Top story: FBI chief challenges Trump about Obama wiretap allegations
Good morning – this is Martin Farrer with the best of today’s stories.
The director of the FBI has reportedly asked the US justice department to publicly reject claims made by Donald Trump that the Obama administration bugged his offices in the runup to the presidential election. James Comey has made the highly unusual challenge because of his concerns that the allegations are false and suggested the FBI had broken the law.
Trump made the accusation in a late-night tweet on Saturday and likened the alleged wiretapping to Watergate. The White House then asked Congress to investigate the claims. However, neither the president nor his spokesman Sean Spicer offered any evidence for the claim which followed reports on rightwing websites that Obama had tried to undermine Trump’s campaign.
Budgeting for Brexit – Philip Hammond is expected to use his first budget on Wednesday to announce that tax revenues will be used to build up an emergency fund to protect Britain from Brexit-related uncertainties rather than increase spending on the health service. He stopped short of confirming weekend reports that the rainy day fund would be £60bn. Meanwhile, the British Medical Association says the government should increase health spending by £10bn a year.
Missile alert – North Korea has fired three missiles into Japanese waters in the latest escalation of tension surrounding the nuclear capability of the communist state. Japan warned of “grave threats” to its security as anonymous officials in South Korea said they had not ruled out the possibility that one of the launches could have been an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Harassment ‘epidemic’ – Sexual harassment, misconduct and gender violence by staff is rife in British universities, according to the findings of research by the Guardian. Freedom of information requests sent to 120 establishments found that students made at least 169 such allegations against academic and non-academic staff in the past five years. Scores of alleged victims said they had not reported incidents for fear of recriminations. Ann Olivarius, senior partner at the law firm McAllister Olivarius, said it was an “epidemic”.
‘I’m stunned’ –Emma Watson has hit back at people who have criticised the actor for posing for a revealing photo shoot in Vanity Fair. Watson, a vocal supporter of women’s rights, says feminism is about “freedom”, adding that “I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it … I’m stunned”.
Rumour has it – Borrowing a line from one of her most celebrated songs, Adele has revealed that she’s “married now”. There has been lengthy speculation about the singer’s marital status but, introducing the breakup hit Someone Like You on stage in Brisbane on Sunday, she said she’d had “found her next person”. Presumably that means she’s wed long-term partner Simon Konecki, with whom she has a four-year-old son.
Lunchtime read: Why Hammond must tread carefully
Back with the chancellor, and our columnist Matthew D’Ancona argues today that Hammond must use his budget speech to address the rising concerns of businesses about the upcoming hike in rates. It’s not a full-blown crisis yet, but it could become one.
Alexis Sánchez stormed out of an Arsenal training session last week and was involved in a slanging match with his team-mates. He was dropped for Saturday’s defeat at Liverpool and Nick Miller writes that it shows why Arsène Wenger has to go. Joe Root and Chris Woakes saved England with an unbroken 102-run seventh-wicket partnership to clinch the one-day international series against West Indies with a match to spare. And the sportswear giant, Nike, has been accused of hindering a doping investigation into the elite training group run by Mo Farah’s coach, Alberto Salazar, it has been claimed.
Hundreds of jobs could be lost if a planned merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management goes ahead. The £11bn deal, which could be settled today, would create Britian’s largest fund manager. In Greece the government is seeking World Bank funds to create jobs and to meet its €7bn debt repayment in July.
Shares in Asia were down as investors now overwhelmingly expect a rise in US interest rates next week. The pound is buying $1.23 and is worth €1.16.
It’s Monday so all the front pages are different. The Telegraph leads on an NHS story saying more than 600 Quango chiefs are earning more than £100,000 year while the Sun has a TV-ish splash involving a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent and a cannabis factory found in a flat in north London.
The Mail splashes on an investigation into Marie Stopes, the UK’s second largest abortion provider, and the availability of abortions and the Times says that Philip Hammond is expected to raise taxes in Wednesday’s budget in an effort to pay for social care and business rate changes.
The Mirror has its own investigation into online blackmail, saying 30 Britons a day are falling for “webcam sex scams” – being lured by conmen using fake profiles of women. The FT, meanwhile, splashes on the Standard Life merger.
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