Last week the Mueller probe formally charged two former Trump allies with money laundering and tax evasion, while also “flipping” a former Trump campaign aide. Now, there is a potentially more worrying connection coming to light: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross failed to discuss financial connections to Putin’s inner circle earlier this year. Ross’ private equity firm does millions in business each year with a petrochemicals company that is close to the Kremlin. The Russian company’s owner is the husband of Vladimir’s Putin’s younger daughter.
FINSUM: Mueller is going to be all over this like a bloodhound. His tactic seems to be to flip the small fish to try to “tell” on the higher-ups. We are still very unsure if any of this will actually lead back to Trump, or all of this is just part of the deal when you hire successful international business people into key government positions.
Trump’s handling of the fiduciary rule may have landed his administration in hot water. The White House is being targeted by a newly formed watch dog group set up to expose unethical conduct within the Trump administration. The watchdog filed a lawsuit in federal court against the DOL. The lawsuit requests all the DOL’s records related to its rollback of the fiduciary rule. The group, American Oversight, is also upset about the rollback of the overtime rule. The watchdog says ““The Department of Labor’s attempts to roll back the overtime and fiduciary rules are yet additional examples of how the Trump administration has sided with well-connected businesses over the working Americans whose interests the president claims to represent”.
FINSUM: A formal legal challenge to the 18-month delay and possible elimination of the fiduciary rule was inevitable. Now it has arrived.
Well, for the first time in weeks, the direction of the Fed looks clear. President Trump has passed over “excellent” Yellen after a term and will name Jerome Powell to be the next head of the Fed. His views on the economy and rates are that a gradual normalization should continue so long as the economy stays on its current track. In terms of the Fed’s balance sheet, “The shrinkage of the Fed’s balance sheet is also expected to proceed quite gradually”. He also says low inflation is a “mystery” and that it is what will allow the Fed to be patient with rate increases.
FINSUM:To be totally honest, Powell sounds almost exactly like Yellen, so we expect more of the same.
In what comes as a serious contrast to a number of statements over several months from the head of the SEC, new appointees at the Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday that working on the fiduciary rule was not a top priority. Two appointees, Hester Peirce and Robert Jackson, both failed to list the rule as a top priority when speaking to the Senate Banking Committee in a nomination hearing this week. However, both did voice their opinions of the rule, saying it was “fundamentally flawed” and that it “should have been done at the SEC”.
FINSUM: We are quite worried about the statements out of the SEC over the last week, as between Clayton and the new appointees there seems to have been a serious de-escalation of momentum towards creating a new rule. Maybe they just don’t want any rule.
Robert Mueller, leading a wide-ranging probe into the Trump campaign and its potential links to Russia, delivered a bombshell to the American political scene yesterday. Mueller’s team announced the indictment of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and Richard Gates, his associate. They are being charged with counts related to tax evasion and money laundering. Additionally, Mueller announced the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, Trump’s foreign policy adviser during the campaign. Papadopoulos admitted lying about the campaign’s connections to Russia.
FINSUM: Evidently there is a lot of buzz in legal circles about this, as it was surprising that Mueller could “flip” someone (Papadopoulos) without anyone finding out. The talk is that Mueller is aiming for the top with his strategy.