Netanyahu: Iran had secret ‘Project Amad’ to design, produce and test warheads

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018.
Amir Cohen | Reuters Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministryof Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed a cache of files he claims were obtained from Iran and prove Tehran ran a secret program to build nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders have long said their nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. But Netanyahu on Monday revealed tens of thousands of pages of documents, which he said were copied from a “highly secret location” in Iran and detailed an effort to build nuclear arms. He said the evidence provided “new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive.” His remarks come less than two weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump must decide whether to continue suspending sanctions against Iran, or restore the penalties on one of the world’s biggest oil producers. The Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. The accord lifted a series of sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear program and allowing international investigators access to its facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the signatories to the agreement have repeatedly confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal as it is written. But the Trump administration and foreign policy hawks have long argued that the accord itself is flawed. Last year, the White House announced a major policy shift aimed at working with U.S. lawmakers and European partners to toughen the nuclear deal. In January, Trump waived sanctions against Iran, but said he would not suspend them when the next deadline arrived on May 12 unless the United States and Europe had agreed on a path forward.

Inflation hits Fed’s 2% target, PCE shows, in prelude to faster rise in U.S. interest rates

 

Getty Images Americans increased spending in March for the first time since the end of 2017, but rising inflation could be a problem.

The numbers: A key inflation gauge rose to 12-month rate of 2%, hitting the Federal Reserve’s target for the first time in a year and potentially signaling a faster increase in U.S. interest rates. The PCE index, the Fed’s preferred inflation barometer, rose to 2% year over year from a 1.7% pace in February. The 12-month increase in the more closely followed core rate of inflation was close behind, rising to 1.9% in March from 1.6% in the prior month. That’s the biggest yearly gain in the core rate since April 2012. The PCE index was unchanged in March, the government said Monday. The core rate rose 0.2%. The inflation figures are included in the government’s monthly report on consumer spending. Outlays rose 0.4% last month to mark the first advance since the end of 2017. Incomes climbed 0.3% in March. Both figures were in line with Wall Street expectations. Inflation has been increasing steadily for months owing to the rising cost of oil, higher home prices, the tightest labor market in decades and a strong U.S. and global economy. Prices pressures aren’t likely to ease up much, either. The savings rate dropped to 3.1% from 3.3%. The U.S. economy is growing soundly nearly nine years into an economic expansion, but it was inevitable that such a long period of growth would eventually trigger higher inflation. Inflation is still quite low by historical standards, but the Fed might be inclined to raise U.S. interest rates more aggressively to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. If so, Treasury rates are expected to rise and stocks could take a hit. Higher rates tend to draw money out of equities and into bonds

Gold eases for session and heads for April loss in shadow of firming dollar

Reuters

Gold slumped to start the week and headed for a roughly 0.9% April drop, retreating as the dollar index looked set to close out its best month in more than a year. The yellow metal’s drop comes even as closely tracked Treasury yields pulled back slightly from the 3% line in Monday trading. Nonyielding gold had lost some demand in favor of riskier assets. Early Monday, June gold GCM8, -0.64% fell $8.50, or 0.6%, at $1,314.90 an ounce. The contract did end higher Friday, at $1,323.40 an ounce, bouncing off its lowest closing level since March 20. June gold notched a 1.1% drop for last week. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.36% was up 0.3% at 91.84. Its moves can influence appetite for dollar-priced commodities, including the yellow metal, to investors using other currencies. The index is on track for a 1.8% April gain, according to FactSet Data. That would be the strongest showing since February 2017, when it also rose 1.8%. Still, gold’s back-and-forth has been restricted to a narrow trading range so far this year. “The dollar strength is not having a lasting impact on the technicals of gold and coming into this week, there is little expectation that the range of support band $1,300/$1,310 will be broken,” said Richard Perry, analyst at Hantec. “During 2018, there has not been a closing session within or below $1,300/$1,310 as time and again the corrections have been bought into.” Investors also have been tracking the 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.50%  , which last week climbed above 3% for the first time since 2014, but then slipped back under that psychologically important level. A jump for that benchmark rate tends to peel money away from riskier assets such as equities. Economic reports Monday include a look at personal income and spending, the April release on the Chicago area’s business conditions and a March report on pending home sales. On the Federal Reserve front, no speeches are scheduled. The central bank’s policy makers are slated to start a two-day meeting on Tuesday, and they are expected on Wednesday to leave interest rates on hold and signal no change to a tightening path of two more rate hikes in 2018. However, that’s a course of action that some market participants believe is too slow to keep up with mounting inflation risks. The jobs report for April, set to be released next Friday, could keep market action limited in the days leading up to the release. In addition, the prospect of a trade war between the U.S. and China is one of those worries, so traders are likely to watch U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s visit to China this week for high-level trade talks.

Trump says he relishes enthusiasm, ‘love’ at Michigan rally

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump took aim at familiar political targets and added a few fresh ones during a campaign-style rally in Michigan, an Upper Midwest state that was crucial in sending him to the White House.

Trump has been urging voters to support Republicans for Congress as a way of advancing his agenda. In the Saturday night rally in Washington Township, he repeatedly cited Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as one of the Democrats who needed to be voted out.

After saying Stabenow was standing in the way of protecting U.S. borders and had voted against tax cuts, Trump said: “And you people just keep putting her back again and again and again. It’s your fault.”

Earlier Saturday, Trump tweeted criticism of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana over his role in the failed nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling for Tester to resign or at least not be re-elected this fall.

In Michigan, Trump railed against the allegations Tester aired against Jackson and suggested that he could take a similar tack against the senator.

“I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said ’em, he’d never be elected again,” Trump said without elaborating.

As he has at similar events, Trump promoted top agenda items that energize conservatives: appointing conservative judges, building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ending sanctuary cities and protecting tax cuts approved by the Republican-led Congress. He also took credit for the warming relations between North and South Korea, telling his audience, “We’ll see how it goes.”

“Great evening last night,” the president tweeted early Sunday. “The enthusiasm, knowledge and love in that room was unreal. To the many thousands of people who couldn’t get in, I cherish you … and will be back!”

Trump chose a friendly venue for his rally, which not coincidentally came the same night as the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He skipped the dinner last year.

“While Washington, Michigan, was a big success, Washington, D.C., just didn’t work. Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents Dinner was a very big, boring bust…the so-called comedian really ‘bombed,'” Trump tweeted.

That barb was directed at Michelle Wolf, who provided the after-dinner entertainment for the White House press corps and their guests, and whose performance was surprisingly racy. After one crass joke drew groans from the audience, Wolf laughed and said, “Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.”

Before the Michigan rally, Trump had said in a fundraising pitch that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room “with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.” He said he would rather spend the evening “with my favorite deplorables.”

During the 2016 campaign, Clinton drew laughs when she told supporters at a private fundraiser that half of Trump supporters could be lumped into a “basket of deplorables” – denouncing them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”

Clinton later did a partial rollback, said she had been “grossly generalistic” and regretted saying the label fit “half” of Trump’s supporters. But she didn’t back down from the general sentiment.

Trump soon had the video running in his campaign ads, and his supporters wore the “deplorable” label as a badge of honor.

Trump, in his remarks at the rally, repeatedly weaved back into immigration and his support for a border wall. He accused Democrats of not wanting to secure the border and keep violent criminals out of the country.

“Debbie Stabenow is one of the leaders for weak borders and letting people in. I don’t know how she gets away with it,” Trump said. “A vote for a Democrat in November is a vote for open borders and crime. It’s very simple. It’s also a vote for much higher taxes.”

A spokeswoman for Stabenow hit back Sunday against Trump.

“Michigan families are tired of political attacks,” spokeswoman Miranda Margowsky said. “Instead they want results, and that’s exactly what Senator Stabenow has done.”

Trump warns his impeachment could follow if Democrats take back Congress

“We gotta fight like hell, and we gotta win the House and we gotta win the Senate.”

 

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally on April 28, 2018 in Washington Michigan. CREDIT: Scott Olson/Getty Images Addy Baird Apr 29, 2018, 10:53 am

President Trump is concerned he will face impeachment if Republicans lose their House majority, he said Saturday night at a rally in Michigan. “We have to keep the House,” he said. “Because if you listen to Maxine Waters, she goes around saying, ‘We will impeach him! We will impeach him,’” he said, referring to the Democratic congresswoman from California. “Then people said, ‘He hasn’t done anything wrong,’…’Oh, that doesn’t matter, we will impeach the president.’”Trump noted that the party in the White House usually loses seats during the midterms and called for Republicans not to get comfortable. “We cannot be complacent — we gotta go out and we gotta fight like hell and we gotta win the House and we gotta win the Senate,” he said. Waters, whom Trump singled out, has repeatedly called for Trump to resign or be impeached. Most recently, last Tuesday, she was asked at the Time 100 gala if she had any advice for Trump. “Please resign so that I won’t have to keep up this fight of your having to be impeached because I don’t think you deserve to be there,” she said. “Just get out.”

On Monday on MSNBC, Waters said she often hears from people around the country saying they support impeachment. “Everywhere I go, people are talking about, ‘Why can’t y’all get rid of him? Why can’t you impeach him?’” Waters said. “They say all of these things and I’m not just talking about my district — whether I’m on the airplane, I’m walking down the street in New York, wherever I am — I’m hearing it.” And Waters is onto something: A poll released last Thursday found that if Democrats take back the House, more than 70 percent of Democratic voters want them to take steps to begin impeachment proceedings.But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been less keen to call for impeachment, saying she believes it would harm Democrats ahead of the midterm elections, and calling the push for impeachment a “gift” for Republicans.  “I don’t think we should be talking about impeachment. I’ve been very clear right from the start,” Pelosi said Thursday during a press conference. “On the political side, I think it’s a gift to the Republicans. We want to talk about what they’re doing to undermine working families in our country and what we are doing to increase their payrolls and lower their costs. Pelosi added that she doesn’t see the upcoming midterms as a referendum on the White House. “It’s about our addressing the needs of the American people, and we cannot take our eye off that ball,” she said, adding that impeachment proceedings should, if they happen, be bipartisan.“Impeachment is a very serious matter,” she said. “I don’t think we have the information to go to that place, and I would discourage any discussion of impeachment.”With the midterm elections six months away, Democrats currently hold about a nine point lead over Republicans on the generic ballot.

Trump Sharpens Aim at Democrats Facing Election

Image: Trump Sharpens Aim at Democrats Facing Election
(Getty) Sunday, 29 April 2018 07:05 AM

President Donald Trump took aim at familiar political targets and added a few fresh ones during a campaign-style rally in Michigan, an Upper Midwest state that gave him a surprising victory in the 2016 election. Trump has been urging voters to support Republicans for Congress as a way of advancing his agenda. In his rally in Washington Township Saturday night, he repeatedly pointed to Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as one of the Democrats who needed to be voted out. After saying Stabenow was standing in the way of protecting U.S. borders and had voted against tax cuts, Trump said: “And you people just keep putting her back again and again and again. It’s your fault.”Earlier Saturday Trump tweeted criticism of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana over his role in the failed nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling for Tester to resign or at least not be re-elected this fall.  In his rally remarks, Trump railed against the allegations Tester aired against Jackson and suggested that he could take a similar tack against the senator. “I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said ’em, he’d never be elected again,” Trump said without elaborating. As he has at similar events, Trump promoted top agenda items that energize grassroots conservatives — appointing conservative judges, building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ending “sanctuary cities” and protecting tax cuts approved by the Republican-led Congress. He also took credit for the warming relations between North and South Korea, telling his audience “we’ll see how it goes.”Trump chose a friendly venue for his rally, which not coincidentally came the same night as the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He skipped the dinner last year, too, and attending a rally in which he took time to attack the news media and assure his audience — as he did in Washington Township, about 40 miles north of Detroit — that he’d rather be with them.  Ahead of the rally Trump said in a fundraising pitch that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room “with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.” He said he would rather spend the evening “with my favorite deplorables.”Trump repeatedly weaved back into immigration and his support for a border wall throughout the speech. “If we don’t get border security, we’re going to have no choice, we’ll close down the country,” Trump said.He accused Democrats of not wanting to secure the border and keep violent criminals out of the country.  “Debbie Stabenow is one of the leaders for weak borders and letting people in. I don’t know how she gets away with it,” Trump said. “A vote for a Democrat in November is a vote for open borders and crime. It’s very simple. It’s also a vote for much higher taxes.” Macomb County, the site of Trump’s rally, is among the predominantly white counties known as a base for “Reagan Democrats” — blue-collar voters who abandoned the Democratic Party for Ronald Reagan, but who can be intriguingly movable.

Will Cohen Flip? Tenuous Finances May Provide Crucial Clues

Barbara Jones Appointed to Review Cohen’s Seized Materials

In the two weeks since federal agents seized the files of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, a question has hovered: Will Cohen cooperate with investigators? His decision could depend in part on whether he can readily shoulder the enormous legal fees required to fight a federal probe of this magnitude. At first blush, Cohen looks like a pretty rich man. He drives a white Rolls Royce, sports a $50,000 watch and owns a fair amount of Manhattan real estate. But just as his loyalty to Trump is coming under scrutiny, a more tenuous financial picture is emerging. A taxi business he and his wife built is deeply in debt and losing money daily, his commercial real estate is throwing off only modest income, and his legal and consulting work is on hold while he remains under investigation.

The owners of 32 New York City taxi licenses — known as medallions — he and his wife, Laura, took out at least 16 loans based on their once-soaring value, liens show. With the rise of Uber and Lyft, the price of a medallion has fallen from more than $1 million to around $163,000 in the past four years. Income from the taxi business has plummeted, and millions of dollars of the Cohens’ loans went under water. Their bank said in a November public filing that it had loans out to three taxi borrowers, and all were at high risk of default. Unpaid taxes and fines have piled up at the Cohen taxi companies, triggering a suspension of about half of the medallions, city records show, squeezing cash flow.

Whatever monthly income the cabs once produced almost certainly fell well short of the debt payments owed to Sterling National Bank, their Montebello, New York-based lender. Sterling has foreclosed on operators in similar situations and sued them but appears to be taking a less-confrontational approach with the Cohens. On Tuesday, the bank agreed to new loans for their companies and to Cohen personally, public filings show. Sterling declined to comment.The taxi business isn’t the only part of Cohen’s empire that’s suffering. The law firm Squire Patton Boggs said it ended its “strategic alliance” with Cohen after law enforcement raided his offices, and the rest of his legal work could decline for the same reason. Cohen, 51, makes others’ ugly problems disappear, a practice that was previously lucrative. Essential Consultants LLC, a company affiliated with Cohen, was paid $250,000 after he negotiated a $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model on behalf of Republican National Committee official Elliott Broidy, according to a Wall Street Journal report.  Cohen has said in court that he had only three legal clients during the past year: Broidy, Trump and talk-show host Sean Hannity. He gave seven others “strategic advice and business consulting.” Last month Cohen said he borrowed from his home-equity credit line to make a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film star who says she had sex with Trump.

In a Thursday morning appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Trump distanced himself from Cohen, saying he did only “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of Trump’s legal work, but it included representation “on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

Cohen is under investigation for bank fraud and violating campaign-finance law. But his decade at Trump’s side as his lawyer and enforcer could yield information he might trade to investigators looking into the Trump campaign and Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

Still, if he chooses to defend himself, Cohen does have assets. Companies he signs for own two investment properties purchased in 2015. The larger one, with 92 units on New York’s Upper East Side, is 38 percent owned by Cohen’s companies. The businesses also appear to be the sole owner of a downtown building with 20 units. Together they likely generate less than $1 million in annual net income for Cohen’s companies after accounting for partner interests, expenses and financing costs, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Debt against the buildings is low, meaning that Cohen could tap them for cash. Last October, the Cohens sold a unit at Trump World Tower, near the United Nations, for $3.3 million. Cohen has been a savvy property investor. He previously owned four buildings in need of repairs in Lower Manhattan, rehabilitated them and sold them for $32 million in 2014, more than doubling his initial investment. Richard Guarino, a partner at Friedman-Roth Realty, has worked with Cohen on a handful of deals, including the purchase of his Upper East Side building. As a real estate investor, Cohen is “cautious, methodical, smart and, I think, conservative,” Guarino says.

Continue reading “Will Cohen Flip? Tenuous Finances May Provide Crucial Clues”

Trump threatens govt. shutdown in September if no funding for wall

WASHINGTON, Michigan (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald on Saturday threatened to shut down the federal government in September if Congress did not provide more funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico.U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a Make America Great Again Rally in Washington, Michigan April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts “That wall has started, we have 1.6 billion (dollars),” Trump said at a  campaign rally in Washington, Michigan. “We come up again on September 28th and if we don’t get border security we will have no choice, we will close down the country because we need border security.”Trump made a similar threat in March to push for changes in immigration law that he says would prevent criminals from entering the country. The government briefly shut down in January over immigration.

A $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Trump signed last month, will keep the government funded only  through the end of September.
A government shutdown ahead of the November mid-elections is unlikely to be supported by his fellow Republicans who are keen to keep control of the U.S. Congress. Trump cited the hundreds of Central American migrants traveling in a “caravan” as one of the reasons for strong border security.

“Watch the caravan, watch how sad and terrible it is, including for those people and the crime that they inflict on themselves and that others inflict on them,” said Trump. “It’s a horrible dangerous journey for them and they come up because they know once they can get here they can walk right into our country.” Migrants, who include women and children, have said they fled their homes in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras because of death threats from gangs, the murder of family members or political persecution. Nick Bit: See trump thought he was elected like Putin to be dictator and chief. He cannot comprehend we are a nation ruled by law. And their is a Congress that gets a say on how money is spent. And despite the Republican majority he has not been able to get the 100 billion to build a wall that they will jump over, fly over and tunnel underneath…  But after all Trump is DE man!!!!

Asylum-seekers in Mexico snub warnings of stern US response

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — U.S. immigration lawyers are telling Central Americans in a caravan of asylum-seekers that traveled through Mexico to the border with San Diego that they face possible separation from their children and detention for many months. They say they want to prepare them for the worst possible outcome. “We are the bearers of horrible news,” Los Angeles lawyer Nora Phillips said during a break from legal workshops for the migrants at three Tijuana locations where about 20 lawyers gave free information and advice. “That’s what good attorneys are for.”  The Central Americans, many traveling as families, on Sunday will test the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric criticizing the caravan when the migrants begin seeking asylum by turning themselves in to border inspectors at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, the nation’s busiest. President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet have been tracking the caravan, calling it a threat to the U.S. since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border. They have promised a stern, swift response.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system,” pledging to send more immigration judges to the border to resolve cases if needed. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously” but said the asylum-seekers should seek it in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico.  Any asylum seekers making false claims to U.S. authorities could be prosecuted as could anyone who assists or coaches immigrants on making false claims, Nielsen said. Administration officials and their allies claim asylum fraud is growing and that many who seek it are coached on how to do so.

Trump dismissed warnings from GOP leaders that party could lose house: report

President Trump has privately dismissed concerns from top Republican lawmakers over the GOP’s performance headed into the 2018 midterms later this year, according to a New York Times report. During a dinner with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and White House legislative director Marc Short, Trump listened to McConnell fret about the GOP’s one-seat majority in the Senate while Short claimed that the GOP’s House majority was threatened, according to the Times.“That’s not going to happen,” Trump said multiple times during the meal, the Times reports, referring to the possibility of the GOP losing its lower chamber majority. Some Trump supporters, including Eric Beach, a strategist at the pro-Trump America First PAC, told the Times that Trump is rightfully skeptical of election plans laid out by McConnell and retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “He doesn’t think that’s how you win elections because that’s not how he won his election,” Beach tells the Times. “He knows and understands that the core issues of today are illegal immigration — including building the wall — and trade inequity.”

Trump’s rosy outlook for the midterms comes despite reported increasing worry from GOP members that the Republicans’ majority in both houses of Congress is in jeopardy and a series of polls indicating Americans’ rising support for Democrats to retake both chambers.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll released Friday found Democrats with a double-digit lead on generic House and Senate ballots heading into November. Democrats also hold a 9-point advantage — 43 percent to 34 percent — when voters were asked whether they support a Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. “Democrats have a significant edge in the midterms as Republicans in Congress have no coherent leadership and a constituency lower than Trump’s,” said Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll Co-Director Mark Penn in the poll’s summar