Apr 27, 2018

Trump's warnings to Merkel on trade and defense

President Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Angela Merkel. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump sent two strong signals at his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday: he railed against NATO allies, like Germany, that don't spend the mandatory 2% of GDP on defense, and also touted how successful the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum have been.

Why it matters, per Axios World Editor, Dave Lawler: The E.U.’s exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs expires Tuesday. Merkel's key priority for her D.C. visit is to get a longer-term exemption. She may end up getting it — but Trump is sending some pretty strong messages here.

Other highlights:
  • Trade deficit with Europe: Trump says it's been unfair, but said he doesn't blame Merkel, Germany or the European Union for the imbalance. "I blame my predecessors."
  • The Iran nuclear deal: Trump said the U.S. must ensure the current regime does “not get even close to a nuclear weapon.”
    • Merkel's take: She called the deal "anything but perfect," but said it's up to Trump to determine whether the U.S. will ultimately exit.
  • North Korea summit: “I think I have a responsibility” to aid in the negotiation of a deal between North Korea and South Korea, Trump said. But added, "Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearization occurs ... I look forward to our meeting, which will be quite something."
  • Ronny Jackson's withdrawal as VA Secretary nominee: Dr. Ronny Jackson is “one of the finest men” I’ve ever met, said Trump, and called him “an American hero” for exposing the system in Washington as mean and unfair.

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.