Monthly Archives: May 2017

Joe Biden is creating a political action committee, but won’t say if he’s running for president

Joe Biden is planning to create a political action committee, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, possibly indicating his intentions to run for president in 2020.

The committee will give the former vice president means to travel on behalf of the Democratic Party, promote state-level candidates in upcoming elections, and nurture ties with political donors, the report said.

Biden chose his former aide Greg Schultz to help lead the PAC, which Biden is expected to unveil on Thursday, according to The Times.

Biden has remained equivocal about his future plans.

“Could I? Yes. Would I? Probably not,” Biden said of a potential 2020 presidential bid when asked earlier this month.

In other recent speaking opportunities, Biden expressed regret for not jumping into the 2016 race and suggested he’s thought about another run for the White House.

If Biden were to win the 2020 race, he would be the oldest incoming president in history at 78.

Uber said it lost $700 million in Q1 and it’s looking for a public company CFO as its head of finance leaves

Uber’s head of finance is leaving the company, putting the ride-hailing startup in the tricky position of trying to recruit two high-level executives as it grapples with multiple scandals and bleeds hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink every quarter.

Uber lost $708 million, excluding stock compensation expenses, in the first three months of the year, an Uber spokesperson told Business Insider. Uber’s head of finance, Gautam Gupta, is leaving Uber to join an unspecified startup, Uber said.

Uber said it is launching a search for a CFO with public company experience – a move that could kick off Uber’s march to go public.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Developing…

Police release video showing the arrest of Tiger Woods

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Jupiter Police Department

Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday morning in Florida and charged with driving under the influence.

On Wednesday, the Jupiter Police Department released videos of the arrest. TMZ and Golf.com obtained the videos, which show officers talking to Woods in his car, administering a portion of the field sobriety test, and handcuffing him.

This video appears to show a barefoot Woods struggling to keep his balance while walking a line. A police report said Woods “missed his heel to toe each time,” “stepped off line several times,” “used arms for balance,” and “did not return.”

This longer video shows the officers speaking to Woods in his car. The dialogue appears consistent with the police reports, which were released earlier. The first officer on the scene said Woods was “cooperative,” but that his speech was “slow and slurred” and he had difficulty keeping his eyes open.

This video, via Golf.com, shows officers administering the “finger to nose” test. According to the police department, Woods “was swaying throughout the instructions of the task” and “lost his balance and stepped forward making a movement as if he was going to fall.” It said two officers “moved towards Woods to ensure he did not fall over.”

The Jupiter Police Departmenthas released dashcam video of Tiger Woods’ DUI arrest. pic.twitter.com/pFt4QLksqs

pic.twitter.com/pFt4QLksqsMay 31,2017

Around the nine-minute mark of this video, police handcuff Woods.

Wall Street regulators just got a powerful reminder of one of the first rules of finance

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
    Wall Street regulators decided four years ago to try and dampen leveraged lending by big banks. According to a staff report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, big banks did cut back their leveraged lending, and nonbank lenders stepped in. The problem: the nonbanks were funded by the big banks, meaning the risks remained.

A bunch of US regulators decided in 2013 that the leveraged-lending market was overheating, and that it needed to be curtailed. Unsurprisingly, it was an unpopular move on Wall Street.

Leveraged loans are loans to companies rated below investment-grade, and they’re often used to finance takeovers.

The regulators issued guidelines on everything from underwriting standards to how the risks of these loans should be rated. The guidelines applied to the biggest banks – those institutions whose failure could pose a risk to US financial stability.

Debt bankers argued at the time that the rules would not reduce risk, but simply move it.

Nonbanks would step in, and pick up the slack. And sure enough, they did. According to a staff report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the banks cut their lending “their leveraged lending activity significantly, bringing it down to levels lower than the pre-guidance period.” In contrast, nonbank lenders increased their leveraged lending business.

The report said:

The effect of the guidance on LISCC banks’ leveraged lending business was meaningful. Compared to the pre-guidance period, the market share of these institutions in the post clarification period declined by 11.0 and 5.4 percentage points depending on whether it is measured by the number or volume of leveraged loans, respectively. This decline is meaningful, particularly if one takes into account that it happened over about one year (November 2014 – December 2015). Nonbank lenders appear to have been the main beneficiaries of this response, as their market share based on the number of loans increased by more than 50 percent while their market share based on the volume of lending more than doubled over that period of time.

So, it’s clear that the guidelines led to big moves in market share. But did the guidelines reduce risk? Nope. In fact, the nonbanks that started funding the leveraged loans were in many cases getting financing from the banks that were no longer able to participate in the leveraged loan market. The report said:

Altogether, our findings show that the guidance was effective at reducing leveraged activity among banks. However, that reduction did not lead to a commensurate decline in risk in the banking sector because some of the leveraged lending business migrated to nonbanks which in turn resorted to banks to raise funding for this activity. Further, while the guidance achieved its goal of reducing banks’ leveraged lending business, the migration of leveraged loans to nonbanks makes it less clear that the guidance accomplished its broader goal of reducing the risk that these loans pose for the stability of the financial system.

Call it a powerful reminder of one of the first rules of finance: risk doesn’t disappear, it just moves around.

Hillary Clinton made a stinging joke about Trump’s mysterious “covfefe” tweet

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Hillary Clinton
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Business Insider

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, California – Even Hillary Clinton had a zinger about about “covfefe.”

The apparent typo word, embedded in a middle-of-the night tweet by President Trump, was the joke of the day on Wednesday online and across the nation. No less so here at the Code Conference, an annual gathering of the tech industry elite.

During her appearance at the conference, Clinton talked about Russia’s alleged attempts to influence last year’s election to Trump’s benefit. That’s when she got in her “covfefe” barb.

“I think it was a hidden message to the Russians,” she said.

The audience, largely made up of people who supported her in the election, laughed.

Trump got the ball rolling on “covfefe” last night when he wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”.

The tweet immediately went viral, and an internet meme was born. Trump himself even poked fun at his apparent typo, writing in a later tweet, “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”

Despite the joke, Clinton was attempting to make some more serious points about the role of social media in the nation’s politics. Her loss to Trump was due in part social media platforms becoming “weaponized” and used by the Russians to spread misinformation about her, she said.

She called on Facebook to “prevent fake news from creating a new reality.” She called out Twitter, too.

“Twitter has become victimized by deliberate efforts to shape our conversations, to shift it to conspiracies, lies, whatever,” she said. “It’s the same problem Facebook has.”

Clinton said she appreciates that these companies want their services to be open platforms with no censorship. And she said she sympathizes with the people at those companies who are trying to address these issues. But, at least for a while, as a test, she wants them to err on the side of removing reported trouble makers and suspicious news from their platforms.

“I would urge them to hurry up” and solve the problem, she said.

More than 40 House Democrats want Jared Kushner’s security clearance revoked

More than three dozen House Democrats want to shut off Jared Kushner’s access to classified information in light of increased FBI scrutiny over Kushner’s contacts with Russian authorities.

House Democrats said they want Kushner’s security clearance revoked “to protect national security.”

The lawmakers outlined their concerns in a letter to White House general counsel Don McGahn on Wednesday.

“While the various congressional and law enforcement investigations continue, the White House should take all possible steps to protect national security including immediately revoking Mr. Kushner’s security clearance,” the letter read.

That request, if granted, would be an extraordinary step in the ongoing congressional investigation of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia – and the FBI’s inquiry of Kushner’s talks with the Kremlin, which have gained greater significance in recent weeks.

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top White House adviser, was willing to go extraordinary lengths to establish a secret line of communication between Trump’s inner circle and Russian officials, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

During the presidential transition period leading up to Trump’s inauguration, Kushner held a series of meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and the head of a Moscow bank that was under US sanctions.

In talks with Kislyak in December, Kushner floated the possibility of setting up a secure line of communication between the Trump transition team and Russia – and having those talks take place in Russian diplomatic facilities in the US, essentially concealing their interactions from US government scrutiny.

“Jared Kushner cannot be trusted,” said Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, who also signed the letter.

The Trump administration has downplayed concerns about Kushner’s talks with the Russians. US intelligence officials have said Kushner is not accused of any wrongdoing.

‘I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians’: Hillary Clinton quips about Trump’s ‘covfefe’ kerfuffle

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2017 Recode Code Conference.
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Screenshot via Recode/YouTube

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a jab at President Donald Trump’s misspelled tweet that has since sent social-media into a craze.

“I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians,” said Clinton at Recode’s Code Conference on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, a tweet posted to Trump’s personal Twitter account read: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

The tweet was eventually deleted at 6 a.m. ET on Wednesday, but not until it gained a cult-like following on social-media.

Trump eventually issued another tweet, ostensibly addressing those who lost it over the typo: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

Clinton also touched on how she believed “diversions” like the “covfefe” kerfuffle was truncating the attention spans of Americans.

“You got all kinds of stuff happening,” Clinton said. “To divert attention. It’s like ‘covfefe’: trending worldwide. Maybe for a minute you’ll forget the latest accusations about them conspiring with Russia, or their trillion-dollar mathematical mistake in their budget, or depriving 23 million people of health care.”

“It’s the circus, right?,” asked Clinton. “They want to influence your reality.”

Watch her segment at Recode’s conference »

Hillary Clinton rips the Democratic Party’s data operation, says the Republican Party’s was much better

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Hillary Clinton.
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Screenshot/Recode

Hillary Clinton ripped the Democratic Party’s data operation that she inherited as its 2016 presidential nominee, calling it “bankrupt.”

She added that it was at a “deficit” when compared to its GOP counterpart.

“You know, I set up my campaign and we have our own data operation,” she said.

“I get the nomination. So I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.”

Clinton made the remarks while being interviewed by tech journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at Recode’s Code Conference, where she also called on Democratic donors to help “try and leapfrog over” the party’s “horrible data deficit.”

Speaking about the Republican operation, Clinton said it was far superior to what she had to work with.

“They basically said we will never be behind the Democrats again,” she said of the Republican National Committee following GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat. “And they invested between 2012 and 2016 this $100 million to build this data foundation.”

She added that Trump was “basically handed” a “tried and true effective” data operation once he became the nominee.

The RNC’s data operation, for example, used Facebook in unprecedented ways to help target voters.

Former RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who is currently Trump’s chief-of-staff, tweeted that this was “finally” something that he and Clinton “agree on.”

“Finally… something @HillaryClinton and I can agree on: @GOP has much better resources and data than @TheDemocrats,” he wrote.

The RNC’s data team tweeted, “Never thought we’d agree with Hillary Clinton, but she’s 100% correct on this one.”

And Brad Parscale, who ran the Trump campaign’s data operation, tweeted, “Thank you @HillaryClinton.”

Here are all the countries that signed on to the Paris climate agreement

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Hundreds of environmentalists arrange their bodies to form a message of hope and peace in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during COP21 in December 2015.
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Thomson Reuters

In December 2015, 195 countries made history when they agreed to the world’s most ambitious pact to limit carbon emissions.

The Paris agreement, so named because that’s where the COP21 meeting of nations took place, was a landmark accord setting the world on course to keep global surface temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above where they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Climate experts warn that an increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius could bring about irreversible consequences, including unpredictable superstorms and crippling heat waves.

If President Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the agreement, as he has indicated he plans to do, the US would join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations that did not agree to the pact. Even Palestine and North Korea signed it.

Syria, ravaged by civil war, didn’t participate, while Nicaragua didn’t sign the agreement because it didn’t go far enough. The Latin American country’s climate envoy Paul Oquist said Nicaragua was “not able to support the consensus.”

Nearly every country agreed to the overall accord laying out a framework for countries to adopt clean energy and phase out fossil fuels. Each country also submitted a climate-action plan laying out how it would achieve these goals.

Former President Barack Obama ratified the US’s adoption of the agreement in September 2016, but he didn’t submit it to Congress for approval. That’s how Trump could “cancel” the US’s commitment to the accord if he chooses – it’s a presidential action.

Of the 195 that signed on, 147 have since ratified the accord. Here they are:

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Skye Gould/Business Insider

The House Intelligence Committee just issued its first subpoenas in the Trump-Russia investigation

The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas Wednesday as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including subpoenas to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

“As part of our ongoing investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 campaign, today we approved subpoenas for several individuals for testimony, personal documents and business records,” said Reps. Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, the top Republican and Democrat involved in the investigation.

“We hope and expect that anyone called to testify or provide documents will comply with that request, so that we may gain all the information within the scope of our investigation. We will continue to pursue this investigation wherever the facts may lead,” they said.

Four of the seven subpoenas were related to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the election, according to The Wall Street Journal. Flynn’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, was also subpoenaed, as was Cohen’s firm, Michael D. Cohen & Associates.

Flynn was forced to resign when it was reported in February that he had spoken to the Russian ambassador about US sanctions and then misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts. Flynn reportedly plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to a separate subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Cohen’s subpoena comes after he declined a request to provide information and documents related to his contacts with Russian officials.

Cohen told ABC on Tuesday that he “declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad, and not capable of being answered.” He later told CNN that the lawmakers “have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative.”

Susan Rice

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Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The other three subpoenas relate to questions around why Obama administration officials “unmasked” and distributed the names of Trump associates in classified intelligence reports.

The Journal reported that those subpoenas were issued to the CIA, FBI, and NSA and are seeking information related to unmasking requests made by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA director John Brennan, and former UN ambassador Samantha Power.

Unmasking requests are not uncommon, said Charles Price, a former FBI agent who worked at the bureau for nearly three decades. “They’re really not that big a deal.”

“The identities of US persons may be released under two circumstances: 1) the identity is needed to make sense of the intercept; 2) if a crime is involved in the conversation,” Robert Deitz, a former senior counselor to the CIA director and former general counsel at the National Security Agency, told Business Insider in April.

The subpoenas related to unmasking requests were reportedly made by Republicans on the committee interested in examining whether the requests were politically motivated, The Journal reported.

In April, it emerged that Rice tried to learn the identities of Trump officials whose names were incidentally collected during routine intelligence-gathering operations.

After news of Rice’s request broke, she denied accusations that she had leaked the names of unmasked Trump officials to media outlets.

“I leaked nothing, to nobody, and never have and never would,” Rice said.

“I don’t take much” from the subpoenas issued related to unmasking requests, Deitz said. He added that he saw them as a concession to Trump supporters on the committee and that they likely wouldn’t result in any damning information about Rice and other Obama administration officials.

James Comey

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James Comey.
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Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Trump-Russia investigations, both in relevant congressional committees and within the FBI, have picked up steam over the last few weeks, following Trump’s decision to abruptly fire FBI Director James Comey.

After Comey’s dismissal and a number of explosive reports, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in charge of the FBI’s investigation.

Last week, multiple reports said Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, spoke with the Russian ambassador about setting up a back channel of communications with Russia using Russian facilities. News of his reported request indicated that the Russia investigation could reach the highest levels of Trump’s White House.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that Comey plans to testify as early as next week, during which he is expected to confirm reports that Trump asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Flynn during a February meeting. Experts say such a request could amount to obstruction of justice.