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Mnuchin and GOP pols make the rounds to sell tax plan

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, seen here on Nov.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, seen here on Nov. 27, 2017, talked up the GOP tax bill on the Sunday morning talk shows. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer

Touting the tax plan

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican lawmakers made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, touting the “simplicity” of the GOP tax plan that President Donald Trump is pushing Congress to pass before Christmas.

“This is about simplifying taxes and simplifying the business systems,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So there will always be people who complain they are losing tax breaks, but this is about making it simple for the American public.”

Not as simple for Mnuchin was answering what percentage of the GOP tax cuts will go to the middle class. He told CNN’s “State of the Union”: “The number is very complicated, and different people will present it different ways.”

Read the full Sunday talk show roundup by Newsday’s David M. Schwartz and Scott Eidler.

Winners and losers

Long Island overall loses big under the tax plan, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune.

Local business leaders, lawmakers and economists say Long Islanders will take a hit because the bill eliminates the full deduction for state and local taxes, called SALT — which is why every member of Congress who represents the Island says he or she will vote no on the bill Tuesday.

“While there may be a few winners, the majority of Long Islanders will pay more federal taxes, as they will no longer be able to deduct all their state and local taxes,” said Kevin Law, CEO of the pro-business Long Island Association.

Long Island’s winners include corporations and those earning more than $500,000, who will see a drop in their tax rate under the plan.

Trump stands to profit

Trump and some Republican lawmakers who have backed the compromise tax plan could gain financially from the legislation should it pass, thanks to a last-minute carve-out added to the plan on Friday, reports the International Business Times.

An IBT review found that a last-minute real estate carve-out for LLCs could generate millions for Trump and other real estate moguls. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was long considered a “no” vote on the plan, voiced his support for the legislation soon after the provision was added, notes the IBT.

“Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit,” according to the online news outlet.

Rep. John Cornyn (R-Texas), asked about the report on Sunday, said that “picking out one piece in a 1,000-page bill and saying, well, this is going to benefit somebody, I just think that takes the whole bill out of context.”

You’re (not) fired!

Trump told reporters Sunday he has no plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Asked by reporters if he planned to oust Mueller amid growing calls from Trump’s allies to boot the lead Russia probe investigator, the president told reporters: “No, I’m not.”

Reporters asked Trump about Mueller’s future as he returned to the White House Sunday evening from Camp David. The questions came a day after Trump’s attorneys accused Mueller of improperly obtaining emails from the president’s transition team.

Trump attorney Kory Langhofer sent a letter to congressional investigators on Saturday contending that Mueller’s team improperly obtained the documents from the General Services Administration, according to The Washington Post.

Langhofer said Trump’s legal team did not have the opportunity to review the documents before they were forked over to Mueller’s team in its ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mueller spokesman Peter Carr dismissed the claims, saying the emails were secured properly with “either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

“It’s quite sad”

Asked if he thought the emails were obtained improperly, Trump told reporters: “It’s not looking good.”

“It’s quite sad to see that,” Trump said. “My people are very upset about it. I can’t imagine there’s anything on ’em, frankly, because as we said, there’s no collusion. There’s no collusion whatsoever. A lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.”

Putin thanks the CIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin had some friendly words to offer U.S. intelligence officials in a phone call with Trump on Sunday.

Putin called Trump to thank the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for sharing information that helped Russia snuff out a suspected terrorist attack, according to summaries of the call released by the White House and the Russian Embassy.

Russian officials said the CIA’s information helped stop a series of bombings planned for St. Peterburg this weekend, including an alleged Islamic State-tied plan to bomb the Kazan Cathedral.

Gillibrand rising

Trump’s attempt to knock down Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter may have given her a political boost instead, reports Newsday’s Yancey Roy.

After Trump fired off a tweet last week calling Gillibrand a “lightweight” who “begged” him for campaign donations, New York’s junior senator soon found herself making the rounds on national TV, and the exchange lifted her name among those mentioned as Democratic contenders in the 2020 presidential election.

Gillibrand, who is up for re-election in New York in 2018, long has been vocal about sexual harassment and assault, especially advocating changes in how the military handles such cases. She irked many in her own party when she said in November that, in hindsight, former President Bill Clinton should have resigned over sexual harassment allegations.

What else is happening

  • A mother whose son was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School slammed Trump for hosting the head of the NRA at a White House holiday party on the fifth anniversary of the shooting, reports The Hill.
  • Fetus, transgender and science-based are among the words and phrases the Trump administration has banned Centers for Disease Control officials from using, according to The Washington Post.
  • The GOP tax plan will jeopardize New York City’s mass transit funding, according to a report released Sunday.

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