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New ‘Patriotic Millionaires’ group says: Please, tax me more

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By Ali Vitali and Stefanie Cargill

WASHINGTON — Karen Seal Stewart is rich. And she wants to pay more in taxes.

Yes, you read that right.

Stewart is one of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of about 200 wealthy individuals — worth billions combined — who say they should be taxed more, and as soon as possible.

“It’s a matter of equity, fairness and the fact that we have the money to pay the taxes and we’re not being asked to pay them,” Stewart, a former real estate executive, told NBC News. “My sense is we are really at a cusp. We better get our act together ’cause … the lack of fairness and opportunity is growing.”

“We see how the system is skewed in our favor, and how that’s really hurting our country, and in the very long run, hurting us, too,” Morris Pearl, Patriotic Millionaires chairman and a former BlackRock managing director, said last week at a gathering for the group in Washington, D.C.

For Pearl, it’s about his kids and grandkids being able to “grow up in the same kind of country where I grew up, to have the opportunities I did. And … (they) are not gonna have the same opportunities I had if we continue the direction we’re going.”

Asked about the best ways to fix the tax system, Pearl notes there are “a lot of possibilities out there.”

Many of those ideas are being floated the Democratic campaign trail, where 2020 hopefuls are putting the wealth gap front and center.

For some, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, taxing wealth — as opposed to income — is the answer, a proposal that sets her apart in a Democratic field that largely agrees on rolling back the tax cuts for corporations and top earners that were backed by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans.

Others in the field, like former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, support a wealth tax but have not released specific plans. And Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed hiking the estate tax, something he estimates would hit the small fraction of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million.

The idea of taxing the rich more isn’t just popular among the Patriotic Millionaires.

In fact, 63 percent of voters think higher-income people pay too little in taxes, according to a Politico-Morning Consult online poll. And Warren’s plan plays well across party lines — with 74 percent of Democrats backing her proposal, and half of Republicans, in that same poll.

The millionaires aren’t backing any specific candidate — though they say Warren is right on taxing wealth. They just want action.

“Important things” like infrastructure and health care require money, Stewart said. “You need to get the money where it is. It’s with the wealthy. … Do not feel sorry for us. We will still be fine. And the country will be better off.”

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Tory leadership race tracker: How Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart fared after BBC debate

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Hope Hicks testifies before House committee behind closed doors

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former aide Hope Hicks arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats planned to focus their questions on what they say are five crimes of obstruction of justice established by the Mueller Report against Trump, as well as campaign finance violations involved with alleged election-year hush money payments.

Her appearance marks the first time a former Trump aide has come in to answer questions before that panel as part of Democrats’ obstruction of justice investigation. A transcript of the interview will be released, though it may not appear for several days.

Other issues Democrats plan to question Hicks about include Trump’s conduct and attitude towards former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s reaction when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, among others.

In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Tuesday evening, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted that Hicks was not legally required to provide testimony regarding her time working in the White House.

“Ms. Hicks is absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President,” he wrote.

Nadler dismissed those claims. “I reject that assertion” regarding blanket executive privilege, he said in a response released late Tuesday night, adding that after the panel poses questions to her, “we will address privilege and other objections on a question by question basis.”

Hicks’s testimony comes after the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena last month for her appearance. She previously served as White House communications director and the White House director of strategic communications after a stint as a senior aide on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The White House directed Hicks and another former White House aide earlier this month not to hand over any documents to the House Judiciary Committee related to their time at the White House.

Mike Memoli contributed.



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Commons erupts in fury as SNP's Ian Blackford brands Boris Johnson 'racist'

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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford sparked fury in the House of Commons after he branded former foreign secretary Boris Johnson “racist”.

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