POLITICS
03/27/2017 05:42 pm ET

White House Regrouping Before Next Round Of Infighting

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After last week’s bruising health care defeat, White House officials are strategizing how best to regain their footing…and also how to get footing in the first place. Sean Spicer conducted today’s press briefing with a piece of lettuce wedged between his teeth, but, as he does so often, he’ll let the leaf speak for itself. And Devin Nunes was “on the W.H. grounds” when he received his briefing about surveillance on Trump officials, which makes it sound like he was tending to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden and was accosted by an NSA official. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 27th, 2017:

WHITE HOUSE HOPING TO PLAY A BIGGER ROLE IN SCREWING UP THE NEXT THING -  Damian Paletta: “The Trump administration is planning a much more assertive role in undertaking a broad overhaul of the tax code than it did during the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with some advisers working to craft a concrete blueprint for specific changes instead of letting Congress dictate details…. Some GOP allies say they have already produced tax legislation and that it would not make sense for the White House to produce its own. Key division points could be about whether to seek a broad overhaul of the tax code or whether to limit it to more specific provisions — such as those affecting corporations — and whether such an initiative could increase the deficit without offsetting spending cuts or changes to tax policy. Also highly controversial is a proposal to impose a new tax affecting imports.” [WaPo]

KUSHNER TO TESTIFY - Jo Becker, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman: “Senate investigators plan to question Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin, according to administration and congressional officials. The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings, which took place during the transition, included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.” [NYT]

He went to Jared: “So, if you’re keeping track, Jared Kushner, who comes to Washington with no government experience, no policy experience, no diplomatic experience, and business experience limited to his family’s real estate development firm, a brief stint as a newspaper publisher, and briefly bidding to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be working on trade, Middle East policy in general, an Israel-Palestine peace deal more specifically, reforming the Veterans Administration, and solving the opioid crisis.” [HuffPost]

BAD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT THEIR OFFICE’S FIRST AID KIT PACKED WITH TIC TACS - Dave Jamieson: “President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday repealing a regulation that had encouraged federal contractors to follow labor laws. Under the Obama-era rule, companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance. The idea behind the rule was to make sure unscrupulous employers didn’t receive taxpayer dollars. But Republicans in Congress thought the rule was too punitive and unfair to businesses. They used an arcane tool known as the Congressional Review Act in an effort to kill the regulation, which was called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule. By approving the legislation sent to him by the Senate, Trump has ensured not only that the regulation will die, but also that no similar regulation can be put forth by the Labor Department again.” [HuffPost]

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DEVIN NUNES UPDATE - We can’t wait for the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence to star in the “Being There” remake. Jake Tapper: “It has been something of a mystery, the whereabouts of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes on the day before his announcement that he saw information suggesting that communications of then-President-elect Donald Trump and his advisers may have been swept up in surveillance of other foreign nationals. The California Republican confirmed to CNN in a phone interview Monday he was on the White House grounds that day ― but he said he was not in the White House itself. (Other buildings, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are on the same grounds.)” [CNN]

SWAMP DRAINING UPDATE - Plus who would want to read all that cyrillic, anyway? Rebecca Ballhaus: “One way the White House could help clear up potential future controversies: if it began updating the online visitor log maintained by former President Barack Obama’s administration. Under the former administration, visitor logs were typically updated within 90 to 120 days. Since President Donald Trump took office, the website has been down, with a message that says: ‘This page is being updated. It will post records of White House visitors on an ongoing basis, once they become available.’ The White House in recent months has declined to say when or if it will update the log.” [WSJ]

GOOD FODDER FOR THE MNUCHIN MUSICAL - ♫My name is Steven Mnuchin/And there’s a million things I haven’t done/Like sideline Trump’s loonies♫ Ben White and Nancy Cook: “The fight for the direction of Donald Trump’s presidency between the Goldman Sachs branch of the West Wing and hardcore conservatives is spilling into the Treasury Department, threatening Trump’s next agenda item of overhauling the tax code. Conservatives inside and outside Treasury say the new secretary, former Goldman Sachs banker, movie producer and Democratic donor Steven Mnuchin, is assembling a team that is too liberal and too detached from the core of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ platform of ripping up trade deals, gutting the Dodd-Frank banking rules and generally rejecting ‘globalism’ in all its forms.” [Politico]

TRUMP’S NUMBERS STILL PRETTY BAD - Ariel Edwards-Levy: “In a Gallup survey released Monday, just 36 percent of Americans said they approved of Trump’s job as president. It was a new low for him, and 2 percentage points below former President Barack Obama’s all-time worst numbers, according to Gallup’s polling. That specific number, like any individual data point, doesn’t actually mean all that much…. HuffPost Pollster’s average...puts Trump’s approval rating somewhat higher: It’s about 40 percent as of Monday afternoon, with just under 56 percent disapproving. (In March 2009, by comparison, Obama was at about 60 percent approval, although that number was rapidly declining.)” [HuffPost]

APOLOGIES TO FLORIDA REAL ESTATE OWNERS - And congratulations to whichever contractor will get to build a giant levee system around whatever is left of the state. Alexander Kaufman: “President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday rolling back Obama-era policies to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Sunday…. The executive order will likely take other measures to protect the coal industry, such as instructing the Department of the Interior to lift a temporary ban on coal leasing on federal lands that the Obama administration put in place last year. The order is also expected to scrap federal guidances instructing agencies to factor climate change into policymaking, and to disband a team tasked with calculating the ‘social cost of carbon.’ ... Doing so would also hamper U.S. efforts to meet the commitments made more than a year ago in the 195-country Paris Agreement.” [HuffPost]

GEORGIA 6TH AN HONEST TO GOD RACE - Even money that if this story came out last Thursday, there’d be even fewer votes for Trumpcare. Eric Garcia: “A new poll shows Democrat Jon Ossoff in close head-to-head matchups against the top Republican candidates in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Ossoff led with 40 percent of the vote in the jungle primary race scheduled for April 18, according to the poll conducted for Fox 5 Atlanta by Opinion Savvy. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel came in second with 20 percent, ahead of a pack of Republicans. Republican votes are split between Bob Gray, Judson Hill and Dan Moody, all polling between 8 and 10 percent. In head-to-head matchups, the survey showed Ossoff with a narrow lead over Gray, Moody and Handel. Hill was the only Republican to outpoll Ossoff by a narrow margin.” [Roll Call]

BATHROOM BILL COSTING NORTH CAROLINA BILLIONS - Looks like someone has been stuck with quite the (bathroom) bill, amirite? *dodges chair* Emily P. DaLesio and Nathan Drew:  “Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ isn’t hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis. Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state’s economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town’s amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue. The blows have landed in the state’s biggest cities as well as towns surrounding its flagship university, and from the mountains to the coast. North Carolina could lose hundreds of millions more because the NCAA is avoiding the state, usually a favored host. The group is set to announce sites for various championships through 2022, and North Carolina won’t be among them as long as the law is on the books. The NAACP also has initiated a national economic boycott.” [AP]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a livestream of bald eagle eggs hatching in the National Arboretum.

FAKE NEWS IS TOO REAL RIGHT NOW - Congratulations to President Hillary Clinton. David Blood: “Nearly a quarter of web content shared on Twitter by users in the battleground state of Michigan during the final days of last year’s US election campaign was so-called fake news, according to a University of Oxford study. Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) also determined that these users shared approximately as many fake news items as “professional news” over the same period. The report, published on Monday, concludes that links to fake news stories accounted for 23 per cent of the links tweeted by a sample of 140,000 Michigan-based users during the ten days up to November 11 last year.” [FT]

COMFORT FOOD

- Because you came here for monster truck news, here’s one performing history’s first vertical flip.

- Gym bro looks like an idiot while senior citizen nails free throws in the background.

TWITTERAMA

@joelight: So...the market is down 0.34%. Please update your Trump trade headlines

@SimonMaloy: hold on, hold on...

[fingernails rake against bottom of AHCA joke barrel]

the... [looks at grime under nails] Paul Blart of the Deal

@MEPFuller: “As a commentary on the economic threats of automation, Cash Cab will be a self-driving car with IBM’s Watson asking the q—*deletes account*

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