U.S. coronavirus cases spike | OPEC and its allies set to ease oil cuts
In Today’s Updates
* OPEC and its allies are set to ease oil cuts: WSJ
* USDA, China disagree on soybean, corn import forecasts
* China sanctions U.S. officials, Congress members amid Xinjiang ban
* Trump: Phase 2 trade deal with China isn’t under consideration
* U.S. citizens in China warned they risk ‘arbitrary’ arrest
* Farm Bureau among groups pressing Congress on PPP fixes
* Fed, Treasury disagreements slowed start of Main Street Lending Program: WSJ
* Politics comes to food aid
* U.S. food supply update
* Human cost of a $20 burger during a pandemic
* Grocers are having trouble staying stocked with goods
* Update on reopening America... and around the world
* Disney World’s two main parks officially reopened Saturday
* One-third of U.S. workers want permanent remote work
* One in five small firms plan layoffs despite PPP loan
* Coronavirus update
* Florida reports record 15,299 new coronavirus cases
* White House taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci over Covid-19 comments
* Politics & Elections
* CQ Roll Call’s Gonzales: Dems now favored to retak Senate.
* Trump touts Tuberville over Sessions ahead of Alabama GOP primary runoff
* Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points among registered voters
* Biden leads Trump by five points in Texas poll
* Facebook Inc. considering a ban on political advertising shortly before U.S. elections
* Trump ally reportedly wins Poland’s presidential election
* Other Items of Note
* Trump says U.S. will review colleges’ tax-exempt status
* Census workers to start knocking on doors.
* Trump vows immigration executive order
* Energy and water spending measure for fiscal 2021
* Fiscal 2021 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill
* Dakota Pipeline again goes to court
* Trump’s new infrastructure policy
* Immigration ruling challenge
* U.S. plans to target luxury and beauty companies in France in digital tax fight
* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing ethics questions
* Iran and China are seeking to cement a wide-ranging partnership
* Robert Mueller will be invited to testify before a Senate panel
Equities today: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8%, almost recuperating a 2% loss on Friday and tempering concerns that a quick boom-to-bust cycle is in the offing. The rally in mainland China’s stocks has driven up the benchmark by 15% this month. Chinese investors borrowed the most money in five years to buy stocks as China's bull market charges on — the outstanding balance of margin trading on the mainland’s stock exchanges rose to 1.3 trillion yuan ($185.9 billion), the most since August 2015. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1.2% while Japan's Topix index closed 2.5% higher. In Europe, equities rose modestly. As earnings season kicks off, the S&P 500 futures pointed to a higher open. Dow futures have risen more than 200 points as Pfizer, BioNTech vaccines got 'fast track' status. The 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.635% and gold was back over $1,800 an ounce. While Florida reported a record 15,299 new cases on Sunday — a national record — and Houston city leaders called for a return to lockdown, a declining death rate trend was highlighted by New York City, which reported no Covid-related fatalities for the first time.
U.S. equities Friday: The Dow advanced 369.21 points, 1.4%, to 26,075.30. The S&P 500 rose 32.99 points, 1%, to 3,185.04. The Nasdaq climbed 69.69 points, 0.7%, to 10,617.44, a fresh record and the index is up 18% this year. All three indexes were modestly positive for the second consecutive week.
On tap today:
• Grain Inspections, 11 a.m. ET
• Crop Progress, 4 p.m. ET
• Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan speaks speaks at a National Press Club virtual “newsmaker” event at 1 p.m. ET.
• June U.S. budget statement is expected to show a record deficit when the data is published at 2:00 p.m. ET.
• USDA, China disagree on soybean, corn import forecasts. China raised its 2019-20 soybean and corn import projections, noting implementation of the Phase 1 trade deal with the United States. China’s ag ministry now expects the country to import 94 MMT of soybeans and 6 MMT of corn in 2019-20, up 3 MMT and 2 MMT, respectively, from last month’s forecast. But China is calling for soybean imports to slide to 93.6 MMT and for corn imports to drop to 5 MMT in 2020-21.
USDA projects China’s old-crop soybean and corn imports at 96 MMT and 7 MMT, respectively. For 2020-21, USDA expects China to import 96 MMT of soybeans and 7
MMT of corn.
— Largest U.S. corn daily sale to China: 1.450 million tonnes on Dec. 20, 1994.
— Largest U.S. soybean daily sale to China: 2.923 million tonnes on Feb. 17, 2012.
• WSJ: OPEC, allies set to ease oil cuts, anticipating demand recovery; Saudis propose relaxing the group’s curbs by 2 million barrels a day. An alliance of crude producers led by Saudi Arabia is pushing OPEC and its allies to increase oil production starting in August, officials in the group said, amid signs that demand is returning to normal levels following coronavirus-related lockdowns. Key members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Russia-led allies are set to meet via web conference Wednesday to debate the group’s current and future production. Link or details.
• West Texas Intermediate for August delivery dropped below $40 a barrel this morning as investors weighed an increase in production against the risks to the virus-hit demand outlook. Brent crude oil was down 1.5% at $42.60 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange. The price downturn comes ahead of an OPEC+ meeting on Wednesday at which the group may announce plans to start tapering historic production cuts, the WSJ reports. Under discussion is a Saudi proposal to relax the group's production curbs by 2M bbl/day, amid signs that demand is returning to normal levels following Covid-led lockdowns. The renewed optimism coincides with a Friday report from the IEA showing Covid-19's worst effects on global oil demand have passed but will linger as the market slowly recovers in the second half of 2020.
• Citigroup initiated Beyond Meat with a sell rating and a price target of $123 per share, which implies a downside of 12% from Thursday's close of $141.22 per share. Citi expects the meatless meat maker to face long-term pressure as competition in the space grows as well as near-term struggles "as a result of its exposure to the foodservice segment." Shares of Beyond Meat dropped 2.6%.
• CPC issues La Niña watch. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for roughly one-half to two-thirds odds of ENSO-neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) through summer. But there are now 50% to 55% chances of La Niña developing during fall and continuing through winter. Current forecasts suggest La Niña isn’t likely to greatly influence the U.S. growing season, but it could have an impact on next year’s South American crops.
• Steel and iron ore futures continue to rally, recently fueled by growing signs China's economy is on the mend.
• Copper has gone vertical as speculative accounts boost their bets.
• Speculative accounts have turned bullish on U.S. soybeans.
• U.S. lumber futures continue to rally on improving demand.
Elon Musk is now richer than Warren Buffett... and some other billionaires. The Tesla founder's net worth jumped $6.1 billion on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world's seventh-richest person. The 49-year-old, who owns about a fifth of Tesla's outstanding stock, is worth $70.5 billion. Buffett is sliding down the ranks after donating $2.9 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to charity. Buffett is now 10th on Bloomberg’s list, behind Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bernard Arnault, Steve Ballmer, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Musk and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man.
Washington NFL team to drop ‘Redskins’ name. Washington won’t be the “Redskins” after today, according to multiple reports, as the NFL team associated with the nation’s capital will bow to mounting public pressure including from its biggest sponsors and drop the name. Sports Business Journal (SBJ) first reported the announcement plans, which were later confirmed by other media. SBJ and the Washington Post both reported a new name wouldn’t be unveiled today because the team’s preferred replacement is involved in a trademark fight. The new name remains unknown, but Warriors, Red Wolves and Redtails have ranked among the post popular choices among fans on social media.
— Update on China:
- China sanctions U.S. officials, Congress members amid Xinjiang dispute. Beijing followed through on its promised retaliation for Washington’s move to hold individuals to account — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are among those facing unspecified sanctions in the latest tit-for-tat move. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the behavior of U.S. officials and politicians had severely damaged China/U.S. relations, and should be condemned. Hua said U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) as well as the Congressional-Executive Commission on China would be sanctioned. “Xinjiang is entirely the internal affair of China, and the US has no right to interfere. The Chinese government’s determination to protect its sovereignty, and crackdown against terrorism, separatism and extreme religious forces is unshakeable,” Hua said, adding China would take further measures based on the situation.
- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said yesterday that he’s expecting Trump to take “strong action” against Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat for “information warfare” against the U.S.
- President Donald Trump said a Phase 2 trade deal with China isn’t under consideration, saying the relationship between Washington and Beijing has deteriorated too much. “I don’t think about that,” Trump said Friday when asked about the possibility of a second round of trade agreements with China. “The relationship with China has been severely damaged... They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn’t stop it.” The Trump administration has blamed China for being the source of the coronavirus pandemic, opposed China’s measures to limit Hong Kong’s autonomy, and become increasingly critical of human rights abuses toward Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. China has said U.S. criticism on these issues could put Phase 1 of the agreement in jeopardy.
U.S. equities held onto most of their advance after the Phase 2 news, a clear signal that investors have discounted the prospects for further progress on U.S./China trade any time soon. U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer told AgriTalk in an interview recently that Phase 2 talks would come after Phase 1 was fully implemented and that would not be until after 2021. “It’s not feasible to expect Phase 2 to start until Phase 1 is implemented and the overall environment of the U.S./China relationship improves,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In Beijing, officials were always wary of Phase 2 deal, believing they had little to gain from U.S. demands that China cut government subsidies to domestic companies, downsize state-owned firms and ease the government’s grip on the economy. This is one of the reasons why the Trump administration moved to phases in discussions.
- Impact of Trump's Phase 2 comments: U.S. tariffs on imports from China are unlikely to be removed soon. The U.S. has imposed tariffs on about $360 billion a year worth of goods from China. As part of the deal struck Jan. 15, the administration cut the rate from 15% to 7.5% on about $110 billion worth of goods, while leaving tariffs on the rest at 25%.
“We’re strongly disappointed that the administration doesn’t want to solve the high tariffs paid by U.S. businesses and consumers and doesn’t want to solve the high barriers to trade that some of our exporting industries face as well,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.
- Trump administration plans to make an announcement this week related to China’s decision to conduct military exercises in the contested waters around the Paracel Islands, a move the U.S. has deemed “unlawful,” according to reports.
- U.S./China Phase 1 tracker: China’s purchases of U.S. goods. Link.
- U.S. citizens in China warned they risk ‘arbitrary’ arrest. The State Department warned U.S. citizens living in or traveling to China they may face arbitrary arrest, the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing. “Exercise increased caution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws for purposes other than maintaining law and order,” State said in a travel advisory on its website that was also emailed to U.S. citizens registered as being in China. “This arbitrary enforcement may include detention and the use of exit bans.” The warning, sent Saturday morning U.S. time, says that Chinese security forces may “detain and/or deport” American citizens for “sending private electronic messages critical of” China’s government. “U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to ‘state security,’” the warning added.
— Update on next aid package:
- Farm Bureau among groups pressing Congress on PPP fixes. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is among the groups pressing Congress to pass the Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would allow small businesses to deduct expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loan from their taxes. Currently IRS rules prohibit deducting expenses that are paid using funds from a PPP loan that is forgiven. Lawmakers intended for those funds to remain deductible, supporters of the legislation say, and they urged Congress to make the correction. “The Small Business Expense Protection Act will fix this misinterpretation and reestablish the ability of small businesses that have received PPP loans to deduct business expenses as the CARES Act intends,” AFBF and other groups said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The measure is currently awaiting consideration before the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
— Update on implementation of prior aid plans:
- Fed, Treasury disagreements slowed start of Main Street Lending Program: WSJ. Disagreements between leaders at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department in recent months slowed the start of their flagship lending initiative for small and midsize businesses, according to current and former government officials, the Wall Street Journal reported. The differences centered on how to craft the loan terms of their $600 billion Main Street Lending Program to help support businesses through the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Politics comes to food aid. Some House Democrats charge the Trump administration is continuing to deny food aid to seven northeastern U.S. states — none of which voted for the president. Of the $1.5 billion awarded by USDA in the second round of its program, only $57.7 million, or less than 4%, went to food distributors serving its north-eastern region — New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Those states represent roughly a tenth of the U.S. population. None of the seven voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In the first round of funding, less than 5% of contracts were awarded to groups serving the northeastern region. In a letter, Democratic lawmakers accuse the administration of continuing to neglect some of the states that have been among the worst-hit by the pandemic. “The rushed and non-transparent process that the USDA used to award food distribution contracts has resulted in a highly inequitable program that does not reflect need,” the House lawmakers, led by New York Democratic Reps. Paul Tonko and Antonio Delgado, wrote in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.
— Food and beverage supply/industry update:
- The human cost of a $20 burger during a pandemic. A Washington Post article (link) discusses “the lives of a cash-strapped rancher, a virus-stricken meatpacker, an underpaid chef and a hungry engineer have all been upended.” Further commenting on the article, the WaPo said, “Piecing together the first half of a single burger’s journey from frozen cow sperm to takeout box brought her to Le Diplomate’s burger purveyor, who brought her to a meat processing facility, which brought her back to the ranchers, who brought her to the cattle breeder. The folks in the beef industry keep some impeccable records.”
- Grocers are having trouble staying stocked with goods from flour to soups as climbing coronavirus case numbers and continued lockdowns pressure production and bolster customer demand. Popular items such as flour, canned soup, pasta and rice remain in short supply. As of July 5, 10% of packaged foods, beverages and household goods were out of stock, up from 5% to 7% before the pandemic, according to market-research firm IRI. Details in WSJ article.
— Update on reopening America... and around the world:
- Disney World’s two main parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, officially reopened Saturday at a significantly reduced capacity following a sneak peek for some annual passholders last Thursday and Friday.
- One-third of U.S. workers want permanent remote work. A Morning Consult survey (link) finds many workers would like to continue working from home after the coronavirus pandemic recedes and some would likely move to a new city or state if remote work becomes permanent. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 5% of U.S. adults worked from home all the time and 43% did so occasionally.
- One in five small firms plan layoffs despite PPP loan. An increasing number of U.S. small businesses plan to lay off workers after using a federal coronavirus relief loan as many states are slowing or changing reopening plans amid a spike in cases, a new survey shows. About 22% of firms that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance have fired workers or expect to lay off one or more workers once their loan runs out, up from 14% last month, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey of its members. The PPP, a key federal stimulus program, was meant to keep workers on payrolls during the pandemic.
— Coronavirus update:
— 12,910,357: Confirmed cases world-wide, and 569,128 deaths
— 59,017: New U.S. cases recorded yesterday
— 3,304,942: Total confirmed cases in the U.S.
— 428: Deaths in the U.S. recorded yesterday
— 135,205: Total U.S. deaths
— 40,282,176: Tests conducted in the U.S.
On Sunday, the World Health Organization announced another record number of cases recorded in one day, with more than 230,000 cases reported globally.
Infections are accelerating in Sunbelt nursing homes. A rise in cases among residents threatens to break a pattern in which Americans caught up in the recent coronavirus surge tend to be younger and better able to fight off its effects.
Florida on Sunday became the first U.S. state to report an increase of more than 15,000 Covid-19 cases in a single day. A further 15,300 people tested positive for the disease over the past 24 hours, the state’s health department said, up from 10,360 the previous day. That beat the increase of 11,694 reported by California on July 8, which governor Gavin Newsom said had been bolstered by a backlog of tests in hard-hit Los Angeles county. That in turn had unseated longtime record holder New York and its peak of 11,571 cases on April 15.
New York City reported its first day with zero confirmed or probable virus deaths since the pandemic hit New York State. The milestone came Sunday in initial data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It marked the end of a four-month stretch since the city reported its first Covid-19 fatality on March 11.
Washington D.C. has also seen coronavirus deaths slow this month. Figures released by the mayor’s office on Sunday showed no new deaths in the past three days.
Link to Covid Case Tracker
- White House is taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci over Covid-19 comments. Dr. Fauci is both the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and, until recently, the public face of the administration’s coronavirus response. Several Trump administration officials publicly challenged Dr. Fauci’s assessment that the U.S. was not “doing great” when compared to other countries’ handling of the virus. On Sunday, Brett Giroir, a health and human services official and member of the same task force, rejected Dr. Fauci’s assessment, along with his recommendation that states experiencing a new spike in cases should shut down their economies. “I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100% right and he also doesn’t necessarily, and he admits that, have the whole national interest in mind,” Giroir told Meet The Press on Sunday. “He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view.”
In two separate television interviews during the week, President Donald Trump also took aim at Dr Fauci, telling the Fox News host Sean Hannity that he was “a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes” and Gray TV’s Greta Van Susteren that he disagreed with Dr. Fauci’s assessments.
On Sunday, White House officials provided U.S. news outlets with a list of past comments Dr. Fauci had made about the virus and its spread that they said had proven to be wrong.
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
— 2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map
— The Green Papers
- CQ Roll Call’s Gonzales: Amid Trump’s Struggles, Democrats Now Favored To Retake Senate. Writing for CQ Roll Call, Nathan Gonzales said that at this point in the 2020 election cycle, “the preponderance of data points to a great election for Democrats, including taking control of the Senate. As Joe Biden has grown a significant lead over [President] Trump in the race for the White House, the Senate battleground has improved for Democrats down the ballot, including Inside Elections rating changes in eight races.” Gonzales said that “previously lower-tier contests in Iowa, Montana and Georgia are now hosting neck-and-neck Senate races. And Kansas, Texas, and even Alaska and South Carolina can’t be considered solid for Republicans anymore,” offering “Democrats more than one legitimate path.” Gonzales added, “Even if things do get better for Trump, it would only shift the fight for the Senate back to an even battle.”
- Trump touts Tuberville over Sessions ahead of Alabama GOP primary runoff. President Trump on Saturday tweeted, “Big Senate Race in Alabama on Tuesday. Vote for @TTuberville, he is a winner who will never let you down. Jeff Sessions is a disaster who has let us all down. We don’t want him back in Washington!” Ex-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is battling ex-Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) In Tuesday’s GOP Senate primary runoff. The runoff winner will take on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) this fall.
- Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points among registered voters in a Washington Post average of national polls conducted since mid-June. He also leads the incumbent, in some cases outside the margin of error, in recent polls in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Link to WaPo article.
- Biden leads Trump by five points in Texas poll. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has taken a five-point lead over Trump among voters in Texas, according to new polling. A Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll released yesterday had Biden attracting 46% of registered voters compared to 41% for Trump. The poll of roughly 1,900 Texans was taken June 29-July 7 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2%.
- Facebook Inc. is considering a ban on political advertising on its platform in the period shortly before the 2020 U.S. elections, according to reports. The company has come under fire for choosing not to fact-check ads that are run by politicians or their campaigns, while others note it was the site of a prominent and divisive Russian misinformation campaign in 2016.
- Trump ally wins Poland’s presidential election with 51% of the vote as nearly all districts have been counted, according to the election commission. Incumbent Andrzej Duda will be unlikely to challenge Poland’s ruling right-wing party, which has expanded its power over the past five years. The party’s hardline policies have drawn rebukes from the European Union and human rights groups.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
- Trump says U.S. will review colleges’ tax-exempt status. President Trump said that he’s ordered the Treasury Department to review the tax-exempt status of universities, claiming that many are focusing on “Radical Left Indoctrination.” “I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” Trump said on Twitter while flying to Florida. The Treasury Department could make changes via regulations, including the Unrelated Business Income Tax, which pertains to profits earned through a part of the school that’s not substantially related to the nonprofit or educational part of the university.
- Census workers to start knocking on doors. The Census Bureau said it would begin deploying hundreds of thousands of enumerators nationwide this week, after it delayed parts of the 2020 count because of the pandemic.
- Trump vows immigration executive order. White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump had announced he was "working on an executive order to establish a merit-based immigration system to further protect U.S. workers." Trump told Telemundo he plans to sign what he termed "a very major immigration bill as an executive order" in the coming weeks that may include a “road to citizenship” for DACA beneficiaries. The Supreme Court ruled Trump improperly tried to end the Obama-era program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.
- An energy and water spending measure for fiscal 2021 that would block President Donald Trump’s revamping of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and protect the U.S. power grid from cyber threats will head to the House Appropriations Committee today. The White House has signaled President Trump would veto the measure. Link to details in a 235-page committee report released Sunday.
The House Appropriations Committee tomorrow plans to mark up the fiscal 2021 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill. The energy and water measure would block President Donald Trump’s revamping of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and protect the U.S. power grid from cyber threats.
- Dakota Pipeline again goes to court. Developers of the Dakota Access pipeline are turning to a federal appeals court to avert an unprecedented shutdown of the oil pipeline. Energy Transfer lawyers on Friday filed an emergency request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to freeze a lower court’s order requiring the project to stop operating by Aug. 5. Dakota Access has been in service for three years, moving crude from North Dakota to Illinois.
- Trump’s new infrastructure policy. President Trump will visit Atlanta on Wednesday to announce implementation of a new policy allowing expedited infrastructure projects in the area and across the U.S., according to a White House official. Trump will deliver remarks at the UPS Hapeville Airport Hub.
- Immigration ruling challenge. On Tuesday, hearings begin in a case brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The two higher-learning institutions are seeking to block a rule, announced last week, that would leave foreign students open to deportation if they attend colleges that do not offer in-person classes for the fall semester.
- The U.S. plans to target luxury and beauty companies in France after the European country said it will tax Silicon Valley tech giants. A list of French imports worth $1.3 billion will be subject to an additional 25% tariff if both nations fail to reach an agreement. The U.S. intends to suspend the additional 25% tariff for a period of 180 days.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing ethics questions about his government’s decision to grant a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a charity whose events his family members have been paid to speak at.
- Iran and China are seeking to cement a wide-ranging partnership that would deflect U.S. economic pressure and ease Tehran’s global isolation, the WSJ reported. An initial draft of the Iran-China deal would pave the way for Chinese investments in Iranian free-trade zones and for joint projects in other countries, such as Syria and Iraq. It would expand cooperation between the two countries in defense and counter terrorism. And it says that under a 25-year partnership, China would import “sustainable” levels of Iranian oil, but offered no further details.
- Robert Mueller will be invited to testify before a Senate panel about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham acted after the Washington Post published an opinion piece by the former special counsel in which he defended his efforts against claims his probe was "illegitimate." In his first public statement in nearly a year, Robert Mueller insisted Roger Stone was no victim, writing in the Washington Post over the weekend, “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”