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Balance of Power: No Tapes, Just Trouble

Donald Trump may have tweeted himself into more trouble.

The president's Twitter revelation yesterday that there are, in fact, no tapes of his conversations with ousted FBI Director James Comey hurts his credibility in a widening probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and may draw additional legal scrutiny. 

Worse, former prosecutors told Bloomberg's Washington bureau that the special counsel investigating the Russia matter, Robert Mueller, may consider whether Trump attempted to intimidate Comey when he suggested on Twitter last month that tapes existed of their conversations.

Without recordings, a key question for investigators will be who to believe: Comey or Trump? The former FBI director contemporaneously wrote memos documenting his encounters with Trump, and even Republican senators describe him as trustworthy. The president has a history of making unsubstantiated claims and says Comey is lying about key points without providing evidence.

Trump even appeared to question the integrity of Mueller himself in an interview with Fox News airing today. Trump describes Mueller’s friendship with Comey as “very bothersome.”

Trump is doing himself no favors at this point, lawyers say. Meddling in the investigation may ultimately cause him far more harm than the suspicions that sparked the probe in the first place.

Mueller leaves after a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21 in Washington.
Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

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Global Headlines

Qatar ultimatum | Saudi Arabia and its allies presented Qatar with a list of 13 demands to end their three-week blockade on the tiny Gulf nation. Highlights include: shutting down the Al-Jazeera TV network, cutting back diplomatic ties with Iran, and ending Turkey’s military presence on the tiny peninsula. Diplomats in the region say it's hard to see how Qatar can comply. The crisis looks set to roll on.

Obamacare horse trading |The pressure is on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he works to win support from fellow Republicans for a newly unveiled Obamacare replacement proposal in time for a vote next week. With four conservative GOP senators demanding widespread revisions, McConnell's best bet may be to target moderates whose concerns are easier to assuage. But the challenge, at this point, is steep.

Brexit, one year on | A soft Brexit is back in vogue 12 months after the U.K. shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union. As our London bureau explains, pro-European lawmakers in the unelected House of Lords may end up wielding more power and influence than is usual for members of Britain's upper house. Prime Minister Theresa May's failure to win a majority in this month's election frees them from a constitutional obligation to back her push for a sharp exit from the EU.

Hong Kong's leader plays down China fears | Incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed complaints about Beijing's tightening grip and said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that closer ties with the mainland benefit both sides. She spoke just days before the 20th anniversary of the former British colony's handover back to China on July 1. The date is expected to bring protests along with Xi Jinping's first visit as president.

Trump's new man in London | The president named New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to serve as his new ambassador to the U.K. A Trump donor and long-time associate, Johnson, 70, will have to win over Britons whose hostility toward the president appears to have delayed a state visit for the foreseeable future.

And finally... Justin Trudeau rarely lacks for internet adulation, as yesterday's viral reaction to photos of him hugging Gary the Unicorn, a puppet from a kids TV show, showed. But he may soon face a shortage of another key resource: marijuana. Canada will become the first major economy to legalize recreational pot in the next year. As Josh Wingrove in Ottawa explains, licensed suppliers aren't producing enough legal pot to meet one of Trudeau's main goals: crowding out the black market in marijuana. Maybe the Unicorn can help?

 

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