February 19, 2018 / 1:39 PM / a month ago

Monday Morning Briefing

Good Morning. Trump attacks the FBI and Oprah in a series of tweets over the weekend while U.S. state election officials met in Washington with sessions dedicated to fending off election cyber attacks.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs for West Palm Beach, Florida, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer


“They are laughing their asses off in Moscow,” President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday morning. In a series of tweets over the weekend from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump said congressional investigations and political “hatred” showed Russia had succeeded in sowing “discord, disruption and chaos” in the United States. Trump attacked the FBI and lawmakers probing suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S presidential election, drawing sharp criticism for saying an excessive focus on Russia led investigators to miss signs that could have prevented a deadly school shooting in Florida. 

“Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey," tweeted Trump as he blasted media mogul Oprah Winfrey on Twitter on Sunday night over a segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes program. He said he hoped she would face him as an opponent in the 2020 presidential race.

Ten months before the United States votes in its first major election since the 2016 presidential contest, U.S. state election officials huddled in Washington this weekend to swap strategies on dealing with an uninvited guest: Russia. 


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with scientists, representing the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk, Russia February 8, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolskyi/Kremlin

European and U.S. officials divided over Trump’s foreign policy found common cause this weekend in decrying what they say is Russia’s covert campaign to undermine Western democracies.

The United States has sketched out a path under which three key European allies would simply commit to try to improve the Iran nuclear deal over time in return for U.S. President Donald Trump keeping the pact alive by renewing U.S. sanctions relief in May. 

Commentary: How democracy’s spread dashed dreams of liberalism. A quarter century ago, the fall of Soviet communism and the end of South African apartheid led many in the West to hope that liberalism was ascendant worldwide. But, writes John Lloyd, the spread of democracy has, in some countries, turned out to bring more oppression. “The exercise of democracy is a hard-won, long-haul phenomenon. A central tenet – that those in power are themselves subject to the greater power of laws – is hardest won of all.”


China’s tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, worth a combined $1 trillion, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers’ digital wallets.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said General Motors decision to shut down a factory south of Seoul will hurt that region, and called upon his administration to take measures to boost economic activity there.

Jolted by the global investment craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, U.S. lawmakers are moving to consider new rules that could impose stricter federal oversight on the emerging asset class, several top lawmakers told Reuters.

Oil prices hit their highest level in nearly two weeks, lifted by a global equity market recovery and tensions in the Middle East, although concerns of rising U.S. production tempered gains.

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