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March 08, 2017 - 6:50 pm


House panel refuses to delay GOP health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the day's first vote on Republican health care legislation, GOP lawmakers controlling the House Ways and Means Committee have blocked a Democratic attempt to delay the panel's work for a week.

Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett said there's been little time to understand what's in the legislation. The measure would unravel much of former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

In a paraphrase of comments President Donald Trump has made, Doggett said that "'Trust me, it will be great' isn't a plan." The committee voted along party lines 22-16 to continue working on the legislation.

Republicans say there's been time to study the legislation since they released it Monday night. They say Congress has held scores of hearings on the subject since the law was enacted in 2010.


Hospital group won't support GOP health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The leading trade group representing the nation's hospitals says it cannot support the House Republican health care bill in its current form.

The American Hospital Association joins the American Medical Association, raising similar concerns that coverage for millions of people may be jeopardized. The hospital group represents nearly 5,000 such institutions nationwide.

AHA president Rick Pollack said in a letter to members of Congress that its ability to assess the impact of the Republican bill is "severely hampered" by the lack of a formal coverage estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

The group also said that the bill's Medicaid provisions "will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations," and already pays providers less than other forms of insurance.


Democrats say Trump likes drug cost proposal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House Democrats say President Donald Trump was "enthusiastic" about their proposal to address the high cost of prescription drugs.

Congressmen Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont met with Trump at the White House to discuss their plan to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices.

Cummings says the president was enthusiastic and made clear to them that he wants to do something about it.

The Maryland lawmaker says he also urged Trump to consider voter suppression in any voter fraud investigation.

Cummings also told Trump that most black neighborhoods are not places of depression — in response to how the president referred to inner cities as "ghettos" during his campaign. Cummings says, "I think he got it."


White House strains to answer if Trump is target of probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is struggling to answer whether it believes President Donald Trump is the target of a counterintelligence investigation.

When first asked whether Trump is the subject of such a probe, press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House needed to find that out. He said that's why Trump has asked Congress to include that issue in its investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Minutes later, an aide handed Spicer a note, prompting him to revise his response.

Spicer then said the White House has no reason to believe Trump is the target of "any investigation, whatsoever."

Over the weekend, Trump alleged on Twitter that then-President Barack Obama had Trump's telephones tapped during last year's presidential election. Trump cited no evidence. An Obama spokesman denies the allegation.


Ex-aides: Trump has long been worried about recorded calls

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long before he tweeted about wiretaps, Donald Trump worried about recorded conversations.

Three former Trump executives from Trump's real estate company tell The Associated Press that Trump has been concerned with telephonic surveillance for years. One of them recalled Trump occasionally used an old-school tape recorder during calls. Others say he often expressed concerns about listening devices and secure lines.

In a 2015 radio interview, Trump said he assumes people are listening to his conversations when he picks up the phone. A White House spokeswoman didn't return an email seeking comment on Trump's thoughts on possible surveillance.

The former executives spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution for disclosing internal practices. Trump on Saturday accused then-President Barack Obama of tapping his phone at Trump Tower during the election.


White House says hacking of CIA is different from hacking of Clinton emails

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says there's a big difference between the leaking of classified information and the hacking of the email account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about WikiLeaks' release of thousands of documents that it claims show a broad program by the CIA to turn iPhones and other gadgets into surveillance tools.

Spicer says there's a "massive, massive difference" between leaking classified material and the hacking of the email account of John Podesta, a top Clinton adviser during the campaign.

Trump said during his fall campaign, "I love WikiLeaks," and often praised the release of emails by WikiLeaks involving Clinton and her team.


Former Trump security adviser Flynn admits Turkey lobbying

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired from the White House last month, has registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department for work that may have aided the Turkish government in exchange for $530,000.

Flynn's lawyer said in paperwork that he was voluntarily registering for work that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey."

Flynn's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., previously disclosed to Congress its work for a company owned by a Turkish businessman. But it had not filed with the Justice Department, which requires more extensive transparency. The new filings show Flynn's firm was paid $530,000.

Trump fired Flynn last month for misleading key administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.


Ivanka Trump rents house from foreign billionaire suing US

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law are renting a house from a foreign billionaire who is fighting the U.S. government over a proposed mine in Minnesota.

The Wall Street Journal reports (http://on.wsj.com/2nfqcqv) that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting a $5.5 million house in Washington's Kalorama neighborhood from Andrónico Luksic. One of the Chilean billionaire's companies is suing the federal government over lost mineral right leases for a proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

Luksic bought the Kalorama property after the November presidential election. The White House said the couple is paying fair market value and have not discussed the mine with the home's owner.

Rob Walker, an ethics lawyer at the law firm Wiley Rein, said the arrangement may pose an appearance problem rather than an ethical issue.


Georgia county to restore black voters' rights under US law

ATLANTA (AP) — Election officials in Georgia's sparsely populated, overwhelmingly black Hancock County have agreed to settle accusations that they illegally denied voting rights to dozens of African-American registered voters.

Under the settlement, about three-quarters of the eligible voters removed from the voting rolls — nearly all of them black — will be restored to the county's registered voter list.

Hancock County Board of Elections members maintain that they weren't targeting or trying to intimidate black voters by sending sheriff's deputies to summon them to hearings to prove where they live.

An attorney for the board members said they were complying with Georgia law, which allows any voter to challenge another's eligibility, and requires that a sheriff or deputy deliver documents in a voter registration challenge.


NEW: Marine women say their photos were posted without consent

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Marine and an active-duty Marine say their photographs were secretly posted online without their consent along with nude photos of other women.

The pair, who were clothed in the photos, on Wednesday applauded a military investigation into reports that images of nude women in the armed services were shared on social media, including the Facebook page, "Marines United."

Their lawyer, Gloria Allred, said there may be hundreds of such postings and that they prompted pornographic and violent replies, including some recommending that female Marines be raped or shot.

Meanwhile, a former Marine, Erin Kirk-Cuomo, said female service members have been telling their superiors about such websites for more than a decade. She said they were "laughed off."


Investigators troubled by history of wreck site

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A National Transportation Safety Board member says the agency is investigating the fatal train-bus crash in Mississippi because another large vehicle got stuck at the crossing and hit by a train in January.

Robert Sumwalt told a news conference Wednesday that the wreck was the 17th since 1976 at that crossing. He says that "sounds like a big number" but investigators need to compare it to other crossings.

He says the agency cannot investigate every fatal wreck at a train crossing — there were 265 such deaths last year.

He says earlier this year the crash involved a Pepsi truck. And he says that in 2014, a tractor-trailer bottomed out there and was hit.

Sumwalt says this is the first time the agency has looked at this crossing in Biloxi.


5 people killed, 4 hurt in Detroit apartment building fire

DETROIT (AP) — Mayor Mike Duggan's office says five people have been killed and four others hurt in an apartment building fire on Detroit's east side.

Spokesman John Roach says no other details about the blaze Wednesday afternoon were immediately available, but WWJ-AM reports that strong winds sweeping through southeastern Michigan may have helped spread the flames.

The injured suffered burns and smoke inhalation. They were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were not immediately available.

A cause of the fire is under investigation.

Some wind gusts topped 60 mph in the Detroit area. More than 320,000 utility customers across Michigan have lost electricity due to high winds knocking trees and branches onto power lines.

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