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The big sleeper issue in the U.S.-China relationship: cars.
Senior White House officials are quietly preparing to confront China over what they consider unfair handling of automobiles, one of the world's largest industries. It's a move that could profoundly disrupt relations between the superpowers.
Watch for the issue to pop in President Trump's talks next month with China's Xi Jinping.
What you need to know:
The White House's calculus: China currently exports very few cars to the U.S., but it's itching to sell dramatically more. Trump is perfectly positioned to negotiate the terms of China's market entry. He's got plenty of leverage with tariff levels and ownership restrictions — though the Trump folks are still hashing out their negotiation strategy.
A playbook for Trump: Michael Dunne, an authority on the Chinese auto market, has three rules — from his book "American Wheels, Chinese Roads" — for American negotiators to deal with China:
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace called this week a "critical crossroads" for the administration on Russia, the president's Supreme Court nominee and dismantling Obamacare.
After showering attention on conservatives, the healthcare whip team is turning focus to the moderates who worry Ryan's healthcare plan will hurt their elderly constituents.
Steve Scalise's whip team met with a couple dozen members of the Tuesday Group on Thursday, but these House moderates couldn't agree on what they'd need from leadership to get to "yes." They're fed up with being taken for granted on tough votes and they're worried that they'll take a tough vote for the team only to watch the bill die in the Senate.
The count: Everybody knows it's going to be extremely tight. A Freedom Caucus source says "short of some major change — which we are being told won't come — the bill does not have the votes." Leadership hopes pressure from Trump and Steve Bannon — who texts regularly with Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows — can sway conservative holdouts.
What's next: A full court press, with a mixture of public advocacy (Trump's rally in Kentucky tomorrow) and private cajoling. Vice President Pence and HHS Secretary Tom Price are making last-minute pitches to reluctant members. Price meets with conservative movement leaders tomorrow and key industry groups later in the week.
What's on the table: Leadership will likely offer more generous tax credits to seniors and are considering buying off moderates with a reserve fund that would be used in the Senate to boost up the tax credits. But that risks solidifying the remaining Freedom Caucus members against the bill.
Top West Wing officials are avidly reading and passing around a dissent by Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit making the case for the president's authority to issue the travel ban:
"We are judges, not platonic guardians. It is our duty to say what the law is, and the meta-source of our law, the U.S. Constitution, commits the power to make foreign policy, including the decisions to permit or forbid entry into the United States, to the President and Congress."
The president's aides say the dissent crystallizes their view of the role of the federal judiciary and power of the executive.
It's a good forecast of the arguments the team will make both in court and in the court of public opinion. Don't be surprised if the dissent gets mentioned in Gorsuch's confirmation hearing tomorrow.
But the dissent isn't all good news for the president. At the end of it, Bybee chastises Trump (without naming him) for his attacks on federal judges: "Such personal attacks treat the court as though it were merely a political forum in which bargaining, compromise, and even intimidation are acceptable principles."
The internet is getting a major kick out of Olivia Nuzzi's New York mag cover story on Kellyanne Conway. Nuzzi reports that Conway picked berries as a child in New Jersey and now answers to the Secret Service codename "Blueberry." This news — of course — inspired memes...