ROCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump added muscle to the legal team defending against an impeachment investigation led by congressional Democrats on Wednesday, after 2020 re-election rival Joe Biden called for the first time for his impeachment
Biden, who is at the center of a controversy over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that led the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry, had previously refrained from making an outright plea for impeachment.
Trump continued to paint the probe as a partisan smear, and accused the U.S. intelligence officer who filed the whistleblower complaint that sparked the furor of having political motives. He also added former U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, best known for his investigations of the administration of Trump’s Democratic predecessor, to his outside legal team.
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden, the Democratic front-runner to face Trump in next year’s presidential election, took the gloves off.
“With his words and his actions, President Trump has indicted himself. By obstructing justice, refusing to reply with a congressional inquiry, he’s already convicted himself,” Biden said. “In full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts.”
“To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”
Trump fired back on Twitter.
“So pathetic to see Sleepy Joe Biden, who with his son, Hunter, and to the detriment of the American Taxpayer, has ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars, calling for my impeachment – and I did nothing wrong,” Trump wrote.
The House began impeachment proceedings against Trump last month over his attempts to have Ukraine’s president investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Despite Trump’s allegations, which he made without evidence, that Biden engaged in improper dealings in Ukraine, there are few signs the controversy has damaged the Democratic former vice president’s 2020 prospects.
Public opinion polls, including those taken by Reuters/Ipsos, have shown Biden’s support remaining relatively stable.
Trump on Wednesday again described the inquiry as a partisan attack.
“It turns out that the whistleblower is a Democrat, strong Democrat, and is working with one of my opponents as a Democrat,” Trump told reporters.
Lawyers for the whistleblower responded in a statement, denying that political factors had influenced the complaint.
“Our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign or party,” they said in a statement. “Our client has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions.”
The day after the White House declared its refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe, Trump added that he would respond if House Democrats “give us our rights.”
The addition of Gowdy to Trump’s legal team marked a pivot from late September, when outside lawyer Jay Sekulow said there were no plans to beef up the legal team. Sekulow announced Gowdy’s hiring on Wednesday.
The three congressional committees leading the inquiry were working on final arrangements on Wednesday to interview the whistleblower.
The State Department this week abruptly blocked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who had been in touch with Ukrainian officials on Trump’s behalf from speaking to the inquiry.
The investigation is focused on whether Trump used almost $400 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to begin an investigation of the Bidens.
Trump has defended the July 25 phone call to Zelenskiy.
Most Democrats want to impeach Trump, even if that means weakening their party’s chances of winning back the White House in 2020, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.
The poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found that 55% of Democrats said their party leaders should press ahead with impeachment even “if it means a lengthy and expensive process that could weaken their chances of winning the presidency in 2020.”
An even higher number – 66% of Democrats – agreed that Congress should pursue impeachment, “even if that means they will need to postpone efforts to pass laws that could benefit me.”
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Richard Cowan, Mark Hosenball, Susan Heavey and Makini Brice in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell and Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney
LONDON (Reuters) – A dive in the dollar catapulted the euro higher and flattened stocks on Thursday, as the first U.S.-China trade talks since July and a report accusing the European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi of going rogue jostled for attention
Markets were bombarded from all sides by denials and counter-denials on both the U.S.-China trade talks and the countdown to Brexit, by Turkey’s military push into Syria and by a blizzard of weak data stretching from Japan to France.
Asia had enjoyed a broadly positive finish but European stocks then spent their opening spell dithering [.EU] as the more serious action took place in the currency markets, where the euro EUR=EBS suddenly popped to a two-week high above $1.10 versus the dollar.
The greenback was weaker across the board – partly due to market chatter about a currency pact with China to stop devaluation – but there was plenty else too.
The Financial Times reported that the ECB had restarted its bond-buying program last month despite objections of its own officials, a further sign of how the move has reopened divisions within the institution.
“The view on the currency story could be swinging here,” said Saxo Bank’s head of European currency strategy, John Hardy, “And the market is sensing that euro-dollar is the pressure point.”
Perhaps the main mover overnight was a rally in China’s offshore yuan, which strengthened to its best levels in more than two weeks after a Bloomberg report that said U.S. and Chinese officials were reviving a currency pact first mooted earlier this year that stops further tariff hikes in return for commitments to hold the yuan stable.
As well as the ECB resistance to Draghi’s latest moves, Hardy said that could also have a read-across for the euro, with the United States expected to lay out sanctions next week in retaliation for Europe’s past aid for planemaker Airbus.
U.S. S&P 500 mini futures ESc1 traded down 0.1%, with a large part of early losses cut after the New York Times reported that Washington would soon issue licenses allowing some U.S. firms to supply non-sensitive goods to China’s Huawei Technologies.
Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators were scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday to try to end a bruising 15-month-old trade war.
Without significant progress, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to hike the tariff rate on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30% from 25% next Tuesday.
“Barring any surprise today, it looks like their talks are breaking down. The tariff (rate) will be hiked. The situation looks dire,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
China is unlikely to be willing to make an easy compromise with a U.S. president who seems increasingly vulnerable to domestic political pressure as opposition Democrats seek to impeach him, analysts also said.
U.S. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden called for the impeachment of Trump for the first time in a deepening partisan fight over a congressional investigation of the Republican president.
“Mr. Trump’s recent impeachment risk has turned the timetable against him,” Chi Lo, senior economist at BNP Paribas Asset in Hong Kong, wrote in a report to clients.
“While China is not eager to reach a trade deal, Mr. Trump is, however, under pressure to get at least a temporary deal done to help his re-election bid before his impeachment risk rises and the U.S. economy weakens further,” Chi said.
U.S. Treasuries yield slipped back after having risen to 1.594% on Wednesday, pressured partly by this week’s heavy bond supply.
The 10-year Treasuries yield dipped to one basis point to 1.577% US10YT=RR although the ECB chatter helped push euro zone yields slightly higher.
The price of front-end Fed funds rate futures has been gained on increasing bets on more rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The November contract FFX9 is almost fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage point cut on Oct. 30.
In commodities, oil prices also dipped on wariness over U.S.-China talks. Brent crude LCOc1 futures fell 0.15% to $58.23 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 lost 0.11% to $52.53 per barrel.
Copper CMCU3 rose as much as 1.1% to $5,749 a tonne, however, after falling 0.3%. It looked set to be its best day in a month.
Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Gareth Jones