POLITICS
03/31/2017 04:21 pm ET

Tom Price's Broker Puts Phone On Silent

Tom Price did some fishy stock trades.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images

Intelligence officials said 1,000 Russian trolls spread fake news about Hillary Clinton, though the estimate fails to account for the fact each troll contains a succession of smaller trolls. Paul Ryan’s approval rating dropped in the wake of last week’s health care fiasco, possibly because some voters occasionally use health care. And State Department staffers reportedly have been told not to make eye contact with Rex Tillerson, and also not to make any sudden moves around him since his vision is based on movement. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 31st, 2017:

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DOCTOR MIGHT NEED LAWYER - Tom Price loves making money even more than he loves saying “patient-centered health care.” Robert Faturechi: “On the same day the stockbroker for then-Georgia Congressman Tom Price bought him up to $90,000 of stock in six pharmaceutical companies last year, Price arranged to call a top U.S. health official, seeking to scuttle a controversial rule that could have hurt the firms’ profits and driven down their share prices, records obtained by ProPublica show. Stock trades made by Price while he served in Congress came under scrutiny at his confirmation hearings to become President Trump’s secretary of health and human services…. On March 17, 2016, Price’s broker purchased shares worth between $1,000 and $15,000 each in Eli Lilly, Amgen, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, McKesson, Pfizer and Biogen…. Price was among lawmakers from both parties who signed onto a bill that would have blocked a rule proposed by the Obama administration, which was intended to remove the incentive for doctors to prescribe expensive drugs that don’t necessarily improve patient outcomes. What hasn’t been previously known is Price’s personal appeal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about the rule.” [ProPublica]

Trump is doing some executive orders related to trade deals.

SENATORS SAY NO, MIKE FLYNN, GO TO JAIL - Ken Dilanian and Kasie Hunt: “The Senate Intelligence Committee turned down the request by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony, two congressional sources told NBC News. A senior congressional official with direct knowledge said Flynn’s lawyer was told it was ‘wildly preliminary’ and that immunity was ‘not on the table’ at the moment. A second source said the committee communicated that it is ‘not receptive’ to Flynn’s request ‘at this time.’” [NBC News

REX TILLERSON: DEBT COLLECTOR - Nice alliance that’s preserved peace in Western Europe for 68 years you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it. Gardiner Harris: “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson joined on Friday a growing list of Trump administration officials to visit the hub of North Atlantic solidarity and scold the United States’ European allies for failing to spend enough on their collective defense. ‘Allies must increase defense spending to meet their commitments,’ Mr. Tillerson said, again and again, in a speech to NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Like Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis before him, Mr. Tillerson insisted that all 28 members of the alliance spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their military, a level only a handful of members meet.” [NYT]

REX TILLERSON: WEIRD - Anne Gearan and Carol Morello: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a private elevator to his palatial office on the seventh floor of the State Department building, where sightings of him are rare on the floors below. On many days, he blocks out several hours on his schedule as ‘reading time,’ when he is cloistered in his office poring over the memos he prefers ahead of in-person meetings…. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact.” [WashPost]

PEOPLE DIDN’T LIKE PAUL RYAN’S ATTEMPT TO CRUSH THEM - Kathy Frankovic: “The latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that opinions of Ryan and the House Republicans, but not President Trump, have diminished after the GOP-majority House of Representatives failed to vote on the proposed health care legislation. And that loss of support comes almost entirely from Republicans and Trump voters — not Democrats.” [YouGov]

PEOPLE AREN’T SO CRAZY ABOUT TRUMP EITHER - A Wharton poll, by contrast, gives POTUS a “gentleman’s C.” Chris D’Angelo: “One-third of Americans say the president has earned himself an F grade as he approaches his 100th day in office, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll published Friday. Fifty-one percent of registered voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing, while 38 percent approve, according to the poll. Respondents graded Trump as follows: A (15 percent); B (22 percent); C (15 percent); D (15 percent); F (32 percent).” [HuffPost]

Of course, people don’t like pollsters, either. “A new McClatchy/Marist poll finds that only 37 percent of registered voters have a great deal or a good amount of trust in public opinion polling. Only seven percent say they have a great deal of trust in comparison to 22 percent of voters who don’t trust polling at all and 38 percent who don’t trust it very much.” [HuffPost’s Natalie Jackson and Grace Sparks]

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DAILY SPICER - Akbar Shahid Ahmed: “Evelyn Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia until 2015, blasted White House press secretary Sean Spicer Friday after he peddled a conspiracy theory about her role in gathering information on connections between President Donald Trump and Russia. Spicer spent much of his Friday press conference repeating a claim that has become popular in conservative circles in recent days: that Farkas ‘revealed’ that the administration of former President Barack Obama was spying on Trump, as the new president has repeatedly claimed without evidence.” [HuffPost]

PROGRESSIVES DEMAND REPRISALS AGAINST PRO-GORSUCH DEMS - Alexander Bolton: “A coalition of liberal groups is putting pressure on the Democratic Party not to help centrist Democrats running for reelection next year if they vote for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Liberal activist leaders plan to deliver a petition Monday to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) urging party leaders not to give campaign funds to any senator who votes for Gorsuch or strikes a deal to advance his nomination. Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) on Thursday became the first Democrats to say they will back ending debate on Gorsuch and advancing his nomination.” [The Hill] 

EXTREME LACK OF VETTING - No reason this White House needs help making sure its nominees are qualified! Zoe Tillman: “The White House does not intend to seek the opinion of the American Bar Association about lower court judicial nominees before announcing the president’s pick, according to a statement from ABA President Linda Klein to BuzzFeed News. The practice is in line with how President George W. Bush handled lower court nominations, but represents a break with every other president since President Dwight Eisenhower, according to Klein. The decision is a marked contrast from the White House’s promotion of the ABA’s ‘well-qualified’ rating for Gorsuch. As recently as Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer pointed to the ABA’s report about Gorsuch in urging his confirmation.” [BuzzFeed]

CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST AHEAD OF SCHEDULE - Reminder that they endorsed this guy knowing what he was. John Wagner, Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa: “President Trump threatened Thursday to try to knock off members of the House Freedom Caucus in next year’s elections if they don’t fall in line — an extraordinary move that laid bare an escalating civil war within a Republican Party struggling to enact an ambitious agenda. In a series of tweets that began in the morning, the president warned that the powerful group of hard-line conservatives who helped block the party’s health-care bill last week would ‘hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.’ The president vowed to ‘fight them’ as well as Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections…. Trump’s pledge was met with defiance by many in the bloc, including some members who accused him of succumbing to the establishment in Washington that he had campaigned against.” [WaPo]

DELANEY DOWNER - While the broader U.S. economy has been humming along, the farm economy is entering its fourth straight year of declining incomes and rising debt, thanks to low prices for crops like corn and wheat. “’We are on the cusp of another 1980s-style farm depression, where thousands of family farmers would lose their historical lands,’ said Joe Logan, 68, who farms 450 acres in northeast Ohio. President Donald Trump has said hardly anything about agriculture policy, though he’s made a lot of noise about trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. That worries some farmers. While Trump complains that the U.S. as a whole imports much more than it exports, the farming sector has boasted a trade surplus for decades because people in other countries buy a lot of American crops.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Baseball players cower from bees.

TROLOLOLOL - Mary Papenfuss notes this nugget from a hearing this week: “Senate intelligence committee leaders have received reports that Russia hired at least 1,000 trolls to spread fake news stories to hurt Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.” [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE TO MARK WORLD AUTISM DAY - The president has repeatedly espoused the discredited conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism. AP: The White House will briefly become the ‘blue house’ on Sunday to mark World Autism Awareness Day. Spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is keeping a promise to the late wife of his friend Bob Wright that he would illuminate the White House in blue if he won the election. [AP]

COMFORT FOOD

- Everything you ever wanted to know about horny T rexes but were afraid to ask.

- Huge deer takes out motorcyclist.

TWITTERAMA

@lindsaygoldwert: When I have too many ideas and become expansive and unfocused, they adjust my meds but Elon Musk, he gets a magazine cover

@behindyourback: I don’t appreciate the judgmental snark of my fitness app that keeps offering “beans” after I type in “string” when it knows I mean “cheese”

Me: I had a very successful tweet today

Wife: I wish I was married to a normal person

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