Morning Briefing Trump vs. Trump

Donald Trump proves he is his own worst enemy. Stuttgart's district attorney opens preliminary proceedings against VW boss Matthias Müller. Deutsche Bank's first quarter numbers look good.

Did the US president attempt to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into his connections to Russia? Was Putin given classified information? Is the Trump Clan mixing politics and business interests? In the US today, domestic political debates rage around a single man testing the boundaries of power. In other words: It’s Trump vs. Trump. Since assuming office, he’s been his own most dangerous adversary.

Obstruction of justice in the US is also no small matter. It triggered the impeachment proceedings of both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Nixon dodged the process by resigning. Clinton, like Andrew Johnson 100 years before him, managed to survive due to a lack of majority support for his removal. It only takes a simple majority in the US House of Representatives to officially bring an impeachment case before the senate. There, however, it takes a vote of two thirds to establish a guilty verdict. As the Washington correspondent for German TV station ARD put it: “Trump has never been closer to being impeached but he is still pretty far away from that.”

Germany’s ruling grand coalition is scheduled today to establish stricter rules for asylum seekers, facilitating their prosecution and deportation. Foreign “gefährder,” or those suspected of planning terrorist attacks or committing other serious crimes, would be easier to detain and expel. Upcoming federal elections have visibly increased a tendency by lawmakers to act tough. Germany’s internationally celebrated “welcome culture” will soon be complemented by a “deportation culture.”

Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is also slated to pass a law allowing the owners of illegally obtained weapons to turn them in without punishment. The goal is to decrease the amount of illegal weapons in circulation. The law also suspends prosecution for the illegal possession of ammunition for one year. This all sounds very pragmatic and liberal-minded – as well as naive. Back when Otto Schily was interior minister under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder, this law wouldn’t have made it past his doorstep – much less to parliament.

Yesterday was no easy day for Matthias Müller. The Stuttgart district attorney opened preliminary proceedings against the VW CEO, accusing him of having intentionally withheld information on the Dieselgate scandal from shareholders. Things went smoother for Audi boss Rupert Stadler, whose contract was renewed yesterday for another five years – by Audi’s chief supervisor, Matthias Müller.

First quarter numbers show Deutsche Bank is back in the black after two years of losses. Lower debt and new strong investors have helped Germany’s biggest bank regain its confidence. But there will still be a maelstrom of critique at today’s general meeting: Shareholders are likely to accuse the chairman of the supervisory board, Paul Achleitner, of amassing legal risk. They also want to restrict bonuses and carry out a special audit related to the Libor scandal, which saw two of the bank’s former traders charged in the US for the rate rigging scheme. For Deutsche, the past seems to remain ever-present.

Picture of the Day

Juventus Turin's Leonardo Bonucci drinks from the trophy after winning the Italian Cup soccer finals. Juventus beat Lazio 2–0 at the Olympic stadium in Rome.