It has an air of inevitability now that it has happened. President Trump has requested the Supreme Court to block a subpoena that is seeking to obtain his tax returns. The effort is coming from New York, which previously scored a victory in New York courts. Trump’s argument, which he is seeking the Supreme Court to affirm, is that a sitting president is immune from all stages of prosecution. “If the president were prosecuted, the steward of all the people would be hijacked from his duties by an official of few (or none) of them … We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant review in this significant constitutional case and reverse the dangerous and damaging decision of the appeals court”, says an attorney for Trump.
FINSUM: Two angles occur here—either Trump does have something to hide, or he is an incredibly sharp political strategist. Consider the scenario of Trump battling to block the release, him ultimately losing, and then prosecutors finding nothing suspicious in his returns. Nothing would prove his witch hunt argument more strongly. It would be a brilliant strategy.
Trump went on the record yesterday telling investors that the US and China were close to finalizing a trade deal. Markets were unconvinced. Speaking at the Economic Club of New York yesterday, Trump said “We’re close to a significant phase-one trade deal with China … It could happen soon, but we will only accept a deal if it’s good for the U.S. and our workers and our companies”. Markets held ground after the comments, but ultimately fell back as Trump offered little evidence to back up the comments of a deal being “close”.
FINSUM: In our view of this situation, a deal is never close to being done, it is perpetually on the edge of falling apart and only truly done when it is signed.
Hong Kong police have warned that the city is on the brink of collapse. A police shooting of a protester on Monday has sparked a huge wave of renewed protests that have blocked roadways and caused chaos. “Over the past two days, our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown as rioters went on a rampage”. The protests have turned increasingly violent in recent days as 128 were hospitalized with injuries on Monday.
FINSUM: This has no end in sight, and with tension increasing, so too are the odds that it somehow becomes wrapped up in the US-China trade war.
In what comes as a very encouraging sign in the trade war, Washington is considering dropping some tariffs on Beijing as part of an effort to close a deal with China. The Trump administration is reportedly debating whether to drop $112 bn worth of tariffs. That said, the White House would be expecting something in return. The potential cut in tariffs follows the cancellation of a new $250 bn+ tariff package.
FINSUM: Both sides making concessions is the key to a solid deal. We find this encouraging.
Between all the whistleblowers, and the questions over whether they actually had first hand knowledge, the ongoing impeachment inquiry centered on Trump’s phone call with Ukraine has become more confusing by the day. However, fresh news today has added weight to the situation. In particular, career US envoy to Ukraine William Taylor gave a deposition to the House inquiry which stated that Trump made the payment of US security assistance to Ukraine explicitly tied to the Ukrainian president opening a public investigation into Biden. Taylor says that in exchange for the aid to Ukraine, “President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself”.
FINSUM: Regardless of your position on this, Taylor’s testimony adds a lot of weight to the situation, as this is no longer an anonymous whistleblower. The impeachment inquiry just got more serious.
Beijing is making a big change at the very top of Hong Kong’s leadership. Xi Jinping is said to be drawing up a plan to replace Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam with an interim chief. Beijing has been critical of Lam’s handling of the Hong Kong protests. Lam reportedly already offered to resign, but Beijing made her stay. Evidently, Beijing is now concerned about any timing of the move to replace her as they don’t want to further inflame the situation.
FINSUM: Beijing wants to replace her because of mismanagement, but they do not want to be seen to cave into the violence of protesters. Big pickle.