Sen. Bob Corker wants to know how a measure enriching him was slipped into the GOP tax bill he now supports
On Friday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced that he will vote for the final Republican tax bill being rushed through Congress, despite his lone GOP no vote when it passed in the Senate. His original concern was the $1 trillion or more the bill will add to the federal deficit — the Congressional Budget Office on Friday put the final deficit hole at $1.455 trillion over 10 years — but Corker said Friday the imperfections are worth helping U.S. businesses. On Friday night, the International Business Times found a newly added provision that would open big tax breaks to real estate developers like President Trump, Jared Kushner, and Corker.
On Saturday, Corker insisted he had not known about the "Corker kickback" before he switched his vote. On Sunday, he asked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for an explanation. "The suggestion was that it was airdropped into the conference without prior consideration by either the House or the Senate," Corker said. "Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into conference report. I think that because of many sensitivities, clarity on this issue is very important."
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) provided something of an explanation on ABC's This Week, telling host George Stephanopoulos the measure was added in during "a very intense process" where "the Democrats refused to participate, and what we've tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed."
It's possible specifically helping real estate LLCs was incidental, as the new provision "combined a capital-investment approach that the House favored with the Senate's tax-cut mechanism," Bloomberg reports. But while "the new law will include lots of what you might call unintended consequences," Axios says, noting how it might increase moving U.S. factories overseas, "often they were intended by the hidden hands that put them there." Peter Weber
Queen Elizabeth II made it official on Thursday, publicly announcing for the first time that it is her "sincere wish" that "one day," Prince Charles lead the Commonwealth.
Being head of the Commonwealth is not hereditary, and upon the Queen's death, the role would not automatically go to the Prince of Wales. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is underway in London, and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he believes it's likely the leaders will confirm Prince Charles on Friday. They will also discuss ocean conservation, trade, and cyber security during the two-day summit.
The Queen told the 53 leaders gathered at Buckingham Palace on Thursday it was a "pleasure" to welcome them to her home, and it is her "sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949." Catherine Garcia
Rudy Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York City, has joined President Trump's legal team. He will specifically join the corps of lawyers representing Trump in the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Giuliani is a high-profile new addition to a team that has "struggled to recruit new members to its ranks," The Washington Post wrote. Giuliani confirmed his new position in a Thursday interview with the Post, saying, "I'm doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country, and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller."
Trump is currently represented in Mueller's investigation by attorneys Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb. Giuliani told the Post that he spoke to both men earlier this week about signing on. John Dowd, Trump's personal attorney in the Russia probe, stepped down last month, reportedly after concluding that Trump was ignoring his counsel.
Trump considered appointing Giuliani to be attorney general before ultimately selecting Jeff Sessions. In a statement released by his attorneys, Trump celebrated the hire, saying: "Rudy is great. He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country."
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump he isn't a target in the Russia probe, two sources "familiar with the matter" told Bloomberg.
Rosenstein's assurance reportedly came last Thursday, after Trump spent weeks tweeting his displeasure with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead the investigation in March 2017.
Rosenstein's disclosure reportedly led the president to slow down his attacks on Mueller's probe. Trump told one source that he doesn't even want to fire either Rosenstein or Mueller now, Bloomberg reports, because a dismissal could stretch out the investigation.
But Rosenstein may have told Trump something that's not quite true, Bloomberg reports. Just because Mueller isn't going after Trump now doesn't mean he won't eventually, a U.S. official "with knowledge of the unfolding investigation" noted. Kathryn Krawczyk
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is vying to become the next secretary of state, and on Thursday his efforts got a significant boost.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) announced her support for Pompeo in a statement Thursday, becoming the first Democratic senator to indicate she would vote to confirm Pompeo as America's chief diplomat. Heitkamp said Pompeo is "committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests."
Full Heitkamp statement on her decision to vote YES on the Pompeo nomination. This just about pushes Pompeo across the finish line (depending on Flake), with a handful of other Dems still making up their minds: pic.twitter.com/vwWQV1t9EJ
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) April 19, 2018
That vote could put Pompeo across the finish line, per CBS News — even if one Republican isn't his favor. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul hasn't backtracked on his intention to vote down or even filibuster the nomination, but Heitkamp's vote would make up for it. Still, Arizona's Republican senators may complicate things, as Jeff Flake is still up in the air and John McCain is away from the Capitol undergoing cancer treatment. Kathryn Krawczyk
America's favorite space telescope celebrated its 28th year among the stars by delivering a remarkable new find.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured two pictures of the faraway Lagoon Nebula. One taken in visible light reveals a rainbow of space gas and dust, while the other taken in infrared reveals countless cosmos and the bright star at the center of the nebula.
— HUBBLE (@HUBBLE_space) April 19, 2018
The Lagoon Nebula is known as a "stellar nursery," as its outermost gas and dust clouds are constantly contracting to form new stars. You can hop onboard the Hubble for a colorful journey through the Lagoon Nebula in this video. Kathryn Krawczyk
White evangelicals have more faith in President Trump than ever before.
A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows 75 percent of white evangelical protestants have a favorable view of Trump. When it comes to 2020, 69 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning evangelicals said they'd support Trump over another candidate.
That's a huge spike from the 2016 election, where evangelical support for Trump stayed below 50 percent until September of that year.
Trump's nationwide popularity is reaching a high, too. PRRI's survey shows 42 percent of Americans see Trump favorably, which is the highest mark his popularity has hit since reaching 43 percent in early 2017.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) made history on Thursday by casting a vote with her newborn baby in tow. The Senate voted Wednesday night to allow babies up to 1 year old on the floor during votes after Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office earlier this month.
I may have to vote today, so Maile’s outfit is prepped. I made sure she has a jacket so she doesn’t violate the Senate floor dress code (which requires blazers). I’m not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies, but I think we’re ready pic.twitter.com/SsNHEuSVnY
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 19, 2018
Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, who is just 11 days old, accompanied Duckworth as she cast a vote against the nomination of Jim Bridenstine for NASA administrator:
— Amanda Wills (@AmandaWills) April 19, 2018
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) April 19, 2018
With newborn daughter Maile Pearl in tow, @SenDuckworth arrives at the US Capitol for her first vote since giving birth (and her first vote since the Senate rules were changed to allow her to bring her baby on to the floor during votes): pic.twitter.com/0iWnHZAXy3
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) April 19, 2018
History adorably made. Jeva Lange