Vox Sentences: Tariff Man versus the Dow

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US senators condemn the Saudi crown prince for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after a closed-door CIA briefing; President Trump proclaims himself the “Tariff Man.”


A bipartisan consensus on MBS

 Chedly Ben Ibrahim/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • US senators from both sides of the aisle concurred that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, is responsible for the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shortly after they wrapped up a closed-door briefing on the matter by CIA Director Gina Haspel. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • The news is especially surprising because this is the first time we’ve heard prominent members of the Republican Party — like Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker — condemn the US ally. [USA Today / Deirdre Shesgreen]
  • Corker notably said that if MBS were in front of a jury, “he would have a unanimous verdict in 30 minutes. A guilty verdict.” Graham added that he wouldn’t support arms sales to the kingdom as long as MBS remains in charge. [Politico / Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine]
  • The two men’s remarks directly contradict what President Trump and his Cabinet have alleged on the issue — especially Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who noted last week that there was no “smoking gun” intelligence directly implicating MBS in the murder. [The Hill / Ellen Mitchell]
  • The CIA first concluded that MBS was behind Khashoggi’s killing in mid-November. Ever since, Haspel has faced mounting pressure to speak to lawmakers about it. [Washington Post / Shane Harris, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey]
  • Already, a Senate bill to stop all US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen is up for a vote next week, though it’s unlikely Trump would sign the legislation into law if it ever reached his desk. [NBC News / Leigh Ann Caldwell]
  • Meanwhile, the president has continued to emphasize the importance of retaining strong ties with Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder, praising Riyadh’s friendship and repeatedly denying MBS had any role in the journalist’s demise. [Vox / Stavros Agorakis]

China slip

  • The US went into the G20 summit last weekend ready for a definitive resolution to its trade spat with China — but ended up with a modest compromise when President Trump agreed to temporarily hold off on increasing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods in exchange for China purchasing a “substantial” amount of American products. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • Yet in a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump angrily expressed his concern over the China talks falling through, threatening to raise the tariffs to the disadvantage of the other nation. [MarketWatch / Steve Goldstein]
  • In that same tweetstorm, Trump referred to himself as a “Tariff Man,” claiming expert knowledge of import and export dealings. Last week, in a Wall Street Journal interview, he confused tariffs with interest rates repeatedly. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • The 90-day deal — and the threats — did not appear to please Wall Street investors. A few days after Trump’s return from Argentina, the Dow plunged 799 points, and Nasdaq lost nearly 4 percent as enthusiasm for the US-China truce on trade began to vanish. [Vox / Emily Stewart]

Miscellaneous

  • Universal Pictures, behind movies like Mamma Mia and Pitch Perfect, is working on an original musical “inspired by” Prince’s songs. [Variety / Justin Kroll]
  • Ron Burgundy is ditching TV news broadcasting and going stereo. The famous Anchorman film character played by Will Ferrell is getting his own podcast in a collaboration between iHeartRadio and Funny Or Die. [A.V. Club / Sam Barsanti]
  • For the second year in a row, Spotify’s most streamed artists list features all male artists, which raises questions about the lack of gender diversity in the music industry. [Mashable / Laura Byager]
  • Japan is finally saying goodbye to pagers: The last telecommunications company still operating the service announced it will shut down in September 2019. [CNN / Joshua Berlinger]

Verbatim

“The Queen says, ‘Just get in, sit wherever,’ and … you’re remembering protocol and she says, ‘Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in.’” [Former first lady Michelle Obama on getting picked up in a car by Queen Elizabeth II / CNN]


Watch this: How this drug lord created a hippo problem in Colombia

It’s a hippo invasion. [YouTube / Johnny Harris and Christina Thornell]


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