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Today in Trump: March 4, 2017

AG Jeff Sessions fallout

Today in the Trump Administration

Trump claims Obama tapped Trump Tower phones before election

President Trump woke up at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday morning firing off a tweetstorm claiming that President Obama essentially wiretapped, or bugged, Trump Tower offices before the election.

CBS News has been unable to confirm any of this new information.

But the president is clearly irritated.

Trump wiretap tweets a departure from optimistic tone in address to Congress

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Before most Americans awoke on Saturday, President Trump was on Twitter, posting explosive wiretapping accusations against President Obama. Mr. Trump claims he recently learned Mr. Obama ordered what Mr. Trump describes as a “Watergate-style” wiretap on Trump Tower in New York. He says it happened just before the election.

Mr. Trump offered no evidence and a spokesman for Mr. Obama issued a quick denial. It comes amid growing controversy over the Trump administration’s possible Russian ties, and the president is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Obama spokesman calls Trump wiretapping claims “simply false”

President Obama’s team is shooting down President Trump’s suggestion that he ordered wiretapping on Trump Tower during the 2016 election, with an Obama spokesman calling the claim “simply false.”

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman, said in a Saturday afternoon statement. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

“Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” he added.

Conservative media pushed wiretapping claims before Trump did

President Trump’s string of tweets Saturday morning accusing President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign came seemingly out of nowhere: It wasn’t something the president had been discussing recently, nor had it appeared in major mainstream news outlets.

But Mr. Trump’s tweets weren’t the first time this allegation has been made: Several conservative media outlets have been pushing wiretapping claims in recent days.

Democrats respond to Trump’s wiretapping claim

Democrats are pushing back on President Trump’s Saturday morning claims that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower offices before the election.

While at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida for the weekend, Mr. Trump fired off a series of early morning tweets accusing President Obama, without citing evidence, of wiretapping Trump Tower. He described this as “Nixon/Watergate,” calling Mr. Obama a “bad (or sick) guy.”

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser under Mr. Obama, denied Mr. Trump’s accusations and responded by saying presidents can’t order wiretaps.

Vice President Mike Pence blasts the AP for publishing wife’s email address

Vice President Mike Pence criticized the Associated Press for publishing the personal email address of his wife, Karen Pence, in a story on Friday about his efforts to block the release of his emails during his tenure as Indiana governor.

On Saturday, Pence said the AP was “violating her privacy and our security” by publishing the second lady’s AOL email address. He tweeted a letter sent by his counsel, Mark Paoletta, addressed to Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of the AP, saying Pruitt “should be ashamed of your reprehensible conduct.”


The president is in Mar-a-Lago for the weekend. CBS News’ Mark Knoller notes that by the end of the weekend, Mr. Trump will have spent all or part of 14 days at Mar-a-Lago, amounting to 31 percent of his days in office, so far.

“Florida to me is a very very special state,” said Mr. Trump Friday. “I have had a lot of success in Florida. I love it. It is my second home.”

Other states he’s been to: Delaware -1; Pennsylvania - 1; South Carolina - 1; Virginia - 2 (Not counting visits to Pentagon and Andrews AFB).


Vice President Pence attends the closed Gridiron dinner.

What you missed yesterday

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.