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Today in Trump: March 8, 2017

Panetta on Trump

Today in the Trump Administration

Republican plan to replace Obamacare slammed by conservatives

The day after Republicans introduced their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the conservative opposition came swiftly. Throughout the day Tuesday, conservative members from the House and the Senate, as well as conservative advocacy groups voiced their opposition to the bill, deriding it with nicknames like “Ryancare” and “Obamacare 2.0.”

Here’s the calculation for Republican leadership: If it remains the case that no Democrats come forward to support the bill, in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan can’t afford to lose more than 21 votes. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has only two votes votes to spare -- and if two Republicans defect, he’ll need Mike Pence to break the tie.

Panetta: Trump’s claim “undermines” presidency

Leon Panetta was President Clinton’s chief of staff, the CIA director when Osama bin Laden was killed, and defense secretary under President Obama. That is why Scott Pelley asked Panetta for his perspective on President Trump’s various outbursts in recent weeks, including the unproven charge that Mr. Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.

AARP opposes health care bill

AARP announced its opposition to the Republican proposal that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), arguing that it would “weaken Medicare” and give special interests a “sweetheart deal.”

But the group’s primary concern is for people who haven’t yet reached retirement age, highlighting one of the biggest problems with the GOP’s plan to use tax credits in lieu of Obamacare subsidies. As proposed, the plan does not offer enough to help older people pay for what would become much more expensive coverage if the subsidies are scrapped and the GOP’s proposals to relax current age-based caps on premiums go through. 

Polls

President Donald Trump appears to becoming more popular, although one new poll still has his deep under water.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday has 47 percent of Americans saying they approve of Mr. Trump’s performance, versus 44 percent who do not. The survey, which was conducted last week in the days around his well-received address to Congress, gives Mr. Trump particularly good reviews when it comes to his leadership abilities.

And today, a majority of voters say Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, indicated that 51 percent of voters think Sessions should step down, versus 42 percent who say he should stay on. The survey came on the heels of news that Sessions did not disclose a fall meeting with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearings.

House Intel chairman says the press is taking Trump’s tweets too literally

The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said he has not seen any evidence to back President Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign and suggested the news media were taking the president’s weekend tweets too literally.

“The president is a neophyte to politics — he’s been doing this a little over a year,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters Tuesday. “I think a lot of the things he says, I think you guys sometimes take literally.”

Report: Civil rights leaders call on attorney general to drop voter fraud probe

Civil rights leaders asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday to urge President Trump not to move forward with an investigation into his unverified claim that several million people voted illegally in the election, Politico reports.

The president had been planning for a blue-ribbon panel to launch a probe into the claim.

“I asked him to counsel the president against the creation of such a task force and a commission because that commission will be seen to intimidate our communities,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said, according to Politico.

Travel ban

The Justice Department moved Tuesday to dismiss the 9th Circuit appeal on President Trump’s original travel ban from late January.

On Monday, senior administration officials said that the new travel ban rolled out that day makes all previous litigation over the original travel ban “moot.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer previously suggested that the two bans would be litigated on parallel tracks but that isn’t a legally viable option.

Prescription Drug Prices

President Trump meets with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings about lower prescription drug prices, 2:30 p.m.

Latest Trump Schedule:

Mr. Trump has a busy schedule, but at this point, his meetings are closed. He’ll meet with Laurene Powell Jobs at 11 a.m., host a lunch on infrastructure at 12:30, meet with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings at 2:30. He’ll see Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan 4 p.m.; meets with conservative leaders on health care, 5:05 p.m.; has dinner with Ted and Heidi Cruz 

Obamacare Replacement Plan

Two House committees -- Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce -- mark up the Obamacare replacement plan, 10:30 a.m.

What you missed yesterday

Rod Rosenstein deputy Attorney General 

Ranking Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Rosenstein in the hearing that she wanted to see a special prosecutor appointed, arguing that it would be in the public interest.  When she asked him whether he would appoint a special prosecutor, he responded that Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch had been faced with a question on appointing a special prosecutor, and she rejected the request. She had confidence in the career attorneys at the Justice Department to look into the matter, he noted. Rosenstein also pointed out that the acting attorney general in the matter, Dana Boente. “He currently has full authority to appoint one,” and he has not. 

Asked whether that could be taken as a “no,” Rosenstein said that he’s “simply not in a position to make that decision.” He also said, however, that he doesn’t presume that Lynch and Boente are correct in not appointing a special counsel. If he were to determine they’re wrong, “I would overrule them,” he told the panel.

Travel ban

Hawaii is planning a challenge to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban

A motion filed in federal court on Tuesday in Honolulu says the state wants to amend its existing lawsuit challenging Mr. Trump’s previous order.  

Jeff Sessions updates Senate testimony on Russian contacts

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire for not disclosing two election-season meetings with the Russian Ambassador -- a move that resulted in his recusal from investigations involving the Trump campaign and Russian contacts -- Sessions on Monday sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to update his testimony.

As he said during a press conference last week, Sessions defended the answers he gave during his Senate confirmation hearing in January, saying he answered the question correctly, as he’d interpreted it.

Appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Trump

Who’s calling for a special prosecutor, and why?

Congressional Democrats, mostly. And they want one because they don’t think the Trump administration is capable of investigating itself when it comes to President Trump’s ties to Russia.

“We need a special prosecutor totally independent of [Attorney General Jeff Sessions],” Elizabeth Warren tweeted last week, after it was revealed that Sessions had an undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador before the election. “We need a real, bipartisan, transparent investigation into Russia.”

Trump and Gitmo detainees 

President Trump incorrectly claimed Tuesday that 122 Guantanamo Bay detainees who were released under the Obama administration have returned to the battlefield.  

Jason Chaffetz says people have to choose: new iPhone or health care

In defending the new Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz suggested in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that lower-income Americans could face a choice between a new iPhone and their health-care insurance

Citing the Kaiser Foundation, host Alisyn Camerota had asked Chaffetz whether it worried him that fewer people would be covered under the Republican bill.

Nancy Pelosi blasts House GOP health plan, discusses wiretapping claim

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday blasted House Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare that they rolled out Monday evening.

“Just when you’ve seen it all, the Republicans go to a more extreme place. This will make millions of people -- it’s a question of 10, 15, 20 million people off of having health insurance. It will be the biggest transfer of wealth from low-middle income people to wealthy people in our country,” the California Democrat said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

The measure would still include coverage for preexisting conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. Pelosi said that in order to cover preexisting conditions, you have to have a pool of people.

Fact-checking Trump linking 2013 Exxon plan to his policies to grow jobs

President Donald Trump is again citing corporate investments planned before he took office as evidence that his policies are growing jobs and business.

“We are already winning again, America!” he tweeted Monday after Exxon Mobil announced the latest details of an expansion initiative that actually began in 2013. “Buy American & hire American are the principals at the core of my agenda, which is: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS,” he said in another tweet thanking Exxon Mobil for the announcement.

It’s the latest in a string of corporate announcements about jobs and investments that date back to plans companies largely made when Barack Obama was president.