Fine — be a stranger
There will be more heat from protesters and chilliness from local officials than hometown warmth surrounding Donald Trump’s first return trip to New York as president on Thursday. He won’t linger long, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa.
The president will speak aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at an evening ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea and will meet with Australia’s prime minister in midtown.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, when asked about Trump’s homecoming, suggested Washington, D.C., is the president’s “hometown now.” Neither he nor Mayor Bill de Blasio will be there, though event organizers told NY1 both were invited.
After the ceremony, it’s get-outta-town time for Trump -- he’ll spend the night at his New Jersey golf club instead of his Trump Tower penthouse on Fifth Avenue.
Trump told Fox News recently he’s been avoiding New York because he feels “guilty” about security disruptions. “I hate to see the New Yorkers with streets closed,” he said.
The Intrepid’s location on the Hudson River will mean fewer street closures than usual, but more gunboats, reports Newsday’s Matthew Chayes.
Trumpcare bill has a shot
Two key Republicans who previously opposed the House GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare reversed course following a tweak they negotiated with Trump, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
An amendment would provide $8 billion over five years for coverage of pre-existing conditions. Critics called the amount woefully inadequate to safeguard coverage, but GOP leaders think they can get enough holdouts aboard to pass the bill. A vote is scheduled Thursday.
The bill would still face an uphill climb in the Senate.
Top o' the tantrum to ya!
Presidential tweet from Thursday morning: "The Fake News media is officially out of control. They will do or say anything in order to get attention -- never been a time like this!"
Why did Trump capitalize Fake News as if writing Fox News? Tough to tell.
He also tweeted: "Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate Subcommittee next week on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!"
Why was Trump's mind momentarily on the Senate investigation? Had he heard on CNN that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was ready to tell the panel she'd warned the White House about his ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's conduct? Also tough to tell.
Queasy does it
FBI Director James Comey said, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we had some effect on the election” when he revealed 11 days before that the bureau had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
But in testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Comey said it was a choice between a “bad” option to speak and what would have been a “catastrophic” decision to conceal.
Comey also vowed, “We’re not going to say another peep” about the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia “until we’re done.” See Newsday’s story by Tom Brune.
The take-away: Victimhood
Life is unfair, and so are elections, according to both the losing and winning candidates in November.
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday gave perfunctory acknowledgment to her own mistakes, but had more to say about others — such as Comey’s Oct. 28 letter reopening the email investigation.
But to Trump, he was the victim of Comey’ initial “free pass” to Clinton, and injustice lives on with “the phony Trump/Russia story.” See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Mideast peace — what’s so hard?
Trump hosted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House and voiced optimism that he could forge a Mideast peace deal.
“It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” Trump said. “We will get it done,” he said.
The basis for Trump’s optimism on ending decades of enmity between Israel and the Palestinians was not clear. Asked what distinguishes Trump’s plans from previous attempts, press secretary Sean Spicer said: “The man is different.”
Church, state and Trump
Trump plans to issue an executive order Thursday that makes it easier for churches and other religious groups to actively participate in politics without risking their tax-exempt status, The New York Times reported.
Religious leaders who favor the move say Trump could direct the Internal Revenue Service not to actively investigate or pursue cases of political activism by members of the clergy. Whether that would stand up in court is uncertain.
What else is happening
- Comey said that he was looking into whether agents at the bureau leaked sensitive information to reporters or public figures, including Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, during the 2016 election.
- Local House members say a spending bill that averted a shutdown will benefit the Long Island Sound and provide money in Nassau and Suffolk for health research, defense contracts and homeland security, Newsday’s Brune reports.
- Spicer fenced with a Breitbart reporter over whether 40 miles of replacement barriers on the Mexican border in the spending bill could be called a wall. “It’s not the wall the president promised,” said Breitbart’s Charlie Spiering. The funding for Trump’s wall will be in the next budget, Spicer answered.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared the United States would no longer let U.S. values like human rights be a condition in foreign relations.
- Though Trump’s grasp of U.S. history is weak, he has tried. Presidential historian Jon Meacham said Trump told him last year that he was fascinated by the Civil War and once canceled a golf match to binge-watch the Ken Burns’ PBS documentary series on the subject, according to The Washington Post.
- Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says his department is seeking to close perhaps more than 1,100 VA facilities nationwide -- including vacant and underutilized buildings — as it develops plans to let more veterans get medical care in the private sector.
- A Bloomberg News reporter spent 49 hours at Trump’s Washington hotel and concluded it’s a perfect symbol of his presidency, drawing Trump fans who cheered his promises to drain Washington’s swamp and the power players who know how to swim in it.