Nov 18, 2019

WaPo: Bipartisan senators reviewing IRS whistleblower complaint

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Staff for Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are looking into a July whistleblower allegation related to possible interference with an audit of President Trump's or Vice President Mike Pence's tax returns, the Washington Post reports.

What we know: Staffers met this month with the whistleblower, who reportedly claims that at least one political appointee inside the Treasury Department may have attempted to interfere with an audit process, according to the Post. Follow-up interviews are expected, but it's not yet clear if the senators have deemed the whistleblower credible. The Trump administration has suggested the whistleblower is acting on political motivations.

  • The whistleblower is known to be a career IRS official. They claim to have received word of the audit interference secondhand and recently filed additional documentation related to their original complaint, per the Post.
  • Details of the additional documents are unknown. The complaint was first disclosed by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in an August court filing.

Between the lines: Trump has faced calls to release his tax returns since the 2016 election. He originally claimed that ongoing audits prevented him from disclosing his tax returns to the public.

  • Various House investigations, including an ongoing lawsuit filed by Neal's Ways and Means Committee, have demanded access to the returns.
  • Trump's private legal team has asked the Supreme Court to block subpoenas for the tax returns from both House Democrats and New York prosecutors.
  • On Monday, the Supreme Court issued an administrative stay blocking House Democrats' subpoena until both sides can file the necessary legal papers. It has not yet made a decision on the subpoena from Manhattan's district attorney.

What to watch: Rhetoric used by Trump to attempt to delegitimize the whistleblower in the ongoing Ukraine investigation could easily translate to this scenario, too.

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FEC commissioner refutes Trump's voter fraud claims

Federal Election Commission Ellen Weintraub during a committee hearing in the Capitol in 2017. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Federal Election Commission commissioner Ellen Weintraub posted an extensive fact-checking thread to Twitter late Wednesday debunking claims by President Trump and some Republicans that mail-in voting can lead to fraud.

Why it matters: Weintraub weighed in after Trump threatened to take action against Twitter for fact-checking him on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent, and she directly addressed Twitter's fact-checkin of the president in her post.

China approves Hong Kong national security law

Hong Kong riot police round up a group of protesters during a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese lawmakers approved a plan on Thursday for a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that would criminalize sedition, foreign influence and secession in the Asian financial hub.

Why it matters: China bypassed Hong Kong's legislature and chief executive to introduce the law, prompting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce Wednesday that the city is no longer autonomous from the Chinese mainland and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

Go deeper (1 min. read)ArrowUpdated 49 mins ago - World

Minneapolis unrest leaves a man dead amid protests over George Floyd

Protesters and police clash during demonstration on Wednesday over the death of George Floyd in custody outside the Third Police Precinct. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

A man died in a Minneapolis shooting during a second night of clashes between police and protesters in the city over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody, per AP.

The latest: Police said officers were responding to reports of a stabbing just before 9:30 p.m. and found a man lying in "grave condition on the sidewalk" with a gunshot wound, CBS Minnesota reports. On man is in custody over the incident.