Trump Commerce Adviser Discovered to Have Violated Hatch Act

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Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Peter Navarro, the director of President Trump’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, broke federal law repeatedly during the presidential campaign by accusing Joseph R. Biden Jr. of “kowtowing to the Chinese” and claiming that electing Mr. Biden would devastate the economy, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel ruled on Monday.

The special counsel said Mr. Navarro’s statements in television interviews and on Twitter had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal executive branch employees from trying to influence elections while acting in their official capacity. Five of the violations occurred after the special counsel informed Mr. Navarro in June that it was investigating Hatch Act allegations against him.

Mr. Navarro, one of Mr. Trump’s most combative advisers, deleted his Twitter account four days after the special counsel’s office asked the Office of the White House Counsel about the account and its contents, the special counsel said in a report posted publicly on Monday. The report referred Mr. Navarro to Mr. Trump for disciplinary action.

From May to October, Mr. Navarro attacked Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, in at least six media interviews while appearing in his official capacity, the report concluded. Many of those attacks alleged that Mr. Biden would be soft on China. Mr. Navarro referred to Mr. Biden as “Beijing Biden” and said he was susceptible to being “bought” by the Chinese.

He frequently attacked Mr. Biden in a Twitter account that he had also used for official White House purposes. In September, Mr. Navarro wrote that “Joe Biden tore the heart out of the heartland by voting for NAFTA and China into the WTO,” a reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization.

The report said the violations “were knowing and willful” after Mr. Navarro received training on the Hatch Act and a letter of investigation from the special counsel’s office, which was prompted by a complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

His “attempt to influence voters in the 2020 presidential election, while speaking as a representative of their government, is just what the Hatch Act is intended to prevent,” the report said.

Mr. Navarro did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

The executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Noah Bookbinder, cheered the report in a news release. “In an administration full of people illegally using their government positions to influence an election, Navarro has been one of the worst,” he said.

Mr. Navarro joins a growing list of Mr. Trump’s advisers who have been found to have violated the Hatch Act, including Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, and Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor before resigning this year.

The White House Counsel’s Office defended Mr. Navarro, the report said, by claiming his “statements about Joe Biden and his ‘kowtowing to the Chinese’ were the kind of factual, policy-based statements acceptable for him to make in his official capacity.”

The special counsel called that argument “contrary to the law.”

Brian Chesky, the chief executive of Airbnb, which is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday.Credit…Jessica Chou for The New York Times

Airbnb set a higher price range for its initial public offering on Monday, increasing its potential valuation to almost $42 billion, a move that sets the stage for a big week for technology companies hitting the stock market and suggests that boom times are here again for Silicon Valley.

The new price range of $56 to $60 a share, disclosed in an amended prospectus filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is the latest sign that investors are eager to throw money at high-tech darlings. Both Airbnb and DoorDash, the food-delivery service, are poised to begin trading on the public stock exchanges this week at far higher levels than anticipated even a few weeks ago.

Airbnb’s new price range is up from the $44 to $50 that it had laid out a week ago. At the top end of that range, its I.P.O. could raise just over $3 billion and would value the company at $41.8 billion, accounting for stock options, restricted stock grants and shares to be sold in the offering.

It is the latest sign of how Airbnb’s fortunes have recovered from the depths of the pandemic, when a near-total halt in vacation travel dented its business and forced the company to raise emergency capital at a valuation of $18 billion in April. Since then, the company has seen a pickup in bookings — even if revenue remains depressed versus last year — giving prospective investors some assurance that the worst may be over.

DoorDash raised its I.P.O. price range last week, and is set to begin trading at a valuation that is more than double what the company commanded in June.

Airbnb’s executives have been pitching potential shareholders virtually in recent days. The company is expected to price its offering on Wednesday, and plans to begin trading on Nasdaq on Thursday under the ticker symbol ABNB.

By: Ella Koeze·Source: Refinitiv

  • Stock markets lost steam on Monday, with the S&P 500 retreating from a record reached on Friday, as deadlocked Brexit talks and the worsening outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States dampened the mood among global investors.

  • The S&P 500 fell about 0.2 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 index declined by 0.3 percent, pulled lower by financial firms and automakers, while the FTSE 100 in Britain was unchanged. Stocks in Asia ended the day lower.

  • A new surge in infections is threatening the economic recovery, but investors are also watching for progress on stimulus talks in Washington. Over the weekend in Washington, senators expressed hopes that there would be an agreement after Friday’s job report showed the recovery in the labor market had continued to slow. A bipartisan group of lawmakers have put together a $900 billion spending plan, which would serve as a stopgap until March.

  • The British pound recovered some of its losses late in Europe on Monday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said they would meet in person in the next couple of days to try to overcome an impasse in the talks between the two sides about their future trading relationship. A few remaining Brexit issues including fishing rights and business competition rules remain. If the two sides don’t come to an agreement soon, Britain will trade with the European Union on World Trade Organization terms, which will introduce tariffs and extensive border checks on goods at the end of the year.

  • The 2021 Paris Air Show has been canceled, organizers said, citing the uncertainty over the pandemic. The weeklong event, held every other year, is a major trade show for the commercial and defense aerospace industries. It had been scheduled for next June. The next show, the organizers said, would be in June 2023.

  • The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, which is normally held in Davos, Switzerland, in January, will move to Singapore in May. After rescheduling for later in the year, and then planning to relocate the event to Lucerne, the group that convenes the elite summit of world leaders and business bigwigs decided on the Asian capital in the name of “safeguarding the health and safety of participants and the host community.” Singapore has reported an average of around seven coronavirus cases per day in the past week; Switzerland has around 3,700.

The Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Group plans to cut roughly 6,000 jobs as it grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a securities filing in Tokyo on Monday, Dentsu laid out details of its restructuring strategy, which will cost 88 billion yen (about $850 million) to carry out over two years and includes trimming its 48,000-person international work force by 12.5 percent. The timeline will vary by location, the company said.

“As we work through this process, we will take the critical and necessary steps that many other companies are also doing to address the impacts the global pandemic has had on our business,” the company said in a statement.

Dentsu, which announced a review of its business in August, plans to consolidate more than 160 agencies to six within two years. The pandemic’s impact includes the loss of the expected burst of advertising for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which were postponed to 2021.

On Monday, the company predicted a net loss of ¥24 billion ($225 million) for the year. Last month, the company reported that its overall revenue had slumped nearly 13 percent in the third quarter. Dentsu lost ¥81 billion in 2019.

An average of ad industry forecasts by the Macquarie Group investment bank concluded that global ad spending would fall 5.3 percent this year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that 40,000 homeowners were harmed by Nationstar’s actions from 2012 to 2016.Credit…Steven Senne/Associated Press

Mr. Cooper, one of the country’s largest nonbank mortgage servicers, agreed on Monday to pay more than $74 million to settle charges over practices that officials called unfair and deceptive.

Mr. Cooper, officially known as Nationstar Mortgage, committed a range of illegal acts, including improperly foreclosing on borrowers who had pending modification applications and failing to disburse borrowers’ property tax payments on time, according to a complaint brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The company also failed to heed borrowers’ loan modification agreements and misled borrowers about when they would be eligible to have their private mortgage insurance premiums canceled, the bureau said.

The consumer bureau estimated that 40,000 homeowners were harmed by Nationstar’s actions from 2012 to 2016. The agreement — reached with federal officials and a coalition of all 50 state attorneys general — would also require Nationstar to pay $6 million in fees an penalties.

“Mortgage servicers are entrusted with handling significant financial transactions for millions of Americans, including struggling homeowners,” said Kathleen L. Kraninger, the consumer bureau’s director. “Nationstar broke that trust.”

Nationstar neither admitted nor denied misconduct under the settlement. The company said it had already paid nearly $58 million in redress. It will set aside another $15.6 million for affected consumers if the settlement is approved by a federal judge.

“We are pleased to resolve this matter,” Jay Bray, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. He said Nationstar had made improvements to prevent future problems.

Nationstar, based in Dallas, previously paid tens of millions of dollars to settle state charges over loan-servicing misdeeds and mistakes. A 2016 investigation by The New York Times highlighted a pattern of shoddy servicing practices and errors that sometimes cost people their homes.

In a parallel action on Monday, the Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee Program reached an agreement with Nationstar and two other mortgage servicers, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank, to provide $74 million in credits and refunds to people affected by more than 76,000 servicing errors that harmed borrowers in bankruptcy dating to 2011. The three companies made mistakes including improperly accounting for borrowers’ payments, the Justice Department said.

U.S. Bank said it made some customer remediation payments in 2015 and will make more soon to comply with its agreement with the Justice Department. A PNC spokeswoman said the bank provided “full and fair remediation to any customer who conceivably could have been impacted.”

Correction: Dec. 7, 2020

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the terms of the proposed settlement with Nationstar. Nationstar neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.

Another week brings another deal in the luxury sector.

The Italian brand Moncler, known primarily for its puffy outerwear, is planning to buy a fellow Italian brand, Stone Island, for 1.15 billion euros, or $1.4 billion, strengthening its foothold in the high-end outerwear market.

As part of the acquisition, announced Monday, Moncler will buy 70 percent of the company that owns Stone Island from its chief executive, Carlo Rivetti, and his family. It will then buy the remaining 30 percent from Temasek, a state-backed holding company in Singapore.

The Rivetti family plans to reinvest part of the proceeds as a shareholder in Moncler, the company said in a statement.

“We are coming together at a challenging moment both for Italy and the world, when everything seems uncertain and unpredictable,” said Moncler’s chairman and chief executive, Remo Ruffini. “But I believe it is precisely in these moments that we need new energy and new inspiration to build our tomorrow.”

With Stone Island, Moncler is expanding its brand portfolio after a long streak of double-digit sales growth for its own offerings recently waned. The purchase also gives the Italian company a bigger presence in its domestic market, and a younger, trendier sportswear brand in which to invest in and grow globally.

Stone Island, which counts celebrities such as the musicians Drake and The Weeknd as fans, was founded in 1982 and specializes in high-tech fabrics, with some garments that can change color depending on temperature.

The latest luxury deal comes after the worst year in history for the sector, which is starting to rebound thanks to growth driven by Chinese consumers shopping from home. Last month, the Swiss luxury goods company Richemont said it would invest $1.1 billion in the online fashion retailer Farfetch to strengthen its operations in mainland China. And in October, LVMH confirmed that it would still acquire the jeweler Tiffany for almost $16 billion, albeit after months of fraught negotiations.

Neiman Marcus, which emerged from bankruptcy in September, will have a new nonexecutive chair and a majority of women on its seven-member board.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Neiman Marcus, which emerged from bankruptcy in September, announced on Monday that it named Paul Brown as its nonexecutive chair, first reported by the DealBook newsletter. Mr. Brown, who runs Arby’s parent Inspire Brands, may not be an obvious candidate for the high-end retailer, but his hiring reflects how the retailer is looking to transform itself.

At Inspire, Mr. Brown oversaw the digital transformation of franchised restaurants like Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings — and he’ll soon add Dunkin’ Brands to his portfolio. He was previously charged with a similar makeover at Hilton Worldwide, a chain that, like Neiman, places a high value on customer loyalty. He will bring that experience to bear on the retailer’s move to develop digital relationships with clients, as it moves more of its premium services, like personal shopping, online.

“What we are trying to do doesn’t exist in our industry,” said Geoffroy van Raemdonck, Neiman Marcus’s chief executive, “so we’re going outside of our industry.”

The retailer’s seven-member board will also have a majority of women, with members including Pauline Brown (no relation to Mr. Brown), LVMH Moët Hennessy’s former North America chair; Kris Miller, eBay’s former strategy chief; Meka Millstone-Shroff, the former president of buybuy Baby; and Pamela Edwards, a former finance chief at L Brands.

Neiman Marcus’s new board represents a fresh start, of sorts, for the retailer, which shed about $4 billion in debt as part of a debt-for-equity exchange that made Pimco its largest shareholder. Its previous directors came under fire by a judge overseeing its bankruptcy for the handling of its online subsidiary.

Goldman Sachs’s headquarters in Manhattan. Remote working during the pandemic has persuaded many companies to shift operations to lower-cost locations.Credit…Emon Hassan for The New York Times

Goldman Sachs is one of Wall Street’s best-known firms, its identity indelibly tied to New York. Yet it may move at least some parts of a major division to Florida.

The bank is exploring moving at least part of its asset management unit, according to a person with direct knowledge who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. Bloomberg News reported on Sunday that Goldman executives had scouted office locations and spoken with officials in Florida.

It isn’t clear how much of the asset management business, which generates about $8 billion in annual revenue, might move. And the firm may ultimately choose a different location — or not move at all.

Goldman already bases some operations outside of New York: It has been building up its investor relations team in Dallas, while its Marcus consumer-lending division is in Salt Lake City. A spokesman for the bank said that it was “executing on the strategy of locating more jobs in high value locations throughout the U.S.,” but it has “no specific plans to announce at this time.”

Saving money is a factor in the deliberations. In January, Goldman identified its real estate footprint as a target in its $1.3 billion cost-cutting campaign. Since then, remote working during the pandemic has persuaded many companies to shift operations to lower-cost locations. A similar shift is afoot for companies in Silicon Valley, with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise moving to Houston and Palantir to Denver, among others.

Florida is particularly popular for the financial industry. Elliott Management plans to move its headquarters from Midtown Manhattan to West Palm Beach, and Citadel and Blackstone are also expanding in the state. The lifestyle there appeals to some financial high-rollers, who can keep East Coast hours while benefiting from warmer weather, palatial homes near the beach and no state income tax.

Goldman’s potential move may become a political talking point, as New York faces a budget shortfall because of the pandemic. Any potential loss in taxes is sure to play a part in the mayoral race that kicks into high gear next year.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.Credit…Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators on Sunday made the case for a $908 billion stimulus proposal that they argued would break the stalemate in Congress over delivering additional economic relief to Americans battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and one of the lawmakers who created the plan, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the number of senators backing the proposal “goes up every day.”

“It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn’t act,” Mr. Warner said, adding that he predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.

The proposal, spearheaded by two centrist senators, Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has yet to be endorsed by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has been more encouraging, saying it should serve as the “basis” for negotiations.

Intended as a stopgap measure to last until March, the plan would restore federal unemployment benefits that lapsed over the summer, but at half the rate, providing $300 a week for 18 weeks, and would provide $160 billion to help state, local and tribal governments facing fiscal ruin — a fraction of what Democrats had sought. Also included was $288 billion to help small businesses and a short-term federal liability shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The proposal does not include another round of $1,200 checks for most Americans.

Mr. Warner pushed back against criticism from the left over the liability provision, which was meant to last just four months while states come up with their own proposals. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, had criticized the plan as a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for corporations, but Mr. Warner said Mr. Sanders was “not involved in these negotiations, and his characterization is just not accurate.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana and one of the plan’s architects, also said the immunity provision — which Mr. McConnell has championed — was “one of the sticking points right now.”

Mr. Cassidy said he believed both Mr. McConnell and President Trump would end up backing the plan.

The bill is an attempt to find a middle ground between the dueling stimulus proposals that Democrats and Republicans have haggled over for months. Its cost is less than half of what Democratic leaders had pushed for in the weeks leading up to the election, but nearly double the latest proposal from Republican leaders.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Manchin emphasized the plan was not supposed to be a long-term solution for the American economy, but an immediate boost that could avert the impending lapse at the end of the year of a series of relief programs that were established in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March. He said President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could offer a more comprehensive proposal, but waiting until Mr. Biden took office “might be too late for so many people and small businesses.”

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” that there were “a few remaining issues,” but he thought they could be worked out.

When asked about the lack of direct payments in the package, Mr. Durbin held that the given limit was $900 billion. He estimated that the program to distribute $1,200 checks would cost $300 billion alone.

“This is our last chance before Christmas and the end of the year to bring relief to families across America in the midst of a public health crisis,” Mr. Durbin said. “It’s time to put the partisan labels aside.”

President Trump spoke during a ceremony Monday in which he presented the medal of freedom to Dan Gable, a wrestler.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

As President Trump on Monday continued to falsely claim that he won the election, his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, praised members of President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s economic team as qualified to help steer the U.S. economy.

Mr. Kudlow’s public comments underscore the reality that while Mr. Trump continues to deny his election loss and pursue fruitless legal challenges, his top aides are moving on and cooperating with the transition.

“I think the Janet Yellen pick at Treasury was a good idea,” Mr. Kudlow said of the former Federal Reserve chair, whom Mr. Biden has tapped as his Treasury secretary. Mr. Kudlow said Ms. Yellen, whom Mr. Trump did not reappoint as Fed chair, “did a decent job at the Fed” and has “very sensible views on the economy.”

Mr. Kudlow, speaking at a Washington Post Live event, said he had disagreements with Mr. Biden’s incoming economic team on spending and tax policy. But he said that he expected that Ms. Yellen would not seek to raise taxes next year while the economy is recovering from a recession and emerging from the pandemic.

Mr. Kudlow said he had also offered congratulations to Jared Bernstein, whom Mr. Biden picked for his Council of Economic Advisers and who Mr. Kudlow said was a personal friend.

Even as Mr. Kudlow spoke, Mr. Trump again falsely asserted that the election was rigged, telling reporters at the White House that the outcome of the election was “a disgrace to our country. It’s like a third world country, these ballots pouring in from everywhere.”

The president and his campaign have offered no proof of that baseless allegation, and judges across the country have rejected Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. But the president said on Monday that he believed he had won.

“Well in politics, I won two. So I’m two and 0 and that’s pretty good too. We’ll see how that turns out,” Mr. Trump said during a ceremony in which he presented the Medal of Freedom to Dan Gable, a wrestler. (An earlier version of this article had a photo showing a different Medal of Freedom winner, Lou Holtz, and misidentified him as Mr. Gable.)

Mr. Kudlow noted in the interview that Mr. Trump had not yet conceded defeat and that the Electoral College voting process must still play out.

But he allowed that he was already planning his post-White House career, which will include relocating to New York and a return to television and radio.