DC Roundup: Legal Immigration Limits, Russia Sanctions, China Trade

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday include President Donald Trump trying to limit legal immigration to the U.S., signing a bill that strengthens sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, planning to enact trade action against China, and allegedly calling the White House a dump.

Trump Joins Senators in Bid to Cut Legal Immigration — Trump and two Republican senators have announced a proposed new law to reduce legal immigration. Speaking Wednesday at the White House, Trump said the United States has for decades “operated a very low-skilled immigration” and the new system being sought would operate as a points-based system that would take into account the applicants’ ability to speak English and provide for themselves when considering their green card applications.

Text of President Donald Trump’s Bill on Merit-based Immigration System

Trump Signs Russia Sanctions Bill Into Law — Trump imposed new sanctions Wednesday on Russia, signing legislation with penalties aimed at Moscow for its interference in last year’s U.S. election designed to help him win the White House. Trump had objected to the measure because it gives Congress a 30-day review period during which it could block Trump from easing the sanctions. But both houses of Congress had voted overwhelmingly for the legislation, leaving Trump with the risk of having his veto overridden if he had refused to sign the bill.

Russia Takes Over US Compound in Moscow in Retaliation Over Sanctions — Russian authorities on Wednesday took over a summer-house compound in Moscow leased by the U.S. Embassy, five days after the Kremlin ordered Washington to slash its diplomatic presence in Russia. In retaliation for new U.S. sanctions, President Vladimir Putin has ordered the United States to cut around 60 percent of its diplomatic staff in Russia by Sept. 1, and said Moscow would seize a dacha country villa used by U.S. Embassy staff and a warehouse.

Trump Administration Planning Trade Action Against China — The Trump administration is considering whether to initiate an action that could lead to the United States imposing tariffs and other trade restrictions on Chinese imports. U.S. news outlets say Trump will direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin an investigation of China’s trade practices under a section of the 1974 Trade Act. The section is aimed at protecting U.S. industries from unfair trade practices of foreign countries.

Vietnam Rebounds After Sting from Demise of US-Led Trade Pact — Stronger ties with European and other Asian countries and an increase in foreign investment have helped Vietnam’s export-reliant economy rebound from a freeze of the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal earlier this year, analysts said. The Southeast Asian country, one of 12 in the partnership better known as TPP, was jolted briefly when Trump pulled his country out of the pact in January, saying it was bad for American workers.

US to Begin Blocking North Korea Travel at End of August — The United States will officially begin banning its citizens from traveling to North Korea on September 1.

US Congress’ Next Big Battle: Tax Reform — As the U.S. stock market hit a new all-time high Wednesday, key U.S. lawmakers staked out core positions for a looming battle that could impact economic performance for decades: reforming America’s complicated and much-maligned tax system.

Trump’s Fundraising Prowess Keeps Republican Party Close — Republican senators are bucking Trump’s calls to revive the health care debate. And Trump just ousted his only top White House aide with deep links to the Republican Party. But the president and his party won’t be calling it quits any time soon. They remain tightly linked by a force more powerful than politics or personal ties: cash.

Trump Reportedly Described White House as a ‘Real Dump’ — Trump has told members of his New Jersey golf club that he spends so much time away from Washington because the White House is a “real dump.”

Under Trump, More Churches Offer Sanctuary But Few Seek Refuge — The number of American churches declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants has more than doubled since Trump was elected, but only a dozen people are known to be taking refuge there to avoid deportation.

Boy Scouts: Top Leaders Didn’t Call Trump to Praise Speech — The Boy Scouts are denying a claim by Trump that the head of the youth organization called the president to praise his politically aggressive speech to the Scouts’ national jamboree. Trump told The Wall Street Journal, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.” Politico published the transcript of the interview. On Wednesday, the Scouts responded, “We are unaware of any such call.” It specified that neither of the organization’s two top leaders — President Randall Stephenson and Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh — had placed such a call.

Foxconn Steers Clear of Trump’s $30 Billion Investment Claim — Foxconn Technology Group is not saying whether it plans to invest $30 billion in the United States, as Trump claimed he was told by the company’s leader “off the record.”

Lawsuit: Investigator Claims Fox News Made Up Quotes — A new lawsuit lays out an explosive tale of Trump allies, the White House and Fox News Channel conspiring to push a false story about Democratic leaks and an unsolved killing in order to distract attention from the Russia investigation that has been swirling around the president. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Fox by an investigator who had been looking into the killing of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staff member who died in 2016 in what police say was a botched robbery.

James Comey Has Book Deal, Publication Set for Next Spring — Former FBI Director James Comey has a book deal.

Flatiron Books told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Comey is writing a book about leadership and decision making that will draw upon his career in government. Comey will write about experiences that made him the FBI’s best-known and most controversial FBI head in recent times, from his handling of the bureau’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server to allegations of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump fired Comey in May and soon after told NBC News that he was angered by the FBI’s investigation into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia,” which he called a fake story.

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