Tues 2 May, 2017
Photo left: Constant street violence in the failed state of Venezuela.
Hour One: Larry Kudlow, CNBC. Gregory Zuckerman, WSJ. Avik Roy, Forbes.com.
Trump's business tax cut is the success of 2017. @Larry_Kudlow @GregoryZuckerman
"Several studies do find that tax cuts boost investment. One study of Canada’s tax cuts teased out the effect by comparing service industries, which benefited from the cuts with manufacturing, which already enjoyed a low rate and thus had less to gain. Services investment was highly responsive.
A 2004 study of 85 countries by Andrei Shleifer of Harvard University and four others suggests that a 10-percentage-point reduction in the effective corporate tax rate raises investment’s share of gross domestic product by 2 percentage points. Another study, co-written by Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been nominated chairman of Mr. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, found that in 12 of 14 countries that enacted tax reforms, including the U.S. in 1986, investment rose significantly for the firms that saw the biggest reductions in taxes.
Still, while these studies suggest lower corporate taxes have the predicted effect on investment, they don’t show national growth rose as a result.
Of course no two tax cuts are alike. Other countries may not provide a reliable road map for what awaits the U.S. Many raised other levies, such as the value added tax, to pay for corporate rate cuts. Mr. Trump hasn’t proposed significantly raising any taxes other than limiting some personal tax breaks, and indeed would cut personal income-tax rates, which in theory incentivizes more work...."
Hour Two: Stephen F. Cohen, EastWestAccord.com.
Trump and Putin chat Detente: What can go wrong and why. Stephen F. Cohen, @NYU @Princeton EastWestAccord.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed working together to end the violence in Syria on Tuesday in their first phone call since U.S. air strikes in Syria strained U.S.-Russian relations.
The White House said the two leaders agreed that "all parties must do all they can to end the violence" in Syria and that Trump and Putin also discussed working together against Islamic militants throughout the Middle East.
"The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons," a White House statement said.
Both men also spoke in favor of organizing a face-to-face meeting around the time of the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, according to the Kremlin statement. However, this was not mentioned in the White House's summary of the call.
Hour Three: Mary Anastasia O'Grady, WSJ. Bob Zimmermna, BehindtheBlack.com.
Venezuela is a failed state; Puerto Rico is in failure; & What is to be done? Mary Anastasia O'Grady
"..At a February forum for youth in Miranda state, a 16-year-old girl politely informed Mr. Maduro that students in her school often faint from hunger. She also reported a hole in the school roof and a shortage of desks.
The young men in the streets have a different way of communicating, oozing fury as they dart among heavily armed security forces. Casualties only stiffen their resolve. Mr. Maduro was pelted with stones as he left a military rally in Bolívar state last week.
The folkloric demagogue Chávez never needed to send dissidents to “the wall” to be shot by firing squads, as Castro did in 1959. Chávez consolidated power during a period of dollar weakness, which drove gold and oil prices ever higher. With a gusher of greenbacks he bought a base of popular support, backing from some in the business community, and control of the military leadership. He was rough with outspoken critics, but they were a minority..."
Hour Four: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR. Tom Hals, Reuters. Sean Rushton, WSJ. Anthony Roggeiro, FDD
Russian agent Fusion GPS hired MI6 veteran Christopher Steele to compile a dossier to defame Trump. @ThadMcCotter
The Honorable James B. Comey, Jr. Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20535
Dear Director Comey:
April 28, 2017
On March 6, 2017, I wrote to you requesting information about the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Christopher Steele, the author of the political opposition research dossier alleging collusion between associates of Mr. Trump and the Russian government. Although that letter asked for a response by March 20, the FBI has failed to provide one.
Ranking Member Feinstein and I had previously written to the FBI on February 15, 2017, asking for a briefing and documents relating to the resignation of Mr. Flynn and the leaks of classified information involving him. After a startling lack of responsiveness from the FBI, I was forced to delay Committee proceedings on the nomination for Deputy Attorney General in order to obtain DOJ’s cooperation. In response, on March 15, 2017, you did provide a briefing about the FBI’s Russia investigation to Ranking Member Feinstein and me. While a few of the questions from my March 6 letter were also addressed in that briefing, most were not. Nor was there any indication from the FBI before or during the briefing that the FBI considered it to be responsive to the March 6 letter.
Nonetheless, on April 19, 2017, the FBI sent Ranking Member Feinstein and me a four- sentence letter purporting to be in response to both the February 15 and March 6 letters. Two of those sentences are merely the standard closing boilerplate language in all FBI letters. The letter did not answer any questions and instead incorrectly claimed that the briefing addressed the concerns raised in both the February 15 and March 6 letters. That is incorrect. The FBI has failed to provide documents requested in the March 6 letter or to answer the vast majority of its questions.
There appear to be material inconsistencies between the description of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele that you did provide in your briefing and information contained in Justice Department documents made available to the Committee only after the briefing. Whether those inconsistencies
Director Comey April 28, 2017 Page 2 of 3
were honest mistakes or an attempt to downplay the actual extent of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, it is essential that the FBI fully answer all of the questions from the March 6 letter and provide all the requested documents in order to resolve these and related issues.
Also, more information has since come to the Committee’s attention about the company overseeing the creation of the dossier, Fusion GPS. Namely, Fusion GPS is the subject of a complaint to the Justice Department, which alleges that the company violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working on behalf of Russian principals to undermine U.S. sanctions against Russians. That unregistered work was reportedly conducted with a former Russian intelligence operative, Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin, and appears to have been occurring simultaneous to Fusion GPS’s work overseeing the creation of the dossier. I wrote to the Justice Department about this issue on March 31, copying you, and I have attached that letter here for your reference. The Justice Department has yet to respond.
In addition to fully answering my March 6, 2017 letter, please also provide the following documents and information:
1. Documentation of all payments made to Mr. Steele, including for travel expenses, if any; the date of any such payments; the amount of such payments; the authorization for such payments.
2. When the FBI was in contact with Mr. Steele or otherwise relying on information in the dossier, was it aware that his employer, Fusion GPS, was allegedly simultaneously working as an unregistered agent for Russian interests? Please provide all related documents.
3. If so, when and how did FBI become aware of this information? Did it include this information about Fusion GPS’s alleged work for Russian principals in any documents describing or relying on information from the dossier? If not, why not?
4. If the FBI was previously unaware of Fusion GPS’s alleged unregistered activity on behalf of Russian interests and connections with a former Russian intelligence operative, does the FBI plan to amend any applications, reports, or other documents it has created that describe or rely on the information in the dossier to add this information? If so, please provide copies of all amended documents. If not, why not?
Please provide all the requested documents and full answers to all the question by May 12,
2017. I hope that this matter can be resolved without additional holds on nominees. These are important issues that require public transparency. I anticipate that your responses to these questions may contain both classified and unclassified information. Please send all unclassified material directly to the Committee. In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to the Committee, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security. Although the Committee complies with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, it is not bound, absent its prior agreement, by any handling restrictions or instructions on unclassified information unilaterally asserted by the Executive Branch.
Director Comey April 28, 2017 Page 3 of 3
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Davis of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary