April 1, 2020

A financial disclosure filed Tuesday shows that from mid-February to mid-March, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeff Sprecher, invested in DuPont, a company that makes personal protective equipment used by first responders fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Loeffler, worth an estimated $500 million, came under fire last month when it was discovered that she dumped millions in stock after receiving private briefings on the coronavirus pandemic and before she publicly downplayed the threat from the virus; 15 of the stocks had, on average, lost more than a third of their value by late March. Loeffler has denied using insider knowledge to influence her decisions to buy and sell stock, and her campaign says an investment firm manages her stocks and she does not have any control over day-to-day decisions.

The disclosure filed Tuesday shows that the largest transactions made between mid-February and mid-March involved $18.7 million in sales of Intercontinental Exchange stock. ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange, and Loeffler is a former company executive. Loeffler's campaign said the sales were prearranged as part of Loeffler's and Sprecher's compensation package. Read more about Loeffler's stock sales at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Update, April 2: In a statement to The Week, a Loeffler spokeswoman said, "Sen. Loeffler filed another Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) and the facts are still the same. These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells. Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors and she is notified, as indicated on the report, after transactions occur. Sen. Loeffler continues to operate with integrity and transparency — following both the spirit and the letter of the law. While some will continue to make baseless accusations devoid of facts, Sen. Loeffler will continue working to keep Americans safe and provide much-needed relief to Georgia families and businesses impacted by COVID-19." Catherine Garcia

March 3, 2020

The Federal Reserve Board announced Tuesday it was cutting interest rates by half a percentage point in response to concerns about how the coronavirus is affecting the economy.

"The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong," but "the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity," the Fed said in an unscheduled statement. Its benchmark funds rate now sits at 1 to 1.25 percent.

CNBC characterized the cut as an "emergency" measure since it came between the Fed's scheduled quarterly adjustments. This is the first emergency adjustment since the 2008 financial crisis. It comes after the stock market saw a dramatic fall last week, only to start to rebound on Monday. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 31, 2019

The Federal Reserve is expected to announce its first interest rate cut in a decade when it wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, CNBC reports. Fed leaders have telegraphed the move, saying such policies would help continue the economy's record-long expansion. Most analysts are anticipating a quarter-point cut, although some believe the Fed will cut rates by 50 basis points. Either way, it's unusual for the Fed to cut rates as data show "above trend growth" and such a strong labor market, rather than waiting to offer stimulus when the economy is heading into trouble, said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "There's no historical precedent," he said.

U.S. stock index futures rose early Wednesday as investors braced for the announcement, CNBC reports. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up by 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The three main U.S. indexes retreated from last week's record highs for the second straight day on Tuesday after a mixed flurry of corporate earnings reports. The Dow dropped by 0.1 percent on Tuesday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.3 percent, and the Nasdaq fell by 0.2 percent. Harold Maass

May 15, 2019

Only three women had a voice on Alabama's abortion ban that passed its Senate on Tuesday, and they all voted against it.

Meanwhile, the state Senate's Republican coalition is made up entirely of white men, and 25 of its members voted in favor of the bill while two abstained. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) now seems likely to sign the bill, which was put on her desk by a legislature that's 84.3 percent men, reports.

The Alabama state Senate voted Tuesday night to make it a felony to perform or receive an abortion, with exceptions only allowed for the health of the mother and not for cases of rape or incest. The bill primarily affects women, yet it passed despite the protests of the only three women present for the vote. The Senate's fourth woman member did not vote due to illness.

The bill was sponsored in the state's lower House of Representatives by a woman lawmaker, Rep. Terri Collins (R). She introduced the bill with the intention of "revisit[ing] the constitutionally-flawed Roe v. Wade decision," she said in a release last month. All of the House's GOP members voted to send it to the Senate, save for three who abstained. Ivey has said she wants to read the whole bill before deciding whether to sign it, but reports she's generally supported abortion bans without rape or incest exceptions. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 3, 2019

The Mueller report is on everybody's minds — especially those of the two world leaders most mentioned in it.

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spent more than an hour on the phone Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. Their conversation, she said, touched on Venezuela, North Korea, and, perhaps most interestingly, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

Trump and Putin discussed the report "very, very briefly" and "in the context that it's over," Sanders said. They mentioned that "there was no collusion, which I’m pretty sure both leaders were very well aware of long before this call took place," Sanders continued.

Sanders didn't say if Trump brought up the report's clear conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election "in sweeping and systematic fashion." Despite this, Putin's allies have still been publicly lauding the report's findings — or at least putting a "no collusion" spin on them. Trump also didn't seem to mention how Republicans in the Senate were very focused on the report's Russian meddling aspects during a Wednesday testimony with Attorney General William Barr. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 9, 2018

The Kim Jong Un regime celebrated the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding with a military parade Sunday, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were noticeably absent from the display. The decision to refrain from brandishing missiles the regime developed to be able to carry nuclear warheads to the United States is a hopeful sign amid halting diplomatic engagement with Washington to move North Korea toward denuclearization.

The parade featured military vehicles and troops by the thousands in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square. A special envoy from Beijing attended the event to bestow China's seal of approval. Bonnie Kristian

June 3, 2018

President Trump on Wednesday will host his administration's first iftar dinner, the evening meal marking the end of each day's fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The White House confirmed the plan to Politico for a Saturday evening report but would not share a guest list.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all hosted iftar dinners, but Trump declined to do so in 2017. The decision was a further point of tension in his administration's relationship to the Muslim community.

On the campaign trail, Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He said the U.S. should "strongly consider" shutting down mosques and did not reject the suggestion of a national Muslim database. Bonnie Kristian

May 16, 2018

The person who leaked some financial records about Michael Cohen last week told The New Yorker they did so because two other important documents related to Cohen's banking activities were missing from a government database and they were concerned information was being suppressed.

The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow says the leaker is a law enforcement official. Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, opened an account at First Republic Bank for his shell company Essential Consultants LLC. The leaker released a suspicious-activity report filed by the bank, showing that Cohen received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Novartis, AT&T, and other companies after Trump's election. The leaked report mentions two earlier suspicious-activity reports the bank had filed, detailing more than $3 million in other questionable transactions from unknown business and other entities.

The person who leaked the report told Farrow that these two suspicious-activity reports are not in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database. Banks are legally required to file suspicious-activity reports with the government, creating records of possible fraud and money laundering. While not proof of criminal activity, those reports do go into the permanent FinCEN database, and law enforcement officials and other federal government personnel have access to the database.

The leaker told Farrow they had "never seen something pulled off the system" like this, which was concerning. "The system is a safeguard for the bank," they said. "It's a stockpile of information. When something's not there that should be, I immediately became concerned." Farrow spoke with a government official who speculated that access was restricted due to the sensitive nature of the documents, but it would be a nearly unprecedented move. For more on the missing documents and why it's worrisome, visit The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia

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