Is Russia Backing Bernie Sanders?

Grind for February 25th
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”

– Lao Tzu

Not Again

The Headline

Russia is trying to aid Bernie Sanders

The Grind

Intelligence officials this month informed President Trump and senior lawmakers of Russian efforts to aid Bernie Sanders’s campaign. They also claim Russia’s interference is designed to help Donald Trump win, which suggests Moscow is confident that Trump can defeat Bernie Sanders.

President Trump immediately suggested the interference was a “rumor” started by the “do-nothing Democrats.”

The Details

Speaking to supporters this weekend, Bernie Sanders made it clear he would refuse any help from Russia.

“Let me be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and – unlike the current president – I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election.”

Sanders went on to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin as an “autocratic thug” whose government has “used internet propaganda to sow division in our country.”

After winning the New Hampshire primary and tying for first in the Iowa caucus, Sanders is widely seen as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination.

The Background

US intelligence in 2016 concluded that Russia utilized social media in an effort to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. A lengthy investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller found no evidence suggesting that Trump or his team was aware of Russia’s efforts or that the interference affected a single vote.

Moscow has denied all allegations of interference. This week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described American reports as “paranoid announcements” that had “nothing to do with the truth.”

It’s About Time

The Headline

Wells Fargo settles for $3 billion

The Grind

Wells Fargo has finally agreed to pay $3 billion to settle a federal lawsuit regarding fraudulent customer accounts.

In September 2016, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for creating 1.5 million deposit accounts and 500,000 credit cards in customers’ names without their permission.

The Details

The accounts were created by employees struggling to meet unrealistic sales targets. To avoid detection, Wells Fargo employees forged signatures, moved money between accounts, and even altered customers’ contact information.

Bank managers were aware of this behavior as early as 2002.

When the scandal went public, Wells Fargo fired more than 5,000 employees, including then-CEO John Stumpf, eliminated its sales quotas, and doled out $142 million to affected parties.

This time, the penalty will go to the US Treasury and the SEC, with $500 million to be distributed among investors.

“The conduct at the core of today’s settlements – and the past culture that gave rise to it – are reprehensible and wholly inconsistent with the values on which Wells Fargo was built,” says CEO Charlie Scharf. “We are committing all necessary resources to ensure that nothing like this happens again.”

As part of the settlement, the Justice Department has agreed not to prosecute Wells Fargo as long as the bank meets certain criteria for the next three years.

Wells Fargo has also been accused of improperly repossessing cars of members of the military, failing to comply with federal interest rates, overcharging small businesses, and discriminating against black and Latino borrowers.

Did you know… Until the 1960’s men with long hair were not allowed to enter Disneyland.