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BBC: Hillary Clinton to be appointed Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be the new chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, the BBC is reporting. In her new role she’ll be expected to preside over graduation ceremonies and travel abroad representing the university.

According to the BBC she’s the 11th chancellor and first woman to take the position.

Clinton said in a statement that it was a “great privilege” to become the chancellor. She will serve for five years.

For more on this story go to the BBC here.

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Joe Biden raises $22.7 million in fourth quarter

Joe Biden brought in $22.7 million during the final three months of 2019 — but his best fundraising quarter to date still leaves the polling frontrunner trailing Democratic rivals Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

Biden’s fourth-quarter haul far exceeds the $15.2 million he brought in during the third quarter, and tops the $21.5 million he raised during the second quarter. Biden’s campaign said Thursday he’s raised $59.5 million overall since launching his campaign on April 25.

But Biden’s sum leaves him nearly $12 million behind Sanders, who raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter and has collected more than $96 million through 5 million donations since launching his bid in February, the Vermont U.S. senator said.

Buttigieg’s campaign said the former South Bend, Ind., mayor raised more than $24.7 million from 2 million contributions.

The Democratic field as a whole continues to trail President Trump, whose campaign said it took in $46 million in the final three months of the year.

Biden’s campaign said digital revenue per day more than doubled during impeachment, up 121%, even as the former vice president weathered attacks from Trump over his and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

“These numbers clearly demonstrate Donald Trump’s lies and attacks on the Vice President have only cemented and expanded his support, serving as a constant reminder to Democratic primary voters that Trump is terrified by the idea of facing Joe Biden in a general election,” said Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz. “We’re also seeing significant support from Democrats who previously supported other candidates and are now rallying behind the candidate they believe can bring the country together and beat Donald Trump.”

After a lackluster third quarter, Biden’s team said his online fundraising doubled and overall fundraising went up 49% in the fourth quarter.

Biden remains the Democratic front-runner in national polls, though both Sanders and Buttigieg polled ahead of him in New Hampshire and Iowa the last time early state polls were conducted in mid-December, according to Real Clear Politics averages.

Schultz called the financial numbers “the latest evidence of Joe Biden’s growing strength and momentum heading into the early contests of 2020.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang also announced his fundraising total Thursday, posting a personal best $16.5 million, breaking his record of $10 million in the previous quarter and crossing 1 million donations.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign said she had raised $17 million about four days before Tuesday’s quarterly deadline, releasing her total early in hopes of reaching a $20 million goal by Dec. 31. Her campaign has yet to announce its fourth quarter total.

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Gabbard raises $3.4 million but lags behind 2020 frontrunners

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) raised $3.4 million in the final quarter of 2019, a slight improvement over her third quarter numbers that nevertheless leaves her well behind the Democratic primary’s fundraising leaders.

Gabbard’s fourth quarter haul was first reported by NBC News. A spokesperson for Gabbard confirmed the top-line number to POLITICO but did not respond to a followup question about the number of individual donors or cash on hand amount.

Gabbard is one of four Democrats who have already announced their fundraising totals for the last three months of 2019. She trails Bernie Sanders (who raised $34.5 million, which is so far the largest single quarter haul for any Democrat in 2019), Pete Buttigieg ($24.7 million) and Andrew Yang ($16.5 million). None of the Democrats has said how much he or she has in the bank so far.

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FBI records indicate DOJ considering prosecuting Andrew McCabe over leaks

New records from the Justice Department watchdog’s investigation into Andrew McCabe point to a possible criminal prosecution of the fired FBI deputy director.

The dozens of pages of previously secret documents detail the FBI’s internal inquiry into the bureau’s then-No. 2, including a discussion in which McCabe denied being the source of a leak about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a follow-up meeting where he reversed himself and admitted he’d greenlighted the disclosure.

The records were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group that has been fighting in court for access to the DOJ and FBI documents connected to McCabe’s firing.

DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz released a report detailing multiple instances where McCabe “lacked candor” with FBI Director James Comey, FBI investigators, and inspector general investigators about his authorization to leak to the Wall Street Journal sensitive information revealing the existence of an FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation.

Comey said he did not permit McCabe to tell the media, and Horowitz wrote that McCabe’s actions were “designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership” and that “McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.”

McCabe was fired and is suing the DOJ for wrongful termination, seeking to regain his job and back pay, claiming President Trump was behind the firing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. is weighing criminal charges against McCabe stemming from Horowitz’s report, and DOJ denied his September appeal to avoid criminal charges. Though federal prosecutors recommended charging him, it does not appear a grand jury has returned an indictment.

McCabe’s lawyers have expressed frustration with the DOJ, denying McCabe did anything wrong and saying, “this investigation has been fatally flawed from its inception.” McCabe said he would “absolutely not” accept a plea deal.

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Joe Biden Announces $22.7 Million in Fourth Quarter Fund-Raising

WASHINGTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday that he had raised $22.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a significant improvement from his lackluster fund-raising performance in the previous three months.

Mr. Biden’s total, for the period from October through December, far exceeded the $15.7 million that he had raised during the third quarter. It was his largest quarterly haul so far, surpassing the $22 million he brought in during the second quarter.

But Mr. Biden’s fourth-quarter total was much smaller than that of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose campaign announced earlier Thursday that it had raised more than $34.5 million in the quarter. Mr. Biden, the former vice president, also lagged behind Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., whose campaign revealed on Wednesday that it had brought in more than $24.7 million. Another leading candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has not yet announced her fund-raising total.

While Mr. Biden’s fund-raising rebound did not vault him to the top of the Democratic pack, it still offered a reassuring sign for his supporters as the primary race heads into the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses in early February. His campaign said its online fund-raising doubled in the fourth quarter, and that more than half its donors in the quarter gave to the campaign for the first time. The average donation in the quarter was $41, the campaign said.

President Trump’s impeachment appeared to lift Mr. Biden’s fund-raising. The Biden campaign said the average amount of money it raised online per day more than doubled during the House’s impeachment inquiry compared with previous weeks.

Greg Schultz, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, said on Thursday that the fund-raising announcement was “just the latest evidence of Joe Biden’s growing strength and momentum.”

“These numbers clearly demonstrate Donald Trump’s lies and attacks on the vice president have only cemented and expanded his support, serving as a constant reminder to Democratic primary voters that Trump is terrified by the idea of facing Joe Biden in a general election,” Mr. Schultz said in a statement.

Mr. Biden continues to lead national primary polls, but he has faced lingering doubts about enthusiasm for his candidacy, especially from grass-roots donors. Those doubts had been exacerbated by his weak performance in the third quarter, when his campaign spent $2 million more than it took in. He ended that period with far less cash on hand than Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren or Mr. Buttigieg.

Mr. Biden’s campaign did not say how much money it had on hand at the end of the fourth quarter. But in a memo on Thursday, Mr. Schultz wrote that “we will always be playing from behind in the cash race” because Mr. Biden had not transferred money to his presidential campaign from other campaign accounts — an apparent reference to Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, who both did so. Mr. Schultz wrote that the campaign remained “as vigilant as ever about the budget, watching every penny.”

For the fourth quarter, Mr. Biden’s campaign had publicly set a goal of receiving 500,000 individual donations. The campaign said on Thursday that it had met that goal, though it did not specify how many donations it had received.

Mr. Biden’s grass-roots strength still lags far behind some of his rivals, such as Mr. Sanders, whose campaign said it received more than 1.8 million donations in the quarter. Mr. Sanders received far more donations in December alone — more than 900,000 — than Mr. Biden had set as a goal for the three-month period.

Unlike Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, Mr. Biden is relying on the traditional fund-raising circuit to raise money for his campaign, in addition to what he collects from grass-roots donors. Last week, Mr. Biden released a list of more than 200 people, known as bundlers, who had raised at least $25,000 for his campaign.

Ms. Warren, asked on Thursday about her own fourth-quarter donations, said that her fund-raising total would be released “soon” and, without naming them, made an implicit jab at Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg for relying in part on big-dollar events and bundlers to bring in money from wealthy donors.

“I didn’t spend one single minute selling access to my time to millionaires and billionaires,” she said to reporters after a campaign event in Concord, N.H. “I did this grass-roots all across the county.”

The Biden campaign had already boasted of its fund-raising rebound, announcing in early December that it had raised as much money in the first two months of the fourth quarter as it had during the entire previous quarter.

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US election 2020: Julian Castro ends White House campaign

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Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro has announced he is ending his campaign for the White House.

Barack Obama’s ex-housing secretary, who was the only Latino in the race, said in a tweet: “I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time.”

“I’m not done fighting,” the 45 year old added. His exit leaves 14 Democrats campaigning for this year’s presidential election.

The White House race begins in earnest next month with the Iowa caucuses.

  • The key issues for 2020 Democrats

The remaining Democrats will battle it out in a series of state-by-state votes nationwide before the eventual winner is crowned at the party convention in July. He or she is expected to face President Donald Trump, a Republican, in November’s presidential election.

The grandson of a Mexican immigrant, Mr Castro had struggled to raise money for what was seen as a long-shot bid.

He ran as a proud and passionate liberal, advocating for the decriminalisation of border crossings by undocumented migrants into the United States.

In September, he was accused of tossing an ageist gibe at Democratic front-runner Joe Biden during a televised debate in Texas when he accused the 77-year-old former US vice-president of being forgetful.

Mr Castro’s former Democratic rivals tweeted magnanimous messages for him on Thursday, including Mr Biden. He praised the “grace and heart” of his onetime antagonist’s campaign.

Another rising star eclipsed

A decade ago Julian Castro was a rising Democratic star. A recently elected mayor of San Antonio, he would go on to be a cabinet secretary and seemed destined to be a leader reflecting the party’s growing Hispanic base.

He never quite lived up to that potential. His public appearances tended to be dull, and his tenure in the Obama administration was unremarkable. By the time he threw his hat into the 2020 presidential ring, he was considered an afterthought, eclipsed by new “rising stars” like fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke.

Over the course of his campaign, however, Mr Castro turned a few heads. During the debates, he was sharp, even getting the better of Mr O’Rourke in an early exchange on immigration. He may have hurt his chances by suggesting former Vice-President Joe Biden’s memory was failing, but his willingness to attack helped dispel his image as a milquetoast politician.

None of this translated into actual support in the opinion polls, of course. But while other candidates may have damaged their reputations by underperforming, Mr Castro has put his name back in the mix – as a vice-presidential choice or, at least, a sharp-elbowed ally for whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

Most of the Democratic candidates are male and white, which is provoking online criticism for a party that prides itself on diversity.

Asian-American Andrew Yang was the only minority candidate to appear beside six others in the most recent TV debate last month.

Two other remaining candidates are African-American – Cory Booker and Deval Patrick – though they are polling near the bottom of the field.

Mr Castro’s exit comes on the day that leading Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced it had raised $34.5m (£26.2m) since he suffered a heart attack in October.

The haul surpasses Mr Sanders’ previous quarterly totals and was the highest of any Democrat in this election cycle.

But the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist’s war chest was eclipsed by Mr Trump, whose campaign said it drew in $46m, smashing its previous 2020 quarterly fundraising record.

In addition to the latest totals, the Sanders campaign announced on Thursday that more than five million individual people had donated.

His best month was December when 1.8m donations were made, with an average amount of $18.53.

  • What’s different for Bernie Sanders this time?
  • Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, doctors say

Mr Biden announced on Thursday his campaign had raised $22.7m in the previous three months, marking it his best quarter so far.

Another Democratic front-runner, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, has not yet reported her fundraising totals.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, who has soared from relative anonymity to become one of the party’s brightest stars, pulled in $24.7m in the last quarter.

Mr Yang – a quirky entrepreneur who has never held political office – raised an impressive $16.5m in the past three months.

Who will take on Trump in 2020?

  • Find out who else is running and who might join them
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5 Shockingly Relatable Hillary Clinton E-mails Emerge in Latest Cache

On Wednesday, the State Department dumped a second “tranche” of Hillary Clinton Secret E-mails, giving the media the opportunity to hunt for incriminating evidence that Hillary Clinton is a relatable human being with normal imperfections and the capacity to act spontaneously.

While the Clinton presidential campaign sometimes does a good job of masking Clinton’s human side, the below e-mails suggest that, on occasion, Clinton encounters things that the average, everyday American must deal with on a regular basis.

Clinton gets Russian-linked phishing scam e-mails!

Clinton needs to have military speak explained to her!

Clinton forgets her own phone number because no one actually needs to memorize them these days!

Clinton graciously makes Music Man references to friends seemingly sending e-mails via telegram!

Clinton jokes that the Chinese have hacked her e-mail account!

This post was updated to incorporate the AP’s report on the Russian-linked hackers who apparently targeted Clinton’s e-mail.

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Joe Biden raised $22.7 million in fourth quarter

The figure puts the former vice president behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised $34.5 million in the same stretch from October through December, as well as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose fourth-quarter haul was $24.7 million.

The other member of the 2020 Democratic presidential race’s top tier, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has not yet released her fourth-quarter fundraising numbers — though her campaign told supporters late last week that, days from the deadline, she so far had raised $17 million, down from her $24.6 million third quarter.

For Biden, the fourth quarter was better than the previous two three-month stretches of his candidacy: He raised $21.5 million in 2019’s second quarter and $15.2 million in the third quarter.

“I’m excited to share that we raised $22.7 million this last quarter — our biggest quarter so far this campaign!” Biden said in a tweet along with a video Thursday afternoon. “Thank you to everyone who chipped in what you could — your support means the world to me. You truly are the heart of our campaign.”

The former vice president has held more than 100 fundraising events, which small groups of reporters have been allowed to attend.

Biden’s campaign said its online donations doubled during the fourth quarter — with a particular bump during the House’s impeachment proceedings: The amount the campaign brought in online climbed by 121% compared to the weeks before.

Overall, the average donation to Biden was $41, his campaign said.

The announcement came on the same day Biden started a four-day swing through Iowa, where his campaign has said it expects the former vice president to spend much of his time in January. He also picked up the first Democratic congressional endorsement from Iowa of the 2020 race, with Rep. Abby Finkenauer announcing her support.

Gone was the “No Malarkey” branding from previous Biden Iowa bus tours. This time, his bus was emblazoned with the words “Battle for the soul of the nation.”

He is attempting to hold on to his front-runner status through the first two contests next month, the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Then, the campaign shifts to states where the Democratic electorate is more diverse. He’s maintained a massive lead among black voters who make up more than half the Democratic electorate in South Carolina.

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Viral video of Joe Biden hints at a big problem in 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has developed a reputation for making the occasional gaffe, went viral again on Wednesday — but this time, the error was not his.

A deceptively edited video, appearing to show him embracing the white nationalist cultural idea that the US’s identity is the product of its early white European immigrants, was shared repeatedly on social media. The only issue? The 13-second clip, picked from a December 30 speech in New Hampshire, was part of Biden’s critique of that European culture.

“Our culture is not imported from some African nation, or some Asian nation,” Biden says in the clip. “It’s our English jurisprudential culture. Our European culture.” It sounds like a line more likely to be heard at Trump rally, or an alt right protest, but the context of the comments was lost in a creative edit.

In actuality, Biden was talking about American culture allowing sexual violence to continue unchecked. He argued that rape culture has descended from English legal permissiveness toward sexual violence and violence against women before detailing his own role in trying to change that culture.

“We finally got a lot passed through when the secretary of education, who was a great guy that I worked with and others, under Title IX,” Biden said in his speech. “Then along came Betsy DeVos and ended it. Folks, this is about changing the culture. … It’s not imported from some African nation, or some Asian nation. It’s our English jurisprudential culture. Our European culture.”

The clip was posted by an odd Twitter account that shared a whole thread of clips from Biden’s speech Monday, which was broadcast live on the ABC News Facebook page. The user, which appears to be a troll account, has made pro-Sen. Bernie Sanders tweets in the past but appears to have interacted with alt-right accounts as well.

The out-of-context clip spread quickly across Twitter Wednesday night, with some people calling Biden a white nationalist and a racist. The full context gives a much clearer picture of what he was trying to say — something far from white nationalist talking points.

Deceptive videos such as this are part of a broader problem, and it’s a worrisome sign as the 2020 campaign for president kicks into high gear.

Deceptively edited videos are becoming more commonplace

On its own, the fact that it was so easily believed that Biden would repeat alt-right talking points portends a potentially serious image problem for his campaign. There is plenty for Biden critics to find fault with, without resorting to sharing out-of-context video clips. The portion of the speech from which the clip was pulled is a frequent Biden riff on the stump, and some of his related comments drew heavy criticism toward Biden’s campaign in March last year. He said then he regretted his role in the Anita Hill hearings during the confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, though he stopped short of apologizing to her.

But the video also speaks to a broader problem: Deceptively edited videos going viral has become increasingly common in politics over the past several years. A clip of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) saying that America “should be more fearful of white men,” and calling for FBI profiling of the demographic went viral in July. Her reference to “white men” was in comparison to the way the government and law enforcement have monitored Muslims in counterterrorism efforts. Nevertheless, it was still shared by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (FL). The video has accumulated about 6 million views to date, and widespread sharing of it coincided with death threats toward Omar.

The Republican National Committee shared a selectively edited clip in March last year that appeared to show Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), then a candidate for president, calling for expanding Social Security to unauthorized immigrants. The inaccurate clip was quickly picked up by Fox News.

And other forms of doctored videos have targeted other political figures — a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to show her drunk while giving a speech in late May last year was spread around by President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and conservative media before it was revealed that the video was manually slowed down.

Even Trump himself, who often goes on long unrelated diatribes during his speeches, has been a victim of deceptive video edits, as pointed out by Media Matters editor Parker Molloy.

That’s partly because of social media, which makes it easier to unwittingly spread misinformation, as explained to Vox by political scientist Emily Thorson:

People have always been susceptible to misinformation. I think the real challenge now lies in the immediacy, scope, and ease of dissemination we now see with new technologies like social media.

Trying to figure out in what circumstances people are more likely to accept misinformation leads to some interesting territory. We know that context matters a lot, but also that there are cognitive, linguistic, social, and other factors that come into play. How people process information changes based on all kinds of factors.

If something is repeated over and over again, if it’s couched in a narrative or storyline, if it comes from a familiar source — all of this influences whether we accept or reject information.

We’re more likely to share bits of information that confirm our already preconceived notions about political issues and candidates, and it’s so easy to get clicks and attention with the most outrageous-looking tweets.

But this episode reminds us that as we flip the calendar to a new decade, we could all do with looking deeper and double checking the full context before sharing the most rage-worthy content.

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The nagging detail undermining Trump’s stock market boasts

In early November, Donald Trump published an exceedingly Trumpian tweet, declaring, “Stock Markets (all three) hit another ALL TIME & HISTORIC HIGH yesterday! You are sooo lucky to have me as your President (just kidding!).”

A month later, a reporter told Donald Trump that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 400 points for the day, and the losses were fueled in large part by his rhetoric about trade with China. “[I]f the stock market goes up or down – I don’t watch the stock market,” he replied.

By any fair measure, it was one of his more laughable lies. In the weeks that followed, the president tweeted over and over again about the major indexes’ closings, his intense interest in the stock market, and his insistence that he’s “far outpacing” his presidential predecessors.

To be sure, investors have reason to be pleased with recent returns, but if Trump is eager to draw comparisons, he may not like where they lead. A CNBC report from last week noted, for example, “Trump’s third year is above average, but not the best of any past president. In 2013, former President Barack Obama’s stock market returned more than 32%, as the economy bounced back from the Great Recession.”

A Washington Post analysis added:

While the stock market has performed well under Trump, it is not an unprecedented performance. Trump’s stock market returns still lag behind Obama and Clinton at this point in their first terms.

The Dow Jones industrial average has gained about 45 percent since Trump was sworn in nearly three years ago. The Dow was up about 53 percent at this point in Obama’s presidency and a whopping 57 percent in Clinton’s early years in office.

Part of the problem with Trump’s boasts is that he often sees the market as a real-time political barometer tied directly to developments in D.C. If the major indexes are on an upswing, the president sees it as proof of his genius. If they’re declining, he insists his political opponents are to blame for the downturn.

The result is routine incoherence.

Just seven weeks ago, Trump argued that if he were impeached, “it would lead to the biggest FALL in Market History. It’s called a Depression, not a Recession!” Soon after, he was impeached. Investors didn’t much care.

This went on throughout the season. On Oct. 31, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market.” Almost exactly 24 hours later, he tweeted, “Stock Market up BIG! Record highs for S&P 500 and NASDAQ. Enjoy!”

Later that day, the president told reporters that the market was up that afternoon because “people finally got to see” the White House call summary of his July 25 conversation with the Ukrainian president. The document had already been available for five weeks.

It’s tempting to think Trump would benefit from some kind of tutorial, with someone explaining to him what the stock markets are, but if recent history is any guide, he wouldn’t listen anyway.