Monthly Archives: December 2016

Whitney Tilson on Trump’s supporters: ‘I think Donald Trump conned them’

Whitney Tilson.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson said he was pleased that President-elect Donald Trump chose some Wall Street bankers to join his incoming White House administration.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Tilson said of Trump’s supporters, “I think Donald Trump conned them,” pointing to the president-elect’s frequent campaign-trail tirades against bankers’ influence in Washington.

Tilson said he “can take glee” in knowing some Trump supporters might be disappointed by Trump’s latest Cabinet picks.

The president-elect’s transition team announced this week that Wall Street banker Steve Mnuchin would be nominated as Treasury secretary. Mnuchin is a Goldman Sachs alum and would be the third such person to run the US Treasury Department since the 1990s. Trump also picked billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to serve as secretary of commerce.

In the last weeks of the election, Trump adopted the catchphrase “drain the swamp” as a declaration to rid Washington of insiders who are out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Tilson said he was relieved Trump appeared to be surrounding himself with bankers and businessmen, recalling that he was worried Trump “was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up.”

“The fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing,” he said.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders released a joint statement on Wednesday torching Trump for picking Mnuchin, calling the decision “hypocrisy at its worst.”

“That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington,” they said.

David Petraeus would have to inform his probation officer if Trump hires him as secretary of state

Former CIA director David Petraeus speaks after leaving the Federal Courthouse in Charlotte
Thomson Reuters

Former CIA Director David Petraeus would need to notify his probation officer if he is chosen as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, according to court documents cited by CNN and USA Today on Wednesday.

The documents stipulate that Petraeus, who is serving two years’ probation after pleading guilty to charges of mishandling classified information, would have three days to inform his probation officer about his new job.

If hired by Trump and confirmed by Congress, Petraeus would also have to get approval from a court or his probation officer before he can travel out of North Carolina for work, and submit to periodic, warrantless searches of his property and electronic devices, according to the court documents.

Petraeus is reportedly one of four candidates in the running for the secretary of state position, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly.

Obama says the US is divided because ‘people are no longer talking to each other’

President Barack Obama.
REUTERS/Jonathan Erns

US President Barack Obama said he is concerned that the way people consume news may be contributing to the growing divisiveness in the country.

“The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources,” Obama said in an interview with Rolling Stone published this week.

Obama suggested the root of the problem is that some people only look to news sources that confirm their existing political views.

“People are no longer talking to each other; they’re just occupying their different spheres,” Obama said.

He also commented on the proliferation of fake news – a problem that put Facebook in the hot seat during the election.

“In an internet era where we still value a free press and we don’t want censorship of the internet, that’s a hard problem to solve,” he said.

At first, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dismissed accusations that phony news stories on the social network influenced the outcome the election. But the company later announced plans to cut off websites that produce fake stories from its advertising network in order to prevent them from making a profit.

The president earlier this month said fake news created dust cloud of nonsense.”

Earlier this month a BuzzFeed study showed that several fake news stories on Facebook significantly outperformed stories from legitimate news sources in the days leading up to the election.

Obama suggested one solution could be to create new business models that appeal to a wider audience and creates an inclusive dialogue about issues, rather than pursuing bombastic headlines.

“It’s making people exaggerate or say what’s most controversial or peddling in the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs,” Obama said.

Obama muses over what he’ll miss about the White House

Barack Obama
Getty Images

President Barack Obama opened up about what he will miss most as his second term in the White House comes to an end.

Before Obama greeted the President-elect Donald Trump following the November 8 election, he sat down with Rolling Stone magazine, to reflect on the election, his legacy, and the future.

Obama recounted some celebrated moments, like the killing of Osama bin Laden and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, as well as some moving memories of his interactions with ordinary Americans.

But the president didn’t drone on with big or small achievements. Instead, he spontaneously turned to his feelings deep down and gave a tribute to the White House team.

“I think the thing that I will miss the most about this place, the thing that can get me sentimental – and I try not to get too nostalgic, because I still got a bunch of work to do – it’s the team we built here,” Obama said, praising the young people working alongside him.

“What I will take away from this experience is them: seeing howthey work together, seeing the commitments they have made toward the issues that we care about,” Obama said.

Brian Deese stands behind Obama.
Getty Images

The president specifically pointed out Brian Deese, the 38-year-old senior advisor to the president, as an example of the talented staff working in his administration.

“Nobody outside of the White House necessarily knows Brian,” Obama said. “He engineered the Paris Agreement, the [Hydrofluorocarbons] Agreement, the Aviation Agreement, may have helped save the planet, and he’s just doing it while he’s got two babies at home, and could not be a better person.”

Obama mentioned his connection with the staff, especially those who are younger, in other interviews, saying he has been encouraging those who were disappointed by the election of Trump.

In a New Yorker profile published earlier this month, Obama and his chief of staff, Denis McDonough were described as “almost like grief counsellors,” during post-election conversations with White House staffers.

“And one of the things that I have been telling my younger staff, who in some cases have only known politics through my presidency, is history doesn’t travel in a straight line. And it zigs and it zags and sometimes you take two steps forward and then you take a step back,” Obama told Rolling Stone.

North Carolina allows recount in one county, prolonging America’s longest race for governor

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.
Mike Theiler/Reuters

The North Carolina state elections board approved Gov. Pat McCrory’s appeal to recount the votes in Durham County, giving a glimmer of hope to his last-ditch attempt to win reelection.

McCrory, a Republican, had claimed that inaccurate ballot machines prevented a proper tally of 90,000 early votes in Durham County, a liberal hotbed that swung the race to Democrat Roy Cooper at the eleventh hour on the night of the election.

Members of the state board said there was sufficient doubt in the outcome to justify recounting the results there, and overturned a November 18 decision by the Durham County elections board that rejected McCrory’s request for a recount.

The state board, consisting of three Republicans and two Democrats, voted 3-2 along party lines to authorize the recount.

“It’s necessary that the public have faith and confidence in the system,” James Baker, a Republican board member, said at the hearing on Wednesday. “Let’s get it all out in the open.”

The decision is good news for McCrory, who is facing calls to concede from opponents, including Cooper himself. His initial Election-Day deficit of about 4,500 votes has mushroomed to more than 10,000 as absentee and provisional ballots are tallied.

Republicans immediately raised questions about the 90,000 votes, which were registered shortly before midnight on November 8, apparently snatching a close victory away from McCrory.

Since Election Day, McCrory has lodged challenges of voter fraud across the state, some of which were dropped due to a lack of evidence. The challenges have prevented some of North Carolina’s 100 counties from reporting official election results.

McCrory filed for a statewide recount last week, but his final deficit must be within 10,000 votes of Cooper for it to happen, according to state law. The Republican said he wouldn’t seek the statewide recount if he won his Durham County appeal.

North Carolina Democratic presumptive Governor-elect Roy Cooper waves to a crowd at the North Carolina Democratic Watch Party as he walks on stage with his family on November 9, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Cooper’s attorney Kevin Hamilton argued that McCrory’s team had failed to provide “substantial evidence” of irregularity with the machines in Durham County, as state law requires. Board member Maja Kricker, a Democrat, agreed.

“If we don’t have an irregularity, we’re really going to simply say, ‘Well, people have questions, so we’re going to recount,” Kricker said at the hearing. “How many more questions are going to be raised? In how many other elections is this going to be raised?'”

“This sets a precedent. And I don’t think it’s a precedent we should set.”

In a statement, Cooper campaign manager Trey Nix said, “It is wrong that Governor McCrory continues to waste taxpayer money with false accusations and attempts to delay and that the Republican controlled Board of Elections did not follow the law.”

Nix said the Cooper campaign is “confident” the recount “will confirm Roy Cooper’s election as Governor of North Carolina.”

The machine recount should take about eight hours, election officials said, meaning North Carolinians could learn the result of the election by the end of the week.

The contest between McCrory and Cooper was the closest of any gubernatorial election this year and will be the last in the country to be settled. If McCrory loses, he’ll have the unfortunate distinction of being the only governor nationwide this year – and the first in North Carolina’s history – to lose in a reelection bid.

Pokémon Go is finally fixing its biggest problem for most players

The Pokémon Go ‘Nearby’ tracker now works in New York City.
Business Insider

Pokémon Go is finally fixing its biggest problem.

After months where many players could not find Pokémon in Pokémon Go, players in the U.S. and most of Europe will finally get a working “Nearby” tracker.

Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs has been slowly making the tracker available to more players in recent weeks – but the basic feature has been restricted to U.S. players west of the Mississippi River until now.

“We will be expanding the Nearby Pokémon feature to the rest of the continental United States and large parts of Europe,” according to a Wednesday blog post by Niantic. “We will continue to review the feedback submitted on our official social media accounts and in other channels and make changes if necessary.”

The tracker allows you to see where Pokémon are located in the game’s map based on their proximity to nearby Pokéstops, which are virtual stops for collecting items that are associated with physical locations in the real world.

Without the tracker, many have been left to blindly stumble upon Pokémon in the game for months. Some players on Reddit have been having trouble with the new tracker’s accuracy, but those issues are hopefully fixed now that Niantic is making it available to everyone.

Newt Gingrich goes in on Romney, accuses him of ‘sucking up’ to Trump for secretary-of-state job

Newt Gingrich.
John Moore/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich sounded off Wednesday on Mitt Romney’s latest meeting with President-elect Donald Trump about the secretary-of-state post.

Gingrich appeared on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham‘s show Wednesday and said Romney was “sucking up” to Trump to get the job.

“You have never, ever in your career seen a wealthy adult who is independent, has been a presidential candidate, suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up,” Gingrich said.

The former House speaker is a vocal supporter of Trump and was at one point a contender to be Trump’s running mate. But he has been one of a few members of Trump’s inner circle who have pushed back on the idea of Romney as secretary of state.

Gingrich continued:

“I am confident that he thinks now that he and Donald Trump are the best of friends, they have so many things in common. That they’re both such wise, brilliant people. And I’m sure last night at an elegant three-star restaurant, he was happy to share his version of populism, which involve a little foie gras, a certain amount of superb cooking, but put that in a populist happy manner.”

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, is apparently still among the top four people under consideration for the secretary of state role. His candidacy has rubbed a few early Trump loyalists the wrong way.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the search was down to five candidates: Romney; Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair; David Petraeus, the former CIA director; Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor; and John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general. Trump was meeting with Kelly on Wednesday.

Listen to Gingrich’s interview below: