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Growth in U.S. service sector jobs slows

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Growth in the huge US services sector slowed in March, amid uncertainty about the direction of the economy, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.

The ISM non-manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 54.4, down from 56 in February, indicating a slightly slower rate of growth in the sector that has expanded for 39 straight months.

The March slowdown was worse than analysts expected; the average estimate was a PMI reading of 55.5.

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A reading above 50 indicates expansion of the sector which accounts for the bulk of US economic activity.

The dip in March activity was led by drops in prices, employment, new orders and inventories.

Fifteen of the 18 services industries surveyed reported growth in March, while three reported contraction, the association said in a statement.

“The majority of respondents’ comments continue to be positive about business conditions,” said Anthony Nieves, head of the ISM non-manufacturing survey committee.

“However, there is an underlying concern regarding the uncertainty of the future economy.”

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Republicans claim Democrats leaked John Bolton’s book that was given to the White House — then quickly back down

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In a bizarre twist, Republicans are blaming Democrats for releasing information included in John Bolton's.

Speaking in a line of Republicans, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained that it was clear Democrats were part of some kind of conspiracy to turn senators against the speedy trial the White House wanted. With the revelation that Bolton confirmed President Donald Trump was indeed trying to bribe Ukraine, a very few Republican senators are more willing to call him as a witness.

The problem, of course, with Meadows' accusations is that the manuscript was never sent to Democrats. According to the New York Times report, Bolton sent the book to the White House for security checks to ensure nothing he put in the book was classified.

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Ken Starr defends Trump as Bolton revelations roil trial

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Pressure mounted on Republicans on Monday to call former national security advisor John Bolton as a witness at Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial following explosive new revelations about the US president's dealings with Ukraine.

As Clinton impeachment investigator Ken Starr resumed the White House defense of Trump on the Senate floor, at least three Republican senators indicated they would favor hearing testimony from the 71-year-old Bolton.

According to The New York Times, Bolton, in a draft of his upcoming book, says that Trump told him in August that he wanted to freeze military aid to Ukraine until Kiev opened an investigation into his potential November election rival Joe Biden.

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White House lawyer says politicians must separate their business and political interests — even though Trump never has

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On Monday, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann tried to change the subject of the impeachment trial to GOP conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden's work for Ukraine — and made an impassioned argument for overhauling ethics laws to prevent conflicts of interest for senior government officials.

"I actually think that this is something that is undisputed, that Ukraine had a particularly bad corruption problem," said Herschmann. "It was so corrupt that dealing with corruption and solving the corruption was a priority for our U.S. foreign policy. Here is how one knowledgeable observer of Ukraine put it in 2015. Quote, 'It is not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a prosecutor fight corruption, the office of prosecutor general needs to be reformed, and the judiciary needs to be overhauled, and the energy sector needs to be competitive and ruled by market principles and not sweetheart deals. It is not enough to push through the laws to increase transparency with regard to the official sources of income. Senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interests and their government responsibilities.'"

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