Today in the Trump Administration
Trump’s new travel ban executive order removes Iraq from list of banned countries
President Trump signed a new executive order Monday that will impose a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas to people from six predominantly Muslim nations and will suspend the U.S. refugee program for all countries for 120 days, a senior Department of Homeland Security official said Monday.
Unlike the original executive order from Jan. 27 that now sits in legal limbo, Iraq is the one country excluded from the 90-day ban, the official said, because the Iraqi government has made “firm commitments” to the U.S. to work toward increased cooperation in terms of information-sharing.
The revised order will not indefinitely block Syrian refugees from the U.S., as the original ban had directed, and the 120-day halt to the refugee program will apply to all countries. Like the original order, the administration is lowering the previous administration’s cap for refugees admitted to the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 for the current fiscal year.
House Republicans unveil plan for health care overhaul
House Republicans have released their long-awaited bill dismantling much of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The measure would roll back the government’s health care role and is expected to result in fewer people having insurance coverage.
House committees planned votes on the legislation Wednesday. That will launch perhaps the year’s defining battle in Congress, and GOP success is by no means assured because of internal divisions.
The plan would repeal the law’s fines on people who don’t purchase health insurance. Instead of the statute’s income-based premium subsidies, people would get tax credits based on age. The subsidies would phase out for higher-earning people.
McCain, Graham ask Trump for evidence of wiretapping claims
Republican Senators are asking for evidence of President Trump’s assertion that former President Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump tower. “I think the President should tell the American people what evidence he has that indicates his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters on Monday evening.
“It was a very serious charge and one that needs corroboration,” noted McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“If it’s true it’s earth-shattering,” commented Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). When asked if Mr. Trump’s claims were a distraction, he responded, “it’s not a distraction as much as it is unnerving if it’s true.”
DHS says 300 refugees are being investigated by FBI for terror ties
During the announcement of the new travel ban executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to make the case for the pause in allowing refugees into the U.S. with a statement warning of the potential national security danger they pose.
“[M]ore than 300 people who came here as refugees are under FBI investigation for potential terrorism-related activities,” Sessions said Monday morning. He also said that those who are “seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program.”
The line also appears in the text of the executive order: “The Attorney General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Trump offers to maintain Planned Parenthood funding if it halts abortions
President Donald Trump has offered to maintain federal funding for Planned Parenthood if the group stops providing abortions. Its president spurned the proposal and noted that federal money already is not allowed to be used for abortion.
Trump confirmed Monday there had been discussions after The New York Times inquired about what it described as an informal proposal.
In a statement, Mr. Trump said polling shows most Americans oppose public funding for abortion.
Trump’s new travel ban executive order is unveiled
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the new travel ban executive order Monday morning. There are a number of things that are different in this version of the travel ban.
Tillerson told reporters that after the signing of the first order, there was an intensive review of Iraq’s vetting policies, and as a result, the two countries would implement “multiple security measures” to help prevent people with “criminal or terroristic intent” from reaching the U.S.
Kelly pointed out that nothing in the new executive order affects “existing, lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our homeland.”
FISA expert breaks down Trump’s wiretap accusation against Obama
President Trump on Saturday accused former President Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower during the election. The unsubstantiated and unprecedented claim is raising eyebrows.
Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), hundreds of warrants are issued each year to allow eavesdropping on a “foreign power or agent of a foreign power.” But according to the Justice Department, the president cannot order a wiretap if the surveillance involves “communication to which a U.S. person is a party.”
Poll: Two-thirds of Americans want special prosecutor for Trump-Russia investigation
Two-thirds of Americans believe a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate potential ties between Trump campaign aides and Russia, according to a new poll out Monday.
In the poll, from CNN/ORC, 65 percent of those surveyed said they thought an independent special prosecutor should handle the investigation, compared with 32 percent who said Congress is capable of looking into the allegations against the president and his top aides.
These numbers come the week after reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, a revelation that resulted in Sessions recusing himself from future investigations involving the Trump campaign.
DOJ asked by FBI to reject Trump’s wiretapping accusation
On Saturday, senior FBI officials called Justice Department officials and asked that they publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that then-President Obama ordered the wiretapping of then-candidate Trump’s phones, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reported, citing law enforcement sources.
The message to the Justice Department came from FBI Director James Comey, who disputed the claim because it falsely suggests that the FBI broke the law.
AP: Key lawmakers say they’ll investigate Trump’s wiretapping claim
Key members of Congress say they will honor President Donald Trump’s request to investigate his unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama overstepped his authority as president and had Trump’s telephones tapped during the election campaign. A U.S. official said the FBI has asked the Justice Department to dispute Trump’s allegation, though no such statement has been issued.
Obama’s intelligence director also said no such action was ever carried out.
The start of a new administration is never a clean slate, even when parties flip. Day One is just another day for military operations, a budget that is still in place from the old crowd and a vast array of economic, social and law enforcement initiatives left over from the last president.
You would not know this from President Donald Trump.
He proudly takes credit for any positive development that has bloomed since he took office Jan. 20, even when the roots and buds of it were from President Barack Obama’s time.
Conservative news chief details call with “p---ed off” Trump
Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of the long-running conservative website Newsmax, says he talked to President Trump over the weekend and hasn’t “seen him this p---ed off in a long time.”
“I spoke with the president twice yesterday about the wiretap story. I haven’t seen him this p---ed off in a long time,” Ruddy wrote in a Sunday column.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump claimed, without evidence, that former President Obama had wiretapped his phones before the election.
What you missed yesterday
Clapper: No FISA order for Trump’s offices
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated for part of the national security apparatus he oversaw as DNI, that to his knowledge, there was no FISA court order for Trump’s offices. Clapper, who made the comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” added that while he can’t speak for other Title 3 entities or local or state law enforcement, he would know if the FBI ordered some sort of surveillance. “I can deny it,” he said definitively.
Top Dem on Senate Intel Committee says Trump wiretap tweets “very reckless”
President Donald Trump’s explosive accusations about his White House predecessor’s wiretapping activities during the 2016 election have dominated headlines since he first tweeted them Saturday morning -- and two top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee discussed their implications on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the committee’s vice chair, said Mr. Trump’s Saturday morning tweets -- in which he accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower for political reasons -- were “reckless.” Mr. Trump did not cite any evidence in his tweets, though similar claims had been circulating in the conservative media in recent days.
Leon Panetta: White House “paying a price” for lack of discipline
After another weekend in which a tweet from President Donald Trump upended the political world, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta said the the White House is “paying a price” for its lack of “discipline.”
“When the president goes off and does what he did in the last few days of just going ahead and tweeting without checking on things, there’s something wrong,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There’s something wrong in terms of the discipline within the White House and how you operate.”
Trump calls on Congress to investigate wiretapping accusation
President Trump is calling on Congress to investigate whether Obama abused his executive power during the presidential election. The White House issued a statement Sunday morning “requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.” The statement went on to say, “Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”
On Saturday morning, without citing any evidence, the president issued a series of tweets accusing Obama of tapping the phones in Trump Tower.
HHS Sec. Tom Price says “we believe in the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors”
As President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans debate the future of Medicare, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price said Sunday that Republicans “believe in the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors.”
His comments come after President Donald Trump reiterated during his address to a joint session of Congress last week that he doesn’t want to change Medicare benefits. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he still thinks the future of Medicare is an “open question.”
Last Sunday, Kellyanne Conway wasn’t defending her boss, President Donald J. Trump, on TV. She was at church, attending mass with her husband, attorney George T. Conway, and their four children, along with some friends.
Breakfast at a diner came next, followed by some quality family time at their northern New Jersey home -- a brief return to what life used to be like.
But these days, her Sunday routine is far from normal. The new normal includes full Secret Service protection.
“Why? Have there been threats?” asked O’Donnell.
“Yes,” Conway replied. “I have 24/7 Secret Service protection.”
“Face the Nation”
Vice Chairman of the Sen. Select Committee on Intelligence Mark Warner, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, HHS Secretary Tom Price and former Defense Secretary and former CIA Director Leon Panetta are the guests on “Face the Nation” this week.
AP review: High court nominee Gorsuch inclined to limit environmental groups
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has shown a willingness to limit the participation of environmental groups in lawsuits involving public lands, writing in one case that allowing conservationists to intervene could complicate and slow down the judicial process, according to an Associated Press review of his rulings as a federal appeals court judge.
Gorsuch has spent a decade on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears disputes about public lands ranging from energy companies’ drilling rights to the use of off-road vehicles in national forests across six Western states.
AP: National Monuments
Republican leaders in Maine and Utah are asking President Donald Trump to step into uncharted territory and rescind national monument designations made by his predecessor.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president power to undo a designation, and no president has ever taken such a step. But Trump isn’t like other presidents.
Former President Barack Obama used his power under the act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations than any other president. The land is generally off limits to timber harvesting, mining and pipelines, and commercial development.