Oppenheimer: 3 Stocks That Could Surge Over 100% From Current Levels
So far, September has been a wild ride of ups and downs. Following the recent bout of volatility, stocks have ticked higher again. But as uncertainty regarding another rescue program and the presidential election continues to linger, where does the market go from here? Weighing in for Oppenheimer, Chief Investment Strategist John Stoltzfus argues that any market dips appear “relatively contained and orderly,” and present longer-term investors the chance to find “babies that got thrown out with the bathwater.” He noted, “For nervous investors the recent downdraft has presented opportunity to take some profits without FOMO (fear of missing out).”As for the tech heavyweights that powered the market’s five-month charge forward, the strategist believes “current expectations that technology stocks will remain under pressure for some time seem exaggerated.” Stoltzfus adds that the “core of technology stocks did not appear terribly rich in price considering that developments in technology and innovation have yet to show signs of plateauing in the current cycle.”Taking Stoltzfus’ outlook into consideration, our focus turned to stocks that Oppenheimer analysts are bullish on. The firm’s pros see triple-digit upside potential in store for three tickers in particular. Running the names through TipRanks’ database, we wanted to find out what makes each so compelling.MediWound Ltd. (MDWD)Developing cutting-edge products, MediWound wants to address unmet needs in the fields of severe burn and chronic wound management. With an important government contract secured, Oppenheimer has high hopes for this name.Back in January, MDWD announced that the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) had entered into a contract to procure $16.5 million of NexoBrid, its drug designed to remove eschar in adults with deep partial and full-thickness thermal burns (a process called debridement), for an emergency stockpile. According to management, the first delivery is set for Q3 2020.On top of this, the company filed the NexoBrid Biologics License Application (BLA) with the FDA for eschar removal in adults with deep partial-thickness and full-thickness thermal burns in June. MDWD’s U.S. commercial partner, Vericel, is preparing for an immediate launch upon approval.Representing Oppenheimer, 5-star analyst Kevin DeGeeter points out that “Given the filing involved participation from three parties—MDWD, U.S. commercial partner Vericel and funding partners at BARDA—and was completed against the backdrop of public sector work-from-home mandates, we view meeting stated timelines as a material milestone and derisking event for MDWD shares… we believe NexoBrid is on track for 1H21 launch.”Should the therapy ultimately be approved, MDWD is entitled to a $7.5 million milestone payment from Vericel. “We believe the combination of existing cash and the $7.5 million milestone payment from VCEL upon NexoBrid approval should fund operations at least into 2H23,” DeGeeter added.DeGeeter also points out that MDWD plans to open 25-30 sites in U.S. and Israel to support the Phase 2 study of EscharEx, its product for chronic wounds. Although COVID-19 resulted in a delay, the analyst thinks “the current timeline of 1H21 is achievable.”To this end, DeGeeter rates MDWD an Outperform along with a $7 price target. Should his thesis play out, a potential twelve-month gain of 117% could be in the cards. (To watch DeGeeter’s track record, click here)All in all, other analysts echo DeGeeter’s sentiment. 4 Buys and no Holds or Sells add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $6.63, the upside potential comes in at 106%. (See MDWD stock analysis on TipRanks)UroGen Pharma (URGN)Primarily focused on uro-oncology, UroGen Pharma develops advanced non-surgical treatments to improve the lives of patients. As the launch of one of its products is progressing well, Oppenheimer thinks that now is the time to get on board.Writing for the firm, analyst Leland Gershell points to UGN-101 as a key component of his bullish thesis. UGN-101, which has now been formally launched in the U.S. under the commercial name Jelmyto, was designed as a treatment for low-grade upper tract urothelial carcinoma (LG UTUC). The analyst highlights that Jelmyto’s launch is already off to a solid start, as eight patients had received 20 doses of the drug in June.“Jelmyto sales were $371,000 in its first month of launch, but more important was management’s commentary that over 100 urology practice sites are treatment-ready for the product, and that patient demand has not been visibly impacted by COVID-19,” Gershell explained.Adding to the good news, permanent C- and J-codes, which are expected in October and January 2021, respectively, could bolster sales, in Gershell’s opinion. The label could also be updated to reflect completed OLYMPUS data.It should be noted that patient and physician engagement could remain diminished through YE20, and restrictions around elective surgeries could persist, according to Gershell. That said, he argues that “LG UTUC’s lack of surgical urgency could imply treatment deferral for several months, whereas Jelmyto’s ability to be administered in an outpatient setting could expedite treatment, favoring adoption.”If that wasn’t enough, UGN-102, its mitomycin gel that targets low-grade intermediate risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (LG IR-NMIBC), is set to enter pivotal testing before the end of 2020. Looking at previously released data, the therapy achieved a 65% complete response (CR) rate at three months following onset of treatment. “To offset any potential COVID-19 impact on enrollment, URGN has increased the number of clinical trial sites outside of the U.S., in those countries where virus-related clinical delays have not cropped up,”Gershell added.Summing it all up, Gershell commented, “We believe shares trade at a discount to the value of Jelmyto and UGN-102, and that revenue growth will support stock upside over the next 12 months.”To this end, Gershell stands with the bulls, reiterating an Outperform rating. At $48, his price target brings the upside potential to 123%. (To watch Gershell’s track record, click here)What does the rest of the Street have to say? 3 Buy ratings and 1 Hold have been issued in the last three months. As a result, URGN receives a Strong Buy consensus rating. In addition, the $44 average price target suggests 104% upside potential. (See URGN stock analysis on TipRanks)Ayala Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AYLA)Last but not least we have Ayala Pharmaceuticals, which is focused on developing targeted therapies for cancers in which Notch activation is a known tumor driver. Based on the progress across its development pipeline, Oppenheimer sees big gains in store.Oppenheimer analyst Jay Olson thinks AYLA’s technology makes it a stand-out. Its two candidates, AL101 and AL102, which are in-licensed from Bristol Myers, are gamma-secretase inhibitors that target aberrant activation of Notch signaling in cancer cells.Notch signaling plays an important role in normal cell development, and perturbations can cause malignant transformation. “We believe Notch targeted therapies hold promise in addressing unmet clinical needs,” Olson commented.The analyst added, “The Notch mutational landscape is diverse, and the underlying science is evolving. AYLA is building a bioinformatics database around Notch to better characterize and identify Notch-activating mutations. Additionally, AYLA is collaborating with partners developing diagnostic tests for Notch-activating mutations, both at DNA and RNA levels. We believe these initiatives benefit AYLA in the long term by identifying responders and expanding the addressable patient population.”Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, critical catalysts remain on track. The company is set to present new interim data from the Phase 2 ACCURACY open-label study of AL101 in R/M ACC at the mini oral head and neck cancer section of ESMO. Looking at the available data, a recent interim analysis in one cohort showed 69% DCR.As for the second cohort, it is evaluating a 6mg once-weekly dosing of AL101. “We view the efficacy and safety data from the 6mg dosing cohort as important for the registration-enabling studies, and we anticipate similar interim data readout in 1H21,” Olson said.Adding to the good news, AYLA is on track to kick off patient dosing in the Phase 2 TENACITY study of AL101 in R/M TNBC by YE20 after the IND was cleared by the FDA in April. In 2021, AYLA plans to initiate two additional Phase 2 studies including AL102 for desmoid tumors and AL101 for r/r T-ALL.“Springworks Therapeutics recently announced the completion of patient enrollment of the Phase 3 DeFi trial of nirogacestat in desmoid tumors with topline data expected mid-2021, which should provide read-across to AYLA’s AL102 program,” Olson noted.Given all of the above, Olson opined, “We’re encouraged by AYLA’s advantages along several dimensions, including its drug candidates, cancer indication selection, and focus on identifying Notch-activating mutations while developing diagnostics. AYLA’s Notch targeted approach should address unmet clinical needs for patients with rare but aggressive cancers.”It should come as no surprise, then, that Olson stayed with the bulls. To this end, he kept an Outperform rating and $23 price target on the stock, implying 123% upside potential. (To watch Olson’s track record, click here)Looking at the consensus breakdown, 2 Buys and 1 Hold have been published in the last three months. Therefore, AYLA gets a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Based on the $19.83 average price target, shares could climb 92% higher in the next year. (See AYLA stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
A woman could never behave that way and be president
“Will you shut up, man.”
It was Joe Biden’s stand-out line during Tuesday night’s presidential debate, one President Donald Trump’s female challenger four years ago could never dream of delivering.
“I so feel for Hillary right now because I’m positive she wanted to say that and couldn’t,” tweeted feminist author Jill Filipovic during the debate.
“You have no idea,” Clinton replied.
When Trump called Clinton a “nasty” woman while she talked about social security during the third presidential debate, she ignored him, finishing her answer without acknowledging the insult. Clinton knew the unspoken rules for women, and while she tried her best to follow them, she was often caught between the expectations of her gender and the qualities people tend to associate with leadership.
Words that Clinton could never utter, Biden’s campaign will now use on T-shirts.
“Whether you’re a woman, a person of color, or someone from an identity that’s in any other way marginalized, it’s difficult to see yourself in the position of these leaders, because they’re operating in a world that you’re not permited to operate in,” said Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “The double standards are very clear in that behaviors that are admired and respected in certain individuals are exactly what others have to be intentional in avoiding in order to be taken seriously.”
‘It was painful. And triggering’: Psychologists say debate could be traumatizing
Rife with insults and interruptions, people called Tuesday night’s debate a devastating example of the state of American politics. But it was something else, too: a confrontation that could only take place between two white men.
Double standards: ‘You can’t be angry’
No female challenger would ever have told Trump to shut up. Even if she wanted to.
The stereotypical idea of a woman is kind, gentle, moral and compassionate. But stereotypical notions of leadership – toughness, assertiveness, the ability to “take charge” – are typically associated with men. For women to rise to leadership positions, they must retain their stereotypical femininity, while also exhibiting characteristics we associate with men. The problem is that once women start exhibiting those stereotypical male traits, they are seen as less feminine, and ultimately less likeable.
“There’s no language that women are allowed to speak to stand up for themselves,” said Juliet Williams, a professor of gender studies at UCLA. “So clearly it would have been ridiculous for her to go, ‘Come on, man. This is unpresidential.’ It’s not just that we’re barred from the boardrooms and the golf clubs, we’re not even entitled to use the same language. It wouldn’t work at all. And clearly you can’t be angry, you can’t be aggressive.”
Research from the nonpartisan Barbara Lee Family Foundation shows that women in politics have to be likable to receive a person’s vote, but men don’t need to be liked to be elected. Qualities such as ambition and assertivness, which are lauded in male leaders, are the very things that make women less likeable, and therefore less electable.
After Sen. Kamala Harris challenged Biden over his past opposition to federal busing policy, some Biden allies suggested she was too ambitious to be his vice president, a charge gender experts say would never have been levied against a man.
And it’s not just gender identity that comes into play on the debate stage and in voters’ choices.
“Double standards and stereotypes play out whenever diverse identities come together. Is a woman ’emotional,’ or a black man ‘angry,’ while a white male is ‘passionate’?” Harvard Business Review wrote in 2019.
A performance of masculinity
Men are frequently called upon to perform their masculinity – in the military, in fraternities, in politics, in relationships – and gender experts say Tuesday’s debate was no exception.
“It was an exercise in masculine dominance,” said CJ Pascoe, a professor at the University of Oregon and author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. “Trump walked in and said, ‘The rules don’t apply to me. The moderator can’t tell me what to do. Biden can’t tell me what to do. Tradition can’t tell me what to do.’ … I think what Trump has been able to do is embody this sort of culturally valued form of masculinity that is authoritative. There are people who listen to him and find that sort of masculine charisma intoxicating regardless of the content that follows.”
APA: Psychologists call ‘traditional masculinity’ harmful
During the debate, Trump questioned Biden’s intellect and bragged about the size of his rallies. He attacked his son Hunter, who has struggled with addiction.
But gender experts say Tuesday’s debate also underscored the limitations of masculinity. Experts say because of his gender and his race, Biden is likely used to being treated with respect. Trump’s behavior appeared to throw him, in part because he had a limited number of of acceptable masculine responses to deal with Trump’s behavior.
“We tend to talk about toxic masculinity as bad for women. And I think that part of the message that hasn’t gotten across is a recognition of how bad toxic masculinity is for men,” Williams said. “So Biden was completely caught in a double bind where he had been goaded beforehand about being ‘Sleepy Joe’ and so he knew he had to in some way come out swinging. But his two choices were to look like a woman, effeminate, totally unacceptable, or to be as low as Trump would go, which also doesn’t look very good.”
A year after the election, in her book about her time on the campaign trail, Clinton said that her “skin crawled” as Trump loomed behind her during the debate, but she kept her cool because of “a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off.”
She envisioned, in a different world, what she might have said instead: “Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me.'”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump-Biden debate shows double standards of sexism, toxic masculinity
Which Defense Stock Has More Upside Potential?
Goldman Sachs Predicts Over 40% Rally for These 3 Stocks
A new wave of optimism is splashing onto the Street. Investment firm Goldman Sachs just gave its three-month stock forecast a boost, lifting it from Neutral to Overweight, with it also projecting “high single-digital returns” for global stocks over the next year.What’s behind this updated approach? Goldman Sachs strategist Christian Mueller-Glissmann cites the impressive rebound in global earnings growth and reduced equity costs as the drivers of the estimate revision. On top of this, a “broader procyclical shift” in stocks and other assets could take place during the remainder of this year.“We have shifted more cyclical on sectors and themes tactically but still prefer growth vs. value on a strategic horizon… In the near-term, elevated uncertainty on U.S. elections and a better global growth outlook might benefit non-U.S. equities more, but in the medium term a large weight in structural growth stocks is likely to support the S&P 500,” Mueller-Glissmann noted.As for the “most important catalyst” that could spur growth optimism in the next year, the strategist points to additional clarity on when and how a COVID-19 vaccine will be available.Turning Mueller-Glissmann’s outlook into concrete recommendations, Goldman Sachs’ analysts are pounding the table on three stocks that look especially compelling. According to these analysts, each name is poised to surge in the 12 months ahead.Raytheon Technologies (RTX)First up we have Raytheon Technologies, which is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers. While shares have stumbled in 2020, Goldman Sachs thinks the weakness presents a buying opportunity.Representing the firm, analyst Noah Poponak points out that RTX is “too high quality and well positioned of a company to trade at an 11% free cash flow yield on the fully aerospace-recovered and fully synergized 2023E free cash.”The analyst’s bullish outlook is largely driven by the company’s aerospace aftermarket (the secondary market that deals with the installation of equipment, spare parts, accessories and components after the sale of the aircraft by the original equipment manufacturer) business, which Poponak argues is “the best sub-market within Aerospace over the long-term.” This segment makes up roughly 45% of RTX’s aerospace revenue.Even though COVID-19 flight disruptions have weighed on this part of the business, Poponak points out total aircraft in service is down only 25% year-over-year, and flights have dipped less than 50%. He added, “China domestic traffic is now up year on year, and while international remains depressed, we believe the recovery in global air travel could be quicker from here than broad expectations for a recovery by 2023-2024.”Poponak highlights that in previous downturns, the aftermarket had to confront headwinds that arose from the increased use of parting out, inventory pooling and delayed aftermarket spending. “Even then, aftermarket grew at or faster than ASMs, and we believe there was pent-up demand heading into this downturn that support aftermarket tracking the recovery in global air travel. Long-term, we expect air traffic to grow 2X global GDP, as it has historically,” the analyst commented.Adding to the good news, the Geared Turbo Fan, which is a type of turbofan aircraft engine, product cycle could generate substantial revenue and EBIT growth at Pratt & Whitney, in Poponak’s opinion.“Given the high OE exposure to the A320neo, which has the strongest backlog of any aircraft in the market, we see Pratt OE revenue holding up better and recovering faster than peers. New GTF deliveries will drive expansion in the installed base for Pratt, which was declining for most of the 2000s. Despite the end of V2500 OE deliveries, that program is just moving into the sweet-spot for shop visits on the aftermarket side,” Poponak opined.What’s more, Poponak sees merger synergies as capable of fueling margin expansion and cash generation, with the historical synergy capture in the space implying that upside to guidance isn’t out of the question.In line with his optimistic approach, Poponak stays with the bulls. To this end, he keeps a Buy rating and $86 price target on the stock. Investors could be pocketing a gain of 49%, should this target be met in the twelve months ahead. (To watch Poponak’s track record, click here)In general, other analysts echo Poponak’s sentiment. 7 Buys and 2 Holds add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $78.63, the upside potential comes in at 36.5%. (See RTX stock analysis on TipRanks)Boeing (BA)Moving on to another player in the aerospace space, Boeing has also struggled on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, with it failing to match the pace of the broader market. That being said, Goldman Sachs has high hopes for this name going forward.Firm analyst Noah Poponak, who also covers RTX, points out that BA has already trimmed production rate plans by half, compared to the peak plan from before the COVID crisis and MAX grounding. A slower-than-anticipated air travel rebound could result in more reductions, but the analyst argues these would be much smaller than the reductions that have already been witnessed. He added, “Historically, the best buying opportunities in BA shares are right after it has capitulated to production rate cuts.”According to Poponak, compared to previous economic declines, the peak to trough in the current downturn is larger and faster, although this is partly related to the grounding of the 737 MAX in 2019. “We believe this will result in a less severe dislocation of supply and demand balance, and see deliveries recovering to 2018 levels by 2024 as global air travel recovers and airlines replace accelerated retirements,” he explained.As for how the company can fulfill its new production rate plan “given the mix of its backlog is so much more weighted to growth than replacement,” Poponak believes “the answer is that airlines during this downturn are revising that mix.” Since the pandemic’s onset, airlines have revealed higher aircraft retirement plans, and braced for less growth. “That means for a given revision in an airline’s order book, there is also a substantial mix shift toward replacement from growth within the new delivery numbers. Therefore, the backlog will not necessarily lose all of its growth orders,” the analyst stated.Additionally, following an uptick in aircraft order cancellations in March and April, the pace has slowed. “Even assuming another 200-plus unit cancellations this year, we estimate the 737 MAX would have nearly 6X years of production by the middle of the decade at our revised production rate estimates,” Poponak mentioned.When it comes to free cash flow, the analyst is also optimistic, with Poponak forecasting that BA will see positive free cash flow in 2021. “We think the market is underestimating the mid-cycle achievable aircraft unit cash margins across the major programs, extrapolating temporarily negative items into the future, and underestimating the degree of inventory unwind likely to occur in 2021,” he said.If that wasn’t enough, the MAX recertification could be a major possible catalyst. The company is working towards recertification and return to service, with Poponak expecting both to come before year-end.Taking all of the above into consideration, Poponak maintains a Buy rating and $225 price target. This target conveys his confidence in BA’s ability to climb 35% higher in the next year.Turning to the rest of the analyst community, opinions are mixed. With 8 Buys, 8 Holds and 1 Sell assigned in the last three months, the word on the Street is that BA is a Moderate Buy. At $192.40, the average price target implies 16% upside potential. (See Boeing stock analysis on TipRanks)Immatics (IMTX)Combining the discovery of true targets for cancer immunotherapies (therapies that utilize the power of the immune system) with the development of the right T cell receptors, Immatics hopes to ultimately enable a robust and specific T cell response against these targets. Based on its cutting-edge approach, Goldman Sachs counts itself as a fan.Writing for the firm, analyst Graig Suvannavejh notes that unlike CAR-T approaches, a T cell receptor (TCR)-based approach can go after targets inside the cell, and fight the 90% of cancers which are solid tumor in nature. The company is advancing two technologies: ACTengine, designed for personalized TCR-based cell therapies, and TCER, which targets TCR-based bispecific antibodies.ACTengine is the more advanced technology, with its four assets IMA201, a genetically engineered T cell product candidate that targets melanoma-associated antigen 4 or 8, IMA202, which targets melanoma-associated antigen 1, IMA203, which targets preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma (PRAME) and IMA204 that targets COL6A3 (found in a tumor’s stroma and is highly prevalent in the tumor microenvironment/TME in a broad range of cancers) expected to enter the clinic soon.Using the TCER platform, IMTX is developing IMA401 and IMA402, or “off-the-shelf” biologics consisting of a portion of the TCR which directly recognizes cancer cells and a T cell recruiter domain which recruits and activates the patient’s T cells.Speaking to the market opportunity, Suvannavejh mentioned, “Cancer immunotherapies have made great strides over the past decade, and in particular, advances seen with CAR-T have paved the way for cell therapy-based approaches… CAR-T, however, has to date only shown limited effect in treating cancers that are solid tumor in nature. With more than 90% of all cancers being solid tumors — with lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancers accounting for c.60% of the total — this is the opportunity for IMTX.” To this end, he believes cumulative 2035 sales could land at $15.5 billion for the ACTengine-based assets.Reflecting another positive, since 2017, IMTX has inked at least one significant partnership per year with top global biopharma companies. According to Suvannavejh, each provided non-dilutive funding opportunities.The analyst added, “…the ARYA Sciences Acquisition Corporation, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), merger that enabled IMTX to become a publicly traded entity brought in a deep roster of well-known, experienced healthcare-dedicated institutional investors. Taken together, we find these to be validating of IMTX’s longer-term prospects.”Looking ahead, the initial clinical data readouts for IMA201, IMA202 and IMA203, which are slated for Q1 2021, and investigational new drug (IND) application submissions for IMA204 and IMA401 in 2021 and YE2021, respectively, reflect key potential catalysts, in Suvannavejh’s opinion.Everything that IMTX has going for it convinced Suvannavejh to reiterate his Buy rating. Along with the call, he attached a $17 price target, suggesting 73% upside potential. (To watch Suvannavejh’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 4, in fact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: IMTX is a Strong Buy. Given the $19 average price target, shares could soar 93% in the next year. (See Immatics stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Police arrest Proud Boy member on assault and gun charges hours after Trump refuses to denounce white supremacy
The Daily Beast
Lindsey Graham on Spreading Potential Russian Disinformation: It Doesn’t Matter If It’s True
Former Hillary Clinton aides, ex-intelligence officials and Senate Democrats are accusing Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe of laundering Russian disinformation before an election after Ratcliffe suggested Clinton attempted to manufacture a scandal about Russian interference in the 2016 election on behalf of President Trump.On Tuesday, Ratcliffe, a loyalist whom Trump placed atop U.S. intelligence in the spring, sent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a letter claiming that in late July 2016, U.S. intelligence acquired “insight” into a Russian intelligence analysis. That analysis, Ratcliffe summarized in his letter, claimed that Clinton had a plan to attack Trump by tying him to the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. Trump, in late July 2016, had publicly called for Russia to purloin Clinton’s emails. And both U.S. intelligence and former special counsel Robert Mueller have since attributed that hack to Russia.None of the subsequent Trump-Russia investigations have verified the claims Ratcliffe published, although top House intelligence-committee Republican Devin Nunes of California has insisted baselessly that Clinton and not Trump colluded with Russia.Ratcliffe stated that the intelligence community “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or to the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.” Though he subsequently insisted that his letter was not itself a disinformation campaign by Russian officials, his move to send the letter, and Graham’s decision to release it, was roundly criticized.“DNI Ratcliffe should be ashamed of his blatant politicization of his position,” said Nick Shapiro, the former CIA deputy chief of staff to John Brennan, who was CIA director in 2016 and whose notes are cited in Ratcliffe’s summary.Trump’s Pick for Intelligence Chief Follows a Slew of QAnon AccountsGraham, who spoke to The Daily Beast on the phone Tuesday evening, said he did not know whether the information presented by Ratcliffe was true and said he was not concerned with releasing the uncorroborated allegations to the public even with the presidential election just 35 days away.”There are allegations from the CIA that the Clinton campaign was involved in Russia. I don’t know if that is true,” Graham said. “It’s not about whether it is true. It’s about whether the FBI took [the allegations] seriously. That’s the question. I supported the Mueller investigation. I don’t get why you wouldn’t look with the same suspicion with both campaigns. The point is what did they [the FBI] do with the information?”Graham’s post-facto rationalization was just the latest illustration of how uniformly invested Trump allies have become in the narrative that Russian involvement in U.S. politics is either overstated or deliberately fabricated as a means of delegitimizing the president. Now that belief has been adopted at the senior most level of U.S. intelligence, something Democrats and former intelligence officials greeted with alarm.“It’s all straight-up Russian disinfo,” said Jesse Lehrich, the foreign-policy spokesperson for the 2016 Clinton campaign.Since the 2016 presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials have paid particularly close attention to the ways in which Russia uses disinformation to sow chaos among Americans. As early as March of 2019, officials in the intelligence apparatus and within the national security community have tracked how Moscow uses proxies, including journalists and Russia-friendly politicians, to propagate conspiracy theories about Biden, his son Hunter, and their dealings in Ukraine.Several internal reports warned of the efforts of Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian parliamentarian, to dig up dirt on the Bidens. Derkach worked closely with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to do so, and his talking points showed up in Giuliani’s cable appearances on Fox News and One America News throughout 2019 and 2020. Last month, the Treasury Department listed Derkach as a “Russian agent” and for his attempts to meddle in the 2020 election.Despite several warnings from the intelligence communities that Russia is actively trying to denigrate the Biden campaign and interfere in the 2020 election, Democrats now say that Graham and Ratcliffe have themselves engaged in proliferating Russian propaganda. Indeed, both the substance and the timing of the Ratcliffe summary, coming hours before the first presidential debate, drew the ire of former Clinton aides, intelligence veterans and the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee for politicizing intelligence.“It’s very disturbing to me that 35 days before an election, the director of national intelligence would release unverified Russian rumint,” or rumors-intelligence, said Sen. Mark Warner, the panel’s top Democrat. Politico reported that the Senate intelligence committee, on a bipartisan basis, rejected the allegation Ratcliffe published as false. “I’m very, very proud of the bipartisan work of the intelligence committee [over] three and a half years and five volumes, and that work speaks for itself,” Warner told reporters on Tuesday.Mueller Defends Russia Investigation After Top Aide’s Criticism in Tell-All BookWarner’s Democratic colleague on the panel, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, said Ratcliffe was abusing his power “exactly as I feared he would” shortly before November’s election.“His politicization of intelligence, including through selective releases to political allies, damages the country and undermines the intelligence community he purports to lead,” Wyden said in a Tuesday statement. “Ratcliffe is even willing to rely on unverified Russian information to try to concoct a political scandal, a shocking abdication of his responsibilities to the country.”Ratcliffe’s summary comes two days after Maria Bartiromo reported for Fox News that it was unlikely a Justice Department prosecutor scrutinizing the intelligence agencies’ origins of the Trump-Russia probe was unlikely to bring charges before the election. Attorney General William Barr claimed earlier this month that bringing charges prior to the election was a possibility, despite the long-standing policy of the Department to not announce charges so close to Election Day. Ratcliffe’s statement suggested that Barr concurred with the decision to release the summary, saying Barr “has advised that the disclosure of this information will not interfere with ongoing Department of Justice investigations.”The office of the Director of National Intelligence did not clarify Barr’s role in the Tuesday release of the summary.A former senior intelligence official stopped short of claiming Ratcliffe was laundering Russian disinformation, claiming a lack of familiarity with the underlying intelligence.“This should be taken with an entire shaker of salt unless the actual documents are released,” the ex-intelligence official said. “The selective release of information is getting rather obvious. Fits right in the pattern in the Flynn case, where they are releasing every document that suggests that an individual agent had a concern.”Representatives for the director of national intelligence did not respond when asked if they would release the material undergirding Ratcliffe’s summary.Ratcliffe’s summary alleged that then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama and others on both the alleged Russian intelligence and a claim that Clinton had approved a plan to “vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference from Russian security forces.” That interference remains the assessment of U.S. intelligence.Ratcliffe cited Brennan’s “handwritten notes” as the basis for that heretofore unknown assessment. Clinton’s alleged approval came, per Ratcliffe, on July 26, 2016, the day she accepted the Democratic presidential nomination—an assertion her former campaign staffers found preposterous.“Hillary would never sign-off on manufacturing a scandal the way the alleged Russian intel, as summarized in Brennan’s notes, indicate,” said Lehrich, the former Clinton campaign spokesperson. “For one thing, she would’ve been incensed that anyone would think she needed to cheat to beat Donald Trump.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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