It’s tax day, and “Steve Ballmer (yes, the Microsoft one) has a fascinating project that can tell you what, exactly, your taxes pay for,” tweets Andrew Cunningham. Andrew Sorkin’s piece for The New York Times, Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove, reveals that Ballmer has been pursuing “what may be one of the most ambitious private projects undertaken to answer a question that has long vexed the public and politicians alike. He sought to ‘figure out what the government really does with the money.’” Derek Kessler says, “I’ve long wanted Steve Ballmer’s new project: consolidated and correlated data from across all levels of government.” “Say Hello to America's Newest (and Best-Funded!) Investigative Reporter -- @Steven_Ballmer. Seriously,” tweets George Anders. Or as Jacob Young puts it, “Steve Ballmer got bored and delivered us the most comprehensive database of government spending that's ever existed.” All of which leads Roberto Rocha to ask, “Would any Canadian billionaires volunteer to create a public database tracking how Ottawa spends money?”
A cocktail of conflicts. Cheers!
Looking for your Tuesday “must-read”? Yuri Kageyama points you to the new piece by his AP colleagues Erika Kinetz and Anne D'Innocenzio, Ivanka's biz prospers as politics mixes with business. In it, we learn, among other things, that “On April 6, Ivanka Trump's company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world's second-largest economy.” Hmm...what else happened on April 6? The piece goes on to remind us, “That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago." Says Robin Lustig, “Business? Politics? What's the difference? Brand Trump marches on.” And Jason Grotto offers, “A cocktail of conflicts. Cheers!”
At POLITICO, Shane Goldmacher reveals The $1 million upside for Gerrit Lansing, an RNC digital guru. Maggie Haberman calls it an “Unreal story by@ShaneGoldmacher about former RNC consultant let go from WH made $1 mill from party committee.” As Goldmacher tweets, “The RNC's top digital guy made nearly $1 million on the side. His firm won big RNC/Trump contracts,” and “RNC denied this on-the-record last year. New federal records prove those denials false.” Caught in the crossfires of those denials is, you guessed it, Sean Spicer.
Speaking of Sean Spicer, in The New York Times, Glenn Thrush writes that Spicer Argues That More Public Disclosure Is Unnecessary, Even Harmful. “Pulling the curtains closed to block out sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the old saying goes,” says Edward-Isaac Dovere. That’s right, “Up is down. Black is white. Dirty is clean. More Public Disclosure Is Unnecessary, Even Harmful,” explains Charles Ornstein. Adrienne LaFrance notes, “When asked if Trump ever intended to release his taxes, Spicer ‘deadpanned,’ ‘We’ll have to get back to you on that.’”
And speaking of Trump’s tax returns, Alan Rappeport reports in The New York Times that Trump’s Unreleased Taxes Threaten Yet Another Campaign Promise. Rappeport tweets, “So much for that grand bargain. Democrats double down on Trump's taxes to put tax reform on the ropes.”
Also happening now, David Fahrenthold reports in the Washington Post, Two plaintiffs join suit against Trump, alleging breach of “emoluments clause.” The plaintiffs are an association of restaurants and restaurant workers, and a woman who books banquet halls for two D.C. hotels.
Meanwhile, as Adam Serwer notes, there's a "second story backing up CNN's reporting that GOP+Dem lawmakers saw Rice's unmasking as 'routine.'" In Susan Rice did nothing wrong, say Dem and GOP congressional aides, NBC News' Ken Dilanian writes, "A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News."
“Guys. Guys. I don’t think Trump knows who’s the leader of North Korea,” says Ana Marie Cox. She’s responding to comments made by Trump in an interview with Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, in which he remarked that “this gentleman” in North Korea had “outplayed” Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As Matt Shuham notes in his piece for Talking Points Memo, Trump: Clinton, Obama Outplayed By ‘This Gentleman’ In North Korea, “The late North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il died in 2011. His son, Kim Jong Un, is the country’s current ruler.” Says Steve Daniels, “Whatever your politics, it has to scare you that @realDonaldTrump doesn't seem to know who rules N. Korea.” Retweeting Ana Marie Cox, Seth Rogen adds, “I think we did more research for our movie about killing Kim Jong Un than trump is in to actually killing him.”
“Lots of great nuggets here from the new book on the Clinton campaign,” says William Gallo of Inside the Hillary Hindenburg, Mike Allen’s piece in Axios about Jonathan Allen’s new book, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.” Says Nicholas Johnston, it’s “The best bits from the new Clinton book by my pal @jonallendc.” At The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani reviews how ‘Shattered’ Charts Hillary Clinton’s Course Into the Iceberg, tweeting, “a devastating book chronicles how Hillary's wildly dysfunctional campaign went off the rails.” Or as Jack Mirkinson puts it, “Shockingly, it appears that Hillary Clinton’s disastrous, losing campaign was not great behind the scenes.”
In April, May says “June”
Also today in the US, we’re “Waking up to this momentous news from across the pond!” as Laura Trevelyan tweets of the news that UK PM Theresa May is seeking a snap election for 8 June, according to BBC News reports. Or as Dominic Casciani tweets, “GENERAL ELECTION OMG!!” “A Brexit do-over?” wonders Will Scheihing. But as The New York Times’ Sewell Chan reports in Theresa May Calls Early Election in U.K., Seeking Stronger Mandate for ‘Brexit,’ the Prime Minister is “placing a bet that voters will give her Conservative Party a strong mandate as her government negotiates the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.” Matt Mackowiak calls it a “Smart move by British PM Theresa May, Labour has never been weaker.” And feeling a little springy, Patrick J. Lyons says, “In April, May says ‘June.’”
Not happening, though: TV debates. As Gary Gibbon reports for Channel 4, Election 2017: No TV debates this time. Gibbon writes, “Rather than go down the route of pretending they’re longing for such things to happen but the logistics might be tricky they’ve gone for a more open approach: forget it.” And Katy Balls “*puts popcorn down*”
At Bloomberg, Mark Gurman and Min Jeong Lee report that Apple Readies iPhone Overhaul for Smartphone's 10th Anniversary. Brian Fung notes “A staggering number of changes in this new-iPhone rumor roundup.” As Steve Kovach tweets, “radical new iPhone redesign coming that's almost all screen on the front."
You’re too busy
But maybe don’t get so excited about a smartphone. Here’s your next must-read for the day, and then take a break. As David Leonhardt writes in his New York Times column, You’re Too Busy. You Need a ‘Shultz Hour,’ “If you spend all your time collecting information, you won't leave enough time to make sense of it.” Marc Gunther reminds you that “You own your phone. It's not the other way around.” Chris Bohjalian calls it a “Wise, lovely column by @DLeonhardt in @nytopinion about the benefits of being ‘task-negative’ for an hour.”