Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the first Republican in Congress to accuse President Donald Trump of impeachable conduct, is facing a primary challenge.
State Rep. Jim Lower announced Monday he’s running for the western Michigan seat. The announcement came two days after Amash sent a series of tweets faulting Trump and Attorney General William Barr over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The 30-year-old Lower, of Greenville, says he made the announcement earlier than planned after Amash attacked Trump.
Lower calls himself a “pro-Trump, pro-life, pro-jobs, pro-Second Amendment, pro-family values Republican.” He is in his second term in the Michigan House after working as a legislative staffer and political consultant.
Amash was first elected in 2010 and overcame a 2014 primary challenge.
Source: NewsMax Politics
A man looks at a television screen showing exit poll results after the last phase of the general election in Ahmedabad, India, May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave
May 20, 2019
By Nigam Prusty and Alasdair Pal
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is to meet coalition partners to discuss a new government, two BJP sources said on Monday, after exit polls predicted a clear general election victory for the party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The talks will be on Tuesday afternoon at the BJP’s headquarters in New Delhi and will be led by the party president, Amit Shah, one of the party sources said. The sources declined to be identified as they are not authorized to speak about the meeting.
Nalin Kohli, a spokesman for the BJP, declined to comment.
India’s seven-phase general election, billed as the world’s biggest democratic exercise, began on April 11 and ended on Sunday. Votes will be counted on Thursday and results are likely the same day.
Modi’s BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anything between 339-365 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament with the Congress-led opposition alliance getting only 77 to 108, an exit poll from India Today Axis showed on Sunday.
A party needs 272 seats to command a majority.
The predicted BJP margin of victory is bigger than opinion polls indicated in the run-up to the vote, when most surveys showed the NDA would be the largest alliance but would fall short of an overall majority.
Arun Jaitley, finance minister in the BJP government, said he was confident in the exit polls.
“When multiple exit polls convey the same message, the direction of the result broadly would be in consonance with the message,” Jaitley said in a blog post on Monday.
Indian stock markets and the rupee were sharply higher on expectation the business-friendly Modi would stay on at the helm.
The benchmark NSE share index was up 2.8%, its best single day since March 2016.
“I expect another 2-3% rally in the market in the next three to four days based on the cue,” said Samrat Dasgupta, a fund manager at Esquire Capital Investment Advisors.
Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha cast doubt on the exit polls, saying on Twitter he believed they were wrong.
“If the exit poll figures are true then my dog is a nuclear scientist,” Jha said, adding he expected the next prime minister would come from outside the BJP alliance.
Modi and his BJP faced criticism in the run-up to the election over unemployment, in particular for failing to provide opportunities to young people coming onto the job market, and for weak farm prices.
But Modi rallied his Hindu nationalist base and made national security a central theme of the campaign after a surge in tension with Pakistan in February following a suicide bomb attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir by Pakistan based militants.
Modi ordered air strikes on a suspected militant camp in Pakistan, which led to a surge in tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
But many Indians applauded Modi’s tough stand and he was able to attack the opposition for being soft on security.
Ram Madhav, a senior leader in the BJP, told Reuters partner ANI the results would be even better for the party than the exit polls were suggesting, particularly in West Bengal state.
West Bengal has the third largest number of members of parliament and has been hotly contested between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress, one of the most powerful parties in the coalition trying to unseat Modi.
“Bengal will surprise all the pollsters, we are hoping to do extremely well there,” Madhav said. “Everyone has seen the tremendous support for PM Modi and the BJP in Bengal.”
(Reporting by Nigam Prusty and Alasdair Pal; Editing by Robert Birsel)
A police officer walks out with a dog from a room where four jailed Catalan politician will get their parliamentary credentials, in Madrid, Spain, May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
May 20, 2019
MADRID (Reuters) – Five jailed Catalan separatists elected to parliament last month picked up their credentials as lawmakers on Monday amid high security after being granted temporary release from custody.
Flanked by plainclothes police and ushered through a tight cordon set up around the national assembly building, they were applauded in by about ten lawmakers from their parties – ERC and JxCat – and a Basque nationalist party.
The five are in detention while on trial for their involvement in Catalonia’s 2017 independence referendum and brief declaration of secession from Spain, which judicial authorities declared illegal.
The Supreme Court ruled they could collect their papers and also attend Tuesday’s opening parliamentary sessions before returning to prison.
Oriol Junqueras, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull and Jordi Sanchez won seats in the lower house in the April 28 national election while Raul Romeva was elected to the Senate.
“Today we have been able to leave prison … thanks to your votes… Your votes have made us free,” Junqueras said in a tweet.
They and seven other Catalan leaders face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, which they all deny. The trial is expected to last several months more.
Once they return to their cells in a high-security prison outside Madrid, the five lawmakers will face a choice – whether to give up their seats to a party colleague or risk being absent from what are likely to be closely contested votes, notably in a deeply fragmented lower house.
It is as yet unclear if they would be able to participate in any other parliamentary sessions.
Like all lawmakers, they were handed a briefcase marked with parliament’s logo. It contained an iPhone and a tablet which JxCat lawmaker Marta Borras said they would not be permitted to take back to jail with them.
(Reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Ingrid Melander and John Stonestreet)
Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy applauds after taking the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
May 20, 2019
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine could begin talks on a new or revised program with the International Monetary Fund after a snap parliamentary election, an adviser to the new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was quoted as saying by Interfax Ukraine on Monday.
“After the parliamentary election, I think it is possible to open a new program,” Oleg Ustenko said. “I suppose that in June-August the negotiation process will start on either opening a new program or revising the old program.”
The IMF supports Ukraine with a $3.9 billion agreement conditional on the country passing reforms such as bringing household heating tariffs up to market levels.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams and Toby Chopra)
Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy waves as he walks to take the oath of office ahead of his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall, in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
May 20, 2019
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy took the oath of office on Monday and immediately announced he was dissolving parliament and calling a snap election, aiming to win seats in a legislature still dominated by loyalists of his predecessor.
Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.
He said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people. He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war.
Working with parliament will be crucial to his ability to meet the expectations of his voters and also pass reforms needed to keep foreign aid flowing.
Zelenskiy called on lawmakers to use the two months until the snap election to pass a law that would strip them of immunity from prosecution and another law that bans officials from illegally enriching themselves.
“You will have two months for this. Do it and you will deserve medals,” Zelenskiy said after being sworn in. “I dissolve the Rada (parliament) of the eighth convocation.”
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Peter Graff)
FILE PHOTO: A board displaying stock prices is seen at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray
May 20, 2019
By Paulina Duran and Byron Kaye
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian bank shares posted their biggest rally in a decade on Monday as a surprise conservative election win eased regulation fears, though a housing downturn and strict rules baked in since a misconduct inquiry could temper longer-term bullishness.
With every major opinion poll suggesting a win for the center-left opposition Labor party, bank stocks had traded at multiples below the broader market partly because of the party’s policies to end tax breaks for landlords and for share investors who don’t earn other income.
With those proposals now off the legislative agenda, shares of the top banks stormed to their biggest single-session rise since the 2008 financial crisis.
Shares of No. 1 lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia jumped as much as 7%, its biggest gain since 2009, while No. 2 lender Westpac Banking Corp was up over 8%, its biggest trading day by volume in 10 years. That pushed the broader Australian market up 1.4% and the financial sub-index 5.7% higher, the sharpest gain since November 2008.
The third-largest lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd rose 7% and No. 4 player National Australia Bank Ltd was up 7.5% on the first trading day since the election.
The combined market value of the “Big Four” banks added over A$25 billion.
“The election outcome has removed the downside risk that certain policies posed to asset values (but) banks are now following the law that they should have been following for 10 years and the election outcome won’t change that,” said Deutsche Bank banking analyst Matthew Wilson, referring to responsible lending rules.
“We now return to the fundamentals associated with the extent of household debt.”
Australia’s central bank has warned of sluggish inflation as a housing correction and wage stagnation erode people’s spending power right in the aftermath of a protacted borrowing frenzy when house prices were rising rapidly until 2018.
Banks have already earmarked some A$6 billion to reimburse wronged customers, mostly for inappropriately charged fees, amid sustained criticism about an practice aired in an industry inquiry known as “fees for no service”.
Even after Monday’s rally, the Big Four banks were trading below their valuations before November 2017 when the inquiry was announced.
“The problems for the banks are not going away just because the government remains the same,” said Sean Sequeira, chief investment officer at Alleron Investment Management.
“Slowing credit growth, increases in regulatory costs, a slowing economy and other issues related to the Royal Commission haven’t gone away.”
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Sam Holmes)
FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison casts his vote on Election day, at Lilli Pilli Public School, in Sydney, Saturday, 18 May, 2019. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas/via REUTERS
May 20, 2019
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s conservative coalition was on Monday poised to secure an outright majority following a shock election victory, allowing Prime Minister Scott Morrison to progress his legislative agenda without the support of independents.
Morrison’s coalition defied forecasts to be re-elected on Saturday in what he called a political miracle.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Monday said Morrison’s coalition has won 75 seats in Australia’s parliament, one seat short of a 76-seat majority.
The AEC said the coalition is ahead in two of the five seats that have not been declared.
Respected Australian Broadcasting Corporation election analyst Antony Green said the Morrison’s coalition will hold these leads, allowing it to select a parliamentary speaker and retain a majority.
The expected result sent Australian banking, property and health-related stocks to an 11-year high on Monday as investors cheered.
After a long and bitter election campaign, Morrison said Australians have had enough of politics.
“They’ve had their say, they’ve made their decision. Now they expect us to get on with it so they can get on with their lives,” Morrison told 2GB Radio in Sydney. “That’s what the quiet Australians have said and I’m going to honor that.”
One of Morrison’s first tasks after being sworn in will be a cabinet reshuffle after the retirement of several front-benchers. The personnel shift will be closely watched for signs of policy changes.
“The cabinet reshuffle will indicate whether he plans to move on polices such as climate change,” said Rodney Tiffen, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Sydney.
“A big signal will be whether he moves the ministers for environment and energy. If he replaces them with people who have argued for stronger action, it will be marker.”
Morrison has rejected efforts to increase the use of renewables to generate electricity, arguing it would damage the economy which relies on coal-fired power and mining exports.
The coalition has stuck to an official target to cut carbon emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030, but the United Nations has warned Australia was unlikely to meet this goal.
The defeated opposition Labor party campaigned on more aggressive targets, aiming to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach 50 percent renewable power by 2030.
The re-elected Liberal-led coalition has no renewable energy target beyond 2020.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)
Democratic primary candidate Seth Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran, unveiled a national service education program designed to encourage Americans 17-24 to serve their country one to three years, modeling it after the G.I. Bill.
“I’m calling for a National Service Education Guarantee because I want every American to have an opportunity to serve like I did – a chance to confront the challenges our country faces today, be a part of something bigger than themselves, and earn a promise that they will be rewarded for their efforts,” Rep. Moulton, D-Mass., announced in a statement on his website.
“That’s why my national service plan is modeled on the G.I. Bill and designed to build on its success in fostering a culture of service to this country we love.”
The proposal, promoted on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, would cover 60% of in-state college tuition or up to $14K of job training costs for one year of service. A three-year commitment would cover full in-state tuition or $24K in training.
Moulton is among around two dozen Democrats lining up to complete in the primary for the 2020 presidential election. He faces long odds, however, not appearing in the top 10 candidates nationally or even in his home state, according RealClearPolitics.com.
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past fuel containers while vehicle queue to refuel with gasoline in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo
May 19, 2019
By Mariela Nava and Mircely Guanipa
MARACAIBO/PUNTO FIJO (Reuters) – Soldiers oversaw rationing of gasoline at service stations in several parts of Venezuela on Sunday as worsening fuel shortages forced angry drivers to wait for hours to fill their tanks, prompting protests in some areas.
Venezuela, whose economy is reeling from a painful five-year recession amid a prolonged political crisis, saw long lines of vehicles appear at services stations in several regions this week after a shutdown at the OPEC nation’s second-largest refinery.
Shortages have been exacerbated by tough U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) in January, which have slashed crude oil exports and imports of refined fuels.
Washington recognized opposition head Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader after he invoked the constitution in January to declare an interim presidency, saying President Nicolas Maduro rigged last year’s election.
Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet and says Washington wants to control Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world. Dozens of people have been killed in political protests this year.
In the western city of San Cristóbal, close to the Colombian border, National Guard soldiers in anti-riot gear limited gasoline sales to 40 liters (10.6 gallons) per vehicle, witnesses said – roughly equivalent to a full tank on a compact vehicle.
Angry residents blocked streets with metal barriers, rubbish and branches in some parts of the city. At some gasoline stations, people said they had been waiting days for fuel.
“How can a country function like this?” asked Antonio Tamariz, 58, who said he had waited for days for fuel to drive his truck back to his farm. “No one has explained why there are so many lines for gasoline. I think the government is losing control of this.”
Venezuela’s Information Ministry – which handles media enquiries for the government – did not respond to requests for comment.
Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said on Sunday his country’s oil industry was under siege from the U.S. government, causing supply problems.
In the southeastern industrial hub of Puerto Ordaz and the northwestern city of Punto Fijo, close to Venezuela’s largest refining complex, soldiers were ordered to deliver 40 and 30 liters respectively, according to a dozen witnesses.
In the western oil hub of Maracaibo, where power cuts and fuel shortages have been severe in recent months, National Guard soldiers allowed drivers only 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of fuel, witnesses said.
“They have taken control of the pumps,” said Rocio Huerta, a manager of a service station in Maracaibo. “Every five hours there are inspections by the Military Intelligence Division to measure how much gasoline is left.”
Victor Chourio, a 58-year-old taxi driver, said he had arrived at the gasoline station early on Saturday and waited for 12 hours without getting fuel.
“At two o’clock in the afternoon a soldier guard said that only 20 liters per vehicle … but at seven o’clock the gasoline ran out,” Chourio told Reuters.
Venezuela’s 310,000 bpd Cardon oil refinery – which had been operating well below capacity – halted operations on Wednesday because of damage at some of its units, two workers at the PDVSA-operated complex said. That left only two refineries in operation in Venezuela.
Internal PDVSA documents and Refinitiv Eikon data indicate that Venezuela had not imported a gasoline cargo since March 31.
The fuel shortages come on top of rolling powercuts in many parts of Venezuela as the government attempts to rotate electricity supplies to avoid a repeat of March’s week-long national blackout.
In Caracas, home to roughly a fifth of Venezuela’s more than 30 million people, there were few signs of widespread gasoline shortages as Maduro has prioritized services to the capital.
PDVSA said on its Twitter account on Friday that the government and the company would “ensure the supply and distribution of fuel throughout the national territory.”
PDVSA did not respond to a request for more information.
In some cities, security forces set up special gasoline pumps to deliver fuel for ambulances, medical personnel and official vehicles, a measure that aroused criticism among people who remained in rows often stretching for several kilometers.
Some drivers complained that rationing of fuel meant they would be forced to wait in line for hours once again within just a few days.
“This is not enough at all, between going to work and taking my children to school. It will run out in two days,” said Eduardo Pereira, a 47-year-old teacher in Puerto Ordaz, who was only allowed to buy 40 liters of fuel.
(Reporting by Mariela Navas in Maracaibo and Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo; Additional reporting by María Ramírez in Puerto Ordaz, Anggy Polanco in San Cristóbal, Keren Torres in Barquisimeto and Tibisay Romero in Valencia; Writing by Daniel Flynn and Corina Pons; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) speaks at the Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
May 19, 2019
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump lashed out on Sunday at the first Republican congressman to call the U.S. president’s behavior impeachable, while Democrats warned Trump’s stonewalling of congressional probes is strengthening the case for an impeachment inquiry.
Trump called Republican Representative Justin Amash “a total lightweight” and “a loser” on Twitter, a day after the Michigan conservative said the Mueller report showed that the Republican president “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.”
Amash’s criticism made calls in the U.S. Congress for Trump’s impeachment bipartisan, though just barely, with most Republicans still standing by the president at a time of economic growth, turbulent markets and global trade tensions.
Saying most lawmakers have not read it, Amash cited Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian meddling in Trump’s favor in the 2016 U.S. election. On Twitter on Saturday, Amash said the report showed Trump had obstructed justice and added, “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.”
A frequent Trump critic, Amash is a part of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative faction. He has also signaled he would consider running as a libertarian against Trump in 2020.
Counter-punching in his usual style, Trump tweeted: “Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy … Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”
Trump will have a chance to make his case to supporters on Monday at a rally planned for Montoursville, Pa.
Amash’s comments echoed the conclusions of many Democrats. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Trump was moving closer to impeachment with his stonewalling of numerous congressional investigations of him and his presidency.
Still, Democrats are divided about impeachment. With 2020 election campaigns heating up, Pelosi said impeachment proceedings would be “divisive” for the country.
No U.S. president has ever been removed from office as a direct result of the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment process. The House of Representatives has impeached two presidents. Both were acquitted by the Senate.
The Mueller report, now at the center of an escalating oversight battle between Trump and House Democrats, detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but did not find that there was a conspiracy with Moscow. The report also described actions Trump took to try to impede Mueller’s investigation, but made no formal finding on the question of obstruction, leaving the matter to Congress.
Amash also said on Twitter that Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, “deliberately misrepresented” Mueller’s report when he oversaw the roll-out of a redacted version.
There were no signs on Sunday of other Republicans following Amash’s lead. Another Trump critic, Republican Senator Mitt Romney, said on Sunday that Amash made “a courageous statement,” yet also told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that he did not believe Mueller’s findings supported impeachment.
But Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, called Amash’s statement “a watershed moment.”
“Justin Amash coming on board means there is now bipartisan support for really understanding the seriousness of what is in the Mueller report,” she said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of six committee chairs leading probes of Trump, said the case for impeachment is being strengthened by White House stonewalling.
“If the only way that we can do our oversight is through an impeachment proceeding, then maybe we have to go down that road,” Schiff told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.
“But I think it’ll be important to show the American people, this was a decision made reluctantly, this was a decision forced upon us, rather than something we were eager to embrace” Schiff said.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Berkrot)