Republicans Face Biggest Loyalty Test Yet

Republicans Face Biggest Loyalty Test Yet

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President Donald Trump’s attempt to squelch Democrats’ nascent impeachment inquiry may have backfired but — at least so far — congressional Republicans are sticking with him.

The administration’s release yesterday of a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the kind of tactic that’s worked before, allowing him to claim exoneration and take the attack to Democrats.

Not this time.

As Justin Sink writes, even in the absence of an explicit quid pro quo, Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy and willingness to solicit political help from another country merely emboldened his critics (not to mention damaging Zelenskiy, as the details of the call depict him as a novice leader eager to please).

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s public testimony today before the House Intelligence Committee about a whistle-blower complaint stemming from the call could yield new details that add even more momentum to impeachment efforts.

Part of the Democrats’ calculus if they impeach Trump would to put Republican lawmakers, particularly in the Senate where they hold a majority, in the position of potentially having to go on the record in an election year defending a president accused of wrong-doing.

Yet Republican senators show few signs of discomfort at that prospect, perhaps assured that Trump’s voters will accept his dismissal of the effort as a political witch hunt. Should that change, it’d be time for Trump to start worrying.

Global Headlines

Turbulent return | The U.K. Parliament resumed in a blaze of fury following this week’s momentous Supreme Court ruling, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson accusing lawmakers of betraying the 2016 Brexit referendum and surrendering to the European Union. His angry address drew condemnation, including from some in his Conservative Party, amid fears they could incite violence in the U.K.’s febrile political climate. But there’s a sense Johnson wants to fight a looming general election this way; a positive reception when he addresses Tory MPs today will lock in his parliament vs. people strategy.

Race for the top | Elizabeth Warren used her first rally as a front-runner in the Democratic presidential race to assure a small-town New Hampshire crowd that her brand of progressive politics made her the most viable candidate. Polls this week showed Warren leading in the Granite State as well as Iowa and California, and one survey found her narrowly displacing Joe Biden for the top spot nationally.

Reaping a reprieve | U.S. farmers — reeling from trade wars, low commodity prices and bad weather — are set to be the main winners from Trump’s initial accord with Japan. Under a trade agreement announced by Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday, the Asian country will lower or reduce tariffs on some $7.2 billion of American-grown farming products, including beef and pork. Japan said it won a U.S. pledge that no quotas or voluntary restraints would be imposed on its auto sector.

Meeting the public | Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, will attempt to hold her first public dialogue event today, in her latest bid to assuage pro-democracy protesters ahead of expected large-scale demonstrations on the Oct. 1 anniversary of Communist rule in China. It’s unclear whether anyone will even be able to attend: Protesters have called for the formation of a human chain near the venue.

Read more about how Hong Kong’s super-rich are facing new pressure from China as it weaves a harsh narrative around the billionaires who dominate the business and politics of the city.

Power play | Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tempered hopes that the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide will be reducing its reliance on coal anytime soon, in part laying the blame on China’s determination to keep New Delhi out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Modi told the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York yesterday that India could be a climate champion if it was allowed nuclear fuel.

What to Watch

The World Trade Organization will authorize U.S. tariffs — beginning as soon as next month — on nearly $8 billion of European goods because of illegal state aid provided to aircraft maker Airbus, a move that will likely trigger retaliatory measures from the EU. Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an interview that the biggest threat to the economy is the prospect of the U.K. leaving the EU without an exit deal next month. Argentina’s financial program with the International Monetary Fund will be on hold for some time as the nation grapples with severe political and economic uncertainty, IMF Acting Managing Director David Lipton said an interview. The U.S. Justice Department plans to join the Federal Trade Commission in investigating Facebook for anti-trust violations after prodding from Attorney General William Barr.

And finally… Millions of people in 170 nations protested and world leaders pledged action on the environment at the United Nations, while 16-year-old Greta Thunberg publicly flayed politicians and industrialists for robbing her of a future. Now the world’s top climate-science body says in a new report that global cooperation is needed to cope with the accelerating changes — especially rapidly rising seas that will alter how and where humans live. Many parts of global climate change are not only here, it says, but they are permanent and will only get worse.


–With assistance from Karen Leigh, Muneeza Naqvi and Stuart Biggs.

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at

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