TRUMP AGENDA: FBI vs. White House
“FBI Director James Comey asked Justice Department officials to publicly reject President Donald Trump's claims that former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower, The New York Times reported Sunday. A senior U.S. official confirmed the newspaper's reporting to NBC News.”
From NBC’s legal unit: “President Donald Trump's newest pivot might be his way to divert attention from his own Russia troubles by leveling a Watergate-level conspiracy allegation at former President Barack Obama. But this latest assertion that Obama ordered illegal surveillance of Trump Tower during the 2016 election — tweeted without evidence — could get the president into some legal hot water.”
Where did Trump’s wiretapping story come from? The New York Times takes a look. “Previous presidents usually measured their words to avoid a media feeding frenzy, but Mr. Trump showed again over the weekend that he feeds off the frenzy. Uninhibited by the traditional protocols of his office, he makes the most incendiary assertions based on shreds of suspicion. He does so without consulting some of his most senior aides, or even agencies of his own government that might have contrary information. After setting off a public firestorm with no proof, he then calls for an investigation to find the missing evidence.”
And from the Wall Street Journal: “Members of the congressional intelligence committees said Sunday the panels would scrutinize President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him during the presidential campaign, though they hadn’t seen evidence the allegations were true.”
The Washington Post, on Trump’s angry weekend: “Trump was mad — steaming, raging mad. Trump’s young presidency has existed in a perpetual state of chaos. The issue of Russia has distracted from what was meant to be his most triumphant moment: his address last Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. And now his latest unfounded accusation — that Barack Obama tapped Trump’s phones during last fall’s campaign — had been denied by the former president and doubted by both allies and fellow Republicans…. At the center of the turmoil is an impatient president increasingly frustrated by his administration’s inability to erase the impression that his campaign was engaged with Russia, to stem leaks about both national security matters and internal discord and to implement any signature achievements.”
Trump is set to sign a new immigration executive order. Here’s a timeline of how the controversial order has evolved.
From POLITICO: “The White House has spent more than a month retooling President Donald Trump’s suspended executive order barring travel and immigration from Muslim countries, all along promising the public that the revised version would be substantially the same as the original—while telling courts just the opposite.”
From the Washington Post: “A coalition of progressive groups plans to announce Monday a campaign to derail President Trump’s nomination of Jay Clayton to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, targeting Clayton’s close connections to Wall Street. The campaign, which organizers say will include a six-figure digital advertising buy, comes amid broader efforts by Democrats to highlight Trump’s choice of financial industry insiders for key administration positions despite his anti-Wall Street rhetoric as a Republican presidential candidate.”
The New York Times checks in with Cambridge Analytica: “Cambridge executives now concede that the company never used psychographics in the Trump campaign. The technology — prominently featured in the firm’s sales materials and in media reports that cast Cambridge as a master of the dark campaign arts — remains unproved, according to former employees and Republicans familiar with the firm’s work.”
CONGRESS: House GOP to unveil health-care legislation this week
From NBC’s Alex Moe and Tim Stelloh: “Republicans will introduce their much-awaited bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this week, a senior House Republican aide told NBC News on Sunday. "We are in a very good place right now," said the aide, who asked not to be identified.”
From the Wall Street Journal: “Conservative groups are raising alarms over central provisions of the House GOP’s emerging plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pushing lawmakers to buck House Speaker Paul Ryan and oppose the Republican blueprint. The groups—including Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and Freedom Partners, an organization funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch—are troubled by the notion of refundable tax credits to help consumers pay for health insurance, a central tenet of Mr. Ryan’s plan that President Donald Trump appeared to endorse in his address to Congress last week.”
And from the New York Times: “Saying their patience is at an end, conservative activist groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other powerful interests on the right are mobilizing to pressure Republicans to fulfill their promise to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act. Their message is blunt and unforgiving, with the goal of reawakening some of the most extensive conservative grass-roots networks in the country. It is a reminder that even as Republicans control both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, the party’s activist wing remains restless and will not go along passively for the sake of party unity.”
POLITICO profiles Joe Manchin.