Welcome to Trump Today, a one-stop entry point for the latest news on the 45th president of the United States.
FBI Director James Comey made headlines twice in one congressional hearing Monday. He told the House intelligence committee that neither his agency nor the Justice Department had any information supporting President Donald J. Trump’s wild claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
At the same hearing, he confirmed that his agency is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and Trump associates. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the committee laid out a list of troubling contacts in his opening statement. Other Democrats joined in with other questions. A White House spokesman called Schiff’s statement a “diatribe” filled with “mistruths.”
Something to watch: In the late afternoon, the Republican president plans to fly to Louisville, Ky., for a “Make America Great Again” rally. Could he speak out about the Russian cloud over the White House and his wiretap claim?
Confirmation hearings got off to a confrontational start for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Democrats angrily condemned Republicans for blocking Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics.
“Presidents always travel,” said Trump spokesman Sean Spicer in response to questions about Trump’s travel to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he has spent five of the last seven weekends. The travel is costing taxpayers millions. Trump and his staff are also secretive about how much golf he is playing while in the Sunshine State. During the campaign, he said he would be too busy as president to golf.
Republicans are hoping to ram their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act through the House with a vote Thursday, but it’s still a work in progress, and doubters need to be persuaded. Speaker Paul Ryan, seeking to shore up support among moderate lawmakers, said he would seek changes to provide more help to older people.
The White House said Trump held various meetings while in Florida, including some on North Korea. Trump told reporters Sunday on Air Force One as he headed back to Washington that dictator Kim Jong Un was “acting very, very badly.” North Korea, which wants to be a nuclear power, trumpeted Sunday that it had conducted a rocket engine test of “historic significance.”
Massachusetts Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke out against the Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination in a Globe opinion piece.
Trump’s schedule included meetings with tech titan Bill Gates, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He was also to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, and Dr. Zeke Emanuel. Emanuel is an interesting pick. He’s an architect of the Affordable Care Act who has been critical of the GOP bill to replace it.
Trump was also slated to have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence. In the late afternoon, he will jet to Louisville to bask in the adoration of his supporters.
What’s he been tweeting?
Trump went on the offensive on Twitter Monday morning, issuing what appeared to be a preemptive tweetstorm in advance of the Comey hearing. He claimed that the Democrats “made up and pushed” the story about contacts between his campaign and Russia. He also suggested that the real story was the leaking of information.
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
On Saturday, he proclaimed that his meeting went well on Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He said the United States must be paid more for the defense it provides Germany, but experts say that’s not how it works.
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
...vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
Checking the facts
Did Trump and his administration stick to the truth last week? Here’s a fact-check.
Trump may have pitched himself as a populist, promising to help the “forgotten men and women.” But the Republican agenda in Trump’s Washington is driven by hard-line conservative doctrine about starving the beast of government, slashing programs for the needy, and handing out tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, the Globe’s Annie Linskey and Victoria McGrane report.
Yet more headlines
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an appearance with Chinese President Xi Jinping of China that the United States looked forward to stronger ties with China. Tillerson took a more diplomatic tack than Trump, who complained Friday in a tweet that China had “done little to help” keep North Korea from becoming a nuclear power.
A Hawaii federal judge turned down a Justice Department request to clarify his temporary order blocking Trump’s revised travel ban. The judge said nothing was unclear about his order.
New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, a friend of Trump’s, flew back from Florida to Washington with him on Sunday.
At the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston, it’s always good to have someone to roast. Guess who was the butt of many a joke this year.
Recent security breaches at the White House, including a March 10 incident where a man spent 17 minutes on the grounds, are raising questions. Also, in New York, a laptop with sensitive security information on it was stolen from a Secret Service agent.
The telltale glove
A Trump aide said Saturday the president may have hit a few balls at Mar-a-Lago. Reporters inquired after Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of conservative Newsmax Media, posted this tweet, which showed Trump with a golf glove on posing with two other men. Peter Flaherty, one of the other two men, is a long-time Mitt Romney adviser and also consulted with Scott Brown on his 2010 campaign.
The US attorney for Manhattan who was fired last week by the Trump administration was leading a probe into US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, according to a new report from the investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica.
President Trump’s proposed budget would strip Massachusetts of nearly $1 billion in federal funding for research, clean energy, education, and social services programs, according to Democratic Senator Ed Markey, the Globe’s Tyler Pager reports.
Do we need some zebras? John Oliver tore into Trump’s budget proposal on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” He also suggested adding zebras to news events to lighten the mood.
The Merkel news conference
Here’s the video of that joint news conference Trump held Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that continued to make news on Monday. Go to 22:30 on the video to see the exchange in which Trump makes the joke about having “something in common” with Merkel, apparently implying that they had both been wiretapped.
The weekly address
Trump compared himself with president Andrew Jackson and again promised to help the “forgotten men and women” in his weekly address.