Dow, S&P 500 will try to snap a 3-week slide as trade talks kick off


Stocks will try to regain their mojo next week as China and the U.S. hold long-awaited trade negotiations in Washington.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9% this week while the S&P 500 slid about 0.3%. Overall, the two averages posted their first three-week losing streak since August.

Wall Street’s poor performance for the week comes after a disappointing U.S. manufacturing data report sparked fears of a recession. The report itself pointed to trade as a key source of weakness for the manufacturing sector, making next week’s trade talks the key focus for traders.

“Trade talks are crucial, not just for the U.S., but globally,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The conclusion from central bankers, CEOs and CFOs is we’re slowing down.”

“They are waiting for something constructive,” said Krosby.

The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that U.S. manufacturing activity contracted to its lowest level in more than 10 years. This data sparked a two-day sell-off in which the Dow dropped more than 800 points. ISM Chair Timothy Fiore said trade “remains the most significant issue.”

Trade tensions between China and the U.S. have heightened over the past year, with both countries exchanging tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their products. However, the tone around U.S.-China trade improved recently as China increased last month .

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow also said Friday that “positive surprises” could come out of next week’s negotiations. Chinese and U.S. negotiators are expected to meet next Thursday and Friday.

But Peter Berezin, chief global strategist at BCA Research, warned signs of progress are crucial for the market moving forward. “Markets have entered a ‘show me’ phase,” he said in a note to clients.

Investors will also look ahead to the Federal Reserve releasing the minutes from its September meeting on Wednesday. The Fed cut rates last month by 25 basis points for the second time this year, citing “the implications of global developments for the economic outlook” among other factors.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

“It seems to me Powell is laying the blame or the explanation for the weakness directly at the feet of the administration,” said Jason Thomas, chief economist at AssetMark. “It’s growth outside of the U.S. It’s the parts of the U.S. economy that are exposed to trade that are being affected. Other than that, the economy is doing fine.”

Nonetheless, the probability of a third Fed rate cut increased this week amid weaker-than-forecast services and jobs-growth data. Market expectations for an October rate cut rose to around 80% from about 50% in the previous week, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

On Thursday, ISM said the U.S. services sector grew at its slowest pace since August 2016. Meanwhile, data released Friday by the Labor Department showed slower-than-expected jobs growth in the U.S.

Counterintuitively, the stock market got a boost after both data sets were released. The major averages posted solid gains on Thursday and rallied more than 1% on Friday with the Dow jumping more than 350 points.

“With job growth decent but slowing, a contraction in manufacturing, the ongoing trade war, and low inflation, the Federal Reserve will cut the fed funds rate” later in October, said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC, in a note.

Week ahead calendar (all times ET)

Monday

3 p.m. Consumer credit

Tuesday

6 a.m. NFIB Small Business index

8:30 a.m. Producer price index

Wednesday

10 a.m. Wholesale trade

10 a.m. JOLTS

2 p.m. FOMC minutes

Thursday

8:30 a.m. Weekly jobless claims

8:30 a.m. Consumer price index

Friday

8:30 a.m. Import prices

10 a.m. Consumer sentiment

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CIA’s top lawyer made criminal referral about Trump over whistleblower’s complaint


President Donald Trump arrives to address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, September 24, 2019.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Weeks before the whistleblower’s complaint became public, the CIA’s top lawyer made what she considered a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower’s allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian president, U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

The move by the CIA’s general counsel, Trump appointee Courtney Simmons Elwood, meant she and other senior officials had concluded a potential crime had been committed, raising more questions about why the Justice Department later closed the case without conducting an investigation.

In the days since an anonymous whistleblower complaint was made public accusing him of wrongdoing, President Trump has lashed out at his accuser and other insiders who provided the accuser with information, suggesting they were improperly spying on what was a “perfect” call between him and the Ukrainian president. But a timeline provided by U.S. officials familiar with the matter shows that multiple senior government officials appointed by Trump found the whistleblower’s complaints credible, troubling, and worthy of further inquiry starting soon after the president’s July phone call.

While that timeline and the CIA general counsel’s contact with the DOJ has been previously disclosed, it has not been reported that the CIA’s top lawyer intended the call to be to make a criminal referral about the president’s conduct, acting under rules set forth in a memo governing how intelligence agencies should report allegations of federal crimes.

The fact that she and other top Trump administration political appointees saw potential misconduct in the whistleblower’s early account of alleged presidential abuses puts a new spotlight on the Justice Department’s later decision to decline to open a criminal investigation — a decision that the Justice Department said publicly was based purely on an analysis of whether the president committed a campaign finance law violation.

“They didn’t do any of the sort of bread-and-butter type investigatory steps that would flush out what potential crimes may have been committed,” said Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor who heads the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School. “I don’t understand the rationale for that and it’s just so contrary to how normal prosecutors work. We have started investigations on far less.”

Elwood, the CIA’s general counsel, first learned about the matter because the complainant, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about the president on to her through a colleague. On Aug. 14, she participated in a conference call with the top national security lawyer at the White House and the chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

On that call, Elwood and John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council, told the top Justice Department national security lawyer, John Demers, that the allegations merited examination by the DOJ, officials said.

According to the officials, Elwood was acting under rules that a report must occur if there is a reasonable basis to the allegations, defined as “facts and circumstances…that would cause a person of reasonable caution to believe that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.”

A DOJ official said Attorney General William Barr was made aware of the conversation with Elwood and Eisenberg, and their concerns about the president’s behavior, in the days that followed.

Justice Department officials now say they didn’t consider the phone conversation a formal criminal referral because it was in written form. A separate criminal referral came later from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was based solely on the whistleblower’s official written complaint.

When Elwood and Eisenberg spoke with DOJ, no one on the phone had seen the whistleblower’s formal complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community, which had been submitted two days before the call and was still a secret. The issue of campaign finance law was not part of their deliberations, the officials said.

A ‘thing of value’

It is illegal for Americans to solicit foreign contributions to political campaigns. Justice Department officials said they decided there was no criminal case after determining that Trump didn’t violate campaign finance law by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival, because such a request did not meet the test for a “thing of value” under the law.

Justice Department officials have said they only investigated the president’s Ukraine call for violations of campaign finance law because it was the only statute mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint. Former federal prosecutors contend that the conduct could have fit other criminal statutes, including those involving extortion, bribery, conflict of interest or fraud, that might apply to the president or those close to him.

The decision not to open an investigation meant there was no FBI examination of documents or interviews of witnesses to the phone call, participants in the White House decision to withhold military funding from Ukraine, the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Ukrainian officials who were the target of Trump and Giuliani’s entreaties.

Text messages turned over to Congress Thursday night, in which diplomats appear to suggest there was a linkage between aid and Ukraine’s willingness to investigate a case involving Joe Biden, were not examined as part of the Justice Department’s review, officials said, adding that they conducted purely a legal analysis.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told NBC News that the decision not to open an investigation was made by the head of the criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, in consultation with career lawyers at the public integrity section. She and other officials declined to say whether anyone dissented.

The operative DOJ standard that the president can’t be indicted while in office was not a factor, she said. Attorney General William Barr has said he believes the president can be investigated and prosecutors can make a determination whether he committed criminal conduct.

“Relying on established procedures set forth in the Justice Manual, the Department’s Criminal Division reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted,” said Kupec.

Kupec declined to comment on whether the Justice Department was investigating any other aspect of the Ukraine matter. There has been no public indication, however, of any such investigation.

Some legal experts are puzzled by Justice Department’s narrow approach

“They are not by any stretch of the imagination limited to the referral,” said Chuck Rosenberg, an NBC News contributor and former U.S. Attorney. “They have the authority — in fact, they have the obligation — to look more deeply and more broadly and bring whatever charges are appropriate.”

Berger added, “When you get a criminal referral, you don’t go into it saying, ‘This is the criminal violation and now I’m going to see if the facts prove it.’ You start with the facts and the evidence and then you see what potential crimes those facts support. It seems backwards to say, ‘We are going to look at this just as a campaign finance violation and oops, we don’t see it — case closed.'”

In a case in which a government official is allegedly using his office for personal gain, and pressuring someone to extract a favor, the bribery and extortion statutes are usually considered, Berger said. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribery of foreign officials, may also have been implicated, she said.

‘I have received information’

In his written complaint, the CIA officer who became the whistleblower framed his allegations this way: “I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.”

But when he first passed on his concerns, they were not so specific, officials said. He first complained at his own agency, sending word through a colleague to a CIA lawyer. The complaint eventually reached the spy agency’s top lawyer, Elwood, officials said.

She was told there were concerns about the president’s conduct on a call with a foreign leader, but not which leader, officials said.

She also was told that others at the National Security Council shared the concerns, so she called Eisenberg, the top NSC lawyer, officials said. He was already aware that people inside his agency believed something improper had occurred on the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, officials said.

After consulting with others at their respective agencies and learning more details about the complaint, Elwood and Eisenberg alerted the DOJ’s Demers, during the Aug. 14 phone call, in what Elwood considered to be a criminal referral. Demers read the transcript of the July 25 call, officials said, on August 15.

What the DOJ did next is not entirely clear. A DOJ official said it was the department’s perspective that a phone call did not constitute a formal criminal referral that allowed them to consider an investigation, and that a referral needed to be in writing.

The whistleblower was already taking separate action. On Aug.12, he filed a complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, after consulting with a staff member on the House Intelligence Committee, officials said.

At the end of August, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, sent the Justice Department his own criminal referral based on the whistleblower complaint, he has confirmed.

Kupec says career prosecutors in the Public Integrity Section, which works on corruption cases, were involved in deciding how to proceed, as was the national security division and the Office of Legal Counsel.

A senior DOJ lawyer who briefed reporters said they no basis on which to open a criminal investigation because Trump’s request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a case involving his political opponent couldn’t amount to a quantifiable “thing of value” under campaign finance law.

DOJ officials said they focused on campaign finance law because that was how the allegations were framed in the whistleblower complaint.

“All relevant components of the department agreed with this legal conclusion,” the DOJ’s Kupec said.

Paul Seamus Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, is among those questioning even the narrow campaign finance analysis. Common Cause has filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission accusing Trump of violating campaign law.

It wouldn’t have been difficult for the government to determine how much money Ukraine would have spent in an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, he said,

“That would give them a dollar amount to show that Trump solicited ‘something of value,'” Ryan said.



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Treasury watchdog reviewing handling of Trump’s tax returns


President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, September 16, 2019.

Al Drago | Reuters

The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog is investigating how the department handled House Democrats’ requests for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, CNBC confirmed Friday.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., asked acting Inspector General Rich Delmar in a Sept. 30 letter to investigate how the Treasury handled the House panel’s request to hand over tax returns for Trump and his businesses.

“I want to be assured that Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service … is enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner and no one is endeavoring to intimidate or impede government officials and employees carrying out their duties,” Neal wrote.

Delmar told CNBC that Neal asked his office to “inquire into the process by which the Department received, evaluated, and responded to the Committee’s request for federal tax information.”

“We are undertaking that inquiry,” Delmar said.

The inspector general’s inquiry puts more pressure on Steven Mnuchin’s Treasury Department, which has resisted the Ways and Means Committee’s attempts to get the tax returns through subpoenas and an ongoing lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the Treasury did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Trump defied decades of tradition among modern presidents by failing to release his tax returns, as he had promised, either before or after the 2016 presidential election. He has claimed that he plans to release them following the completion of an audit, though there is no legal barrier to disclosing tax returns under an audit.



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Consumers holding up economy, as trade issues weigh it down


It’s trade policy, not Fed policy, that’s slowing economic growth, Loretta Mester, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, told CNBC on Friday.

“Global growth is slowing, trade policy has created uncertainty and tariffs have an impact as well,” she said on Closing Bell. “Those factors really account for some of the slowdown we’ve seen abroad and into the manufacturing sector in the U.S. and also the export side of the U.S. economy.”

Consumers, however, continue to maintain the economy’s strength against slowing pressures, as evidenced by Friday’s jobs report showing the unemployment rate at 3.5%.

Mester called it a solid report but gave few hints as to how she’s now leaning as the central bank is slated to announce another decision on its rates when it meets Oct. 30.

“I won’t say today because I really think it’s important we really look at the incoming information,” she said.

She said she’s watching for signs the consumer is weakening, but so far consumers are holding up well.

As for criticism from President Donald Trump, who has called the Fed’s members “boneheads” for not lowering rates fast enough, Mester said the Fed sticks to its discussions about its dual mandate to keep inflation and employment at healthy levels.

“There’s always challenges out there,” she said, “and we have to look through it.”



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Netflix should buy TV maker to compete in streaming wars


As the streaming wars heat up and competitors look for advantages, Netflix and Apple should consider buying a TV manufacturer, consumer marketing expert Matt Britton told CNBC on Friday.

“I think one largely missed element of this is the television itself,” Britton, CEO of consumer intelligence company Suzy, said on “Closing Bell.” “If I were a large company like Netflix or even Apple, I would buy a company that makes TV consoles and give them to high-income consumers for free.”

The reason, Britton argued, is that pieces of hardware like TVs are the “last mile for content.”

“We see that with the iPhone,” Britton said. “I think whoever controls that last-mile distribution is going to win, so I’m surprised that a defunct or an about-to-go-out-of-business company that makes TV consoles hasn’t been approached by one of these content companies.”

The streaming landscape has grown increasingly crowded, bringing added competition to established players like Netflix, Hulu and HBO.

Disney, AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal are soon launching services of their own. Apple TV+ will launch Nov. 1, and Disney’s service will launch two weeks after that.

Britton’s comments Friday follow news that Disney is banning ads from competitor Netflix on all of its TV platforms except for ESPN.

Britton said he didn’t think that would be a major setback for Netflix’s business, outside of the Oscars “where they can’t run ads.”

“But besides that, there’s plenty of other places for them to capture customers,” he said.

At the same time, Britton said Netflix faces other headwinds. Yes, Netflix has great content, Britton said, but that is accomplished mainly through “writing checks.”

But “companies like Apple and Amazon have deeper checkbooks, and they have a thriving direct-to-consumer base,” Britton said.

Britton said Apple has a strong ecosystem in the home, with iTunes and Apple TV, “which I think is incredibly powerful.” Amazon also has a strong existing presence through Prime, Britton said.

“For consumers, you get free shipping on your Amazon products and you can pay for the subscription, where Netflix you just get the content,” Britton said. “So that’s why I think it’s really hard for them to compete because they were first to market, but as these competitors come in, I think it’s going to be hard for them to hold their ground.”

Netflix could gain stronger footing by controlling a piece of hardware that helps distribute its content, Britton argued.

“I think you need the whole stack, so to speak,” he said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.



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UAW sees ‘good progress’ on key issues to try to resolve GM strike


United Auto Workers members on strike picket outside General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 25, 2019 in Detroit.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

The United Auto Workers union said on Friday it had made progress on some key issues as it works to try to reach a contract with General Motors to resolve a nearly three-week-old strike that has idled 48,000 workers.

The UAW said late Friday it had made “good progress” on health care and the status of temporary workers but still has unresolved issues like “wages, job security, skilled trades and pension.”

Talks will continue over the weekend in an attempt to reach a deal.

The GM strike began Sept. 16 with workers seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of the leading U.S. automaker’s profit and protection of healthcare benefits.

Analysts estimate the strike has cost GM over $1 billion, while LMC Automotive estimated on Thursday GM has lost production of 118,000 vehicles through Oct. 2.

Earlier this week, the strike forced GM to halt production at its pickup and transmission plants in Silao, Mexico, resulting in temporary layoffs of 6,000 workers.

Read the full letter from GM Vice President Terry Dittes below:

Dear Union Brothers and Sisters:

Since the last update, we have made good progress regarding the issues of health care and a path for temporary employees becoming seniority members.

We still have several of your proposals outstanding and unsettled like wages, job security, skilled trades and pension.

The staff and your elected Bargaining Committee from both hourly and salary have been working long hours and aggressively addressing your needs. We will continue to work over the weekend in an attempt to reach a Tentative Agreement on behalf of you and your families.

Thank you for standing strong and making sacrifices for the good of all.

In solidarity,

Terry Dittes

Vice President and Director

UAW General Motors Department



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Apple iPhone 6s service repair program announced


Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., right, speaks with Ryan Tedder, lead singer of One Republic, as other members of the band look on after a product announcement in San Francisco, Sept. 9, 2015. Apple is expected to unveil its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple announced a service repair program on Friday for some iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices to fix a problem that might prevent owners from being able to turn them on. No other iPhones are covered by the program, Apple said in its notice.

If your phone is eligible, Apple or one of Apple’s authorized repair shops will repair it free of charge.

Apple has determined that certain iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices may not power on due to a component that may fail,” Apple said in the notice. “This issue only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between October 2018 to August 2019.”

The iPhone 6s was introduced in 2015 and was the second iPhone model to come in two sizes. It’s also the last new iPhone model with a headphone jack. Although Apple stopped selling the iPhone 6S in late 2018, retailers still sold the device.

You can check your iPhone’s serial number at Apple’s website.

Follow @CNBCtech on Twitter for the latest tech industry news.



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Expect firms to adjust forecasts to new tariffs


Earnings season is underway, but it’s in the “slow dribble phase,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday.

The “Mad Money” host has just three earnings reports circled on his calendar in the week ahead, along with two analyst meetings he will be tuned in to.

He warned that the stock market has a number of headwinds coming out of Washington, D.C., to deal with, including the U.S.-China trade war, a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that would replace NAFTA and the Federal Reserve.

Trade officials are scheduled to resume talks later in the week, and the Chinese economy is one major focus of the host’s game plan for the trading week of Oct. 7.

“The week after next will be insane,” Cramer said. “Better batten down the hatches and get ready for companies to adjust their numbers going into a new round of tariffs that … they’re most likely unprepared for.”

Monday: China manufacturing report

The U.S. released a Purchasing Managers Index reading, which serves as a gauge for manufacturing, that disappointed investors earlier this week. China plans to reveal its own data on Monday, which will come days before both countries hold trade negotiations later that week.

“We don’t know how much the Chinese fiddle with their own figures, but expect for them to be accurate directionally, at least — meaning they’re a good way to detect some trends even if the absolute numbers [are] dubious,” Cramer said. “I’m betting the Chinese PMI will be as bad as the Communist Party lets it be, which is probably not going to be so good.”

Tuesday: Domino’s Pizza, Levi’s

Domino’s Pizza is slated to report earnings before the market opens. Emerging third-party delivery services have put up a challenge to the pizza franchise, who runs its own delivery operations. In a note, Wedbush said near-term sentiment is “overly negative” and assessed the current intensity of third-party delivery’s intrusion as “unsustainable.”

Analyst consensus for the third-quarter report expects revenue to grow 4.8% to $824 million and earnings of $2.07 per share.

Levi Strauss plans to reveal quarterly results after the market closes. The jeans business has been a tough category as of late, Cramer said.

Wall Street forecasts 28 cents profit per share on $1.4 billion in sales for the August quarter.

Wednesday: Mortgage applications

Mortgage data will be released.

“These have been real standouts of late, and every time they’ve been good they move the whole housing sector up, led by Lennar,” Cramer said. Lower “mortgage rates make housing stocks en fuego.”

Thursday: Delta Air Lines, Hormel Foods

Delta Air Lines will present its third-quarter earnings before the opening bell. Analyst estimates are $2.27 earnings per share and $12.6 billion of revenue, an increase of 5.5% from the year prior.

“The transports in general have been an outrageously bad place to be. I don’t expect Delta’s quarter to change anyone’s mind,” Cramer said.

Hormel Foods will host an analyst meeting. Cramer said that the Spam producer has been “reenergized” through the acquisitions of Skippy’s, Applegate Farms and Justin’s.

“It’s been a long time since Hormel was just Spam,” he said. “I think you can buy it ahead of the meeting” if it pulls back.

Friday: Wendy’s

Wendy’s will hold an analyst meeting. Cramer expects management to talk about its move into the breakfast business, which was met with negative sentiment on the market.

“I bet the meeting moves the needle back,” the host said. “I’d be a buyer ahead of the analyst meeting.”



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House Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry


U.S. House Democrats on Friday subpoenaed the White House for documents they want to see as part of their impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump.

The chairmen of three House of Representatives committees said they want documents related to a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the heart of their inquiry.

The three said they were forced to issue the subpoena after the White House failed to produce documents they requested in a Sept. 9 letter.

“We deeply regret that President Trump has put us – and the nation – in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” said Representatives Elijah Cummings of the Oversight Committee, Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and Eliot Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

They gave the White House until Oct. 18 to produce the information, including who else besides Trump was on the phone call with Zelenskiy.

“This subpoena changes nothing – just more document requests, wasted time, and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the President did nothing wrong,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

White House lawyers believe Trump, a Republican, can ignore lawmakers’ demands until the Democratic-controlled House holds a full vote of the chamber to formally approve of the impeachment inquiry, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Earlier, the committees asked Vice President Mike Pence to hand over documents relating to a meeting he held with Zelenskiy and the call between Zelenskiy and Trump.

They gave Pence until Oct. 15 to produce any records relating to the July call and a meeting he held with Zelenskiy on Sept. 1.

According to a partial transcript of the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy the “favor” of investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and his son, Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

At the time, the Trump administration was withholding hundreds of millions in aid for Ukraine and Democrats said they suspect Trump was using U.S. foreign policy and taxpayer money for his personal political gain. Trump is running for re-election.

“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president’s stark message to the Ukrainian president,” Cummings, Schiff and Engel wrote in a letter to Pence.

A spokeswoman for Pence said the broad nature of the request showed that it was not “serious.”

Security Assistance

When Pence met with Zelenskiy, the two discussed the $250 million in security assistance that the U.S. Congress had approved but that the Trump administration had not disbursed.

The investigation could lead to the approval of articles of impeachment – or formal charges – against Trump in the House. A trial on whether to remove him from office would then be held in the U.S. Senate. Republicans who control the Senate have shown little appetite for ousting Trump.

A cache of diplomatic texts Democrats received as part of their impeachment inquiry showed U.S. officials pressured the Ukrainian government to launch investigations that might benefit Trump’s personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting of the two countries’ leaders.

Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine, gave the messages to the House committees in a closed-door meeting on Thursday, and the chairmen released them later in the day.

Romney Pushes Back

Trump has said Biden and his son are “corrupt” but has shown no evidence to back that up. The president on Thursday went a step further in his attacks on Biden when he called on China to investigate the former vice president and his son, who had business interests there.

U.S. senator and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Friday it was “wrong and appalling” for Trump to push other nations to investigate Biden.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney said on Twitter.

Trump said on Friday he would not tie a much-anticipated trade deal with China to his desire for Beijing to investigate Joe Biden.

“One thing has nothing to do with the other,” he said.

Biden leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination. His campaign has blasted Trump’s efforts as desperate.

In a signal of how Kiev will handle investigations being watched in Washington, Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 old probes related to Burisma’s founder but added that they were unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden’s son.

The White House plans to argue that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, must have the full House vote to formally approve an impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the effort said.

Without a vote, White House lawyers believe Trump, who has called the impeachment probe a “hoax,” can ignore lawmakers’ requests, the source said, meaning the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment.

A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote will probably be sent to Capitol Hill next week, an administration official said.



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Bernie Sanders released from hospital after heart attack


2020 Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event in West Branch, Iowa, August 19, 2019.

Al Drago | Reuters

2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was released from a Las Vegas hospital Friday, days after the Vermont senator suffered a heart attack, his campaign announced in a statement.

Campaign advisor Jeff Weaver said Sanders “experienced some chest discomfort” during an event Tuesday and that he then underwent a procedure for a blocked artery, in which two stents were placed.

The Sanders campaign canceled appearances during his recovery, but a spokesperson for the Sanders campaign assured that he would attend the next Democratic primary debate on Oct. 15 in Ohio.

“His hospital course was uneventful with good expected progress. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician,” said Doctors Arturo E Marchand Jr. and Arjun Gururaj in the statement.

“I want to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center for the excellent care that they provided. After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work,” Sanders said in a statement.

Read the full statement from Sanders’ physicians Arturo E. Marchand Jr., MD and Arjun Gururaj, MD below:

“After presenting to an outside facility with chest pain, Sen. Sanders was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction. He was immediately transferred to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center.

“The Senator was stable upon arrival and taken immediately to the cardiac catheterization laboratory, at which time two stents were placed in a blocked coronary artery in a timely fashion. All other arteries were normal.

“His hospital course was uneventful with good expected progress. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician.”



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