Is Trump bothering to prepare for crucial Xi meeting?

Trump says he doesn't need to prepare for his meeting with the Chinese president, House Republicans issue two last-gasp subpoenas, Senate Republicans are divided over criminal justice reform, and the Clintons take their marriage on the road.

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 7:30 AM
Updated: Nov 26, 2018 7:47 AM

Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. When Trump meets Xi

President Donald Trump heads to Argentina this week for the G20 summit. He's expected to sit down with top allies, and also with geopolitical rivals like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Xi meeting might be their last chance to avoid what could be a crippling trade war.

"There's a lot of interest in whether the two can reach some kind of agreement to bring down the temperature," reports the AP's Catherine Lucey. "A lot of experts seem to think this is going to be a tricky thing to do, but there are incentives on both sides that could bring them together."

So how is the President preparing for such a crucial sit-down? He told reporters last week that he doesn't need to.

"He made clear that is going to be part of his shoot-from-the-hip style foreign policy. He said he doesn't need to prepare, because he knows the statistics and his gut has never been wrong," Lucey said.

2. House Republicans' last-gasp probes

Democrats may have won control of the House, but Republicans still have about six weeks before they officially turn over the gavel. And the House Judiciary Committee wants to use that time continuing to investigate the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton, The Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian said.

"They subpoenaed former FBI Director Jim Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but those are subpoenas that will be tough for them to enforce in the limited time that remains," Demirjian said. "But if these fights are started, if these people don't show up on Capitol Hill, that gives Trump more talking points and the GOP more arguing points as they head into the next few years."

"This will probably stay alive during the next election cycle, so it's going to be an interesting few weeks of just throwing everything to see what will potentially stick in the future."

3. GOP divide over criminal justice reform

Meanwhile on the other side of Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of senators want to use the lame duck session to finish work on a criminal justice reform bill. But despite support from the president, the GOP is divided, reports The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren.

"Tom Cotton, the Republican usually aligned with the President on most everything else, is the real big opponent of this bill," Warren said. "He and law enforcement groups that oppose it say the current language gives certain violent felons the ability to be released early. Mike Lee, a Republican who supports the bill, says that's a distortion."

One other obstacle: Trump himself. He supports the bill for now, but he's been known to change his mind.

"We know how the president can pull back from things," Warren said, which worries Republicans who are on the fence about coming out in favor. "There are people in the White House who really don't like this bill, and they're going to be in his ear the next three weeks."

4. Trump's new SCOTUS strategy

The White House is sick of waiting for appellate courts to rule on some of its key priorities that lower courts have rejected. So now they're starting to appeal those cases directly to the Supreme Court.

"The latest example we're seeing is the president's transgender military ban, which has now been put on hold by three districts courts," Bloomberg's Margaret Talev said. "The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to agree to take a look at it."

One potential reason, Talev says: with two new conservative justices, Republicans feel better about their chances.

5. Bill & Hillary Live!

Bill and Hillary Clinton are taking their marriage on the road.

This week, they'll kick off a series of live events across the US and Canada, where the former first couple will talk about the state of the world.

"The tour is sure to draw scrutiny and raise some questions," CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson said. "While the Clintons can certainly still draw headlines, can they draw big crowds? And how awkward will this be as the #MeToo movement reshapes the way people view the Clintons?"

The tour will continue through the spring, Henderson said. "So the Clintons will still be taking up space on the stage, even as many Democrats want them to go away."

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