August 23, 2019

Businessman, prolific political donor, and philanthropist David Koch has died at 79, CBS News and NBC News report.

The death of Koch, who was ranked by Forbes as the 11th richest person in the world in 2019 with a net worth of $42 billion, was confirmed on Friday by his brother, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch, in a statement per CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

Along with his brother Charles, Koch had been an extraordinarily influential conservative political donor and activist for decades. During the 2012 presidential election, the Koch brothers' network spent nearly $400 million, The New York Times reports, and it spent more than $1 billion in the past few elections, NBC News reports. The network earlier this year said it would stay out of the 2020 election.

"With millions of dollars in donations over the years, the Kochs' contribution to today’s Republican Party has been seminal, helping to solidify doctrine that favored businesses and worked against stricter environmental regulations," the Times wrote last year.

Outside of political contributions, Koch also donated more than $1 billion to charity, The Wall Street Journal reports. He served as the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president during the 1980 presidential election, and The New Yorker in 2018 described him as the "more visible of the brothers."

In June 2018, Koch retired as vice president of Koch Industries due to his "declining health" that was first reported in 2016, reports USA Today. "Unfortunately, these issues have not been resolved, and his health has continued to deteriorate," Charles Koch said upon David's retirement. In his statement on Friday, Charles said that David was given only a few years to live when being diagnosed with prostate cancer 27 years ago. Brendan Morrow

11:00 p.m.

When acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor revealed on Wednesday during his public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland called President Trump from Kyiv while sitting in a restaurant, it left many former security officials dumbfounded.

Taylor testified that in July, a member of his staff at the U.S. Embassy, David Holmes "could hear President Trump on the phone," asking Sondland about "the investigations." He was referring to the request Trump made during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking him to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who once served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Sondland responded that "the Ukrainians were ready to move forward" with the probes, Taylor said.

This was a major violation of security protocol, Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior director of the White House Situation Room, told The Washington Post. "The security ramifications are insane — using an open cell phone to communicate with the president of the United States," he said. "In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call."

Russia has intercepted phone conversations conducted in Ukraine between U.S. diplomats and leaked the recordings. A former U.S. intelligence official told the Post Sondland calling Trump from a restaurant is "indicative of a lack of concern for operational security," as senior officials are "routinely briefed on the threats to their communications. You could assume that talking on an unencrypted line from a foreign country would be on that list." Catherine Garcia

9:35 p.m.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected President Trump's request to rehear a case involving his financial records being turned over to Congress.

Trump challenged a subpoena sent by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to the accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of his financial records. Trump's lawyers argued that the panel does not have the legislative authority to ask for these documents, but a three-judge appeals court panel ruled against him last month, with a vote of 2 to 1. Trump then requested the full court reconsider the case, but on Wednesday, that appeal was rejected with a vote of 8 to 3.

House Democrats sent the subpoena to Mazars earlier this year, saying lawmakers needed to look at Trump's records in order to determine whether he disclosed all of his assets and if they needed to revise laws regarding financial disclosures. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said he will now appeal to the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia

8:50 p.m.

Islamic Jihad has fired at least 360 rockets into Israel from Gaza since Tuesday, the Israeli army said Wednesday night, in response to the assassination of one of the militant group's senior commanders.

On Tuesday, the commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, and his wife were killed when their Gaza home was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. The army says Abu al-Ata was responsible for several rocket attacks against Israel, and was planning a massive operation against the country.

After Abu al-Ata's death was reported, Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel, and Israel responded by ramping up airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets across the Gaza Strip. At least 26 Palestinians have died in the fighting, including a 7-year-old boy. Islamic Jihad is backed by Iran, and calls for the destruction of Israel.

The militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, has so far stayed out of the matter. Egyptian mediators are trying to arrange a truce, The Associated Press reports, and U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the organization is "working to urgently de-escalate the situation." On Tuesday, Syrian officials said an Israeli airstrike targeting an Islamic Jihad militant in Damascus missed him, but killed two of his relatives. Catherine Garcia

7:17 p.m.

President Trump welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House on Wednesday, and during a joint press conference praised the leader for his "great relationship with the Kurds."

Last month, Trump ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria, paving the way for Turkey to launch a military assault against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF fought against the Islamic State, and took over land ISIS controlled near the Turkish border, which was too close for Erdogan's comfort — Turkey considers the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist group, and the SDF an offshoot. Since the assault began last month, there have been several reports of Turkish-backed Arab fighters carrying out ethnic violence against Kurds in Syria.

During the press conference, Trump and Erdogan were asked by a reporter from Iraqi Kurdistan about the Kurds. Trump said that "many Kurds live currently in Turkey and they're happy and they're taken care of," while Erdogan declared he has "no problems with the Kurds, we have problems with terrorist organizations, and of course you're not going to own up to the terrorists, are you?" Catherine Garcia

5:54 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) latest shot at billionaires has one one-percenter ready to blow.

Warren, a 2020 frontrunner, has compiled some billionaires' angry reactions to her proposed "wealth tax" into a new ad set to premiere on CNBC this week. One of those unhappy rich guys is Leon Cooperman, and after seeing Warren's ad, tossed a few f-bombs her way in protest.

Warren's proposed wealth tax would have the nation's wealthiest people handing more money to the federal government after her election. According to her website's calculator, that would be $151 million for Cooperman next year, out of his $3.2 billion net worth. "You'll still be extraordinarily rich," Warren's website truthfully tells Cooperman, but he has still said Warren's "vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me. It's bull."

A clip of Cooperman saying that appears in Warren's ad, followed by a reminder that he was "charged with insider trading." And after Cooperman saw that, he decided to call Warren "disgraceful" in an interview with CNBC. "She doesn't know who the f--- she's tweeting. I gave away more in the year than she has in her whole f----ing lifetime," Cooperman continued. Cooperman also said he "won" his case involving insider trading, though he actually just settled it with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Upon seeing Cooperman's response, Warren's chief strategist Joe Rospars had just one question. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:34 p.m.

Amazon and Nike are ending their two-year relationship.

A company executive confirmed the split on Wednesday, and told Bloomberg the decision stems from "Nike's focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships." The executive noted the sports retail giant will still "continue to invest in partnerships with other retailers and platforms globally." Ouch.

This change abruptly ends the pilot program that the two companies launched in 2017, observes CNBC. According to Engadget, the partnership was originally intended to curb the sale of fake kicks. Rather ironically now, Endgadget speculates that one of the reason's behind Nike's decision could've been Amazon's inability to manage its billions of third-party sellers who sell counterfeit products.

"The split comes amid a massive overhaul of Nike's retail strategy," notes the Los Angeles Times, and follows the recent hiring of former eBay CEO, John Donahoe as the company's next CEO.

As CNBC reports, analysts believe this is good for Nike. "Brands don't need Amazon," one analyst told CNBC, saying the breakup "strengthens our view that retailers [and] brands won't be displaced by Amazon."

But a former Amazon employee told the Times that this decision doesn't mean Nike's problems will disappear, and could even prove costlier for Nike than Amazon, as "there there will be enough of a selection that someone looking for Nike on Amazon will find something to buy.”

Whether those other options will stick around for long remains to be seen, as analysts are now speculating that Nike's departure from Amazon could prompt other brands to leave, reports CNBC. Ramisa Rob

5:15 p.m.

Here's a piece of entirely useless trivia you'll never forget: Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena used to be a Tic Tac fiend, downing so many boxes of the breath mints before his wrestling matches that he estimates he sometimes took in "as much as 10,000 calories of straight sugar."

The number of Tic Tacs needed to actually add up to 10,000 calories notwithstanding, Cena said, "you always want to try to smell your best" — because nothing says "smell your best" like two sweaty dudes rolling around in a wrestling ring. Read more at Yahoo Entertainment. Scott Meslow

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