DealBook Briefing: Trump’s Brexit Bombshell for Trade

Good Friday morning. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.) This morning, four big banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and PNC — release their earnings for the last quarter. Check nytimes.com/dealbook for our analysis later today.

Hours after President Trump landed in Britain, the British tabloid The Sun published an incendiary interview with him. In it, he criticized Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit and cast doubt on striking a trade deal with her country. (The article went online as Mr. Trump left a black-tie dinner hosted by Mrs. May.)

Mr. Trump complained about Mrs. May’s vision for Brexit, which involves maintaining close economic ties with the E.U. “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” he said.

The two countries have long had a special relationship, but it’s been fraying — and Mr. Trump shows little desire to revive it. Politico’s take: “Essentially, the Trump administration views Britain as an easy economic mark, not a strategic partner.”

More trade news: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the economy is “in a good place,” but tariffs could change that. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says they won’t. In Michigan, they already are.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.

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The federal government has signaled its intent to keep fighting AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner. If the Justice Department unwinds the deal — thought even opponents of the transaction doubt it can — AT&T might have to sell the media business. (The telecom giant said it was “surprised” by the appeal notice, and ready to defend the deal.)

Some experts say the department is touting its distaste for vertical mergers, between companies in linked but separate industries. One counterpoint: It’s reportedly fine with CVS’s deal for Aetna, combining a pharmacy chain and a health insurer.

This is bad news for Comcast: Doubts around vertical mergers drive the antitrust concerns about its bid for much of 21st Century Fox. “Lobbing in this hand grenade right now sort of seals Comcast’s fate,” the analyst Craig Moffett told the NYT.

Outrage over the Cambridge Analytica scandal seemed to be fading. Then it emerged that the tech giant had given a Russian company, Mail.Ru, access to the data of unknowing users. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, writes an NYT Op-Ed about what that news means:

Gillian Tett of the FT says Facebook’s woes echo the financial crisis. “In both cases innovative geeks leapfrogged regulators and their creations were abused,” she writes. The S.E.C. appears to agree; according to the WSJ, it’s investigating whether Facebook told investors enough about how it shared user data.

More bad Facebook news: A loophole in its settings outed members of a private group for women at risk of breast cancer. Its head of News Feed, John Hegeman, seemed to struggle in a discussion on fake news. And the tech giant’s latest diversity report shows little improvement.

The commerce secretary’s decision to divest, announced yesterday, came after weeks of questions about why he hadn’t. Oh, and after the government’s top ethics watchdog warned that his actions “created potential for a serious criminal violation.”

Upon joining the government, Mr. Ross was obliged to sell some assets within 180 days. He didn’t. In fact, he shorted a number of stocks, without telling ethics officials. The acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, David Apol, wrote that Mr. Ross’s actions at the least “undermined public confidence” in the Trump administration.

Shares in the computer chip maker fell 13 percent yesterday as investors reacted to its deal to buy CA Technologies, which makes software for mainframe computers. Has one of tech’s most voracious acquirers run off track?

As acquisitions helped make Broadcom one of the world’s biggest semiconductor companies, it was praised as a savvy buyer. But this deal, coming after it lost out on Qualcomm, threatens to erase that reputation — and with it, much of Broadcom’s appeal to investors.

Wes Bush will step down as Northrop Grumman’s chairman and C.E.O. at year end. Kathy Warden, the C.O.O., will succeed him. (WSJ)

Shahira Knight, a top economic adviser to President Trump, is becoming the White House legislative affairs director. (NYT)

Bob Weinstein will resign from the board of the Weinstein Company today. (NYT)

Deals

• Activist investors began campaigns against 136 companies in the first half of this year, 44 percent more than a year ago. (WSJ)

• Walmart may sell its Japanese grocery chain, Seiyu. (FT)

• The media entrepreneur Bryan Goldberg has bought Gawker.com for $1.35 million. (WSJ)

Politics and policy

• Dark-money groups, which don’t disclose their donors, are behind nearly half of TV ads tied to the midterm elections. (USA Today)

• The House testimony of Peter Strozk, an F.B.I. agent involved in the Russia inquiry and accused of anti-Trump bias, turned into a partisan free-for-all. (NYT)

• Jared Kushner still lacks the highest security clearance, despite having a senior diplomatic role. (WaPo)

Tech

• Federal tax credits for Tesla’s cars will run out over the next 18 months. (Verge)

• Why Silicon Valley is so excited about a blockchain start-up that promises smarter contracts. (MIT Technology Review)

• An attempt to understand the weirdness of Facebook and Twitter stock values. (Bloomberg)

Best of the rest

• Hedge funds should be thriving. They aren’t. (NYT)

• Johnson & Johnson must pay $4.7 billion in a case about cancer risks from talcum powder. (NYT)

• Universal basic income would cost the U.S. $3.8 billion a year, Ray Dalio calculates. (CNBC)

You can find live updates throughout the day at nytimes.com/dealbook.

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