Eye on 45

CN&R’s biweekly rundown of news items out of the Trump White House and Congress

photo by rich girard via flickr

The fourth installment of Eye on 45 picks up on the day after the release of the American Health Care Act. That proposed legislation was crafted by House Republican leaders as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law enacted under President Obama that helped 20 million Americans gain health insurance.

March 7: Among the widespread backlash following the reveal of the American Health Care Act is criticism from conservative Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul, who referred to it as, among other things, “Obamacare-lite.”

During a speech about America being “a land of opportunity,” Ben Carson, Trump’s recently confirmed administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says “[t]here were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships.”

Reporters dig up a Wall Street Journal story from last spring—prior to the general election—in which it is noted that President Trump met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That story runs counter to the president’s insistence that, as he put it in a recent press conference, (“I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia.”)

March 9: Trump’s recently confirmed Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, tells CNBC that he does not agree that carbon dioxide is a primary factor in causing climate change. That statement contradicts the consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the EPA as an agency.

March 10: The New York Times reports that the Trump administration fired Preet Bharara and 45 other Justice Department prosecutors who’d served under President Obama. Bharara was especially surprised to get the ax because Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had met with the Manhattan-based attorney and reportedly asked him to stay on.

March 11: Disgraced former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn acknowledges that he was paid a half-million-plus dollars by a Turkish-American businessman in his role as a lobbyist working in the interest of that country’s government at the same time he was working for the Trump campaign, reports The New York Times. The admission by Flynn, who resigned after being busted for lying to Vice President Mike Pence regarding his ties to Russia (including denying the existence of private conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.), is significant for a number of reasons, including that he was privy to classified U.S. meetings.

March 12: The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation finds that taxpayers who earn more than $1 million annually will get a tax break totaling more than $165 billion over a decade. Meanwhile, those with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million would see a reduction of $55 billion, while those making between $200,000 and $500,000 would get a break of $53 billion.

March 13: The New York Times reports Congressional Budget Office figures showing that the plan to replace Obamacare will result in an increase of 24 million uninsured Americans over the next decade. Under the bill, 14 million would lose their coverage next year. The news contradicts Trump’s repeated pledge that the new health care law would cover all Americans.

March 15: Public Policy Polling releases a new poll showing that just 24 percent of voters support the American Health Care Act. Forty-nine percent oppose the Affordable Care Act replacement. Meanwhile, the pollster found that 47 percent of voters support the ACA while 39 percent oppose it.

March 16: Trump’s newly crafted travel ban is held up by a federal judge in Hawaii based on evidence it discriminates against Muslims.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer quotes a Fox News report alleging that former President Obama had help from British agents in his efforts to spy on President Trump. The next day, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters—an agency similar to the National Security Agency—called the allegations “utterly ridiculous,” reports The New York Times.

March 18: ProPublica reports that U.S. prosecutor Preet Bharara, who was fired days earlier by Trump, had been investigating Tom Price, the president’s newly confirmed secretary of Health and Human Services, for alleged illegal stock trading.

March 19: Reuters reports that more than 63 wealthy Russians have purchased nearly $100 million “worth of Trump property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.”

March 20: FBI Director James Comey (pictured)testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, putting to rest several important questions. First, he confirms that the agency he leads is investigating whether Russia and the Trump campaign worked together during the presidential campaign. Second, Comey tells the panel he has “no information” to support POTUS’ claim that Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower.