President Donald Trump earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes in 2005

President Donald Trump earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes in 2005, paying a roughly 25 percent effective tax rate thanks to a tax he has since sought to eliminate, according to highly sought-after newly-disclosed tax documents.

The pages from Trump’s federal tax return show the then-real estate mogul also reported a business loss of $103 million that year, although the documents don’t provide detail. The forms show that Trump paid an effective tax rate of 24.5 percent, a figure well above the roughly 10 percent the average American taxpayer forks over each year, but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning 1 million dollars a year average were paying at the time, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The tax forms were obtained by journalist David Cay Johnston, who runs a website called DCReport.org, and reported on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Johnston, who has long reported on tax issues, said he received the documents in the mail, unsolicited.

Trump’s hefty business loss appears to be a continued benefit from his use of a tax loophole in the 1990s, which allowed him to deduct previous losses in future years. In 1995, Trump reported a loss of more than $900 million, largely as a result of financial turmoil at his casinos.

Tax records obtained by The New York Times last year showed the losses were so large they could have allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years. But Trump’s 2005 filing shows that another tax prevented him from realizing the full benefit of those deductions.

The bulk of Trump’s tax bill that year was due to the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax aimed at preventing high-income earners from paying minimal taxes.

The AMT requires many taxpayers to calculate their taxes twice — once under the rules for regular income tax and then again under AMT — and then pay the higher amount. Critics say the tax has ensnared more middle-class people than intended, raising what they owe the federal government each year.

Were it not for the AMT, Trump would have avoided all but a few million dollars of his 2005 tax bill.

Trump’s campaign website called for the end
of the AMT, which is expected to bring in more than $350 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2025.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, breaking a decades-long tradition. Although he initially promised to do so, he later claimed he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service and said his attorneys had advised against it — though experts and IRS officials said such audits don’t bar taxpayers from releasing their returns.

The White House pushed back even before the release of the documents Tuesday night, saying that publishing the information was illegal.

“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the White House said in a statement issued on condition that it be attributed to an anonymous official, although the president has decried the use of anonymous sources.

The unauthorized release or publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail. But Maddow argued that MSNBC was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest.

Trump long insisted the American public wasn’t interested in his returns and said little could be learned from them. But Trump’s full returns would contain key details about things like his charitable giving, his income sources, the type of deductions he claimed, how much he earned from his assets and what strategies Trump used to reduce his tax bill.

The issue was a major point of attack from his election rival Hillary Clinton, who suggested Trump had something to hide.

The White House has not said whether or not the president plans to release his returns while he’s in office. More than 1 million people have signed a White House petition urging the president to release them.

Volkswagen agrees to $4.3 billion fine

Volkswagen pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and obstruction of justice and agreed to pay a $4.3 billion penalty for a brazen scheme to program nearly 600,000 vehicles to cheat on U.S. emissions tests.

The criminal and civil penalty, if approved by a federal judge, would be the largest ever levied by the U.S. government against an automaker. VW’s total cost of the scandal now has been pegged at about $21 billion, including a pledge to repair or buy back vehicles.

U.S. regulators confronted VW about the software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide. Volkswagen at first denied the use of the so-called defeat device but finally admitted it in September 2015.

Even after that admission, company employees were busy deleting computer files and other evidence, VW’s general counsel Manfred Doess acknowledged to U.S. District Judge Sean Cox.

Summing up the scandal, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Neal said it was a “calculated offense,” not a “momentary lapse of judgment.”

The judge said he wanted more time to study the terms of the punishment negotiated by the U.S. Justice Department, including a $2.8 billion criminal fine. He set a sentencing date of April 21.

“This is a very, very serious offense,” Cox said.

An attorney for 300 VW owners who have opted out of a larger court settlement objected to the penalty, contending that owners were entitled to restitution through the criminal court. But the Justice Department and VW argued that the company agreed to pay $11 billion in restitution to owners through a civil lawsuit, and that was sufficient. That was part of a $15 billion civil settlement with U.S. environmental authorities and car owners approved last year.

Although the cost is staggering and would bankrupt many companies, VW has the money, with $33 billion in cash on hand.

Under its agreement, VW must cooperate in the investigation and let an independent monitor oversee compliance for three years. Separately, seven Volkswagen employees have been charged in the scandal.

Sad Homeless Man Sits On Same Corner For 3 Years, Until Curious Mom Pulls Up To Ask Him Why

For three years, a homeless man stood on a street corner in Webster, Texas. He would stand there under the blistering sun or in the pouring rain. “Someone needs to do something about that guy,” people would often mutter.

No one ever took the time to learn why the young man remained on the corner, day in and day out — until a woman named Ginger Sprouse came into his life.

At least four times a day, Ginger would pass by the man and see him standing there. One day, she pulled up right next to him, rolled down her window and struck up a conversation.

Ginger learned that the man had a name: Victor Hubbard. Victor is 32 years old. He is homeless and struggles with mental illness.

But then Ginger learned why Victor stood on the same street corner for three years, and the reason changed both of their lives forever…

Ginger Sprouse is a dedicated wife and mother from Texas. She and her husband Dean own a recreational cooking school called Art of the Meal.

For a long time, Ginger kept hearing about one particular homeless man in their community. The man was always spotted sitting on the same corner in Webster, Texas, rain or shine, for three years.

“Someone needs to do something about that guy,” Ginger would hear people mutter.

One day, Ginger pulled up right beside the homeless man. She rolled down her window and struck up a conversation.

She learned the heartbreaking reason Victor remained on that one street corner for years, and it struck her to the core.

Victor Hubbard is 32 years old. He struggles with mental illness, he is homeless, and his mom left him.

The corner was the last place Victor saw his mother. He waited there for three years for her to return to him.

Ginger felt an instant connection to Victor. And with the seasons changing from fall to winter, she grew concerned about his health out there in the cold.

So, she began visiting Victor on her lunch break. The pair became friends, and Victor agreed to stop by her house whenever he wanted to get out of the freezing weather.

But Ginger didn’t stop there. Over the next three months, she helped Victor seek mental health treatment, got him off the streets and hired him to work in the kitchen at Art of the Meal.

Ginger also continues to document Victor’s story on a new Facebook page called “This Is Victor.”

The page went viral, and it wasn’t long before thousands of people were following the story and sending support.

Victor’s community joined in on the kindness in droves.

People donated clothing and supplies, and set him up with doctor’s appointments and eye tests.

He has put on some much-needed weight and can finally see clearly… in more ways than one!

After the story went viral around the world , Ginger connected with Victor’s uncle. Victor finally got to reunite with his mother.

She also created a page to help raise funds. Within months, Victor received nearly $17,000 in donations.

“She came around and she kind of saved me,” Victor told KHOU. “It’s like grace.”

Sometimes, it only takes one person to start an amazing chain of kindness. If you agree, please SHARE this incredible story with your friends on Facebook!

Veterans meet with Trump at the White House

Ten major veterans groups sat down with President Donald Trump on Friday to discuss veterans issues ranging from health care for women to creating a White House office dedicated to veteran empowerment.

Veterans groups have worked for months to secure the meeting with Trump, who had made veterans issues a major part of presidential campaign. Several of the veterans who attended the listening session with Trump described the meeting as “positive” and “conversational.”

“He was really into the conversation, and his staff promised more conversations. They seemed dedicated to that,” said Joe Chenelly, director of American Veterans. “We’ll take the president at his word when he says this is just the beginning of working together as partners and reforming the [Department of Veterans Affairs], particularly the health care issues.”

In addition to Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, VA Secretary David Shulkin and senior White House staff, including Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner and Omarosa Manigault were present, the veterans said.

Organizations represented were the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Veterans, Concerned Veterans forAmerica, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Got Your 6.

Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, took to Twitter on Friday, saying he was disappointed the White House denied IAVA’s request to attend.

Verna Jones, executive director of the American Legion, had strongly appealed for the meeting. Bill Rausch, executive director of the veterans nonprofit Got Your 6, said he thought the meeting showed the White House’s commitment to the veteran community.

“We’re hoping this is one of many,” Jones said of the meeting with the president.

During the meeting, Trump refuted claims he would privatize the VA, Jones said, reiterating a message Shulkin and key Republican lawmakers have conveyed in recent months.

“He assured us the VA is here to stay, that they’re not going to privatize it – veterans will have a healthy VA,” Jones said.

Some groups have expressed concerns that veterans’ health care would move too far into the private sector and remove services from the VA, which they see as providing care uniquely fit for veterans.

Rausch said there was “a clear consensus for support of the veteran community through a strong VA” during the meeting.

The members from each group took turns talking to Trump about their priorities. Some of them spoke about the Veterans Choice Program, which veterans use to receive care in the private sector when they can’t get an appointment at a VA facility. The program, which has been criticized as complex and confusing, is in flux. It will expire in August without action from Congress, and Shulkin is working on an improved version that he promises will have “less red tape.”

Chenelly told Trump that the choice program should continue, but the VA should better inform veterans about their options when deciding where to seek health care.

Rausch proposed Trump sign an executive order establishing a new office in the White House dedicated to veteran empowerment. Trump was receptive to the idea, Rausch said, and asked Pence to follow up.

Others told Trump about the need to modernize the process that veterans use to claim disability and pension compensation and the need for more benefits to caregivers of veterans injured pre-9/11, Jones and Chenelly said. They also asked for more details about an announcement that Shulkin made last week that he would expand urgent mental health care for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

“There was not a lot of response from them, but I saw that as our chance to have our voices heard,” Chenelly said.

In statements before the meeting, Shulkin thanked Trump for the budget that he proposed Thursday for the VA, which includes a $4.4 billion increase from 2017.

“I think you’re upholding your commitment to showing that this country cares about the veterans, and you’ve given us the ability to make sure that we are able to care for them,” Shulkin told Trump.

Shulkin also thanked the Republican-led House for passing legislation Thursday that would allow him to quickly fire, demote and suspend VA employees. That bill now will now go to the Senate, but there’s no clear timeline of when senators will consider it.

Mark Lucas, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said he urged Trump during the meeting to talk to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about expediting a vote on the bill.

Trump said he’s heard “horrible stories” about the VA but “already a lot of improvements are being made.”

He said he was forming a VA board that will be comprised of businessmen and medical professionals. Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment, is part of that board, Trump said, though he did not say who else will take part. The president also announced a “major” meeting about the VA scheduled for Friday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has been critical of Trump for not meeting with veterans groups. He said Friday that the listening session was a “step in the right direction.”

“Moving forward, I am hopeful the administration will better engage with key veterans’ advocates to ensure they have a seat at the table in shaping policies,” he said in a statement.

Trump and Merkel didn’t shake hands in Oval Office!

WASHINGTON, D.C.

A photo-op of the Oval Office meeting between the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump ended on a slightly awkward note. Photographers, who were briefly ushered into the room, snapped photos of the two leaders, who were seated.

The photographers could then be heard calling out, “Handshake” in order to get the obligatory photo of the two shaking hands. Mr. Trump didn’t respond, but Merkel could be heard saying something to him about a handshake, though most of what she said couldn’t be heard. Mr. Trump, who was not looking at her at the moment, may also not have heard her, but the moment appeared to be a little uncomfortable.