Overseas Headlines- October 7, 2019

October 7, 2019

United States:

Trump’s Peril Intensifies as More Whistle-Blowers Come Forward

“President Donald Trump faces new peril heading into this week — not just from Democrats seeking to impeach him but from his own administration, as there are now at least two whistle-blowers coming forward to talk about his actions. There’s doubt over whether the Trump administration will let several witnesses speak to House panels this week as planned, and signs some Republican lawmakers are growing restive about what else might surface regarding Trump’s requests of foreign leaders. Lawyers representing an intelligence official who filed a formal complaint over the president’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump pushed the Ukrainian government to dig up damaging information about a political rival, said on Sunday they’re now representing multiple whistle-blowers. It wasn’t clear how many more there are. A second whistle-blower has first-hand knowledge that supports the complaint filed by the first official and has spoken to the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community, said Mark Zaid, one of the lawyers representing the whistle-blowers. The second individual hasn’t filed a separate complaint, Zaid said. Revelations about multiple whistle-blowers raise the stakes for Trump as House Democrats prepare to privately depose more current and former officials about the circumstances surrounding the call in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The Trump administration is still trying to form a strategy for how it’s going to handle the House investigation. The president has insisted he’s done nothing wrong, but he’s also made clear that he doesn’t trust the House Democrats running the impeachment inquiry and has been daring them to hold a vote on opening impeachment proceedings. The House panels subpoenaed the White House for documents on efforts by Trump and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into opening a probe of the Bidens. Trump must decide whether to stonewall the various House panels — as he’s suggested — or provide the documents by the Oct. 18 deadline. It’s also unclear what kind of damaging information the new whistle-blower has — or if any others may emerge. But Trump aides dismissed the revelation of a new possible complaint. “It doesn’t matter how many people decide to call themselves whistle-blowers about the same telephone call — a call the president already made public — it doesn’t change the fact that he has done nothing wrong,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. Democrats pursuing impeachment have accused the president of leveraging his power to target a political opponent. “The evidence of wrongdoing by Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the House Democratic leadership, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The president’s own words in the public domain has indicated that he doesn’t think there’s any problem in soliciting foreign interference.” ”



U.K. Building Suppliers Hit as SIG Profit Warning Adds to Slowdown Concerns

“Shares of U.K. construction suppliers slid after a profit warning from SIG Plc provided the latest sign of a weakening industry outlook amid concern over slowing growth and Brexit. The vendor of roofing materials, insulation products and partition walls saw its stock plunge as much as 27%, the most in a decade, after saying that adjusted profit would be below previous expectations as “political and macro-economic uncertainty” contributed to a further weakening in trading conditions. Stocks including building merchant Travis Perkins Plc, kitchen-designer and fitter Howden Joinery Group Plc and B&Q-owner Kingfisher Plc fell in sympathy as analysts warned of a read-across for peers. “The macro backdrop in the U.K. seems to have become incrementally more difficult and the trends will likely continue to worry the markets about a more widespread weakening into 2020,” Aynsley Lammin, building and support-services analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said by email. Lammin noted that recent U.K. construction and manufacturing purchasing managers’ index data already suggests the macro backdrop remains fragile. Declining services PMI is even more worrying given its relative importance for the U.K. economy, he said. SIG’s update came on the same day that mortgage lender Halifax warned that U.K. house prices are growing at the slowest rate in more than six years. Persimmon Plc and Berkeley Group Holdings Plc were among homebuilders declining by more than 1% on Monday. SIG was trading down 14% at 11 a.m. U.K. time.”




China Narrows Scope for Trade Deal With U.S. Ahead of Talks

“Chinese officials are signaling they’re increasingly reluctant to agree to a broad trade deal pursued by President Donald Trump, ahead of negotiations this week that have raised hopes of a potential truce. In meetings with U.S. visitors to Beijing in recent weeks, senior Chinese officials have indicated the range of topics they’re willing to discuss has narrowed considerably, according to people familiar with the discussions. Vice Premier Liu He, who will lead the Chinese contingent in high-level talks that begin Thursday, told visiting dignitaries he would bring an offer to Washington that won’t include commitments on reforming Chinese industrial policy or the government subsidies that have been the target of longstanding U.S. complaints, one of the people said. That offer would take one of the Trump administration’s core demands off the table. It’s emblematic of what analysts see as China’s strengthening hand as the Trump administration faces an impeachment crisis — which has recently drawn in China — and a slowing economy blamed by businesses on the disruption caused by the president’s trade wars. People close to the Trump administration say the impeachment inquiry isn’t affecting trade talks with China. Any attempt to portray anything different is an attempt to weaken the U.S. hand at the negotiating table and, they argue, would be a miscalculation by the Chinese. China’s foreign and commerce ministries in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to faxed requests for comments Monday. The Chinese government was expected to resume normal work Tuesday after a weeklong National Day holiday. U.S. stock futures fell, the yen edged up and the yuan slipped Monday after the report. Treasuries climbed. China — beset by its own escalating political crisis in Hong Kong — was drawn into the Washington furor after Trump last week called for a Chinese investigation into his Democratic rival Joe Biden and the former vice president’s son, moments after threatening another escalation in the trade spat. Trump insisted on Friday that there’s no linkage. Yet the president’s latest comments suggest why Chinese leaders, already frustrated with what they see as the president’s impetuous conduct in the trade talks, may see room to take advantage. China’s leadership “are interpreting the impeachment discussion as a weakening of Trump’s position, or certainly a distraction,” said Jude Blanchette, an expert on China’s elite politics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Their calculation is that Trump needs a win” and is willing to make compromises on substance as a result, he said.”



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