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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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President Trump is heading to Capitol Hill today to promote his proposed tax bill, which would shower billions of dollars of tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, including President Trump’s own family. The Congressional Budget Office says the Senate’s version of the tax bill would hurt people making less than $30,000 a year, while giving major tax cuts to those making more than $100,000 a year. A provision of the Senate bill would also eliminate a key part of the Affordable Care Act, the requirement that Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. As Republicans scramble for enough votes to pass the plan, they are considering tacking on even more tax breaks for wealthy business owners. The Senate Budget Committee is slated to vote on the bill today, and lawmakers are pressing for a vote in the full Senate this week.
The showdown at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continued on Monday, as two dueling leaders—one named by Trump and one named by the agency’s former head—both battled for control. The chaos began on Friday, when former Director Richard Cordray resigned and appointed his former chief of staff, Leandra English, to be his successor. But then President Trump appointed his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to head the agency. While serving as a South Carolina congressmember, Mulvaney voted to eliminate the agency entirely. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
On Monday morning, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, arrived at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with a bag of donuts and sent an email telling the agency’s staff to disregard all orders from English. He also said he was freezing all hiring and all rulemaking. Leandra English, meanwhile, also showed up to the office on Monday, welcomed the staff back from vacation, then met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Later in the day, English and Mulvaney appeared before a federal judge, arguing each was the true head of the agency. The judge, a recent Trump appointee, refused to rule immediately, meaning the showdown continues into today.
In the midst of the battle at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Monday, President Trump attempted to insult Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren—one of the agency’s principal architects—by referring to Warren as “Pocahontas.” Trump did this during a White House ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers, Native Americans who served in the Marines during World War II and used the Navajo language in order to transmit encoded information.
President Donald Trump: “I just want to thank you, because you’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her 'Pocahontas.' But you know what? I like you, because you are special. You are special people.”
President Trump has frequently attacked Senator Warren by calling her “Pocahontas.” Warren says her family is part Cherokee. Trump held the ceremony honoring the Navajo military veterans in front of a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson, who was called “Indian killer” by the Cherokees. Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, leading to the forced displacement and death of tens of thousands of Native Americans, a march that became known as the Trail of Tears. This is Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking later on Monday.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Had to throw out a racial slur. You know, he seems to think that if he keeps doing that, somehow he’s going to shut me up. It hadn’t worked in the past. It’s not going to work in the future. And whether he likes it or not, I’m going to be out there, and I’m going to keep talking about what he’s trying to do to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
That was Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking on MSNBC on Monday.
Yet another top official at the State Department has resigned. Maliz Beams was serving as a special adviser to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She was overseeing Tillerson’s reorganization of the State Department, but served only three months before leaving the State Department this week. More than 100 officials and career diplomats have left the State Department since President Trump took office.
Progressive Illinois Democratic Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez is slated to announce today he is retiring from Congress. Gutiérrez is a member of the Judiciary Committee and the co-chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He’s been a longtime pro-immigration advocate, arrested multiple times at protests against deportations. He’s also been a fierce critic of President Trump.
The Washington Post reports it appears to have been targeted for an undercover sting operation by a right-wing organization seeking to discredit The Washington Post’s reporting on multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Moore has been accused of sexually harassing or assaulting at least nine women when they were children or young adults.
The Post reports that a separate woman approached the newspaper with a dramatic but invented story about Roy Moore impregnating her as a teenager. The Post says it conducted a series of interviews with the woman, in which the reporters found inconsistencies in her story. Then, on Monday, the reporters saw her walk into the New York headquarters of Project Veritas, a right-wing group that often sets up sting operations targeting the media and journalists by recording covert videos. Project Veritas’s founder, James O’Keefe, refused to answer the Post’s questions about whether he was working with Roy Moore’s campaign or other Republican strategists in order to discredit media reporting on Roy Moore.
On Monday, Moore spoke publicly for the first time in nearly two weeks, once again claiming he didn’t know any of the women who have accused him. Meanwhile, one of Moore’s campaign coordinators physically attacked a cameraman outside a campaign rally in Henagar, Alabama, on Monday night before Moore arrived.
This all comes as President Trump is now attempting to claim that the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which he brags about sexually assaulting women is fake. This is a clip of the tape.
Donald Trump: “Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Billy Bush: “Whatever you want.”
Donald Trump: “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
After the tape first resurfaced during the 2016 presidential election, President Trump did not dispute the tape’s authenticity but instead said his words were “locker room talk.” But now he’s claiming the tape is fake. This is “Access Hollywood” host Natalie Morales, responding to the news reports about Trump’s claims on Monday.
Natalie Morales: “We wanted to clear something up that has been reported across the media landscape. According to The New York Times, President Trump told two people that the 'Access Hollywood' bus tape, the one where he bragged about grabbing women by the you-know-what, is fake. Let us make this perfectly clear: The tape is very real.”
We’ll have more on sexual harassment, the media and Congress after headlines.
In more news from Washington, D.C., former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Monday. Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Flynn’s meeting Monday is the latest indication that Flynn may be close to accepting a plea deal, which would see him likely testify against President Trump or members of Trump’s inner circle.
In Honduras, progressive presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla has declared victory, as he continues to hold an unexpected lead in Sunday’s election results. His challenger, President Juan Orlando Hernández, had been widely expected to win despite increasing concerns about the conservative president’s authoritarianism and consolidation of power. But by Monday evening, Nasralla was leading Hernandez by 5 percent of the vote, with nearly 60 percent counted. This is Nasralla.
Salvador Nasralla: “As you all know, this has already been won. Don’t be swayed, please, by what some media are saying. What has happened is that we have broken the regular plan, by which, for the first time, it was the people who voted for their president. This was the people’s choice.”
In Indonesia, 150,000 people are under evacuation orders on the island of Bali, as the Mount Agung volcano has begun erupting. The island’s main airport has been shut down because of ashfall. The last time Mount Agung erupted, in 1963, more than 1,000 people died, and several villages were destroyed.
In Vietnam, a 22-year-old blogger has been sentenced to seven years in prison for reporting on a chemical spill that contaminated a 120-mile stretch of central Vietnam’s coastline last year. Nguyen Van Hoa was convicted of spreading anti-state propaganda by reporting on the protests after the spill, which was one of the worst environmental disasters in Vietnam’s recent history.
In Australia, six peace activists have been convicted of trespassing at a top-secret U.S. military base hidden in the Australian Outback in a protest last year. The peace activists now face up to seven years in prison. The trials have put a spotlight on the secretive military base, known as the Joint Defense Facility Pine Gap, from which the U.S. gathers satellite information used to launch U.S. airstrikes around the world.
And in an update to a Democracy Now! story last week, California Congressmember Ted Lieu has sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis demanding the Pentagon respond to a New York Times exposé that revealed the U.S. military has killed many more civilians during its war on ISIS than the Pentagon has admitted. In an exposé entitled “The Uncounted,” journalists Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal revealed the U.S. is killing civilians in up to one in every five airstrikes—a figure 31 times higher than the Pentagon admits. In his letter, Congressmember Lieu demanded the Pentagon investigate the Times’ reports of civilian casualties, writing, “If the findings are accurate, the coalition’s conduct not only may violate the Law of Armed Conflict, it may also help ISIS in recruiting efforts.”