Macron administration warns of ‘great violence’ in Paris from hard core ‘yellow vests’

Trash bins burn as youths and high-school students clash with police during a demonstration against the French government's reform plan in Marseille, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

By Richard Lough and Marine Pennetier

PARIS (Reuters) – French authorities warned another wave of “great violence” and rioting could be unleashed in Paris this weekend by a hardcore of ‘yellow vest’ protesters, as senior ministers sought to defuse public anger with conciliatory languages on taxes.

Despite capitulating this week over plans for higher fuel taxes that inspired the nationwide revolt, President Emmanuel Macron has struggled to quell the anger that led to the worst street unrest in central Paris since 1968.

Rioters torched cars, vandalized cafes, looted shops and sprayed anti-Macron graffiti across some of Paris’s most affluent districts, even defacing the Arc de Triomphe. Scores of people were hurt and hundreds arrested in battles with police.

French police stand guard as youth and high school students burn a trash container during a protest against the French government's reform plan, in Bordeaux, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

French police stand guard as youth and high school students burn a trash container during a protest against the French government’s reform plan, in Bordeaux, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

An official in Macron’s office said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital this Saturday “to vandalize and to kill.”

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 65,000 security personnel would be deployed across the country on that day to keep the peace.

In a bid to defuse the three-week crisis, Philippe had told parliament late on Wednesday that he was scrapping the fuel-tax increases planned for 2019, having announced a six-month suspension the day before.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a conference he was prepared to bring forward tax-cutting plans and that he wanted workers’ bonuses to be tax-free.

But he added: “In this case, it must go hand-in-hand with a decrease in spending.”

He also said France would impose a tax on big internet firms in 2019 if there was no consensus on a European Union-wide levy, seeking to appeal to the “yellow vests'” anti-business sentiment.

SOCCER MATCHES CANCELED

The threat of more violence poses a security nightmare for the authorities, who make a distinction between peaceful ‘yellow vest’ protesters and violent groups, anarchists and looters from the deprived suburbs who they say have infiltrated the movement.

On Facebook groups and across social media, the yellow vests are calling for an “Act IV”, a reference to what would be a fourth weekend of disorder.

“France is fed up!! We will be there in bigger numbers, stronger, standing up for French people. Meet in Paris on Dec. 8,” read one group’s banner.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer urged people to stay at home during the coming weekend. Security sources said the government was considering using troops currently deployed on anti-terrorism patrols to protect public buildings.

Several top-league soccer matches on Saturday have been canceled and the Louvre museum said it and others were awaiting word from Paris officials on whether to close their doors.

The protests, named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their cars, erupted in November over the squeeze on household budgets caused by fuel taxes. Demonstrations swiftly grew into a broad, sometimes-violent rebellion against Macron, with no formal leader.

Their demands are diverse and include lower taxes, higher salaries and Macron’s resignation.

France’s hard-left CGT trade union on Thursday called on its energy industry workers to walk out for a 48 hours from Dec. 13, saying it wanted to join forces with the yellow vests. The movement, with no formal leader, has so far not associated itself with any political party or trade union.

A French riot policeman stands next to a burning car as youth and high school students protest against the French government's reform plan, in Nantes, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

A French riot policeman stands next to a burning car as youth and high school students protest against the French government’s reform plan, in Nantes, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

STREET POLITICS

The fuel-tax volte-face was the first major U-turn of Macron’s 18-month presidency.

The unrest has exposed the deep-seated resentment among non-city dwellers that Macron is out-of-touch with the hard-pressed middle class and blue-collar laborers. They see the 40-year-old former investment banker as closer to big business.

Trouble is also brewing elsewhere for Macron. Teenage students on Thursday blocked access to more than 200 high schools across the country, burning garbage bins and setting alight a car in the western city of Nantes.

Meanwhile, farmers who have long complained that retailers are squeezing their margins and are furious over a delay to the planned rise in minimum food prices, and truckers are threatening to strike from Sunday.

Le Maire said France was no longer spared from the wave of populism that has swept across Europe.

“It’s only that in France, it’s not manifesting itself at the ballot box, but in the streets.”

(Reporting by Richard Lough and Marine Pennetier; additional reporting by Leigh Thomas, Michel Rose and Myriam Rivet; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Two years in, Trump holds stock market bragging rights

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has taken credit for the stock market’s gains during his nearly two years in the White House, and those claims are reasonable given the impact of tax cuts and pro-business policies on investor sentiment.

The S&P 500 has risen 28 percent since Trump’s election in November 2016 to the eve of congressional midterm elections on Tuesday. This surpasses the market’s performance over the same time frame under any other president in the past 64 years. Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the S&P 500 rose 29 percent from his election in November 1952 through November 1954.

Sweeping corporate tax cuts, an initiative driven by Trump, supercharged U.S. companies’ earnings and helped lift the cash-rich technology sector. The Republican party last year passed the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years, boosting U.S. corporate earnings.

Still, other sectors that could have been expected to benefit strongly from a Trump presidency have lagged. Indeed, the individual stocks that have gained and lost the most during his reign have little discernable link to Trump’s presidency.

How the market shakes out in the final two years of Trump’s presidency will probably be influenced by Tuesday’s elections. Analysts expect pressure on stocks if Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives and a sharper downward reaction if they sweep the House and Senate.

On the contrary, if Republicans hold their ground, stocks could gain further, with hopes of more tax reform ahead.

Trump’s strong stock market record has been maintained even after a recent pullback on Wall Street as worries about trade battles, inflation, and rising interest rates have increased caution among investors. Starting in 2010 under President Barack Obama as the world recovered from the financial crisis, the S&P 500 has enjoyed its longest bull market in history.

With more than half of Trump’s presidency still to come, how the market will perform over his whole term is unknown. Democratic President Bill Clinton saw the S&P 500 triple during his two terms in the White House.

Average S&P 500 company earnings per share are on track to rise 24 percent this year, the strongest annual gain in eight years, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Investor confidence stemming from the tax cuts and Trump’s other business-friendly policies so far have more than made up for ongoing worries on Wall Street that his trade conflict with China is hurting the U.S. economy, and that it could become worse.

The tax cuts also led Apple and other multinationals in the technology sector to repatriate billions of dollars in profits held overseas, some of which went toward buying back stock and sending Wall Street higher.

The S&P 500 information technology index has gained 51 percent since Trump’s election. Financials, which benefited from Trump’s deregulation of the banking industry, have climbed 34 percent since Nov 8, 2016.

Still, some companies that had been expected to boom under Trump have fared poorly. The S&P 500 energy index is flat since Trump’s election, even though crude prices rose over 50 percent during that time and despite Trump putting the brakes on Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the country’s reliance on oil.

Semiconductors have fared better than any other industry group, even though they are highly exposed to China and could become casualties in Trump’s trade war with Beijing.

Along with telecommunications, food and tobacco companies, automakers on average have fared worst among 27 industry group’s since Trump’s election. General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have been wrestling for years with tepid global demand, with recent signs of a deep slowdown in China.

Industry groups are more detailed categories than the 11 sectors widely tracked on the stock market.

Interest rates, economic growth, company earnings and inflation are widely viewed as strong influences on stock prices, making who holds power in Washington just one of many factors affecting investor sentiment.

Abiomed Inc, the S&P 500’s top performer since Trump’s election, has jumped over 260 percent, helped in part by the success of its Impella heart pumps.

General Electric’s 68 percent loss makes it the S&P 500’s worst performer since Trump was elected. The former industrial powerhouse has foundered in several key markets in recent years and is aggressively cutting costs and selling businesses.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Megan Davies and Cynthia Osterman)

Forget gridlock, Republican win may be better for stock market

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that his favorite measure of success, the stock market, is imperiled if voters favor Democrats in next week’s congressional elections.

While not fully accurate – stocks tend to rise regardless of who controls the government – it does bear out that the market has delivered a slightly stronger performance on average when Republicans dominate in Washington.

A Reuters analysis of the past half-century shows stocks fared better in the two calendar years after congressional elections when Republicans control Congress and the presidency than when Democrats controlled the two branches, and at least as well as during times of gridlock. Many investors are now hoping for a continuation of the Republican agenda.

“There is Trump ‘the person’, who is very controversial,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “And there’s also Trump ‘the agenda’. The Trump agenda, the stock market loves. To the extent it continues, the market will like that.”

Republicans traditionally push pro-business policies such as tax cuts and deregulation, which boost stock prices. The market has, on the whole, given Trump a thumbs-up, with the market rising almost 20 percent during his presidency so far.

Polls show strong chances that the Democratic Party may win control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections after two years of wielding no practical political power in Washington, with Republicans likely to keep the Senate.

Trump warned in a tweet on Tuesday that a change in Congress would be bad for the market, saying: “If you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat.”

Investors often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty.

“Traditionally, gridlock is good for the markets. But I think this election is very tricky; I’m not sure that’s the preferred market outcome because a lot of the benefits of the past two years have come from not being in a gridlock environment,” said Mike O’Rourke, Chief Market Strategist at JonesTrading.

Should his fellow Republicans maintain or extend their grip on Congress, Trump may be emboldened to pursue more of his political agenda, including further tax overhauls.

By contrast, Democratic gains that allow the party to control the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, could stifle Trump’s policy aims and perhaps lead to attempts to impeach him. It could also lead to resistance to increasing the government’s debt limit next year.

“Our economists believe that two likely consequences of a divided Congress would be an increase in investigations and uncertainty surrounding fiscal deadlines, which could raise equity volatility,” Goldman Sachs said in a report this week.

Over the past 50 years, gridlock has been the norm rather than the exception in Washington, with the presidency and Congress won by one party in just seven out of 25 congressional election year.

Looking at the two calendar years following each congressional election, the S&P 500 had a mean annual increase of 12 percent under Republican-controlled governments, compared to an increase of 9 percent for Democrat-controlled governments and a 7 percent rise for gridlocked governments.

However, using median averages, which exclude outliers, differences are less clear, with the S&P 500 seeing annual increases of 11 percent under Republican-controlled governments and under gridlock, and 10 percent gains under Democrat-controlled governments.

An analysis by BTIG brokerage of data going back to 1928 also indicates gridlock is not necessarily ideal. It showed U.S. stocks performing better under united governments.

“While government control is by no means the sole determinant of market performance, investors clearly favor a unified regime,” BTIG strategist Julian Emanuel wrote in his report.

Interest rates, economic growth, company earnings and inflation are widely viewed as strong influences on stock prices, making the balance of power in Washington just one of many factors affecting investor sentiment.

Two Democratic presidents – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have presided over the strongest S&P 500 performances http://tmsnrt.rs/2jtEpzi since 1952, with gains of 208 percent and 166 percent, respectively.

Wall Street has applauded Trump since he took power in January 2017 and quickly pushed through measures to deregulate banks and other companies. Last December, his Republican party passed sweeping corporate tax cuts that have S&P 500 companies on track this year to grow their earnings per share by over 20 percent, the biggest jump since 2010, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

“Volatility may rise regardless of the outcome, but, based on historical relationships, equities may be more likely to rise if Republicans manage to maintain control of Congress,” Deutsche Bank said in a recent report.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by James Dalgleish)

FedEx commits $3.2 billion to raise pay, expand hubs after U.S. tax overhaul

A FedEx Express Boeing 737-45D (BDSF) OO-TNN aircraft is seen at the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw, Poland January 8, 2018. Picture taken on January 8, 2018.

By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) – Package delivery company FedEx Corp said on Friday it will spend more than $3.2 billion on wage increases, bonuses, pension funding and capital investment, taking advantage of the U.S. tax overhaul signed into law in December.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based company said it would invest $1.5 billion to significantly expand its hub in Indianapolis over the next seven years and modernize and enlarge its Memphis SuperHub.

The new tax code allows companies to immediately write off the full value of capital costs, which helps make projects more financially attractive, but that benefit starts to phase out in 2023. It also permanently lowers the U.S. corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

The announcement makes FedEx the latest U.S. company to promise higher pay for workers, citing the tax cuts.

FedEx, which said the recent tax changes would likely boost economic growth and investment in the United States, also said it would contribute $1.5 billion to an employee pension plan.

The company plans more than $200 million in higher compensation, about two-thirds of which will go to hourly employees with the remainder funding increases in performance-based incentive plans for salaried workers.

FedEx shares were down 0.3 percent in morning trading.

(Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, and Nick Carey in Detroit; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Meredith Mazzilli)

Long-awaited U.S. Republican legislation calls for deep tax cuts

A congressional aide places a placard on a podium for the House Republican's legislation to overhaul the tax code on Capitol Hill.

By David Morgan and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s drive for the deep tax cuts that he promised as a candidate reached a major milestone on Thursday, with his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiling long-awaited legislation to overhaul the tax code.

The bill called for slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and cutting tax rates on individuals and families by consolidating the current number of tax brackets to four from seven: 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent, which is now the top rate and would be retained.

Largely in line with expectations for the tax-cut plan they have been developing behind closed doors for weeks, the House tax-writing Ways and Means Committee proposed roughly doubling the standard deduction for individuals and families.

It also called for preserving the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and for newly purchased homes up to $500,000, as well as continuing the deduction for state and local property taxes, capped at $10,000. It would retain the tax benefits of popular retirement savings programs including 401(k) and IRA.

The bill is the starting gun for a frantic race toward what Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate hope will be their first major legislative victory since he took office in January: the enactment this year of a package of deep tax cuts.

“This is the beginning of the end of this horrible tax code,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady told reporters on Thursday as he entered a meeting with Republican lawmakers ahead of the bill’s release.

The bill would create a new family tax credit, double exemptions for estate taxes on inherited assets and repeal the estate tax over six years, while also allowing small businesses to write off loan interest, according to the document.

The bill would cap the maximum tax rate on small businesses and other non-corporate enterprises at 25 percent, down from the present maximum rate on “pass-through” income of 39.6 percent. It would also set standards for distinguishing between individual wage income and actual pass-through business income to prevent tax-avoidance abuse of the new, lower tax level.

It would create a new 10-percent tax on U.S. companies’ high-profit foreign subsidiaries, calculated on a global basis, in a move to prevent companies from moving profits overseas, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Foreign businesses operating in the United States would face a tax of up to 20 percent on payments they make overseas from their American operations, the Journal added.

 

MARKET REACTION

U.S. equities have rallied in 2017 to a series of record highs, partly on expectations of deep corporate tax cuts. They were down slightly on Thursday as initial details of the Republican plan emerged. Housing stocks fell; bank stocks initially fell but then cut their losses.

Investors cautioned the tax plan was preliminary and it was too soon to gauge the effect on specific industries and asset classes. Long-dated bond yields and the U.S. dollar were down.

“This was what the market has been waiting for,” said Sean Simko, head of fixed-income management at Sei Investments Co in Pennsylvania. “It’s pretty much what the market has heard and priced in for. We are also waiting for the Fed chair nominee announcement and the payrolls number (Friday). Until then, the markets are going to be pretty contained.”

Congress has not succeeded with comprehensive tax changes since 1986, when Republican Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Democrats controlled the House. Bipartisan cooperation led to the passage of that plan, but Republicans have frozen Democrats out of the process of developing this legislation and passed a budget plan that would enable them to pass it with no Democratic votes.

Independent analysts have said that, based on an outline of the plan previously made public, corporations and the wealthiest Americans would benefit the most, and the federal deficit would be greatly expanded over the next decade because of a loss of tax revenue.

Trump said at the White House this week that he wanted Congress to pass the tax overhaul by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 23.

Trump, House Republican leaders and Republican members of Brady’s panel will then meet at the White House on Thursday afternoon. Trump is also meeting separately with Republican senators, who must also unite to pass the tax plan.

“We’re going to get it done,” added House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

Brady himself predicts the initial legislation will change next week, when his panel is due to begin preparing it for an eventual House vote.

While Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, intra-party differences have prevented them from passing major legislation sought by Trump, as exemplified by the collapse of their effort to dismantle the Obamacare law. Any failure to pass tax cuts legislation would call into question Republicans’ basic ability to deliver on promises.

The bill must also pass the Senate, where Republicans hold a slimmer 52-48 majority and earlier this year failed to garner enough votes to pass a major healthcare overhaul. Senate Republican leaders have said they aim to finish their work on taxes by year-end.

Democrats have criticized the proposed tax cuts as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy that would harm workers and middle-class Americans.

 

 

(Reporting by Amanda Becker and David Morgan; Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Nick Zieminski)

 

Wall Street sinks on fears of delays to Trump tax cuts

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street fell sharply on Tuesday as investors worried that President Donald Trump will struggle to deliver promised tax cuts that propelled the market to record highs in recent months, with nervousness deepening ahead of a key healthcare vote.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 1 percent in their worst one-day performances since before Trump’s election victory in November.

The S&P financial index <.SPSY> sank 2.87 percent, its biggest daily fall since June. That added to losses in the sector since the Federal Reserve last week raised interest rates by 25 basis points and signaled it would remain on a gradual pace of hikes, a less aggressive stance than some investors expected.

Banks benefit from higher interest rates and their stocks are sensitive to changes in expectations of how quickly the Fed will adjust rates. Bank of America <BAC.N> slumped 5.77 percent, the biggest drag on the S&P 500, while a 3.72-percent drop in Goldman Sachs <GS.N> pulled the Dow lower.

“There was a feeling the Fed was going to possibly be more hawkish last week. That didn’t happen,” said Mark Kepner, managing director at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey. “That takes a little out of the higher rates that the banks want.”

Republican party leaders aim to move controversial healthcare legislation to the House floor for debate as early as Thursday. But they can only afford to lose about 20 votes from Republican ranks, or risk the bill failing, since minority Democrats are united against it.

With valuations stretched, investors see the Trump administration’s struggles to push through the healthcare overhaul as a sign he may also face setbacks delivering promised corporate tax cuts. Expectations of those tax cuts are a major reason for the 10-percent surge in the S&P 500 since Trump’s election.

“The market is starting to get a little fed up with the lack of progress in healthcare because everything else is being put on the back burner,” said RJ Grant, head of trading at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in New York.

The Russell 2000 <.RUT> index of smallcap stocks fell 2.71 percent, its worst day since September.

The financial sector has been the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors since Trump’s election, surging 18 percent on his proposals to cut bank regulations and reduce taxes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> dropped 1.14 percent to end at 20,668.01 points, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 1.24 percent to 2,344.02.

The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> fell 1.83 percent to 5,793.83.

The CBOE Volatility index <.VIX>, Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, jumped 10 percent.

Under Trump, Wall Street has become unaccustomed to steep selloffs. The last time the S&P 500 lost 1 percent or more in a day was 110 trading sessions ago on October 11. Over the past two years, the S&P 500 has suffered losses of 1-percent or more about once every 11 sessions, according to Thomson Reuters data.

But investors have grown worried about elevated valuations. The S&P 500 is trading at about 18 times forward earnings estimates against the long-term average of 15, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Shares of FedEx Corp <FDX.N> dropped 3 percent in extended trade after the delivery company’s quarterly report disappointed investors.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.92-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 5.25-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 78 new highs and 79 new lows.

About 8.3 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.1 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Sinead Carew in New York, editing by Nick Zieminski)

Trump vows military build-up, hammers nationalist themes

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. U.S., February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Emily Stephenson and Steve Holland

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said he would make a massive budget request for one of the “greatest military buildups in American history” on Friday in a feisty, campaign-style speech extolling robust nationalism to eager conservative activists.

Trump used remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an organization that gave him one of his first platforms in his improbable journey to the U.S. presidency, to defend his unabashed “America first” policies.

Ahead of a nationally televised speech to Congress on Tuesday, Trump outlined plans for strengthening the U.S. military, already the world’s most powerful fighting force, and other initiatives such as tax reform and regulatory rollback.

He offered few specifics on any initiatives, including the budget request that is likely to face a harsh reality on Capitol Hill: At a time when he wants to slash taxes for Americans, funding a major military buildup without spending cuts elsewhere would add substantially to the U.S. budget deficit.

Trump said he would aim to upgrade the military in both offensive and defensive capabilities, with a massive spending request to Congress that would make the country’s defense “bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”

“And, hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history,” Trump said.

Appealing to people on welfare to go to work and pledging to follow through on his vow to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, Trump drew rounds of applause from the large gathering of conservatives, many of them wearing hats emblazoned with the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

His speech was heavy on the nationalist overtones from his campaign last year, focusing on promises to boost U.S. economic growth by retooling international trade deals, cracking down on immigration and boosting energy production.

ROCKY FIRST MONTH

Trump is looking to put behind him a rocky first month in office. An executive order he signed aimed at banning U.S. entry by people from seven Muslim-majority countries became embroiled in the courts and he had to fire his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for Russian contacts before Trump took office.

With the federal budget still running a large deficit, Trump will have to fight to get higher military spending through Congress. In his speech, he complained about spending caps put in place on the defense budget dating back to 2011.

He also heaped criticism on what he called purveyors of “fake news,” seeking to clarify a recent tweet in which he said some in the U.S. news media should be considered an “enemy of the people.”

He said his main beef was the media’s use of anonymous sources. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be out there,” Trump said.

His comments came on the same day CNN reported that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to deny a Feb. 14 report in the New York Times that said Trump’s presidential campaign advisers had been in frequent contact with Russian intelligence officers. The request came after McCabe told him privately the report was wrong.

A senior administration official said on Friday that FBI Director James Comey told Priebus later that the story was not accurate. Priebus asked if the Federal Bureau of Investigation could set the record straight, but Comey said the bureau could not comment, the official said.

Trump has repeatedly chosen to make news media criticism a focus of his public remarks since taking office on Jan. 20.

The speech allowed Trump to put his stamp firmly on the conservative political movement, even as some activists fretted that his immigration and trade policies go too far.

With Trump in the White House and Republicans holding majorities in both houses of Congress, CPAC and the thousands of conservative activists who flock to the event each year from across the country are seeing their political influence rising.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)