(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump’s lawyers began presenting their defense in his Senate impeachment trial Saturday, the beginning of as many as 24 hours of argument before senators will decide whether to call for new witnesses and documents.Here are the latest developments:Trump Says He’s Being Treated ‘Unfairly’ (1:45 p.m.)Trump tweeted after Saturday’s two-hour argument by his lawyers to the Senate that he’s being treated unfairly by the “totally partisan Impeachment Hoax.“He wrote: “Any fair minded person watching the Senate trial today would be able to see how unfairly I have been treated and that this is indeed the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax that EVERYBODY, including the Democrats, truly knows it is. This should never be allowed to happen again!”Schumer Says Defense Shows Need for Witnesses (1:02 p.m.)Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s defense lawyers “made a compelling case for more witnesses and documents.”“They kept saying there were no eyewitness accounts,“ Schumer told reporters after Saturday’s hearing. “But there are people who do know.” He said those include acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who are among the witnesses Democrats want to call.Lead House manager Adam Schiff said the president’s defense team didn’t contest the facts about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.Schiff disputed the defense lawyers’ argument that Trump was concerned about getting European nations to take on more of the burden of helping Ukraine.If that was the case, Trump should have said “call Angela,” meaning German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schiff said. “Instead it was call Rudy Giuliani,” Trump’s personal lawyer, he said. — Laura Litvan, Billy HouseTrump Team Concludes Opening Arguments (12:03 p.m.)Trump’s defense team concluded its opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial, giving an outline of the fuller case they’ll be presenting next week when the proceedings resume.White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said House Democrats failed to prove their case that the president deserves to be removed from office and sought to provide a point-by-point rebuttal over about two hours. He said Democrats were attempting to overturn the last election and tear up the ballots for the next one.The case will resume when the Senate convenes at 1 p.m. on Monday. — Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisUkraine Didn’t Know of Aid Delay, Trump Team Says (11:30 a.m.)Trump’s lawyers leaned on questions of timing in his defense against the central Democratic assertion that he held up military aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to investigate Joe Biden and the Democrats.Deputy White House Counsel Michael Purpura argued that the Ukrainians didn’t know the aid was being withheld until well after the July 25 call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He said the Ukrainians never raised any concerns about the aid with U.S. officials until late August or early September, after the delay was publicly reported.However, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington learned in late July that the U.S. had frozen military aid, Bloomberg News has reported. House Democrats also have cited a New York Times story that a Ukrainian deputy foreign minister read a diplomatic cable in July saying that the Trump administration had frozen the aid.Trump’s attorneys also underscored repeated assertions by Trump that there was no “quid pro quo” demanded of Ukraine. However, Trump began saying that only after officials started going public with concerns about the aid holdup and as the whistle-blower who set off the probe into the Ukraine issue was emerging. — Chris StrohmRepublicans React to ‘On a Pike’ Comment (11:14 a.m.)Key Republican moderate Lisa Murkowski said Saturday she didn’t like House manager Adam Schiff’s reference to a CBS story saying a group of Senate Republicans were warned their heads would be “on a pike” if they didn’t back Trump, though it won’t affect her votes in the trial.“No,” she said when asked if her displeasure over the comment would affect her views on whether to seek new witnesses or documents.GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, cut Schiff some slack.“I’ve been there, it’s easy to get a little bit heated. But generally speaking, I thought they did a very good job of presenting their case,” Graham said. “I thought they were professional, very, very, very thorough to the point of being too thorough.”But Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the GOP leadership, said Schiff’s remark was “foolish.”Blunt said he didn’t know if it would be a turning point in the trial, but he added, “we’d all figured out we were just sitting there so they could talk to whoever was watching television at the time.” — Steven T. DennisTrump Demanded No Quid Pro Quo, Lawyer Says (10:52 a.m.)White House Counsel Pat Cipollone presented a point-by-point defense of Trump and his July 25 call with Ukraine‘s president.Trump didn’t set any conditions for financial aid or a meeting between the two, and financial aid wasn’t even mentioned on the call, said Cipollone.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials repeatedly said Trump demanded no quid pro quo and put no pressure on them to investigate anything, he said. Ukrainian officials didn’t even know the U.S. aid had been put on hold until late August, more than a month after the call, the White House counsel said.Cipollone said “not a single witness” testified that Trump said there was any connection between investigations by Ukraine and U.S. security aid to that country. The U.S. aid was released on Sept. 11 and Trump met with Zelenskiy on Sept. 25 without any announcement of investigations by Ukraine, he said.“Finally, the Democrats’ blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact that is attested to by the Democrats’ own witnesses that President Trump has been a better friend, and a stronger supporter of, Ukraine than his predecessor,” Barack Obama, Cipollone said. — Steven T. Dennis, Billy HouseTrump Did ‘Nothing Wrong,’ His Lawyer Says (10:14 a.m.)White House Counsel Pat Cipollone began Trump’s defense by criticizing the House managers’ case for removing the president from office.“We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they are asking you to do,” Cipollone told the Senate. “You will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”Democrats are not only asking the Senate to remove Trump from office, he said, “they’re asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot” in November’s election.“They’re asking you to do it with no evidence,“ he added. — Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisTrump Team Begins Defense at Senate Trial (10:06 a.m.)Trump’s team opened his defense Saturday with what lawyer Jay Sekulow previously said will be about three hours of “coming attractions” for the full presentation planned for next week.The president’s lawyers plan to save most of their case for Monday, a person on the president’s legal team said, including arguments by celebrity lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr also plans to argue on behalf of the president. — Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisTrump Blasts Democrats as Defense to Begin (9:40 a.m.)Trump criticized House and Senate Democrats “& the entire Radical Left” on Twitter as his lawyers prepared to open the case for his defense.“Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam “Shifty” Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today at 10:00 A.M. on @FoxNews, @OANN or Fake News @CNN or Fake News MSDNC!” he wrote. — Billy HouseHouse Delivers Evidence Record to Senate (9:40 a.m.)House managers transported a 28,578-page trial record to the Senate Saturday that collects together all the evidence that served as the foundation of their impeachment case against Trump.The seven House Democrats who presented the impeachment arguments made a ceremonial procession to the Senate chamber to deliver the file on carts to the secretary of the Senate as the permanent record of the investigation and their case.It also gave Democrats another chance to draw attention to their case before Trump’s defense lawyers take center stage in the trial to present their arguments. — Billy HouseSchiff Seeks to Pre-Empt Trump Defense (6 a.m.)Schiff closed the House Democrats’ case Friday night by predicting that Trump’s defenders would talk about an unfair process, Joe Biden, the whistle-blower and corruption in Ukraine — instead of responding to the impeachment charges against the president.“If they couldn’t get Ukraine to smear the Bidens, they want to use this trial to do it instead,” Schiff said. “So let’s call Hunter Biden. Let’s smear the Bidens.”Trump’s lawyers will get their first crack when the Senate convenes at 10 a.m. Saturday. Attorney Jay Sekulow said that “with three hours it’s probably going to be a bit of an overview” of the fuller case the defense will present when the trial resumes on Monday.Just as the House managers did, the defense will have up to 24 hours over three days to make its case. “If we decide we need the full time we will take it,” Sekulow said.Schiff predicted that Trump’s lawyers would say House Democrats “hate the president.” That argument is “another of the myriad forms of ‘please do not consider what the president did,’” the California Democrat said.“I only hate what he’s done to this country. I grieve for what he’s done to this country,” Schiff said. — Laura Litvan, Steven T. DennisCatch Up on Impeachment CoverageKey EventsHere is House Democrats’ web page containing documents related to the impeachment trial. House Democrats’ impeachment brief is here. Trump’s initial reply is here, and his lawyers’ trial brief is here.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.\–With assistance from Daniel Flatley, Billy House and Chris Strohm.To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org, Larry Liebert, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
As President Trump Heads to India, the U.S. Struggles to Forge a Trade Deal Between the Two Countries
(WASHINGTON) — American dairy farmers, distillers and drugmakers have been eager to break into India, the world’s seventh-biggest economy but a tough-to-penetrate colossus of 1.3 billion people.
Looks like they’ll have to wait.
Talks between the Trump administration and New Delhi, intended to forge at least a modest deal in time for President Donald Trump’s visit that begins Monday, appear to have fizzled. Barring some last-minute dramatics — always possible with the Trump White House — a U.S.-India trade pact is months away, if not longer.
“I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump said this week. “I don’t know if it will be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big deal with India.’’ The U.S. presidential election is Nov. 3.
For now, the failure to reach a deal, despite the pressure of an approaching summit, may reflect not so much the differences between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the similarities. Both men are fierce nationalists who favor protecting their own producers over opening their markets to foreign competition.
“You’ve got two leaders who are looking at trade very much as a zero-sum game,’’ said Richard Rossow, a specialist in U.S.-India relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Long notorious for high trade barriers and a cumbersome bureaucracy, India had for the past two decades or three decades been slowly reforming and opening its economy. Under Modi, that trend has reversed.
Regarded as a business reformer when he took office in 2014, Modi has increasingly turned protectionist, matching Trump’s “America First” example with “India First” policies of his own.
“U.S. behavior on the trade front has pushed India in the opposite direction of where we could like it to go,’’ Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters Friday.
One of Trump’s first acts was to withdraw from a 12-country Asia-Pacific free trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration. Similarly, Modi last year abandoned another Pacific Rim trade agreement, worried that India would be overwhelmed by Chinese imports.
Modi may be even more sensitive about exposing Indian companies to foreign competition because his country is in an economic slump. The International Monetary Fund last month scaled back its expectation for India’s growth this year to 5.8% from the 7% it had expected back in October. Indian loan companies, struggling to collect on bad debts, have reduced lending, thereby squeezing Indian consumers.
The Trump administration escalated the pressure on India last year by denying some of its products preferential duty-free entry to the American market. In effect, that move raised tariffs on Indian imports.
The administration is annoyed by a deficit in the trade of goods with India that last year reached $23.3 billion. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative last year argued that India had failed to provide assurances that it would give U.S. products “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.
The thinking was that India would make concessions to regain its duty-free benefits. But India hasn’t yielded yet.
“We had hoped that India would respond with a little more urgency,’’ said Roger Murry, senior policy adviser at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Negotiations between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and India’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal, seemed to be advancing until about a week ago. Yet they failed to bridge their differences.
“I would have thought they would have been able to pull off a mini-deal,’’ said Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, an India specialist at the consulting firm McLarty Associates. “It seems there are a lot of sticky issues.’’
One irritant is that just as negotiators were scrambling to conclude an agreement, India this month made another lurch toward protectionism. It issued an annual budget that raises import taxes on everything from cheese to shoes to toy tricycles.
The two sides have also squabbled over access to India’s dairy market. A predominately Hindu nation, India prohibits, on religious grounds, dairy imports that do not derive from cows that have been raised on vegetarian diets. The U.S. dairy industry argues that such restrictions are scientifically unnecessary and burdensome.
The administration has complained, too, about Indian restrictions on imported medical devices. In 2017, Indian officials imposed price controls on coronary stents and knee implants, forcing American companies to sell those products at a loss.
U.S. distilleries also have a big stake in a more open Indian economy. India is by far the world’s largest market for whiskey. In 2018, Indian drinkers downed nearly 1.7 billion liters of whiskey, worth $25 billion, accounting for half the world’s consumption and out-drinking Americans by a factor of three, according to Euromonitor. But facing 150% tariffs on imported spirits, U.S. distilleries sold just $7 million worth whiskey to India in 2018, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
“There is no doubt that India has turned protectionist during the last two to three years,” said Columbia University’s Arvind Panagariya, a former Indian government official and a specialist in India’s economic policymaking. “And that is surely making matters more difficult by hardening Indian positions.’’
Still, Modi puts a high value on a strategic partnership with the United States, especially in the face of an increasingly assertive China. For that reason, he may be willing to make trade concessions for stronger ties with Washington.
“I remain optimistic about an agreement in due course,’’ Panagariya said.
But Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he was discouraged by the failure of negotiators to reach a modest, confidence-building deal before the Trump-Modi summit.
“The ambitions were small to begin with,’’ Dhume said. “If a presidential visit cannot force these two countries to get over a small speed bump, that really does not augur well’’ for a more ambitious trade agreement.
No Evidence Russia Helping Trump, Top U.S. Security Aide Says
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump’s top security aide said he’s seen no evidence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 U.S. election in an effort to support the president’s re-election bid.On the other hand, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told ABC News that it would be “no surprise” if Moscow was trying to help Senator Bernie Sanders win the election, as reported on Friday.“I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump re-elected,” O’Brien said in an interview set for broadcast Sunday on “This Week.”“So if it’s out there, it hasn’t been shared with me,” he said, according to a transcript of the remarks posted by ABC. “And I get pretty good access.”O’Brien’s comments come after a senior intelligence official briefed House lawmakers recently that Russia is continuing to interfere in the U.S. election and that the Russian government favors Trump’s re-election, according to people familiar with the matter.The president felt blindsided when he learned belatedly that intelligence official Shelby Pierson on Feb. 13, under questioning from Democrats, told lawmakers about Russia’s preference for Trump, the people said.Maguire OutOn Wednesday, the president announced that he was replacing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, a veteran intelligence official, with Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and a staunch Trump supporter.O’Brien on ABC denied that the end of Maguire’s service had anything to do with the briefing on Russian interference.“Admiral Maguire had to leave his acting position on March 11. And so that’s why he left,” said O’Brien. “All I know is that the Republicans on the side of the House hearing were unhappy with the hearing, and said that there was no intelligence to back up what was being said.”“I mean, why would the Russians want the president, who’s increased NATO spending $400 billion from non-American NATO member states over through 2024, who has spent $ 2.2 trillion in upgrading our military, which had been in a terrible state of readiness because of sequestration of the prior administration, and who’s moving out of endless wars and moving American troops into Europe and Asia to confront the great powers,” O’Brien said.“Why would they want him re-elected? That doesn’t make any sense to me.”O’Brien said, however, that reports that Russia is trying to help Sanders, the Vermont senator win the election were credible.Read more: Sanders Tells Putin to Stay Out After Briefing on Meddling“Well, there are these reports that they want Bernie Sanders to get elected president. That’s no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow,” he said.Sanders traveled to the Soviet Union in 1988 shortly after getting married. His long-ago trip has become regular fodder for Trump and his re-election campaign.To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Wasson in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ros Krasny, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Brazilian Police on Strike Amid Carnival Celebrations
(RIO DE JANEIRO) — A violent police strike in northeastern Brazil has shed light on dissatisfaction among cops elsewhere in the country, with some forces threatening to protest as rowdy Carnival celebrations start.
The strike by military police demanding higher salaries in the state of Ceara, and which led to a senator being shot, is a headache for President Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch supporter of police forces who has pledged to curb violent crime.
“Of course, police strikes could spread,” said lawmaker Guilherme da Cunha of the state of Minas Gerais, where police obtained a 42 percent salary increase this year after threatening to strike. “From the moment people who have a monopoly on firearms discover the strength it has, there is a risk.”
In Ceara, violent crime has risen sharply during the police strike, with at least 88 people killed over three days, according to online news site G1, citing state officials. Bolsonaro has sent hundreds of national guard forces and 2,500 soldiers to maintain order.
During the strike, Sen. Cid Gomes was shot in the chest as he tried to drive a backhoe through a police protest. He is in stable condition. Earlier that day, masked officers forced businesses to close, occupied barracks and damaged police vehicles.
Mayors in several of the state’s small cities — 30,000 inhabitants or less — canceled Carnival celebrations. In Paracuru, where authorities were expecting 40,000 revelers a day, the mayor said he was no longer able to ensure security in his city’s streets.
Even though police strikes are illegal in Brazil, other states are at risk of seeing similar protests, lawmakers and public security experts told The Associated Press.
In Alagoas state, civil police, in charge of investigating crimes, have been on strike for two weeks.
“The governor has made a lot of empty promises to the military police. At some point, that bomb can explode,” said lawmaker Davi Maia, who has met police in Congress to discuss their demands.
In Paraiba, military police organized a 12-hour strike on Feb. 19. In Santa Catarina, public security agents threatened to slow work to a bare minimum, paralyzing operations to an extent but avoiding illegal strikes.
In Rio, one association of municipal guards, who police city parks and properties, began a strike Saturday, during Carnival.
Police strikes aren’t new, according to Ilona Szabó, co-founder of a security research center, the Igarapé Institute. A study by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul showed that between 1997 and 2017, Brazil had 715 police strikes, but only 52 by military police.
“More than ever Brazil needs to democratize and professionalize its police forces,” Szabó said.
Many believe police officers are emboldened by the 2018 elections, in which Bolsonaro and other fervent law-and-order supporters were elected. A former army captain, Bolsonaro supported the armed forces during his 30-year legislative career and has said police who kill on duty should be decorated.
Many Brazilians states’ finances are in the red, with public servants often receiving partial or delayed salaries. Carnival celebrations often prove a good opportunity for public servants, including police, to pressure authorities, who fear violence and looting during the festivities.
Tourists and party-goers at Carnival are often targeted by pick-pockets. In the state of Sao Paulo, police have arrested 240 suspects as part of a carnival security operation.
Last year, public security officers in Minas Gerais also chose February to threaten the newly elected administration of Gov. Romeu Zema Neto with strikes if he didn’t readjust their salary.
“The government was pressured to choose between a terrible, and least worst option,” said state lawmaker da Cunha. Police shut down a motorway and armed men attempted to invade the governor’s office, according to witnesses who asked that their names not be used because of safety fears.
As part of the negotiations, the governor obtained an agreement that the increase be postponed one year, meaning the proposal only landed this month in the state’s legislative assembly.
The news of a 42 percent salary increase spread rapidly, boosting similar requests in Ceara and other states, and angering governors who have resisted threats of illegal protests.
“Minas Gerais granted this increase, in a state that is not paying salaries, and is in a situation of bankruptcy,” said Ignacio Cano, coordinator of the Violence Analysis Laboratory at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
“It says a lot about the moment the country is going through, and the strength that public forces are acquiring,” he said.
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