News Updates

America This Week: August 15-21 Matt Taibbi-More fallout from Raid Week, a Saudi shopping spree, more

More fallout from Raid Week, a Saudi shopping spree, Liz Cheney’s pyrrhic victory, an eastward NATO deployment, News Bingo, Drinking Syria’s milkshake, Three finance headlines and more

Clockwise from top left: A stoked bin Salman, the tiny receding image of Liz Cheney, Hageman walks off with a win and someone’s child, the alleged Syria tanker convoy, Trump in full plumage, and the 101st tweets its move

 

Editor’s note: the audio recap of “America This Week” with Matt Taibbi and Walter Kirn is up. Click here to listen:

Welcome back to America This Week, wrapping up a week in news from the country that brought you cheeseburgers, rock n’ roll, “forever chemicals,” Annie, the Balingiga massacre, most of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, gun-toting robot dogs, electric light, three-named assassins and Internet porn. This week in our illustrious history:

Raid, Raid, Raid The FBI’s descent upon on the Mar-a-Lago, Florida home of former president Donald Trump to execute a search warrant remains the biggest story in America by far a week later. The story itself has become a maddening paradox. The only way to judge if the raid was politically motivated or part of a legitimate criminal probe — the crime would have to be very serious to justify such an extreme step — is to learn precisely what investigators were looking for, but that information has so far been deemed unknowable. Multiple news organizations have sought to unseal the affidavit used to argue probable cause for the raid, but the Justice Department Monday opposed all such efforts, saying this would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.” Officials have warned of “armed rebellion,” “civil war,” and a “dirty bomb” attack in what’s been described as an atmosphere of “unprecedented” threat, but one pro-Trump demonstration scheduled in front of FBI headquarters was canceled when would-be demonstrators worried of a trap, while another in Riverside, California attracted just 50 people. Meanwhile a man named Ricky Shiffer who was shot dead while reportedly trying to break into an FBI field office was described by officials as a “suspected domestic violent extremist” who may have been motivated by “the recent search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago.” Is this a story about a Trumpian backlash to an FBI crackdown or an FBI crackdown on a Trumpian conspiracy? So far, no one is letting the public see whether there’s a chicken or an egg underneath that warrant.

Bin Salman Buys American Just after a PR fiasco of a presidential trip to Saudi Arabia and the approval of a controversial weapons sale by America to its Saudi allies, the kingdom made an aggressive move to buy a bigger share of American commerce. In a replay of a strategy employed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund earlier in the pandemic, the Public Investment Fund, chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, bought $7 billion worth of stock in American companies like Starbucks, Microsoft, BlackRock, Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, Zoom, and others. “The PIF, as the fund is known, is doubling down on its bet on technology investments despite a rout in valuations,” is how Bloomberg put it. The Saudis have a goal of doubling fund assets by 2025 and reaching $2 trillion by 2030, and are riding a surge in crude oil prices, which reportedly will deliver the kingdom its first budget surplus in a decade. Saudi purchases of everything from the Newcastle soccer team to stakes in Activision Blizzard and electric carmaker Lucid Motors are part of a plan called Vision 2030, which is designed to help the biggest crude-exporting state prepare for a “post-oil future,” and collapsing stock market valuations are providing an opportunity to increase the Saudi stake in America.

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