TrumpWatch, Day 88: Will Trump’s Unreleased Tax Returns Doom His Domestic Agenda?

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“If he doesn’t release his returns, it is going to make it much more difficult to get tax reform done”


Developments on Day 88 of the Trump Administration:

Trump’s Refusal to Disclose Tax Returns Could Block His Tax Reforms

Democrats say they will block consideration of the Trump Administration’s tax cuts and reforms, a key element of its domestic agenda, because Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

“If he doesn’t release his returns, it is going to make it much more difficult to get tax reform done,” said the Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schumer.

Schumer said Trump has significant conflicts of interest on issues such as taxation of the real estate industry and elimination of the estate tax. “It’s in his own self-interest [to release the tax returns]”, the Democrat summarized.

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers have also said that Trump should now make the disclosure.

Trump was the first Presidential candidate to refuse the release of tax records, claiming — incorrectly — for more than a year that he could not do so because of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Protesters on Saturday highlighted the issue with marches across the US.

With the failure to replace and repeal ObamaCare, the tax proposals are now central to the Administration’s projection of domestic success. However, its plan, promised in February, has yet to appear. A House Republican plan has bogged down under criticism from both conservatives and liberals.

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Financial Times that the administration’s goal of getting a tax plan signed by August is “not realistic at this point”.

TOP PHOTO: Protesters near Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday (Al Drago/New York Times)


Trump Order to Restrict Visas for Skilled Workers

Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order limiting a visa program that brings in high-skilled workers.

The time-limited H-1B visas for skilled workers, often sought by Silicon Valley companies, include scientists, engineers, and computer programmers.

The White House maintains that the programme is undercutting American workers by bringing in cheaper labour, with some tech companies using it to hire large numbers of workers and drive down wages.

Trump will sign the “Buy American, Hire American” order in Kenosha, Wisconsin.


Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal Over Asylum for Women and Children

The Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal by a group of asylum-seeking Central American women and their children, hoping to clarify the constitutional rights of people whom the government has prioritized for deportation.

The appellants were 28 women and 33 children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. A lower court’s ruling preventied them from having their expedited removal orders reviewed by a federal judge.

That Philadelphia-based court said the status of the families, all apprehended in Texas and later held in Pennsylvania, was similar to that of non-citizens denied entry at the border.

The families said they were escaping threats, violence, and police authorities unable or unwilling to help them.


Administration Split Over Leaving Paris Climate Accord

The Administration splits over Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to leave the 2015 Paris Accord, signed by more than 200 countries, to address climate change by limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

The White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been pushing for departure, and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt had declared his support last week. But Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, locked in a battle with Bannon for influence, and his wife Ivanka Trump favor staying in the agreement. So does Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to have a “seat at the table”, and major corporations have backed the positions.

Advisors will meet Tuesday afternoon to debate the matter. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that Trump will make a decision before a meeting of the G7 leading economic powers at the end of May.


Trump Congratulates Turkey’s Erdoğan on Referendum Victory

Donald Trump calls Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on claimed victory in Sunday’s referendum on a revised Constitution, giving the Presidency vastly expanded powers.

See Narrow “Yes” in Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum Leaves Questions Unanswered

Trump’s congratulations contrasted with a State Department message which cited a report by international observers noting “irregularities on voting day and an uneven playing field during the difficult campaign period”.

The opposition CHP and HDP parties have asked for the result — a 51.4% vote for Yes — to be nullified in view of the alleged irregularities.

Trump and Erdoğan also discussed the Assad regime’s chemical attack in northwest Syria, killing at least 93 people and wounding almost 600, and the need for cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State.


Trump-Russia: Sources — Blackwater’s Prince Advised Trump Transition

Sources say Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial Blackwater private military company, advised Donald Trump during the transition after the Presidential election.

The claims follow the revelation that Prince met with a Russian official in the Seychelles on January 11, nine days before the inauguration, to set up a back channel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“People familiar with his activities” said Prince entered Trump Tower, the headquarters of the transition through the back to meet members of the President-elect’s team to discuss intelligence and security issues.

“Erik had no role in the transition,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week. A Prince spokesman in London, Jonny Garfield, asserted: “Erik had no role on the transition team. This is a complete fabrication.”

But “five people familiar with the meetings” said Prince met several times with Trump aides in the period between the election and the inauguration.

The Abu Dhabi prince involved in the Seychelles meetings is due to meet Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.


As She Dined With Chinese Leader, Ivanka Trump Won Approval From Beijing for Monopoly Rights

As Ivanka Trump was at her father’s dinner in Florida for Chinese leader Xi Jinping on April 6, her company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks.

The trademark give the President’s daughter monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags, and spa services in China.

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