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Today in Trump: March 3, 2017

AG Jeff Sessions fallout

Today in the Trump Administration

Rex Tillerson - silent on human rights?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been under fire from Republican Sen. Marco Rubio – along with human rights groups - for not honoring the long tradition of personally unveiling the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report, which is expected Friday. 

Kellyanne Conway says you need “bile in your throat” to run for office

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway is opening up about the pressures of working in the male-dominated world of politics. CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell spoke with her and her family in their New Jersey home.  

Asked whether she had ever considered making a political run of her own, Conway told O’Donnell she would not run for office. 

“It’s not just the fire in your belly anymore. You have to have the bile in your throat. And this is why I think many women do not run for office,” Conway told O’Donnell. “Many good men and women who would —”

“Bile in your throat?” O’Donnell asked.

Trump tweets about Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi photos with Putin, Russian envoy

After a week of noticeably less Twitter activity, President Trump is lashing out against Democrats over their treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions because of his contacts with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak. 

Mr. Trump tweeted a demand for an investigation of Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over a photo of him with Russian President Vladimir Putin from 2003, and over House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over a photo showing her seated at a table with Kislyak, whom she denied having met.

DOD: Latest U.S. airstrikes in Yemen not based on commando raid intel

The last two nights of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen were not based on intelligence collected during the commando raid last month, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said Friday.

Over the last two days, the U.S. has conducted more than 30 airstrikes, but has not been involved in any of the reported firefights.  

The latest airstrikes are part of a stepped up campaign against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that was developed near the end of the Obama administration, and which began with the Jan. 28 raid that resulted in the death of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and several civilians. President Trump and his staff have repeatedly pronounced the raid a success, and the Pentagon also stated that a lot of intelligence came out of the raid. 

Trump tweets about a merit-based immigration system

President Trump on Friday reiterated his call for a merit-based immigration system, citing the systems used by Australia and Canada as potential models to pursue.

The president posted a single tweet about his vision on Twitter, naming the book “Green Card Warrior” as a must-read.

What would happen to healthcare coverage under emerging GOP plan?

Health insurance tax credits, mandates, taxation of employer coverage, essential benefits. Mind-numbing health care jargon is flying around again as Republicans move to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. It’s time to start paying attention.

The GOP plan emerging in the House would mean less government, and many fear that will translate to less coverage and a step backward as a nation. Still, there would be new options for middle-class people who buy their own policies but don’t now qualify for help under the ACA. Some popular provisions such as allowing young adults to stay on a parental plan remain untouched.

Trump to pitch school vouchers at Orlando Catholic school

In an effort to highlight his push for school vouchers, President Trump will visit St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando on Friday to participate in what the White House is calling a “listening session.”

The visit follows up on the president’s nod to education reform in his address to Congress Tuesday, when he labeled education “the civil rights issue of our time.” 

His visit and tour are scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Fact-checking Trump’s comments on the size of the Navy

President Donald Trump painted an overly bleak picture of the condition of the armed forces as he made his case for military expansion.

A look at some of his statements from the Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion aircraft carrier being built in Newport News, Virginia:

TRUMP: “We are going to have very soon the finest equipment in the world.”

THE FACTS: Pentagon leaders have said for years that the U.S. already has the world’s best weaponry and military equipment. They sometimes claim the U.S. is in danger of losing its advantage unless the Congress continues to spend heavily to develop and build new generations of weapons.

What you missed yesterday

Sessions recusal 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations involving the Trump campaign, he announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference after consulting with Justice Department lawyers about his role in investigations into Russian contacts by Trump campaign associates.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia investigation


 

Former Obama officials refute report on Trump associates and Russia

Former Obama administration officials are taking issue with a New York Times report published Wednesday night which suggested that Obama aides had disseminated information about Trump campaign associates and Russian officials across the government in order to leave a “clear trail for the intelligence and government investigators” to follow and to ensure that no meddling occurred in other elections -- in the U.S. or overseas. 

That contention struck at least two officials from the Obama administration as overstated.

“To the extent there was an effort, it was organic on the part of [intelligence] professionals to document and retain,” one official told CBS News. “I was not aware of a strategic White House driven effort to do so.” 

Who is Sergey Kislyak?

Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, has now come up in several communications with President Trump’s associates, officials say, as administration officials look into contact between his team and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for instance, has come under fire after it became known Thursday night that he had two contacts with Kislyak during the presidential campaign, Justice Department officials confirmed to CBS News, following an initial report by The Washington Post. Sessions didn’t disclose his two conversations with Kisylak during his Senate confirmation process and it’s unclear what they discussed in their private conversation.

“Well, I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign,” Sessions said Thursday. “And those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false. And I don’t have anything else to say about that.”

New warship “poster child for how you don’t build a ship,” says ex-Navy secretary

Mr. Trump went aboard the Navy’s newest carrier, the USS Gerald R. Fordto promote his plans for a military buildup.

“We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war,” Mr. Trump said. “... And if required, to fight war ... and only do one thing -- you know what that is? Win, Win! We’re going to start winning again.”

But as the most expensive ship ever built -- which will begin its sea trials next month -- the Ford stands for something else as well.

“The Ford is a poster child for how you don’t build a ship,” says Ray Mabus. He was former Secretary of the Navy during the Obama administration.

Trump in Newport News 

At a speech aboard the U.S.S. Gerald Ford, Donald Trump explained how additional defense spending would help the military. 

“I asked Congress to eliminate the defense sequester,” he said, as well as to support his request for additional defense funding,” he said.

“By eliminating the sequester and the uncertainty it creates, we will make it easier for the navy to plan for the future and thus control costs and get the best deal for the taxpayer,” he continued. “Which of course is very important, right?”   

The soon-to-be-commissioned Navy warship that cost almost $13 billion and faced delays in its construction. Mr. Trump has proposed adding $54 billion to the Pentagon’s budget this year, an increase of approximately 10 percent.  

Trump weighs in on Sessions

Donald Trump says he still has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as lawmakers call on Sessions to recuse himself from probes into Russian contacts by Trump campaign associates.

Asked directly about whether he still had confidence in Sessions, Mr. Trump replied, “Total.” The president was on the U.S.S. Gerald Ford in Newport News, Virginia and was meeting with Navy and ship officials in what the White House called an operations briefing.

Perry, Carson confirmed by the Senate for Energy and Housing

Two of President Donald Trump’s former rivals for the GOP White House nomination won Senate confirmation Thursday to join his administration.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was confirmed as secretary of the Department of House and Urban Development on a vote of 58-41. A few hours later, the Senate backed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be energy secretary, 62-37.

Carson and Perry are the 17th and 18th of Trump’s 22 Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations to win Senate approval.

Report: DHS has only identified $20 million to fund border wall construction

The Department of Homeland Security has identified only $20 million in funding that could be shifted to President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, significantly less than the more than $21 billion price tag, according to Reuters.

The money was included in a document obtained by Reuters and prepared by DHS to distribute to congressional staff last week. It would only be enough to cover a handful of contracts for wall prototypes, the report said, but not enough to start building a physical wall.

In order to move forward, Congress would need to approve new funding to pay for the wall, but there’s been little movement on such action on Capitol Hill. Last month, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in an interview with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that congressional leaders were considering legislation to fund the border wall, drawing on taxpayer dollars despite promises that Mexico would finance the project.