Author: John Wagner

Trump signs sweeping tax bill into law

(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) President Trump on Friday signed the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years, delivering on a pledge to finish work on the long-standing Republican priority by Christmas. Trump signed the $1.5 trillion measure in the Oval Office shortly before he was scheduled to head to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the holidays. “It’s going to a tremendous thing for the American people,” Trump said from his desk as reporters looked on. “It’s going to be fantastic for the economy.” He walked through various provisions of the bill, which he touted as “a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs,” adding that “corporations are literally going wild.” [Companies that tie announcements to tax bill earn goodwill with Trump] The measure is the most significant legislative accomplishment for Trump in his first tumultuous year in office. Passed with only Republican votes, it will affect nearly every household and business in the country. Corporations will see a massive tax cut, while most Americans will see temporary savings of various sizes. And in a move that may prove politically perilous in the coming 2018 midterms, Republicans delivered the biggest gains to the wealthy. Polls have showed the bill is unpopular, but Republicans argue Americans will view it more favorably once they start to see savings in their paychecks. Trump said he...

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Trump’s push to fill courts with conservative judges hits first speed bump

By John Wagner, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Karoun Demirjian, President Trump’s aggressive push to fill scores of federal court vacancies with conservative judges hit severe turbulence this week, as he was forced to withdraw two nominees and an embarrassing video went viral showing a third struggling to answer rudimentary questions about the law. The White House said Friday that it is standing by the nomination of Matthew Petersen, a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, despite a clip from his confirmation hearing posted on Twitter in which Petersen was unable to answer questions about legal and courtroom terms posed by a Republican senator. The episode offered more ammunition to Democrats, who have accused Trump of tapping inexperienced nominees in a rush to reshape the federal judiciary. Even some Republicans have suggested they’ve felt pressured by the White House to move forward with his picks. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley defended the qualifications of Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 with no trial experience, saying the regulatory panel handles “the very kinds of issues” the court decides. “It is no surprise the President’s opponents keep trying to distract from the record-setting success the President has had on judicial nominations, which includes a Supreme Court Justice and twelve outstanding circuit judges in his first year,” Gidley said in a statement. Until this...

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Once a populist, Trump governs like a conservative Republican

By John Wagner and Juliet Eilperin, President Trump, a longtime New York City Democrat who campaigned as a populist with little loyalty to the Republican Party, is increasingly choosing to govern as an unwavering conservative. His first major legislative victory probably will be a $1.5 trillion tax cut that primarily benefits corporations and the wealthy. He is filling the courts with deeply conservative judges who will shape the legal landscape for generations. And although Trump has struggled to chalk up wins on Capitol Hill, his Cabinet departments are rolling back scores of Obama-era policies on energy, education, the environment and law enforcement. Just this week, Trump cut two of Utah’s national monuments established by Democratic presidents to a fraction of their original size and was preparing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a step long sought by hawks. At the same time, many of the more populist proposals that Trump championed as a presidential candidate — including promises to curb imports and spur $1 trillion in new spending on infrastructure projects — remain stalled. “For the past year, he’s done pretty much everything conservatives could have wanted,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. “In the past, Republican presidents have done conservative things to appeal to the base and then done not-so-conservative things to try to broaden their appeal. They’ve kind of ping-ponged. Trump has...

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Trump voter fraud commission researcher arrested on child pornography charges

Ronald Williams II of Suitland, Md., faces 11 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, officials said. (Courtesy of Maryland State Police) A Maryland man arrested this week after authorities said they found child pornography on his cellphone worked for President Trump’s voter fraud commission, according to a senior administration official. Ronald Williams II, 37, of Suitland, was a researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. Trump launched the commission after making unfounded claims that millions of fraudulently cast ballots cost him the popular vote...

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In radio interview, Trump slams McCain, dings McConnell and botches a Senate candidate’s name

President Trump applauds during a rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) at a rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images) In the span of a 15-minute radio interview on Monday, President Trump took fresh aim at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), calling his opposition to legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act “a tremendous slap in the face to the Republican Party.” He referred to an Alabama Republican Senate candidate by the wrong name — and later said that wasn’t a good sign for the candidate. And Trump dinged another Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), saying:...

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Trump: ‘all options are on the table’ following North Korea missile launch over Japan

President Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Trump reiterated Tuesday that “all options are on the table” following North Korea’s latest provocative missile launch, this one fired over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. “The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said in a statement. “Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and...

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Trump breaks silence on North Korea, defends reversal on China

President Trump boards Air Force One on Thursday at Andrews Air Force Base on the way to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. (Alex Brandon/AP) President Trump on Sunday defended his recent about-face on calling China a currency manipulator, saying he welcomes the county’s help in dealing with North Korea. The comment on Twitter was the first from Trump since North Korea’s latest missile launch. “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We will see what happens!” he added. Why would I call China a...

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Trump says on Twitter that Bill Clinton ‘doesn’t know much’ about winning swing states

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday in Mobile, Ala. (Evan Vucci/AP) President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to spar with Bill Clinton — who recently was quoted in a New York state newspaper saying that Trump “doesn’t know much” — claiming that the former president failed to get voters out in crucial swing states for his wife’s campaign. The Record Review, a weekly paper that serves towns around the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, N.Y., quoted Bill Clinton as saying he had received a phone call on the day after the Nov. 8 election from Trump. The paper reported that the former president told a group of people in a bookstore, including a Record Review writer, that Trump “doesn’t know much. One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.” “Bill Clinton stated that I called him after the election. Wrong,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning, saying that Clinton had called him “with a very nice congratulations.” Referring to Clinton’s comments about him, Trump wrote that Clinton “ ‘doesn’t know much’ … especially how to get people, even with an unlimited budget, out to vote in the vital swing states (and more).” “They focused on the wrong states,” Trump added without elaboration. Trump’s electoral college victory was propelled by unexpected wins in the...

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