Posts tagged with "Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin"

Beyond the point of no returns: Get Trump’s tax forms, progressive group tells House Dems

January 7, 2019

Americans for Tax Fairness—a coalition of more than 325 national, state, and local organizations that support progressive tax reform—reminded Democratic Congressional leaders this week about the “urgency of obtaining and publicly releasing President [Donald] Trump’s tax returns,” reminding them that “he broke decades of precedent and his own repeated promises by not making them public.

The group argued that Trump’s returns could shed light on “the complex financial structures and tax loopholes used by the wealthy.” They also believe the returns to be “the best source of answers to vital questions about Donald Trump’s presidency—including whether there are any conflicts of interest and/or foreign influences that could be adversely affecting his exercise of official duties.”

In fact, in a new 21-page white paper obtained by NBC News, the group—which the network describes as “a left-leaning organization backed by organized labor”— said that securing Trump’s tax returns “is an important public policy objective and a legitimate exercise of Congress’s oversight authority.”

As NBC News reported last month, Democrats plan to use a 1924 law26 U.S. Code § 6103—to compel Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to turn over Trump’s tax records to Representative Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), the newly designated chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The law appears to allow the committee to vote to make the returns public. Democrats say they expect that Mnuchin will not hand over the returns without a court fight, however.

Trump is the only major party nominee in the past four decades—other than President Gerald Ford— not to release his tax returns—and Ford released summaries of his returns. Trump has said he won’t release them because he is under audit.

House Democrats are pushing legislation that would require presidential candidates to release a decade of tax returns, aides told NBC News, but that bill’s chances of becoming law are uncertain.

The returns also are likely to provide information relevant to whether Trump’s public actions enhanced his private wealth, particularly in relation to his luxury Trump International hotel a few blocks from the White House, the report obtained by NBC News noted.

“The president has shown inexplicable deference to the leaders of foreign powers in conflict with the United States, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that his business connections in those countries are influencing his conduct of American foreign policy and threatening national security,” the report says. “His tax returns and those of his business entities could provide evidence of foreign business connections that jeopardize his independence.”

“Obtaining the president’s tax returns is not some fishing expedition,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “The public has a right to know if the policies the president advocates are what he believes are in the best interest of the country or in the best interest of his personal finances.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment by NBC News.

Legal experts tell NBC News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller almost certainly already has obtained President Trump’s tax returns and other private business information as part of his investigation into whether Trump or his campaign coordinated with the 2016 Russian election interference operation.

But Mueller would not be able to make that information public unless it was relevant to a criminal case.

Research contact: @KenDilanianNBCAmericans

Easy come, easy go: Trump seeks new chief of staff

December 11, 2018

Nick Ayers, who currently serves as chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, has turned down the opportunity to do the same job for President Donald following John Kelley’s departs at the end of the year, Salon reported on December 10.

Had he accepted the position, Ayers would have been the third chief of staff to serve the POTUS in the Trump administration—following Reince Priebus (January 20, 2017-July 31, 2017) and John Kelly (July 31, 2017-present).

Ayers, who has worked for Pence since July 2017—and previously served as national chairman for the vice presidential campaign in 2016—is known as a savvy political strategist with many contacts on the Hill. Before his close association with the vice president, the 36-year-old power player—named in 2010 as one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in politics under the age of 40—was executive director of the Republican Governors Association from 2007 to 2010.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia,” Ayers tweeted late on December 9

According to the Salon report, Trump himself alluded to the possibility that Ayers might not accept the job later the same evening, tweeting that “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!”

It is noteworthy, the news outlet said, that almost seven years ago, the president criticized President Barack Obama for running through three chiefs of staff in less than three years — Rahm Emanuel, Pete Rouse (who served as interim), Bill Daley and finally Jack Lew, who left at the end of Obama’s first term.

“3 Chief of Staffs in less than 3 years of being President: Part of the reason why @Barack Obama can’t manage to pass his agenda,” Trump tweeted at the time. Yet once Kelly departs and is replaced, Trump will have a similar record for his own chiefs of staff.

Nevertheless, Ayers seems to be leaving the White House on good terms, with Pence tweeting on Sunday that “@nick_ayers has done an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff and I will always be grateful for his friendship, dedication to the @VP team and his efforts to advance the @POTUS agenda. Thank you Nick! Karen and I wish you, Jamie and the kids every blessing in the years ahead.”

Now that the president has been left in the lurch, several new candidates reportedly are under discussion—including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus; and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Research contact: @MatthewRozsa

Scores of companies back away from Saudi business over Khashoggi

October 25, 2018

A number of businesses and investors are backing away from doing business with Saudi Arabia until more answers are provided on the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom Turkish officials believe was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

According to an October 23 report by Axios, many of the world’s largest prospective financial deals involve Saudi Arabia and are predicated on trust in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as a reformer. Meanwhile, there is speculation that MBS was personally involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the three weeks since Khashoggi’s disappearance, several companies and individuals have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII), a massive conference nicknamed “Davos in the Desert.” The meeting is being hosted by MBS and the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund from October 23-25 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

The conference is described by The New York Times as “an extravagant embodiment of Crown Prince Mohammed’s dream to modernize Saudi Arabia and wean it off its reliance on oil by 2030.

Indeed, the Times reported, on the first day of the meeting, MBS presented a blueprint for Neom, a $500 billion planned city that would rise from the desert as a futuristic Zanadu of high-tech jobs and robot workers.

Unfortunately, fewer investors than planned will be on hand to support that vision. According to Axios, the following business, financial, and government invitees have pulled out (in chronological order):

And the list goes on, including about three dozen more high-profile names—among them, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Sotheby CEO Tad Smith, HSBC CEO John Flint, Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, President of the New York Stock Exchange Stacey Cunningham, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

In addition, several major Saudi supporters who are based in the United States and Europe have cut ties with the Kingdom:

  • Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, announced on October 18 that he would suspend his directorships of two Saudi tourism projects and is suspending talks of a $1 billion investmentwith the country, saying: “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government.”
  • Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary under President Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on its $500 billion smart city project.
  • Neelie Kroes, a Neom board member and former vice president of the European Commission, said she would suspend her role in the project until more is known.

The conference already has started, with fewer speakers scheduled to be heard.

Research contact: zach.basu@axios.com