Trump’s Tariffs Prompt Global Threats of Retaliation

The European Union detailed a three-step plan to penalize $3.5 billion of American trade — the same amount of European steel and aluminum the bloc estimates would be harmed by the planned tariffs. It proposed taxing American exports including bourbon, bluejeans, orange juice, cranberries, rice and motorcycles.

A European Union official said that the bloc had been preparing for the announcement for months and that everything was in place for a swift, proportionate response.

.. The measures were intended to put pressure on politically sensitive areas, trade analysts said. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are made in the home district of Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin. Orange juice comes from the swing state of Florida. Restrictions on Kentucky bourbon could add pressure on the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who is from the state.

.. Retaliation could hit hardest in many of the rural communities that were strongholds for Mr. Trump. Farmers are among America’s largest exporters, and often become a target in trade spats

.. She said the agricultural community was “rightly nervous” about the prospect.

.. Canada and Mexico were America’s No. 1 and No. 3 largest agricultural markets in 2016, and South Korea is a major market for beef, corn, pork and fresh fruit

.. The United States exports cotton to Turkey and wheat and dairy to Brazil, other major suppliers of steel.

.. Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, said he did not believe any country would retaliate, “for the simple reason that we are the most lucrative and biggest market in the world.”

“They know they’re cheating us, and all we’re doing is standing up for ourselves,” he added.

.. if the United States was willing to impose penalties like these on its close trading partners, other countries would be less eager to negotiate trade deals with the United States. “What is the benefit of having a special relationship?” he asked. “I think there could be a lot of unintended and unforeseen consequences.”

Kushner’s Business Got Loans From Companies After White House Meetings

Apollo, the private equity firm, and Citigroup made
large loans last year to the family real estate business
of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser.

.. Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.
.. It was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received last year. An even larger loan came from Citigroup
.. There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business, say government ethics experts.
.. “This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,”
.. Mr. Kushner steers American policy in the Middle East, for example, but his family company continues to do deals with Israeli investors.
.. Mr. Kushner’s firm has sought investments from the Chinese insurer Anbang and from the former prime minister of Qatar.
.. “Why does Jared have to take the meeting?” he asked. “Is there not somebody else who doesn’t have these financial entanglements who can brainstorm freely with these folks?”
.. All of the executives who met with Mr. Kushner have lots to gain or lose in Washington.
Apollo has sought ways to benefit from the White House’s possible infrastructure plan. And its executives, including Mr. Harris, had tens of millions of dollars personally at stake in the tax overhaul that was making its way through Washington last year.

Citigroup, one of the country’s largest banks, is heavily regulated by federal agencies and, like other financial companies, is trying to get the government to relax its oversight of the industry.

.. he is not required to disclose the lifeblood of any real estate firm’s business: its lenders and outside investors.

.. Mr. Harris, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils

.. Early last year, the White House enlisted Mr. Harris and other executives to advise the administration on infrastructure policy.

.. One of the largest investors in Apollo’s real estate trust is the Qatari government’s investment fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

.. Mr. Kushner’s firm previously sought a $500 million investment from the former head of that Qatari fund for its headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

.. Shortly after Kushner Companies received the loan from Apollo, the private equity firm emerged as a beneficiary of the tax cut package that the White House championed. Mr. Trump backed down from his earlier pledge to close a loophole that permits private equity managers to pay taxes on the bulk of their income at rates that are roughly half of ordinary income tax rates. The tax law left the loophole largely intact.

Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience

.. Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico

.. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.

.. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings

.. Kushner’s lack of government experience and his business debt were seen from the beginning of his tenure as potential points of leverage that foreign governments could use to influence him

.. Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked”

.. conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel

.. White House officials said McMaster was taken aback by some of Kushner’s foreign contacts.

.. Kushner came to his position with an unusually complex set of business holdings and a family company facing significant debt issues.

.. Officials from the UAE identified Kushner as early as the spring of 2017 as particularly manipulable because of his family’s search for investors in their real estate company

.. Not fully disclosing foreign contacts ordinarily would result in a clearance being denied, experts said.

.. One of his top business concerns was what to do with his family’s investment in 666 Fifth Ave. in New York, which the company bought under his direction for $1.8 billion in 2007, the highest price paid at the time for a U.S. office tower

.. leaving the company with a $1.2 billion debt that comes due in January 2019.

.. The Manhattan property has been a particularly nettlesome problem inside the government because Kushner’s company has sought foreign money on the project.

.. Kushner and his company had proposed a redevelopment plan that would double the building’s size, requiring major new investment.

.. They met with an executive of a Chinese-run insurance company, Anbang

.. They also discussed a possible investment by the former finance minister of Qatar

.. Questions have also been raised about whether Kushner discussed financing with a Russian banker. He met in December 2016 with Sergey Gorkov

.. The bank has said they talked about “promising business lines and sectors,”

.. With the deadline for the $1.2 billion debt looming, the company has continued to search for a lender. The redevelopment plan appears to be on hold

.. The company, which is privately held, has stressed that the Fifth Avenue property is a small fraction of its assets and that it is doing well financially.

Don’t Count Bibi Out — Yet

Bibi has been, for Israelis, a pretty good prime minister

.. Economy: Since Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, the economy has grown by nearly 30 percent in constant dollars — nearly twice the growth rate of Germany or the United States. Some 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, a record for the Jewish state. On Monday, Israel announced a $15 billion dollar deal to export natural gas to Egypt from its huge offshore fields.

.. Diplomacy: Netanyahu’s personal ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are exceptionally close, as they are with Japan’s Shinzo Abe. Israel’s relations with African countries and the Arab world are the best they’ve been in decades

.. Security: In 2002, at the height of the second intifada, Israelis suffered more than 400 terrorism fatalities. In 2017 there were fewer than two dozen.

.. For the most part, Israel has been able to strike Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah targets at will.

.. Diaspora Jews were infuriated last year by the government’s backtracking on a plan to let men and women pray together at the Western Wall.

.. The central complaint of Netanyahu’s critics is that he has failed to make good on the promise of his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University, where he claimed to accept the principle of a Palestinian state.

.. Subsidiary charges include his refusal to halt settlement construction

..  Israel’s political left was not destroyed by Netanyahu. It was obliterated one Palestinian suicide bombing, rocket salvo, tunnel attack and rejected statehood offer at a time. Bibi’s long tenure of office is the consequence, not the cause, of this.

.. the two great lessons of the past 30 years.

  1. First, that separation from the Palestinians is essential — in the long term.
  2. Second, that peace with the Palestinians is impossible — in the short term.

.. it’s hard to imagine any other sort of approach, which is why any successor to Netanyahu will have to pursue essentially identical policies

.. For all of his flaws, few have done it as well as Bibi, which is why he has endured