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US, China each say they are in no hurry for trade deal

US, China each say they are in no hurry for trade deal The comments from Trump and Xi came six weeks after the announcement of a "phase one" bargain, which appears no closer to becoming a reality as the two sides tussle over tariffs and China's future purchases of US farm exports. In Beijing on Friday, President Xi Jinping said China wants a deal but is "not afraid" to "fight back" if necessary. Trump's reply came several hours later in a freewheeling live dial-in to Fox News in which he told on-air hosts the deal was "potentially very close" but that Xi was under greater pressure to strike a bargain.


North Korea says it’s gained nothing from US but `betrayal’

North Korea says it’s gained nothing from US but `betrayal’ North Korea’s U.N. Mission said Friday the country has gained “nothing but a sense of betrayal” since its leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump committed to establishing a new relationship. Since the U.S. has failed to take reciprocal measures to North Korea’s suspension of “a number of actions” which the Trump administration is concerned about, the mission said there is no reason for further restraint. “We have no leeway any longer,” the North Korean mission said.


Corbyn Neutral on Brexit, Johnson Grilled on Trust: U.K. Votes

Corbyn Neutral on Brexit, Johnson Grilled on Trust: U.K. Votes (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would stay neutral in a referendum on any new deal he negotiates with the European Union, as U.K. party leaders faced televised questions from voters ahead of the Dec. 12 general election.Boris Johnson was forced to deny he had been racist in his newspaper columns and faced tough questioning over his Conservative Party’s record on the National Health Service as the audience repeatedly returned to questions over his trustworthiness.Key Developments:Boris Johnson distanced himself from nine years of Tory government, saying he was Mayor of London for part of the time.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned over antisemitism in his party.SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party would not enter a formal coalition with LabourCorbyn, Sturgeon, Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson and Johnson answered questions from voters in a special edition of BBC TV’s Question Time show.Johnson Says he Can Be Trusted (9 p.m.)A recurring theme in the questions to Johnson was whether he can be trusted. Pressed by a member of the audience on whether he can deliver on his promises, Johnson pointed to his time as Mayor of London.“I promised we’d cut crime, and we did,” he said. “We massively invested in transport, we cut delays on the tube by 30%, we out-built the Labour Party when it came to housing. I over-delivered on my promises.”He also said his pledge at the start of his government to hire 20,000 more police officers was on course and his cash boost to the NHS is “happening.”Earlier he was laughed at by the audience when he said trust in politics is “central to this election.” He didn’t directly answer a question about his Conservative Party misleading voters by changing the name of its Twitter account to imitate a neutral fact-checking site during Tuesday night’s head to head debate.Johnson Pledges More NHS Cash (8:55 p.m.)Boris Johnson faced repeated questions over his party’s record on the National Health Service, with one junior doctor asking “why should we trust” the pledges “when you’ve got years of cuts and people are dying.” It was one of a series of questions about trust during his half-hour on stage.Johnson said he understands things have been tough in the NHS and the pressure it is under. He said he has spoken to hundreds of doctors and repeated his pledge to upgrade and build hospitals.These promises have come under scrutiny, with Johnson saying 40 new hospitals are being built, but presenter Fiona Bruce corrected him, saying it is six. Johnson said there was “seed funding” for the others, suggesting they would be built.Johnson Forced to Deny Racism (8:45 p.m.)An audience member asked Johnson if he would apologize for his racist rhetoric in his years as a newspaper columnist. He responded that though he “genuinely never intended to cause hurt or pain to anybody” he defends his right to speak out.Presenter Fiona Bruce pointed out he has made offensive comments several times in print about a variety of demographics, including black Africans, gay men and Muslim women.“If you go through all my articles with a fine tooth comb and take out individual phrases there is no doubt you can find things that can be made to seem offensive,” he said. “What I was doing was mounting a strong liberal defense of the right of women in this country to wear what they want,” he said in reference to an article in which he compared Muslim women wearing the burka to mail boxes.Johnson Distances Himself From Tory Record (8:45 p.m.)Johnson said he has only been in power for a few months and should not be judged on the performance of his Conservative Party in government since 2010, even though in some of that time he was a minister.He was answering a series of questions about education cuts and the increased use of food banks under the Conservatives.“For most of that time I was running London,” he said as he distanced himself from the effects of Tory policies. “When I was running London, we reduced the gap between rich and poor.”Johnson Opens With Attack on Corbyn (8:40 p.m.)The Conservative leader Boris Johnson kicked off by responding to questions on interference in the Brexit referendum and his own mandate to pursue his Brexit deal.“It seems to have mutated now,” he said of Corbyn’s plan, after the Labour leader revealed earlier he would remain neutral in a second referendum campaign. “I don’t see how he’s going to a deal when he’s neutral or indifferent about that deal.”He then repeated his own pledge to get Brexit done, which led presenter Fiona Bruce to joke that it only took three minutes for him to say it.Johnson asserted that there is no evidence of Russian interference in British democracy and defended his refusal to publish a Parliamentary report into the issue.Lib Dems ‘Not Splitting Remain Vote’ (8:30 p.m.)Jo Swinson said a vote for her party would not split the Remain vote, even if it meant taking away support from Labour, who have promised a second referendum on Brexit. Her party has come under pressure to stand down in Labour-Conservative marginal seats.“If you vote for Jeremy Corbyn, he will use that vote to negotiate a Labour Brexit deal,” she said. “It’s the Liberal Democrats who can win seats from Boris Johnson and the Tories,” she added, arguing there are many seats where her party are best placed to beat the Conservatives.Swinson Targets Corbyn Over Antisemitism (8:20 p.m.)Jo Swinson responded to an audience member telling her she had “some brass neck” in calling out the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s record on antisemitism by turning again to the party’s record on the issue.“When I speak to Jewish people across the country they do not feel Jeremy Corbyn is fighting antisemitism in the Labour party,” she said. “They know what that feels like and I’m going to listen to them and trust them on this issue.”Swinson Defends Anti-Brexit Stance (8:15 p.m.)Jo Swinson defended the Liberal Democrat’s policy to stay in the EU, saying the party has been very straightforward and is offering voters a choice. She said she would have been happy with a second referendum but, after putting down amendments in Parliament to get one and failing, is now seeking to revoke Brexit.“In terms of our policy, we are being very straightforward as a party that we want to stop Brexit,” she said. “You might agree, you might disagree with us, but we have been crystal clear.”She added that if the party isn’t elected it will campaign for a second referendum in the next Parliament.Swinson Admits Mistakes in Coalition (8:05 p.m.)Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson defended her party’s record in government in coalition with the Conservative Party between 2010 and 2015.“We got stuff wrong and we in the future, going forward, are determined to get it right,” she said. “We had plenty of fights with the Conservatives and we won some of those fights and lost some of those fights, and I am sorry we did not win more of those fights.”She was questioned over her backing for austerity, cuts to welfare and support for student tuition fees during her time as a minister in the government led by David Cameron.Sturgeon Doesn’t See Formal Coalition (7:55 p.m.)SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she doesn’t see her party entering into a formal coalition arrangement with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party after the election.“I don’t envisage being in a coalition government with Labour,” she said. “I think it would be a less formal arrangement than that if we’re in that situation.”She added that her party would seek to be a voice supporting further devolution, not just for Scotland, but across the U.K.Sturgeon Decries ‘Mess’ of Brexit (7:45 p.m.)Nicola Sturgeon said Brexit didn’t need to be as hard as it has been made by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.“I think Brexit is a big mistake, but what I don’t think is the mess that Brexit has become was inevitable,” she said. “That was down to the Brexiteers who told a lot of lies, one of them on the side of a bus.”She said she wouldn’t need to hold a confirmatory referendum on any deal for Scottish independence because there would not be the same lack of planning as there has been with Brexit.Sturgeon: Couldn’t Make Johnson PM (7:40 p.m.)Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said she could “not in good conscience ever put Boris Johnson into Number 10” and set out the conditions she would seek to support Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister in a minority government.She said the Labour leader was not who she would have chosen but “I don’t get to choose.” She said she would ask for Corbyn’s government to respect Scotland’s decision to hold a referendum, would want to see an end to austerity and universal credit, an NHS protection bill and better pensions.Sturgeon also suggested the SNP would put pressure on Corbyn to deliver on his manifesto promises.Corbyn Insists 95% Untouched by Tax Hikes (7:25 p.m.)After the Institute for Fiscal Studies cast doubt on the plausibility of the Labour Party’s tax plans, Corbyn repeated his pledge that only the top 5% of taxpayers will have to pay more.“What we’re planning is 95% of the population will pay no more tax,” he said, adding that corporations would pay a “bit more” tax up to a maximum of 26%.Corbyn Would be Neutral in Brexit Referendum (7:20 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn was asked whether he would campaign for Leave or Remain under his plan to negotiate another a new deal with the EU then put it to a second referendum.He gave a more detailed answer than he has previously, saying he would adopt a neutral stance in that second vote. “My role as Prime Minister will be to adopt a neutral stance so I can credibly carry out the result,” he said.Corbyn has pledged to agree a new deal with the EU in his first three months in office and then put it to a referendum, with remaining in the bloc as the option on the ballot paper.“My role and the role of our government will be to ensure that that referendum will be held in a fair atmosphere and we will abide by the result of it,” Corbyn said. He would be neutral so “I can credibly carry out the result, to bring our country together rather than carrying on a debate about Brexit”Corbyn Grilled Over Anti Semitism (7:10 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn faced his first tough line of questioning on the harassment, and anti-Semitic abuse, faced by Labour MPs. A voter in the audience said he doesn’t buy “this whole nice old grandpa” act and asked Corbyn why he was seen chatting to a heckler after an event where one of his party’s MPs, Ruth Smeeth, had suffered verbal abuse.“Nobody should suffer any abuse in public life or privately,” he said. “‘Bad behavior, misogynism and racism in any form is absolutely not acceptable in any form whatsoever in my party or my society.”Corbyn: Business Has Nothing to Fear (7:05 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn, the first leader to face questions from the live studio audience in Sheffield, was asked whether businesses should be scared of an incoming Labour government. He replied that Labour will help support small and medium sized businesses, which he described as “the motor” of the British economy.“The biggest businesses will be asked to pay a little bit more in corporation tax, but it’ll be lower than it was in 2010 and indeed lower than the average for most industrial economies,” he said.He also said Labour will promote apprenticeships and increase infrastructure investment.Tonight’s Leaders Debate: The Format (6:35 p.m.)This evening’s two-hour special episode of BBC TV’s Question Time will feature the leaders of the four largest parliamentary parties: Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, from the main opposition Labour Party, the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon and Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson.The leaders will not face each other directly. Instead, each will be asked questions for 30 minutes by a live studio audience, selected to represent the political make-up of the country.Corbyn will appear first, followed by Sturgeon, Swinson and finally, Johnson.Johnson: Brexit Enables House Tax on Foreigners (5:15 p.m.)Boris Johnson said leaving the EU allows the government to introduce a new land surcharge (see Earlier) for all foreign buyers of homes in England.“One of the advantages of getting Brexit done is you can now do it in a non-discriminatory way between all international buyers, because previously you couldn’t do it with people from the 27 other EU countries,” he said in a pooled broadcast interview. “It is only reasonable, when international buyers come in and buy property, they should make a contribution to life in this country.”The Conservatives said they want to apply the new levy to damp housing demand, keep a lid on house prices and make it easier for first-time buyers to get a foot on the housing ladder. The proceeds will go toward measures to tackle homelessness, Johnson said.Could Johnson Lose His Own Seat? (12:30 p.m.)It seems far-fetched, but the bookmakers are taking bets on it: Boris Johnson losing his own seat in the west London suburb of Uxbridge.The prime minister has about a one-in-five chance of losing it in the Dec. 12 general election, odds from betting firm Ladbrokes indicate. Johnson had a majority of about 5,000 votes in the 2017 election, a margin the Labour Party is seeking to overturn.If Johnson lost his seat, it wouldn’t mean he couldn’t be prime minister: Alec Douglas-Home was briefly premier without being in Parliament in 1963. If the Tories won a majority while losing Uxbridge, the likeliest outcome would be that a Tory in a safe seat would resign, allowing Johnson to replace them in a special election.Read more: Boris Johnson Has 22% Chance of Losing Seat, Ladbrokes SaysFarage: Trump NATO Visit Is Time to Talk Defense (12 p.m.)Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he deliberately left defense policy out of his announcements to keep his power dry for the NATO summit in the U.K. in December, which U.S. President Donald Trump will be attending.He said his concern is that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would keep the U.K. tied to a future European Defense Union. “When President Trump arrives on Dec. 2, we’re going to have three days where we are talking about NATO, we are talking about defense and I will say a lot lot more on that subject then.”It’s not only on defense that Trump’s visit has the potential to influence politics ahead of the election. The state-run National Health Service and its inclusion -- or not -- in any future U.S.-U.K. free-trade deal is already a key talking point in the campaign, while Labour has described Johnson’s Brexit deal as driving the U.K. into the arms of Trump.Taking questions from reporters after his speech, Farage also refused to say if he’ll stay on as leader if the Brexit Party fails to win any seats in the election. “I’m going to campaign for years to come in whatever role it’s in,” he said.Farage Says His Brexit Party Helps Johnson (11:30 a.m.)Nigel Farage said that far from damaging Boris Johnson’s chances of securing a majority on Dec. 12, his Brexit Party is helping the Conservatives by splitting the Labour vote in some key areas. “We are picking up Labour votes,” he said.In a speech in London, Farage repeated his demand for a “clean break” from the European Union and said he would be scrutinizing what the Tories say in their manifesto about the U.K.’s future ties to the bloc.In a separate statement, the party announced its main policies, including:Reform the U.K. voting system and abolish the House of LordsReduce annual immigration, introduce points-based visa systemNo corporation tax on the first 10,000 pounds of company profitsLeave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, invest in coastal communitiesFarage Calls for Immigration Cut to 50,000 (10:30 a.m.)Ahead of his Brexit Party’s policy launch this morning, leader Nigel Farage called for immigration to the U.K. to be restricted to 50,000 people per year in what he described as a return to typical postwar levels.“What I think is very real is that we now have in many ways a population crisis in this country,” Farage told BBC Radio 4. “We had a 60-year postwar norm of about 30,000 to 50,000 people coming into the United Kingdom. That has completely gone out of the window.”Farage called for an Australian-style points-based immigration system, and said any labor shortages -- including in the state-run National Health Service -- should be managed with temporary work permits.Experts ‘Wrong’ on Labour Spending Plans: McDonnell (Earlier)Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell defended the party’s plans to raise income and corporation taxes to fund a huge increase in spending if elected. He rejected a claim by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the tax rises would eventually hit most people, even as Labour said they only target companies and the top 5% of earners.“I have a great deal of respect for the IFS, of course I do,” he told the BBC. “I just think they’ve got it wrong on this one.” McDonnell said analysts are ignoring other aspects of Labour plans, including companies having employees as board members, and consumers sitting on supervisory boards.“What we’re saying is with the structural changes we will make in the economy, we’ll make sure that actually the corporations themselves do not take that easy option of cutting wages or rising prices,” he said. “Because we’re democratizing the way these corporations work and are more accountable, they will actually invest in their companies.”McDonnell said there was little evidence to show cuts to corporation tax under the Conservative Party had boosted investment. Rather, firms are “sitting” on their gains or using them to increase pay for top executives, he said.Hammond: Size of Tory Majority Will Be Crucial (Earlier)Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said that if the Conservative Party wins the Dec. 12 general election as expected, the size of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority could determine how Brexit plays out and the U.K.’s future relationship with the European Union.“The bigger the majority, the more personal authority the prime minister will have, and that means the more he’ll be able to use flexibility to operate in the way that he thinks is in the best interests of the country,” Hammond said in an interview on the sidelines of Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum in Beijing. “If it’s a slim majority, the fear is that the hardliners within the party will always be able to hold the leadership to ransom.”Hammond said he hopes Johnson will have the authority to deliver Brexit quickly, and then work toward the “best possible trade deal” with the EU. He said the Tory party’s plans to ramp up spending “can stack up -- provided there is a commitment to doing a comprehensive trade deal” with the bloc.But Labour’s spending plans under Jeremy Corbyn are a different matter, he said, predicting they “would undermine confidence in the economy and would certainly undermine investment.”Higher Tax for Foreign Buyers of U.K. Houses (Earlier)The Conservative Party plans to introduce a land tax surcharge for foreign buyers of U.K. homes in an effort to damp demand, keep a lid on house prices and make it easier for first-time buyers to get a foot on the housing ladder.The 3% surcharge -- on top of the existing land tax known as stamp duty -- will raise as much as 120 million pounds ($155 million) a year, which will be put toward programs to help tackle homelessness, the Tories said in an emailed statement.Read more: Tories Plan Extra Land Tax for Foreign Buyers of U.K. HomesEarlier:Corbyn Has a Radical Labour Message. Can He Sell It to Britain?Tories Plan More Tax on Foreign Home-Buyers: U.K. Campaign TrailNever Mind Brexit, U.K. Vote Hinges on Future of the NHSWhy Elections Aren’t a Big Deal For U.K. Polling Stock Up 350%\--With assistance from Alex Morales, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Jessica Shankleman and Dara Doyle.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.net;Charlotte Ryan in London at cryan147@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Charges of Ukrainian Meddling? A Russian Operation, U.S. Intelligence Says

Charges of Ukrainian Meddling? A Russian Operation, U.S. Intelligence Says WASHINGTON -- Republicans have sought for weeks amid the impeachment inquiry to shift attention to President Donald Trump's demands that Ukraine investigate any 2016 election meddling, defending it as a legitimate concern while Democrats accuse Trump of pursuing fringe theories for his benefit.The Republican defense of Trump became central to the impeachment proceedings when Fiona Hill, a respected Russia scholar and former senior White House official, added a harsh critique during testimony Thursday. She told some of Trump's fiercest defenders in Congress that they were repeating "a fictional narrative" -- and that it likely came from a disinformation campaign by Russian security services, which themselves propagated it.In a briefing that closely aligned with Hill's testimony, U.S. intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow's own hacking of the 2016 election, according to three U.S. officials. The briefing came as Republicans stepped up their defenses of Trump in the Ukraine affair.The revelations demonstrate Russia's persistence in trying to sow discord among its adversaries -- and show that the Kremlin apparently succeeded, as unfounded claims about Ukrainian interference seeped into Republican talking points. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Moscow is likely to redouble its efforts as the 2020 presidential campaign intensifies. The classified briefing for senators also focused on Russia's evolving influence tactics, including its growing ability to better disguise operations.Russia has engaged in a "long pattern of deflection" to pin blame for its malevolent acts on other countries, Hill said, not least Ukraine, a former Soviet republic. Since Ukraine won independence in 1991, Russia has tried to reassert influence there, meddling in its politics, maligning pro-Western leaders and accusing Ukrainian critics of Moscow of fascist leanings."The Russians have a particular vested interest in putting Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders in a very bad light," she told lawmakers.But the campaign by Russian intelligence in recent years has been even more complex as Moscow tries not only to undermine the government in Kyiv but also to use a disinformation campaign there to influence the U.S. political debate.The accusations of a Ukrainian influence campaign center on actions by a handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized or sought to damage Trump's candidacy in 2016. They were scattershot efforts that were far from a replica of Moscow's interference, when President Vladimir Putin ordered military and intelligence operatives to mount a broad campaign to sabotage the U.S. election. Russians in 2016 conducted covert operations to hack Democratic computers and to use social media to exploit divisions among Americans.This time, Russian intelligence operatives deployed a network of agents to blame Ukraine for its 2016 interference. Starting at least in 2017, operatives peddled a mixture of now-debunked conspiracy theories along with established facts to leave an impression that the government in Kyiv, not Moscow, was responsible for the hackings of Democrats and its other interference efforts in 2016, senior intelligence officials said.Russian intelligence officers conveyed the information to prominent Russians and Ukrainians who then used a range of intermediaries, like oligarchs, businessmen and their associates, to pass the material to U.S. political figures and even some journalists, who were likely unaware of its origin, officials said.That muddy brew worked its way into U.S. information ecosystems, sloshing around until parts of it reached Trump, who has also spoken with Putin about allegations of Ukrainian interference. Trump also brought up the assertions of Ukrainian meddling in his July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine, which is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into whether he abused his power by asking for a public commitment to investigations he stood to gain from personally.Trump referred elliptically to allegations that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election and brought up a related conspiracy theory. Asking Zelenskiy to "do us a favor," Trump added, "I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine."Russia's operation to blame Ukraine has become more relevant as Republicans have tried to focus public debate during the impeachment inquiry on any Ukrainian role in the 2016 campaign, U.S. officials said.Republicans have denounced any suggestion that their concerns about Ukrainian meddling are without merit or that they are ignoring Russia's broader interference. "Not a single Republican member of this committee said Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said Thursday.Indeed, Stefanik and her Republican colleagues on the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the impeachment hearing, have also steered clear of the fringe notion that Trump mentioned to Zelenskiy, which is pushed by Russian intelligence: the so-called CrowdStrike server conspiracy theory, which falsely suggests Ukraine, not Russia, was behind the breach of Democratic operatives' servers.Trump repeated the baseless claim Friday in an interview with "Fox & Friends," laying out the narrative and doubling down after a host gently pressed him on whether he was sure of one aspect of the debunked theory, that the FBI gave a Democratic server to what Trump had inaccurately described as a Ukrainian-owned company."That is what the word is," Trump replied.Some Republicans have also focused on Hunter Biden, raising questions about whether his hiring by Ukrainian energy company Burisma was corrupt. Burisma hired Biden while his father, former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival of Trump's in the 2020 election, was leading the Obama administration's Ukraine policy. On the July 25 call, Trump also demanded Zelenskiy investigate Burisma and Hunter Biden.Moscow has long used its intelligence agencies and propaganda machine to muddy the waters of public debate, casting doubts over established facts. In her testimony, Hill noted Russia's pattern of trying to blame other countries for its own actions, like the attempted poisoning last year of a former Russian intelligence officer or the downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014. Moscow's goal is to cast doubt on established facts, said current and former officials."The strategy is simply to create the impression that it is not really possible to know who was really behind it," said Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Defending Democracy, which tracks Russian disinformation efforts.Although U.S. intelligence agencies have made no formal classified assessment about the Russian disinformation campaign against Ukraine, officials at several of the agencies have broadly agreed for some time that Russian intelligence services have embraced tactics to shift responsibility for the 2016 interference campaign away from themselves, officials said.Russia has relentlessly tried to deflect attention since the allegations of its interference campaign in the 2016 election first surfaced, one official said.Putin began publicly pushing false theories of Ukrainian interference in the early months of 2017 to deflect responsibility from Russia, said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who declined to answer questions about the briefing."These people are pros at this," said King, who caucuses with the Democrats. "The Soviet Union used disinformation for 70 years. This is nothing new. Vladimir Putin is a former KGB agent. He is trained in deception. This is his stock and trade, and he is doing it well."During a news conference in February 2017, Putin accused the Ukrainian government of supporting Hillary Clinton during the previous U.S. election and funding her candidacy with friendly oligarchs.It is not clear when U.S. intelligence agencies learned about Moscow's campaign or when precisely it began.Russian intelligence officers aimed part of their operation at prompting Ukrainian authorities to investigate the allegations that people in Ukraine tried to tamper with the 2016 U.S. election and to shut down inquiries into corruption by pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, according to a former official.One target was the leak of a secret ledger disclosed by a Ukrainian law enforcement agency that appeared to show that Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, had taken illicit payments from Ukrainian politicians who were close to Moscow. He was forced to step down from the Trump campaign after the ledger became public in August 2016, and the Russians have since been eager to cast doubt on its authenticity, the former official said.Intelligence officials believe that one of the people the Kremlin relied on to spread disinformation about Ukrainian interference was Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who had ties to Manafort. After his ouster from the campaign, Manafort told his former deputy later in 2016 that Ukrainians, not Russians, stole Democratic emails. Deripaska has broadly denied any role in election meddling."There is a long history of Russians putting out fake information," said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA official. "Now they are trying to put out theories that they think are damaging to the United States."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


UPDATE 3-UK Labour Leader Corbyn: I would stay neutral in a second Brexit referendum

UPDATE 3-UK Labour Leader Corbyn: I would stay neutral in a second Brexit referendum The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Friday he would remain neutral in any second Brexit referendum, so he could credibly carry out the result of the vote and unite the country. Corbyn, 70, is vying to become prime minister at a Dec. 12 election called by his Conservative rival, the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to resolve a deadlock in parliament over the right approach to leaving the European Union. While Johnson wants to implement a deal he has already agreed with Brussels and leave the EU in January, Labour is promising to negotiate a new exit deal and put it to the public at a second referendum next year.


Cypriots from both sides rally for reunification

Cypriots from both sides rally for reunification Several hundred Cypriots from both sides of the divided island marched on Friday to demand reunification as the Mediterranean country's two leaders prepared to meet for talks. President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are scheduled to meet in Berlin on Monday alongside United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. A German foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin was providing financial and logistical support for the "informal, trilateral" meeting but not playing a part in the talks.


Donald Trump criticises impeachment witness for failing to hang his photo while ambassador

Donald Trump criticises impeachment witness for failing to hang his photo while ambassador Donald Trump has reprimanded his former Ukraine ambassador who testified in the impeachment inquiry for not hanging his picture in the embassy during an unrepentant Fox News interview. Calling into the broadcaster’s morning show, Fox & Friends, Mr Trump repeated claims which witnesses had dismissed as false during more than 40 minutes of largely one-way dialogue. Mr Trump singled out Marie Yovanovitch, the Ukraine ambassador who blamed a “smear” campaign pushed by the president’s allies for her removal from the post earlier this year, for renewed criticism. Despite Ms Yovanovitch’s instance in testimony last week that claims she was opposed to Mr Trump or worked against him were categorically false, the president echoed many of those allegations. “This ambassador that, you know, everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy, okay”, Mr Trump said.  “She’s in charge of the embassy. She wouldn’t hang it. It took like a year and a half or two years for her to get the picture up. Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, catagorical denied she had worked against Donald Trump before her removal Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite “She said bad things about me, she wouldn’t defend me and I have the right to change an ambassador.” Mr Trump said Ms Yovanovitch, whose testimony had been greeted with applause and a standing ovation by members of the public in the room, was “not an angel”. “This was not a baby that we’re dealing with,” he said. Throughout the interview Mr Trump was similarly dismissive of criticism of his behaviour towards Ukraine that has followed new revelations from five days of public impeachment hearings.  Mr Trump repeated the idea that Ukraine somehow meddled in the 2016 US election, despite one witness calling that a “fictional narrative” which was being pushed by Russia’s security services. The president once again suggested the Democratic National Committee’s email server, which had been hacked during the campaign, may be in Ukraine. Pushed for evidence to back up the claim, Mr Trump said “that’s what the word is”. Public impeachment hearings into Donald Trump took place in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building Credit:  Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS He also defended the involvement of his personal attorney, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, in pursuing an investigation into Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s political rival, and the Ukraine election meddling claims. “Rudy Giuliani was one of the great crime fighters of all time,” Mr Trump said, insisting it was legitimate to try and uncover “corruption”. Mr Biden, the former US vice president and Democrat who Mr Trump could face in the 2020 election, has always denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine while in office. Mr Trump also claimed he had saved Hong Kong from being destroyed by persuading Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold off on sending in troops to crush its pro-democracy movement. He said: "If it weren't for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes."


Merkel heir-apparent wins 'loyalty' after challenging critics

Merkel heir-apparent wins 'loyalty' after challenging critics Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the under-fire leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), on Friday threatened to quit, forcing her chief critic to back down and pledge his loyalty. In a combative speech at the start of the CDU's party congress, the 57-year-old challenged her critics to stand up and be heard if they disagreed with her leadership. Widely known by her initials "AKK", the defence minister has endured a rocky first year at the helm since taking over the party leadership from her mentor Chancellor Angela Merkel at last year's conference.


Mystery grows over Trump administration hold on Lebanon aid

Mystery grows over Trump administration hold on Lebanon aid The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday congratulated Lebanon as the country marked its independence day but made no mention of the hold-up in aid that State Department and Pentagon officials have complained about for weeks.


Netanyahu’s woes mirror those of his ally Trump

Netanyahu’s woes mirror those of his ally Trump Not U.S. President Donald Trump, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was indicted Thursday on corruption charges. Netanyahu’s indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust marks the culmination of three long-running corruption cases. The announcement of the charges coincided with the final day of public impeachment hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives, in which officials provided a mountain of evidence to support allegations that Trump used the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.


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February 19th, 2013

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