Sessions fails to disclose Russian contact, Snap $3.4bn IPO, Switch hype

Democrats call on US attorney-general to step down and Russians deny meddling in election

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Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election has returned to haunt the US attorney-general, Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post has revealed that Mr Sessions twice spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the US during the campaign, something he failed to disclose in his confirmation hearings last month. President Trump has denied any links between his campaign aides and Russia, and a spokeswoman insisted Mr Sessions had done nothing wrong. But Democrats have already called on the attorney-general to recuse himself from investigations into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia, and are now saying Mr Sessions should step down. The Russian embassy in Washington categorically denies meddling in the US election campaign.

In the final days of the Obama White House there were fears among some officials that intelligence on Russia’s interference in the campaign could be covered up or destroyed — or its sources exposed — once power changed hands. As a result they scrambled to leave an intelligence trail for investigators. (FT, NYT, WaPo, Reuters)

In the news

Syria cement scandal LafargeHolcim, the Swiss-French cement company, has admitted “unacceptable” measures were taken to keep its Syrian plant open, following allegations that staff had dealt with armed groups in the country. (FT)

Snap set to price shares at $17 The social media company is going to set a listing price that would value it at $24bn, above the $14-$16 range earlier targeted, suggesting robust investor demand, according to people with knowledge of the deal. The company raised $3.4bn in the offering, more than it had sought. (FT, Reuters)

The Lords fight back The UK’s House of Lords has voted by an overwhelming majority to amend the Article 50 bill that will trigger the Brexit process. The upper chamber wants the bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after it leaves the EU. The government has vowed to overturn the demand when the legislation returns to the House of Commons. The defeat comes as a new report by the London First lobby organisation and PwC consultancy shows EU migrants make up 13 per cent of the capital’s workforce. (FT, Independent, Telegraph)

Le Pen loses immunity The European Parliament has removed Marine Le Pen’s immunity from prosecution over her tweets of graphic images of Isis violence. The French presidential candidate is under investigation in France for the posts but until now her position as MEP has meant she could not be prosecuted. However, her immunity will not be lifted over a separate investigation into whether her party, the National Front (FN), misused European Parliament funds. (BBC)

Fast fashion is starting to name its suppliers The company behind Uniqlo became the latest fast-fashion company to publish a list of its suppliers amid growing human rights concerns about the factories that produce the inexpensive clothing it and the likes of H&M and Zara pump out. (NAR)

It’s a big day for

EU trade European trade ministers gather in Valletta, Malta, for informal talks that will be dominated by the protectionist turn in US policy since Donald Trump took office. As Mr Trump moves Washington away from multilateral trade agreements, EU officials are discussing whether they should strengthen links with Asia and other emerging markets to protect the globalised trading system. (FT)

Food for thought

Bye bye Bernie Bernie Ecclestone’s departure from motor racing’s Formula 1 has the new owners building a model to attract more fans to the sport. (FT)

It’s education, stupid Education, rather than exposure to immigrants, is emerging as the clearest nationwide indicator of the likelihood of Dutch voters supporting Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Party for Freedom, according to a Financial Times survey of demographic and voting data from the most recent general election. The latest in the FT’s Europopulists series. (FT)

Libya’s third would-be leader The north African country remains a byword for chaos. Multiple militias vie for supremacy, the south and west are criss-crossed by smuggling routes and Isis jihadis remain a threat. The weak UN-backed government, which has already been challenged by a renegade general in the east, has another headache: a former prime minister who is busy building a base in the capital. (Reuters)

Switch hype There will be sleeping-bag queues, “sold out” signs and disappointed fans from Sapporo to San Diego. But will Friday’s launch of Switch be Nintendo’s last console? (FT)

Bear necessities Meet Robear, the nursing-care robot — with a cuddly look — and the product of substantial Japanese government subsidies designed to promote eldercare robots. It’s because immigration-resistant Japan has a shrinking labour force that will be short 380,000 health nurses for the elderly by 2025. (ForeignPolicy)

Video of the day

Martin Wolf on India v China growth The FT’s chief economics commentator compares recent economic growth in India and China and the prospects and challenges ahead for the two economic powerhouses. (FT)

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