Posts tagged with "NBC News"

Trump severs ties with three pollsters after bleak numbers are leaked

June 18, 2019

President Donald Trump appears to be stumbling before he is even out of the gate. Although he hasn’t stopped campaigning since his 2016 election—holding rallies nationwide for his political base even while he has been in office—it is now an open secret that the incumbent president is trailing several Democratic contenders … and not just by a trivial amount.

In fact, The Washington Post reported on June 17, President Trump’s campaign severed ties with three members of his polling team late last week following a leak of grim numbers to the media. The polling results showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in several battleground states, as well as failing to match the momentum of other Democratic hopefuls.

Days ahead of Trump’s official launch of his reelection bid today, the campaign is ending its relationships with Brett Loyd, Mike Baselice, and Adam Geller while keeping pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin, the Post said.

The officials, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal moves. The Trump campaign declined to comment. NBC News first reported on the campaign’s actions.

The news follows reports—first by Politico and later by The New York Timeson a 17-state internal poll conducted by Fabrizio. The data show Trump trailing Biden by double digits in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan, where Trump narrowly edged out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. The poll also found Trump behind Biden in several other states that were key to the president’s win — Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia — while holding a narrow edge in strongly Republican Texas.

And other polling bears the results out. According to Real Clear Politics, a poll by Fox News posted on June 16 found that Biden would beat Trump by ten points (49-39) in the general election. Sanders would take a nine-point lead (49-40; Warren, a two-point lead (43-41); Harris, a one-point lead (42-41), and Buttigieg a one-point lead (41-40).

As for general job approval, the Fox poll found that 45% of the U.S. population approves of President Trump’s performance, while 53% disapproves.

President Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on June 12, claiming his reelection campaign is leading “in every single state that we polled.”

But, privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked out, according to White House and campaign officials.

“He is madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,” said one administration source.

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good….news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Biden gets bashed for his support of Hyde Amendment

June 7, 2019

Democratic voters who had backed Joe Biden’s presidential run to date—as well as three national groups that advocate for women’s rights—are criticizing the former vice president over his support for the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services.

The fallout has occurred in response to a June 5 NBC News report that Biden continues to support the amendment, which allows for exceptions only after rape or incest—or to save the life of the mother.

Biden started the week on a strong roll—with 33% of national poll respondents saying they would support him; in contast to 16.7% for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), 8.2% for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), 7.8% for Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), and 6.8% for Mayor Pete Buttigieg of (D-South Bend, Indiana), according to Real Clear Politics.

However, those numbers could change, in light of his less-than-overwhelming support of a woman’s right to choose.

Indeed, Biden only would back repealing the amendment “if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened,” his campaign told NBC News.

In a statement released on June 5, Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion rights group NARAL, said there is “no political or ideological excuse” for Biden’s support for the amendment, which she said “translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple.”

She added, “His position further endangers women and families already facing enormous hurdles and creates two classes of rights for people in this country, which is inherently undemocratic.”

Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, a political action committee that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, also issued a statement, saying, “At a time when reproductive rights are under consistent attack, it’s unacceptable that a major Democratic nominee supports the Hyde Amendment.”

Schriock further stated, “We hope that Vice President Biden will reconsider this position and what it means to millions of women.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, Biden’s stance on the issue puts him at odds with most of the 2020 Democratic presidential field, as well as with the Democratic Party’s platform. In 2016, the party amended its platform to include a plank calling for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, describing it as among the “federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion.”

“The Democratic Party platform is crystal clear in supporting the right to safe, legal abortion and repealing the Hyde Amendment, a position held by the majority of voters,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, on June 5.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Editor’s note: According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on the night of June 6 that he now opposes a ban on the use of federal funds for most abortions, reversing his longstanding position amid pressure from fellow Democrats and abortion-rights groups.

Barr tries to provoke Pelosi: ‘Did you bring your handcuffs?’

May 17, 2019

On two occasions within the past month, the U.S. attorney general has, literally, been a scofflaw.

NBC News reports that, after refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee several weeks ago and ignoring a subpoena, AG William Barr ribbed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on May 15 about an impending vote to find him in contempt of Congress.

Barr approached Pelosi at a National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day event outside the Capitol, shook her hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?” a bystander told NBC News.

Pelosi—whose role it is to schedule the contempt vote against Barr before the full House—remained unperturbed.

She smiled in reply and indicated that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony, should an arrest be necessary, the bystander said. Barr chuckled and walked away.

But this is not the first time he has sneered at the situation. Barr also joked about the contempt resolution at a farewell ceremony for former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week.

“This must be a record, of an attorney general being proposed for contempt within 100 days of taking office,” Barr said with a smile.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Driving ambition: Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads by 2020

April 24, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the company would have 1 million robotaxis on the roads by next year, according to a report by NBC News.

“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California. They won’t be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year,” he said.

However, he noted that the autonomous cars might have nobody in them; they might be part of a pilot test. He also warned investors, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.”

Musk based his optimism on the amount of data his company has been able to gather from Tesla vehicles already on the road today, which it then uses to improve its software.

All Tesla electric cars being produced today have the hardware on board that’s required for full self-driving, Musk said, promising that, “all you need to do is improve the software.”

Musk also predicted that in two years, Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals.

In the past, NBC News reports, Elon Musk’s forecasts for Tesla have missed the mark. Tesla was two years late with the launch of the Model X, its first all-electric SUV. And it was two years late in delivering semi-autonomous features to eager drivers.

When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the U.S. by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission.

Currently, Tesla offers Autopilot — an advanced driver assistance system — as a standard feature in its cars. According to the company’s website, Autopilot can automatically hold a car in its lane and accelerate or brake automatically, for example, in response to pedestrians or other cars in its way. Tesla can improve Autopilot with new features (or bug fixes) over time via over-the-air updates, as well.

In addition, Tesla sells a Full Self-Driving (FSD), package for its vehicles for $5,000 or more if the software is installed after the vehicle is initially purchased, the network news outlet reports.

FSD features today include Summon, which lets a driver call their Tesla to roll out from a parking spot to where they are standing (with no driver on board). And FSD lets drivers  Navigate on Autopilot, automatically driving a car from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp, making necessary lane changes along the way.

Later this year, Tesla’s website says, cars with FSD should be able to read and respond properly to traffic lights and stop signs, and drive automatically on city streets.

However, Tesla still cautions its drivers, “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” In other words, keep your eyes on the road.

Research contact: @Tesla

Tiger Woods swings back with a Masters win

April 17, 2019

It’s been a long time since Tiger Woods last won a Masters tournament—14 years—but Americans love a comeback.

Branding experts say his single-stroke victory on the 18th green during the final round on April 14 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia also shows that Woods, at 43, is still a winning investment for Nike and his other sponsors, NBC News reported.

Woods delivered $22.5 million in media exposure for Nike during the tournament on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group.

“He’s eclipsed what he provided Nike in brand exposure for the four majors last year with just this one major,” Apex President Eric Smallwood told the network news outlet. “He’s got that drive now and he’s playing the best golf he’s played in recent years. I think he’s going to continue to provide Nike with enhanced exposure because the TV is going to follow him.”

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on April 15 that he would be awarding Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom: “Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!

Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco told NBC News that Woods’ victory—especially if it is followed by future wins—could go a long way to helping him to re-engage the wide variety of brands he endorsed before a sex scandal and tabloid-ready divorce prompted brands like Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T to drop him.

“It legitimizes him — there were certainly questions about whether he was still viable,” he said.

This is good news for sponsors seeking a return on their investment, and for Woods’ own bottom line. “I would not be surprised if, in the long run, this win yesterday at Augusta is worth $50 to $100 million in future benefits to Tiger. He will see revenue streams from this win for years to come,” said Rick Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Just humor him: Trump was joking about loving WikiLeaks, Sarah Sanders says

April 16, 2019

“I love WikiLeaks,” Donald Trump exulted in October 2016 during a campaign rally. “Boy, they are good. You gotta read WikiLeaks!” ended

But on April 11—after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London and ejected from Ecuador’s embassy following his seven-year asylum there—President Trump told reporters at the White House, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”

“It’s not my thing,” he added, according to an April 14 report by NBC News.

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quick to come to his defense. “Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign,” Sanders told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace about Trump’s past praise for WikiLeaks.

Sanders spoke about Trump’s WikiLeaks remarks after the Department of Justice charged the website’s fugitive founder Julian Assange with computer hacking following his arrest in London, partly in connection with a U.S. extradition warrant.

The Department of Justice indicted Assange on a charge of conspiring with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to hack a classified government computer. Manning provided WikiLeaks with a trove of secret government documents that the website published in 2010.

In his own defense, NBC News reports, Assange has insisted that the United States is trying to infringe on journalistic freedom.

Assange and WIkiLeaks were at the forefront of leaking stolen emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, including from 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Tussle over taxes: Mnuchin says Treasury Department won’t release Trump’s returns

April 12, 2019

In a move that bowed to the president rather than American values, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the Donald Trump’s tax returns by the April 10 deadline that had been specified by the House Ways and Means Committee, NBC News reports.

On the one hand, the House committee asserted that § 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code clearly states that it is entitled to receive the tax returns.

Indeed, the law dictates: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury]shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request….”

On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), said that the Treasury was continuing to review Democrats’ request in light of “serious issues” about whether the request is proper.

Neal said in a brief statement only that he had received Mnuchin’s letter and that he was consulting with legal counsel, promising a response “in the coming days.”

In filing a formal request with the Treasury Department last week, Neal had said, “I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal and oversight rights.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means hearing last month that he would protect Trump’s privacy.

 His letter went further, according to NBC News, claiming, “”The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power.” Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department about the legality and constitutionality of Neal’s request.

Mnuchin said that “for the same reasons,” he intended to supervise the department’s review personally.

The president, himself, has insisted that his tax returns are under audit and cannot be released for that reasons. However, according to the network news outlet, tax experts have said that, even if he is under audit, there’s nothing to stop Trump from releasing his returns.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on Neal’s committee, welcomed Mnuchin’s letter, warning that the request “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“The tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions,” Brady said. “The Treasury Department is right to carefully review the privacy impact this request would have on every taxpayer.”

If the request continues to be denied, NBC News said, Democrats could consider legal action.

Separately, Democrats in New York, the president’s home state, introduced a bill in the legislature on Monday that would allow the state to release any state tax return requested by the three congressional committees. The bill would apply only to Trump’s state returns—not to the federal returns that Neal is seeking—but because the president’s businesses are based there, his New York returns are thought to be likely to include much of the same information.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Cummings presses for records of ‘Javanka’s’ use of WhatsApp and email for White House business

March 25, 2019

Next to MAGA, it is arguable that President Donald Trump’s favorite slogan during his run for office was “Lock her up!”—in reference to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

So who would think that anyone who served on his campaign—or within the Trump administration—would consider using private email or texts for government business? Much less individuals from the president’s immediate family?

However, now that it has come to light that Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has “has been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official White House duties to communicate with foreign leaders”—a direct quote from his own lawyer, Abbe Lowell— and that Trump senior adviser and First Daughter Ivanka has been using her private email for similar reasons, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wants an explanation.

He also wants copies of the relevant messages for “a bipartisan investigation into the use of personal email and messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House in violation of the Presidential Records act and White House policy,” he said in a letter to the president’s counsel, Pat Cipollone, on March 21.

In the letter, Cummings asks that Cipollone indicate by March 28 whether the White House will comply voluntarily, NBC News reports. If not, he says, he will resort to “alternative means” to obtain the information.

In the letter, Cummings accused the White House of “obstructing” his committee’s work and called the officials’ practices a potential violation of federal records laws.

The letter is part of an initial strategy by the committee chairman to use his powers to pursue lines of inquiry that have had past bipartisan support, according to committee aides who spoke with NBC News.

In March 2017, then-Republican Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  (Utah)joined Cummings on a letter to the White House requesting information on any use of non-official email accounts being used by its officials.

White House spokesperson Steven Groves acknowledged receipt of the letter. “As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course,” Groves said.

In a letter responding to Cummings on March 21, Lowell disputed he ever told the committee that Kushner had communicated with foreign leaders through any app, the network news outlet said. “I said he has used those communications with ‘some people’ and I did not specify who they were,” said Lowell, noting that Kushner has numerous “friends and contacts abroad.”

He also insisted that Kushner “follows the protocols (including the handling of classified information) as he has been instructed to do.”

In addition, Lowell disputed reports that Ivanka Trump continued to use personal after becoming a senior adviser to her father.

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record “using a non-official electronic message account.”

Cummings’ letter said that in October 2017, White House lawyers briefed committee staff and said several employees had acknowledged failing to forward official records from their personal email accounts within 20 days, but refused to identify who they were.

According to NBC News, the committee’s request for information is part a broad swath of demands Cummings has made of the White House. In his letter, Cummings noted that the White House has not “produced a single piece of paper” on this or any other investigation. The broad range of inquiries include questions about the administration’s immigration policy at the Mexico border, as well as hush money payments Trump made to a porn star during the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HeidiNBC

No sweat? Prolonged use of hormones linked to slightly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease

March 12, 2019

Hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems. Many women trade these uncomfortable, annoying—even embarrassing—symptoms of menopause in for a prescription for oral hormone therapy, and never look back.

But now there’s a reason to reevaluate. Researchers reported on March 6 that long-term use of oral hormone therapy may be associated with a small increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in postmenopausal women.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with six Finnish healthcare organizations, looked at nearly 85,000 postmenopausal women, between the ages of 70 and 80, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 1999 and 2013.

They found that use of oral hormone therapy for ten or more years in women who started the pills before age 60 had a 9% to 17% increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Women who used vaginal hormone therapy showed no increased risk.

Interestingly enough, prior research had indicated that hormone therapy reduces the risk of vascular dementia; but the new study found no such good news related to Alzheimer’s.

“It prompted us to do research on Alzheimer’s disease to see if the same results persisted, but it doesn’t look like hormonal therapy provided a protective effect on Alzheimer’s,” lead author Dr. Tomi Mikkola, supervisor for the obstetrics and gynecology doctoral program in clinical research at the University of Helsinki, told NBC News during a recent interview.

The specific reasons behind this increased risk are elusive, but biological differences between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia may be one reason why, Mikkola said.

“Alzheimer’s is a completely different type of disease, we don’t know the mechanism behind the disease. What we know is that the disease has started decades before we see symptoms of memory loss,” said Mikkola.

It is possible that the hormone therapy speeds up progression of the disease, he added.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. And of the nearly 6 million Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; fully  two-thirds (66%) are women—including 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, experts predict that this number will rise to nearly 14 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Given the lack of effective Alzheimer’s treatments and increased prevalence of the disease, medical and public health efforts have focused on primary prevention, including risk factors and preventive strategies, especially to women,” said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in an editorial written in response to the study.

“But the findings should not be a cause for alarm. For the short-term management of hot flashes, night sweats and disruptive sleep, the benefits of hormone therapy seem to outweigh the risk.”

In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the role of menopausal hormone therapy. Two 2017 studies found that the period when a woman starts to produce less estrogen, usually in her 40s, may be a critical point in whether she’ll go on to develop Alzheimer’s or not. Researchers concluded that the hormone estrogen is protective for a woman’s brain, stimulating growth and keeping it healthy. But the natural drop in estrogen during menopause means women lose that layer of protection, NBC News reported..

Both Mikkola and Manson agree that most women under 60 are safe to use short courses of hormone therapy for menopause symptoms.

 “Women should not use hormone therapy for the expressed purpose of trying to improve memory or reduce cognitive decline, but when used for early menopause the benefits are sure to outweigh the risk for short term treatment,” said Manson.

Because the study was observational, it isn’t definite that long-term hormone therapy causes Alzheimer’s disease. Other risk factors, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or having the APOE gene weren’t included in the study — these may have also contributed to many of the women’s increased dementia risk.

“Women should not be scared to use hormone therapy if needed,” Mikkola told NBC News. “Women who use hormone therapy for symptom relief have a much better quality of life.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

About time: Labor Department proposal would make 1.1 million U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay

March 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Labor has announcedproposed rule that would make 1.1 million American workers eligible to receive overtime pay beginning in 2020.

Under a 2004 currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime, if they work more than 40 hours during a given week.

The new proposal—which is subject to a 60-day comment period— would raise the salary cap of workers eligible for overtime from $455 to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year). 

“Our economy has more job openings than job seekers and more Americans are joining the labor force,” said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.  “At my confirmation hearings, I committed to an update of the 2004 overtime threshold, and [the new] proposal would bring common sense, consistency, and higher wages to working Americans.”

“Commenters … overwhelmingly agreed that the 2004 levels need to be updated,” said Keith Sonderling, acting administrator for the Department’s Wage and Hour Division.

The NPRM maintains overtime protections for police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, nurses, and laborers including: non-management production-line employees and non-management employees in maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, and construction workers.

According to an NBC News report, the threshold was last raised in 2004 under President George W. Bush. An Obama-era rule that would have raised it to $47,476 was blocked by a judge mere days before it was due to take effect on December 1, 2016. By that point, many big companies already had made adjustments to worker pay and titles — in some cases raising the pay of employees who were just below the higher threshold to just above it, or reclassifying salaried workers as hourly employees eligible to earn overtime.

In its announcement, the network news outlet said, the department indicated it was seeking a middle ground between a 15-year-old figure that had not kept pace with pay trends and the much higher cap that had been sought by President Barack Obama, which would have impacted 4.2 million workers.

Economists said the working poor would be the primary beneficiaries of the higher threshold, based on the NBC News report. “Expanding overtime eligibility will likely have a positive impact on wage growth for workers with lower wages,” said Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor senior economist.

Research contact: sweeney.megan.p@dol.gov