Dec 14, 2018

Trump broke two long-standing presidential norms this week

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In two cases involving his China trade war this week, President Trump suggested the U.S. should ignore historic separations of power and precedent if it yielded good results, Bloomberg's Shawn Donnan writes.

  1. Trump said the Federal Reserve should keep rates low to help the economy weather the trade war.
  2. Trump suggested he'd help free a Huawei executive that the U.S. is currently trying to extradite from Canada.

Why it matters: "U.S. officials have struggled for decades to convince suspicious foreign counterparts about the separation of powers ... They didn’t persuade all of the people all of the time — but the framing was central to America’s ability to lead by example," Donnan notes.

One example: "The U.S. worked hard to convince Japanese governments since the 1980s, for example, to stop trying to influence currency markets via public statements, according to Mark Sobel, a former senior Treasury official and U.S. representative to the International Monetary Fund."

  • "'We used to criticize everybody else for open-mouthed operations,' Sobel said."
  • "When we open our jaws about currency matters, it definitely gives license to others."

Between the lines: There's been no Federal Reserve chairman in recent memory who has had to defend the central bank's political independence as much as Jerome Powell, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

  • Any shift in Powell's tone about future interest rate hikes will be met with skepticism about whether or not Trump is getting to him.
  • What makes Trump different is that his Fed criticism is public for everyone (and other world leaders & central bankers) to hear.

The bottom line: Norms and precedents are boring. The lack of them is interesting, but almost always at a severe cost.

Go deeper

The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.

The push to multiply limited medical supplies

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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