Balance of Power: Russian Election Meddling Fears Invade Europe

Cantrill Says Tax Reform Only in 5th or 6th Inning

The Russia scandal has ricocheted back across the pond. And it’s dragging Silicon Valley’s giants along with it.

Spurred on by Prime Minister Theresa May’s threat to retaliate against Russian interference, a parliamentary committee wants to grill executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter. The committee, following similar inquiries by U.S. lawmakers, is investigating whether Russians are using American internet companies to sway British elections, including last year’s Brexit vote.

On Monday, May told the Kremlin, “We know what you were doing, and you will not succeed.” The warning exposed Europe's growing alarm as Russian fighter jets probe its airspace and Russian bots steer its political debates. Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal made a similar allegation this week, saying Russian servers had been used to fuel online propaganda during the Catalan crisis.

May’s remarks – dismissed by Russia as “irresponsible” – drew an uncomfortable contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump. Only a day earlier, Trump had repeated his desire for a “friendly posture” toward Russia, even after one of his top intelligence officials reaffirmed findings the country interfered in last year’s presidential election. 

Allegations of Russian meddling promise to keep reverberating back and forth across the Atlantic.

May speaking about Russia during the annual Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Guildhall, in the City of London.
Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

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Global Headlines

Dead tax bill walking | House Republican leaders insist they have the votes to pass legislation today to revise the U.S. tax code. Yet the bill would be dead-on-arrival in the Senate, where unfolding drama could trigger a sequence of events that would parallel Congress’s failed Obamacare repeal effort. Trump plans to meet with House Republicans to rally support ahead of today’s vote. 

Mugabe’s defiance | Plans by Zimbabwe’s new military rulers to quickly name a transitional administration have hit a roadblock — President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to resign. The soldiers who took power early yesterday insist they haven’t staged a coup and want the nonagenarian leader, who’s under house arrest, to gracefully end his 37-year rule so they can restore constitutional order.

India reforms take back seat | With a nationwide tax rolled out across India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to shift his focus from economic reforms to winning elections. Modi faces about a dozen state-level contests over the next year and then reelection in 2019. That means less structural reforms, and more focus on populist policies that resonate with voters.

Trudeau’s vulnerability | Canada may be on a roll, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t getting much credit. A Nanos Research poll conducted for Bloomberg found just 25 percent of Canadians see him as good economic manager. Instead they seem focused on the national deficit. If the Liberals can’t make headway after creating high expectations, they risk “political turbulence,” the pollster said.

Europe’s latest separatist threat | Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik wants to pull his faction out of Bosnia-Herzegovina's power-sharing arrangement, a deal that has kept the country together since the 1995 peace accord ended Europe’s deadliest conflict following World War II. Misha Savic and Gordana Filipovic look at the “silent break-up” of one of the region’s poorest countries.

And finally... Grace Mugabe — known in Zimbabwe as “Gucci Grace” — isn’t the only political spouse whose extravagant lifestyle is drawing attention of late. Louise Linton, the wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has once again caused a stir for appearing to flaunt her wealth. Dressed head-to-toe in black couture, Linton was photographed yesterday alongside her husband holding a sheet of dollar bills. 

Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seeing production of the new $1 bills with his signature.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, and Iain Marlow

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