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Trump demands Friday vote on health care plan

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UPDATE: 7:42 p.m.: President Donald Trump is demanding a vote Friday in the House on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said. If the bill fails, Trump is prepared to move on and leave Obamacare in place, Mulvaney said.

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President Donald Trump and House Freedom Caucus members failed to strike a deal on the GOP Obamacare replacement Thursday, endangering the prospects of passage and all but assuring any immediate vote on the measure would fail.

Hours later, House leaders canceled a planned Thursday night vote on the legislation, dubbed the American Health Care Act. There was no immediate word when a vote might be rescheduled. The House Republican Conference is planning to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday about how to proceed, with procedural votes expected later in the evening.

Negotiations between Trump and the arch-conservatives opponents of the bill reached at least a temporary impasse after Freedom Caucus members were told recent concessions from the White House and GOP leadership represented a final offer. The group rejected that, wanting more.

The setbacks triggered a series of meetings later Thursday — between Trump and the moderate Tuesday Group, and separately between the Freedom Caucus and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

As it stands, Trump and Ryan find themselves playing see-saw with moderates and hard-liners. Lean too much toward one faction and they lose votes from the other. So far, they’ve been unable to find a sweet spot.

Ryan can afford to lose only 22 votes on the floor. The Freedom Caucus has three dozen members, who have vowed to block the bill unless they get what they want. More than a dozen centrist Republicans have also come out against the bill, further endangering its prospects.

A senior administration official in the room for the meeting at the White House said most members left the meeting as “no’s” but suggest some flipped to “yes.” While Trump did not go around the room and ask people how they would vote, it became immediately clear GOP leaders did not appear to win over enough members to put the measure over the top.

“We’re down right now,” the official said.

Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters in the Capitol Thursday afternoon that “we have not gotten enougbh of our members to get to yes at this point. … However, I would say progress is being made.” He called Trump’s engagement in the negotiations perhaps “unparalleled in the history of our country.”

A senior administration official involved in discussions with the group, however, said the “House Freedom Caucus is freeing members to vote their conscience.”

There were daunting obstacles to a deal heading into the White House meeting Thursday morning. A number of Freedom Caucus members had suggested Trump’s latest concession — repealing Obamacare’s mandate that insurance plans provide a minimum level of “essential” benefits — wasn’t enough. The group wants a complete repeal of all Affordable Care Act regulations — including popular provisions Trump promised he would maintain.

The conservatives’ target list encompasses a prohibition against discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and a requirement that adults up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance.

“Repealing [essential health benefits], w/out making other substantial changes, would make the bill worse, not better,” tweeted Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash (R-Mich.). “It would hurt the sickest people on exchanges.”

The Freedom Caucus has been a constant thorn in the side of House GOP leadership, sinking bills its members believe were too accommodating to Democrats. The group was expected to fall in line behind Trump after he won, but it has refused to do so on the health care bill.

Now, Freedom Caucus members are threatening to trip up not John Boehner or Ryan, but a Republican commander-in-chief who remains highly popular in their districts.

Many House Republicans are furious with the Freedom Caucus, saying the group keeps moving the goal posts and that it really wants to sink the health care bill altogether.

“The president is good at negotiating, but he has to have someone who wants to get to yes,” Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), an ardent Trump supporter, told POLITICO. “I was never able to sell a car or a truck to someone who didn’t want a car or a truck. It just doesn’t work. And that’s where we are right now. I don’t think they’re really interested in getting to an ‘end.’”

He then added: “Maybe the ‘end’ is: making sure it doesn’t pass.”

Group insiders contend they haven’t changed their demands at all. They say they’ve always insisted that all Obamacare regulations be nixed.

The Freedom Caucus risks overplaying its hand if it continues to hold out support for the bill. Trump has made clear he wants to get health care passed and move on. He made clear that Wednesday’s offer was final.

If Trump loses his patience with caucus members, they could find themselves in his crosshairs.

The meeting with Trump comes not 24 hours after the group huddled with Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s most senior advisers. In recent days, the group had been emphasizing that it needed a repeal of Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” requirement — something GOP leaders for months have said would be “fatal” to the bill in the Senate because of the chamber’s arcane budget rules.

But Trump officials asked Ryan to reassess that diagnosis, and GOP leadership agreed to add the provision.

The odds of the entire group coming on board without a commitment to axing all Affordable Care Act regulations, however, look slim.

Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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Delayed vote a setback for Trump the dealmaker

“The closer,” it turns out, needs extra innings.

After a frenetic 48 hours of Oval Office lobbying sessions, closed-door talks in the Cabinet room and shuttle diplomacy on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the plug Thursday on a scheduled vote on their health care legislation after falling short of the support needed for passage.

Conservative House hardliners would not budge on their demanded concessions. Moderate Republicans grew skittish of the new proposed changes. And, as the morning turned to afternoon without an accord on final legislative language, Republicans fretted about the optics of jamming the far-reaching bill through in the middle of the night.

The White House had pushed aggressively to hold the vote Thursday. Trump, who has staked his reputation as a consummate dealmaker on getting the bill through, was telling reporters “today the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare” minutes before House leadership canceled the vote.

But it was clear that he was struggling to get his fellow Republicans to yes.

“I’m not going to make it too long, because I have to get votes,” Trump told a group of truckers who were at the White House Thursday afternoon. “I don’t want to spend too much time with you. I’m going to lose by one vote and then I’m going to blame the truckers.”

The final straw for a Thursday deal was a lengthy White House meeting between Trump, his top lieutenants and the hardliner House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives who have pushed to strip requirements that insurance companies provide standard benefits such as maternity care in coverage plans.

They couldn’t reach a deal, forcing the White House into a one-by-one effort to turn votes that one senior administration official described as “grinding.”

“Member by member, that’s how they’re going to vote,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday, a day after describing the president as “the closer.”

Most Republicans appeared comfortable with the delay, taking the lumps of a single negative news cycle, so long as the legislation eventually passes. But some worried that if Trump can’t muscle the first major bill he’s backed through a single chamber in a Republican-controlled Congress, it could devastate his agenda and weaken his authority moving forward.

“This is a reputational deal,” said Scott Reed, the chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We have a lot riding on this.”

“It’s a black eye for the speaker and the president if it doesn’t pass,” Reed added. Failure would be “buzzkill in terms of moving forward with a real reform agenda to grow the economy.”

Negotiations on the bill were expected to continue into the night on Thursday. A floor vote could still happen as early as Friday.

The Tuesday Group, a bloc of Republican moderates, met with Trump on Thursday evening. While the Tuesday Group is smaller than the Freedom Caucus, its members have historically proved far more likely to cast tough votes with the Republican leadership. The Freedom Caucus, a creation of the Obama years, rose almost entirely to block legislation, not pass it.

Most of Trump’s senior team, including Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway attended the Freedom Caucus negotiating session. Absent from the proceedings was senior adviser Jared Kushner, who’s vacationing with his wife, Ivanka Trump, and their children in Aspen, Colorado.

Trump himself has not been overly invested in the policy particulars of the health care legislation, and he decided to adopt a bill drafted by Ryan as his own. Trump famously described his health plan on the campaign trail as “repeal and replace — with something terrific” but he is now caught in the middle of an ideological tug-of-war within the Republican Party. He spent part of Thursday afternoon outside the White House with trucking officials, climbing behind the wheel of a big-rig, blowing the horn and pretending to drive off.

Spicer said there is “a little bit of a balancing act that goes on” and that lawmakers have “disparate desires.”

There’s already some finger-pointing as the legislation has stalled.

Chris Ruddy, the head of Newsmax and a close friend of Trump’s, said of the legislation crafted by Ryan was flawed from the start.

“He got delivered a damaged bill of goods,” Ruddy complained.

Some Republicans were complaining that Trump was doing too much to bring along House hardliners, endangering the chances that the final bill could pass in the more moderate Senate; others blamed aides for not doing enough.

One GOP aide was frustrated Trump was negotiating directly with the House Freedom Caucus given “they’re the ones trying to stop us from getting this passed.” And a GOP lawmaker said some in the House were annoyed because Trump couldn’t talk specifics on the law — “and just wanted to talk about the politics.”

A senior White House official, meanwhile, said the negotiations were difficult because the Freedom Caucus members are clashing with House leadership, leaving the president and his team — particularly Bannon, who has been closely involved in negotiations—stuck in the middle. By late Thursday, Bannon and members of the Freedom Caucus were all in Ryan’s office.

At the same time, two Hill Republicans involved in the negotiations complained that Paul Teller, a Trump legislative aide with deep ties to the conservative movement, wasn’t doing enough to move far-right votes. “He’s a conservative first,” said one. Teller, a former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), has been a key conduit bringing conservatives to the White House.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, praised Trump’s willingness to negotiate directly with his members, often by marginalized by the House GOP leaders, and dismissed the planned vote Thursday as an “artificial deadline.”

“I would say that, at this point, the president’s engagement is unparalleled,” he said.

The Freedom Caucus continues to make new demands, said the senior White House official, though the administration isn’t planning further changes. “It will make the bill totally unworkable in the Senate,” this person said.

As it is, many key conservative groups have lined up against the bill, including Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and the political network of the Koch brothers, which has pledged financial support to lawmakers who oppose the legislation.

“At the end of the day,” Spicer said, “we can’t make people vote.”

Madeline Conway contributed to this report.

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How the GOP could still salvage the Obamacare repeal

House Republican leaders scrambling to buck up wavering members had portrayed the vote as the only shot to eliminate the GOP’s longtime boogeyman — and as an essential show of support for President Donald Trump.

But in fact, they have several options to salvage the repeal effort after they couldn’t muster 215 votes on Thursday. Here are a half dozen:

Delay the vote longer

The most straightforward thing is for leaders to punt. The vote has already been delayed at least until Friday and it could be put off longer.

A delay isn’t necessarily costly, beyond the bad optics and robbing the GOP of the opportunity to strike a blow against Obamacare on the seventh anniversary of its passage. A postponement could buy Speaker Paul Ryan and the Trump administration some breathing room if they think they’re close to a deal with the two dozen or so House Freedom Caucus members still opposed to the bill — or with some moderates who could still be swayed into the “yes” column.

The caucus chairman, Mark Meadows, hinted Thursday that a compromise could still be in reach, even as the group continues pushing to scrap additional Obamacare insurance regulations in its zeal to repeal the entire law.

“We’ve made very reasonable requests and we’re hopeful that those reasonable requests will be listened to and ultimately agreed to,” Meadows said Thursday. “I hope we’ll negotiate in good faith and get to a vote by 7 p.m. today.”

Keep changing the bill

House Republicans swore they were done rewriting the repeal bill to buy off holdouts earlier this week. But they could open the process back up to eliminate Obamacare’s provision requiring health plans to cover minimum benefits — a concession aimed at winning over members on the right.

Doing so could encourage the Freedom Caucus to press for even bigger concessions — say, stripping out additional consumer protections, including the hugely popular one requiring insurers to cover individuals with preexisting conditions.

Overhauling the bill would be a risky play, both politically and procedurally. Moving the bill further right would further alienate the 50 or so members of the centrist Tuesday Group, already rattled about the prospect of leaving millions more Americans uninsured. Roughly a dozen more moderate lawmakers have already committed to opposing the bill.

And then, there’s the Senate’s pesky Byrd rule, which limits what Republicans can stuff into a reconciliation bill and still comply with that chamber’s tough procedural requirements. GOP leaders warn they can’t kill more of Obamacare without violating those standards and sacrificing their chance to pass repeal with a simple majority. Even stripping out the essential health benefits might not make it past the Senate’s parliamentarian, who makes the ultimate call on whether a provision is permissible.

“Senate Democrats were told in 2010 they couldn’t amend essential benefits or insurance regulations in reconciliation,” said Edward Lorenzen, a senior adviser at the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Even if such changes make it through, there’s no guarantee they’ll survive on the Senate floor. Democrats have pledged to challenge every provision they think might violate the Byrd rule in a bid to force Republicans to remove it from the legislation.

“They’ve been told it’s not going to be fatal,” Lorenzen said of Republicans’ plan to strip out Obamacare’s essential health benefits. “I think it’s much less clear whether it would survive a Byrd rule challenge.”

Force a showdown

Nothing focuses the mind more than a pressure-packed vote. Especially a lengthy one. Republican leaders could exercise the ultimate power play on their unruly members and call for a vote, betting enough of the wavering lawmakers will crumble. The high-stakes move would force the naysayers to back up their bluster or risk being seen as an impediment to the president’s first-term agenda.

“This is the most important vote we’ll ever cast,” Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said. “If this goes down, we don’t get tax reform — we can’t move forward. We don’t get infrastructure. We got nothing.”

The White House is delivering the same message, threatening skeptics with the prospect of a primary challenge in 2018. And key Republican leaders are confident that pressure will eventually weaken the holdouts. Old-timers recall the 2003 vote on the Medicare prescription drug benefit, during which leaders held open the vote for almost three hours while a whip team blocked all the exits from the House floor until they had twisted enough arms.

The problem is that there’s no readily available fallback plan if the leaders fail. And it would be difficult to reestablish credibility to push other pieces of Trump’s agenda after a humiliating loss.

Admit failure, go back to the drawing board

Tweaking the repeal bill to please both Republican moderates and conservatives could well prove too difficult a needle to thread — especially as the needle seems to keep moving. If that’s the case, GOP leaders may end up swallowing their pride and scrapping the legislation altogether.

That dramatic decision would effectively restart the legislative sausage-making and raise the prospect of a smaller, more manageable bill that could win broader support in both chambers — even if it doesn’t accomplish everything Republicans hoped.

The upside of that approach is it allows the GOP to move on to tax reform and other agenda items without totally blowing past the repeal of Obamacare. But it’s unclear whether that strategy would sit well with recalcitrant conservatives and their supporters. And it would almost certainly become a midterm campaign issue since Republicans have been promising voters to scrap Obamacare for so many years.

Do something bipartisan

This is, admittedly, the least likely option. But for years, Democrats said they’d be willing to work on bipartisan fixes to Obamacare. If the reconciliation route fails, Republicans could call them on that.

Yet the debate over the repeal bill is the latest sign that Republicans and Democrats are miles apart on health care, and there’s little indication the two parties can bridge that gap anytime soon. In a floor speech Thursday, Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) trashed Republicans’ work on health care, calling their efforts not just a “crumbling and destruction of health care, but also a crumbling of our democracy.”

Do nothing and blame the Democrats

Trump said it himself just weeks ago: “I say to Republicans, if you really want to do something good, don’t do anything. … Let it be a disaster.”

Republicans could shelve their quest to overhaul the health care system, hope Obamacare premiums keep spiking and insurers keep fleeing marketplaces and bet they won’t pay the political price in 2018. Trump has already expressed his misgivings about taking ownership of health reform, and privately assured conservative groups that he can pin the whole mess on Democrats if the repeal effort fails.

That’d be a big gamble; Republicans would be giving up on reforming a system they’ve railed against for years. But if the GOP tries and fails to get legislation through the House, it may start to look like the best of their bad options.

Jennifer Haberkorn and Paul Demko contributed to this report.

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Nunes apologizes for going directly to White House with monitoring claims

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to members of his panel Thursday for not informing Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, before going public with allegations that Trump transition messages were inadvertently intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

A committee aide said Nunes (R-Calif.) apologized “for not sharing information about the documents he saw with the minority before going public” and that “he pledged to work with them on this issue.”

The apology from Nunes came as congressional Democrats on Thursday slammed him for his perceived allegiance to the Trump administration, questioning whether he is fit to lead to an impartial investigation into possible ties between Trump’s associates and Russian officials.

Schiff (D-Calif.) told NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Thursday that committee members still haven’t been privy to the information Nunes shared with the White House. Nunes has said he is not in possession of the information yet and that he hopes it will be delivered to his committee on Friday.

“At this point, the only people who do know are the chairman and the president. And given that the president’s associates are the subject in part of the investigation, that’s wholly inappropriate, and, unfortunately, I think it really impugns the credibility of the chairman in terms of his ability to conduct an independent investigation,” Schiff said.

During an earlier, brief exchange with reporters Thursday morning, Nunes was asked whether the information he alluded to Wednesday came from the White House. Nunes stressed that “we have to keep our sources and methods here very, very quiet” and defended his “judgment call” to brief the president while other committee members were left in the dark, despite Trump and his associates being part of the focus of multiple investigations.

“The president didn’t invite me over. I called down there and invited myself, because I thought he needed to understand what I saw and that he needed to try to get that information because he has every right to see it,” Nunes told reporters.

Committee member Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she believed Nunes’ accusations on Wednesday had been directed by the White House. She pointed to an interview Trump did with Fox News earlier this month in which he said his administration would be “submitting things” to the House Intelligence Committee “very soon.”

“I am of the opinion that this was orchestrated either from the White House or by … someone associated with the White House,” Speier said. “This is a three-act play, and we’re now seeing it.”

On Wednesday, Nunes held a news conference and then briefed Trump on evidence he had been shown by a “source” that, following November’s election, Trump transition team members were caught up in incidental surveillance of foreign targets. He said the identities of some of these transition team members had been “unmasked,” even though U.S. persons typically have their identities shielded when caught up in inadvertent surveillance, and that intelligence reports about the Trump transition were widely disseminated across the U.S. intelligence community.

Democrats countered that the unmasking of names should be something the committee tackles as part of its Russia investigation, not something that is immediately briefed to the White House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called Nunes a “stooge for the president of the United States.”

“I think he’s demonstrated very clearly that there is no way there can be an impartial investigation under his leadership on that committee,” Pelosi said. “It speaks very clearly to the need for an outside independent commission.”

Committee member Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who also called for a special commission to lead the investigation, said Nunes “betrayed the independence of our work” and owes the panel and the American people an apology for — and evidence of — his “stunt.”

“This is a pretty sad departure from a long tradition of doing the people’s work around national security and doing it without a, you know, loyalty to the administration, doing it with independence,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“He should have brought it to us first. He never, under any circumstances, should have taken this information to the president,” Swalwell continued. “The president’s campaign is under federal criminal investigation for its ties to Russia during the interference campaign. They are witnesses, essentially, and to take it to them, I think, conflicts the chairman out of the duties he has.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, said that panel “would have never allowed that to happen.”

“What [Nunes] did was basically to go to the president, who’s being investigated by the FBI and others, and by the intelligence committee, to give them information,” Cummings told CNN. “Basically, what he has done is he has scuttled and put a cloud over his own investigation. And he has become the subject, basically — he should be — of an investigation. It’s a real problem.”

Cummings advised Nunes to look no further than his Democratic counterpart for an example of how he should conduct himself. Schiff, for his part, said “everything” about Nunes’ bombshell announcement “was wrong.”

“If this is an issue of whether the unmasking of incidentally collected information was done properly, that’s something that the committee investigates,” Schiff said. “It’s not something to be taken to the White House and discussed in a press conference on the White House lawn. You know, the chairman’s not Sean Spicer.”

Trump first launched his explosive claim that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones at Trump Tower via Twitter earlier this month. The White House has since suggested that Trump’s use of the term wiretap, which was in quotations, was actually intended to convey surveillance more broadly.

Trump told reporters Wednesday he felt “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes’ statement, which he repeatedly referenced during a wide-ranging Time magazine interview published Thursday. Trump’s claim, however, was that Obama ordered surveillance during the campaign — Nunes said information on Trump’s transition team was collected after the election.

“This is another baffling twist in all this: The chairman, I think, again reiterated that this was not evidence of wiretapping of the president by his predecessor,” Schiff said. “So I think the most it is a bit of a smokescreen designed to give the president some cover, but that’s not the job of a chairman who is running a supposedly independent investigation. And, unfortunately, it’s just made our job that much more difficult.”

“I think we really have to keep in mind here: What’s the national interest?” he added. “The national interest is a nonpartisan and credible investigation into Russian meddling in our affairs, and these actions just make that almost impossible now.”

Madeline Conway contributed to this report.

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CBO: Revisions to GOP health plan add to deficit without improving coverage

House GOP leaders’ amended Obamacare repeal bill would cost billions more — without covering more people, according to a new report by the CBO.

The slate of changes offered by House GOP leaders this week as they sought more support for their bill to partly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cost $186 billion more over 10 years compared to their initial version, according to a 10-page report from the nonpartisan scorekeeper.

The American Health Care Act is now expected to reduce the deficit by $150 billion over 10 years, a decrease from the $337 billion initially projected.And it still forecasts that 24 million fewer people will have insurance in a decade.

The estimated cost of premiums would also be about the same. CBO has predicted that the average premium for an individual plan would jump between 15 and 20 percent over the next two years. By 2026, premiums would be 10 percent lower than they would have been under current law.

The revisions, which were packed into a “manager’s amendment” on Monday, had been intended to win over more House Republicans. They included larger tax credits for older Americans, new restrictions on Medicaid expansion and an expedited repeal of Obamacare taxes.

Those changes had been expected to cost more than the GOP’s initial bill, though Republican leaders had hoped it would show that fewer people would lose coverage. The GOP’s package was thrown into doubt on Thursday, after House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled a planned vote on the measure.

Republicans are still reeling from the CBO’s initial estimate that found their plan would leave 24 million people uninsured over 10 years. The scorekeeper’s latest analysis leaves that estimate unchanged.

CBO did acknowledge that slightly fewer people would lose Medicaid coverage because of a change that would boost federal dollars for coverage for elderly and disabled beneficiaries. But the agency said that other Medicaid changes “would offset some of those effects.”

The decrease in savings is likely to draw fire from fiscal conservatives, without appeasing more moderate Republicans worried about millions of people losing their coverage.And none of the deficit reduction will kick in until after President Donald Trump’s first term in office. In fact,the GOP’s bill will add $104.7 billion to the deficit through 2020, according to CBO.

The costliest changes would come from repealing Obamacare’s taxes one year earlier — a total of $137 billion over a decade. The Medicaid changes would cost $41 billion over a decade.

House Republicans had planned to take up their health care bill Thursday, but that vote was scuttled after a last-minute meeting between Trump and the Freedom Caucus failed to secure the needed votes.

The CBO score does present a procedural challenge, if and when the bill is revived in the House.

Under budget rules, lawmakers can’t propose any amendment to a reconciliation bill that would lower the amount of deficit reduction. That rule will need to be waived in the House Rules Committee, or Democrats could call a “point of order” to strip out that language from the bill.

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TRUMP DECLINE

It appears that more than half of the voters living in the United States today seem to have their opinions of GOP Presidential 2016 candidate Donald Trump on quite an incline. This differs dramatically from what has been seen towards the end of 2015 and all throughout 2016, in which nominee Mr. Trump had quite a strong and wide level of followers and fans across the nation and even in some parts of the globe internationally. Mr. Trump has certainly lost his popularity quite a bit, and that will strongly affect him in this long run for President of the United States of America…..will he make it? Will he be able to hang on and increase in the polls once again, rising to potential new and pre-existing levels? It seems that only time will tell. We as citizens of this great country must indeed wait and be patient, and of course, go out there & vote! The future of the nation depends on it, whether great or small. One vote is all.

According to an online web site news source which may be retrieved and read in full here (http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/297383-poll-nearly-half-of-voters-think-trump-will-detonate-a), I do quote:

“Sixty-five percent said that there would be race riots in major cities during a Trump administration, and 44 percent believe Trump would authorize internment camps for illegal immigrants.Those views are also held by a significant number of voters who are Trump supporters.” (pg. 1)

The most fascinating part of this news source online content here, in my opinion, is the mere fact that such voters here listed include those who were great supporters of Trump to begin with….and in the earlier run of things. This is truly fascinating when you stop to reflect and truly think about it, because it makes you wonder……if this is from those within his support base, fan base, and own administration, then it begs a question which we all need to seriously ask. That question is: who outside of these areas agrees with such views and loss of optimistic potential overall outlook towards the candidate? Few and far between, it seems to be…..only few and far between now remain. I believe that Mr. Trump has lost a serious amount of followers and voters, as time tells.

David Giertz Elaborates the Benefits of Social Security

A study conducted by Nationwide Financial showed that a lot of people who have retired or are approaching retirement, misunderstand the concept of social security. According to experts at https://twitter.com/davidgiertz, this could mean more taxes and less income for the people who have already retired. The study also indicated that financial advisors refrain from speaking with their clients about the topic of Social Security.

Interview with Veronica Dagher

David Giertz, who currently works as the senior vice president of sales and distribution at Nationwide Financials, spoke to Veronica Dagher about this. She writes the Wealth Advisor column of the Wall Street Journal. Giertz said that it is important that people create a retirement plan that takes into account maximizing Social Security benefits on Vimeo.

David Giertz pointed out that the survey showed that a third of the people who had retired were getting a benefit that was less than what they expected. The survey also indicated that about 80 percent of people would consider changing their financial advisor if they did not speak to them about social security.

Due to the complexity of Social Security, most financial advisors tend to shy away from discussing that issue with their clients. Social Security is so complex that the Social Security handbook has an astonishing 2700 rules on soundcloud.com. Giertz also said that people should time correctly. If Social Security is taken too early, one can run the risk of losing thousands of dollars during their retirement.

About David Giertz

Giertz is based in Dublin, Ohio. He has over 30 years in his career as a Financial Planner. David started his successful career at Skokie Federal Savings in 1988.

Between then and the year 2006, David has worked in executive positions for very many firms. FINRA lists David as a registered broker. He has attempted and passed four certifications over the course of his career.

Nunes claims some Trump transition messages were intercepted

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes declared Wednesday that members of Donald Trump’s transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under inadvertent surveillance following November’s presidential election.

The White House and Trump’s allies immediately seized on the statement as vindication of the president’s much-maligned claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower phones — even though Nunes himself said that’s not what his new information shows.

Democrats, meanwhile, cried foul.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, cast doubt on Nunes’ claims in a fiery statement and blasted the chairman for not first sharing the information with him or other committee members.

Schiff also slammed Nunes for briefing the White House on Wednesday afternoon given that the Intelligence Committee is in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion with the Trump team.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff said at a news conference Wednesday.

“And unfortunately,” he added, “I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.”

Nunes set off the firestorm with a news conference earlier in the day in which he described the surveillance of Trump aides through what’s called “incidental collection,” something he noted was routine and legal. Such collection can occur when a person inside the United State communicates with a foreign target of U.S. surveillance. In such cases, the identities of U.S. citizens are supposed to be shielded — but can be “unmasked” by intelligence officials under certain circumstances.

Nunes, himself a Trump transition member, said a “source” had shown him evidence that members of the Trump transition team had been unmasked — and that their identities had been revealed in U.S. intelligence reports. Nunes had previously raised questions about the unmasking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whose communications with Russia’s ambassador were intercepted by the U.S. government and whose identity was leaked to the news media.

Nunes suggested this unmasking might have been done for political reasons, saying the evidence he had seen had been widely disseminated across the intelligence community and had “little or no apparent intelligence value.” He added that he was trying to get more information by Friday from the FBI, CIA and NSA.

“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” the California Republican told reporters. “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.” He said the information he had seen was not related to the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Nunes said intelligence reports discussed “high-level people in the Trump transition.” He also said he was not in possession of the new evidence, but that he hoped the intelligence agencies would provide it to his panel through official means and that other committee members would be able to review it.

“I was able to view it,” he said. “It’s not in my possession.”

Later in the day, Schiff said Nunes’ claims might not be all that they appear.

“In my conversation late this afternoon, the chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties,” Schiff said. “This does not indicate that there was any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. person’s name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information.”

Other Democrats also took issue with Nunes’ decision to go straight to Trump.
Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Nunes’ trip to the White House “raises all sorts of questions.”

“What if it’s one of the president’s people who is being investigated?” the Connecticut Democrat said in an interview. “Is he going to damage the investigation? It all feels very, very odd.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), another member of the intelligence panel, said he was “troubled.”

“The House Intelligence Committee is charged with investigating Russia’s interference into our election and whether any U.S. persons were involved,” Swalwell said in a statement. “The chairman’s actions and closeness to a president whose campaign is under federal investigation have gravely damaged the Investigation’s credibility.”

At the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer read from Nunes’ statement during a press briefing, showing how eager Trump’s team was to amplify the remarks.

A political action committee associated with Trump, the Great America PAC, sent out a mass fundraising email claiming Trump’s wiretapping claims had proved accurate. Donald Trump Jr. also posted a message to Instagram crowing about Nunes’ comments.

And Trump himself said at the White House that he feels “somewhat” vindicated.

During his press briefing, Nunes said he did not know yet whether the Trump transition officials who were “unmasked” were communicating from Trump Tower. Earlier this month, Trump claimed in a series of Tweets that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of the phones at Trump Tower — something Nunes reiterated on Wednesday he had no evidence of.

The White House has sought to recast Trump’s original tweets not as a specific claim about Obama ordering a wiretap but as a general reference to all possible surveillance of Trump aides.

Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the information on Wednesday morning before heading to the White House to brief the president.

His committee is set to hold a public hearing next Tuesday with members of the Obama administration, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump in January after refusing to defend his first travel ban executive order in court.

They are almost certain to face questions on the matter.

FBI Director James Comey appeared before the panel on Monday and confirmed that the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation in July into Russia’s election meddling, including possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

Martin Matishak, Madeline Conway and Kelsey Sutton contributed to this report.

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Trump: I feel ‘somewhat’ vindicated on wiretap claim after Nunes’ statement

President Donald Trump said he felt “somewhat” vindicated on his wiretapping claims against former President Barack Obama after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he had seen evidence that members of the Trump transition teams were surveilled following November’s election.

“I must tell you, I somewhat do,” Trump said. “I very much appreciated the fact they found what they found.”

Nunes briefed the White House on his findings Wednesday afternoon and said it is “possible” that Trump was correct in what he tweeted if he was referring to broader surveillance.

Earlier on Wednesday, Nunes told reporters that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under U.S. government surveillance following the election.

Nunes said the monitoring appeared to be done legally as a result of what’s called “incidental collection,” adding that he was concerned because it was not related to the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election.

“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” Nunes told reporters. “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.”

However, when asked by reporters if Obama tapped Trump’s’ phones, Nunes said “that never happened.”

Without citing evidence, Trump had tweeted earlier this month, “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” The White House has since not presented any specific details to support the claim.

Nunes said there will be more information by Friday.

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Schiff questions if Nunes is acting as ‘surrogate of the White House’

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, questioned on Wednesday whether the panel’s Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is acting as a “surrogate of the White House.”

Earlier on Wednesday, in what was apparently a surprise to his fellow committee members, Nunes held a news conference and then briefed President Donald Trump on what he said was evidence that members of Trump’s transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under U.S. government surveillance following November’s presidential election. He told reporters that the monitoring appears to have been carried out legally.

At his own news conference later that afternoon, Schiff sharply criticized Nunes, given that his committee is in the middle of an active investigation that includes the question of whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia’s suspected attempts to meddle in last year’s election.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff told reporters.

Nunes, a Trump ally on Capitol Hill, also advised the president’s campaign and transition team on national security issues.

“And unfortunately,” Schiff added, “I think the actions of today throw great doubt into the ability of both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.”

Schiff then called for what many Democrats have been demanding for weeks: an outside commission to investigate the suspected Russian election interference.

Nunes had told reporters earlier Wednesday that the monitoring seems to have been legal “incidental collection,” which sometimes happens when an American is communicating with a foreign national under U.S. surveillance. But Nunes raised concerns that the identities of Trump transition officials whose communications were monitored this way may have been inappropriately “unmasked,” or named in intelligence reports.

Schiff emphasized to reporters that Nunes had brought forth no evidence to suggest that there was ever a wiretap of Trump Tower, as the president has repeatedly alleged without evidence. Several top officials, including FBI Director James Comey, have publicly refuted the explosive allegation, but Trump has not retracted it, and he suggested Wednesday that he felt “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes’ statements.

Though he was very critical of Nunes at the press conference, Schiff would not say whether Nunes revealed classified information by announcing his findings to reporters before and after his meeting with Trump. Instead, he focused on chastising the chairman for hurting the committee’s legitimacy.

“I’m not prepared to say that what the chairman said was classified or unclassified,” Schiff said. “I would say that the most profound concern here I have is that these actions simply raise enormous doubt about whether the committee can do its work. And I think that more than anything else I’ve seen, this makes the most profound case for the formation of an independent commission.”

Additionally, Schiff wondered aloud whether Nunes’ actions were “part of a broader campaign by the White House aimed to deflect from the director’s testimony earlier this week.”

The FBI chief testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday at a hearing that was widely viewed as very politically damaging to Trump. Comey publicly confirmed for the first time that the FBI is actively investigating the Trump campaign’s links to Russia and whether there was any coordination between the two parties on the cyberattacks that disrupted the presidential election. Trump’s campaign has denied any such wrongdoing.

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