Washington, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — House Democrats are expected to reopen the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election if they win the majority in November. But they would have to be selective in what they investigate.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, has said his party would have to "ruthlessly prioritize the most important matters first."
The Republican-led Intelligence Committee was the only House panel to investigate Russian meddling, and its investigation is now closed. Republicans say they found no evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign.
Democrats say Republicans ignored key facts and important witnesses and want to restart parts of the investigation if they win the House. But some Democrats also worry that there could be a political cost if they overreach.
Schiff and other lawmakers say they are closely watching special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and the Senate's Russia probe to look for gaps that they could fill. And if Mueller issues any findings, their investigative plans could change.
"My sense is that we want to be precise," says California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the intelligence panel.
Here's a look at what Democrats are likely to investigate if they take the House majority.
Schiff has repeatedly said a priority for Democrats would be investigating whether Russians used laundered money for transactions with the Trump Organization.
Trump's businesses have benefited from Russian investment over the years. Schiff said he wants to know whether "this is the leverage that the Russians have" over Trump.
Other committees might also want to look into money laundering, including the House Financial Services panel.
It's unclear whether Mueller is probing money laundering related to the president's business.
The Democrats issued a list in March of several dozen people whom the committee hadn't yet interviewed when the Russia investigation was shut down. Democrats would want to call in some — but probably not all — of those witnesses. Former Trump campaign advisers Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos are among them. They all pleaded guilty to various charges in the Mueller probe and have cooperated with prosecutors.
Important witnesses whose credibility Democrats have questioned might also be called back. That includes Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in federal court in August to campaign-finance violations and other charges, and prominent Trump supporter Erik Prince, who met with Russians during the campaign. Prince was defiant in an interview with the intelligence panel in December.
"I believe there are those who were less than candid with us," says Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democratic member of the committee, referring to Cohen and Prince, among others.
Democrats have said they also want additional documents that Republicans refused to subpoena.
House Republicans limited their Russia investigation to the intelligence panel, which traditionally conducts most of its business in secret. Democrats would probably spread the investigation over several other committees, opening it up and allowing for public hearings with top Trump officials.
Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democratic member of the intelligence panel, says they would try to be more transparent. The Republican investigation was "a way to keep everything behind closed doors," he said.
Democrats would also push to provide interview transcripts to Mueller, a step Republicans had resisted. The committee recently voted to make most of its Russia transcripts public, but it's unclear when that will happen.
DONALD TRUMP JR.
Democrats have pushed for more information about the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., and communications with his father and other aides related to a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
According to phone records he provided to Congress, Trump Jr. had a call with a blocked number several days before the meeting took place; he said he didn't recall with whom. Democrats want to subpoena additional phone records because Trump Jr. has insisted he didn't alert his father to the meeting beforehand. They also want more information about his communications with former Trump communications aide Hope Hicks.
Democrats may also look into direct messages on Twitter between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks, the website that released emails from top Democratic officials during the 2016 campaign. Trump Jr. has released those direct messages, in which the website urged him to publicize its leaks.
Democrats in the majority would probably push for the release of Trump's tax returns, a task that would be up to the House Ways and Means Committee. Trump broke a decadeslong tradition by declining to release his returns during the campaign. The Republican House and Senate have declined to ask for them.
Lawmakers hope that access to Trump's taxes would reveal information about his financial entanglements with other countries, among other things. But getting them may not be easy. The tax-writing committees in Congress can obtain tax records from the IRS under the law, but it is possible the Trump administration would refuse to hand them over, prompting a court fight.
ISSUES RELATED TO COLLUSION
Since Republicans closed the Russia investigation earlier this year, Democrats on the intelligence panel have conducted some of their own investigations despite not having subpoena power. They have made some progress in probing Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm once employed by the Trump campaign that improperly gained access to data from millions of social media profiles. They have also investigated Republican operative Peter W. Smith, who worked to obtain Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails from Russian hackers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Smith died shortly after talking to the paper.
PROTECTION FOR ROBERT MUELLER
A Democratic House would probably try to move legislation to protect special counsel Mueller. Trump has repeatedly criticized Mueller and his investigation, calling it a witch hunt. Prompted by concerns that Trump may try to fire Mueller, the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation in April that would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing. The bill would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can only be fired for good cause.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up the bill in the Senate. But House Democrats would be expected to pass their own special counsel protection bill if they take the majority.
Singapore, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — World markets rose on Monday, brushing off lagging Chinese growth and a downgrade in Italy's credit rating after its lawmakers approved a budget plan with room for a higher deficit.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX added 0.5 percent to 11,612.90 and France's CAC-40 was 0.2 percent higher at 5,096.74. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent to 7,078.68. On Wall Street, the future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 percent at 25,485.00. Standard & Poor's 500 futures edged 0.2 percent higher to 2,772.00.
ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite index jumped 4.1 percent to 2,654.88 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 2.3 percent to 26,153.15. Japan's Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses, gaining 0.4 percent to 22,614.82 and the Kospi in South Korea added 0.3 percent to 2,161.71. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 countered the trend, shedding 0.6 percent to 5,904.90. Shares rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia but fell in Thailand.
CHINESE RALLY: Investors appeared to take heart from reassurances from Chinese officials over slowing economic growth. Gains might also have been driven by the expectation that weak GDP data could spur further stimulus. Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking, noticed that state-linked funds were also buying into weakening markets. "Some investors are bargain hunting on the basis that there will be limited downsides," he added.
ITALY BUDGET: Italian lawmakers passed a draft budget that could raise the country's deficit to as much as 2.4 percent of gross domestic product. That's three times higher than promised by the previous government. In response, international credit rating agency Moody's downgraded Italy's ratings to Baa3, while keeping its outlook stable. The agency said there was a "material weakening in Italy's fiscal strength." The European Union has expressed concerned that the Italy's plans would worsen its debt. But a sharp narrowing in Italian bond yields, especially long-term ones, is lifting stock markets. Italy's benchmark FTSE MIB added 0.6 percent to 19,186.91.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The world appears to have bought time on the worst of headline and geopolitical risks, and that appears to be quelling the worst fears and helping to backstop markets," Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 20 cents to $69.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 0.7 percent to $69.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up 21 cents to $79.99 per barrel. In the previous session, it gained 0.6 percent to $79.78 a barrel.
CURRENCY: The dollar strengthened to 112.84 yen from 112.56 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.1505 from $1.1516.
London, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May is urging Parliament to support her as Brexit looms, saying Britain's divorce deal with the European Union is 95 percent complete.
May's office says she plans to tell lawmakers on Monday that "the vast majority" of issues are settled, including the status of Gibraltar.
May faces dissent from the opposition Labour Party and her own Conservative Party over her blueprint for separation and future relations with the bloc.
Grumbling has grown since she suggested last week that Britain could remain bound by EU rules for two years or more after it leaves on March 29.
London and Brussels say the main obstacle to an amicable divorce is finding a way to avoid customs posts and other obstacles on the border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
Srinagar, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Armed soldiers and police fanned out across much of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday as separatists challenging Indian rule called for a general strike to mourn the deaths of civilians and armed rebels during confrontation with government forces.
The death toll of civilians in an explosion after a gunbattle between government forces and militants the previous day climbed to seven as another injured young man died at a hospital on early Monday.
Government forces Monday patrolled streets in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar and enforced a security lockdown in the downtown neighborhoods in anticipation of anti-India protests. Businesses, schools and shops remained shut and public transport stayed off the roads.
Eight combatants, including five militants and three Indian soldiers, were killed in a pair of gunbattles on Sunday, officials said, triggering massive anti-India protests and clashes during one of the fighting in which nearly three dozen people were injured. The seven civilians were killed in an explosion at the site in southern Kulgam after the fighting ended, police and residents said.
Protesting villagers in Kulgam made several attempts to reach the site where the rebels were trapped, barraging troops with stones and abuse. They were trying to distract the soldiers who apart from guns and grenades also used explosives to blast the house where the rebels were cornered, residents and police said.
Authorities offered condolences to the families of slain and reiterated that gunbattle sites should not be visited by civilians until they're cleaned from any leftover explosives.
Some residents blamed Indian troops for excessive use of explosives in populated areas and deliberately leaving explosives at the site.
"It's routine with them (Indian army) to blast homes with explosives for killing holed up militants. High over their victory of killing Kashmiris, they leave the area without clearing it from unexploded explosives," said Farooq Ahmed, a resident in southern Kulgam area where Sunday's incident occurred. "It's so sinisterly planned, and it has happened so many times."
Anger spiraled in the region after the deaths, sparking protests and clashes at many places. Separatist leaders called for Monday's strike to protest what it described "Indian occupation forces crossing all limits of repression to break Kashmir's freedom struggle."
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.
Most Kashmiris support rebel demands that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with the rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.
Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Dubai, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal's entourage.
King Salman likewise called Khashoggi's son, Salah.
That's according to statements published early Monday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The statements said both King Salman and Prince Mohammed "expressed his condolences"
Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 at the consulate, where he had gone to get paperwork to be married.
For weeks, Saudi Arabia insisted the Washington Post contributor had left the consulate. The kingdom finally acknowledged his death early Saturday in what it described as a "fistfight."
Turkish media quotes officials saying a team of 15 Saudis removed Khashoggi's fingers, killed him and dismembered him.