A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Report From Washington:
- President Donald Trump is enjoying an overseas trip that so far has been viewed as successful with high praise coming from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who noted Trump is the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. Trump also met with Middle East leaders in Saudi Arabia, Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome, and is with leaders of NATO member countries in Brussels today.
- The first official foreign travel of the Trump presidency comes as investigations continue at home into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. In a House hearing this week under questioning from Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff, Obama’s former CIA Director John Brennan testified that President Trump did not pressure leaders of the intelligence community to drop any Russia-related inquiries and Brennan also said that “evidence of contact between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign did not constitute evidence of collusion.” It was also revealed that Russia has historically attempted to interfere with the US electoral process – well before the most recent election. To date, no evidence has been presented of Trump-Russian collusion despite massive leaks and numerous allegations – many of them from anonymous sources. But Schiff maintained in an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose that he has seen that evidence of collusion, though he’s “not prepared to make any conclusions about the strength of the evidence once we conclude our investigation.” Other high level Democrats, including California Senator Dianne Feinstein, have said they have seen no such evidence. "There are all kinds of rumors around, there are newspaper stories, but that's not necessarily evidence," Feinstein told CNN.
- While the President is away, his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is getting bludgeoned by Democrats and the media after submitting the administration’s 2018 spending plan this week. The 10-year budget aims to cut $3.6 trillion out of future budgets to eliminate annual deficits in a decade. Trump’s budget strives to return welfare programs to pre-recession levels, anticipating, for example, a reduction in food stamp enrollment as the economy recovers, for an average of $19 billion in annual savings. Supporters say this is reasonable considering that enrollment is now more than 50 percent higher than it was when the recession began in 2007 – that’s 42 million people on food stamps, up from 26 million. The budget would also push states to find viable solutions in reforming programs that have become rife with fraud. Opponents from the New York Times to Hillary Clinton are crying foul, slamming the plan as “cruel” and claiming the administration is targeting the poor and most vulnerable in favor of tax cuts for the rich. Mulvaney is fighting back saying, "We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs and the amount spent on those programs. We need everybody to pull in the same direction." He called the plan a "taxpayer-first budget" that provides new funds to defense and homeland security while slashing those of the EPA and State Department. The House and Senate – at present both held by Republicans – historically pay scant attention to the executive budget when crafting their own spending measures.
- A special election for the vacant US House seat in Montana is getting hot and it’s not just because of the high stakes that could sweep a Democrat into the chair most recently held by Republican Ryan Zinke who stepped down to become a member of President Trump’s cabinet – he now serves as Secretary of the Interior. Yesterday, the Republican candidate vying for the seat Greg Gianforte, was cited for misdemeanor assault following a reporter's accusation that he was struck by Gianforte. Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the UK Guardian, claims Gianforte "body slammed” him and “broke” his glasses at Gianforte's campaign headquarters south of Bozeman, Montana. A Fox News crew apparently confirmed the incident with police. Gianforte’s campaign gave a much different account claiming the reporter was very aggressive and shoved a recorder in the candidate’s face. The tussle was caught on audio tape. Gianforte is in a razor close race with Democrat Rob Quist who wouldn't comment on the incident, though several Democrats have called on Gianforte to drop out of the race. Democrats and the media have been laser focused on this race since Zinke stepped down, together predicting a Democrat win tonight reflects what they claim is anti-Trump voter sentiment across the country.
News from New Brunswick
Back in 2005 when your former US ambassador to Canada first arrived in Ottawa, the supreme issue of the day was softwood lumber. A decade and much-heralded resolution later, softwood lumber is back and needing to be resolved, and once again, David Wilkins is in the middle of it, this time proudly representing the beautiful province of New Brunswick.
Wilkins and the team began the week up in Fredericton and Saint John visiting with provincial and industry leaders for a series of informative meetings.
Here’s how Global News played it on Tuesday:
New Brunswick’s special envoy on trade and softwood lumber says he will work to ensure U.S. politicians know how important lumber is, both as an export for the province and a necessity for American families.
David Wilkins, who was the U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009, met with Premier Brian Gallant today in Saint John.
In his first 15 months as ambassador, Wilkins helped resolve a softwood lumber dispute, with the support of most of the Canadian lumber industry.
“The way to do it is to find a reasonable negotiated settlement and I believe that settlement includes an exemption to the Maritimes, including New Brunswick,” Wilkins said.
In his new role, he will assist with softwood lumber lobbying efforts, promote New Brunswick business, trade and investment opportunities with the U.S., and provide the province with strategic advice.
“In the end, negotiations are reached by people of goodwill sitting around a table advocating their positions, trying to find middle ground,” he said. “So a lot of this other stuff is just fluff.”
Gallant added that the province recognizes the precarious position many in New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry find themselves in.
“That’s why we’re going to certainly work very hard with a sense of urgency,” Gallant said. “Myself, the government officials, and of course Mr. Wilkins [will work] to ensure that we get to speak to as many decision-makers as quickly as possible.”
Minister Roger Melanson, David Wilkins and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant at the beautiful, busy harbor in Saint John.
Meet the NB press! Premier Gallant, Wilkins and Minister Melanson talk softwood lumber and US-New Brunswick trade with provincial media Tuesday afternoon.
Rockin’ the Rooftop
By now our devoted Carolina-Canada Connections readers are well aware of the annual Nelson Mullins Washington, DC rooftop bash that sees movers and shakers from our nation’s capital city gathering together for great food and fellowship every May.
Our Nelson Mullins office at 101 Constitution offers one of the best views in all of DC – the perfect party place – and it did not disappoint last Wednesday with what was a beautiful (albeit hot!) sunny day!
One of the best seats in DC – the view from the Nelson Mullins roof!
Running out of room on the roof!
As usual it was wonderful to see so many folks including:
The very honorable Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC).
Our ol’ pal Steve Lakis who heads the State Legislative Leaders Foundation.
Our fav former diplomats – current Exxon executive Tom Huffaker and his accomplished wife Claire.
These ladies keep the trains running! Congressman Trey Gowdy’s key staffers Cindy Crick and Anna Bartlett, as well as Nelson Mullins’ own Ashley Martin Aldebol and Clara Smith.
Monday is Memorial Day here in the United States and we remember and honor all our military heroes in America and Canada alike who have sacrificed all in freedom’s name.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” – John 15:13
See You at SEUS-CP
On June 4, Team Wilkins is headed up to Toronto for the annual Southeastern United States – Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP) conference. SEUS-CP is a strategic partnership between states in the southeastern United States and member provinces from Canada. It was established in November 2007 when Wilkins was serving as US ambassador to Canada. This year he has the honor of serving as Chief of the South Carolina delegation.
We look forward to promoting business and trade opportunities as we talk with key governmental and business leaders from member provinces and states including: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and of course, South Carolina!
They Said What?
- “I don't do evidence,” – Former Obama CIA chief John Brennan when grilled by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) in a hearing this week on whether evidence actually exists that proves Trump or his campaign “colluded” with the Russians leading into the 2016 presidential campaign.
- "Trey Gowdy needs to have his a-- kicked. He knows the difference between intelligence and evidence,” – CNN contributor and former CIA counterterrorism agent Phil Mudd on CNN responding to the heated exchanges between Gowdy and Brennan suggesting he thinks the investigation will eventually reveal evidence of Trump-Russian ties.
- “Liberal thinkers have traditionally abhorred secret courts, secret surveillance and secret evidence…and…reflexively discouraged the news media from printing unverified or unverifiable charges emanating from such secret sources. But because it's Donald Trump, no one seems to care,” – Rolling Stone columnist, Matt Taibbi, a left-wing pundit as quoted by Forbes, who despite his disdain for the president, laments the lack of evidence and secret sourcing employed by the media against the Trump administration.
- "I won't call them monsters because they would like that term, they would think that is a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers because that's what they are: losers,” – President Donald Trump on the horrific murders and terror attack committed by Islamic State terrorists in Manchester this week.
- "What do you give him to eat, potizza?" – Pope Francis joking with Melania Trump at the Vatican Wednesday, poking fun at what the First Lady feeds the President, referring to a favorite papal dessert from her native Slovenia.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.