Fallout from the Steel Tariff Plan
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Fallout from the Steel Tariff Plan

Senior Economic Adviser Quits; South Korea Wonders Whose Side Is Trump On?

Gary D. Cohn

Jumping ship. Trump’s top economic adviser said on Tuesday that he would resign. White House officials insisted that there was no single factor behind the departure of Gary D. Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council. But his decision to leave came after he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle over Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Cohn had warned last week that he might resign if Trump followed through with the tariffs, which he had lobbied against internally.

Meanwhile, Trump’s plan to impose stiff steel tariffs would severely punish South Korea, at a moment when America is embarking on a series of high-stakes negotiations to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has said that it is willing to begin talks with the United States about abandoning its nuclear weapons, officials from the South said Tuesday, opening the possibility for a breakthrough in one of the world’s most prolonged security stalemates.

If talks materialize, the United States will need the close partnership of South Korea, a key diplomatic ally and a major steel exporter to the United States. But in recent months, the Trump administration has alienated the South’s leaders by initiating a series of tough trade measures that seek to penalize the country for exporting more goods to the United States than it imports.

EPA double-dip. A key aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been granted permission to make extra money moonlighting for private clients whose identities are being kept secret. A letter approving outside employment contracts for John Konku —signed by an EPA ethics lawyer in August—was released Monday by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Taking aim. An anti-Republican political action has raised a billboard in Pensacola, Fla., that targets the NRA. It reads “The NRA is a terrorist organization.” It was paid for by Mad Dog PAC, an organization registered by Claude Taylor, a former White House staffer under Bill Clinton’s administration. Mad Dog PAC’s billboard campaign is intended to target House Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Tryst update. Trump never signed the nondisclosure agreement lawyers had presented in 2016 to a pornographic-film actress, rendering it null and void, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by a lawyer for the actress. The filing, in Los Angeles Superior Court, represents the latest development in a legal battle involving Mr. Trump, his longtime personal lawyer and the actress, Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. The lawsuit came days after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, had legally pressured Ms. Clifford, initiating arbitration proceedings against her in Los Angeles in efforts to prevent her from speaking out about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump, according to the complaint. The suit, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, alleges that Mr. Trump “purposely did not sign the agreement so he could later, if need be, publicly disavow any knowledge of the Hush Agreement and Ms. Clifford.”


March 7, 2018