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Trump evaded taxes in Panama

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The majority owner of a former Trump-branded hotel in Panama alleged in a court filing on Monday that President Donald Trump’s company misrepresented finances of the building to evade taxes in the country.

A filing in New York federal court by property owner Orestes Fintiklis alleges that Trump’s hotel management company evaded income and social security taxes when it managed the former Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower.

The new accusations are part of protracted, bitter dispute between Trump’s company and Fintiklis, the majority owner of the 70-story, seaside, sail-shaped building.

The filing says that Trump’s company misrepresented salaries paid to employees and other financial records of the hotel to cut its tax bill on fees it was collecting for managing the hotel, slash its social security payments and hand over less to owner Fintiklis. The filing does not state how much in taxes the Trump company allegedly should have paid.

The Trump Organization said that it did not evade any taxes and, if anything, Fintiklis is to blame on tax matters.

“To the extent any taxes were to be withheld, it was the responsibility of the condominium that owns the hotel. The Trump Organization’s only role was to manage the property,” Trump Organization spokeswoman Kimberly Benza said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to taking the depositions of Mr. Fintiklis’ and his partners and unmasking their fraud.”

The filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York follows a ruling by judicial officials in Panama early last year against Trump’s company in favor of Fintiklis. A few months later, Trump’s name was removed from the facade and building management turned over to U.S. hotelier Marriott International.

The dispute started in October 2017 after Fintiklis’ company, Ithaca Capital Group, took control of 202 of the hotel’s condos. Fintiklis then pushed to terminate Trump’s 20-year contract managing the building, alleging “gross negligence and potentially fraudulent conduct,” including “looted” bank accounts. The Trump Organization disputed its termination as illegitimate and refused to hand over the property.

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

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TORY leadership candidate Rory Stewart has suffered a massive drop in support following the BBC debate on Tuesday evening – whilst Boris Johnson is looking more popular than ever.

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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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