August, 2017

Mnuchin Won’t Commit to Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC he would not commit to his predecessor’s pledge to remove President Andrew Jackson from the twenty-dollar bill and replace him with Harriet Tubman.

Said Mnuchin: “People have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we’ll consider; right now we have a lot more important issues to focus on.”

Mueller Enlists IRS for Trump-Russia Investigation

Daily Beast: “Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.”

“This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.”

“And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.”

Trump Bypasses Kelly By Calling Bannon and Others

Washington Post: “Friends used to be able to call the White House and be patched directly through to Trump; now those calls are routed through Kelly and do not always make it to the president. Friends used to drop by the West Wing when they had time to kill, wandering to the Oval Office to say hello; now they must have an official appointment — and a clear reason — to visit.”

“But Trump sometimes defies — and even resents — the new structure. He has been especially sensitive to the way Kelly’s rigid structure is portrayed in the media and strives to disabuse people of the notion that he is being managed. The president continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around, said people with knowledge of the calls.”

Trump Pledges $1 Million for Hurricane Relief

Washington Post: “Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, Sanders was asked whether Trump’s pledged money would come from his personal finances or another source, such as a private charitable foundation he founded or his real estate company.”

Said Sanders: “I know that the president, he said he was personally going to give. I don’t know the legal part of exactly that, but he said his personal money.”

Clarke Quits In Advance of Taking Job with Trump

David Clarke, the controversial outgoing sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is expected to take a job in the Trump administration, Politico reports.

“Clarke resigned as sheriff on Thursday. A regular presence on Fox News, Clarke has become a well-known figure in conservative circles in recent years… But he has come under fierce criticism amid a series of deaths in the Milwaukee County prison, including that of Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration last year after guards turned off the water in his cell.”

Trump Slashes Obamacare’s Ad Budget

“The Trump administration plans to deeply cut Obamacare outreach and advertising,” Vox reports.

“They will reduce Obamacare advertising spending 90%, from the $100 million that the Obama administration spent last year to $10 million this year, and cut the budget for the in-person enrollment program by 41%.”

“Taken together, this represents a 72% cut to efforts to enroll eligible Americans into health law programs.”

Another Top RNC Staffer Quits

“Sara Armstrong, the top staffer at the Republican National Committee, is departing, the latest in a string of exits from the committee,” Politico reports.

“Armstrong, the RNC’s chief of staff, is exiting to take a senior-level job at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She had been serving in the chief of staff role since early this year after helping to oversee President Trump’s inauguration planning.”

Manafort Notes Referenced Donations

Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included the word “donations,” near a reference to the Republican National Committee, NBC News reports

“The references, which have not been previously disclosed, have elevated the significance of the June 2016 meeting for congressional investigators, who are seeking to determine whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.”

Trump Could Face CEO Backlash on Immigration Plan

“President Trump could trigger a furious response from corporations and some members of his own staff if he green-lights a plan under consideration at the White House to end DACA, the Obama-era policy that suspends deportation of some undocumented workers who arrived as children,” Mike Allen reports.

“I’m told some top CEOs, including leaders in tech and retail, plan to be tough and vocal if Trump ends the policy. But they’re keeping quiet for now because they fear antagonizing him on a question that could have massive implications for their workforces.”

Kushner Faces Cash Crunch

Bloomberg: “Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood.”

“As a result, the tower poses a significant challenge to the company. Over the past two years, executives and family members have sought substantial overseas investment from previously undisclosed places: South Korea’s sovereign-wealth fund, France’s richest man, Israeli banks and insurance companies, and exploratory talks with a Saudi developer, according to former and current executives. These were in addition to previously reported attempts to raise money in China and Qatar.”

Quote of the Day

“I have nothing against any of the people my age who will run, but I really do believe that if we’re going to appeal to the younger generation, we’ve got to change the party.”

— Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, quoted by Politico, on the need for Democrats to have a younger presidential nominee in 2020.

Mattis Is Latest to Buck Trump

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis openly differed with his commander in chief over North Korea, the latest example of a once-rare public display of disagreement by top U.S. aides that has become more frequent under President Trump, Reuters reports.

“We are never out of diplomatic solutions,” Mattis told reporters, just hours after Trump said in a tweet that ‘talking is not the answer’ to the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Reality Beneath Trump’s Tax Reform Talk

President Trump’s “tax plans hardly match his populist rhetoric. Though he sold his plan to rewrite the tax code as a boon to the average American worker in a speech Wednesday, he mostly focused on the taxes paid by America’s largest corporations,” Politico reports.

“Trump argued that his plans to cut the 35 percent corporate tax rate for the first time in 30 years would benefit regular wage earners by putting more money in corporate coffers, which he said business leaders would then use to hire more people and raise wages.”

“But most economists say companies’ shareholders would be the primary beneficiaries of a corporate tax rate cut. That’s because it would make companies more profitable, which would boost their stock price while also leaving them with more money to pay out dividends.”