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Special counsel Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase. The grand jury has already issued subpoenas in connection with the 2016 meeting between President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging material on Hillary Clinton. The White House said it was committed to working with Mr Mueller and noted that it had “ no reason to believe” the president was being investigated. 

Meanwhile, Senators have revealed two proposals designed to protect Mr Mueller’s Russia probe by preventing Mr Trump from firing the special counsel without cause, or a reason strong enough to convince three federal judges. (WSJ, Reuters, FT, WaPo)

In the news

WannaCry nemesis arrested on malware charges
The British cyber security researcher who helped halt the spread of the WannaCry ransomware has been arrested in the US on charges that he assisted with the creation of malicious software targeting banks. Twelve weeks after the WannaCry attack infected computers across the globe, the $140,000 paid by victims into bitcoin wallets has been withdrawn, probably via a bitcoin mixer, a process that obscures its trail. (FT, Quartz)

Trump-Mexico and Australia transcripts leaked
In his first calls with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, Donald Trump treated the close US allies almost as if they were adversaries. He threatened and cajoled Mr Peña Nieto, while trying to convince him to stop saying that Mexico would not pay for Mr Trump’s border wall — a key Trump campaign promise that he seemed to admit was not realistic — while lamenting that he would “look like a dope”. Here are the full transcripts. (WaPo)

‘London Whale’ has a new target
The US case against two former JPMorgan traders charged with concealing billions in losses fell apart because a key witness known as the London Whale shifted blame to chief executive Jamie Dimon and other top executives. Four years after agreeing to testify against two former traders, Bruno Iksil changed his story, prompting prosecutors to drop the criminal case. (WSJ)

RBS to expand in Amsterdam in case of hard Brexit
Royal Bank of Scotland will expand its Amsterdam office to serve customers in the EU if there is a hard Brexit, the bank announced as it reported a swing back into net profit in the second quarter. Separately, business leaders called on the UK government to stop “dancing around” the details of Brexit and reassure companies there would be a smooth and orderly separation from the EU. The Institute of Directors put forward a range of options for a business-friendly transition, including extending the Article 50 deadline. (FT, Reuters, Guardian)

Bank of England cuts growth forecasts
Persistent uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the EU is holding back business investment and household spending, Mark Carney warned on Thursday, as the Bank of England cut its growth forecasts and left interest rates unchanged. The bank expects investment in the UK to be 20 percentage points lower in 2020 than it had forecast before last year’s referendum on EU membership. (FT)

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The day ahead

Rwanda election
Rwanda holds presidential elections. A 2015 referendum approved constitutional amendments that allow incumbent president Paul Kagame to stand for a third term this year. He has already claimed victory by saying the outcome to the presidential vote was decided in 2015, when a petition to parliament by 4m people changed the constitution to allow him to run again. (CNN)

What we’re reading

Do fewer immigrants mean more jobs?
Economists say there is no clear connection between less immigration and more jobs for Americans. Rather, the prevailing view is that immigration increases economic growth, improving the lives of the immigrants and the lives of the people who are already here. (NYT)

Syria: A tale of three cities
Erika Solomon reports from Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, where she finds a ravaged population with very different views about their country’s future. (FT)

A baccarat binge helped launder the world’s biggest cyber heist
How do you make $81m stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank disappear? Try an Asian casino. (Bloomberg)

The spice island they swapped for Manhattan 
Three hundred and fifty years ago, a swampy spit of land called Manhattan was traded for a tiny volcanic island that is now part of Indonesia. Under the 1667 Treaty of Breda that ended the Anglo-Dutch war, England kept Manhattan while the Dutch gained Pulau Run, a speck of land so small it does not appear even on most maps of Indonesia. (FT)

Maduro is deepening Venezuela’s isolation
If Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro believes his new constituent assembly will free him from the constraints of a democratic Congress and allow him to strike international deals for much-needed cash, he might be disappointed. (FT)

Great firewall strengthened
Chinese online services are being stripped of content that might upset the Communist Party Congress this autumn. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Why do women bully each other at work?
What’s behind the stereotype of the aggressive female boss? Research suggests that conditions in the workplace might be to blame, and that this is more likely to occur when women are a marginalised group in the workplace, have made big sacrifices for their career, or are already predisposed to show little camaraderie with other women. (Atlantic)

Video of the day

Paris Saint-Germain has acquired Neymar from FC Barcelona in the most expensive deal in football history. The sport’s authorities, however, are under pressure to scrutinise the transfer.


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