Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

It’s Thanksgiving week, and President Biden will partake in the treasured American tradition of pardoning a turkey this week.

Did you know that in the post-WWII era President Truman tried to help ease food shortages by encouraging Americans to go meatless on Tuesdays and Thursdays? As the White House Historical Association points out, the meat and poultry industry protested by sending a bunch of hens to the White House, dubbing the birds Hens for Harry.

But despite the holiday-shortened week for markets, there’s still plenty of activity in Washington. Here are three things to watch on the political front:

U.S.-China relations

Washington’s deepening offensive economic strategy to confront the Chinese Communist Party could be the one area of bipartisanship in the new Congress.

On Sunday, top Republican Kevin McCarthy told Fox News that he plans to form a special committee on China if he is elected speaker of the House.

“China is the no. 1 country when it comes to intellectual property theft,” McCarthy said in the interview. “We will put a stop to this and no longer allow the administration to sit back and let China do what they are doing to America.”

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters after being nominated by fellow Republicans to be their leader on November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters after being nominated by fellow Republicans to be their leader on November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

The select committee would present a unique opportunity for bipartisanship during McCarthy’s tenure. It also comes at a time when the Biden administration, led by Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo, will be busy implementing the bipartisan U.S. CHIPS Act, which aims to boost America’s high-tech manufacturing sector to compete with China in the semiconductor industry.

McCarthy will likely draw on a report commissioned by Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), who oversaw the China Task Force Report. He also noted that key areas to watch include the origins of COVID, spy tactics in the U.S., intellectual property theft, and illegal fentanyl distribution.

In the upper chamber, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) continues to raise economic and civic concerns related to TikTok, a China-based social media platform.

“TikTok is an enormous threat,” Warner told Fox News on Sunday. “It’s a threat on two levels. One, it is a massive collector of information, oftentimes of our children. They can visualize even down to your keystrokes. So, if you’re a parent and you got a kid on TikTok, I would be very, very concerned.”

And in a rare political olive branch, Warner added that on the issue of TikTok, “Trump was right.”

China and U.S. flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture taken July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

China and U.S. flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture taken July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is shaping up to be a global effort, not just a national one.

Most of the Beltway media’s analysis of Trump’s third presidential run — with the exception of the New York Times — has focused on Trump’s relationships with Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk, and Ivanka Trump. Others opine over which court case will prevent Trump from running again.

But it’s the former president’s relationship with the Saudis where the Trump Organization has spent much of its attention in the political off-season.

As Maggie Haberman, author of Confidence Man, reported in the Times: “The Trump family has struck a deal with a Saudi-based real estate company to license its name to a housing and golf complex that will be built in Oman, renewing a swirl of questions about former President Donald J. Trump’s mixing of politics and business just as he appears poised to announce a third presidential candidacy.”

When it comes to Middle East policy, Trump brokered the Abraham Accords, which received bipartisan praise at the time, and maintained a relationship with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has regained power against what appeared to be insurmountable odds.

Former President Trump announces his plans to run for president in the 2024 election at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Octavio Jones

Former President Trump announces his plans to run for president in the 2024 election at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Octavio Jones

“Trump does best when his back is against a wall,” Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokesperson for Mike Pompeo, told Fox News last week.

Still, Trump faces a different landscape this time around. In 2016, Trump benefitted from a crowded Republican field in the primary. But in 2020, Trump hindered himself by questioning early voting.

Kellyanne Conway, the architect behind Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, suggested to Fox News that the former president change his stance on early voting, particularly after Republicans’ lackluster midterm performance.

“We need to get smart… [we need to start] banking those ballots early,” Conway told Fox News. “We’re taking a chance that Grandpop can get out of the house on Election Day. We need to start banking those votes early.”

Conway, who remains close to both Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, has yet to back a candidate for 2024.

Supreme Court leaks

Democratic lawmakers are calling for an investigation of the Supreme Court after a report raised new concerns about leaks of case outcomes.

According to the New York Times, a 2014 SCOTUS decision was leaked to anti-abortion activists. Allegations of this prior breach come as the Supreme Court has faced criticism over the leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which Politico published in May.

A person walks outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A person walks outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Leaks are common for virtually every institution — both public and private. But the highest court in the land now faces significant congressional scrutiny about its ability to safeguard some of the nation’s most consequential decisions.

It will make matters pertaining to cybersecurity and civic technology (i.e. how the institution implements risk protocols) all the more important in the years to come.

Kevin Cirilli is a visiting media fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub and the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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