Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
June 17, 2019
By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) – Wall Street climbed on Monday, with Facebook, Apple and Amazon leading the way, as investors awaited a key Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to lay the groundwork for an interest rate cut later this year.
The U.S. central bank is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged at its two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday, but its statement will provide insight into the impact of the U.S.-China trade war, President Donald Trump’s calls for a rate cut and weaker economic data.
With investors expecting a rate cut as early as July, the S&P 500 index has risen 5% this month after tumbling in May due to fears about the U.S.-China trade war.
Buttressing expectations of a rate cut this year, the New York Federal Reserve said its “Empire State” gauge of business growth in New York state posted a record fall this month to its weakest level in more than 2-1/2 years, suggesting an abrupt contraction in regional activity.
“The Empire manufacturing numbers that came out were dreadful,” said Jack Ablin, Chief Investment Officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago. “We’re back to that the idea that bad news is good news, with the Fed meeting around the corner, and that the Fed will respond with lower rates.”
The Fed’s rate-setting committee is due to release its statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell holding a press conference shortly after.
The S&P banks index, which tend to benefit from a rising interest rate environment, dipped 0.36%, while the broader S&P 500 financial sector edged down 0.40%.
Volatile investor favorites Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix contributed more than any other stocks to the S&P 500’s gain.
At 2:33 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.17% at 26,134.34 points and the S&P 500 had gained 0.23% to 2,893.51.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.79% to 7,858.39.
Keeping the gains in check for the blue-chip Dow index was a 3.7% decline in Dow Inc after brokerage BMO Capital Markets downgraded the chemicals maker’s stock to “market perform” on rising macro uncertainty.
Array Biopharma Inc surged 56.6% after Pfizer Inc agreed to buy the drugmaker for $10.64 billion to beef up its cancer portfolio. Pfizer was mostly unchanged.
Investors are also looking forward to the G20 summit at the end of the month for an update on the progress in talks to resolve the prolonged trade war between the United States and China.
The S&P 500 posted 35 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 77 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
Suzanne Collins isn’t finished with the world of The Hunger Games just yet.
This prequel will be set 64 years before the original novel, which takes place in a dystopian society in which representatives from 12 districts must battle to the death in the yearly Hunger Games. Collins says it will depict events following the “Dark Days,” the time after a failed Panem rebellion.
“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins told The Associated Press. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”
Lionsgate from 2012 through 2015 adapted Collins’ first three Hunger Games books into four feature films, which collectively grossed nearly $1.5 billion at the domestic box office — although the final installment was the series’ lowest-grossing entry. In the years following that finale, Lionsgate expressed interest in more Hunger Games and Twilight movies, with the studio’s CEO, Jon Feltheimer, saying in 2017, “There are a lot more stories to be told, and we’re ready to tell them when our creators are ready to tell those stories.”
Now that Collins is ready, the studio evidently has plans for a movie based on the 2020 novel, with Lionsgate chair Joe Drake telling AP in a statement that “we’ve been communicating with [Collins] during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.” Brendan Morrow
Attorneys representing seven migrants from Central America allege U.S. Customs and Border Protection is holding them in overcrowded facilities while denying them access to legal counsel.
The plaintiffs include Jairo Alexander Gonzalez Recinos, of El Salvador; Gerardo Henrique Herrera Rivera, of El Salvador; Kevin Eduardo Rizzo Ruano, of Guatemala; Jonathan Fernando Beltran Rizzo, of Guatemala; Enerly Melitza Ramos, of Guatemala; Karen Vanessa Borjas Zuniga, of Honduras; and Julia Elizabeth Molina Lopez, of Honduras.
The lawsuit targets several Department of Homeland Security officials and seeks the immediate release of the migrants on bond, as well as any others who are similarly situated.
“Petitioners were apprehended in mid-May at or near the U.S. Border with Mexico and subsequently detained. Once apprehended, such persons are often detained for extended periods of time — on information and belief, up to six weeks — in overcrowded holding cells, with inadequate food, water, and sanitation facilities, where attorneys are not allowed to visit. The conditions in these holding cells are dangerous and inhumane,” the lawsuit stated.
The litigation follows a report from a DHS internal watchdog that revealed “dangerous overcrowding” at an El Paso Border Patrol processing facility — a facility designed to hold 125 detainees that held approximately 900 people during a two-day span in early May.
Photos published in that report show detainees packed into cells and standing on toilets to get breathing space, with many being held longer than 72 hours — the maximum amount of time CBP’s internal policy allows it to detain migrants before releasing them or transferring them to an ICE detention center.
Border Patrol has been overwhelmed with immigrants crossing the Rio Grande in large numbers and turning themselves in, stressing the agencies resources. In May, Border Patrol reported detaining approximately 133,000 migrants, the largest number for any month since 2007.
Source: The Washington Pundit
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is cutting ties with some of its own pollsters after leaked internal polling showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in critical 2020 battleground states, according to a person close to the campaign.
The move comes after NBC News obtained new details from a March internal poll that found Trump trailing Biden in 11 key states.
Portions of the campaign’s expansive March polling trickled out in recent days in other news reports.
But a person familiar with the inner workings of the Trump campaign shared more details of the data with NBC News, showing the president trailing across swing states seen as essential to his path to re-election and in Democratic-leaning states where Republicans have looked to gain traction. The polls also show Trump underperforming in reliably red states that haven’t been competitive for decades in presidential elections.
A separate person close to the Trump re-election team told NBC News Saturday that the campaign will be cutting ties with some of its pollsters in response to the information leaks, although the person did not elaborate as to which pollsters would be let go.
The internal polling paints a picture of an incumbent president with serious ground to gain across the country as his re-election campaign kicks into higher gear.
While the campaign tested other Democratic presidential candidates against Trump, Biden polled the best of the group, according the source.
In Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan — states where Trump edged Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by narrow margins that proved decisive in his victory — Trump trails Biden by double-digits. In three of those states — Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida — Biden’s leads sit outside the poll’s margin of error.
Trump is also behind the former vice president in Iowa by 7 points, in North Carolina by 8 points, in Virginia by 17 points, in Ohio by 1 point, in Georgia by 6 points, in Minnesota by 14 points, and in Maine by 15 points.
In Texas, where a Democratic presidential nominee hasn’t won since President Jimmy Carter in 1976, Trump leads by just 2 points.
Portions of the internal Trump polling data were first reported by ABC News and The New York Times. The Times reported earlier this month that the internal polling found Trump trailing across a number of key states, while ABC News obtained data showing Trump trailing Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida and holding a small lead in Texas.
The president denied the existence of any negative polling during comments last week in the Oval Office, saying his campaign has “great internal polling” and saying the numbers reported were from “fake polls.”
“We are winning in every single state that we’ve polled. We’re winning in Texas very big. We’re winning in Ohio very big. We’re winning in Florida very big,” he said.
“Those are fake numbers. But do you know when you’re going to see that? You’re going to see that on Election Day.”
His campaign staff downplayed the results as old news in statements to NBC News. The polling was conducted between March 13 and March 28.
Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s campaign pollster, dismissed the data as “incomplete and misleading,” representing a “worst-case scenario in the most unfavorable turnout model possible.”
He added that a “more likely turnout model patterned after 2016” with a defined Democratic candidate shows a “competitive” race with Trump “leading.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale’s criticism focused on the poll’s age.
“These leaked numbers are ancient, in campaign terms, from months-old polling that began in March before two major events had occurred: the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President, and the beginning of the Democrat candidates defining themselves with their far-left policy message,” he said.
Parscale also claimed the campaign has seen “huge swings in the President’s favor across the 17 states we have polled, based on the policies espoused by the Democrats.” As an example, he said that a “plan to provide free health care to illegal immigrants results in an 18-point swing toward President Trump.”
The Trump campaign subsequently provided another quote from Parscale that echoed the president’s comments from last week.
“All news about the President’s polling is completely false. The President’s new polling is extraordinary and his numbers have never been better,” the statement said.
CORRECTION (June 16, 2019, 10:23 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the finding of polling data reported by ABC News. The data found that Trump was trailing Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida; it did not find that Biden was trailing Trump.
President Trump endorsed a senator’s introduction of a constitutional amendment that bans burning the American flag.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana introduced the amendment on Flag Day, which was Friday. Trump took to Twitter early Saturday morning to throw his support behind the move.
“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!” Trump said.
All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2019
The article of the legislation is two lines long. “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States,” it says.
“The American flag has been a symbol of hope and freedom for centuries and ought to be respected,” Daines said in a Friday press release. “Our nation’s flag must be set apart as a protected symbol worthy of honor.”
Trump has expressed support for similar provisions in the past. Shortly after being elected he tweeted that he thought people who burned the flag should be jailed.
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump said.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Texas v. Johnson that burning the American flag is a protected form of free speech. It said burning the American flag was symbolic speech and was therefore protected by the First Amendment.
The Justice Department published a legal opinion Friday backing up Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision not to turn over President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, arguing that House Democrats’ demand for the information was unconstitutional.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel argued in a 33-page memo that the demand, made under a law that grants the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee the power to request tax returns from the Treasury secretary, is a pretext for making Trump’s tax information public.
“Under the facts and circumstances, the Secretary of the Treasury reasonably and correctly concluded that the Committee’s asserted interest in reviewing the Internal Revenue Service’s audits of presidential returns was pretextual and that its true aim was to make the President’s tax returns public, which is not a legitimate legislative purpose,” Engel wrote.
The administration, as well as Trump’s lawyers, maintain that Congress does not have a right to review Trump’s financial information. Engel echoed arguments made by Trump’s lawyers that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose and that Congress does not have the right to compel members of the executive branch to hand over confidential information — despite the fact that the law congressional Democrats cited was passed in the 1920s in response to a corruption scandal, the Teapot Dome Scandal, involving a Cabinet official.
Unauthorized disclosure of tax information is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, though there may be procedural mechanisms for Congress to publish the information or conclusions of an investigation into Trump’s taxes using his returns.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has said that his purpose for the request is to have committee staff to privately review Trump’s taxes to see if the IRS is auditing him and his businesses, as directed by an agency rule, as well as to investigate whether Trump and his businesses may have failed to pay all taxes over the last several years.
Controversy over Trump’s taxes began during the 2016 campaign, when he became the first major party presidential candidate in decades to decline to release his tax returns. Past presidents have voluntarily disclosed their tax returns as a transparency measure, including former President Richard Nixon, who gave his tax returns to a congressional committee for their own independent audit.
Neal has said he plans to sue the Treasury Department and IRS to enforce the request and a follow-up subpoena, setting up another court battle between Congress and Trump over the president’s financial information.
President Trump’s campaign all but called David Bossie a fraudster in a rare public rebuke. But after weeks out of the spotlight, the informal presidential adviser is said to be on track to return to Trump’s good graces.
Trump erupted last month after a report that a Bossie-led group raised millions but spent little on political activity. Some donors said the group’s presidential emblems and Pennsylvania Avenue address made them think they were giving to Trump’s campaign.
Allies of Bossie, who served as a Trump deputy campaign manager in 2016, contend his reputation was besmirched by rivals vying for influence, an argument they made in response to a stinging press release from Trump’s 2020 campaign.
One former White House official said they heard last week from an “important” source that “matters have been patched up.” Other sources said they were unaware of whether Trump and Bossie reconciled but said they expect it to happen.
“They will be fine, but don’t get carried away here,” a senior White House official said, casting doubt on whether Bossie and Trump already returned to good terms.
Trump’s break with Bossie, the longtime leader of Citizens United, came after a report from the Campaign Legal Center that the Bossie-led Presidential Coalition group raised $18.5 million in 2017 and 2018 but spent just $425,000 on political activities.
The little-known group spent much of its money on fundraising, along with a six-figure salary for Bossie. Additional funds went toward copies of Bossie’s book Trump’s Enemies, which he co-authored with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
In a scathing statement, Trump’s 2020 campaign called for “the appropriate authorities” to investigate, saying: “There is no excuse for any group, including ones run by people who claim to be part of our ‘coalition,’ to suggest they directly support President Trump’s re-election or any other candidates, when in fact their actions show they are interested in filling their own pockets with money from innocent Americans’ paychecks, and sadly, retirements.”
“The president was livid when he learned about what David Bossie’s group was doing,” a source close to the Trump campaign told the Washington Examiner last month. “He thought it was unconscionable to trick people into thinking they were donating to the Trump campaign when they were not.”
A Bossie ally offered a different perspective, which could allow for Bossie’s return to Trump’s orbit, as is often seen with fired former aides, with the possible exception of Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist who accused Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. of treason.
“I don’t think there’s any ill will at all on the president’s part,” said the Bossie ally. “I don’t think there is any ill will whatsoever. I think the president recognizes all the work that Dave and his group have done over time, and continue to do.”
The ally said Bossie’s group spent money during Supreme Court confirmation battles for Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and that Bossie has a long personal history with Trump.
“Dave has been one of the closest friends to both Mr. Trump, candidate Trump and President Trump that he has in Washington, D.C. And the president knows that and respects Dave Bossie and all the work he has done to get him elected and support his agenda,” he said. “Long before he ran for office, Donald Trump was calling Dave Bossie, asking for his opinion and advice.”
The ally blamed the blowup on people “who don’t want to see [Trump] continue talking to those individuals who have his best interests in mind” and who “want to isolate individuals who he has relied on and seeks advice and counsel from.”
One person familiar with the dynamics of Trump’s relationships with former advisers said they suspect the harsh rebuke may give the relationship a longer pause, but that “almost assuredly [a reconciliation] happens in the long term.”
Spokespeople for the White House and Trump’s reelection campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The IRS declined to comment on a potential investigation into the tax exempt 527 organization, saying it was prohibited by law from commenting on specific tax filers, and Fox News did not respond to an inquiry about Bossie’s absence from previously routine network appearances.
Bossie did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
The 229-191 vote broke down strictly along partisan lines with no defectors from either party, highlighting the entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill between Democrats accusing Trump of conducting a “cover-up” related to Mueller’s findings, and Republicans fighting to protect their White House ally from what they consider a political “witch hunt” heading into 2020.
The resolution empowers the House Judiciary Committee to go before a federal court in seeking the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) compliance with subpoenas for disputed materials and witness testimony. Two figures are named explicitly in the text: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAmash exits House Freedom Caucus in wake of Trump impeachment stance Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day MORE, who has refused to release some parts of Mueller’s report and the underlying documents; and Don McGhan, the former White House counsel who has defied a Democratic subpoena to appear before the committee.
But in a late-debate twist, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWatergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he’s reached a deal with DOJ officials to access “Mueller’s most important files.”
The surprise 11th-hour agreement has tempered some of the long-running tensions between Democrats and the administration. And leading up to the vote on Tuesday, Democratic leaders simultaneously hailed the resolution as a necessary and aggressive expansion of their constitutional oversight powers, while also suggesting they might not ever need to use it.
“The timeline will, in part, depend on whether the DOJ continues to cooperate with our legitimate Article I powers of oversight and investigation,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSteyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Trump’s border aid request stalls amid fresh obstacles MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
“If they continue to cooperate with us, I would expect that we will not race to the courthouse.”
“Seems to me that Mr. McGahn is in a particularly vulnerable situation as a private citizen,” Jeffries said. “He should either begin to cooperate immediately, or face the consequences.”
The vote comes as a growing number of liberal Democrats are endorsing the launch of an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump — a move opposed by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFeehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Feehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Press: How ‘Nervous Nancy’ trumped Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats, who have political concerns about taking such a drastic step without a greater show of public support.
“There is nothing as divisive in our country, in my view, than impeachment,” Pelosi said Tuesday during an event in Washington, delivering a familiar refrain.
At least 56 rank-and-file lawmakers are backing impeachment, according to a tally kept by The Hill, and Pelosi is under growing pressure to show that her preferred strategy of aggressive investigations is getting results.
The language adopted by Democrats in describing Tuesday’s resolution hints at the eagerness of top Democrats to project an image of going tough on the scandal-plagued administration, even as they’re opting against even sterner legal measures at their disposal.
Indeed, Democratic leaders are labeling the resolution one of “civil contempt.” But the measure makes no mention of contempt. And the language is much softer than another resolution, passed through the Judiciary panel last month, to hold Barr and McGahn in criminal contempt of Congress — a step that carries steep penalties, including heavy fines and up to a year in prison.
“We’re calling it contempt, for short, because the courts obviously would have to find the executive branch in contempt in order to, sort of, render the orders to comply,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOvernight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health Overnight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health House Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health MORE (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and former constitutional law professor.
“So it’s, generally speaking, not contempt.”
There is some disagreement among the Democrats as to why they didn’t pursue the criminal contempt resolution. Jeffries and Nadler both cited the DOJ’s recent decision to share more Mueller files as the reason they softened their position.
“We began to see yesterday, in the face of the possibility of either a criminal contempt citation, or proceeding with inherent contempt, that they began to see things differently all of a sudden,” Jeffries said.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise House Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise This week: House Democrats escalate battle over Mueller report MORE (D-Md.) suggested the decision was rooted in more practical considerations, noting the unlikelihood of DOJ attorneys prosecuting the head of the agency.
“I understand contempt is not in the resolution — it’s essentially civil contempt —and … it authorizes the committee to go to … have the courts enforce the subpoena,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “We think that’s a much more productive route than pretending that a U.S. attorney appointed by Donald Trump is going to pursue the attorney general — his boss — for contempt.”
Separately, Democrats are still negotiating for the testimony of Mueller, who had indicated last month that he’d prefer not to appear before Congress to discuss his findings. Nadler has taken the lead on those talks, but has declined to give updates on their status.
The drawn-out timeline has frustrated a growing number of lawmakers, who want the special counsel to clarify a host of questions still lingering around his report, particularly his reason for not recommending obstruction charges against the president.
“That is the view of the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries said. “Bob Mueller has a duty to the American people to bring those conclusions to light in public testimony before the United States Congress.”
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed separate lawsuits Tuesday suing the Trump administration over the “conscience protection” rule that protects workers from being forced to provide abortion, sterilization, or voluntary euthanasia if they have religious objections.
Planned Parenthood claims in a press release that this rule allows for “discrimination” against women by their employers. Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana Wen says in the release that while everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, no one has the right to “use those beliefs” to harm women. The press release also includes a statement from Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy, who claims “widespread opposition” to the rule and explains that the rule would “further undermine the rights of people of color, LGBTQ people and women.”
In the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the group claims that imposing the need to accommodate employer’s objections “violates the Establishment Clause” in the First Amendment. The suit goes on to explain that any law that “imposes on employers and employees an absolute duty to conform their business practices to the particular religious practices of the employee constitutes an impermissible religious preference.”
The ACLU makes similar objections in its own press release. In the release, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, states that “personal views do not give people the right to withhold critical health care or endanger others’ lives.” In the lawsuit the group filed, the ACLU says the rule would cause “significant and irreparable harm on millions of individuals who rely on federally funded care.”
The lawsuits are in addition to an initial lawsuit against the rule filed in May. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights announced the rule on May 7, the National Day of Prayer. The office’s director, Roger Severino, said the rule guarantees that healthcare professionals “won’t be bullied” out of their field because they object to “the taking of a human life.” This is a continuation of the Trump administration’s effort to protect those who object to abortion, which started with the addition of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division to HHS last year.