Trump also blamed Democrats for the “assault on our country,” adding that illegal immigration is “far more important” to him than trade or the newly-negotiated trade pact with Mexico and Canada.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that senators will not vote to approve a revised North American trade pact in 2018, leaving the issue to the next Congress, Reuters reports.
Said McConnell: “That will be a next year issue because the process we have to go through doesn’t allow that to come up before the end of this year.”
“President Trump hailed a revised North American Free Trade Agreement as a victory for the United States, Canada and Mexico on Monday, saying his get-tough approach to trade, including his use of tariffs, was bringing results,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Trump portrayed the new agreement as the fulfillment of a campaign promise to terminate NAFTA, saying he had made good on his plan to rip up ‘the worst trade deal ever made’ and help American businesses and workers.”
Playbook: “This is exceedingly unlikely to be ratified this Congress. That’s what every senior Republican and Democratic aide on Capitol Hill says. It’s going to require a massive whip effort, and the House is out until after the election. If Republicans lose the House, there will be an effort to jam this through in the lame-duck. That will be really tough.”
“The United States and Canada reached a last-minute deal to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement on Sunday, overcoming deep divisions to keep the 25-year-old trilateral pact intact,” the New York Times reports.
“The deal came after a weekend of frantic talks to try and preserve a trade agreement that has stitched together the economies of Mexico, Canada and the United States but that was on the verge of collapsing. After more than a year of tense talks and strained relations between President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, negotiators from both sides came to a resolution just ahead of a midnight deadline set by the White House.”
“The 11th-hour agreement was punctuated by a frenetic Sunday, with Canada’s leaders teleconferencing throughout the day with top American officials in Washington.”
Bloomberg: “Some people familiar with the talks credited Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner for helping smooth the path toward a deal.”
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau worked the phones, officials gathered at his office and Canadian stakeholders were called to Ottawa as negotiators came within striking distance of reaching a three-country NAFTA deal on Sunday,” Politico reports.
“These late-stage negotiations are taking place primarily by phone. A public announcement of any new deal would occur late Sunday night, or possibly Monday.”
“Riding a wave of populist anger fueled by rampant corruption and violence, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico on Sunday, in a landslide victory that upended the nation’s political establishment and handed him a sweeping mandate to reshape the country,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. López Obrador’s win puts a leftist leader at the helm of Latin America’s second-largest economy for the first time in decades, a prospect that has filled millions of Mexicans with hope — and the nation’s elites with trepidation.”
”The outcome represents a clear rejection of the status quo in the nation, which for the last quarter century has been defined by a centrist vision and an embrace of globalization that many Mexicans feel has not served them.”
New York Times: “As corruption and violence gnaw at Mexico’s patience, voters have turned to a familiar face in Mr. López Obrador, a three-time candidate for president who once shut down Mexico City for months after a narrow loss, refusing to accept defeat.”
“Brandishing a deep connection with the poor, built over more than a decade of visits to every corner of this country of 120 million, he has managed a staggering lead ahead of Sunday’s vote.”
“If the poll numbers bear out on Election Day, Mr. López Obrador — who has promised to sell the presidential plane and convert the opulent presidential palace into a public park — could win by a landslide, putting a leftist leader in charge of Latin America’s second-largest country for the first time in decades.”
“Mexico will never pay for a wall. Not now, not ever.”
— Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, quoted by the Guardian.
New York Times: “Mr. Kushner’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto was meant to soothe tensions… But the encounter between Mexico’s president and Mr. Kushner, a political newcomer whose top-secret security clearance was stripped last month, underscored the profound shift in approach that the Trump administration has taken with Mexico, and with the region more broadly.”
”Officials announced the visit less than a day before it happened, offering no guidance on what would be discussed.”
“Beyond that, Mr. Kushner, who also met with Mexico’s foreign minister, did not invite the American ambassador — Roberta S. Jacobson, a diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in the region — to join him in the meetings.”
Jared Kushner “will visit Mexico on Wednesday and meet President Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican foreign ministry said, after a ratcheting up of tensions over trade and plans for a border wall,” Reuters reports.
“Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall,” the Washington Post reports.
“Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in early March, but called off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive.”
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) allege that Russia is using “sophisticated technology” to influence Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, and they’re asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to urge Mexico and other countries to rely on help from USAID to safeguard their elections, CBS News reports.
“Violent protests of thousands recently erupted after the Honduras presidential election, a contested race that was marred by accusations of voter fraud. Tear gas had to be used to diffuse the angry streets when the winner was declared weeks after the vote took place. The senators point to those images in calling for the need to support strong electoral processes to sustain a democracy.”
“The Trump administration has not decided whether it will accept aid from Mexico to help victims of the hurricane that has devastated swaths of Texas and overwhelmed emergency responders,” HuffPost reports.
“Asked if the Trump administration’s assessment is that there is no need for assistance from Mexico, the White House referred HuffPost to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which punted to the State Department, which directed questions back to FEMA.”
“President Trump made building a wall along the southern U.S. border and forcing Mexico to pay for it core pledges of his campaign. But in his first White House call with Mexico’s president, Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay,” the Washington Post reports.
According to a transcript, Trump “made clear that he realized the funding would have to come from other sources but threatened to cut off contact if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continued to make defiant statements.”
Said Trump: “Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important to talk about.”
He said the funding “will work out in the formula somehow,” adding later that “it will come out in the wash, and that is okay.” But “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto “is calling into question President Trump’s most recent claims that the leader called him to praise his administration’s work on the U.S.-Mexico border,” CBS News reports.
Said Trump earlier this week: “As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage. And even the president of Mexico called me — they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment.”
Pena Nieto denies that ever happened.
Mexico’s foreign relations secretary called President Trump’s plan to build a border wall an “unfriendly, hostile” act, adding that it is a “bad idea” that will not accomplish anything, the AP reports.
And while Trump has repeatedly asserted that he will get the U.S.’s neighbor to pay for the wall, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray repeated that Mexico won’t pay a cent for it.