U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation during their meeting last week, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation said on Monday.
The intelligence shared at the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials said.
The White House said the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, were not true.
“The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters at the White House, adding that the two men reviewed a range of common threats including to civil aviation.
“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” he said.
The White House also released a statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said the meeting focused on counterterrorism, and from deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, who said the Post story was false.
Ahead of Trump’s much anticipated tax announcement on Wednesday, the WSJ reports that the president has ordered his (mostly ex-Goldman) White House aides to accelerate efforts to create a tax plan “slashing the corporate rate to 15% and prioritizing cuts in tax rates over an attempt to not increase the deficit” which means that without an offsetting source of revenue, Trump is about to unleash the debt spigots, a proposal which will face fierce pushback from conservatives as it is nothing more than a continuation of the status quo under the Obama administration, and may well be DOA.
The WSJ adds that during an Oval Office meeting last week, “Trump told staff he wants a massive tax cut to sell to the American people” and that it was “less important to him if the plan loses revenue.”
Hoping to add a sense of dramatic urgency – after all his 100 day deadline hits on Saturday – Trump told his team to “get it done,” in time to release a plan by Wednesday.
Translation: Trump’s massive tax cut will be funded by debt, and as a result, will be at best temporary as it will be in breach of the revenue constraints in the reconciliation process; at worst it will never happen as it will now require Democrat votes.
The prime minister added the Iranian deal should be reviewed or revoked.
“There’s no question that the deal with Iran, which paves the way to eventual Iranian acquisition of the critical elements of nuclear bombs and nuclear arsenal, something we don’t accept and never signed on the deal and we won’t let happen,” Netanyahu said Friday.
“My position vis-a-vis the deal with Iran… repeal or replace,” Netanyahu said, adding that Washington should not let Tehran “have the best of all world.”
The relations between Israel and Iran have been strained since the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s. The ties are overshadowed by a number of issues, including Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs accompanied by controversial anti-Israeli statements of high-ranking Iranian officials, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The U.S. Treasury Department has decided not to label China a currency manipulator in a report published Friday on the foreign exchange policies of America’s key trading partners, backing away from President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to do so.
The move was apparently taken out of consideration for China, which the U.S. hopes will help rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
This was the Trump administration’s first release of the twice-yearly report, which evaluates the foreign exchange policies of major U.S. trading partners.
Although the report did not signal a major shift in Washington’s own currency policy, it is likely Trump will try to use the issue as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other countries. The U.S. may try to limit the dollar’s rise against the yen in its first economic dialogue with Japan, scheduled for Tuesday. Japan’s large trade surplus will probably be high on the agenda.
Trump’s Treasury Department used the same standards for determining currency manipulation as those of the previous administration under President Barack Obama. The report kept China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on a watch list as they met some of the criteria.
When one strips away the partisan rhetoric and posturing, the practical impact of Friday’s GOP failure to repeal Obamacare has a specific monetary impact: approximately $1 trillion.
Since the ObamaCare repeal bill would have eliminated most of the 2010 health law’s taxes, this would have lowered by a similar amount the revenue baseline for tax reform. Essentially, with the ObamaCare taxes gone, it would have been easier to pay for lowering tax rates. Now, if Republicans want to eliminate the ObamaCare taxes as part of tax reform and ensure the bill does not add to the deficit – which they need to do to assure Trump’s reform process continues under Reconciliation, avoiding the need for 60 votes in the Senate – they will have to raise almost $1 trillion in revenue.
In other words that – all else equal – is how much less tax cuts Trumps and the republicans will be able to pursue unless of course they somehow find a source of $1 trillion in tax revenue (or otherwise simply add to the budget deficit) to offset the Obamacare overhang.
Considering Paul Ryan’s statement on Friday, it appears that at least for the time being, Republicans would leave the ObamaCare taxes in place. “That just means the ObamaCare taxes stay with ObamaCare,” he said. “We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code.”
Ryan also pushed back on the idea that the setback on healthcare previews difficulties with other items on the legislative agenda “I don’t think this is prologue to other future things, because members realize there are other parts of our agenda that people have even more agreement on what to achieve,” he said. “We have even more agreement on the need and the nature of tax reform, on funding the government, on rebuilding the military, on securing the border.”
From Russian ties to business conflicts of interests, both Democrats and Republicans are actively working to find chinks in the President’s armor.
But for those with hope of change in their hearts, Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein says there is a possibility that Trump will eventually remove himself from office by filing his own resignation.
Speaking to a crowd during a town hall-style Questions and Answers session, Feinstein was asked how Congress is going to deal with Trump’s alleged illegal activities:
Journalist: We don’t know what’s happening but we know that he is breaking laws every day, he’s making money at Mar-a-lago, he’s getting copyrights in China, he has obvious dealings with Russia, the Dakota pipeline… there’s some many things that he’s doing that are unconstitutional… how are we going to get him out?
Feinstein:We have a lot of people looking at this… Technical people… I think he’s going to get himself out… I think sending sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with government expenses… I think those government expenses should not be allowed.. we are working on a bill that will deal with conflict of interest… it’s difficult…
Videos of Feinstein speaking to what appears to be a local press pool of reporters and protesters appear below. You can jump to 1:30 in the first video to listen to Feinstein discuss Trump’s conflicts of interests, or watch from the beginning to hear Feinstein’s response to how her husband’s firm directly benefited from bills she voted into law, proving once again that the hypocrisy of socialist Congressional representatives from California has no bounds…
In the latest legal setback for the President, moments ago Trump’s latest attempt to temporarily bar new immigrants and refugees from six Muslim-majority nations was blocked by a Hawaii Federal Judge, pushing the young administration toward a second defeat on one of the president’s core campaign platforms.
U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson froze the order nationwide
Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s bluster on “historic tax reform” and $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, his visions still remain short on specifics, while the Congress appears headed to an epic clash over a contentious corporate tax plan.
American stocks surged in euphoria after Trump said Feb. 9 that he would announce something “over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal in terms of tax.” Yet his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, his first, contained nothing but generalities — a far cry from the promised “phenomenal” plan.
During the campaign, Trump called for cutting the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives have drawn up a proposal of their own that would introduce a 20% border adjustment tax to fund a corporate tax rate cut to 20%. This plan would impose no taxes on exports but would bar companies from deducting import-related costs from taxable income.
Trump has not taken a clear stand on the border adjustment tax, and Tuesday’s address only alluded to the issue. “When we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes,” he said. “But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing, or almost nothing.” Read More
Update: shortly after the news hit that various publishing houses are caught in a bidding war over the Obamas’ upcoming memoirs, Penguin Random House issued a press release that it was the winner and will publish forthcoming books by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers.
The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Obamas were represented by Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama. With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same,” the chief executive of Penguin Random House, Markus Dohle, said in a statement. “Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.”
What took the Clintons years of confidential speeches before major investment banks and middle eastern clients of the Treasury Department, the Obama’s plan to achieve with just two books. According to the FT, several publishers are participating in a blockbuster auction for the global rights to two books by Barack and Michelle Obama where the bid has reached more than $60 million. The Obamas, who are writing separate books but selling the rights jointly, stand to make a record amount for their presidential memoirs.
Anyone who has taken their children to Disney world in the U.S. has felt the pressure to go on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Based on the character from the children’s classic, “The Wind in the Willows,” Mr. Toad is the reckless scion of the largest building in the forest, Toad Hall. Fabulously wealthy, he buys a car to impress his friends, although he has no idea how to drive. He loads his companions into the vehicle, liberally honking the horn as he careens on a path of destruction, heedless of the damage he does and exhilarated by the fear he engenders.
U.S. trade policy is now on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” with the difference being that the Disney version ends where it began, with no harm done. The Trump administration’s lack of predictability and indifference to global risk is the new normal. Nowhere does President Donald Trump’s trade policy carry a greater risk than in the interplay of the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China.
Out of disbelief or disorientation, markets have examined the Trump challenge to U.S.-China trade and concluded it is manageable. That conclusion ignores the consequences of a decisive turn in U.S. policy toward Trump’s version of “America First” isolationism and trade protection, coupled with his apparent animosity toward China and his failure to view the relationship within a wider context. Further, it rejects the belief that the direction of Trump’s China and trade policy is real and durable, even though it was central to the argument that won him the presidency.
Even before he seeks new legislation from Congress, Trump has an impressive range of options in dealing with Chinese trade issues. These include: