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How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-FEDEXTAX-01-facebookJumbo How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0 United States Politics and Government United States Trump, Donald J Taxation Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Stock Buybacks Smith, Frederick Fedex Corporation Federal Taxes (US) Corporate Taxes

WASHINGTON — In the 2017 fiscal year, FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes. The next year, it owed nothing. What changed was the Trump administration’s tax cut — for which the company had lobbied hard.

The public face of its lobbying effort, which included a tax proposal of its own, was FedEx’s founder and chief executive, Frederick Smith, who repeatedly took to the airwaves to champion the power of tax cuts. “If you make the United States a better place to invest, there is no question in my mind that we would see a renaissance of capital investment,” he said on an August 2017 radio show hosted by Larry Kudlow, who is now chairman of the National Economic Council.

Four months later, President Trump signed into law the $1.5 trillion tax cut that became his signature legislative achievement. FedEx reaped big savings, bringing its effective tax rate from 34 percent in fiscal year 2017 to less than zero in fiscal year 2018, meaning that, overall, the government technically owed it money. But it did not increase investment in new equipment and other assets in the fiscal year that followed, as Mr. Smith said businesses like his would.

Nearly two years after the tax law passed, the windfall to corporations like FedEx is becoming clear. A New York Times analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ shows no statistically meaningful relationship between the size of the tax cut that companies and industries received and the investments they made. If anything, the companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investment by less, on average, than companies that got smaller cuts.

FedEx’s financial filings show that the law has so far saved it at least $1.6 billion. Its financial filings show it owed no taxes in the 2018 fiscal year overall. Company officials said FedEx paid $2 billion in total federal income taxes over the past 10 years.

As for capital investments, the company spent less in the 2018 fiscal year than it had projected in December 2017, before the tax law passed. It spent even less in 2019. Much of its savings have gone to reward shareholders: FedEx spent more than $2 billion on stock buybacks and dividend increases in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $1.6 billion in 2018, and more than double the amount the company spent on buybacks and dividends in fiscal year 2017.

A spokesman said it was unfair to judge the effect of the tax cuts on investment by looking at year-to-year changes in the company’s capital spending plans.

“FedEx invested billions in capital items eligible for accelerated depreciation and made large contributions to our employee pension plans,” the company said in a statement. “These factors have temporarily lowered our federal income tax, which was the law’s intention to help grow G.D.P., create jobs and increase wages.”

FedEx’s use of its tax savings is representative of corporate America. Companies have already saved upward of $100 billion more on their taxes than analysts predicted when the law was passed. Companies that make up the S&P 500 index had an average effective tax rate of 18.1 percent in 2018, down from 25.9 percent in 2016, according to an analysis of securities filings. More than 200 of those companies saw their effective tax rates fall by 10 points or more. Nearly three dozen, including FedEx, saw their tax rates fall to zero or reported that tax authorities owed them money.

From the first quarter of 2018, when the law fully took effect, companies have spent nearly three times as much on additional dividends and stock buybacks, which boost a company’s stock price and market value, than on increased investment.

The law cut the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, and allowed companies to deduct the full cost of new equipment investments in the year that they make them. Those cuts stimulated the American economy in 2018, helping to push economic growth to 2.5 percent for the year and fueling a boost in hiring. Business investment rose at an 8.8 percent rate in the first quarter of 2018, and was nearly as strong in the second quarter.

But the impact dwindled quickly.

In the summer, the economy grew at just 1.9 percent and business investment fell 3 percent, including a 15.3 percent plunge in spending on factories and offices. Over the spring, companies spent less on new investments, after adjusting for inflation, than they had in the winter.

Overall business investment during Mr. Trump’s tenure has now grown more slowly since the tax cuts were passed than before.

Some conservative economists and business leaders say the effects of the tax cuts were undercut by uncertainty from Mr. Trump’s trade war, which is slowing global growth and prompting companies to freeze projects. Other economists say the fizzle is predictable because high tax rates were not holding back investment.

“It did provide a short-term boost, but it wasn’t the big response that many people expected,” said Aparna Mathur, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who recently concluded that the 2017 law has not meaningfully changed investment patterns in America.

Mr. Smith, 75, a former Marine who built FedEx from a small package delivery service into a global logistics giant, was no stranger to pressing for lower taxes. He tried, without success, to get President Barack Obama to cut the corporate rate. But with Mr. Trump’s ascension, the corporate chief began a one-man campaign to convince Washington that now was the moment. He met with the president-elect at Trump Tower on Nov. 17, just days after the election, and appeared alongside the president at official events.

In a conference call with analysts the month after Mr. Trump’s election, Alan Graf, FedEx’s chief financial officer, called the prospect of a 20 percent corporate tax rate “a mighty fine Christmas gift.”

Mr. Smith teamed up with his competitor, David Abney, the chairman and chief executive of UPS, to push for a tax overhaul, including jointly writing an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

“Fred and I even jointly had some meetings about this with key people, and we were both pushing pretty hard,” Mr. Abney said in a recent interview.

FedEx spent $10 million on lobbying in 2017, in line with previous spending, with much of it focused on tax issues, according to federal records. Its team pushed hard to shape the bill behind the scenes, meeting regularly with House and Senate committee staff who were writing the provisions.

Mr. Smith met with Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in February 2017, and on May 26 he spoke on the phone with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, according to Mr. Mnuchin’s public calendar.

Eight months after Congress passed the law, Mr. Trump celebrated the tax cuts by hosting Mr. Smith and other business leaders at a dinner at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club. He singled out Mr. Smith several times, bantering with him about a term paper that Mr. Smith had written while a student at Yale. The paper formed the basis for the creation of FedEx.

The next week, Mr. Smith boasted of his company’s influence on the law in the company’s annual report, which noted that FedEx is “investing more than $4.2 billion in our people and our network as a result of the tax act.”

FedEx increased the size of its work force by around 4 percent in its 2018 fiscal year and around 7 percent in its 2019 fiscal year.

The company also accelerated previously scheduled wage increases for hourly employees by six months. It gave performance-based pay to other managers and said it would invest $1.5 billion over seven years in its Indianapolis shipping hub. The company also bought 24 Boeing freight jets for $6.6 billion, a purchase officials say would not have happened without tax cuts.

But the company ended its 2018 fiscal year having spent $240 million less on capital investments than it predicted it would in December 2017, shortly before the tax cuts passed. The company’s capital spending declined by nearly $175 million in fiscal 2019.

This year, the company cut back employee bonuses and has offered buyouts in an effort to reduce labor costs in the face of slowing global growth. The company has also added to its pension fund, a move that carried the benefit of reducing its tax liability even further.

FedEx reduced its tax liability in part by taking advantage of a provision in the law that allowed companies to immediately deduct the value of any capital investments they make in a given year. But its biggest gains were from the cut in the corporate rate. FedEx had been carrying a large amount of future tax liabilities on its balance sheet — and when the corporate rate fell to 21 percent, those liabilities shrank too.

“Something like $1.5 billion in future taxes that they had promised to pay, just vanished,” said Matthew Gardner, an analyst at the liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington. “The obvious question is whether you can draw any line, any connection between the tax breaks they’re getting, ostensibly designed to encourage capital expenditures, and what they’re actually doing. And it’s just impossible to know.”

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Harry Styles Rips Off His Pants On ‘SNL’ To Give Fans What They’ve Been Waiting For

Westlake Legal Group 5dd0f4da210000906434d2c2 Harry Styles Rips Off His Pants On ‘SNL’ To Give Fans What They’ve Been Waiting For

Harry Styles was everywhere on “Saturday Night Live” in his first hosting gig on the comedy show. He was also the musical guest, mocked his personal life, threw shade at former One Direction bandmate Zayn Malik — and finally ripped off his pants for a big finale among a series of sketches.

He also debuted his new singles “Watermelon Sugar.”

In his monologue Styles compared hosting “SNL” to dating and being in a relationship. “Just like all my serious relationships, we’re gonna’ spend one incredible night together and then never see each other again,” he quipped before fake-playing jazz at a piano.

“I’m not in a boy band anymore,” he said, referring to One Direction. “I’m in a man band.”

He recalled his old bandmates. “I love those guys. Niall [Horan], Liam [Payne], Louis [Tomlinson],” he said, then pretended to struggle to come up with the name of Malik, who left the group before it disbanded. “Ringo! Yeah, that’s it!”

Styles appeared in several sketches and wrapped up the program with Chris Redd playing funeral DJs. That’s when they lost their pants.

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Trump fan hit with scooter as protest outside California Democrats convention turns violent: report

Westlake Legal Group iStock-e-scooter Trump fan hit with scooter as protest outside California Democrats convention turns violent: report fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox news fnc/politics fnc fcb5dd77-7c59-525b-8241-0a414ae959a2 Brie Stimson article

Three suspects were arrested Saturday after a fight broke out between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters outside the California Democratic Convention in Long Beach.

About a dozen Trump supporters stood outside the Long Beach Convention Center, using bullhorns and chanting “Four more years!” according to The Long Beach Post.

ANTIFA-LINKED DEFENDANT GETS 6 YEARS IN BRUTAL BATON ATTACK IN PORTLAND: REPORTS

Two men approached the Trump supporters and started “harassing” them, according to one of the Trump supporters. At some point one of the anti-Trump protesters hit one of the Trump supporters in the face with a manual scooter, according to The Post.

“It happened really fast,” Trump supporter Raul Rodriguez Jr. said. He said the anti-Trump protesters started the fight.

Rodriguez said the protester grabbed his bull horn after he turned on its siren and put it in his face. He said the protester tried to hit him, prompting another Trump supporter to defend Rodriguez.

Police arrested all three men on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm.

Two of the suspects were taken to the hospital with minor cuts.

It wasn’t clear who started the physical fight, The Post reported.

The Long Beach Police Department “is committed to ensuring everyone’s 1st Amendment rights, but we also want to remind you that any violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our community,” the department said in a tweet.

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Eight Democratic presidential candidates attended the convention Saturday.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-e-scooter Trump fan hit with scooter as protest outside California Democrats convention turns violent: report fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox news fnc/politics fnc fcb5dd77-7c59-525b-8241-0a414ae959a2 Brie Stimson article   Westlake Legal Group iStock-e-scooter Trump fan hit with scooter as protest outside California Democrats convention turns violent: report fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox news fnc/politics fnc fcb5dd77-7c59-525b-8241-0a414ae959a2 Brie Stimson article

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Gary Danielson of CBS slammed for comments – and chuckles — after sideline photographer injured

Gary Danielson of CBS Sports spent nearly two decades playing college and pro football – so he’s well aware of the potential consequences of taking a brutal hit on the gridiron.

But Danielson startled and angered many viewers Saturday with his reactions after a photographer got slammed to the turf on the sidelines of the GeorgiaAuburn game, for which Danielson was providing commentary.

PHOTOGRAPHER HOSPITALIZED AFTER TAKING BRUTAL HIT DURING GEORGIA-AUBURN GAME

It happened during the second quarter, with Georgia leading 7-0 in the game, played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

After Georgia running back Brian Herrien ran out of bounds on a play, chased by Auburn linebacker K.J. Britt, Herrien accidentally knocked over the photographer, later identified as Chamberlain Smith from the University of Georgia, who immediately fell over and lost consciousness.

While play was stopped as medical staff and others assisted the woman, Danielson was heard chuckling at the play, and seeming more concerned about the players than the injured woman.

Westlake Legal Group gary55 Gary Danielson of CBS slammed for comments – and chuckles -- after sideline photographer injured fox-news/sports/ncaa/georgia-bulldogs fox-news/sports/ncaa/auburn-tigers fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio c9422c94-2bf6-5a86-ab6a-dc2fca6146c0 article

Gary Danielson of CBS Sports took criticism on social media Saturday for comments during the Georgia Auburn college football game. (CBS Sports)

“Britt gets up, he’s fine. Herrien’s fine,” Danielson says at one point.

“The person Herrien ran into is not,” his broadcast partner Brad Nessler points out.

“Heh, heh, is not,” Danielson adds, chuckling.

Later, Danielson, 68, who played college ball at Purdue and later played in the NFL for the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns, speculates the woman may have been snapping photos at the time and unaware Herrien was headed toward her. Some of social media commented that the remark seemed inappropriate, as if Danielson were blaming the woman.

Generally, social media posts suggested most viewers saw no humor in the situation — with some remarking that even Nessler seemed annoyed at Danielson’s comments.

CBS Sports even tweeted “whoops” when the Auburn bench fell over, sending some players falling over backward.

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Later, Jamie Erdahl Buckman of CBS Sports posted “good news” on Twitter, that photgrapher Smith was expected to be released from the hospital later in the evening.

Westlake Legal Group gary55 Gary Danielson of CBS slammed for comments – and chuckles -- after sideline photographer injured fox-news/sports/ncaa/georgia-bulldogs fox-news/sports/ncaa/auburn-tigers fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio c9422c94-2bf6-5a86-ab6a-dc2fca6146c0 article   Westlake Legal Group gary55 Gary Danielson of CBS slammed for comments – and chuckles -- after sideline photographer injured fox-news/sports/ncaa/georgia-bulldogs fox-news/sports/ncaa/auburn-tigers fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/sports fnc Dom Calicchio c9422c94-2bf6-5a86-ab6a-dc2fca6146c0 article

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Jon Hamm’s Bill Taylor Kisses, Tells And ‘Takes Notes’ In ‘Days Of Our Impeachment’ On ‘SNL’

Westlake Legal Group 5dd0dc3c1f00002607dee9de Jon Hamm’s Bill Taylor Kisses, Tells And ‘Takes Notes’ In ‘Days Of Our Impeachment’ On ‘SNL’

The House impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump is definitely not “The Masked Singer.” So “Saturday Night Live” decided to juice up the hearings and turn them into the soap opera “Days of Our Impeachment” — where “the only thing at stake is our democracy.”

Jon Hamm popped up to play Ukraine’s acting Ambassador William Taylor, who had a steamy kissing scene with “telenovela” sensation Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Melissa Villaseñor). “I don’t just kiss and tell,” Hamm’s Taylor explained. “I kiss and tell and I take notes.”

The hearings also featured the “cross examiner with a mysterious brain injury” — Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (Mikey Day), and action-freezing situations like Trump’s tweets savaging former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (Cecily Strong).

As unsurprising as ever: Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (played by Beck Bennett), who suddenly appeared to declare that the “Senate has voted: Acquitted!” — even though the Senate didn’t have the case.

“SNL” may have been inspired by the fate of the actual NBC’s daytime soap “Days of Our Lives.” The program announced earlier this week that the entire cast was released from their contracts, and the 55-year-old show would go on an indefinite hiatus at the end of November. 

Check out the clip up top.

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Too Far Left? Some Candidates Don’t Buy the Argument

Westlake Legal Group 16obamareact2-facebookJumbo Too Far Left? Some Candidates Don’t Buy the Argument Presidential Elections (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Obama, Barack Democratic Party

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The crowded Democratic field of presidential candidates grappled with President Barack Obama’s advice and legacy on Saturday, the day after the former president sounded an unusual public warning about moving too far left in the primary race.

While none were willing to directly rebuff Mr. Obama, a few candidates offered implicit criticism, saying that Democrats should be careful to steadfastly back the field so that whoever wins the nomination can count on enthusiastic support from all corners of the party.

“What we’re doing right now, creating these dynamics within the Democratic Party, we’ve got to be careful,” Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said, his voice rising as he addressed reporters in Long Beach, Calif., after speaking at the state’s Democratic Convention. “Because whoever is the nominee, we have one shot to make Donald Trump a one-term president. And so I’m not interested in delineating left or right or criticizing other folks.”

“Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines,” he added. “I’m tired in this election of hearing some people say, ‘Well if this person gets elected, I can’t support them,’ and then other people say, ‘If this person gets elected, I can’t support them.’ Are you kidding me?”

During a televised forum sponsored by Univision, Jorge Ramos, an anchor for the Spanish-language station, asked Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont if Mr. Obama was right in saying that “the average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system.”

Mr. Sanders chuckled briefly and responded, “Well, it depends on what you mean by tear down the system.”

“The agenda that we have is an agenda supported by the vast majority of working people,” he said. “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice. When I talk about health care being a human right and ending the embarrassment of America being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for every man, woman and child, that’s not tearing down the system. That’s doing what we should have done 30 years ago.”

Julián Castro, who served as the housing secretary under Mr. Obama and has embraced some of the most left-leaning policies during the primary, said that he “always takes what President Obama says very very seriously.”

But, he emphatically said that he believed any of the candidates would be well-positioned to defeat President Trump.

“I don’t think that anybody in this campaign has articulated a vision for the future of the country that would not command a majority of voters in November of 2020,” he said. “Their vision for the future of the country is much better and will be more popular than Donald Trump’s.”

The comments came just a day after Mr. Obama spoke at a forum in Washington, D.C., and warned against Democrats moving too far to the left, particularly on issues such as health care and immigration. While Mr. Obama did not mention any candidate by name, he took aim at the “activist wing” of the Democratic Party and “left-leaning Twitter feeds,” saying they were out of touch with the average voter.

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” he told an audience of some of the party’s wealthiest donors on Friday evening.

The remarks were a rare departure for Mr. Obama. While the former president has spoken privately with nearly all the candidates, he has been careful to avoid exerting any influence on the race.

Aides said his comments were intended to calm the nerves of Democrats who were worried about the strength of their historically large field, but Mr. Obama ended up reinforcing some of their more pressing concerns.

Some establishment Democrats, elected officials and top donors have fretted that the liberal platforms of Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren would complicate their paths to the general election, arguing that they would lose voters in rural areas and in the suburban districts that helped the party win back the House last year. They are particularly worried about the politics of “Medicare for all,” fearing it could transform health care, an issue that has been a political asset for Democrats, into a liability.

“We’re changing something that clearly is a message that, in 2018, resonated with voters and we’re making the issue about our plan rather than what the president has or has not done,” former Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota said.

Among the liberal wing of the party, Mr. Obama’s remarks prompted fierce backlash online and the creation of the hashtag #TooFarLeft by Peter Daou, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Ms. Warren declined to address Mr. Obama’s implicit criticism, and instead praised the former president’s efforts on health care.

“I so admire what President Obama did. He is the one who led the way on health care and got health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans when nobody thought that was possible,” she said, speaking to reporters after a campaign event in Waverly, Iowa.

“Those are huge changes in this country and they have made a difference for millions of people, and I will always be grateful,” she said.

Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts did not address Mr. Obama’s comments directly, but argued that he defied ideological labels.

“Don’t put me in a box,” he told reporters. “I don’t fit. By the way, neither do most voters.”

“On of the most exciting things about this moment is that the public’s appetite for solutions as big as the challenges we face is greater than it’s been in a long, long while,” he said. “Our goals should be ambitious.”

Mr. Patrick received a tepid response to his five-minute speech at the California Democratic Convention in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday, his first major address since declaring his bid for the presidency.

“I am not running, my friends, to be president of the Democrats. I am running to be President of the United States.” But he quickly added: “I’m not talking about a moderate agenda. This is no time for a moderate agenda. I’m talking about being woke, while leaving room for the still waking.”

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was among those objecting to Mr. Obama’s premise. She published a tweet listing some of the priorities of the progressive left, with the rejoinder, “Count me in!”

Jennifer Medina reported from Long Beach, and Lisa Lerer from Washington. Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Washington.

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Stents, bypass surgery offer only limited benefits for millions with heart disease, study finds

Westlake Legal Group surgery-istock Stents, bypass surgery offer only limited benefits for millions with heart disease, study finds The Wall Street Journal fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/health/heart-health fox-news/health/healthy-living fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Betsy McKay article 643de193-90c6-56ea-bb71-d41e84ded937

PHILADELPHIA — Stents and coronary artery bypass surgery are no more effective than intensive drug treatment and better health habits in preventing millions of Americans from heart attacks and death, a large study found, shedding new light on a major controversy in cardiology.

Researchers and doctors have fiercely debated for years how best to treat people who have narrowed coronary arteries but aren’t suffering acute symptoms.

SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST BRIEFLY KILLS NEW JERSEY MAN, 23; HYPOTHERMIA USED TO PREVENT BRAIN DAMAGE

The standard treatment has been to implant stents—wire mesh tubes that open up clogged arteries—or to perform bypass surgery, redirecting blood around a blockage. Those procedures are performed even though these patients either have no symptoms or feel chest pain only when they climb a few flights of stairs or exert themselves in some other way.

The study is the largest and among the most rigorous research yet to suggest that while stents and bypass surgery can be lifesaving for people who are having heart attacks, they aren’t necessarily better than cholesterol-lowering drugs and other changes in health habits for most people with chronic, or stable, coronary artery disease, which affects about 9.4 million Americans.

“You won’t prolong life,” said Judith Hochman, chair of the study and senior associate dean for clinical sciences at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

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But stents or bypass surgery work better than medicine and lifestyle changes alone in relieving symptoms for people who have frequent angina, or chest pain, the researchers found.

The findings, released Saturday at the American Heart Association’s annual scientific conference, should prompt more discussion between patients and their doctors about treatment, she said. “Statins and aspirin are critically important,” she said. “We need to understand better how to get people to modify their risk factors.” Lifestyle changes can be hard to make and sustain, she said.

This story continues in The Wall Street Journal.

Westlake Legal Group surgery-istock Stents, bypass surgery offer only limited benefits for millions with heart disease, study finds The Wall Street Journal fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/health/heart-health fox-news/health/healthy-living fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Betsy McKay article 643de193-90c6-56ea-bb71-d41e84ded937   Westlake Legal Group surgery-istock Stents, bypass surgery offer only limited benefits for millions with heart disease, study finds The Wall Street Journal fox-news/us/crime/drugs fox-news/health/medical-research/surgery fox-news/health/heart-health fox-news/health/healthy-living fox-news/health fnc/health fnc Betsy McKay article 643de193-90c6-56ea-bb71-d41e84ded937

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Probe Closes In On Trump

Westlake Legal Group 5dd0d57a2100009e6c34d2b1 Probe Closes In On Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gordon Sondland, President Donald Trump’s emissary to the European Union, had a message when he met with a top Ukrainian official.

Sondland said vital U.S. military assistance to Ukraine might be freed up if the country’s top prosecutor “would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” a U.S. official told lawmakers. Burisma is the gas company in Ukraine where Democrat Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board.

Sondland relayed the exchange moments later to Tim Morrison, then a National Security Council aide. In his private testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Morrison recounted that Sondland also told him he was discussing the Ukraine matters directly with Trump.

Morrison’s testimony ties Trump more closely to the central charge from Democrats pursuing impeachment: that Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Democrats and Biden’s family. Morrison’s testimony also contradicts much of what Sondland told congressional investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later amended.

Both Morrison and Sondland are scheduled to testify publicly next week as part of the historic, high-stakes impeachment proceedings into the nation’s 45th president. Democrats charge that Trump abused his office for personal political gain, while the president and his allies argue that the process is politically motivated and that nothing in the testimony so far meets the bar for impeachment.

Transcripts from the closed-door testimony from Morrison, a longtime Republican defense hawk in Washington, and Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Russia and Europe, were released Saturday as investigators accelerated and deepened the probe. They provided another window into the alarm within the government over Ukraine pressure.

Immediately after the exchange with Sondland during an international gathering in Warsaw, Morrison called his boss, John Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser.

“Stay out of it,” Bolton told him, “brief the lawyers.”

For Morrison, Burisma was a catch-all for a “bucket” of investigations — of Democrats and the family of Joe Biden — that he wanted to “stay away from.” They had nothing to do with “the proper policy process that I was involved in on Ukraine,” he testified.

Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between July 15 and Sept. 11 — the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.

While some, including Trump himself, have begun to question Sondland’s knowledge of events, Morrison told House investigators the ambassador “related to me he was acting — he was discussing these matters with the President.”

Pressed by Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee leading the probe, as to whether Sondland had actually spoken to the president, Morrison said he had verified it each time.

Pence, so far, has been a more unseen figure in the impeachment inquiry, but testimony from Williams raised fresh questions about what Pence knew about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

Pence was also at the Warsaw gathering. For the new government of Ukraine, situated between NATO allies and Russia, the security aid Congress had already approved was a lifeline to the West.

Williams was among the staffers in the White House Situation Room who listened and took notes during Trump’s July 25 call when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for “a favor.” A whistleblower’s complaint about that call helped spark the House impeachment investigation.

Williams testified that Trump’s discussion on the call of specific investigations struck her as “unusual and inappropriate” and seemed to point to “other motivations” for holding up the military aid.

After the call, Williams told investigators, she put the White House’s rough transcript into the into the vice president’s daily briefing book.

“I just don’t know if he read it,” she said.

Williams corroborated the testimony of a previous witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC aide on the call, who said the White House dropped the word “Burisma” from the transcript. She said in an addendum to her testimony that Zelenskiy had mentioned the word “Burisma” in the call.

Vindman and Williams at scheduled to testify together during a public impeachment hearing on Tuesday morning.

The White House’s decision to put the transcript of the July 25 call on a highly classified server has drawn keen interest throughout the probe. But Morrison said the unusual move was unintentional.

Morrison said he was concerned if the call got out it would be politically damaging. He talked to White House lawyer John Eisenberg and they agreed that access should be restricted, he testified.

But Morrison said Eisenberg later told him that he did not intend for the call summary to be placed on a highly classified server. Eisenberg’s staff apparently put it there by mistake, he said.

As the transcripts were released, impeachment investigators wrapped up a rare Saturday session interviewing Mark Sandy, a little-known career official at the Office of Management and Budget who was involved in key meetings about the aid package.

Sandy’s name had barely come up in previous testimony. But it did on one particular date: July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. That day, a legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds to Ukraine, according to testimony.

Throughout Morrison’s account, he largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials about what has been described as a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with U.S. national security interests.

A few days after the Warsaw meeting, Sondland was on the phone telling Morrison Sept. 7 he had just gotten off a call with the president.

Morrison said Sondland related that Trump assured him there were no strings being attached to the military aid for Ukraine.

“The president told him there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelenskiy must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it,” Morrison testified.

Morrison had what he called a “sinking feeling” that the aid may not ultimately be released. About that time, three congressional committees said they were launching inquiries into efforts by Trump and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens.

At a Sept. 11 meeting at the White House, Pence and GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio “convinced the president that the aid should be disbursed immediately,” said Morrison, who said he was briefed about the meeting but did not attend it. “The case was made to the president that it was the appropriate and prudent thing to do.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly and Cal Woodward in Washington and Kathleen Ronayne in Long Beach, California, contributed to this report.

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Al Sharpton gets $1M in pay from his own charity, tax filings show

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6067645775001_6067637213001-vs Al Sharpton gets $1M in pay from his own charity, tax filings show New York Post Melissa Klein Georgett Roberts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/finance/taxes fox-news/entertainment/events/charity fnc/us fnc article 5f28c46d-3151-54c0-af5d-baf9e64be1ba

He’s the million-dollar minister.

The Rev. Al Sharpton raked in $1,046,948 from his own charity last year, according to National Action Network’s latest tax filings obtained by The Post.

Sharpton got a $324,000 salary — 32% higher than his 2017 pay — in addition to a $159,596 bonus and $563,352 in “other compensation.”

TRUMP SLAMS AL SHARPTON, A ONETIME PAL WITH AN INFLAMMATORY PAST

The Harlem-based nonprofit — which Sharpton controls as president and CEO — said the extra cash was to make up for the years from 2004 to 2017 when he didn’t get his full pay.

NAN said it hired an executive compensation firm that determined the good reverend was owed $1.252 million — but he was generously willing to take $500,000 less.

Sharpton and the nonprofit’s board also agreed “he has now been fully compensated for all the years he was underpaid and received no bonus,” the NAN statement said.

The sharp-dressing, silver-tongued preacher defended the windfall before taking the stage for his weekly rally at NAN’s House of Justice in Harlem, an event where attendees throw cash in the collection bucket at the reverend’s behest.

“Fifteen years, you are talking about since 2004 when I came back after running for president,” he said. “For anybody else it would be laughable.”

He said he also deserved the 2018 raise.

“It’s a six-day-a-week job and several hours a day and when [the compensation firm] compared it to other companies, other nonprofits, that’s the salary that they would get,” he said.

The firebrand activist and MSNBC host was not exactly earning minimum wage in recent years. The last year he went without a salary was 2008, and he has made well into the six figures every year since, tax documents show.

He certainly wasn’t coveting his neighbor’s paycheck in 2017, when his NAN salary came to $244,661, or the year before, when he was paid $250,000 plus a $437,555 bonus. NAN justified the bonus at the time saying it was designed to make up for a lack of full compensation, including no retirement or benefits packages over the years.

The nonprofit also noted in 2016 that Sharpton’s average yearly pay of $283,543 from 2007 through 2016 fell within the competitive range of those who held similar positions.

in 2014, Sharpton got much more than the average pay — $348,244 plus a $64,400 bonus, tax filings show.

The holy man’s mammon really raised eyebrows last year when NAN’s filing revealed he had sold the rights to his life story to his own charity for $531,000. The organization contended the purchase would provide a revenue stream because it could turn around and sell the rights.

NAN at the time said an unnamed “executive committee independently approved” the deal, leading one expert to question how the independence was achieved.

“In this case, it’s really difficult because of his role in the organization and just because of his overall influence,” Linda Sugin, a Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean said at the time.

Sharpton said Saturday that NAN did sell the rights for a documentary that filmed the night of his 65th birthday gala at the New York Public Library, an event hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee. But he said he hadn’t received any cash yet.

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“They have already made a profit on that off the birthday,” he said.

NAN took in $7.3 million in donations last year, up $1 million from the previous year. NAN paid off years of accumulated tax debt in 2014.

Sharpton has been paying down millions in his own personal federal and state tax liens. In June, he finally paid off his personal tax debt to the state, which last year stood at $95,031.21. He still owes $698,470.99 in back taxes for three of his companies, according to the state Tax Department.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6067645775001_6067637213001-vs Al Sharpton gets $1M in pay from his own charity, tax filings show New York Post Melissa Klein Georgett Roberts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/finance/taxes fox-news/entertainment/events/charity fnc/us fnc article 5f28c46d-3151-54c0-af5d-baf9e64be1ba   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6067645775001_6067637213001-vs Al Sharpton gets $1M in pay from his own charity, tax filings show New York Post Melissa Klein Georgett Roberts fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/politics/finance/taxes fox-news/entertainment/events/charity fnc/us fnc article 5f28c46d-3151-54c0-af5d-baf9e64be1ba

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Testimony Ties Trump Closer To Pressure On Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group 5dd0d57a2100009e6c34d2b1 Testimony Ties Trump Closer To Pressure On Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gordon Sondland, President Donald Trump’s emissary to the European Union, had a message when he met with a top Ukrainian official.

Sondland said vital U.S. military assistance to Ukraine might be freed up if the country’s top prosecutor “would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation,” a U.S. official told lawmakers. Burisma is the gas company in Ukraine where Democrat Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board.

Sondland relayed the exchange moments later to Tim Morrison, then a National Security Council aide. In his private testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Morrison recounted that Sondland also told him he was discussing the Ukraine matters directly with Trump.

Morrison’s testimony ties Trump more closely to the central charge from Democrats pursuing impeachment: that Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Democrats and Biden’s family. Morrison’s testimony also contradicts much of what Sondland told congressional investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later amended.

Both Morrison and Sondland are scheduled to testify publicly next week as part of the historic, high-stakes impeachment proceedings into the nation’s 45th president. Democrats charge that Trump abused his office for personal political gain, while the president and his allies argue that the process is politically motivated and that nothing in the testimony so far meets the bar for impeachment.

Transcripts from the closed-door testimony from Morrison, a longtime Republican defense hawk in Washington, and Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Russia and Europe, were released Saturday as investigators accelerated and deepened the probe. They provided another window into the alarm within the government over Ukraine pressure.

Immediately after the exchange with Sondland during an international gathering in Warsaw, Morrison called his boss, John Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser.

“Stay out of it,” Bolton told him, “brief the lawyers.”

For Morrison, Burisma was a catch-all for a “bucket” of investigations — of Democrats and the family of Joe Biden — that he wanted to “stay away from.” They had nothing to do with “the proper policy process that I was involved in on Ukraine,” he testified.

Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between July 15 and Sept. 11 — the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.

While some, including Trump himself, have begun to question Sondland’s knowledge of events, Morrison told House investigators the ambassador “related to me he was acting — he was discussing these matters with the President.”

Pressed by Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee leading the probe, as to whether Sondland had actually spoken to the president, Morrison said he had verified it each time.

Pence, so far, has been a more unseen figure in the impeachment inquiry, but testimony from Williams raised fresh questions about what Pence knew about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

Pence was also at the Warsaw gathering. For the new government of Ukraine, situated between NATO allies and Russia, the security aid Congress had already approved was a lifeline to the West.

Williams was among the staffers in the White House Situation Room who listened and took notes during Trump’s July 25 call when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for “a favor.” A whistleblower’s complaint about that call helped spark the House impeachment investigation.

Williams testified that Trump’s discussion on the call of specific investigations struck her as “unusual and inappropriate” and seemed to point to “other motivations” for holding up the military aid.

After the call, Williams told investigators, she put the White House’s rough transcript into the into the vice president’s daily briefing book.

“I just don’t know if he read it,” she said.

Williams corroborated the testimony of a previous witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC aide on the call, who said the White House dropped the word “Burisma” from the transcript. She said in an addendum to her testimony that Zelenskiy had mentioned the word “Burisma” in the call.

Vindman and Williams at scheduled to testify together during a public impeachment hearing on Tuesday morning.

The White House’s decision to put the transcript of the July 25 call on a highly classified server has drawn keen interest throughout the probe. But Morrison said the unusual move was unintentional.

Morrison said he was concerned if the call got out it would be politically damaging. He talked to White House lawyer John Eisenberg and they agreed that access should be restricted, he testified.

But Morrison said Eisenberg later told him that he did not intend for the call summary to be placed on a highly classified server. Eisenberg’s staff apparently put it there by mistake, he said.

As the transcripts were released, impeachment investigators wrapped up a rare Saturday session interviewing Mark Sandy, a little-known career official at the Office of Management and Budget who was involved in key meetings about the aid package.

Sandy’s name had barely come up in previous testimony. But it did on one particular date: July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. That day, a legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds to Ukraine, according to testimony.

Throughout Morrison’s account, he largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials about what has been described as a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with U.S. national security interests.

A few days after the Warsaw meeting, Sondland was on the phone telling Morrison Sept. 7 he had just gotten off a call with the president.

Morrison said Sondland related that Trump assured him there were no strings being attached to the military aid for Ukraine.

“The president told him there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelenskiy must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it,” Morrison testified.

Morrison had what he called a “sinking feeling” that the aid may not ultimately be released. About that time, three congressional committees said they were launching inquiries into efforts by Trump and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens.

At a Sept. 11 meeting at the White House, Pence and GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio “convinced the president that the aid should be disbursed immediately,” said Morrison, who said he was briefed about the meeting but did not attend it. “The case was made to the president that it was the appropriate and prudent thing to do.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly and Cal Woodward in Washington and Kathleen Ronayne in Long Beach, California, contributed to this report.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com