Foreign Affairs

U.K. Is Worse Off In Every Brexit Scenario

“The government’s new analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modeled,” BuzzFeed News reports.

Bloomberg: “It said that each of the three scenarios modeled, from no trade deal with the EU to membership of the European Economic Area, would bludgeon growth. The hardest Brexit would leave the economy 8 percent smaller than otherwise in 15 years time, and the softest would still slow growth by 2 percent.”

Senators Say Russia Is Meddling In Mexico Election

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) allege that Russia is using “sophisticated technology” to influence Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, and they’re asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to urge Mexico and other countries to rely on help from USAID to safeguard their elections, CBS News reports.

“Violent protests of thousands recently erupted after the Honduras presidential election, a contested race that was marred by accusations of voter fraud. Tear gas had to be used to diffuse the angry streets when the winner was declared weeks after the vote took place. The senators point to those images in calling for the need to support strong electoral processes to sustain a democracy.”

Disagreement Derails Trump Choice for South Korea Post

“The White House’s original choice for U.S. ambassador to South Korea is no longer expected to be nominated after he privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration’s North Korea policy,” the Washington Post reports.

“Victor D. Cha, an academic who served in the George W. Bush administration, raised his concerns with National Security Council officials over their consideration of a limited strike on the North aimed at sending a message without sparking a wider war — a risky concept known as a ‘bloody nose’ strategy.”

Tory MPs Considering Coup Against Theresa May

“Conservative MPs are considering another attempt at ousting Theresa May if the local elections go badly, as disillusionment with her leadership bubbles up among backbenchers once again,” the Guardian reports.

The frustration from her “lackluster performance, botched reshuffle and shifting Brexit strategy has caused talk of deposing her to resurface.”

The Sun reports that just eight more Conservative dissenters were needed to trigger a vote of no confidence against May.

Trump Administration Cribbed List of Oligarchs

“The striking similarity between a newly-released Treasury Department report of Russian oligarchs and a 2017 list of wealthy Russians published in Forbes Magazine is no coincidence,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“On Tuesday, a Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed… that the unclassified annex of the report was derived from Forbes’ ranking of the ‘200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.'”

Putin Says U.S. List of Oligarchs Is ‘Hostile Step’

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Trump administration’s list of top officials and businesspeople is a “hostile step” that harms relations between Russia and the United States, the AP reports.

“Just 12 minutes before the deadline, the administration late on Monday released a long-awaited list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 ‘oligarchs’ who have flourished under Putin, fulfilling a demand by Congress that the U.S. punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.”

Russia Accuses U.S. of Meddling In Election

“The Kremlin said that a new U.S. sanctions report expected to be released imminently was an attempt to influence Russia’s presidential election in March, but predicted it would fail to impact the vote,” Reuters reports.

“The United States could release reports as early as Monday detailing the possibilities for expanding sanctions against Russia, including a list of oligarchs and potential restrictions on the holding of Russian government debt.”

Trump Says He’d Be Tougher Than Theresa May

President Trump says he would take a “tougher” attitude toward Brexit negotiations than the approach now being used by British Prime Minister Theresa May, the AP reports.

Said Trump: “Would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s (being) negotiated… I would have had a different attitude.”

He added: “I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be.”

Tourism to the U.S. Drops Under Trump

NBC News: “Travel to the U.S. has been on the decline ever since President Trump took office, and new data from the Commerce Department shows the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.”

“The latest data shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel.”

Trump Won’t Visit U.K. Unless Protests Banned

President Trump is refusing to visit the UK unless Theresa May can ensure that he is not met with protests, the International Business Times reports.

“May told the US president that that was how the UK media operated and she could do little to change it. Trump went on to say that he would not visit the UK unless there were guarantees that he would not be met with protests.”

Pence Breaks Tie to Confirm Brownback

Vice President Mike Pence broke a 49 to 49 tie in the U.S. Senate to confirm Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the Kansas City Star reports.

A final Senate vote to confirm the nomination likely could take place as early as Thursday, officially clearing the way for Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) to succeed Brownback as governor.

Corker Praises Trump’s Unpredictability

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said President Trump’s unpredictability “is paying dividends for the United States abroad as his administration tries to reshape the nation’s role in the world,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Corker: “The president and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. On the other hand, I’ve seen where that unpredictability has been helpful in negotiations.”

He added: “He’s has done an incredible job of rallying the animal spirits in our country, there’s no question.”

Trump Finally Makes It to Davos

New York Times: “By any measure, he made a lot of money, the kid from Queens, maybe not as much as he boasted, but a fortune. And yet never accepted, never respected, he remained on the outside pressing his nose against the window of the club of elites he both revered and resented.”

“So when President Trump arrives in this snowy, mountaintop resort where financial titans mingle with heads of state in an annual saturnalia of capitalism, it may feel like a moment of vindication. Never invited when he was merely a businessman, Mr. Trump will arrive on Thursday as leader of the world’s last superpower, commanding attention if not admiration. Whatever else, he cannot be ignored now.”

Tillerson Hangs On – For Now

Politico: “Diplomatic insiders say Tillerson’s staying power may due be to his stubborn personality — along with the sense of pride that comes from being a former corporate CEO. That he hasn’t been fired could also reflect the political reality for Trump that losing his secretary of state so quickly would be an embarrassment — and that replacing Tillerson would be an unwanted headache.”

“Anything is possible in a Trump administration that has seen numerous high-level departures, of course. And critics warn that a shadow hangs over Tillerson that deepens confusion overseas about U.S. foreign policy. Foreign diplomats see Tillerson as a weak figure because his views are often out of sync with Trump’s. He’s also alienated many of the diplomats who work for him and are worried about his ambitious plan to downsize and restructure the State Department.”