Trump of coal
President Donald Trump won votes in economically depressed coal country by promising to roll back environmental regulations that sought to curb fossil fuel use as a way to combat climate change.
He took a step to deliver Tuesday by signing an executive order to unravel standards adopted under former President Barack Obama, including emissions limits for power plants, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
“No single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more,” Trump said of Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
But its elimination may not bring back coal jobs in the face of strengthening competition from cleaner and cheaper energy sources, including natural gas, as well as solar and wind power.
A surer thing: lawsuits, and plenty of them.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and environmental groups are among those who said they would fight Trump’s order in the courts.
“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science,” said a joint statement from Brown and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Trump’s move “will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity,” they said.
Nunes digs in
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee refused to step aside from the probe of possible Russian ties to the Trump campaign, Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) won the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan despite Democrats’ complaints he has shown himself to be too close to Trump.
Nunes has called off his panel’s meetings for the week.
The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who have avoided partisan warfare, planned to provide an update Wednesday on their investigation on Russian election meddling.
Sean Spicer’s special sauce
The White House press secretary got exasperated with questions about the Russia investigations during Tuesday’s briefing.
“If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russia connection,” Spicer said.
Well, no. But if his salad contains WikiLeeks, there are going to be follow-up questions.
The take-away: Hired guns
A Turkish gold trader accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, as well as money laundering and bank fraud, has added the Trump-connected to his legal defense team — Rudy Giuliani and a longtime ally of the ex-mayor, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Mukasey’s son, Marc Mukasey, has been pushed as a possible successor to Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney for the New York’s Southern District, which brought the case against Reza Zarrab. Newsday’s Dan Janison looks at the intersection of New York’s permanent nexus of big money, major criminal cases, and presidential and world politics.
Gorsuch showdown nears
It appears increasingly unlikely that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, can muster the 60 votes needed to avoid a Senate filibuster by Democrats against his nomination.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has heavily telegraphed that he will invoke the so-called nuclear option to unilaterally change Senate rules with a simple majority vote, regardless of the bad blood that would result, Politico reported.
“We will confirm him one way or the other,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas)
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Republicans in Kansas and Georgia are moving to expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare now that efforts to repeal it have faltered.
House Republicans and Spicer said there have been discussions about a future effort to revive the GOP bill, but no clear path has emerged on how to reconcile the differences within the party that sank it, The Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, Democrats are developing plans to tweak Obamacare. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked her rank-and-file for ideas on how to strengthen the law and planned to discuss them with ranking members of the relevant committees Wednesday morning, according to Politico.
What else is happening
- An American attack from the air probably led to a Mosul building collapse that killed scores of civilians, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq acknowledged.
- Trump’s lawyers contend he’s immune while president from defamation claims brought by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice,” who accused him of unwanted sexual contact.
- Karen Pence is Vice President Mike Pence's "prayer warrior" and sounding board, according to a Washington Post profile.
- Trump’s funding request to Congress to start building a border wall will likely be put on hold until later in the year, The Hill reported. GOP leaders in Congress don’t want to complicate legislation to fund the government for the rest of the year.
- A watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, has agreed at the behest of Capitol Hill Democrats to review costs and security procedures for Trump’s frequent stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, The Washington Post reported.
- Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Russia’s interference in the U.S. election campaign could be considered “an act of war.”
- The entire White House staff will skip next month’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in “solidarity” with their boss, the association disclosed Tuesday.
- The Washington Nationals say Trump has declined an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before their home opener. The White House cited a scheduling conflict, the team said.