A high-stakes gamble: How Jared Kushner reacted to previous crises

The following article by Michael Kranish and Jonathan O’Connell was posted on the Washington Post May 27, 2017:

Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to President Trump, is arguably one of the most influential figures in the White House. Here’s how he used N.Y. real estate and the media to solidify his power. (Video: Alice Li/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Jared Kushner had barely survived a fight to save his family’s real estate empire.

Taking charge of the business after his father went to prison, Kushner, 25 at the time, paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the nation’s most expensive office building. Then the market went south, the debts piled up, and Kushner spent years pushing banks to renegotiate the loans. (more…)

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Here’s why the CBO report is bad news for Republicans on health care

The following article by Paige Winfield Cunningham was posted on the Washington Post website May 25, 2017:

The final word is in: The House Republican bill to replace large parts of the Affordable Care Act would save $119 billion over a decade but cost 23 million Americans their health coverage.

Those figures are actually pretty similar to initial estimates for the House’s American Health Care Act — before Republicans added in some last-minute amendments changes.

Yet when the CBO released its score late Wednesday afternoon, it reignited a heated debate in Washington over the ongoing GOP effort to ditch big provisions in President Obama’s health-care law – an issue that took a temporary back seat amid all the drama over President Trump’s relationship with Russia and his treatment of former FBI Director James B. Comey. (more…)

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Five startling things Betsy DeVos just told Congress

The following article by Valerie Strauss was posted on the Washington Post website May 24, 2017:

Does this sound familiar? Betsy DeVos went to Capitol Hill to testify before U.S. lawmakers. She didn’t answer a lot of direct questions and engaged in some contentious debates with some members.

That happened in January when she went before the Senate education committee for her confirmation hearing, during which she said schools needed guns to protect against grizzly bears. This time, the education secretary didn’t talk about guns, but she did say that states should have the right to decide whether private schools that accept publicly funded voucher students should be allowed to discriminate against students for whatever reason they want. (more…)

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Trump’s praise for Duterte’s drug war underscores his contempt for human rights

The following article by James Hohmann with Breanne Deppisch was posted on the Washington Post website May 24, 2017:

THE BIG IDEA: It’s one thing to not “lecture” foreign governments who abuse human rights. It’s something else entirely to praise them for it. And that’s exactly what Donald Trump did last month when he called Rodrigo Duterte.

The Post’s David Nakamura and Barton Gellman yesterday obtained a transcript of his April 29th phone call with the president of the Philippines. (more…)

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American Leadership Is on the Line

The following article by Rudy deLeon and Stefanie Merchant was posted on the Center for American Progress website May 24, 2017:

AP/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, in black dress shoes, walks with U.S. Army leaders across a NATO logo, April 2017.

About every 10 years, Washington resonates with a debate on the relevancy of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). Then-candidate Donald Trump revived this debate during the 2016 campaign, declaring the organization “obsolete” and blaming its members for not “paying what they should.” Yet, since the inauguration, the vice president, secretary of state, and the secretary of defense all affirmed the significance of NATO to U.S. national security and its importance in the current and future security environment—and their hedging in favor of NATO soon paid off. Following the Trump administration’s military actions in Syria in response to President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons, America’s NATO partners quickly rallied behind President Trump. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement of support backing the U.S. president, saying, “President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored.” The leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Italy, and Poland all lined up with similar statements of support.

Shortly after this outpouring of international support, President Trump met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. In a joint press conference with Stoltenberg, the president offered a sharp change in his opinion of NATO: “It’s no longer obsolete.” However, the president reiterated that NATO members need to contribute necessary levels of investment in the security partnership. This point is well made and has been voiced by bipartisan leaders in Washington for many years. (more…)

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In letter to Trump, Democrats accuse White House of intentionally withholding information

The following article by Ed O’Keefe was posted on the Washington Post website May 24, 2017:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to the media at the Capitol on May 16. (Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency)

Senate Democrats are accusing the White House of purposely ignoring requests for information on issues ranging from the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections, to ethics waivers given to top officials and changes in environmental rules.

At issue are the routine requests that members of Congress make to federal agencies in pursuit of information about policy changes or the individual concerns of constituents. Each federal agency is staffed with personnel responsible for fielding inquiries and following up with lawmakers.

But Democratic senators are accusing the administration of instructing federal agencies to “refuse requests for information from Democratic members of Congress,” according to a letter being sent to the White House on Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. Such a move “would be a significant departure from the practices of past Administrations and seriously inhibit Congress’s ability to fulfill its legislative and oversight duties.” (more…)

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Coverage Losses by State and Congressional

The following article by Emily Gee was posted by the Center for American Progress May 25, 2017:

The Capitol is illuminated before sunrise in Washington. (Bloomberg)

Earlier this month, House Republican leaders rushed to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)— before a CBO score became available, perhaps knowing full well that the nonpartisan agency’s findings could undercut their claims that it would lower premiums while protecting people with pre-existing conditions. But now that the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) updated score has been released, it confirms what the bill’s architects tried to bury: the AHCA would harm Americans by rolling back health insurance coverage while raising costs and reducing benefits. (more…)

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