Washington Brief: Tax Forms Show Trump Wrote Off $100 Million in Losses in 2005

Washington Brief

  • A leaked copy of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return shows that he paid $36.6 million in federal taxes on an income of $153 million and wrote off about $100 million in losses. The White House confirmed the tax return’s authenticity. (DC Report)
  • Trump’s approval rating is on the rise, according to a new poll. (Morning Consult)
  • Trump urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to make changes to the House GOP’s health care plan to placate the far right (Politico), while Senate Republicans are pushing Ryan in the other direction. (The New York Times)
  • The most popular provisions of the House GOP’s health care plan are the ones that come from former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law, according to a new poll. (Morning Consult)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey could say as early as today whether the FBI is probing ties between Russia and Trump. (CNN)
  • A new poll shows that Republican voters are more likely to support leaks when they know they came from WikiLeaks. (Morning Consult)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Washington Post event on Trump’s First 50 Days 9 a.m.
House Armed Services Committee hearing on security challenges in Middle East 10 a.m.
Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian efforts to undermine democracies 2:30 p.m.
Pew Charitable Trusts event on infrastructure 3:30 p.m.
Trump campaign rally in Nashville, Tenn. 6:30 p.m.
House Budget Committee markup of AHCA 10 a.m.
Heritage Foundation event on tobacco, e-cigarette regulations 12 p.m.
No events scheduledNo events scheduled



FEC earning congressional attention — for the wrong reasons
Dave Levinthal, The Center for Public Integrity 

The Federal Election Commission — an agency of clashing commissioners, seething staffers and key vacancies — may soon face congressmen who wonder: Why’s the agency a basket case? Such a trip under Congress’ microscope could come in the form of a Committee on House Administration oversight hearing, something the FEC hasn’t endured since 2011, when super PACs were still novel and the now-seminal Citizens United v. FEC decision wasn’t yet two years old.

Steve Bannon and the Making of an Economic Nationalist
Michael C. Bender, The Wall Street Journal

On Oct. 7, 2008, in the cramped TV room of his modest home here, Marty Bannon watched with alarm as plunging stock markets dragged down his shares of AT&T, the nest egg he built during a 50-year career at the company. His five children, including current White House counselor and chief strategist Steve Bannon, had often joked growing up that their devout father, a product of the Great Depression, would sooner leave the Catholic Church than sell those shares.

U.S. May Soon Increase Pressure on China to Constrain North Korea
David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will warn China’s leaders that the United States is prepared to step up missile defenses and pressure on Chinese financial institutions if they fail to use their influence to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to several officials involved in planning his first mission to Asia. China has complained vociferously about the Trump administration’s recent decision to speed up the deployment of the Thaad antimissile system in South Korea, charging that it will undermine regional stability.


Trump Earned $153 Million In 2005; He Paid $36.6 Million In Taxes
David Cay Johnston, DC Report

In 2005, Donald J. Trump married model Melanija Knavs, his third wife. That year, the real-estate mogul and newly minted TV star earned $153 million dollars, about $3 million a week.

Trump seeks changes to health plan to placate far-right
Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, Politico

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night asked House GOP leaders to incorporate a handful of changes to their Obamacare repeal bill, a request that comes as the White House seeks to woo the far right. On a call with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) that lasted about 45 minutes, Trump expressed support for modifications to the current plan, several sources said.

The cost of failure on health care? It may be the rest of Trump’s agenda.
John Wagner and Abby Phillip, The Washington Post

n the roiling debate over the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, there’s a lot more at stake for President Trump than whether the bill can be saved: Its fate could also determine how much else he can get done on Capitol Hill in the early stages of his presidency. With the bill facing strong resistance on multiple fronts, Trump’s effort to shepherd it through Congress is shaping up as a pivotal test of an un­or­tho­dox president’s ability to wield influence in Washington, a growing number of Republicans say.

Trump takes steps toward undoing Obama’s auto emissions limits
Alex Guillén, Politico

President Donald Trump will tap the brakes Wednesday on the Obama administration’s tightening of future vehicle emissions limits, in yet another strike at his predecessor’s energy and climate agenda. The auto industry has made it a top priority to review the Obama administration’s 11th-hour attempt to lock in tough standards for years, and Trump will deliver on a trip to Michigan Wednesday.

Trump rejects push to oust NSC aide
Kenneth P. Vogel and Eliana Johnson, Politico

President Donald Trump has overruled a decision by his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, to sideline a key intelligence operative who fell out of favor with some at the Central Intelligence Agency, two sources told POLITICO. On Friday, McMaster told the NSC’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, that he would be moved to another position in the organization.

Trump Administration Pushes Back In Court To Defend The Legality Of The New Travel Order
Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News

On Tuesday evening, the Trump administration’s lawyers argued to the federal judge who previously halted enforcement of the original refugee and travel ban that the new executive order, signed by President Trump on March 6, should not be subject to the prior injunction. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the Feb. 3 injunction against the original executive order should apply to the two provisions from the original ban that were reinstituted, albeit with some changes, in the new executive order, which is due to go into effect on Thursday.

Trump’s War on Independent Analysis
David A. Graham, The Atlantic 

The Trump administration declared its war against facts early, and with panache, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer striding to a podium the day after the inauguration to lay out a series of patently untrue assertions, and Kellyanne Conway christening them “alternative facts” the following day. The White House’s disdain for facts has become such a given that it was quickly invoked to explain the administration’s broadside against the Congressional Budget Office, which began days before CBO had even completed its analysis of the House’s Obamacare replacement plan.


G.O.P. Senators Suggest Changes for Health Care Bill Offered by House
Jennifer Steinhauer and Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times

A day after a harsh judgment by the Congressional Budget Office on the House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, nervous Senate Republicans on Tuesday suggested changes to the bill. They told Trump administration officials — including the health secretary, Tom Price — that they wanted to see lower insurance costs for poorer, older Americans and an increase in funding for states with high populations of hard-to-insure people.

Sanders and Manchin, at opposite ends of Senate caucus, call ACA replacement ‘immoral’
David Weigel, The Washington Post 

Monday night, after the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the American Health Care Act was released, senators walked on and off the floor for their only votes of the day — confirming Seema Verma as the Medicare and Medicaid chief. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) walked into a throng of reporters to condemn the AHCA. “I think that legislation is disgusting,” he said.

Senator: Comey to say whether FBI probing Russia, Trump campaign by Wednesday
Manu Raju and Tom LoBianco, CNN

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Tuesday that FBI Director James Comey promised to tell him Wednesday whether the FBI is investigating ties between Russia and the campaign of President Donald Trump. The Rhode Island Democrat said that Comey made the promise in a March 2 meeting with him and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

Grassley: No confirmation vote for DOJ’s No. 2 until Comey briefs Senate
Seung Min Kim, Politico

The Senate Judiciary Committee is still waiting for answers from the Justice Department and the FBI for its request to be briefed on Russia-related probes. So now, Chuck Grassley is playing hardball.


Republicans May Be Ready To Redefine Success On Obamacare
Matt Fuller, The Huffington Post

With the GOP bill facing opposition from House conservatives, and a dismal Congressional Budget Office score stirring opposition from moderates and the Senate, Republicans seem to be scaling back the goals for their Obamacare repeal-and-replace. Instead of actually overhauling the Affordable Care Act, Republicans may now just be trying to pass a bill in the House ― with the recognition that the Senate will never agree to a House-passed plan and that rowdy House conservatives may never accept a Senate bill.

Rohrabacher Challenger Hauls Big Money Early
Simone Pathé, Roll Call

Democrat Harley Rouda, who announced a challenge to California Republican Dana Rohrabacher earlier this month, is raking in the cash. Rouda, a successful businessman who could likely self-fund part of his campaign, raised over $100,000 in independent donations in the 12 days he’s been in the race, according to fundraising numbers obtained first by Roll Call.

Breitbart’s Favorite Punching Bag
Rosie Gray, The Atlantic 

Breitbart News has been, and may forever be, at war with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan has been a favorite target at Breitbart for years.

After blizzard cancelled flights, Texas reps take ‘bipartisan road trip’ to D.C.
Andrew Kragie, The Houston Chronicle 

After an East Coast blizzard affected flights to Washington, D.C., two of Texas’ congressional representatives agreed to rent a car early Tuesday and make the 24-hour drive together, debating everything from directions and meals to immigration and Obamacare. What makes the journey unusual — aside from the livestream that blends navigation, a Willie Nelson sing-along and policy discussions — is that one representative is a Republican and the other a Democrat.

Steve King: Blacks and Hispanics ‘will be fighting each other’ before overtaking whites in population
Chris Massie, CNN 

Iowa Rep. Steve King said Monday that blacks and Hispanics “will be fighting each other” before overtaking whites in the US population. King, a Republican, was on the radio responding to a question about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ comment to Tucker Carlson on Fox News that whites would become a majority-minority demographic in America by 2044, a point Ramos used to make the argument that it is a multiracial country.


Pritzker establishes exploratory committee to consider a run for governor
Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune

Raising the potential cash stakes in next year’s race, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday formally created a fundraising committee to explore a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. The move comes as Pritzker, a wealthy entrepreneur, investor and heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, has held private meetings with Democratic leaders as part of a listening tour for a potential candidacy.

McCrory, working as consultant, says HB2 makes some employers ‘reluctant to hire me’
Colin Campbell, The News & Observer

Former Gov. Pat McCrory says the backlash against House Bill 2 is making some employers reluctant to hire him but he’s currently doing consulting and advisory board work. McCrory has been appearing frequently in interviews with national media outlets to defend the controversial LGBT law, but he hasn’t announced what’s next for his career.


Lobbyists scramble for access in Trump era
Megan R. WIlson, The Hill

With President Trump yet to fill top positions in his administration, lobbyists are increasingly reaching into the federal bureaucracy to advocate for their clients. While lobbyists have always cultivated contacts within federal agencies and departments, those relationships have become more important than ever before due to the slow pace of the transition.

As Trump Targets Nafta, Car Industry Aims to Roll With the Changes
John D. Stoll and Chester Dawson, The Wall Street Journal

Auto executives say they can adapt to taxes or other curbs on imports, even as industry advocates insist such moves will dent sales and eat into profit. President Donald Trump, traveling to Detroit Wednesday to say his administration will reopen a review of fuel-economy targets, has threatened to upend the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The White House’s troubling deconstruction of diplomacy
Ivo Daalder, Financial Times 

As secretary of state Rex Tillerson sets off on his first trip to Asia, he is not only leaving behind the press pool that normally accompanies the chief diplomat of the US on overseas visits, but a growing Washington consensus that he is losing influence, if not control, over the direction of American foreign policy. Aside from occasional photo-op with visiting counterparts, Mr Tillerson has given no formal speeches setting out the administration’s approach to foreign policy nor held any press conferences to help create a public record.

Scandal Fatigue and the Trump Ethical Swamp
Timothy L. O’Brien, Bloomberg View

Thanks to some fine work by two Bloomberg news reporters, David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby, we now know that a major Chinese financial services firm may invest $4 billion in a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that Kushner’s family stands to take home about $500 million for itself from the transaction.

Trump Should Ditch Freedom Caucus, Seek Bipartisan Plan
Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax 

President Donald Trump should be applauded for courageously tackling the “disaster” – as he calls Obamacare – in his first major legislative effort. The House Republican healthcare plan has come under fierce criticism from almost every quarter, with some justification.

Research Reports and Polling

Poll: GOP Plan to Encourage Health Coverage Unpopular With Voters
Mary Ellen McIntire, Morning Consult

U.S. voters largely disapprove of a measure in the Republican health care bill meant to encourage people to maintain health insurance coverage, a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll shows. The poll finds nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) don’t think the bill should include a provision making adults pay a 30 percent higher premium if they postpone buying health insurance for more than two months.

Poll: Trump Approval, Voter Optimism on the Rise
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

More Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president and of the direction the country is headed, according to Morning Consult/POLITICO surveys conducted over the past six weeks. The most recent poll, conducted March 9-13, found that 52 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, compared with a 49 percent approval rating shortly after Inauguration Day.

Republicans More Likely to Back CIA Leaks Published by Wikileaks
Cameron Easley, Morning Consult

Republicans are significantly more likely to back last week’s Central Intelligence Agency document leak when they know the information was published by WikiLeaks, a new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey shows. In the survey, 39 percent of Republicans said they approved of the release of CIA documents allegedly outlining agency techniques for hacking and surveillance, including tools for hacking smartphones, televisions and other devices to monitor potential terrorist.

Poll: Nevadans oppose Obamacare repeal, will make elected officials pay a price
Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent

Nevadans are overwhelmingly opposed to a total repeal of Obamacare and half of voters would oust a senator or congressman who voted to do so, according to a new poll paid for by a group trying to preserve the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The survey also is the the third consecutive public poll to show Sen. Dean Heller may be in trouble in his re-election bid, albeit 600 days before voters will cast ballots.