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Growing fallout after bombshell New York Times report on Trump’s taxes SEPT. 29, 202003:05

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The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to block a New York grand jury from getting President Donald Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, a decisive defeat in his prolonged legal battle to keep his tax records out of the hands of investigators.

The ruling does not mean the returns will become public any time soon, and they might never be publicly released. Under state law, materials turned over to a grand jury must be kept secret. But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can now require Trump’s accountants to turn over the records that the president has steadfastly refused to surrender to prosecutors or Congress.
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“The work continues,” Vance said in response to the Supreme Court order.

Vance is seeking tax returns covering eight years for a grand jury investigation of hush money payments and other financial transactions. The investigation began after it was disclosed that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her claim that she had an affair with Trump, an allegation the former president has denied.

Growing fallout after bombshell New York Times report on Trump’s taxes
SEPT. 29, 202003:05
Cohen also alleged to Congress that the Trump organization sometimes lied about its financial condition in order to evade taxes or obtain favorable loan terms.

In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s contention that as a sitting president, he is immune from any part of the criminal justice system — including grand jury investigations. But the decision said he could go back to the lower courts and make the same arguments available to anyone trying to defeat a subpoena.

A month later, a federal judge in New York ruled against Trump’s renewed effort to get the subpoena tossed out, describing the legal attack as merely a repackaged version of his original immunity argument. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling.

The Trump legal team said the subpoena was vastly over-broad and issued in bad faith to harass him. If all Vance was looking at was the payments made by Cohen, they said, that wouldn’t explain why Vance simply copied a much broader subpoena issued by a congressional committee.

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The first subpoena issued by a state for the records of a sitting president should have been properly tailored, they told the Supreme Court.

“Its near limitless reach-in time, scope, and geographic reach-has all the hallmarks of a fishing expedition,” his lawyers told the Supreme Court. “And the fact that the subpoena was issued to a third-party custodian while tensions were running high between the Trump Organization and the district attorney, and for dubious reasons of efficiency, only makes the allegation of bad faith that much more plausible.”

But in recent court filings, Vance has hinted that the scope of his work may be broader than just the hush money payments.

“The investigation concerns a variety of business transactions and is based on information derived from public sources, confidential informants, and the grand jury process” and could include falsifying business records, insurance fraud, and tax fraud, Vance told the appeals court.

Now that the Supreme Court has cleared the way for Vance to enforce the subpoena, the president has exhausted his legal options to block it. The full tax return documents, or portions of them, would become public only if Vance brings criminal charges at some future date and seeks to introduce them as evidence.

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Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

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When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — kicks off Thursday in Orlando, Fla., it might as well be called TPAC.

That’s because this year, it is all about Trump.

The former president will headline the event with a Sunday afternoon keynote address, his first speech since leaving office last month.

It comes as the Republican Party is struggling with its identity after Donald Trump’s presidency. And yet CPAC, the largest gathering of conservative activists in the U.S., will still very much be a pro-Trump event.
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The conference, organized and sponsored by the American Conservative Union, will even keep alive Trump’s false claims of election fraud with several panels on the topic with names like “Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence,” “The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It” and “Failed States (PA, GA, NV, oh my!).”

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“We’re going to spend a lot of time looking at what happened in these states,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the ACU, said on CNN this week. Schlapp claimed to have “proof” of “widespread voter fraud in the last election,” yet presented none on air.

He went on to say that “Joe Biden is my president” and that “he won the election,” but then pivoted, raising suspicion: “That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t voter fraud and voter irregularity in the last election.”

Schlapp — a lobbyist and husband of Mercedes Schlapp, who worked in the Trump White House — is walking the same line other Republicans have been, between the truth and conspiracies that are popular with Trump and his base.

CPAC didn’t used to be so MAGA. In fact, Trump snubbed the conference in 2016 after a dispute over speech ground rules and wanting him to answer questions at the event.

Five years later, though, the political world — as well as the grassroots conservative movement — has changed substantially.

And, now, at this annual cattle call, there’s no penning Trump in.

Trump put the 2024 field on ice — and he likes it that way

In his speech, Trump is expected to draw distinctions with President Biden, particularly when it comes to immigration, which was an animating issue for the GOP base during Trump’s political tenure.

He is also expected to speak about the future of the Republican Party, and he very much wants to be seen as not just a player but the player — the “presumptive 2024 nominee,” in fact, as Axios reports.

Trump’s dangling of running again has effectively frozen the GOP field. CPAC has, for decades, been a place where presidential hopefuls have tested out their messages and possible depth of support.

A handful of would-be presidential hopefuls will be on hand this year, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

They are in an awkward holding pattern, but while ambitious potential candidates might want Trump out of the way, they want his voters even more.

That’s why people like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, tried to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, to make sure they’re still on good terms.

But after Haley was critical of the former president in a recent profile, Trump reportedly turned down the meeting. As of Wednesday evening, Haley is not on the CPAC speakers list.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, seen here after arriving back in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., on Jan. 20, has declined an invitation to speak at CPAC.
Michael Conroy/AP
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who also very much has presidential ambitions, was targeted by the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Hang Mike Pence!” some chanted, as he presided over a usually ceremonial counting of the electoral votes.

Pence had to be escorted out of the Capitol for his safety, but even as the riot was unfolding, Trump lashed out at Pence on Twitter (where Trump is now banned). He said Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” to overturn the election results — something Pence had no real power to do.

Still, despite reported tension between the two following Jan. 6, Pence told former congressional colleagues this week that he and Trump maintain a good relationship. He told them he’s forming a political organization that will defend the work of their administration.

But Pence declined an invitation to speak at CPAC.

Trump’s lofty status and an event that has changed — a lot

CPAC has taken on many different forms over the years.

To show just how much it has changed recently, consider that in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was the crowd favorite, winning the conference’s straw poll each of those four years.

But the now-Utah senator — who has been a vocal Trump critic and voted for Trump’s conviction on impeachment charges twice — is persona non grata at this Trumpy variation of CPAC.

There was also a strong libertarian strain, particularly among young attendees. Either former Texas Rep. Ron Paul or his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, were the picks of the CPAC crowd in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. But that is all but gone. Rand Paul declined an invitation to this year’s conference, as he has in recent years.

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That Trump retains in this lofty perch within the Republican Party is somewhat remarkable. When he came into office, the party controlled all the levers of power in Washington — the House, the Senate and, with his election, the White House.

Now, it controls none.

Part of how Trump has retained his hold on the rank and file is by convincing tens of millions of them that the election was stolen from him.

Trump went on a months-long disinformation campaign discrediting Biden’s victory. His inaccurate fraud claims and conspiracy theories were disproved by dozens of courts, but the depth of support for his false grievance was made plain by the thousands of his flag-waving supporters who participated in the Jan. 6 violence.

There was no peaceful transfer of power, and Trump has yet to acknowledge that he lost fair and square. For months, Trump was also enabled by elected Republican leaders who knew better and later acknowledged that Biden won legitimately.

That includes Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. They seemed to be hoping that if they gave Trump room to protest the election results through the courts, then he would come around once there were rulings.

That never happened. Instead, Trump dug in, abetted by conservative media, which amplified and gave traction to his false claims.

After Jan. 6, McConnell publicly rebuked Trump, blaming him for the riot. That landed McConnell in a very public feud with the most popular person in his party.

McCarthy — who has done head-snapping reversals over the years when it comes to Trump — first went McConnell’s path, saying Trump “bears responsibility” for the Capitol violence. But he quickly reversed course, making up with Trump in a fence-mending trip to Mar-a-Lago.

On Wednesday, McCarthy was asked if he believes Trump should be speaking at CPAC. “Yes, he should,” McCarthy said during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney — who is in House GOP leadership but voted for Trump’s impeachment — was then asked for her view.

“That’s up to CPAC,” Cheney said. “I’ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”

“On that high note, thank you all very much,” McCarthy said to laughs, as he walked off.

McCarthy participates in a panel Saturday afternoon at CPAC on “Winning Back America.” Neither McConnell nor Cheney will be appearing.

CPAC has also shown a willingness to exclude not just those who don’t line up with Trump but also some with odious and controversial views.

It’s ironic, considering this year’s CPAC theme is “America Uncanceled,” but after a left-leaning watchdog group found that one listed speaker had made anti-Semitic comments, he was disinvited.

The speaker was offended and accused CPAC of the same thing conservatives often say of Big Tech companies and universities.

“I feel like I’m being silenced,” he said. “I feel like my rights are being violated. Basically I’m being censored.”

Conservatives have complained that social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, are biased because they have banned or removed content.

Posts have been removed because the sites determined they were false or misleading or promoted conspiracies that could lead to violence — the kind of conspiracies that went mainstream during Trump’s presidency and led to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

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Health

Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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The Biden administration is planning to distribute millions of free face masks across the country to organizations serving people with low incomes, in a fresh effort to tamp down Covid-19 spread within vulnerable populations.

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“It allows people who are not able to in some situations find or afford a mask, to get a mask, and is part of our equity strategy,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, estimating the cost of supplying the masks at about $86 million.
President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus beginning next month as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government’s response to the pandemic.

Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump’s administration shelved the plans entirely.

Biden’s plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people.

“Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

The White House is not distributing safer N95 masks, of which the U.S. now has abundant supply after shortages early in the pandemic.

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The cloth masks adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.”

Biden has asked all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term, pointing to models showing it could help save 50,000 lives. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In late January, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 75% of Americans said they wear a mask all the time when they go out in public and are around others, and an additional 12% said they wear a mask most of the time.

Biden has made a virtue of his public displays of mask-wearing, drawing direct contrast with Trump, who only rarely was seen covering his face while president. Biden has also required the use of masks around the White House, unlike Trump, whose White House was the scene of at least three outbreaks of the virus.

Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans.

“I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately,” she said.

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingurhut contributed to this report.
Why it matters: The initiative comes nearly a year after Trump administration health officials first internally explored whether to send masks to every American in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread — an idea that was rejected at the time.

Public health experts have since pushed for reviving the concept as a way of reaching underserved communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who had sketched out rough plans for what masks the government should send and how it should deliver them to the entire U.S. population, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Zients on Wednesday said such a sweeping initiative would have been a “good idea” months ago, but he noted that masks are now widely available for most people.

The administration’s initiative will be more limited by comparison, with plans to distribute the cloth masks among roughly 1,300 health centers and 300 food banks. About two-thirds of people served by community health centers are living in poverty, the administration said.

Continue Reading

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communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19

Published

on

The Biden administration is planning to distribute millions of free face masks across the country to organizations serving people with low incomes, in a fresh effort to tamp down Covid-19 spread within vulnerable populations.

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The federal government will soon begin sending more than 25 million masks to community health centers, food pantries and soup kitchens, the administration said on Wednesday, with the goal of reaching as many as 15 million people with low incomes beginning in March and continuing through May.
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“It allows people who are not able to in some situations find or afford a mask, to get a mask, and is part of our equity strategy,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, estimating the cost of supplying the masks at about $86 million.
President Joe Biden plans to distribute millions of face masks to Americans in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus beginning next month as part of his efforts to ensure “equity” in the government’s response to the pandemic.

Biden, who like Donald Trump’s administration considered sending masks to all Americans, is instead adopting a more conservative approach, aiming to reach underserved communities and those bearing the brunt of the outbreak. Trump’s administration shelved the plans entirely.

Biden’s plan will distribute masks not through the mail, but instead through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of more than 25 million American-made cloth masks in both adult and kid sizes. The White House estimates they will reach 12 million to 15 million people.

“Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all have access, and not all masks are equal,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.

The White House is not distributing safer N95 masks, of which the U.S. now has abundant supply after shortages early in the pandemic.

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The cloth masks adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden hinted at the move Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion Tuesday with four essential workers who are Black, saying he expected his administration to send millions of masks to people around the country “very shortly.”

Biden has asked all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term, pointing to models showing it could help save 50,000 lives. He also required mask-wearing in federal buildings and on public transportation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In late January, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 75% of Americans said they wear a mask all the time when they go out in public and are around others, and an additional 12% said they wear a mask most of the time.

Biden has made a virtue of his public displays of mask-wearing, drawing direct contrast with Trump, who only rarely was seen covering his face while president. Biden has also required the use of masks around the White House, unlike Trump, whose White House was the scene of at least three outbreaks of the virus.

Psaki suggested earlier this month that logistical concerns underpinned the decision to scale back the plans to send masks to all Americans.

“I think there are some underlying questions about how you target them — the masks — where they go to first; obviously, it couldn’t happen immediately,” she said.

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingurhut contributed to this report.
Why it matters: The initiative comes nearly a year after Trump administration health officials first internally explored whether to send masks to every American in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread — an idea that was rejected at the time.

Public health experts have since pushed for reviving the concept as a way of reaching underserved communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who had sketched out rough plans for what masks the government should send and how it should deliver them to the entire U.S. population, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Zients on Wednesday said such a sweeping initiative would have been a “good idea” months ago, but he noted that masks are now widely available for most people.

The administration’s initiative will be more limited by comparison, with plans to distribute the cloth masks among roughly 1,300 health centers and 300 food banks. About two-thirds of people served by community health centers are living in poverty, the administration said.

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