Several weeks before the midterm elections, worried that Democrats would sweep the House and start digging into his finances, Donald Trump started telling a series of bald-faced lies in an attempt to get people to vote Republican. One of them was that his trade war with China was just about to wrap up. Another was that Americans could kiss their “beautiful” 401(k)s goodbye if Dems flipped just one chamber of the Congress. The most elaborate by far, though, was about a migrant caravan made up of asylum-seekers approaching the U.S.-Mexico border. First, the president claimed, with no evidence, that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed” in with the group. Then he spread the quite obviously false rumor that liberal hedge-fund manager George Soros has been paying these people. Later, he declared that the caravan comprised mostly of women and children fleeing violence and poverty is “actually mostly men” who were “pushing the few kids right up to the front” when the cameras are out, and that a group of people planning to surrender at the border and ask for amnesty through the proper legal channels is no different than a hostile invasion from a foreign country. (“You look at that, it almost looks like an invasion. . . . I think it could be considered an invasion of our country. We can’t have it.”)
But evidently, Trump still felt he had to do more to show voters that their lives were in grave danger, and to really drive home the point that he and his fellow Republicans were the only thing standing between them and Democrats enacting a new policy wherein for every migrant allowed to stay in the country, three U.S. citizens have to go live in Honduras. So he pulled out the big guns: he deployed some 6,000 active-duty troops to the southern border, which from the get-go was a patently obvious political stunt given that (a) the military couldn’t even make arrests while they were there, and (b) the caravan was hundreds of miles away (and traveling on foot). Obviously, the whole thing failed to stop Democrats from flipping the House. But one would think that even this administration would understand it should see the stunt through a little while longer, so that it wasn’t, like, completely crystal clear that the president of the United States had turned members of the military into pawns in one of his cheap tricks. But: surprise!
The Pentagon is set to begin a drawdown of its 5,800 troops from the Southwest border as early as this week, the Army commander overseeing the mission told POLITICO today—even as the approaching caravan of refugees prompted U.S. customs officers to close a port of entry near Tijuana, Mexico.
All the active-duty troops that President Donald Trump ordered sent to the border before the midterm elections should be home by Christmas, said Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who is running the mission from San Antonio, Texas.
In other words, the president spent millions in taxpayer dollars on a stunt that failed completely. Despite the withdrawal, Trump insisted on Sunday that the U.S. is basically under siege, tweeting “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it,” saying that the caravan “causing crime and big problems in Mexico” and directing the migrants, who we’re sure are checking social media right now to “Go home!”
If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.
Goldman Sachs thought maternity leave was the best time to fire a woman
According to former Goldman Sachs employee Tania Mirchandani, when the bank says women are entitled to four months paid maternity leave, they don’t actually mean you’re allowed to take the full four months, unless you plan to find another job upon return. Per Bloomberg:
In October 2016, weeks before [the wealth management V.P.] was scheduled to return, [Mirchandani’s boss] John Mallory called her with some bad news: she was out of a job. “I’m on maternity leave, John,’’ she remembered telling him, as she fought back tears.
Mirchandani detailed her dismissal in a 2017 gender-discrimination complaint against Goldman—a document only recently disclosed through a public-records request to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
In arbitration proceedings that are still ongoing, Mirchandani is seeking more than $1.5 million in damages, alleging that Goldman fired her because she took the entire four months paid family leave advertised to employees. She also claims that upon returning from her second maternity leave, a giant account she’d worked to win had been “assigned to the team of a male adviser,” and despite the client’s insistence she be involved, she only received 20 percent of the commissions. In addition, she says that when she informed Mallory that she was pregnant with her third child, he expressed skepticism that she could handle a large family with a demanding job, allegedly telling her that three kids is “a lot of mouths to feed,” despite the fact that he has four of his own.
Goldman Sachs, which settled and denied the accusations in a 2010 lawsuit accusing it of pushing another female V.P. onto the “mommy-track” after her first pregnancy and firing her after she returned from having her second child, denied there was any bias in Mirchandani’s dismissal. (Things it didn’t deny: firing her during her maternity leave!) According to the bank, Mirchandani was simply terminated “for strategic business-planning reasons,” and that male managers were also let go as part of a review of the firm’s private-wealth-management business.
Death. Taxes. Donald Trump promising to pay someone and stiffing them in the end
Back in July, his “easy to win” trade wars not exactly panning out as hoped, Donald Trump announced that the farmers badly hurt by the effects of his tariffs would be receive a $12 billion bailout. At the time, agricultural workers reacted with shock and anger, calling the onetime measure bad policy and a “slap in the face,” as they would have (vastly) preferred that the president revise his self-defeating, U.S.-interest-harming trade policies. Presumably, though, they expected the money to materialize, given the big show the administration made in announcing it, and the fact that Trump will rely on these people to re-elect him in 2020. But they expected wrong!
A $12 billion bailout program Mr. Trump created to “make it up” to farmers has done little to cushion the blow, with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far. According to the Department of Agriculture, just $838 million has been paid out to farmers since the first $6 billion pot of money was made available in September. Another pool of up to $6 billion is expected to become available next month. The government is unlikely to offer additional money beyond the $12 billion, according to Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary.
The program’s limitations are beginning to test farmers’ patience. The trade war shows no signs of easing, with China and the United States locked in a stalemate that has reduced American farmers’ access to a critical market for soybeans, farm equipment, and other products. Europe is planning more retaliatory tariffs on top of those already imposed on American peanut butter and orange juice, and Canada and Mexico continue to levy taxes on American goods, including on pork and cheese.
Through mid-October, soybean sales to China—the largest importer of the crop—have declined 94 percent, with a subsidy rate of 82.5 cents per bushel not even covering half the farmers’ losses. Lynn Rohrscheib, who farms soybeans and corn in eastern Illinois, told The New York Times that if the trade war with China goes on much longer, she’ll have to lay off some of her 18 employees. “We were all really supportive at the beginning,” she said of Trump’s tariffs. “We figured we didn’t know all the facts and something would happen and this won’t be a long-term thing. Now it looks like this is going to be a several-year thing.”
Goldman: don’t get too attached to that economic growth
“Growth is likely to slow significantly next year, from a recent pace of 3.5 percent-plus to roughly our 1.75 percent estimate of potential by end-2019,”Jan Hatzius,, the bank’s chief economist, wrote in a note to clients on Sunday. “We expect tighter financial conditions and a fading fiscal stimulus to be the key drivers of the deceleration.”
Ex-hedge-fund manager funding campaign to break up Facebook
Remember David Magerman? For those who need a quick refresh, he’s the former Renaissance Technologies partner who sued his boss, Trump sugar daddy Robert Mercer, alleging that he was fired for telling the press Mercer had expressed a number of racist opinions to him, like that the U.S. had started going in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civl Rights Act; that the Civil Rights Act “infantilized” African Americans by giving them no incentive to work; that white people have no racial hostility whatsoever toward African Americans; and that the only real racists in the United States are black. (Magerman, who told The Wall Street Journal that Trump was destroying the country with Mercer’s backing, ultimately dropped his suit.) Anyway, despite no longer working at RenTec, Magerman has reportedly been keeping busy:
Magerman was the initial donor behind a high-profile campaign urging regulators to break up Facebook, he confirmed to Axios for the first time on Thursday. Magerman has given more than $400,000 to the campaign—“Freedom from Facebook”—because he believes Facebook has too much power over how the world communicates.
In a statement, Magerman told Axios that Facebook has a “huge financial disincentive to protect users’ data,” and that it is his goal to “convince people that Facebook is not free, that it exacts a high price from users in the form of their private data, and I think users don’t understand that transaction, to all of our detriment.”
Maxine Waters targets global banks with Financial Services shake-up (Axios)
Wall Street bankers are throwing excessive parties to dodge taxes (N.Y.P.)
With Facebook at “War,” Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style (W.S.J.)
Wall Street is betting that lawmakers want to humiliate big tech—but not regulate it (The Hive)
Trump’s Business to Face Sharp Scrutiny Under House Democrats (Bloomberg)
Société Générale to pay $1.34 billion fine for sanctions violations (Reuters)
Theresa May says husband—and alcohol—helped her through Brexit (N.Y.P.)
Nissan to oust Ghosn after arrest for alleged financial misconduct (Reuters)
Is Trump country really better off under Trump? No. It’s falling further behind. (Washington Post)
Italian town catches 58,000 speeding cars in two weeks (BBC)
— “Who gets to live in Victimville?” Why Monica Lewinsky decided to relive her past
— How millennial women flexed their political power during the midterms
— Why Democrats already have a 2020 problem
— What’s next for Saudi diplomacy?
— Snapchat is doing so badly, the feds are getting involved
Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hive newsletter and never miss a story.