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The Latest News about Government and Politics

    After the collapse of health care reform legislation in the House on Friday, Republicans in the Congress and President Donald Trump now must decide what’s next on their respective agendas, as the GOP tries to pick up the pieces from a very public legislative failure over an issue that had been their central political focus for the last seven years. Here’s the look from Capitol Hill. 1. The first big setback for the Trump agenda. You can try to downplay what happened, but there was little positive to take from this health care debacle in the House. “I will not sugarcoat this; this is a disappointing day for us,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan after the vote was canceled. President Trump tried to blame Democrats, but that rang hollow since the White House had done no serious outreach to the other party. With this setback, it’s even more apparent how little has been done so far by the GOP Congress with respect to the Trump Agenda. Other than approving a series of plans to reverse specific regulations of the Obama Administration, no bills of any import have been passed. Infrastructure, jobs bills, tax cuts, cutting government – all of that sounds good – but so far, no action. And Trump wrote 'The Art of the Deal' — Bill Mitchell (@JerseyGuy_Bill) March 25, 2017 2. Trump allies turn their sights on Speaker Ryan. It wasn’t hard to hear the low rumbling of some supporters of President Trump, as they used the Friday health care debacle to immediately try to make Speaker Ryan the scapegoat. Ann Coulter bluntly said, “Ryan is not on Trump’s side.” Pro-Trump websites like InfoWars and Breitbart immediately attacked Ryan as well, with some conservatives urging the House Freedom Caucus to help dump Ryan, arguing that he is the perfect illustration of the Republican Establishment that needs to be excised from Swamp of Washington, D.C. Paul Ryan is not on @POTUS' side – https://t.co/QVOHBDIKiT #KilledTheBill #FunFactFriday — Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) March 24, 2017 3. Full repeal of Obamacare needs 60 votes in the Senate. If Republicans couldn’t muster a majority in the House – how are they going to get 60 votes in the Senate to really change the bulk of the Obama health law? The answer – they’re not going to do that any time soon. But full repeal was still the mantra from a number of Republicans as the House GOP health care bill went down the tubes on Friday. “I remain committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with conservative reforms,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). “Congress should take its time and pass a good bill that actually repeals ObamaCare,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). But the truth is, unless Republicans get 60 votes in the 2018 elections, an Obama health law repeal bill faces a difficult road in the Congress. I applaud House conservatives for keeping their word to the American people. I look forward to passing full repeal https://t.co/ftyj6sCw0v — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 24, 2017 4. This fight on health care is already over? It seems hard to believe that Republicans are just going to drop the issue of health care reform, especially after making it such a central part of their political message in recent years. But President Trump seemed to send the signal that he is going to focus his political capital on other issues, like tax reform. “That one is going to be fun,” the President said earlier this week, as his Treasury Secretary predicted a final tax bill would on the President’s desk by early August. The last time Congress approved major tax reform was 1986. There’s a reason it hasn’t happened in over 30 years. It is not easy. And the lobbyists of Gucci Gulch will be ready. President Trump says tax reform is the next item on his agenda https://t.co/dLNduSPgl6 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 24, 2017 5. This wasn’t really much of an effort. The White House said the President “left everything on the field” to get a health care bill. But it doesn’t look like that at all. Go back eight years, and Democrats were just launching their 13 month effort to forge what would become known as Obamacare. It went through the spring, summer, fall, winter, and then into the next spring of 2010, before being achieved. By contrast, the GOP introduced its health care bill on March 6 and gave up on March 24. Back in 2009 and 2010, Democrats struggled to keep their side together, but managed to get 60 votes for their package in the Senate. The GOP couldn’t even get a majority in the House. There is still time to go back to the drawing board. But it takes more than 18 days of work. Remember when Republicans promised they would try to fiddle with Obamacare for a few weeks and then give up? — Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) March 24, 2017 6. Let the Republican finger pointing begin. One of the biggest immediate targets was the Freedom Caucus, the group of more conservative lawmakers which for years has been very good at holding out against the GOP leadership, but has done almost nothing in the way of substantive legislating. Some of that ire was aimed at Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the Freedom Caucus. “Mark Meadows is more interested in being on the TV than solving problems,” fumed Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who then aimed some more barbs at Meadows and pointedly made sure to tell a reporter – “You can quote me on that.” Exactly right. GOP & Trump own this,but @freedomcaucus & @Heritage_Action & others caused it. They are the pie-in-the-sky caucus. https://t.co/9tMcfk45ox — Brit Hume (@brithume) March 24, 2017 7. Don’t downplay the importance of this setback. Yes, it’s just one bill. Yes, it’s not the end of the world. But this failure was a big deal. Republicans have been talking for years about how they would repeal and replace the Obama health law. Donald Trump said he would do it right away. But for years, I have been reporting – and taking flak for saying – that while the GOP had lots of ideas, they didn’t have consensus on any plan. And that was obvious as they desperately tried to stitch together deals at the last minute to keep the bill moving. It’s pretty easy to lob verbal grenades at the other party – it’s a little different to offer substantive legislation and pass it. Humiliating defeat for GOP after years to prepare. Real blow to their argument that they could govern if only given the chance. — carl hulse (@hillhulse) March 24, 2017 8. This was not a good week for President Trump. It started Monday with the FBI Director publicly confirming that not only was there an investigation of how Russia meddled in last year’s election, but also a probe of any links between the Trump Campaign and Moscow. The FBI chief also made clear there was no evidence to back up Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped in 2016. And the NSA shot down talk that British Intelligence had helped with surveillance on Trump Tower. Meanwhile, the Trump travel and refugee ban stayed on hold the courts, despite Mr. Trump’s declaration that judges were overstepping their authority. Then the week ended with a health care thud. Tomorrow's cover: Trump forced to cancel health care vote in stunning blow https://t.co/53Po4iXVbM pic.twitter.com/lEQe5Qc22g — New York Post (@nypost) March 24, 2017
  • Television advertisements thanking Republican representatives for repealing the Affordable Care Act on Friday has the conservative American Action Network PAC slightly red-faced. >> Read more trending news President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership suffered a major setback in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act when Speaker Paul Ryan pulled his bill to repeal Obamacare from the House floor after support began to crumble.  'We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,' Ryan said, according to The Associated Press. The American Action Network PAC bought a series of ads, broadcasting them during several basketball games, including the NCAA Tournament. According to Deadspin, which posted the videos on its website, the ads invited viewers to call their representatives to thank them for repealing Obamacare. The ads asked viewers to thank representatives Barbara Comstock of Virginia, David Valadao of California, David Young of Iowa and Will Hurd of Texas, for “replacing the Affordable Care Act.” Comstock’s ad aired during the Wizards-Nets NBA game. The ads for Valadao and Young aired on local CBS affiliates in Fresno and Des Moines before the network’s March Madness coverage. All four ads have been taken off Deadspin’s website, but there is a YouTube video that shows the Comstock version. 
  • Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today. What to know now: 1. Health care vote: President Donald Trump decided the time for talking was over, according to the White House, when he let GOP leaders in the House know late Thursday that he wanted an up or down vote on a new health care package to take place on Friday. After a day of wrangling for votes, Trump said he was done working deals with those who said they would not support the legislation aimed at repealing and replacing most of the Affordable Care Act. 2. Cancer triggers: Scientists say that normal healthy cells in the body that make a “typo” when they multiply play a large role in who develops cancer. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday that about two-thirds of the mutations that are seen in cancers are random errors in the multiplication of cells. The scientists were quick to stress that while these “mistakes” are linked to the disease, many cancers are a result of risky behavior such as smoking, lack of exercise and a bad diet, and those can be prevented. 3. New iPad on sale: If you’ve had your eye on an iPad, today is the day you can place your order for Apple’s newest version of the tablet. Plus, there’s a bonus – it’s cheaper than recent iPads. The new 9.7-inch screen version, which was unveiled earlier this week, starts at $329 and has up to 10 hours of battery life. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the 12-inch iPad Pro, but then it doesn’t cost $799 either. 4. CIA hack of iPhone, Mac: A release of documents from WikiLeaks suggest the CIA has a program that can be used to hack into iPhones and Mac computers. The technique, according to cyber security experts, is one that involves an older model of the devices, and generally requires some physical access. 'The most notable part of this latest WikiLeaks release is that it shows the CIA doing exactly what we pay them to — exploit specific targets with limited attacks to support our national interests,' Rich Mogull, CEO of the security research firm Securosis, told The Associated Press.  5. London terror attack: The man who stabbed and ran over people in a terror attack in London this week was British-born and known to law enforcement authorities, according to officials in the United Kingdom. Khalid Masood, 52, was born Adrian Russel Ajao. He was a Muslim convert, according to some news reports, and was known to security services as 'a peripheral figure, … not part of the current intelligence picture.” And one more Disney head Bob Iger says the next movie in the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Last Jedi,” will not be changed in light of the death of actress Carrie Fisher. 'We had to deal with tragedy at the end of 2016. Carrie appears throughout VIII (“The Last Jedi”). We are not changing VIII to deal with her passing. Iger said fans could see “another decade-and-a-half of “Star Wars” stories” come to the big screen. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is available on Google Play, as of Friday. It is priced at $19.99. The movie will be available on Blu-ray on April 4. In case you missed it
  • After hours of negotiations that featured personal intervention by President Donald Trump, Republican leaders in the Congress were forced to back off a planned vote on a GOP health care bill, unable to find enough votes approve it and send it on to the Senate for further work. While House leaders said votes were possible on Friday, there was no final agreement to vote on, as more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus refused to get on board with a deal offered by the White House. “We have not gotten enough of our members to get to yes,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the Freedom Caucus. “I am still a no at this time,” Meadows told a crush of reporters. “I am desperately trying to get to yes.” Rep. Mark Meadows: “I am still a no at this time. I am desperately trying to get to yes” https://t.co/cQi0OGdJGY — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 23, 2017 Other Freedom Caucus members said very little as they exited a Congressional hearing room after a two hour meeting on the health bill, leaving Meadows to get out the message. “No comment,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). “Mark’s got everything,” referring to Meadows. “You know I’m not going express the substance of anything that we talked about in there,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said as reporters trailed him down the hall. Earlier at the White House, there had been optimism after a meeting between Freedom Caucus members and the President. Lengthy standing ovation from the Freedom Caucus when @POTUS walked into the Cabinet Room just now. Big momentum toward #RepealAndReplace. pic.twitter.com/N1FLGAVFMN — Cliff Sims (@CSims45) March 23, 2017 But, there was no deal.
  • Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) announced Wednesday that he had seen evidence that communications between President Donald Trump and members of his transition team were 'incidentally collected' during surveillance operations of foreign targets. Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, went to the White House Wednesday afternoon to tell the president about the communications because, he said, he was concerned that the information might have been improperly distributed to several U.S. spy agencies. The information collected had nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the chairman said. FBI director James Comey said Monday that the agency is investigating any possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the election.  Nunes apologized Thursday to Democrats on the committee for not sharing the information with them before he went to the White House to talk to the president about what he had been given.  Below are the transcripts for the two news conferences that Nunes held Wednesday. Here is the transcript from Rep. Nunes’ first press conference on Wednesday “Good morning everyone. As promised I continue to keep you appraised of new developments. Some significant developments, I think, occurred of the course of the last few days with information that was brought to my attention, and I’m gonna just sort of read a very brief statement, and that’s about all I can tell you, but I want to keep you fully informed of what’s, uh, happening. At our open hearing on Monday, I encouraged anyone who has information about relative topics, including surveillance on President-elect Trump or his transition team, to come forward and speak to members of the Committee. I also said that while there was no a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates. So first, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. And forth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team. The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate the surveillance, and its subsequent dissemination, to determine, a few things here that I want to read off: Who was aware of it? Why it was not disclosed to Congress? Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking? Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates? And whether any laws, regulations, or procedures were violated? I’ve asked the directors of FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15th letter that you all received a couple of weeks ago, and provide a full account of these surveillance activities. I informed Speaker Ryan this morning of this information, and I will be going to the White House this afternoon to share what I know with the president and his team. Before I get to questions I want to say that, uh, as you know there has been what appears to be a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, obviously very concerned and our thoughts and prayers go out to our strong friends and allies over across the pond. And with that I’ll open it up to questions. Reporter: Mr. Nunes, were any of these communications potentially picked up at Trump Tower? Nunes: Uh, we don’t know that yet, that’s why we need to get the information. I will say this, the NSA has been very, very helpful. They know how important these programs are, they are in constant communication with our team, and as you know they partially complied with our request last week, and I expect them to hopefully get more information by Friday. And I have spoke to Admiral Rogers about these concerns, and he wants to comply as quickly as he can. Reporter: And was the president also part of that incidental collection?  Nunes: Yes … yes. Reporter: So let me just clarify: the president of the United States’s personal communications were intercepted as an incidental part of— Nunes: Well what I think we have—well what I think we have—when we talk about intelligence products here, we’ve got to be very careful. From what I know right now, it looks like incidental collection. We don’t know exactly how that was picked up, umm, but we’re trying to get to the bottom of it. Reporter: So the president of the United States’s personal communications were intercepted in incidental collection, not in a targeted way?  Nunes: It’s possible. We won’t know until we get the information on Friday. And that’s why, look, I think the NSA’s going to comply. I am concerned—we don’t know whether or not the FBI is going to comply. I have placed a call, I’m waiting to talk to Director Comey, hopefully later today. Reporter: Are you concerned that any of the surveillance was done illegally, or as incidental but a legal, you know, a warrant . . . Nunes: Yeah, that’s a really good question. So, I believe it was all done legally. I think it was all obtained legally. The question is was it masked, why was it unmasked because it appears we have no information about additional unmaskings. And then who was on the dissemination list, and was the dissemination list so far if it was such specific information about the Trump transition. And it appears, just to give you one piece of information I think might be helpful, it appears most of this occurred from what I’ve seen in November, December, and January, so that should probably—so during the transition. Reporter: So you said that the president’s communications were incidentally collected, but then you said it’s also possible, so was it collected or is it possible it was collected? Nunes: I just don’t know the answer to that yet. Reporter: So you don’t know if the president’s communications were— Nunes: Look, I know that there was collection, regarding the President-elect and his team. I don’t know if it was actually, physically a phone call. Reporter: You don’t know if it was the president himself, his communication? Nunes: I do not know that.  Reporter: Mr. Chairman, did the president’s conversations or anything about the president appear in intelligence reports, is that what you’re saying? Nunes: I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show, that, uh, the President-elect and his team were I guess at least monitored and disseminated out in intelligence, in what appears to be raw—well I shouldn’t say raw—but intelligence reporting channels. As best as I can say that until I can actually get all of the information that we’ve requested. Reporter: You said you have to go and brief the administration— Someone: Please talk to the cameras! Reporter: Shouldn’t the administration be briefing you? Nunes: Well, the administration isn’t aware of this, so I need to make sure I go over there and tell them what I know. Because it involves them. Reporter: You said this was not related to Russia investigations? Can you give us some idea— Nunes: The information that I have seen has nothing to do with Russia or the Russian investigations. So bluntly put, everything that I was able to view did not involve Russia or any discussions with Russia,s or any trump people or other Russians talking, or, so none of it has to do with Russia—that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means we don’t have it. Reporter: Can you give us a broader sense of what it was related to? Nunes: It—look, a lot of it appears like it was, it looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the President-elect and his transition team and what they were doing. Reporter: Was it incidental collection, or [unintelligible] collection? Nunes: I think, uh, from what I’ve seen it appears to be incidental collection. Any other questions, guys? Reporter: Wait, so what was found, just to be clear—it was—the material that you have seen so far, doesn’t make any reference or connection to Russia, or are you saying the incidental investigations themselves more broadly were not? Nunes: Yeah, so this information was legally brought to be by sources who thought that we should know it. And it was, it had, there were no references whatsoever in everything that I read, and it was dozens, let’s just say, let’s leave it at that, dozens of reports, and there was no mention of Russia. Reporter: And that was [unintelligible] by the person that brought that information to you? Nunes: That’s correct. Reporter: [Unintelligible] Nunes: I’m not going to get into the sources, or when it arrived, but I wanted to brief the Speaker, which is what I did this morning, and obviously I briefed, I put in calls to the directors, I’ve spoken to the CIA Director and the NSA Director, and I’m waiting to talk to Director Comey, and I’m going to head to the White House after the votes. … Reporter: Does this change—you’ve said repeatedly that the President was wrong when he said he was wiretapped at Trump Tower. Nunes: Well, what we’ve said from day one that there wasn’t a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, we don’t have any evidence to show that at all, but what I read—there was clearly significant information about President Trump and his team and there were additional names that were unmasked. Which is why we sent that letter on the 15th. Reporter: Is this a response to that letter? Nunes: No, no it was not. This was information brought to me by sources and I’m hoping that NSA, FBI, CIA get me anything else they have. Reporter: Do you plan to make this information available now or in the future? Nunes: You mean publicly? It’s all classified information. We’re hopeful we’re going to get the information I’ve seen plus a lot more information on Friday. Reporter: Was this surveillance or a criminal investigation? Nunes: No, it has nothing to do with any criminal investigation. This is normal incidental collection, at least from what I was able to read. Reporter: [Unintelligible] surveillance, then they have to have a basis for surveillance, isn’t that correct? Nunes: No, it was not criminal. It was normal foreign surveillance, is what it looks like to me. But let’s wait until we get all the information. Reporter: So this was about President Trump, but not necessarily about his communications specifically? Nunes: As of right now that’s what I’ve seen, but it’s hard to know until we get all the information and talk to the appropriate agencies. Reporter: You said you’re not confident where collection took place and you’re not confident who it involves— Nunes: No, because all I was able to see was reports—reports on information that was collected. Reporter: How can you be confident, then, that it did not have anything to do with Russia and the Russia investigation? Nunes: Because I read through them and there was no mention of Russia. Reporter: Specifically are we talking about Paul Manafort, like here and his communications, or any other senior level Trump officials? Nunes: No, no. This appears to be all legally collected foreign intelligence under FISA, where there was incidental collection that then ended up in reporting channels and was widely disseminated. Reporter: Can you say which individuals in particular? Nunes: Not at this time. … Reporter: You say that this is routine collection, incidental collection. Are you surprised by this today? Nunes: Yeah, I’m actually alarmed by it. We went through this about a year and a half ago as it related to members of Congress, if you may remember there was a report—I think it was in the Wall Street Journal—and there was a whole series of hearings, and then we had to have changes as to how members of Congress are informed if members of Congress are picked up in surveillance. And this looks like—it’s very similar to that, it reminds me of what happened a year and a half ago. Reporter: Could this have been the result of reverse targeting? Nunes: I don’t know. I’ve only—like I said, I’ve seen dozens of reports, I don’t know if there’s more than that, but clearly I thought it was important enough to tell all of you, inform the speaker, and then go to the White House and inform them. Because I think—they need to see it, if they don’t have it they need to see it. Reporter: You’re confident that this is [unintelligible] information? Nunes: It’s official IC information. Reporter: Did you receive this from members of the intelligence community who are officially communicating it to you, or was this— Nunes: I don’t want to get into this, for the protections of American citizens, as you can imagine. Reporter: Which foreign country are we referring to here? Nunes: I’m not going to get into the exact countries. Reporter: Will this broaden the scope of your investigation, and what do you think of Democrats’ calls for an independent commission or counsel? Nunes: Uh, no, I mean, we’re doing our investigation, we’re following the facts where they lead, and clearly I thought this was important enough to come publicly and say what I have so far. Reporter: Is there definitely none of this pre-election, is this all during the transition period? Nunes: I don’t know that, but what I’ve seen is post-election. Reporter: Is it the surveillance itself that alarms you or is it the unmasking and dissemination, or both? Nunes: All the above. I’m really bothered by the unmasking, which is why we sent that letter on the 15th, because I want to see what additional names were unmasked. And now I know—it appears there were additional names that were unmasked. Reporter: What is it about the surveillance itself that alarms you if that was possibly just routine incidental collection on a foreign target? Nunes: I guess, from what I read, it just—it bothers me that that would have any foreign intelligence value whatsoever, and why people would need to know that about president elect trump and his transition team. Reporter: Just to be clear, were these communications actually collected inside Trump Tower? Nunes: We don’t know, we don’t know that. Reporter: How do you not know if it was Trump’s personal communications? Wouldn’t that be clear? Nunes: Because until I get all the information in its entirety from all the agencies, then we can go through it and we can go back and ask those kinds of questions, but I would just be speculating at this point. Reporter: Can you just say, do you think right now, the NSA or a member of the intelligence community was spying on Trump during the transition period? Nunes: Well, I guess it all depends on the one definition of spying. Clearly it bothers me enough, I’m not comfortable with it, and I want to make sure that the White House understands it and that’s why I briefed the Speaker this morning on this. Reporter: But you think he may have been spied on? Nunes: I’m not going to get into legal definitions here, but clearly I have a concern. Below is the transcript of the second press conference, held at the White House following Nunes’ meeting with the president. Nunes: I haven’t had a chance to brief a lot of you in the past, but just to have a chance to keep you updated with what’s happening with this investigation. Today I briefed the President on the concerns that I had about incidental collection and how it relates to President-elect Trump and his transition team, and the concerns that I had. As I said earlier, there will be more information, hopefully by Friday. The NSA is cooperating very very well. And lastly I’ll say that the reports that I was able to see did not have anything to do with Russia or the Russia investigation or any ties the Trump team. And with that, I’ll take a couple questions. Reporter: Can I ask you a question? Why is it appropriate for you to brief President Trump given that it’s his own administration or campaign associates that are a part of this investigation? Doesn’t it appear to be interference in some form? Nunes: Because what I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russia investigation. It has everything to do with surveillance activities, and the President needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there, and I have a duty to tell him that. Reporter: Is it appropriate to be drawing conclusions before it was completed? Nunes: I’m not drawing any conclusions, I’m just telling the President what exists in intelligence reports. Reporter: Are the subjects of surveillance under FISA orders? Nunes: It appears so. I don’t want to get too much into these details, but these were intelligence reports. It brings up a lot of concerns about whether things were properly minimized or not. But I’ll tell you, I’ve only seen some, it’s in the dozens. We don’t have the full scope of all the intelligence reports that have been produced or who ordered the unmasking of the names. Reporter: The surveillance—if it wasn’t related to Russia or anything like that, are you saying that it was political surveillance of political opponents, as suggested in his tweets? Nunes: What I’ve read bothers me. And I think it should bother the President himself and his team, because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate, but like I said, before we get all the information to the committee, it’s hard to really say. Reporter: We knew that there was some incidental collection, because Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was caught talking to Sergey Kislyak. Does this go beyond that, and does this qualify as the kind of wiretapping the President was tweeting about? Nunes: It definitely goes beyond what happened to General Flynn—now of course, we don’t officially know yet what happened to Gen. Flynn. We just know that his name leaked out, but we don’t know how it was picked up yet. That’s why we asked in our March 15th letter for the NSA, CIA, and FBI to get us all the unmasking that was done. And I’ll tell you, NSA is being cooperative, but the FBI has not yet let us know whether they’re going to respond to our March 15th letter, which is now a few weeks old. Reporter: And again, does this seem to describe what the President was talking about, he was talking about, quote, wiretapping, which he then said was broader? Nunes: You—what I’ve read, there seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal, but I don’t know that it’s right and I don’t know that the American people would be comfortable with what I read, but let us get all the reports. Reporter: So the President was correct in what he tweeted? Nunes: It is possible. Reporter: The President said that President Obama tapped his phones. Did you see anything— No, no, no. That did not happen. I’ve said this for many, many weeks, including the day after or a couple days after in front of the press. That never happened. Reporter: Did you see anything to suggest that President Obama ordered any kind of surveillance on the President-elect? Nunes: Well, we don’t know who sent the taskings, if the taskings were changed into what went into these intelligence reports. But we’re going to try to find that out. Reporter: Did you have permission to put out this information today, did the Justice Department give you the OK to do that? Nunes: This is information that was brought to me that I thought the President needed to know about incidental collection, where the President himself and others in the Trump transition team were clearly put into intelligence reports that ended up in this White House and across a whole bunch of other agencies. And I thought it was important that the President know this. That’s why I briefed the Speaker this morning, and that’s why I came down here as soon as I could. Reporter: How many people are you seeing in these reports, and do any of them currently work at the White House? Nunes: I don’t want to get into the details. We don’t have—I was only able to see a few dozen, of which I think a lot of it does have foreign intelligence value. There were dozens of reports that I was able to see and we’re hoping that the NSA, FBI, CIA will provide—I know they exist, so I want them to provide them to our committee—so that all the members have an opportunity to see what I have been shown. Reporter: What did the President tell you after you briefed him about it? Nunes: I think the President is concerned and he should be. I think he’d like to see these reports. And hopefully when we get them, they’ll get them to the White House also. Reporter: Do you believe the President appropriately used the word wiretap, was it used correctly in his tweets, based on the information that you have seen? Nunes: Well, I think the wiretapping, if you use it generally, the President has said, he clearly used it differently than what I think a lot of people took it—did Obama wiretap Trump Tower which we knew didn’t happen—I think the President has been pretty clear on that— Reporter: But the physical act of wiretapping, do you see anything in the information that— Nunes: No, no. And I said that on day two. Reporter: Can you rule out the possibility that senior Obama administration officials were involved in this? Nunes: No we cannot. Reporter: Given that you have said there was a FISA warrant which would have been approved by a judge, are you concerned that essentially you’re saying that members of the Trump team were in contact with people who were the target of a counterintelligence or some form of investigation? Nunes: No, I think you’re reading too much into this. This is normal intelligence reporting, the question is, should he himself or others - should they have been put into these reports. I don’t know the answer to that yet, but we’re trying to get to the bottom of it. Reporter: So your issue is the unmasking, not that there was [unintelligible] Nunes: Well, there’s two issues here. There’s additional unmasking of names, which I think is totally inappropriate, but we—I don’t know how many names were unmasked, but I know these additional unmaskings occurred. And then we have the additional issue of the names that were put into these intelligence reports that we have to get to the bottom of. And this is why we sent the letter two weeks ago. Reporter: Chairman, if I could just clarify and ask a few things. Are you suggesting that Mr. Trump [unintelligible] And third, why did you not take this up with Representative Schiff before going to the White House? Nunes: Yes, no, and I’m going to be meeting with Mr. Schiff at some point to talk about where to go with this investigation. But I had to brief the speaker first, then I had to talk to the NSA, the CIA Director, then I have to talk to the FBI Director, then I had to talk to all of you, and then I voted, and then I said I was coming here to brief the President. Reporter: Just to clarify, you’re concerned about this but you’re not calling for an additional investigation? Nunes: Well, we are investigating. Reporter: You just said no. Nunes: No, incidental—we’re already investigating. Reporter: You said it has nothing to do with Russia and you’re folding this in— Nunes: Well, you’re folding this in—the unmasking of names— Reporter: So an ongoing investigation and you thought it was appropriate to come and talk to the President about that. Nunes: Remember, we have had an ongoing investigation into Russia for a very, very long time, and all of their activities. We have scoping document in the Russia investigation and we will continue to investigate anything and everything else that might be caught up in this. Reporter: So Mr. Trump’s communications were in fact monitored? Can you tell us what he was communicating about or who he was communicating with? Nunes: No, I can’t say that. Reporter: You also said somebody brought you this communication. Can you tell us anything— Nunes: I can say that we’ve been asking for people to come forward. They came through the proper channels and have clearances and I’m just going to leave it at that because we have to protect people who came forward in the right manner. I’m not even going to say it’s one person. Reporter: To be clear, you talk about this as being collected incidentally. But you say it had nothing to do with Russia. Are you suggesting these communications could have been collected as part of a criminal investigation, a criminal warrant? Nunes: No. In the dozens of reports I was able to see, I was able to determine that it looks like it was legal collection, incidental collection, that made itself into intelligence reports. It has to do with FISA, and there are multiple FISA warrants that are out there, but there’s nothing criminal at all involved. Reporter: Was it information that was looked at it in real time, or was it information that was collected, held, scored - Nunes: It was fairly quick, from what I’ve seen, but we have to—once we get the reports, we can ask more questions of the agencies that produced them. Reporter: If it’s legal collection, wouldn’t it be inappropriate of you to talk about it, and are you attempting to give the president political cover in his talk about wiretapping? Nunes: The reason that we do this, that we have all these procedures in place, is to protect American citizens who are incidentally collected. There are certain thresholds that have to be met to make it into foreign intelligence products. If something else happens, it appears to me like there were things like maybe they didn’t meet the level of foreign intelligence value, and if that’s the case - Reporter: But just to clarify, this is not intentional spying on Donald Trump or anyone in his— Nunes: I have no idea—we won’t know that until we get to the bottom of whether, did people ask for the unmasking of additional names on the President-elect’s transition team. Reporter: You’ve said legal and incidental. That doesn’t sound like a proactive effort to spy. Nunes: I would refer to you to—we had a similar issue with members of Congress that were being picked up in incidental collection. We had to spend a full year working with the DNI on proper procedures for members of Congress to be notified. Reporter: Was the president unmasked? Was his name unmasked? Nunes: I’m not going to get into that, but I have every indication that it’s clear who’s in these reports. Reporter: Who would have access to those unmasked names? Nunes: We don’t know that yet.  
  • The Republican bill that is set to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is scheduled for a vote Thursday, as President Donald Trump and leaders in the House scramble to secure enough support for the measure to pass. The American Health Care Act could be dead on arrival at the House, however, as a number of Republican lawmakers are saying they intend to vote “no” on the bill. The bill would repeal and replace some of the Affordable Care Act, shifting the way millions of Americans fund their health care needs. It would also mean that millions would be left without the health care they gained under the ACA, or Obamacare. Here’s a look at the AHCA and what is scheduled to happen today. What does the bill do? According to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), the AHCA will retain some of the features of the ACA – insurers would still be required to cover customers with pre-existing conditions, for instance – but would take a sharp turn on others. The bill would eliminate the requirement that a person have health insurance. It would also give larger companies a break by saying they are no longer required to provide coverage for employees. It will allow insurers to charge older Americans higher health care premiums. The bill keeps the ACA provision that allows children to stay on a parent’s plan until they turn 26, but it cuts the amount of tax credits that are in place for those buying insurance, and reduces Medicaid spending in the states. In addition, it provides fewer funds for subsidies. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the new bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion during the next 10 years, but cost 24 million Americans their coverage over the next decade. Will it pass? That’s to be seen. Early on Thursday, it was not looking like Republicans had enough votes among their membership for the bill to pass. Republicans need 216 votes to move the bill to the Senate. That means they can lose no more than 21 of their current 237 votes. If they lose 22 votes the result would be a 215 to 215 tie. If the vote is a tie, the bill fails. Who is on the fence? That count has varied over the past two days, but as of 7 a.m. on Thursday, here’s a list compiled from several sources of legislators who say they are leaning toward voting “no” on the bill. Justin Amash, R-Mich.  Dave Brat, R-Va. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.  Rod Blum, R-Iowa Ted Budd, R-N.C.  Rick Crawford, R-Ark. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio Charlie Dent, R-Pa. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.  Tom Garrett, R-Va.  Louie Gohmert, R-Tx.  Paul Gosar, R-Az.  Andy Harris, R-Md.  Walter Jones, R-N.C.  Jim Jordan, R-Ohio John Katko, R-N.J.  Raul Labrador, R-Idaho  Leonard Lance, R-N.J.  Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. Scott Perry, R-Pa.  Bill Posey, R-Fl. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fl.  Chris Smith (R-NJ) Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.  Robert Wittman, R-Va.  Ted Yoho, R-Fl.  David Young, R-Iowa (Sources: CBS News; Huffington Post; Twitter; The Associated Press) The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans, many of whom identify with the Tea Party, will meet with the president at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Some votes could change after that meeting.  (Update: The Associated Press reports at 1:30 p.m. ET that the “House Freedom Caucus chairman says 'no deal'was  reached on health bill after meeting with Trump, putting vote in doubt.”) If it does pass, what then? If the bill passes the House, it moves to the Senate where Senators will have a chance to add to, or subtract from the bill. If the bill gets to a vote on the floor of the Senate, Republicans will face a similar close margin when it comes to passage. Republicans have a 52-48 advantage in the Senate, so they could lose only two GOP votes and still pass the bill. Like the NFL, nothing ends in a tie in the Senate. If the vote happened to be 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote. If it doesn’t pass, what then? Another bill could be introduced to either fully repeal the ACA, or to offer something like the bill that is up for a vote Thursday, but with some modifications. When is the vote?  There is no set time for the vote yet. Meetings will be happening throughout the day prior to a call for the vote. The vote could also be delayed for another time, but Ryan has said that wouldn’t happen. (Update: The vote has been moved to Friday, or possibly beyond. This post will be updated when the time for the vote gets near. Check back here during the day Friday).
  • In a last minute bid to thread the needle between more conservative and more moderate Republicans, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders in the House are still hoping to bring a health care overhaul bill to a vote today, as they try to find a magic legislative formula that will produce a final agreement acceptable to a bare majority of Republican members. Here’s where things stand. 1. Republicans still seem short on votes. Despite a full day of arm twisting and closed door meetings that stretched late into Wednesday night, the President seemed no closer to a majority in the House – in fact, the numbers seemed to go the wrong way yesterday, as several more moderate Republicans like Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) announced they could not support the bill. “We gave our word that we would repeal and replace it,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) of Obamacare. “This bill does not go far enough.” Yoho – a Freedom Caucus member – though said he was open to a last minute deal, but that remained elusive as the sun came up on Thursday. President Trump is set to meet with Freedom Caucus members just before lunch at the White House. Believe ldrshp lost more votes today (Dent, LoBiondo, David Young, Dan Donovan) than they gained (Steve King, Barletta) – at least publicly — Erica Werner (@ericawerner) March 23, 2017 2. For some the negotiations just don’t matter. As we have seen on major legislation in recent years, there are a small group of Republicans who just aren’t going to get to a “Yes” vote under the current direction of negotiations. “We promised to repeal Obamacare and improve health care for Americans. This bill does neither,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who is a certain “No” vote. Even as members of the House Freedom Caucus met into the night on Wednesday, it was obvious that some in that group, like Amash, would not get on board with the final product – and on their own, they have more than enough votes to sink this GOP bill if they withhold their support. This was a tweet from the group’s spokeswoman. BREAKING: more than 25 Freedom Caucus 'No's' on AHCA — group says 'start over' — Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) March 22, 2017 3. There is no groundswell of support back home. One peculiar situation about the GOP drive on health care is that they are not only taking flak from Democrats, but also from conservative groups who don’t like the direction of the bill – and that combination is bringing a distinct message from back home, as well as groups that watch GOP lawmakers like a hawk. “Unfortunately, even with recently submitted changes, the American Health Care Act has too many ObamaCare-like flaws,” the conservative group Freedom Works said in a statement. Other groups like the Heritage Foundation have been openly working to stop the bill as well – and lawmakers say the folks back home have made quite clear their dislike for the bill. Rep Walter Jones R-NC on calls/emails from his district about GOP health care bill: 4 were in favor, 800 against — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) March 23, 2017 4. What late changes are being considered to the GOP bill? There was a lot of talk on Wednesday night of major alterations to the bill, some of which might not even survive tight Senate rules dealing with budget reconciliation. The work mainly centered on re-writing the definition of “Essential Health Benefits” in the Obama health law, to allow insurance companies to offer more limited – and therefore less expensive for consumers. Here is the EHB list in current law – these can be modified administratively by the Trump Administration and the Secretary of Health and Human Services; but a number of Republican lawmakers want them changed in law. That most likely will take 60 votes in the Senate. 5. Wait – the EHB change takes 60 votes in the Senate? The logical question to ask is – if you can’t change the Essential Health Benefits in a budget reconciliation bill, because it will get knocked out in the Senate, why put that in this House bill? Well, it may be the only way to get the bill out of the House with enough votes, and send it over to the Senate. Republicans were already engaged in public lobbying of the Senate Parliamentarian, who has the job of ruling on specific provisions of reconciliation bills, as they tried to argue in public that she might change her mind on the matter. Behind the scenes, it wasn’t really apparent that anything had changed along these lines, but the GOP hope was that if EHB changes were included in the bill, the provision could get through the House and just be knocked out in the Senate, without destroying the underlying measure. BREAKING: Mike Lee says parliamentarian told him it may be possible to repeal Obamacare regs via reconciliation https://t.co/OqxadhUbAu — Philip Klein (@philipaklein) March 22, 2017 6. Will the vote be Thursday or later? Republicans were ready to give themselves several days of wiggle room on the health care matter, as the House was expected to approve a measure that allows the GOP to quickly bring a final health care deal to the floor for a vote, any time over the next four days – through Monday. So, there could be a showdown vote on health care today, tomorrow, over the weekend, or early next week. Basically, if Republicans and the White House think they’ve got the votes, then they will rush to the House floor to push that through. “We have not cut the deal, yet,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) acknowledged late on Wednesday night in the House Rules Committee. Republicans have said they will vote Thursday on their plan to overhaul Obamacare, but no vote is scheduled https://t.co/R7KtadKwh3 pic.twitter.com/9H5Ior3DvC — CBS News (@CBSNews) March 23, 2017 7. GOP ready to repeat the Nancy Pelosi 2010 quote. Republicans love to talk up the out-of-context quote from then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010, when she said the Congress would just have to pass a health care bill in order to see what was in it. If you really research the quote, you see she wasn’t saying that, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP from throwing it in her face for the past seven years. Now, Democrats are delighting in watching the GOP maybe doing the same thing. With major changes being looked at last night, it was not clear as the day began what exactly the Republicans would be voting on – and it was possible that no cost estimate, or insurance coverage estimate details would be ready for when lawmakers did vote in the House. With no CBO score, the full effect of eliminating essential health benefits won't be known to House lawmakers before they vote #votingblind — Noam Levey (@NoamLevey) March 23, 2017 Stay tuned – it could be a very interesting day in the House.
  • Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today. What to know now  1. Trump communications collected: Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-California), announced Wednesday that private conversations between President Donald Trump and his transition team may have been improperly distributed to spy agencies after they were inadvertently collected as part of an intelligence investigation of other targets. Nunes said he was troubled enough by information provided to him about the communications to go to the White House on Wednesday to inform the president in person. Nunes said the information collected had nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI said Monday it is investigating any possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the election. 2. Health care vote: A vote on a health care bill that is essential in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is set to take place Thursday in the House. Trump and leaders in the House have lobbied members to vote for the bill, but as of late Wednesday, they had not locked down enough votes for it to pass. The president has warned those who don’t vote for the bill that they could face consequences come re-election. 3. London attack: A man stabbed a London police officer to death Wednesday after he ran down pedestrians on a bridge near Parliament in a terror attack on the British government. Four people, including the attacker, were killed, and at least 40 others injured. British lawmakers sheltered in place in Parliament for hours after the mid-afternoon attack. One woman was pulled alive from the waters of the Thames after she was either knocked off the Westminster Bridge or jumped to avoid the car. The suspect has not been identified. An early morning raid in the London area Thursday netted seven people suspected of being involved with the attack.  4. Wisconsin shootings: A Wisconsin police officer and three others were killed Wednesday in what law enforcement officials said was a domestic violence incident that led to three separate shootings. The shootings took place in a bank, at an attorney’s office and in an apartment complex near Everest, Wisconsin, which is about 90 miles west of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  5. Sweet 16: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament continues Thursday as the next round of playoffs gets underway. Sixteen teams – the Sweet 16 – will play over the next two days as we make our way to the Elite Eight, then the Final Four. The championship game is set for April 3.  And one more Nominations for the Daytime Emmy Awards were announce Wednesday. The CBS daytime drama “Young and the Restless” snagged 25 nominations, with ABC’s “General Hospital” and CBS’ “Bold and the Beautiful” getting 23. NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” got 22 nods. In case you missed it
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff grabbed the national spotlight Monday when he was given 15 minutes to present a case accusing President Donald Trump’s campaign of colluding with Russian officials to meddle with the 2016 presidential election. Schiff, who was elected to Congress in 2000 and is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, took the time to lay out a blistering attack against Trump, naming campaign workers and other associates whom he claims have ties that are too close for comfort with various Russian officials and those who support them. On Wednesday, Schiff was in the spotlight again when he attacked the HPSCI chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-California), for announcing publicly that it is likely that some of Trump’s communications ended up being “captured” during routine surveillance operations. That information, Nunes said, included names of the people involved in those conversations and those names, he claims, were shared among intelligence organizations.  Schiff responded with his own press conference, claiming that Nunes had “tainted” the investigation into Russian interference in the election and now only a special prosecutor could fairly look into the accusations. Who is Adam Schiff and how did he get to this position? Here are a few things you may not know about him. He is an attorney. He graduated from Harvard.  He wasn’t a shoo-in for Congress. He lost three elections to the California State House before being elected to the state Senate. He was then elected to the U.S. House in 2001. He may run for Sen. Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat if she retires in 2018. As the ranking member of the HPSCI, he’s a member of the “Gang of Eight.” In that role, he is privy to high-level intelligence information. By law, he receives information about intelligence from the White House. He is on leave from the House Appropriations Committee, and served on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. He voted for the Patriot Act, and also has sponsored animal rights legislation. He’s married. His wife’s name is Eve. The couple have two children.
  • The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters Wednesday that he has been given evidence from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community, which shows that personal communications of President Trump were collected during the Presidential transition as part of legally approved foreign intelligence surveillance operations. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the President-Elect and his transition team and what they were doing,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told reporters at a news conference in the Capitol. Nunes would not detail how the information was obtained – it is known as “incidental collection,” where an American citizen unknowingly speaks with someone who is under surveillance by U.S. intelligence. “From what I’ve seen, it appears to be incidental collection,” Nunes stressed, meaning that Mr. Trump himself was not the target of the surveillance. Whoa. At presser, Nunes just revealed IC collected info about Americans associated w/ the Trump transition team—separate from Russia probe. — Eric Geller (@ericgeller) March 22, 2017 Nunes made clear that the surveillance had nothing to do with Russia, or any investigation into Russia and the U.S. 2016 elections. It was not immediately apparent why Trump communications were incidentally collected, or who he may have been in touch with that was under intelligence surveillance.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • For the second time in less than 24 hours, police have swarmed the Las Vegas Strip after at least one person was killed in a shooting near the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. >> Related: Burglary at Bellagio Hotel and Casino prompts lockdown on Vegas strip Police said Saturday afternoon that the situation was not an active shooter situation.  The suspect peacefully surrendered around 6 p.m., according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. >> Read more trending news Around 11:30 a.m. Las Vegas police reported that they were investigating a shooting that occurred on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Authorities believed an individual who was on a bus that was traveling on the strip is responsible for the shooting. Police closed portions of the strip, and set up a staging area and a barricade. Guests at the Cosmopolitan resort were evacuated. Shortly after 11 a.m., KSNV reported that at least one victim of a shooting had been transported to University Medical Center trauma in unknown condition. At 1 p.m. Saturday, authorities reported a second victim had been killed. According to USA Today, police evacuated the nearby Cosmopolitan hotel and casino shortly after 1 p.m. “The shooting incident happened on the bus,” said Larry Hadfield, a spokesman with Las Vegas Metro police. “We had one single shooting incident with two victims. Both were transported to the trauma center and one is deceased.” Hadfield said police were negotiating with the suspect Saturday afternoon in an effort to take him into custody, USA Today reported. This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 
  • Las Vegas police are investigating a burglary at a retail store in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino after an incident that occurred overnight Friday, The Associated Press reported.  >> Read more trending news Police said Saturday they believe at least three people entered the store. It was not immediately clear what items were stolen. The store was closed at the time of the burglary.  Authorities said the suspects broke into a high-end jewelry and watch store, where they may have used sledgehammers to break into the shop's jewelry cases. A witness said she saw an armed burglar wearing a pig mask near a Rolex store. Authorities said they are reviewing surveillance tape, where they saw multiple suspects wearing “character masks,” ABC News reported. According to ABC News, the Bellagio was on lockdown for approximately a half-hour after the incident. Police initially thought at least one of the theives may have fired gunshots during the burglary, but later said they believed the sound of the sledgehammers breaking the jewelry cases may have been confused for gunshots. Guests fled the hotel and casino in the midst of the incident. No one was injured.  Police have taken one suspect into custody.  Portions of the Bellagio were closed Saturday as police continue to investigate.
  • A couple has been indicted on accusations that they murdered their deaf teenage son and then burned down their house to cover up the crime, the Associated Press reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office in New York, Ernest F. Franklin II, 35, and his wife, Heather Franklin, 33, of Guilford, New York, were charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence. The two were indicted Friday on charges of second-degree murder in the death of their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, People magazine reported. Following an investigation of a fire on March 1 at the family’s 1,300-square-foot home, the couple was arrested. Investigators believe they set fire to their home to cover up the killing of their son. An autopsy determined he died prior to the fire, according to the sheriff’s office. Local law authorities have not said how or when the boy was killed. The Franklins got married in 2011 and adopted Jeffrey six or seven years ago, the sheriff’s office said. According to People magazine, Ernest is an Iraq War veteran. Heather wrote in posts on her Facebook page that she is pregnant. The Franklins are being held without bail. They entered a plea of not guilty. “People are asking themselves, ‘How could this happen?'” Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. told People magazine. “Certainly for the public here, it’s a mix of anger and frustration and disappointment.” Just days before Heather Franklin was arrested, she posted an update on her Facebook page about how much she missed her son, who she called JR. She also informed friends and family that she and her husband had added their “needs” and “wants” to the CheckedTwice.com Family Gift Registry because they lost everything in the fire. A GoFundMe page was also established, but it has been taken down. The Associated Press reported that police who responded to a 911 call about 1:15 a.m. on March 1 found the Franklin’s house, located about an hour away from Syracuse, engulfed in flames. Jeffrey was inside and unable to escape the fire, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities initially said the cause of the fire appeared to be a wood stove, the residence’s main heating source. “People are wondering how anybody could do something so brutal to a developmentally disabled and handicapped 16-year-old boy,” Cutting told People. “There are a lot of people who would have taken him. There are organizations that would have taken care of him. Why resort to that? … It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”
  • North Carolina police said they have found the bodies of two missing children Saturday morning in Hoke County. >> Read more trending news  Fayetteville police had been searching for 2-year-old Serenity and 4-day-old Genesis Freeman overnight Friday. They were in their father's custody when they disappeared and he reportedly refused to tell police where the children were. Tillman Freeman, 30, was first charged with two counts of child abuse and child neglect.  When their bodies were found in a wooded area off of Highway 211, two counts of first-degree murder were added to those charges. The children's mother was in the hospital at the time the children went missing for an unrelated reason.
  • After the collapse of health care reform legislation in the House on Friday, Republicans in the Congress and President Donald Trump now must decide what’s next on their respective agendas, as the GOP tries to pick up the pieces from a very public legislative failure over an issue that had been their central political focus for the last seven years. Here’s the look from Capitol Hill. 1. The first big setback for the Trump agenda. You can try to downplay what happened, but there was little positive to take from this health care debacle in the House. “I will not sugarcoat this; this is a disappointing day for us,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan after the vote was canceled. President Trump tried to blame Democrats, but that rang hollow since the White House had done no serious outreach to the other party. With this setback, it’s even more apparent how little has been done so far by the GOP Congress with respect to the Trump Agenda. Other than approving a series of plans to reverse specific regulations of the Obama Administration, no bills of any import have been passed. Infrastructure, jobs bills, tax cuts, cutting government – all of that sounds good – but so far, no action. And Trump wrote 'The Art of the Deal' — Bill Mitchell (@JerseyGuy_Bill) March 25, 2017 2. Trump allies turn their sights on Speaker Ryan. It wasn’t hard to hear the low rumbling of some supporters of President Trump, as they used the Friday health care debacle to immediately try to make Speaker Ryan the scapegoat. Ann Coulter bluntly said, “Ryan is not on Trump’s side.” Pro-Trump websites like InfoWars and Breitbart immediately attacked Ryan as well, with some conservatives urging the House Freedom Caucus to help dump Ryan, arguing that he is the perfect illustration of the Republican Establishment that needs to be excised from Swamp of Washington, D.C. Paul Ryan is not on @POTUS' side – https://t.co/QVOHBDIKiT #KilledTheBill #FunFactFriday — Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) March 24, 2017 3. Full repeal of Obamacare needs 60 votes in the Senate. If Republicans couldn’t muster a majority in the House – how are they going to get 60 votes in the Senate to really change the bulk of the Obama health law? The answer – they’re not going to do that any time soon. But full repeal was still the mantra from a number of Republicans as the House GOP health care bill went down the tubes on Friday. “I remain committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with conservative reforms,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). “Congress should take its time and pass a good bill that actually repeals ObamaCare,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). But the truth is, unless Republicans get 60 votes in the 2018 elections, an Obama health law repeal bill faces a difficult road in the Congress. I applaud House conservatives for keeping their word to the American people. I look forward to passing full repeal https://t.co/ftyj6sCw0v — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 24, 2017 4. This fight on health care is already over? It seems hard to believe that Republicans are just going to drop the issue of health care reform, especially after making it such a central part of their political message in recent years. But President Trump seemed to send the signal that he is going to focus his political capital on other issues, like tax reform. “That one is going to be fun,” the President said earlier this week, as his Treasury Secretary predicted a final tax bill would on the President’s desk by early August. The last time Congress approved major tax reform was 1986. There’s a reason it hasn’t happened in over 30 years. It is not easy. And the lobbyists of Gucci Gulch will be ready. President Trump says tax reform is the next item on his agenda https://t.co/dLNduSPgl6 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 24, 2017 5. This wasn’t really much of an effort. The White House said the President “left everything on the field” to get a health care bill. But it doesn’t look like that at all. Go back eight years, and Democrats were just launching their 13 month effort to forge what would become known as Obamacare. It went through the spring, summer, fall, winter, and then into the next spring of 2010, before being achieved. By contrast, the GOP introduced its health care bill on March 6 and gave up on March 24. Back in 2009 and 2010, Democrats struggled to keep their side together, but managed to get 60 votes for their package in the Senate. The GOP couldn’t even get a majority in the House. There is still time to go back to the drawing board. But it takes more than 18 days of work. Remember when Republicans promised they would try to fiddle with Obamacare for a few weeks and then give up? — Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) March 24, 2017 6. Let the Republican finger pointing begin. One of the biggest immediate targets was the Freedom Caucus, the group of more conservative lawmakers which for years has been very good at holding out against the GOP leadership, but has done almost nothing in the way of substantive legislating. Some of that ire was aimed at Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the Freedom Caucus. “Mark Meadows is more interested in being on the TV than solving problems,” fumed Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who then aimed some more barbs at Meadows and pointedly made sure to tell a reporter – “You can quote me on that.” Exactly right. GOP & Trump own this,but @freedomcaucus & @Heritage_Action & others caused it. They are the pie-in-the-sky caucus. https://t.co/9tMcfk45ox — Brit Hume (@brithume) March 24, 2017 7. Don’t downplay the importance of this setback. Yes, it’s just one bill. Yes, it’s not the end of the world. But this failure was a big deal. Republicans have been talking for years about how they would repeal and replace the Obama health law. Donald Trump said he would do it right away. But for years, I have been reporting – and taking flak for saying – that while the GOP had lots of ideas, they didn’t have consensus on any plan. And that was obvious as they desperately tried to stitch together deals at the last minute to keep the bill moving. It’s pretty easy to lob verbal grenades at the other party – it’s a little different to offer substantive legislation and pass it. Humiliating defeat for GOP after years to prepare. Real blow to their argument that they could govern if only given the chance. — carl hulse (@hillhulse) March 24, 2017 8. This was not a good week for President Trump. It started Monday with the FBI Director publicly confirming that not only was there an investigation of how Russia meddled in last year’s election, but also a probe of any links between the Trump Campaign and Moscow. The FBI chief also made clear there was no evidence to back up Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped in 2016. And the NSA shot down talk that British Intelligence had helped with surveillance on Trump Tower. Meanwhile, the Trump travel and refugee ban stayed on hold the courts, despite Mr. Trump’s declaration that judges were overstepping their authority. Then the week ended with a health care thud. Tomorrow's cover: Trump forced to cancel health care vote in stunning blow https://t.co/53Po4iXVbM pic.twitter.com/lEQe5Qc22g — New York Post (@nypost) March 24, 2017