December 1, 2017 / 12:09 PM / a year ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Senate Republicans grapple with their tax plans’ impact on the U.S. deficit, sources comment on potential White House staff changes as Trump nears the end of his first year in office and Bitcoin is hovering around $9,600 in volatile trade.

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s expected exit from the Trump administration is one of many staff changes likely as President Donald Trump nears the end of his first year in office, with sources saying top economic adviser Gary Cohn and son-in-law Jared Kushner could be among those who depart. 

Reuters TV: The stage is set for Tillerson’s departure 

Trump repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans over the summer to end the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including the panel’s chairman, the New York Times reported, citing several lawmakers and aides. 

U.S. tax bill

Senate Republicans will grapple with the possibility of adding a tax increase to sweeping legislation meant to cut taxes on businesses and individuals, aiming to win support from fiscal conservatives worried about its impact on the federal deficit. 

The Senate delayed voting on a Republican tax overhaul as the bill was tripped up by problems with an amendment sought by fiscal hawks to address a large expansion of the federal budget deficit projected to result from the measure.  

Politics in Washington favors the moneyed and the connected, especially Big Business and special interest groups rich enough to employ legions of lobbyists to advocate on their behalf. Despite a relative lack of clout, parents of adopted children and adoption advocates beat back against a minor change in the tax code that would have removed a tax credit to help cover the costs of adoption.  


European shares traded lower despite strong euro zone factory data, after a delay to a keenly awaited U.S. tax reform bill dented Asian trading and curbed appetite for the dollar.  

Tesla switched on the world’s biggest lithium ion battery in time to feed Australia’s shaky power grid for the first day of summer, meeting a promise by Elon Musk to build it in 100 days or give it free.  

Breakingviews: Global giants see Vietnam through beer goggles  

Britain’s opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Morgan Stanley that bankers are right to regard him as a threat because he wants to transform what he cast as a rigged economy that profited speculators at the expense of ordinary people.  

Nissan’s sales of domestic passenger cars fell by almost half in November - its second straight month of slides in the wake of a compliance scandal and its first since it resumed production of cars for the home market. 

As a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Seoul raged this year, many South Koreans felt decidedly unwelcome in China. South Korean businesses were shunned, K-pop concerts were canceled and tourist trade dried up. But one group of South Koreans have been very much in demand: the executives and employees of South Korea’s cosmetics companies, who are being lured by Chinese rivals as a battle for China’s huge beauty market heats up.  


People look on as scouts march and play music in celebration of Mawlid al-Nabi in Jerusalem's Old City November 30, 2017 REUTERS/Ammar Awad

People look on as scouts march and play music in celebration of Mawlid al-Nabi in Jerusalem's Old City November 30, 2017 REUTERS/Ammar Awad



Bitcoin hovered around $9,600 in volatile trade, after tumbling about 15 percent from an all-time high hit this week as some money managers warned ominously of a bubble and further falls in the stratospheric cryptocurrency.  

Goldman Sachs is trying to figure out how to cater to investors who want to trade bitcoin even though the digital currency remains too volatile for the Wall Street bank to trade itself, according to comments by a representative and its chief executive officer.  

The couple behind the embattled Tezos cryptocurrency tech project wants the Swiss-based Tezos Foundation to cover their costs for lawsuits accusing them of fraud related to an online fundraiser it ran, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.  

United States

Longtime “Today” show host Matt Lauer apologized for what he called his “troubling flaws” in a statement read out on the NBC morning show on Thursday, a day after the network fired him for inappropriate sexual behavior.

An illegal immigrant from Mexico was acquitted of murder and manslaughter by a San Francisco jury in the fatal shooting of a woman that Donald Trump used as a rallying cry against “sanctuary cities” during his presidential campaign.  

When conservative Christian baker Jack Phillips in 2012 politely but firmly told Colorado gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig he would not make them a cake to celebrate their wedding, it triggered a chain of events that will climax on Tuesday in highly anticipated U.S. Supreme Court arguments. 

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader told jurors in a New York federal court that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan authorized a transaction in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. 


Kim Jong Nam, the murdered half-brother of North Korea’s leader, had a dozen vials of antidote for lethal nerve agent VX in his sling bag on the day he was poisoned, a Malaysian court was told this week.  

The North Korean soldier critically wounded when making a dash to the south last month may have cheated death, but even as his health improves, he is months if not years away from finding a normal life in South Korea, officials and other defectors say.  

Trump is considering recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that could upend decades of American policy and ratchet up Middle East tensions, but is expected to again delay his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy there, U.S. officials said. 


There are ways for Congress to stop a president from waging wanton nuclear war, writes John Mecklin, the editor in chief of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Amid concern about North Korea's latest missile test and some legislators' fears that an impulsive Donald Trump could order an attack that was not in the interests of the U.S., Mecklin notes that the president himself could rein in his own authority to launch a nuclear first strike. "Trump’s personality and leadership style make it highly unlikely that he’ll agree to limit his own powers. But if he doesn’t want to make such a move, it’s time to start thinking about how to persuade his successor to think differently about control of the nuclear button." 

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