Connect with us

Business

Joe Biden blocks release of audio from classified documents probe

Published

on


Unlock the US Election Countdown newsletter for free

Joe Biden has blocked the release of audio recordings of his interviews with the special counsel who sparked a political firestorm in February by casting the US president as an “elderly man with a poor memory”.

In a letter to House Republican lawmakers on Thursday, the White House said that the president was asserting executive privilege over the recordings, which were made as the special counsel investigated Biden’s handling of classified documents.

House Republicans had subpoenaed the tapes and threatened to hold US attorney-general Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand them over.

Biden’s lawyer argued that there was no “legitimate need” for the tapes to be released, but the move is likely to reignite controversy in Washington over the president’s age and Republican efforts to depict him as unfit for office.

Edward Siskel, counsel to the president, said in the letter on Thursday that Garland had requested that Biden stop the recordings from being released.

In a letter seen by the Financial Times, Carlos Uriarte, head of the Department of Justice’s legislative affairs unit, told House Republicans that the department had “a responsibility to safeguard the confidentiality of law enforcement files where disclosure would jeopardise future investigations”.

Garland “must draw a line that safeguards the Department from improper political influence”, Uriarte added. The DoJ has released transcripts of the interviews.

Siskel accused Republican lawmakers of seeking the recordings so they could “chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes”.

But Republican lawmakers accused the White House of running scared. James Comer, chair of the House oversight committee that has subpoenaed the recordings, said it was a “five-alarm fire at the White House”, adding: “Clearly President Biden and his advisers fear releasing the audio recordings of his interview because it will again reaffirm to the American people that President Biden’s mental state is in decline.”

Biden’s move comes just over three months after the release of a bombshell 345-page report by Robert Hur, the special counsel who oversaw the investigation into the president’s handling of classified materials found at his private residences and offices.

Hur said Biden would not face a criminal case, but his report referred to Biden, who is 81, as a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory” and cited memory lapses during interviews with the special counsel’s office in 2023, as well as with a ghostwriter working on his memoir in 2017.

The report put questions about the president’s age and mental acuity in the spotlight and exposed one of Biden’s major electoral vulnerabilities as he seeks re-election in November.

Opinion polls consistently show that most American voters believe Biden, already the oldest occupant of the Oval Office, is too old to be president. If re-elected, he would be 86 at the end of a second term.

Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican opponent, is 77 and would be 82 at the end of another four years in the White House. Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign, accused the president and his administration of politicising executive privilege and “trying to use it to run political cover” for Biden.

Biden’s allies described Hur’s statements as gratuitous and inappropriate, and the president lashed out at the special counsel in a fiery, hastily organised press conference hours after Hur’s report was made public.

But Hur defended his findings before a congressional committee this year, claiming that he could not determine whether Biden had “wilfully” mishandled sensitive material “without assessing the president’s state of mind”.

“My assessment in the report about the relevance of the president’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair,” Hur added at the time.

Garland in January 2023 appointed Hur, a registered Republican, to probe Biden’s potential mishandling of classified material.

Additional reporting by Alex Rogers



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

American Airlines CEO fired top exec after controversial ‘modern retailing’ strategy infuriated corporate clients

Published

on



American Airlines Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Robert Isom dismissed the carrier’s commercial chief in the wake of a critical report from Bain & Co. about a controversial new marketing system that alienated corporate clients, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

Isom was prompted to fire Vasu Raja within the past few days after the report, which American commissioned from Bain. It revealed concerns by corporate travel advisers over a recent shift in the airline’s sales strategy, which contributed to lagging revenue over the past few quarters, the person said Wednesday.

Raja could not be reached for comment. American announced his departure late Tuesday, and also cut its profit outlook, sending its shares down 14% the next day — the biggest drop in nearly four years.

The new system the CCO had overseen, dubbed  “modern retailing,” sought to push customers away from booking agencies in favor of buying directly through American. The airline’s sales department was cut back as part of the switch. 

But the shift angered some corporate clients and travel management firms, and Raja acknowledged recently that its growth in managed corporate travel volumes was trailing that at rivals United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc.

Subscribe to the CFO Daily newsletter to keep up with the trends, issues, and executives shaping corporate finance. Sign up for free.



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Nelson Peltz sells Disney stake

Published

on


Bob Iger and Nelson Peltz.

CNBC

Activist investor Nelson Peltz has sold his entire stake in Disney, a person familiar with the matter tells CNBC.

Peltz sold all of his Disney stock at roughly $120 dollars a share, the person said, making about $1 billion on the position. The stock currently trades for about $100 per share.

The exit comes weeks after Peltz’s Trian Partners lost a proxy battle at Disney in early April as shareholders reelected the company’s full slate of board nominees. Peltz had been seeking to elect himself and former Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo to the company’s board.

Peltz had long taken issue with Disney governance. In October, CNBC reported he upped his stake in the company to about 30 million shares and had reignited his proxy campaign, taking particular aim at the company’s streaming strategy and a failed succession plan for CEO Bob Iger.

“We are proud of the impact we have had in refocusing this Company on value creation and good governance,” Trian said in a statement following the April shareholder vote.

Shares of Disney are up about 11% so far this year, slightly edging out the S&P 500.

Disney didn’t immediately return request for comment.



Source link

Continue Reading

Business

Tories would swap ‘rip-off’ degrees for apprenticeships

Published

on


Hazel Shearing,Alice Evans

PA Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is shown how to splice a wire by a field service engineer apprenticePA

The prime minister visited apprentices in Liskeard, Cornwall, on Wednesday

The Conservatives have promised to scrap some university courses in England to help fund 100,000 apprenticeships per year if they win the July election.

The party says it would replace the “worst-performing” degrees that it considers a “rip-off” because of high drop-out rates and “poor” job prospects.

Labour criticised the government over a decline in the number of new apprentices.

It said it would prioritise “gearing” apprenticeships towards young people.

The Liberal Democrats said the government had treated apprentices like “second-class workers”.

The Conservatives said former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ambition to get half of young people going to university had “led to low-value degrees ballooning”.

In England, the Office for Students (OfS) can already investigate and sanction a university – for example with fines – if it falls below certain standards.

The Conservatives say they would introduce a new law allowing the independent regulator to go further and completely close the poorest-performing university courses.

They would be determined by drop-out rates, job progression and future earnings potential, the party said in a press release.

Speaking at a railway depot in Cornwall on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: “University is great and it makes a fantastic option for young people, but it’s not the only option… And what we do know is that there are university degrees that are letting young people down.”

Schools Minister Damian Hinds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there had been a “huge increase in quality” in apprenticeships under Conservative governments. Now was the time to “make sure we’re maximising the available opportunities for young people” and supporting businesses with the new scheme, he added.

Mr Hinds said it would not be “right or fair” on current students to say which courses his party considered to be “rip-off” degrees, and said it varied by individual courses rather than by subject.

“Take computer science – you get earnings outcomes from young people studying computer science degrees which will range from £18,000 to £80,000.”

A graphic which reads 'more on general election 2024'

The Conservative Party estimated that the government would save £910m by 2030 if it scrapped courses that taught 13% of students.

It said this was because the taxpayer “offsets” student loans when graduates do not earn enough money to pay them back. The logic here is that removing courses that lead to lower earnings would result in less unpaid debt.

It said its savings would allow the government to invest in 100,000 more apprentices per year by the end of the next Parliament.

The Conservatives’ calculations are based on the assumption that 75% of the students who would have enrolled on those courses would go into employment or apprenticeships instead.

However, there is no limit on the overall number of students that universities in England can admit – so universities could recruit students to other degree courses if some were closed.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said this meant it was “unclear” whether savings from scrapping “low-value” courses would be large enough to fund the Tories’ expansion plan.

Birmingham City University (BCU) vice-chancellor, Prof David Mba, said the prospect of more apprenticeships was “great” but he did not want that to be at the expense of university courses.

He said the idea that a degree was a rip-off if it did not reach a minimum earning threshold was “bonkers”, particularly for creative subjects.

“Let’s look at my Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. We train musicians, pianists, over three years; they end up with a degree and it will take them probably a while, as a creative out freelancing, to build up a career and to reach certain earning levels that might be commensurate with what the government think it should be,” he told BBC News.

Birmingham City University Prof David Mba smiles at the cameraBirmingham City University

Prof David Mba has 1,500 degree apprentices at Birmingham City University

Prof Mba said many of his students commuted from deprived parts of the West Midlands, and that BCU’s courses – including its degree apprenticeships – offered “social mobility”.

Sabeeha Anium, who studies computer science at BCU, said her degree was “not a rip-off” as she “gets to learn different things” every day.

Speaking to the BBC on her lunch break, she added: “Every single degree is valuable.”

Aaryan Shabbir, who is on the university’s accelerated two-year digital marketing course, said he would welcome seeing more apprenticeships because of concerns around student debt and finding a job post-degree.

He added: “If I’d [known] more about apprenticeships I would’ve done an apprenticeship.”

BBC/Hope Rhodes Sabeeha Anium smiles at the cameraBBC/Hope Rhodes

Sabeeha Anium studies computer science at Birmingham City University

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers welcomed the announcement and said it hoped other political parties would “match this additional funding”.

Chief executive Ben Rowland said: “Whichever party finds itself in government, there will need to be a commitment to encouraging more employers [to] offer apprenticeship opportunities.”

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation trade body, said the announcement was “using apprenticeships to denigrate university courses, when we need both to flourish if we’re going to grow”.

Apprenticeships are funded partly by the taxpayer as well as by the apprenticeship levy, which is essentially a tax paid by bigger businesses. Those firms, as well as smaller ones, can access the cash to spend exclusively on training apprentices.

Mr Carberry said the levy made apprenticeships more expensive to deliver – particularly lower-level apprenticeships aimed at younger people – so firms were better off if they did fewer of them.

He said while higher-level apprenticeships were replacing degrees for some people, they did not help people who would not have gone to university and needed a different route to skilled work.

Apprenticeship dropout rates in England are about one in two.

Just over half (54.6%) of apprentices completed and passed a final assessment in 2022-23 – well below the government’s 67% target by the end of 2024-25.

Asked about the dropout rate, Mr Hinds said: “It is true that some young people start an apprenticeship and then they don’t [finish it], and then they take a different turn in their career. When they do that, they’ve accumulated of course skills and experience in that job, and they’ve been earning.

“That has long been true in apprenticeships.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, said the announcement was “laughable” because the Conservatives had “presided over a halving of apprenticeships for young people”.

She reiterated her party’s promises to introduce technical excellence colleges aimed at training workers for local industries, and to reform the apprenticeship levy into a “growth and skills levy”, which the party says would allow businesses to spend up to half of their levy payments on “more flexible training courses”.

Munira Wilson, education spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, said the Conservatives had “broken the apprenticeship system” and “urgent reform is needed”.

“The shockingly low pay for those on apprenticeships will remain, doing nothing to encourage more people to take apprenticeships up or tackle soaring drop-out rates,” she said.

Additional reporting by Branwen Jeffreys and Hope Rhodes.



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2024 World Daily Info. Powered by Columba Ventures Co. Ltd.