Daily briefing: Russians deny Trump collusion, Qatar-US pact ‘isn’t enough’, Dolce & Gabbana unfiltered

Oligarch Aras Agalarov and lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya deny involvement in any government plot

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Nyet. That’s the reaction of Russians at the centre of claims that Donald Trump Jr sought to collude with Moscow to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Aras Agalarov, the oligarch described as a go-between for Russia’s state prosecutor and the Trump campaign in emails to Mr Trump Jr, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met the president’s son, have denied involvement in any government plot.

In the US, Mr Trump Jr spoke out for the first time about meeting with a Russian lawyer and the emails he published on Twitter, defending his actions as “opposition research”. The emails show Donald Trump’s eldest son welcomed a purported offer of Russian government assistance to undermine Mrs Clinton’s campaign. Here is a timeline of the Trump family’s Russia interactions and here is a video of the senior Trump giving a speech four days after the first email to Mr Trump Jr, in which he promises big news about Hillary Clinton’s “crimes” in an upcoming speech.

Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait describes the email exchange as “proof” of collusion with Russia, while conservative David French calls it “attempted collusion”. This report paints a picture of chaos inside the White House, with advisers privately speculating about who in the Trump orbit may be leaking damaging information about the president’s son. (FT, NYT, TPM, NYMag, NRO, WaPo)

In the news

Dimon warns on Brexit exodus
JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon warned that US banks would have to uproot their London-based staff if the EU orders them to do so after the UK leaves the political bloc. The Wall Street group is already planning to move “several hundred” of its 16,000 UK workers to the continent. (FT, Bloomberg)

Toshiba’s change of heart
The Japanese conglomerate has revived negotiations with Western Digital, Foxconn and other potential buyers of its prized memory chip business, as its plans become increasingly convoluted. The change comes less than a week after the FT reported that the favoured consortium — led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and US private equity group Bain Capital — was at risk of collapse. (FT, NAR)

Temer boost
The approval of government-sponsored labour reform by the Brazilian senate has given a boost to the country’s embattled president, Michel Temer. But his political survival is far from assured as he battles corruption charges that could force another Brazilian president from office for the second time in just over a year. (FT)

China flexes political muscle in Africa
Beijing has a strategy of non-interference in foreign affairs. This is being “severely tested” in Africa, where its economic ambitions have morphed into political involvement. (FT)

Qatar-US pact ‘isn’t enough’
The Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar said a counter-terrorism pact struck with the US in Doha to strengthen Qatari action against terrorist funding “isn’t enough” to end the Gulf diplomatic crisis. Doha said it would curb terrorism financing in a new agreement with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Mr Tillerson said he was hopeful about the chances of resolving the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours despite a renewed war of words between the Gulf states. (Bloomberg, WaPo, FT)

Record revenues for football clubs
The combined revenues for clubs in the “big five” divisions in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France increased to more than €13.4bn in the 2015/16 season, a 12 per cent rise from the previous season. The jump is largely due to new broadcasting deals. (FT)

The day ahead

Yellen testimony
Janet Yellen, US Federal Reserve chair, begins her two-day semi-annual testimony before Congress with Fed policymakers looking determined to tighten monetary policy despite disappointing inflation readings. The US dollar and stocks were steady ahead of her testimony. (FT)

Royal visit
Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia begin a state visit to the UK ahead of Brexit. The first royal visit in 31 years will be overshadowed by a row over the status of Gibraltar, the island off the tip of Spain that was captured by Britain in 1704. (Reuters)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

Keeping the faith in Egypt
The country’s Coptic Christians are being targeted by Isis militants as the group seeks to exploit religious tensions that have arisen in the aftermath of the 2013 coup that toppled Mohamed Morsi, the elected president who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. (FT)

Trump v the global community
Martin Wolf on Donald Trump’s America First world view and how human affairs are too interconnected to be the product of purely national decision-making. “We must beware the self-fulfilling prophecy of a clash of civilisations, not just because it is untrue but because we have to co-operate. The ideal of a global community is not airy-fairy. It reflects today’s reality.” (FT)

Dolce & Gabbana vita
The Italian designers talk boycotts, Melania Trump, Instagram and the future of the fashion house that has always done things differently. “I don’t want to sell our label to a big company. When we die, it’s finished,” Stefano Gabbana says. (FT)

How to plant a tree in the desert
One man’s tinkering in a Dutch storage shed has resulted in an innovative method of restoring vegetation to barren landscapes — crucial in fighting desertification, which is both a symptom and an intensifier of climate change. (New Yorker)

Big tobacco’s dirty war in Africa
Big tobacco companies are fighting tooth and nail to prevent some African governments from enacting regulations that limit harm caused by smoking, according to a Guardian investigation. (Guardian)

Video of the day

Low volatility in context
The FT's capital markets editor and Christian Mueller-Glissmann, multi-asset strategist at Goldman Sachs, explain how periods of low market volatility have occurred in history and do not necessarily suggest an upcoming negative cycle. (FT)

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