WASHINGTON — Here are the stories our Washington insiders are talking about in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow’s headlines today.
1. A promise to FIFA
The US is working with Mexico and Canada on a joint North American bid for the 2026 World Cup. And Michael Shear of The New York Times reports the US is pledging to grant visas to players regardless of their religion or national origin and no matter what type of travel restrictions may be in place by then.
“It’s an interesting softening of the President’s rhetoric, which has been pretty hard-line on the travel ban,” Shear said.
“If an individual soccer player needed to be restricted from the United States, they could still do that,” Shear added. “But they wouldn’t ban whole teams.”
2. John Kelly walks back comments
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had to back off comments he made to NPR this week that the President is “embarrassed” by the Russia probe. Instead, he said the word he should have used is “distracted.”
It’s not the first time Kelly’s description of President Trump’s state of mind has caused problems.
“We saw this before in his last interview with Fox, when he said that the President’s views on immigration had ‘evolved,'” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins said. “The President quickly got on Twitter and said ‘no, they haven’t.'”
3. Clashing committees on Russia?
The Senate Intelligence Committee is close to putting out its report on whether Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 election with the intention of helping Donald Trump.
Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian says “we are heading toward a potential war of intelligence committees on Capitol Hill.”
That’s because the House Intelligence Committee already put out a partisan report that was critical of the intelligence community’s finding that Russia did in fact interfere. Demirjian says to expect something different on the Senate side, however.
“It really sets up a clash of the GOP of how we’re actually going to approach what happened and what we are going to do going forward,” she said.
4. Senators want more Haspel records released
In the meantime the Senate Intelligence Committee will vote soon on Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director. The panel is expected to approve her, but some senators who aren’t on the committee say they want more information about her role in destroying tapes of CIA interrogations using techniques some consider torture.
CNN’s Manu Raju says Intelligence Committee members have seen a classified report from a special prosecutor about the episode, but the report hasn’t been made available to anyone else.
“I’m told that it paints her in a rather unflattering light,” Raju said. “So some critics are hoping that more senators will see this (and) perhaps someone on the fence will change their mind or decide to vote against her.”
5. She’s no fan of Trump’s steel tariffs
A small businesswoman from Michigan is coming to Washington this week hoping to succeed where leading Republicans and big-business interests have failed: getting President Trump and his team to reconsider trade policy.
Mary Buchzeiger is the CEO of Lucerne International in Oakland County, Michigan, and she’s visiting the nation’s capital to take part in public hearings on the administration’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs.
Buchzeiger is a Republican who calls Mr. Trump “my President” and says she favors a tougher trade posture with China. But she says the administration plan is poorly drafted and worries Trump and his team do not understand the global supply chain.
Lucerne imports steel from Asia and finishes it for US automakers — those shiny steel hinges, for example, on upscale Jeep Wrangler models.
Her company is small but growing, with 50 employees now and plans to add 10 or 12 more over the next year.
But Buchzeiger says the tariffs specifically target the hinges and other steel parts she imports, and would cripple her business. In an email conversation, she said she has explored domestic production instead but determined it’s impossible because of cost and capacity issues.
She says the tariffs would close Lucerne down and likely disrupt production of a popular Fiat-Chrysler brand.
“We produce 15 unique part numbers for the Jeep Wrangler,” she said. “It takes us seven plants throughout China and Taiwan to produce these parts. The total volume is over 7.5 million pieces per year.”
Beyond the specifics of the steel and aluminum tariffs, Buchzeiger will make the case that the administration needs to settle its policies and allow companies to understand the longer-term horizon.
“I don’t know if the President truly understands the need for manufacturers to be able to make long-term plans and future capital investment strategies,” she said. “I’m quoting hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of work for 202–2023 model year cars, with complicated, global supply chains. I don’t know what the tariffs are going to look like two years from now. I have no clue what NAFTA will look like. How can my global US-based company make any longterm plans?”
Buchzeiger knows how important Michigan was to the President’s 2016 win, and she said she understands his commitment to blue-collar workers hurt by unfair trade practices.
“I think the President is going in the right direction with the best of intentions,” Buchzeiger said. “It’s just the execution that stinks. The moves with tax reform are a giant step in the right direction for businesses, but the uncertainty of the trade landscape has slowed down investment activities from many businesses — especially in the automotive sector.”