National Security Agency

The Pronk Pops Show 1016, January 10, 2016, Story 1: Renewal of FISA’s Section 702 and Protection of Americans Privacy Rights — National Security Agency Is Spying On American People — Require NSA To Get A Warrant In Court of Law — Support U.S.A. Rights Act — Videos — Story 2: Fusion GPS Dossier and Leaking of Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson Testimony — Videos

Posted on January 10, 2018. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Cartoons, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Fourth Amendment, Free Trade, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Law, Life, Media, National Interest, National Security Agency, Networking, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, Wealth, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1016, January 10, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

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Judge Nap on FISA Act Renewal

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The privacy concerns at the heart of the FISA renewal debate

FISA §702: ‘This is the end of probable cause’ — Lionel

Senator Rand Paul & Senator Ron Wyden join Representative Justin Amash

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STOP the Government from Spying on You! | Rand Paul

What is Section 702?

Trey Gowdy on DACA Judge and Surveillance on Americans.

Senator Rand Paul Explains 702 Data Collection at Cato Institute

Rand Paul on FISA. Could Shut Down Gov Over it

FISA §702: ‘This is the end of probable cause’ — Lionel Nation

Powerful Judge Tells Congress To END NSA For Good

End Warrantless Deep State Spying: Don’t Renew 702

Renewal of FISA’s Section 702: Why America Needs the Provision

Rand Paul on Obama Illegally Spying on Americans | NSA Wiretapping

NSA Spying On Americans ‘Widespread’ – Let Sec. 702 Expire!

Bill Binney – The State of Domestic Spying

NSA Whistleblower Tells How NSA Tracks You! w/Bill Binney

Malzberg | Bill Binney discusses his belief that the NSA has all of Clinton’s emails

NSA Genius Debunks Russiagate Once & For All

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, is sponsoring a bill amendment that would extend Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act by four years while making major changes to it.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A yearslong debate over National Security Agency surveillance and protections for Americans’ privacy rights will reach a climactic moment on Thursday as the House of Representatives takes up legislation to extend a program of warrantless spying on internet and phone networks that traces back to the Sept. 11 attacks.

There is little doubt that Congress will extend an expiring statute, known as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, that permits the government to collect without a warrant from American firms, like Google and AT&T, the emails and other communications of foreigners abroad — even when they are talking to Americans.

But it is far from clear whether Congress will impose significant new safeguards for Americans’ privacy. A bipartisan coalition of civil-liberties-minded lawmakers are trying to impose such changes, while the Trump administration, the intelligence community and House Republican leadership oppose them.

Thursday’s vote is seen as the crucial test because more would-be reformers are in the House than in the Senate, which will take up the legislation later. If majority support for imposing new privacy protections on the program does not exist in the House, the Senate is unlikely to add them in.

“The chances are better in the House,” acknowledged Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, at a news conference on Wednesday of House and Senate lawmakers who support surveillance overhaul efforts. “The privacy movement is stronger in the House than the Senate. Maybe we can learn from you guys.”

The N.S.A. began collecting Americans’ international phone calls and emails without a warrant in October 2001 as part of the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 Stellarwind program. In 2008, after the program had come to light, Congress legalized a form of it by enacting Section 702 of the FISA law. That law enabled the program to expand to Silicon Valley firms, not just telecoms, and to all foreign intelligence purposes, not just counterterrorism.

In late 2012, Congress extended the law for five years without changes. But the pending expiration of Section 702 is forcing lawmakers to address its substance for the first time since the 2013 leaks about N.S.A. programs by Edward J. Snowden set off a major debate about 21st-century surveillance technology and privacy rights.

On Thursday, the House will vote on an Intelligence Committee bill that would extend the 702 program for six years with only minor changes. But House leaders are permitting lawmakers first to vote on a single proposed amendment that would make major changes.

Chief among them, the amendment would ban the practice whereby officials at the N.S.A., the F.B.I. and other security agencies, without a warrant, search for and read private messages of Americans that the government incidentally swept up under the 702 program. Instead, except in emergencies, officials would need to obtain a court order to query the repository for an American’s information.

The amendment is chiefly sponsored by Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, and Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California. It would substitute in the text of another bill, dubbed the USA Rights Act, which would extend Section 702 by only four years.

The bipartisan coalition backing overhaul efforts — which includes some of the most conservative and most liberal members of the House — say that change is necessary to uphold the meaning and substance of Fourth Amendment privacy rights in light of 21st-century communications technology and surveillance powers.

But the F.B.I. and the intelligence community have balked at that proposal, saying it would impede their efforts to protect the country to require warrants to query information the government already possesses. There are also lawmakers of both parties — backed by House leadership — who oppose the amendment.

Aides to Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, distributed a one-page sheet this week denouncing the amendment as imposing “unnecessarily severe requirements” that would endanger Americans.

Complicating matters, the base bill backed by Mr. Nunes contains a gesture toward a court-order requirement, too. It would apply only under narrow circumstances: if F.B.I. agents have already opened a criminal investigation into the American whose information they are searching for, and if the agents have no national-security rationale.

Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said the warrant requirement in the base bill would be sufficient to “prevent the database from being used as a general tool to gather evidence and introduce it in court in cases that have nothing to do with terrorism.”

But the base bill would still permit routine queries for Americans’ information without warrants. Its warrant requirement would not apply to national-security-related queries by a range of agencies, including the C.I.A., the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. Nor would it apply to F.B.I. queries when agents are merely pursuing tips about an American but do not yet have enough evidence of wrongdoing to open a criminal investigation.

In short, the base bill would give greater privacy protections to criminal suspects than to people the F.B.I. has no solid basis for thinking had committed any wrongdoing.

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, dismissed the base bill’s limited warrant provision on Wednesday as “fake reform” that was really just “business as usual.”

Adding to the uncertainty, in 2014 and 2015, the House approved amendments to appropriations bills that would have required warrants to search the 702 repository for Americans’ information, but they were rejected in negotiations with the Senate. When the idea came up again in 2016, shortly after the terrorist attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the House voted it down.

Another significant difference between the base bill and the amendment centers on the N.S.A.’s old practice of scanning Americans’ international emails and other internet messages and collecting those that mention a foreign target — but are neither to nor from that target. The technique came to light amid the Snowden leaks and ended last year.

Such collection is technically complex, and the N.S.A. shut it down after repeatedly running into trouble adhering to limits imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the agency wants to retain the flexibility to turn it back on. The base bill would permit it to do so after briefing the congressional intelligence committees. The amendment would ban the practice.

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The Pronk Pops Show 1013, December 13, 2017, Story 1: Special Counsel To Be Appointed To Investigate Hillary Clinton’s Compromise of National Security and Obama Administration’s Cover-up And Conspiracy To Use of Intelligence Community Including FBI and National Security Agency To Spy on Trump Campaign — Department of Justice Inspector General’s Report Will Blow The Lid Off  The Conspiracy To Obstruct Justice By Obama’s DOJ and FBI To Clear Hillary Clinton and FBI informant’s Congressional Testimony On Russian Rosatom Bribery, Extortion and Kickbacks — The Political Scandal of The Century — American People Have Lost Confidence and Trust in Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation — Videos — Story 2: Republican House and Senate Agree on Tax Bill — Rush To Pass Bill Before Congressional Christmas Break — Videos — Story 3: Federal Reserve As Expected Raises Federal Funds Target Rate Range By .25% to Between 1.25% and 1.5% — Expect Three Hikes in 2018 or Four Hikes If Economy Booming — Videos — We wish you a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year — Videos

Posted on December 15, 2017. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, Coal, Coal, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Currencies, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Gangs, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Investments, James Comey, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, News, Obama, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Solar, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trump Surveillance/Spying, U.S. Dollar, Unemployment, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 1013, December 13, 2017

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Story 1: Special Counsel To Be Appointed To Investigate Hillary Clinton’s Compromise of National Security and Obama Administration’s Cover-up And Conspiracy To Use of Intelligence Community Including FBI and National Security Agency To Spy on Trump Campaign — Department of Justice Inspector General’s Report Will Blow The Lid Off  The Conspiracy To Obstruct Justice By Obama’s DOJ and FBI To Clear Hillary Clinton and FBI informant’s Congressional Testimony On Russian Rosatom Bribery, Extortion and Kickbacks — The Political Scandal of The Century — American People Have Lost Confidence and Trust in Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation — Videos

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EXPOSED! How the FBI, DOJ conspired to stop President Trump. What will happen to Bob Mueller now?

FBI’s Strzok & Page in Andrew McCabe’s Office Discuss ‘Insurance Policy’ to Prevent Trump Election

Mueller’s Russiagate Prosecution Is Imploding Before His Eyes While DOJ and FBI Scandals Metastasize

OMG!! Bob Mueller JUST confessed to Coup d’état plot against President Trump

Congressman Jim Jordan sends SHOCKING WARNING to Jeff Sessions, Bob Mueller will be trembling now!

JUST IN: Judge reveals names of corrupt FBI and DOJ officials to be arrested

Fox News obtains texts between FBI agent Strzok, lawyer

Hannity 12/5/2017 – Sean Hannity Dec 5, 17 on Fox News

Demoted top DoJ official Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS of dossier fame

Congressman Jim Jordan sends SHOCKING WARNING to Jeff Sessions, Bob Mueller will be trembling now!

Jordan: We need to depose Peter Strzok, talk to Bruce Ohr

“Peter Strzok is the SMOKING GUN!!” Hannity and Ben Shapiro Break it Down

Bret Baier and Trey Gowdy speak about Strzok

Mueller, Strzok, Comey should the subjects of criminal investigations: Lou Dobbs

FBI Hillary Cheerleader Peter Strzok Changed Comey Language That Exonerated Hillary

Former FBI Ass’t Dir says DoJ cabal is a conspiracy

Hannity: Rosenstein pretends not to see evidence of bias

Body Language: Rosenstein Mueller Expansion

BREAKING: JW Sues FBI Over Removal of FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok from Mueller Operation

“The FBI Belongs to the VOTERS!!” Tucker GOES OFF on FBI Leaders

‘NUCLEAR’ Sen. Grassley Lashes out at FBI, DOJ in Fiery Senate Floor Speech

Strassel: Fusion GPS dossier a dirty trick for the ages

Obama knew about the Russian dossier: Tony Shaffer

Rpt: Obama Aligned Group Paid Law Firm That Hired Fusion GPS To Create Dossier – Story

Obama campaign connection to Fusion GPS

FBI Comey “Don’t call us weasels” Trey Gowdy Grills FBI James Comey On Hillary Clinton’s Email

Judge Nap on FBI Bias and More

Corruption at the FBI

The FBI Now Under Intense Scrutiny Over McCabe Potential Hatch Violations

BOMBSHELL Sen. Grassley “THE FIX WAS IN..Congress has the Right to Know”

Gohmert Speaks on House Floor about the Recent Rosenstein Hearing

What happened during Andrew McCabe’s testimony at Senate Intelligence hearing?

Acting FBI director McCabe gets GRILLED on James Comey Firing & Trump Russia Connections

Acting FBI director contradicts White House on Comey

Judge Napolitano on acting FBI director McCabe’s ties to Clinton ally

FBI Director James Comey FULL STATEMENT on Hillary Clinton Email Investigation (C-SPAN)

 

Fusion GPS admits DOJ official’s wife Nellie Ohr hired to probe Trump

A co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS acknowledged in a new court document that his company hired the wife of a senior Justice Department official to help investigate then-candidate Donald Trump last year.

The confirmation from Glenn Simpson came in a signed declaration filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and provided a fuller picture of the nature of Nellie Ohr’s work – after Fox News first reported on her connection to Fusion GPS.

Her husband, Bruce Ohr, was demoted at the DOJ last week for concealing his meetings with the same company, which commissioned the anti-Trump “dossier” containing salacious allegations about the now-president. Together, the Fusion connections for Mr. and Mrs. Ohr have raised Republican concerns about objectivity at the Justice Department, and even spurred a call from Trump’s outside counsel for a separate special prosecutor.

Simpson’s statement shows Mrs. Ohr was indeed involved in the Trump research. He said bank records reflect Fusion GPS contracted with her “to help our company with its research and analysis of Mr. Trump.”

WIFE OF DEMOTED DOJ OFFICIAL WORKED FOR TRUMP DOSSIER FIRM

Further, Simpson said he disclosed to the House intelligence committee that he met personally with Bruce Ohr, “at his request, after the November 2016 election to discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election.”

Fox News first reported last week that Bruce Ohr had been demoted at the DOJ amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with Fusion GPS. Evidence collected by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., indicates that Ohr met during the 2016 campaign with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the “dossier.” Additionally, as acknowledged in the court filing, he met with Simpson after the election.

bruceohr

DOJ official Bruce Ohr was demoted amid questions over his contacts with Fusion GPS figures.  (AP)

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.

On Tuesday, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow called for the appointment of a separate special prosecutor to look into potential conflicts of interest involving Justice Department and FBI officials.

A group of House Republicans for months has called for the appointment of a second special counsel to probe certain Obama and Clinton-related controversies, something Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviewing.

When asked Tuesday about the Sekulow call, Sessions noted he’s already ordered that review following the prior call from members of Congress.

“I’ve put a senior attorney, with the resources he may need, to review cases in our office and make a recommendation to me … if things aren’t being pursued that need to be pursued, if cases may need more resources to complete in a proper manner, and to recommend to me if the standards for a special counsel are met,” he said, calling that the “appropriate” course.

Fox News’ James Rosen and John Roberts contributed to this report. 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/13/fusion-gps-admits-doj-officials-wife-nellie-ohr-hired-to-probe-trump.html

A special counsel needs to investigate the FBI and Justice Department. Now.

 December 4

The Post reported that a former top FBI official, Peter Strzok, who had been assigned to and then removed from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, had “exchanged politically charged texts disparaging [President] Trump and supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton” and that Strzok was “also a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.”

This is a blockbuster revelation, carrying the possibility of shattering public confidence in a number of long-held assumptions about the criminal-justice system generally and the FBI and the Justice Department specifically. The Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate Strzok’s actions as soon as possible.

The Strzok report comes on the heels of the widely derided Justice Department investigation into IRS discrimination against conservative groups, including the disposition of allegations against IRS senior official Lois Lerner, and after the wildly erratic behavior of then-FBI Director James B. Comey during 2016. It also follows the vote to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — the first ever against a sitting member of the Cabinet — with 17 Democrats voting in support. Mix into this battering of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s reputations the still-murky charges and counter-charges of abuse of “unmasking” powers during the waning days of the Obama era.

As a result, a large swath of responsible center-right observers are demanding a full review of the investigation and prosecution powers wielded by the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in National Review on Saturday that President Trump should call for a second independent counsel to investigate abuse of the counterintelligence authorities under President Barack Obama, abuses he suggests were undertaken to protect the controversial Iran deal on nuclear weapons.

This is an excellent idea. The new special counsel could also review Strzok’s texts and, more crucially, his conduct throughout 2015 and 2016. Strzok may be completely innocent of everything except an offhand joke that the straight-laced Mueller deemed necessary to punish in a display of a “Caesar’s wife” sort of purity of purpose. But if his texts to FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal a partisan animus toward Trump or admiration for Clinton, then the bureau and the department have a huge problem on their hands and not just with Strzok and Page.

When FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen was revealed to have committed espionage against the United States, it didn’t mean that even one other member of the bureau was guilty of Hanssen’s sins, but it did require a painstaking review of all of Hanssen’s activities and inputs, as all of them had to be reconsidered in light of his treasonous behavior.

If Strzok’s texts reveal deep animus toward Trump or an operational effort to tilt one or more investigations, then all of his actions have to be reviewed to assure the public’s confidence in the bureau. That one or two agents or officials of the bureau are discovered to have been acting from improper motives would be bad enough. To try and sweep those activities under the rug would be worse. Against the backdrop of other recent controversies, it would be disastrous.

Step one is a quick publication of the questionable texts. All of them. The public has a right to know what the predicate for Mueller’s extraordinary action was. The public also deserves a detailed account of Strzok’s (and Page’s) duties and authorities during the years in question. If an NBA official was discovered to have purposefully thrown even one game, every game in which he had carried a whistle would be under the microscope. That’s how it works.

Unless there’s a coverup.

Nevertheless, just as Hanssen was “one bad apple” who didn’t spoil the bunch, so even an out-of-bounds Strzok doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the FBI beyond him. To get to the truth, and restore confidence in federal law enforcement, a special counsel should conduct an inquiry, bring any necessary charges and make a report — someone without ties to the president or his opponents.

They do exist, such men and women. Former federal judges make excellent candidates. But we need one appointed right now.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-special-counsel-needs-to-investigate-the-fbi-and-justice-department-now/2017/12/04/5ca1234c-d916-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html?utm_term=.3035631daa63

Meet the Inspector General

Photo of Michael E. Horowitz

Michael E. Horowitz was confirmed as Inspector General for the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the U.S. Senate on March 29, 2012, and sworn in as the fourth confirmed Inspector General on April 16, 2012. Since 2015, he has simultaneously served as the Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

As Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz oversees a nationwide workforce of more than 450 special agents, auditors, inspectors, attorneys, and support staff whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs and personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in Department operations.

Prior to serving as Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz worked as a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft LLP, where he focused his practice on white collar defense, internal investigations, and regulatory compliance. He also was a board member of the Ethics Resource Center and the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics. From 2003 to 2009, Mr. Horowitz served as a Presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed Commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Mr. Horowitz previously worked for DOJ in the Criminal Division at Main Justice from 1999 to 2002, first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and then as Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the Criminal Division, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1991 to 1999. From 1997 to 1999, Mr. Horowitz was the Chief of the Public Corruption Unit, and from 1995 to 1997, he was a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. In 1995, he was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for his work on a complex police corruption investigation.

Before joining the DOJ, Mr. Horowitz was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton and clerked for Judge John G. Davies of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Mr. Horowitz earned his Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Brandeis University.

https://oig.justice.gov/about/meet-ig.htm

 

Peter P. Strzok II[1] (born c. 1970[2]) (English pronunciation: /stɹʌk/like “struck”[3][4]) is a United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agent currently assigned to its Human Resources Branch.

Until July 2017, Strzok served as the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and the top FBI agent working for Robert Mueller in the 2017 Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[5][6][7][8][9][10]He also served as the section chief of the Counterespionage Section during the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server.[4]

Education and personal life

Strzok attended high school in Minnesota.[11] He earned a bachelors degree from Georgetown University in 1991 and returned to earn a master’s degree there in 2013.[12]

He is married to Melissa Hodgman, an associate director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[13][14][15] His father worked for many years as an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and after 1980 worked in villages of several West African countries.[16]

Career

Strzok served as a captain[citation needed] in the United States Army before joining the FBI in the 1990’s as an intelligence research specialist.[9][17]

Clinton email server investigation

By July 2015, Strzok was serving as the section chief of the Counterespionage Section[4] and a led a team of a dozen investigators to examine Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.[18] After the investigation was closed, Strzok changed draft language being prepared for then-FBI Director James Comey, which had described Clinton’s actions as “grossly negligent“, which may be a criminal offense, to “extremely careless”. The draft was reviewed and corrected by several people and its creation was a team process.[4] Strzok and his team also helped review newly discovered Clinton emails days before Election Day.[18]

Russia election interference investigation

By July 2016, Strzok had been promoted to Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and oversaw espionage investigations involving Russia and China.[6][9] According to The New York Times, he was “considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators”.[17] He was also “considered to be one of the Bureau’s top experts on Russia” according to CNN.[4] He signed the document opening the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[4][19] Strzok then led that investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, including the Russian role in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak and the Donald Trump–Russia dossier.[20][3][18] He also oversaw the bureau’s interviews with then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn later pled guilty to lying to the FBI.[21]

Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation

Strzok was the top FBI agent working for Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation of foreign electoral intervention by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, initiated by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 after the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump.[22][23] Earlier, in January 2017, the DOJ’s Inspector General (IG), Michael E. Horowitz, had begun an inquiry to review how the FBI handled investigations related to the election.[17][24] In late July 2017, the IG’s inquiry discovered text messages transmitted between Strzok and Lisa Page, a trial attorney on Mueller’s team. The text messages were sent between August 2015 and December 2016[25][26] and were anti-Donald Trump in nature.[27][28] They also contained personal information concerning to the Justice Department (DOJ), allegedly about an extramarital affair.[5] Mueller removed Strzok from his team the week after a search warrant was executed at the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.[29][30] Strzok was reassigned to the FBI’s Human Resources Branch and Page returned to working for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe shortly thereafter.[31][32] Fox News reported that a source close to the IG’s ongoing inquiry said it will include examining Strzok’s participation in other politically sensitive matters, and that it should be complete “very early next year.”[33] The IG announced it will issue a report in March or April of 2018 at the latest.[17] At the request of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the DOJ agreed to allow Strzok to be interviewed and turned over 375 partially redacted text messages between Strzok and Page to the House Judiciary Committee.[25][26][34]

According to Strzok’s colleagues and a former Trump administration official, Strzok had not previously shown any overt political bias.[2][27] An associate of his says the political parts of the text messages were especially related to Trump’s criticism of the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton emails.[2] Some GOP U.S. representatives cited the anti-Trump messages as evidence of Strzok’s bias. However, in his private correspondence with Page, Strzok had also made disparaging remarks about Eric Holder, Attorney General in the Obama administration, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (a Democrat), and Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.[35][36] According to FBI guidelines, agents are allowed to have and express political opinions as individuals. Former FBI and DOJ officials told The Hill that it was possible for agents like Strzok to hold political opinions and still conduct an impartial investigation.[37] Several agents said that Mueller removed Strzok in order to protect the integrity of the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Since there was no proof that Strzok did anything wrong, he was not punished following his reassignment.[38][39] Defenders of Strzok and Page in the FBI said that no professional misconduct between them occurred.[27]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Strzok

 

2017 Special Counsel investigation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2017 Special Counsel investigation is an ongoing investigation in the United States led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel under supervision of the United States Department of Justice. Mueller is exploring any links or coordination between Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government as part of the election interference that Russia conducted against the U.S. in 2016.

Mueller’s investigation subsumed several existing FBI investigations including those involving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. In August 2017, Mueller’s investigation reportedly expanded to include several lobbying firms, including the Podesta Group. Mueller has assembled a team of attorneys to conduct the investigation into links between Trump associates and Russian officials along with related matters.

On October 30, 2017, Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates surrendered to the FBI on charges brought by the special counsel unrelated to the Trump campaign. On the same day, Mueller’s team revealed that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to making false statements to FBI agents about contacts he had with agents of the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign in 2016, and was cooperating with investigators. On December 1, 2017, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI, and confirmed that he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.[1]


Appointments


Policy positions





Business and personal


Donald Trump's signature

Seal of the President of the United States.svg

 

Origin and powers

On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, to serve as special counsel for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). In this capacity, Mueller oversees the investigation into “any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”.[2] As special counsel, Mueller has the power to issue subpoenas,[3] hire staff members, request funding, and prosecute federal crimes in connection with the election interference.[4]

The appointment followed a series of events that included President Donald Trump‘s firing of FBI director James Comey and Comey’s allegation that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.[5]

Rosenstein, in his role as Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has authority over the use of DOJ resources by Mueller and the investigation. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from supervision of Mueller if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of Comey.[6] If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, his duties in this matter would be assumed by the Justice Department’s third-in-command, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.[7]

Grand juries

On August 3, 2017, Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of his investigation. The grand jury has the power to subpoena documents, require witnesses to testify under oath, and indict suspects on criminal charges if enough evidence is found.

The Washington grand jury is separate from an earlier Virginia grand jury investigating Michael Flynn; the Flynn case has been absorbed into Mueller’s overall investigation.[8]

Grand jury testimony

The grand jury has issued subpoenas to those involved in the Trump campaign–Russian meeting held on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower, which was also the location of Trump’s presidential campaign headquarters.[9]

  • Russian-born lobbyist and former Soviet Army officer, Rinat Akhmetshin, testified under oath for several hours on August 11, 2017, as a participant in the Donald Trump Jr meeting.[10][11]
  • Jason Maloni, spokesman for Paul Manafort, testified under oath for two and one-half hours.[12] Maloni was employed by Manafort following the five months he served as Chairman of Trump’s campaign for president in 2016, to answer questions about Manafort’s involvement in Trump’s campaign.

The grand jury subpoenaed witness testimony from the executives of six public relations firms, who worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on lobbying efforts in Ukraine.[13]

Legal teams

Mueller and investigation team

Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Upon his appointment as the Special Counsel, Mueller resigned his position at the Washington office of law firm WilmerHale, along with two colleagues, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III.[14][15] On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts announced they had declared Mueller ethically able to function as special counsel.[16]

Politico proposed that the “ideal team” would likely have six to eight prosecutors, along with administrative assistants and experts in areas such as money laundering or interpreting tax returns.[17] By August 1, 2017, Mueller, who has an active role in managing the inquiry,[18] hired 16 lawyers,[19] and had a total staff of over three dozen, including investigators and other non-attorneys.[20]

Members of the team include:[17][21][22][23][24][25][26]

Mueller has also added unidentified agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division to his team. “This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.”[41]

In December 2017, Weissmann and Strzok were accused of an anti-Trump bias because of an email directed to Sally Yates praising her refusal to defend Executive Order 13769 in court, and a similarly-worded text message. [42][43] House Conservatives have since ramped up accusations that the investigation is manned by personnel with an “anti-Trump” bias who “let Clinton off easy last year”.[44]

Trump’s defense team

Members of the team include or have included:[45]

Topics of investigations

Russian election interference

The primary responsibility of the special counsel is “to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election”. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded “with high confidence” that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and forwarded their contents to WikiLeaks,[50][51][52] as well as by disseminating fake news promoted on social media[53] and by penetrating, or trying to penetrate, the election systems and databases of multiple U.S. states.[54] In July 2016, the FBI began looking into these issues, as well as the question of whether members of the Trump campaign might have coordinated or cooperated with Russia’s activities.[55] Those investigations became part of the special counsel’s portfolio.[56]

Russia’s influence on US voters through social media is a primary focus of the Mueller investigation.[57] The special counsel has used a search warrant to obtain detailed information about Russian ad purchases on Facebook. According to a former federal prosecutor, the warrant means that a judge was convinced that foreigners had illegally contributed to influencing a US election via Facebook ads.[58]

Mueller is investigating ties between the Trump campaign, and Republican activist Peter W. Smith. Smith stated that he tried to obtain Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, and that he was acting on behalf of Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign members. Trump campaign officials have denied that Smith was working with them.[59]

Links between Trump associates and Russian officials

As early as spring 2015, US intelligence agencies started overhearing conversations in which Russian government officials, some within the Kremlin, discussed associates of Trump, then a presidential candidate.[60][61] In one such conversation, Russian officials said they had cultivated a strong relationship with Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Trump and his team.[62]

Multiple Trump associates, including Flynn, Manafort, and other members of the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials during 2016.[63] In particular, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak met with several Trump campaign members and administration nominees. Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, after it was revealed that on December 29, 2016, the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia, Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak. Flynn had earlier acknowledged speaking to Kislyak but denied discussing the sanctions.[64][65] Also in December 2016, Flynn and presidential advisor Jared Kushner met with Kislyak hoping to set up a direct, secure line of communication with Russian officials that American intelligence agencies would be unaware of.[66][67] Jared Kushner also met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of the Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB).[68] Flynn and Kushner failed to report these meetings on their security clearance forms.[69][68]

FBI agents, working with the special counsel, raided Manafort’s home in July 2017. The no-notice, no-knock raid used a federal search warrant, authorizing agents to look for tax documents and foreign banking records. A wide range of documents and other items were seized. Before the raid, Manafort had voluntarily provided some documents to congressional investigators, including the notes he took during the Veselnitskaya meeting.[70][71]

The Trump team issued multiple denials of any contacts between Trump associates and Russia, but many of those denials turned out to be false.[72][73]

On December 4, 2017, prosecutors filed that Paul Manafort worked on an op-ed with a Russian intelligence official while out on bail, in a court filing requesting that the judge revoke Manafort’s bond agreement.[74]

Alleged collusion between Trump campaign and Russian agents

Mueller is looking into the meeting on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower in New York City between three senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign  – Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr. – and at least five other people, including Russian lawyer Natalia VeselnitskayaRinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist and former Soviet army officer who met senior Trump campaign aides, Ike Kaveladze, British publicist Rob Goldstone and translator Anatoli Samochornov.[75][76] It has been confirmed that Goldstone had suggested the meeting to Trump Jr., and it was arranged in a series of emails later made public. Trump Jr. initially told the press that the meeting was held to discuss adoptions of Russian children by Americans. He added that he agreed to the meeting with the understanding that he would receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton.[77] Goldstone had stated in his email that the Russian government was involved as part of its support for the Trump campaign.[78] Mueller’s team is investigating the emails and the meeting,[75] and whether President Trump later tried to hide the meeting’s purpose.[79]

On July 18, 2017, Kaveladze’s attorney said that Mueller’s investigators were seeking information about the Russian meeting in June 2016 from his client,[80] and on July 21, Mueller asked the White House to preserve all documents related to the Russian meeting.[81] It has been reported that Manafort had made notes during the Russian meeting.[70]

By August 3, 2017, Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in the District of Columbia that issued subpoenas concerning the meeting.[82] The Financial Times reported on August 31 that Akhmetshin had given sworn testimony to Mueller’s grand jury.[83]

In fall 2017, Mueller’s team interviewed former Government Communications Headquarters IT specialist Matt Tait, who had been approached by Republican political operative Peter Smith to verify the authenticity of allegedly hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton’s private email server.[84]

Obstruction of justice

Early in Trump’s presidency, senior White House officials reportedly asked intelligence officials if they could intervene with the FBI to stop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Flynn.[85] In March, Trump reportedly discussed the FBI’s Russia investigation with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and asked if they could intervene with Comey to limit or stop it.[86] When he was asked at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the report, Coats said he would not discuss conversations he had with the president but “I have never felt pressured to intervene in the Russia investigation in any way.”[87]

In February 2017, it was reported that White House officials had asked the FBI to issue a statement that there had been no contact between Trump associates and Russian intelligence sources during the 2016 campaign. The FBI did not make the requested statement, and observers noted that the request violated established procedures about contact between the White House and the FBI regarding pending investigations.[88] After Comey revealed in March that the FBI was investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump phoned Coats and Director of National Security Admiral Michael S. Rogers and asked them to publicly state there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.[85][89][90] Both Coats and Rogers believed that the request was inappropriate, though not illegal, and did not make the requested statement. The two exchanged notes about the incident, and Rogers made a contemporary memo to document the request.[89][90]

In May 2017, a February memo by Comey was made public about an Oval Office conversation with Trump on February 14, 2017, in which Trump is described as attempting to persuade Comey to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn.[91][92] The memo notes that Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey made no commitments to Trump on the subject.[93] In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, Comey gave a detailed report on the February 14 conversation, including Trump’s suggestion that he should “let go” the Flynn investigation. Comey said he “took it as a direction… I took it as, this is what he wants me to do.” He added that it was “a very disturbing thing, very concerning”, and that he discussed the incident with other FBI leaders.[94] Comey created similar memos about every phone call and meeting he had with the president.[95]

The FBI launched an investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice a few days after the May 9 firing of Comey.[96] The special prosecutor’s office took over the obstruction of justice investigation and has reportedly interviewed Director of National Intelligence Coats, Director of the National Security Agency Rogers, and Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett.[96][97][98] ABC News reported in June that the special counsel was gathering preliminary information about possible obstruction of justice, but a full-scale investigation had not been launched.[99] On June 16, Trump tweeted: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”[100] However, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said Trump’s tweet was referring to the June 14 Washington Post report that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice,[96] and that Trump has not actually been notified of any investigation.[101][102]

Financial investigations

The special counsel investigation has expanded to include Trump’s and his associates’ financial ties to Russia. The FBI is reviewing the financial records of Trump himself, The Trump Organization, Trump’s family members, and his campaign staff, including Trump’s real estate activities, which had been under federal scrutiny before the campaign. According to CNN, financial crimes may be easier for investigators to prove than any crimes stemming directly from collusion with Russia.[20] Campaign staff whose finances are under investigation include Manafort, Flynn, Carter Page, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.[103]

Transactions under investigation include Russian purchases of Trump apartments, a SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, transactions with the Bank of Cyprus, real estate financing organized by Kushner, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.[104] The special counsel team has contacted Deutsche Bank, which is the main banking institution doing business with The Trump Organization.[105]

Mueller took over an existing money laundering investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Manafort. On October 30, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements.[106] Manafort’s financial activities are also being investigated by the Senate and House intelligence committees, the New York Attorney General, and the Manhattan District Attorney.[107]

The special counsel will be able to access Trump’s tax returns, which has “especially disturbed” Trump according to the Washington Post. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, as presidential candidates normally do, has been politically controversial since his presidential campaign.[108]

Flynn activities

Michael Flynn statement of offense

As part of the investigation, Special Counsel Mueller assumed control of a Virginia-based grand jury criminal probe into the relationship between Flynn and Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin.[109] Flynn Intel Group, an intelligence consultancy, was paid $530,000 by Alptekin’s company Inovo BV to produce a documentary and conduct research on Fethullah Gülen, an exiled Turkish cleric who lives in the United States.[109] The special prosecutor is investigating whether the money came from the Turkish government, and whether Flynn kicked funds back to a middleman to conceal the payment’s original source. Investigators are also looking at Flynn’s finances more generally, including possible payments from Russian companies and from the Japanese government. White House documents relating to Flynn have been requested as evidence.[110] The lead person within Mueller’s team for this investigation is Brandon Van Grack.[111]

Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, is also a subject of the special counsel investigation. Michael G. Flynn worked closely with his father’s lobbying company, the Flynn Intel Group, and accompanied his father on his 2015 visit to Moscow.[112] On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported that Mueller had enough evidence for charges against Flynn and his son.[113]

Flynn’s defense team stopped sharing information with Trump’s team of lawyers in late November 2017.[114] This was interpreted as a sign that Flynn was cooperating and negotiating a plea bargain with the special counsel team.[114][115][116] On December 1, 2017, Flynn appeared in federal court to plead guilty to a single felony count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI and to confirm his intention to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.[117] As part of Flynn’s plea bargain, his son Michael G. Flynn is not expected to be charged.[118][119]

Investigation of Podesta Group lobbying

In August 2017, Mueller’s team reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas to officials in six firms, including lobbying firm Podesta Group, with regard to activities on behalf of a public-relations campaign for a pro-Russian Ukrainian organization called European Centre for a Modern UkraineTony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is head of the Podesta Group. John Podesta is not employed by the company. According to the reports, Mueller is investigating whether the firms violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Paul Manafort headed the public relations effort, which took place from 2012 to 2014. [120][121][122][123]

Charges

As of December 2, 2017, the Special Counsel has initiated criminal proceedings against four individuals.

Accused Date charged Charge(s) Case status Ind.
George Papadopoulos October 3, 2017 1 count: false statements. Pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017.[124] [125]
Rick Gates October 27, 2017 8 counts: conspiracy against the United Statesconspiracy to launder moneyfailure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts (×3), unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Pleaded not guilty on October 30, 2017.[126] [127]
Paul Manafort October 27, 2017 9 counts: conspiracy against the United Statesconspiracy to launder moneyfailure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts (×4), unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Pleaded not guilty on October 30, 2017.[126] [127]
Michael Flynn November 30, 2017 1 count: false statements. Pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017.[128] [129]

George Papadopoulos

On October 30, 2017, it was revealed that George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty earlier in the month to making a false statement to FBI investigators.[130] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to cooperate with the government and “provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant.”[131]

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

On October 30, 2017, Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI after being indicted on multiple charges. Rick Gates was also indicted and surrendered to the FBI.[132] The pair have been indicted on one count of conspiracy against the United States, one count of conspiracy to launder money, one count of being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, one count of making false and misleading FARA statements, and one count of making false statements. Manafort was charged with four counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts while Gates was charged with three.[127] The charges arise from their consulting work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and are unrelated to the Trump campaign.[133] Both were placed under house arrest. On December 4, 2017, prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Manafort’s bond agreement, charging that Manafort violated the terms of his bail by working on a op-ed piece with Konstantin Kilimnik,[134] an associate with ties to Russian intelligence.[135]

Michael Flynn

On December 1, 2017, it was reported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn agreed to a plea bargain with Mueller, pleading guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI, and agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.[136]

Reactions

Mueller’s appointment to oversee the investigation immediately garnered widespread support from Democrats and even some from Republicans in Congress.[137][138] Senator Charles Schumer (DNY) said, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) stated, “Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function.” She added, “He is respected, he is talented and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUT) tweeted that “Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.”[137] Much Republican support in Congress was lukewarm: Rep. Peter T. King (RNY) said “It’s fine. I just don’t think there is any need for it.”[139]

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote of the team that “Bob Mueller is recruiting the smartest and most seasoned professionals who have a long track record of independence and excellence”.[22] Former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who had investigated Bill Clinton during the Clinton Administration, said that the team was “a great, great team of complete professionals”.[19]

Later some conservatives, including political commentators Laura IngrahamAnn Coulter and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who had initially praised Mueller for “integrity and honesty”), stated that Mueller should be dismissed and the investigation closed.[140][141][142] Christopher Ruddy, the founder of the Right-leaning Newsmax, and a friend of Trump, stated that the president has considered firing Mueller.[143]

On June 23, 2017, Trump stated that members of Mueller’s team were “all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.” PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim “Mostly False”, noting that only three had made campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton and one had defended the Clinton Foundation in court. One member of the team had made contributions to Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Republican Senator George Allen.[144][25] In an interview with The New York Times published on July 19, 2017, Trump stated that he would have not appointed Sessions as Attorney General had he known that he was going to recuse himself from the investigation. Furthermore, Trump confirmed that he would view it as a violation if the special counsel investigated his and his family’s finances, unrelated to Russia.[145]

On June 25, 2017, it was reported that a pro-Trump group had launched an ad called “Witch Hunt,” featuring conservative Tomi Lahren, which attacked Mueller and the investigation.[146]

On July 21, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump asked his advisors about his power to pardon those under investigation. Trump and his legal team discussed the possibility of Trump pardoning aides, family members, and himself. No president has ever pardoned himself, so there is no case law on whether it would be legal. Trump attorneys also reportedly created a list of Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest. Trump lawyer John Dowd said the story was “nonsense”.[108]

On August 3, 2017, at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia, Trump continued to deny any Russian involvement in his campaign or win: “The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics, that’s all it is.” This occurred on the same day as the announcement that another grand jury had been impaneled.[147]

On August 12, 2017, the New York Times published an interview of Republican Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he said he was hopeful that the investigation would be complete by the end of the year.[148]

On August 24, 2017, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would block funding from being used “for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015” (the month Trump announced he was running for president) immediately and terminated funding for the Special Counsel investigation 180 days after passage of the bill.[149] Rep. DeSantis said that the DOJ order of May 17, 2017, “didn’t identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition.”[150]

Shortly after the indictments against Manafort and Gates were unsealed, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz introduced a congressional resolution demanding Robert Mueller’s recusal as Special Counsel due to conflicts of interest. This resolution was cosponsered by Congressman Andy Biggs from Arizona and Congressman Louie Gohmert from Texas.[151][152] In the resolution Gaetz called for a Special Counsel investigation into the handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy by James Comey, undue interference of Attorney General Loretta Lynch in that investigation, and the acquisition of Uranium One by the Russian state corporation Rosatom during Mueller’s time as FBI director.[153][154] Gaetz stated that he did not trust him to lead the investigation because of Mueller’s alleged involvement in approval of the Uranium One deal and Mueller’s close relationship with the dismissed FBI director James Comey, a probable person of interest in the proposed investigation.[154] On November 8, 2017, Arizona Congressman Trent Franks cosponsered the resolution.[155]

Polling

A May 2017 Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that 81% of U.S. voters supported the special prosecutor’s investigation.[156] A June 2017 Associated PressNORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll asked U.S. adults whether the special counsel’s investigation could be fair and impartial: 26% were “extremely confident” or “very confident”; 36% were “moderately confident” and 36% were “not very confident” or “not at all confident.”[157] The poll indicated that 68% of Americans were at least “moderately concerned” about inappropriate connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians.[158]

A poll published in November 2017 by ABC News and The Washington Post found that 58% of Americans approved of Mueller’s handling of his investigation, while 28% disapproved. It also indicated that half of Americans believed that President Trump was not co-operating with the investigation.[159] A Quinnipiac poll published on November 15, 2017 suggested that 60% of Americans believed that Mueller’s investigation was proceeding fairly, with 27% believing that it was not. The poll also found that 47% of respondents said that President Trump ought to be impeached if he were to dismiss Mueller.[160]

A December poll by Associated PressNORC indicated that four out of ten American believed Trump to have committed a crime in connection to Russia, with an additional 3 out of 10 beyond that believing that he had acted unethically. It found that 62% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans believe that Trump acted illegally. It found that 68% of Americans believed that Trump was obstructing the investigation. 57% of respondents said that they were “extremely confident” or “moderately confident” that Mueller’s investigation is fair.[161]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Special_Counsel_investigation

18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

(a)

Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, research laboratory or station or other place connected with the national defense owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the United States or under the control of the United States, or of any of its officers, departments, or agencies, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired, stored, or are the subject of research or development, under any contract or agreement with the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or with any person on behalf of the United States, or otherwise on behalf of the United States, or any prohibited place so designated by the President by proclamation in time of war or in case of national emergency in which anything for the use of the Army, Navy, or Air Force is being prepared or constructed or stored, information as to which prohibited place the President has determined would be prejudicial to the national defense; or

(b)

Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or

(c)

Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter; or

(d)

Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(e)

Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(f)

Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(g)

If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

(h)

(1)

Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States, irrespective of any provision of State law, any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, from any foreign government, or any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, as the result of such violation. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

(2)

The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3)The provisions of subsections (b), (c), and (e) through (p) of section 413 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 853(b), (c), and (e)–(p)) shall apply to—

(A)

property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;

(B)

any seizure or disposition of such property; and

(C)

any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to such property,
if not inconsistent with this subsection.

(4)

Notwithstanding section 524(c) of title 28, there shall be deposited in the Crime Victims Fund in the Treasury all amounts from the forfeiture of property under this subsection remaining after the payment of expenses for forfeiture and sale authorized by law.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 736; Sept. 23, 1950, ch. 1024, title I, § 18, 64 Stat. 1003Pub. L. 99–399, title XIII, § 1306(a), Aug. 27, 1986100 Stat. 898Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994108 Stat. 2147Pub. L. 103–359, title VIII, § 804(b)(1), Oct. 14, 1994108 Stat. 3440Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, § 607(b), Oct. 11, 1996110 Stat. 3511.)

 

LII has no control over and does not endorse any external Internet site that contains links to or references LII.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/793

Story 2: Republican House and Senate Agree on Tax Bill — Rush To Pass Bill Before Congressional Christmas Break — Videos —

Congress releases final version of Republican tax bill

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Republicans agree on a final tax bill

Remarks by President Trump at Lunch with Bicameral Tax Conferees. December 13, 2017

White House Official: House And Senate GOP Reach Deal On Taxes | MSNBC

Full text: Republicans unveil their final tax bill

Republicans are expected to vote on this bill as soon as Tuesday.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The final draft of the Republican tax bill has dropped.

After a week of backdoor negotiations to hash out the differences between the House and Senate tax proposals, Republicans have released their final vision for the American tax code: a bill that permanently gives corporations a massive tax break, temporarily cuts individual rates — primarily benefiting the wealthiest Americans — increases the standard deduction, and the repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which is estimated to leave 13 million fewer insured over the next 10 years.

The bill cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, 1 percent less than the Senate and House proposals; and lowers the top individual income tax rate to 37 percent, which is less than the 38.5 percent in the Senate bill and the 39.6 percent in the House bill and current law. It will allow pass-through businesses, like LLCs and partnerships, to deduct 20 percent from their taxes in addition to having the lower top individual rate. The bill also caps the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000 and the state and local property and income deduction at $10,000, particularly disadvantaging Americans who live in high-tax states.

All in all, the bill is a far cry from the simplified tax code that Republicans have long been promising, but it is a substantial reshaping of the nation’s tax base. Republicans are adamant that cutting corporate taxes will in turn increase investments and wages in the United States and lead to unprecedented economic growth — despite analyses that indicate otherwise.

It’s a gamble they are willing to make. This bill has not yet received an official score from the Congressional Budget Office or the Joint Committee on Taxation, which measures legislation’s cost and impact.

Republicans are expected to vote on this bill as soon as Tuesday.

Here’s the bill in its entirety:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/15/16781062/read-republican-final-tax-bill

GOP releases its final tax plan — here’s what’s in it

  • Republicans release their final tax plan, which strikes compromises on many provisions that differed in separate versions passed by the House and Senate.
  • The House plans to vote on the bill on Tuesday.
Jacob Pramuk | John W. Schoen

Representative Brady: Wanted to drive tax relief for everyone

Representative Brady: Wanted to drive tax relief for everyone  

Republicans on Friday released their final proposal to overhaul the American tax system, which would chop taxes for corporations, trim rates for individuals and tweak tax deductions.

The House and Senate GOP hope to pass the sweeping measure by the middle of next week, hitting a year-end target. The House will vote on the plan on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement.

Republicans argue that cuts contained in the bill will spark business investment, hiring and wage growth. Democrats call the plan a giveaway to corporations at the expense of the middle class, expressing concerns about the $1 trillion or more it is projected to add to federal budget deficits over a decade.

With two skeptical Republican senators falling in line Friday, the GOP appears set to have the support to push the bill through next week on a party line vote.

Here are some of the provisions the bill contains, according to a Republican summary:

  • The proposal would maintain seven individual income tax brackets at slightly different rates: 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent and 37 percent. The top rate would fall from the current 39.6 percent. The House originally proposed collapsing the system to four brackets, saying it would simplify the filing process. (Click here to see which bracket would apply to you.) The changes would phase out after 2025.
  • The bill would scrap the personal exemption but increase the standard deduction to slightly less than double its current level. It would go to $12,000 for an individual or $24,000 for a family.
  • It would drop the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from the current 35 percent. The change would take effect next year.
  • The plan would set a 20 percent business income deduction for the first $315,000 in income earned by pass-through businesses.
  • The bill would scrap Obamacare’s provision that requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, beginning in 2019. Doing so is projected to lead to 13 million fewer people with insurance and raise average Obamacare premiums, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • The plan would eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax, which the Senate added back to its plan at the last second to raise money. House leaders and corporate groups said the tax would stifle research and development. It would also increase the exemption from the individual AMT.
  • The estate tax, or so-called death tax, would remain but the exemption from it would be doubled.
  • The child tax credit would double to $2,000 per child from $1,000. It would be refundable up to $1,400 and start to phase out at $400,000 in income. The tweak would end after 2025.
  • The plan would limit state and local tax deductions. It would allow the deduction of up to $10,000 in state and local sales, income or property taxes.
  • It will not change the mortgage interest deduction for existing homeowners. For new homes, taxpayers can deduct interest on up to $750,000 in mortgage debt, down from $1 million currently.
  • Tax breaks for charitable contributions and retirement savings plans would remain.
  • The bill would not include the controversial first in first out stock sales change, which sparked backlash in the investing community.

A “very preliminary” projection by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional scorekeeper, estimated that the bill would lead to budget deficits increasing by $1.46 trillion over a decade. That falls just shy of the maximum $1.5 trillion it could add to the deficit under rules set by the Senate earlier this year.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who opposed the Senate version of the plan because he had concerns about a nearly identical effect on budget deficits, is supporting the final legislation.

Republicans cheered the bill’s completion following its release.

“We’re in the final stretch—and we’re ready to get this done for the American people by Christmas,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump “is on the precipice” of fulfilling a campaign promise and passing a plan that she said would boost wages and economic growth.

“The president applauds the House and Senate conferees on coming to an agreement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and looks forward to fulfilling the promise he made to the American people to give them a tax cut by the end of the year,” she said.

Democrats, meanwhile, warned of repercussions for the middle class.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the plan counterproductive.

“Under this bill the working class, middle class and upper middle class get skewered while the rich and wealthy corporations make out like bandits. It is just the opposite of what America needs, and Republicans will rue the day they pass this,” he said in a statement.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., deemed the plan a “moral obscenity” and a “con job.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/15/gop-releases-its-final-tax-plan–heres-whats-in-it.html

Key details revealed in Republican tax deal

  •  The deal would lower the top tax rate to 37%, a push by House Republicans
  • The deal also drops the corporate tax rate to 21%

(CNN)House and Senate Republicans have struck a tentative deal on a tax bill Wednesday, a major step in ensuring the GOP majority is on its way to deliver an overhaul of the US tax system by the holidays.

According to two GOP aides, Republicans struck a deal in principle that will meld together the House and Senate tax deals and put the parties on a path to vote as soon as next week. Aides say there are still smaller issues to work out, but Senate Republicans will discuss remaining issues at their conference-wide lunch Wednesday and see how their rank-and-file members react.
Lawmakers have been working for more than a week to find a way to combine two very different tax bills.
Here’s what Republican negotiators as of Wednesday evening had in the plan:
  • The corporate rate would be reduced to 21%, from 35%. That is an additional point added from the 20% originally proposed in the House and Senate versions. It would take effect in 2018.
  • The top individual tax rate would be set at 37%, down from the 39.6% proposed in the House and 38.5% in the Senate.
  • The State and Local Tax deduction will be expanded, beyond just property taxes, to include income tax. It would be capped at $10,000.
  • The corporate alternative minimum tax, included at the last minute in the Senate version, would be fully repealed.
  • The individual alternative minimum tax would remain, but the threshold would be tweaked to exclude any individual under $500,000 or family below $1 million.
  • The mortgage interest deduction threshold — dropped to $500,000 in the House and left untouched in the Senate — would be set at $750,000.
  • The rate for pass-through income — business entities like s-corporations and partnerships that pay taxes through the individual side — would be determined by a 20% deduction, 3% lower than the Senate version.
  • The estate tax exemption would be doubled, but the tax would not be repealed entirely, as it was in the House proposal.
  • The Obamacare individual mandate to have health insurance would be repealed.
  • A House provision that proposed taxing graduate school tuition is not included in the final deal.
These deductions will remain untouched (they were all repealed in the House bill, left alone in the Senate bill). Of note, repeal of these deductions were some of the most controversial elements of the House plan. None will be repealed in the final version.
  • Medical expense deduction
  • Tax-free graduate school tuition waivers
  • Private activity bonds
  • Student loan interest deduction
  • Teacher spending deduction
The news of a deal came just hours after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to hold off on a tax bill until newly-elected Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, was seated in January.

President Trump said at the White House on Wednesday, “We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas.” CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year.

Party leaders in the House and Senate agreed in principle to bridge the yawning gaps between their competing versions of the $1.5 trillion tax bill, keeping Republicans on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. The House and Senate versions of the tax bill started from the same core principles — sharply cutting taxes on businesses, while reducing rates and eliminating some breaks for individuals — but diverged on several crucial details.

In the end, more of the Senate bill appeared to be included in the final version, though lawmakers continued to make significant changes from the legislation that passed either the House or the Senate.

The changes included a slightly higher corporate tax rate of 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent in the legislation that passed both chambers, and a lower top individual tax rate of 37 percent for the wealthiest Americans, who currently pay 39.6 percent. But the bill will still scale back some popular tax breaks, including the state and local tax deduction and the deductibility of mortgage interest.

In a break from the House bill, the agreement would allow taxpayers to continue to deduct high out-of-pocket medical expenses, and it would retain a provision allowing graduate students who receive tuition waivers to avoid paying taxes on that benefit. Also included in the consensus bill is the Senate’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty and a provision that opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy exploration.

Still unclear is the overall cost of the revised legislation, which cannot exceed the $1.5 trillion bucket that lawmakers have allowed if they want to pass the bill without Democratic support. Several of the provisions added by the Senate to help pay for the overall bill were either reversed or scaled back in the consensus version, and some tax breaks eliminated by the House were added back in.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/us/politics/tax-bill-republicans-deal.html

House, Senate reach tax bill agreement

Original source for this article can be found on RT by clicking here
Dec. 13 (UPI) — Republicans in the House and Senate on Wednesday reached an agreement, in principle, on a consensus tax bill, keeping the party on track for final votes next week and a push to President Donald Trump‘s desk by Christmas.Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, said he is confident the deal will be approved. Details of the agreement were not immediately available.Democrats, who have been locked out of the process, criticized the rush to pass the bill next week and called on Republican leaders to wait for the newly elected Democratic senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, to be sworn in. He defeated Roy Moore on Tuesday in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.Senate Republicans had a meeting Wednesday to go over the details before briefing House Republicans and making a formal announcement.Last-minute changes to the bill include lowering the top individual tax rate to 37 percent and setting the corporate tax rate at 21 percent, a source who was briefed on the package told a The Hill.Also, as a compromise between the Senate and House versions of the bill, mortgage interest deduction will be capped at $750,000 and as a relief to people living in high-tax areas. The bill allows state and local property or income tax deductions of up to $10,000.

If passed, the legislation repeals an essential piece of the Affordable Care Act that requires people to purchase health insurance.

https://newsline.com/house-senate-reach-tax-bill-agreement/

President Trump said at the White House on Wednesday, “We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas.” CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year.

Party leaders in the House and Senate agreed in principle to bridge the yawning gaps between their competing versions of the $1.5 trillion tax bill, keeping Republicans on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. The House and Senate versions of the tax bill started from the same core principles — sharply cutting taxes on businesses, while reducing rates and eliminating some breaks for individuals — but diverged on several crucial details.

In the end, more of the Senate bill appeared to be included in the final version, though lawmakers continued to make significant changes from the legislation that passed either the House or the Senate.

The changes included a slightly higher corporate tax rate of 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent in the legislation that passed both chambers, and a lower top individual tax rate of 37 percent for the wealthiest Americans, who currently pay 39.6 percent. But the bill will still scale back some popular tax breaks, including the state and local tax deduction and the deductibility of mortgage interest.

In a break from the House bill, the agreement would allow taxpayers to continue to deduct high out-of-pocket medical expenses, and it would retain a provision allowing graduate students who receive tuition waivers to avoid paying taxes on that benefit. Also included in the consensus bill is the Senate’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty and a provision that opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy exploration.

Continue reading the main story

Still unclear is the overall cost of the revised legislation, which cannot exceed the $1.5 trillion bucket that lawmakers have allowed if they want to pass the bill without Democratic support. Several of the provisions added by the Senate to help pay for the overall bill were either reversed or scaled back in the consensus version, and some tax breaks eliminated by the House were added back in.

Photo

President Trump had lunch with Republicans on the House-Senate conference committee, including Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, right, and Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, left, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The announcement that Republicans had overcome their differences to get to a consensus bill added more momentum to the sprint to the finish line. Republicans dismissed requests by Democrats to delay a vote until the new senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, is sworn in.

“I see no need to wait for Doug Jones to become a senator,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. “We vote all the time in lame-duck sessions with retired and defeated members casting votes.”

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, told reporters that he was confident the final bill would be approved next week. The leaders of the tax-writing committees in the House and the Senate, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas and Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, each proclaimed a bill “close” to completion.

In a compromise between the bills, the deal would cap the popular deduction for interest on mortgage debt at $750,000 for newly purchased homes, a higher cap than the $500,000 limit in the House-passed bill but lower than the $1 million limit that currently exists and remains in the Senate-passed bill.

The agreement would cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, which is lower than the current 35 percent rate but higher than the 20 percent that Mr. Trump had, until recently, said was nonnegotiable. The corporate rate would take effect in 2018, rather than 2019, as the Senate bill originally called for, according to a senior Republican congressional aide.

The bill also allows individuals to somewhat choose how to use their state and local tax deduction, giving them the ability to write off up to $10,000 in property taxes, income or sales taxes paid or a combination of property and sales or property and income taxes. That move is intended to alleviate the concerns of House Republicans, particularly those from California, over the bill’s treatment of the state and local tax deduction.

Lawmakers also yielded to concerns by business groups about the Senate’s last-minute inclusion of the corporate alternative minimum tax, which was added as a way to pay for the bill but faced stiff blowback from companies that said it would restrict their ability to use the research and development tax credit.

Photo

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the finance committee, tweeted on Wednesday morning that Republican leaders should delay the tax process until Doug Jones, the newly elected Democratic Senator from Alabama, takes his seat. CreditPete Marovich for The New York Times

In an effort to assuage concerns that wealthy individuals would face a potential tax increase, the top individual income tax rate will drop to 37 percent, down from the current rate of 39.6 percent in the Senate bill and the 38.5 percent in the House bill. And the lower rate will apply to more people, allowing those with income levels below the $1 million cutoff outlined in both the House and Senate bills to claim the marginal rate.

The consensus bill will preserve the individual alternative minimum tax, which the House bill had eliminated and the Senate bill retained in a watered-down form. But it will apply to even fewer taxpayers than the Senate bill would have, the congressional aide said. The alternative tax, which was put in place to ensure high-income earners did not exploit loopholes to avoid paying taxes, would kick in for individuals earning at least $500,000 and for couples earning at least $1 million.

The agreement may allow some high-earning business owners to claim an even larger tax break than the Senate bill would have. Negotiators agreed to keep the Senate’s approach to provide a tax deduction for so-called pass-through companies, whose owners pay taxes on profits through the individual code. That deduction is likely to be lower than the 23 percent deduction in the Senate-passed bill.

But, the aide said, the consensus bill will include a House provision that would allow some pass-through owners with few employees — but large amounts of investment in their businesses — to bypass a limit on how much income qualifies for the preferential deduction.

The consensus bill would also largely retain the Senate approach to taxing multinational companies, by levying what is effectively a minimum tax on both American-based and foreign-based companies that operate in the United States.

Mr. Trump praised House and Senate negotiators in a lunch meeting at the White House. “We’re very close to getting it done; we’re very close to voting,” Mr. Trump said of the tax bill.

It is not clear whether all Republican senators will roundly endorse the deal, which includes provisions that Ms. Collins and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida had raised concerns about this week. Ms. Collins has said she does not favor a lower individual rate, and Mr. Rubio has pushed for a more generous child tax credit.

GRAPHIC

How the Final Tax Bill Will Affect Families, Homeowners, Businesses and More

Republicans have resolved the differences between the two versions of their tax bill.

 OPEN GRAPHIC

Still, none of those concerned senators indicated on Wednesday that they were opposed to the bill taking shape under the agreement in principle, an encouraging sign for Republican leaders.

The Senate bill narrowly passed 51 to 49, with Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, voting against the legislation, and other lawmakers, like Ms. Collins, getting on board only once certain changes, including expanding the medical expense deduction, were made. Mr. Corker said on Wednesday that “nothing has alleviated the concerns” that caused him to oppose the bill, which were rooted in a desire not to add further to the national debt.

The agreement was completed on Wednesday morning, hours before the first and only scheduled public meeting of the congressional conference committee formed to work out the differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill.

“Let’s understand what’s happening today is a sham,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee. “Nobody ought to mistake this conference for real debate.”

Mr. Trump delivered what was called a closing argument for the tax bill from the White House on Wednesday afternoon, flanked by five families who each took the microphone to extol the benefits of the tax bill on their households and communities.

“As a candidate, I promised we would pass a massive tax cut for the everyday working American families who are the backbone and the heartbeat of our country,” Mr. Trump said. “Now we are just days away from keeping that promise. We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas.”

Mr. Trump added that if the bill were to be signed in that time frame, Americans would begin seeing tax cuts reflected in their paychecks by February, citing the Internal Revenue Service. “The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger,” he said.

Correction: December 14, 2017 
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to one provision of the tax proposal. The agreement would retain a provision allowing graduate students who receive tuition waivers to avoid paying taxes on that benefit. It does not apply to tuition stipends.

 

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Fed Raises Rates, Sticks to Forecast for 2018 Increases

Policy makers pencil in three quarter-point rate raises for next year, as they had in September

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen arrives for her press conference Wednesday. The central bank’s rate-setting committee voted 7-2 to raise the benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 1.25% and 1.5%.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen arrives for her press conference Wednesday. The central bank’s rate-setting committee voted 7-2 to raise the benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 1.25% and 1.5%. PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—The Federal Reserve showed continued optimism about the U.S. economy in voting Wednesday to raise short-term interest rates for the third time this year, and signaling it would stay on a similar path next year amid a leadership transition.

Officials nudged their economic-growth estimates higher for the next few years on expectations that congressional Republicans will pass tax cuts. But the Fed policy makers’ new projections suggest the boost wouldn’t be so large that they would have to speed up the pace of rate increases to guard against too much inflation.

“At the moment the U.S. economy is performing well,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said at a press conference after the central bank’s two-day policy meeting ended Wednesday.

“The growth that we’re seeing, it’s not based on, for example, an unsustainable buildup of debt,” she added. “The global economy is doing well. We’re in a synchronized expansion. This is the first time in many years we’ve seen this.”

The Fed said it would increase its benchmark federal-funds rate Thursday by a quarter percentage point to a range between 1.25% and 1.5%, the fifth such increase in the past two years. Officials penciled in three quarter-point rate increases for next year, as they had in September, and two such increases each in 2019 and 2020.

The big question heading into their two-day meeting was how much Fed officials expected to lift rates in coming years. The prospect of new fiscal stimulus in the form of tax cuts, combined with solid hiring and lofty asset values, could argue for picking up the pace to prevent the economy from overheating. But low inflation and modest wage growth could support the case for sticking with a gradual approach.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans joined Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari on Wednesday in casting two dissenting votes, against seven in favor or raising rates. Both have cited weak inflation as a reason to hold off.

Fed officials projected the economy would grow 2.5% next year, up from the 2.1% they predicted in September. They also expect the unemployment rate will fall to 3.9% by the end of next year, down from their earlier forecast of 4.1%.

Officials didn’t project more interest-rate increases or higher inflation because price pressures have been surprisingly muted this year. They still project inflation to rise to their 2% target by 2019, the same as they expected in September.

“It could take a longer period of a very strong labor market in order to achieve the inflation objective,” Ms. Yellen said Wednesday.

Economists said the latest projections and Ms. Yellen’s comments Wednesday show officials believe growth won’t generate as much inflation as previously thought. “If inflation does actually pick up, it implies that they move more rapidly” to raise rates, said Lewis Alexander, chief U.S. economist at Nomura Securities.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, above, and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, below, dissented to the Fed’s decision to raise short-term interest rates.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, above, and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, below, dissented to the Fed’s decision to raise short-term interest rates. PHOTO: ARND WIEGMANN/REUTERS
Fed Raises Rates, Sticks to Forecast for 2018 Increases
PHOTO: MARK KAUZLARICH/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Fed officials slashed their benchmark federal-funds rate to near zero during the financial crisis and held it there for seven years before raising it by a quarter percentage point in December 2015, the start of a gradual series of small increases. In October, the Fed also started shrinking its $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets, most of which were purchased as part of extraordinary postcrisis measures to support the economy.

Since officials last met in early November, Congress has moved rapidly on legislation that would cut business and individual taxes by around $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Before this week, many Fed officials refrained from building into their forecasts much prospect of fiscal stimulus because it wasn’t clear what Congress would pass.

House and Senate Republicans are reconciling different versions of tax bills that have passed their respective chambers with the goal of putting a unified plan before President Donald Trump to sign by Christmas. The White House has said the plan can boost growth to levels that make up for revenue shortfalls.

An analysis from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found the tax bill wouldn’t pay for itself with more economic growth and instead would result in about $1 trillion in additional budget deficits over a decade.

Fed officials’ projections show they don’t see the tax cut raising the economy’s long-run growth rate, which they left unchanged at 1.8%.

“It’s fair to say that the Fed doesn’t see the tax package as a game changer in terms of growth—just some modest upside, concentrated mostly in 2018,” said Roberto Perli, an analyst at research firm Cornerstone Macro LP.

While officials have now largely incorporated the effects of tax changes into their growth forecasts, Ms. Yellen said, “importantly, you really don’t at the end of the day see very much change in the federal-funds rate path.”

Ms. Yellen added that she remained concerned higher budget deficits could leave fiscal policy makers with less scope to respond aggressively to an economic downturn in the future. Budget deficits are projected to grow as the baby boom ages, even before the added effect of tax cuts. “Taking what is already a significant problem and making it worse, it is a concern to me,” she said.

While Ms. Yellen will preside over one more Fed meeting early next year, Wednesday featured her last scheduled press conference before her term ends Feb. 3. While she is likely to hand her successor an economy in far better shape than when she took over four years ago, the Fed faces several balancing acts.

On one hand, inflation has run below its annual 2% target most of this year, reaching just 1.6% in October by the central bank’s preferred gauge. On the other hand, with the economy so strong and more stimulus on the way, they don’t want to hold rates too low for too long and cause price pressures to surge out of control or fuel asset bubbles and other financial imbalances.

Now that the Fed has successfully moved interest rates away from zero and initiated the steady wind down of the portfolio, “the battle is over the terminal fed-funds rate, and how quickly you get to it,” said Vincent Reinhart, chief economist of Standish Mellon and former director of the Fed’s monetary policy division. Fed officials’ new projections show they see that longer-run level at around 2.75%, implying the Fed is already about half way there.

Mr. Trump’s nominee to succeed Ms. Yellen as central bank chief, Fed governor Jerome Powell, has indicated he could offer a lighter touch on financial regulation but has shown few signs of diverging from Ms. Yellen on monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen has said she would resign her seat on the Fed’s seven-member board once Mr. Powell is confirmed and sworn in, making her the third governor to leave within a year and giving Mr. Trump another opportunity to reshape the Fed.

Fed officials also are wrestling with the fact that the economy isn’t responding to its rate moves as it did in the past, making it harder to discern the right policy path.

Fed increases in short-term rates used to tighten credit more broadly, causing bond yields to rise and boosting other borrowing costs, such as for mortgages, credit cards and business loans. This year, instead, financial conditions have eased, with stock prices rising to new highs and long-term bond yields remaining low, due in part to easy-money policies from central banks in Europe and Japan.

Banks have held rates on savings deposits at historically low levels. The average interest rate paid by the biggest U.S. banks on interest-bearing deposits rose to 0.40% in the third quarter, up from 0.34% in the second quarter, according to Autonomous Research.

Low interest rates have been a pleasant surprise for Joe Williams, 33, who is looking to trade up to a larger home to make room for a growing family. Mr. Williams, who works in retail operations, and his wife are preapproved for a 30-year mortgage that carries a 3.75% interest rate for the first seven years. That is higher than the 3.125% rate he locked in on his Minneapolis home two years ago.

If rates looked likely to rise faster, “that would motivate us to get a little bit more aggressive” in buying the move-up home, he said.

Write to Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

Appeared in the December 14, 2017, print edition as ‘Fed Hikes Rates as Economy Picks Up.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-raises-interest-rates-sees-continued-path-of-increases-in-2018-1513191780

Federal funds rate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to influence the supply of money in the U.S. economy[3] to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate.

Mechanism

Financial Institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accountsNOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007-2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjustments in the interest rate on reserves.[5] The target rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[6] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[7]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[8]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of 14 June 2017 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 1.00-1.25%.[9] This represents the fourth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.

The last full cycle of rate increases occurred between June 2004 and June 2006 as rates steadily rose from 1.00% to 5.25%. The target rate remained at 5.25% for over a year, until the Federal Reserve began lowering rates in September 2007. The last cycle of easing monetary policy through the rate was conducted from September 2007 to December 2008 as the target rate fell from 5.25% to a range of 0.00-0.25%. Between December 2008 and December 2015 the target rate remained at 0.00-0.25%, the lowest rate in the Federal Reserve’s history, as a reaction to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[10]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.jpg

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, price normally falls. The price here is the interest rate (cost of money) and specifically refers to the Federal Funds Rate. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the Fed Funds Rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, price (or in this case interest rates) will normally rise.[11]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[12] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the Fed Funds Rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[13][14]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [15][16][17]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[18][19][20]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[21]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[22]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25-0.50[23]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50-0.75[24]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75-1.00[25]
  • Jun 14, 2017 — 1.00-1.25[26]
  • Dec 13, 2017 — 1.25-1.50[27]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and/or housing fell.[28]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments in other countries less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[29]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  2. Jump up^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. 24 August 2011. p. 4. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  3. Jump up^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. 2008-01-30. Archived from the original on 2001-04-13. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  4. Jump up^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. Jump up^ Stefan Homburg (2017) A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-880753-7.
  6. Jump up^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  7. Jump up^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s” (PDF). Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  8. Jump up^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16.
  9. Jump up^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement” (Press release). Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  10. Jump up^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  11. Jump up^ David Waring (2008-02-19). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  12. Jump up^ “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  13. Jump up^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  14. Jump up^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. Jump up^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. Jump up^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. Jump up^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. Jump up^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. Jump up^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. Jump up^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  21. Jump up^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  22. Jump up^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  23. Jump up^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  24. Jump up^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. Archived from the original on 2016-12-15.
  25. Jump up^ Cox, Jeff (2017-03-15). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”CNBC. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  26. Jump up^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 14, 2017.
  27. Jump up^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 13, 2017.
  28. Jump up^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  29. Jump up^ Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough (March 16, 2017). “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer”The New York Times. Retrieved March 18,2017Rising interest rates in the United States are driving money out of many developing countries, straining governments and pinching consumers around the globe.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

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Story 1: Radical Islamic Suicide Bomber Failure in Port Authority Bus Terminal Subway Station — Videos —

TERRORIST ATTACK NEW YORK Shows PIPE BOMB Malfunctions & Explodes ISIS Man Wearing A Suicide Vest

Explosion at New York bus terminal ( 2017 bomb terrorist attack underattack )

Pipe Bomb of Peace: Bangladesh Strikes New York City Subway During Morning Rush Hour

New York explosion suspect identified

New York City subway bomb attack details released by officials

Report: NYC bomb suspect a Brooklyn resident

Explosion Takes Place Near New York City Port Authority | TODAY

Suicide bomber strikes New York City at rush hour

 

 

 

 

An ISIS-inspired would-be suicide bomber set off a homemade explosive device at the Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station Monday morning, seriously wounding himself and injuring three others, law enforcement sources said.

The man — a 27-year-old Brooklyn man identified by high ranking police sources as Akayed Ullah — had wires attached to him and a 5-inch metal pipe bomb and battery pack strapped to his midsection as he walked through the Manhattan transit hub.

The man partially detonated the device, which he was carrying under the right side of his jacket, prematurely inside the passageway to the A, C and E trains at Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street around 7:40 a.m., sources said.

Police quickly took the man into custody.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the man was inspired by ISIS and possibly born in Bangladesh.

Bratton, who said the man had been living in the US for seven years, “was supposedly setting the device off in the name of ISIS.”

“So, definitely a terrorist attack, definitely intended,” Bratton said.

Akayed Ullah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man, who suffered the most serious injuries, was taken to Bellevue Hospital.

Three others suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said. One person was taken to St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital, another to Mount Sinai and another person was treated at the scene, officials said.

Investigators briefly spoke to the alleged bomber, who told them he made the explosive device at the electrical company where he works.

Emergency personnel flooded the scene following the incident.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been briefed on the incident.

The incident sent commuters into a frenzy.

A 911 caller, who would only identify herself as Carmen, told The Post: “I didn’t see anything, I just heard an explosion and I ran out like everyone did to look for the nearest exit.”

“I had like a panic attack, I couldn’t breathe. My stomach started hurting,” the witness said. “I’m doing better — I’m just trying to catch a train to go back home to College Point.”

Designer Chelsea LaSalle tweeted: “holy f–k. just was stuck in a running stampede at port authority bus terminal due to bomb scare. cops EVERYWHERE.”

LaSalle followed up her tweet with another that read: “not a scare. actual explosion moments before i was about to get on the subway.”

Commuter Keith Woodfin tweeted: “I was exiting the Port Authority and the National Guard was running towards something shouting ‘Go, Go, Go.’”

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force also is investigating the incident.

All MTA trains were bypassing Port Authority-42nd Street as police investigated the incident.

All New Jersey Transit buses were not stopping at Port Authority. NY Waterway was also running extra ferries.

Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli and Max Jaeger

https://nypost.com/2017/12/11/explosion-reported-at-port-authority-bus-terminal/

Botched Suicide Bombing Jolts New York Rush Hour, Injures Four

Police say 27-year-old Akayed Ullah detonated a low-tech explosive device near the Port Authority Bus Terminal


Trains bypassed the Times Square and Bryant Park stops after a failed bomb attempt. The platform where the 1,2,3 trains usually stop at Times Square was empty during rush hour.
Police respond to a report of an explosion near Times Square on Monday morning in New York. Police said the suspect was a Bangladeshi man, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, who tried to set off an explosive device he was wearing near the transit hub. He has been placed in custody.
Authorities investigate the explosion at the Port Authority. John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, described the device the suspect used as a pipe bomb.
Helicopters hover over the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Police recovered surveillance video of the incident. “It could’ve been much, much worse,” an official said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speak at a news conference as police respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. “This was an attempted terrorist attack,” Mr. de Blasio said. “All we know is one individual who was thank god unsuccessful in his aims.”
A New York Fire Department vehicle arrives at the Port Authority. Fire Department commissioner Dan Nigro said the suspect detonated the explosive device, causing burns to his hands and abdomen. Three civilians in proximity of the explosion suffered minor injuries.
Police at Port Authority Bus Terminal watch as people evacuate after the explosion near the facility. By midmorning, some subway service remained suspended.
The explosion disrupted thousands of commuters at the Port Authority terminal during the morning rush hour. Multiple subway lines were evacuated, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the entire Port Authority bus station temporarily.
Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man who attempted to detonate a homemade bomb, is seen in this handout photo. The New York City Taxi &amp; Limousine Commission confirmed that Mr. Ullah was licensed to drive a black or livery car from March 2012 to March 2015. The license lapsed in 2015 and wasn’t renewed, according to a TLC spokesman. Although Mr. Ullah obtained a license, he may never have actually worked as a driver, the spokesman said.<br>
Police respond to a report of an explosion near Times Square on Monday morning in New York. Police said the suspect was a Bangladeshi man, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, who tried to set off an explosive device he was wearing near the transit hub. He has been placed in custody.
CHARLES ZOELLER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
1 of 9

A bomber tried to set off an explosive device he had strapped to his body near one of New York City’s busiest transit hubs in an attempted terrorist attack that injured three bystanders, authorities said.

The suspect—a Bangladeshi immigrant identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah—was quickly apprehended and was transported to Bellevue Hospital for burns to his hands and abdomen, according to police and fire officials. Three civilians in proximity of the explosion suffered minor injuries and were treated at local hospitals, officials said.

“This was an attempted terrorist attack,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. There are no other known incidents or specific threats to NYC, but there will be an expanded police presence, he said.

 New York Gov. Cuomo described the suspect as a disgruntled “lone wolf,” who had been influenced by extremist groups online. Mr. Cuomo said the suspect downloaded information from the internet on how to make a low-tech, homemade bomb but noted that the device didn’t explode as planned.

“This is one of my worst nightmares—a terrorist attack in the subway system,” Mr. Cuomo said in an interview on CNN.

The explosion disrupted thousands of commuters during the morning rush hour. Multiple subway lines were evacuated, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the entire bus station temporarily. Emergency personnel responded in force to the scene. By midmorning, some subway and bus service had been restored. An estimated 220,000 people pass through the transit hub each day.

“The choice of New York is for a reason. We are a beacon to the world and we actually show that a society of many faiths and many backgrounds can work,” said Mr. de Blasio. “The terrorists want to undermine that. So they yearn to attack New York City.”

“As New Yorkers our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack on the subways, it’s incredibly unsettling,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Botched Suicide Bombing in New York City Injures Four
A bomber partially detonated a home-made explosive at a Manhattan subway terminal Monday in an attempted terrorist attack. The suspect suffered severe burns and was taken into custody by the police. Photo: Twitter/@Breaking911

The suspect was walking in a crowd of commuters when the device was detonated, according to a Port Authority surveillance camera video that was confirmed by a federal law-enforcement official. The incident occurred around 7:20 a.m. ET while the suspect was walking eastbound in the underground corridor under 42nd Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, according to police. After the detonation, the suspect is surrounded in smoke, before dropping to the ground, based on the video footage.

But the device—which authorities described as a pipe bomb that was affixed to the suspect with Velcro and zip ties—only partially detonated, limiting the damage, according to officials. Mr. Cuomo said the explosive chemical in the bomb went off as planned, but the pipe didn’t explode.

When police officers arrived on the scene, they saw wires trailing between Mr. Ullah’s jacket and pants, according to a law-enforcement official. When they searched him, they found that he was carrying a nine-volt battery.

“It could’ve been much, much worse,” the official said. Police have recovered surveillance video of the incident.

Chelsea LaSalle, a 28-year-old graphic designer, was in Port Authority heading into the A, C, E subway when she heard screaming and more than 30 people started rushing at her.

Busy StationsFive busiest subway stations in New York City, by average weekday ridershipTHE WALL STREET JOURNALSource: Metropolitan Transportation Authority
42nd St. (Times Sq./PortAuthority)Grand CentralHerald SquareUnion SquarePenn Station (1, 2, 3)0 riders100,000200,00025,00050,00075,000125,000150,000175,000225,000

“People were screaming ‘Get out, get out’ and some were yelling ‘Bomb!’” she said.

Ms. LaSalle said everyone was running as fast as they could and pushed past her. “People wanted to get out and didn’t care what was in their way,” she said. “A lot of people looked really worried. Some people looked more confused than anything else.”

Hanan Kolko, a 57-year-old labor lawyer who lives in Montclair, N.J., said his NJ Transit bus from Clifton to the Port Authority crawled slowly through the Lincoln Tunnel. It took him 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to work, more than double the usual commute.

When his bus arrived around 9:40 a.m., he saw scores of law enforcement officers in the terminal, and his group was ushered out the Ninth Avenue exit because the Eighth Avenue side was blocked off.

“It was eerie because the Port Authority was empty except for people being escorted out,” he said. “It was a moment when I was proud to be a New Yorker,” he said. “We were going to carry on our day, regardless of whether some guy tried to plant a bomb. Law enforcement did a great job, and we got to go on and do our thing.”

In Washington, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was aware of the explosion in New York and coordinating with the New York City Police Department. The investigation into the incident is being led by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a law enforcement group formed in 1980 that includes members of the NYPD and the FBI. The attack came just weeks after an ISIS-influenced immigrant from Uzbekistan drove a rented truck down a Manhattan bike lane killing eight others and injuring 12 more.

Terrorist Attacks in the U.S. After 9/11

Here’s a look at Islamist-related deadly assaults across the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as compiled by the CATO Institute.


2000
2010
2020
July 4, 2002

An Egyptian man opens fire at the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two people before he was shot dead by an airline guard. PHOTO: KRISTA NILES/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A gunman kills one woman and wounds five others at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.PHOTO: KEVIN P. CASEY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A U.S.-born self-described jihad warrior shoots two soldiers, one fatally, outside an Army recruiting station in Arkansas.

Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opens fire at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others.PHOTO: DONNA MCWILLIAM/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two crude bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 175. Bomber, and older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is killed in a shootout with police; younger brother Dzhokhar is later captured alive.PHOTO: THE BOSTON GLOBE/GETTY IMAGES

College student Brendan Tevlin is shot eight times while waiting at a traffic light in New Jersey. Authorities find links to three earlier killings in Seattle—of 30-year-old Leroy Henderson, shot 10 times and left to die on a road on April 27, and Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young, killed outside a gay club on June 1—and charge Ali Muhammad Brown with all four.
John Bailey Clarke of North Carolina, 74 years old, is shot three times by a teenage neighbor who had converted online to Islam three months earlier and would plead guilty both to state murder charges and to federal charges of planning a terrorist act.
A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born man opens fire at two military facilities in Tennessee, killing four Marines and a sailor and injuring three other people before dying from a gunshot wound.

Pakistani immigrant Tashfeen Malik, who had just pledged allegiance to the leader of Islamic State, and her American-born husband open fire on an office party in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 people and wounding 21. PHOTO: DAVID BAUMAN/PRESS-ENTERPRISE/ZUMA PRESS

Omar Mateen kills 49 people and wounds 53 more at Orlando gay nightclub Pulse before police fatally shoot him after an hourslong standoff.PHOTO: PHELEN M. EBENHACK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Denver transit guard is shot and killed; the man charged with the murder tells the Associated Press he had pledged his allegiance to Islamic State.

Eight people are killed and at least a dozen injured when a truck mows down pedestrians and cyclists on a lower Manhattan bike path.PHOTO: ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

A Bangladeshi man tried to set off an explosive device he was wearing near New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal and Times Square. Three civilians in proximity of the explosion were injured.PHOTO: BRYAN R. SMITH/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Source: CATO Institute

Mr. Ullah has been living in the U.S. for seven years and had worked as a driver for a car service, officials said. He has been residing in a two-story colonial home on a tree-lined block in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn, a multiethnic neighborhood. His block was cordoned off Monday morning as groups of New York Police Department officers milled outside the home.

Alan Butrico, who owns the house next door to Mr. Ullah’s home, described the suspect as “unfriendly.” Mr. Butrico, who also owns a hardware store on the corner of the block, said Mr. Ullah never said hello and “would have an attitude” if he was asked to move his car because it was blocking the neighboring driveway.

Mr. Butrico’s cousin, Ross Faillace, who runs a part-time car detailing shop in the back of Mr. Butrico’s property, said of Mr. Ullah: “He was always on edge.”

Both men said that Mr. Ullah was usually clean cut and wore regular clothes, but that lately Mr. Ullah had grown a beard.

Kisslya Joseph of Grenada has been staying with her brother who lives next door to Mr. Ullah. “This has shaken me up and my family because it’s like you never know who your neighbor is,” Ms. Joseph said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/explosion-reported-at-new-yorks-port-authority-1512997695

New York City explosion: Live updates

What you should know

  • What happened: A man wearing a homemade device set it off at Port Authority bus terminal near Times Square.
  • The suspect: Police named 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. He is of Bangladeshi descent and lives in Brooklyn.
  • Injuries: Four people, including the suspect, were injured. None of those injuries are life-threatening, according to FDNY.

Suspect pledged allegiance to ISIS

From CNN’s Brynn Gingras

While talking with authorities, Port Authority bus terminal explosion suspect Akayed Ullah pledged allegiance to ISIS, according to one law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation. Authorities now have to investigate that claim.

Ullah most recently did electrical work close to Port Authority along with his brother. That brother lives in the same apartment building as Ullah, according to law enforcement.

As part of the normal course of an investigation, authorities want to speak with the brother and other family members.

Another law enforcement source tells CNN that screws were found at the scene.

December 11, 2017 2:54pm EST

The Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC condemned today’s terror attack in New York City.

Suspect Akayed Ullah, 27, is a lawful permanent resident from Bangladesh, who arrived in the US in 2011.

Here’s the embassy’s statement:

“Government of Bangladesh is committed to its declared policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City.”

A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice.

Homeland Security: “We urge the public to remain vigilant”

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, in the job for less than a week, is in touch with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and local officials about this morning’s attack, the department said in a statement.

“The Department of Homeland Security is taking appropriate action to protect our people and our country in the wake of today’s attempted terrorist attack in New York City,” the statement read.

“We will continue to assist New York authorities with the response and investigation and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.”

 

Story 2: Fabricated Trump Dossier Was Opposition Research/Russian Disinformation — Democratic Party and Obama Administration Used Fabricated Trump Dossier To Justify Spying on Americans and Opposition Republican Party Using Intelligence Community — Conspiracy Not Collusion — Federal Crimes — A New Special Counsel Should Investigate Together With DOJ and FBI Investigations of Clinton Charitable Foundation, Email Server and Mishandling of Classified Documents — Videos —

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Demoted top DoJ official Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS of dossier fame

Jay Sekulow calls for a second special counsel

Jordan: We need to depose Peter Strzok, talk to Bruce Ohr

Congressman Jim Jordan Sends CNN Anchor Packing During a Heated Conversation

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Proof: The Deep State & Bruce Ohr Orchestrated The Dossier! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

BUSTED: DOJ & FBI Had Long Relationship With Dossier Authors! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

Should Hillary Be Worried About Uranium One? Yes!

Clinton Probe Given ‘Special’ Status By FBI – Uranium One – Ingraham Angle

New Revelations By FBI Informant Fueling Questions Over Uranium One – Russia Wants Total Control

“The Clinton Collapse” Tucker Bids EPIC Farewell to the Clinton Dynasty

Why Russia Wants to Control the World’s Uranium Supply

Russia-Uranium One deal: Is it a real scandal?

Peter Schweizer on the significance of the Uranium One deal

Gorka: Uranium One scandal is absolutely massive

Trump Actually Telling The Truth About Clinton-Russia Uranium Scandal?

Ben Shapiro – What Exactly Happened With Uranium One

Comey hid the uranium deal from Congress: Gregg Jarrett

Clinton Was Bribed TWICE In Uranium Deal! !Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

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The FBI Just Blew The Hillary Clinton Case Wide Open She Could Literally Be Going to Jail!!

Trey Gowdy Votes To Appoint A Second Special Counsel To Investigate James Comey And Hillary Clinton

Russian Uranium Bribery Scandal Reaches Bill Clinton! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

Uranium One

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Uranium One Inc.
Industry Mining
Founded 2005
Headquarters Toronto, OntarioCanada
Key people
Chris Sattler (CEO)
Vadim Zhivov (President)
Products Uranium
Gold
Number of employees
2,220[1]
Parent Rosatom
Website www.uranium1.com

Uranium One is a Canadian uranium mining company with headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. It has operations in AustraliaCanadaKazakhstanSouth Africa and the United States. In January 2013 Rosatom, the Russian state-owned uranium monopoly, through its subsidiary ARMZ Uranium Holding, purchased the company at a value of $1.3 billion.[2] The purchase of the company by Russian interests is, as of October 2017, under investigation by the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

History

On July 5, 2005, Southern Cross Resources Inc. and Aflease Gold and Uranium Resources Ltd announced that they would be merging under the name SXR Uranium One Inc.[3]

In 2007 Uranium One acquired a controlling interest in UrAsia Energy,[4] a Canadian firm with headquarters in Vancouver from Frank Giustra.[5] UrAsia has interests in rich uranium operations in Kazakhstan,[6] and UrAsia Energy’s acquisition of its Kazakhstan uranium interests from Kazatomprom followed a trip to Almaty in 2005 by Giustra and former U.S. President Bill Clinton where they met with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the leader of Kazakhstan. Substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation by Giustra followed,[5][7] with Clinton, Giustra, and Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim in 2007 establishing the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative to combat poverty in the developing world.[8] In addition to his initial contribution of $100 million Giustra pledged to contribute half of his future earnings from mining to the initiative.[8]

In June 2009, the Russian uranium mining company ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. (ARMZ), a part of Rosatom, acquired 16.6% of shares in Uranium One in exchange for a 50% interest in the Karatau uranium mining project, a joint venture with Kazatomprom.[9] In June 2010, Uranium One acquired 50% and 49% respective interests in southern Kazakhstan-based Akbastau and Zarechnoye uranium mines from ARMZ. In exchange, ARMZ increased its stake in Uranium One to 51%. The acquisition resulted in a 60% annual production increase at Uranium One, from approximately 10 million to 16 million lb.[10][11] The deal was subject to anti-trust and other conditions and was not finalized until the companies received Kazakh regulatory approvals, approval under Canadian investment law, clearance by the US Committee on Foreign Investments, and approvals from both the Toronto and Johannesburg stock exchanges. The deal was finalized by the end of 2010.[11] Uranium One’s extraction rights in the U.S. amounted to 0.2% of the world’s uranium production.[12]Uranium One paid its minority shareholders a dividend of 1.06 US Dollars per share at the end of 2010.[citation needed]

ARMZ took complete control of Uranium One in January 2013 by buying all shares it did not already own.[2] In October 2013, Uranium One Inc. became a private company and a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Rosatom.[3][13] From 2012 to 2014, an unspecified amount of Uranium was reportedly exported to Canada via a Kentucky-based trucking firm with an existing export license; most of the processed uranium was returned to the U.S., with approximately 25% going to Western Europe and Japan.[14][15]

Congressional investigation

Since uranium is considered a strategic asset with national security implications, the acquisition of Uranium One by Rosatom was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a committee of nine government agencies including the United States Department of State, which was then headed by Hillary Clinton.[16][17][18] The voting members of the committee can object to such a foreign transaction, but the final decision then rests with the president.[19]

In April 2015, The New York Times wrote that, during the acquisition, the family foundation of Uranium One’s chairman made $2.35 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation. The donations were legal but not publicly disclosed by the Clinton Foundation, despite an agreement with the White House to disclose all contributors.[20] In addition, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin and which was promoting Uranium One stock paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow shortly after the acquisition was announced.[17][18] Several members of Clinton’s State Department staff and officials from the Obama-era Department of Justice have said that CFIUS reviews are handled by civil servants and that it would be unlikely that Clinton would have had more than nominal involvement in her department’s signing off on the acquisition.[21] According to Snopes, the timing of donations might have been questionable if Hillary Clinton had played a key role in approving the deal, but all evidence suggests that she did not and may in fact have had no role in approving the deal at all.[22]

In October 2017, following a report by John F. Solomon and Alison Spann published in The Hill and citing anonymous sources,[23][24] the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of Uranium One.[21]

FactCheck.org reported that there was “no evidence” connecting the Uranium One–Rosatom merger deal with a money laundering and bribery case involving a different Rosatom subsidiary which resulted in the conviction of a Russian individual in 2015, contrary to what is implied in the Solomon-Spann story.[20][25] Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post wrote that the problem with some of the accusations that Republican commentators levied against Clinton is that she “by all accounts, did not participate in any discussions regarding the Uranium One sale.”[26]

In October 2017, President Trump directed the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to lift a “gag order” it had placed on a former FBI informant involved the investigation. The DOJ released the informant from his nondisclosure agreement on October 25, 2017,[27][28][29]authorizing him to provide the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market” involving Rosatom, its subsidiaries Tenex and Uranium One, and the Clinton Foundation.[30]

During a C-SPAN interview, Hillary Clinton said that any allegations that she was bribed to approve the Uranium One deal were “baloney”.[31]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_One

 

Journalism for rent’: Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier

 December 11 at 12:50 PM
8:20
Fusion GPS founder explains why he started the research firm

Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, spoke at the 2016 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium, an event conducted by 100Reporters.

Fusion GPS bills itself as a corporate research firm, but in many ways it operates with the secrecy of a spy agency. No sign marks its headquarters above a coffee shop in Northwest Washington. Its website consists of two sentences and an email address. Its client list is closely held.

The small firm has been under intense public scrutiny for producing the 35-page document known as the Trump dossier. Senior executives summoned to testify before Congress in October invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the firm is resisting a congressional subpoena for bank records that would reveal who has paid for its services.

But hundreds of internal company documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal how Fusion, a firm led by former journalists, has used investigative reporting techniques and media connections to advance the interests of an eclectic range of clients on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in the nation’s capital. The firm has played an unseen role in stories that dominated headlines in recent years.

In the years before it produced the dossier, records show, Fusion worked to blunt aggressive reporting on the medical-device company Theranos, which was later found to have problems with its novel blood-testing technology. It was also hired to ward off scrutiny of the nutritional supplement company Herbalife, which ultimately paid $200 million to distributors to settle claims by regulators.

In another case, the firm sought to expose what it called “slimy dealings” by a competitor of a San Francisco museum proposed by filmmaker and “Star Wars” director George Lucas. And it dug up information about domestic disputes involving a former mayor of Beverly Hills, Calif., as part of an investigation into a proposed real estate development that the mayor supported.

Fusion’s other past research targets, documents show, included tech giants Google and Amazon; 2012 presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Bob Corker of Tennessee. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Fusion assigned code names to the projects — many of them after cities in Texas and Maine — and avoided identifying its clients in internal documents, making it difficult to determine who was paying for the research. The firm also minimized its public footprints by paying outside contractors to collect public records from courthouses, police stations and federal agencies.

The Post’s review provides a glimpse at the tactics that have fueled Fusion’s rise in the growing and secretive industry of opposition research and corporate intelligence. The review represents the most comprehensive look at the firm’s work at a time when it is being examined by those who seek to gauge the veracity of the dossier, and it reveals methods that have drawn criticism from the targets of the company’s research, including President Trump.

Fusion’s work on the dossier went beyond ordinary opposition research, the kind that might explore a candidate’s past legislative history or embarrassing gaffes — known in the industry as “votes and quotes.” Instead, it paid a former British spy to compile intelligence from unnamed Russian sources.

Only a handful of internal documents obtained by The Post relate to the examination of Trump during the 2016 election, a project that was code-named “Bangor” and was financed in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Fusion declined to comment on specific cases or identify clients, but said in a statement that it is “proud of our methodology and the rigor of our research, amply demonstrated by the records cited by The Washington Post. They show what we’ve always stated: Our secret sauce is diligent and exhaustive analysis of public information.”

It continued: “The reason we are so effective is that we unearth facts that stand up to scrutiny — presumably why we are still talking about our work detailing the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia more than a year later.”

Exposing ‘slimy dealings’

Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, an accomplished former investigative reporter with expertise digging into financial crimes and corruption in Russia and elsewhere, left the Wall Street Journal in 2009 to start a research firm with Susan Schmidt, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner from The Post. Without Schmidt, Simpson created Fusion GPS the following year, teaming up with former Wall Street Journal editor Peter Fritsch and a former Treasury official.

“I call it journalism for rent,” Simpson, 53, said in August of last year at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium in the District, where he described Fusion’s work on a panel titled, “Investigations With an Agenda.”

Fusion has about 10 employees, he said. It has worked on a broad array of cases, including matters related to marijuana dispensaries, health-care workers, a state insurance official and even a Florida homeowner’s association, internal documents show.

Fusion has also quietly advocated causes and pet projects dear to wealthy and famous clients.

In April 2014, Lucas wanted to build a cultural arts museum on federal land at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a site known as the Presidio. The museum was one of three proposals under consideration by a federal agency called the Presidio Trust.

A Fusion client — who is not identified in the documents obtained by The Post — suspected the agency was trying to block the Lucas museum, records show.

“We want to understand where this resistance is coming from and why,” Fritsch wrote in an email to his Fusion colleagues. Fritsch added that the “client would like to expose the slimy dealings” of a nonprofit competing with Lucas for the right to build on the land. The investigation was code named “Tyler.”

Ron Conway, one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific start-up investors and an outspoken supporter of the Lucas museum, was copied on subsequent emails about the cost of the research. “I don’t have any comment,” Conway said by phone when asked if he had hired Fusion.

Over the next nine months, a contractor hired by Fusion blanketed the Presidio Trust and another federal agency with dozens of requests for a range of documents related to board members and a consultant who were judging the proposals — expense reports, ethics forms, employment contracts and other records.

In February 2015, with Fusion still waiting for the documents, Conway sent an email to Fritsch with a link to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was about a petition, signed by celebrities such as Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and hip-hop artist MC Hammer, calling on the Presidio Trust to release some of the same records Fusion had requested.

“WE ARE OFF AND RUNNING !!” Conway wrote. Fritsch forwarded the email to other Fusion executives and said, “GLORIOUS!!!”

It’s not clear whether the effort had the desired effect. The Presidio Trust ultimately rejected all three proposals. A spokeswoman for Lucas told The Post in a statement that Lucas was “unaware of any research undertaken by Fusion GPS.” A Presidio Trust spokesman did not respond to messages from The Post seeking comment.

Fusion has at times used hardball tactics, the documents show.

Last year, Fusion’s sleuths targeted a controversial proposal for a $1.2 billion hotel and condo project in Beverly Hills, in the heart of one of the nation’s wealthiest areas, records show. The investigation was code named “Gray.”

Fusion’s client is not identified in the records reviewed by The Post, but the documents show that Fusion investigated the activities of the Chinese developer behind the project, Wanda Group, there and in other U.S. cities.

As part of its research, Fusion took aim at a vocal supporter of the Beverly Hills project, then-mayor John Mirisch, records show. Fusion sought police reports from the city related to domestic disputes involving the mayor and his ex-wife that had occurred between 2008 and 2010, records show.

Former Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch at City Hall in August 2016. (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

When city police balked at releasing some of the police reports, a Fusion contractor sued the city. Neither the public-records requests nor the legal complaint mentions Fusion. The suit was filed by former journalist Russell Carollo, who is described in court records as a public records consultant.

Fusion executive Jason Felch, a former investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times, emailed Carollo on July 21, 2016, with a statement he could give reporters inquiring about the lawsuit. The statement suggested that the mayor might be supporting the Wanda Group project because he owed a favor to a retired police chief who worked for a firm that was lobbying the city on behalf of the hotel, records show. The statement also argued that the public had a right to see the records involving the mayor.

Two weeks later, Carollo was quoted in the local newspaper, the Beverly Hills Courier, under a story headlined: “Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Petitions Court For Public Information On Mayor’s Domestic Disputes With Ex-Wife.”

In an interview, Mirisch said he had no idea that Fusion was behind the renewed scrutiny of the years-old domestic disputes. “It was dirty politics and misinformation,” said Mirisch, now a city council member.

Carollo said in an interview that he worked for Fusion and was asked by the firm to file the lawsuit. In a statement, Fusion wrote: “Our policy prohibits any employees or contractors from misrepresenting themselves as journalists or anything else.”

A spokesman for the Beverly Hills hotel project, which remains in planning stages, declined to comment. The retired police chief, Dave Snowden, said in an interview, “Hearing this, that the mayor owed me a favor, is absurd on its face.”

Behind-the-scenes player

Fusion insists that the firm does not engage in public relations work or advertise its media connections to prospective clients. But Fusion executives have interceded with former colleagues in media when their clients came under scrutiny, records and interviews show.

In mid-2015, Fusion was conducting research on two competitors of Theranos, a Silicon Valley start-up that had created buzz in the health-technology industry. Around the same time, the Wall Street Journal was pursuing its own Theranos reporting, which ultimately raised doubts about the accuracy of the company’s revolutionary lab-testing technology. Fusion, working on behalf of Theranos, tried to influence the Journal’s early reporting, according to records and interviews.

Fusion called the case “Ferris.”

A few weeks after Journal reporter John Carreyrou approached Theranos about his investigation into the company, Fritsch contacted him to create a back channel, according to documents and a person familiar with the Journal’s reporting who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Fritsch advised the reporter that his approach with Theranos up to that point had been too blunt and aggressive, and he encouraged him to soften it, the person said. Fritsch also accompanied a Theranos delegation that went to the Journal’s newsroom in June 2015 to discuss the story with Carreyrou and his editor. The delegation, made up mostly of lawyers, was headed by prominent attorney David Boies.

Over the ensuing years, Theranos — once valued at $9 billion — faced regulatory actions, including in 2016 losing its certificate to operate a blood-testing lab in California and its eligibility to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. The company reached a settlement in April with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, agreeing not to operate a lab for two years in exchange for the restoration of its certificate.

“The Wall Street Journal published its award-winning series on Theranos despite legal threats and strenuous objections from the company and its representatives,” a spokeswoman for the paper said in a statement.

A representative of Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller and Flexner, referred comment to Theranos. A Theranos representative declined to comment.

Fusion was also a behind-the-scenes player in a Wall Street battle between billionaire investor William Ackman and the supplement company Herbalife, records show.

Ackman had a huge financial stake in Herbalife’s fate. He had taken a short position in the company — meaning if the company failed, his investment would pay off big. Ackman held news conferences calling for regulatory and criminal investigations into Herbalife, alleging that the company’s network of distributors was effectively a pyramid scheme.

Herbalife had Fusion working on its side in a project that carried the code name “Rice,” documents show. Fusion launched investigations into Ackman and his hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, according to emails and internal documents.

Herbalife’s attorney and outside publicist are copied on some emails that discussed strategy for uncovering public records that would expose whether Ackman was paying nonprofit groups to criticize Herbalife. Fusion’s contractors were looking for information that would spark government investigations into Ackman, documents show.

In June 2014, Richard Hynes, a contractor for Fusion, noted that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York Attorney General’s Office had previously conducted investigations that touched on Ackman, emails show.

“Nothing seems to have come from them,” he wrote. “I wonder what the SEC and NY AG DIDN’T have to make their cases. What else could we provide them this time to effect a different outcome,” he asked. Simpson soon instructed a Fusion contractor to request the SEC’s case file on closed investigations into Ackman or his firm, Pershing Square, documents show.

It was Herbalife that fell under investigation. In 2016, it agreed to a $200 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it deceived buyers and sellers of its products. Herbalife did not respond to a request for comment, and Hynes did not respond to messages.

A ‘no-stones-unturned’ approach

As Fusion has been thrust into the spotlight because of the Trump dossier, it has been forced to reveal details of its operations in court proceedings.

Over objections from Democrats, the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), subpoenaed Fusion’s bank records to try to identify the then-mystery client who paid for the dossier. In October, Fusion executives invoked their constitutional right not to answer questions from the committee.

Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, left, arrives for an appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington on Nov. 14. (Associated Press)

Simpson had previously sat for a 10-hour closed-door interview with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is also looking into allegations of foreign influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He has also testified before the House committee behind closed doors.

For its investigation into Trump, Fusion was initially hired in the fall of 2015 by the conservative Washington Free Beacon website. The publication is backed by billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer, who was then supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in the GOP primary.

The Post revealed in October that Fusion was paid, via a law firm, by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee for its work on the dossier.

After Trump won the primary, Fusion approached Marc Elias, a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie who represented the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. Perkins Coie decided the party needed to go deeper than traditional, issue-oriented opposition research groups — a “no-stones-unturned approach,” according to a person familiar with the arrangement who was not authorized to speak publicly.

A spokeswoman for Perkins Coie said Trump “was unvetted by the political process — a businessman with significant real estate holdings both in the United States and around the globe, a history of litigation, financial problems and bankruptcies, and of a decidedly litigious nature,” adding that “the challenge of reviewing public-record information alone on his candidacy necessitated additional research.”

Simpson and Fritsch had worked on stories involving money laundering and Russian government officials while based in Brussels for the Journal. They knew how to pull documents around the world — a skill that had earned them work from top law firms.

“I’ve known Glenn for a long time,” said John W. Moscow, a former prosecutor and now a lawyer with the firm BakerHostetler, which hired Fusion to assist in defending the Russian company Prevezon in a civil money-laundering case. “When we need information from various parts of the world, he can go get it. We hire him on a per-case basis because he’s good.”

Earlier this year, Prevezon settled the suit, brought by the Justice Department, for $5.9 million without admitting guilt.

For its work on the dossier, Fusion hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who had worked extensively in Russia. In a statement, Fusion said Perkins Coie paid it $1.02 million for work in 2016, and it said Fusion paid Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, $168,000.

The dossier alleged that the Russian government had collected compromising information on Trump and that the Kremlin was trying to assist his campaign. Officials have said that the FBI has confirmed some of the information in the dossier but the most sensational details have not been verified and may never be.

As the dossier circulated among Washington journalists late last year, senior U.S. officials viewed the matter as serious enough to brief then-President-elect Donald Trump on its existence. And when BuzzFeed published the document online in early January, the dossier — particularly its more salacious claims — gripped the nation.

In recent weeks, Trump and congressional Republicans have seized on the Clinton campaign’s role in the dossier to try to discredit suggestions that his campaign colluded with Russia.

At the August conference last year, Simpson said his firm upholds strict standards developed in his years as a journalist.

“You can’t just say what you know. You have to say how you know it. And you have to be able to prove it,” he said. “That imposes a sort of discipline to the investigative process that people in other fields don’t really absorb.”

He was candid about the money involved. Explaining why he left journalism, he joked: “We don’t use the word ‘sold out.’ We use the word ‘cashed in.’ ”

Matt Zapotosky and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/journalism-for-rent-inside-the-secretive-firm-behind-the-trump-dossier/2017/12/11/8d5428d4-bd89-11e7-af84-d3e2ee4b2af1_story.html?utm_term=.dcc6a59b2320

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Things seem to be going Roy Moore’s way. President Trump endorsed him. The Republican National Committee is back to supporting him. And Moore, who has been accused of sexual contact with women when they were underaged, has led by an average of 3 percentage points in polls taken within 21 days of the Dec. 12 […] Wochit

Alabama voters will go to the polls Tuesday for the third time in four months to decide who will be the state’s junior U.S. senator.

Where the primaries — and later the GOP runoff — featured candidates who largely agreed on policy, there are notable contrasts between Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones and Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore.

The two candidates have sharply different views on health care, the environment, and social issues. Those differences has been overshadowed as Moore has dealt with accusations — most stemming from his time as a prosecutor in Etowah County in the late 1970s and early 1980s — that he pursued relationships with teenaged girls, and engaged in conduct ranging from unwanted attention to assault.  Moore denies the allegations.

The candidates have tried — to varying degrees — to discuss other issues as well. Moore in his public appearances has gone back to the religiously conservative, anti-LGBT message that has defined his political career.

“The transgenders don’t have rights,” Moore said at a news conference in Montgomery Nov. 8, which was as of Friday his last public appearance in the county before the election. “They’ve never been denominated as having rights by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Jones, meanwhile, has emphasized jobs and health care, in particular his support of Medicaid, Medicare and renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In recent days, Jones has amped up his attacks on Moore over the accusations.

“I believe women are every bit as capable as men, that they deserve to be elected to public office, and I damn sure believe and have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not to the U.S. Senate,” Jones said in remarks in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Whatever else can be said about Tuesday election, it is certain that the candidates present contrasting visions for the state of Alabama.

The candidates

Doug Jones

Age: 63

Residence: Birmingham

Party: Democratic

Family: Married; three children, two grandchildren

Profession: Attorney

Education: B.A., University of Alabama, 1975; J.D., Cumberland School of Law, 1979

Offices held/offices sought: U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, 1997-2001

ProfileThe fights of his life: Doug Jones’ journey from Fairfield to the U.S. Senate race

Finances: Despite a slow start over the summertime, Jones has pulled in more than $10 million since the start of October.

Themes: Jones has pitched a mainstream Democratic platform with an emphasis on job creation and access to health care. He has also discussed his time as U.S. attorney, in particular his prosecution of two men responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.

Roy Moore

Age: 70

Residence: Gallant

Party: Republican

Profession: Attorney

Family: Married; four children; five grandchildren

Offices held/Offices sought: Alabama chief justice, 2013-2016 and 2001-03; Republican candidate for governor, 2010 and 2006; Etowah County circuit judge, 1992-2001; Democratic candidate for Etowah County district attorney, 1986; Democratic candidate for Etowah County circuit judge, 1982.

ProfileLife in wartime: Roy Moore fights battles – and often goes looking for them

Education: B.S., United States Military Academy, 1969; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, 1977

Finances: Moore historically lags opponents in fundraising (even in races he’s won), and the Senate race has followed that pattern. While Moore started the general election campaign ahead of Jones overall in fundraising, he raised just $1.7 million between October and the end of November.

Themes: Although Moore has tied himself with President Donald Trump and spent time denouncing his accusers, his Senate campaign is otherwise much like previous campaigns he’s waged in the past 17 years, with strong appeals to religious conservativism and denunciations of abortion and LGBT rights.

Issues

Health care

Jones: Says health care is a right and supports the Affordable Care Act — which covered 178,000 Alabamians last winter — but says he wants to “bring both sides together” in Washington to address issues like premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Has called for renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers about 150,000 children in Alabama. Says he will support Medicare and Medicaid, which combined cover nearly 2 million Alabamians, in their current forms. Has been open to a public option for Medicare.

Moore: Has called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the sale of health insurance policies across state lines and tax credits to businesses for employee health care coverage, while broadly calling for government to get out of health care. Has not committed to renewal of the CHIP program.

Economy and taxes

Jones: Says he supports simplification of business and corporate taxes to create jobs, but says the tax bill before Congress “can’t be a giveaway to the richest Americans paid for by working families.” Supports a “living wage” for workers, streamlining regulations and extending the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure equal pay for men and women.

Moore: Says he “supports any kind of tax cut” and would replace the current progressive income tax system — where the wealthy pay a higher share of their income in taxes — with a 15 percent flat tax or a 23 percent national sales tax, offset in part by monthly stipends. Calls for cuts to the budget deficit.

Immigration

Jones: Says he supports border security and “maintaining the integrity of our borders against all threats” with “the most advanced technology possible.”  Has supported efforts to find status for those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, also known as Dreamers, who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were children.

Moore: Says he would support a border wall if needed to address undocumented immigration, but has also called for the deployment of the U.S. military to the Mexican border. Has called DACA a “permanent evil” created by former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Trade

Jones: Says trade agreements should create jobs in Alabama and prevent barriers for Alabama companies for selling their goods, such as high tariffs.

Moore: Has expressed support for renegotiating the North American Free Trade and Central American Free Trade agreements (NAFTA and CAFTA) and says he supports some tariffs to address “unbalanced” trade.

Abortion

Jones: Supports abortion rights and current laws governing abortion. The Moore campaign has accused Jones of supporting “late-term abortion;” Jones has said he only supports abortion after 20 weeks in cases of medical emergency. Says the way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is “education and access to health care and contraception.”

Moore: Supports abortion restrictions and has called himself “the exact opposite” of Jones on the issue. The campaign did not respond to questions as to whether Moore supports exceptions to an abortion ban, such as rape, incest or the life of the mother.

LGBT rights

Jones: Supports same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

Moore: Strongly opposes same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, and in a 2002 judicial opinion called homosexuality “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the law of Nature.”

Guns

Jones: Has called himself “a Second Amendment guy” and highlighted his love of hunting. Says gun laws as they stand should be enforced, but supports efforts to improve background checks, both to allow law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms and prevent criminals from getting them.

Moore: Says he believes in the Second Amendment and pulled out a gun at a rally before the Sept. 26 GOP runoff. In a summer Facebook posting, Moore said he would ensure gun rights “are never, ever infringed upon.”

Environment & energy

Jones: Says he “believes in science and that climate change is occurring.” Supports investments in renewable energy and conservation, particularly for their economic impact and says those working in the coal industry need a “safety net” of job retraining and health care benefits.

Moore: Has declined to answer questions about climate change. Website suggests an energy policy consisting of coal and oil drilling, along with “development” of nuclear, solar and wind energy.

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2017/12/10/roy-moore-doug-jones-and-issues-voters-guide-alabama-senate-election/934965001/

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The Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017, Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos — Story 2: Corporate Tax Cut Bill Will Pass By December 22, 2017 — Definitively Not Fundamental Tax Reform For The Middle Class — Replace Income Tax System with A Single Broad Based Consumption Tax Replacing All Federal Income Based Taxes — Videos — Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

Posted on December 11, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, European History, Federal Communications Commission, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Killing, Knifes, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Lying, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, National Security Agency, Networking, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Religion, Rifles, Rule of Law, Scandals, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Syria, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos —

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US economy adds 228K jobs in November

Analyzing The November Jobs Report Compared To Previous Years | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

U.S. economy continues its strong performance

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn: Tax Reform Will Help Us Drive Real Wage Growth | CNBC

CNN’s Christine Romans Highlights November’s Really Good Jobs Numbers

Larry Kudlow: Jobs Report Shows We Are On Front End Of “Very, Very Strong Rebound In Manufacturing”

Panel on Strong November Jobs Report; 228K Jobs Added. #Economy #Jobs #Report #November

Stockman: Here’s Why Today’s Jobs Report Is Nothing to Celebrate

Alan Greenspan // We are about to go from stagnation to ‘stagflation’

Ep. 307: Trump Continues What He Once Called the Biggest Hoax in American Politics

The Reason Trump is President – Peter Schiff

 

Civilian Labor Force Level

160,529,000

 

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

 

Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155695(1) 155268 154990 155356 155514 155747 155669 155587 155731 154709 155328 155151
2014 155295(1) 155485 156115 155378 155559 155682 156098 156117 156100 156389 156421 156238
2015 157022(1) 156771 156781 157043 157447 156993 157125 157109 156809 157123 157358 157957
2016 158362(1) 158888 159278 158938 158510 158889 159295 159508 159830 159643 159456 159640
2017 159716(1) 160056 160201 160213 159784 160145 160494 160571 161146 160381 160529
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 

Labor Force Participation Rate

62.7%

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.6 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.3 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.7
2015 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.6 62.6 62.6 62.4 62.5 62.5 62.7
2016 62.7 62.9 63.0 62.8 62.6 62.7 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.6 62.7
2017 62.9 63.0 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.7 62.7

Unemployment Level

6.6 Million

 

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 5708 5858 5733 5481 5758 5651 5747 5853 5625 5534 5639 5634
2001 6023 6089 6141 6271 6226 6484 6583 7042 7142 7694 8003 8258
2002 8182 8215 8304 8599 8399 8393 8390 8304 8251 8307 8520 8640
2003 8520 8618 8588 8842 8957 9266 9011 8896 8921 8732 8576 8317
2004 8370 8167 8491 8170 8212 8286 8136 7990 7927 8061 7932 7934
2005 7784 7980 7737 7672 7651 7524 7406 7345 7553 7453 7566 7279
2006 7064 7184 7072 7120 6980 7001 7175 7091 6847 6727 6872 6762
2007 7116 6927 6731 6850 6766 6979 7149 7067 7170 7237 7240 7645
2008 7685 7497 7822 7637 8395 8575 8937 9438 9494 10074 10538 11286
2009 12058 12898 13426 13853 14499 14707 14601 14814 15009 15352 15219 15098
2010 15046 15113 15202 15325 14849 14474 14512 14648 14579 14516 15081 14348
2011 14013 13820 13737 13957 13855 13962 13763 13818 13948 13594 13302 13093
2012 12797 12813 12713 12646 12660 12692 12656 12471 12115 12124 12005 12298
2013 12470 11954 11672 11752 11657 11741 11350 11284 11264 11133 10792 10410
2014 10240 10383 10400 9705 9740 9460 9637 9616 9255 8964 9060 8718
2015 8962 8663 8538 8521 8655 8251 8235 8017 7877 7869 7939 7927
2016 7829 7845 7977 7910 7451 7799 7749 7853 7904 7740 7409 7529
2017 7635 7528 7202 7056 6861 6977 6981 7132 6801 6520 6610

U-3 Unemployment Rate

4.1%

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.7
2002 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.8 5.7
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.3 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.2 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.7 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.6 4.7
2017 4.8 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.1  U-3

U-6 Unemployment Rate

8.0%

 

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 7.1 7.2 7.1 6.9 7.1 7.0 7.0 7.1 7.0 6.8 7.1 6.9
2001 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.9 7.8 8.1 8.7 9.3 9.4 9.6
2002 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.7 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.7 9.8
2003 10.0 10.2 10.0 10.2 10.1 10.3 10.3 10.1 10.4 10.2 10.0 9.8
2004 9.9 9.7 10.0 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.4 9.7 9.4 9.2
2005 9.3 9.3 9.1 8.9 8.9 9.0 8.8 8.9 9.0 8.7 8.7 8.6
2006 8.4 8.4 8.2 8.1 8.2 8.4 8.5 8.4 8.0 8.2 8.1 7.9
2007 8.4 8.2 8.0 8.2 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.8
2008 9.2 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.7 10.1 10.5 10.8 11.0 11.8 12.6 13.6
2009 14.2 15.2 15.8 15.9 16.5 16.5 16.4 16.7 16.7 17.1 17.1 17.1
2010 16.7 17.0 17.1 17.1 16.6 16.4 16.4 16.5 16.8 16.6 16.9 16.6
2011 16.2 16.0 15.9 16.1 15.8 16.1 15.9 16.1 16.4 15.8 15.5 15.2
2012 15.2 15.0 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.8 14.6 14.8 14.4 14.4 14.4
2013 14.5 14.4 13.8 14.0 13.8 14.2 13.8 13.6 13.7 13.6 13.1 13.1
2014 12.7 12.6 12.6 12.3 12.1 12.0 12.2 12.0 11.8 11.5 11.4 11.2
2015 11.3 11.0 10.9 10.8 10.7 10.5 10.3 10.2 10.0 9.8 9.9 9.9
2016 9.9 9.8 9.8 9.7 9.7 9.6 9.7 9.7 9.7 9.5 9.3 9.2
2017 9.4 9.2 8.9 8.6 8.4 8.6 8.6 8.6 8.3 7.9 8.0

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                  USDL-17-1616
8:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, December 8, 2017

Technical information:
 Household data:       (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:   (202) 691-6555  *  cesinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                         THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- NOVEMBER 2017


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November, and the unemployment 
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, 
and health care.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in November, and the number of unemployed 
persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate 
and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.5 percentage point and 799,000, 
respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers increased to 15.9 
percent in November. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 
percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (7.3 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics 
(4.7 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially 
unchanged at 1.6 million in November and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. 
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 275,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent in November and has shown no 
clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, 
changed little in November and has shown little movement, on net, since early this year. 
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as 
involuntary part-time workers), at 4.8 million, was essentially unchanged in November but 
was down by 858,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time 
employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they 
were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In November, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 
451,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals 
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job 
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not 
searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 469,000 discouraged workers in November, down by 
122,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers 
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for 
them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November 
had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. 
(See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November. Employment continued to 
trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. Employment 
growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly 
gain of 187,000 in 2016. (See table B-1.)

Employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend in November 
(+46,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs. 

In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment rose in 
machinery (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), computer and electronic products 
(+4,000), and plastics and rubber products (+4,000). Since a recent low in November 2016, 
manufacturing employment has increased by 189,000.

Health care added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health 
care services (+25,000), which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. 
Monthly employment growth in health care has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared 
with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016. 

Within construction, employment among specialty trade contractors increased by 23,000 in 
November and by 132,000 over the year.  

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, 
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, 
and government, changed little over the month. 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour 
to 34.5 hours in November. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.9 hours, and 
overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory 
employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and 
B-7.)

In November, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 
by 5 cents to $26.55. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 64 cents, or 
2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory 
employees rose by 5 cents to $22.24 in November. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised up from +18,000 
to +38,000, and the change for October was revised down from +261,000 to +244,000. With 
these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 3,000 more than 
previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from 
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the 
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 170,000 over 
the last 3 months. 

_____________
The Employment Situation for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, January 5, 
2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |               Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data                  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | In accordance with usual practice, The Employment Situation news release for December|
   | 2017, scheduled for January 5, 2018, will incorporate annual revisions in seasonally |
   | adjusted household survey data. Seasonally adjusted data for the most recent 5       |
   | years are subject to revision.                                                       |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |        Conversion to the 2017 North American Industry Classification System          |
   |                                                                                      |
   | With the release of January 2018 data on February 2, 2018, the establishment survey  |
   | will revise the basis for industry classification from the 2012 North American       |
   | Industry Classification System (NAICS) to 2017 NAICS. The conversion to 2017 NAICS   |
   | will result in minor revisions reflecting content changes within the mining and      |
   | logging, retail trade, information, financial activities, and professional and       |
   | business services sectors. Additionally, some smaller industries will be combined    |
   | within the mining and logging, durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, and        |
   | information sectors. Several industry titles and descriptions also will be updated.  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | Approximately 4 percent of employment will be reclassified into different industries |
   | as a result of the revision. Details of new, discontinued, and combined industries   |
   | due to the 2017 NAICS update, as well as changes due to the annual benchmarking      |
   | process, will be available on January 5, 2018.                                       |
   |                                                                                      |
   | For more information on the 2017 NAICS update, visit www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.  |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|



 

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017
Nov.
2017
Change from:
Oct.
2017-
Nov.
2017

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

254,540 255,562 255,766 255,949 183

Civilian labor force

159,456 161,146 160,381 160,529 148

Participation rate

62.6 63.1 62.7 62.7 0.0

Employed

152,048 154,345 153,861 153,918 57

Employment-population ratio

59.7 60.4 60.2 60.1 -0.1

Unemployed

7,409 6,801 6,520 6,610 90

Unemployment rate

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Not in labor force

95,084 94,417 95,385 95,420 35

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Adult men (20 years and over)

4.3 3.9 3.8 3.7 -0.1

Adult women (20 years and over)

4.2 3.9 3.6 3.7 0.1

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

15.2 12.9 13.7 15.9 2.2

White

4.2 3.7 3.5 3.6 0.1

Black or African American

8.0 7.0 7.5 7.3 -0.2

Asian

3.0 3.7 3.1 3.0 -0.1

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

5.7 5.1 4.8 4.7 -0.1

Total, 25 years and over

3.9 3.5 3.3 3.3 0.0

Less than a high school diploma

7.9 6.5 5.7 5.2 -0.5

High school graduates, no college

4.9 4.3 4.3 4.3 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.9 3.6 3.7 3.6 -0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.3 2.3 2.0 2.1 0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

3,542 3,359 3,227 3,159 -68

Job leavers

934 738 742 751 9

Reentrants

2,266 2,079 2,006 2,029 23

New entrants

728 669 629 691 62

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,415 2,226 2,129 2,250 121

5 to 14 weeks

2,133 1,874 1,942 1,878 -64

15 to 26 weeks

1,073 963 853 927 74

27 weeks and over

1,856 1,733 1,621 1,581 -40

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

5,659 5,122 4,753 4,801 48

Slack work or business conditions

3,485 3,121 2,952 2,983 31

Could only find part-time work

1,902 1,733 1,629 1,559 -70

Part time for noneconomic reasons

21,059 21,011 20,923 21,018 95

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

1,932 1,569 1,535 1,481

Discouraged workers

591 421 524 469

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

ESTABLISHMENT DATA
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017(P)
Nov.
2017(P)

EMPLOYMENT BY SELECTED INDUSTRY
(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

164 38 244 228

Total private

178 50 247 221

Goods-producing

35 26 34 62

Mining and logging

7 4 1 7

Construction

28 13 10 24

Manufacturing

0 9 23 31

Durable goods(1)

3 6 13 27

Motor vehicles and parts

1.4 -3.1 -0.8 1.7

Nondurable goods

-3 3 10 4

Private service-providing

143 24 213 159

Wholesale trade

5.6 7.3 8.0 3.4

Retail trade

-12.9 11.7 -2.2 18.7

Transportation and warehousing

21.8 18.3 7.6 10.5

Utilities

0.3 0.6 0.1 -0.2

Information

-12 -5 -8 -4

Financial activities

12 12 7 8

Professional and business services(1)

46 30 54 46

Temporary help services

25.5 10.1 17.9 18.3

Education and health services(1)

31 23 24 54

Health care and social assistance

28.2 8.3 34.6 40.5

Leisure and hospitality

44 -75 104 14

Other services

7 1 18 9

Government

-14 -12 -3 7

(3-month average change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

179 128 163 170

Total private

178 122 160 173

WOMEN AND PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES
AS A PERCENT OF ALL EMPLOYEES(2)

Total nonfarm women employees

49.6 49.5 49.5 49.5

Total private women employees

48.2 48.1 48.1 48.1

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.3 82.4 82.4 82.4

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

34.3 34.4 34.4 34.5

Average hourly earnings

$25.91 $26.53 $26.50 $26.55

Average weekly earnings

$888.71 $912.63 $911.60 $915.98

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

105.8 107.4 107.7 108.2

Over-the-month percent change

-0.1 0.0 0.3 0.5

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

131.0 136.3 136.4 137.3

Over-the-month percent change

-0.2 0.5 0.1 0.7

DIFFUSION INDEX
(Over 1-month span)(5)

Total private (261 industries)

51.5 60.9 65.1 63.0

Manufacturing (78 industries)

48.7 59.0 62.2 59.0

Footnotes
(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(P) Preliminary

NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2016 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.

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Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes

5 tax issues Republicans need to resolve in conference

Now that the Senate and the House have passed two tax bills, there are some crucial differences they need to resolve in conference.

 December 10 at 6:42 PM
Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan.Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate.And the melding process underway has opened the door to another frenzy of 11th-hour lobbying as special interests, including President Trump’s rich friends, make one last dash for cash before the final bill speeds through both chambers of Congress and onto Trump’s desk. Passage is expected the week before Christmas.

Veterans of congressional tax overhauls, particularly the seminal revamp under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, have been stunned and in some cases outraged at how swiftly Republicans are moving on legislation that touches every corner of the economy and all Americans. And although GOP leaders make no apologies, some in their rank and file say that the process would have benefited from a more deliberate and open approach.

“I think it would have looked better if we had taken more time and had more transparency, had more open committee hearings,” said freshman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

“Having said that, the goal that everybody had was to reduce the tax rates. . . . So at the end of the day the goal is going to be achieved, but we could have done it in a more transparent manner that probably would have given the voters that are being polled a little more confidence,” Comer said, referring to the effort’s poor showing in opinion surveys.

It has been a little more than a month since the $1.5 trillion legislation was introduced in the House, and in that short time it has cleared the two key committees in the House and Senate and won approval on the floors of both chambers, all without a single Democratic vote. If Trump signs the bill as planned before Christmas, that would mean a journey of less than two months between introduction and final passage.

The specific legislation that probably will become law, sold as a middle-class tax cut but featuring a massive corporate rate reduction at its center, is moving from release toward passage without any hearings, unusual for a bill of such magnitude. And as it tumbled along it picked up some startling new features, to the surprise of affected industries, Democrats and in some cases Republicans themselves.

Some of the most notable changes came in the hours before the Senate’s passage of its version of the plan, which happened about 1:50 a.m. Dec. 2.

The final vote was preceded by hours of inaction as Republicans fine-tuned their legislation behind closed doors, while fuming Democratic staffers ate Chinese food and pored over versions of the bill and lists of amendments that had been leaked by lobbyists on K Street before Republicans had made anything public.

As they got additional drafts of the bill, Democrats were incensed at some of what they found, including new breaks for the oil and gas industry, and a provision that appeared aimed specifically at helping Hillsdale College, a small liberal arts college in Michigan that doesn’t accept federal funding and has a large endowment funded by wealthy conservatives — including the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

An angry Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood on his chamber’s floor to declare that “the federal treasury is being looted.” In their one victory of the debate, Democrats offered an amendment to strike the Hillsdale provision, and with the help of four Republicans it passed.

Democrats weren’t the only ones surprised by what was in the bill. Republicans and the business community were stunned when the final Senate version restored the alternative minimum tax for corporations. The tax, aimed at keeping companies from shirking their tax duties entirely, had been repealed in the House bill and earlier versions of the Senate measure.

Restoring the corporate alternative minimum tax created $40 billion in revenue for the bill, which helped Republicans come in under complex budgetary guidelines saying the legislation can’t go over the $1.5 trillion the GOP has agreed to add to the deficit over the next decade. Still, some Republicans professed not to know how the change had come about.

And under the new tax code the GOP bill would create, including the alternative minimum tax could have the unintended consequence of preventing companies from using other deductions, including the popular research and development tax credit.

“I’m guessing they just needed something quick to make the bill work,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is one of the conferees charged with blending the two bills together.

Now, as quickly as it reappeared, the corporate alternative minimum tax probably will disappear again. Republican lawmakers widely agree that it doesn’t work and can’t be included, but it remains a mystery where they’ll find revenue to offset that change and pay for others they’re looking to include in the final package.

There has been discussion of moving the corporate rate — slashed from 35 percent to 20 percent by the House and Senate — back up to 22 percent, but the backlash against that proposal has been intense and it probably will be dropped. But revenue must be found somewhere because there are some changes that look nearly certain, including adjusting the new limit on deducting state and local taxes. Both the House and Senate legislation would allow taxpayers to deduct only up to $10,000 in property taxes. Some of Trump’s New York friends have taken exception to that provision and have lobbied the president personally against it.

It’s all part of a breakneck pace of the tax plan that contrasts with the nearly a year-and-a-half that passed between when Reagan unveiled his initial version of the 1986 tax plan and its ultimate passage into law. The less far-ranging tax cuts that President George W. Bush signed in 2001 took four months to become law after the release of Bush’s initial blueprint. And the Affordable Care Act took nearly a year to complete, including a congressional summer recess featuring angry town hall meetings that turned public sentiment sharply against the bill.

Democrats accuse Republicans of whisking the legislation along to avoid extended public scrutiny and prevent them from mounting an offensive at public hearings or over lengthy congressional breaks. The GOP bills have endured neither.

“It’s clear that we could have defeated this bill had we gone through regular order and had any expert witness from any blue state or high-tax state come in,” said Rep. John B. Larson (Conn.), who was a member of Democratic leadership during the much lengthier and more open process of passing the ACA. The provision limiting taxpayers’ ability to deduct state and local taxes hits high-tax areas such as California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut particularly hard.

“People would have said, ‘Well, wait a minute,’ ” Larson said.

Republican congressional leaders dispute such comparisons, saying that the process on taxes has been going on for years, given that the party has long been debating the idea and an early foundational bill was released by then-Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, nearly four years ago. House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), also campaigned last year on an agenda called “A Better Way,” which featured a tax plank similar in many respects to the bill the House ultimately passed, although it drew scant attention at the time.

“These are relatively small bills, 400 pages or so; they’re not hard to digest. The policy decisions, the thoughtfulness, a lot of these issues we’ve been debating together and apart for years,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “Bottom line is the American people have been waiting 30 years. So to paraphrase a hardware store: less talking, more doing.”

Even before the late-night Senate dramatics, the process offered surprises and sudden twists.

A provision repealing an Affordable Care Act requirement for most Americans to carry insurance or pay fines was added to the Senate bill with little warning over the course of an afternoon, a major health policy decision that is projected to leave 13 million more Americans uninsured in a decade but that would give Republicans $330 billion to pay for other things they want to do.

And the release of the House bill stunned manufacturers when they discovered it contained an “excise tax” on purchases from American companies’ foreign subsidiaries that some said could drive them out of business. The provision was watered down before passage by the Ways and Means Committee, but companies are still fighting to keep it out of the final bill, said Nancy McLernon, president of the Organization for International Investment, which represents global companies with U.S. operations. Despite the years-long focus on tax overhaul, such a provision had not been debated — even after companies beat back a different import tax, she said.

The Senate has a different provision that companies like better, but as far as the cost of going from one to the other or how it will all shake out, “It’s all a Rubik’s cube,” McLernon said.

Many lobbyists, Democrats and other observers expect to find the final version of the plan, which could be filed late this week, just as full of surprises as the various iterations that have appeared. But as they gun for a legislative win that has eluded them this year, Republicans show little interest in slowing down to take a closer look.

“The frenzy, and I would call it a frenzy, to get it done and have a Christmas present for America — number one, I think it’s unnecessary; it’s a self-imposed deadline, and number two, it makes the possibility for error much greater,” said Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center who was staff director of the Senate Budget Committee during the 1986 tax effort. “This is a rush without a reason other than the political desire for a Rose Garden signing ceremony.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/precision-sacrificed-for-speed-as-gop-rushes-ahead-on-taxes/2017/12/10/876ab274-dc62-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html?utm_term=.167e53dc0cba

 

The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some

Certain high-income business owners would face backwards incentives; lawmakers work to bridge gap

House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals.
House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—Some high-income business owners could face marginal tax rates exceeding 100% under the Senate’s tax bill, far beyond the listed rates in the Republican plan.

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their bills, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet on Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by week’s end.

Talking Taxes: What’s Your Fair Share?
What do the 1% pay in taxes? Is it enough? Or too much? WSJ’s tax reporter Richard Rubin breaks it down with lots of candy. Video/Photo: Heather Seidel/The Wall Street Journal

The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profit that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

As a taxpayer’s income gets much higher and moves out of those phaseout ranges, the marginal tax rates would go down.

Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today.

If the New Jersey lawyer’s stay-at-home spouse wanted a job, the first $100 of the spouse’s wages would require $107.79 in taxes. And the tax rates for similarly situated residents of California and New York City would be even higher, the Tax Foundation found. Analyses by the Tax Policy Center, which is run by a former Obama administration official, find similar results, with federal marginal rates as high as 85%, and those don’t include items such as state taxes, self-employment taxes or the phase-out of child tax credits.

The bill as written would provide incentives for business owners to shift profit across calendar years, move personal expenses inside the business and engage in other economically unproductive maneuvers, said David Gamage, a tax-law professor at Indiana University.

“I would expect a huge tax-gaming response once people fully understand how it works,” said Mr. Gamage, a former Treasury Department official, who said business owners have an easier time engaging in such tax avoidance than salaried employees do. “The payoff for gaming is huge, within the set of people who both face these rates and have flexible enough business structures.”

The analyses “raise a valid concern” that lawmakers are examining, said Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee.

“With any major reform, there will always be unusual hypotheticals delivering anomalous results,” she said. “The goal of Congress’s tax overhaul has been to lower taxes on the American people and by and large, according to a variety of analyses, we’re achieving that.”

Marginal tax rates are different from average tax rates. A marginal rate is the tax on the edge, or margin, of one’s earnings, and so it reflects what would be the next dollar of income. The average rate is a way of measuring a taxpayer’s total burden.

The Republican bills are trying to reduce both marginal and average tax rates, and for many taxpayers, they do. The marginal tax rates above 100% affect a small slice of households with very particular circumstances. Similar, though smaller, effects occur throughout the tax system.

“This is a big concern,” said Scott Greenberg, a Tax Foundation analyst. “It would be unfortunate if Congress passed a tax bill that had the effect of making additional work and additional income not worthwhile for any subgroup of households.”

Here’s how that New Jersey lawyer’s marginal rate adds up to more than 100%:

The household is paying the 35% marginal tax rate on their income range. Or, they are paying the alternative minimum tax, which operates at the same marginal rate in that income range.

The household is paying New Jersey’s highest income-tax rate, which is 8.97%, and now has to pay all of that because the Republican tax plan wouldn’t let such state or local taxes be deducted from federal income.

The household is also losing a deduction the Senate created for so-called pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S corporations. That 23% deduction is fully available to owners of service businesses like law firms, but only if income is below $500,000 for a married couple.

The deduction then phases out over $100,000 in income, according to a complex formula, disappearing entirely once income reaches $624,000. Up to that point, each additional dollar of business income faces progressively steeper tax rates because the deduction and its benefit are shrinking rapidly as income goes up.

The provisions also interact with each other in ways that drive up marginal rates. “The central problem here is that there is a large benefit phasing out over a short range,” Mr. Greenberg said.

The Republican bill doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 but phases it out beginning at $500,000 income for joint filers. The credit shrinks by $50 for every $1,000 in income above that, so a married couple with three children faces a higher marginal tax rate when they’re in that phase-out range.

The analysis assumes that the New Jersey lawyer is paying a 3.8% tax on self-employment income.

Pushing marginal rates lower on these households wouldn’t be easy and would require tradeoffs. Republicans could make the phaseout of the business deduction more gentle, spreading it over, say, $200,000, as opposed to $100,000, of income above $500,000. But that would make the tax cuts bigger, and Republicans are already looking for money to offset other changes they are planning.

They could lower the threshold for the child tax credit, but that would reduce tax cuts for households below $500,000.

Under current law, there are some high marginal tax rates for some lower-income households. Some families just above the poverty line can see their earned income tax credits and food stamps going down as their federal and state taxes go up. That combination can create marginal tax rates of around 75%, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Appeared in the December 11, 2017, print edition as ‘Taxman Cometh: Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-taxman-cometh-senate-bills-marginal-rates-could-top-100-for-some-1512942118

Tax Reform Under History’s Light


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux.

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

Tax reform’s chances are better in this Congress than at any time in the past 30 years. Thus, comparisons come naturally to the events leading up to the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86). These comparisons are useful for the similarities and the differences, both of which provide insights as to how to assure success today.

One important similarity is TRA86 brought to conclusion a long and detailed debate about tax policy. Our current efforts also rest on a lengthy debate recently brought to the fore. An important difference, however, is TRA86 was enacted as a widely accepted “should do,” whereas tax reform in 2017 is much more of a “must do.”

‘86 tax reform in 30 seconds

TRA86 culminated as a complex debate starting about 10 years prior with the release of Treasury’s “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform” in the waning hours of the Ford administration. Treasury’s “Blueprints” laid out a coherent approach to tax policy, emphasizing simplification and a reduction in tax distortions that were sapping economic growth.

Two years later, in response to a poorly performing economy, Congress adopted the Steiger Amendment, significantly cutting the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act. While often ignored, the Steiger Amendment marked the bi-partisan recognition of tax policy’s importance for economic growth. Pro-growth tax reform was not just for tax geeks anymore.

Federal tax policy debate took on new energy in 1981 with the passage of the landmark Reagan tax cuts, dominated by substantial rate reduction. Following legislation in 1982 and 1984 to readjust tax levels, the stage was set for fundamental tax reform.

A bipartisan consensus regarding sound tax policy evolved through the years leading up to TRA86. This consensus distilled down to the simple mantra of “lower the rates, broaden the base.”  Like the 1981 legislation, TRA86 would reduce tax rates substantially and install a less punitive system of capital consumption allowances. Unlike the 1981 legislation, however, the focus would also be on simplification, on the wide range of areas of the tax code reformed, and especially on revenue neutrality.

This consensus first took concrete form in two highly-detailed proposals out the Reagan Treasury Department, commonly dubbed Treasury I and its improved version, Treasury II, and released in 1984 and 1985 respectively. With these reports laying the groundwork, Congress then took over a year to legislate, finally producing TRA86.

The years between

TRA86 was the product of an extended period of consensus building and analysis. For those new to the debate, today’s strong momentum for comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform may seem to have arisen out of thin air, but, in fact, this debate has ebbed and flowed almost without pause since 1986.

The appetite for tax reform did not die following TRA86, and so consideration naturally moved on to the “next big thing.” For a period, the big thing seemed to be some kind of European-style Value Added Tax (VAT). The VAT momentum quickly petered out, however, and soon revenue pressures shifted the focus of tax policy once again to raising income tax rates, often with distinct “soak-the-rich” overtones. The VAT episode set tax reform’s pattern of ebb and flow for the following years.

Even as the debate toward TRA86 was underway, a very different approach to tax policy appeared in the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. Though the Flat Tax is best known for having a single rate of tax, hence the name, what really distinguishes the Flat Tax is its simplification, the elimination of all taxes on capital income and capital gains, and the adoption of a cash-flow tax on businesses centered on allowing capital purchases to be “expensed,” or deducted immediately.

In the 1990s, as the Flat Tax gained greater acceptance, tax reform topped the national agenda with Steve Forbes leading the charge. But this effort soon deflated along with Forbes’ 1996 presidential campaign.

Tax reform again gained traction briefly after the 2004 election with the release of the superb report of the presidential commission led by former Democratic Senator John Breaux and former Republican Senator Connie Mack. However, this effort, too, led to naught, a victim of competing priorities and a lack of consensus.

Income tax reform was pushed far onto the back burners during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Despite a historically weak economic recovery, the Obama administration expressed little interest in proposals to reduce the tax code’s drag on growth. The Obama administration contented itself with modest tweaks at the edges and otherwise dedicated its efforts to defending the status quo, especially in the area of international tax where global pressures were felt most profoundly.

Tax reform today

Even as years of inaction passed, pressure to reform the federal income tax code rose steadily from all sides. In part, this pressure arose because the U.S. economy was changing rapidly, and the tax code became an ever-worse fit for a modern economy.

In part, the pressure arose because even as America stood pat, America’s major trading partners did not. They were cutting business tax rates steadily and almost all were moving toward a territorial tax system to allow their businesses to compete more effectively in a global business climate of increasing intensity.

Though on the back burner, tax reform continued to simmer in backchannels. Then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) advanced a series of thoughtful tax reform proposals as part of his broader efforts to reform Federal tax policy. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) offered his variation on tax reform, differing from but along the same broad lines as the Ryan proposal. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also introduced a major, comprehensive tax reform proposal with his own interpretations, and then released subsequent iterations as comments and critiques soon followed. In these years, though President Obama continued to block tax reform’s path, the debate remained alive and well.

In 2014, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) introduced a detailed tax reform proposal. As tax reform would originate in this committee, Camp’s proposal took on greater significance than most. The Camp proposal was intended to serve as a prototype for tax legislation and so offered much more detail and, in some cases, specific options for resolving some of the nagging technical issues in adopting a territorial tax system, for example. However, in the face of President Obama’s determined disinterest, few were willing to contemplate seriously the hard choices the Camp plan laid out and so, again, tax reform was left to simmer on the back burner.

Tax reform played a limited role in the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, largely continuing the defense of the status quo established by President Obama. Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, suggested a bold change of direction; though, he accompanied it by very few details. Trump’s election, combined with the strong Republican interest in tax reform, quickly moved the issue to the front burner.

The focus on growth

Tax reform today, like its 1986 predecessor, has a long history of debate, evolution, and refinement. TRA86 and the current effort also share an intense focus on improving economic growth, but with one important difference: TRA86 largely responded to a sense borne of the previous, deep recession that the economy needed to be both stronger and more resilient, and that sound tax policy could help. Tax reform was seen as something Congress and the president could and should accomplish.

Tax reform today shares a similar motivation, but with far greater urgency. Just as no business can compete for long if its cost structure substantially exceeds those of its competitors, American businesses cannot continue to compete effectively at home or abroad facing high tax rates, an inadequate capital cost recovery system, and an international tax system long abandoned by competing companies.

American companies are managing to compete successfully today but with ever greater difficulty under the federal tax system. Failure to reform the tax system would not result overnight in significant decline in Americans’ long-run economic prospects. But it would most assuredly do so over the next few years as both financial and human capital is driven overseas.

Tax reform is one task Congress and the president simply have to get right if America is to prosper.

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/tax-reform-under-history-s-light

What History Teaches Us About Tax Reform


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist
023275_taxreform_atf_08_22_reagan_getty471341025.jpg

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

An underperforming economy and mounting international competition have propelled tax reform from topic of discussion to front-burner issue. There is no change in federal policy that offers greater potential to strengthen employment and increase wages for American workers than sound, comprehensive tax reform.

Reviewing and respecting the lessons from the last major tax reform over thirty years ago illuminates the road ahead, and provides lessons for how to raise our odds of success. Time provides a dimension worth exploring for similarities and contrasts between 1986 and today. Specifically, the time leading up to the effort, and the time needed for Congress to act.

The Historical On Ramp to Tax Reform

President John F. Kennedy understood the dampening economic effects of high tax rates. Though he died before seeing his program enacted, his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the program through Congress and thus the 1964 tax bill is commonly referred to as the “Kennedy tax cuts.” The 1964 bill centered on significant tax rate reductions to achieve a substantially stronger economy.

Thereafter, budget pressures from the Vietnam War and Great Society programs reoriented tax policy once again toward ever-higher tax rates accompanied by a steady accretion of deductions and credits to blunt the effects of higher rates on politically favored constituencies. This process continued unabated into President Jimmy Carter’s administration and not surprisingly coinciding with a languishing economy.

Even as tax rates climbed and new distortions filled the tax code, a countermovement arose. In the final moments of the Ford Administration, Secretary William E. Simon released a landmark Treasury report directed by one of the era’s great economists, David Bradford, called “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform,” guiding concepts of sound tax policy for years to come.

As the economy struggled and President Carter stood by, Congress took the initiative. With strong, bipartisan support over Carter’s objections, Congress substantially cut the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act, marking the first step in a change in tax philosophy culminating in the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86).

Senator Bill Roth (R-DE) and Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY) then picked up tax reform’s guidon, leading the charge for lower tax rates. At the same time, a second dimension in tax policy gained steam – the need for a less punitive capital cost recovery system. This debate was led largely outside Congress by the likes of Charls Walker and Ernie Christian, former Ford Administration Treasury hands, and Norman B. Ture, later Treasury undersecretary under Ronald Reagan.

Spurred by a recession wrought by a disinflationary monetary policy, the tax debate quickly came to a head in the 1981 “Reagan tax cuts.” The 1981 bill cut tax rates and instituted a vastly superior capital cost recovery system among other reforms. In the process, the bill cut revenues far more than Reagan proposed.

Though the 1981 bill was championed by a Republican president, it enjoyed widespread Democratic support. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means introduced and pushed the legislation to passage, joined by almost half the House Democrats and almost a third of Senate Democrats.

The magnitude of the 1981 tax cuts proved politically unsustainable and were quickly followed by a series of tax hikes reversing some of the 1981 revenue reductions. Having settled the issue of how much to tax, the stage was now set for the 1986 reform and deciding who and how to tax.

Building Toward the 1986 Tax Reform Act

At about this time a fundamentally different approach to tax policy appeared: the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. The Flat Tax’s popularity often associates with the simplicity of imposing a single tax rate. However, the real revolution it offered was not the single tax rate,but  what is subject to tax. Despite appearing as a traditional income tax, the Flat Tax was something quite new as it explicitly eliminated tax on investment income and imposed a simple cash flow tax on all businesses, thus adopting the principle of expensing, or allowing a full and immediate deduction for capital purchases.

The Flat Tax was too radical to gain wide acceptance in the early 1980s, but a vigorous bipartisan debate harkening back to Bradford’s 1976 “Blueprints” continued nonetheless. The 1981 tax cuts worked as intended to launch a powerful economic recovery, but memories of poor economic performance under Carter still lingered. A broad, bipartisan consensus championed faster economic growth by reforming the tax code to reduce the distortions to economic decision making it caused and the resulting misallocation of basic resources.

The basic strategy was to lower rates as in the 1981 Act, only further, and to implement a sound cost recovery system as in the 1981 Act. In contrast to 1981, however, the new strategy included a determined effort to “broaden the tax base” by eliminating distorting loopholes and tax credits, thereby intending the overall bill to be revenue neutral. .

The Treasury Department under Secretary Don Regan took the first big step in 1984 with the release of a densely packed 275 page proposal for comprehensive tax reform, dubbed “Treasury I”. While many aspects were well-received, as with most prototypes, Treasury I contained flaws, some of which Treasury addressed in 1985 with “Treasury II”.

Tax reform was off and running in Congress with the release of Treasury II, but the road  was by no means easy. Time and again Reagan had to give Congress another not-always-gentle push. The greatest peril demanding Reagan’s firm hand came when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-OR) realized he couldn’t pass tax reform on the path it was on. Ironically, the man who had repeatedly saved tax reform, President Reagan, was also now tax reform’s biggest obstacle.

The Price for Overcoming the Greatest Hurdle

Reagan was forced into pushing for the most rate reduction possible. Initially he drew the line at 25 percent for individuals and he held firm for much of the debate. Like most policy, tax reform involves trade-offs and Packwood just couldn’t find enough obvious base broadeners he could economically or politically trade off to hit a 25 percent rate.

Something had to give. At first the rate crept up to 26 and then to 28 percent. But at 28 percent, Reagan would go no further.

As Reagan urged Packwood to press on, Packwood had to get creative. He took fairly innocuous existing individual and corporate minimum taxes and expanded them into full-fledged parallel tax systems; voila, massive back-door base broadening. Packwood’s new Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), while a superb example of terrible tax policy, had as its one redeeming feature: it raised enough money in a sufficiently confusing manner to hit the 28 percent rate without creating too many political problems, at least not for the duration of the debate. Three months later, the final bill passed the Senate.

Packwood’s AMT offers an important lesson for tax reform today. As important as low tax rates are for economic growth, policy makers and the public need to be honest about the tradeoffs involved. The broadest possible tax base capable of garnering sufficient political support can only raise so much revenue at a targeted tax rate. Demand an even lower tax rate and something (or someone) else will have to give and very likely pro-growth tax policy will suffer as a consequence.

Back to the Present

With respect to time, the current tax reform debate parallels that of 1986 closely. TRA86 concluded a lengthy, evolutionary process regarding accepted beliefs about sound, pro-growth tax policy. That process distilled to the lowest possible rates and applied to a simple, broad tax base, while allowing for a depreciation system for capital costs minimizing the anti-investment aspects of an income tax.

Tax reform today shares these traits, both with respect to the substance of reform – low rates, broad base, and today, expensing – and with respect to time. Like the 1986 episode, tax reform today reflects the product of many years of debate regarding the design of pro-growth tax policy, an evolution that began in 1986.

In one other critical respect regarding time, TRA86 and the current effort offer stark contrasts. Where the legislative starting gun on TRA86 went off in 1984 and the effort then proceeded for over two years, Congress in 2017 will have only a handful of months from introduction to tax reform’s final passage. This difference in time will have significant implications for how Congress defines “comprehensive” as they work toward pro-growth tax reform.

Read Part 2: Tax Reform Under History’s Light

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/what-history-teaches-us-about-tax-reform

 

Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

ISIS defeated in Iraq, officials say

Eric Shawn reports: ISIS defeated, but will it last?

Iraq celebrates ISIS defeat, US claims fight isn’t over

 

Total victory over ISIS in Syria

ISIS Breaking news: No Islamic State has been defeated- BBC news Nov 2017

Iraqi military take part in spectacular parade celebrating victory over ISIS

Report: ISIS militants moving to remote deserts

Ralph Peters on the fight against ISIS and Iran’s influence

Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

ISIS Surrounded: Trump’s Plan to ‘Annihilate’ the Islamic Caliphate

This Iran-backed militia helped save Iraq from ISIS. Now Washington wants them to disband

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Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

Peters: Fall of ISIS in Iraq is imminent, but what’s next?

Tillerson: ISIS will be defeated

Trump, Mattis turn military loose on ISIS, leaving terror caliphate in tatters

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 “warthogs.”

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate — living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

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U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft said the Trump administration has put a strong leadership team in place  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump, who would name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.”

ISIS CURSED, MOCKED IN MOSUL, WHERE OLD CITY REMAINS A HAUNTED WASTELAND

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that’s surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it’s a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

“I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

– U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

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Lt. Col. Seth Folsom credits the cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and the U.S-led coalition for the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq.  (Courtesy U.S Army)

The terror organization now controls just 3 percent of Iraq and less than 5 percent of Syria. Its self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be injured and holed up somewhere along the lawless border of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS remains a danger, as members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region, in Europe and possibly in the U.S. These cells will likely present a terrorist threat for years. In addition, the terrorist organization is attempting to regroup in places such as the Philippines, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.

But the military’s job — to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits to greet Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, upon his arrival at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mattis, a US Marine Corps general, said there would be no White House micromanaging on his watch  (Associated Press)

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

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U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge said the military now has a clear mandate  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cole Erickson)

IRAQI KURDS STILL LOVE US DESPITE ITS OPPOSITION TO KURDISH INDEPENDENCE, SAYS KURDISH LEADER

After the battle to liberate Mosul – ISIS’ Iraqi headquarters – was completed in July — the U.S.-led coalition retook Tel Afar in August, Hawija in early October and Rawa in Anbar province in November.

Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, agreed. He wasn’t expecting his part of the campaign against ISIS to get going until next spring and figured even then, it would then “take six months or more.”

Instead, ISIS was routed in Al Qaim in just a few days.

mosul

Mosul, and several other cities liberated by ISIS, were largely destroyed in the fighting.  (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

“We really had one mandate and that was enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission,” Folsom said. “I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

Brig. Gen. Robert “G-Man” Sofge, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, told Fox News his commanders have “enjoyed not having to deal with too many distractions and there was no question about what the mission here in Iraq was.”

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Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool was skeptical of Trump at first, but says success on the ground has been swift  (Fox News/Hollie McKay )

“We were able to focus on what our job was without distraction and I think that goes a long way in what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.

Sofge said criticism that loosening rules of engagement put civilians at risk is “absolutely not true.”

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Col. Ryan Dillon. Combined Joint Task Force – Inherent Resolve Spokesman  (Photo by CJTFOIR)

“We used precision strikes, and completely in accordance with international standards,” he said. “We didn’t lower that standard, not one little bit. But we were able to exercise that precision capability without distraction and I think the results speak for themselves.”

The U.S.-led coalition said this week the Coalition Civilian Casualty Assessment Team has added 30 new staffers to travel throughout the region. It said military leaders continue to “hold themselves accountable for actions that may have caused unintentional injury or death to civilians.”

The coalition also said dozens of reports of civilian casualties have been determined to be “non-credible,” and just .35 percent of the almost 57,000 separate engagement carried out between August 2014 and October 2017 resulted in a credible report of a civilian casualty.

In addition to air support, the U.S.-led strategy also includes training and equipping Iraqi troops on the ground.

While the Trump administration’s success is often underplayed in the U.S. media, it is obvious on the ground in Iraq, according to a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Yahya Rasool.

“I was not optimistic when Trump first came to the office,” Rasool said. “But after a while I started to see a new approach, the way the U.S. was dealing with arming and training. I saw how the coalition forces were all moving faster to help the Iraq side more than before. There seemed to be a lot of support, under Obama we did not get this.”

FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be still alive, a top U.S. military commander said Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, contradicting Russia’s claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago.(Militant video via AP, File)

Al-Baghdadi, who once ruled a caliphate the size of California, is now inn hiding and likely badly injured

Despite the victories on the battlefield, U.S. officials cautioned much work remains to be done.

“ISIS is very adaptive,” noted Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led coalition spokesman. “We are already seeing smaller cells and pockets that take more of an insurgent guerrilla type approach as opposed to an Islamic army or conventional type force. So we have got to be prepared for that.”

He said as a result the coalition is “adjusting some training efforts” so the Iraqi forces — upwards of 150,000 have already undergone training — are equipped to address such threats and ensure long-term stability.

Folsom said “the worst thing we could do” is not finish the job.

“If a country becomes a failed state, if it becomes a lawless region, you begin to set the conditions for what happened in the years before 9/11,” he said. “In those ungoverned spaces where we don’t know what is going on, that is where those seeds of extremism begin to blossom.”

 

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