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France says US pulling back on digital tax deal

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday that US officials no longer wanted a global deal on taxing multinational technology giants, and that Washington might be preparing penalities over a digital tax implemented by France this year.

The OECD is overseeing negotiations among 134 countries to forge a system to make firms pay taxes in the countries they operate, amid growing public anger over tax-avoidance techniques allowed under current laws.

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France moved ahead with its own digital tax, drawing the ire of US President Donald Trump even though France has vowed to scrub the levy once a global accord is in place.

But on Monday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is to announce the impacts of the French tax on US companies, and possibly retaliatory measures from Washington.

“Having demanded an international solution from the OECD, it (Washington) now isn’t sure it wants one,” Le Maire told France Inter radio.

“We can see that the United States is shifting into reverse,” he said, adding that Trump “is going to content himself with imposing sanctions against France over its national tax.”

The EU’s incoming single market commissioner, Thierry Breton, also said that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could announce Washington’s pullout from the OECD talks.

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“I understand that we’re going to have a response probably today by Mr Mnuchin telling us that finally it doesn’t work,” Breton told BFM television.

“If it doesn’t work, we will consider the issue at the European level,” he said.

But efforts last year to craft a European tax on digital giants failed after opposition from countries including Ireland, which has attracted the EU headquarters of Apple and other tech firms with low corporate taxes.

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Under EU law, companies can declare their revenues from across in the bloc in a single jurisdiction, depriving other members of their share of the tax revenue.

That spurred France to set its own tax, expected to add 400 million euros ($444 million) to France’s coffers this year, and Italy followed suit with its own tax in October.

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Trump has called France’s levy “very unfair” and threatened to tax French wines and other exports, though he and French President Emmanuel Macron said a truce had been reached during the G7 summit in France last August.

Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — grouped together as GAFA in French — have criticised France’s unilateral move as discriminatory, prompting the investigation by US trade officials.

“My message will be clear: We will never, never abandon this justified determination to tax digital giants,” Le Maire said Monday.

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GOP governors are refusing to do Trump’s bidding and ducking him on the campaign trail: report

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On Saturday, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times profiled how President Donald Trump is having less luck whipping Republican governors into line than Republican senators, including governors who arguably owe their election to his support.

"In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election," wrote Haberman. "Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp."

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Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president — Trump may change all that

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President Donald Trump’s refusal to hand over records to Congress and allow executive branch employees to provide information and testimony to Congress during the impeachment battle is the strongest test yet of legal principles that over the past 200 years have not yet been fully defined by U.S. courts.

It’s not the first test: Struggles over power among the political branches predate our Constitution. The framers chose not to, and probably could not, fully resolve them.

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Giuliani’s latest trip to Ukraine opened a new door for prosecutors to go after Trump: MSNBC analyst

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On MSNBC Saturday afternoon, legal analyst Danny Cevallos explained how Rudy Giuliani's trip to Ukraine to produce anti-impeachment propaganda could end up harming his legal position — by muddying attorney-client privilege with President Donald Trump.

"The only path to legitimacy is if there was a true corruption threat in Ukraine, and specifically if Hunter Biden and Burisma posed a true corruption threat," said Cevallos. "That is why Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine. He's building that case. So that he can show, bring a news network there, right-leaning news network to do a documentary or investigate this issue and yield factual information that Rudy Giuliani can point to and say, this corruption, this evidence, these facts show that President trump was warranted in requesting an investigation, not generally into corruption, specifically into Hunter Biden. It's the only path that will work for Republicans that passes even remotely any kind of smell test. Even then, it's a bit of a stretch."

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