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Trump basks in passage of tax overhaul


Published: Sun, December 3, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

In Russia probe, president continues defense of Flynn

Associated Press

NEW YORK

Brushing aside an ongoing Russia probe, President Donald Trump reveled Saturday in the Senate’s passage of a sweeping tax bill, predicting that he and his fellow Republicans will be “unbeatable.”

Trump swept into his hometown on a $6 million fundraising blitz, a day after former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and promised cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The president told reporters there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians, then tweeted, “nothing to hide!” He said he “had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI” and defended Flynn’s actions during the presidential transition as lawful. Before Saturday, however, Trump had not mentioned any knowledge of Flynn lying to the FBI.

The tax legislation now goes to a House-Senate committee, which will try to reconcile the versions passed by each chamber. “Something beautiful is going to come out of that mixer,” Trump said. “People are going to be very, very happy.”

Trump suggested Saturday he may be willing to negotiate changes to a significant portion of the tax overhaul, the corporate tax rate, injecting an element of uncertainty into the tax plan only hours after it cleared the Senate.

Trump told reporters at the White House before a trip to New York City that he would consider setting the corporate tax rate at 22 percent, compared with a 20 percent rate that he has pushed for with House and Senate Republicans during the fall.

Pointing to expected talks between House and Senate negotiators this month, Trump predicted “something beautiful is going to come out of that mixer” and the business tax would come “all the way down from 35 to 20. It could be 22 when it comes out, but it could also be 20. We’ll see what ultimately comes out.”

After landing in New York City, Trump’s motorcade drove near several hundred protesters decrying the tax bill and his administration’s entanglement in the Russia probe. But inside a large event space in Cipriani, where a large Christmas tree stood nearby, the president turned nostalgic about the 2016 election and recalled that few people expected him to notch the required 270 electoral votes to claim the White House.

Looking ahead, the president boasted that Democrats’ prospects in 2020 looked bleak.

“Right now unless they have somebody that we don’t know about, right now we’re unbeatable. We’re unbeatable,” Trump said. “And one of the reasons is what’s happening with the markets, what’s happening with business, what’s happening with jobs.”

The president noted that the Senate’s nearly $1.5 trillion tax overhaul passed with only Republican votes and predicted that Democrats would regret their opposition.

“That’s going to cost them very big in the election,” he said. “Because basically they voted against tax cuts and I don’t think politically it’s good to vote against tax cuts.”

Trump was attending three fundraising events in New York that were expected to raise $6 million for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The events brought Trump within blocks of Trump Tower, his New York City skyscraper. His longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and casino magnate Steve Wynn were spotted outside one of the gatherings at the Pierre hotel and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., was photographed at the event.


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