Mar 30, 2017

Trump's surprise: calls CBC's Cummings three times to strategize

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

How serious is President Trump about drug prices? Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings tells me that Trump has called him three times to follow up on their conversation at the White House earlier this month. And Trump's not just talking about letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, Cummings says. It's even worse for Republicans — because Trump is also talking about importing cheaper drugs from other countries.

Why it matters: Trump has said many times he wants to do something about drug prices, and has terrified both the pharmaceutical industry and free-market Republicans with his talk of doing more price negotiations. They assume that means allowing the government, through Medicare, to directly negotiate prices. But if price negotiations are Enemy #1 of prescription drug policy for Republicans, Enemy #2 is allowing importation of drugs from abroad — which Trump also wants to do.

"We came in talking about Medicare, being able to negotiate. And he was saying he wants something even broader," Cummings said. "Then the other thing that we weren't even talking about, was...importation. And then he brought that up, and how ridiculous it was to go to Canada and buy something for $100 and come in the United States and buy it for $900. I think he just sees it as a principle, you know, the idea that, as he said, they're getting away with murder."

Bottom line: "He understands the policy, he gets it," Cummings said. (Democrats introduced a new bill yesterday with those policies and others.)

Go deeper

Warren sees bump in national poll following Nevada debate

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surged to 19% and second place in a CBS News/YouGov national poll released Sunday, trailing front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (28%) but edging out Joe Biden (17%) and Michael Bloomberg (13%).

Why it matters: The poll notes that only 42% of Democratic primary voters have made up their minds. While Warren underperformed in the first three states, her strong debate performance in Nevada last week may have given her campaign new life.

Pence aide says intel report of Russia helping Trump is "false information"

Marc Short. Screenshot: Fox News

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House has not received intelligence that Russia is seeking to help President Trump win re-election, calling it "false information" that has been selectively leaked by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: Short and national security adviser Robert O'Brien both dismissed reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times last week about a briefing provided by top election security official Shelby Pierson, an aide to outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.