Sanders’ Delegates Stage Walkout Protest on Hillary Clinton Nomination

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 27, 2016

Sanders' Delegates Stage Walk Out in Protest After Hillary Clinton Is Nominated at Democratic National Convention, June 26, 2016

Sanders’ Delegates Stage Walkout in Protest After Hillary Clinton Is Nominated at Democratic National Convention, June 26, 2016

It had been in the planning for weeks and it was executed as flawlessly as the DNC’s own strategy to steal the election for Hillary Clinton. As Clinton’s nomination to serve as the presidential candidate was confirmed at the Democratic National Convention yesterday, hundreds of Senator Bernie Sanders’ delegates staged a walkout protest, leaving large swaths of the seats in the convention center empty.

Signs Being Waved During Protest Walkout at Democratic National Convention, Tuesday, July 26, 2016Waving signs that read “The Revolution Continues,” “A Future to Believe In,” “No TPP,” and chanting “This is what democracy looks like,” the marchers peacefully left the convention center and rallied outside. Numerous protestors wore tape or material over their mouths to protest how the DNC’s actions had illegally silenced their voices. (See second video below.)

Several hundred Sanders’ supporters also took over part of the media tent for the convention for a period of time. Shyla Nelson, a Sanders’ delegate from Vermont, explained what was behind the action to a reporter for The Young Turks. (See first video below.) Nelson said that while Sanders’ supporters respected his right to endorse Clinton, the protestors were giving a voice to the 13 million grassroots organizers and Sanders’ supporters. Nelson called the system “deeply diseased.”

Numerous Bernie Sanders' Delegates Wore Gags Over Their Mouths to Protest How the DNC's Secret Behind-the-Scenes Efforts Against Sanders Had Silenced Their Ability to Take Back Their DemocracyNelson is affiliated with Election Justice USA (EJUSA), which has been tracking voter suppression and election fraud in the Democratic primaries in states like New York, Arizona and California. According to a 96-page report released by the group, they have evidence suggesting that more than 500,000 voter registrations were “tampered with or improperly handled.” The report also notes:

“The widespread and illegal efforts to manipulate the election results in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries are not the only visible indications of election fraud. EJUSA has also identified irregular patterns in precinct-level Democratic vote tallies which are strongly suggestive of electronic voting machine tampering. In all eleven primaries where discrepancies between exit polling and official results exceeded the margin of error, the discrepancy favored Hillary Clinton.”

Groups involved in planning the walkout included Occupy Wall Street, Bernie or Bust and Movement4Bernie. Occupy Wall Street published the following statement prior to the walkout:

“Walking out collectively from the Democratic National Convention will be the clearest and most powerful rejection of the neoliberal politics of the DNC.

“Clinton and DNC have made crystal clear to our movement that they plan to ignore us on all key issues. The choice of Tim Kaine as VP shows Clinton paid no heed to Sanders supporters on the most important political question facing her presidential campaign. She chose her neoliberal political twin as running mate, with Wall Street’s enthusiastic stamp of approval. Perhaps as a signal to Corporate America, Tim Kaine only last week reasserted his full support for TPP and further banking deregulation.

“Meanwhile, the DNC Wikileaks have fully exposed how rigged the (un)Democratic primary was from start to finish, with thousands of emails showing the absolute non-neutrality of a corrupt party leadership who made the primary into utterly hostile terrain for Bernie Sanders…”

As we watched the peaceful demonstrations in Philadelphia, we were reminded of the brutal and violent methods used to quash the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, home of Wall Street, which is Hillary Clinton’s largest donor base. One has to wonder what would have happened had Senator Sanders led his grassroots supporters in a revolt at the convention rather than acquiescing to the quintessential establishment candidate.

The crawl-under-a-rock moment of embarrassment for Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren (who gave a gushing, over-the-top endorsement to Clinton in a Monday night speech) will be when Clinton nominates unsavory Wall Street cronies and her wealthy, tainted donors to critical posts in her administration. As Maureen Dowd noted in her July 9 column at the New York Times, the Clintons seem to delight in contaminating brands perceived as wholesome.

Wikileaks Emails Bring New Attention to Hillary Victory Fund “Money Laundering” Charges

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 26, 2016

Politico Reporter, Ken Vogel

Politico Reporter, Ken Vogel

The problem with conspiracy theorists is that, quite frequently, the theorists lack adequate imagination. That seems to be the case when it comes to the Democratic National Committee’s behind-the-scenes machinations to muscle Hillary Clinton into the White House while plotting against her main challenger, Bernie Sanders. That conclusion stems from the trove of 20,000 DNC emails dumped into the public sphere by Wikileaks last Friday.

The leaked emails have cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job as Chair of the DNC but other top DNC officials captured in devious plots against Sanders in the email exchanges still have their jobs – or at least no official firings have been announced. This makes the conspiracies seem more like a DNC business model.

The DNC’s own charter demands that it treat all Democratic primary candidates fairly and impartially, but top DNC officials made a mockery of that mandate. In addition to conjuring up ways to smear Clinton challenger Bernie Sanders during the primary battles, the leaked emails show a coordinated effort to cover up what the Sanders camp called “money laundering” between the Hillary Victory Fund and the DNC.

Despite the fact that the Sanders campaign had no such active arrangement with the DNC, the DNC agreed to participate in the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that sluiced money to both Hillary’s main candidate committee, Hillary for America, as well as into the DNC. To a much tinier degree, funds also went to dozens of separate State Democratic committees.

On May 2 of this year, the Sanders campaign released a statement charging Clinton with “looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign,” and exploiting “the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions.”

Despite Clinton’s promise to rein in tax dodges by hedge funds, Wall Street On Parade reported in April that major hedge fund titans were also big donors to the Hillary Victory Fund. We wrote at the time:

“Federal Election Commission records show that S. Donald Sussman, founder of hedge fund Paloma Partners, gave $343,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund while also donating $2.5 million to Priorities USA, the Super Pac supporting Hillary. Hedge Fund billionaire George Soros donated $343,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund while sluicing a whopping $7 million into Priorities USA to enhance Hillary’s efforts to move into the Oval Office.”

Isaac Arnsdorf, Reporter for Politico

Isaac Arnsdorf, Reporter for Politico

Today, reporters Ken Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico have provided significant new details from the leaked emails to show how the DNC worked behind the scenes to control the media’s handling of revelations involving the Hillary Victory Fund.

Vogel was criticized by some media outlets when the Wikileaks emails revealed he had allowed a DNC official to review one of his articles critical of the joint fundraising operation prior to publication. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has provided some necessary clarity to that issue here.

The Clinton camp and the DNC had attempted publicly to defend the joint fundraising operation as providing critical help to State Committees in order to help down-ticket candidates. But today, Vogel and Arnsdorf report the following:

“Between the creation of the victory fund in September and the end of last month, the fund had brought in $142 million, the lion’s share of which — 44 percent — has wound up in the coffers of the DNC ($24.4 million) and Hillary for America ($37.6 million), according to a POLITICO analysis of FEC filings. By comparison, the analysis found that the state parties have kept less than $800,000 of all the cash brought in by the committee — or only 0.56 percent.”

Vogel and Arnsdorf also detail how the DNC attempted to stonewall reporters on the topic, writing:

“The emails show the officials agreeing to withhold information from reporters about the Hillary Victory Fund’s allocation formula, working to align their stories about when — or if — the DNC had begun funding coordinated campaign committees with the states.”

The Politico reporters also note that Hillary Clinton’s campaign attorney, Marc Elias of law firm Perkins Coie, also appears in a Wikileaks email suggesting media strategy to the DNC:

“ ‘The DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful to the Democratic party,’ Marc Elias, an attorney who advises the DNC and the Clinton campaign, wrote in an email to DNC officials. [DNC] CEO Amy Dacey responded ‘I do think there is too much of this narrative out there — I also worry since they are emailing to their list (which has overlap with ours!)’

“In another email, Miranda, the [DNC] communications director, suggested that the campaign tell other journalists seeking to follow POLITICO’s story that “Politico got it wrong.” But the rest of his email failed to indicate any errors in POLITICO’s story, nor did the DNC or the Clinton campaign seek a correction.”

Politico’s latest revelations build on the allegations in the class action lawsuit that has been filed against the DNC and Wasserman Schultz by Sanders’ supporters. One document submitted in that lawsuit came from a previous hack of the DNC server by an individual known as Guccifer 2.0. That document shows that even after Bernie Sanders had announced he was entering the race on April 30, 2015, the DNC was brainstorming on how it could advance Hillary Clinton to the top of the ticket. The memo is described as follows in the lawsuit:

“Among the documents released by Guccifer 2.0 on June 15th is a two-page Microsoft Word file with a ‘Confidential’ watermark that appears to be a memorandum written to the Democratic National Committee regarding ‘2016 GOP presidential candidates’ and dated May 26, 2015. A true and correct copy of this document (hereinafter, ‘DNC Memo’) is attached as Exhibit 1. The DNC Memo presents, ‘a suggested strategy for positioning and public messaging around the 2016 Republican presidential field.’ It states that, ‘Our goals in the coming months will be to frame the Republican field and the eventual nominee early and to provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC.’ [HRC means Hillary Rodham Clinton.] The DNC Memo also advises that the DNC, ‘[u]se specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC.’ In order to ‘muddy the waters’ around Clinton’s perceived vulnerabilities, the DNC Memo suggests ‘several different methods’ of attack including: (a) ‘[w]orking through the DNC’ to ‘utilize reporters’ and create stories in the media ‘with no fingerprints’; (b) ‘prep[ping]’ reporters for interviews with GOP candidates and having off-the-record conversations with them; (c) making use of social media attacks; and (d) using the DNC to ‘insert our messaging’ into Republican-favorable press.” [Read the full memorandum here.]

The response to all of this from Hillary Clinton has further enraged Sanders’ supporters. After the emails were leaked and written about in the media over the weekend, Hillary Clinton made Wasserman Schultz the honorary chairperson of her 50-state program and President Obama praised Wasserman Schultz in a statement that can only be described as bizarre, given the contents of the leaked emails. Obama said on Sunday:

“For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful. Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country.”

Apparently, missing from those “shared goals” is allowing a fair primary process within the Democratic party or a challenge to the political machine that controls Washington.

After Chaotic Weekend for Democrats and Wasserman Schultz, A Class Action Lawsuit Lies Ahead

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 25, 2016

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Stepping Down

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Stepping Down

First it was Hillary Clinton handling Top Secret national security matters in emails with the caution of a drunken sailor. Now it’s emails leaked by Wikileaks showing that key officials at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempted to derail the Democratic campaign of Bernie Sanders in direct violation of the DNC’s own Charter.  Loose email lips are sinking a lot of ships in the Democratic corridors of power. And a lot more emails and depositions may be coming as a class action lawsuit filed in Federal Court gets underway.

Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC Charter mandates the following:

“The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”

Instead, according to more than 20,000 DNC emails exposed by Wikileaks on Friday, top DNC staffers were plotting to use Senator Bernie Sanders’ religious beliefs against him and to characterize his campaign as a mess.

Three months before the Wikileaks dump of emails on Friday, which show a clear strategy by the DNC to undermine Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton, Wall Street On Parade had previously asked the question “Are Hillary Clinton and the DNC Skirting Election Law?” in regard to the clearly biased structure of the Hillary Clinton and DNC joint fundraising committee, which operated for the benefit of each other as if Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t exist. Wall Street On Parade also reported in April that the DNC’s direct marketing firm displayed overt bias in favor of Clinton over Sanders on its Facebook page.

As a result of the leaked emails, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced she will step down from that position at the end of the Democratic National Convention which starts today in Philadelphia. Wasserman Schultz got a taste of what lies ahead for her at the convention as she was loudly booed at a convention breakfast this morning, according to an ABC News report.

The Wikileaks dump of the 20,000 emails will not be the end of disclosures about how the DNC under the tutelage of Wasserman Schultz orchestrated a campaign to coronate Hillary Clinton and undermine Sanders. A Federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the DNC and Wasserman Schultz alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The suit, Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz (Case Number 16-cv-61511-WJZ) was originally filed by the law firm Beck & Lee on June 28, 2016. An amended complaint has subsequently been filed. Jared H. Beck of the law firm has indicated that over 1,000 plaintiffs have thus far signed retainer agreements with his firm in relation to the class action lawsuit.

Prior to the Wikileaks emails, an individual using the name Guccifer 2.0 took credit for a separate hack of the DNC server. One of the documents from the hack, posted on a public web site, shows that even after Bernie Sanders had entered the race, the DNC was writing confidential memos on how it could advance Hillary Clinton to the top of the ticket. The memo is described as follows in the lawsuit:

“Among the documents released by Guccifer 2.0 on June 15th is a two-page Microsoft Word file with a ‘Confidential’ watermark that appears to be a memorandum written to the Democratic National Committee regarding ‘2016 GOP presidential candidates’ and dated May 26, 2015. A true and correct copy of this document (hereinafter, ‘DNC Memo’) is attached as Exhibit 1. The DNC Memo presents, ‘a suggested strategy for positioning and public messaging around the 2016 Republican presidential field.’ It states that, ‘Our goals in the coming months will be to frame the Republican field and the eventual nominee early and to provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC.’ The DNC Memo also advises that the DNC, ‘[u]se specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC.’ In order to ‘muddy the waters’ around Clinton’s perceived vulnerabilities, the DNC Memo suggests ‘several different methods’ of attack including: (a) ‘[w]orking through the DNC’ to ‘utilize reporters’ and create stories in the media ‘with no fingerprints’; (b) ‘prep[ping]’ reporters for interviews with GOP candidates and having off-the-record conversations with them; (c) making use of social media attacks; and (d) using the DNC to ‘insert our messaging’ into Republican-favorable press.”

Jared H. Beck discusses the reasons for the lawsuit in the video below. It should be noted that his comments regarding the Democratic National Convention were made prior to Senator Sanders endorsing Hillary Clinton for President.

Did Jamie Dimon’s Secret Meetings With Competitors Violate Antitrust Laws?

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 22, 2016

Jamie Dimon, between jobs and mansions in the late 90s, took up boxing.  Here, he shadow boxes with Senate Banking on June 13, 2012.

Jamie Dimon Testifying at a Senate Banking Hearing on June 13, 2012.

A mere three months after JPMorgan Chase and three of its competitors (Citicorp, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland) pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to rig foreign currency trading and paid criminal fines totaling over $2.5 billion, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, began meeting in secret with his competitors in the asset management field.

On February 1 of this year, the Financial Times reported that “secret summits” had been held beginning in August 2015 between “asset management bosses” including Jamie Dimon, Abby Johnson of Fidelity, Larry Fink of BlackRock, and Tim Armour of Capital Group. The article went on to report that Dimon and Warren Buffett had convened the sessions at JPMorgan’s headquarters in New York to discuss “a statement of best practice on corporate governance.”

Secret meetings between competitors, regardless of what they are said to be discussing, is a serious no-no under U.S. antitrust law. A company like JPMorgan Chase, that was charged by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 with two deferred prosecution felony counts for its egregious conduct in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and hit again the next year with the felony count in the foreign currency conspiracy is skating on very thin ice. (It should be noted that under Jamie Dimon’s leadership, JPMorgan Chase received its only felony counts in the bank’s century old history. That should tell the public something about how things have changed in American banking culture.)

Two trial lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer, have written a book and set up a web site to call the public’s attention to JPMorgan’s mob-like activity. The lawyers write: “In the past four years alone, JPMorgan Chase has paid out $35,735,254,670 in fines and settlements for fraudulent and illegal practices.” In one chapter of the book, they compare JPMorgan Chase to the Gambino crime family and recommend that it be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

If these meetings were genuinely about crafting “best practice on corporate governance” why did they commence in secret? Why were they not commenced at one of the official financial industry trade associations like the Financial Services Forum or the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which says it is “the voice of the nation’s securities industry.”

According to guidelines published by various trade associations and law firms, the following rules must be followed when conducting meetings between competitors to avoid the perception, or actual charges, of antitrust violations:

– Meetings must be regularly scheduled and should never be secret.

– A properly designated Chairman shall prepare and follow a formal agenda which       should be reviewed in advance by legal counsel.

– Legal counsel should be present at all meetings.

– Formal written minutes of meetings should be taken and archived.

– Properly instituted bylaws should be followed.

– A Board of Directors should be properly instituted.

– Any company meeting the requirements of the bylaws should be allowed membership in the group.

Yesterday, the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote about the secret meetings, providing an altruistic spin. Despite writing in the article that participants “had arrived for a meeting that they were told they would absolutely have to keep secret,” Ross Sorkin does not once raise the antitrust issue in the article. He does note however that at some point the group was expanded beyond just asset managers to include “the chiefs of General Motors, General Electric and Verizon,” although he does not make it clear if these individuals actually attended meetings or just participated in conference calls and email exchanges.

The group has launched a web site that includes no mention of a Board of Directors, bylaws, minutes, legal counsel or any of the other mandates to comply with U.S. antitrust laws. It has published its recommendations on corporate governance principles and says in a letter that:

“More than 90 million Americans own our public companies through their investments in mutual funds, and millions more do so through their participation in corporate, public and union pension plans. These owners include veterans, retirees, teachers, nurses, firemen, and city, state and federal workers. We owe it to all of them – and to all our shareholders and investors who have entrusted us with their savings – to get this right.”

The governance principles are signed by billionaires Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett and 11 other one percenters. There is no mention that any veteran, retiree, teacher, nurse, fireman, municipal worker or consumer rights group (that the authors correctly note are impacted by these decisions carved out in secret) sat in on the meetings or had input into the fashioning of the principles.

Are Wall Street Banks in Trouble? You’d Never Know from the Headlines.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 21, 2016

Logos of Wall Street BanksOn July 14, when America’s biggest bank by assets reported its second quarter earnings, this headline ran at the New York Times: “JPMorgan Chase Has Strong Quarter as Earnings Top Estimates.”

CNBC, a unit of NBCUniversal, used the same criteria in its headlines to report the earnings of Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley — putting a positive spin in the headline because the earnings had topped what analysts were expecting – rather than the far more meaningful, and traditional, measure of whether earnings had beaten the same quarter a year earlier. CNBC’s headlines read:

Citigroup earnings handily top Wall Street expectations: CNBC-July 15, 2016

Bank of America earnings top expectations: CNBC-July 18, 2016

Morgan Stanley solidly beats earnings expectations: CNBC-July 20, 2016

This is hubris of the highest order. Publicly traded companies simply guide research analysts toward lowered expectations on their upcoming quarterly earnings so that the companies can surprise on the upside and get these kinds of misleading headlines in the all-to-willing New York media – which has a vested interest in making everything appear rosy in the Big Apple. (New York media is dependent on fat Wall Street profits to boost the price of their own publicly traded shares since ad revenue in New York is linked to the health of Wall Street.)

One would never know by these headlines that big bank earnings were actually down year over year – and in some cases, down dramatically. JPMorgan Chase earned $6.2 billion in the second quarter of 2016 versus $6.29 billion in the second quarter of 2015.

The news was far worse at Citigroup, despite the rosy headline at CNBC. Citigroup’s second quarter profit fell 17.5 percent year over year, to $4 billion from $4.85 billion in the second quarter of 2015. Its revenues were the lowest in 14 years according to S&P Capital IQ.

At Bank of America, profit fell to $4.23 billion from $5.3 billion in the second quarter of 2015, a sharp decline of 20 percent.

Morgan Stanley reported a year over year decline of 8 percent, with profits in the second quarter of 2016 falling to $1.67 billion from $1.82 billion in the second quarter of 2015.

Now news of jobs cuts is spilling out with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Bank of America will make “$5 billion in annual cost cuts by 2018 as part of its strategy to deal with persistently low interest rates that are eating away at lenders’ profitability.”

The New York Post is calling job cuts at Goldman Sachs the worst since the financial crisis in 2008. Fortune’s Stephen Gandel reported two days ago that Goldman had slashed a whopping “1,700 positions in the past three months.”

Something else one won’t find in those smiley-face headlines is the fact that Wall Street is not only bleeding profits and jobs but it’s also bleeding equity capital – the only thing that separates the word “bank” from the word “bankruptcy.”  While the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard and Poor’s 500 Indices may be setting new highs, the big Wall Street banks are decidedly not.

Over the past 52 weeks, Goldman is down from a share price of $214.61 to an open this morning of $162.55 – a decline of 24 percent. Bank of America is off 22 percent from its 52-week high, based on today’s open. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are in decidedly worse shape with declines of 28 percent and 27 percent, respectively, from their 52 week highs versus their share price at the open of the New York Stock Exchange this morning. Add this all up and you’re talking about tens of billions of dollars in equity capital vaporizing.

On July 6, the Wall Street Journal’s David Reilly reported that 20 of the biggest global banks had shed $465 billion, almost half a trillion dollars, in equity capital according to FactSet data. Wall Street On Parade spotted the trend on January 19 of this year with the headline “Big Bank Stocks Have Been Crushed: Here’s Why,” noting at the time that “the minute U.S. corporate media tells you that ‘the selloff isn’t about worries of banks blowing up,’ you know the worries are about banks blowing up.” We also pointed out that the reason these banks trade as a herd in a downward spiral is that, despite the contagion lessons of 2008, Federal banking regulators like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve have done nothing to end the interconnectedness between these banks, who are counterparties to each other’s derivatives and other intrafinancial assets and liabilities.

Finally, if you stood on a corner on Main Street and surveyed 100 people as to whether corporate earnings are good right now in America, our bet is that a majority would say “yes” based on reading headlines about the new highs being set in the Dow and S&P.

Missing in the bold headlines on the front covers of newspapers is the fact that this quarter will mark the fourth consecutive quarter that S&P earnings have declined. To most rational folks, that sounds like an entrenched trend. On July 7, S&P Capital IQ reported that this four-quarter decline marks an “occurrence that hasn’t happened since 2009.” The fact that the decline is expected to occur in six sectors (as it did in the first quarter of this year) also hasn’t happened since the height of the financial crisis in 2009. Those six sectors are projected to be energy, materials, financials, technology, consumer staples, and telecom.