Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is the first Republican to come out against the Senate GOP tax plan, telling The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday: "If they can pass it without me, let them. I'm not going to vote for this tax package."
Both the Senate and House tax plans cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and Johnson said he wants the final tax package to do more to help other businesses besides corporations. "Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions," Johnson said in a statement. "I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version." A Johnson vote against the final tax package would be significant, as the Republicans have just 52 seats in the Senate. Catherine Garcia
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief spoke at event hosted by anti-immigration think tank
The Center for Immigration Studies has been called a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and on Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna spoke at the organization's annual Immigration Newsmakers event.
CIS is a think tank founded by white nationalist John Tanton, The Daily Beast reports, and it's known for publishing false information on immigration. The group wants to see not only an increase in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, but also a reduction in legal immigration. CIS policy director Jessica Vaughan asked Cissna about the Trump administration's hardline approach. "For whatever reason, our authority on enforcement has not been fully exercised in the past," Cissna said. "Well, now it will be. Everything we [do] at the agency should be guided by the law, not any other thing. That's our Bible."
Cissna is the son of a Peruvian immigrant, The Daily Beast reports, and became head of the federal agency in October. He shared why he decided to remove the words "We are a nation of immigrants" from the USCIS mission statement, saying he wanted to "redefine, clarify, what the purpose of the agency is. I looked at the old mission statement and I concluded it didn't really do that. So I started from scratch."
This isn't the first time a Trump administration official has appeared at the event: Before Cissna, Thomas Homan, former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, both attended. Catherine Garcia
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway invited The Washington Post's Ben Terris to her family's new $7.7 million house in an elite Washington, D.C., neighborhood "where wealth and influence serve as a cooling balm for the partisan inflammation that has spread elsewhere," Terris writes, and "everybody — Democrat and Republican — belongs to the garden party." But Terris mostly writes about their marriage — her, President Trump's MAGA flame-keeper, and him a prominent #NeverTrump conservative with an A-plus Twitter game. Their marriage, as Terris describes it, is straight out of a sitcom.
"He's not just my boss," Kellyanne says, after the couple shows Terris a photo George took of Trump on election night. "He's our president." "Yeah," George replies, walking out of the room. "We'll see how long that lasts." But Kellyanne's job and George's anti-Trump tweets are clearly a source of tension in the marriage, as Terris captures in this conversation:
Me: You told me you found [George’s tweets] disrespectful.
Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it's a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows ... as "a person familiar with their relationship."
Me: No, we're on the record here. You can't say after the fact "as someone familiar."
Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.
Me: No, that's not true. That never happened. ... We never discussed everything about his tweets being off the record. There are certain things you said that I put off the record.
Kellyanne: Fine. I've never actually said what I think about it and I won't say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it. [The Washington Post]
"This may be the story of any marriage — partners can drive each other crazy and still stay together for 50 years — but this marriage is, in many ways, emblematic of our national political predicament, particularly on the right," Terris concludes. Read the entire, mostly sympathetic profile at The Washington Post. Peter Weber
Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post on Wednesday that President Trump's legal team is waiting to hear back from Special Counsel Robert Mueller about terms for a presidential interview, and they are preparing a rebuttal in case there is a subpoena.
"We would move to quash the subpoena," Giuliani said. "And we're pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena." Giuliani, Trump's lead lawyer when it comes to the Russia probe, said his colleagues are prepared to "argue it before the Supreme Court, if it ever got there." He also said White House lawyer Emmet Flood would "have a big role to play here and would assert presidential privilege."
Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers have been trying for months to come to an agreement over interviewing Trump, and last week, Trump's attorneys sent Mueller a letter stating Trump would not answer any possible obstruction of justice questions. Catherine Garcia
Buying a house in New Zealand is expensive, and lawmakers hope that they've found a way to get prices down.
On Wednesday, Parliament passed a law that prohibits nonresident foreigners from buying houses and residential land. The law exempts foreigners with New Zealand residency and nationals from nearby Australia and Singapore. "If you've got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you've got the right to buy here," Minister for Economic Development and Trade David Parker said. "But otherwise it's not a right, it's a privilege. We believe it's the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes in New Zealand in a market that is shaped by New Zealand buyers, not by international price pressures."
So far this year, about three percent of home transfers have involved buyers from overseas, not including property purchased through trusts. In 2017, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said housing prices in Auckland had jumped nearly 70 percent in only five years, NPR reports, and last year, the percentage of New Zealanders living in their own home hit its lowest point in 66 years. Catherine Garcia
Security forces in Mexico are searching for Norma Azucena Rodriguez Zamora, a newly-elected congresswoman who was abducted at gunpoint on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old served as mayor of Tihuatlan in the state of Veracruz. On July 1, she was elected to represent eastern Veracruz in the lower house of Congress, and was set to take office on Sept. 1. She was driving on a highway in Hidalgo state when two men shot at her car, injuring her driver and assistant and causing the vehicle to flip over, BBC News reports. The gunmen forced her out of the car and shoved her into their vehicle.
Last month, the mayor of Naupan, Genaro Negrete Urbano, was abducted and killed in the same area. Rodriguez's party, the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, have demanded her safe release. It was a particularly violent campaign season in Mexico, with at least 48 candidates murdered before July 1. Catherine Garcia
On Thursday morning, the jury in Paul Manafort's federal trial will start deliberations.
President Trump's former campaign chairman is facing 18 charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud. On Wednesday, the jury heard closing arguments from both sides, with prosecutor Greg Andres saying Manafort "lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't," and the defense arguing that Manafort was so rich, he didn't need to hide money.
The trial is being held in Alexandria, Virginia, and the jury is comprised of six men and six women. If convicted, Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life. This is the first trial to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, although this case is based on Manafort's personal finances. Catherine Garcia
Authorities in New Haven, Connecticut, said at least 41 people have overdosed today in or near New Haven Green, a park close to Yale University, and more calls could come in before the day is over.
Police suspect they overdosed on synthetic marijuana. Rick Fontana, New Haven's director of emergency operations, told CBS News the calls started coming in after 8 a.m., with people showing "a multitude of signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states." The victims were of "all different ages," and for some, anti-overdose drugs did not work on them.
Over a three-hour period, officials responded to 25 overdoses, police said. A man believed to be connected to some of the overdoses was arrested on Wednesday, but officials are not releasing his name. No deaths have been reported, and authorities are now waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Catherine Garcia