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February 14, 2020

“We’d love to have a 10% middle-class tax cut, and we would love to strengthen and make permanent some of the other tax cuts...It’ll probably come out sometime in September.” —White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow

FOREIGN POLICY

1. US prosecutors unveiled sixteen new charges against Huawei including racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets (from at least six US firms). The federal indictment expands a prior list of charges brought against Huawei last year and marks the latest in a series of contentions between the Chinese technology giant and the US government.

More context: Huawei is the world’s largest telecom equipment maker and openly considered a national security threat by the US, given its proximity to the Chinese government.

FOREIGN POLICY

2. The Senate passed a bipartisan war powers resolution (55-45) aiming to limit President Trump’s use of military force against Iran. The resolution would allow the president to order swift military action in the face of an imminent attack, but otherwise mandates congressional approval. President Trump is expected to veto the resolution if passed by the House.

More context: The resolution was prompted by (but does not condemn) President Trump’s order to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

Extra: Read the resolution here (it’s short).

BUSINESS

3. A federal court ordered the Pentagon to halt a $10B cloud-computing contract awarded to Microsoft (known as “JEDI”), granting a request for injunction by Amazon. Amazon (the initial front-runner) sued the US government last year after Microsoft received the contract, alleging clear “deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias” in the highly-contentious bidding process.

More context: The 10-year deal will effectively determine the US Military’s cloud-computing provider.

POLITICS

4. Attorney General William Barr appeared in an ABC interview yesterday amid scrutiny over a recent Justice Department decision to lessen the recommended sentencing of former Trump-advisor Roger Stone. Barr asserted that the president has “never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” but pressed President Trump to “stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases” noting it makes it “impossible for me to do my job.” 

More context: Watch the interview.

QUICK BITS

  • The US and Taliban reached a seven-day “reduction in violence” agreement that is expected to open the door to more comprehensive negotiations (within 10-days) for an Afghanistan-wide peace deal and possible US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Switzerland said it will investigate reports that the CIA and German intelligence controlled Crypto AG (a Swiss security firm) allowing the agencies to gather intelligence on over 120 nations in a decades-long operation called “Operation Rubicon.
  • Australian officials said that all brushfires are now “contained” in New South Wales, following more than a week of heavy rainfall amid a record-breaking brushfire season that burned over 13M acres in Australia’s most populous state.

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Editors


P.S. Enjoy Presidents Day weekend! We’ll see you back here on Tuesday.