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Today in Trump: March 15, 2017

Trump on judges

Today in the Trump Administration

Federal judge in Hawaii puts Trump’s revised travel ban on hold

A federal judge in Hawaii has put President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on hold. 

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson granted a temporary restraining order against key parts of Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration, CBS News’ Paula Reid reports. He blocked enforcement of sections related to travel and refugees, and effectively gutted the order, which seeks to impose a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas to people from six predominantly Muslim nations and suspend the U.S. refugee program for all countries for 120 days. 

The ruling applies across the U.S. and around the world, and prevents the order from going into effect Thursday. It was set to go into effect March 16 at 12:01 a.m.

Trump says tax return leak was “illegal” and a “disgrace”

President Donald Trump says he doesn’t know who released part of his 2005 tax return and described the disclosure as “illegal.”

“I have no idea where they got it but it’s illegal and they’re not supposed to have it and its not supposed to be leaked and it’s certainly not an embarrassing tax return at all but it’s an illegal thing they’ve been doing it, they’ve done it before and I think it’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in an interview airing Wednesday night. 

Devin Nunes says “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower”

The House Intelligence Committee’s top members, Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff, both of California, have so far not been presented by the Justice Department with any evidence backing up President Trump’s tweeted allegation that former President Obama tapped Donald Trump’s phones during the election. Nunes on Wednesday suggested the president could be wrong. 

“I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” he told reporters at the Capitol, and he said that if Mr. Trump’s allegations are taken literally, then “clearly the president was wrong.”  

A top Senate Dem calls for more information from Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

With less than a week until Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s hearings, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling for more information from the judge.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) wrote in a letter to Gorsuch Tuesday that he had not yet completed her request for a list of all “significant cases” in which he helped make decisions or “developed case strategy.”

Trump border wall: Texans receiving letters about their land

Even before Donald Trump was inaugurated, U.S. citizens who own land along the border reportedly began receiving letters from the Justice Department informing them that the federal government wants their land to build a fence (i.e. the president’s border wall), that it intends to acquire their land, and the amount of compensation the government is offering.

Yvette Salinas, a Texan whose ailing mother owns a small parcel of land with her siblings near the Rio Grande was informed by the “Declaration of Taking” letter sent by DOJ that her 1.2 acres was worth $2,900, according to a story in the Texas Observer. She told the Observer that the family’s 16 acres has been in her family for five generations. The government’s letter asks recipients to sign in order to receive compensation, acknowledge that they “do not have an interest” in the case or do not intend to make a claim. It doesn’t really say what landowners should do if, like Salinas, they don’t want to sell their land.  

On Twitter, Trump criticizes reporter who revealed tax return

President Trump on Wednesday slammed the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who revealed part of Mr. Trump’s 2005 tax return a night earlier on prime-time TV.

In a tweet, Mr. Trump said that David Cay Johnston’s claim that he received the documents in his mailbox is “fake news.”

Trump tax return gives rare look at president’s finances

Americans are getting a rare look at President Trump’s finances.

The White House confirmed details of the president’s 2005 federal tax return after its first two pages were leaked Tuesday.

Mr. Trump reported more than $150 million in income in 2005. He paid $38 million in federal income taxes.

Dan Coats confirmed as Trump’s Director of National Intelligence

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s choice for national intelligence director.

Senators voted 85-12 Wednesday to approve the nomination of former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, making him the fifth person to hold the post created after the Sept. 11 attacks.

House GOP working on companion bill to Obamacare replacement to attract skeptics

House Republicans are working on a companion to their bill replacing “Obamacare,” a legislative second act that would ease cross-state sale of health insurance and limit jury awards for pain and suffering in malpractice lawsuits.

The problem: the so-called “sidecar” bill lacks the votes in the Senate.

Skeptics abound. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas called it “mythical legislation” in an interview Tuesday on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. In a tweet, conservative Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., suggested “Easter basket” might be a better description.

Revised travel ban to be scrutinized in court a day before it takes effect Thursday

The day before it is supposed to go into effect President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban will be scrutinized in federal courtrooms across the country on Wednesday.

In Maryland, a U.S. judge will hear arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union and others who want to stop the new directive and more than a half-dozen states are trying to derail the executive order affecting travelers from six Muslim-majority nations.

Rex Tillerson embarks on Asia trip amid Korea concerns

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is taking off for Japan, South Korea and China this week for his maiden trip to the region. Amid North Korean missile testing and after a campaign in which President Trump criticized all three countries, the trip is designed to cement U.S. commitment to allies and initiate a conversation on how to best tackle the North’s provocations.

The four-day trip will immerse Tillerson in an intensive diplomatic crash course -- he’ll meet each of the country’s foreign ministers and travel with the State Department’s top experts to the region.

As Tillerson makes connections with his counterparts, there are concerns about how seriously he will be taken, given his quiet posture thus far.  

Rex Tillerson breaks precedent and brings only one reporter on trip to Asia

A reporter from a conservative-leaning website is the only media representative accompanying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his trip to Asia this week.

The website, the Independent Journal Review, said late Tuesday that IJR reporter Erin McPike is the lone journalist traveling with Tillerson on his tour to Japan, South Korea and China. The State Department confirmed the account. The trip is taking place amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Rex Tillerson in Tokyo

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Tokyo, holds joint availability with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and they’ll hold a joint media availability, which will be Tillerson’s first press conference as secretary of state (time TBA).

Trump in Michigan, Nashville

He’ll speak in Ypsilanti, Michigan with automakers at 2 p.m. before heading to Nashville to lay a wreath and make remarks at the Hermitage (5:15 p.m.), Andrew Jackson’s birthplace and then at a campaign-style rally in the evening (7:30 p.m.).

Warren - Gorsuch 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds press conference outside Supreme Court to protest nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice, 9:30 a.m.

What you missed yesterday in Trump News

Donald Trump’s tax returns - portion of 2005 1040 released

In 2005, Donald Trump paid $38 million -- or about 25.3 percent -- in taxes on income of over $150 million, the White House said in a statement Tuesday night. In 2005, the tax rate for top earners was 35 percent. Currently, the top rate is 39.6 percent. In addition, the White House said that Mr. Trump paid “tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes.”

House Committee extends deadline for DOJ to provide wiretapping evidence

Facing a Monday deadline, the Justice Department asked lawmakers for more time to provide evidence backing up President Donald Trump’s unproven assertion that his predecessor wiretapped his New York skyscraper during the election. The request came as the White House appeared to soften Trump’s explosive allegation.

The House intelligence committee said it would give the Justice Department until March 20 to comply with the evidence request. That’s the date of the committee’s first open hearing on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia.

5 unusual things about the Trump presidency

Detractors and supporters alike agree that President Trump’s presidency has already marked a departure from many of the norms of previous administrations. Here are five unusual facets of Mr. Trump’s White House and his tenure so far as commander-in-chief. 

Breitbart audio has Paul Ryan pledging not to defend Trump

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers that he would not defend then-candidate Donald Trump in October, according to audio published Tuesday by Breitbart News.

Ryan’s comments came after a leaked Access Hollywood video appeared to show Mr. Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. In the October 10 phone call that followed, media outlets including CBS reported that the speaker said he wouldn’t defend Mr. Trump and encouraged Republican lawmakers to do what was right for them in their bids to win reelection.

Ryan defends CBO estimate the 24M would lose insurance by 2026

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday that the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate that 24 million people would lose health insurance by 2026 under the GOP health bill is because the legislation would eliminate Obamacare’s individual mandate.

In an interview on Fox News’ “Special Report” with host Bret Baier, the Wisconsin Republican said CBO’s report “exceeded my expectations” and he said that before Obamacare, 25 million were predicted to gain insurance, but now it’s only half of that estimate.

Rex Tillerson accused of using alias in climate change emails

The New York attorney general says that while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of Exxon Mobil he used an alias in emails to talk about climate change.

The attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, made the accusation in a letter to a New York court Monday. He is investigating whether the company deceived investors and the public by hiding for decades what it knew about the link between fossil fuels and climate change.

Trump Schedule 

Mr. Trump has lunch with Saudi Dep. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdualaziz Al Saud, 12:30 p.m.; he speaks with Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish and HHS Secretary Price by phone, 3 p.m. (closed), and he has a phone conversation with Speaker Paul Ryan and House GOP leader McCarthy, 4 p.m.

Cabinet

Sen. Finance Committee holds confirmation hearing on nomination of Robert Lighthizer to be U.S. trade representative, 10 a.m.

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