Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom

Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom
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TRUMP MULLS PUSHING OUT ELECTION: President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE on Thursday suggested delaying the 2020 elections, something he does not have the power to do unilaterally, as he levied fresh attacks against mail-in voting.

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Trump, who is badly trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report Maxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' MORE in national polls, framed the suggestion as a question and argued that with more mail-in ballots there would be more fraud.

There is no evidence to support the idea that either absentee or mail-in ballots increases voter fraud. It also does not appear that there will be universal mail-in voting this fall, though some states require mail-in ballots.

"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history," Trump tweeted. "It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

The tweet, which came on the heels of a dire report on the state of the economy, marked the first time Trump has raised the idea of delaying the November elections, an idea he previously rejected amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

But the president has for weeks railed against the expansion of mail-in voting, which more and more states are embracing as an alternative to in-person voting during the pandemic.

Election Day takes place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, as determined by federal law. Moving the date would require an act of Congress.

Republicans break ranks: The prospect of delaying the election was swiftly rebuffed by Republican lawmakers.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) shot down the idea of moving the election back during an interview with a Kentucky radio station, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing MORE (R-S.C.), a reliable Trump ally, said delaying it "wouldn't be a good idea."

“We’re going to have an election. It’s going to [be] legitimate, it’s going to be credible,” Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters MORE (R-Fla.) said. “It’s not going to change. We’re going to have an election in November and people should have confidence in it.”

Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Illinois Republican tests positive for coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war MORE (Ill.), the top Republican on the House committee that has jurisdiction over elections, tweeted that the date of November's election "should not be changed."

Read more about pushback against Trump’s suggestion here. 

 

BIG TECH EARNINGS REPORTS RELEASED:

AMAZON SALES SURGE: Amazon reported Tuesday a surge in revenue during the second quarter of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic led people to boost their online purchases.

The online retailing giant reported net sales of $88.9 billion compared to the $75.5 billion from the first three months of the year. 

Meanwhile, Amazon doubled its net income during the past three months compared to the first quarter of 2020, increasing from $2.5 billion to $5.2 billion, with company shares doubling as well. 

“This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” Amazon CEO and founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosHearing for Twitter hack suspect Zoom-bombed by porn, rap music Five takeaways from Big Tech's blowout earnings Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom MORE said in a statement. 

Bezos also noted that the company had spent more than $4 billion on efforts to keep employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for purchasing personal protective equipment, increased cleaning of facilities, and a $500 million program to give bonuses to employees and delivery partners during the pandemic. 

He added that the company had also created 175,000 new jobs since March, and was in the process of moving 125,000 of these employees into full-time roles. 

Read more about Amazon’s earnings results here. 

FACEBOOK ALSO HAS GREAT QUARTER: Facebook on Thursday reported an 11 percent increase in revenue during the second quarter of 2020, even as the company weathers a deteriorating economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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The company's earning report said it netted roughly $18.7 billion in revenue between April and June, marking an 11 percent increase year-over-year.

While the revenue growth marked a slower pace than the first quarter of the year, the figure beat analysts’ expectations and sent shares of the company surging in after-hours trading.

Facebook also reported a profit of $5.2 billion in net income, a 98 percent year over year increase. 

The positive earnings came as the economy cratered, and as an advertising boycott demanding that Facebook take greater steps to combat hate speech took form.

But the last quarter also showcased a sustained surge in usage of Facebook and the apps it owns as the coronavirus outbreak caused nations around the world to implement lockdown orders.

Read more about Facebook’s earnings here. 

APPLE HAS A GOOD FEW MONTHS, TOO: Apple on Thursday reported a historically strong third quarter, claiming $59.7 billion in revenue — an 11 percent increase from the same time last year. 

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The company also announced it plans to give investors three additional shares of the company per each share they already own at the end of August as part of a 4-1 stock split. 

The company's growth comes as more people flock to their products and services as schools and businesses move to digital platforms. 

Despite widespread retail closures across the country that have impacted Apple, product sales increased substantially. Year-over-year, iPad sales increased by 31 percent and other products, including AirPods and Apple Watch, were up 14.8 percent. 

Revenue the company made from services was up 14.8 percent from the same time last year. The company is on track to meet its goal of $50 billion in services sales this year. 

“In uncertain times, this performance is a testament to the important role our products play in our customers’ lives and to Apple’s relentless innovation,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. 

Read more about Apple’s earnings here. 

BUT GOOGLE STUMBLES SLIGHTLY: Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced Thursday that its sales had dropped for the first time in the company’s history, as ad revenue took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The company rolled out its earnings report for the second quarter of the year, reporting revenues of $38.3 billion, a two percent decrease from the same time period in 2019. The company also reported a dip in operating income, with over $6 billion in income during the second quarter of 2020 as compared to over $9 billion during the second quarter of 2019. 

“We’re working to help people, businesses and communities in these uncertain times,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in a statement on Thursday. “As people increasingly turn to online services, our platforms — from Cloud to Google Play to YouTube — are helping our partners provide important services and support their businesses.”

Ruth Porat, the chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google, acknowledged that the company was continuing to cope with the changes to the online market from the pandemic. 

“In the second quarter our total revenues were $38.3B, driven by gradual improvement in our ads business and strong growth in Google Cloud and Other Revenues,” Porat said in a statement. “We continue to navigate through a difficult global economic environment.”

Read more about Google’s earnings here. 

 

ZOOM AND TIKTOK UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers M reward for election interference info Senate passes legislation to ban TikTok on federal devices Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing MORE (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open investigations into social media platform TikTok and video conferencing service Zoom, citing concerns over potential security threats from ties to the Chinese government. 

In a letter to Justice Department Assistant Attorney General John Demers, Hawley and Blumenthal wrote that they were “extremely concerned” that Zoom and TikTok had potentially disclosed private American information to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and censored content on the CCP’s behalf. 

“As tens of millions of Americans turn to Zoom and TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic, few know that the privacy of their data and their freedom of expression is under threat due to the relationship of these companies to the Chinese government,” the senators wrote. “Of particular concern, both Zoom and TikTok have sought to conceal and distract from their meaningful ties to China, holding themselves out as American companies.”

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing, though TikTok is taking steps to move storage of American data to the U.S. this year. 

Zoom is headquartered in the U.S., but the senators cited a report from Citizen Lab that found Zoom was developed through three companies in China that employ at least 700 workers to develop software. 

Read more about the proposed investigation here. 

 

THE EUROPEANS TAKE ACTION: The European Union (EU) on Thursday imposed sanctions on six hackers and three groups behind some of the most significant and wide-reaching international cyberattacks in history.

The EU froze the assets and imposed a travel ban on individuals involved in the “WannaCry,” “NotPetya,” and “Operation Cloud Hopper” attacks, along with those responsible for a cyberattack against the Dutch Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental group based in The Hague. 

The 2017 WannaCry and NotPetya attacks were some of the most devastating ransomware attacks in history.

North Korean group Chosun Expo was sanctioned by the EU for involvement in the WannaCry attack, which encrypted or locked down over hundreds of thousands of computer systems across 150 countries, seriously impacting the United Kingdom’s general medical practices and targeting companies including Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. 

The NotPetya ransomware attack targeted Ukrainian and other international companies, with the attack successfully switching off parts of the Ukrainian power grid in the middle of winter.

The CIA attributed the attack to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, with the GRU’s Main Center for Technologies one of the groups sanctioned by the EU on Thursday due to the attack. 

Chinese nationals Gao Qiang and Zhang Shilong, along with the Tianjin Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Co. in China, were sanctioned for carrying out Operation Cloud Hopper.

Read more about the sanctions here. 

 

MEMES AGAINST TRUMP: The group Meme 2020 is partnering with The Lincoln Project, a prominent Republican group opposing President Trump’s reelection, with a new campaign targeting young voters through popular Instagram accounts. 

Meme 2020 made its first foray into politics earlier this year with a push backing Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown on the NRA lawsuit: 'Come November, we're going to make sure they're out of power, too' Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump MORE’s presidential campaign, but its latest project, which launched this week, is instead focusing on a broader voter mobilization effort. 

“Meme 2020 is sort of laser focussed on sort of building up this new medium that has been kind of undeveloped in political advertising,” said Ryan Patrick Kelley, chief of staff of Meme 2020. 

Partnering with The Lincoln Project, he said, seemed natural given the spotlight the anti-Trump GOP group has garnered in recent months. The Lincoln Project is run by Republicans opposed to Trump, including George ConwayGeorge Thomas ConwayLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump MORE, the Washington, D.C., lawyer married to White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom MORE

“It's no secret that the Lincoln Project has been just an absolute juggernaut in this area,” Kelley said. 

Read more here. 


Lighter click: Can’t trust anyone

An op-ed to chew on: Big is not necessarily bad

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Democrats just made their case against Big Tech. Here’s what comes next (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum and Issie Lapowsky)

‘This is a new phase’: Europe shifts tactics to limit tech’s power (The New York Times / Adam Satariano) 

Hackers broke into real news sites to plant fake stories (Wired / Andy Greenberg) 

Chinese AI is creating an axis of autocracy (The Atlantic / Ross Andersen)