Biden Pushes Back Against Big Donors


President Biden hasn’t let up on his aggressive defense against calls to step aside: Over the past 24 hours, he pushed back against Democratic lawmakers, the news media and top fund-raisers. But an attempt to mollify some of his biggest donors in a hastily arranged call started off poorly: It began more than 30 minutes late.

For the Biden campaign, that may not be a big concern, given its highlighting of small-dollar fund-raising and attacking of corporate greed.

But for a growing number of his financial backers, Biden’s efforts to portray them as a problem ignores the real issues endangering his campaign, DealBook’s Lauren Hirsch reports.

Biden started the day lashing out at elite critics. After a weekend of campaigning in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he sent a defiant letter to congressional Democrats pledging to stay in the race.

The president then called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” regarded as a friendly media venue, and railed against big-ticket donors who have pushed him to withdraw. “I’m getting so frustrated by the elites — now I’m not talking about you guys — the elites in the party,” he said. “I don’t care what the millionaires think,” he added.

The president then made some of them wait. Dozens of major donors were asked to join a call with him just 24 minutes before it was set to start — only for it to begin behind schedule. “We all canceled mtgs to fit this in. So disrespectful,” one person who dialed in texted DealBook.

Once the call eventually began, the response was mixed. Biden spent four minutes reading prepared remarks, according to participants, and another 14 answering four questions that some derided as softballs. One asked for an elevator pitch to give voters, another wanted to know how he would handle the next debate. (“Attack, attack, attack, attack,” he responded.)

That said, some on the call felt reassured that Biden sounded energized and committed, DealBook hears.

Biden sought to shift the focus to Trump. “We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bull’s-eye,” Biden said, arguing that he was the best candidate to beat Trump.

One donor told DealBook that the message was: “Either continue to support me or don’t. But if you don’t, and Trump wins, that’s on you.”

The president’s defense is winning some support. Members of “the squad” who have previously criticized Biden for working with Republicans, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, said he should stay.

Donors and others are keeping an eye on another Biden appearance: The president is set to deliver a rare solo news conference at the end of the NATO summit this week.

The World Economic Forum and its chair are sued for discrimination. A former employee of the Swiss nonprofit group, which runs the annual confab of C.E.O.s and world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, accused it of “permitting an atmosphere that is hostile to women and Black employees.” The lawsuit comes after a report by The Wall Street Journal on accusations of sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior within the organization.

The Biden administration seeks more power to block foreign investment deals. The Treasury Department proposed a new rule that would add more than 50 military installations to a list of locations deemed sensitive to national security. If adopted, the rule could make it harder for Chinese companies to build factories in the U.S., though the department said its proposal wasn’t aimed at any specific nation.

Mike Bloomberg gives $1 billion to Johns Hopkins University’s medical school. The gift will allow most students to attend free of cost, as well as increase financial aid to students at some of the university’s other graduate schools. It’s the latest major donation by Bloomberg to Hopkins, his alma mater, and the most recent gift that allows a medical school to offer free tuition to students.

Employers are hiring at a healthy clip, the United States is outgrowing its biggest trading partners and the stock market is in record territory.

Still, Jay Powell, the Fed chair, is expected to face a two-day grilling from lawmakers starting on Tuesday, especially about concerns that high interest rates are fueling a cost-of-living crisis.

Investors will focus on Powell’s comments about inflation and interest rates. Last month, the central bank issued its “dot plot” projection signaling one rate cut this year. But more tepid inflation and labor data since have raised market expectations for more easing.

Could Powell signal rate cuts are around the corner? The futures market this morning was betting on two, with the first in September.

The Fed chair is under pressure from lawmakers. In a letter to Powell last month, Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, urged the Fed to join the European Central Bank in lowering rates. She wrote that the policy to keep rates at a two-decade high was hurting households and businesses.

There’s been recent good news on inflation. The New York Fed’s monthly inflation survey on Monday suggested that respondents saw inflation and house prices edging lower over the next year.

On Thursday, more key inflation data is due, with publication of the Consumer Price Index; economists expect the cooling trend to continue.

Also worth watching on Tuesday: Will the Fed chair provide an update on whether lenders will soon be required to hold more capital on their books? When Powell testified before Congress in March, he signaled a retreat from new banking rules. Criticism at the proposals has gathered pace since then, suggesting that international efforts to harmonize banking standards could be watered down.

Powell’s appearance comes ahead of earnings season. One of the few blemishes on last quarter came from some companies revealing that lower-income consumers had pulled back on purchases.

Consumer spending power again will draw investor attention, with the nation’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, delivering results on Friday and expected to give a view on the broader economy.


The bidding contest for Vista Outdoor, the maker of CamelBak water bottles and ammunition brands like Remington, is heating up again.

Vista said on Monday that its preferred deal partner, the Prague-based defense contractor Czechoslovak Group, increased an offer for its ammo business, to $2.1 billion — the third time it has raised its bid. But a rebuffed suitor is still betting that it will win, DealBook’s Michael de la Merced reports.

The latest: Under the new CSG deal, for every Vista share they own, investors would receive $21 in cash and one share of the remaining outdoor sports business, known as Revelyst.

Vista said the CSG bid was worth $49 to $58 a share, factoring in Revelyst’s expected valuation after it begins trading. That compares with the $42 share in cash that MNC Capital, an investment firm run by a former Vista board member, offered late last month. (MNC itself has raised its bid several times.)

But MNC believes that Vista is stonewalling, DealBook hears. The two sides haven’t held any communication since June 26, when lawyers for Vista asked MNC for more information about its financing, according to a regulatory filing.

MNC provided the details on July 1, but didn’t hear back from Vista until Monday, when the company rejected its takeover bid.

In Monday’s news release, Vista said it had “engaged extensively” with MNC since September 2022, including over 35 meetings or calls. Despite those communications, Vista said, MNC’s offers undervalued the company.

MNC may be betting on influential proxy advisers to help. One of them, Glass Lewis, changed its recommendation about how shareholders should vote, to abstaining from supporting the CSG offer of $2 billion at the time. (The other major proxy adviser, Institutional Shareholder Services, made a similar shift last month.)

Glass Lewis raised questions about Vista’s financial forecasts — it has missed revenue and earnings predictions for each of the past two years — and said MNC’s offer could lead to a superior proposal.

What’s next: Shareholders are set to vote on the CSG offer on July 23. It’s unclear how many will be swayed by the proxy advisers’ changed recommendations.


As the war in Gaza shows little sign of ending soon and the U.S. presidential election heats up, companies are grappling with how to handle divisive politics. Should executives speak up? Should business ban political talk? Should companies stop hiring students from universities that they don’t think have addressed harassment on campus?

The Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell is adopting a new and contentious approach: Job applicants may be disqualified if they have participated in anti-Israel protests, writes The Times’s Emily Flitter.

The firm will look for involvement with pro-Palestinian student groups. Social media, news reports and footage from protests will be scoured for evidence of explicit instances of antisemitism or language the firm deems “triggering” to Jews, said Joseph C. Shenker, a leader at the firm.

Applicants could be scrutinized even if they didn’t say anything that falls afoul of the new policy. Shenker said protesters should be held responsible for the behavior around them or else they were embracing a “mob mentality.”

And job candidates will have to explain their involvement, including if they tried to stop others from making statements deemed offensive.

Private companies in the U.S. can hire whom they want, with some exceptions to prevent discrimination. In most states, they can also fire employees over their political activities. Columbia University recently put three administrators on indefinite leave after they sent text messages that “disturbingly touched on ancient antisemitic tropes” during a forum on Jewish issues.

In October, the law firm Davis Polk rescinded job offers to students it believed held leadership roles in groups that blamed Israel for the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

Critics say Sullivan & Cromwell is trying to silence campus criticism of Israel. Rawda Fawaz, a lawyer for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, questioned the need for the policy, given that job applicants already know they won’t be hired without a clean social media presence.

Others took issue with applying the policy to all students who attended a protest where a statement that was deemed offensive was made.

Could it catch on? No other Wall Street firm has publicly discussed a similar policy, but four of Sullivan & Cromwell’s rivals are considering adopting similar rules.

Deals

  • Larry Ellison, the billionaire Oracle co-founder, has reportedly invested $6 billion in the deal to merge Paramount with Skydance, the studio led by his son, David Ellison. (Axios)

  • Devon Energy agreed to buy assets of Grayson Mill Energy, a driller focused on the Bakken formation, for $5 billion. (Reuters)

Elections, politics and policy

  • A Trump-aligned super PAC backed by the billionaire Miriam Adelson plans to spend $61 million on advertising to capitalize on President Biden’s campaign troubles. (Politico)

  • Reid Hoffman, the billionaire LinkedIn co-founder, has invested in Smartmatic to help fund the voting technology company’s defamation lawsuits against Fox News and Newsmax. (WaPo)

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