August 22, 2018 / 11:44 AM / 3 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

Trump faces legal risks after ex-allies’ criminal cases, Ireland’s Catholics prepare for a visit from the Pope and a look at the historical bull run of the U.S. stock market.

U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen walks out of court in New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Politics

President Trump suffered twin setbacks with two ex-advisers facing prison sentences - and one of them saying Trump told him to commit a crime - possibly hurting his Republican Party’s election prospects and widening a criminal probe that has overshadowed his presidency.

In the most dramatic day yet in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, federal prosecutors secured the conviction of Trump’s former campaign manager and a plea agreement from the president’s longtime attorney.

Paul Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich skin jacket and other evidence of the former Trump campaign chairman’s conspicuous consumption grabbed the headlines during his tax and bank fraud trial. But it was the detailed and methodical testimony of an FBI forensic accountant who traced Manafort’s money that may have sealed his fate.

Commentary

The messy meaning of the Manafort and Cohen cases. The mixed verdict in the trial of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, along with the guilty plea on campaign finance violations by the U.S. president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, point to a broader destabilization in U.S. politics, writes Reuters global affairs columnist Peter Apps. Trump is “getting better at manipulating Washington’s levers of power,” and as he relies on whipping up his electoral base ahead of the November midterms, “he’s increasingly likely to turn the latest legal developments to his advantage.” 

The right way to sanction Putin’s Russia. This week the United States unveiled new sanctions against Russia, and is expected to impose even more in the future. But as Washington weighs its options, it should bear in mind that sanctions are most effective if they offer an incentive to good behavior – without isolating Russia from the rest of the world, writes William Courtney.

World

A religious grotto featuring a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a Pope Francis prayer card and several sets of rosary beads stands on the roadside near the county Mayo town of Claremorris, Ireland, July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Religion is still deeply embedded in the Irish countryside - roadside grottos with statues of the Virgin Mary are a feature of almost every Irish town and village, with most erected in 1954 when the Vatican called for a Marian year of celebration and devotion. As Ireland prepares for a visit from Pope Francis that they hope will bring back the young believers that have deserted the Catholic church after decades of scandal.

A senior Iranian cleric warned Washington that if it attacked Iran, the United States and allied Israel would be targeted, as a war of words escalated after the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull clung to power as rebel Liberal party lawmakers pressed for a second leadership contest just a day after he narrowly survived a challenge from former home minister Peter Dutton.

Taiwan’s last diplomatic ally in Africa, the Kingdom of eSwatini, said it had no intention of switching ties to China, after a Chinese diplomat said he expected it to ditch Taipei soon amid a bitter diplomatic dispute.

Business

After a seven-month stall, Wall Street’s bull market looks back on track, thanks to Amazon.com, Alphabet and other high-flying technology and consumer discretionary companies. Explore the timeline of the current bull market. 

Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation, while Facebook took down a second campaign it said was linked to Russia.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s contemplated $72 billion take-private deal is presenting investment bankers with a dilemma: overlook concerns about how feasible it is or risk missing out on what could be this year’s biggest and most high-profile acquisition.

Reuters TV

After two former Trump allies were found guilty of multiple felonies, markets had mixed reactions to a very bad day for the U.S. President.

Markets mixed after a tough day for Trump
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