March 15, 2017 / 11:34 AM / 9 months ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the VVD Liberal party greets supporters during campaigning in The Hague, Netherlands March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The White House

President Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income in 2005, the White House said on Tuesday, responding to an MSNBC report that the network had obtained two pages of the returns. Those two pages showed Trump paid an effective federal tax rate of 25 percent in 2005 after writing off $100 million in losses. Trump says he has not released his tax returns because they are under audit by the IRS. Experts say an IRS audit does not bar someone from releasing the documents.

Trump tweeted this morning:

Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, “went to his mailbox” and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!

His son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted this last night:

Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes! #Taxes

Saudi Arabia hailed a "historical turning point" in U.S.-Saudi relations after a meeting between Trump and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted the two leaders' shared view that Iran posed a regional security threat. 

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is traveling to Asia this week accompanied by only one reporter, a White House correspondent from the Independent Journal Review, a digital news outlet founded in 2012 by former Republican political operatives.

Court hearings in Hawaii and Maryland on Wednesday could decide the immediate fate of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, which is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Thursday. To succeed, the plaintiffs must show they have "standing" to challenge the ban, which means they must have been harmed by the policy. If they get past that hurdle, the plaintiffs will argue that both the new ban and the old discriminate on the basis of religion and are unconstitutional.

World

Swedish Member European Parliament Jytte Guteland holds her baby as she takes part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Swedish Member European Parliament Jytte Guteland holds her baby as she takes part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

A large number of Twitter accounts, including the UK Department of Health, BBC North America and the CEO of Sprint Corp, were hijacked and replaced with messages in Turkish accusing the Dutch of Nazism. The hackers used the hashtags #Nazialmanya or #Nazihollanda.

Dutch people vote today in an election that pits center-right candidate Prime Minister Mark Rutte against and anti-Islam and anti-EU firebrand Geert Wilders. The election’s seen as a referendum on nationalist feeling magnified by the furious diplomatic dispute with Turkey and anti-EU sentiments. 

Iraqi government forces set their sights on reaching the Grand Mosque in Mosul's Old City on Wednesday and the prime minister said the battle to drive Islamic State from its last urban stronghold in Iraq was reaching its final stages.

“We have to be realistic – he’s not leaving” - Robert Ford, former American ambassador to Damascus on Bashar al-Assad. Ford resigned in frustration at Obama’s indecision on Syria.

China has started fresh construction work in the disputed South China Sea, new satellite images show, a sign that Beijing is continuing to strengthen its military reach across the vital trade waterway.

Business

While the Fed is expected to raise rates between 0.75 percent and 1.00 percent today, attention’s turning to whether the U.S. central bank will signal an even faster pace of monetary tightening this year than the current three rate hikes that it projected at the December policy meeting.

Shares in Toshiba tumbled on Wednesday after it said it would consider a sale of Westinghouse but did not offer any clarity on whether it would proceed with a Chapter 11 filing for the U.S. nuclear unit - a move that could stem losses.

McDonald's will begin testing its long-awaited U.S. mobile ordering app this month with the goal of avoiding the kinds of service hiccups that have haunted digital debuts by companies such as Starbucks.

Volkswagen said on Wednesday that prosecutors were searching offices at the carmaker's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. The search coincides with a raid by Munich prosecutors at Volkswagen's luxury carmaker Audi.

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