May 24, 2018

Trump administration probes foreign auto imports

Kia cars await shipment at a South Korean port. Photo: Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. has launched a Section 232 national security investigation into foreign automobile imports, reports Reuters.

Why it matters: President Trump used the same law to set the first round of steel and aluminum tariffs in March. If this probe results in tariffs on auto imports, it will hurt China, which is looking to crack the American market, but it will also deal significant blows to U.S. allies Japan and South Korea.

The details: The probe will "investigate whether vehicle and parts imports were threatening the industry’s health and ability to research and develop new, advanced technologies," per Reuters.

There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry.
— Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement

The backdrop: The investigation comes as trade tensions between the U.S. and China are beginning to dissipate. Gao Feng, China's Commerce Ministry spokesperson, told reporters, “China opposes the abuse of national security clauses, which will seriously damage multilateral trade systems and disrupt normal international trade order."

Go deeper

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

Exclusive: Anti-Sanders campaign targets black South Carolina voters

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

Inside the fight over FBI surveillance powers

Carter Page. Photo: Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images

Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.

Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.