Home Politics On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week – The New York Times

On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week – The New York Times

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On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

Dec. 8, 2018

From developments in the Russia inquiry to doubts about the China trade truce, it’s been a busy week in American politics. Here are some of the biggest stories you might have missed (and some links if you’d like to read further).


Former President George H.W. Bush was remembered at his funeral on Wednesday as a “kinder and gentler” leader who steered the country through storms at home and abroad. As bells tolled, choirs sang and flags flew at half-staff on Wednesday, the nation solemnly said goodbye to the 41st president.

President Trump attended the funeral, along with the four other living presidents. Mr. Trump did not give a eulogy, but former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and a historian and biographer of the 41st president, Jon Meacham, spoke at the service. And former President George W. Bush gave a moving tribute to his father.

The late president was honored in a series of tributes throughout the week. In Washington on Tuesday, mourners from across the country came to pay their respects to Mr. Bush as his body lay in state at the Capitol.

Additional Reading

George Bush, Who Steered Nation in Tumultuous Times, Is Dead at 94

‘I Love You, Too’: George Bush’s Final Days

Bush and McCain Were Linked by a Fading Concept: Duty and Honor

Mourning Not Just George Bush’s Death, but the World Order He Helped Build

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, “told multiple discernible lies” to prosecutors about his contacts with the Trump administration and other matters, according to a memo released on Friday by Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

Federal prosecutors in New York said on Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, should receive a “substantial” prison term of roughly four years, despite his cooperation.

Of all the Trump associates who have come under scrutiny in the Russia investigation, Mr. Cohen undertook perhaps the most surprising legal strategy: confessing to a litany of crimes without first receiving an ironclad deal with the special counsel.

Before Manhattan prosecutors made their sentencing recommendation, Mr. Trump weighed in via Twitter on Monday and said Mr. Cohen should receive the maximum jail sentence. At the same time, the president praised another former adviser, Roger Stone, for saying he would never testify against him.

Mr. Mueller’s team of prosecutors recommended on Tuesday that Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, serve no prison time for lying to federal investigators, citing his cooperation in the Russia inquiry.

Additional Reading

Mueller Exposes the Culture of Lying That Surrounds Trump

Manafort Discussed Deal With Ecuador to Hand Assange Over to U.S.

As Flynn Case Winds Down, Investigation of Turkish Lobbying Persists

Supreme Court’s Double Jeopardy Case May Have Implications for Trump Associates

President Trump on Monday cast his trade truce with President Xi Jinping of China as a success, promising rapid benefits for American farmers and automakers. But the deal includes no concrete commitments, and a staunch China skeptic, Robert Lighthizer, will lead the American negotiating team.

Stocks dropped on Tuesday after a series of tweets from the president sowed confusion over the trade cease-fire. Meanwhile, the bond market — often considered a safe haven for investors — sent a stark warning about the possibility of a recession.

Mr. Trump tried to ease concerns on Wednesday that the truce with China was already floundering, declaring that Beijing had “sent very strong signals” since the deal was reached.

But it soon emerged that even as Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi were meeting in Argentina, a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou of Huawei, was arrested in Canada at the request of United States officials. That could be seen as a loss of face for Mr. Xi and risks upending the trade talks. The Trump administration defended the arrest on Friday, saying that Huawei had violated American sanctions on Iran.

Additional Reading

Huawei Executive Took Part in Sanctions Fraud, Prosecutors Say

Whiplash on Wall Street as Tension About Global Economy Mounts

The Little-Known Trade Adviser Who Wields Enormous Power in Washington

Huawei Arrest Tests China’s Leaders as Fear and Anger Grip Elite

In Georgia, widespread anger over a voting system Democrats considered rigged was not enough to stop a Republican from winning a runoff on Tuesday for secretary of state, the chief overseer of the state’s elections.

Conservative lawmakers in Wisconsin pushed through a set of bills on Wednesday night that will limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. They were following a strategy that North Carolina Republicans tried in 2016, after a Democrat was elected governor. That didn’t go so well.

Republicans in Michigan followed the same playbook, forging ahead with bills that would limit the power of the incoming Democratic secretary of state and set the stage for additional curbs on the Democrats who will take over as governor and attorney general.

In North Carolina, after fraud allegations cast doubt on the fairness and accuracy of the vote count for the Republican nominee Mark Harris in the Ninth Congressional District race, a state G.O.P. official said he was open to the possibility of a new election. And on Friday, Mr. Harris also said he would support a new election if fraud had occurred. His campaign disclosed that it owed money in connection with the absentee ballot and voter turnout operation at the center of the fraud allegations.

Additional Reading

North Carolina Republicans Targeted Voter Fraud. Did They Look at the Wrong Kind?

Lawmakers Clash and Protesters Chant Amid Fight Over Wisconsin Governor’s Power

Republican in Disputed North Carolina Race Is Favorite of Christian Right

‘There Isn’t Hope for Us’: Once Dominant, California Republicans Are on the Ropes

President Trump on Friday said he intended to nominate William P. Barr, who served as attorney general in the early 1990s, to return to the job. And John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, is expected to leave his post in the next few days. Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff, is seen as a leading candidate to replace him.

Mr. Trump is expected to name Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top job in the military, administration officials said on Friday. The president hinted he would make an official announcement at Saturday’s Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

The president denounced his former secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, as “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell” on Friday after Mr. Tillerson said the president had regularly pushed him to take actions that were illegal.

Mr. Trump confirmed on Friday that he would nominate Heather Nauert, a former “Fox & Friends” host who has been the State Department spokesman since last year, to replace Nikki R. Haley as U.N. ambassador.

Additional Reading

Comey Reaches Agreement With Republicans to Testify Behind Closed Doors

Eric Trump Weighs In on Kellyanne Conway’s Husband. He Doesn’t Like Him.

Nick Ayers Is Rising Fast in Trump’s Washington. How Far Will He Go?

A group of senators said on Tuesday that a classified C.I.A. briefing had solidified their belief that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But senators are still divided on whether to cut off American military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

John Bolton, the national security adviser, said on Tuesday that President Trump planned to meet again early next year with Kim Jong-un, even though North Korea has failed to follow through on promises to start dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is extending the deployment of American troops on the southern border through the New Year. The mission originally was set to end on Dec. 15, but the Department of Homeland Security asked that the troops stay longer.

Senators and outside groups are putting pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell to take up a bipartisan criminal justice bill addressing sentencing and prison laws before Congress adjourns. But some Republican leaders are being accused of downplaying the bill’s support to avoid a vote.

Additional Reading

Shutdown Fight Over Wall Is Likely to Be Delayed Until Just Before Christmas

House Republican Campaign Committee Says It Was Hacked This Year

North Korea Is Expanding Missile Base With Eye Toward U.S., Experts Warn


Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Margaret Kramer in New York.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.


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