WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — From the pivotal health care vote, to questions on Russian ties and revelations about intelligence gathering, Capitol Hill was busy Wednesday.
The president’s Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch faced a third day of confirmation hearings, while the House Intelligence Chairman revealed new surveillance findings. All this as Trump stumped for the American Health Care Act.
“Unfortunately, Obamacare is making it much harder for all of the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, men and women alike, to do their jobs,” the president said at a panel on “Women In Health Care,” urging the passage of the Republicans’ bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. “It is broken, it’s broken badly.”
Realizing how much is at stake, Trump allegedly warned House Republicans to support the health bill or risk losing their jobs. As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported, it’s a risk some might be willing to take.
“The bill that we’re most currently considering does not lower premiums for the vast majority of Americans,” Rep. Mark Meadows, D-NC, said.
That wasn’t Trump’s only battle Wednesday.
Earlier, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort came under scrutiny for potentially having had a secret contract with a Russian billionaire with close ties to Vladimir Putin.
Manafort worked to advance the interests of Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press said in an exclusive report Wednesday.
Later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer played down Manafort’s role in the campaign.
“Obviously there’s been this discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” he said.
All this came as House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under U.S. government surveillance following November’s presidential election.
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were I guess at least monitored,” he said.
Nunes went on to say Trump’s communications were “incidentally collected” as part of a broader surveillance report. The monitoring was not related to Russia’s potential meddling in the election, he said, but would not identify the source of this material.
Nunes then traveled to the White House to brief the president. Following their meeting, Trump told reporters, “I somewhat do feel vindicated by the latest developments.”
Still, there are more questions about these intelligence leaks as the investigation continues.
In a sign of deepening interest among congressional investigators, leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked for materials on former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications and payments from Russian, Turkish and other foreign sources since Flynn retired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in August 2014.
Also sought by the committee chairman, GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and the top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, is any available material on Flynn’s security clearance, which would have been required to allow him access to highly classified government documents and information.
President Donald Trump fired Flynn last month for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials about Flynn’s post-election conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
The committee’s move is significant because of the bipartisan front and the effort to gain broad information about Flynn’s foreign-related work and communications for an extended period before Trump appointed him in January.
Cummings said the goal is to learn whether Flynn “was untruthful on his security clearance forms, his vetting materials, and in other documents — conduct that could carry a criminal penalty — and we want to know what the White House knew when they hired him as national security adviser.”
The committee also wants to determine whether Flynn violated the constitutional prohibition against foreign payments to former military officials who could be called back into service.
Meanwhile Wednesday, day three of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings got underway.
When pressed about Roe v. Wade, nominee Neil Gorsuch said he accepts the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions nationwide.
“A fetus is not a person for purposes of the 14th amendment, and the book explains that,” he said.
When asked whether he accepts that, he replied, “that’s the law of the land. I accept the law of the land, senator, yes.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)