Trump proposes big import tax, triggering fight with Mexico
WASHINGTON (AP) — Determined to wall off America’s border with Mexico, President Donald Trump triggered a diplomatic clash and a fresh fight over trade Thursday as the White House proposed a 20 percent tax on imports from the key U.S. ally and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto abruptly scrapped next week’s trip to Washington.
The swift fallout signaled a remarkable souring of relations between Washington and one of its most important international partners just days into the new administration. The U.S. and Mexico conduct some $1.6 billion a day in cross-border trade, and cooperate on everything from migration to anti-drug enforcement to major environmental issues.
At the heart of the dispute is Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for construction of the massive wall he has promised along the southern U.S. border. Trump on Wednesday formally ordered construction of the wall.
The plan was a centerpiece of Trump’s election campaign, though he never specified how Mexico would fund the project or how he would compel payments if Pena Nieto’s government refused.
The two leaders had been scheduled to discuss the matter at the White House next week. But Pena Nieto took to Twitter Thursday to say he had informed the White House he would not be coming.
How Trump’s plan to pay for Mexico border wall would work
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is promising Mexico will pay for his massive border wall. On Thursday, his administration finally suggested how: a 20 percent tax on products imported from south of the border.
The new measure could be part of a comprehensive tax reform package that Trump and Congress will work out, the White House said. But there was great ambiguity about the proposal. White House officials later clarified that the tax was but one possible way Trump could finance the wall.
Much was left unanswered. Would Mexico be footing the bill or American consumers? What items would become more expensive? Is this even legal?
Some of the details Trump’s proposal still has to work out:
IS IT A TAX, A TARIFF OR SOMETHING ELSE?
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. TRUMP SETS OFF CLASH WITH MEXICO OVER TAX PROPOSAL
Mexico’s president abruptly scraps next week’s trip to Washington after the White House proposes a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for a border wall.
2. HOW TRUMP MIGHT STEP UP FIGHT AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE GROUP
The president will visit the Pentagon to ask for options, which could include adding significantly more U.S. troops and boosting military aid to Kurdish fighters.
Official: Trump wants to slash EPA workforce, budget
WASHINGTON (AP) — The former head of President Donald Trump’s transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday he expects the new administration to seek significant budget and staff cuts.
Myron Ebell said in an interview with The Associated Press that Trump is likely to seek significant reductions to the agency’s workforce — currently about 15,000 employees nationwide. Ebell, who left the transition team last week, declined to discuss specific numbers of EPA staff that could be targeted for pink slips.
Asked what he would personally like to see, however, Ebell said slashing the agency’s size by about half would be a good start.
“Let’s aim for half and see how it works out, and then maybe we’ll want to go further,” said Ebell, who has returned to his position as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The conservative think tank in Washington opposes “global-warming alarmism” and receives a portion of its funding from corporations and individuals that profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels. Ebell has long been a vocal critic of federal environmental regulations, which he claims are strangling the nation’s economy and impeding job growth.
Trump poised to seek new military options for defeating IS
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is expected to ask the Pentagon for ways to accelerate the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, and officials said the options probably would include steps the Obama administration considered but never acted on, from adding significantly more U.S. troops to boosting military aid to Kurdish fighters
Trump’s visit Friday to the Defense Department’s headquarters will start the conversation over how to fulfill his inauguration address pledge to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism “completely from the face of the Earth.”
Among the possible options are sending in more Apache helicopters and giving the U.S. military broader authority to make routine combat decisions, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the ongoing discussions.
The officials weren’t authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
As a candidate and now president, Trump has never articulated a detailed plan for defeating IS, and his thoughts on a strategy are murky.
Video appears to show Texas officer push teen with foot
DALLAS (AP) — Bodycam video from a white Fort Worth police officer who was suspended for wrestling a black woman and her daughter to the ground appears to show the officer using his foot to push the 15-year-old girl into a police car.
The footage was provided to The Associated Press on Thursday from attorneys representing Jacqueline Craig, who had called police last month to report that a neighbor choked her 7-year-old son for allegedly littering in his yard. The attorneys also provided internal affairs documents showing the officer had been disciplined for a previous use of force complaint when he allegedly used a Taser on a black teenager to end a foot chase.
Police spokeswoman Tamara Valle said the department could not authenticate the video or the disciplinary report at this time.
Also Thursday, Fort Worth police said they had dropped all charges against Craig and her 19-year-old daughter, Brea Hymond, who had recorded the interactions between Craig and Officer William Martin in a separate video they posted on Facebook in December. Attorneys for Craig said at a Thursday afternoon news conference that charges also had been dropped against Craig’s 15-year-old daughter, Jacques Craig.
The daughters were charged with resisting arrest and interfering with public duties. Jacqueline Craig was charged with resisting arrest, failure to identify herself as a fugitive and three outstanding traffic warrants.
Throngs cheer new president’s triumphant return to Gambia
BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — President Adama Barrow returned triumphantly to Gambia on Thursday, nearly two months after winning an election disputed by the country’s longtime dictator, to the cheers of hundreds of thousands who jammed the roads in welcome.
“That’s my president!” the crowds cried, eager to see Barrow fulfill the promise of democratic reforms and newfound freedoms in this tiny West African nation.
The impasse after the Dec. 1 balloting had brought Gambia to the brink of military intervention, as regional leaders vowed to install the democratically elected Barrow despite legal efforts by longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh to overturn the result of the vote. Barrow had flown to Banjul from Senegal, where he had waited for Jammeh to leave Gambia.
“Barrow! Barrow!” people shouted from atop vehicles as far as the eye could see at sunset Thursday as the president’s convoy made its way through Banjul. Women danced on minibuses and the sound of drums and music blared in the streets. Spontaneous parties erupted.
Barrow stood out of the roof of his vehicle and waved as he slowly made his way on a tour of the city and back to his home.
Man convicted of killing 2 at Texas sandwich shop executed
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A man convicted of a fatal robbery at a Dallas-area Subway shop just weeks after he was fired from his job there was executed Thursday night.
Terry Edwards, 43, received lethal injection for the $3,000 holdup at a Subway restaurant where two employees were shot to death in 2002.
Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, Edwards replied: “I’m at peace with God. I hope y’all find peace in this.” As the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered, he began snoring quickly. Within about 30 seconds, all movement stopped.
He was pronounced dead at 10:17 p.m. CST, 23 minutes after the sedative began flowing into his arms. Edwards never looked at five relatives of the two murder victims who stood a few feet from him, looking through a window.
Edwards’ execution, the second this year in Texas and the third nationally, was delayed about four hours until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected multiple last-day appeals that sought to halt his punishment.
Brazil’s ‘Car Wash’ prosecutor says corruption probe to grow
CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — The lead federal prosecutor in a massive corruption investigation roiling Brazil says that recent developments could double the size of the case, a staggering possibility given that the probe has ensnared many of the country’s elite, threatens to bring down President Michel Temer and is expanding to other Latin American countries.
Nearly three years after the first arrests in March 2014, the so-called Car Wash investigation has no end in sight, said Deltan Dallagnol, coordinator of the task force in the state of Parana, where the operations began and are still largely centered under the jurisdiction of Judge Sergio Moro.
“I would say that the new plea agreements could allow the Car Wash operation to double its size in the future,” Dallagnol told The Associated Press on Thursday, declining to go into detail because the cases were ongoing.
What started as an investigation into money-laundering has morphed into a corruption scandal so large that it has shocked Brazilians long accustomed to graft in politics. Investigators say more than $2 billion in bribes were paid out in a kickback scheme that was centered at state oil company Petrobras and included major construction companies like Odebrecht. In the last few years, dozens of politicians and top businessmen have been convicted and jailed, and many more are facing charges.
In a wide-ranging interview, Dallagnol said the investigation “lives at risk” because of forces trying to snuff it out. He said the pressures were increasing as the number “of powerful people caught up in it grows by the day.”
AP source: Border Patrol chief says he’s been forced out
WASHINGTON (AP) — The man charged with protecting America’s borders was ousted Thursday, one day after President Donald Trump announced ambitious plans to build a massive wall at the Mexican border and bolster the ranks of the Border Patrol.
Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan said he was asked to leave and decided to resign rather than fight the request, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the brief video conference in which Morgan informed senior agents of the change.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion was not intended to be made public.
The forced resignation leaves Trump with a leadership gap but also gives him a chance to start fresh with a Border Patrol chief of his own choosing.
Border security and a “big beautiful wall” paid for by the Mexican government were centerpieces of Trump’s immigration platform during his presidential campaign. Mexico has repeatedly said it won’t pay for a barrier, and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday cancelled a meeting with Trump.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU