Alayna Treene

The takeaways from Spicer's Thursday briefing

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

It's voting day for the GOP's Obamacare repeal and replace plan, and the Republicans don't currently have the votes, but Spicer insists that the AHCA bill "will pass." He also reiterated yesterday's claims that Trump is a "closer" and that there is no plan B on the healthcare bill — only plan A.

  • Will Trump take responsibility if the plan fails? "At the end of the day we can't force somebody to vote."
  • Can the White House guarantee no Trump associates colluded with Russia? "No I cannot unequivocally say that," he said, while slamming CNN's reporting on the topic: "You don't have anything concrete."
  • Nunes briefing Trump: "I believe that the information he brought to the president was new," said Spicer, later adding that "the substance should be troubling to everybody."

Disney CEO Bob Iger extends contract through 2019

Evan Agostini/ Invision via AP

Bob Iger — who's rumored to be eyeing a bid for the 2020 presidential election — has extended his contract with Walt Disney through July 2019, an extension of one year beyond his previously pushed back retirement date.

The company said in its Thursday release that the extra year reflects Iger's record of success, but also the lack of a clear successor. Iger has served as Disney's CEO for 11 years.


House Intel Chair apologizes behind closed doors

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to committee members for going to the media and President Trump about his statement regarding the alleged "incidental collection" of surveillance on the Trump transition team before briefing Democrats on the intelligence committee, according to a Democratic member on the committee.

Rep. Jackie Speier said on Thursday that Nunes promised to share his information with the committee, although he declined to give a timeline on that action.

In an interview with NBC News, Nunes also experienced regret on his actions the other day:

It's a judgment call on my part. At the end of the day sometime[s] you make the right decision, and sometimes you don't.

Ford owners can now order Starbucks through Amazon's Alexa

Brad K / Flickr cc

At its annual shareholders meeting in Seattle Wednesday, Starbucks announced that Ford vehicles, equipped with the lastest Sync3 infotainment technology, will be able to order and pay for their coffee by connecting to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, per GeekWire.

In January, Starbucks announced that customers could start making their orders by saying, "Alexa, order my Starbucks." Ford also began rolling out its interactive relationship with Amazon in January by allowing hybrid and electric car owners to control their vehicles from inside their homes using Alexa-enabled devices.

Why it matters: It's another example of Alexa's expanding reach as Amazon tries to find new ways for consumers to engage with the digital voice assistant technology. This summer, the automaker will expand the integration by adding Alexa to its SYNC 3 in-car technology — allowing drivers to press a button to ask for driving directions, sports scores and anything else Alexa would normally do.


The highlights from Spicer's Wednesday briefing

Evan Vucci / AP

Spicer opened the briefing with comments about the terrorist attack in London, noting that President Trump has spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Theresa May and has condemned the attacks.

  • Devin Nunes statement: Spicer read from the statement delivered Wednesday by House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, who said "sources" told him of "incidental collection" of surveillance on the Trump transition team. Spicer added that Nunes "went down and spoke to the media before he spoke to us."
  • On the AHCA vote: "We're not looking at a plan B, there's only plan A... and we're gonna get this done." He called Trump a "closer" and added that he's confident the House bill will pass tomorrow.
  • Paul Manafort's ties to Russia: Spicer gave a lengthy answer, emphasizing that Manafort's work for a Russian billionaire was "a decade ago." As for whether Trump knew? "Of course he didn't!" said Spicer. It'd be "insane" to think the president would have known all of his past clients.
  • Can you confirm no one in the WH is working for a foreign government? "I can confirm every form has been filled out," said Spicer.

Rare survey finds Cubans are hungry for stronger U.S. ties

Fernando Medina / AP

A rare survey of 840 Cubans, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, revealed that many Cubans are clamoring for more economic opportunity, a chance to leave Cuba, and a new era of normalized relations with the U.S., per the N.Y. Times. Of those interviewed:

  • More than half said they would like to leave the country if given a chance, and 70% of those individuals said they would move to the U.S. if they could.
  • 55% felt better relations with the U.S. would be a good thing, while only 3% felt it would be bad.
  • 95% said having a high level of economic growth was an extremely important goal, but only 30% felt the Cuban economy will improve in the next 3 years.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has said it's conducting a full review of its Cuba policy, and the president may choose to cut ties with the country again.

Elon Musk: Trump's NASA bill does nothing for Mars mission

Evan Vucci / AP

Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to shoot down claims that President Trump's NASA bill, signed Tuesday, will help make his SpaceX's mission to Mars a reality. When Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode, originally tweeted that Trump's $20 billion in funding would leave Musk "smiling", Musk hit back:

"I am not. This bill changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars... Perhaps there will be some future bill that makes a difference for Mars, but this is not it."

Note: SpaceX is currently working in collaboration with NASA under a $1.6 billion contract. Its ultimate goal is to enable space travel to, and the colonization of, Mars.


Sears considers bankruptcy

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Sears, once the largest U.S. retailer, said that there is "substantial doubt" that it will be able to remain open, reports the AP. Company shares, which hit an all-time low last month, tumbled more than 5% in early trading Wednesday.

CEO Edward Lampert's hedge fund has sent millions in funding to try and keep Sears afloat, but the declining sales have brought the company into too deep a hole.

According to its most recent regulatory filing late Tuesday, Sears lost more than $2 billion last year.


North Korea missile launch failed "within seconds"

Wong Maye-E / AP

North Korea attempted a missile launch Wednesday morning on the country's east coast, but it failed almost immediately, U.S. military officials and South Korea said.

"A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch," U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said in a statement. "We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea's actions closely."

The attempted launch came just 4 days after North Korea announced it had tested a new rocket engine, describing it as a "great leap forward" in their missile program.