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It’s that season again, where — for a few months — Iowa becomes the center of the American political universe.
The small farm state, home to less than 1% of the U.S. population, plays host today to Democratic front-runner Joe Biden as well as President Donald Trump.
It’s a potential preview of the 2020 election showdown, and follows events last weekend that drew 19 of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic nomination to the state.
Iowa’s status as the first to hold a presidential nominating contest and as a general election battleground make it an important prize. Trump won Iowa in 2016 after it went to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The president’s path to re-election will require him to hang onto Iowa and other largely rural areas where his support was strongest in 2016 but where the impact of his trade war with China is being acutely felt, Jennifer Epstein reports.
For Biden, who has been scarce in the state since launching his campaign in April, today’s events are a chance to make a first-hand pitch for taking on Trump. But if it fails to resonate, it could open the door for another Democrat to seize the lead.
Not enough | The Justice Department has agreed to begin turning over some information House Democrats have subpoenaed related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. But the move won’t forestall a planned House vote today on a resolution authorizing Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and his committee to initiate civil legal action against Attorney General William Barr for his refusal to turn over Mueller report-related material.
Upping the ante | Trump threatened to impose further tariffs of 25% or more on $300 billion in Chinese goods if President Xi Jinping doesn’t sit down with him at the Group of 20 summit in Japan this month. The comments increase the pressure for a potential meeting between the leaders as their trade dispute threatens the global economy.
Click here for an interview with Hu Xijin, editor of combative state-run newspaper the Global Times, whose tweets have forecast a number of recent steps from China on trade.
Promises, promises | It’s a record field of 10 candidates to become the new Conservative leader and U.K. prime minister, and all have pledged to deliver Brexit. The problem is their plans would face the same difficulties as Theresa May, who struggled in vain to get the European Union divorce through. The EU has ruled out renegotiating Brexit, while the British Parliament has made clear it won’t accept leaving the bloc without a deal.
Tug of war | In Moldova, long the object of geopolitical tussling between Russia and the West, a new parallel government has drawn rare support from both Moscow and Brussels. Maia Sandu, a former World Bank adviser who is one of two competing prime ministers, told Marc Champion she understands the risk of entering a Venezuela-style standoff with the incumbent administration, and of joining forces with the pro-Russia Socialist Party to do so, but also sees no alternative.
Lethal laundering | The family of a Maltese journalist killed by a car bomb in 2017 has given a fellow EU member far to the north a list of people allegedly involved in a money-laundering network linked to her death. The report to Latvia names gang members whom Daphne Caruana Galizia “investigated and whom we believe are connected to her subsequent murder” her family said, bringing fresh scrutiny to a probe of the flow of dirty cash through the Baltic country.
What to watch
The U.S. expressed “grave concern” over Hong Kong legislation to allow extraditions to China, raising pressure on Beijing as the city braces for new protests and potential worker strikes against the bill. The Trump administration is weighing sanctions against the Iranian body set up to facilitate humanitarian trade with Europe. That could sever an economic lifeline that France, Germany and the U.K. sought to create for Tehran.
And finally...From the push for “Medicare for All” by progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders to Trump’s warning that such plans will turn the U.S. into a failed state, Socialism as a governing philosophy or an offhand insult (or both) is stirring U.S. politics. Sahil Kapur explains how the term is being newly embraced, debated — and disparaged — amid larger conversations about inequality, the role of government and how to ensure capitalism works for all.
--With assistance from Karen Leigh and Marc Champion .
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