Things That Matter

With The Help Of A Few Politicians, The White House Has Announced A Full Review Of U.S.-Cuba Policies

President Donald Trump’s administration has announced that several Obama-era Cuban policies are now up for review. One policy that could possibly be reversed is the ‘wet foot, dry foot‘ policy that Obama discontinued eight days before Trump took office. According to The Daily Caller, the Trump administration has been trying to figure out a way to start reviewing and changing parts of the policies Obama made with Cuba since February 2017. Now, with the urging of Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, it has been confirmed that Cuba-U.S. policies are under full review. During a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited Trump’s commitment “to an agenda of ensuring human rights for all citizens throughout the world.”

“We’ve been walking through all these issues with the president and his team, figuring out the right steps to take and when,” Rubio told El Nuevo Herald. “I am confident that President Trump will treat Cuba like the dictatorship it is and that our policy going forward will reflect the fact that it is not in the national interest of the United States for us to be doing business with the Cuban military.”

If Trump follows through with the review and implementation of the recommendations, there could be new restrictions on travel and trade but will not impact the thawing of diplomatic ties with the island nation. According to The Independent, we can expect a decision from the White House about Cuba in June.

People were quick to make jokes that Trump is really just trying to curry favor for a new Cuban hotel.


?

Like, seriously. The Trump Tower in Cuba joke was the joke du jour.


After all, nothing says Cuba like a giant gold tower in Havana, right?

Some lamented the likelihood of not being able to travel to Cuba.


“Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn’t a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom,” Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said in a statement. “It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government.”

Some people are celebrating the announcement of a change in policy toward Cuba.


But many are just left confused about why Trump is putting his energy into Cuba right now.


READ: Cuban Refugees Will No Longer Benefit From ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’

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Donald Trump Refused To Condemn His White Supremacists Pals And In fact, Told Them To ‘Stand By’

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Donald Trump Refused To Condemn His White Supremacists Pals And In fact, Told Them To ‘Stand By’

Spencer Platt / Getty

Last night’s first presidential debate of the 2020 election gave us about as much optimism and assurance of safety as his past four years in office. Particularly because when it came to the moments when our current president was given a chance by moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacists and “militia” groups while also demanding that they stand down as opposed to inciting violence, he refused.

Even if you’ve yet to watch Tuesday night’s debates, you’ve undoubtedly heard that throughout the night Donald Trump acted like a child who had never once been taught by a teacher to wait his turn to speak. Or, to simply answer a question. Shockingly, Trump stuck to this approach in one of the most critical aspects of the debates that could have gained him followers or at least assuaged Americans and their fears about his leadership and morality.

When it came to the moment when he was asked to condemn white nationalists and militia groups Trump pussyfooted around then gave a pretty damning response.

During last night’s debate when asked to denounce those groups, Trump gave non-committal answers.

When asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace asked if he was willing and ready to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and tell them to stand down during the current and ongoing demonstrations taking place across the country, Trump told one group to “stand back and stand by.”

What’s more, he asserted that violence at the protests was not being instigated by conservatives.

“Sure,” Trump responded. “I’m willing to [tell them to stand down] but I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”

“Say it. Do it. Say it,” Biden urged Trump in response to his non commital answers.

“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump shot back, turning his attention to Wallace. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

The Proud Boys are a far-right men-only organization that has been spotted at multiple 2020 Trump campaign rallies wearing black and yellow polo shirt uniforms.

The group promotes and often engages in political violence.

This is why Trump’s non-committal responses like “Sure” to requests from Wallace and Biden to condemn these groups are worrisome. Even more so why, when pressed by Wallace and Biden who pointed out repeatedly that “sure” is not the same as actually doing so was so troubling as well. Moreover, it’s important to note that Trump’s response to “I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing” is another “all lives matter” kind of way to denouncing white supremacist groups.

Of course this is not the first time the president has defended the actions of white supremacists.

In August, Trump refused to condemn the actions of his supporters in Portland, Oregon, and Wisconsin who used pepper spray to attack demonstrators. In the past, Trump has also defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a shooter who attempted homicide in Kenosha, Wisconsin at a BLM protest, saying that he had been “very violently attacked.”

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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

BILL PUGLIANO / GETTY

After four long years, we finally know why Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns: abominably, he thought his terrible haircuts and adult age children were worthy of write-offs. Oh yeah… and the year he was elected he only paid $750.00.

Long before his 2016 presidential election bid, Trump dodged calls to reveal his tax returns. At the time of his bid, however, he refused to take part in a 40-year tradition carried out by presidential nominees to release tax returns to the public. During his initial run, Trump falsely claimed that he was unable to release his returns publicly while they were under audit, and throughout his presidency, he has avoided sharing them despite grand jury subpoenas. Fortunately, thanks to a piece published by The New York Times, they’re finally getting a chance to see the light of day.

On Sunday, The New York Times published the first of several reports examining Trump’s tax information.

In 2016, Trump became the first president since 1976 to not release his tax records. The decision promptly roused dismay and questions about whether the records carried “undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions.”

According to NYT’s latest exposé, Trump (a man who has long boasted about his wealth and has also claimed a net worth of billions of which he has also declared to be self-acquired) paid a mere total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

While the Times report did not cover 2018 and 2019 tax filings, the newspaper looked into 18 years of Trump’s tax returns. They also looked into his business dealings as far back as 2000 and found that in 10 of those years, the president of the United States failed to pay any income taxes “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”

The Times also revealed that Trump “racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes” despite millions in income and property. In a statement for the piece, Alan Garten an attorney for the Trump Organization claimed to the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts, appear to be inaccurate.” NoteL the Times underlined that Garten appeared to be “conflating income taxes with other federal taxes.”

According to the article, beginning in 2010, Trump had been given a $72.9 million tax refund from the IRS.

The Times article explains in detail how Trump has managed to handle his business and categorize his wealth. The paper found that most often, Trump claimed his expenses as deductions from his tax bill chalking them up to business expenses. These include nearly $70,000 in hairstyling costs for his time on NBC’s “The Apprentice” over $300,000 for landscaping of the Mar-a-Lago Club and $95,000 written off for hair and makeup done for his daughter Ivanka. That’s right, the president wrote off his own adult children.

Addressing the report, the Times noted that they would not include the actual tax documents in its coverage to avoid outing its sources.

“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” Times editor Dean Baquet wrote in an editor’s note. “Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.”

In response to the reports, Trump called the story “fake news” during a White House press conference on Sunday.

Speaking about the piece, Trump bemoaned that the IRS “does not treat me well.” “It’s totally fake news. Made-up, fake,” he continued. “We went through the same stories, people you could’ve asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it. Totally fake news… Actually, I paid tax, and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit,” Trump went onto explain. “They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. … They don’t treat me well; they treat me very badly. You have people in the IRS, they treat me very, very badly…But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you, but that’s just fake news.”

It’s important to note that even an audit could not prevent Trump from releasing his tax records to the public.

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