Responding to Joe Biden’s stinging presidential announcement, Donald Trump returned fire by questioning the intelligence of the former VP. “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign.” The president also predicted—probably accurately—that the race will become vitriolic. “It will be nasty - you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas,” he wrote. “But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!” Biden’s video announcement was highly critical of Trump’s handling of the neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, with a somber warning: “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
The first summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vladivostok, Russia, ended with a pledge to “forge closer ties” but no concrete plans how that will be done, The Wall Street Journal reports. Kim reportedly praised Putin when his train first rolled into Khasan, saying, “I have heard a lot of good things about your country and wanted to visit it for a long time... Seven years have passed since I took charge of the country, but I did not have a chance to visit Russia until now.” The North Korean leader also told Russia’s state-owned Rossiya-24 that he’d like to reach a “settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula” and hoped the visit would be “successful and useful.” Pyongyang is reportedly seeking diplomatic backing in its talks with the U.S. over its nuclear program, as well as material support to help boost an economy hit hard by sanctions. The meeting came two months after Kim and President Donald Trump held a second summit in Hanoi that abruptly ended in a standstill.
As Joe Biden entered the 2020 race on Thursday, Barack Obama had kind words but no formal endorsement of his candidacy. “President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “He relied on the vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.” A source familiar with Obama’s thinking said that he is happy to let the primary process play out without endorsing any one candidate at this stage. “President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” this source said. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate, but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process—preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”
Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who stand accused of paying a $500,000 bribe to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits, “didn’t realize what they were doing was illegal,” a source familiar with the case told People. Loughlin and Giannulli were indicted in March as part of a sweeping college admissions scandal, in which 50 parents were accused of bribing a consultant to help cheat their kids’ way into top-tier schools. “You read the complaint and they look like criminal masterminds,” the source said. “But they really didn’t know the legalities of what was going on.” The source added that “they gave money to this consultant, not entirely knowing everything that was going to be done. When it all fell apart, nobody was as surprised as they were that they were in trouble.”
The allegations against the couple suggest otherwise: The complaint alleges that the couple submitted an “Action Picture” of one of their daughters on a rowing machine to help back up the lie, despite knowing that neither girl actually competed in crew. Loughlin and Giannulli both pleaded not guilty to charges of mail fraud and money laundering, and could face decades in prison.
The Pentagon’s watchdog agency on Thursday cleared Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of allegations that he used his position to favor his old employer when awarding military contracts to Boeing, The New York Times reports. An official told the Times the Pentagon’s inspector general concluded that Shanahan, who stepped in for Gen. Jim Mattis, did not act inappropriately to favor Boeing. The Times notes the ruling clears a major hurdle in Shanahan’s path to assuming the defense secretary role permanently. The results of the investigation will be released at 10 a.m.
A former junk-bond saleswoman at Wall Street’s Cantor Fitzgerald claims that her coworkers routinely sexually harassed her, and that she once found her Bernie Sanders mug filled with feces. Now, Bloomberg News reports, her lawsuit might escape the confines of forced arbitration and expose the hallowed firm’s alleged culture of harassment. Lee Stowell filed her lawsuit in April 2018, accusing her boss, a coworker, and the company of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. She claims that her boss stole her clients, and kept a whiteboard where coworkers derided her and tallied “Lee Haters” and “Lee-Free Days.”
The company reportedly tried to move her suit to mandatory arbitration, a common practice on Wall Street, which would force her to settle her claims privately without a judge or jury—preventing the firm from bearing the social or financial cost of the suit. But a judge recently rejected Cantor’s claim that the case should move to arbitration, noting that employees must be explicitly told when they’re signing away their right to sue. The company denies Stowell’s allegations and is appealing—but Stowell is overjoyed. This is where every woman gets stopped,” she told Bloomberg. “We’re now on the starting block. I get to run.”
George Conway, husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and one of Trump’s most frequent sparring partners, tore into the president on Twitter Thursday with the new nickname “Deranged Donald.” “Deranged Donald is at back at it again,” Conway wrote, alongside a Washington Post article about Trump’s baseless claim that Britain spied on his campaign ahead of the 2016 elections. “Deranged Donald can do things like this and it’s not even the top of the news, because it gets lost beneath all of the other deranged things Deranged Donald does. #DerangedDonald.”
“Deranged Donald has this neat job where he’s supposed to receive and read books with more accurate, highly valuable, top secret information, but he doesn’t like those books unless they have lots of pictures and tell him how great he is. #DerangedDonald,” Conway added in a subsequent tweet. “Plus Deranged Donald doesn’t really need all those books because Fox News. #DerangedDonald.” It’s currently the second-most popular hashtag on Twitter.
FBI agents have conducted raids on the office and homes of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh as part of an investigation into the mayor’s book deals. Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit executed search warrants early Thursday morning, according to an FBI spokesperson. The investigators are looking into Pugh’s children’s book series Healthy Holly, which have grossed well over $500,000 since 2011. Thousands of the books have been paid for by businesses that have benefited from the mayor’s official actions. The Maryland state prosecutor is also conducting a criminal investigation of the book deals. Pugh, elected in 2016, is facing growing pressure to step down. Baltimore City Council, members of the state legislature, and the business-focused Greater Baltimore Committee have all called on her to resign. Pugh has been on medical leave since April 1 due to severe pneumonia, according to aides. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has been serving as mayor in her absence.
Sweetgreen will begin accepting cash again at all 94 of its nationwide locations by September 30, Bloomberg reports. The popular fast-casual salad chain stopped accepting cash in 2016, a decision that was met with criticism. Critics argue that cashless businesses discriminate against customers who might not have access to lines of credit or mobile payment apps. Boston law prohibits cashless businesses, and so the city’s Sweetgreen locations never stopped accepting cash. Philadelphia, where there are currently six Sweetgreen locations, recently passed a similar law. Sweetgreen co-founder and co-Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Jammet says the chain first went cashless to appeal to younger consumers. “We believed there were many advantages that would benefit the SG community, including employee safety—reducing incidents of robbery—and that it would speed up service in our restaurants,” he said. The salad chain is valued over $1 billion, and expects to grow to more than 100 stores by the end of 2019.