Wall

Why haven’t efforts to impeach President Trump gained Watergate-style momentum? The lack of energy has created a sense of bafflement and disappointment among some of the president’s most determined adversaries. But there are some simple reasons for it. Here are three:

1.) The facts are different. In Watergate, the underlying crime was a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters, perpetrated by burglars paid by President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. The scandal proceeded from there. In Trump-Russia, the underlying crime was the hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails — a crime committed by Russians in Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted a number of Russians and Russian entities for their actions, spent two years trying to find conspiracy or coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign. He failed.

That single fact has shaped every other aspect of the Trump-Russia affair. In Watergate, the cover-up flowed from Nixon’s desire to conceal his campaign’s involvement in the break-in and other political dark acts. It formed the bulk of the obstruction of justice case against Nixon, which in turn served as the basis for articles of impeachment. In Trump-Russia, Mueller did not charge, although he clearly suggested, that Trump obstructed the investigation of an event — conspiracy/coordination — that did not happen. That meant the simplest, most plausible motive for obstruction — Trump, knowing he was guilty, tried to cover up his campaign’s conspiracy with Russia — was off the table. Given that, Mueller’s obstruction case veered all over the map. He conceded that Trump had many motives to act as he did — anger at being wrongly accused, concern over his ability to govern, a desire to defend the legitimacy of his election — and that none of them involved covering up conspiracy or coordination with Russia.

That’s a very different set of facts from Watergate. Consider the single most explosive episode of Watergate — the Saturday Night Massacre, in which Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Trump’s opponents say his desire to fire Mueller was Nixonesque. But try to imagine the Saturday Night Massacre with a Trumpian set of facts: What if Nixon told his White House counsel to tell the attorney general to fire Cox, but the counsel ignored the order? Nixon called again, and the counsel ignored him again. Nixon then let the matter drop, and Cox completed his investigation. No Saturday Night Massacre. That alone shows there is simply no comparison between Watergate and Trump-Russia.

2). The press is different. Just as the facts of Trump-Russia are quite unlike Watergate, so the media environment of 2019 is quite unlike what existed in 1974. Back then, there were three 30-minute broadcast network newscasts, CBS, NBC, and ABC. There were two big newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, and TV network executives sat down each day, within a few blocks of each other in Manhattan, to produce newscasts that basically illustrated the papers’ latest stories. There was no Internet, no cable news, no podcasts, no social media, and no talk radio. Nixon, even if he had had strong defenses, faced a solid wall of media opposition.

Today, the situation is much, much different — and infinitely better. There is far more diversity of opinion in the media writ large, and, importantly, popular access to primary sources. That troubles some media figures who miss the old days of news monopoly. “During the Watergate era … there were three networks,” Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote recently. “Now, cable news, talk radio, thousands of websites and social media create a polluted firehose-blast of information mixed with disinformation.”

“Back then, what was said on those three networks … was largely believed,” Sullivan added. “Much more than now, there was a shared set of facts.”

But it was a limited set of facts — just the ones selected by those network producers in Manhattan. Today’s media diversity, in terms of the Trump-Russia affair, means more facts see the light. And people inclined to support the president, or just be skeptical of the government’s investigative targeting of the Trump campaign, have a way to make their case beyond what anyone had 40-plus years ago.

3.) Congress is different. Differences in the facts of the cases and differences in the media’s ability to report those facts have had a profound effect on lawmakers. They’re better informed, if they want to be, and can make a better defense of the president of their party. And having a significant number of constituents supporting the president makes representatives more likely to support him, too. (Also unlike today, in 1974, opposition party Democrats controlled all of Congress, with 243 seats in the House and 56 in the Senate.)

So, this is a new world. It is perhaps not surprising to hear Democrats wish they could somehow turn today’s Trump-Russia affair into yesterday’s Watergate. If they could just hold televised hearings, they say, that could capture the nation’s attention and give Trump-Russia a Watergate-like urgency. Americans would turn against the president by the millions.

Others believe they just need time. It took Watergate years to grow big enough to oust Nixon, they say. But look at the numbers. The break-in was in June, 1972, and Nixon resigned in August 1974 — a period of two years and two months. In Trump-Russia, the FBI began its investigation nearly three years ago, in July 2016. The Senate began investigating in January 2017. And Mueller took office in May 2017. It’s been a long time.

Trump-Russia could go longer still, and it would not change the basic facts of the case. It is simply a different case in a different world. Try as they might, the president’s opponents can’t make it 1974 again.

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York
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)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Sotheby's auction house is seen in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Sotheby’s auction house is seen at a branch office in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

June 17, 2019

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Svea Herbst-Bayliss

PARIS/BOSTON (Reuters) – Patrick Drahi, the billionaire behind telecoms and media group Altice, agreed on Monday to buy Sotheby’s in a deal worth $3.7 billion, marking the storied art auction house’s return to private ownership after 31 years.

The acquisition will allow avid art collector Drahi to join rival French billionaire Francois Pinault at the top of the art world and New York society, with Pinault’s holding company Artemis owning a majority stake in Sotheby’s rival Christie’s.

Rival French billionaire and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault is equally active in the arts world via his Louis Vuitton foundation.

Drahi’s expansion in the United States also has echoes of former Vivendi boss Jean-Marie Messier, who helped Vivendi move into entertainment via the Universal business.

Sotheby’s said it would be acquired by BidFair USA, an acquisition vehicle set up by Drahi, which had offered $57 in cash per share to buy out Sotheby’s.

The offer represented a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on Friday, and gives Sotheby’s a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.

It will result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company. Founded in London in 1744, Sotheby’s had the distinction of being the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

It also marks a new chapter for the auction house that became a destination for a new generation of wealth created on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and around the world, art experts said.

By having been public, in many ways, Sotheby’s operated at a competitive disadvantage to its main U.S. rival, Christie’s, which was already private, experts said.

“Now the company can become more flexible and nimble as a privately-held enterprise and it will be interesting to see the changes that will be made,” said Abigail Asher, a partner at international art consultants Guggenheim, Asher.

LOEB WELCOMES DEAL

The art world has been a favorite in recent times for investors looking to make extra returns in a world of ultra-low interest rates, with the prices of many expensive works of art having steadily increased.

A report published by Swiss bank UBS and Art Basel in March said that the global art market had enjoyed another uptick in 2018.

Drahi said he would be funding the takeover through financing arranged by French bank BNP Paribas and by equity provided by his own funds. Drahi has also been selling non-core assets in recent years to ease concerns over the debt levels of his businesses.

Drahi said he would not be selling shares in his Altice Europe business, but would be cashing in a small stake in his Altice USA division. Shares in Altice USA fell around 2% on Monday.

“I am making this investment for my family, through my personal holding, with a very long-term perspective,” said Drahi, adding that the takeover also further highlighted how his family had been settling down in the United States.

About five years ago Sotheby’s ended a long-running fight with activist investor Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point, by asking Loeb and two associates to join Sotheby’s board, and Loeb was instrumental in hiring Smith as CEO.

Loeb, a prominent art collector, on Monday praised the sale.

The price “affirms the value we saw when we first invested in Sotheby’s, and rewards long-term investors like Third Point who believed in its potential,” Loeb told Reuters.

BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley advised Drahi, while LionTree Advisors worked on behalf of Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s was founded in London in 1744, and expanded overseas in the 20th century, moving to New York in 1955, Asia and then France in 2001.

Famous items sold by Sotheby’s include the collections of the late Duchess of Windsor, the personal collection of artist Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” in 2012.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Nivedita Balu; Editing by Deepa Babington and Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia passes budget with health insurance for some undocumented immigrants California passes budget with health insurance for some undocumented immigrants Newsom calls on racetrack to halt races until further inspection following 29th horse death MORE (D) in an interview published Monday said the Republican Party is headed for the “waste bin of history.”

In an interview with Politico, Newsom compared national Republicans to the GOP in California in the 1990s. 

California Republicans were once a force, but have seen their power disappear over the last two decades. 

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Washington Republicans will “go the same direction — into the waste bin of history, the way Republicans of the ’90s have gone. That’s exactly what will happen to this crop of national Republicans,” Newsom told Politico.

Former California Gov. Pete Wilson’s (R) push for a ballot measure in 1994 that prohibited illegal immigrants from gaining access to public schools and health care has been widely linked to the GOP’s erosion in the state. 

Newson drew a connection between that and today’s politics.

“America in 2019 is California in the 1990s,” he told Politico. “The xenophobia, the nativism, the fear of ‘the other.’ Scapegoating. Talking down or past people. The hysteria. And so, we’re not going to put up with that. We are going to push back.”

Newsom also took several shots at President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE, though he stopped short of calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. He instead voiced his support for House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOcasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown MORE (D-Calif.), a longtime friend and fellow San Franciscan.

“What’s so remarkable about someone with the experience and temperament of Speaker Pelosi is that she’s seen a lot of movies,’’ Newsom said. “She’s been there. She’s got a better sense than a lot of folks. So I think we should stay the course. What we’re doing is working … I think Democrats are winning right now.”

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
FILE PHOTO: Jun 11, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) looks on after being called out on a third strike against the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

June 17, 2019

In the span of a week, the New York Yankees’ lineup could get a complete makeover with the addition of American League home run leader Edwin Encarnacion and the healthy return of outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

Encarnacion, acquired from the Seattle Mariners, might be in the lineup Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays as the Yankees return home from a road trip for what is setting up as an explosive homestand.

That’s because the usual middle-of-the-order bombers, Stanton and Judge, are close to being on the field at Yankee Stadium. For Stanton, that will happen Tuesday. Judge is close, and could be back with the team by the end of the weekend.

Stanton has been sidelined since March 31 with multiple injuries, including a calf ailment. The Yankees have also been without Judge for most of this season.

“Encarnacion, Stanton and Judge, that’s three elite power hitters plugged into our lineup,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully it’s something that over time creates a big-time advantage for us.”

Now the challenge for Boone is finding at-bats for the players who helped carry the Yankees through most of the first half of the season, including Brett Gardner.

Boone said he still expects “Gardy to play a lot.”

The first domino fell Sunday night when outfielder Clint Frazier was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Encarnacion primarily will serve as designated hitter. Boone said he could use Encarnacion, tops in the American League with 21 homers, at first base on occasion.

Stanton has eight at-bats this season and last stepped into the batter’s box in pinstripes for the season-opening series against the Baltimore Orioles.

The 29-year-old had 97 total home runs the previous two seasons.

Judge is progressing at a rehab assignment, including a roped RBI single off the wall on Sunday.

He hit five home runs in the 20 games he played in 2019 before the oblique injury.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

After receding from the national stage, the free college movement is resurfacing as a central rallying point for Democrats as they set their sights on the White House.

At least 18 of the party’s 23 presidential contenders have come out in support of some version of free college . Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts promises free tuition at public colleges and universities. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota says it should be limited to two years of community college. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wants to provide free tuition in exchange for public service.

The candidates are responding to what some say is a crisis in college affordability, an issue likely to draw attention in the first primary debates later this month. Year after year, colleges say they have to raise tuition to offset state funding cuts. Students have shouldered the cost by taking out loans, pushing the country’s student debt to nearly $1.6 trillion this year. Even for many in the middle class, experts say, college is increasingly moving out of reach.

Free college, a catchall term for a range of affordability plans, is increasingly seen as a solution. Nearly 20 states now promise some version of free college, from Tennessee’s free community college program to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, which offers up to four years of free tuition at state schools for residents with family incomes below $125,000 a year.

But research on the effectiveness of state programs has been mixed. Critics say the offers are often undermined by limited funding and come with narrow eligibility rules that exclude many students.

“This is a problem that has not gone away but has gotten worse in many communities,” said Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research for Demos, a liberal think tank. “It’s enough of a problem that people expect some action on it, and they expect some plan for how to get there.”

Plans from Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Obama housing chief Julian Castro aim to eliminate tuition at all public institutions. The candidates say that would open college to a wider group of Americans and greatly reduce the need for loans. Warren argues that college, like other levels of schooling, is “a basic public good that should be available to everyone with free tuition and zero debt at graduation.”

Others, including Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden, have backed more moderate plans to provide two years of free tuition at community colleges, similar to an idea pushed by President Barack Obama in 2015.

And there are some who say students should be able to graduate without debt. To do that, several candidates want to help students with tuition as well as textbooks and living costs. Such “debt-free” plans, which aim to steer money toward students with lower incomes, are supported Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, among others.

Proposals for free college nationwide started to gain popularity among Democrats during the Obama administration and in the 2016 primary race. That discussion stalled after the election of President Donald Trump, who is seen as hostile to the idea. His administration blames colleges for the debt crisis, saying they ramp up tuition because they know students have easy access to federal loans.

Before Trump was elected, Sanders was credited with bringing the issue to the fore when he campaigned on a promise to make tuition free at public colleges. Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee, initially criticized the idea but later adopted a similar plan. Now, early in the 2020 race, Democrats have been quick to show their support. Instead of debating whether it should be free, most are weighing which model is best and how to achieve it.

“It’s striking how much the debate has shifted over the past decade,” Huelsman said. “If you look at the 2008 election, 2012, it was not something that was necessarily a prominent part of the debate.”

For most candidates, free college is just part of the solution as they confront student debt and college access. Several also promise to help borrowers refinance loans at lower interest rates; some want to wipe away huge chunks of the nation’s student debt.

Those types of proposals are likely to be popular among the growing share of voters paying off student loans, said Douglas Harris, an economics professor at Tulane University who has studied the effectiveness of free college.

“Something like 1 in 5 voters has college debt, which is a huge percentage,” he said. “And when you have a huge number of people affected by something, then that certainly gets people’s attention.”

One of the major sticking points over free college is the price. Warren’s total education plan is estimated to cost $1.25 trillion over a decade. Sanders’ free college plan would cost $47 billion a year. Both call on the federal government to split the cost with states while also raising taxes on Wall Street or the wealthiest Americans.

Some Democrats, though, say that kind of spending is untenable. Klobuchar has rejected the idea of free college for everyone, saying the country can’t afford it. Instead she backs two years of free community college as a way to help prepare workers and fill shortages in the job market.

“When I look at the jobs that are available right now out there, we have a lot of job openings in areas that could use a one-year degree, a two-year degree, and we’re just not filling those jobs,” Klobuchar said at a March town hall in Iowa. She added that students can attend community college and then “later go on to complete their four-year degree.”

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke supports free community college for all Americans, along with debt-free college at four-year institutions for students with low and modest incomes. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he would make community college free “for those who can’t afford it.”

Many free college supporters see promise in a federal plan that could bring more funding and share the cost with states. But in Congress, that kind of plan has yet to take hold.

In March, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, reintroduced his Debt-Free College Act, which calls for a partnership with states to make sure students can afford all college costs without borrowing loans. The idea died in the previous session and has yet to be taken up in this one, but the new bill has gained wider support from Democrats.

Among those backing the plan are four 2020 candidates: Gillibrand, Harris, Warren and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

___

Follow Collin Binkley on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cbinkley

The behind-the-scenes competition for Wall Street money in the 2020 presidential race is reaching a fevered peak this week as no less than nine Democrats are holding New York fund-raisers in a span of nine days, racing ahead of a June 30 filing deadline when they must disclose their latest financial hauls.

With millions of dollars on the line, top New York donors are already beginning to pick favorites, and three candidates are generating most of the buzz: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

It is, at first blush, an unusual grouping, considering that the mayor of New York City (Bill de Blasio), the state’s junior senator (Kirsten Gillibrand) and a neighboring senator with deep ties to New York’s elite (Cory Booker of New Jersey) are all in the race and vying for their money.

Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him. These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.

“There is going to be a real income inequality,” Steven Rattner, a Wall Street executive and Democratic donor, said of the coming fund-raising results for the second quarter, which covers April through June. “You are going to see a big separation between the rich and the poor.”

This is an especially important moment for Mr. Biden: He will soon say how much money he has raised since entering the race on April 25 — the first such disclosure of his campaign — and his team knows the reinforcing power of a big haul to cement his status as the Democratic front-runner. The pressure is intense on other candidates to demonstrate momentum among big and small donors alike, with the aim of raising more money in the spring than the winter, when Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Ms. Harris, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Mr. Buttigieg took in the most.

Not everyone is chasing Wall Street cash: Two candidates in the top tier of polls, Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have railed against the financial industry and opted against the kind of fancy fund-raisers with catering and $2,800 admission prices that lubricate the donor industry.

Still, in New York, the supply and demand is so strong that there are fund-raisers almost daily from morning until night.

Hamilton E. James, the executive vice chairman of Blackstone and a top fund-raiser, hosted Mr. Buttigieg at his home on Thursday. The short-selling hedge fund manager James Chanos will hold an event for Mr. Biden on Monday. And on Tuesday, Marc Lasry, the hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, is gathering checks for Ms. Harris. Co-hosts of that event include Blair W. Effron, an investment bank co-founder and an influential Democratic financier, and Ray McGuire, vice chairman of Citigroup.

Among those spreading the money around is Brad Karp, the chairman of the Paul, Weiss law firm and a top attorney for Wall Street institutions. He is hosting Mr. Biden for a reception at 9 a.m. on Tuesday; he is a co-host for a “lawyer’s lunch” for Ms. Harris that same day, according to invitations obtained by The New York Times. Mr. Karp, who donated to Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker in the first quarter, did not respond to a request for comment.

The momentum of big money in New York toward Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Harris is mirrored in contributor circles nationally, according to donors and campaign advisers, as well as in poll results: The trio is usually among the top five candidates in early primary states and national surveys.

Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg have aimed to blend aggressive large- and small-money operations.

“Those are the three,” said Julianna Smoot, who was national finance director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and remains plugged into the donor community.

Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Harris have aimed to blend aggressive large- and small-money operations, much as Mr. Obama’s campaigns successfully did, though New York’s business-minded donors described different factors pulling them toward each candidate.

They are attracted to Mr. Biden’s ideological moderation and his seeming chances of victory over President Trump in 2020; they are inspired by Mr. Buttigieg’s charisma and intellect; and they are drawn to Ms. Harris’s potential as a possible primary victor even as she now trails in the polls, in addition to her potential to reassemble the kind of winning multiethnic electoral coalition that elected Mr. Obama twice.

“Businesspeople are first of all pragmatists,” said Kathryn Wylde, who heads the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit whose board includes many of the city’s biggest business leaders. “They’re going to support the most moderate Democrats they think have a chance to win.”

Mr. Biden made explicit at a fund-raiser last Monday in Washington that he does not plan to demonize the financial industry like some rivals have, saying that “Wall Street and significant bankers” can “be positive influences in the country.” (As a senator for Delaware, Mr. Biden was regarded as an ally of financial institutions in the state, such as the credit card industry.)

Donors described various doubts about even their favored candidates: Mr. Biden’s age, say, or Mr. Buttigieg’s inexperience, or whether Ms. Harris’s political skills will play on the biggest stage.

“If you could roll all three of them into a single candidate,” Ms. Smoot said, “you’d have the perfect candidate.”

One of the most surprising developments of the 2020 race is how quickly Mr. Buttigieg, a virtual unknown only a few months ago, has vaulted into competition with Mr. Biden and other leading candidates for top party donors in New York and elsewhere.

Mr. Buttigieg is expected to post among the most robust second-quarter fund-raising figures. Even a donor who recently put together an event for one of Mr. Buttigieg’s rivals said that, these days, “the easiest event to sell out is a Buttigieg event.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s freshness has proved an advantage on the donor circuit: After he leapt in the polls this spring, contributors have jumped at the chance to pay $1,000 or more to size him up in person. A Harvard graduate and veteran of the McKinsey consultancy, Mr. Buttigieg is fluent in the language of elite New York circles, helping him transcend his initial base of donors in the gay community.

“Everyone who has seen him in the flesh thinks he’s fantastic,” said Mr. Rattner, who attended a recent Buttigieg event and has donated to other 2020 candidates.

Mr. Buttigieg has hired a full-time professional New York fund-raiser, even though there may be limits to his New York fund-raising: Regulatory rules prevent certain Wall Street employees with public pension business from donating to city or state officials, like a sitting mayor. So far, Mr. Biden has not hired a full-time New York fund-raiser.

Mr. Biden could get a boost in New York from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is expected to introduce the former vice president at Monday’s event, if he eventually lines up his formidable fund-raising muscle behind Mr. Biden. Mr. Cuomo has raised more than $100 million for his own campaigns; several of Mr. Biden’s co-hosts are longtime Cuomo backers.

Though Ms. Gillibrand is the home-state senator, most of the talk about her in New York donor circles has been how little talk there is about her. Some New York donors said they donated to Ms. Gillibrand, but only out of loyalty or obligation.

“I don’t think she’s gotten much traction in New York State. I think everybody loves her as a senator but is not excited about her being president,” said Mitch Draizin, a former fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, who made his money in the financial industry and is supporting Mr. Biden.

Before Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg gained momentum, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker had raised the most money in New York ($1.3 million and $1.2 million, respectively) from those who gave at least $200 in the first quarter.

But their edge over Ms. Harris (who raised $911,000 in New York in the first quarter) was small compared with Ms. Harris’s dominance in California. There, she raised $4.3 million last quarter; no other Democrat raised $900,000, records show.

Mr. Booker, a fixture on the New York donor circuit for nearly two decades, has some key backers, including Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Goldman Sachs alum, and Donald Sussman, the billionaire hedge funder who is a top Democratic financier. Mr. Sussman’s daughter Carolyn Tisch Blodgett is hosting a fund-raiser for Mr. Booker on Wednesday; he had another Wall Street-linked event last week.

But Mr. Booker and Ms. Gillibrand are suffering in part from their low standing in the polls. Wall Street titans, in particular, have made their money wagering on winners.

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, for instance, is often mentioned as a favorite of New York’s donor class, and he has Jill Straus, a connected New York fund-raising consultant, helping him. Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana has impressed, too. Few described taking them seriously, even as some contributed to them.

Another candidate with a foothold in the finance sector is Mr. O’Rourke, who was hosted on Wednesday at the New York home of Mark Gallogly, a major Wall Street fund-raiser.

David Adelman, who co-hosted that event and is an attorney who represents the financial industry, said he felt a “generational pull” and found Mr. O’Rourke inspiring: “It is important to rotate the crops.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s rise appears to have come, in particular, at Mr. O’Rourke expense as a fresh-faced alternative to Mr. Biden. In a sign of how New York’s money circle extends beyond the finance sector, both Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. O’Rourke recently made time for private sit-downs with Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue and the artistic director of Condé Nast, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.

As for Mr. de Blasio, he has openly shunned the financial sector throughout his mayoralty and has made the concentration of wealth in the “wrong hands” a central part of his 2020 message.

Mr. de Blasio has begun calling many of the same New York donors he has leaned on to fund his past municipal campaigns, according to people familiar with his activity. About two weeks before his 2020 launch, Mr. de Blasio also attended the closed-door meeting of the executive committee meeting of the Partnership for New York City.

New York donors are still giving to Mr. de Blasio, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker. After all, if they lose, they will still be in City Hall or the United States Senate.

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The behind-the-scenes competition for Wall Street money in the 2020 presidential race is reaching a fevered peak this week as no less than nine Democrats are holding New York fund-raisers in a span of nine days, racing ahead of a June 30 filing deadline when they must disclose their latest financial hauls.

With millions of dollars on the line, top New York donors are already beginning to pick favorites, and three candidates are generating most of the buzz: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Kamala Harris of California and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

It is, at first blush, an unusual grouping, considering that the mayor of New York City (Bill de Blasio), the state’s junior senator (Kirsten Gillibrand) and a neighboring senator with deep ties to New York’s elite (Cory Booker of New Jersey) are all in the race and vying for their money.

Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him. These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.

“There is going to be a real income inequality,” Steven Rattner, a Wall Street executive and Democratic donor, said of the coming fund-raising results for the second quarter, which covers April through June. “You are going to see a big separation between the rich and the poor.”

This is an especially important moment for Mr. Biden: He will soon say how much money he has raised since entering the race on April 25 — the first such disclosure of his campaign — and his team knows the reinforcing power of a big haul to cement his status as the Democratic front-runner. The pressure is intense on other candidates to demonstrate momentum among big and small donors alike, with the aim of raising more money in the spring than the winter, when Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Ms. Harris, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Mr. Buttigieg took in the most.

Not everyone is chasing Wall Street cash: Two candidates in the top tier of polls, Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have railed against the financial industry and opted against the kind of fancy fund-raisers with catering and $2,800 admission prices that lubricate the donor industry.

Still, in New York, the supply and demand is so strong that there are fund-raisers almost daily from morning until night.

Hamilton E. James, the executive vice chairman of Blackstone and a top fund-raiser, hosted Mr. Buttigieg at his home on Thursday. The short-selling hedge fund manager James Chanos will hold an event for Mr. Biden on Monday. And on Tuesday, Marc Lasry, the hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, is gathering checks for Ms. Harris. Co-hosts of that event include Blair W. Effron, an investment bank co-founder and an influential Democratic financier, and Ray McGuire, vice chairman of Citigroup.

Among those spreading the money around is Brad Karp, the chairman of the Paul, Weiss law firm and a top attorney for Wall Street institutions. He is hosting Mr. Biden for a reception at 9 a.m. on Tuesday; he is a co-host for a “lawyer’s lunch” for Ms. Harris that same day, according to invitations obtained by The New York Times. Mr. Karp, who donated to Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker in the first quarter, did not respond to a request for comment.

The momentum of big money in New York toward Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Harris is mirrored in contributor circles nationally, according to donors and campaign advisers, as well as in poll results: The trio is usually among the top five candidates in early primary states and national surveys.

Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg have aimed to blend aggressive large- and small-money operations.

“Those are the three,” said Julianna Smoot, who was national finance director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and remains plugged into the donor community.

Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Harris have aimed to blend aggressive large- and small-money operations, much as Mr. Obama’s campaigns successfully did, though New York’s business-minded donors described different factors pulling them toward each candidate.

They are attracted to Mr. Biden’s ideological moderation and his seeming chances of victory over President Trump in 2020; they are inspired by Mr. Buttigieg’s charisma and intellect; and they are drawn to Ms. Harris’s potential as a possible primary victor even as she now trails in the polls, in addition to her potential to reassemble the kind of winning multiethnic electoral coalition that elected Mr. Obama twice.

“Businesspeople are first of all pragmatists,” said Kathryn Wylde, who heads the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit whose board includes many of the city’s biggest business leaders. “They’re going to support the most moderate Democrats they think have a chance to win.”

Mr. Biden made explicit at a fund-raiser last Monday in Washington that he does not plan to demonize the financial industry like some rivals have, saying that “Wall Street and significant bankers” can “be positive influences in the country.” (As a senator for Delaware, Mr. Biden was regarded as an ally of financial institutions in the state, such as the credit card industry.)

Donors described various doubts about even their favored candidates: Mr. Biden’s age, say, or Mr. Buttigieg’s inexperience, or whether Ms. Harris’s political skills will play on the biggest stage.

“If you could roll all three of them into a single candidate,” Ms. Smoot said, “you’d have the perfect candidate.”

One of the most surprising developments of the 2020 race is how quickly Mr. Buttigieg, a virtual unknown only a few months ago, has vaulted into competition with Mr. Biden and other leading candidates for top party donors in New York and elsewhere.

Mr. Buttigieg is expected to post among the most robust second-quarter fund-raising figures. Even a donor who recently put together an event for one of Mr. Buttigieg’s rivals said that, these days, “the easiest event to sell out is a Buttigieg event.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s freshness has proved an advantage on the donor circuit: After he leapt in the polls this spring, contributors have jumped at the chance to pay $1,000 or more to size him up in person. A Harvard graduate and veteran of the McKinsey consultancy, Mr. Buttigieg is fluent in the language of elite New York circles, helping him transcend his initial base of donors in the gay community.

“Everyone who has seen him in the flesh thinks he’s fantastic,” said Mr. Rattner, who attended a recent Buttigieg event and has donated to other 2020 candidates.

Mr. Buttigieg has hired a full-time professional New York fund-raiser, even though there may be limits to his New York fund-raising: Regulatory rules prevent certain Wall Street employees with public pension business from donating to city or state officials, like a sitting mayor. So far, Mr. Biden has not hired a full-time New York fund-raiser.

Mr. Biden could get a boost in New York from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is expected to introduce the former vice president at Monday’s event, if he eventually lines up his formidable fund-raising muscle behind Mr. Biden. Mr. Cuomo has raised more than $100 million for his own campaigns; several of Mr. Biden’s co-hosts are longtime Cuomo backers.

Though Ms. Gillibrand is the home-state senator, most of the talk about her in New York donor circles has been how little talk there is about her. Some New York donors said they donated to Ms. Gillibrand, but only out of loyalty or obligation.

“I don’t think she’s gotten much traction in New York State. I think everybody loves her as a senator but is not excited about her being president,” said Mitch Draizin, a former fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, who made his money in the financial industry and is supporting Mr. Biden.

Before Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg gained momentum, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker had raised the most money in New York ($1.3 million and $1.2 million, respectively) from those who gave at least $200 in the first quarter.

But their edge over Ms. Harris (who raised $911,000 in New York in the first quarter) was small compared with Ms. Harris’s dominance in California. There, she raised $4.3 million last quarter; no other Democrat raised $900,000, records show.

Mr. Booker, a fixture on the New York donor circuit for nearly two decades, has some key backers, including Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Goldman Sachs alum, and Donald Sussman, the billionaire hedge funder who is a top Democratic financier. Mr. Sussman’s daughter Carolyn Tisch Blodgett is hosting a fund-raiser for Mr. Booker on Wednesday; he had another Wall Street-linked event last week.

But Mr. Booker and Ms. Gillibrand are suffering in part from their low standing in the polls. Wall Street titans, in particular, have made their money wagering on winners.

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, for instance, is often mentioned as a favorite of New York’s donor class, and he has Jill Straus, a connected New York fund-raising consultant, helping him. Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana has impressed, too. Few described taking them seriously, even as some contributed to them.

Another candidate with a foothold in the finance sector is Mr. O’Rourke, who was hosted on Wednesday at the New York home of Mark Gallogly, a major Wall Street fund-raiser.

David Adelman, who co-hosted that event and is an attorney who represents the financial industry, said he felt a “generational pull” and found Mr. O’Rourke inspiring: “It is important to rotate the crops.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s rise appears to have come, in particular, at Mr. O’Rourke expense as a fresh-faced alternative to Mr. Biden. In a sign of how New York’s money circle extends beyond the finance sector, both Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. O’Rourke recently made time for private sit-downs with Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue and the artistic director of Condé Nast, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.

As for Mr. de Blasio, he has openly shunned the financial sector throughout his mayoralty and has made the concentration of wealth in the “wrong hands” a central part of his 2020 message.

Mr. de Blasio has begun calling many of the same New York donors he has leaned on to fund his past municipal campaigns, according to people familiar with his activity. About two weeks before his 2020 launch, Mr. de Blasio also attended the closed-door meeting of the executive committee meeting of the Partnership for New York City.

New York donors are still giving to Mr. de Blasio, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker. After all, if they lose, they will still be in City Hall or the United States Senate.

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President Trump at a campaign-style rally last month at an airport in Montoursville, Pa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom/Zuma Press

President Trump’s 2020 re-election bid starts Tuesday with a rally in Orlando, Fla., more than two years after making clear he would seek a second term.

Holding a launch rally after the campaign effectively gets under way is hardly a new political play; President Obama announced his 2012 re-election bid more than a year before his first official rally, and early Democratic 2020 front-runner Joe Bidenheld his “kickoff rally” about a month after he entered the race.

Still, Mr. Trump has ushered in a new style of presidential politicking with his perpetual campaign mode. His predecessors waited well into their first terms before making their intentions known and avoided overt campaigning so early in the primary process.

At a recent event in Iowa, Mr. Trump suggested he hadn’t shifted fully into his campaign gear, declaring: “This isn’t political season quite for me. It’ll start next week.”

Mr. Trump and his team believe this is the right moment to re-assert his campaign prowess, as their operation has expanded and the Democratic primary field appears set. They selected the battleground state of Florida to stake their claim with one of the large-venue gatherings that defined the president’s 2016 operation.

“The campaign wants to flex its muscles to show how much better they are than any of the Democratic campaigns,” said GOP consultant Alex Conant. “What Trump is going to do in Orlando, no Democratic candidate could do.”

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The Orlando event is expected to include first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, as well as the president’s adult children, said people familiar with the planning. It has been in the works for more than six weeks and is likely to usher in a more active campaign schedule.

On the day of his inauguration, Mr. Trump filed a re-election letter with the Federal Election Commission, though that letter did say that it didn’t “constitute a formal announcement of my candidacy.” A month later, he held his first campaign-style rally, in Florida, telling the crowd: “I’m here because I want to be among my friends and among the people.”

Many Democrats seeking the presidency have announced a campaign or an exploratory committee first and held a rally or formal launch later—often seeking to make a symbolic point in the process. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced an exploratory committee before holding an official rally a little over a month later at the site of a historic labor strike. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont declared his plans on public radio and later held a rally in his native Brooklyn. Pete Buttigieg announced an exploratory committee a few months before formally launching his campaign in the Indiana city where he is mayor.

Former Vice President Joe Biden kicking off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia in May. Photo: Preston Ehrler/Zuma Press

When seeking re-election, past modern presidents have taken their time to shift into politics, believing that campaigning can diminish the power of the White House. Mr. Obama launched with a video announcement in April 2011 and didn’t hold his first rally for over a year. President George W. Bush filed with the FEC in May 2003 and didn’t campaign overtly until the following year.

“Obama and Bush didn’t enjoy campaigning as much as Trump. They were very much consumed with world affairs,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor.

Said Mr. Brinkley of Trump: “He sees himself as a leader of a movement. He has tried for some months to be a normal president and not be in campaign mode. He hunkers back down into the movement when he has a chance.”

But former Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett argued that there were advantages to staying in campaign mode.

“I don’t know if any of the old rules apply any more. The news cycle is continuous and now politics is continuous,” Mr. Bennett said.

Write to Catherine Lucey at catherine.lucey@wsj.com

President Trump announced his candidacy four years ago Sunday to the cheers of paid actors in Trump Tower and to the horror of many conservative leaders, who vowed to defeat him.

On Tuesday, Trump will launch his reelection bid before about 20,000 supporters in a Florida arena, and to applause from many former skeptics who say they misjudged him.

In 2016, Trump nearly toppled the Republican “big tent.” Wide-eyed social conservatives noted he used to back abortion rights. Security hawks gaped at dovish remarks on the Mideast and Russia. Free-market conservatives called him a protectionist who supported single-payer healthcare.

But as president, Trump has quieted concerns, winning deep tax cuts, appointing conservative judges, and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, while wowing hawks by moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

“Who would have thought a supporter of Planned Parenthood would be the strongest pro-life president in history?” marveled Brent Bozell, the Media Research Center president and nephew of conservative icon William F. Buckley. “At the end of the day I think that Trump has done more for the concept of American exceptionalism than any president since Ronald Reagan.”

In 2016, Bozell contributed to the conservative National Review’s “Never Trump” edition, an effort to halt Trump’s momentum in the Republican primaries, featuring condemnation from Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, Dana Loesch, and others.

“I think that people were looking at his record, which was in the opposite direction of the rhetoric, and a lot of people were Doubting Thomases,” Bozell told the Washington Examiner.

For the magazine, Bozell wrote that “Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all,” expanding on Fox News that Trump was “a shameless self-promoter, a huckster.”

“God help this country if this man were president and he continued on in this way,” Bozell exclaimed at the time.

Many, but not all, of Bozell’s fellow Trump skeptics have changed their tune, including Loesch, a syndicated radio host and author, who scoffed in 2016 at Trump’s recent “conversion” to conservatism and worried about his business dealings.

“He has checked so many boxes for conservatives and Republicans, I don’t know how anyone can be dissatisfied,” Loesch said, praising Trump’s rollback of regulations, support for the military, and the roaring economy.

“With all of my concerns, I was really hoping to be wrong. I wasn’t one of those individuals so self-centered I hoped the country would do poorly,” said Loesch, who works with the National Rifle Association but commented in a personal capacity.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s former critics on national security issues, said Friday that Trump “has exceeded every expectation I had.”

“I ran out of things to say about him in the campaign. I voted for somebody I wouldn’t know if they walked in the door, Ed McMullin,” Graham told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, another former skeptic.

“Everything that you and I and people who were pooh-poohing Trump about, he’s proven to have risen to the occasion, to be a commander in chief that has our military’s back, that I respect,” Graham said, citing the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and new military funding.

The feeling isn’t universal. Trump’s conservative independent challenger in 2016, Evan McMullin, whose name Graham garbled, is pushing for impeachment proceedings over Trump allegedly obstructing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“Too many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are letting partisan politics get in the way of doing the right thing,” the ex-CIA operative said recently.

Bozell said some Never Trumpers “are so offended by his personality and what they would see as a lack of decorum that I don’t think they will ever support him.”

Indeed, some conversions were slow. Beck last year said he would back Trump for reelection. Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent, got a call from Trump in January praising him for an article he wrote about a proposed border wall. Weeks later, Erickson declared, “I will vote for Donald Trump.”

Bozell said that despite his own criticism in 2016, he actually urged Trump to run in early 2015, before realizing to his disbelief that Trump was catching fire with the electorate. He thought Trump would lose but make a dent in the landscape. “I didn’t think he could win. But … I thought he might win in the future if he got out his dirty laundry,” Bozell said.

Loesch said she advises fellow conservatives that “if you have a problem with Trump the person, you have to look at the issues. How are your issues being advanced?”

“This is an avatar for our issues,” she said of Trump.


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