The Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas Tuesday ordering two more of President Donald Trump’s former advisers — Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson — to testify before the panel and hand over documents.
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York wants Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Donaldson, who was deputy to former White House counsel Don McGahn, to undergo questioning in his panel’s efforts to pursue findings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
“I have issued these subpoenas today to two critical witnesses who have worked closely with the president,” Nadler said in a statement. “We are seeking the information in order to conduct proper oversight, consider potential legislation and perform our constitutional duties.”
The aggressive move by Nadler came just hours after McGahn defied a committee subpoena for his testimony, refusing to attend a scheduled Judiciary hearing at the direction of the White House.
Nadler said after McGahn’s failure to show up that his committee will fight the White House’s assertion of immunity and obtain McGahn’s testimony, ‘even if we have to go to court to secure it.’
Hicks, who was subpoenaed to testify on June 24, had been one of Trump’s longest-serving and most trusted advisers. She left the White House last year and is now chief communications officer for Fox Corp., owner of Trump’s favorite cable news channel.
According to Mueller’s report, Trump asked Hicks to keep quiet about potentially damaging emails sent by his son, Donald Trump Jr. Hicks, who was interviewed by Mueller’s team, also helped prepare a misleading statement about the purpose of a 2016 meeting by Trump Jr. and other advisers at Trump Tower with Russians who promised to offer political dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
As McGahn’s chief of staff, Donaldson had a close-up view of how the attorney handled Trump’s demands and any alleged misconduct. Her notes are cited extensively in Mueller’s report.
In March 2017, when then-FBI Director James Comey briefed congressional leaders on the investigation into Russian election interference, Donaldson said in a note, “POTUS in panic/chaos … Need binders to put in front of POTUS. (1) All things related to Russia.’
In June 2017, Donaldson was a witness to McGahn’s threat to resign after Trump ordered him to have Mueller fired. McGahn didn’t carry out that order.
McGahn had been the first former White House employee to receive a subpoena for congressional testimony since the public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report.
But Trump since has declared that his administration will fight “all the subpoenas.”
In addition to Nadler’s latest subpoenas, which were authorized by the Judiciary Committee on April 3, other potential legal showdowns loom in his committee’s investigation of Trump, his finances and whether he tried to obstruct justice.
Source: NewsMax Politics
In an ironic twist, President Donald Trump’s lawyers appealed a lower court decision ordering that his financial records be released to the House Oversight Committee to the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, headed by Merrick Garland, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
Garland was nominated in 2016 by President Barack Obama to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outraged Democrats by refusing to even schedule a meeting of the Judiciary Committee to consider his nomination.
Following his election victory, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia, and the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed him.
People had a field day on Twitter pointing out the irony and speculating about the revenge Garland could dish out.
However, Democratic speechwriter Zev Karlin-Neumann said in a tweet Garland is above such pettiness, writing “I wish I could say revenge is a dish best served cold, but Merrick Garland is a consummate legal professional who I’m sure will do everything possible to avoid the appearance of any bias. Which, you know, would have been a great reason to have him on the Supreme Court.”
In any case, Garland might not even be a judge to rule on the case.
He is just one of 17 judges who sit on the appellate court, and cases are assigned to a three-judge panel, according to the Post.
Source: NewsMax America
President Donald Trump was “thrilled” by the “bargain basement” prices his campaign received on office space in Virginia, but that deal could have been a violation of election law, the Washington Examiner reports.
A campaign official told the Examiner the Trump campaign “saved multiple millions of dollars” on office space in Arlington, Virginia.
“We would not normally have such sleek office space,” the unnamed official said while sitting in a boardroom facing the Washington Monument. “This was a steal. The president was thrilled. We saved multiple millions of dollars. Brad found it and the deal was struck.”
He added campaign manager Brad Parscale “found out about it and went to them and said, ‘Hey, would you do a lump sum payment cash up front for the next two years?’ They said, ‘Sold!’ We took it off their hands and sublet it from them. And it came with all the furniture. We saved millions of dollars. I think Brad said we got it for about $36 per square foot, which is bargain-basement for well-situated commercial real estate in northern Virginia.”
However, former election officials note federal law requires candidates to pay market rates on rent, otherwise it is considered an illegal campaign contribution, though there are exceptions.
“You can’t get a good deal that’s not available to anyone else, that’s a contribution,” said Bradley Smith, a Republican and the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “Generally, if the accused party has a reasonably plausible basis for their calculation, they are going to be fine. The FEC is not going to be eager to say the amount charged is wrong.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
The Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee November 4, 2015. Volkswagen told NHTSA that it would recall about 92,000 vehicles, which are some 2015 and 2016 models of Jetta, Passat, Golf and Beetle, in the United States. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
May 21, 2019
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three Democratic U.S. senators on Tuesday questioned the decision by Volkswagen AG’s U.S. unit to delay a union election for workers at its Tennessee assembly plant.
Earlier this month, the largest German automaker won its bid to put off a union election for 1,700 workers at the Chattanooga plant until its challenge to a smaller United Auto Workers bargaining unit at the factory is settled.
The National Labor Relations Board in a single-sentence, 2-1 decision on May 3 granted Volkswagen’s motion to stay an election petition filed by some of its workers last month.
Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote to Scott Keogh, president of Volkswagen Group of America, on Tuesday, expressing “deep concern with delays” to the election.
“We urge you to immediately drop any efforts to oppose or postpone the election,” the said.
UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said: “Chattanooga workers just want the right to vote and have the same workplace rights as every other VW worker in the world.”
Volkswagen did not immediately comment Tuesday.
In December 2015, 160 skilled trade maintenance workers voted to unionize and affiliate with the UAW, the union said. VW declined to bargain with the union, saying the unit needed to include both skilled trade maintenance workers and production workers.
Volkswagen has stated it is neutral on workers joining a union but the senators said its “actions suggest otherwise.”
VW began production at the plant in 2011 and builds the Passat car and the Atlas SUV. In January, VW said it was investing $800 million to build a new electric vehicle in Tennessee and add 1,000 jobs at the Chattanooga plant that will begin EV production in 2022.
The senators “have heard that facility supervisors in Chattanooga are engaging in direct anti-union conversations with workers in the workplace, including pulling workers off the production line to ask if they support the union,” they said.
In February 2014, workers at the plant narrowly voted against union representation, which had been seen as organized labor’s best chance to expand in the U.S. South.
UAW membership has plummeted 75 percent since 1979 and now stands at about 396,000. The UAW has failed for two decades to organize foreign automaker plants in the United States.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
Muslim children eat their lunch during a break at a madrasa or religious school in village Nayabans in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India May 9, 2019. Picture taken on May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
May 21, 2019
By Krishna N. Das, Zeba Siddiqui and Aftab Ahmed
NAYABANS, India (Reuters) – Muslims in Nayabans, an unremarkable village in northern India, say they remember a time when their children played with Hindu youths, and people from either faith chatted when they frequented each other’s shops and went to festivals together.
Such interactions no longer happen, many say, because of how polarized the two communities have become in the past two years, and some are frightened and thinking of moving away – if they can afford it.
Muslim residents who spoke to Reuters said they thought tensions would only worsen if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins a second term in the current general election, as exit polls released on Sunday indicate is likely. Votes will be counted Thursday.
“Things were very good earlier. Muslims and Hindus were together in good and bad times, weddings to deaths. Now we live our separate ways despite living in the same village,” said Gulfam Ali, who runs a small shop selling bread and tobacco.
Modi came to power in 2014 and the BJP took control of Uttar Pradesh state, which includes Nayabans, in 2017, partly on the back of a Hindu-first message. The state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a hardline Hindu priest and senior BJP figure.
“Modi and Yogi have messed it up,” said Ali. “Dividing Hindus and Muslims is their main agenda, only agenda. It was never like this earlier. We want to leave this place but can’t really do that.”
He says about a dozen Muslim families have left in the past two years, including his uncle.
The BJP denies its policies have stoked community divisions.
At the end of last year, Nayabans, a village of wheatfields, narrow cemented streets, bullock carts and loitering cows, became a symbol of India’s deepening divide as some Hindu men from the area complained they had seen a group of Muslims slaughtering cows, which Hindus regard as sacred.
Angry Hindus accused police of failing to stop an illegal practice, and a Hindu mob blocked a highway, threw stones and burned vehicles. Two people were shot and killed – including a police officer.
Five months later many Muslims, who only number about 400 of the village’s population of more than 4,000, say the wounds haven’t healed.
And in a country where 14 percent of the population are Muslim and 80 percent Hindu, Nayabans reflects wider tensions in places where Muslim residents are heavily outnumbered by Hindu neighbors.
The BJP denies it is seeking to make Muslims second-class citizens or is anti-Muslim.
“There have been no riots in the country under this government. It’s wrong to label criminal incidents, which we denounce, as Hindu-Muslim issues,” BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal said.
“The opposition has been playing communal politics but we believe in neutrality of governance. Neither appeasement of any, nor denouncement of any. Some people may be finding that they are not being appeased anymore.”
CALL TO PRAYER
To be sure, villagers say Nayabans was not free of conflict in the past – attempts to build a mosque in 1977 led to communal riots in which two people were killed. But for the 40 years after that there had been relative harmony, villagers say.
Some Muslim residents said Hindu hardliners started asserting themselves more in the village after Yogi took office in March 2017.
The atmosphere worsened around the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2017 – Hindu activists demanded Muslims stop using a microphone in their madrasa, which also acts as a mosque, to call people to prayer, arguing it disturbed the whole community.
The Muslims reluctantly agreed to stop using the mike and speaker – even though they say it had been operating for many years – to keep the peace, but the move created deep resentment.
Some Hindus were unsympathetic.
“God knows what they are moaning about,” said Hindu elder Om Prakash, a 63-year-old tailor. “There’s peace here but we won’t tolerate any mike there. That’s a madrasa, not a mosque.”
Islam requires the faithful to pray five times a day. Without the reminder of hearing the call, some Muslim residents say they risk missing prayer times.
“We can’t express our religion in any way here, but they are free to do whatever they want,” said Muslim law student Aisha, 21.
She said that Hindu men from the village often shouted anti-Muslim slogans during festival processions. At least a dozen Hindus in the village denied that was the case.
Aisha remembers when relations were better.
“Earlier they would speak very nicely to us, but now they don’t,” said Aisha. “If there was any problem at all, or someone was sick in the family, all the neighbors would come over and help – whether Hindus or Muslims. Now that doesn’t happen.”
Sharfuddin Saifi, 38, who runs a cloth shop at a nearby market, was named in a complaint filed with the police by local Hindus over the cow incident last year.
After 16 days in jail, he was released as the police found he had nothing to do with the suspected slaughter, but said he found much had changed.
Hindus now shun his business. The money he spent on lawyers meant he had to stop going to Delhi to buy stock for the shop, which is largely empty. And he withdrew his 13-year-old son from a private school because he could no longer afford it.
“For someone who had never seen the inside of a police station or even dreamt of committing a crime, it’s a big thing,” he said of the trauma of his detention.
He often thinks about leaving the village, he says, but tells himself: “I have not done anything wrong, why should I leave?”
Carpenter Jabbar Ali, 55, moved to a Muslim-dominated area in Masuri, closer to Delhi, buying a house with money he saved from working in Saudi Arabia.
“If Hindus could kill a Hindu police inspector, in front of a police outpost, with armed guards alongside him, then who are we Muslims?” Ali said, recalling the December incident.
He still keeps his house in Nayabans and visits occasionally but said he feels much safer in his new home, where all his immediate neighbors are Muslims.
“I’m fearful here,” he said. “Muslims may have to empty out this place if Modi gets another term, and Yogi continues here.”
Junaid, a round-faced 22-year-old with a goatee, comes from one of the most affluent Muslim families in the village. His father runs a gold shop in a town nearby.
Seated outside his home, he recalled playing sport together with Hindus.
“When we were young all the Hindus and Muslims used to play together, especially cricket – I played it a lot,” he said. “Now we haven’t played in at least a year.”
He said he wanted to move to New Delhi soon to study at a university there. “Things are not good here,” he said.
Some Muslims, however, say they are committed to remaining. Aas Mohammed, 42, the owner of a flourishing tiles and bathroom fixtures business in a nearby town, has decided to stay in the village, though he has a house on Delhi’s outskirts.
Mohammed helped arrange a lawyer for Saifi after his arrest over the cow incident. He is now lobbying to have the microphone brought back and fighting a legal battle to get a new mosque built.
“I will fight on,” he said. “I am not scared, but another term for Modi will make it very difficult for many other people to live here.”
(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui, Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Martin Howell and Alex Richardson)
“Secret” supporters of Donald Trump – those who never acknowledged to family and friends that they voted for him for president in 2016 – doubled those who secretly backed Hillary Clinton, a new study reveals.
These “secret” Trump supporters kept silent about their votes for Trump out of fear of being condemned by family, friends and co-workers, according Yahoo News.
The study was co-authored by Michael Slepian and Rachel McDonald of Columbia University, Jessica Salerno of Arizona State University and Katharine Greenaway of the University of Melbourne.
Many of Trump’s “secret” supporters feared “getting in arguments with people and creating conflicts with those around them, Slepian told Yahoo News.
The study’s researchers found 1,000 people “who secretly voted for someone other than whom they publicly claimed to have voted for.” Fifty-three percent voted for Trump, compared to 27% who voted for Clinton. Nineteen percent said they voted for another candidate.
“Trump voters were more concerned about their reputation than Clinton supporters,” Slepian said.
Yahoo News reported the study found “the more conservative” of the “secret” Trump voters “the less they regretted keeping their vote secret.” However, on the Clinton side, some of the liberals regretted not voicing their support for her.
And Yahoo News also reported the “secret” support for Trump, may explain why so many polls misjudged the 2016 election.
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn listens during the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo
May 21, 2019
By Sarah N. Lynch and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amid growing talk on Capitol Hill of impeaching President Donald Trump, the House of Representatives committee where such an effort would begin plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday with or without testimony from Don McGahn, the White House’s former top lawyer.
McGahn, who left his post in October, was told by the Trump administration on Monday to disregard a House Judiciary Committee subpoena demanding that he appear at the hearing to discuss the Russian election meddling investigation.
The Department of Justice issued a legal opinion saying McGahn did not need to appear, and late on Monday, McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, wrote that his client would not testify before the committee unless the judiciary panel reached an agreement with the White House.
The committee’s Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, made clear the hearing would go ahead regardless.
The White House’s open defiance of the committee follows a pattern of determined stonewalling of numerous congressional inquiries into Trump and his turbulent presidency.
Trump and most fellow Republicans in Congress dismiss the inquiries as political harassment ahead of the 2020 elections.
However, House Republican Justin Amash, a frequent Trump critic and outspoken Michigan conservative, said over the weekend that the president “has engaged in impeachable conduct.”
Counter-punching in his usual style, Trump told reporters late on Monday outside the White House that Amash is “a loser.”
On another front, in a legal setback for Trump, a U.S. judge on Monday ruled against him in a case involving another House panel. The House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Trump’s financial records from his long-time accounting firm Mazars LLP.
In an unusual move, lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization, his company, last month sued to try to block the subpoena. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington ruled against Trump and denied his request for a stay pending appeal.
As a power struggle has escalated between Trump and Congress over its powers to investigate him, Democrats have raised growing concerns about the president’s conduct, especially since the mid-April release of the Mueller report.
“We simply cannot sit by and allow this president to destroy the rule of law … If Mr. McGahn doesn’t testify tomorrow, I think it is probably appropriate for us to move forward with an impeachment inquiry,” Democratic Representative David Cicilline, a Judiciary Committee member, told MSNBC.
The redacted, 448-page report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, 22 months in the making, showed how Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor and detailed Trump’s attempts to impede Mueller’s probe.
The report found there was insufficient evidence to allege a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign. It made no recommendation on whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving that question up to Congress.
“The president acted again and again — perhaps criminally — to protect himself from federal law enforcement. Don McGahn personally witnessed the most egregious of these acts…. (Trump) clearly does not want the American people to hear firsthand about his alleged misconduct,” Nadler said in a statement.
“Senior advisers to the president cannot simply refuse to appear in response to a congressional subpoena,” Nadler said.
If McGahn fails to appear he would follow the lead of Attorney General William Barr, who skipped a hearing before House Judiciary Committee on May 2.
The panel later voted to recommend that the full House hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report. Nadler has threatened to hold McGahn in contempt if he fails to show up.
Trump earlier this month cited the controversial doctrine of executive privilege to block another Judiciary Committee subpoena seeking an unredacted version of Mueller’s final report.
In the report, McGahn was a key witness regarding possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Career prosecutors who are not involved in the case have said that the report contained strong evidence that Trump committed a crime when he pressured McGahn to fire Mueller and later urged him to lie about the episode.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)
Visitors hear a speech of Gregor Gysi of the Left Party Die Linke during a rally for the upcoming European Parliament elections in Dresden, Germany, April 24, 2019. Picture taken April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel
May 21, 2019
By Thomas Escritt
DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) – Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Bodo Ramelow, premier of the eastern state of Thuringia, thinks it might be time for a new national anthem for a reunited Germany.
The proposal is radical, but with most of the former East Germany voting in regional elections this year that will test Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fractious coalition, the eastern Germans’ feelings are uppermost in many politicians’ minds.
“Many East Germans don’t sing it,” said Ramelow, a Westerner who forged a political career in the East but faces a tough re-election fight in October. “I would like to have a truly common anthem. Something completely new that everyone can identify with and say: ‘That’s mine.’”
With Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt also electing new parliaments in September and October, three of the five states that make up the former East Germany – excluding the capital Berlin – are holding votes, or two thirds of its population.
Together, their governments control 12 of the 69 seats in the federal upper house, meaning a possible drubbing for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners could greatly complicate legislation.
Many were jubilant when, deprived of Soviet backing, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) collapsed after four decades, uniting a few short months later with its western neighbor.
But the manner of that unification, the years of depopulation and job losses that followed, as well as the subsequent erasure from history of a state in which 16 million people lived at its peak, have left a bitter taste for many.
Few took Ramelow’s proposal seriously. A spokesman for Merkel, herself an easterner, said she found Germany’s present anthem “beautiful in both text and melody”. But Ramelow is not the only senior politician to fret at some East Germans’ alienation.
At a recent meeting of her party’s eastern delegates, SPD minister Katarina Barley said the almost unthinkable, reflecting that West Germany should perhaps have abandoned its cherished post-war constitution in 1990 in favor of a fresh document for a reunited Germany.
Alienation has consequences. Some analysts link it to the strength in the east of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has a chance of seizing the mayoralty in Dresden, Germany’s 12th largest city, in coming local elections.
Decades after reunification, the region remains poorer, making nationwide problems like spiraling housing costs even more severe than in the wealthier West.
But while the SPD advocates slowing rent increases and the CDU suggests law and order measures, the Left party with its promise to end “market radicalism” and the AfD pledging to ban headscarves and tackle immigration are fighting on more existential ground.
For British academic James Hawes, the east – the part of Germany that lay beyond the borders of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago – has always been different, its inhabitants more insecure because more exposed to invasion from the east.
“East Germany isn’t different because it was conquered by the Russians,” he said. “It was conquered by the Russians because it has always been different.”
A POLICE STATE WHERE PEOPLE FELL IN LOVE
But others see explanations in the much more recent past. When West Germany swallowed up a decrepit East, it was seen as a crowning western triumph in the Cold War: the Communist police state that imprisoned dissidents and shot escapees was assimilated to its successful, democratic neighbor.
But two thirds of people in the east, including many born after it ended, have a positive picture of the GDR, according to historian Joerg Ganzenmueller.
“There are two memories living in parallel,” says Ganzenmueller. “In public memory they stress the dictatorship. And then you have what people themselves remember from that time.”
A host of indicators – from voting patterns to media consumption and workplace behavior – show a region that preserves many of the marks of the GDR.
More men still take paternity leave in the East than the West, and more women are in senior management – a legacy of the one-party state’s decades-long push to bring women into the workforce when that was a rarity in the west.
“East Germany is remembered in the west as an unjust state, for the people shot trying to cross the Berlin Wall were shot at the Berlin Wall, controlled by the Stasi secret police,” said Stefan Kobus, editor of SuperIllu, a weekly magazine that sells well in the east but is all but unknown in the west.
It was all these things, but “it was also a place where people fell in love, a people where people lived, where people had happy holidays,” he said, adding that denial of this breeds resentment.
In Dresden, a baroque jewel whose outer districts have become home to disaffected supporters of the far right, hundreds, aged from their 20s to their 80s, have paid 20 euros to see the east’s stars perform at a SuperIllu event.
NO APOLOGIES FOR BEING HAPPY
“I’m fed up with having to apologize for the East,” said ageing rocker Dirk Michaelis, whose ballad “When I Went On” made him a superstar in East Germany. “There were some happy times there,” he adds. The audience claps.
Gregor Gysi, a witty, smooth-talking lawyer who, despite being a party member, made his name defending the regime’s dissident opponents in court, is the evening’s main draw.
He led the Communist Party through its transformation into Ramelow’s democratic Left party, becoming the face of the East in the reunited Germany’s media in the 1990s. He argues that the “Ossis” – easterners – have something unique to contribute.
“We have an advantage over the Wessis: we have experienced both systems,” he tells the audience, to cheers and applause.
But memories of the GDR are far from uncritical. When Kevin Kuehnert, leader of the SPD’s youth wing, caused consternation by suggesting BMW be renationalized, some of the harshest criticism came from the east.
The idea played well in his trendy West Berlin milieu, but East Germany, whose slow, stinking “Trabi” car made its auto industry the butt of a thousand jokes, had other memories of nationalization, said Eberhard Brecht, a former SPD mayor of the eastern town of Quedlinburg.
“Nationalization – that’s what we had in the East, and it led to collapse,” said Brecht. “The people floating ideas like that have no experience of East Germany.”
(Additional reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Giles Elgood)
FILE PHOTO: An employee counts U.S. dollar notes in a bank in Cairo, Egypt March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo
May 21, 2019
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar was steady near a 2-1/2-week high on Tuesday, supported by higher U.S.-yields and its safe-haven status, with growing worries that the U.S.-China trade war could worsen following Washington’s crackdown on China’s Huawei Technologies.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade higher at 97.965 after brushing 98.036 overnight, its highest since May 3.
Global equities have taken a hit this week, with share prices in chipmakers falling in the wake of the U.S. moves against Huawei.
“The dollar has established itself as a safe-haven and it attracts demand in times like this, with equities falling and market volatility rising,” said Takuya Kanda, general manager at Gaitame.Com Research Institute.
“The bounce by Treasury yields is another factor supporting the dollar. The recent drop by the 10-year yield seemed overdone, and with Fed’s Powell not providing clear hints of a rate cut this year, the rebound in yields could continue for a while.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Monday that it was premature to make a judgment about the impact trade and tariff issues could have on monetary policy.
The 10-year Treasury note yield extended its overnight rebound and brushed an eight-day high of 2.428%. The yield had dropped to 2.354% last week, its lowest since March 28, after weak U.S. retail sales data increased rate cut expectations.
“Among industrialized nations, only Italy has a higher 10-year yield than the United States. Under such conditions, buyers have little choice but to turn to the dollar,” said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank.
The 10-year Italian government bond yielded 2.705%, driven up by domestic political uncertainty and the country’s rising debt. The 10-year German and Japanese yields stood at minus 0.088% and minus 0.05%, respectively.
The euro was flat at $1.1165 after slipping to $1.1150 the previous day, its lowest since May 3. The single currency is expected to remain on a nervous footing through the May 23-26 European parliamentary election.
The dollar was 0.15% firmer at 110.195 yen, in touching distance of a two-week high of 110.320 scaled the previous day.
AUSSIE’S ADVANCE CUT SHORT
The Australian dollar was 0.25% lower at $0.6891, its earlier advance fizzling out after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said on Tuesday that the central bank will consider the case for lower interest rates at its June policy meeting.
A cut would be the first since the RBA’s last easing to a record low 1.50% in August 2016.
The Aussie had gained nearly 0.6% the previous day on a surprise election win by the country’s conservative government. Investors had regarded the opposition Labor Party’s economic policies as less business-friendly, and their relief at Labor’s unexpected defeat drove a rally in Australian markets.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to supporters after addressing a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
May 21, 2019
By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON/MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, facing a potentially difficult path to winning a second term in November 2020, on Monday told supporters in Pennsylvania that his trade war had strengthened the battleground state’s steel industry and jobs.
Although Trump does not launch his re-election bid officially until next month, his appearance at a raucous rally in an airport hangar in northeastern Pennsylvania, using Air Force One as a backdrop, had the hallmarks of a campaign event.
He took aim at Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden. “Sleepy Joe said that he’s running to ‘save the world.’ … He’s going to save every country but ours,” Trump said.
The president previewed the arguments he will make to voters in the 2020 election, crediting his trade stance with helping the U.S. economy.
“When you have the best employment numbers in history, when you have the best unemployment numbers in history, when you have the best economy probably that we’ve ever had, I don’t know – how the hell do you lose this election, right?,” he said.
Trump has waged a high-stakes trade dispute with China, and tariffs imposed by both countries on a range of goods have raised fears of a global economic slowdown.
Trump last year also imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. He claims that the move saved and created jobs at U.S. mills as well as spurred investment such as by U.S. Steel in Pennsylvania. Many economists say that those benefits are outweighed by higher costs to U.S. companies and consumers.
Trump was stumping for a special House of Representatives election in Pennsylvania, one of three “Rust Belt” states he won in 2016 with votes from white, blue-collar voters who had previously voted Democratic.
His campaign sees the state as key to keeping control of the White House, along with Michigan and Wisconsin. A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed the president trailing the main Democratic contenders in Pennsylvania in particular.
“I’ll be seeing a lot of you over the next year,” Trump said. “Gotta win this state.”
‘TROUBLESOME’ TRIO OF STATES
Trump has already been raising money for his re-election and holding political rallies for many months. But he plans an official rollout for his campaign in mid-June, the four-year anniversary of when he rode the escalator at Trump Tower down to a crowd of supporters and announced his candidacy.
He is likely to hold a rally in Florida, possibly on June 15, to mark the occasion, sources said. The Trump campaign declined to comment.
Trump , who considers Florida to be something of a second home, won the state in 2016. But as is the case for Trump in many battleground states, his victory is not assured there in 2020, and he will likely face a fight to win it again.
The Trump campaign has privately expressed concern about the trio of upper Midwest swing states that provided his 2016 margin of victory, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
A source close to the campaign called Trump’s position in those states “troublesome.”
“They’re awakening to the fact that they’ve got a problem. They have a solid base among Republicans but a lot of independent voters that gave them the margin in these states are not doing well,” the source said.
Since Trump took over as president in early 2017, the United States has had low unemployment and strong growth. Typically, presidents with an economy this vibrant would be strong bets for re-election.
But Trump’s polarizing presidency has given hope to a host of Democratic contenders that he can be denied a second term.
Biden has sounded a unifying theme to try to rally Americans behind his candidacy. In second place in the Democratic polls is democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
Biden has put his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia and has held two rallies in the state during the past month.
Trump has dubbed Biden “Sleepy Joe” to try to undermine him, in much the same way as he gave Republican contender Jeb Bush the nickname “low-energy Jeb” in 2016.
(Reporting By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Eric Beech; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)