(Bloomberg) -- It's a new day in Washington, as Democrats’ hopes that Robert Mueller would deliver a body blow to Donald Trump have evaporated.
The special counsel's conclusion there was no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election has emboldened the president. That’s even as a four-page Justice Department interpretation of Mueller’s findings stopped well short of the “complete and total exoneration” Trump claimed. Russia urged Trump to seize the opportunity to reset relations.
Democrats, who had long anticipated Mueller’s report would provide enough ammunition to politically handicap the president, if not impeach him, now find themselves in perilous territory.
They must re-calibrate their approach to House investigations they’ve launched into the administration and the financial affairs of Trump and his family as the focus shifts to federal and state probes in the president's home state of New York.
And, as Justin Sink writes, Democrats face new questions about their own credibility after years of allegations that could hamper their efforts to force the full release of Mueller's report.
Voters may feel the special counsel has spoken and it’s time to move on — just as Trump's 2020 campaign begins in earnest.
May in peril | Theresa May is running out of options, as rumors swirl of plots to oust her and as Parliament potentially moves to seize control of the Brexit process. If it succeeds, politicians are likely to try to force May to keep much closer ties to the European Union than she wants. The prime minister would then have a choice: adopt that approach as policy and risk splitting her Conservative Party or forge ahead with an economically damaging no-deal Brexit.
Israel tensions | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Washington after a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip hit an Israeli home near Tel Aviv today, injuring seven people. Coming just two weeks before general elections, what Netanyahu called “a criminal attack” may damage his reputation as the guardian of the nation’s security. He vowed to respond “forcefully.”
Dangerous challenge | A party linked to exiled tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory in Thailand’s election and said it will seek to form a government, challenging a military-backed group that led in the initial vote count. The move sets up a showdown between pro-democracy forces and royalist and military elites, who for two decades have sought to prevent Thaksin and his allies from taking power.
Italy coalition tremors | Matteo Salvini’s rightest League party made strong gains in an Italian regional election, while another poor performance by his partner Five Star raises doubts over the fractious populist coalition’s future. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte insists local results don’t threaten government stability, but Salvini’s decision to campaign heavily in Basilicata ahead of yesterday’s ballot and boycott Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rome signaled his displeasure at Five Star’s embrace of the Asian giant. Losing strategy? | It would seem that trade wars aren’t as “good, and easy to win” as Trump promised a year ago when he imposed tariffs on metal imports. U.S. steelmakers saw significant gains in 2018, but manufacturers that buy the metal say the levies have hurt profits, spurred layoffs and forced some companies to rework supply chains in ways that undercut the use of American workers. The split decision could complicate Trump’s economic message heading into 2020.
What to Watch
Widespread flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe a week ago has claimed at least 600 lives and prompted the UN World Food Programme to raise the classification of the disaster to its highest level, on par with Syria and Yemen. Xi meets Emmanuel Macron in Paris later today. The French president has asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to join them in a discussion of issues such as trade and climate, underscoring Macron’s determination to present a united European front toward China.
And finally ... It’s the most popular smartphone game in the world, with enthusiasts from the U.S. to Russia to Malaysia. But not in India, where the backlash from traditionalists — who fear it may turn children into psychopaths — is ferocious. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUGB, involves 100 contestants facing off with machine guns and assault rifles until only one is left standing. States and cities are rushing to ban the game, which has taken off in a country that has no age restrictions on its players.
--With assistance from Ruth Pollard.
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