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Wednesdays top story: president meets Kremlin foreign minister as impeachment looms. Plus, why Kramer vs Kramer remains a classic at 40

Good morning, Im Tim Walker with todays essential stories.

Trump claims he warned Russia against election interference

As Democratic leaders unveiled articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Tuesday, the president held an Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. The White House later told the press Trump had warned Lavrov against any Russian attempts to interfere in US elections. But Lavrov gave a different account, claiming elections were not even discussed in the meeting. Meanwhile, the US attorney general, William Barr, has described the the FBIs Trump-Russia investigation as a travesty, contrary to his own departments watchdog.

Saudi Aramco becomes worlds largest listed company

Aramco and stock market officials gather for the ceremony marking the firms IPO in Riyadh. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP

The Saudi state-backed oil producer Saudi Aramco has launched its IPO on the countrys Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh, becoming by a distance the worlds largest listed company, as well as its biggest corporate carbon emitter. Aramco shares soared 10% as the firm made its market debut on Wednesday, reaching a market value of $1.88tn in early trading and nearing the $2tn target set by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

  • Oil dependence. The Saudi finance minister said the Aramco float would be used to develop the Saudi economy and break its dependence on oil although the IPO has so far attracted little foreign capital, with most shares going to local investors.

  • EU climate pledge. The EU is attempting to stir the world into action on the climate crisis, announcing a pledge this week to halve emissions by 2030, and to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Anti-abortion boss claimed Muslims are replacing Europeans

Kathleen Eaton Bravo claimed abortion threatens our cultures survival. Photograph: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=56&v=BJiSXKfCkDo&feature=emb_logo

The founder of Obria, an anti-choice, anti-contraception organisation awarded millions of dollars in grants by the Trump administration, once claimed Christianity in Europe was dying out and that immigrant Muslims were replacing white Europeans. Kathleen Eaton Bravo, who remains Obrias chief executive, made the remarks during a 2015 interview with Catholic World Report, in which she said that abortion threatens our cultures survival.

  • Government grants. The newly reported remarks raise questions about the Trump administrations decision to award funding to the group, which runs a national network of anti-abortion health centres.

Atlanta paper takes on Eastwood over portrayal of reporter

Olivia Wilde plays the late Kathy Scruggs in Eastwoods new film, Richard Jewell. Photograph: YouTube

Atlantas leading newspaper, the Journal-Constitution, has hired a leading Hollywood lawyer, Marty Singer, in its dispute with Clint Eastwood over the portrayal of one of its reporters in Eastwoods new movie, Richard Jewell. The film, about the aftermath of the 1996 Olympic Bombing in Atlanta, shows journalist Kathy Scruggs sleeping with an FBI agent in order to draw out information from a source. The newspaper says that depiction of Scruggs, who died in 2001, is offensive and highly defamatory.

  • Celebrity lawyer. Singer is normally known for defending celebrities against the media, and previously represented Sylvester Stallone, Charlie Sheen and Jeremy Piven.

  • Journalistic heritage. In the film, Scruggs is played by Olivia Wilde, whose parents, Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, are both award-winning journalists.

Cheat sheet


Seema Verma is a senior health official in the Trump administration. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Why should the taxpayer cover Seema Vermas lost luggage?

Top Trump administration health official Seema Verma says luggage containing jewelry worth $43,065 not to mention a $345 moisturizer was stolen on a trip to San Francisco in August. But none of it was insured, writes Poppy Noor, and now Verma wants the taxpayer to foot the bill.

A convicted murderer helps others to unlearn violence

David Monroe was 15 when he was sent to prison for a gang murder in Stockton, California. Released in 2016 after serving 19 years, he now works with a youth development organisation in San Francisco and says he wants to take its violence prevention program home to Stockton.

Kramer vs Kramer: the classic portrayal of divorce, at 40

With Noah Baumbachs Marriage Story in the 2019 awards conversation, it may seem remarkable that perhaps the last major American movie to focus on divorce is 40 years old. Kramer vs Kramer has serious flaws, says Scott Tobias, but it remains a film of immense sensitivity and heart.

Living on top of a toxic landfill site

In the 1980s, black New Orleanians were encouraged to buy houses in the brand new subdivision of Gordon Plaza. What they did not know was that the neighbourhood had been built by the city on top of a toxic landfill; today, it is one of Louisianas worst cancer hotspots, as Lauren Zanolli reports.


Finland has elected the worlds youngest prime minister: Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old social democrat from a two-mother family and a low-income background. Tulikukka de Fresnes says this millennial leader has an opportunity to rebuild the broken trust between generations.

Marin sounds like the perfect choice for any party that wants to modernise their image and that might seem like a risk to many. Not in Finland.


Liverpool made light work of their crunch tie against Salzburg in Austria on Tuesday night, with a 2-0 win to put the title holders through to the last 16 of the Champions League. Chelsea also made it to the knockout stages, though not without a hiccup.

Hundreds of Nike employees have staged a protest at the companys campus in Beaverton, Oregon, after Nike reopened a building named after disgraced athletics coach Alberto Salazar, who has been accused of humiliating and belittling female athletes, and who is appealing a four-year ban for breaking anti-doping rules.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/11/us-briefing-trump-russia-saudi-aramco-and-clint-eastwood-controversy