The Democrats are finally getting their time with Robert Mueller this week. Mueller is set to testify for a full five hours before the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. Democrats are seen as likely to push him to give further details on his investigation, especially into obstruction of justice claims, while Republicans are expected to probe him on bias within the FBI.
FINSUM: Everyone seems to agree—it is hard to imagine anything happening at these hearings that would change anyone’s mind.
In what comes as a real eye opener, the House passed a bill this week that would block the SEC’s ability to enforce its new fiduciary rule. The driving force behind the rule, you guessed it, Maxine Waters. The measure came as part of a broader bill regarding the funding of federal agencies. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will likely be changed and then re-voted on. Democrats, who are in charge in the House, are worried the SEC’s rule does not go far enough to protect investors.
FINSUM: The interesting thing here is that this bill is likely not totally dead in the Senate. We wonder how hard the Democrats will stick to this part of it.
The 2020 presidential election is still about a year and half away, yet a large number of investors have already made changes to their portfolios based on potential outcomes. Some 40% of investors say they have adjusted their portfolios because of the upcoming election, according to a recent survey. The reality is that investors are worried about a Democratic sweep of the presidency, House, and Senate, which could mean a serious rollback of Trump-era policies, including tax cuts. “If Biden continues to poll this well into the beginning of next year ahead of the primaries, he is gonna start to have some negative effect on the market”, says Tony Roth of Wilmington Trust.
FINSUM: We can’t help but agree with that last assessment. That said, we think negative effects will be slow and steady, not sharp moves.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is set to hold his first and only public hearing on Thursday, when he will testify in front of the House about his dealings with President Trump. Cohen is reportedly going to directly accuse Trump of criminal activity in addition to testimony regarding “lies, racism, and cheating”. He will not be speaking about Russia matters under the purview of the Mueller investigation. The White House commented that “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same … It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies”.
FINSUM: This is either going to be a media firestorm or a dud. If Cohen doesn’t say anything new, it will be hard for the media to make much of it.
Next week is going to be a media circus, as the odds of real Trump fireworks look likely to surge. The reason why is that Michael Cohen is going to testify at an open public hearing before the House Oversight Committee next Thursday. The committee, seemingly defending its actions, commented that “Congress has an obligation under the Constitution to conduct independent and robust oversight of the Executive Branch, and this hearing is one step in that process”. The questions Cohen will answer will concern hush money payments, potential Trump conflicts of interest etc, but will not touch on Mueller’s probe into Russian interference.
FINSUM: No matter how you feel about Cohen, or whether you think this is just political theatre, the odds of a media bombshell, true or not, seem high.