One down, one to go
He didn’t throw a party in the White House Rose Garden like in May, when House Republicans passed a heath care bill, only to see the effort die in the Senate.
But President Donald Trump celebrated the House passage of a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that sharply cuts taxes for corporations and small businesses, and lowers many individual rates in a bid to spur economic growth and boost paychecks.
It’s a “a big step,” Trump tweeted, “toward fulfilling our promise to deliver historic TAX CUTS for the American people by the end of the year!”
Again, the Senate is a question mark, writes Newsday’s Tom Brune. Its bill differs from the House version in significant ways — most notably by eliminating the Obamacare health insurance mandate.
The House bill passed without the support of five New York Republicans, including Long Island’s Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, because it ends deductions for most state and local taxes.
Not for him to judge
Calling for Roy Moore to quit the Alabama Senate race would mean taking on Moore’s die-hard supporters, who have also been Trump supporters. The president isn’t going that far.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump finds the accusations of sexual misconduct against the former judge “very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.”
But Trump agreed with the decision of the Republican National Committee to withdraw its resources from the race, Sanders said.
Janison: Just can’t quit her
What would Trump do without Hillary Clinton to kick around? His frequent answer to all things about Russia meddling — Look at her, not me — has gotten some traction, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
The what-aboutism was useful last year, too. Facing accusations of sexual misconduct, Trump sought to turn the spotlight on Bill Clinton.
The Roy Moore situation is trickier — taking a clear side in that fight would bring new attention to Trump’s own history.
Kirsten was 'with her' -- not him
It is suddenly far from uncommon for self-flagellating Democrats to look back in retrospect and take Bill Clinton's sexual transgressions seriously enough to say he should have quit the presidency 20 years ago.
But it is surprising to hear it come from Hillary Clinton's successor as New York junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, a professional idolizer of the former first lady and secretary of state.
Says the New York Times: "Asked directly if she believed Mr. Clinton should have stepped down at the time, Ms. Gillibrand took a long pause and said, 'Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.'"
Even more interesting, longtime Hillary aide Philippe Reines tweeted his accustomed brand of verbal abuse at Gillibrand: "Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual [sexual act]. Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat.
Donald is spankin' Franken
Distracting from the Roy Moore mess, Trump churned out a Howard Stern-like putdown of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) who has now admitted under pressure to a transgression of his own, apologized, and faces an ethics investigation.
"And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women," Trump tweeted. That and another related tweet opened the door to a social-media recirculation of unresolved charges against the president that he forced himself on women, as well as what many perceived as inappropriate public statements about his daughter.
He said, he said, they said
What voters believe on sexual harassment accusations sometimes lines up with who they support, but not always, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey.
Asked whether the stories about Trump were credible, 83 percent of Clinton voters said yes. Only 6 percent of Trump voters thought so, while 52 percent rated them not credible and 42 percent hadn’t formed an opinion.
Hillary Clinton’s voters don’t cut Bill Clinton such a big break. A majority of them — 53 percent — called harassment claims against the former president credible, while 11 percent said not credible and 36 percent hadn’t formed an opinion. Among Trump voters, 84 percent believe those stories.
What’s up with the docs?
The Senate Judiciary Committee is wondering why documents turned over by Jared Kushner don’t include emails of his that have showed up from other witnesses in the Russia investigation.
Among them, the committee said, are emails received in September 2016 about WikiLeaks and about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” They were forwarded to another campaign official by Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior White House adviser.
What else is happening
- Reversing a ban issued under Barack Obama, the Trump administration said it will allow the importation of elephant-part trophies from big-game hunts in Africa.
- The Pentagon says it accidentally retweeted a tweet that urged Trump to resign. The posting came from an authorized operator of the account who “caught this error and immediately deleted it,” a Defense Department spokesman said.
- Trump said Wednesday that China agrees with his push to completely denuclearize North Korea. China’s Foreign Ministry seemed to contradict him Thursday, saying Beijing still favors a freeze in the nuclear program.
- Trump accepted thanks from three UCLA basketball players he helped get out of China after their arrests for shoplifting. “You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China,” he tweeted, along with advice: “Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”