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New evidence leads judge to revoke bail for Proud Boy leaders involved in Capitol riot
Shawna Chen Mon, April 19, 2021, 2:38 PM A federal judge will revoke bail for two leaders of the Proud Boys, a paramilitary right-wing extremist group, after they were released while awaiting trial for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection, Politico reports.
Why it matters: The judge said he was swayed by new evidence from prosecutors showing encrypted messages and profanity-laden social media posts from the defendants that vowed violence against lawmakers who planned to certify the election.
What they're saying: "The defendants stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power," Judge Timothy Kelly said about his decision. "It’s no exaggeration to say the rule of law ... in the end, the existence of our constitutional republic is threatened by it."
The ruling, previewed in a Monday court hearing, reverses an earlier decision to free the men pending trial. New evidence brought by prosecutors shows Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs played a key role in orchestrating the riots, according to Kelly, which became a deciding factor in the case.
Prosecutors say Nordean helped plan the Proud Boys' tactical strategy for Jan. 6: divide into smaller groups and overwhelm police.
Prosecutors are also holding Nordean and Biggs partially responsible for significant damage caused by a fellow Proud Boy who smashed a window with a riot shield. The group's actions led to one of the earliest breaches of the Capitol, per Politico.
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Trump calls for boycott of more companies over Georgia voting law
Rebecca Falconer Sat, April 3, 2021, 8:06 PM Former President Trump on Saturday added to a list of organizations he's calling on supporters to boycott for opposing Georgia's voting restrictions.
Driving the news: Trump on Friday urged a boycott of "woke companies" that have taken a stand and Major League Baseball for moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia, adding: "Are you listening Coke, Delta." In his new statement, he said: "Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck."
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What else he's saying: Trump accused "Radical Left Democrats" of playing dirty by boycotting companies that offend them.
"Now they are going big time with WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections," Trump said.
"It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back — we have more people than they do — by far!" he added, before making a series of complaints, including about the 2020 presidential election, and then wishing: "Happy Easter!"
The other side: Democrats have criticized the new law, with President Biden calling it "Jim Crow on steroids."
Citigroup declined to comment, and the other companies named in Trump's boycott list did not immediately return Axios' requests for comment.
Go deeper: CEOs, corporations speak out against Georgia's voting restrictions
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.
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Infrastructure Week may finally be looming on the horizon. Democratic senators pressure Biden to cut some taxes for rich people in infrastructure bill
Hans Nichols Mon, March 15, 2021, 8:51 PM Blue-state lawmakers are pressuring President Biden to cut some taxes — while he raises others — in the horse-trading for his next big package.
Why it matters: The cold math suggests Biden will be forced to sacrifice the size of his infrastructure ambitions or embrace even more deficit spending — and convince Congress to go along.
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Driving the news: Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), are pressing the White House to repeal the $10,000 limit for deducting state and local taxes — the so-called SALT cap — from their federal tax bill.
Removing the limit — imposed by President Trump's 2017 tax reforms — would cost about $88.7 billion a year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Repealing the cap is deeply unpopular with progressives, who argue doing so would favor the rich.
But many voters in high-tax (and Democratic) states — like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and California — hate the limit. The provision is scheduled to expire at the end of 2026.
The big picture: The White House has been reluctant to put a price tag on its infrastructure plans, but Democrats close to the administration say it will likely be $1 trillion to $2 trillion.
Some Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), are demanding the president find new revenue to pay for at least part of the package.
Biden himself has never been crystal clear about what new spending needed to be offset with new taxes, and gave himself an out during the 2020 campaign by maintaining "one-time" spending didn't require tax increases.
He never defined what that means and essentially stopped talking about it after he secured the nomination.
He also didn’t include it in any of his “Build Back Better” tax and infrastructure proposal.
Go deeper: During the campaign, Biden proposed policies that would raise about $3 trillion in new revenue, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model.
But Democrats close to the White House think new revenue will probably be a total of less than $1 trillion, with the easiest changes on the corporate, capital gains and personal side.
By the numbers: Manchin told Axios he would support the corporate tax rate increasing from 21% to 25%, which could yield $400 billion to $500 billion in new revenue over 10 years.
Returning the top personal rate to the pre-Trump 39.6% would bring in another $153 billion.
Taxing capital gains as ordinary income — which would eliminate the so-called “carried interest” loophole for private equity — adds another $178 billion.
The bottom line: The amount of new revenue Biden could raise night not exceed the amount of lost revenue from a full repeal of the SALT cap.
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Jared Kushner praises Biden's Iran strategy
Ivana Saric Mon, March 15, 2021, 10:42 AM Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner praised the Biden administration for its Iran strategy, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Biden's refusal to remove sanctions before Iran returns to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal is a "smart diplomatic move."
Why it matters: Kushner led Middle East peace talks on behalf of the Trump administration. Former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal in 2018, and many Republicans have called on President Biden not to return to the agreement.
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The state of play: The Biden administration will be ready to consider some sanctions relief for Iran only after talks between the parties resume and only as part of a reciprocal process, senior State Department officials tell Axios' Barak Ravid.
“Possible U.S. steps with regard to sanctions can be on the table but we need to get into a conversation with Iran, whether direct or indirect," a senior State Department official said.
"The president will not take unilateral steps when it comes to removing sanctions. Any substantial move by the U.S. will have to be part of a process in which both sides take actions."
What they're saying: "While many were troubled by the Biden team’s opening offer to work with Europe and rejoin the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, I saw it as a smart diplomatic move," Kushner wrote.
"The Biden administration called Iran’s bluff. It revealed to the Europeans that the JCPOA is dead and only a new framework can bring stability for the future," he added.
"When Iran asked for a reward merely for initiating negotiations, President Biden did the right thing and refused."
The big picture: In addition to praising the Biden administration's stance on Iran, Kushner also applauded the new president's foreign policy prioritization of China, and called for Biden to continue expanding the Trump administration's Abraham Accords between Israel and other Arab countries.
GO RV, then BV
WaPo publisher: Biden set to give Saudi crown prince "one free murder" pass on Khashoggi
Fadel Allassan Mon, March 1, 2021, 1:00 PM Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan on Monday accused President Biden of giving Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a "'one free murder' pass" after U.S. intelligence confirmed that he personally approved the killing of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Why it matters: Biden has faced criticisms that the U.S. response to the finding — which includes sanctions on entities implicated in the murder but not on Bin Salman directly — does not square with his campaign pledge to make the Saudi regime “pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”
The sanctions fall "far short of honoring" Biden's promise, Ryan wrote in a Post op-ed out Monday.
"American voters took Biden at his word that he would reestablish the United States as a champion of human rights and not allow exceptions based on personal relationships or strategic needs of the moment."
Background: Khashoggi was a prominent Saudi journalist and royal insider who became an outspoken critic of MBS in 2017.
He fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 and went into self-imposed exile in Virginia, where he wrote columns for the Washington Post that were frequently critical of the regime.
His grisly murder in 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked worldwide outrage.
What he's saying: Ryan called on further action from the Biden administration to "show the world that there is stability and continuity in upholding our enduring principles."
"We should not make exceptions to favor one brutal dictator over another based on favors they do for us or fears that they might not always respond as we would like them to," Ryan wrote.
"How can we be a credible champion of human rights when we demand accountability in one country and are willing to look the other way in another?"
The bottom line: Ryan writes: "There is no legal, moral or logical reason to apply sanctions to the lower-level players in this conspiracy, who were following orders, while letting the criminal mastermind get away without consequence."
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