Week 5, Friday

The White House blocked CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and BuzzFeed from attending a press gaggle with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Conservative media outlets Fox News, Breitbart News, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were invited to attend along with NBC, ABC, and CBS. The Associated Press and Time Magazine boycotted the informal briefing in protest.

Blocking several news organizations came shortly after President Trump’s speech at CPAC this morning in which he repeatedly mocked and belittled the media. Repeating his claim from a series of angry tweets, he said “They are the enemy of the people because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.” He also said that reporters shouldn’t be allowed to use unnamed sources. In the past, Trump posed as his own public relations agent to plant stories about himself in tabloid publications. As usual, Trump went on to make a series of misleading or outright false claims on a wide variety of subjects in the remainder of his speech.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked both the Director and the Deputy Director of the FBI to publicly say that reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence were false. Priebus then asked that they at least speak to reporters on background to dispute the stories. The FBI refused. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

In the past two days, Trump has said that the US must “be at the top of the pack” when it comes to nuclear weapons and that he is putting together a “massive budget request” for the military. “We will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military. Offensive, defensive. Everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully we’ll never have to use it. But nobody’s going to mess with us, folks. Nobody.”

The Forward reports that senior Trump aide Sebastian Gorka forged numerous ties to right-wing anti-Semites in his native Hungary while he was politically active there between 2002 and 2007. According to their reporting, “Gorka’s involvement with the far right includes co-founding a political party with former prominent members of Jobbik, a political party with a well-known history of anti-Semitism; repeatedly publishing articles in a newspaper known for its anti-Semitic and racist content; and attending events with some of Hungary’s most notorious extreme-right figures.”

A leaked draft of House GOP Affordable Care Act repeal bill “would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020. The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax’ that Republicans have fought to repeal.”

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