The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Nusa Dua (Indonesia) (AFP) – China took center-stage at an Asia-Pacific summit on Monday, adopting a leadership role on the strength of its new-found economic might as the United States struggles to overcome its budget paralysis.

The U.S. federal shutdown has stopped U.S. President Barack Obama from attending the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, and another meeting this week of East Asian leaders in Brunei.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed Obama’s determination to remain engaged with the Pacific Rim region. But his absence left the arena clear for the leader of one-party China to trumpet the mounting heft of the world’s second largest economy.

“China will firmly uphold regional peace and stability and help cement a foundation for a win-win situation in the Asia-Pacific,” President Xi Jinping told an APEC business forum, as he emphasized his country was the biggest trading partner and export market for many nations in the region.

Prior to a gala dinner, at which Indonesia resurrected an APEC tradition of dressing up the leaders in artisan designs, Xi also sought in his speech to adopt a healing and united tone.

“China cannot develop in isolation of the Asia-Pacific and the Asia-Pacific cannot prosper without China,” he said, stressing that his country’s recent economic slowdown was the intended result of policies designed to put growth on a more sustainable path.

“We the Chinese often say a family in harmony prospers. As a member of the Asia-Pacific family, China is ready to live in amity with other family members and help each other.”

The communist leader has been touring Southeast Asia, where there is much disquiet about China’s territorial ambitions, and also touted the benefits of free trade pacts after securing commercial deals worth tens of billions of dollars in Indonesia and Malaysia.

China is involved in talks on a trade agreement grouping 16 East Asian nations just as Washington’s rival “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP) of 12 countries appears to be running into trouble.

While sympathetic to Obama’s political plight, the leaders of U.S. allies in APEC such as Singapore expressed disappointment that he had been unable to throw his presidential weight personally behind the TPP and Washington’s stop-start “pivot” towards Asia.

Foreign friends and rivals alike, as well as financial markets, are worried by a threat bigger even than the shutdown: the possibility that the U.S. government might default on its colossal debts unless Congress raises the federal borrowing limit by October 17.
An unprecedented default by the holder of the world’s reserve currency would affect “the entire planet, and not just those countries with a strong geographical and economic linkage to the U.S.”, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in Bali.

But Kerry, taking Obama’s place at APEC, said the president’s epic tussle with the Republicans was merely “a moment in politics” that did not deflect the United States from its strategic goals.

“I want to emphasize that there is nothing that will shake the commitment of the rebalance to Asia that President Obama is leading,” Kerry told the business forum.

The United States is stumbling politically at a moment when, according to a statement by APEC foreign and trade ministers, the world economy can ill afford more instability following the 2008 financial crisis.

Previewing Tuesday’s final summit declaration in Bali, the ministers said that “global growth is too weak, risks remain tilted to the downside, and the economic outlook suggests growth is likely to be slower and less balanced than desired”.

Before he called off his foreign travel, Obama had intended to preside over a top-level round of talks among the TPP countries in Bali on Tuesday.

But doubts about the pact are gathering pace, and also about Obama’s vaunted “pivot”.

Attending APEC “would have been a golden opportunity for America and President Obama himself to show leadership in that context of the new emphasis towards Asia”, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

Obama was also forced to cancel visits to Malaysia and the Philippines due to the shutdown.

Najib sees the end-of-year deadline for the TPP as “very tight” given mounting discord over issues such as market access and protection of intellectual property.

But Kerry said a deal was still achievable in the timeframe, as he sought to sell the merits of the pact.

“At a time when all of us seek strong and sustainable growth, TPP is creating a race to the top, not to the bottom. It is reaching for the highest standards of all,” he said in his speech.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}