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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Flynn Will Turn Over Documents to Senate

Posted by on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 10:56 AM

Good morning friends. It's Wednesday. Go grab the new INDY. In the meantime, let's review some headlines.

1) Mike Flynn is about to play ball.

A person close to President Donald Trump's embattled former national security adviser says Flynn will hand over documents to the Senate in response to a subpoena he has, until now, been ducking. From The Washington Post:
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will hand over documents and records to the Senate Intelligence Committee in response to a set of subpoenas for information from his businesses and personal files related to the committee’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to a person close to Flynn.

Attorneys for Flynn’s team sent the committee a written response Tuesday indicating that Flynn would begin providing records in response to subpoenas by June 6, the deadline to start turning over such information. Flynn was required to indicate by Tuesday whether he intended to comply with the records request.
That might not be good news for Trump. And speaking of Trump ...

2) The president continues to take jabs at Germany on Twitter.

From The New York Times:
The last time relations between the United States and Europe were this bad — in the spring of 2003, during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq — the administration of George W. Bush decided to “punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia,” in a phrase attributed to the secretary of state at the time, Condoleezza Rice.

Now, President Trump has flipped the formula, punishing Germany while largely ignoring France. (His conciliatory approach to Russia seems more or less in line with the Mr. Bush of 2003.)

The difference this time is trade. Germany runs a chronic, yawning trade surplus with the United States, which Trump administration officials say Germany has widened by exploiting a weak euro to put American exports at a disadvantage. That, more than differences over NATO, Russia or climate change, is driving a wedge between the two countries.

“We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military,” an angry Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday morning. “Very bad for U.S. This will change.”
Want more change? Apparently, it's coming to Pennsylvania Avenue.

3) White House communications director resigns.

Mike Dubke is out. From CNN:
White House communications director Mike Dubke is leaving the administration, he said Tuesday, amid swirling speculation about a possible Trump staff shakeup.

He told CNN Tuesday he submitted his resignation on May 18 but offered to stay until the end of President Donald Trump's foreign trip. A final day has not been set, Dubke said.
"It has been a privilege to serve this president," Dubke said in a phone interview.

Dubke said he had "a good conversation with the President" after submitting his resignation. He declined to discuss the turmoil inside the West Wing, only saying he was resigning "for a number of reasons — for personal reasons."
Here's why this matters, from CNN's editor-at-large Chris Cillizza:
[Dubke] was an example of Trump bending a knee — or at least acknowledging — the GOP establishment that he had scorned for so long! He was finally normalizing!

Except not. Dubke never seemed able (or willing) to penetrate the hard shell of those advisers who had either a) been with Trump for long period of time or b) were related to the President. Dubke was touted when he was hired for his willingness to play a behind-the-scenes role. But Dubke, during his short stint in the White House was so behind-the-scenes as to seem totally nonexistent.

For all of the talk of Trump's willingness to bring in an outsider — and an outsider with ties to Karl Rove, no less! — Trump never really accepted Dubke as one of his people. Which, rather than disproving the caricature of Trump as insular and partial to "yes" men, only served to reinforce it.

And, even as Dubke was on the way out, there was increasing chatter that two longtime Trump loyalists — Corey Lewandowski, who managed Trump's campaign during its formative stages, and David Bossie, who served as deputy campaign manager in its later stages — were on their way back in.
4) N.C. House's proposed budget includes tax cuts.

The full spending plan hasn't been released, but a few details about tax cuts are beginning to trickle out. From the N&O:
The House proposal would not lower the personal income tax rate, as a tax cut proposed in the Senate budget would do. But it would cut taxes in several other ways, some of them similar to the Senate proposal.

The House budget would:

▪ increase the standard deduction from $17,500 to $18,500 for a married couple filing jointly, with similar increases for other tax status categories. The standard deduction is the amount of income on which taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions will pay no income tax. The Senate also included an increase in the standard deduction. “The standard deduction, or the 0% bracket, is one of the best methods to provide tax relief for low-income families in NC,” House Rules Chairman David Lewis, a Dunn Republican, said in a tweet Tuesday.

▪ raise the cap on mortgage expense and property tax deductions from $20,000 to $22,000, starting in 2019. The Senate’s budget also increases that cap, but the amount varies based on tax filing status, so the maximum deduction would be largest for married couples filing jointly.

▪ lower the franchise tax for businesses from $1.50 to $1.40 per $1,000, and make purchases of major manufacturing machinery exempt from machinery taxes, which would save companies an estimated $50.8 million per year. It would not lower the corporate income tax, as the Senate’s budget would do.

▪ create a new sales tax refund for small and rural research and development businesses, as well as a sales tax exemption for distribution equipment used by companies that have a “large fulfillment center” for shipping online orders, such as Amazon.
5) A House bill would repeal the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

From WRAL:
Republican House lawmakers are trying again to repeal the state's requirement for a pistol permit to carry a concealed handgun in most cases.

House Bill 746 is scheduled to be debated in the House Judiciary IV Committee at some point Wednesday afternoon after the budget committee meeting has ended. The measure did not meet the crossover deadline in April, but sponsors have added a $100,000 appropriation for "outdoor heritage promotion" to allow the bill to remain alive under House rules.

The measure would remove the requirement for a pistol permit, changing state law to say that any U.S. citizen 18 or over may carry a handgun openly or concealed without a permit in most places, except where prohibited.
On that note, have a great day.

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