What to Know in Washington: Trump Financials Fight Tests Pelosi

Donald Trump’s lawyers will be in a New York courtroom today trying to block Democrats’ access to financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has much at stake over the outcome.

The president has been in a fight to keep his financial information private, especially since Democrats won control of the House in November. His lawyers will go before a three-judge federal appeals court panel seeking to overturn a ruling that the banks had to comply with subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees.

A Trump victory would undercut Pelosi’s litigation-first strategy to put off a politically explosive decision on whether to impeach the president. It could make it impossible for her to continue fending off the growing demands from House Democrats to at least open an impeachment inquiry, calls that have been joined by several of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates.

So far, Pelosi has held to her go-slow approach as polls consistently show that the public doesn’t support impeachment at this point and Democrats can’t risk alienating voters in swing districts if they want to keep or expand their House majority.

Today’s test of the speaker’s strategy comes in an appeal by Trump’s lawyers to a ruling in May by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos. They say the subpoenas in dispute, which call for records relating to Trump, his businesses and his family, are too broad and that the House is simply out to harass and embarrass him. Read more from Billy House and Bob Van Voris.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

A Guide to House Democrats’ Investigations: Here’s the latest on House Democrats’ major inquiries underway. The investigations are in addition to scrutiny of corporate behavior and routine oversight of executive-branch policy decisions. Read more from James Rowley.

Trump Could Get Impeachment Boost: A huge majority of Americans believes impeaching Trump would fail and some believe it might even boost his re-election effort, according to a new Monmouth University poll, Emma Kinery reports. The survey showed that 75% of respondents believed it would be unlikely that Trump would be convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate even if he were impeached by the Democratic-led House. Moreover, 31% think an attempt would put him in a stronger position in 2020, compared with 23% who said it would weaken him.

Trump to Face Reluctance on Iran in Europe

Trump wants America’s closest allies to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. But this weekend in France he’ll find they’re still reluctant to join him.

Divisions over Iran will be on full display when Trump meets his European peers at a Group of Seven meeting starting tomorrow in the coastal city of Biarritz. While the agenda will focus on the global economy, the most pressing security challenge will be navigating the wreckage of Trump’s decision last year to abandon the 2015 deal constraining Tehran’s nuclear program.

Even after Iran downed an American drone and is accused of a spate of tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf, European nations want to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action they say kept a rein on Iran’s nuclear program. But they’ve failed to find a way to help Tehran get the economic benefits promised under the deal. Iran is desperate to get its oil back on world markets, but that’s a nonstarter for the U.S. No compromise has emerged. Read more from Nick Wadhams.

Leaders Unlikely to Act on Recession Fears at G7: It ought to be good news that G7 leaders are gathering for a retreat as the global economy slows, trade wars escalate and major economies like Germany slide toward recession. But the allies are so divided that they may squander the chance to find a solution.

At any other time in history, the expectation from such a summit would be for a coordinated response to loosen fiscal purse strings and walk away from protectionism — an approach that came out of similar meetings called to respond to the far more dire global financial crisis a decade ago. But this weekend, disagreements over everything from Brexit to the future of the global trading system are likely to stand in the way of unified solutions. Read more from Shawn Donnan, Raymond Colitt and Toru Fujioka.

Elections & Politics

Trump’s GOP Rivals Tease Primary Runs: Trump may face another Republican primary challenger, but it’s unlikely to lead to much more than a cable news and Twitter flame war. Yesterday, former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) all but said he’ll announce a challenge to Trump in the next few days. He joins former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who has been running since April. “If Republicans don’t stand up right now and challenge this guy right now — he’s bad for the party, he’s bad for the country — we’re going to get wiped out in 2020,” Walsh told CNN.

Still on the sidelines to confront Trump within his own party are former Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.); Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina congressman who was also the state’s governor; and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has said he won’t run despite receiving a number of personal requests to mount a challenge. Read more from Ryan Teague Beckwith.

Bannon’s Huawei Film: Trump’s re-election could hinge on the outcome of his trade war with China. As markets wobble and central bankers gather in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to consider the fallout, a familiar combatant is about to lob a bomb designed to fire up the president and intensify his focus on China. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, never one for subtlety, has produced a new film called “Claws of the Red Dragon,” attacking Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant. Trump has forbidden U. S. companies from doing business with Huawei over concerns about its ties to the Chinese government.

Bannon’s goal is to steel Trump’s resolve to confront China — a resolve that seemed to weaken when markets plunged in early August and the administration granted Huawei a 90-day reprieve. Bannon hopes “Claws of the Red Dragon” is sufficiently alarmist that Trump puts off worries about a recession and presses ahead with tariffs. Read more from Joshua Green.

Harris Pitches Hamptons Donors: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) brought in almost $1 million at fundraisers last weekend on Martha’s Vineyard and in the Hamptons, according to two people who attended events. From Friday to Sunday, Harris’s appeals to donors included stops at the homes of the movie director Spike Lee and the private equity executive Frank Baker, Bill Allison and Amanda Gordon report.

On Lawmaker’s Radar

Autonomous Vehicles Podcast: Legislation to regulate autonomous vehicles got hung up in Congress last year, but that hasn’t stopped developers from rolling test vehicles onto the streets. In this special episode of Bloomberg Government’s “Suspending the Rules” podcast, BGOV’s Sarah Babbage and Shaun Courtney look at how the industry is evolving without firm federal rules.

The episode features Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who are looking to restart momentum for an autonomous vehicle bill that stalled in the last Congress, as well as stakeholders from Toyota Motor and safety advocate groups. It also includes a trip to a pilot project in Houston delivering Kroger groceries in autonomous vehicles. Listen here.

Listen and subscribe to Suspending the Rules from your mobile device: Via Apple Podcasts | Via Overcast | Via Stitcher | Via Spotify

More Battles Loom as on Expiring Tax Perks: Perks for Puerto Rican rum producers and solar energy companies are among the expiring tax breaks Congress will need to debate over the next three years. Those looming negotiations come as lawmakers have yet to address the extenders that expired in 2017 and 2018. Addressing extenders has been a major challenge for lawmakers so far in this divided Congress. How Congress deals with the provisions that are already expired could hold clues for future fights.

Some of the important building blocks of the 2017 tax law will begin to expire or change in the coming years, adding another wrinkle to negotiations. And the outcome of the 2020 election has the potential to significantly alter the debate around expiring tax provisions. Read more from Kaustuv Basu.

Chamber Taps Veteran Oil Lobbyist Durbin: Veteran oil and gas industry advocate Marty Durbin is slated to take the helm of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, Jennifer A. Dlouhy reports. Durbin, who is the nephew of Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), was recently an executive vice president of the American Petroleum Institute and previously, head of the America’s Natural Gas Alliance and a top lobbyist at the American Chemistry Council.

Around the Administration

Farm Group Head Calls Trade Aid Payments ‘Dangerous’: Trade relief payments to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China should’ve been granted by Congress, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, told reporters yesterday.

In July, the Trump administration unveiled a second aid package providing $16 billion more in federal aid for agriculture. The aid uses similar damage criteria as last year’s $12 billion aid package. But rather than basing funds on crop type, the new program sets a per-county rate based on the blend of crops grown in the area, with payments ranging from $15 to $150 an acre, which critics say will cause vast disparities in aid.

“It would’ve made more sense for the money to come through Congress,” Johnson said during a media roundtable in Washington, Teaganne Finn reports. And as a result there would likely be more fair allocations for how harm is reconciled. It’s a “dangerous thing USDA did,” he said.

Trump’s Ties to Carmakers Get Testy: Tensions between Trump and major automakers erupted this week over the president’s plan to gut Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, the latest flareup in the administration’s testy relationship with the industry. In a series of tweets Wednesday, Trump blasted “politically correct” executives for refusing to back the administration’s August 2018 plan that called for capping efficiency requirements after 2020 and revoking California’s authority to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

The fuel-efficiency spat is just the latest dust-up in Trump’s up-and-down relationship with big automobile companies over some of the president’s signature policy decisions, from immigration to trade, and his push to roll back regulations on business. Read more from Ryan Beene.

Opioid Treatment Information Sharing: The Trump administration proposed to allow doctors to more easily obtain consent from patients to share information about their substance use treatment. A proposal released yesterday would allow patients to consent to sharing their information with entities like insurers, the Social Security Administration, and halfway houses, among others. Currently, substance-use patients need to name specific people at these institutions—information they may not know. The changes would also allow doctors to d isclose that a patient is undergoing substance-use treatment in a natural disaster emergency without patient consent. Read more from Shira Stein.

Obamacare Markets See Influx of Insurers: Profitable Obamacare markets are attracting a bumper crop of insurers for 2020, including companies that either had pulled back or been reluctant to expand. “This year I’m seeing entry not just from kind of the new crop of companies, but what I would call the old guard,” Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in an interview.

Newcomers like Oscar Health and Bright Health are continuing their expansion into the individual markets, and established companies like Cigna, Anthem, and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have stopped their retrenchment and are expanding as well. Read more from Sara Hansard.

Foreign Affairs

North Korea Diplomat Says Pompeo Undermining Talks: North Korea’s top diplomat blamed Michael Pompeo for stalled nuclear talks with the U.S., saying the secretary of State “casts a dark shadow” over the negotiations. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Pompeo “lacks logical thinking and rational judgement” and was more focused on his own political aspirations than getting a result, according to a report Friday by the official Korean Central News Agency. The U.S. side was “miscalculating” by relying on “confrontational sanctions,” Ri said, adding, wi thout elaborating, that North Korea would “make the U.S. realize what they must do for denuclearization.” Read more from Jihye Lee.

Cyber Agency Prioritizes Reducing Risks From China: A newly created U.S. cybersecurity agency said Thursday that China represents the greatest strategic risk to the U.S., and as a result, the agency’s top operational priority is reducing the risks from Chinese compromises to the global supply chain, including emerging 5G technology. The statement was part of a report outlining the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s strategic intent for the next five years. The agency is responsible for protecting America’s critical infrastructure , like election systems and power grids, from hackers and other cybersecurity threats. Besides China, the agency’s other priorities include election security, federal cybersecurity and reducing risks for industrial control systems. Read more from William Turton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com; Jodie Morris at jmorris@bgov.com

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