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Inside Trump (Nov 30th, 2017)

President Trump controversially retweeted three "misleading" videos posted by the far-right UK nationalist group Britain First, allegedly depicting Muslims engaged in acts of violence. The three videos were titled "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!," "Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!" and "Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" A number of US and UK politicians condemned Trump's decision to shine a spotlight on Britain First, including Prime Minister Theresa May, who said "it is wrong for the president to have done this" and accused Britain First of seeking "to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives." Trump responded to May specifically on Twitter, instructing her not to focus on his tweets but "on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom." Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham accused Trump of "legitimizing religious bigotry" with the tweets, while former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised the President, tweeting "that's why we love him." Snopes notes that, in the case of the "Dutch boy on crutches," supposedly beaten by Muslim migrants, there is "no evidence to support this assertion," which originated from the video's comments section. White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders offered that "whether it’s a real video, the threat is real." – CNN

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According to the New York Times, citing senior administration officials, the White House plans to force out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The plan, apparently developed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, would then replace Pompeo at the CIA with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who has indicated that he would accept the job offer. The report anticipates that the changeover could happen as early as December or January. Should Tillerson exit the position before 2018, he would have the shortest term in office of a Secretary of State who wasn't serving an outgoing president in 120 years. – NYT

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The Trump administration plans to continue imposing "peaceful pressure" on the North Korean government following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. North Korea now claims that it has developed a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the US mainland. In response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has threatened to target financial institutions doing business with North Korea for sanctions. As well, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called on China to cut off oil supplies to the country, and to use "all available levels to convince North Korea to end its provocations." ABC News also reported, citing an unnamed State Department official, that the US planned to interdict more ships traveling to and from North Korea, hoping to seize embargoed goods being transported illegally. The UN Security Council convened on Wednesday for a special meeting devoted specifically to the situation, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreeing to put "stronger pressure and sanctions against North Korea." – ABCNEWS

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CNN reported that the President's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, met some time in November with special counsel Robert Mueller's team, to discuss previous comments he had made to lawmakers about Michael Flynn. Mueller is investigating Flynn, a former national security adviser to President Trump, and according to two unnamed sources who spoke with CNN, wanted to ensure that Kushner does not have information that could exonerate him. The discussion, which lasted less than 90 minutes total, also included discussion about Kushner and Flynn's possible roles in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. – CNN

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The former Twitter employee who temporarily shut down President Trump's account explained himself in an interview with TechCrunch. Bahtiyar Duysak worked for Twitter as a contractor during a stay in the US, but decided to leave his job and return to his native Germany. On his final day at work, Duysak encountered a report about behavior on Trump's account that potentially violated terms of service, and initiated the deactivation process before leaving the office. Duysak claims that the actual deactivation - which lasted for a total of 11 minutes - was an unintentional mistake. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has promised a full internal review and additional safeguards to address gaps in the platform's reporting system. – TECHCRUNCH

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A report from USA Today, based on the inspection of federal purchase orders, claims that the Secret Service spent $7,470 on golf carts alone during President Trump's Thanksgiving weekend stay in Florida. President Trump visited the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach four times, and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, once during the weekend. The Secret Service made a deal with Florida's Golf Cart & Utility Distributors, as part of an ongoing contract that expires in May 2018. USA Today estimates that, overall, the Secret Service has spent $144,975 on golf cart rentals during the Trump administration. – USAT

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THE LATEST: THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL

The Senate convened at 10:30 am on Thursday to continue discussions of the Republican tax bill, which has been approved through Finance Committee and brought to the main floor for debate. If passed, it will be the most significant overhaul to the US tax code since 1986.

The New York Times notes that, despite the relatively quick timeline in which the bill has been prepared, debated and approved, it could have a significant impact on day-to-day American life, potentially widening the gap between rich and poor, and severely impacting the economic well-being of communities in Democratic-leaning states like California and New York.

As well, many amendments and measures, which could potentially trigger significant changes, are flying largely under the radar at this point. One section would lift a 1954 ban on political activism by churches. A provision being discussed would allow for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The New York Times notes that the bill would reward major corporations that had stored money off-shore for decades, allowing them to import around $3 trillion in profits back to the US at a greatly reduced rate. A provision could eliminate orphan drug tax credits which reward companies developing drugs for rare diseases.

Despite these concerns about the bill's long-term impact and efficacy, and uncertainty from American voters (49% who say they are aware of the GOP tax plan oppose it), Republicans are apparently focused on securing a legislative win before the end of 2017. President Trump has described the legislation as a "big, beautiful Christmas present" to the American middle-class and "rocket fuel" for the US economy.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who had been on the bubble about potentially supporting the legislation, announced this morning on Twitter that he would vote Yes. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine remains undecided. Still being debated as part of a sometimes-chaotic process colloquially known as "vote-a-rama" are how to handle the impact of the legislation on the US deficit, and the final corporate tax rate. On Thursday and Friday, this process will add, remove or alter amendments based on specific requests from lawmakers, in an effort to secure enough support to pass the bill.

The uncertainty about the bill's passage has caused turbulence on the stock market this week. Technology stocks, including Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google, took a beating while telecom companies surged 2.7%. 

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