Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 3, 2017

Harold Maass
Paul Ryan talks about the GOP tax overhaul
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

1.

House GOP releases tax reform bill

House Republicans on Thursday unveiled their broad tax reform plan, combining big, permanent tax cuts for corporations, which get $1 trillion of the plan's $1.5 trillion in cuts over a decade, with reduced deductions for home-buyers and simplified filing procedures for many Americans. In a White House kickoff event, supporters touted the overhaul as a tax break for the middle class. "We are working to give the American people a giant tax cut for Christmas," President Trump said in the Oval Office, promising that the reforms would "create jobs." Democrats dismissed the plan as a money grab for the rich with such changes as a phase-out of the inheritance tax and the repeal of the alternative minimum tax. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]

2.

Trump embarks on lengthy trip to Asia

President Trump heads to Asia on Friday for a 12-day trip that will include visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, after a stop in Hawaii on the way. The trip, Trump's first to the region as president and the longest Asia visit by a U.S. president in decades, will focus on a host of high-stakes issues while his administration remains busy with the Russia investigation and the GOP's new tax overhaul push. "In the big picture, there's trade, there's North Korea, and there's the reassessment of the U.S. commitment to the region," said Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies with the Council on Foreign Relations. "Those are three big issues across the board." [USA Today]

3.

Trump nominates Jerome Powell as next Fed chair

President Trump on Thursday announced that he was appointing Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the U.S. central bank when her term ends in February. The move, though expected, marked a break with tradition, as Yellen will be the first Fed chair not appointed to a second term since 1979. Powell, 64, is a soft-spoken lawyer and investment banker. Then-President Barack Obama named him to the Fed board in 2012, and he has supported Yellen's push to slowly raise interest rates, unwinding the Fed's effort to stimulate the economy after the 2007-2009 financial crisis. "We need strong and steady leadership at the U.S. Federal Reserve," Trump said. "He will provide exactly that." [Reuters]

4.

Trump backs away from call to send New York terrorism suspect to Guantanamo

President Trump on Thursday walked back his call to transfer Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in this week's deadly terrorist attack in New York City, to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Wednesday, Trump said he would be open to sending Saipov to Guantanamo to go through the military justice system rather than face a trial in civilian courts. Republican critics of Guantanamo noted that civilian courts have tried terrorism suspects faster and with fewer legal complications than have tribunals at Guantanamo. Trump, however, repeated a call for Saipov to get the death penalty, a push that legal experts say could cause problems for prosecutors in a trial. [The New York Times]

5.

Carter Page testifies he told Jeff Sessions about Russia trip

President Trump's former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, told CNN on Thursday that during more than six hours of closed-door testimony to the House intelligence committee, he said that in June 2016 he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator and Trump adviser, that he was traveling to Moscow. Page claims this trip had nothing to do with his role in the campaign. During Senate hearings in June and September this year, Sessions denied knowing anything about Trump campaign surrogates communicating with Russians; he was specifically asked if Page met with Russians during the campaign, and he said, "I don't know." Page told CNN he mentioned the trip to Sessions in passing, following a dinner in Washington. [CNN]

6.

Ex-DNC chair says in book Clinton controlled party before nomination

The Democratic National Committee worked with Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign to funnel party money toward her nomination, former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile said in a book excerpt published by Politico on Thursday. Brazile says in her forthcoming book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, that the party apparatus was mismanaged by her predecessor, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and had to rely on Clinton's campaign fundraising network to stay afloat. "We all knew this was happening and the denials were just ludicrous — the entire Democratic Party establishment was united and aligned to do everything possible to deliver the election to Hillary Clinton," said Jonathan Tasini, a campaign surrogate of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost to Clinton in the primaries. [Politico, The Hill]

7.

Spanish judge orders detention of Catalan secessionist leaders

A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered the detention of nine Catalan secessionist leaders into custody pending a possible trial on charges related the region's push for independence. Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont and four other ex-ministers who did not show up in court. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pushed out Puigdemont's government last week after the regional parliament declared independence. Puigdemont went to Belgium in defiance of an order to appear before Spain's high court to answer sedition charges for pushing a secession referendum that Madrid called illegal and the opposition boycotted. He made a short address broadcast on regional television calling for the release of "the legitimate government of Catalonia." [Reuters, BBC News]

8.

Poll: Most Americans approve of Trump-Russia investigation

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Thursday approve of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by President Trump's campaign, suggesting efforts by some conservatives to discredit Mueller are having little effect. Forty-nine percent think it's likely Trump directly committed a crime in connection with Russia's interference. Political leanings influenced these responses — 78 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents approve of how Mueller is handling the investigation, compared to 38 percent of Republicans, while 82 percent of Republicans say it is unlikely Trump committed a crime, and 74 percent of Democrats and half of independents say it's likely. [The Washington Post]

9.

Twitter blames employee for brief disappearance of Trump's Twitter account

President Trump's Twitter account, which he frequently uses to make political pronouncements, attack critics, and telegraph policy decisions, briefly went offline on Thursday night. Users looking for Trump's feed during the outage got a message saying, "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!" Twitter said Trump's account was down for 11 minutes when it "was inadvertently deactivated due to human error," although the company later said it was done by a customer support worker "on the employee's last day." The company said Trump's account had been restored. "We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again," Twitter said in a statement. [The Washington Post]

10.

8 House of Cards employees accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct

Eight people who have worked on Netflix's House of Cards show told CNN that actor Kevin Spacey made the set a "toxic" work environment with sexually "predatory" behavior toward staffers, typically young men. A former production assistant said Spacey sexually assaulted him. The allegations came just days after actor Anthony Rapp said that when he was 14, Spacey, who was 26, made inappropriate sexual advances toward him. Spacey said he did not remember the encounter, but that "if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology." Netflix has suspended production of what it said would be the show's sixth and final season, and Spacey's publicist and talent agency, CAA, dropped him after new allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. [CNN, New York]