Obamacare repeal, Russia, the Supreme Court: Notable storylines from Trump’s week
By now, most of the storylines have been set. The news that’s dominated Donald Trump’s presidency is likely to be here for a while. Might as well settle in:
- I.O.U.S.A.? President Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. In back-to-back tweets Saturday, he said they had a good meeting but to make no mistake: Germany still owes the U.S. money.
- Intruder alert. For the second time since Trump took office, someone attempted to get inside the White House. This time, a man jumped a low barrier outside the security fence. Trump wasn’t home.
- The Department of Justice asked a Hawaii judge to revise his ruling on halting the travel ban. The judge said no.
- Another Conway in the house. Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, was selected to head the civil division of the Department of Justice. The group is responsible for dealing with lawsuits filed against the Trump administration and defending the travel ban.
- Did Trump collude with Russia to win the election? That’s “fake news,” the president tweeted.
- Let the hearings begin!
- FBI Director James B. Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers testified before a House committee for more than five hours about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election. A major takeaway? Comey confirmed that the FBI is investigating Russia’s interference in the campaign and looking for potential “coordination” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The White House is downplaying that revelation.
- Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch is undergoing his confirmation hearings. David G. Savage noted that his opening statement was deeply personal. “These days we sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes,” Gorsuch said. “But I just don’t think that’s what a life in the law is about.”
- Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air after backing Trump’s unverified wiretap claims.
- Speaking of wiretapping. The National Security Agency director said the Obama administration didn’t ask British intelligence to spy on Trump.
- House Republican leaders made last-minute changes to their healthcare bill in an attempt to sway some conservative and moderate lawmakers.
- Ivanka Trump is getting a West Wing office and security clearance. The first daughter is not technically an employee of the White House.
- Gorsuch said he would be reluctant to overturn past court rulings, like Roe vs. Wade. As Evan Halper wrote, how a judge would rule on an issue like abortion is a longstanding “litmus test” at hearings.
- The U.S. and Britain have banned tablets and laptops on flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries.
- Trump warned House members that they have little choice but to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Some still weren’t convinced.
- The Trump administration skipped a human rights hearing that looked into how U.S. policies hurt asylum claims or trigger other alleged immigration abuses, after the meeting was deemed “not appropriate” by its lawyers.
- Back to Russia. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked for a Russian billionaire about 10 years ago to advance Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda.
- Rep. Devin Nunes said U.S. intelligence officials intercepted communications involving Trump’s transition team. According to Nunes, the conversations were picked up because Trump associates were communicating with individuals under surveillance. When asked if Trump felt vindicated by the revelations, he said he “somewhat” did.
- Courtroom drama. The Supreme Court unanimously strengthened the rights of 7 million schoolchildren with disabilities, rejecting a lower-court ruling that relied on a standard set by none other than Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch. The ruling came down during Gorsuch’s nomination hearing. Ouch.
- Let’s talk healthcare. First off, GOP leaders postponed a vote on the Affordable Care Health Act — the replacement plan for Obamacare. Before that, there was a lot of back and forth over whether the White House had enough votes to pull off a win. Evidently, it didn’t. By the end of the night, Trump threatened to leave Obamacare in place if the GOP bill failed. (P.S. The revised version would save even less money and still double the number of Americans without coverage to 24 million.
- Stop, filibuster time. Democrats are planning to filibuster Gorsuch’s confirmation. For obvious reasons, the White House isn’t happy about it.
- The House Intelligence chair is backtracking on his claim about the surveillance on Trump’s transition team, sort of. His aide said he has to get all the documents before “he knows for sure.”
- Another delay for Trump: his travel ban could be blocked for weeks. A federal appeals court said the earliest it would hear arguments is May.
- No conflict of interest, said a federal agency about Trump’s hotel near the White House. Trump can continue to lease his downtown Washington hotel from the federal government without worry.
Friday, March 24
- It’s vote day. Just kidding! The GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act was already on shaky ground moving into the scheduled vote Friday. Paul Ryan and Trump met last-minute to talk about where the count stood. And then, at Trump’s request, the bill was pulled, making it the second time House GOP leaders had to delay the vote.
- Remember Manafort? He volunteered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the presidential election.
- Welcome back big oil. The Trump administration issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which had previously been rejected by Obama.
- A Virginia judge ruled in favor of Trump’s travel ban, saying that it likely “falls within the bounds” of Trump’s authority as president. His ruling doesn’t have an immediate effect on the ban, which was put on hold by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland last week.
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