Maddow tweets get White House to cough up Trump's 2005 tax numbers - Axios
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Maddow tweets get White House to cough up Trump's 2005 tax numbers

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Chuck Burton / AP

The White House, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and The Daily Beast have combined to make public that President Trump paid $38 million in taxes in 2005 on $150 million of income. $5.3 million of that was in federal income taxes, while $31 million came from the Alternative Minimum Tax, as first reported by the David Cay Johnston, a researcher who writes for The Daily Beast.

Why it matters: President Trump has never released his tax returns, saying they're under audit. The NYTimes obtained some of his old returns during the election, showing he wrote off a huge loss that would have allowed him to avoid federal income taxes for nearly 20 years.

The story started with Maddow's cryptic tweet, followed by confirmation that it was Trump.

While Maddow was winding up the story with a 25-minute opening with a series of questions on how Trump makes his money, including...

  1. If there are inexplicable dumps of foreign money into the president's coffers... couldn't those be explained through his tax returns?
  2. Is the president in a position where we need to make sure that he's not paying off foreign powers?
  3. Has he received money from sources?
  4. Has he received loans?
  5. Does the president have foreign bank accounts? If so, what banks?
  6. What is his relationship with Deutsche bank?
  7. What is his relationship with foreign sources of income?

The White House and The Daily Beast published the numbers, saying Trump paid $31 million in the "Alternative Minimum Tax" in 2005, in addition to $5.3 million in regular federal income tax.

Update: If you'd like to peruse the tax document for yourself, here you go...

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AT&T will build mobile network for first responders

Alan Diaz / AP

Federal officials said Thursday that AT&T will build a major wireless broadband network for first responders. The contract is worth $6.5 billion dollars, and billions more are expected to be spent on building out and operating the network.

This is a big step for the network, called FirstNet, which grew out of concerns on 9/11 about the inability of first responders to communicate with each other in an emergency. But the project has been troubled.

Why it matters: AT&T gets 20 megahertz of wireless spectrum to deploy as part of the project. That's primarily meant to be used for first responders, but the company can use excess network capacity to serve its customers — a boon given demand for wireless data has been on the rise. States are allowed to opt-out of the network, however, and develop their own systems.

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Facebook adds personal fundraising tools and donate buttons

Facebook

Facebook announced today that it's adding to its set of online fundraising tools to include personal fundraisers, as well as providing more options for users to raise money for nonprofits. The tools enable people to invite friends, share the campaign, or donate to the cause in the click of a button — all without leaving the site.

The personal fundraisers, similar to competitor GoFundMe, raise money to cover costs in 6 key areas: education, medical, pet medical, emergencies, crisis relief, and funerals and loss. Facebook said it hopes to expand the category list over time.

In addition to personal fundraisers, Facebook Pages will also be able to include "Donate" buttons on their live video broadcasts. This will allow public figures, brands, businesses, and other organizations beyond non-profits to fundraise, too.

Why it matters: This is just another example of Facebook taking a step toward realizing CEO Mark Zuckerberg's social infrastructure vision that he preached in his manifesto earlier this year.

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Startup raises $50 million to fight Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Charles Williams / Flickr Creative Commons

Solid Biosciences, a Cambridge, Mass.-based drug developer focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has raised $50 million in Series C funding co-led by RA Capital Management and Bain Capital Life Sciences. The company was founded by a former J.P. Morgan banker, after his son was diagnosed with DMD.

Why it's a big deal: DMD is a fairly rare genetic disorder, reportedly affecting around 1 out of every 3,500 young boys in the U.S., but that hasn't slowed down the pharma interest. In addition to Solid Biosciences, there has been work by both Sarepta Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRPT) and Marathon Pharma. If that last one sounds familiar, that's because Marathon is a private equity-backed company accused of price-gouging on its DMD drug (we discussed it here). Within the past few weeks, Marathon agreed to sell its treatment to PTC Therapeutics (Nasdaq: PTCT) for a reported $140 million in cash and stock.

Bottom line: "Gene therapy—a method of using a virus to shepherd genetic instructions into the body—has been tried for Duchenne before, though never successfully. But Solid's program is one of a new group of emerging gene therapy and gene editing programs being advanced by academic groups, startups, and larger companies." ― Ben Fidler

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Trump says Republicans “must fight” Freedom Caucus in 2018

President Trump nodded to the 2018 midterm election on Twitter Thursday morning:

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Trump might keep controversial NAFTA provisions

Evan Vucci / AP

An administration draft proposal that has been circulated in Congress by the U.S. trade representative's office revealed that the U.S. might keep some of NAFTA's most controversial provisions, despite Trump railing against the "disaster" agreement during his campaign, per the WSJ. The recently obtained proposal reveals that the U.S.:

  • Would keep a disputed arbitration panel that allows investors to circumvent local courts to resolve civil claims, which critics argue infringes on national sovereignty.
  • Wouldn't use upcoming NAFTA negotiations with Mexico and Canada to deal with disputes over foreign currency policies or to discuss meeting numerical requirements for bilateral trade deficits.
  • Calls for allowing a NAFTA nation to reinstate tariffs in case of an influx imports that would cause "serious injury or threat of serious injury" to domestic industries.

As the WSJ points out, the draft appears to be a compromise between trade hawks, who hope NAFTA renegotiations will help set a new trade agenda; and moderates, who back the provision under the original agreement.

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Putin denies interfering in U.S. elections: "Watch my lips, no"

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he's willing to meet with President Trump at a possible Arctic Summit in Finland or the G20 summit in July. He called the US anti-Russian rhetoric "all lies" and denied interfering in any U.S. elections.

Meanwhile: House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that "we all knew Russia was trying to meddle with our election."

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Another energy company exits the Canadian oil sands

Eamon MacMahon / AP

Now it's really a trend. ConocoPhillips announced Wednesday that it's selling most of its Canadian oil sands assets (as well as some Canadian gas holdings) to Cenovus Energy in a $13.3 billion deal. ConocoPhillips said the deal will help to "rapidly reduce debt" and lower the average production costs in its portfolio.

Joining the club: ConocoPhillips' deal comes after global oil giants Statoil and Shell have retreated from their oil sands positions in recent months, and Marathon Oil recently divested from the Alberta heavy oil projects too.

  • Reuters notes that international oil companies are pulling back from the region because "high costs and low crude prices have made it hard for large companies to make an acceptable return."
  • Development of the oil sands is increasingly consolidating into the hands of big Canadian companies.
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Trump's early report cards

An exclusive clip from next Sunday's edition of Showtime's "The Circus," a road trip to five states in five days — including an informal focus group about Trump, conducted by Mark Halperin at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire:

  • Insights from participants: "I think he's getting a heck of an education" ... "It's supposed to feel uncomfortable, and it does feel uncomfortable. And that's good. That's change."
  • Advice: "Slow down."
  • One word to describe Trump: "impulsive ... arrogant ... huge ... winner ... bombastic ... rash ... rambunctious ... change ... rushed ... unsettling .. circus."

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Paul Ryan: "We all knew Russia was trying to meddle with our election"

House Speaker Paul Ryan told CBS' Norah O'Donnell on Wednesday that Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and he sent a letter before the election warning the secretaries of state to guard their data, and to "watch out" for Russian interference.

"We all knew this before the election. We all knew, Russia was trying to meddle with our election. And we already know right now they are trying to do it with other countries," said Ryan. "I think we have a special responsibility given our capabilities to make sure we help our allies guard against this meddling by Russia in their elections just like they tried to with our election."
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Trump's edge: flipping white working-class Obama voters

Andrew Harnik / AP

The NYTimes' Nate Cohn dug through the numbers in search of how Trump pulled it off, and it all goes back to the white working class:

If turnout played only a modest role in Mr. Trump's victory, then the big driver of his gains was persuasion: He flipped millions of white working-class Obama supporters to his side.
The voter file data makes it impossible to avoid this conclusion. It's not just that the electorate looks far too Democratic. In many cases, turnout cannot explain Mrs. Clinton's losses.