Stef W. Kight
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Today's Trump Top 5: Undoing Obama's climate legacy

Welcome to today's Trump Top 5, brought to you by Axios and Apple News. With Trumpcare in the past (for now), Trump and Republicans are pressing forward. Subscribe to our newsletters here and check out our news Stream here to stay informed.

1. Trump signs executive order on climate

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Today at the EPA President Trump acted on a pledge to unravel several parts of the Obama-era climate change push. He signed an executive order that will:

  • Begin undoing the EPA Clean Power Plan than mandates cuts in carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
  • Undo several policies that made climate change a factor in federal decisions, such as the Obama administration's tally of a metric called the social cost of carbon.
  • End an Interior Department policy that froze issuance of new coal leases on federal lands.
  • Reconsider EPA and Interior rules that govern oil-and-gas development.
  • Make several other policy changes, which we describe here.

Why it might not matter: Fossil fuel production is pretty resilient to policy shifts unless they really mess with the underlying market fundamentals.

What's next: Bureaucracy, and lawsuits.

More on Trump's EPA plans, here.

2. Two birds with one stone


Richard Shotwell / AP

The Trump administration is looking at driving tax reform AND infrastructure concurrently, a White House source told Axios' Jonathan Swan. It's a major strategic shift — infrastructure was likely going to be parked until next year — and is only possible because of last week's healthcare debacle.

Why: Trump needs fast victories and infrastructure is something that's big, flashy, and potentially bipartisan.

"Infrastructure is always something, you can see it, you can feel it, you can taste it....for them to be able to go back home and say, 'hey, we're going to get this done, this bridge, this transit system, this roadway, this whatever the infrastructure piece, it's coming.'" - Rep. Bill Shuster, who would steer Trump's infrastructure package through the House, to Axios.

More on the infrastructure & budget plans, here.

3. Where the budget cuts hit

Charles Dharapak / AP

The NIH: The White House's spending proposal included a NIH cut of $1.23 billion. Top Republicans said they'd push back on these cuts, but now their day of reckoning with Trump might come earlier than they originally thought.

More on NIH cuts, here.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Rural Americans would be most affected by Trump's proposal to pull funding from the CPB, as more than 65% of the its federal funding goes to keeping rural PBS and NPR stations running. 70% of Americans oppose eliminating the CPB, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

More on how the budget cut will affect the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, here.

4. Fired then blocked

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The White House reportedly attempted to block former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired early on in the Trump administration, from testifying about ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia, the Washington Post reports.

Sean Spicer has called the report "entirely false".

Read more on this saga, here.

5. One fun thing

During today's press briefing, Sean Spicer claimed that people would claim there was a Russia connection if Trump used Russian salad dressing, to which White House reporter April Ryan began shaking her head.

Spicer then told Ryan to stop shaking her head, and she subtweeted back. Watch the video and see the tweet, here.

For more smart brevity, check out the Axios news STREAM and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Today's Trump Top 5: Shutdown watch begins...

Happy Monday! Welcome back to today's Trump Top 5, brought to you by Axios and Apple News, did you miss us? Subscribe to our newsletters here and check out our news Stream here.

1. Planned Parenthood & a government shutdown

Brennan Linsley / AP

With Trumpcare's defeat last week, conservatives are now focusing their efforts on defunding Planned Parenthood. This will be a long fight, which could ultimately shut down the government in less than a month.

What you need to know:

  • The current continuing resolution to fund the government expires on April 28.
  • The conservative House Freedom Caucus — the group Trump blamed on Twitter on Sunday for killing his Obamacare replacement bill — will almost certainly make defunding the women's health group and country's biggest abortion provider a non-negotiable condition for it to support the government funding bill.
  • That's a big problem. There's no way a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood gets 60 votes in the Senate.

It's getting hardly any media attention, but a government shutdown caused by quarrels over Planned Parenthood funding is the most immediate emergency confronting the Trump administration.

For more on the situation faced by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Trump, read Jonathan Swan's piece, here.

And for a grim preview of what's to come, read Mike Allen's piece, here.

2. Kushner's SWAT team

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Trump will unveil a White House "SWAT team" tomorrow, to be led by Jared Kushner and designed to bring ideas and expertise from the business world to government, according to the Washington Post.

Key tasks: Overhaul care for veterans, fight opioid addiction, burnish Trump's legacy, potentially privatize some aspects of government.

Key players: Kushner, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Ivanka (sort of), Chris Liddell, Reed Cornish and Andrew Brembeg —working with the likes of Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Elon Musk and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.

Read what Trump and Kushner have to say about the venture here.

3. How much single-sex bathroom laws cost

Gerry Broome / AP

North Carolina's HB2 "bathroom bill" limiting LGBT rights will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over 12 years, estimates the AP.

But HB2 supporters argue they're willing to absorb the costs. "The effect is minimal to the state," said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a stringent defender of the bill. "This issue is not about the economy. This issue is about privacy, safety and security in the most vulnerable places we go."

4. Kushner & Nunes & Russia

Jared Kushner is being summoned before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer questions on his meetings with Russian officials and Kremlin-linked businessmen, the NYT first reported.

Details on his Russia connections, here.

House Intel Chair Devin Nunes confirmed with CNN's Jake Tapper that he was on White House grounds the day before his explosive claim of evidence that Trump campaign members were spied on by the Obama administration.

Why it matters, here.

2 fun things

Manuel Balce Ceneta, Jose Luis Magana / AP

1) We took a look at how Trump and Obama handled themselves differently on party invites, golf games, the White House Correspondent's Dinner, the Super Bowl, celebrities and more. One example: The elitist Alfalfa Club party, which Obama joked at in 2009, but Trump declined to even go, sending Mike Pence instead.

2) Here is a video of Trump sitting at a small desk. Quote: "It's a child's desk... It's the smallest desk I've ever seen," he joked.

For other news in healthcare, politics, technology and business, check out the Axios STREAM here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The skyrocketing costs of tuition and textbooks

After inflation, the cost of textbooks has almost doubled over the last 20 years, and the cost of college education has increased more than any other consumer good or service — by a long shot, according to the American Enterprise Institute. Tuition has almost tripled since 1996.

Why? Mark J. Perry from AEI suggests the growing number of college administrators being hired at higher salaries is to blame for the dramatic rise in college costs.

Image from Mark Perry's Carpe Diem and AEI


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Today's Trump Top 5: What comes after Trumpcare

Welcome to today's Trump Top 5, brought to you by Axios and Apple News. Subscribe to our newsletters here and check out our news Stream here.

1. Trumpcare is dead

Evan Vucci / AP

Despite Spicer's optimism, the House Obamacare repeal and replacement bill failed to advance to a vote in the House this afternoon, a stunning defeat for a party that campaigned on repeal for the last seven years.

President Trump called Speaker Ryan at 3pm today, asking him to pull the bill, according to a House leadership aide. According to New York Magazine and Breitbart, Steve Bannon wasn't too supportive of the bill anyway.

But now that it's done, Republicans face uncertainty on getting rid of Obamacare, a Trump said he's done negotiating... at least for now. Read Caitlin Owens' story for more.

2. Ryan's reaction

Alex Brandon / AP

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan briefed reporters within an hour of Trump calling off the vote on the GOP repeal and replace plan:

"We came really close today, but we came up short...I told [Trump] that the best thing I think to do is pull the bill."

On how it failed: "We did everything we could to get consensus. This is how governing works when you're in the majority."

His take on Trump: Trump was "fantastic" in a losing effort.

Read more from Ryan's presser, here.

3. Russia & wiretapping are live stories

Russia: Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, volunteered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on his connections to Russia, according to Chairman Devin Nunes. This comes after reports of his past work with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to benefit Vladimir Putin's agenda.

Wiretapping: Meanwhile, House intelligence member Adam Schiff slammed Nunes for going to the White House alleging Trump was inappropriately surveilled before sharing the information with the committee.

"All of us are essentially in the dark... to take evidence that may or may not be related to the investigation to the White House is wholly inappropriate... and cast grave doubts about the intelligence community's ability to run a credible investigation."

4. Pipeline gets the green light

Evan Vucci

This morning, the Trump administration issued a presidential permit to TransCanada to build Keystone XL.

What's next: The years-long fight over the pipeline that would bring crude oil from Alberta's oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries will probably enter uncharted waters soon — a court challenge from groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.

Read about other possible hurdles, here.

5. Trump's "perfect genes"

Stef W. Kight / Axios

At an Axios event this morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Mike Allen that Trump has great stamina:

"He's got perfect genes. He has incredible energy and he's unbelievably healthy."

When asked if he was concerned about artificial intelligence's impact on jobs, Mnuchin claimed it was "not even on our radar screen… 50-100 more years" away, which left technology communities dumbfounded.

Read here for what Mnuchin said about Trump's diet and lifestyle and here for the highlights of the interview.

THANK YOU for reading! For more, check out the Axios STREAM here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Today's Trump Top 5: Trumpcare grinds to a halt

Welcome to today's Trump Top 5, brought to you by Axios and Apple News. Subscribe to our newsletters here and check out our news Stream here.

1. Trumpcare trouble

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Today's was supposed to be the day — Obamacare turned 7 and Trump tried to repeal it. Instead, House Representatives postponed the vote, which was planned for tonight.

The tally: Trump and Paul Ryan can lose no more than 22 Republican votes for the American Health Care Act to pass the House tonight. This morning, we counted 28. We hunted down every whip count out there, and they all spelled bad news.

Fight to the end: That didn't stop Trump from trying. He met with the House Freedom Caucus to try to win some "yes" votes, but failed to reach a deal.

Read more on Trump's last minute effort to win votes, here.

And read the new Congressional Budget Office estimates that just arrived. (Spoiler: they aren't pretty).

2. More for the rich, less for the poor

If (somehow) it passed, the Obamacare replacement would cut both Obamacare's taxes and benefits. Because of this, families with incomes less than $50,000 in 2022 would be worse off, while families making more would be better off, the Urban Institute finds.

Axios' Caitlin Owens figured out that the poorest ⅓ of families are disadvantaged by "Trumpcare," middle-income families are slightly better off and those making more than $200,000 a year — about 8% of families — benefit the most.

Read why this would happen, here.

3. Americans aren't lovin' it

Ross D. Franklin / AP

The new Quinnipiac poll found the GOP's health care plan to be highly unpopular…
  • 17% approve of the plan, with 53% opposed.
  • Among Republicans, 41% support and 24% oppose. Just 3% of Dems support it.
  • 14% of Americans believe they'll lose their coverage if the plan becomes law.

4. Dems pounce on the House Intel Chair

Susan Walsh / AP

More fallout from House Intel Chair Devin Nunes claiming publicly that Trump transition members were surveilled during the Obama administration:
  • Nunes apologized behind closed doors today, according to Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat on the committee.
  • He also told NBC News: "At the end of the day sometime[s] you make the right decision, and sometimes you don't."
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ripped into Nunes, saying he was "either duped or a willing stooge" for Trump.
  • Pelosi added: "What are the Republicans afraid of? The truth? This is very serious because it has an impact on our national security."

5. Trump quotes

Evan Vucci / AP

In an interview out this morning for TIME (whose new cover asks "Is Truth Dead?"), President Trump was asked about the risk to his reputation caused by false and ever-changing utterances:

"Hey, look, I can't be doing so badly, because I'm President and you're not."

Other hot quotes:

  • On accusing President Obama of wiretapping: "I'm a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. I have articles saying that it happened."
  • On his unsubstantiated claim that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally: "When I say that, mostly they register wrong. In other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/ or illegally. I'm forming a committee on it."
  • On Sweden: "I was right about that."
Read Mike Allen's piece on Trump's "my way" mentality here and other Trump TIME quotes here.

BONUS: Trump the trucker

Andrew Harnik / AP

Trump welcomed truckers and CEOs to the White House this afternoon. He jumped into an 18-wheeler, honked the horn and sported a "I [heart] Trucks" pin.

Watch the video, here.

THANKS for reading! Refresh the Axios STREAM for updates on the Republican health care bill, and give Axios a follow on Twitter and Facebook.

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Obama praises Obamacare before the vote on its repeal


Rob Carr / AP

While Congress prepares to vote on the GOP health care bill which would repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Obama released a statement defending his hallmark legislation and celebrating the it's 7-year anniversary. He hailed the law's coverage of millions of Americans and refuted Trump's claims that Obamacare is a "job-killer" and in a "death spiral."

"So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they're prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals – that's something we all should welcome. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority."
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JCC bomb threat suspect arrested

Tina Macintyre-Yee / AP

Israeli police have a 19-year-old US-Israeli who is suspected making the bomb threats against Jewish community centers in U.S., according to the Associated Press and NBC News.

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Today’s Trump Top 5: Wiretapping saga revived

Welcome back to today's Trump Top 5, brought to you by Axios and Apple News. Subscribe to our newsletters here and check out our news Stream here for the news that matters written with smart brevity.

1. I spy...

Andrew Harnik / AP

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on Wednesday he was "alarmed" by news from "sources" of possible surveillance collected on the Trump transition team.

Nunes then went to the White House, where he briefed Trump and told reporters: "[T]he president needs to know these intelligence reports are out there and I have a duty to tell him that."

President Trump, told of the Nunes statements, said he felt "somewhat" vindicated.

For all the spying details, read Jonathan Swan's piece, here.

2. Trump camp managers + Russia billionaires

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

More Russia connections…

The AP unearthed a 2005 memo from Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In it, Manafort talked about boosting Vladimir Putin's agenda and undermining anti-Russian opposition across Europe, the U.S. and former Soviet republics.

Here's what the memo said and here's what Spicer had to say about it.

3. "No" is not an answer

Evan Vucci / AP

In the West Wing, the single biggest mistake President Trump has made is not elevating someone who can and will say "no" to him, and make it stick.

  • One discouraged confidant, worried that the Russia investigation will be a long-term problem, emailed Axios: "DJT has been sort of brilliant at times about navigating things. But... he was never held accountable by anyone."
  • The Daddy for today is burly economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the juiciest (and last) paragraph in a NYT piece: "In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. 'Let me finish,' Mr. Cohn interjected ... Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point."
For other instances of Trump not listening to "no," read Mike Allen's piece, here.

4. Bad news roundup


Andrew Harrer / AP

  1. The U.S. dollar has fallen close to 2% over the past week, nearly wiping out the "Trump rally."
  2. Trump's approval rating is 37% in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, his lowest ever. His rating fell among Republicans, white voters and men.
  3. Despite Trump's threats and his promise to consider reversing Obama's opening with Cuba, he still doesn't have the votes to pass Trumpcare tomorrow.
  4. The GOP can either walk away from Obamacare repeal promises, or vote to cover 24 million fewer people and potentially raise prices on seniors.
  5. North Korea attempted another missile launch this morning, but it failed almost immediately.

5. One fun thing

Rob Grioulx / Axios

ABC's Jonathan Karl has a knack for getting on Sean Spicer's nerves during the daily press briefings. Just this week, Spicer told him, "This isn't your briefing, calm down." And that's not the first time Spicer has singled out Karl...

Watch the montage here.

THANKS for reading! If you've enjoyed today's Trump Top 5, tap the heart icon at the bottom of your screen and check out the Axios news Stream here.

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Sean Spicer and Jonathan Karl, a montage

ABC's Jonathan Karl has a knack for getting on Sean Spicer's nerves during the daily press briefings. Just this week, Spicer told him, "This isn't your briefing, calm down." And that's not the first time Spicer has singled out Jonathan...

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Anti-Trump protests pay off for poster industry

Corey Perrine / AP

The week before the Women's March on Washington, poster board sales increased by 33% and foam boards sales by 42% (compared to the year before). Sales totaled $4.1 million, according to the Times. 6.5 million poster boards were sold in the month of January.

Specialty markers, permanent markers, glue and scissors got sales boosts as well.

BTW: Axios' Dan Primack called it.