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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.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.