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Trump warns health bill holdouts they’ll pay political price

Health Secretary Tom Price, left, and President Donald

Health Secretary Tom Price, left, and President Donald Trump arrive at the U.S. Capitol to meet with the Republican House Conference on March 12, 2017. Credit: AFP/ Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

Trump’s stakes and shakes

Donald Trump has placed the biggest legislative bet of his presidency on getting the Obamacare-repeal plan through the House Thursday. How could the Artist of the Deal go wrong?

This is probably a good time to recall that his businesses went bankrupt four times.

Trump met with House Republicans Tuesday and warned they are courting danger if the bill fails — for the cause of ending Obamacare, for the broader GOP agenda and for their own careers in the 2018 elections, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune. Unsaid but understood: Trump’s prestige is on the line, too.

Among those Trump called out personally during the closed-door meeting was Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). But King said he’s still undecided, worried about the effect on 800,000 New Yorkers who signed up for expanded Medicaid.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer didn’t rule out Trump campaigning in primaries against Republicans who defy him. He also said “it’s possible” Trump will seek more changes before the vote — a sign that passage is anything but assured.

Head count

NBC News counted at least 27 Republicans against or leaning against the health bill. GOP leaders can’t afford more than 21 defections.

Foes of the bill, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, also said it’s heading for defeat.

Cuomo: It’s ‘war’ on New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo denounced a change in the health care bill crafted by upstate Republicans that would shift the nonfederal share of Medicaid costs from counties to state government.

Cuomo called it a “war on New York” and said hospitals and nursing homes “are going to close” because the state won’t be able to make up the $2.3 billion difference.

Notably, Cuomo never mentioned Trump, focusing his wrath on Rep. Chris Collins of Buffalo and John Faso of Kinderhook, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan. But Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) praised the amendment, saying it would be a “jackpot” for Suffolk County homeowners.

See Newsday’s story by Yancey Roy and Laura Figueroa.

The take-away: Old ties

Roger Stone and Paul Manafort are two key figures under scrutiny over suspicions of campaign collusion between Russians and the Trump team. They also have longtime connections to each other.

They were among the partners years ago in the Washington lobbying firm of Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, which counted foreign dictators among its clients. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Gorsuch: Don’t attack judges

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, said in the open Tuesday what he previously told senators privately — he didn’t care for attacks on federal judges, which happens to be one of the president’s pastimes.

“When anyone criticizes the honesty or the integrity or the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing — because I know the truth,” Gorsuch said at his confirmation hearing.

“Anyone including the president of the United States?” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked.

“Anyone is anyone,” said Gorsuch said, though he wouldn’t discuss specific attacks by Trump on the judges who ruled against his travel ban or handled the Trump University case.

King: Wiretap claim dangerous

Long Island’s King tries to speak positively about Trump, but he can’t defend the president’s refusal to either back up — or back down from — his claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped him.

Trump “overplays his hand,” King said on WOR radio, and needs to think about his credibility “when a real crisis does come along ... where the president gets real intelligence saying that a real attack could be occurring, and people may think it’s the same as his tweet about Obama.”

FBI Director James Comey testified Monday that there was no wiretap. Spicer, asked Tuesday if the White House will have more to say, replied, “Let’s see how the week goes.” See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Potholes before wormholes

Houston, you have a toady. As Trump signed a NASA policy bill reinforcing the commitment to human space exploration and an eventual mission to Mars, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) laid it on thick.

“Just as Americans remember that President Eisenhower was the father of the interstate highway system ... future generations will remember that President Donald Trump was the father of the interplanetary highways system,” Culberson gushed.

“Well, that sounds exciting,” Trump responded. Pivoting quickly back to earth, he added: “First we want to fix our highways.”

What else is happening

  • The Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions aimed at cutting off North Korea from the global financial system as one way to counter Kim Jong Un’s nuclear and missile threat, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.
  • Trump’s personal lawyers are going after a 17-year-old high school girl from San Francisco for her website on which users can click on Trump’s face to scratch him with tiny kitten paws, according the Observer.
  • Trump’s conspiracy-theorizing has crossed the international punchline. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron quipped that now that he’s out of office, “I don’t have to listen any more to the wiretaps of Donald Trump’s conversations.” He added, in an abundance of caution: “That’s a joke.”
  • Trump has a great relationship with Vladimir Putin, was treated wonderfully by Putin, never met Putin and doesn’t know Putin at all. Those are among 80 Trump statements about the Russian leader since 2013 that have been compiled by CNN.com.
  • There was once an FBI bug at Trump Tower, but not on Trump. For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a Russian organized crime money-laundering network that operated out of a unit there, three floors below the Trump residence, ABC News reported.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, belittled by Trump on Twitter for the cancellation of “Celebrity Apprentice,” struck back with a video taunting the president over his falling approval ratings.

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