Trump, Once a Critic of Executive Orders, Has Relied Heavily on Them

President Donald Trump will mark the end of his first 100 days in office with a flurry of executive orders, a tool he once derided.

Trump’s frequent use of executive orders points to his struggles getting legislation through a Congress controlled by his own party, and few of the orders themselves appear to deliver the sweeping changes the president promised.

White House aides said Trump will have signed 32 executive orders by Friday, the most of any president in his first 100 days since World War II. That’s a far cry from Trump’s heated campaign rhetoric, in which he railed against his predecessor’s use of executive action late in his tenure as President Barack Obama sought to maneuver around a Republican Congress. Trump argued that he, the consummate deal maker, wouldn’t need to rely on the tool.

“The country wasn’t based on executive orders,” Trump said at a town hall in South Carolina in February 2016. “Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can’t even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It’s a basic disaster. You can’t do it.”

But after taking office, Trump has learned to love the executive order.

Need for speed

In an email blast to reporters Tuesday, the White House touted the sheer volume of orders as evidence for the suspect claim that “Trump has accomplished more in his 100 days than any other President since Franklin Roosevelt.” The White House has defended the use of executive orders as necessary to accomplish the speedy solutions it says the American people elected Trump to produce.

At first, the president’s West Wing advisers fashioned an onslaught of executive action to set the tone for this term, with the centerpiece of that first-week blitz being Trump’s travel ban. But courts rejected the hastily drawn ban. A second replacement order also remains in judicial limbo.

Presidents frequently turn to executive orders when they struggle to advance their agendas through Congresses controlled by the opposition party. In Trump’s case, he’s struggled even though both houses of Congress are in the hands of Republicans; his health care bill never even came up for a vote in the House of Representatives after it drew sharp criticism from moderate and conservative Republicans alike.

And in the Senate, Republicans need to win over some Democratic lawmakers to get the 60 votes needed for passage of a contested bill. But the Senate is generally more inclined to cut bipartisan deals than the House because senators have statewide constituencies.

Easiest path

“This president has found that legislating is hard work,” said Mark Rozell, dean of George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. “Executive orders are the easiest, simplest way to showcase action by the president to begin to fulfill some of the pledges made in the campaign.”

A review of Trump’s executive orders reveals that a number of them represent necessary first steps at unraveling Obama-era environmental safeguards and financial service regulations. In some cases, there is no other way around those administrative hoops, and some of the orders have brought about major changes. Among them: his late March order that directed federal agencies to rescind any existing regulations that “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources,” a move that rolls back environmental protections. Democrats and environmentalists denounced the move, while Republicans who advocate energy independence cheered it.

But many of Trump’s executive orders signed with great fanfare have had little immediate impact.

For instance, during his campaign, Trump talked tough on trade, vowing to slap punitive tariffs on companies that move production offshore and on countries that undercut U.S. goods. Aides hailed one of the executive orders he signed on the topic as “historic.” Yet the order called only for the completion within 90 days of a large-scale report to identify trade abuse and nonreciprocal practices.

And while Trump has pledged to overhaul the nation’s tax code, the order he signed Friday simply commissions a review of the nation’s tax regulations.

Orders to come

On Tuesday, Trump was expected to sign an order creating an interagency task force that will be charged with identifying measures to spur American agricultural growth. On Thursday, he’s expected to sign an order to create whistle-blower protections in the Department of Veterans Affairs while making it easier to discipline or terminate employees who fail to carry out their duties to help veterans. He’s also poised to sign an order that directs a review of the locations available for offshore oil and gas exploration. Another will instruct the Interior Department to review national monument designations made over the past two decades.

“Unlike his predecessor who abused executive authority to expand the size and scope of the federal government in an end run around Congress, President Trump is using his legal authority to restrain Washington bureaucrats,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump is far from the first president to turn to governing by executive orders rather than by legislation. Obama had frequently criticized his predecessor, George W. Bush, for governing unilaterally, but he, too, turned to executive action, particularly after the Republicans seized control of Capitol Hill.

Obama signed 276 orders during his eight years in office, fewer than Bush (291) and Bill Clinton (364) did in their two terms, according to data from the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Executive orders were used relatively infrequently until Theodore Roosevelt ushered in a new era of executive action at the beginning of the 19th century, signing more than 1,000 while in office and establishing a template for his successors.

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Haley Admonishes Warring Parties in South Sudan

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has admonished the warring parties in South Sudan, saying they have done nothing to end the suffering of their people and are only exacerbating it.

Haley spoke of the on-going violence, worsening food insecurity, massive displacements, and the dangers to humanitarian workers in the young but failing country.

“It is clear that the warring parties do not have the political will to end this conflict on their own, and so it falls on us to consider our next steps carefully and without any illusions,” she told fellow Security Council members.

U.S. urges council to act

In March, the council issued a strong statement calling on the government of President Salva Kiir and the opposition of Riek Machar to immediately adhere to a permanent cease-fire; provide safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers across the country; and to stop obstructing the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

“As we meet here today, none of these steps have been taken,” Haley said. “Not one.”

“I call on this council to move forward with the tools available to it, such as with further sanctions, an arms embargo, or the violence and the atrocities will continue,” the American envoy said.  “We must not wait for more deaths, more displacement and more destruction before we have the courage to act.”

But it was not clear that the council would move ahead on a long-threatened arms embargo or further sanctions. A vote for both failed in December, with only seven votes in support of the measure and eight council members abstaining.

Russia opposes action

On Tuesday, veto-wielding council member Russia reiterated it remains opposed to such action.

“Our position regarding a ramping up of Security Council sanctions against South Sudan has not changed,” acting U.N. Ambassador Petr Iliichev told the council. “Sound peace in South Sudan will not be brought about by a Security Council arms embargo, but by targeted measures to disarm civilians and demobilize and reintegrate combatants,” he said.

The Chinese envoy also sounded a reticent tone, saying any council action must be cautious and conducive to promoting the political process and mediation efforts.

Worsening situation

But as the council ponders what to do to force the warring parties to lay down their weapons, the situation continues to grow more dire by the day.

Violence has intensified in the past month, adding to the nearly two million people already displaced inside the country, while tens of thousands more flee South Sudan for its neighbors.

More than 5.8 million people require humanitarian assistance and famine has been declared in two counties affecting 100,000 people, while a million more remain on the brink of it.  Aid workers try to reach them despite obstacles and great danger.  In the past month, there have been three attacks on aid workers, killing 10 people.

 

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Jobs, Homes at Stake in US-Canada Trade Squabble

Canadian officials say a new tariff imposed by the Trump administration will raise the cost of new homes in the United States by $1,000 each, and shut 150,000 Americans out of home ownership. Washington’s decision also puts “thousands” of U.S. homebuilding jobs at risk, according to Canada’s ministers of natural resources and foreign affairs.

The comments follow preliminary action by the U.S. Commerce Department to impose a 20 percent tariff on $5.77 billion worth of soft wood imports from Canada to the United States. The wood is a key ingredient of family homes.

U.S. officials allege that Canada unfairly subsidizes exported wood. Subsidies could make the product cheaper, making it difficult for U.S. companies to compete on price.

Canada “strongly disagrees” with the decision to impose this “unfair and punitive” tax, says Canada’s resources minister, Jim Carr. Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, says Canada will take the issue to court, where the United States has lost similar cases in the past. 

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says this has been “a bad week” in U.S.-Canadian trade relations, noting an additional dispute over Canadian milk exports.

While the dispute over wood tariffs might raise the cost of new homes in the United States, a report published Tuesday by the Census Bureau shows sales of newly-constructed homes jumped upward by 5.8 percent last month. If sales continue at that pace for a year, 621,000 homes would change hands. Prices also rose.

A separate report from a business group called the Conference Board showed consumer confidence declined in April. Economists at Wells Fargo say that despite the drop, consumer confidence remains near a 12-year high. Experts watch consumer confidence for clues about consumer spending, which drives 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

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Ляшко на допиті лаяв детективів і прокурорів нецензурними словами – САП

Депутата від «Радикальної партії» Олега Ляшка викликали до Національного антикорупційного бюро з метою встановлення або спростування законності набутого ним майна, повідомили у Facebook представники Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури.

За їхніми словами, депутат «вів себе зухвало та зверхньо по відношенню до детективів та прокурорів, обзиваючи їх нецензурними словами».

Національне антикорупційне бюро провело допит голови фракції «Радикальної партії» Олега Ляшка у справі щодо незаконного збагачення, заявив сам депутат цього дня раніше. За його словами, допит тривав 4 години, питали «про все на світі».

Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура передала до Національного антикорупційного бюро справу щодо незаконного збагачення лідера Радикальної партії Олега Ляшка, повідомив 24 квітня директор НАБУ Артем Ситник.

У березні програма «Наші гроші» повідомляла, що Олег Ляшко за останній рік нібито придбав нерухомості приблизно на 20 мільйонів гривень.

24 квітня у НАБУ повідомили, що передали до САП остаточну підозру в справі голови ЦВК Михайла Охендовського.

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LVMH to Consolidate Hold on Dior in Multibillion-euro Deal

The magnate behind LVMH is to incorporate Christian Dior into his luxury goods empire in a multibillion-dollar deal.

 

It’s the latest business coup for businessman Bernard Arnault, who has expanded his LVMH empire to include dozens of leading luxury brands — from high-end champagne and whiskies, to exclusive Vuitton handbags, Kenzo and Givenchy perfumes and Bulgari and TAG Heuer watches. Dior Couture, launched in 1946 and seen as the pinnacle of Paris style, would be a starring jewel in his empire.

 

Shares in Christian Dior and LVMH Moet Hennessy — Louis Vuitton rose after Tuesday’s long-awaited deal. The public offers values Dior at 260 euros per share. Shares in Dior spiked 12 percent to 253.95 euros by early afternoon trading Tuesday, while LVMH shares were up 4.3 percent at 223.95 euros.

 

According to the announcement, LVMH, which already owned Christian Dior cosmetics and perfumes, would buy Christian Dior Couture, its fashion business, for 6.5 billion euros ($7.1 billion). In addition, the Arnault Family Group is making a public offer for the Christian Dior shares it doesn’t currently hold.

 

The hope is that combining Dior’s entities under one roof and simplifying internal activities, savings will be generated.

 

The statement says the boards of both companies approved the transactions on Monday. The proposed deal will still need regulatory approval and consultations with workers. The companies also hope to issue the public offer in June, and finalize the purchase of Dior Couture in the second half of this year.

 

The companies laid out their hope that Dior’s fashion revenues and profit, which have risen in recent years, will be a  “source of growth” for LVMH, particularly with development in the U.S., China and Japan.

 

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У НАЗК є питання майже до всіх міністрів щодо їхніх е-декларацій – Радецький

Перевіряючи електронні декларації членів Кабміну за 2015 рік, Національне агентство України із запобігання корупції ще не отримало повної інформації від компетентних державних органів та пояснень від самих міністрів, повідомив в ефірі Радіо Свобода заступник голови НАЗК Руслан Радецький.

«НАЗК не отримало повний пакет інформації по даних суб’єктах перевірки і НАЗК не отримало пояснення від суб’єктів декларування по низці рухомого і нерухомого майна», – зазначив Руслан Радецький.

Він нагадав, що перевірка не здійснюється автоматично, як це передбачалося раніше, а декларації перевіряють в ручному режимі.

«Ми робимо запит до компетентних органів державної влади, просимо надати ту чи іншу інформацію, яка б підтвердила інформацію, яку вніс суб’єкт в е-декларацію. Такі запити ми зробили. Наприклад, по одному міністру не надійшло біля п’яти відповідей від компетентних органів», – розповів Руслан Радецький.

На уточнююче запитання, щодо яких міністрів ще не надійшла інформація, Радецький відповів: «По міністру Насалику не надійшло, по Авакову не надійшло, по Кутовому… У нас не тільки по цих особах, у нас фактично по всіх 23 суб’єктах перевірки декларацій є питання. І всі вони повідомлені, що нам необхідно надати пояснення. На сьогодні деякі міністри і віце-прем’єр-міністри надали в письмовій формі пояснення, деякі ще не надали».

У понеділок НАЗК продовжило на місяць термін перевірки електронних декларацій членів уряду. 

Перевірка е-декларацій за 2015 рік почався у січні цього року. Згідно з нормами, перевірка має тривати 60 днів і в разі необхідності може бути продовжена ще на 30 днів. 

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Суд продовжив арешт 5 екс-«беркутівців», обвинувачених у вбивствах майданівців

Святошинський районний суд Києва вкотре подовжив термін тримання під вартою п’ятьох колишніх бійців спецпідрозділу «Беркут», обвинувачених у вбивствах активістів Євромайдану в лютому 2014 року.

Згідно з рішенням суду від 25 квітня, екс-«беркутівці» Сергій Зінченко, Павло Аброськін, Сергій Тамтура, Олег Янішевський та Олександр Маринченко перебуватимуть під варто ще 60 діб.

Наступне засідання суду має відбутися 16 травня.

Згідно з попереднім рішенням суду, екс-«беркутівці» мали перебувати під арештом до 30 квітня.

У травні 2016 року Святошинський суд розпочав розгляд по суті справи проти п’яти колишніх беркутівців: Павла Аброськіна, Сергія Зінченка, Олександра Маринченка, Сергія Тамтури та Олега Янішевського. Їх обвинувачують у розстрілі активістів Майдану на вулиці Інститутській у Києві в лютому 2014 року. П’ятьом колишнім беркутівцям інкримінують перевищення службових повноважень, незаконне поводження зі зброєю, умисне вбивство та заподіяння тілесних ушкоджень активістам Майдану. Колишні бійці спецпідрозділу «Беркут» не визнають власної вини за жодним із пунктів.

Усього, як повідомляв прокурор Генеральної прокуратури України Яніс Сімонов, вдалось ідентифікувати 25 правоохоронців, які стріляли на Інститутській. 20 із них зараз у розшуку.

У лютому 2016 року суд об’єднав кримінальні провадження щодо колишніх працівників спецпідрозділу «Беркут» Олександра Маринченка, Сергія Тамтури, Олега Янішевського, обвинувачуваних у розстрілі 48 активістів Євромайдану, з провадженням щодо Сергія Зінченка і Павла Аброськіна, яких обвинувачували в убивстві 39 майданівців 20 лютого 2014 року на вулиці Інститутській.

За даними Генпрокуратури, всього під час Євромайдану потерпіли 2,5 тисячі людей, 104 з них загинули. Згодом загиблих учасників акцій протесту почали називати Небесною сотнею.

За даними Міністерства внутрішніх справ, від 18 лютого по 2 березня 2014 року під час виконання службових обов’язків у центрі Києва загинули також 17 силовиків.

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Chinese Takeover Bid for US-based MoneyGram Scrutinized

The financial industry is closely watching Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial’s attempt to acquire Dallas-based MoneyGram International, the world’s second biggest money transfer company after Western Union. Ant is offering $1.2 billion, more than U.S.-based competitor Euronet Worldwide.

If successful, the deal would turn Ant Financial into a financial behemoth with access to MoneyGram’s vast network of 350,000 outlets of retail shops, post offices and banks across 200 countries. At present, Ant’s business is largely based on the Chinese yuan. The acquisition would also give it access to U.S. dollar funds and escrow accounts for managing the funds.

“If you look at MoneyGram, what they might be doing here (to Ant Financial) is bringing a unique extra key that has much to do with that escrow account surplus and be able to hold a lot of dollars,” Jacob Cooke, chief executive officer of Web Presence in China, told VOA. “That, of course, will give them access to a whole bunch more opportunities to Ant’s financial services.”

Bidding war

As Euronet entered the race, Ant Financial hiked its bid by 36 percent, leaving no one in doubt about its determination to acquire MoneyGram and take on Western Union, the world’s biggest money transfer company, on its own terms. But Euronet has so far refused to give up, saying it is reviewing the new situation.

Euronet is also battling the Ant’s bid at another level. It has gone public in saying the Chinese acquisition bid poses serious security risks as payment companies hold vast amounts of financial data of their customers.

Protectionist moves

For Ant Financial, the biggest challenge would be obtaining approval of the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Some analysts see it as the first major test for Chinese investments in the face of protectionist moves by the Trump administration.

“Getting approval from CFIUS might be more difficult this year. Plus, Chinese acquisitions are more on the media radar than before,” Jeffrey Towson, professor of Investments at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, said. “And finally, there is also a competing bidder, Euronet, and they will probably push for a regulatory denial based on security concerns”.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin Yoder and Eddie Bernice Johnson, have written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin questioning the deal.

“The proposal merits careful evaluation as it would provide Chinese access to the U.S. financial infrastructure, a move that would pose significant national security risks if completed,” they said.

Allaying concerns

Ant Financial has tried to allay security concerns, saying that MoneyGram’s data will be stored in “iron-clad U.S.-based servers.”

In an open letter to MoneyGram’s shareholders, Douglas Feagin said MoneyGram will “continue to be headquartered in Dallas and run by its current U.S.-based management team after the deal closes.” He also promised Ant will “continue to invest in MoneyGram’s systems and compliance programs.”

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma was among the first to visit Trump Towers after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency. Trump recently met Chinese president Xi Jinping, and later said he does not regard China as a currency manipulator anymore. Some analysts see these developments as positives for Ant Financial.

“Though CFIUS has given thumbs down to quite a few recent attempted Chinese takeovers, there isn’t an obvious national security case here as to why they should stop the transaction,” said Peter Fuhrman, chairman of consultancy firm, China First Capital.

Alibaba magic again?

An important question is whether it will also enhance the capabilities of the online shopping giant, Alibaba, and in turn pose a new challenge to similar players like Ebay. Ant Financial has served as a platform for carrying out Alibaba’s financial transactions in the past, analysts said.

“Ant Financial was born out of the fact that Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms were holding huge sums of money in escrow while transactions were completed between buyers and sellers,” Cooke of Web Presence in China, said. “So the natural assumption is that Alibaba can utilize MoneyGram’s escrow accounts and add to its own strengths”.

Jacob Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute of International Economics, said, “Alibaba is arguably the world’s most sophisticated internet finance company. If they see a potential for MoneyGram in their product portfolio, I have no doubt that they can execute the deal and ensure integration.”

When contacted, Ant Financial did not reply to VOA’s questions and referred VOA to past statements by the company. A public relations firm representing Ant said the company has no relationship with Alibaba and refused further comment.

But several analysts, and most recent media reports, describe Ant Financial as a financial affiliate of Alibaba.

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