How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security
Updated | If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States? Throughout this campaign, the Trump Organization, which pumps potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the Trump family’s bank accounts each year, has been largely ignored. As a private enterprise, its businesses, partners and investors are hidden from public view, even though they are the very people who could be enriched by—or will further enrich—Trump and his family if he wins the presidency. A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires. The Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the charitable enterprise that has been the subject of intense scrutiny about possible conflicts for the Democratic presidential nominee. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton bestowed benefits on contributors to the foundation in some sort of “pay to play” scandal when she was secretary of state, but that makes no sense because there was no “pay.” Money contributed to the foundation was publicly disclosed and went to charitable efforts, such as fighting neglected tropical diseases that infect as many as a billion people. The financials audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global independent accounting company, and the foundation’s tax filings show that about 90 percent of the money it raised went to its charitable programs. (Trump surrogates have falsely claimed that it was only 10 percent and that the rest was used as a Clinton “slush fund.”) No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns. In fact, like the Clintons, almost the entire board of directors works for free. On the other hand, the Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year. Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities. None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for the names of all foreign entities in partnership or contractually tied to the Trump Organization.) Trump’s financial filings also indicate he is a shareholder or beneficiary of several overseas entities, including Excel Venture LLC in the French West Indies and Caribusiness Investments SRL, based in the Dominican Republic, one of the world’s tax havens. More:
As Russia reasserts itself, U.S. intelligence agencies focus anew on the Kremlin
U.S. intelligence agencies are expanding spying operations against Russia on a greater scale than at any time since the end of the Cold War, U.S. officials said. The mobilization involves clandestine CIA operatives, National Security Agency cyberespionage capabilities, satellite systems and other intelligence assets, officials said, describing a shift in resources across spy services that had previously diverted attention from Russia to focus on terrorist threats and U.S. war zones. U.S. officials said the moves are part of an effort to rebuild U.S. intelligence capabilities that had continued to atrophy even as Russia sought to reassert itself as a global power. Over the past two years, officials said, the United States was caught flat-footed by Moscow’s aggression, including its annexation of Crimea, its intervention in the war in Syria and its suspected role in hacking operations against the United States and Europe. U.S. spy agencies “are playing catch-up big time” with Russia, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. Terrorism remains the top concern for American intelligence services, the official said, but recent directives from the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have moved Russia up the list of intelligence priorities for the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse. Though hidden from public view, the escalation in espionage activity is part of a broader renewal of conflict and competition between the United States and Russia after a two-decade lull. Surging tensions now cut across nearly every aspect of the U.S-Russia relationship. The hack of the Democratic National Committee has raised fears that Russia is seeking to undermine democratic institutions if not influence the outcome of the American presidential race. More:
Saudi prince warns Iran against using force to pursue rivalry
A senior Saudi official, responding to Iranian criticism of Riyadh’s management of the haj pilgrimage, urged Iran to end what he called wrong attitudes toward Arabs and warned it against any use of force in its rivalry with the kingdom. Mecca province governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal, in remarks likely to be seen as a reference to Iran, added that the orderly conduct of the pilgrimage this year “is a response to all the lies and slanders made against the kingdom”. The remarks carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Wednesday evening follow an escalating war of words between Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia since a crush at the annual haj pilgrimage a year ago in which hundreds of pilgrims, many of them Iranians, died. SPA quoted Prince Khaled as telling journalists his message to the Iranian leadership was “I pray to God Almighty to guide them and to deter them from their transgression and their wrong attitudes toward their fellow Muslim among the Arabs in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and around the world”. “But if they are preparing an army to invade us, we are not easily taken by someone who would make war on us.” “When we desire, and with the help of God Almighty, we will deter every aggressor and will never relent in protecting this holy land and our dear country. No one can defile any part from our country if any one of us remains on the face of the earth.” No top Iranian leader has called for war with Saudi Arabia, something neither country wants. But last year’s haj disaster, and the execution in January of dissident Saudi Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, triggered months of scathing Iranian criticism of the kingdom. Riyadh broke off relations with Tehran after its embassy there was attacked by Iranians protesting against Nimr’s death. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards promised “harsh revenge” for Nimr’s death. More:
Syria has not granted ‘a single permit’ to aid besieged Aleppo, says U.N. official
ISTANBUL — The Syrian government has not granted the United Nations “a single permit” to bring aid to the besieged city of Aleppo as part of a cease-fire that took effect this week, a senior U.N. official said Thursday. The U.N. has prepared a convoy with food rations for tens of thousands of people, but the trucks remain stuck on the Turkish-Syrian border. Opening channels for humanitarian access across Syria was a key provision of the cease-fire plan brokered by the United States and Russia. “We could go today. We’re not . . . The permits have not been given,” Syrian humanitarian task force chairman, Jan Egeland, told reporters in Geneva. Security also remains a chief concern for aid coordinators. U.N. officials and others worry about potential attacks from miltant factions that are outside the cease-fire pact. “We hope to go tomorrow, to eastern Aleppo,” he said, referring to a rebel-held area that has been under siege by government forces for more than a month. Aleppo, however, is just one of many areas cut off from aid and other assistance. The 40 trucks carrying rice, wheat, lentils, and sugar “can go at a moment’s notice,” he said. The cease-fire, which went into effect Monday night, has largely held in key areas across the country. But the wrangling over aid has threatened to undermine the truce. The journey from the Turkish border to Aleppo “is not an easy one,” David Swanson, a spokesman for the U.N’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Thursday. “Security is a major concern, and road conditions are poor.” In addition, it remained unclear Thursday if any of the armed groups, including the Syrian military, withdrew from the main road into East Aleppo. Demilitarization of Castello Road is key to allowing further humanitarian access, U.S. officials have said. More:
WADA says hackers released another batch of athlete data
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Wednesday that another batch of athlete data has been leaked by the same Russian cyber espionage group that published confidential medical data earlier this week. This time, WADA said the hackers released data of 25 athletes from the United States, Germany, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania, and Russia. The hacking group, known as APT28 and Fancy Bear by U.S. cyber-security researchers, was also blamed by WADA on Tuesday for posting data about U.S. athletes Simone Biles, Elena Delle Donne, and Serena and Venus Williams. “WADA is very mindful that this criminal attack, which to date has recklessly exposed personal data of 29 athletes, will be very distressing for the athletes that have been targeted; and cause apprehension for all athletes that were involved in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said in a statement. “To those athletes that have been impacted, we regret that criminals have attempted to smear your reputations in this way; and assure you that we are receiving intelligence and advice from the highest level law enforcement and IT security agencies that we are putting into action.” WADA said it believed the hackers gained access to its anti-doping administration and management system (ADAMS) via an IOC-created account for the Rio Games. According to WADA, the account includes confidential medical data such as Therapeutic Use Exemptions, which are issued by sports federations and national anti-doping organizations to allow athletes to take certain substances. WADA said it is reaching out to the national anti-doping organizations and international federations whose athletes are impacted by the latest data release to provide support. WADA also repeated its belief the attacks are being carried out as retaliation for the agency’s investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia.
As Britain Confronts ‘Brexit,’ a Canadian Takes Center Stage: Mark Carney
LONDON — On a soggy morning in late June, as Britain absorbed the staggering news that it had voted to abandon the European Union, a stone-faced Canadian took to national television to offer assurances that the world was not ending. Mark Carney, the first foreigner to head Britain’s central bank in its 322 years of existence, was suddenly a crucial figure in the improvised effort to manage the fallout of the so-called Brexit vote. No one knew what the referendum meant, but markets worldwide were plummeting in fear and confusion. Much of the British government was in tatters. The central bank was wielding 250 billion pounds, or about $345 billion, to throw at the financial system. “We are well prepared for this,” Mr. Carney said that morning. In the weeks after, Mr. Carney led the Bank of England to drop interest rates to a record low while stepping up its purchases of bonds to expand credit through the economy — all in a bid to spur spending and investment. He vouched for the ability of the British financial system to withstand a shock. But as the central bank held course with interest rates and bond purchases on Thursday, Mr. Carney finds himself confronting political controversy along with pointed questions over the effectiveness and legitimacy of his activist course. Even those who lavish praise on his leadership suggest the bank may be out of ammunition. Whatever happens from here — whether Britain slides into recession or escapes that fate — may depend more on whether the Treasury unleashes government spending than on anything Mr. Carney may be considering. “He’s a very cool, collected person, and he indeed rose to the occasion, but there are clear limits to what he can do,” said Richard Portes, an economist at the London Business School, who counts Mr. Carney a friend. “They can’t seriously counteract the underlying real economic effects of this.”
Chinese Tycoon Behind Grindr Will Pay $1.14 Billion in Divorce
BEIJING — Divorce can take a toll. For the Chinese tycoon behind the gay dating app Grindr, that toll comes to $1.14 billion. Zhou Yahui, a Chinese internet mogul and billionaire, will have to transfer nearly 300 million shares of his company to his wife, Li Qiong, according to a statement from the company. The document does not say why, but China’s news media is widely abuzz with articles saying the two are getting a divorce. That apparent split is the latest to show how divorces can have a significant impact on the commercial ventures of some of China’s wealthiest business leaders. Mr. Zhou, 39, earned his fortune developing web and mobile games. In January, he made headlines when his company, Beijing Kunlun World Wide Technology Share Company, purchased a controlling stake in Grindr for $93 million. In a Monday ruling, the Haidian district court in Beijing awarded Ms. Li 70.5 million of Kunlun’s shares. Based on the most recent stock price, Ms. Li’s shares are worth about $1.14 billion. The huge equity transfer would make this one of the most expensive divorce settlements in China to date. Neither Kunlun nor Grindr could be reached for comment on Thursday, which is a holiday in China. More:
Watching People Eat Is Big in Korea; Now It’s Supposedly Coming to America
Twitch Interactive, the video-game streaming service Amazon acquired for almost $1 billion two years ago, hinted at what could be the next sensation in internet broadcasting: watching people eat. Dubbed “social eating,” the practice is popular in South Korea and is picking up steam in the U.S., Twitch Chief Executive Officer Emmett Shear said Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. It’s a difficult pastime for people in the U.S. to initially grasp, he acknowledged, but he said it’s gaining traction, along with rising demand for non-gaming content. Disbelief about the growth potential for Twitch, a platform for watching people play video games, has taught him not to discount something he doesn’t personally understand, Mr. Shear said. “I’m cautious about writing anything off,” Mr. Shear said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “I think it could be huge.” A Twitch streamer with the user name Hacklyn was eating a bowl of soup Wednesday morning, with about 20 people watching live. She was listening to music and chatting with people about relationships while they watched her dig in. Investors have been watching to see how Amazon integrates Twitch’s highly engaged audience of video game enthusiasts — numbering 10 million daily users — with its offerings in online shopping and streaming video and music. More:
Crude awakening: At least 58 U.S. oil companies have gone bankrupt this year — has the well run dry?
Just four years ago business was booming for Northstar Offshore Group. The small Houston-based oil and gas firm spent $160 million to snatch up more than a dozen oil fields beneath the shallow waters off the coast of Louisiana. At the time U.S. producers were enjoying some of the highest crude oil prices on record and lending to the country’s energy sector was flowing as freely as a freshly tapped well. But after U.S. producers took former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s “drill, baby, drill” mantra to heart when oil prices were high — and borrowing heavily to fuel growth — this bounty has turned into an unwanted glut, costing tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and sending oil-dependent state budgets reeling. Today Northstar has become one of the latest casualties of the rapid growth in oil and gas extraction that’s hammered prices down from about $120 per barrel of crude in 2012 to about $45 this week. Last month the company became the 102nd U.S. or Canadian oil and gas company to file for bankruptcy since the start of last year, according to a monthly report released this week from global law firm Haynes and Boone. This crash in prices has made 2016 one of the worst years on record for industry bankruptcies since a similar global oil glut in the 1980s wiped out scores of energy companies. And now the survivors who have been able to stay in business with oil hovering at $40 to $50 a barrel are waiting to see if oil prices can stabilize enough for them to snatch up assets from their failed rivals. “When a hurricane is out in the Atlantic, you don’t know whether to move to stay in place,” Bernard Clark, head of Haynes and Boone’s energy practice, told Salon. “The industry hopes and expects we’re over the hump. If oil can stay in a predictable price range companies can make business decisions.” At least 58 producers have fled to bankruptcy court this year, representing about $50.4 billion in debt, far above last year’s $17.4 billion debt accumulated from the 44 companies that filed for bankruptcies. And despite an uptick in oil prices from a 12-year low of $26 a barrel in January, more bankruptcies are expected to arrive this year. More:
Warren: Next Administration Should Probe, Maybe Jail Wall Street Bankers
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is marking the eighth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy with a new push to investigate—and potentially jail—more than two dozen individuals and corporations who were referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a government-appointed group that investigated the roots of the 2008 financial crisis. None was ever prosecuted. The names of the referrals—including former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who held a top job at Citigroup, and Citigroup’s former CEO, Charles Prince—became public earlier this year when the National Archives released new documents. In a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, Warren calls the lack of prosecutions “outrageous and baffling” and asks the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to investigate why no charges were brought. “[T]he DOJ record of action on these individuals, nearly six years after DOJ received the referrals, is abysmal,” she writes. In a separate letter, to FBI Director James Comey, Warren asks for the immediate release of “any and all materials related to the FBI’s investigations and prosecutorial decisions regarding these referrals.” This disclosure is warranted, she writes, by Comey’s decision in July to release a lengthy and critical statement that included previously undisclosed information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server—even though Comey decided not to recommend that charges be brought against Clinton. “Your recent actions with regard to the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” Warren writes, “provide a clear precedent for releasing additional information about the investigation of the parties responsible for the financial crisis.” In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Warren cited the anniversary of Lehman’s collapse as “a good occasion to stop and ask where the real accountability is and get some answers out of the Justice Department about why they haven’t prosecuted anyone.” More:
And now, a case of really bad Republican timing
It’s generally a bad idea to say something is a failure right after its biggest success. That may seem sort of self-evident, but apparently it isn’t. Take House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). He has been trying to recast the presidential campaign as a contest between Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump, but rather his “Better Way” agenda — basically tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor and deregulation for big business — and what he says would be President Obama’s third term. Now, as part of that, he recently had this to say about the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose job is, well, to protect consumers from financial malfeasance. See Ryan Tweet at link Below. This was not the best timing. The CFPB, after all, just fined what’s supposed to be one of the best run banks in the country — Wells Fargo — $185 million for allegedly creating 2 million bank and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge so that bank employees could hit their rather ambitious sales goals and get — earn isn’t quite the right word here — bonuses. That sure seems like the definition of protecting people to me. Ryan’s spokesman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. This is a lot more important, though, than just an inopportune tweet. It shows us what the non-Trump portion of the Republican Party’s priorities are. Those are, on the one hand, trying to get more people to become investors and, on the other hand, trying to get rid of investor protections. Now let’s back up a minute. It’s important to remember that Republicans don’t think the financial crisis was a case of bankers blowing up the global economy because that was what maximized their year-end bonuses, but rather the government pushing bankers to blow up the global economy out of a misguided attempt to help poor people buy homes. Never mind that it was Wall Street banks, and not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, that were behind the subprime boom. Or that even a conservative former Federal Reserve official says there’s no evidence that the Community Reinvestment Act, which outlaws redlining, “contributed in any substantive way” to the housing bubble’s bad lending. That’s why Republicans seem to think that trying to stop financial fraud is a bigger problem than the risk of financial fraud itself. Indeed, Ryan’s budget would give less money to the market cops at the Securities and Exchange Commission. It would also get rid of the CFPB’s independent funding — right now it gets its money from the Fed so that it’s free from influence from members of Congress who might not be free from influence from bank lobbyists — and replace its independent director with a five-person bipartisan committee. His anti-poverty plan, meanwhile, would make it legal for financial advisers to once again recommend things that are in their own — but not their clients’ — best interests. (Believe it or not, that was changed only in the past year). And on top of that, House Republicans want to make it easier for penny stock companies — which, the SEC has warned, are a veritable playground for scammers and other assorted manipulators — to issue shares without as much oversight. More:
Small businesses seek delay of overtime rule
The nation’s leading small business trade group on Tuesday asked the Labor Department to delay a new rule making millions of Americans eligible for overtime pay, saying employers aren’t prepared to implement it when it goes into effect Dec. 1. “In many cases, small businesses must reorganize their work forces and implement new systems for tracking hours, record keeping, and reporting,” says NFIB president Juanita Duggan. “They can’t just flip a switch and be in compliance.” The group is asking for a delay until June 1. But in a statement, David Weil, administrator of Labor’s wage and hour division, says officials provided businesses 190 days to comply, “more than three times what’s legally required.” He added, “The December 1 implementation date is a sufficient amount of time (more than six months) for employers to adjust to the new salary level.” “America’s workers have waited long enough for a fair days pay for a long days work.” The rule, released in May, would double the threshold at which executive, administrative and professional employees are exempt from overtime pay to $47,476 from the current $23,660. It’s expected to make an additional 4.2 million workers eligible to receive time-and-a-half wages for each hour they put in beyond 40 a week. The requirement will affect about 44% of the 5.5 million U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees, NFIB says. About 3.2 million of them employ 10 workers or less. Large corporations with “lawyers, accountants and human resources specialists” who read technical federal notices “may prove able to cope with the new (rule) in a 25 week window of time,” NFIB said in its petition. “But the department cannot reasonably expect America’s small businesses to match them.” NFIB officials say they continue to oppose the overtime rule and support a bill by RepKurt Schrader, D-Ore., that would phase in the new salary threshold over three years. In the meantime, they say small businesses face a myriad hurdles as they grapple with compliance. Many don’t understand which of their workers qualify for overtime based on the executive, administrative and professional exemptions, says NFIB spokesman Jack Mozloom. Others, he says, haven’t begun to install systems to track the hours of employees who had been exempt from overtime but now qualify. More:
Fintech to make financial advisers better behavioral coaches
Five years from now financial advisers will be spending more time with clients and they’ll be doing a better job of stopping them from making bad investment decisions, according to financial technology leaders.
In addition to fintech innovations making advisers more productive and freeing up more of their time, in the future they will provide data-driven intelligence about clients that will allow advisers to be better behavioral coaches, experts said Wednesday at the Financial Planning Association annual meeting in Baltimore. Betterment for Advisors already is designing features to show the theoretical returns for investors if they hadn’t made poor trading decisions. They’re also trying to identify those clients at risk of making poor moves, said Tom Kimberly, general manager of Betterment for Advisors, which today announced it was changing its name from Betterment Institutional. For instance, if markets fell by a certain percentage, advisers could be notified that particular clients had a 65% chance of panicking and wanting to move some funds out of equities. “The adviser can then call the client and be the behavioral coach,” Mr. Kimberly said. Tech advances also will help advisers with their actual client relationships.
Advisers will have the tools to better assess the communication styles and preferences of clients, said Jack Brod, principal of Vanguard, which operates the automated advice platform Personal Advisor Services. “Then advisers can customize their approach to the relationship and make it a more longstanding, loyal relationship,” he said. Finally, the fintech tools that advisers use today to track their client relationships, create financial plans and manage portfolios will be better integrated to improve the experiences of both the adviser and the client, experts said. “We are really at the beginning of the evolution of the adviser- and client-facing wealth management tools,” said John Wotowicz, chief executive of InStream Solutions. More:
We’re suing the IRS for audits of Donald Trump’s tax returns
For more than a year, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has claimed that he would “love” to release his tax returns and prove to the public that he is indeed a very wealthy and charitable businessman. But, he’s said, there’s a hiccup that prevents him from doing so: The tax returns he filed between 2002 and 2008 continue to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Last February, however, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that it is “rare” for an individual taxpayer to be audited every year, as Trump insisted he has been. Koskinen noted there is nothing legally stopping any taxpayer from releasing his or her returns publicly. This week, VICE News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in US District Court in Washington, DC against the IRS demanding that the agency turn over all audits of Trump’s tax returns from 2002 onward. In the suit, filed jointly with Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at MIT and research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, we asked the IRS for “any and all requests by law enforcement agencies for copies of… Trump’s individual tax returns” and “any and all records mentioning or referring to requests by law enforcement agencies for copies of individual tax returns.” Separately, we named the FBI as a defendant in the suit to gain access documents connected to a pair of comments Trump made on the campaign trail. At a North Carolina campaign rally on August 9, Trump made a comment that was widely interpreted as calling for the assassination of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said, referring to Supreme Court justices. Trump then added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.” We asked the FBI to disclose all documents, if any exist, mentioning or referring to that statement. We also asked for all records referring to another inflammatory comment Trump made on July 27 in which he called upon Russia to track down “30,000 emails [from Clinton’s server] that are missing.” Because Election Day is less than two months away, we initially asked the IRS and FBI in a FOIA request to grant us expedited processing because there is an urgent need to inform the public before they go to the polls on November 8. Neither the IRS nor the FBI responded to that request, which is why we sued the agencies. As our co-plaintiff, Shapiro, noted, “If the Republican nominee for President of the United States is currently under federal investigation, this is absolutely something the voters should know.” See court filing:
Poll Shows Tight Race for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
With less than eight weeks before Election Day, Donald J. Trump andHillary Clinton are locked in a tight contest, with both candidates still struggling to win the confidence of their respective bases, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds. Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has the support of 46 percent of likely voters nationwide, to 44 percent for Mr. Trump, the Republican, including those who said they were leaning toward a candidate. Looking more broadly at all registered voters, Mrs. Clinton holds a wider edge, 46 to 41 percent. In a four-way race, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are tied at 42 percent each. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has the support of 8 percent of likely voters, and the Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, takes 4 percent. The third-party candidates draw their strongest support from younger voters. Twenty-six percent of voters ages 18 to 29 say they plan to vote for Mr. Johnson, and another 10 percent back Ms. Stein. A little more than one in five political independents say they will vote for one of the third-party candidates. Discontent with the major party candidates is widespread. Among those who say they intend to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, slightly more than half express strong support. The rest say that they harbor reservations about their candidate, or that they are simply voting to thwart the other nominee. Over all, just 43 percent of likely voters describe themselves as very enthusiastic about casting a ballot in November. Fifty-one percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters say they are very enthusiastic about voting; 43 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters say they are very enthusiastic.
The race has clearly grown tighter in recent weeks. National polling averages show that Mrs. Clinton’s margin over Mr. Trump has narrowed from eight points in early August to two points today. Mrs. Clinton found herself under attack last week for suggesting that half of Mr. Trump’s supporters held views that made them “deplorables,” and for her campaign’s attempts to conceal her pneumonia diagnosis. The Times/CBS News poll was conducted from Sept. 9 to 13, so many of those interviewed were aware of the controversies. Mr. Trump hired new campaign leadership in mid-August and has been more disciplined in his public statements. His poll numbers have been steadily rising. Mrs. Clinton continues to outpace Mr. Trump among women, nonwhites and younger voters, while Mr. Trump leads among whites, 57 to 33 percent. Among white women, the candidates are virtually tied: 46 percent for Mrs. Clinton and 45 percent for Mr. Trump. Mrs. Clinton’s support is notably strong among college graduates, particularly whites. She leads by 11 points among white likely voters with a college degree; if polling holds, she would be the first Democrat in 60 years to win among this group. More:
New Records Shed Light on Donald Trump’s $25,000 Gift to Florida Official
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was Aug. 29, 2013, an unremarkable day inside Florida’s whitewashed Capitol, and a typically sweltering one outside among the moss-bearded oaks and sabal palms. Around 3:45 p.m., Jennifer Meale, the communications director for Attorney General Pam Bondi, fielded a seemingly routine call from a financial reporter for The Orlando Sentinel. The attorney general of New York had recently filed a lawsuit against Donald J. Trump alleging fraud in the marketing of Trump University’s real estate and wealth-building seminars. Had Florida ever conducted its own investigation, the reporter asked.
The call set off an exchange of emails between Ms. Meale and top lawyers in the office. She learned that 23 complaints about Trump-related education enterprises had been filed before Ms. Bondi became attorney general in 2011, and one since. They had never generated a formal investigation, she wrote the reporter, but added, “We are currently reviewing the allegations in the New York complaint.” The Sentinel’s report, which was published on Sept. 13, 2013, paraphrased Ms. Meale’s response and took it a step further, saying that Ms. Bondi’s office would “determine whether Florida should join the multi-state case.” Four days later, a check for $25,000 from the Donald J. Trump Foundation landed in the Tampa office of a political action committee that had been formed to support Ms. Bondi’s 2014 re-election. In mid-October, her office announced that it would not be acting on the Trump University complaints.
The proximate timing of the Sentinel article and Mr. Trump’s donation, and suspicions of a quid pro quo, have driven a narrative that has dogged Mr. Trump and Ms. Bondi for three years. It has intensified during Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, peaking this month with the filing of ethics complaints, calls for a federal investigation by editorial boards and Democrats in Congress, and a new investigation of Mr. Trump’s foundation by New York regulators. But documents obtained this week by The New York Times, including a copy of Mr. Trump’s check, at least partly undercut that timeline. Although the check was received by Ms. Bondi’s committee four days after the Sentinel report, and was recorded as such in her financial disclosure filings, it was actually dated and signed by Mr. Trump four days before the article appeared. More:
How to Become an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at Goldman Sachs
Cheat Sheet is a regular series on what it takes to land a job. This week: Spend your summer in investment banking—and possibly earn a full-time position—at Goldman Sachs. See all the cheat sheets here.
This crowdfunding campaign will donate $6 million to veterans groups if Trump releases his tax returns
A 26-year-old Marine Corps veteran has launched a crowdfunding campaign that he says will donate $6 million to veterans organizations if Donald Trump releases his tax returns. The campaign, which was launched Friday on the crowdfunding website CrowdPac, was created by Peter Kiernan in response to frustration at the Republican presidential nominee’s lack of transparency. Kiernan, a veteran who fought in the war in Afghanistan, selected 10 veterans groups for donations. “Trump claims to love veterans, and so we’re asking him to put his money where his mouth is,” Kiernan wrote on the campaign’s Web page. Trump has claimed that he has donated $6 million to veterans groups in the past. Kiernan’s campaign got a huge boost Monday when Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and CrowdPac investor, pledged to donate $5 million if the campaign is able to raise $1 million in donations. In a letter Hoffman penned on Medium, the investor wrote that Trump has skirted his obligation to the American people by refusing to release his taxes. “The ingenuity of Kiernan’s proposal is how it gives Trump a strong incentive to act but doesn’t reward him directly for something he should have already done,” he added.
Hoffman chose $5 million as the donation in reference to a similar proposal that Trump made in 2012 in which he promised to donate the same amount to charity if President Obama released his college and passport applications and records. Kiernan’s campaign has already raised $134,467 from 1,680 separate pledges as of Wednesday morning. No donation will actually be charged on endorsee’s credit cards unless Trump goes through with the transparency request. The Washington Post reached out to both Kiernan and the Trump campaign via email and has not heard back but will update if a response is received. For Kiernan, the request is personal. “Any service member who has ever held a security clearance has been subjected to a rigorous background check, to include personal finances, affiliations, and drug activity, all for good reason,” Kiernan wrote on the campaign’s Web page. “I believe that to be the Commander-in-Chief of this group, you should be held to the same standards.”
MONTGOMERY—The post-trial appeal of convicted felon and former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, finally expired on September 8, in silence, according to the Attorney General’s office calculations. For almost four years, Hubbard, aided by his criminal lawyers, used the State House, the Governor’s Office and some within the Attorney General’s office to deny, deflect and delay justice. Hubbard stormed the State House presiding over an orgy of greed and corruption. Those days are over for Hubbard and so is any appeal before the circuit court of Lee County. Under Rule 24.4 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, Hubbard’s motion for a new trial, dismissal and/or an investigation by the Lee County Sheriff were denied by operation of law because Judge Jacob Walker, III, did nothing.
Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, “no motion for a new trial or motion… shall remain pending in the trial court for more than sixty days after the pronouncement of sentence.” Hubbard’s sentencing July 8, on 12 felony counts of public corruption, means as of September 8, the calendar has run out for him, with Judge Walker deciding not to rule at all. Under Rule 24.4: Denial by operation of law. “A failure by the trial court to rule on such a motion within the sixty (60) days allowed by this section shall constitute a denial of the motion as of the sixtieth day.” At his post-trial hearing, Hubbard’s attorneys made their last stand in Lee County, with Bill Baxley arguing that his client was blindsided, bushwhacked and bamboozled, to no avail. The Lee County case of the State of Alabama versus Michael G. Hubbard is over. He has a right to appeal his conviction to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals within 42 days, which expires on October 20. Hubbard’s past efforts show he will seek every avenue available to delay his incarceration. More:
Terrorism a concern in bizarre Alabama identity fraud investigation
A bizarre case of people squatting in a Huntsville home worth almost a half-million dollars has been connected with possible terrorism, the Madison County sheriff’s department said Wednesday.
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been brought into the investigation, Capt. Michael Salomonsky said at a midday news conference. Salomonsky said deputies were serving eviction papers at the house in an upscale west Huntsville neighborhood and noticed items within the house that led they to believe identity fraud may be taking place. The terrorism connection, Salomonsky said, emerged because foreign currency – including from Iran and Iraq – was recovered at the residence, money was moved into overseas accounts and at least one of the suspects was believed to have possibly traveled to the Middle East. The case has been ongoing for more than a month – the eviction papers were served Aug. 9, Salomonsky said – and though two of the suspects were arrested that day and subsequently bonded out of jail, Salomonsky said law enforcement has “absolutely no idea” where they are now. It’s possible that even their names were aliases, Salomonsky said, but one indisputable piece of identification to law enforcement are the suspects’ fingerprints, which were taken when they were arrested. A Redstone Arsenal identification badge was also recovered at the house at 5 Elm Ridge Boulevard but investigators got confirmation on Wednesday that the badge was legitimate and not a forgery, Salomonsky said. Because of concerns over possible terrorism, Salomonsky said federal authorities were contacted either the night of the eviction or the next morning.
Jailed for inability to pay water bill, one Alabama woman’s plight prompts city to make change
Sonya Ayers walked into Chickasaw City Hall last November to get a piece of paper notarized for a job application. She soon found herself being escorted out by a police officer, in handcuffs and en route to the city jail. Ayers, who was unemployed at the time and had buried her long-ailing mother just two weeks earlier, had missed a court date related to being unable to pay a lingering water bill. The past-due bill totaled $69, resulting in city fines piled on many dollars more, and her water had already been shut off.
“I thought he was joking at first,” said Ayers, recalling when the officer approached. She’d never been in jail before, she said. But she was stuck in the Chickasaw jail for more than 24 hours. After being released, Ayers spoke to a friend who referred her to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, which decided to fight on her behalf. And now, no one else burdened by old water bills in Chickasaw will sit behind bars. On Tuesday, Chickasaw’s City Council unanimously repealed its ordinance that made it a misdemeanor for someone to live in a house without running water. The city follows others that have made similar changes, such as Montgomery and Alexander City. Those two cities agreed, after SPLC intervention, to stop criminalizing the inability to pay fines. “I’m just glad this is over and they cannot victimize people like that anymore,” said Ayers, 48, who is still looking for a job after struggling with health issues including an arthritic knee. The city, in a statement, said the ordinance was originally passed in 1997 to “ensure the health and safety of our citizens” and not as a means to collect debt. Basically, the ordinance prohibited human occupancy on premises that had no inside access to an approved water supply, and established penalties for violations. Ayers had left a post office job to become her dementia-afflicted mother’s caretaker. “No one else could do it,” she said. More:
The President Pro Tem for the Alabama State Board of Education Mary Scott Hunter (R) was recently asked to contribute her opinion to a discussion at wallethub.com on whether or not college should be free.
Hunter wrote, “While I don’t believe that college should be free, I do believe that state leaders would be wise to make it very affordable for their citizens. The fact is an educated citizenry is the number one most important factor in a state’s economic viability. The easiest way for policymakers to address this problem within their state is to look hard at their community college systems.” Hunter said that courses in Community colleges in Alabama, “Cost a quarter of our state’s flagship university courses.” “The community colleges are the place we can look to solve the problem of affordability for students that desperately need a close-to-home affordable option.” Hunter wrote that, “Right now, Alabama’s community colleges cost $125 or so per credit hour. That may sound like a bargain as compared to the cost of a flagship university, but it’s still beyond the reach of many of our citizens to self-fund.” Hunter said that, “College is an investment. Making it free risks cheapening it. Making it attainable is good policy. State policy makers who are interested in making real progress should enter into agreements with their community college systems to increase appropriations in exchange for commensurate reductions in tuition and fees.” Democratic candidate for President U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I from Vermont) made an unexpected deep primary run promising free college. Whether college or the first two years of college or simply two year colleges and trades schools should be free is very much on the agenda for debate going forward. Another issue is what kind of post-secondary education do we need? 94 million Americans are outside of the labor market; but employers routinely tell us that there is a shortage of available workers with career tech training. Meanwhile we have a glut of people with liberal arts degrees, many of them underemployed. Mary Scott Hunter represents District 8 on the Alabama School Board, which includes Limestone, Madison, Jackson, and Etowah Counties.
On Tuesday, September 14, 2016 a pitiful 4008 people showed up to vote in the Alabama House District 79 Republican Primary. Those voters elected realtor Joseph “Joe” Lovvorn to the Alabama House of Representatives. Lovvorn narrowly won without a runoff between himself and businessman Sandy Toomer by just 13 votes. On Tuesday, according to original reporting by WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery, Lovvorn had just a 50.8 percent lead (we and WSFA reported that yesterday as 51 percent after rounding up. The final numbers provided by the Alabama Republican Party on Wednesday showed a distinct tightening. The memo from ALGOP read: “Results of the special election:
Joe Lovvorn: 2017 (50.32%)
Sandy Toomer: 1059 (26.42%)
Brett Smith: 501 (12.50%)
Jay Conner: 431 (10.75%)
Joe Lovvorn will be the Alabama Republican House District 79 certified candidate. There will be no runoff.” Former Libertarian candidate for Alabama Governor, John Sophocleus asked the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ on social media: “At one time wasn’t there was threshold for small margins to automatically trigger recount verification by State law?” Veteran Republican political consultant Trey Edwards also asked, “Would this be grounds for an automatic recount since he was within .5% of getting into a runoff?” The answer was provided by former Secretary of State Chief of Staff Adam Thompson, who reminded us that, “”Automatic recounts are only in the General Election. More:
Conversation Becomes Shouting in a Society Without Authority
Public discourse has degenerated into a shouting match. Everything is either black or white. Is our only choice inept big government or no government? How about government that aspires to be practical and responsive? The internet hasn’t helped the quality of the debate. In echo chambers, people strive to outdo each other with bile and contempt. There’s a kind of pleasure in hating the other side, William Hazlitt observed. What many say in this anonymous arena is savagery, not civilized discourse.
How can our political system possibly deal with modern challenges when we can’t even talk about them sensibly? That’s what Mark Thompson asks in his new book, Enough Said. Thompson, the CEO of The New York Times and former director-general of the BBC, dissects the degeneration of discourse over recent decades. We are now at a point in politics, he explains, where reality has lost its authority: Facts are considered a matter of opinion. Debate untethered from facts can lead anywhere. People who believe vaccinations cause autism can cause a resurgence of diseases that we thought we had conquered long ago. People who deny evidence linking global warming to carbon emissions won’t even consider a moderate plan to wean ourselves away. Thompson’s book, which grew out of a series of lectures at Oxford, is a primer on the history of public discourse, starting with the ancient Greeks. More:
On Tuesday, Joe Lovvorn narrowly prevailed in a field of four candidates for the GOP nomination to fill former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. Hubbard vacated his seat under state law when he was convicted of more felonies than you can count on both hands.
Campaign finance records show that Lovvorn was backed by many of the same high-dollar Montgomery brokers who rolled Hubbard into power. In addition to Lovvorn being tied to a number of Montgomery special interest PACs who are also linked to the Riley-Hubbard machine, this publication reported earlier this week that Lovvorn was also being advised by a former Riley-Hubbard 2014 PAC consulting firm, Greystone Consulting, which is also linked to Dax Swatek, Tim Howe and John Ross–all three of whom showed up on the witness list for Hubbard’s unethical dealings. It’s not hard to connect the dots that Lovvorn is clearly the Riley candidate. If those connections didn’t clarify it, look at the other candidates in the race. Sandy Toomer ran a strong effort to unseat Mike Hubbard in the 2014 primary election. Boomer and Jay Conner both reported zero PAC dollars in this special election. Brett Smith, the fourth Republican candidate, only received a small contribution from the Restaurant Association. If those are the Riley Machine candidates, they’re losing their touch. Unfortunately, the burden here rests solely on the shoulders of the residents of House District 79. Anyone could guess that Riley and the BCA would try to fill Hubbard’s seat–they need someone to pick up the ball and run where Hubbard left off–but dollars don’t mean donuts when the actual ballots are being cast. If the voters of Lee County were truly tired of public corruption and truly ready to turn the page to a new style of leadership in Montgomery, there’s no amount of Riley Machine money that could have bought this election. But for that, voters have to be angry.
Unfortunately, corruption has become such a common occurrence that it’s lobbed at political opponents like a political public relations grenade. When both sides are pointing fingers calling the other side corrupt, it’s easy to get bogged down and difficult to discern who to believe. We can see this on all levels of government. We’re counting on our Attorney General’s office to cut down on public corruption for individuals who are already in office, but we have to look to ourselves as voters to do the same. If we expect government to work, we have to look in the mirror. More:
TREASURY WATCH: SANDBERG RISING — Early speculation held that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg probably wouldn’t leave California to return to DC to serve as Treasury Secretary in a Clinton administration. That’s changed lately as MM hears more and more that she could return to be the first woman to lead Treasury. The left may not love her roots in the Bob Rubin wing of the Democratic Party but her star power and historic potential would probably blow away any opposition.
ALLIES SAY LAY OFF NIDES! — Jonathan E. Kaplan emails on Tom Nides, targeted by the left as persona non-grata in a Clinton administration: “I worked for Nides for 9 months at State — the President and Secretary (therefore, the public) were lucky to have someone who could effectively manage people and process. The critique of Nides is ridiculous, unfounded, and short-sighted, actually harmful to the progressive movement.”
Another Nides ally emails: “I have known Tom for 20 years and worked for him for 15.. There is simply not a more dedicated Democrat to the party and its values – just that simple. The guy bleeds Dem blue!!”
And from a DC analyst: “[I]f the liberal left wants to start castigating people for not being ‘pure’ enough they are no better than what the far right has done. This type of politics only serves to destroy Congress and our political system, not make it better.”
PLANET TOFU REACT — A Wall Street reformer emails on the MM item addressed to “Planet Tofu”: “Paging Planet Caviar: It would be great to know which financial institution ‘former Obama official’ works for now, but I suppose we’ll never know. If you don’t like having your record scrutinized by people you’ve ‘never met,’ then maybe democracy isn’t for you.
“Second, if you’re up at night sweating about how badly financial reformers need a ‘have you no decency’ moment, you should spend five minutes talking to someone outside Wall Street or K Street”
DISCLOSURE — The author of the “Planet Tofu” email does not work for a financial institution.
MM EVENT TUESDAY — Don’t forget to RSVP for Tuesday’s Morning Money Breakfast in DC on the economy and 2016 with Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor, Allianz; Megan Greene, Managing Director and Chief Economist, Manulife; Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; Head of Fix the Debt; and Jim Pethokoukis, Fellow, American Enterprise Institute. September 20 — 8AM; The Liaison Hotel — 415 New Jersey Ave NW. RSVP.
WARREN PRESSURES FBI — POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to leverage the FBI’s unusual embrace of transparency around Hillary Clinton’s e-mail investigation as a means to get answers about why more banking executives were not punished after the 2008 financial crisis. …
“The Massachusetts Democrat is calling on FBI Director James Comey to explain how the bureau responded to referrals that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission made to the Justice Department regarding potential wrongdoing by financial institutions and executives in connection with the meltdown” Read more.
Bloomberg’s Joshua Green: “Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is marking the eighth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy with a new push to investigate — and potentially jail — more than two dozen individuals and corporations who were referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission …
“The names of the referrals — including former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who held a top job at Citigroup, and Citigroup’s former CEO, Charles Prince — became public earlier this year when the National Archives released new documents.” Read more.
WELLS FARGO HIT WITH SUBPOENAS — NYT’s Ben Protess, Matthew Goldstein and Michael Corkery: “Wells Fargo has received subpoenas from three different United States attorneys’ offices in the last week, escalating an investigation into how thousands of bank employees came to secretly issue more than a million sham accounts without customers’ consent. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan and San Francisco sent the subpoenas seeking information on the misconduct .. Prosecutors in North Carolina are also investigating” Read more.
TRUMP AND THE CURRENCY MARKETS — FT’s Roger Blitz: “Thus far, the only part of the currency universe that has responded consistently to the Trump phenomenon is the Mexican peso. Not surprisingly, given the threat his policies pose to Mexican trade, Mr Trump’s poll fortunes have been inversely correlated to those of the peso. ‘That could stretch to a wider group of trade-sensitive currencies,’ says Mr Juckes. The peso has fallen almost 8 per cent against the dollar in the last six months, making it the worst-performing emerging market currency.
“FX volatility would start to rise and emerging market currencies become more vulnerable if Mr Trump continues to rise in the polls, says Steve Englander, a currency strategist at Citi. Indeed, analysts at Rabobank put the sharp falls in EM FX on Monday to Mrs Clinton’s illness and her decision to cancel campaign trips.” Read more.
HOT FIRE: WP CALLS TRUMP A SCAM ARTIST — Via Wash. Post edit page: “The Trump campaign believes this editorial is not journalism. It is ‘badgering.’ That is how campaign manager Kellyanne Conway described on Tuesday some simple questions The Post and others have asked Mr. Trump and his circle over the past several months about his supposed philanthropic activities. If anyone has an authenticity problem, it is Mr. Trump. The facts on the table suggest he is not a great philanthropist — he is a scam artist.” Read more.
DRIVING THE DAY — The House has postponed a planned vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen … Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail with event at 3:45 p.m. in North Carolina … Donald Trump appears on the Dr. Oz show at 1:00 p.m. to talk about his health while not actually revealing any information about it … Trump has events in New York and New Hampshire … Retail Sales at 8:30 a.m. expected to dip 0.1 percent headline and rise 0.2 percent ex-autos … Producer Prices at 8:30 a.m. expected to rise 0.1 percent headline and core … Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m. expected to dip 0.2 percent …
CHILL OUT ABOUT FED TIMING — Mohamed A. El-Erian on Bloomberg View: “Although this focus creates unnecessary financial volatility, especially the closer we get to the Sept. 20-21 Open Market Committee meetings, a calm examination of lasting drivers of economic activity and asset prices tells us that the timing of the next rate hike shouldn’t matter that much. Moreover, the extent to which the Fed can have an impact on economic and financial prospects depends on a much broader array of factors, an increasing number of them outside the central bank’s direct preview.”
NEW BROOKINGS PAPERS — Brookings on Thursday has a pair of new papers out one by Larry Summers “that finds that banks are no safer now than they were pre-crisis” and and one by Narayana Kocherlakota “that says the Fed overly relied on the Taylor Rule and it hamstrung them during the recovery.”
MORE ON WELLS PROBES — WSJ’s Emily Glazer and Christopher M. Matthews: “Prosecutors have yet to decide if any case, should they decide to pursue one, would be along civil or criminal lines … A criminal investigation by federal prosecutors, were it to happen, would represent a significant escalation from last week’s civil settlement. Because the financial-services industry is among the mostly highly regulated in the U.S., alleged misconduct can draw the scrutiny of multiple law-enforcement and regulatory agencies.
“The bank hasn’t identified any senior executives held responsible for the behavior. Mr. Stumpf said that those fired included bankers, managers and managers of managers, but declined to name the most senior executive let go. … Mr. Stumpf also said the bad behavior didn’t signal wider institutional or cultural problems within Wells Fargo.” Read more.
BIG PARTS OF AMERICA LEFT BEHIND — NYT’s Binyamin Appelbaum, Patricia Cohen and Jack Healy: “The eye-popping improvement in economic fortunes last year raises the question: If incomes are up and poverty is down, why is … Trump’s message of economic decay resonating so broadly? The answer is in plain sight. While the economy finally is moving in the right direction, the real incomes of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s.
“And large swaths of the country — rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia — are lagging behind. … That bleak reality helps to explain why the good news the Census Bureau issued Tuesday about a rise in household income was greeted gleefully by economists but is unlikely to change the complexion of the presidential race.
… The economic dislocations of recent decades may be contributing to the polarization of the electorate” Read more.
BAYER DEAL FACES SCRUTINY — FT’s Arash Massoudi in London, James Fontanella-Khan in New York and Guy Chazan in Berlin: “Bayer is bracing itself for tough regulatory scrutiny of its $66bn deal to acquire Monsanto, which will transform the German aspirin-to-chemicals conglomerate into the world’s biggest supplier of seeds and crop sprays to farmers. The all-cash transaction announced on Wednesday ends four months of negotiations between the two companies …
“But the transaction comes with regulators already trying to digest the tie-up agreed last year between Dow Chemical and DuPont, and ChemChina’s acquisition of Switzerland’s Syngenta this year. The three megadeals would reduce the number of global players in the agribusiness sector from six to four. Consolidation has been driven by a global grain glut that has pushed down crop prices and hurt farm incomes, leading to reduced investment in agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and sprays” Read more.
AMERICANS BLAME DC FOR ECON PROBLEMS — Reuters’ Scott Malone: “Americans blame political gridlock in Washington for the country’s declining economic competitiveness and hold both Democrats and Republicans responsible, a Harvard Business School study released on Wednesday found. … A majority of the school’s alumni surveyed said they believed the U.S. political system was hurting the economy. That view crossed party lines, with 82 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats agreeing” Read more.
NEWSWEEK GOES LONG ON TRUMP BIZ — Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald: “If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States? …
“None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings … nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners. … Trump’s business conflicts with America’s national security interests cannot be resolved so long as he or any member of his family maintains a financial interest in the Trump Organization during a Trump administration, or even if they leave open the possibility of returning to the company later” Read more.
ALSO FOR YOUR RADAR —
INCOMES SLOWING DOWN? — Rick Newman on Yahoo finance: “Cheers went up when the Census Bureau announced on September 13 that incomes had risen 5.2 percent in 2015, the biggest jump in the 50 years the agency has been tracking such data. … So far in 2016, however, incomes have declined …
“Census data analyzed by Sentier Research, a private firm, shows that median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell from $57,702 in January of this year to $57,190 in July, the latest month for which numbers are available. That’s a drop of more than $500, or a little less than 1 percent.” Read more.
MEDICAL WARS CONTINUE — POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “In a political season marked by non-stop scandals, gaffes and self-inflected wounds, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump paused on Wednesday to focus on the health of the 68-year-old woman and 70-year-old man fighting for the White House. … [B]oth the Democrat and the Republican took steps toward providing the public with more medical information — Clinton going bounds further than Trump in an effort to reassure voters.
“While the Republican filmed an appearance on the Dr. Oz show — a safe environment — to discuss select details of his health, his opponent’s campaign released updated letters from both Clinton’s and running mate Tim Kaine’s physicians depicting a relatively healthy pair.” Read more
SEC CHAIR ‘ENGAGED’ ON CLIMATE RISK DISCLOSURE — POLITICO’s Alex Guillen: “Climate-minded investors that met with SEC Chair Mary Jo White yesterday afternoon say she was receptive to their push to boost climate risk disclosures corporations should reveal to shareholders. The commission is reviewing a number of disclosure requirements listed in what the SEC calls Regulation S-K, and groups like Ceres hope to persuade the SEC to beef up what companies have to tell shareholders and secure stricter enforcement from the SEC”
CHOICE ACT, DEFENDED — CEI’s John Berlau: “If the New York State Department of Labor is really concerned about unbanked employees being hit with fees, it should lend its support to the Financial CHOICE Act in the U.S. House. … One of the biggest causes of rising fees on debit cards and checking accounts for middle and lower income Americans is the Durbin Amendment of … Dodd-Frank … The FCA, approved yesterday by the House Financial Services Committee, repeals the Durbin Amendment and many other provisions of Dodd-Frank that burden community banks, credit unions and consumers, and that are frankly regressive” Read more.
10:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
11:05 am || Delivers remarks at the 2016 Our Ocean Conference; State Department
7:55 pm || Delivers remarks at the 39th Annual Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference and Annual Awards Gala; Washington
All times Eastern
Live stream of White House briefing at 12:30 pm
The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. with two votes at 11:30 a.m. including final passage of the water infrastructure bill and a procedural vote related to the stopgap spending bill. The House gavels in at 9 a.m. with first and last votes TBD.
AROUND THE HILL
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will hold a photo opportunity with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at 9:30 a.m. in H-204. Reps. Bill Pascrell and Juan Vargas hold a press conference on the Syrian refugee crisis at 10 a.m. in the House triangle.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meets with Aung San Suu Kyi in his office at 10:30 a.m. Pelosi holds her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. in HVC Studio A.
House Speaker Paul Ryan holds his weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m. in HVC Studio A. Reps. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly hold a 2 p.m. press conference in the House triangle to call for the release of Aya Hijazi, an American citizen imprisoned in Egypt.
Rep. Karen Bass holds a 3 p.m. press conference in the House triangle on a fellowship program for the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan.
### Tom Krebs, Securities Attorney