An Ultimatum

Friday, March 24, 2017Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 11.59.04

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • After failing to negotiate more support, President Trump told House Republicans that he would agree to no more changes: Pass the health bill on Friday or lose the chance of repealing the Affordable Care Act. A vote was postponed Thursday, leaving Mr. Trump to face the possibility of a loss on his first major legislative push.
  • People close to the president say he is grappling with the reality that his hopes for a quick health care victory may be unraveling.
  • In an interview with Time magazine, Mr. Trump doubled down on his claim that Barack Obama ordered his phones wiretapped and mischaracterized reporting by The New York Times as proof. The interview also offered a window into how the president thinks.
  • The State Department sent an order to all American embassies that would make it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States, in the first sign of the president’s “extreme vetting.”
The First Draft Team

Gorsuch Completes His 20-Hour Test. So How Did He Do?

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER, ADAM LIPTAK, CHARLIE SAVAGE AND CARL HULSE
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, center, at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Wednesday.

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, center, at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Wednesday. Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch can relax now. After 20-odd hours of Senate questioning this week, the Supreme Court nominee has completed his testimony. The committee will hold a final session on Thursday featuring expert panelists discussing the judge. But his job is done.
So what have we learned?
He’s probably going to be confirmed.
Maybe he’ll clear the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, attracting sufficient support from Democrats — particularly those from states that President Trump won. Or maybe skeptics will hold the line and force Republicans to change longstanding Senate rules to elevate Judge Gorsuch on a simple majority vote.
But this much is clear: Nothing that’s happened this week has made much of a difference. Three days of hearings marked by attacks and deflections have left the Senate Judiciary Committee more or less where it started. If the Republicans’ goal was to persuade Democrats of a moral imperative to join them in support, they fell short. (In some cases, the nominee’s sparring with Democrats may have pushed some further away.)
And if Democrats harbored any hope of raising doubts about Judge Gorsuch among Republicans, they came nowhere close.
Read more »

Trump Tells G.O.P. It’s Now or Never, Demanding Vote on Health Bill

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, ROBERT PEAR AND THOMAS KAPLAN

The president told his party to fall in line behind a health insurance overhaul and demanded a Friday vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass.

The Deal Maker Projects Bravado, but Privately Faces Self-Doubt

By GLENN THRUSH AND MAGGIE HABERMAN

President Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans.

Trump Hotel in Washington Does Not Violate Lease, U.S. Says

By ERIC LIPTON

Critics had questioned whether the president was violating a lease provision because his hotel was in a federal building, but the General Services Administration said no.

Duncan Hunter Facing Criminal Inquiry, Accused of Ethics Violations

By ERIC LICHTBLAU

The Republican congressman reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds on family trips, private school tuition and video games.

G.O.P. Panel Chairman Apologizes for Withholding Data From Democrats

By EMMARIE HUETTEMAN

On Wednesday, Representative Devin Nunes said he had received information that President Trump or aides may have been “incidentally” caught up in foreign surveillance.

Trump Administration Orders Tougher Screening of Visa Applicants

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

The order, sent to all American embassies, was the first evidence of the “extreme vetting” that President Trump promised during the campaign.

Fact Check: Trump Misleads About The Times’s Surveillance Reporting

By LINDA QIU

The F.B.I. director, other top intelligence officials and numerous Republicans have rejected a claim by President Trump that Barack Obama ordered his phones wiretapped.

What the President’s ‘Time’ Interview Shows About His Thinking

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

In an interview with Time magazine, published on Thursday, President Trump veers from topic to topic, praising himself and dismissing his critics in language that sometimes is hard to follow.

Congress Moves to Strike Internet Privacy Rules From Obama Era

By CECILIA KANG

The Senate voted to overturn regulations that required telecom companies to ask permission before tracking users’ behavior, beginning a repeal of Obama-era regulations.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
From National Review:
“To smear Neil Gorsuch, the Left has created and attacked a straw man.”
For originalists, there is a crucial distinction between “original intent” and “original meaning.” This is a distinction that the writer David French believes gets erased by those who oppose the legal doctrine.
From the Left
From Jacobin:
“Originalist textualists are no less activist than their peers. They’re just less open about it.”
As Judge Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearings draw to a close, Matt McManus explains why progressives should be wary of judges who consider themselves to be originalists.
See more picks »
Pages From Trump’s Tax Returns Raise a Decade’s Worth of Questions

By JAMES B. STEWART

Filings from 1995 and 2005, incomplete as they are, offer tantalizing clues about how the Trumps might have minimized their liability over several years.

In Greeting to Iranian People, Trump Leaves Out Their Government

By MARK LANDLER

The White House sent out a greeting for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, after hard-liners in the administration pruned lines seen as olive branches to Tehran.

What One G.O.P. Option Might Mean: Aromatherapy, but Not Chemotherapy

By MARGOT SANGER-KATZ

A problem with stripping away minimum benefit rules is that the whole idea of “health insurance” starts to become murky.

Now on Twitter: Chelsea Clinton, Unbound

By KATIE ROGERS

Is her confrontational tweeting about the Trump administration a sign of the new Chelsea Clinton or a public unveiling of the one who existed all along?

Democrats Plan to Filibuster to Thwart Gorsuch Nomination

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER, CHARLIE SAVAGE AND ADAM LIPTAK

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch appears to be short, at least for now, of the eight Senate votes he must earn from the Democratic caucus to reach the 60-vote threshold.

Devin Nunes Puts Credibility of House Panel He Leads in Doubt

By EMMARIE HUETTEMAN AND MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Democrats fiercely criticized Representative Devin Nunes for going straight to the White House with new intelligence information on Wednesday.

This Commercial Break, Brought to You by Tax Policy

By ALAN RAPPEPORT

As lawmakers battle over health care, businesses and other groups are already gearing up, and taking to the airwaves, for the fight to come over taxes.

One Rationale for Voter ID Debunked, G.O.P. Has Another

By MICHAEL WINES

After failing to find widespread voter fraud, Republican state lawmakers are calling for tighter restrictions on voting based on perception of tainted ballots.