POLITICS
03/17/2017 05:25 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Ich Bin Ein Humiliated

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the one time of year we celebrate white people. Donald Trump and other GOP leaders screwed up the holiday worse than all of the defense contractors named Zach partying at Rí Rá tonight...combined. And Trump’s meeting with Angela Merkel did not go so well. Suffice it to say, here’s a link to the German word “fremdschämen,” as we suspect it will come in handy. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 17th, 2017:

CHECKS AND BALANCES ARE NO FUN, CHECKS AND BALANCES HURT SOMEONE - Robert Faturechi: “Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office. Tom Price, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress. The Georgia lawmaker traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry. Price testified at the time that his trades were lawful and transparent. Democrats accused him of potentially using his office to enrich himself. One lawmaker called for an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing concerns Price could have violated the STOCK Act, a 2012 law signed by President Obama that clarified that members of Congress cannot use nonpublic information for profit and requires them to promptly disclose their trades.” [ProPublica]

JUST ONE INTERNATIONAL VISIT THAT ISN’T TERRIBLE, THAT’S ALL WE ASK, JUST ONE - Shout out to the livers of every member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Arthur Delaney and Amanda Terkel: “President Donald Trump said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘have something in common’ in having been allegedly wiretapped by former President Barack Obama…. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they have seen no evidence that backs up Trump’s claim. A German reporter asked Trump about his allegation on Friday during a joint press conference with Merkel at the White House. ‘As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,’ Trump said, to laughter in the room. Merkel looked at Trump but seemed to make an effort not to laugh or smile. In 2013, Merkel found out through leaks by former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden that the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone calls.” [HuffPost]

This was so bad, it even overshadowed Trump refusing to shake Merkel’s hand.

KELLYANNE CONWAY’S HUSBAND LANDS DOJ JOB - Bad news for the microwave surveillance industry. Aruna Viswanatha and Brent Kendall: “George Conway, the husband of senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, is set to be nominated to run the Justice Department’s civil division, according to people familiar with the matter, a job that would put him at the forefront defending the controversial immigration executive order and other lawsuits against the Trump administration. Mr. Conway, a partner at Wall Street law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, had also been in the running for other jobs at the Justice Department. He has worked on major securities law cases and deal litigation, according to his law firm biography.” [WSJ]

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MEET THE MERCERS: TRUMP’S OWN KOCH BROTHERS - Vicky Ward: “They believe Republican elites are too cozy with Wall Street and too soft on immigration, and that American free enterprise and competition are in mortal danger. ‘Bekah Mercer might be prepared to put a Democrat in Susan Collins’ seat simply to rid the party of Susan Collins,’ a family friend joked by way of illustrating her thinking. So intensely do the Mercers want to unseat Republican senator John McCain that they gave $200,000 to support an opposing candidate who once held a town hall meeting to discuss chemtrails – chemicals, according to a long-standing conspiracy theory, that the federal government is spraying on the public without its knowledge. In short, unlike other donors, the Mercers are not merely angling to influence the Republican establishment – they want to obliterate it.” [HuffPost]

ADMINISTRATION APOLOGIZES TO WORLD LEADER IN APOLOGY EXPORTS - Donald Trump doing his part to reduce the apology deficit. Elizabeth Piper and Michael Holden: “The White House has assured the UK Government that allegations that Britain’s GCHQ spied on Donald Trump will not be repeated, Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman has said. The charge, made on Tuesday by Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, that the UK’s signals intelligence agency GCHQ had helped Obama to wiretap Trump after his victory in last year’s U.S. presidential election, was ‘ridiculous,’ the spokesman said. H.R. McMaster, national security advisor, and press secretary Sean Spicer both conveyed their apologies, according to several news outlets. But the White House denied having apologized on Friday…On the ‘Fox & Friends’ program, Napolitano, a political commentator and former New Jersey judge, said that rather than ordering U.S. agencies to spy on Trump, Obama had obtained transcripts of Trump’s conversations from GCHQ so there were “no American fingerprints” on it.” [Reuters/HuffPost]

STEVEWORKS4BRIBES (ALLEGEDLY) - This year’s Tom Delay Award For Achievements In Clichéd Texas Political Behavior goes to the former congressman. Phil Archer: “Steve Stockman, who served two stints in the U.S. House of Representatives, spent part of Friday in federal court. Stockman, a Tea Party favorite who courted controversy thorough two congressional terms, was brought into court Thursday shackled and handcuffed. He is accused of conspiring to violate federal election laws during his last term in office. It’s a felony that could send him to federal prison if he’s convicted. As Stockman stood before the judge Thursday afternoon, prosecutors alleged that the former Congressman had conspired with two former employees to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to his personal use. When the judge told Stockman he needed to obtain an attorney by Friday, the following exchange ensued:

Stockman: You said 2 o’clock tomorrow? I should have counsel by two?

Judge: Yes.

Stockman: I’ll have to hustle with that.

Judge: Yeah, you will. These are serious charges.” [KPRC]

Stop being so narcissistic, Earth: “Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, told Congress that climate change was a serious national security threat, a driver of global instability that ‘requires a broader, whole-of-government response.’ Trump’s budget promptly launched a whole-of-government attack on climate and clean energy programs, including NASA climate research it dismissed as overly ‘Earth-centric.’” [Politico’s Michael Grunwald]

DEMS GOING FOR UPSET IN GEORGIA 6TH - This district typically goes Republican ― ones with so many corinthian column’d McMansions typically do – but dissatisfaction with The Donald runs deep. From Eliot’s dispatch: “Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won this district by over 20 points in 2012, yet Trump defeated his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by a scant point in November, and it was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who carried it in the Republican primary. Needless to say, the commander in chief’s message of upending the economic order, to say nothing of his personal indiscretions, does not necessarily resonate in a place with a thriving Talbots. Put another way, the president who so closely identifies himself with the country clubs he owns and operates is actually anathema to many traditionally center-right country club Republicans. Democrats smell blood in the water, and hope dearly to deprive congressional Republicans and Trump of some of their early mojo with a win or unexpectedly close loss.”  [HuffPost]

LEFTIES UNHAPPY WITH PEREZ’S DNC - ...and look, the sun rose in the east – which is pretty westist, tbh. Daniel Marans: “Several prominent progressive activists are blasting Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez for shunning leaders of the party’s populist wing for his transition advisory committee. The newly elected party leader named a large number of longtime party insiders to the committee, activists complained, and relatively few progressive leaders and supporters of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was runner-up in the DNC chair race…. Kait Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which backed Ellison’s bid, said in a statement that ‘the initial names on the DNC Transition Advisory Committee include zero leaders of progressive grassroots groups that engage in electoral work and very few movement progressives.’ She said the group would recommend names for the DNC to add to the committee.” [HuffPost]

THIS WHITE HOUSE IS TERRIBLE AT ST. PATRICK’S DAY - You’d think a day defined in this country by unoriginal people losing all control would be right up this administration’s alley. But no. Samantha Schmidt: “The day began with a cringe-worthy, mildly offensive Irish cliché in front of a roomful of Irish people, and it all went downhill from there. ‘Top of the morning,’ said Vice President Pence, as he hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his residence for breakfast Thursday. Really? The reaction by Irish on social media was palpable. ‘Literally just shouted “NOBODY SAYS THAT” at the TV,’ a journalist in Ireland tweeted…. At the luncheon, Trump shared what he claimed was an Irish proverb…. ‘As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of that proverb – and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,’ Trump said. ‘Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.’ …  But perhaps the most ‘appalling’ moment of the day for some came as Ryan offered a toast, in honor of Ireland’s visit...all Irish Guinness enthusiasts could focus on was that ‘despicable pint.’ Anyone who has lived in or traveled to Ireland knows the law of the land: a dark, Irish beer should always be topped with a creamy, white, thick foam.” [WaPo]

LOW-ENERGY REX TILLERSON CAN’T BE TRANSPARENT. SAD! - We’re sure the right will gin up a bunch of head injury rumors about this secretary of state, too. Michael Calderone: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly opted not to have a meal Friday with his South Korean counterparts because of ‘fatigue,’ according to a line buried toward the end of an article in The Korea Herald. It’s a newsworthy development...because of what it suggests about his stamina. And the fact that it was only known through the accounts of anonymous ‘Seoul officials’ via a foreign outlet is noteworthy in and of itself. That’s because Tillerson has taken this trip without the usual accompaniment of the U.S. press corps. It’s a break with tradition, and it introduced a host of complications and potential pitfalls. For example, Americans have no independent confirmation as to whether ‘fatigue’ did in fact play a role in Tillerson’s actions.” [HuffPost]

#Actually, the Korean war never ended. Sure, let’s rattle sabres at a lunatic manchild with nukes! “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Friday that ‘all options’ are being considered to counter North Korea’s emerging nuclear threat, including a militarily strike if necessary to safeguard allies and tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in the region. The threat of a full-scale U.S. military attack comes after a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests in recent weeks have heightened tensions across northeast Asia and raised the possibility of a conflict with an adversary that now possesses nuclear arms and appears close to being able to strike U.S. territory.” [LA Times’ Matt Stiles and Tracy Wilkinson]

DON’T GET PREGNANT WHILE TRUMP IS PRESIDENT - Your uterus, your problem (unless you want an IUD or an abortion, in which case it’s Congress gets a say). Amanda Terkel: “Before 2010, women often had to pay more than men for the same coverage. Only 12 percent of individual market plans covered maternity leave. And it was completely legal for insurance companies to refuse coverage to women who were pregnant or might become pregnant in the future. Obamacare changed that. The law created a list of 10 essential health benefits that all plans on the marketplace must cover. Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care are on that list. President Donald Trump wants to get rid of that mandatory benefit. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer pointed to maternity care as a reason that insurance costs were so high and said it was unfairly burdening men and older people who don’t need such services.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s someone having fun with Sean Spicer’s green St. Patrick’s Day tie.

COMFORT FOOD

- The worst Irish accents in film history.

- A history of New York pizza.

TWITTERAMA

@ethanklapper: Trump’s worst tweets are Saturday mornings while in Mar-a-Lago.

Tomorrow is Saturday.

He’ll be in Mar-a-Lago.

No public schedule.

@morninggloria:  every time u see a sad drunk girl in a springy shamrock headband yelling at at her sad drunk boyfriend in a goofy green hat make a wish

@Mobute: kind of weird that the game theory guy had to block me, as opposed to just using game theory to get me to stop calling him a useless idiot

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com)

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