Trump pulls a Joe McCarthy: ‘I have in my hand…’ a piece of paper

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Senator Joseph McCarthy: “I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .” (Both in a letter he wrote to President Truman the next day and in an “official” transcript of the speech that McCarthy submitted to the Congressional Record ten days later he uses the number 57. Although McCarthy displayed this list of names both in Wheeling (above) and then later on the Senate floor, he never made the list public) – Speech of Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday waved a piece of paper (above) that he said was part of a “very long and very good” secret agreement with Mexico, refusing to describe it but vowing that it will go into effect whenever he wants it to. Trump Brags About Mexico Deal, but Reveals No Details:

The president’s dramatic flourish, delivered as he left the White House for a trip to Iowa, came a day after Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, publicly denied that his country had reached an undisclosed immigration agreement with the United States.

Also Tuesday, Mr. Ebrard again said that there was no additional deal beyond what both governments had announced on Friday. “We don’t have anything to hide,” he said.

Reading from a letter that he had sent to the Mexican Senate, Mr. Ebrard gave a detailed account of the negotiations between the Mexican and United States governments, emphasizing how American officials had repeatedly insisted that Mexico sign an agreement that would require migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum there rather than in the United States — an agreement known as “safe third country.”

Instead, Mexico negotiated a 45-day window to show that its own measures to stem the flow of migrants would work. If they do not, Mr. Ebrard said, then the two sides agreed to an additional 45-day period to discuss a bilateral or regional agreement to return migrants.

The letter to the Mexican Senate suggested that the Mexicans had agreed that should the current measures fail to reduce migration, they would enter into negotiations about alternative solutions that would, at a minimum, require Mexico to assume more of the burden of asylum seekers heading toward the United States.

“Instead of accepting a safe third country agreement as the United States proposed, or the beginning of a trade war,” Mr. Ebrard’s letter said, “we managed to get a period of 45 days to demonstrate the efficiency of the measures that will be adopted and prepare ourselves as best we can for the negotiation that could follow in the next 45 days.”

Mr. Ebrard had given a similar explanation of the agreement on Monday, but said on Tuesday that he was taking the unusual step of making his letter public to be as transparent as possible.

Enter Team “Alternative Facts” Trump, who play to the rubes who watch Fox News aka Trump TV all day:

For the second day in a row, Mr. Trump ignored Mr. Ebrard’s denial, insisting that his threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods had forced Mexico to submit to an undisclosed agreement to combat what he views as an invasion from Central American migrants.

Asked by reporters to reveal what the agreement requires Mexico to do, Mr. Trump refused to do so, adding that “the reason is Mexico wants to handle that.”

Busted! A close-up photograph taken by a Washington Post reporter of the paper that Mr. Trump waved shows what appears to be a one-page letter signed on June 7 by two people whose names are unclear (see below).

The final paragraph of the letter seems to refer to the agreement announced on Friday, called a “joint declaration,” and describes what will happen if the United States is not satisfied that the flow of migration to the southwestern border has slowed sufficiently.

“If the United States determines at its discretion and after consultation with Mexico, after 45 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the Joint Declaration, that the measures adopted by the Government of Mexico pursuant to the Joint Declaration have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States, the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days,” the letter says.

Whaaa? What does this word salad even mean? Aaron Blake from the Washington Post takes a shot at explaining it. A Post photographer snapped an image of Trump’s alleged secret Mexico deal. Here’s what it says.

President Trump has claimed for two days that he secured a secret immigration deal with Mexicobeyond the one announced Friday. But the White House has declined to disclose any details, and Mexico has denied it. Confronted with understandable skepticism that such a deal exists, Trump produced a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket Tuesday.

And a particularly good photographer, The Washington Post’s Jabin Botsford, snapped an image that reveals some of the document’s contents. That image allows us to glean some clues.

* * *

This appears to show the middle portion of the document. Another image, from White House Watch, shows what appears to be a preceding portion, along with what follows the signatures at the end.

I’ve combined what we can see in the two photos to reconstruct the document. Where I’m inferring some letters, I’ll put it in brackets:

[UNREADABLE] such agreement would [UNREADABLE] party’s domestic and international legal obligations, a commitment under which each party would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party’s territory [UNREADABLE] other party. The parties further intend [UNREADABLE] an agreem[ent] [UNREADABLE] to burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refuge[es] [UNREADABLE].

Mexico also commits to immediate[ly] [UNREADABLE] domestic laws and regulations with a view to identifying any changes that [UNREADABLE] to bring into force and implement such an agreement.

If the United States determines, at its discretion and after consultation with Mexico, after 45 calendar days from the date of the issuance of the Joint Declaration, that the measures adopted by the Government of Mexico pursuant to the Joint Declaration have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border of the United States, the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under the domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.

Signed on this 7th of June, 2019 in Washington, D.C. by:

[SIGNATURE 1] [SIGNATURE 2]

On behalf of the United States On behalf of Mexico

A few observations:

1) The first question is obviously whether the document is legitimate. It is signed by two people, that we can see, but neither of these signatures are from the countries’ respective presidents, top diplomats or ambassadors to the other country. They appear to belong to Marik A. String, acting legal adviser in the U.S. State Department, and Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, a deputy legal adviser in Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.

2) The document clearly deals with some kind of “burden-sharing” involving “refugees.” The prevailing wisdom is that Trump, in citing a secret deal, may have been referring to some kind of pact involving asylum rules, possibly a “safe third country agreement” in which Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States would be held in Mexico while their claims are processed. (This is a controversial topic in Mexico, and the Mexican government has denied any such agreement.) That appears to be what this document deals with. We don’t generally refer to asylum seekers as “refugees,” but the concept is similar. The part about how “each party would accept the return, and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party’s territory” sounds a lot like some kind of “safe third” agreement.

3) It’s not clear from the text what the agreement might entail beyond that — or whether all the details have been sorted out. The second paragraph sounds like standard language indicating that Mexico must determine what laws or regulations must be changed. The third paragraph suggests that this is something the United States can trigger after 45 days and that it would be up to the Mexican government to put it into effect in the next 45 days. This all tracks with Trump’s tweet suggesting that the Mexican legislature would need to be consulted, which makes sense if this has to do with asylum rules.

4) The big question is what’s in the part above what we can see and how much force it carries. It seems unlikely, given that there is only one-third of a sheet of paper above that first visible paragraph, that there are extensive guidelines for what the deal entails. (Trump said this was one sheet of a larger agreement, for what it’s worth.) The lack of signatures from heads of state is also curious, given the gravity of the topic. But there appears to be enough of an agreement that Mexico would immediately be put in the position of trying to implement it — subject, importantly, to “domestic and international legal obligations” — rather than engage in further negotiations.

Update: Mexico has now responded to the document, indicating there is some kind of agreement about what might be triggered in the future.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard held a news conference in which he said that the Friday agreement with the United States gave Mexico 45 days to prove that it could diminish migration without agreeing to a “safe third” deal.

He acknowledged that in 45 days, if the United States does not assess that progress has been made, the Trump administration probably will ask again for a “safe third” agreement. But he said Mexico has not committed to that agreement, which would have to be approved by lawmakers and probably negotiated with other countries in the region.

“It would be applied if we fail, and if we accept what they tell us,” Ebrard said.

Ebrard said that Vice President Pence explained in their meeting last week that a “safe third” agreement, like the one between Turkey and the European Union, would have an “immediate impact on migration.”

During much of the negotiations, Ebrard said, “it seemed like it was third safe country agreement or tariffs.”

Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, a lawyer with the Foreign Ministry, said at the news conference that if Mexico needed to continue negotiations in 45 days, it would at least have time to come up with variations on a “safe third” agreement, which it did not have last week.

“Now we have time to prepare more, to present them with better options,” Alcántara said.

This alleged “secret” agreement was reached on Friday of last week, so this sets up yet another Trump reality TV show in about 45 days, or Monday, July 22, 2019, when Mexico fails to deliver, as is almost certain. Mark your calendar.




2 COMMENTS

  1. We know of many senators, collaborating with the Trump Putin Regime, start with Mitch the Bitch, who got more than $3 millions from the Putin Oligarchs!

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