Apr 5, 2019

NYT: Trump wanted McConnell to prioritize his IRS chief counsel pick

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in early February to make the confirmation vote of Michael Desmond, his nominee for chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, a top legislative priority, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.

Details: The revelation came a day after House Democrats formally asked the IRS to release 6 years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. Per the Times, White House aides had long insisted that Desmond, whose nomination was confirmed on Feb. 27, was a top priority following the passage of the 2017 tax bill — even greater a consideration than that of William Barr for attorney general. Barr was confirmed 2 weeks prior.

Trump’s request in February "raised questions about whether the president had other motivations," per the Times.

What they're saying: The news outlet said Hogan Gidley, a White House deputy press secretary, declined to give concrete details about the conversation between Trump and McConnell.

  • He told the Times: "Democrats have obstructed and delayed a record number of President Trump’s well-qualified nominees, so it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that he regularly communicates with Majority Leader McConnell about how to increase confirmations in the face of Democrats’ ridiculous behavior."
  • David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, declined to comment about the conversation.
  • Citing a source familiar with what took place, the Times reports: "Mr. Trump told Mr. McConnell that Mr. Desmond was growing frustrated with the holdup and was contemplating withdrawing from the process."

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In photos: India welcomes president with massive "Namaste Trump" rally

First Lady Melania Trump, President Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the "Namaste Trump" rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on Monday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump told a massive crowd at a rally in Ahmedabad, northwest India, Monday he hopes to reach a trade deal with his ""true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to the country "except he's a very tough negotiator."

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties, particularly in the military dimension, as India’s location, size and economic growth making it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers, per Axios' Dave Lawler and Zachary Basu. Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrated the importance of the visit with a "Namaste Trump Rally" at a packed 110,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad — the world's largest cricket venue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 29 mins ago - World

Coronavirus spreads to more countries as cases in South Korea surge

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain each reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus, Al Jazeera first reported, as infections in South Korea, Italy and mainland China continued to increase on Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,619 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 41 mins ago - Health

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy