GOP says it’s got a deal on taxes; cuts coming for next year
WASHINGTON (AP) — Confident congressional Republicans forged an agreement Wednesday on a major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws that would provide generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans — Donald Trump among them — and deliver the first major legislative accomplishment to the GOP president.
Middle- and low-income families would get smaller tax cuts, though Trump and GOP leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class. The measure would scrap a major tax requirement of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law.
“The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger,” Trump said at the White House. “This is for people of middle income, this is for companies that are going to create jobs. This is for very, very special people, the great people of America.”
The business tax cuts would be permanent, but reductions for individuals would expire after a decade — saving money to comply with Senate budget rules. In all, the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, adding billions to the nation’s mounting debt.
The legislation, which is still being finalized, would cut the top tax rate for the wealthy from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent, slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent and allow homeowners to deduct interest only on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage.
Ky. lawmaker accused of assault dies in apparent suicide
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Dan Johnson, a Republican state lawmaker in Kentucky who defiantly denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the basement of his home, died in an apparent suicide Wednesday night, the county coroner said. He was 57.
Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge in a secluded area, then got out and walked to the front of the car. He said an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning.
“I would say it is probably suicide,” he said.
Johnson was elected to the state legislature in 2016, part of a wave of Republican victories that gave the GOP control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years. He won his election despite Republican leaders urging him to drop out of the race after local media reported on some of his Facebook posts comparing Barack and Michelle Obama to monkeys.
The pastor of Heart of Fire church in Louisville, Johnson sponsored a number of bills having to do with religious liberty and teaching the Bible in public schools. But he was mostly out of the spotlight until Monday, when the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an account from a woman saying Johnson sexually assaulted her in the basement of his home in 2013.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. HOUSE, SENATE LEADERS REACH DEAL ON TAXES
The broad parameters of the agreement call for cutting the top tax rate for the wealthy and slashing the corporate rate.
2. HOW GOP IS HANDLING BIG ALABAMA LOSS
While the president has been humbled, some establishment-minded Republicans are cheered that Roy Moore’s loss lifts an albatross on GOP candidates in next year’s campaigns.
UN chief: Iran may be defying UN on missiles, OK on nukes
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Iran may be defying a U.N. call to halt ballistic missile development even as it complies with the nuclear deal with six world powers.
The U.N. chief says in a report to the Security Council that the United Nations is investigating Iran’s possible transfer of ballistic missiles to Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen that may have been used in launches aimed at Saudi Arabia on July 22 and Nov. 4.
The report on implementation of a U.N. resolution that endorsed the July 2015 nuclear agreement was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Ambassador Nikki Haley would hold a news conference Thursday in Washington to highlight its findings as well as Iran’s “destabilizing activities in the Middle East region and elsewhere in the world.”
In the report, Guterres stressed that the nuclear deal remains “the best way” to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
He said President Donald Trump’s Oct. 13 decision not to certify the agreement under U.S. law created “considerable uncertainty” about its future. But, he added, “I am reassured that the United States has expressed its commitment to stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for now.”
GOP’s not all that sad; party grapples with Alabama fallout
WASHINGTON (AP) — Weary national Republicans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, a day after voters knocked out their own party’s scandal-plagued candidate in deep-red Alabama. Yet all is not well in a party confronted with new rounds of infighting and a suddenly shrinking Senate majority heading into next year’s midterm elections.
A semi-humbled President Donald Trump conceded that Roy Moore’s loss was not his preferred outcome. He said he “would have liked to have had the seat” and an important Senate vote as he and GOP lawmakers scratch for legislative victories.
But he also acknowledged, “A lot of Republicans feel differently. They feel very happy about the way it turned out.”
Indeed, it was easy to find establishment-minded Republicans — in and out of Washington — who cheered Moore’s loss as the impact of the Alabama stunner echoed throughout the political world. The prospect of a high-profile Republican senator dogged by sexual misconduct accusations — and an all-but-certain ethics investigation — unnerved a GOP that’s fearful of an albatross on its candidates in next year’s campaigns.
Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said that Moore, a fiery conservative, would have brought a “radioactive” element to the Senate GOP.
Former ‘Apprentice’ contestant Omarosa leaving White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — True to form, former “Apprentice” star Omarosa is ending her time at the White House with a dose of drama.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, one of President Donald Trump’s most prominent African-American supporters, was escorted off the White House grounds after resigning her post as a presidential adviser, according to two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Manigault Newman’s resignation is effective Jan. 20, one year after Trump’s inauguration. “We wish her the best in future endeavours and are grateful for her service,” Sanders said.
The president also bid her farewell, tweeting: “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.”
Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups. But the office languished under her watch and White House chief of staff John Kelly had indicated that changes were forthcoming — including her dismissal, according to the two officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about personnel matters.
Hayek says rebuffing Weinstein led to nightmare on ‘Frida’
NEW YORK (AP) — In one of the most vivid accounts yet of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuse and harassment, Salma Hayek says the disgraced movie mogul turned the making of her 2002 passion project, the Frida Kahlo biopic “Frida,” into a nightmare after the actress refused Weinstein’s relentless advances.
“For years, he was my monster,” Hayek wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday by The New York Times.
Her refusals — of massages, showers and sex — enraged him, she wrote. “I don’t think he hated anything more than the word ‘no,'” wrote Hayek.
Hayek, who regularly starred in films released by Weinstein’s Miramax in the 1990s, credited Weinstein with helping her start her career. But she said that the movie mogul would turn up at her door “at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location.”
When Hayek brought “Frida,” which she was producing, to Miramax to distribute, Weinstein made outrageous demands as payback. Hayek said he insisted on rewrites, more financing and, most heinously to her, a sex scene with full frontal nudity. He even threated to kill her, she said.
Report: 3 women accuse music mogul Russell Simmons of rape
NEW YORK (AP) — Three women have told the New York Times that music mogul Russell Simmons raped them, the latest in a cascade of serious allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in entertainment, media, politics and elsewhere.
Simmons vehemently denied what he called “these horrific accusations,” saying in a statement emailed to The Associated Press that “all of my relations have been consensual.”
The allegations reported by the Times Wednesday stem from the 1980s and 1990s. One woman, Drew Dixon, said Simmons assaulted her in his downtown apartment in 1995, when she was an executive at Def Jam Recordings, reporting to Simmons. She quit Def Jam soon after, she told the Times, saying, “I was broken.” Through his lawyer, Simmons acknowledged to the newspaper that he engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with Dixon while she worked at Def Jam. But he “emphatically states that he did not have sex with her,” his lawyer said.
Another, Tina Baker, said Simmons raped her in the early ’90s, when he was her manager. “I didn’t sing for almost a year,” Baker was quoted as saying. After the assault, she said, “I went into oblivion.” Through his lawyer, Simmons told the Times he had “no recollection of ever having any sexual relations with Ms. Baker.”
A third, Toni Sallie, a music journalist, dated Simmons briefly in 1987. A year later, in 1988, Simmons invited her to his Manhattan apartment for a party, she told the Times, but when she arrived she was the only one there, and Simmons led her to his bedroom, pushed her on the bed and raped her. “We were fighting. I said no,” she was quoted as saying. The Times said that Simmons, through his lawyer, acknowledged he had dated Sallie but denied nonconsensual sex.
Republicans criticize Mueller’s probe, but want him to stay
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans ratcheted up criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling Wednesday, questioning whether there was bias on his team of lawyers but stopping short of calling for his firing or resignation.
The criticism directed toward Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a House Judiciary Committee hearing comes after the release of anti-Donald Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI officials later assigned to the Russia probe. While Republicans on Capitol Hill are unlikely to support Mueller’s removal, some appear to be laying the groundwork for suggesting the results of the investigation will be unfairly partisan.
House members focused on the hundreds of text messages between an FBI counterintelligence agent and an FBI lawyer. Those messages, which occurred before Mueller was appointed in May to investigate potential co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, show the officials using words like “idiot” and “loathsome human” to characterize Trump as he was running for president in 2016. One of the officials said in an election night text that the prospect of a Trump victory was “terrifying.”
Republicans also focused on past donations to Democrats made by some members of Mueller’s team.
“How, with a straight face, can you say that this group of Democrat partisans are unbiased and will give President Trump a fair shake?” asked Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio.
Bombing underscores New York subway system’s vulnerability
NEW YORK (AP) — The crude pipe bomb that exploded beneath the streets of New York this week served as a chilling reminder of the vulnerability of the city’s subway system, a 24-hour-a-day operation with 472 stations and more than 5 million daily riders.
While police say the nation’s largest subway system has some of the tightest security possible that still allows busy New Yorkers to get where they’re going, they acknowledge they can’t be everywhere or anticipate every kind of attack, particularly in this era of lone-wolf terrorism.
“It’s very difficult, and it’s getting harder,” John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said on CBS’s “This Morning.” ”This is not the al-Qaida model, where a cell of people who are communicating with a base are an intelligence problem.”
Instead, he said, the threat is coming from people “where the conspiracy is within the confines of their own mind.”
Investigators say that appears to be what happened Monday, when a Bangladeshi immigrant indoctrinated into terrorism through internet videos strapped a bomb to his body and set it off in a busy passageway. He was the only one seriously hurt, suffering burns on his hands and torso.