Day 48: Unraveling.
1/ Trump met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. The encounter with the Russian Ambassador resurfaced last week after revelations that at least five members of Trump’s campaign team - including Jeff Sessions - had contact with Kislyak before Trump took office. The meeting is at odds with a spokeswoman’s claim that Trump had “zero” involvement with Russian officials during the campaign. (Bloomberg)
- White House calls reported Trump meeting with Russian ambassador “absurd.” As a candidate Trump met with the Russian ambassador to the United States at a campaign event, just before Trump delivered a speech that called for “an easing of tensions” with Russia. (ABC News)
2/ The rapport between Trump and Obama is unraveling. Trump is convinced that Obama is undermining his nascent administration, while Obama is furious over Trump’s tweets accusing him of illegal wiretapping and questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Obama himself. (Wall Street Journal)
3/ Aides address Trump’s wiretapping claims: “That’s above my pay grade.” Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted when pressed about his explosive and unproven accusations that Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower. (New York Times)
- Obama’s reaction to wiretap claims stopped short of outright fury. Uncorroborated wiretapping accusations irked and exasperated Obama and his aides, who have responded with disbelief. (CNN)
4/ To fund the border wall, Trump weighs cuts to Coast Guard and airport security. The plan puts the administration in the unusual position of trading spending on security programs for other security priorities at the southern border, raising questions among Republican lawmakers and homeland-security experts. (Washington Post)
5/ FBI’s Comey says “you’re stuck with me” for another six years and intends to finish his full 10-year term as director. Comey signaled he has no plans to resign despite once again being at the center of a political storm – this time over probes into Russian hacking of the 2016 election and his request that Justice Department officials reject Trump’s claims that his predecessor “tapped” his phones. (Bloomberg)
6/ The GOP health care plan is in critical condition. The plan is going to have to fight a three-front war to survive: 1) conservatives are calling this “Obamacare-Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0”; 2) moderates want to keep Medicaid expansion and Planned Parenthood funding; 3) and powerful/influential industry groups, like AARP and the American Hospital Association have voiced their opposition. (NBC News)
- Ryan downplays conservative backlash against health-care plan. The most imminent and serious threat to the plan was the criticism from conservative lawmakers and powerful outside groups that argue that the draft is nothing more than “Obamacare Lite,” a disparaging reference to the former president’s signature 2010 domestic achievement. (Washington Post)
- The American Medical Association opposes the Republican health plan. The doctors’ group is concerned that too many people would lose health coverage under the House bill. (New York Times)
- Conservatives pick up “mixed messages” from the White House on health care plan, suggesting the White House isn’t completely sold on the bill advancing through committees. (Huffington Post)
- GOP slams budget scorekeeper as Obamacare repeal bill moves forward. Republicans, anticipating that their plan will leave fewer Americans insured than Obamacare and potentially cost the federal government more, launched a preemptory strike against forthcoming predictions from Congress’s independent scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office. (Politico)
7/ Democrats are trying to delay House GOP health care bill*. Democrats are complaining that the hearings are taking place before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to “score” the House legislation, a process that will provide answers on how much it will cost and how many people it will cover. Republicans are holding the line to block Democratic efforts to delay the bill to repeal Obamacare. (CNN)
8/ A federal criminal probe is being opened into WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA documents. The FBI and CIA are coordinating an investigation into how the documents came into WikiLeaks’ possession and whether they might have been leaked by an employee or contractor. The CIA is also trying to determine if there are other unpublished documents WikiLeaks may have. (CNN)
9/ Comey to testify in the House Intelligence Committee probe on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The hearing will likely be the first in-depth public inquiry into allegations of connections between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, as well as Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election. (Bloomberg)
10/ North Korea may be Trump’s greatest foreign policy challenge. The administration must come up with a plan to curb North Korea’s missile and nuclear development program — and it must do so quickly following a round of provocative missile tests. (ABC News)
poll/ 56% of registered voters support appointing a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government. (Politico)
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