle class and rank-and-file workers. This has yet to actually happen, but sit tight!

Instead of making lanyards, canoeing on the lake, eating s’mores, and making out in the arts and crafts building with that guy from bunk 14, attendees at Rich Kids Camp—whose families must have a net worth well into, or above, eight-figures—are learning how to cope with the responsibility of being “a scion of a wealthy family.” They’re also mingling in a safe space where they don’t have to worry about rubbing shoulders with a poor and, as happens at any summer camp worth its salt, making friends for life:

On one level, these programs—also held in cities such as Zurich, London, and Singapore—represent high-end networking opportunities where the young and rich can be young and rich together.

The intimacy “allows them to let their guard down for a change,” said John Mathews, head of private-wealth management and ultra-high net worth for UBS Wealth Management USA. . . . All the informal mingling has led participants to become best friends, marry, vacation together, and invest alongside each other, the banks say. __ [Jesse] Bongiovi__ hooks up regularly with five guys he met in the program, and UBS’s Mathews said one set of alums dubbed themselves the “Group of 13” and convene every year to talk about family issues.

Koch network takes aim at “protectionism,” slams Trump administration as “divisive” (ABC)

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When the Trump administration announced last week that it would be delivering a $12 billion bailout to U.S. farmers screwed by Donald Trump’s various trade wars, President “Tariffs are the greatest” presumably expected an outpouring of gratitude for his show of generosity. Instead, the collective response was, essentially, You can take this bailout and shove it up your orange ass. Rather than flood the White House with thank-you notes, many farm groups panned the aid package as a signal that Trump is unlikely to call off his trade war with China in the near future, meaning that further damage to their livelihoods is on the horizon—particularly if Trump makes good on his threat to slap everything imported from China with tariffs. But being told its ideas are unworkable, self-defeating, and an affront to people with half a brain everywhere has never stopped the Trump administration from implementing them. Because it seems entirely possible that Trump would attempt to solve a problem of his own making by giving all the industries affected by his trade “policies” a bailout, the Chamber of Commerce went ahead and crunched the numbers. And they are not small!

According to the business organization, the bill for extending a bailout to everyone screwed by the president’s ongoing trade wars would come in at $39 billion. The Chamber came up with the figure by comparing the amount of aid given to farmers with the amount of exports affected by the levies, and applying the ratio to other impacted groups. Some industries, like starch and glue, would only require small packages of around $43 million, while auto, motorcycle, and parts manufacturers would need something in the range of $7.6 billion. Obviously, the more trade tensions escalate, the more money would be necessary to bail industries out. “The best way to protect American industries from the damaging consequences of a trade war is to avoid entering into a trade war in the first place,” Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said in a statement. “The administration’s focus should be expanding free trade and removing these harmful tariffs, not allocating taxpayer’s money to only marginally ease the suffering for some of the industries feeling the pain of the trade war.” He added that the farm bailout is “a slippery—and costly—slope.”

At present, the White House has not indicated that it would swoop in to offer relief to other groups affected by Trump’s attempt to send the message America is nobody’s fool. At least part of the motivation for the farm bailout was the fear that farmers would punish the president by refusing to help Republicans hang onto the House during November’s midterm elections. There’s also the issue of Trump’s ongoing cognitive impairment, as exhibited during a speech last Friday in which he claimed America is winning respect abroad as a result of the tariffs. His twisted logic suggests he’s not ready to give up on his “easy to win” trade wars any time soon, making the highly unlikely event of a universal bailout just a little bit more plausible.

O.K. so the bill wasn’t all about the middle class. The C-suite, too, fared pretty well for itself in a turn of events no one could have predicted. Per Politico:

A Politico review of data disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings shows the executives, who often receive most of their compensation in stock, have been profiting handsomely by selling shares since Trump signed the law on Dec. 22 and slashed corporate tax rates to 21 percent. That trend is likely to increase, as Wall Street analysts expect buyback activity to accelerate in the coming weeks.

“It is going to be a parade of eye-popping numbers,” said Pat McGurn, the head of strategic research and analysis at Institutional Shareholder Services, a shareholder advisory firm.

Of course, the administration is still insisting that the benefits will ultimately trickle down to the middle class and rank-and-file workers. This has yet to actually happen, but sit tight!

Instead of making lanyards, canoeing on the lake, eating s’mores, and making out in the arts and crafts building with that guy from bunk 14, attendees at Rich Kids Camp—whose families must have a net worth well into, or above, eight-figures—are learning how to cope with the responsibility of being “a scion of a wealthy family.” They’re also mingling in a safe space where they don’t have to worry about rubbing shoulders with a poor and, as happens at any summer camp worth its salt, making friends for life:

On one level, these programs—also held in cities such as Zurich, London, and Singapore—represent high-end networking opportunities where the young and rich can be young and rich together.

The intimacy “allows them to let their guard down for a change,” said John Mathews, head of private-wealth management and ultra-high net worth for UBS Wealth Management USA. . . . All the informal mingling has led participants to become best friends, marry, vacation together, and invest alongside each other, the banks say. __ [Jesse] Bongiovi__ hooks up regularly with five guys he met in the program, and UBS’s Mathews said one set of alums dubbed themselves the “Group of 13” and convene every year to talk about family issues.

Koch network takes aim at “protectionism,” slams Trump administration as “divisive” (ABC)

FEMA personnel chief harassed women, hired some as possible sexual partners for male employees, agency’s leader says (WaPo)

Im really rich, Trump declared while announcing his candidacy in June 2015. To prove it, he released a Summary of Net Worth balance sheet, indicating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. A month later he upwardly revised that figure to in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS. (The caps are his.)

Since then, a cottage industry of spreadsheet-diving journalists has worked itself into a lather trying to peg his real net worth. But without tax returns to go on, its really anybodys guess. Despite the all-caps figures Trump has dispensed, most estimates from the established financial-media outlets have been lower, FAR LOWER. Forbes put his net worth at $4.5 billion. Fortune postulated $3.7 billion, and later upped it to $3.9 billion. Bloomberg guessed it was closer to $2.9 billion.

In response to these wanton guesstimates, Trump instinctually fired back at the guesstimators. Forbes is a bankrupt magazine, doesnt know what theyre talking about. Fortune has no idea what my assets are and has totally lost its way. But the real sulfuric acid was reserved for the lowballers over at Bloomberg. As usual, Trump made it personal, even suggesting his friend, the former New York City mayor, might be jealous. Maybe Michael told them to do it, Trump speculated in the Daily Mail, because he always wanted to do what Im doing. Perhaps wisely, The New Yorker—even with its legendary phalanx of persnickety fact-checkers—wouldnt venture any closer than just a back-of-the-envelope calculation of $2.56 billion, which shouldnt be taken too seriously.

In November, Trump was elected president of the United States in a shocking turn of events. He lost the popular vote by some two million ballots.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump was in a buoyant mood. The G.D.P. numbers had just been released, and economic growth came in at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent for the second quarter, up from 2.2 percent for the first quarter. Sure, the uptick was widely expected by economists due to a confluence of events unlikely to recur, such as a surge in exports driven by overseas buyers stocking up on U.S. goods before tariffs went into effect (soybean exports were up 50 percent year-over-year in May). And yes, experts expect the explosive growth to slow down for the second half of 2018. And yeah, the news that business investments in equipment were at their slowest pace since late 2016—even after the giant corporate tax cut—wasnt great. Nor was the data about the housing sector—which The New York Times notes has often served as an economic bellwether—in which residential investment was down for the second time in a row. But nuance is not really this presidents thing. And he was just so amped about the 4.1 percent that he decided an impromptu press conference was in order. And by press conference, we mean alternative-fact riddled speech in which he took no questions lest any reporters push back on his many misleading statements, which included but were not limited to:

Telling the crowd Weve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions, leaving out the fact that the economy has gained jobs every month since late 2010 when you-know-who was in office;

Boldly stating that its unthinkable that his administration has created 3.7 million jobs in the first 17 months of his tenure, despite the fact that Obama created 3.84 million in the last 17 months of his presidency;

Claiming that $4 trillion in profits will be repatriated thanks to last years tax cuts, when experts have said there have been zero estimates above $3.1 trillion;

Trotting out his Council of Economic Advisers chairman, Kevin Hassett, to say this: You know, as an economist, its my duty, sir, to remind that we should not make too much of one number, right? How often do we hear economists say that? But when I think back to the first time I met with you in the Oval, and we talked about your vision about how to make America great again, you might recall that, in the end, I agreed, yeah, that stuff really ought to work.

And our personal favorite, the part where he said that half the people assembled for his incoherent speech in Illinois last night were shedding tears of gratitude for everything hes done for them:

The president proceeded to whine about how nobody mentions the fact that these [steel] plants are creating tremendous numbers of jobs—tremendous. (In fact, the boost to the steel industry has come at the expense of just about everyone else, including the countless American industries that need steel and aluminum to make their own products, which are now more expensive—but we digress.) He whined about how nobody mentions the billions of dollars that are supposedly pouring into the United State coffers, or—and this is truly the best part—that the United States is winning respect abroad because of the tariffs.

Perhaps Trump has an alternative definition of respect. To most political observers, Trumps tariffs have caused countries around the world—including our biggest allies—to come to the conclusion that the president of the United States is a simpleminded loose cannon who they cant trust. His tariffs have hit farmers who dont want the White Houses bailout, driven up prices for American consumers, sent U.S. manufacturing overseas, and resulted in job losses across the U.S. But who cares? Praise him, you ingrates! And be quick about it!

In May, the CBS chief executive officer went to war with the companys largest shareholder, Shari Redstone, who wants to merge the network with Viacom. With the backing of most of the board, Moonves attempted to issue a dividend that would shrink Redstones voting power to under 20 percent, but the move was blocked when she changed the companys bylaws. That deeply awkward battle is expected to go to trial in the fall, and while Moonves seemingly had the boards support up until, oh, 12 hours ago things may have changed:

CBS . . . will investigate claims of sexual misconduct expected to be leveled against Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves.

The allegations in a forthcoming New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow involve unwanted touching and kissing incidents that go back, in part, more than 20 years, the Hollywood Reporter said, citing people with knowledge of the matter it didnt identify. Farrow was among the reporters who first broke news on the sexual-misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein last year.

In a statement, the directors said: All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.

Of course, no P.R. crisis involving CBS and its parent company, National Amusements, would be complete without some corporate intrigue involving Les and Shari. In a separate statement, Redstone said through a spokeswoman that she hopes the investigation will be thorough, open and transparent. The statement added that the malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or todays reports is false and self-serving.

This is up there with human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and just all-out mass hysteria:

Ive some men wear loafers with no socks, says one vice president of JPMorgan. Its unusual, but its happening.

At Goldman Sachs, where operations staff to get to dress down in jeans and shirts all summer, there are rumors of one intern turning up at a meeting with an MD in a T-shirt and being sent out again. Elsewhere, there is the usual array of short skirts and sweaty armpits, diaphanous materials and standard-issue chinos.

President Trump on Thursday used a taxpayer-funded trip to Illinois to openly advocate for electing Republicans to Congress—blurring the line between official and political events in the heat of the midterm campaign season.

Youve got to vote Republican, folks, youve got to vote Republican, Trump said during the speech at a steel plant in Granite City, Ill., that had recently reopened. Vote for these two congressmen; they know what were doing. They know what theyre doing. Theyre tough, and theyre smart.

The White House, naturally, doesnt see the problem here, telling reporters on Air Force One that there is no legal prohibition on the president endorsing candidates at official events funded by taxpayers. It is no surprise that the president would want people in Congress who support his agenda, spokesman Hogan Gidley said. These were official events talking about the economic impact this president has had in the Midwest.

When Donald Trump installed Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve last February, some—including this very Levin Report!—wondered aloud how long it would take for the president to turn on the guy. Trump, of course, has never needed a valid reason to go apeshit on someone, whether its the mayor of Puerto Rico, Meryl Streep, or the cast and producers of Hamilton. But in this case, the expectation that it was a matter of when, and not if, he would attack the man hed handpicked to replace Janet Yellen was based not only on the fact that hes a temperamental lunatic, but also on the inadvisable timing of his tax cuts. As many warned at the time, the economy was doing well enough that really didnt need a giant fiscal stimulus. Therefore the cuts, combined with strong wage growth, would inevitably result in Powell continuing to raise interest rates in order to slow down the roaring economy onto which President Buy and Sell had dumped a bunch of gasoline. (Last month, the Fed raised interest rates and signaled that two more hikes are coming this year.) That, in turn, would (deliberately) cool things off, but it was also bound to dampen the growth Trump was trying so desperately to spur. We could suddenly see tweets about Jay Powell in the middle of the night, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff predicted on Bloomberg TV during a prescient interview in January. And lo and behold, look what we have here!

In a stinging and historically rare criticism, President Donald Trump expressed frustration with the Federal Reserve and said the central bank could disrupt the economic recovery.

Im not thrilled, he told CNBCs Joe Kernen in an interview to air in full Friday starting at 6 A.M. ET on Squawk Box. Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I dont really—I am not happy about it. But at the same time Im letting them do what they feel is best. But I dont like all of this work that goes into doing what were doing.

The Federal Reserve, of course, is an independent organization, but considering were dealing with a guy who allegedly wanted his F.B.I. director to take a pledge of loyalty and fired him when he refused, observers have long been braced for Trump to attempt to bend the Fed to his will, in the grand tradition of Richard Nixon. And if anyone has a problem with that, guess what? He doesnt give a tiny rats ass. Im just saying the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen, Trump told Kernen. So somebody would say, Oh, maybe you shouldnt say that as president. I couldnt care less what they say, because my views havent changed.

The White House, which is now on standby to retract any statements made by the president of the United States almost immediately after they exit his mouth, was in damage-control mode within minutes of the quotes emerging online:

Luckily theres no sign that Powell, who recently dragged Trumps approach to trade, will be manipulated by the ex-Miss Universe owner. One of the hallmarks of our great American economy is preserving the independence of the Federal Reserve. No president should interfere with the workings of the Fed, said former Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher. Were I Chairman Powell, I would ignore the president and do my job and I am confident he will do just that.

Amazingly, it happened in public, while giving a speech about workforce development and—just let the full quote wash over you:

Today, 23 companies and associations are pledging to expand apprenticeships. Thats an interesting word for me to be saying, right? The Apprentice. I never actually put that together until just now. That was a good experience, I will tell you that. Isnt that strange? Ivanka, I never associated—but here we are. Cant get away from that word. Thats a great word. For on-the-job training and vocational education. They will sign the pledge committing to train and re-train more than 3.8 million American students and workers for new jobs and rewarding careers.

The fine, which was handed down roughly 24 hours prior to the president getting wind of the news, also came with a demand that the company alter the way it puts Web browser and search apps on Android mobile devices. The E.U. gave Google 90 days to cease what it described as illegal practices on its contracts with manufacturers that push its services in front of users. Anyway, its unclear what exactly President Twitter is threatening here, but it comes one day after he said the E.U. would face tremendous retribution if he doesnt get what he wants out of a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker next week.

In an interview at CNBCs Delivering Alpha conference in New York, Kudlow said: I dont think President Xi at the moment has any intention of following through on the discussion we made and I think the president is so dissatisfied with China on these so-called talks that he is keeping the pressure on—and I support that.

In response, Chinas foreign-ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: That the relevant United States official unexpectedly distorted the facts and made bogus accusations is shocking and beyond imagination. The United Statess flip-flopping and promise-breaking is recognized globally, she added during a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

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While the Trump circus blazes a path of destruction through London on its way to Helsinki, NATO is still reeling from the presidents blunt-force attack on the decades-old military alliance. Expectations had been low following a disastrous G7 summit in Canada last month, during which the American president threw candies at Angela Merkel, left early, refused to sign a joint communique, and spent his departing flight tweeting insults at Justin Trudeau, before arriving in Singapore for a chummy photo op with Kim Jong Un. The nightmare scenario for the NATO summit, diplomats told me afterward, would be a repeat performance in Europe, with Trumps planned meeting with Vladimir Putin as the coup de grâce. Even so, dignitaries at Wednesdays convocation in Brussels were left stunned by Trumps perceived threat to withdraw from NATO if other members didnt increase their defense spending, prompting Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to convene an emergency meeting. And they were shocked again when Trump emerged from the meeting to declare, as if nothing had happened, that the United States commitment to NATO is very strong.

This was a very Trumpian summit. I have been to every summit since 1999—never have I seen something like this. . . . He turned this NATO summit into a reality-TV show, Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council who was in attendance, told me. He helped to sort of elevate and, to some degree, fabricate a sense of crisis. He created a sense of friction between characters and used it to create a situation in which he could basically solve the problem, come in, and declare victory.

The trouble had begun Wednesday, when Trump turned an introductory breakfast meeting into a vessel for an on-camera rant about how Americas allies had been delinquent in supporting NATO, how they should double their defense spending commitments, and why he believes Germany is captive to Moscow because of its reliance on a Russian natural-gas pipeline. I think to have him immediately launch into this attack on Germany specifically really took the NATO secretary general by surprise, said Julianne Smith, who led NATO policy at the Pentagon and served as national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. I guess they didnt expect it to happen so early, right at the breakfast with the secretary general. But theres a level of frustration there, and particularly given the fact that hes about to go see Putin, she continued. Putin would love nothing more than to have a divided alliance.

More worrisome for NATO veterans was the perception that the U.S. president had gone into the meeting planning to derail the summit. He obviously has come to this meeting with the intention of dividing the alliance and in creating a negative story he appeared to have no interest in creating a positive outcome, remarked former U.S. ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns. Every president since Truman has thought of himself as the leader of the NATO alliance. Trump obviously doesnt. The only question, for Burns, is whether Trumps misbehavior was driven by ego or by some more sinister purpose. I have been trying to decide if it is more Orwellian or Alice in Wonderland, in the sense that he is now acting and talking as if the NATO allies are our adversaries and that he doesnt ever criticize Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un in similar terms.

As the dust cleared from Trumps initial clash with Stoltenberg and Merkel, summit-watchers braced for another outburst. Its always the same thing with Trump, grumbled a Senate aide, watching the melee unfold from Capitol Hill. I mean carbon copy, take his M.O. and put it onto any policy issue. Whenever its the choice between a hammer or a scalpel, he chooses the hammer every time. The aide conceded that everyone in Washington wants their NATO allies to reach the funding level they had agreed to under Barack Obama, but theres more diplomatic way to go about it.

Departing Brussels on Thursday for London, where he promptly ignited a diplomatic row with Theresa May, Trump congratulated himself on his performance. Everyones agreed to substantially up their commitment, he informed the press. They are going to up it at levels never thought of before. It was not immediately clear, however, what new commitments had been extracted. Trump said at the news conference that NATO allies had agreed to put 2 percent of their G.D.P. toward military expenditures—the same level members committed to reach by 2024 when they met four years ago. It was, as several insiders fumed, another instance wherein the caricature of Trump—rude, ill-informed, delusional—was outdone by the man himself. This meeting confirmed that Trump barely knows the politics, if even the geography, of Europe, one foreign diplomat told me. Diplomacy has become a sadly hilarious affair with him.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact source of Trumps antipathy toward NATO. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly dismissed the alliance as obsolete, and has frequently opined that Americas allies have taken advantage of past administrations. He certainly believed that NATO was in many ways a bad deal, one current administration official told me. Multiple White House advisers had tried to inform the president about how the alliance worked, this person told me, but Trumps resentments continued to build—especially after spending extended periods of time with General Keith Kellogg, Vice President Mike Pences national security adviser. He goes back to this whole they owe us money from the past thing, and you know it is not a dues-based organization, the official said. But I do think that we have spent enough time on this with him that I think he comprehended that it is not a dues-based organization, necessarily.

Trump, of course, isnt interested in technicalities. Hes consumed by grievances. After all, Trumps demands of NATO arent so different than the ones that Obama made in 2014, when he originally secured the 2 percent commitment. Whats different is his shit-kicking approach. Trump is obviously doing it in very different ways, said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group. He makes up facts, he embarrasses them.

It seems unlikely the bluster will be effective. I think the European NATO members strategy is just to wait out Trump. They simply stopped caring and have been trying to work around him. . . . Trump is actually hurting European politicians efforts to increase defense spending, Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute, told me. Given Trumps unpopularity in Europe, many politicians do not want to be perceived as bowing to the American presidents demands in front of their domestic constituencies.

Worse, Burns said, Trump undermined his own negotiating power with Putin ahead of their summit on Monday. The big danger here is that Putin needs to believe that Trump is the leader of NATO, is willing to defend NATO countries that could be threatened by Russia. That is what deterrence is all about, that is how deterrence works, right? he said, exasperated. The other guy, in this case, the adversarial power Putin has to believe in his heart of hearts that he cannot take aggressive measures toward NATO countries because Trump and the other leaders would stand up to him. . . . Thats why optics are so important, that is why what you say, the words you choose are so important in diplomacy. And Trump seems to have everything backwards.

Trump, for his part, appeared unbothered by these potential ramifications as the NATO summit was winding down. During the news conference on Thursday, Trump left open the possibility that he would recognize the Crimean peninsula, which Putin invaded in 2014, as part of Russia. People like to say, Oh Crimea, but the fact is they built bridges to Crimea, they built I think a submarine port, Trump said. What will happen with Crimea from this point, that I cannot tell you. But I am not happy about Crimea, but again that was Barack Obamas watch, not Trumps watch. Later, at a celebration for Macedonias acceptance into the alliance, Trump appeared relaxed and jovial, gleefully taking photos. Americas allies, however, sounded shaken. They dont know whether to be relieved that the alliance is intact—and actually has a lot of strength behind it with the real decisions that came out of the summit, said the Atlantic Councils Damon Wilson, or whether they need to really start deciding that they need to hedge on the United States.

Kim Kardashian West is a fortress. Theres so little that will shake her. Crisis-P.R. gurus draft whole pamphlets on media training, the regimen that keeps her so measured and so generous on all those trips to Ellen, off a single Kardashian Instagram story. Somewhere in an underground lab there are tapes of Kardashian West making the rounds on morning talk shows. Communications students will study them for centuries. If Trump had only paid her more mind when he was merely a bit player in the reality-television universe, two weeks ago he might have come up with something better than, I said the word would instead of wouldnt.

Actually, calling her media trained is a disservice to Kardashian West. Shes a virtuoso of staying on message, whatever that message may be, and on platform. When something does get through some initial barrier—like, say, a pop star coming for her husband, Kanye West—she unleashes a fury heretofore unknown, using one of her many superpowers: Snapchat. The world tips back into place, circling around the family in perfect balance once again.

So when Kardashian West appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Monday night to talk about the good thing (i.e. her successful personal plea to the president to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender sentenced to a lifetime in jail), it was business as usual. But then, a breach.

Kimmel asked her if Kanye still likes Trump, referring to Wests adoption of the Make America Great Again hat and calling the president my brother earlier this year. Something shorted in Kardashian Wests bionic wiring: Yeah, I think he really—um, she said. He really li—yeah.

A true captain of her own existence, Kardashian West managed to right the ship before it capsized. Kimmel asks if they debate, and she says You know what? No, because I always respect what another person thinks, as if those two things are mutually exclusive. She went on: [When] we would talk about policies, he doesnt necessarily agree with the policies. He likes [Trumps] personality, and how he made it to be president when everybody really underestimated him. Hes not political, so he doesnt really dig deep into whats going on.

In the end, she won this subtle spar between interviewer and interviewee, noting that shes being cautious because shes very focused. She still has work to do and needs the presidents help, and therefore cant say anything that might offend his sensibility—which is extraordinarily soft. But for one brief, strange moment on Monday night, Kardashian West was speechless.

Oh, look—the president is threatening war on Twitter again! His latest target? Iran, as seen in a, shall we say, colorful tweet on Sunday: To Iranian President Rouhani, Donald Trump wrote, NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

The tweet might be brimming with bluster, but on Monday night, pretty much every comedian in late night called the presidents bluff in one way or another. As Stephen Colbert put it on The Late Show, Yes, be cautious. You cross Donald Trump, youre gonna get what the other dictators got: a friendly summit, a handshake, and, if youre not careful, an invitation to the White House.

Trumps tweet came in response to a warning from Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, in which he said, America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace—and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.

Wow, Colbert said. Mothers Day in Iran sounds intense! Do not forget to get her a card. But as he pointed out, Trumps treatment of foreign dictators has not exactly given Rouhani any reason to worry. Despite all his threats to Kim Jong Un, Trump wound up holding a friendly summit with the North Korean leader, eventually signing an agreement full of concessions for very few material stipulations in return. And more recently, the presidents summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki enraged Americans, thanks largely to the presidents decision to side with Putin, rather than his own intelligence agencies, on the matter of Russian interference in Americas presidential election—a firestorm that grew so intense the president was forced to awkwardly amend his statement.

Regardless of how much substance there is to Trumps Twitter threat to Rouhani, however, Colbert offered another observation: It seems like an all-caps note is not necessarily the way to deal with a hostile foreign leader, the comedian said. Its barely the way to deal with a co-worker who keeps stealing your yogurt from the fridge.

On Late Night, Seth Meyers put Trumps tweet in an even broader context during his Closer Look segment. The president is facing an intense political backlash over his press conference last week with Vladimir Putin, Meyers pointed out. His administration still has thousands of migrant children jailed and separated from their parents, and his personal fixer, Michael Cohen, might be cooperating with federal investigators—so, naturally, Trump has decided the appropriate response is to threaten a war with Iran.

If youre one to buy that Trumps constant sideshows are often employed as distractions, this theory holds water pretty well. Either way, though, Meyers couldnt help but laugh at the unhinged nature of the presidents tweet. You could take the crazy old man out of Queens, but you cant make him stop yelling at foreigners, Meyers said.

And like Colbert, Meyers couldnt help but pick on the cacophony of Trumps caps-lock use. You dont get to say be cautious when youre tweeting in all caps, the comedian said. Thats like a British person screaming at the top of their lungs, Keep calm and carry on! Were all gonna die!

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah addressed the tweet, as well as the newly discovered recordings by Cohen, in a segment called So Much News, So Little Time—in which he dubbed the Cohen recordings the perfect audiobook for Americas road trip to hell.

As for the all-caps tweet lampooned round the world, Noah was of a similar mind to Colbert: This is the same way he threatened fire and fury on North Korea, and then six months later totally caved to Kim Jong Un, Noah said. So theres a good chance that in a few months, well see Trump saluting Iran, and America will be under Sharia law.

Its either that, or America is headed for a war, Noah said. But the good news is you stopped thinking about Michael Cohen and Russia, so mission accomplished.

On July 13, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will be visiting Windsor Castle. This might be some kind of Friday the 13th trick of fate, but its happening nonetheless; Queen Elizabeth will greet the Trumps at the dais in the quadrangle of the Castle, per a press release from Buckingham Palace.

Though its not an official state visit, described instead as a working visit, the whole thing is going to play out as ceremoniously as any other royal occasion. A guard of honor will give a Royal Salute before the U.S. national anthem plays, and then Trump and the Queen will inspect the guard of honor before the military walks past. Trump, Melania, and Her Majesty will then adjourn for tea in the castle, which going on The Princess Diaries for reference, is something the Queen might say.

In her 66 years on the throne, the Queen has received three other presidents at Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace says, and has met 11 out of 12 presidents during her reign. President Johnson was the only president not to make the trek to royal stomping grounds.

As far as controversial presidents go, Q.E. II has got some experience. She and Ronald Reagan rode horses together in 1982. This tactic makes sense: riding seems to be something that soothes the Queen, even at 92. She was seen riding on the day Prince Louis was born in April.

The royal family is famous for being tight-lipped about politics, which is what made Thomas Markles apparent on-air revelation of Prince Harrys opinion on Brexit so shocking. Earlier this year, Trump suddenly canceled a planned visit to London, at the Queens invitation, bizarrely blaming the Obama administrations decision to sell the original American Embassy in London for peanuts.

Now its time for the visit to happen at last, 18-plus months into the Trump presidency. Surely the Queen has used all this time to prepare her hand for the awkward presidential grip to come.

A lone Republican resigned this week after Donald Trumps servile performance in Helsinki, where Vladimir Putin smirked his way through a remarkable press conference that laid bare the American presidents obvious fealty to the Russian autocrat. Who was this brave Republican who spoke up and left his party? No, it wasnt Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, whose team Trump had just belittled on the international stage. No, it wasnt Jon Huntsman, Trumps ambassador to Russia, who once ran for president himself on the notion that he was a maverick truth-teller. And no, despite his furrowed brow, it wasnt John Kelly, Trumps ever-humiliated chief of staff.

It was . . . wait for it! . . . Chris Gagin, the chairman of the Belmont County Republican Party in southeast Ohio. Havent heard of him? Dont worry, most national political reporters hadnt either, until Gagin wrote on Twitter that he was stepping down from his provincial post on Monday as a matter of conscience following the Putin spectacle. His tweet was nonetheless passed around by reporters and lefties on Twitter as evidence that Republicans do, in fact, have the power to call out Trump for the damage he is unleashing on our democracy. But while Gagins decision is admirable—Trump won a smashing 68 percent of the vote in Belmont County—he is still just a local-party activist. The stakes are small. What his resignation demonstrated, more than anything else, was how the much more powerful leadership class of the Republican Party remains, as ever, unwilling to challenge Trump even as it becomes clear that the president is, himself, a national-security crisis.

Is the president compromised, either by a pee tape or by shady Russian money? We may never know, but we saw on Monday that Trump, for some reason, is willing to genuflect before Putin even if it means eroding the power of the United States, our values, and our intelligence community in full view of the entire world. Putin meddled in our presidential election, sends warplanes to buzz U.S. airspace near Alaska, and held a press conference in March bragging about Russias ability to reach the United States mainland with ballistic missiles. In response to all that, in one of the biggest moments of his presidency, Trump chose to kiss Putins ass. When Hugh Grants character in Love Actually is better at standing up to tough guys than you are, chances are youre the cuck. Turns out its easier to behave like an alpha when youre tweeting at Maxine Waters from the safety of your own bedroom.

How have Republicans responded to Helsinki? Most sided with the intelligence community, ratifying their belief that Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 election but, as usual, stopped short of criticizing Trump personally. Some, like Lindsey Graham, went a step further, urging Trump to be tough on Putin. John McCain, ailing in Arizona, issued the harshest words of all, calling the press conference one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. He continued: The damage inflicted by President Trumps naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

McCains contempt for Putin is known to burn white hot, but whats important about his post-Helsinki statement is that its precisely what every one of his Republican Senate colleagues believes. They just refuse to say it out loud, for reasons that have been chewed over ad nauseam ever since Trump took office. The Republican base, motivated by cultural issues and grievance politics, holds Trump in far higher esteem than any elected official hailing from politer wings of the G.O.P. The conservative media has similarly contorted itself to defend Trump at every turn, even against criticism from Republicans. In this environment, there is no political room for a Republican to criticize Trump without being torn apart by the MAGA wolves.

The Republican script is going exactly as planned after Helsinki, as it always has, just as it did after Trump accused President Obama of wiretapping him, just as it did after the fine people Nazis marched on Charlottesville, just as it has after every Trump controversy big and small.

First, we see paper statements from Republican leaders expressing some kind of tepid criticism or sorrow. Then, when Republicans are pressed in person by reporters about Trump, they dodge the question or have nothing to add. Behind the scenes, there is some cleanup underway by horrified administration staffers or Republicans on Capitol Hill back-channeling to the White House, urging them to do something to fix whatever was said or tweeted. Then Trump says something—as he did Tuesday, claiming he misspoke about Russian attempts to interfere in our elections while reading off a piece of paper like a child in after-school detention—that gives Republicans a little more air cover. And then you conclude with a remark like Marco Rubios on Tuesday. Im just glad he clarified it, Rubio told NBC News when asked about Trumps day-after remarks. I cant read his intentions or what he meant to say at the time, and suffice it to say that for me as a policy maker, what really matters is what we do moving forward.

In the coming days, you will see Republican attempts to steer the conversation back to the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, far friendlier turf than the awful reality of a president who is willing to subvert Western order just to make nice with his favorite shirtless K.G.B. judo master. You will see conservatives online and on cable news pivot, too, by latching onto some example of liberal overreach, moronic political correctness, or media mistake to fuel the own the libs whataboutism that motivates the Republican base.

Rubio was speaking his truth on Tuesday. Republicans are just here to keep their heads down and deliver on what really matters. Forget that stuff Trump said back there. What really matters are conservative solutions for the American people, you see, even if theres a madman in the cockpit flying the plane into a mountain.

This is not to say Republicans shouldnt vote for conservative judges, or tax cuts, or regulatory rollbacks. They are Republicans, and Republicans control the government. They should vote for those things, and the left is silly to pretend they shouldnt. But Hillary Clinton faced three years of Republican-held hearings over Benghazi, and now the same Republican-controlled Congress stands by, mostly mute, as Trump slowly grinds away at our institutions and diplomatic norms, our treaties, our discourse, our free press, our justice system, and even our federal law-enforcement agencies? O.K.

Instead of looking into Trumps refusal to release his tax returns, instead of even just saying whats actually on their minds, we are left with privately aggrieved Republican members whispering their discomfort to Politico Playbook, but only on background. In Tuesdays edition: There was a general consensus in the Capitol yesterday: President Donald Trump thoroughly embarrassed the United States standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the worlds biggest stage. The next paragraph of Playbook, however, revealed exactly where Republicans stand: But, privately, senior-level Republican aides and lawmakers had a second message: what the hell do you want us to do?

So, despite the fury from unburdened Republicans like McCain and retiring Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, the real power centers of the party, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan chief among them, are standing firmly behind Trump, even if they are privately mortified and maybe even wondering if Trump is indeed compromised. Theyll happily take a flawed, comprised, insecure president in exchange for their preferred policy outcomes—no matter the long-term damage to American institutions and our standing in the world. We may one day look back at their silence and see it as its own kind of national betrayal.

One of Donald Trumps favorite stories to tell on the campaign trail recalled the time he swooped in to rescue Wollman Rink, an ice-skating rink in Central Park that the city of New York had struggled to refurbish for years. Even once hed been elected he couldnt shut up about it, using the story as evidence that he was totally capable of rebuilding Americas infrastructure: When I did the Wollman Rink, it was seven years, they couldnt get it built, he said at a White House event in February. I got involved, and we did it in a few months, and we did it for a tiny fraction, a tiny fraction of the cost. As with most of Trumps favorite talking points, thats not exactly the whole story—the project was mostly finished by the time he took over. But hes continued to brag about his canny ability to do things on the cheap, most recently in the case of the U.S.s new embassy in Jerusalem, which he famously claimed would cost only a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Were going to have it built very quickly and inexpensively, he told reporters during a March meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Were actually doing it for about $250,000. He repeated that claim during a 10-minute aside at a rally in Indiana in May, telling the crowd the U.S. would only spend in the range of $200,000 to $300,000 on the move. As it turns out—much like the border wall he was going to build very inexpensively that will actually cost billions should it ever get done—not so much! According to Business Insider, documents made public this month show the State Department awarded a $21.2 million contract for building additions and compound security upgrades at the new embassy to Maryland-based venture Desbuild Limak D&K. For those keeping track at home, thats a price increase of roughly $20 million. (A State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Trumps initial cost estimate for upgrading the complex was $400,000, and that the price tag for construction plans has since come in at around $21 million.)

In fact, on the whole, Trumps promise to bring his singular business acumen to the White House has resulted in a rather, shall we say, lackluster showing—since taking office, the former real-estate developer has pulled out of deals, failed to negotiate better ones, and dragged the U.S. into trade wars on multiple fronts that are hurting American businesses and could result in the loss of thousands of jobs. Of course, the fact that the former Miss Universe owner underestimated the cost of the project by a factor of 100 is probably the least controversial aspect of the move. In May, when First Daughter and Son-in-Law Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner flew to Jerusalem to open the new space, violent protests in Gaza and the West Bank resulted in at least 60 Palestinians being killed, and more than 2,700 injured.

Most of us will probably run for president in 2020. Donald Trump has made anything seem possible. But Democrats must be careful. Half of America is telling itself to hang on for 30 more months, but deep down theres a sobering awareness that this thing could stretch to the full two terms. The Democratic primaries of 2020 will thus be intense, bitter, and crowded. The nominee could turn out to be no one weve heard of—some Sully Sullenberger–like hero out of nowhere who has done something to save a lot of lives, like fighting off an invasion from Krypton—or, more likely, it could be someone familiar, competent, and imperfect.

If Donald Trump avoids getting us into war (still no small if, regrettably) and presides over an economy thats still booming (unlikely but not impossible), then hes likely to get re-elected, regardless of who his challenger may be. That might be tough for people to take, but a message of Ill keep the peace and prosperity going (sort of Clintonian) is at least preferable to a message of Ill see through the dumb war I started (sort of Bushian). On the other hand, if things get a lot rockier for Trump, as is quite possible, then choosing the right challenger—or the not-wrong challenger—becomes critical. So lets consider the likeliest Democratic candidates and their likeliest flaws.

Joe Biden: Middle-class Joe is lovely and impossible to hate, unless youre a partisan, in which case you hate him. He has suffered terrible personal tragedies and connects with ordinary Americans. Hes loved by Senate Republicans and Democrats alike. But hes also, frankly, a goofball. This helps blunt criticisms of his unusually tactile approach to politics, but Biden's campaign gaffes in 2008, which included asking a paraplegic to stand, were so relentless that Barack Obama once reportedly fumed, How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid? Such foibles dont diminish with age, and Biden will be 78 in 2020. All of this is fodder for a bully, meaning you-know-who. On a more substantive note, Biden is tied to the record of Barack Obama, who disappointed many of the voters who need to be won back. On the bright side, one of Bidens skeletons, an embarrassing episode of having plagiarized the oratory of British Labor leader Neil Kinnock, is off limits for attack, unless Trump wants a reminder that his wife did something similar.

Elizabeth Warren: Back in 2008, as Wall Street was collapsing and millions of middle-class Americans were finding themselves poorer than theyd been a decade earlier, Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren was one of the few people out there who got it, and in interviews she was compassionate and wise. Then she went to Washington. As an adviser regarding the financial crisis, according to one former senior Obama administration official, Warren was a royal pain in the ass in the White House. Then, in 2012, Warren won a U.S. Senate seat and became a hero to some, a grandstander to others. In Boston magazine, writer Andy Kroll noted that voters had lukewarm feelings toward Warren and characterized a conversation with her as not so much a conversation as a stump speech to an audience of one. Donald Trump has nicknamed Warren Pocahontas, despite complaints that its racially incendiary, to mock a little-believed Warren claim that shes of partially American Indian ancestry, and that would probably be a theme if she were his challenger. But Warrens bigger vulnerability is, as alluded to above, that many people seem to find her irritating. Her champions argue that this is due to sexism. But if that is true—and theres no way to settle the matter—then the culprit is deep-seated prejudice in an imperfect world. Where we live. And where Warren is irritating.

Bernie Sanders: Who would have thought that non-Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders, the lefty eccentric from Vermont via Brooklyn, would be the likeliest Democratic nominee of 2020? Surely not the Sanders of 2015. But Sanders surprised everyone in 2016, and his reputation for integrity caused even Republicans to like him. His favorability ratings are absurdly high, at 72 percent, and the remaining 28 percent probably consists of Hillary Clinton staffers. That said, Sanders is old, and, perhaps because he often neglects to stand up straight or dye his hair orange, he seems less vigorous than Trump. A set of controversies surrounding Jane Sanders, Bernies wife, over a financial deal during her time as president of Burlington College, could come back to the fore. Trump, for his part, will portray Sanders as a kooky and extremist grandpa with no grounding in reality. Then hell go back to talking about being approached by the parents of Korean War veterans.

Kamala Harris: Barack Obama got into the presidential game only a couple of years after getting elected to the Senate, so why not Harris, who was elected in 2016? Shes tough, ambitious, and, according to the previous president, hot. (Obama once described her as by far the best-looking attorney general in the country, a wolfish remark that offended those partial to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.) But what does Harris propose to run on? Article after article extols her for being young, black, and female, but few get concrete on what the vision would be. The issues are not simple, so the message is not going to be simple, she told a Yahoo news reporter asking about the Democratic Partys road back to power. Great, thatll knock em dead. Harris has generally combined donor-class friendliness with a healthy serving of wokeness, and she has made immigration her signature concern. This is great politics for California, less so for the rest of the country. Donald Trump will find her to be an ideal culture-war foil. Being Trump, hell also add in tasteless jabs about her entry into California politics, a patronage job from a powerful boyfriend, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. If you thought 2016 was low . . .

Tom Hanks: Despite numerous calls for Hanks to run in 2020, its hard to decide if we want this. Americans have almost nothing in common except love of Tom Hanks. Do we really want to lose that, too? On the other hand, who could say no? Even Donald Trump might have to forfeit the race.

Cory Booker: Booker, who became famous as a charismatic and idealistic mayor of Newark (although assessments differ on whether he was a great success), has given Elizabeth Warren considerable competition when it comes to playing to the camera. He became the first sitting senator to testify against a colleague in a confirmation hearing, and earlier this year he harangued Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for nearly 10 minutes about his tears of rage over Trumps alleged comments about shithole countries. That said, Booker is far from populist, which is where the public mood seems to be right now, and not all of Bookers passions are well-chosen. Lines like Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity are unlikely to strike resounding chords with Ohio steelworkers. Also, Donald Trump seems to feel he has dirt on Booker, tweeting in 2016, If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself. Maybe no one should care, but weird things are interesting, and that was weird.

Sherrod Brown: Brown, now in his 12th year as a senator from Ohio, has two strong attributes: a populist record and a gravelly voice. During the Democratic Convention of 2016, when Hollywood luminaries like Richard Kind and Idina Menzel swayed to What the World Needs Now Is Love, leaving millions fumbling frantically for the remote—that or an air-sickness bag—Brown was instead talking about glass factories in Toledo and putting America first in trade policy. He has been tough on Wall Street and steadfast in voting against nearly every trade deal favored by the Washington consensus. He also draws some support from Trump voters, according to a recent poll. Trump has attacked Brown for alleged softness on border security, but every Democrat is vulnerable to that charge. The character angle isnt obvious. So maybe hes a decent choice, except that his hair sometimes looks like it belongs to Rand Paul.

Kirsten Gillibrand: For those who felt that Mitt Romney was too consistent, consolation can perhaps be found in New Yorks junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. Starting her career as a border hawk and a firm supporter of the Second Amendment, Gillibrand got appointed to the Senate in 2009 and flipped to the opposite side, calling it a case of learning more and expanding my view. She was a close ally of the Clintons, accepting the support of Bill Clinton during her campaign, until #MeToo broke, after which she said that Clinton should have resigned in 1998. She condemns corporations moneyed special interests but takes copious contributions from Goldman Sachs and goes to bat for Wall Street, the problems of which can apparently be traced not to structure but to lack of diversity. If it weren't Lehman Brothers, but Lehman Sisters, she has quipped, we might not have had the financial collapse. As Clare Malone wrote in FiveThirtyEight, Shes sensed the identity politics vehicle of the era, and has settled into the drivers seat for a long haul. The only trouble is that passengers might throw themselves out of the car to end it all.

Mitch Landrieu: Perhaps were overdue for a bald president, and Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018, boasts very few remaining hairs. He also speaks in an appealing Southern accent and, despite being white, enjoys strong support from black voters, who put him into office. He holds up well under adversarial questioning, rarely betraying befuddlement or flashes of temper. He charms his audiences when hes in informal settings. Many Democrats also loved a speech Landrieu delivered upon deciding to remove four monuments to Confederate leaders. If Trump has an obvious line of attack, its on New Orleans, which still has lots of problems and saw a spike in crime during Landrieus last two years in office. Trump will probably call Landrieu Sleazy Mitch, but thats not because of anything in particular. Its just because.

The Billionaires: We dont need to have separate entries for Jamie Dimon, Howard Schultz, Mike Bloomberg, or Mark Cuban. Not all of them are necessarily billionaires, but all are wealthy, self-satisfied, and inspired by the example of Donald Trump. Their reasoning: a billionaire just became president. Im a billionaire. I want to become president. One attribute they all seem to have in common is a view of the world in which its still 1996, deficits must be reduced, and trade deals will enrich us all. The only negative effect of nominating them is that Donald Trump might wind up winning an illegal third term, to be succeeded by Donald Trump Jr.

Hillary Clinton: Folks, must we? According to a source or two, we must. We know what Trump would pull, because he has already pulled it. Every old divide on the left would be re-opened. On the bright side, Clinton would win a clear majority among attendees of OZY Fest.

Donald Trump is making patriotic changes to Air Force One, according to Donald Trump. During an interview with CBS, Trump said that the government-owned plane will be getting a red, white, and blue paint job.

Air Force One is going to be incredible, Trump told CBS in the interview, which took place over the weekend and aired Tuesday. Its going to be the top of the line, the top in the world. And its going to be red, white, and blue, which I think is appropriate.

The Trump administration reached a deal with Boeing in February to buy and outfit two presidential jets for $3.9 billion. The deal, of course, was not reached without Trump boasting that he got Boeing to budge and give a good price. Really, he just tweeted at them from Trump Tower and used scary words like cancel order! to get his way.

Despite all his boasting, even Trump has admitted he may not get to fly on the newly outfitted Air Force One. I hate to say this, its going to be a long time, Trump told CBS. Its a very complex project. But by the time it gets built, youre going to have many presidents, hopefully, use it and enjoy it.

Since Donald Trump took off on his tariff bender, slapping levies on countries around the world just to prove that America isnt gonna be pushed around anymore, things have gone extremely poorly . . . for America. Soybean farmers have taken a 20 percent hit to their income thanks to China targeting them in counterattacks; Harley-Davidson has cut its profit-margin forecast as a result of the European Unions retaliatory measures on its motorcycles; companies caught up in the blowback from steel tariffs are laying off workers left and right and could go out of business by Labor Day; investors are freaking out; Fed Chair Jerome Powell has warned that trade wars on multiple fronts could damage the economy; and Beijing has signaled its prepared to fight to the death, which it might have to after President Very Stable Genius threatened to slap tariffs on every single one of its imports. And yet, as usual, all this appears to be lost on Trump.

On Tuesday morning, he tweeted that tariffs are the greatest and a simple economic measure: Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. . . . Remember, we are the piggy bank thats being robbed. Not only is he choosing to ignore the monumental costs of his trade wars, but he seems blissfully unaware of just who is paying for them—in an interview with CNBC last week, he told Joe Kernen that he has the flexibility to go tit-for-tat with China and other countries because the only thing at risk is stock-market gains, and the post-election rally allows him to fire away to his hearts content. This is the time, Trump said. You know the expression were playing with the banks money. (Setting aside the fact that U.S. companies, consumers, and workers have so far borne the brunt of the tariffs, its not even clear that the president is aware that the markets gains have slowed this year in part as a direct result of his trade policies.)

That the president doesnt understand who is being punished for his asinine policies is worrisome not just from the perspective of Jesus Christ will someone get this guy in for a brain scan, but because as his offense ramps up, things will only get worse. As Trump considers cranking up the crazy and slapping a 25 percent tariff on foreign cars—a move that U.S. automakers, parts suppliers, and dealers have warned would be devastating—Canada has suggested itll have no choice but to hit back just as hard. I say that with a heavy heart because its of no benefit to anybody, but how do you get a bully to back off when their foot is on your neck? Do you plead with them or do you bite the foot? Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, told Bloomberg. Not responding is not an option. (Memo to Trump: when the good-natured folks up in Canada are talking about biting your foot off, you might want to rethink your strategy.)

Perhaps as a sign that someone in the White House knows its not just the stock market thats taking a hit, on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that the administration is planning to extend about $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in President Donald Trumps escalating trade war, according to two people briefed on the matter. Thatll likely provide some much-needed short-term relief, but it also suggests the president has no plan to back down anytime soon.

Former Fox News co-president Bill Shine has only been White House deputy chief of staff for communications for less than a week, but hes already becoming one of Donald Trumps closest confidants. Trump absolutely loves the guy, a Republican close to Trump and Shine told me. Sources familiar with the relationship said Trump was effusive about Shines production of the much-hyped prime-time rollout of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday night. Shine brought in all new lights, a person briefed on the production said. He gave Trump whats called a downlight. Trumps a little fat, but that made him look younger.

The ascent of Shine, who was ousted from the network for his handling of its myriad sexual harassment scandals, has intensified speculation in the West Wing that the presidents long-suffering chief of staff and nemesis, John Kelly, will soon be departing. Kelly opposed the hiring of Shine and has seen his role continue to be diminished, sources said, sometimes in humiliating ways. Theyve basically stopped telling Kelly when meetings are. People leave him off the calendar, one administration official told me. When he finds out, he storms into the room and is like, Whats going on? A Republican close to the White House told me that Trump hopes Shines expanding role will encourage Kelly to quit. Trump is too chickenshit to fire Kelly himself, the source said. The strategy is reminiscent of the presidents decision to hire Anthony Scaramucci as communications director in July 2017 to drive out then-chief of staff Reince Priebus. This is a more subtle version of Scaramucci, an outside adviser to the White House told me.

Unlike Scaramucci, however, Shine is keeping his head down. Republicans who have spoken with Shine say hes quietly looking under the hood of the White Houses messaging operation. The administration official said that Shine thinks Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doing O.K., but he eventually wants to bring in someone with more energy. (In June, CBS reported that Sanders was planning on leaving the White House by the end of the year.)

The most significant beneficiary of Shines growing portfolio is Trumps unofficial press secretary: Sean Hannity. Sean is very happy. Bill Shine is his best friend, said a Republican who spoke with Hannity after Shines hiring. Hannity has already seemingly benefitted from Shines appointment. Shine timed Kavanaughs announcement to the start of Hannitys 9 P.M. Fox News show, in part to reward Hannity with monster ratings that a huge news event generates. (Trump announced Neil Gorsuchs nomination at 8 P.M.) Everyone at the White House knew this was about Seans ratings, the Republican told me. Hannity has also been working behind the scenes to get Shine elevated to chief of staff. One source who spoke with Hannity said Hannity was bad-mouthing Kelly. Hannity said Trump really cant stand Kelly, the source said. Hes fed up. (The White House didnt respond to a request for comment.)