10 things you need to know today: April 26, 2017
House Oversight leaders say Michael Flynn might have violated laws, judge blocks Trump's call to strip sanctuary city funds, and more
House Oversight leaders say Michael Flynn might have broken law
Leaders of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday that President Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, might have broken the law by failing to fully disclose his past business dealings with Russia during the process of getting the security clearance he needed to work in Trump's administration. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's ranking Democrat, said that Flynn did not mention on security forms he filled out in January that he had received a $45,000 payment from the Russian government for a 2015 speech he delivered in Moscow. The committee's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), said Flynn also appeared to have taken payments from Russia-linked companies without getting Pentagon and State Department approval, which he should have done as a former military officer. "It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for a violation of law," Chaffetz said. Chaffetz and Cummings also said the White House had refused to turn over documents on Flynn's hiring and firing.
Judge blocks Trump call to strip funding for sanctuary cities
A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked President Trump's executive order calling for stripping sanctuary cities of some federal funding. Several local governments in California's Silicon Valley — including Santa Clara County, which receives $1.7 billion annually, or a third of its budget, from federal sources — have challenged the order, saying it is unconstitutional, and U.S. District Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco said the challenge was likely to prove successful in court. The Justice Department says the plaintiffs have exaggerated the impact of the order, because Trump is targeting only Homeland Security and Justice Department money, not all federal funding. Sanctuary cities and counties have declared that they will not use local resources to help the federal government enforce immigration laws to catch undocumented immigrants.
Shutdown threat eases after Trump withdraws demand for wall funding
Leading Republican and Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that they were making progress on hammering out a deal on keeping government agencies funded through the fall and avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the week, after President Trump abandoned his insistence that the spending deal include money for his proposed wall on the Mexican border. "We're pleased he's backing off," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The removal of the wall as an obstacle made a shutdown less likely, but there are still other issues to resolve. Some lawmakers said Congress might pass a short-term extension of current spending to keep the government going and give them another week or so to reach a deal, although some leaders from both parties said they were optimistic that a long-term bill was possible before the Friday night deadline. "We're really close," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.
German crowd boos Ivanka Trump
The audience at a women's economic conference in Germany booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday when she said her father, President Trump, was a "tremendous champion of families." Ivanka Trump, sitting on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and others, said in her first overseas appearance as an assistant to the president that she grew up in a home where there was "no barrier" to what she could accomplish, and that her father "encouraged me and enabled me to thrive." During last year's campaign, Trump faced intense criticism over a 2005 video recording in which he boasted about grabbing women's genitals without their permission, and, before entering politics, once described pregnancy as an "inconvenience" to employers.
Trump to unveil tax plan with cuts for businesses and families
President Trump plans to unveil a broad tax proposal on Wednesday that is expected to include a sharp cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35 percent to 15 percent, as well as a child-care tax credit and increased standard deductions for individuals. Trump also will propose cutting tax rates for small businesses that file under the individual tax code. The bigger deduction would provide a modest tax cut for middle-income people, while the corporate rate cut would partially fulfill Trump's promise to cut taxes for businesses. The White House reportedly hopes that the family-friendly provisions will give Democrats a strong incentive to negotiate a deal. Trump administration officials say the tax cuts will boost the economy and employment by giving businesses and individuals more money to spend. The plan, however, could add significantly to the deficit.
Trump picks outsider to run troubled Secret Service
President Trump on Tuesday named Randolph "Tex" Alles as his pick to head the Secret Service, turning to an outsider to oversee the beleaguered agency tasked with protecting the president and his family. Alles, a retired Marine Corps general now serving as acting deputy commissioner of customs and border protection, is the first leader in years to be chosen from outside the ranks of the agency, which is tasked with protecting the president, his family, and other important figures. Lawmakers applauded the selection of an outsider to remake the agency as it faces low morale, and tries to bounce back from recent intruder breaches at the White House and negative reports on the conduct of some of its agents. "Appointing a director from the outside adds a necessary new perspective and fresh approach to their zero-fail mission," said House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Canada's Trudeau says U.S. lumber tariff will hurt both sides of border
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday that President Trump's newly imposed tariff on Canadian lumber could result in a "thickening" of the border separating Canada and the U.S., hurting both of the strong longtime allies and trade partners. "There are millions of good U.S. jobs that depend on the smooth flow of goods, services, and people back and forth across our border," Trudeau said at a news conference, noting that an auto part can cross the border six times before rolling off an assembly line in a finished car. "You cannot thicken this border without hurting people on both sides of it," Trudeau said. Trump has criticized Canada for allegedly subsidizing Canadian lumber to give its companies an unfair advantage, and enacting policies to drive down milk prices, hurting U.S. dairy farmers.
Trump to sign executive orders on education and public lands
President Trump will continue a flurry of moves to pile up achievements before his 100th day in office on Saturday by signing executive orders on education and public lands. Trump will call for a review of all national monuments designated by his predecessors since 1996, with a perceived goal of opening more protected public lands to drilling, logging, and mining. He also will order the Education Department to study how the federal government "has unlawfully overstepped state and local control," a White House official tells The Washington Post. On Friday, Trump is expected to sign executive orders directing the Interior Department to study lifting bans on offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans put in place by former President Barack Obama. It is not clear how much any of these orders will eventually achieve.
U.S. starts deploying controversial missile defense system in South Korea
The U.S. military on Wednesday started moving parts of a controversial missile defense system to a site in South Korea where it will be installed to help protect against threats from North Korea, as tensions rise over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons programs. Hundreds of local residents protested against the construction of the system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). The move came after the U.S. moved a battleship strike group and a submarine to waters near the Korean peninsula as a show of force to counter increasing provocations by North Korea, and fears that the Hermit Kingdom might soon conduct its sixth nuclear weapon test. The Trump administration has been pushing China, a key North Korea ally, to increase pressure on Pyongyang to curb its weapons programs. The White House will host a rare classified briefing for the entire Senate later Wednesday.
Pope Francis gives TED talk urging 'revolution of tenderness'
Pope Francis has given the first papal TED Talk. In the speech, "Why the Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone," the pope doesn't mention religion until halfway through, but it is essentially a sermon to the "creative minds" who watch TED Talks about the need for love and human solidarity in a world where "techno-economic systems" and human indifference leave many people discarded in a "culture of waste." In such a world, Pope Francis says, hope is not just possible but crucial. "Life is not time merely passing by," he says, "life is about interactions." Francis reminds viewers that "we can only build the future by standing together," expresses hope that technology and scientific innovation lead to "more equality and social inclusion," and urges a "revolution of tenderness."