Balance of Power: Get Ready for Super Thursday

Rep. Hill Says Comey Testimony Doesn't Show Obstruction

Hang on tight because tomorrow will be a big day in global politics.

First up is one of the most anticipated pieces of political theater since Watergate when fired FBI chief James Comey appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He’s already made it known he won't answer the one question on everyone’s minds: did Donald Trump obstruct justice by urging Comey to sideline his Russia probe into Michael Flynn? But expect Washington to come to a standstill nonetheless.

Then we get the exit poll from Britain’s general election, held against the backdrop of two terror attacks. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to win when all the results are in on Friday morning. But polls have narrowed considerably, giving the radical leftist Jeremy Corbyn an outside chance of an upset.

Finally, there’s Brazil. The country’s electoral court could announce as soon as tomorrow whether the results of the 2014 election should be declared void after a campaign financing scandal. While President Michel Temer is ready to appeal, any adverse decision would deal a huge blow to his already fading grip on power.

It’s true that markets have learned to take political risk in their stride recently -- but traders should still be ready for a few surprises.

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Trump and Comey.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Global Headlines

Terror dominates final day of U.K. election | May said she’s willing to rip up human-rights laws to keep the country safe after the Manchester and London bombings. Meanwhile, Corbyn has been forced to fire Diane Abbott, one of his oldest allies, after a series of embarrassing gaffes on policing and security made her a liability. Read our blow-by-blow guide to tomorrow’s election here.

Please stop tweeting, Mr. President | Trump’s closest friends and allies have begun to publicly warn the president that his Twitter tirades are fueling mayhem in the White House and risk jeopardizing his presidency. It’s a remarkable appeal to a sitting commander-in-chief, a sort of public intervention aimed at convincing Trump to abandon the behavior.

Sessions floated early exit | U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested over the past several weeks he might resign amid a widening rift with Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. The president has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from an investigation of Russian meddling in the election and complained about the Justice Department’s handling of the administration’s travel ban. Sessions, an early avid support of Trump's campaign, has been on the job for just four months.

Comey gets his say | While he won’t comment on the legality of Trump’s behavior, Comey’s testimony will still put the president’s conduct on public display. It will also provide a sworn response to a series of assertions Trump has made on Twitter about Comey’s conduct and the Russia probe. The stakes couldn’t be higher: He could mortally wound -- or salvage -- Trump’s presidency. For a guide to what Comey and Trump have said about each other, click here.

Turkey backs Qatar | President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is offering to mediate in the diplomatic crisis shaking the Gulf. A close ally of Qatar, Erdogan says labeling it a terrorist state won’t help a region in need of unity. His comments come a day after Trump threw his weight behind Saudi Arabia’s drive to diplomatically isolate Qatar, calling it just punishment for the country’s support for Islamic extremists.

Germany-Turkey split worsens | Meanwhile, Erdogan's feud with Angela Merkel escalated after her cabinet decided to withdraw German troops from Turkey. German lawmakers have been been blocked from visiting personnel at a base near the Syrian border, with Turkey complaining that its NATO ally harbors Kurdish terrorists and uses journalists as spies.

Xi's land-and-sea revolution | The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military notes further strides in turning the world’s largest ground army into a high-tech air-and-sea force, including new ballistic missiles. President Xi Jinping’s modernization drive threatens to displace more than 70 years of U.S. military dominance in the region, and has Trump seeking to quickly build dozens of new ships to keep up.

Putin's PR offensive | “I am not a woman, so I don't have bad days.” Vladimir Putin goes full macho in a four-hour series of interviews with film director Oliver Stone airing on Showtime next week. The Russian president’s U.S. media offensive before meeting Trump at the G-20 in Hamburg in July also included a tougher back-and-forth with NBC’s Megyn Kelly last week. Putin’s message to Washington: get over the alleged election meddling (it can’t be proved) and get down to the work of rebuilding ties (on my terms). 

The Muslim Brotherhood explained | The Brotherhood is at the center of the one of the most dramatic political crises in the Gulf in a generation. Qatar's neighbors accuse it of using its vast financial resources to support “terrorist groups.” But as this graphic from Caroline Alexander and Sam Dodge explains, the Brotherhood is diffuse, divided and has influenced the ideologies of dozens of diverse movements from Morocco to Kuwait over nearly a century. 

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