Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Revealed: Joe and Jill Biden paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes in 2019

September 30, 2020

Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris are trolling Donald Trump by releasing their state and federal tax returns ahead of the first presidential debate. The move comes following reports by The New York Times and other media of how little Donald Trump paid to the federal government in recent years. 

According to The Independent (UK), the Biden campaign released the former vice president’s federal and Delaware tax returns from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 online. Biden said 22 years total of tax returns would be available for the public to review. 

Additionally, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, released their federal and California tax returns from 2019. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, reported receiving $985,233 in adjusted gross income in 2019, of which they paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes. In 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and her husband reported receiving just over $3M in adjusted gross income, and they owed $1,185,628 in taxes.

This starkly contrasted what President Donald Trump paid to the federal government based on a bombshell report from the Times.

According to the report, Trump failed to pay federal taxes in recent years and paid just 2016 and 2017 in $750. The president avoided paying taxes from 10 of the 15 years reviewed by the newspaper because his businesses lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, allowing him to reduce his tax burden.

The report also detailed a series of questionable expenses that Trump wrote off, including nearly $700,000 as a “consulting fee” for his daughter Ivanka Trump and $70,000 for his own hair styling.

Trump has dismissed the report as inaccurate but has declined to detail the specific errors.

The president, in stark contrast to all other past presidents, has refused to release his tax returns on his own to the American public. His campaign has claimed that he has not released his returns because they are under audit.

Research contact: @Independent

After a ‘Times’ report on Trump’s taxes, the figure $750 could stick in voters’ minds

September 29, 2020

The late hotelier Leona Helmsley famously said “Only the little people pay taxes”—a quote that is being recalled by many Americans after learning from an exclusive report by The New York Times that President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017—and absolutely nothing for ten of the preceding 15 years.

And while most Americans will be shocked, the $750 figure may well stick in the minds of blue-collar voters who earn far less than a president, and who pay far more in federal taxes.

Indeed, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Sunday, September 27, that she had paid thousands of dollars in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017— when she was still working as a New York bartender. “He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she wrote.

The Biden campaign on Sunday night used the report to press its case that Trump is out of touch with the working Americans he says he is fighting for. The campaign quickly put out a video showing the typical income taxes paid by an elementary school teacher, a firefighter and a nurse. Each paid thousands of dollars in taxes per year.

At a Sunday evening news conference, Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted about the report, despite the fact that a lawyer for the Trump Organization was quoted in the article.

The Times did not disclose just how its reporters had gotten their hands on tax return data that covers more than two decades. The president has long refused to release this information, making him the first POTUS in decades to hide basic details about his finances. His refusal has made his tax returns among the most sought-after documents in recent memory.

Among the key findings of the Times’s investigation:

It is important to remember that the returns are not an unvarnished look at Trump’s business activity. They are instead his own portrayal of his companies, compiled for the I.R.S. But they do offer the most detailed picture yet available.

But it’s inevitably a story he will face questions about in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. And with five weeks left in the race, every day that Trump is on defense is one when he isn’t able to shift the dynamics of a race that public polls show he is currently losing.

The Times also notes, “Revelations like the fact that Trump deducted $70,000 for hairstyling expenses during “The Apprentice” also risk contributing to a sense that the president views his supporters — those who serve in the military, or pay their tax bills, or attend his rallies in the middle of a pandemic — as fools.”

To wit: The tax revelations followed a report in The Atlantic this month that said the president had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”

And a former official on the coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye, has gone on the record in recent weeks to recall that the president, during a meeting she attended, said there was an upside to the virus: He would no longer have to shake hands with “disgusting” people, referring to his own supporters.

Research contact: @nytimes

Insufficient funds? Trump defends his campaign’s spending as cash advantage evaporates

September 9, 2020

Just like the nation and the electorate he serves, President Donald Trump is experiencing a cash crunch that can be traced to the Oval Office.

On Twitter on September 7, the president defended his campaign’s financial decision-making, after a report that surfaced in The New York Times provoked new scrutiny of his reelection team’s spending habits. Reportedly, Trump has squandered his cash advantage over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“My Campaign spent a lot of money up front in order to compensate for the false reporting and Fake News concerning our handling of the China Virus,” Trump tweeted on September 8. “Now they see the GREAT job we have done, and we have 3 times more than we had 4 years ago – & are up in polls. Lots of $’s & ENERGY!”

According to Politico, the president’s social media post came after the Times published a story detailing how the Trump campaign has already spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion it raised in coordination with the Republican National Committee from the beginning of 2019 through July.

The Times report raised questions about former campaign manager Brad Parscale’s financial stewardship of Trump’s war chest, which was once viewed as an historic asset ahead of the fall’s general election campaign. Among the campaign’s expenses were a car and driver for Parscale, who was replaced atop the campaign in July by Bill Stepien.

Biden, meanwhile, has seen his fundraising soar in the final weeks of the campaign. Last month, the former vice president and the Democratic National Committee raked in a record $365 million in contributions — doubling Trump’s $165 million record haul from July and also surpassing the $193 million raised by Barack Obama in September 2008, Politco notes.

Trump has yet to report his August fundraising numbers, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that he did not know when that campaign announcement would come. “I don’t know. I have zero visibility into that decision,” he said.

Research contact: @politico

 

Trump Administration: No more in-person election security briefings for Congress

September 1, 2020

What they don’t know can’t hurt us:  That’s the assumed motive behind the Trump Administration’s move over the weekend to squelch in-person intelligence briefings provided to the U.S. Congress about the upcoming presidential election.

Until now, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been responsible for delivering regular updates to lawmakers on what measures are being taken to protect balloting from foreign or internal tinkering, The New York Times reports.

The nation’s top intelligence officials moved on Saturday to tighten control over the flow of sensitive intelligence about foreign threats to November’s election, telling Congress that they would no longer provide in-person briefings about election security and would rely solely on written updates instead.

Representatives from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence informed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of the policy change by telephone on Friday and followed up with a batch of letters to congressional leaders on Saturday.

In the letters, the Chief of the Intelligence Office, John L. Ratcliffe, framed the move as an attempt to “ensure clarity and consistency” in intelligence agencies’ interactions with Congress and to crack down on leaks that have infuriated some intelligence officials.

“I believe this approach helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information O.D.N.I. provides the Congress in support of your oversight responsibilities on elections security, foreign malign influence and election interference is not misunderstood nor politicized,” he wrote, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times. “It will also better protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.”

But coming just ten weeks before Election Day, the change drew complaints from lawmakers in both parties, who worried the move would block their ability to question and test intelligence assessments from the executive branch at a time when they are crucial to ensuring that foreign powers do not undermine the results

Intelligence agencies have revealed that Russia is again trying to bolster the campaign of President Donald Trump, who has insisted he is actually “the last person Russia wants to see in office” and consistently attacked the intelligence agencies during his tenure.

Democrats, who fear Trump’s appointees have moved to color intelligence assessments for his political benefit, were particularly furious. The Times said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam Schiff of California, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called the new policy “shameful” and said intelligence officials had also canceled briefings with committees and the full House on election security threats already scheduled for September at the request of Ratcliffe’s office. They vowed to try to force their reinstatement

“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” the two senior Democrats wrote.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. CNN first reported the change

Research contact: @nytimes

Pelosi to recall House for USPS vote, as Democrats press for Postmaster General DeJoy to testify

August 18, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on August 16 that she would call members of the House back from their annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to block changes at the U.S. Postal Service, according to a report by The New York Times.

Changes drawing ire and fire from Pelosi include the recent, surreptitious removal of crucial mail sorting equipment nationwide—a move that, voting advocates warn, could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic.

The removal of the sorting equipment was executed under orders from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor appointed in May.

The announcement came after Chief of Staff  Mark Meadows signaled that the White House might be open to providing emergency funding for the USPS to handle a surge in mail-in ballots—if that financing accompanied a package of coronavirus stimulus measures desired by the Administration.

It also came, the Times said, as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service.

The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, without evidence (and while he has publicly requested a mail-in ballot from Florida, himself), and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.

The House was not scheduled to return for votes until September 14, but is now expected to consider a Postal Service bill as soon as Saturday, August 22, according to information received by the Times from a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, is expected to announce the final schedule on Monday.

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week.”

According to the Times, the abrupt return to Washington was announced just hours after Democrats called on top Postal Service officials to testify on Capitol Hill this month about recent policies that they warned pose “a grave threat to the integrity of the election.

“ It also demonstrates the growing alarm over changes the Postal Service is enforcing under its leader, Louis DeJoy … less than three months before a general election. Some of the changes, which Mr. DeJoy describes as cost-cutting measures, include ending overtime pay and the removal or transfer of some sorting machines.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, demanded on Sunday that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, bring senators back to Capitol Hill to take up the House measure that he said in a statement “will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump spreads racist ‘birther’ conspiracy theory about Kamala Harris

August 17, 2020

Few Americans have forgotten the completely unfounded “birther” conspiracy theory that Donald Trump spread about his predecessor, President Barack Obama. That same incendiary and false storyline is now being promoted by the Trump White House against Senator Kamala Harris (D-California).

Indeed, the 45th president now is asserting that the presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee—who was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, several years after her parents had immigrated from India and Jamaica—is not eligible for the vice presidency or presidency because of her lineage, The New York Times reports.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, August 13, Trump nevertheless pushed forward with the attack—so reminiscent of the lie he perpetrated for years that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

“I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said of Harris.

“I have no idea if that’s right,” he added about the statement he had just made. “I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.”

Trump appeared to be referring to a widely discredited op-ed article published in Newsweek by John C. Eastman, a conservative lawyer who has long argued that the United States Constitution does not grant birthright citizenship.

By contrast to his outrageous claims about Obama, this time around, “Trump has legions of followers who have been spreading similar theories about Harris,” the Times reports.

In the hours after Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate, a new crop of memes and conspiracy website postings began proliferating online, suggesting that Harris was an “anchor baby,” a disparaging term for a child born in the United States to immigrants.

But constitutional law scholars say that the immigration status of Harris’s parents at the time of her birth is irrelevant because, under the Constitution, anyone born in the United States automatically acquires citizenship.

The 14th Amendment makes it clear: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Laurence Tribe, a professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, compared Eastman’s idea to the “flat earth theory” and called it “total B.S.”

“I hadn’t wanted to comment on this because it’s such an idiotic theory,”. Tribe said, “There is nothing to it.”

Mr. Tribe pointed out that the theory still quickly landed in the hands of a president who has used his pulpit to spread a number of conspiracies against his political enemies, particularly those who do not have white or European backgrounds.

Research contact: @nytimes

Oprah Magazine features Breonna Taylor on cover of September issue

August 3, 2020

O: The Oprah Magazine has covered a wide swath of American culture since it started 20 years ago, but all of its 241 issues have had one thing in common: Oprah Winfrey—the publication’s founder and America’s reigning queen of all media—has been on the cover.

That will change with the September issue, which will be available on newsstands August 11, The New York Times reports. The new cover, unveiled Thursday, features a portrait of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by the police when they erroneously conducted a drug raid at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

Winfrey started an essay for the issue with her name, writing: “Breonna Taylor. “She was just like me. She was just like you.”

She ended the essay by explaining why she had decided to give up the cover spot of her namesake magazine: “What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.

“And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine.”

No criminal charges have been filed against the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered the home of Taylor, an emergency medical technician, shortly after midnight on March 13.

Last month, Brett Hankison, one of the three officers, was fired. The police chief, Robert Schroeder, accused him of violating the department’s policy on the use of deadly force, saying he had “wantonly and blindly” fired ten shots into Taylor’s home. The other two officers were reassigned.

Indeed, Taylor was shot at least eight times. She did not receive medical attention for more than 20 minutes after she was struck, The Courier Journal reported, citing police logs. The officers involved in the case have said they identified themselves when they entered; however, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was present, said the police did not identify themselves.

The Louisville police said that Walker shot and wounded one officer in the leg and charged him with the attempted murder of a police officer. That charge was dismissed in May.

The idea of putting Ms. Taylor on the O cover was the brainchild of Deirdre Read, the magazine’s visual research editor, said Lucy Kaylin, the editor in chief of O, in an email to the Times.

“I brought the idea to Oprah, who immediately said ‘YES,’” Kaylin said.

The cover image is a selfie taken by Taylor and then rereated by the digital portrait artist Alexis Franklin.

On Wednesday, July 29,  O’s publisher, Hearst Magazines, and Oprah Winfrey, herself,  announced that O would discontinue regular print editions and become more digitally focused. “This is a natural progression for the brand,” Kristen O’Hara, the Hearst Magazines chief business officer, said in a statement. The company added that the December issue will be O’s last regular monthly print edition.

Research contact: @nytimes

Not so nice? ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ workplace to be reviewed by WarnerMedia

July 29, 2020

Following rumors that the staff of the daytime talker, “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” has been intimidated, insulted, and otherwise mistreated; WarnerMedia has started an investigation into the workplace environment of the syndicated program, which has been a staple on the air since 2003.

Executives from Warner Bros. Television and the production company Telepictures sent a letter to employees of the talk show last week that outlined the company’s investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the letter, The New York Times reported.

WarnerMedia’s employee relations department, along with representatives from an outside company, will interview current and former staff members about their experiences on the program, the people said.

The decision to start the review followed the publication of articles that included allegations from current and former employees of discrimination and abusive behavior. Warner Bros. Television and a representative for DeGeneres declined to comment.

BuzzFeed News published an article this month that described what it called a “toxic work culture.” In the article, former staff members said they faced “racism, fear and intimidation” and laid most of the blame on three of the show’s executive producers, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner. DeGeneres also is a producer on the show.

Former employees said they were fired for taking time off for medical leave or bereavement. Black employees said they experienced racist comments. One said that one of the show’s writers had told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.”

In a joint statement to BuzzFeed News, Glavin, Connelly and Lassner said: “For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”

Variety first reported on the WarnerMedia investigation.

Last year, DeGeneres—known as “the Queen of Nice” by her audience— renewed her contract to continue hosting the program through 2022. She also signed a deal to create three shows for WarnerMedia’s streaming platform, HBO Max.

Research contact: @BuzzFeedNews

Supreme Court tosses Nevada church’s challenge to COVID-19 orders

July 28, 2020

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Friday, July 24,  to reject a Nevada church’s plea to overturn state public-health orders limiting attendance at services—marking the second time Chief Justice John Roberts has joined the liberal justices to uphold emergency measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, located east of Reno in Lyon County, Nevada, argued that public-health orders issued by Governor Steve Sisolak (D) allowed casinos and other secular businesses greater leeway than houses of worship—which were capped at 50 people for indoor services, The New York Times reported.

Calvary Chapel sought to conduct services for up to 90 congregants, but pledged to implement various social-distancing rules and other measures to contain COVID-19’s spread.

Governor Sisolak said his order placed fewer restrictions on houses of worship than on movie theaters, museums and zoos. While casinos could admit up to 50% of their capacity, the governor argued that pervasive state regulation of the gambling industry, including on-premises enforcement officers, disqualified them for comparison to unregulated churches.

Lower courts declined to suspend the public-health orders during the church’s lawsuit, prompting the high court appeal, the Times said.

The Supreme Court denied the appeal without comment. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan comprised the majority.

Four of the more conservative justices dissented, as they did in May when the same majority declined to block similar California orders capping attendance at religious services.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or black-jack, to feed tokens into a slot machine, or to engage in any other game of chance,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the principal dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

Justice Alito said that at the outbreak of the pandemic, officials should have broad discretion over emergency measures, adding that several months into the health crisis, greater court oversight was called for.

He said it was “hard to swallow” the state’s claim that casino regulators would keep a firm grip on contagion within well-attended gambling palaces while public health required holding the church to a lower limit.

Justice Kavanaugh filed a separate opinion laying out his own views of the case.

Although the majority didn’t elaborate on Friday’s order, in May, Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion explaining why he voted to uphold Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom’s order capping attendance at indoor church services.

“The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement,” the chief justice wrote then, adding that the Constitution principally assigns such judgments “to the politically accountable officials of the States.”

Research contact:  @nytimes

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes