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In his tweets Friday, Trump accused Mueller of having a conflict of interest because of his friendship with Comey, who succeeded him as FBI director. Comey and Mueller weren’t known to be particularly close friends, although they reportedly had a working friendship. Trump’s decision to fire Comey last year as he carried out the Russia investigation partly led to the special counsel’s appointment. Comey is slated to appear before House members at 10 a.m. ET Friday in a closed-door session.

The president also claimed he does not know Jerome Corsi, the right-wing conspiracy theorist who recently predicted Mueller could indict him. However, Corsi claimed last month that he has phone records showing he spoke four or five times to Trump in 2011, as they discussed the “birther” smear against President Barack Obama, according to NBC News.

Trump questioned what Mueller would include in a long rumored report that he could release to summarize the investigation, which the president again called a “total Witch Hunt.” The special counsel may not release an actual report about the probe.

He claimed Mueller had conflicts and again accused the ex-FBI director and his team of being Democrats who support his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton. While three of Mueller’s lawyers made contributions to Clinton, according to Politifact, Republican President George W. Bush appointed the special counsel as FBI director.

Mueller is a lifelong Republican. Rosenstein, who appointed him as special counsel, is also a longtime registered Republican. Comey was a Republican, as well, until only recently.

Trump also again claimed that Mueller should look into Clinton, rather than the president.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on Trump’s tweets.

Mueller is investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Moscow.

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James Comey’s closed-door testimony on 2016 FBI probes



Former FBI Director James Comey on Friday defended his conduct and the bureau’s handling of the months-long investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, even as he acknowledged in hindsight that the conduct of key officials involved in the case may have created the appearance of bias.

In transcripts of a closed-door hearing released on Saturday, Comey reiterated that there was “no substantive case” against the former Secretary of State for mishandling classified information. As part of an agreement with the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, lawmakers agreed to release a full transcript of Comey’s testimony within 24 hours.

However, Comey told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee that he was unaware of a series of text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two agents formerly assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Strzok and Page were romantically linked, and exchanged thousands of disparaging messages about President Donald Trump during and after the election, while appearing to promote Clinton’s candidacy. Replying to a Congressman’s question, Comey suggested he would have blocked the agents from continuing in their roles in the probe.

“To the extent you’re asking about communications of Page and Strzok, if I had known about those things that they were communicating that I’ve seen in [the media], I would not have had them…playing any role in connection with that investigation,” Comey said, in response to a lawmaker’s question.

“The challenge for me is I haven’t read all the texts, but based on what I saw — have seen in the media since I left the FBI, that unless there was some explanation for that that I was missing, in my judgment, they wouldn’t have remained part of the investigation,” Comey added.

He also characterized the infamous Phoenix tarmac meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton during the probe of his wife as inappropriate given the circumstances. “I was very concerned by the appearance of that interaction,” Comey said, according to the transcript.

“I remember being concerned about whether she should remain involved, especially after the tarmac visit,” the transcript of Comey’s remarks read. “But before I had an opportunity to discuss that with anyone at DOJ, the Attorney General announced that she would not recuse but would accept my recommendation and that of the career prosecutors.”

Comey sidestepped many of the questions related to the ongoing Russia investigation, but repeated that Trump was not the subject of the 2016 counterintelligence investigation involving four unnamed people linked to his campaign.

The transcripts cover the first of what is expected to be two days of hearings with Comey in the House of Representatives. The former FBI director is due to appear before the committees again on Dec 17.

Download a copy of the transcript here.

–Reuters and CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this article.

Read the transcript of Comey’s entire testimony below.

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It’s a ‘messy correction’ – not a bear market, money manager says 



Russell Investments’ Doug Gordon is optimistic stocks will find a floor — just not until next year.

Gordon, a senior portfolio manager on the firm’s technical asset allocation strategies team, blames uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China trade war and Federal Reserve policy for the violent market swings.

“The first and fundamental question: Is this a correction or is this the start of the bear market? While you can certainly see a path that could get us to a bear market, I think it’s more of a messy correction,” he told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday. “We could go a little deeper.”

Gordon’s comments came as the major indexes got hammered. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw their worst weekly performance since last March. The S&P closed back in correction territory, down more than 10 percent from its September 21 all-time high.

He believes the correction will span about two to four months, citing the end of the 90-day trade war ceasefire between the U.S. and China as an important marker.

“The sources of risk right now are really exogenous, meaning they’re hard to forecast,” Gordon said. “They’re risks obviously tied to trade restrictions and the tariff escalation.”

Trade has been Gordon’s major risk factor for U.S. stocks for much of the year. In late June on “Trading Nation,” he placed the U.S.-China tariff threat as a major economic risk in the second half of 2018. And, that issue has played a big role in the painful pullback.

“You could have full on global growth slowing as a result of a complete breakdown in the trade and tariff negotiations,” he said, even though it’s not his base case.

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An expansive Ford, VW alliance could echo across global auto industry



How much more is now the central question, but in conversations with senior Ford and VW executives they do little to hide the likelihood that the answer will be “lots.” About the only thing off the table, said an executive with frequent C-suite access, is any sort of cross-equity swap.

Along with the possible collaborations on vans and other commercial vehicles, the talks now have expanded to include:

  • The sharing of assembly plants in the U.S. and other markets;
  • The possibility of combining marketing and distribution operations that would leverage each company’s strengths. Ford could play lead in the U.S., for one thing, while VW would be dominant in Europe and China, both markets where the American carmaker is struggling;
  • They may work jointly on products in other segments. While VW has been struggling to expand its presence in the booming light truck market, that’s one of Ford’s real strengths;
  • Perhaps the most far-reaching collaboration would see Ford and Volkswagen partner up on the development of autonomous and electrified vehicles.

Right now, autonomous and fully driverless vehicles remain largely the stuff of science fiction but the technology is expected to begin playing a major role in the transportation world within a decade. A study released late in 2017 by the Boston Consulting Group forecast nearly a third of the miles Americans clock on the road each year could be in fully driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber by 2030.

Those vehicles are also expected to be powered by electric drivetrains. Collectively, hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles captured barely 4 percent of the U.S. market in 2017, but that has begun to surge, particularly in China, which has enacted strict new regulations promoting zero-emissions vehicles.

Ford’s focus on new technology is underscored by its repositioning as a “mobility company,” rather than an automotive manufacturer. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company was an early player in electrification but is playing catch-up now when it comes to longer-range models capable of challenging the likes of Tesla. Volkswagen, however, is going flat out.

Its Audi brand recently debuted the e-tron SUV that will be the automaker’s first Tesla fighter. A second all-electric Audi, the e-tron GT debuted at this month’s Los Angeles Auto Show. The all-electric Porsche Taycan follows next year, as does the first long-range battery electric vehicle (BEV) under the new sub-brand Volkswagen I.D. The second I.D. model, reports Reuters, will start as low as $23,000, sharply undercutting the Tesla Model 3. There’s an all-electric reincarnation of the legendary VW Microbus, to be called the I.D. Buzz, coming, as well. All-told, the dozen VW retail brands will have close to 50 battery-electric vehicles by mid-decade.

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