TRUMP AGENDA: Alone on an island of conspiracy theories
From NBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “It's become clear that things in the nation's capital are boiling down to this: Leaders in Congress, law enforcement, and intelligence are struggling to convince one man that an investigation he imagined never existed and that another probe that he refuses to acknowledge is real.”
How the Washington Post puts it: “On the 60th day of his presidency came the hardest truth for Donald Trump. He was wrong.”
“The testimony of Mr. Comey and that of Adm. Michael S. Rogers, his National Security Agency counterpart, will most likely enervate and distract Mr. Trump’s administration for weeks, if not longer, overshadowing good news, like the impressive debut of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee, on the first day of his confirmation hearings Monday,” writes the New York Times. “But it’s the obsessiveness and ferocity of Mr. Trump’s pushback against the Russian allegations, often untethered from fact or tact, that is making an uncertain situation worse.”
And there’s this, via the AP: “Fox News Channel has pulled legal analyst Andrew Napolitano from the air after disavowing his on-air claim that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump.”
The Washington Post: “A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released new financial documents allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman to President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. The new documents may revive questions about the ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protestors in 2014. He is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.”
And from POLITICO: “American and Ukrainian officials are pushing to question President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in separate investigations related to his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine once headed by that country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.”
NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell lays out how the fight over Neil Gorsuch could lead to the GOP’s deployment of the ‘nuclear option.’
The Wall Street Journal: “Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, testifying as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened confirmation hearings Monday, portrayed himself as an apolitical jurist striving to get his cases right and a plain-spoken Westerner who embodies values of family, friendship and fairness.”
“Ivanka Trump, who moved to Washington saying she would play no formal role in her father’s administration, is now officially setting up shop in the White House,” POLITICO reports. “The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week.”
Some new revisions to the health care bill are designed to woo New York Republicans.
More on other changes to the bill, from POLITICO: “Requested by President Donald Trump, the amendment includes perks for restive conservatives who wanted optional work requirements and block granting in Medicaid, as well as a potential olive branch to wary centrists who demanded more help for older Americans to buy insurance, POLITICO has learned. But it is still unclear whether the changes are enough to win over the 216 Republicans needed to pass the measure in a high-profile vote planned for Thursday. GOP leadership insiders and White House officials firmly believe the changes will corral the necessary votes. But several rock-ribbed conservatives emerged from a closed-door session Monday night vowing to vote against the bill, and bragging that they have the votes to block it.”
Trump heads to the Capitol today to try to twist GOP arms on health care.
“The United States is giving nine airlines until Saturday morning to make sure that passengers on flights from 10 overseas airports aren't carrying any electronic devices larger than smartphones with them. A senior Trump administration official said the airlines are being given 96 hours to fully implement the rules, starting 3 a.m. ET Tuesday, because ‘evaluated intelligence indicates that terror groups continue to target aviation, to include smuggling explosives in electronic devices.’”
Reuters: “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China's president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them.”