Tuesday Morning Briefing: What can Mueller tell lawmakers that we do not already know?

United States

The U.S. Justice Department told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller he should limit his testimony before Congress this week to discussing his public report on the Russia probe. When Robert Mueller testifies to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers are expected to try to pin down the former special counsel on a crucial question: did he intend for them to carry on where he left off in his investigation of President Donald Trump and the Russians?

Trump agreed at a meeting with the heads of top technology companies to make “timely” decisions on requests by U.S. companies to sell to blacklisted Huawei, the White House said. But even as the CEOs of the companies “requested timely licensing decisions from the Department of Commerce,” the White House said in a statement that the executives expressed “strong support” for national security restrictions on U.S. telecom equipment purchases and sales to Huawei.

Donald Trump and U.S. congressional leaders reached a deal on a two-year extension of the debt limit and federal spending caps that would avert a feared government default later this year but add to rising budget deficits. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi promptly issued a statement confirming the agreement, saying the measure would be voted on “swiftly” in the Democratic-led House of Representatives. The Republican-led Senate must also pass the measure before it can be signed into law by Trump.

The Trump administration will propose a rule to tighten food stamp restrictions that would cut about 3.1 million people from the program, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said. Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, according to the USDA.

San Juan braced for an 11th day of protests calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor over offensive chat messages that have drawn hundreds of thousands of people. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds late Monday and early Tuesday while protesters threw bottles and other objects at police, multiple media reports said. Governor Ricardo Rosselló has insisted he will not step down as leader of the U.S. Territory over misogynistic and homophobic messages exchanged between him and top aides, but said on Sunday that he would not seek re-election next year.


Brexiteer Boris Johnson to be Britain's next prime minister. His victory catapults the United Kingdom towards a Brexit showdown with the EU and towards a constitutional crisis at home, as British lawmakers have vowed to bring down any government that tries to leave the bloc without a divorce deal. Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit referendum, won 92,153 votes by members of the Conservative Party. His rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, won 46,656 votes.

Britain called for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, days after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in what London described as an act of “state piracy” in the strategic waterway. “Under international law, Iran had no right to obstruct the ship’s passage - let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament. The British announcement signals a potential shift from Washington’s major European allies who so far have been cool to U.S. requests that they beef up their military presence in the Gulf, for fear of feeding the confrontation there.


China accused U.S. officials of being behind violent protests in Hong Kong and advised them to remove their “black hands” from the territory. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment at a news briefing in Beijing, when asked about the Hong Kong protests.
South Korean warplanes fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian military aircraft that entered South Korean airspace, defense officials said, while Russia denied violating any airspace and accused South Korean pilots of being reckless. It was the first time a Russian military aircraft had violated South Korean airspace, an official at the South Korean Ministry of National Defence said in Seoul.
Afghanistan’s government called for clarification of Donald Trump’s remarks that he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by “wiping out Afghanistan from the face of the earth”, the presidential palace in Kabul said. “The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” Afghanistan’s presidential palace said in a statement.


Top investors lose $1 billion as China's Nasdaq-style board reverses on day two

The biggest shareholders in China’s new Nasdaq-style STAR Market lost a combined $1 billion in the second day of trade, a day after the board’s roaring debut created three new billionaires.
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Equifax's $700 million data breach settlement spurs criticism, calls for new rules

Credit-reporting company Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle claims it broke the law during a massive 2017 data breach and to repay harmed consumers, in a landmark settlement that was nonetheless criticized by consumer advocates and some lawmakers who called for stricter regulation. Roughly 147 million people had information, including Social Security numbers and driver’s license data, compromised by the breach.
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Oil edges further above $63 on Mideast tensions

Oil edged further above $63 a barrel, supported by rising tensions in the Middle East after Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week, although signs of faltering demand capped gains. Iran’s capture of the tanker has sparked concern about supply disruptions in the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint in the Gulf through which about a fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.
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