Healthcare Fight, Wiretap Claims Hinder Trump’s Reform Plans

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Trump is working to ensure the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare stays on track.

The replacement for the Affordable Care Act is now projected to leave tens of millions of people without health insurance, as the government’s official estimate was just released Monday afternoon.

The Congressional Budget Office says by 2026, 24 million Americans would lose their coverage under the bill replacing Obamacare, but the bill would save the government $337 billion over ten years.

The president for his part is promising better healthcare coverage under the new GOP plan.

“You’ll see rates go down, down, down and you’ll see plans go up, up, up,” Trump said as he met at the White House with Americans who said Obamacare didn’t work for them.

Carrie Couey of Colorado complained that her rates are now three times what they were before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

The president is now selling the new plan but says he won’t let Obamacare implode even if it helps Republicans politically.

“That is the wrong thing to do for the country,” Trump said, “that is the wrong thing to do for our citizens.”

So far, not all Republicans are sold on the new plan.

“I’m not prepared to vote for it as it is right now and I think that’s not because of a specific, you know, ‘this is unacceptable,’ but because I think we can do better,” Congressman Darrell Issa (R-C.A.) said.

The White House said Monday evening that it’s rejecting the Congressional Budget Office’s report. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price called the report “not believable.”

In the meantime, Kellyanne Conway is clarifying comments made over the weekend where she seemed to take President Trump’s claim that he was bugged by former President Barrack Obama a step further with the Bergen Record.

“You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of ways,” she said. Monday morning, she clarified that she was speaking about surveillance more broadly.

“I’m not Inspector Gadget,” she said. “I don’t believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. I’m not in the job of having evidence. That’s what investigations are for.”

Monday was the deadline for a house committee demanding evidence of the president’s wiretapping allegations, and spokesman Sean Spicer seemed to also soften the president’s claim.

“He doesn’t really think President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” Spicer said in his daily press briefing, “but there’s no question that in the Obama administration there were actions about surveillance during the 2016 election.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey asked a government ethics office Monday to assess whether President Donald Trump’s business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

“President Trump has exposed his administration to possible conflicts of interest on an unprecedented scale,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker says in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

Casey asked whether any of Trump’s foreign business deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.

“They also raise questions about whether the interests of foreign businesses may be placed ahead of the American people,” Casey tweeted Monday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, Trump said he would put all his business assets in a trust and hand “complete and total control” of his company to his two sons and a longtime business executive to allay concerns about conflicts of interest.

Lawyer Sheri Dillon, of the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said they’ve designed a structure that will “completely isolate” Trump from the management of the company.

Walter Shaub, the director of the ethics office, strongly criticized Trump earlier this year for not divesting from his businesses. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

Casey cited several of Trump’s foreign business deals as examples that could present conflicts of interest. He cited an Associated Press report that the Trump Organization is returning to a long-dormant licensing deal involving a beachfront luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, despite Trump’s promise not to do any new foreign deals.

Dillon has said the so-called emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to foreign payments to his company, as some ethics experts have said.

The deal had been on hold for years before being revived this year.

The Office of Government Ethics advises executive agencies on potential conflicts of interests. But the agency does not investigate complaints and does not have the authority to prosecute offenses.

The office also works out ethics agreements with members of the president’s Cabinet. The president, however, is not obligated to conform to an ethics agreement.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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