In the last week, President Trump has released his 2018 proposed budget and dropped 220 spots on Forbes’ billionaires list. Additionally, Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch has begun Senate confirmation hearings, and the FBI commented on the Trump-Russia inquiry and Obama wiretap allegations. Here is a rundown of what happened and why it matters.
Trump drops 220 spots on Forbes billionaires list
Though Trump is U.S.’s first billionaire president, his net worth is dropping.
Forbes estimated Trump’s current net worth to be $3.5 billion, which is $1 billion lower than his estimated 2016 net worth. As a result, his position on Forbes’ ranking dropped 220 spots, which leaves him tied with 19 others as the 544th richest person in the world.
Forbes reported much of the decline in Trump’s net worth is due to softness in the midtown Manhattan real estate market.
“Forty percent of Donald Trump’s fortune is tied up in Trump Tower and eight buildings within one mile of it,” according to the magazine. “What happens in that micromarket does more to affect the net worth of Donald Trump than anything else in the world. Lately, the neighborhood has been struggling.”
FBI weighs in on Trump- Russia, wiretap allegations
FBI Director James Comey said Monday there is no evidence to support Trump’s tweets that former President Barack Obama wiretapped the White House.
“I have no information that supports those tweets,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee and added the Department of Justice also had no information to support the claims.
No president can order a wiretapping against anyone, Comey said. This includes wiretapping to investigate the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, he said.
Comey also publicly confirmed his agency will investigate alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to determine if any crimes were committed during last year’s election campaign.
He testified that United States intelligence agencies agreed that Russia aimed to aid Trump against Clinton.
“They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in at least as early as December,” Comey said.
SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings underway
Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch’s senate confirmation hearing has begun. However, the Denver-based 10th circuit court of appeals judge’s hearing has thus far been plagued by partisan politics.
The first three Democrats to speak at the hearing began by discussing the Republicans’ decision to refuse a hearing or vote on Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, called it an “extraordinary blockade” that was “totally unprecedented in our country’s whole history.”
Leahy called into question Trump’s reliance on conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to vet potential Supreme Court candidates.
“Senate Republicans made a big show last year about respecting the voice of the American people in this process,” he said in reference to Trump’s election victory. “Now they’re arguing that the Senate should rubber-stamp their nominees selected by extreme interest groups and nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.”
However, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defended the Republicans’ decision to keep the seat vacant. The presidential election was also a “referendum on the kind of justice that should replace Justice Scalia,” he said.
Fox News reports the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote April 3 and the full Senate is expected to vote early next month.
Trump plans to cut 80 federally funded programs with 2018 proposed budget
On March 16, the Trump administration released a preliminary proposed budget for 2018. The proposal only covers discretionary, not mandatory, spending.
The proposed budget includes an increase in defense spending and cuts to 80 federally funded programs and the elimination of 19 government agencies. Most of the programs to be cut are in the arts, science and poverty-prevention fields.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, the Agricultural Department and the Labor Department will be hit the hardest. Agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Chemical Safety Board.
The Washington Post reports that these programs and agencies will be cut in order to increase defense spending, put a down payment on the border wall and fund a school voucher program.