President Joe Biden signed a congressional resolution to end the U.S. national emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency measures allowed the government to respond to the virus and support the country's economic, health, and welfare systems. Biden signed the measure behind closed doors after publicly opposing it, but not to the point of issuing a veto. The law signed by Biden on Monday did not affect the public health emergency, which is set to expire in May. The Trump-era Title 42 border policy is also set to expire in May, and the White House has warned that an abrupt end to the public health emergency and Title 42 could create chaos and uncertainty. Unfortunately, for the nearly 2,000 Americans that continue to die from COVID per week – the emergency is anything but over.
Goldman Sachs has been fined $1m by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for not recording traders' phone calls. The CFTC discovered that the bank had not kept certain audio recordings, which swap dealers are required to do under CFTC requirements, in 2014 after the recording hardware on its phone lines restarted prematurely and failed to record. The issue was identified when the CFTC requested audio calls from Goldman Sachs relating to a separate investigation and, gosh darn it, they didn’t have the audio.
All Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have requested Chief Justice John Roberts to investigate luxury trips taken by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from a wealthy Republican donor. The lawmakers have also requested Roberts to lead in adopting a code of conduct that would subject the justices to the types of standards applied to lower courts. The calls for investigation come after a report by ProPublica last week detailed Thomas accepting gifts of trips on jets, private yachts, luxury accommodations, including a 2019 “island hopping” vacation that could have exceeded $500,000.
Twitter has hired Adeeb Sahar, a former Skadden associate, as its new global head of commercial, corporate, and international law. Sahar was part of the team of lawyers who advised Elon Musk on his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last year. Sahar’s appointment comes as Twitter faces an increasing number of legal liabilities, including a lawsuit filed by its former legal chief. Twitter is at risk of failing to comply with various data privacy regulations and other accords entered into by the company. Sahar previously co-founded and served as CEO of a venture-backed publishing startup called Inklo. Many former Twitter lawyers have secured new jobs at other companies, including social media rival TikTok and Ancestry.com.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to use part of the $80 billion allocated to it to become a "digital first" tax collector, investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service interactions with taxpayers. The tax agency has access to large amounts of data, and the first step in a larger AI project is data mining to extract insights using machine learning algorithms and statistical analysis. Natural language processing (NLP) is another field of AI that can analyze and understand human language to perform various analyses, such as examining tax forms to determine keywords and phrases that may correlate with tax evasion. NLP can also be used to automate customer service, providing faster and more accurate information to taxpayers. Predictive modeling can analyze past known fraudulent returns to identify where future audits may be most fruitful and can be used to evaluate the impact of a given compliance program to better allocate resources. However, policymakers and coders must be careful to avoid injecting underlying biases. The IRS must proceed ethically, ensuring fairness for all taxpayers and limiting knock-on effects. Collaboration among technologists, policy experts, and taxpayer advocacy groups is necessary to ensure the endeavor doesn't jeopardize fairness for taxpayers as it proceeds.
As we all well know by now, former US President Donald Trump was indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on numerous charges of falsifying business records. The charges stem from an alleged scheme to falsify records in connection with the payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The indictment did not specify what the underlying crime was but suggested that it could be a tax crime. Some political pundits have questioned whether there was any fraud involved as the scheme seemingly resulted in too much tax being paid. However, fraud does not necessarily have to result in a financial loss. In this case, the fraud was aimed at using tax authorities as alibi-generators and ensuring that Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, would declare the reimbursement payments as income for services rendered. This would have made it difficult for authorities to discover the payoff and would have provided a defense in case the scheme was discovered. From a public policy perspective, taxpayers should not countenance tax authorities being used in furtherance of such schemes. In sum, this allegation is no small thing – and should not be treated as a minor bookkeeping inconsistency.