Oh yeah, it’s really something
So, Sean Spicer, has President Donald Trump shattered the working relationship he built during the transition with former President Barack Obama by accusing him of wiretapping his phones during the campaign and tweeting that he’s a “Bad (or sick) guy!”?
“I think that they’ll be just fine,” the press secretary responded.
But Trump still insists Obama did this?
“Well, I think that there’s no question that something happened ... there’s been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred.”
FBI Director James Comey is adamant that it didn’t happen, according to multiple reports. On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump doesn’t believe Comey.
On “Fox & Friends,” Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway noted that the president “has information and intelligence the rest of us do not.” But she didn’t say whether that was the source of Trump’s Saturday Twitter allegation. Spicer said he wasn’t sure “what she was referring to.”
The roots of Trump’s allegations still seem to be the reports churning in right-wing media that preceded Saturday’s tweetstorm. Spicer reiterated that Trump wants Congress to investigate — though as president, he has the power to declassify any evidence himself.
It seemed like Spicer was daring Comey to go public with his accusation that Trump’s wiretapping claim is false and his call on the Justice Department to refute it.
Despite Sanders’ earlier comments, Spicer said, “I don’t think that we’ve confirmed that Director Comey did say that ... that’s the first issue that I think we need to resolve.” Spicer also hedged on whether Trump still has confidence in Comey.
Comey is searching for a way for Justice and the FBI to formally knock down the allegations, CNN reported. CNN’s source also said Comey has no plans to resign.
“Does he know of possibility there might be a confrontation and be fired by the president? Sure,” the source said.
No, but we’d cover it
Trump has a well-documented history of making unsupported claims, such as that there was massive voter fraud last November and that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. On NBC’s “Today” show, Sanders bemoaned the news media’s persistent skepticism.
“If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would report that he couldn’t swim,” Sanders said.
The take-away: Foe, fan, foe
If someone created a James Comey Fan Club in Washington, its membership would rotate on a regular basis between Democrats and Republicans, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
But the popularity contest won’t have much bearing on Comey’s future. His term of office doesn’t expire until 2023.
New health care bill rolled out
More Americans would probably be uninsured if it's adapted in current form, age-based tax credits would replace income-based subsidies. It's still a long way from enactment. Some are calling it Obamacare Lite.
New travel ban rolled out
Nearly a month after federal judges blocked his first attempt, Trump signed a new, narrower executive order limiting travel and immigration into the United States for the stated purpose of preventing terrorists from slipping in, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
Iraq was dropped from the list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens will be barred for a 90-day period. Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen are still specified. Syrian refugees are no longer barred indefinitely, but the refugee admissions program as a whole will be suspended for 120 days.
The new executive order goes into effect March 16, adopting a grace period that the first ban did not. A fresh round of lawsuits is expected well before then, and Democrats denounced the new version as “un-American” discrimination.
LI Muslims worry
Muslim and immigrant advocates were dismayed at the issuance of the revised travel ban, Newsday’s Víctor Manuel Ramos reports.
“It is a Muslim ban, still,” said Habeeb Ahmed, president-elect of the Islamic Center of Long Island, which owns the Westbury mosque.
Though most of Long Island’s Muslims are not directly affected — they are not new visitors and not many come from the six countries listed — Ahmed said they will still feel a negative effect. Many people in the community have postponed travel plans to avoid getting stuck during screening at ports of entry, he said.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) supported the order as “absolutely necessary” to improve security.
Most want special prosecutor
Almost two-thirds — 65 percent of Americans — would rather see a special prosecutor instead of Congress investigate contacts between Russians and Trump campaign associates, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
A majority — 55 percent — said they are at least somewhat concerned by the reported connections. Views split along partisan lines — 71 percent of Democrats are “very concerned” about it while 54 percent of Republicans have no concerns “at all.”
Trump’s overall approval rating was 45 percent — up 1 point from January — suggesting that he did not get a bump from his well-received address to Congress last week, CNN said.
What else is happening:
- Another factually false tweet issued forth from Trump early Tuesday, and it had to do with Guantanamo.
- The White House informally ran a proposal by Planned Parenthood — it could keep its federal funding for women’s health services if it stopped providing abortion services, which do not get federal money, The New York Times reported. The group said no.
- Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was hired by the Trump White House to work in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs, Politico reported, citing sources.
- The SoftBank Vision Fund based in Japan, hyped by Trump as bringing thousands of jobs, "could reasonably be described as a front for Saudi Arabia and perhaps other countries in the Middle East," Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in the Times.
- The Trump University lawsuits may not be settled after all, The New York Times reported. A student who sued wants a federal court to reject the $25 million deal unless plaintiffs get a chance to opt out and sue Trump individually. It’s up to Judge Gonzalo Curiel.
- One of the Trump tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping raged, “This is McCarthyism!” Irony No. 1: A mentor of young Trump was Roy Cohn, a top aide in Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunts in the early 1950s. Irony No. 2: Trump strategist Steve Bannon is a McCarthy fan, CNN found.
- Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said parts of Trump’s Mexican border wall could be “see-through” because visibility aids security. He declined to estimate its cost during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.
- Rossano Rubicondi, the fourth and most recent ex-husband of Trump’s first wife, Ivana, is opening a pizza restaurant a few miles from Mar-a-Lago and seeking to develop a reality show about running the business, CNN reports.
- Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) has apologized to Kellyanne Conway for a sexually suggestive joke about her. Chelsea Clinton was among those who tweeted calling on Richmond to apologize.