Morning Update newsletter: The Trump-Russia probe; Liberals back Magnitsky-style bill; Brazil’s latest political scandal


Ex-FBI head appointed as special counsel to lead Trump-Russia probe

Former FBI director Robert Mueller has been appointed as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into possible ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Democrats have been demanding a special counsel to ensure the Russia probe isn’t hindered by political interference. Mueller will work at arm’s length from the government and has the ability to recommend charges. In a statement, Trump said “a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”

Trump has been hit with a series of setbacks on the Russia front since firing FBI director James Comey last week. During a recent meeting with Russian officials, Trump disclosed highly classified information about a possible Islamic State terror threat. And in February, one day after Michael Flynn resigned, Trump asked Comey not to investigate the former national security adviser, according to a memo written by Comey. Trump’s transition team also knew that Flynn was under federal investigation for secretly working as a lobbyist for Turkey, the New York Times reported last night.

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Liberals to support Magnitsky-style bill targeting human-rights abusers

The Liberals are throwing their support behind a Magnitsky-style bill that would allow for sanctions against human-rights abusers in Russia and elsewhere. The bill would enable the Canadian government to freeze assets and deny visas. Ottawa is following the lead of the U.S. and Britain, which both implemented laws targeting abusers, in memory of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was murdered in 2009. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Liberals would support the bill, which was tabled by a Conservative senator. The Russian embassy in Ottawa criticized the decision: “We deplore this unfriendly move by the Canadian government which will surely damage our bilateral relations and will not be left unanswered.”

Brazil political crisis deepens as President Temer reportedly taped arranging bribe

Another political corruption scandal has hit Brazil. President Michel Temer was allegedly caught in a secret audio recording giving the head of a major meatpacking company approval to pay bribes to silence jailed political leader Eduardo Cunha. The President’s office acknowledged a meeting took place, but denied the bribery allegations. The recording came to light as part of evidence in a plea-bargain deal that Joesley Batista, the head of meatpacking giant JBS SA, is seeking. Batista and his brother appear to have been working with police to catch politicians committing crimes. Temer took over as President after Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year. Cunha spearheaded Rousseff’s removal.

Managing editor of CBC’s The National reassigned after cultural appropriation controversy

The new managing editor of CBC’s The National has been reassigned after his tweet about cultural appropriation. Steve Ladurantaye was one of a number of Canadian media executives who commented on Twitter last week to offer contributions for a so-called “appropriation prize.” He apologized the next day, but in meetings this week some CBC staff expressed deep hurt and anger about his actions. Ladurantaye has been reassigned to the Content Experience division, and his role will be reassessed in the fall.

The appropriation debate picked up steam last week when Write magazine editor Hal Niedzviecki penned an editorial in which he said he didn’t believe in cultural appropriation. That drew anger from the Indigenous community and others, which in turn led to Niedzviecki’s resignation. Walrus editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay defended Niedzviecki, and subsequently resigned from his position on Saturday.

NHL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP

The Ottawa Senators crushed the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference final. Sens forward Mike Hoffman scored the first goal just 48 seconds into the game, and his teammates would add another three before the first period ended. The series will stay in Ottawa for Game 4 on Friday.

MORNING MARKETS

Global stocks extended their steepest fall in over six months on Thursday as uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump’s political future continued to swirl in Washington, but there were signs of stabilization elsewhere as the U.S. dollar and gold steadied. Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 1.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 0.5 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.4 and 0.8 per cent by about 4:30 a.m. (ET). New York futures were down, and the Canadian dollar was at about 73.3 cents (U.S.). Brent oil futures dipped back to $52.05 a barrel after hitting a two-week high overnight on the back of continuing efforts by OPEC to cut production.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Donald Trump keeps finding ways to make America worse

“Every day, it’s something else. Sometimes, every hour. Just when you think Donald Trump has sunk as low as he can go, another trench opens up beneath him and he pulls his country deeper into the abyss. In terms of the audacity of its incompetence, Trump’s is a remarkable performance. But voters didn’t elect the President in the hope that he would become synonymous with record-setting fatuity. They voted for Trump because he promised to make America great again. Instead, he is plunging it into constitutional crisis.” – Globe editorial

It’s not just the RCMP: Police culture is toxic

“While some in the public may see these reports as earth-shattering revelations about the workplace culture of Canadian police forces, their content should not surprise many of the officers who serve. The culture of policing was originally built on white, traditionally masculine, conservative norms, and is based on hyper-masculinity, loyalty and, above all, silence. There have been commissions, gender audits, independent reviews, academic studies, lawsuits, whistle-blowing memoirs, public complaints and media coverage of the ills of the police culture for decades. The internal issues of harassment, discrimination, abuse of power and corruption have been known by police administrations and government bodies in Canada for a long time. Yet, little about the culture has changed in any meaningful way.” – Lesley J. Bikos, former officer for the London police service

HEALTH PRIMER

What it’s like to be an emergency physician who’s had enough

“When I first started [as an emergency physician] 20 years ago, if one or two patients were in the department for over 24 hours, that would really have caught our attention. We’d be like, “What’s going on?” Now, there are 30, sometimes more. I think there’s a misunderstanding about what the problem with overcrowding is. As a country, we are high users of emergency departments. However, the sore throats and ankles are not a problem for us to deal with. They don’t occupy beds for a long time. It’s the admitted patients who get parked in emerg who are the big problem.” – emergency-room doctor Karen Graham

MOMENT IN TIME

Sir Robert Borden announces conscription

May 18, 1917: “In this great struggle we will do our duty, whatever it may be, to the very end.” With those words, Canadian prime minister Sir Robert Borden finished his address to the House of Commons on an oddly cold May afternoon, backtracking on his promise to never make military service an obligation. In a desperate attempt to rebuild a crippled military after the Battle of the Somme, Prime Minister Borden issued another promise: “The number of men required will not be less than 50,000 and will probably be 100,000.” When the Military Service Act finally became law, despite strong opposition from Quebec, all able-bodied men aged 20 to 45 were called to arms. With conscription, three years into the war effort, Canada was all in. Still, by the time the war ended in November, 1918, only 48,000 conscripts were sent to Europe. – Scott Wheeler

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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