Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Last Call For Climate Of Rage, Con't

Banks increasingly see fossil fuel technology as something they should divest from because of green energy becoming more efficient and profitable daily, but since the President is a Democrat now, Republicans are here to make sure that if banks actually do that, Republicans will divest of the banks.

More than a dozen Republican state treasurers are threatening to pull assets from large financial institutions if they agree to decarbonize their lending and investment portfolios, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Biden administration — led by special presidential climate envoy John Kerry — has leaned on the banks to help reduce U.S. carbon emissions. That's prompted GOP lawmakers to criticize efforts to "de-bank" fossil fuel firms. The treasurers collectively control hundreds of billions worth of assets. Fifteen of them, led by coal-heavy West Virginia, say they're prepared to use this financial muscle to push back. The effort includes treasurers from other states with large energy industry presences such as North Dakota, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

What's happening: The state officials sent a letter on Tuesday to Kerry, who's leading the administration's efforts to enlist banks in its climate policy fight. 
"We intend to put banks and financial institutions on notice of our position, as we urge them not to give in to pressure from the Biden administration to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies," the officials wrote. 
In an interview with Axios, West Virginia state Treasurer Riley Moore said he was prepared to terminate contracts with banks that pull back their fossil fuel industry lending in response to administration pressure. "Frankly, it is not fair for the people of West Virginia to allow a bank to handle our money when they're diametrically opposed to our way of life," Moore said.

What they're saying: Moore called the issue "a matter of life and death for my people." He said coal and gas operators in his state have reported difficulties obtaining financing from banks blaming pressure from the Biden administration to try to "green" their portfolios. "If you just cut these guys off at the knees — gas and coal in a state like West Virginia — and they can no longer conduct their business ... it is going to destroy us," Moore said. He cited the industries' heavy jobs footprint and contributions to the state's tax base. 
A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Between the lines: The state officials signing the letter collectively manage more than $600 billion in assets in state treasuries, pension funds and other government accounts, according to publicly available financials and information provided by the state treasurer offices.
Republicans are clearly preparing to turn this into another CANCEL CULTURE and HOW THEY DESPISE THE RURAL WHITE VOTER moment, but I bet the federal government has a lot more financial pull than just $600 billion, guys. Bankers are a lot of things, evil, greedy, mean, but they are not stupid, and they know how to count money.
Besides, it's not like rural white voters can hate Democratic politicians any more than they already do.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

After two years, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance's probe into the Trump Organization has reached the grand jury phase, but that phase could take well into Thanksgiving or longer.
Manhattan's district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development.

The panel was convened recently and will sit three days a week for six months. It is likely to hear several matters — not just the Trump case ­— during the duration of its term, which is longer than a traditional New York state grand-jury assignment, these people said
. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Generally, special grand juries such as this one are convened to participate in long-term matters rather than to hear evidence of crimes charged routinely.

The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump then by someone potentially close to him or by his company.

Vance’s investigation is expansive, according to people familiar the probe and public disclosures made during related litigation. His investigators are scrutinizing Trump’s business practices before he was president, including whether the value of specific properties in the Trump Organization’s real estate portfolio were manipulated in a way that defrauded banks and insurance companies, and if any tax benefits were obtained illegally through unscrupulous asset valuation.

The district attorney also is examining the compensation provided to top Trump Organization executives, people familiar with the matter have said.

A spokesman for Trump and an attorney for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. The former president has adamantly and repeatedly denied wrongdoing, deriding the investigation as politically motivated.

A spokesman for Vance (D) declined to comment.
Typically a grand jury hears multiple possible criminal matters and returns bills of indictment if there's enough evidence to go forward in a case, but exactly when the Trump organization case will come up is anyone's guess. It could be June, or it could be November.
We won't know until indictments are unsealed, if at all. The jury could come back and say there's not enough evidence there for the charges Vance is seeking. Maybe it's just the low-end execs, maybe it's Trump's kids, and maybe it's Trump himself, but again, I don't expect charges. NYC would burn for it. Republicans would make sure of that.

In other words, don't expect much, and don't expect anything quickly.

Putin On The Ritz, Con't

President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16, the White House said Tuesday, in their first face-to-face encounter since Biden took office.

"The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of Biden's goals for the summit.

The Kremlin also confirmed the date for the much-anticipated meeting.

Earlier this month, Biden was asked whether he was planning to meet with Putin in June when he heads overseas to attend the G-7 summit.

"That is my hope and my expectation. We're working on it," Biden said at the time.

In April, the United States announced a sweeping series of sanctions against Russia over election interference, cyber hacking and other "harmful foreign activities," it said, including reports of Russia offering "bounties" for Taliban attacks against U.S. troops, and Russia's occupation and alleged human rights abuses in Crimea.

"Our objective here is not to escalate," Psaki said. "Our objective here is to impose costs for what we feel are unacceptable actions by the Russian government."

Psaki reiterated that the White House wanted there to be a "stable and predictable relationship" with Russia but conceded "this continues to be a difficult relationship" with "adversarial components."

After Biden announced the sanctions, Biden and Putin spoke on the phone, and Biden proposed a meeting in a third country.
And so in a few weeks, here they will be.  Biden is already promising a full readout and no sneaky off-the-record meetings as with the Former Guy. We'll see how that goes.


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