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Newsletter: The doctor and diplomacy: This week on President Trump’s to-do list

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Essential Politics
(LAT)

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to soon address a joint session of Congress. But will that speech make news that eclipses the serious questions being raised about President Trump’s selection to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs?

DIAGNOSING DR. JACKSON’S POLITICAL FATE

On Tuesday, Trump suggested Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson might just want to walk away from the nomination.

“If I were him… the fact is, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it,” the president said during a Tuesday news conference with Macron. Trump also said that he would stand behind Jackson if he chose to remain the nominee.

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That comment came shortly after senators canceled a confirmation hearing to investigate allegations of inappropriate behavior by Jackson, the White House doctor spontaneously tapped by Trump via Twitter less than a month ago. The Navy admiral was already facing questions about his qualifications to lead the agency, home to the second-largest federal government workforce.

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MACRON: MON BON AMI

The cloud surrounding one of the president’s Cabinet picks parted at least long enough to fete the French president, a fast favorite of Trump, at the first state dinner at the White House of his administration.

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Macron’s visit began on Monday and by Tuesday moved into private meetings with the president. It was during a public portion of one of those meetings that Trump tried to navigate the tricky waters separating him and his new friend when it comes to the nuclear treaty with Iran.

“It’s insane. It’s ridiculous. It should never have been made. But we will be talking about it,” Trump told reporters as the two leaders sat side by side in the Oval Office for their first business meeting of Macron’s visit.

The visit by the French president and his wife, Brigitte Macron, presented a spotlight moment for First Lady Melania Trump. As Cathleen Decker notes, she’s being thrust into a more visible public role than perhaps at any other time in her husband’s presidency. It comes after a lengthy period of relative invisibility that has not only confounded White House tradition but also limited her potential political benefit to a troubled administration.

Keep an eye on today’s news on the speech by Macron on our Essential Washington news feed.

THE ‘SECRET SCIENCE’ FIGHT

The Environmental Protection Agency took aim on Tuesday at the science behind many of the nation’s clean air and clean water rules.

The proposal that was announced would effectively prevent regulators from considering a wide range of health studies when they look at new regulations, prohibiting what Administrator Scott Pruitt and industry advocates call “secret science” — studies that make use of data that are kept confidential, often for privacy reasons.

NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND

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-- The Trump administration now has 90 days to explain its reasoning for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

-- Judging by its first week of sales, former FBI Director James Comey‘s book is on track to become the biggest political hit of 2018.

-- “Made in China 2025” may have fueled Trump’s tough talk on trade, but Chinese leaders consider the plan key to the country’s development and refuse to alter its course.

-- The president’s administration is racing to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement by early May — with an eye toward forcing a congressional vote on a new pact by the end of the year.

-- Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized in Houston with an infection, just after attending the funeral of his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush.

GAS TAX REPEAL MOVES TOWARD NOVEMBER BALLOT

In what could be the lightning rod of California ballot measures this fall, backers of the initiative to repeal the state’s new gas tax increase say they’ve hit their mark.

Republican activists said Tuesday that they have collected at least 830,000 signatures for a proposal to repeal the tax and impose new restrictions on efforts to raise fuel taxes in the future. If those signatures are all verified by county elections officials, that’s far more than what’s needed to make the November ballot.

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Expect more news on ballot measures in the near future. This week is the suggested deadline by state officials for backers of initiatives to turn in signatures in time for final certification by late June.

CALIFORNIA BAIL CHANGES SOUGHT EVEN BY ... BAIL AGENTS THEMSELVES

This year, as California lawmakers have labored on an overhaul of how courts assign bail to defendants and regulate bail agencies, there’s a new and vocal group of reformers: bail agents.

These bail and bail-recovery agents could become unlikely allies, saying they advocate for change because they’ve seen the system abuse the poor.

It’s worth noting that the primary proposal for changing the cash bail system remains pending in the state Capitol. We’ll be keeping track of it and dozens of other pending bills on our Essential Politics news feed.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- Rep. Duncan Hunter wants to create a legal expense fund to cover the costs of FBI investigation into his activities.

-- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson toured a homeless women’s center on L.A.’s skid row on Tuesday, part of a fact-finding trip of public, private and faith-based initiatives tackling homelessness and job training.

-- Sen. Kamala Harris says she won’t take corporate donations anymore.

-- At least 240 House lawmakers want a vote on immigration. California supporters say they aren’t ready to force one.

-- Los Angeles is ending its economic boycott of Arizona, which was launched eight years ago to protest a hotly contested law targeting illegal immigration and then repeatedly lifted as the city continued buying products from that state.

-- State lawmakers are trying again to spend $2 billion to help build homeless housing, and this time the plan might go on the November ballot.

-- A group of California Assembly members urged colleagues on Monday to pass legislation that would prohibit state commissions and agencies from rejecting a professional license for those who were once convicted of less serious crimes.

LOGISTICS

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