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An FBI photograph of documents and classified cover sheets recovered from former US Pesident Donald Trump's Florida estate.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Trump obstruction evidence, IAEA team in Zaporizhzhia, IMF-Sri Lanka bailout deal

Did Trump conceal top-secret documents?

Donald Trump repeatedly blocked US law enforcement from accessing highly-classified documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence (and lied about how many files remained there), according to a scathing new document released Tuesday by the Department of Justice. The filing came in response to a recent request by the former president that the documents — seized from his Florida estate by the FBI on Aug. 8 — be reviewed by a third-party arbiter to decide if any are covered by executive privilege. (The DOJ opposes this on the legal grounds that the records don’t belong to Trump.) It’s the most detailed account to date of the months-long attempt by the National Archives – an independent agency that stores and preserves government records – to obtain classified files Trump took from the White House after the 2020 election. The filing includes a photograph of documents labeled “Top Secret” and claims that some material was so sensitive that some FBI and DOJ personnel required additional security clearances to review them. Crucially, it also states that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation” after Trump’s legal team ignored in the spring a grand jury subpoena seeking all classified documents. A federal court decides Thursday whether the arbiter can be brought in.

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Sergio Massa attends an event after the 2021 midterm elections in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

What We’re Watching: Argentina’s super minister, China-Zambia debt deal, Ukrainian grain trader dead

Can a "super minister" save Argentina?

Argentina's embattled President Alberto Fernández has appointed Sergio Massa, the influential leader of the lower house of parliament, to head a new "super ministry" that Fernández hopes will help steer the country out of a deep economic crisis. Massa, Argentina's third economic minister in less than a month, will oversee economic, manufacturing, and agricultural policy. He has his work cut out for him owing to soaring inflation, farmers demanding tax relief, and a recent run on the peso. Massa also needs to convince the IMF that Argentina will comply with the terms of its $44 billion debt restructuring deal. There's a political angle too: he's (arguably) the strongest candidate the left-wing Peronista coalition has to run for president next year if the unpopular Fernández drops his bid for a second term. Massa is one of very few politicians who can navigate the ongoing rift between the president and his powerful VP, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. If the new "super minister" does a good job, he'll be in pole position for a 2023 presidential run; if he fails, the ruling Peronistas will face long odds to stay in power.

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Argentina's VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner waves at supporters next to President Alberto Fernández at the closing campaign rally before the 2021 midterm elections in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS, Paige Fusco

War of the Fernandezes in Argentina

Argentina's leftwing government is led by two people named Fernández: President Alberto Fernández and his vice president, the almost equally powerful former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The two have always been odd bedfellows, and often clash over policy. But lately their disagreements have reached fever pitch, fueling rumors of a split that could hurt the president's reelection odds next year amid a worsening economic crisis: sky-high inflation, a plummeting peso, capital controls, and Argentina's usual piling debt.

Why don't the president and the VP get along, and what does that mean for Argentina's political future? We get some clarity from Eurasia Group's Daniel Kerner and Luciano Sigalov.

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A brass plaque of the State Bank of Pakistan in Karachi.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Even if Pakistan defaults, its larger challenges remain

Pakistan is facing default on its sovereign debt.

After Sri Lanka, it’s the latest emerging economy to falter in the wake of COVID, the war in Ukraine, and skyrocketing inflation. But the stakes are higher: Pakistan borders China, India, Iran, and Afghanistan, and it sits at the crossroads of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. It’s embroiled in a battle against rising terrorism, and it has nuclear weapons.

But the world’s fifth-most populous country — where 220 million live under a political system plagued by corruption and extremism ± isn’t just broke. Polarized and isolated, it’s going through a period of instability not seen since its civil war in 1971, when it lost a majority of its population as East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh.

A serious rethink is needed about the way Pakistan manages itself and its diplomacy. So, are its rulers making the right adjustments?

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Demonstrators celebrate after entering the Sri Lankan PM's office in Colombo to demand his resignation as interim president.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka slipping into anarchy

Things have gone from bad, to worse, to outright crazy in Sri Lanka since the beginning of the year.

We warned you early on that the country would default on its huge sovereign debt, which it did in May. Since then, the economic crisis has quickly morphed into full-blown political turmoil and a social catastrophe the likes of which the region has not seen for a long time.

And there’s no easy fix.

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Demonstrators celebrate after entering the p-presidential palace in Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

What We’re Watching: Sri Lankan anger boils over, Musk sours on Twitter

Protesters occupy presidential palace in Colombo

Long-simmering public wrath directed at Sri Lanka’s leader over the country’s economic collapse finally boiled over.

Fed up with months of food and fuel shortages, thousands of protesters broke through security barricades on Saturday to invade the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had fled hours earlier. The demonstrators ransacked the premises, swam in the pool, and took selfies surrounded by luxury that ordinary Sri Lankans can only dream of. They also set fire to the nearby prime minister’s home, and say they won’t leave until Rajapaksa steps down — which he has agreed to do by Wednesday.

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Sri Lankan army patrol on a main road in Colombo following clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Rajapaksa family.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka on the brink

For weeks, Sri Lanka has been in the grips of a deepening economic and political crisis, teetering on the brink of anarchy and chaos as a largely bankrupt state at risk of becoming a failed one. Massive protests driven by soaring fuel and food prices have forced the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and upped the pressure on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of Sri Lankans. China and India, which have both vied for influence in the small island nation, are looking on nervously. We spoke to Eurasia Group’s Peter Mumford to get a sense of what might happen next and what the geopolitical stakes are.

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