No TrumpsπŸ‘±‍♂️ Newsbites
Jared Kushner is a 21-year-old college student. Jared Kushner also works in Canadian real estate. And they're ready to reclaim their name from Donald Trump's son-in-law.
  • Jared Kushner, former senior advisor to former President Trump, is finally out of the spotlight.
  • For two men also named Jared Kushner, this has mostly come as a relief.
  • "As a person, [Kushner] seems kind of like a scumbag," one Kushner living in Florida told Insider.
Jared Kushner remembers the first time he saw his name in a magazine.

It was 2009, and Kushner, an elementary school student in Florida, had most certainly not just married Ivanka Trump. But someone with his name had.

"Some relative sent a People magazine to my house, and they were on the cover," Kushner said, referring to a November cover of the magazine that featured a small photo of Ivanka and Jared as newlyweds.

"I thought it was one of the funniest things in the world. I used to joke with all my friends about it: 'If you Google me, it says I'm married to Ivanka Trump.'" Back then, he was blissfully ignorant. The only thing he knew about Ivanka was that she was Donald's daughter.

More than a decade later, Kushner — who is now 21, and has no relation to the former senior White House advisor — doesn't find the situation so funny. Nor is he pleased with the political performance of the man who shares his name.

After five years of being mistaken for former president Donald Trump's senior advisor, he's relieved at the thought of finally getting his name back, with Trump out of office and the other Kushner fading from prominence.

"My mindset at this point is eventually he'll go away," Kushner, who grew up in Palm Beach County, not far from Mar-a-Lago, said. "I don't know if people will necessarily forget about him, but he won't be brought up. And he won't be brought up with my name, or with me."

Sharing a name with a widely loathed political figure is one of those things that seems amusing at first, but can quickly descend into chaos and aggravation.
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Nike, FedEx, and 24 other companies with $77 billion of combined income have avoided paying taxes for years, a new report found
  • 55 publicly traded companies paid $0 in federal taxes last year, a study by ITEP found.
  • Nike and FedEx are among 26 companies that have not paid federal taxes in three years.
  • In 2020, the 55 companies avoided paying about $12 billion in federal taxes.
The 55 publicly traded companies would have paid an estimated $12 billion in federal taxes if not for corporate tax breaks in 2020, including $8.5 billion in tax avoidance and $3.5 billion in tax rebates, the report found using regulatory filings and other information.

Nearly half of the companies have avoided paying federal taxes for the last three years, according to the report. Nike, FedEx, and DTE Energy were among 26 companies that recorded $77 billion in combined pre-tax income in the past three years, but did not pay any federal income taxes.

The news comes at the same time President Joe Biden looks to raise taxes on corporations. The White House announced this week that it plans to limit the number of companies that do not pay federal taxes, as well as increase the corporate tax rate to 28% — raising an estimated $2 trillion over the course of 15 years.

ITEP's data found some of the nation's biggest companies have been avoiding federal taxes for decades, dating back to the Reagan administration. The companies, which encompass a wide variety of industries, use a range of tactics, including tax exemptions and deductions.

While company tax returns are private, publicly traded companies must file financial reports that include information on federal income taxes. Using the financial reports as well as data on each companies' pre-tax income, ITEP was able to analyze some of the major resources the companies used to avoid paying federal taxes.

In 2017, the Trump administration's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 amended the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, the Washington-based research group said the act failed to address major loopholes in the tax code.

"When President Trump signaled his intention to cut corporate taxes in 2017, he and Congress had an opportunity to pare back the many loopholes that have allowed companies to avoid tax on much of their income since the 1980s," the report said. "Now, with three years of data published on the effective tax rates paid by publicly traded companies, it is clear that the Trump law has not meaningfully curtailed corporate tax avoidance and may even be encouraging it."
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Fox News is silent on bombshell reports of Matt Gaetz's alleged sexual misconduct and possible sex trafficking of a minor
  • Fox News is ignoring reports that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is under FBI investigation for sex trafficking.
  • Since Wednesday evening, media watchdogs report, the network hasn't mentioned Gaetz's name a single time.
  • Gaetz is a frequent Fox guest and top Trump defender.
Since the scandal broke, Fox has publicly distanced itself from Gaetz. A network spokesperson denied the congressman's recent claim that he'd discussed a potential job with Fox after leaving office.

"No one with any level of authority has had conversations with Matt Gaetz for any of our platforms and we have no interest in hiring him," the spokesperson told multiple media outlets.
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Matt Gaetz's Florida sex game included a 'Harry Potter' challenge and 'extra points' for sleeping in sorority houses, a female Republican tells Insider
  • Matt Gaetz is accused of playing a sex "game" with a Harry Potter theme.
  • Politicians got "points" if they had sex with married colleagues or did "overnights" at sororities.
  • New details of Gaetz's past are spilling out now that he's under investigation for sex trafficking.
Sleeping with married legislators. Spending the night at a college sorority house.

These were specific ways now-US Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Florida lawmakers could earn "extra points" in a sex competition in which Gaetz is accused of participating when he served in the state's House of Representatives, a female GOP insider who worked with Gaetz in the 2010s told Insider in an interview.

The sex competition even involved the "Harry Potter" book series, the GOP source told Insider.

Anyone who had sex with a certain conservative woman "won the whole game regardless of points," she said. That woman was known as the "snitch," a nod to the Harry Potter game of Quidditch. The GOP source said she "heard specific references of Gaetz being involved and scoring points." She declined to name the woman to protect her privacy.

Her accusations about Gaetz's participation in this sex competition builds upon others. Chris Latvala, a Republican state representative who overlapped with Gaetz in the Florida House, accused Gaetz in a 2020 tweet of creating a "game where members of the FL House got 'points' for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators." Another way to obtain points was to have sex with "virgins," ABC reported this week.

The existence of the "game" among male lawmakers was the "worst kept secret in Tallahassee," the GOP insider said. Lawmakers who participated publicly boasted about it, even among their female colleagues; some male legislators who didn't participate jokingly lamented the fact that they abstained.

The hyper-sexualized and notoriously fratty culture in Florida's state capital is getting renewed scrutiny after the New York Times reported that Gaetz is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into whether he broke sex trafficking laws with a 17-year-old girl in 2019.

... Just about everyone in Gaetz's orbit — former staffers in Florida, ex-Trump officials, and Capitol Hill aides — have been gossiping about the congressman's legal and PR woes this week.

At least one former staffer said she saw her work for Gaetz in a new light after news of the investigation broke.

After Insider informed her of the sex trafficking allegations during an interview, former 2016 campaign staffer Karli Andrews exclaimed, "Oh my god, no way. Oh, my god."

"Knowing that, now I feel just — ew — I cannot even believe I talked this guy up and helped him become elected, for him to be such a skeeze," said Andrews, who has since left politics.
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Kristi Noem's statement on pipes not being infrastructure sums up her party's confused reaction to Biden's plan
  • South Dakota's Republican Gov. Kristi Noem told Fox News pipes and housing don't count as infrastructure.
  • Her comments sum up the GOP's messaging that infrastructure only means roads and bridges.
  • Biden's plan argues for a broad rethink of what constitutes infrastructure, and the GOP doesn't want that.
In an interview on Thursday, Noem discussed the president's infrastructure bill with Fox News' Sean Hannity, and as the interview progressed, she elaborated on her definition of infrastructure, saying housing doesn't qualify either.

"I was shocked by how much doesn't go into infrastructure," Noem said. "It goes into research and development, it goes into housing and pipes and different initiatives, green energy, and it's not really an honest conversation that we're having about what this proposal is."

Shortly after the interview aired, critics on Twitter highlighted the "pipes" comment in particular, and left-leaning media figures were especially critical. For instance, MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan said Noem had "revealed she doesn't know what infrastructure is."

While Noem's criticism of the bill was likely the most striking on the Republican side, her party has been unified in trying to label the bill as a Democratic "Trojan Horse," sneaking non-infrastructure things into an infrastructure plan.
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We asked 30 Republicans who know and have worked with Rep. Matt Gaetz if they've reached out to him as his sordid sex stories snowball. Their collective silence was deafening.
  • None in Florida's congressional delegation admits to communicating with their radioactive colleague.
  • Insider asked 30 Republicans if they'd reached out to him. Panhandle Republicans were tight-lipped.
  • "He is a slasher, and that does not endear you to people," one critic told Insider.
Anyone waiting for a "Save Matt Gaetz!" rally to break out should get used to disappointment.

Fellow Florida Republicans won't even cop — at least publicly — to talking to the three-term congressman on what's most likely the worst week of his life (so far).

A March 30 story about a Justice Department investigation into sex trafficking opened the floodgates against the attention-seeking Gaetz, leading to bizarro TV appearances, "let's wait and see" pleas from GOP leaders, and giddy sniping from haters across the political spectrum.

Insider asked 30 GOP officials, including former lawmakers who've worked with Gaetz, if they'd touched base with the Panhandle's brash political scion since the dam burst and whether they'd offered him any advice.

That outreach extended to all the sitting Sunshine State Republicans in the 117th Congress, fellow promoters of former President Donald Trump's false claims about election fraud, former Trump appointees, local party leaders, Gaetz's contemporaries during his days in the Tallahassee state house, and political strategists.

"He is a slasher, and that does not endear you to people, even people on your side," said Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Florida Republican strategist who's now an independent. He knows Gaetz fairly well; Gaetz is his congressman and they've gone fishing together.

Even some of Gaetz's allies "probably don't include his good health in their prayers every night," Stipanovich said.

... Out of 211 congressional Republicans, only scandal-tinged Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, have supported him publicly. Ironically, Greene previously embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory which trades in outlandish ideas, including that Democrats run an underground satanic child sex-trafficking ring.

Former Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia overlapped with Gaetz for two years on Capitol Hill. She told Insider this week that she'd be happy to see him gone.

"Like Trump, he's a cancer on the party," Comstock said, adding that she didn't know anything about Gaetz's personal life.

Speaking of Trump, Comstock found 45's uncharacteristic silence telling.

"Okay, you spent your whole four years pretty much sucking up and defending Trump. And where's Donald Trump? Where's Trump Jr.? Where are all these people who you spent all your time [with], instead of your constituents?" Comstock said. "They aren't there for you. I think that speaks volumes."

Former House Republican Denver Riggleman accused Gaetz of "really supporting the crazy caucus in a way that gets you more clicks." Riggleman was voted out of his Virginia seat last year in the GOP primary.

"You see people who get drunk on their own bathwater. They drink it and drink it, until they can't take anymore," Riggleman said of the party's current state of affairs.
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Inside Matt Gaetz's office, where surprises — from doing the boss' TV makeup to cleaning up after messy controversies — are part of the job
  • Matt Gaetz blindsides his staff with remarks on Twitter and TV, a former aide told Insider.
  • Staffers are assigned to do his hair and makeup ahead of TV hits, a task some don't want.
  • Gaetz can get "irate" with staff if too few people show up for an event he's holding.
Matt Gaetz prides himself on his attention-seeking antics. The Republican congressman from Florida regularly lashes out against his critics on Twitter, drops rhetorical bombs on cable news, and picks fights with his foes on the US House floor.

Then the phones start ringing back in his congressional office, where staffers are often blindsided by angry constituents and media requests after the latest Gaetz controversy. And the drama is taking a toll on some of his staffers.

... Insider reached out this week to 36 current and former Gaetz staffers about the culture in Gaetz's office. While the majority of them did not respond or declined to comment, two spoke on the record and two others spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve personal and professional relationships. They and others have described a sometimes uncomfortable environment.

... Gaetz staffers have gotten used to being blindsided by their boss' attention-seeking controversies and the media fallout that comes with them.

There was the stunt where he wore a gas mask on the House floor during a coronavirus relief vote. And the time he threatened former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

One of Gaetz's first acts of Congress — just a month into his tenure in 2017 — the freshman lawmaker unveiled a bill to abolish the US Environmental Protection Agency. The move instantly propelled Gaetz into national headlines, some of the office staff at the time had no idea it was coming.

"That was hell for all of us," a former staffer said. But Gaetz "loved every second of it because it was very chaotic and it helped draw a lot of media attention to him."

... And Gaetz was known for sometimes snapping at his staff, the former aide said, in a way that sometimes seemed out of bounds.

If Gaetz wanted a big public event and only a few people showed up, for example, "he would be irate. … He was always about the optics of everything."

Gaetz often held events in high schools in his district, the former staffer recalled.

That often involved hugging students and snapping selfies with them. At least once he was advised by his staff after an event, "You don't want to come across as too friendly with some of the students," the staffer said.
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or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trump, whom many observers consider an anomaly, left the White House by saying, “We will be back in some form.” His legacy is “Trumpism” – a wave of white nationalism.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.