Friday Morning Briefing: When walkbacks don’t actually walk back

October 21, 2016

Donald Trump graciously said he will accept the results on Election Day – if he wins. He then added he would reserve the right to challenge the results in court if he didn’t like them. If it was a joke, it wasn’t widely appreciated.His non-walkback was greeted with predictable outrage not only from prominent Democrats such as President Barack Obama, but also from Republican senators who are hoping to keep their majority on the Hill.

 Quote of the day

“This has been a campaign for the history books. It has also been a campaign for the psychiatry books.” – Alfred Smith IV, host of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shared a stage.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines:

“In this venue, I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military, maybe not social, but economics also.” – President Rodrigo Duterte in China’s Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

“The president did not talk about separation. In terms of economic (ties), we are not stopping trade, investment with America.” – Philippines Trade Minister Ramon Lopez

Despite the “separation,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter hopes the two countries can still be friends. But he may not have many options. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans private meetings with Duterte in Tokyo next week.

Digits of the day: $47 billion

British American Tobacco offered to pay $47 billion for the stake in Reynolds American it doesn’t already own. BAT, owner of the Dunhill, Kent and Lucky Strike brands, owns a 42 percent stake in Reynolds. In a rapidly consolidating tobacco industry, it would bring the number of major companies down to five from six. Reynolds, which owns the Newport and Camel brands, hasn’t yet responded to the offer.

Around the world

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires an RPG during clashes with Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq October 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2PQI0

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade during clashes with Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 20, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic


  • Islamic State launched a major counter-attack on the city of Kirkuk as U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces prepared to move into Mosul, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq. Kirkuk is in one of Iraq’s oil producing regions, but crude oil facilities have not yet been targeted.
  • The siege and bombing of eastern Aleppo in Syria constituted “crimes of historic proportions” amounting to war crimes, according to the United Nations’ top human rights official.
  • Congolese state security services shot, burned, beat and hacked to death at least 48 civilians in last month’s protests against the extension of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate, the U.N. said. Thugs were also hired to attack the protesters, reportedly.

Around Wall Street

  • Airbnb has been on a tear since the online lodging service launched eight years ago. But now its business model is threatened by a number of regulatory and legal obstacles as far flung as San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam.
  • The dramatic shift to online shopping that has crushed U.S. department stores in recent years now threatens the billions of dollars that real estate investors poured into shopping malls a decade ago.
  • What happens when you throw a party and no one shows up? Twitter may be about to find out. The company put itself on the block and no one bid, leaving the social media company with the unsavory prospect of restructuring and job cuts.

Around the country

  • Planned Parenthood won another court victory when a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law barring medical providers that perform abortions from participating in the state’s Medicaid program. Similar laws have been struck down in other states.
  • Barbara Comstock of Virginia may become one of the Republican casualties of Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign. Try as she might, the congresswoman running for reelection in one of Virginia’s wealthier districts can’t shake the taint of Trump.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists urged prosecutors in two states to drop charges against three documentary filmmakers who were arrested while filming activists as they sought to shut down major oil pipelines from Canada to the United States. The group said Lindsey Grayzel, Carl Davis and Deia Schlosberg were acting as journalists, not protesters, when they were arrested at pipeline sites in Washington state and North Dakota, and were protected by free speech rights.

Today’s reason to live

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see