Monday Briefing | March 06

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Trump accused Obama of wiretapping in a series of tweets released Saturday | Photo courtesy Reuters

Stories to follow

In a complete twist, the White House requested a congressional probe into the alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower by former President Obama.  In a series of four tweets posted on Saturday at 6 am, President Trump accused former President Obama of spying on him during his run-up to the 2016 elections.  The twitterstorm seems to be inspired by a  Thursday broadcast of conservative talk show hosted by Mark Levin, where he claimed that Obama orchestrated a “silent coup” on Trump using “police state tactics.” Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, denied any notion that Trump Tower was wiretapped before the elections, and stressed this point further when Meet the Press host Chuck Todd questioned Clapper on the purported FISA court order for surveillance.  Clapper answered “I can deny it,” and vehemently rejected the notion that the Obama administration ever filed a FISA court order.

Recent revelations that attorney general Jeff Sessions met with the Russian Federation Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak has led to the recusal of Sessions in any current and future investigations on the matters related to the Trump campaign, as well as on RussiaA bipartisan effort led by congressional Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi has called for a congressional inquiry into Trump surrogates who met with Russian officials during the campaign.  The issue mainly stems from the notion that Sessions allegedly lied under oath during his congressional hearings for Attorney GeneralWhen asked by senator Al Franken whether Sessions was ever in contact with any Russian officials as a Trump campaign surrogate, Senator Sessions stated that he was not.  When the Washington Post dropped the bombshell on Wednesday that Sessions met with Ambassador Kislay not once, but twice, ir immediately prompted calls for his resignationSessions in a press conference at DOJ headquarters Thursday cleared the air regarding his alleged perjury and stated that he had never misled congressman Franken and that he had answered the question honestly.  Senator Sessions, who at the time of the Russian meetings was a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was tasked with meeting with foreign diplomats from all over the world, and in fact was not the only member of Congress to do so.

China has officially become the largest banking system after surpassing the EurozoneAccording to the Financial Times, “while China’s gross domestic product exceeded the EU’s economic bloc in 2011 at market exchange rates, its banking system did not take over the top spot until the end of 2016”.  This revelation overshadows that of the recent cut in the target of Chinese growth to 6.5% for the year of 2017, which is down from that of last year’s, as well as the fact that China grew at its slowest pace in 26 years.  Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, addressing the National People’s Congress on their annual session on Saturday, warned that the world was entering a “period of political and economic upheaval,” indirectly referencing U.S. President Donald Trump.  In January, during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Chinese President Xi Jinping flipped the economic world upside down when he defended globalism and made a case for Chinese leadership in the world.

 Happening this week

 Economic Diplomacy – Views from a Practioner
Monday, March 6 at 12:30 PM | The Forbes Building, 60 5th Avenue, Room C10
DAS Holman and FSO Usha Pitts will discuss the range of work involved in economic diplomacy and career diplomacy.  This talk is background and not for attribution.  No live tweeting, no recording, and no publishing will be allowed.  Those who would like to use material from this talk for educational purposes may do so only upon reference back to Ms. Holman, through Professor Dry. RSVP required.

America and the Middle East: Reflections from the White House
Monday, March 6 at 6:30 PM | 19 University Place, The Great Room
Jeffrey Prescott will join NYU students for an off the record conversation over pizza, discussing how the Obama Administration approached the complex challenges of the Middle East, from the fight against ISIS to Syria’s civil war to the nuclear deal with Iran which he worked to finalize and implement.  Prescott will also offer thoughts on what he expects from the Trump administration and share his personal insights into the role of the National Security Council and Vice Presidency in the deliberation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy.  RSVP required.

YPFP Excursion: America as a Pacific Power?
Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 PM | Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
The election of Donald Trump as the 45th US president surprised observers on both sides of the Pacific and has raised more questions than answers in terms of what it means for U.S. policy in Asia.  President Trump’s “America First” -focused policy has called for tougher trade, investment, and current policies, particularly vis-à-vis China, which could have significant reverberations across Asia.  What would a US-China trade war mean for Asian economies?  And given President Trump’s calls for protectionist policies to “Make America Great Again,” how will the U.S. engage with Asia’s current powerhouse of growth – ASEAN?  Or the booming workforce and populist growth policies of India?  More information could be found here.

In your free time

I know it’s difficult to find free time when we’re nearing the halfway point of the semester, but if you could find some free time, I’d suggest you watch a few of the movies that were nominated for best picture at last week’s Academy Awards, as there was an exceptional nominee class this year.

 This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Daniel Kurzyna.

 

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