POLITICS
03/30/2017 05:28 pm ET Updated Mar 31, 2017

White House Aides Really Regretting Those Prank Calls To Nunes

The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Donald Trump tweeted threats against members of his own party, no doubt a ploy to distract the media from that diabolical secret thing he must be doing...somewhere. The various factions within the House Republican caucus aren’t negotiating with each other on health care, but they are doing a good job of negotiating their fists into their own faces. And the Senate moved closer to approving Trump’s second nominee for labor secretary after the first one, a fast food CEO, got sent back because we asked for no onions. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 30th, 2017:

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JOE MANCHIN WILL VOTE FOR GORSUCH - Ol’ mavericky Manchin at it again. That cap & trade bill is probably still nailed to a tree somewhere. Jennifer Bendery: “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday that he will vote for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, making him the first Democrat to announce support for President Donald Trump’s court pick. ‘Senators have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy and, simply put, we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials,’ Manchin said in a statement. ‘After considering his record, watching his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee and meeting with him twice, I will vote to confirm him to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court.’” [HuffPost]

THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE (WHITE) HOUSE! We haven’t seen tradecraft this bad since “Burn After Reading.” Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Emmarie Huetteman: “A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.” [NYT]

How to pronounce “Nunes.”

THE SPICER SPIN - Marina Fang: “Sean Spicer would neither confirm nor deny on Thursday a New York Times report that two White House officials may have been sources for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The White House press secretary dodged questions during his daily briefing by bizarrely claiming it was not his job to answer them. Spicer said reporters asking questions about it ‘assumes that the reporting is correct,’ but he did not deny the report outright. ‘In order to comment on that story would be to validate certain things that I’m not at liberty to do,’ he said.” And so forth, forever. [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT TRIES NEW STRATEGY: MEAN TWEETS - Daniel Marans: President Donald Trump warned the House Freedom Caucus on Thursday that he would work to unseat them in the 2018 midterm elections if they did not cooperate with the broader Republican agenda. The Freedom Caucus’ objections to the GOP Obamacare replacement bill, known as the American Health Care Act, proved decisive in killing it last Friday. The legislative defeat was a major humiliation for Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who had repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act. Trump threatened the roughly 32-member group of ultraconservative Republicans with electoral reprisal on Twitter ‘if they don’t get on the team, & fast.’” [HuffPost]

TRUMP SICS MICK ON MARK - Threats! If only there were somewhere for Mark Sanford to hide. Emma Dumain: “South Carolina Republican [Rep. Mark Sanford] told The Post and Courier that Trump chose to convey this message through an intermediary: White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the S.C. congressional delegation, co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and a friend. ‘’The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,’’ Sanford said Mulvaney told him.” [Post and Courier]

Trump also sent a mean tweet about the New York Times and said again that he’d like to change America’s libel laws, which are based on our Constitution, which Trump has never read.

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR MIKE PENCE - Let’s just say if this bill were a woman, he would refuse to be alone with it. Laura Bassett: “Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Thursday to overturn an Obama administration rule and allow states to withhold Title X family planning money from Planned Parenthood…. ‘Mike Pence went from yesterday’s forum on empowering women to today leading a group of male politicians in a vote to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings,’ Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.” [HuffPost]

REPEAL AND RE-SPLAT - Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself... Matt Fuller: “As House Republicans try to revive their ill-fated health care bill, leaders are stepping back from the negotiations, allowing factions of the GOP conference to work out differences among themselves even as some groups are questioning whether they should be negotiating at all. On Wednesday, the Tuesday Group, a collection of about 50 moderate Republicans, was in talks to meet with the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about three dozen conservatives, and discuss what changes both sides could swallow. But that meeting fell through after some Tuesday Group members argued within their caucus that the HFC wasn’t acting in good faith.” [HuffPost]

HuffPost Hill facts of life: The “Tuesday Group” of moderate House Republicans has met on Tuesdays in the Capitol basement for years.

The New York legislature is eyeing single-payer health care, and a key new supporter just joined the party, but the GOP-controlled state Senate seems like a pretty big obstacle. [HuffPost’s Ryan Grim, Daniel Marans and Jeffrey Young]

NEXT UP FOR PRUITT IS PUTTING DDT IN THE DRINKING WATER - If Scott Pruitt didn’t exist, liberals would had to invent him. Eric Lipton: “Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers…. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.” [NYT]

AT LEAST SEND PHOTOS OF TRUMP FLIPPING THEM OFF - Justin Elliott: “When billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was going through the confirmation process to become President Trump’s commerce secretary, Senate Democrats wanted answers about Ross’ role as the vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which has significant dealings with Russian oligarchs. The administration’s answer: crickets…. The lack of response to congressional letters is part of a pattern. Virtually every day, Democrats write the Trump administration demanding answers on a range of issues. And every day they are met with the sounds of silence…. The lack of responses also shows a hard truth for Democrats: As the minority in both the House and the Senate, they have no clear authority to compel the Trump administration to answer questions or release documents.” [ProPublica]

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DELANEY DOWNER - Arthur Delaney and Omar Kasrawi: After President Donald Trump’s budget director suggested earlier this month that Meals on Wheels programs don’t deserve federal funding, elderly Americans took notice. ‘We have received calls every single day, from many of our clients, asking will their meals be cut, will they have food tomorrow,’ Peg Marshall, director of Meals on Wheels in Salem County, New Jersey, said in an interview. Thousands of Meals on Wheels offices around the country help deliver 1 million meals a day to homebound senior citizens. These organizations get about 35 percent of their funding from the federal government, with most of the rest coming from donations.” [HuffPost]

NORTH CAROLINA ‘BATHROOM LAW’ REPEALED. SORT OF. Sam Levine: “North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Thursday signed into law legislation to repeal a controversial law that bars people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity and adds provisions to block nondiscrimination protections. The compromise on HB2, which the House and Senate passed Thursday, was quickly criticized by LGBTQ groups…. The bill lawmakers voted on Thursday includes some portions from HB2, including prohibiting municipalities from passing any ordinance regulating private employment or public accommodations. In the compromise, this prohibition extends until 2020.” [HuffPost]

BROWNBACK STRIVING TO BECOME MORE UNPOPULAR - Jeffrey Young: “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) rejected legislation on Thursday that would have used funding from the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid in his state to more low-income people. The majority-Republican Kansas legislature passed the bill earlier this week, which would have extended health coverage to an estimated 150,000 state residents via KanCare, the Medicaid program in the Sunflower State…. The Kansas House and Senate votes on the Medicaid expansion bill were just shy of the margin needed to override Brownback’s veto.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Looks like Gizmodo found James Comey’s “secret” Twitter account.

DEMOCRATS WOULD LIKE DONALD TRUMP TO PLEASE VETO THAT INTERNET BILL - Please? Paige Lavender: “Senate Democrats are urging President Donald Trump to veto a bill passed earlier this week that allows internet service providers to share users’ web history. More than 40 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have signed a letter that will be sent to Trump Thursday arguing that the legislation will ‘seriously undermine the privacy protections’ of private citizens who use the internet.” Good luck, guys. [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Mildly amusing patter from Jon Hamm and Jack McBrayer.

- An actual sharknado.

- The somewhat interesting carry-on items of flight attendants.

TWITTERAMA

@laurenduca: Ladies! Please stop criticizing Mike Pence’s unquenchable sex appeal and allow him to govern your uterus while he eats a piece of ham alone!

@Megan_Sass: Really creepy that I clicked on a article about defunding Planned Parenthood and an ad for Boss Baby took over my phone

@EmmaRoller: “Good tidings, member of the opposite sex. Can you help me plan my wife’s funeral?”

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