- Published in Cuba
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration plans to propose slapping a 25-percent tariff on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods after initially setting them at 10 percent, in a bid to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions, a source familiar with the plan said on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump’s administration said on July 10 it would seek to impose the 10-percent tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports.
They include food products, chemicals, steel and aluminum and consumer goods ranging from dog food, furniture and carpets to car tires, bicycles, baseball gloves and beauty products.
While the tariffs would not be imposed until after a period of public comment, raising the proposed level to 25 percent could escalate the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.
The source said the Trump administration could announce the tougher proposal as early as Wednesday. The plan to more than double the tariff rate was first reported by Bloomberg News.
There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government. In July it accused the United States of bullying and warned it would hit back.
Investors fear an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing could hit global growth, and prominent U.S. business groups have condemned Trump’s aggressive tariffs.
Stock markets edged up globally on Tuesday on a report that the United States and China were seeking to resume talks to defuse the budding trade war.
Representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He have been speaking privately as they seek to restart negotiations, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office declined to comment on the proposed tariff rate increase or on whether changing them would alter the deadlines laid out for comment period before implementation.
In early July, the U.S. government imposed 25-percent tariffs on an initial $34 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated with matching tariffs on the same amount of U.S. exports to China.
Washington is preparing to also impose tariffs on an extra $16 billion of goods in coming weeks, and Trump has warned he may ultimately put them on over half a billion dollars of goods - roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.
The $200 billion list of goods targeted for tariffs — which also include Chinese tilapia fish, printed circuit boards and lighting products — would have a bigger impact on consumers than previous rounds of tariffs.
Erin Ennis, senior vice president of the U.S. China Business Council, said a 10 percent tariff on these products is already problematic, but more than doubling that to 25 percent would be much worse.
“Given the scope of the products covered, about half of all imports from China are facing tariffs, including consumer goods,” Ennis said. “The cost increases will be passed on to customers, so it will affect most Americans pocketbooks.”
Trump had said he would implement the $200 billion round as punishment for China’s retaliation against the initial tariffs aimed at forcing change in China’s joint venture, technology transfer and other trade-related policies.
He also has threatened a further round of tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. The combined total of over $500 billion of goods would cover virtually all Chinese imports into the United States.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office initially had set a deadline for final public comments on the 10 percent proposed tariffs to be filed by Aug. 30, with public hearings scheduled for Aug. 20-23.
It typically has taken several weeks after the close of public comments for the tariffs to be activated.
LONDON: Senior Iranian officials and military commanders on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and "a dream", saying his words contradicted his action of reimposing sanctions on Tehran.
Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump's repudiation of an international nuclear deal reached in 2015 was "illegal" and Iran would not easily yield to Washington's renewed campaign to strangle Iran's vital oil exports.
In May, Trump pulled the United States out of the multilateral deal concluded before he took office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran's favour. On Monday, he said that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.
Iran's foreign minister said that Washington should blame itself for ending talks with Tehran when it withdrew from the nuclear deal.
"U.S. can only blame itself for pulling out and leaving the table...Threats, sanctions and PR stunts won't work," Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet.
The foreign ministry spokesman said Trump's offer to negotiate with Tehran contradicted his actions as Washington has imposed sanctions on Iran and put pressure on other countries to avoid business with the Islamic Republic.
"Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue," Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Tuesday.
The head of the powerful Revolutionary Guards equally dismissed Trump's tentative offer, saying the Islamic Republic was not North Korea.
"Mr Trump! Iran is not North Korea to accept your offer for a meeting," Guards commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Fars News agency.
"Even U.S. presidents after you will not see that day," he added.
The head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said Tehran saw no value in Trump's offer, made only a week after he warned Iran it risked dire consequences if it made threats against Washington.
"Based on our bad experiences in negotiations with America and based on U.S. officials' violation of their commitments, it is natural that we see no value in his proposal," Kamal Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
The Strategic Council on Foreign Relations was set up by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to help formulate long-term policies for Iran.
NO MEETING PLANNED
Trump's move to force Iran into new negotiations has for now reunited Iranian hardliners who opposed the nuclear deal and pragmatists like Rouhani who championed it to Iran's economically crippling stand-off with Western powers.
Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of parliament who is seen as part of the moderate camp, said that to negotiate with Trump now "would be a humiliation".
"If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America," he told state news agency IRNA.
A senior State Department official said on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not meet with his Iranian counterpart during a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Singapore this weekend.
Israel, which opposed the nuclear deal and encouraged Trump to withdraw from it, seems not concerned with the U.S. offer to meet Iranian leaders.
A senior Israeli official told Reuters on Tuesday: "Israel is in continuous contact with the American administration. Senior American officials have stated that there is no change in America's firm policy on Iran."
Under the 2015 deal, the fruit of Rouhani's efforts to ease Iran's international isolation to help revive its economy, Iran curbed its nuclear programme and won relief from U.N. and Western sanctions in return.
NUCLEAR PACT IN JEOPARDY
Trump condemned the deal in part because it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile programme and involvement in Middle East conflicts. He reactivated U.S. sanctions, the most all-encompassing measures against Iran, and warned countries to stop importing Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or risk U.S. penalties.
European signatories to the deal have been searching for ways to salvage it but cautioned Tehran that they may not be able to persuade many investors not to bolt from business with Iran to avoid U.S. punishment.
Rouhani said during a meeting with Britain's ambassador on Tuesday that after what he called the "illegal" U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, "the ball is in Europe's court now".
He added, "The Islamic Republic has never sought tension in the region and does not want any trouble in global waterways, but it will not easily give up on its rights to export oil."
Rouhani and some senior military commanders have said Iran could disrupt oil shipments from Gulf states through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to choke off Iranian oil exports.
Reiterating Tehran's official stance, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency that the strait would remain open "if Iran's national interests are preserved".
Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters on Tuesday that Trump was mistaken if he expected Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to compensate for losses of Iranian oil caused by U.S. sanctions.
"It seems President Trump has been taken hostage by Saudi Arabia and a few producers when they claimed they can replace 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports, encouraging him to take action against Iran," Ardebili said.
"Now they and Russia sell more oil and more expensively. Not even from their incremental production but their stocks."
He said oil prices, which Trump has been pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to bring down by raising output, will instead rise unless the United States grants waivers to buyers of Iranian crude.
Iran's currency plumbed new depths on Monday, dropping past 120,000 rials to the dollar, but Trump's expressed willingness to negotiate with Tehran sparked a minor recovery on Tuesday to 110,000 rials on the unofficial market.
Videos on social media showed hundreds of people rallying in Isfahan in central Iran, and Karaj near Tehran, in protest at high prices caused in part by the rial's devaluation under heightened U.S. pressure.
Washington: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back his demand for a wall at the Mexican border and other major changes to immigration laws his administration wants.
"I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!" Trump said on Twitter.
The Republican president has used the threat of a government shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get his priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
A disruption in federal government operations in the months before November congressional elections could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.
Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that addresses immigration issues, including the border wall, changing the way visas are allotted and other immigration restrictions.
Although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.
Standoffs over spending levels and immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, mostly over a weekend, in January and an hours-long shutdown in February.
The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents so it could reunite them with their children who remain in the United States.
Trump has requested $25 billion to build the border wall and $1.6 billion has already appropriated for the project.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers were considering an appropriations measure seeking an additional $5 billion for the wall.
However, its passage in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority, is a long shot.
Lawmakers met with Trump last week to discuss the appropriations process to fund the government by the September deadline.
"We really just want to get the military funded, on time, on budget on schedule this year. And that's the primary concern," Ryan said Wednesday on Fox News.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said that Trump knew in advance about a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower at which Russians offered to provide damaging information about his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, CNN reported on Thursday.
A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump's onetime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
CNN, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter, said Cohen is willing to make that assertion to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign.
“He cannot be believed,” Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, told Reuters on Thursday, referring to Cohen. “If they rely on him ... it would destroy whatever case they have.” Giuliani was referring to Mueller’s investigation.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. His attorney Lanny Davis declined to comment.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for Manhattan federal prosecutors, also declined to comment.
Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who has claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump, and other matters related to Trump’s campaign, a person familiar with the investigation has told Reuters.
Cohen has not been charged with any crime. Trump has denied having had an encounter with Daniels.
Previously Trump has denied knowing in advance that the Trump Tower meeting was going to take place, and he has denied that there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia. Moscow has denied meddling in the election.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., along with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and senior campaign aide Paul Manafort took part in the meeting with Nataliya Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and acknowledged Kremlin informant.
Donald Trump Jr. told investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that he did not tell his father about the meeting beforehand, according to documents released by the committee.
Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr., told Reuters, “Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations. We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr., and on his behalf.”
Washington, United States: A lawsuit that accuses President Donald Trump of violating the constitution by maintaining his interest in a hotel that does business with foreign governments has been allowed to proceed by a US judge.
It marked the first time a judge has interpreted anti-corruption clauses in the constitution known as emoluments clauses and applied them to a sitting president, news reports said.
US District Judge Robert Messitte in Maryland ruled Wednesday that the case -- which centers on money Trump makes from the Trump International Hotel in Washington -- can now move to the evidence-gathering stage.
If the ruling stands -- the Justice Department can appeal -- it would mean the plaintiffs will seek to examine Trump business records.
Trump has refused to disclose such information and in particular his income tax returns, in a break with the practice of previous presidents.
The clauses at stake bar a president from receiving financial benefits from foreign or domestic governments.
The plaintiffs in the case are the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, as Washington is known.
They say Trump violates the clauses by profiting from the hotel, which is just down the street from the White House and popular with foreign and US state government delegations.
"Sole or substantial ownership of a business that receives hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year in revenue from one of its hotel properties where foreign and domestic governments are known to stay (often with the express purpose of cultivating the president's good graces) most definitely raises the potential for undue influence, and would be well within the contemplation of the clauses," Judge Messitte wrote.
The Justice Department had sought to have the case thrown out on grounds the clauses did not apply to the hotel.
It argued that the clauses were designed to prevent a president from taking bribes, not from engaging in business.
But the judge ruled that this was too narrow an interpretation of what an emolument is.
Tension between the United States and Iran escalated Monday after President Donald Trump appeared to threaten military action in a bellicose tweet and Iranian officials vowed to resist any attempt to destabilize their country.
The president issued his warning in an all-caps, late-night tweet to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, renewing speculation about a direct confrontation between the Trump administration and its chief adversary in the Middle East.
"NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE," Trump told the Iranian leader. ". . . BE CAUTIOUS!"
The president's threat came after Rouhani said earlier Sunday that war with Iran would be "the mother of all wars" and suggested that Tehran might flex its military might in Middle Eastern waterways that are crucial to global commerce.
Trump's message exposed the disjointed nature of his administration's strategy on Iran, as officials across the government continue to put economic and political pressure on Tehran despite the president's sudden hint at a military strike.
Despite putting Iran "on notice" in the earliest days of Trump's presidency, U.S. officials have shunned military moves that might bring an unwanted escalation and instead have opposed the international Iran nuclear deal and embraced a growing web of sanctions.
That indirect approach has so far failed to halt Iran's ballistic missile program or check its support for proxy groups across the Middle East.
"There's a huge gap between the objectives that have been laid out and the means the administration has so far been willing to employ," said former envoy Dennis Ross, who has advised Republican and Democratic presidents on the Middle East. "At some point, either you revise the objectives or you embrace new means."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to Trump on Monday afternoon, tweeting that Iran was "UNIMPRESSED" by the president's threat.
"The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them -albeit more civilized ones-for 40 yrs. We've been around for millennia," he said.
White House officials said Trump's message to Iranian leaders was in keeping with his tough stance.
"The president's been, I think, pretty strong since Day One in his language towards Iran," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday. "He's going to continue to focus on the safety and security of [the] American people."
National security adviser John Bolton suggested in a statement issued Monday that Trump's tweet might have been planned or at least contemplated for a while.
"I spoke to the president over the last several days, and President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before," said Bolton, who has advocated regime change in Iran in the past.
Trump's tweet followed a familiar pattern: When mired in an especially negative situation, change the subject.
So a week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was heavily criticized by Democratic and Republican leaders, and after waffling over his faith in U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump took to Twitter to issue an all-caps bulletin to Iran.
"There's nothing going on here except he wants to change the subject," said one Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment.
The adviser noted that Iran's leaders have uttered similar "mother of all wars" taunts over the years and that little has substantively changed in recent days to indicate a real escalation of tensions.
Asked Monday if he had any concerns about stoking tensions with Iran, Trump told reporters, "None at all."
The most recent war of words comes several weeks after Trump set aside the concerns of America's closest allies and pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran on May 8, deeming the pact "an embarrassment."
Since then, teams of U.S. officials have fanned out across Europe and Asia, warning companies to stop importing Iranian oil and to sever other types of business ties with Iran.
The Trump administration is also seeking to exact new financial costs on Iran, imposing sanctions on top officials and individuals associated with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
A fresh round of sanctions targeting the Iranian automotive industry and key metals will go into effect Aug. 4, the State Department has said. Sanctions targeting Iran's energy and banking sectors are due to be instated Nov. 4.
The United States is also intensifying efforts to reach Iranians directly. Speaking to Iranian Americans in California on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. government would expand broadcasts in Farsi and take steps to bypass Internet censorship in Iran.
Mark Dubowitz, who heads the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the administration's harsh rhetoric together with economic measures had yielded some results, including reductions in Iran's ballistic missile tests and harassment of foreign ships.
"What the president is trying to do with this tweet is what he's succeeded in doing in the last year and a half, signaling to the Iranians: 'Don't test me; don't close the Strait of Hormuz; don't interfere with international shipping,' " Dubowitz said. " 'I will order Secretary Mattis to sink your ships.' "
But in the absence of a direct challenge from Tehran, few administration officials have supported pushing back militarily against Iran, even in places where groups trained and armed by Iran have directly challenged U.S. objectives, such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
While the United States has acted several times to halt direct threats against its forces in Syria, Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have consistently opposed risking another costly Middle Eastern conflict as they seek to reorient the military toward threats from Russia and China.
Instead, they have advocated an indirect approach to countering Iran's destabilizing activities, building up partner forces in Syria and Iraq and seeking to interdict weapons smuggled to Shiite rebels in Yemen.
Trump's tough language and threats appear to mirror his approach to North Korea and the leader he ridiculed last year as "Little Rocket Man." After a string of menacing statements, Trump and leader Kim Jong Un sat down for a high-profile summit in June.
But Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, warned that those tactics may not succeed with Iran.
"Iranian officials tend to be more prideful. Unless [supreme leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei is facing significant economic distress and existential angst, I suspect he will avoid negotiations with the United States during the Trump era," he said. "The depth of mutual mistrust and contempt is too great."
Jarrett Blanc, who worked on Iran issues at the State Department during the Obama administration, said Trump's threats did not appear to be connected to a larger plan building a case for war, similar to what occurred with Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003.
"I don't think Donald Trump has decided, in the way George W. Bush and Cheney decided with Iraq, that 'I'm going to go to war, and I'm going to build up this narrative and escalatory spiral to get me there,' " he said.
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Sunday was an agitated day for international relations, the Iranian Government and Washington have exchanged threats.
Sunday was an agitated day for international relations, with the Iranian Government and the Washington exchanging threats. Iran's President Hassan Rohani warned U.S. President Donald Trump not to "play with fire, or you will regret."
"We are noble people and we have guaranteed in the history security of the Strait in the region," President Rohani said in the meeting with Iranian representatives in foreign countries. The remark references the sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government on Iran after the Trump Administration exited the deal, in May, which restricted Iran's nuclear activities.
The United States sanctioned Iran in a unilateral way and against the disapproval of the other countries that signed the agreement in 2015. France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China were parties to the agreement.
"Whenever the EU countries were on the verge of reaching an agreement with Iran, the White House would block the deal," President Rohani said, adding that "the Americans should come to realize that establishing peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and waging war with the country is mother of all wars," news agency IRNA reported.
These declarations were met by threatening responses from Washington.
President Trump wrote, in a tweet, to President Rohani "Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before."
The U.S. leader added that they are a country that will not tolerate "words of violence and death."
While attending an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs in California, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Iranian Government "resembles the mafia more than a government."
The U.S. Government's strategy to pressure Iran is based on a diplomatic campaign to impose financial sanctions mainly on its oil and energy sector.