Trump and His Team Will Leave Lots of Booby Traps for Biden in Last Two Months

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    Now that Donald Trump’s administration has allowed Joe Biden’s team to formally begin its transition into the White House, the president is running out of overt ways to disrupt an election he clearly lost 18 days ago. His flimsy and misbegotten lawsuits challenging the vote are all but deflated and he’s been less active than usual on TV and Twitter. Perhaps he’ll make his traditional visit to Mar-a-Lago for the Christmas holidays and then stay put, preferring to endure his humiliation over Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration outside the capital. Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind, however. Even if he’s off sulking, Trump has ample opportunity over the next two months to abuse his powers or throw sand in the federal machinery Biden will inherit. In this context, Trump loyalists overseeing the bureaucracy, including Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior adviser Stephen Miller, may be just as important to watch as the president. Trump’s clemency powers enable him to issue potentially undeserved pardons at the last minute (think back on the 176 pardons Bill Clinton issued just two hours before exiting the White House in 2001). Seven of Trump’s political advisers have been charged with crimes since his own inauguration, and he’s already commuted the sentence of one them, Roger Stone. Trump is also mired in ongoing civil and criminal probes, and he’ll undoubtedly be tempted to pardon himself and family members for potential federal crimes, such as obstruction of justice. (His pardoning power doesn’t extend to the possible state charges he faces in New York.) Trump also can deploy executive orders, which he has already used to great effect to roll back environmental regulations and change immigration rules. In June, he signed an order instructing federal agencies to drop environmental laws that slow approvals for oil pipelines, mines, highways and other projects in protected areas. That same month, Trump issued an order suspending new work visas for foreigners and their dependents — making it impossible for American companies to hire skilled immigrants. His administration is now reportedly considering an order meant to end birthright citizenship and challenging whether it’s protected by the 14th Amendment. A couple of weeks ago, Trump moved to lock down his tough trade stance toward China through an order banning U.S. investments in companies linked to China’s military. The day after Election Day, the Health and Human Services Department introduced a new rule that would suspend thousands of its own regulations automatically after granular reviews — a move the New York Times reported was likely meant “to tie the hands of the next administration.” Last week, the Treasury Department successfully clawed back $455 billion in Covid-19 relief funds from the Federal Reserve, a move it said was designed to sunset unused rescue programs. But it also gave the incoming Biden administration less flexibility and resources to combat any further economic downturns stemming from the pandemic. On Tuesday, Mnuchin placed the funds in an account that his likely successor, Janet Yellen, can’t access without approval from Congress. Trump still holds the nuclear weapons codes (try not to think about that one) and also has the latitude to pursue covert special operations and military confrontations overseas. Christopher Miller, the interim defense secretary Trump installed after canning Mark Esper recently, has been rushing policy changes that will be thorny for Biden to manage — including a Jan. 15 troop drawdown in Afghanistan. On Nov. 12, Trump reportedly asked senior advisers, including Miller and Pompeo, about options for a military strike against Iran. (The group advised against it.) Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm Bloomberg Quicktake brings you live global news and original shows spanning business, technology, politics and culture. Make sense of the stories changing your business and your world. To watch complete coverage on Bloomberg Quicktake 24/7, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/qt/live, or watch on Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV on the Bloomberg app. Have a story to tell? Fill out this survey for a chance to have it featured on Bloomberg Quicktake: https://cor.us/surveys/27AF30 Connect with us on… YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bloomberg Breaking News on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BloombergQuickTakeNews Twitter: https://twitter.com/quicktake Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quicktake Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quicktake

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    Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.

    Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

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    Iran, also called Persia, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. Its central location in Eurasia and proximity to the Strait of Hormuz give it significant geostrategic importance. Tehran is the capital and largest city.

    Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. The Iranian Revolution established the current Islamic Republic in 1979.

    Iran’s political system combines elements of a presidential democracy and an Islamic theocracy. Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, OIC, and OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power and has large reserves of fossil fuels — including the world’s largest natural gas supply and the third largest proven oil reserves.

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