Author: Andrew Rafferty

House Intel Committee: Still No Evidence of Trump Tower Wiretap

The bipartisan leaders of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday there is still no evidence Trump Tower was wiretapped ahead of the 2016 election, refuting the president’s explosive claims that President Barack Obama authorized surveillance of his campaign headquarters. “To date, I’ve seen no evidence that supports the claim that President Trump made that his predecessor had wiretapped he and his associates sat Trump Tower,” the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff said. “Thus far, we have seen no basis for that whatsoever.” Schiff said he will ask FBI Director James Comey directly about the claims when he testifies March 20. Trump tweeted earlier this month “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” The claim, presented without evidence, was met with immediate skepticism from lawmakers questioning what the Republican meant. A spokesman for Obama called the claim “simply false.” “Are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong,” Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters. The California Republican said questions remain over the “interpretation” of Trump’s tweet and whether Trump associates were targeted by intelligence agencies. Trump administration officials have struggled to explain the claims. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week the tweet “speaks for itself,” later saying Trump meant the Obama administration authorized a broad range of surveillance against him during the...

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CBO: 24 Million More Without Health Insurance Under GOP Plan

The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance by 2026 than under current law, according to an analysis Monday from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO report found that 14 million more people would be without health insurance by 2018. Following a two-year spike, the plan would also lower average premiums after 2020 relative to President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. But premiums would be expected to go down for younger people, while being raised for older Americans. The CBO also estimated that the GOP legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion by by 2026. Republicans have been bracing for the estimate ahead of the CBO’s release. The GOP plan’s elimination of the government requirement to purchase insurance all but guaranteed the projection that fewer Americans would be covered. “The one thing I’m certain will happen is CBO will say, ‘Well, gosh, not as many people will get coverage.’ You know why? Because this isn’t a government mandate,'” House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CBS News on Sunday. Related: This Federal Agency Could Blow Up the Health Care Debate Advocates of the bill preemptively dismissed the CBO report, saying the government entity was ill-equipped to grade legislation with such a massive scope. “I love the folks at the CBO, they work really hard. They do. Sometimes we ask them...

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Ethics Office: ‘Strong Reason’ to Think Conway Violated Rules

The Office of Government Ethics warned the White House there is “strong reason” to believe presidential aide Kellyanne Conway violated ethics rules and that disciplinary action is warranted in a letter made public on Tuesday. OGE Director Walter Shaub said Conway’s urging of Americans to buy Ivanka Trump’s products during a television interview from the White House briefing room “would establish a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position.” The OGE letter comes in response to a bipartisan inquiry into the incident the top ranking Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Conway had been “counseled” for the incident. But Shaub said his office has not received any notification of disciplinary action. “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I was [saying] — I hate shopping and I’m going to go get some myself today,” Conway said on Fox News in response to a question about some retailers no longer promoting Ivanka Trump’s products. The letter notes that both the White House seal and an American flag were framed behind her. Federal law bars federal branch employees from profiting off their jobs. “Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted,” the letter states. Shaub asked White House lawyers to notify the OGE of...

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Paul Ryan: Iran Nuclear Deal Likely To Stay In Place

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Iran nuclear deal is likely to stay in place and expressed his support for new sanctions on Tehran in an exclusive interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press.” “A lot of that toothpaste is already out of the tube,” Ryan said when asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd if the U.S. could back out of the Iran deal. “I don’t think you’re going to go back and reconstitute the multilateral sanctions that were in place,” he added in the interview that will air Sunday. President Donald Trump has been critical of the Iran deal, suggesting during the campaign that he would tear up the deal negotiated by President Barack Obama’s administration. The Trump administration on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran following the test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile. “I think we also need to ratchet up sanctions. I think what this administration is doing, which I agree with, is saying, ‘We have a new administration, and we’re going to hold you, Iran, to account,'” Ryan said. “This last administration did not do that.” Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced this week Iran was “on...

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GOP Advances Mnuchin and Price Despite Dem Boycott

Democrat seats are empty during a boycott of the Senate Finance Committee executive session on the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee suspended committee rules to advance two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks after Democrats boycotted the nomination votes for the second straight day. In a unanimous 14 to zero vote on Wednesday, the GOP senators advanced Rep. Tom Price, nominated to lead Health and Human Services, and Steve Mnuchin, nominated to leader the Treasury, to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. Democrats attempted to delay the votes by boycotting the hearings, which required Democrats to be present for a quorum. But on the second straight day of boycotting, Republicans used a parliamentary procedure to hold a vote while no Democrats were present. “We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, the chair of the committee, said in his opening remarks. Democrats have objected to the votes, saying both nominees have failed to provide complete information to the committee. “Despite repeated requests by members of this Committee, both nominees have yet to answer important questions that impact the American people,” Democrats wrote in a letter to Hatch. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking...

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White House Outlines Plans to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration

The details of how a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border will be paid for have yet to be worked out, despite the president signing an executive authorizing it, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. Spicer also announced new measures to remove federal funding from sanctuary cities unless related to law enforcement. “The president is working with Congress and other folks to figure out opportunities for that to happen. There are a lot of funding opportunities that could be used,” Spicer said at the White House daily briefing. Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday authorizing the start of planning for the wall. In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Donald Trump again reiterated that Mexico would pay for one of his marquee campaign promises, despite objections from leaders there. In the interview Trump said negotiations with Mexico about the wall will begin soon and the U.S. will “absolutely” be reimbursed for its construction. Taxpayers, however, will need to front the initial costs. “One way or another, as the president has said before, Mexico will pay for it,” Spicer said during a wide ranging press briefing which focused heavily on immigration. Defund Sanctuary Cities Spicer also announced the new administration will sign orders aimed at ending so-called sanctuary cities, which don’t arrest or detain those in the country illegally. “The American people are no longer going...

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