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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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Calls are growing for President Trump to release his full tax returns after part of his 2005 return was made public Tuesday. Two pages from Trump’s tax return were obtained by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston of DCReport, who appeared last night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. The 2005 tax return shows Trump earned $153 million—or more than $400,000 a day. Trump paid out $36.6 million in federal income taxes, much of it in the form of what’s known as the alternative minimum tax, which Trump now wants to eliminate. The document also shows Trump wrote off more than $100 million in business losses to reduce his federal taxes.
This morning, President Trump tweeted, “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!” That’s despite the fact that the White House confirmed the authenticity of the documents Tuesday, after Maddow teased the scoop. The White House continues to refuse to release any other tax returns from Trump. We’ll have more on Trump’s tax returns later in the broadcast with journalist David Cay Johnston.
House Republicans are demanding changes to the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, after the Congressional Budget Office said the plan would lead 24 million people to lose their health insurance within 10 years. Some Republicans pulled their support following Monday’s report, including Florida Congressmember Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who tweeted, “As written the plan leaves too many from my district uninsured.” During a news briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer conceded that millions would lose their health insurance under the plan as it is currently written. This is Spicer being questioned by CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Jim Acosta: “And so, getting back to the Congressional Budget Office score, would you concede that there will be some coverage losses, perhaps in the millions, that there will be millions of people who will not have health insurance as a result of what you’re doing?”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “Well, again, sure, except you have to look at the current situation. You are mandated by law to buy insurance right now under Obamacare.”
Demonstrations against the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare continued Tuesday, as hundreds braved a blizzard to protest outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office in Racine, Wisconsin. Also on Tuesday, President Trump’s pick to run Medicare and Medicaid, Seema Verma, was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence after she was confirmed by the Senate Monday. Verma’s health policy firm helped design Indiana’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, during which time she worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence.
President Trump is reportedly considering appointing Marc Mukasey, who has represented former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, to replace Preet Bharara as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara was heading up an investigation into Fox News at the time Trump fired him, after Bharara refused to resign. If nominated and confirmed, Mukasey would likely be forced to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into whether Fox News failed to inform shareholders about numerous settlements with some of the more than 20 women who have accused former Chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.
Michigan Democratic Congressmember John Conyers is demanding the Justice Department reveal all pending investigations into President Trump and the Trump family’s businesses. In a statement issued Saturday, Congressmember Conyers cited the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, writing, “It is particularly problematic that the Administration would fire Mr. Bharara … given that Mr. Bharara could be reviewing a range of potential improper activity emanating from Trump Tower and the Trump Campaign, as well as entities with financial ties to the President or the Trump Organization.”
Meanwhile, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says FBI Director James Comey has said he’ll tell Congress today whether the FBI is investigating any connections between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump is expected to tap Goldman Sachs banker James Donovan to be deputy treasury secretary. Donovan would work directly for another former Goldman Sachs banker: now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump has also tapped nearly another half-dozen more people tied to Goldman Sachs to join his administration, including National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Securities and Exchange Commission chair nominee Jay Clayton, senior White House adviser Anthony Scaramucci and senior counselor for economic initiatives Dina Habib Powell.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday President Trump is “extremely confident” the Justice Department will find evidence to back up his unsubstantiated claims that President Obama tapped Trump’s phones during the 2016 election.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “He feels very confident that what will ultimately come of this will vindicate him.”
Spicer’s comments came only one day after he tried to back away from the claims, saying Trump did not Iiterally mean wiretapping and that Trump did not mean it was ordered by President Obama directly.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “The president used the word 'wiretapped' in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities during that. And that is again something—it is interesting how many news outlets reported that this activity was taking place during the 2016 election cycle and now are wondering where the proof is. It is many of the same outlets in this room that talked about the activities that were going on back then.”
Spicer’s claim directly contradicts a March 4 tweet by the president in which the wiretap claim is made without quotation marks. The tweet read, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” The deadline has now been extended for the Justice Department to turn over evidence supporting Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations Obama wiretapped him to the House Intelligence Committee. The Justice Department failed to meet the first deadline. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has also demanded the FBI hand over any evidence about the alleged wiretap to the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying Tuesday, if the agency doesn’t respond to his letter, “they’re about to screw up big time.”
Reflecting the growing and acrimonious divisions within the Republican Party over its embattled healthcare plan, the far-right-wing news outlet Breitbart, previously headed by White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, has published an audio recording of an October conference call in which House Speaker Paul Ryan says he would never defend then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Speaker Paul Ryan: “There are two things that I want to make really clear, as for myself, as your speaker. I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future. As you probably heard, I disinvited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend, a thing I do every year. And I’m not going to be campaigning with him over the next 30 days.”
Speaker Ryan’s comments came after the release of the 2005 videotape recorded by NBC’s “Access Hollywood” showing Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women.
Donald Trump: “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.”
Despite Speaker Ryan’s pledge during the conference call, he began working with President Trump immediately after the November election, vowing to help lead a “unified Republican government.”
Legal challenges to President Trump’s revised travel ban are mounting as the order is set to take effect at midnight tonight. Federal judges in both Hawaii and Maryland are slated to hear arguments today claiming the ban targets Muslims and is a violation of the First Amendment. Trump’s executive order would bar refugees from entering the country for 120 days and would bar all people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days.
President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House Tuesday, where the two reportedly discussed their opposition to the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Prince Mohammed and President Trump were also expected to discuss U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians. Amnesty International urged Trump to block future arms sales, writing, “Arming the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain governments risks complicity with war crimes, and doing so while simultaneously banning travel to the U.S. from Yemen would be even more unconscionable.”
The White House has reportedly instructed the State Department to look for ways to cut more than a third of its budget. This could include slashing in half the United States’ annual $10 billion in funding for U.N. programs such as peacekeeping, vaccines and children’s aid. The outline of President Trump’s preliminary budget is slated to be released Thursday.
The New York Times reports Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has multiple ties to Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, an oil baron who now also owns railroads, real estate, sports teams and stadiums and conservative newspapers like The Weekly Standard and the Washington Examiner. Gorsuch has represented Anschutz and his companies. Anschutz, whose fortune is estimated to top $12 billion, went on to lobby the Bush administration to tap Gorsuch to the federal appeals court. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court next week.
Voters in the Netherlands are heading to the polls today in a closely watched race, which pits Prime Minister Mark Rutte against far-right politician Geert Wilders. This is Wilders in the final debate before today’s vote.
Geert Wilders: “If we don’t dare to see Islam for what it is, the problem will not only be jihad, but Islam itself. Then the Netherlands and the free Western countries could no longer exist. We should not tolerate this.”
That was far-right politician Geert Wilders, who has been surging in the polls in recent days. He has vowed to close all mosques and ban the Quran, if elected. He was found guilty by a Dutch court of inciting racial discrimination last year. He’s also called for the Netherlands to leave the European Union.
The European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that companies across the European Union can prohibit workers from wearing headscarves as part of company-wide policies banning all religious or political symbols. Religious freedom groups came out against the ruling. The Open Society Justice Initiative said, “It will lead to Muslim women being discriminated in the workplace, but also Jewish men who wear kippas, Sikh men who wear turbans, people who wear crosses. It affects all of them, but disproportionately Muslim women.”
Reuters is reporting that Russia appears to have deployed special operations troops to an airbase in Egypt near the border with Libya. Citing unnamed U.S. and Egyptian officials, Reuters reports the deployment signals a possible Russian intervention in the conflict in Libya on behalf of Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who opposes the U.N.-backed government of national unity based in Tripoli. Egypt has publicly denied Russian troops are on Egyptian soil.
The Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller Tuesday over the growing scandal over an invite-only, 30,000-person Facebook group where male marines have been posting thousands of naked or sexually suggestive photos of their fellow female marines—along with a barrage of misogynistic comments, including some saying the women should be raped. This is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: “Who has been held responsible? Have you actually investigated and found guilty anybody? If we can’t crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian aggression and cyberhacking throughout our military? It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female marines, who will give their life to this country, in the way they have, with no response from leadership.”
And newly released research shows hate crimes in major cities across the United States surged more than 20 percent last year. The data released Monday by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, shows there were more than 1,000 hate-related crimes committed in 2016—a 23 percent percent increase over 2015. The center’s director, Brian Levin, says the number of hate crimes appears to have increased following the election of President Trump.