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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Incompetence Update, March 2019

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's approach to governing The update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.


John Hudson and Josh Dawsey at WP:
The source of the confusion was Trump’s reference to “today.” No sanctions had been announced Friday, leading analysts to assume the president was referring to a round of sanctions imposed Thursday by the Treasury Department.
In fact, Trump was referring to a future round of previously unknown sanctions scheduled for the coming days, said administration officials familiar with the matter. The officials declined to specify what those sanctions would entail.
The move to forestall future sanctions represents an attempt by the president to salvage his nuclear negotiations with North Korea in the face of efforts by national security adviser John Bolton and others to increase punitive economic measures against the regime of Kim Jong Un.
The confusion created by policy differences inside the administration was compounded by the president’s imprecise tweet.
When asked to explain the tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders simply noted that “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”


Fred Barbash and Deanna Paul at WP report that federal judges have ruled against the administration at least 63 times since 2017.
Two-thirds of the cases accuse the Trump administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a nearly 73-year-old law that forms the primary bulwark against arbitrary rule. The normal “win rate” for the government in such cases is about 70 percent, according to analysts and studies. But as of mid-January, a database maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law shows Trump’s win rate at about 6 percent.
Seth Jaffe, a Boston-based environmental lawyer who represents corporations and had been looking forward to deregulation, said the administration has failed to deliver.
...

Some errors are so basic that Jaffe said he has to wonder whether agency officials are more interested in announcing policy shifts than in actually implementing them. “It’s not just that they’re losing. But they’re being so nuts about it,” he said, adding that the losses in court have “set regulatory reform back for a period of time.”
Contributing to the losing record has been Trump himself. His reported comments about “shithole countries,” for example, helped convince U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen in San Francisco that the administration’s decision to end “temporary protected status” for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Central America, Haiti and Sudan was motivated by racial and ethnic bias.
At least a dozen decisions have involved Trump’s tweets or comments.