From the border wall fight to conflict with Iran, 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).
Trump declares national emergency to build border wall
House and Senate negotiators agreed “in principle” on Monday to provide $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southwestern border. The deal provided much less funding than the proposal President Trump rejected in December, and his border wall took a back seat in Congress’s budget negotiations, which instead focused on the record number of immigrants in detention. (Here are five takeaways from the deal.)
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was “not happy” with the deal but that he didn’t think there would be another government shutdown. He sought to reassure supporters that he would not give up on his “build the wall” pledge, saying he had “options that most people don’t understand.”
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, persuaded Mr. Trump to agree to the bill, but it came at a price: The president would declare a national emergency to secure wall funding, he told the majority leader — and Mr. McConnell would have to back him.
On Friday, the president declared a national emergency to access billions of dollars to build the wall, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over the separation of powers.
Mr. Trump portrayed his announcement as a routine use of executive authority, but there is no precedent for what he has done. Many in both parties now say that Mr. Trump’s decision would establish a dangerous new model. (Here are six takeaways from his decision.)
The 2020 campaign heats up
As the 2020 presidential race builds momentum, candidates are fleshing out their messages.
In Iowa this past weekend, Senator Cory Booker pledged to restore “grace and decency,” while Senator Elizabeth Warren vowed to “fight my heart out.” The two candidates present Democrats with a philosophical choice: reunite a divided country, or crush Mr. Trump and his party.
On the Republican end, former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts announced on Friday his intention to challenge Mr. Trump for the Republican Party’s 2020 nomination. His candidacy might be more an act of protest than a conventional campaign.
There are six women in the 2020 race, but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is the only one who has been making feminism the central theme of her candidacy. And with a record number of women running, gender bias is certain to play a role in the race. Here’s how sexism plays out on the campaign trail.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran grow
The Trump White House has accelerated a secret program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets. It is part of an expanding campaign to undercut the country’s military and isolate its economy.
While the United States and Israel have accused Iran of instigating terrorism in the Middle East, Iran itself has also been the target of terrorist attacks.
In one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years, a bombing on Wednesday is reported to have killed 41 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Revolutionary Guards are blaming the United States, suggesting it was no coincidence that it happened as the Trump administration was hosting an anti-Iran-themed meeting in Poland.
Also on Wednesday, an indictment on a former United States Air Force counterintelligence agent, Monica Elfriede Witt, was made public. Ms. Witt was charged with spying for Iran; ex-officials say her defection severely damaged United States intelligence efforts.
Here’s what else happened this week:
• Federal prosecutors recommended Friday that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, serve up to 25 years in prison and pay up to $25 million in fines for a fraud scheme.
• The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the Trump administration may add a question about citizenship to the next census questionnaire. Critics say that would undermine the accuracy of the census, because both legal and unauthorized immigrants might refuse to fill out the form.
• New Jersey’s attorney general has stepped into the investigation of Mr. Trump’s $107 million inaugural fund. That’s in addition to a federal investigation examining whether all donations to the fund were reported, and whether any foreigners illegally contributed money.
• A government audit found that because of the recent shutdown, fewer taxpayer calls to the Internal Revenue Service were answered, wait times grew longer and the processing of 87,000 amended tax returns was delayed.
• The House voted on Wednesday to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, condemning a nearly four-year conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and inflicted a devastating famine.
• Tens of thousands of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to toxic substances from open-air trash fires, which some believe caused long-term health problems. Members of Congress want to force the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs to deal with the issue.
• Mr. Trump said on Tuesday he would consider delaying a March 2 deadline for a trade deal with China if negotiations, which will continue next week, go well.
• There was confusion in South Korea after Mr. Trump said that he’d made the country contribute $500 million more toward the cost of the American troop presence there. An agreement signed on Sunday says nothing of the kind.
• As Virginia comes to terms with the possibility that for the next three years, its executive branch could include two men who wore blackface and a third accused of rape, there’s an unmistakable racial divide among the state’s women about how to proceed.
• Mr. Trump’s State of the Union pledge to end the scourge of H.I.V. was welcomed by AIDS activists, but it contradicted two years of policies and proposals.
Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Tammy Tarng in New York.
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