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Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins set to be sentenced in insider trading case

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Former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) exits federal court on October 1, 2019 in New York City.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Disgraced former Rep. Chris Collins is set to be sentenced Friday in the insider-trading case that led him to give up his seat in Congress.

U.S. Judge Vernon Broderick is scheduled to deliver Collins’ sentence at 2:30 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan.

Federal prosecutors want Broderick to sentence Collins to nearly five years in prison — the top end of the federal guidelines range — to make an example of Collins that will “promote respect for the law, in light of the lack of respect that Collins has shown for it.”

But Collins’ lawyers have asked the judge to deliver a sentence of probation to the fallen congressman.

“He has paid a heavy price for his crimes,” one of his attorneys wrote in a court filing last week, claiming Collins is “now too ashamed to spend significant time in the community he loves.”

Probation officers had recommended a sentence of a year and a day in prison, along with a $200,000 fine and a term of supervised release.

Collins, 69, was the first member of Congress to support then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 White House bid. And despite pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements, Collins has retained some support in his upstate New York district — and from high-profile Republicans like former House Speaker John Boehner — who have vouched for Collins’ character in letters to the judge.

Collins in October pleaded guilty to tipping off his son Cameron in a phone call from the White House lawn about the results of an Australian biotech company’s failed drug trial before the test results became public.

After the test was revealed, the stock price of the firm — in which Collins was a leading investor and board member — tanked by more than 90%.

A day before Collins switched his plea to guilty, he submitted his resignation from Congress.

Cameron Collins saved nearly $600,000 by dumping his stock in the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, before it disclosed the bad news in a press release. Chris Collins himself did not trade Innate stock after learning about the test results.

The younger Collins is due to be sentenced Jan. 23, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron’s fiancee, will be sentenced Jan. 24 in connection with his selling Innate stock after being tipped by Cameron to the bad test results.

On Wednesday, Broderick sent both parties in the case a 26-question questionnaire, which the judge may use to help make his sentencing decision.

One of those questions asks: “In connection with his campaign for reelection did Collins make any statements professing his innocence in advertisements, press conferences or elsewhere?”



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Bernie Sanders is the front-runner because of how we raised our kids

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With his convincing victory in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders is solidifying his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination more than ever before.

So how did a life-long avowed socialist and someone who’s never actually won an election as a Democrat get to the top of the party’s mountain?

The simple answer is that he’s being supported by millions of younger Democratic voters, and those voters have been raised to be Sanders voters, even if their parents don’t realize it.

Here’s how it happened:

We convinced everyone college was 100% necessary, and then we made college unaffordable. Since the end of World War II, the chorus of educators, politicians, and journalists making it sound like college was essential for career success only became louder and drowned out any counterargument.

At the same time, college tuition costs have exploded thanks greatly to government programs that produced unintended, but predictable consequences. It mostly started in 1978 when more loans and subsidies became available to a greatly expanded number of students. The cost of college tuition has risen by six times more than the rate of inflation since the 1970s.

Now, millions of American young people are straddled with college loans that look impossible to repay. The total student loan debt in the U.S. now stands at more than $1.6 trillion.

Is it any wonder so many of them are attracted to a candidate who not only promises to forgive their student debts, but presents their predicament as the result of corporate greed and misplaced government priorities?

Luckily for Sanders, young voters supporting him for his college tuition forgiveness promises don’t seem to be too interested in his own family history. His wife Jane Sanders was president of the now defunct Burlington College and she and other administrators were reportedly the subjects of a long-running FBI probe that they misled bank loan officers about the real number of donations pledged to the college.

The FBI probe of the matter ended in 2018, and Jane Sanders was not charged. But the policies she oversaw, which included pushing for major campus expansions, were indicative of some of the root causes of increased college costs in America.

The establishment in both parties ignored young voters. As sacred as our politicians make college education sound, it’s nothing compared to the way leaders from both parties talk about programs for older Americans like Social Security and Medicare.

None of that is a mystery, as older Americans have always been more likely to vote. Even though voters aged 18-29 have been showing increased turnout numbers in recent elections, senior citizens still stand atop the heap. In 2016, 71% of Americans 65 and older voted compared to just 46% of 18-29-year-olds. In the 2018 midterms, that gap narrowed to 66% to 36%, but it’s still a wide gap.

All of this focus on older voters and their retirement funds is a nice sentiment but it’s misplaced. Older Americans aren’t just doing okay. A 2017 study of age-based wealth in the U.S. shows that a typical household headed by an adult 65 and older has 47 times the net worth of a household headed by younger Americans. Yep, Papa and Granny are loaded.

Now, helping older people who happen to be poor or on the margins of poverty is something different. But the cultural assumption many of us have about elderly folks needing more financial help in America is pretty much the opposite of the truth.

Throw in the Affordable Care Act, which literally and foolishly leaned on younger and healthier Americans to foot the bill for covering older and sicker people, and you see a pattern here.

Sanders talks plenty about Social Security, and he’s obviously a senior citizen himself. But he usually expands his campaign promises to include younger people, as he did when he took the lead on the Medicare for All promise in 2017.

We told them America’s house was on fire. For all the policy differences and political minutiae Democrats delve into when criticizing President Trump, the most enduring attacks on Trump from the Democratic establishment remain accusations that Trump is supporting white supremacy and is controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

These are over-the-top accusations, and it’s hard to accept that even most elected Democrats actually believe them. But pushing that message on America for the last three-plus years comes at a price for both sides.

For the Democrats, the price is becoming clear: it’s made moderate presidential candidates look less viable than ever.

Think about it: if you really believe the president is a traitor and supporting violent plots against non-white Americans, is this really the time to support mainstream Democrat or Republican candidates?

Sanders may be a career politician, but he’s never been a mainstream politician. His persona and political brand fits much better into the current Democratic narrative that we’re living in desperate times.

Establishment Democrats are reaping what they sowed.

As a result, it’s looking more and more like Sanders has unstoppable momentum going into the Super Tuesday primaries and beyond. The big question now is whether that Democratic establishment will try to derail Sanders before or during the Democratic National Convention.

But either way, the party would be playing with fire and risking alienating those younger voters forever.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.





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For a President Who Loves Crowd Size, India Aims to Deliver

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A crowd of 10 million would exceed the entire population of Ahmedabad, estimated at eight million. Local officials estimate that it will be more like 100,000, making Mr. Trump off by only 99 percent. But Motera Stadium, which is not really fully built yet, is supposed to become the largest cricket arena in the world.

Other countries could not muster that show of force and so have taken advantage of whatever local assets they might have when Mr. Trump has come to visit. For Britain, of course, that would be Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, who welcomed him to Buckingham Palace last year with an 82-gun salute and a lavish white-tie state banquet.

“Crowd size is important to this president, so he was clearly thrilled to be told there would be seven million people on the streets” in India, said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States. “We couldn’t manage that in the U.K., but twice in the space of a year he seemed bowled over by the warmth of the welcome he received from the royal family.”

Mr. Trump was so blown away by the Bastille Day military parade in Paris when President Emmanuel Macron of France invited him in 2017 that the president insisted on organizing his own American equivalent along the streets of Washington as part of last year’s Independence Day celebration.

Perhaps with that in mind, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is trying to entice Mr. Trump to come to Moscow in May by inviting him to the Red Square parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. Mr. Trump, however, appears wary of the awkward politics of such a visit given the election year and Russia’s continued interference in American campaigns.

Japan eschews militarism and therefore military parades, but it sought to make Mr. Trump feel special by making him the first foreign head of state invited to meet Emperor Naruhito after his ascension to the throne. The Japanese also asked Mr. Trump to present his own trophy at a sumo champion match — a four-foot-tall object duly labeled the President’s Cup for the event.

“World leaders have learned to shorten or scrap the historical tours, remove local delicacies from the menu and focus on one thing only: feeding his ego,” said Julianne Smith, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “That’s taken different forms in recent years, but the goal is always the same — make Trump feel like he’s getting something unique: a parade in Paris, a grand state dinner at Buckingham Palace or a sumo match with a President’s Cup in Japan.”



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