March 19, 2017

A health-care bill that can satisfy both the House and the Senate — plus Republican conservatives and moderates alike — is "a fine needle that needs to be threaded," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Sunday in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

"As you heard the president say, he's been talking with a lot of the House members, and certainly members of the Senate as well," Price said. "We're working through this process. This is what tough legislation looks like, so it's not unusual to have this give-and-take and this back-and-forth. I'm confident that as we move forward, we'll be able to move all portions of the plan."

Beyond antagonism from congressional Democrats, the Trump administration's plan has GOP opponents in both houses of Congress. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a leading critic in the Senate, calling the proposal "ObamaCare Lite," and the conservative House Freedom Caucus reiterated on Friday its members will not vote for the current legislation, contra President Trump's claims.

Price pushed the same message on CNN's State of the Union, pledging that when the plan is complete, "every American will have access to the kind of coverage they want." Watch an excerpt of his comments on ABC below. Bonnie Kristian

March 26, 2017
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Around 70 people, including children and teachers from multiple schools, are believed to have been climbing in an area of the Nasu Osen Family Ski Resort hit by an avalanche Monday morning. Relief efforts are underway, the Kyodo news agency said, with six people showing no vital signs and three missing. The resort is in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017

Some critics of President Trump and the news media argue that political commentators have set an unusually low bar for Trump. At 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, the news division of Fox News sent out this "news alert":

In fact, Trump spent Saturday and Sunday at his golf course in Sterling, Virginia. His staff said he was in meetings, but social media posts showed he was wearing golf attire and spending time on the links. "Normally, I'd suggest that everyone cool it with the golf snark," notes Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. "We've now had four consecutive presidents who have taken endless grief every time they hit the links, and it's pretty stupid." But not only was this Trump's 13th trip to one of his golf clubs in 10 weeks in office, "like an embarrassed drunk, he's now trying to hide his golf addiction."

At The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Noah Weiland have a more substantive critique of Trump's frequent visits to Trump-branded properties, including another meal at his hotel in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night — the only restaurant he's eaten at in D.C. while president. For Trump, "it was just another weekend with a presidential-size spotlight on his family's business outlets," they write. "White House officials have said Mr. Trump goes to his clubs and restaurants because he is comfortable there, but critics increasingly argue that the visits are priceless advertising and that Mr. Trump and his family are using the presidency as a way to enrich themselves."

"It is normal for presidents to get out — and it can be a boost for small businesses across the city and the country," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, told The Times. "But with President Trump, he spends his down time as a walking advertisement for his businesses. It is a major departure from historic norm and degradation of the office."

Again, Trump had a tough week, and a few rounds of golf is a healthy way to blow off steam. But while Trump did not travel to his Florida club this weekend, and he may have spent part of his golf outings holding meetings, he clearly did not spend the "weekend working at the White House." And even if he had, outside of CNN, it's doesn't usually merit a "news alert" when somebody does his job. Peter Weber

March 26, 2017
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South Korean prosecutors will ask a court to issue an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye, the Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

Park was impeached three months ago and removed from office by the Constitutional Court earlier this month on allegations of corruption; Park was interrogated by prosecutors last week on suspicion she let a friend covertly interfere with state affairs and worked with an imprisoned confidante to extort certain companies. Park has denied the allegations. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017
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Journalists from the OC Weekly say they were physically attacked during a pro-President Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, on Saturday.

Before the march began, the OC Weekly reports, a few Trump supporters and opponents talked to each other and wished for peace on both sides. Not long after, a woman approached intern Frank Tristan, who told her he was part of the media, and Tristan said she hissed back at him, "Fake news!" By the time the march started, tensions were high, and two black counter-protesters were confronted by Trump supporters, the OC Weekly says, with one punched by a person wearing brass knuckles and shouting racial slurs.

A melee soon broke out, and the OC Weekly says Tristan was punched by a Trump supporter and photographers Brian Feinzimer and Julie Leopo were swatted with flags. When an anarchist counter-protester tried to pepper spray one of the attackers, he hit Tristan and Jennifer Sterling, a march organizer who was trying to break up the fight. Around this time, the OC Weekly says, neo-Nazis arrived.

The paper posted several videos of the fracas, including one profanity-laced clip showing a supporter hurling vulgar names at counter-protesters, and OC Weekly editor-in-chief Gustavo Arellano is urging anyone who recognizes the man Tristan says threw punches to contact him with his name. Read the whole play-by-play — with cameo appearances from a "toothbrush-needing woman [who] tried to mark the faces of counter-protesters with a pen" and people inexplicably chanting "Lock her up!" — at OC Weekly. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017
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The Freedom Caucus is down a member — Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) announced Sunday he has resigned from the conservative group.

"In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward," Poe said in a statement. "Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas." Poe is a former judge who has spent the last year fighting cancer.

Several members of the hardline group, along with some moderate Republicans, helped sink the Republican's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with the caucus calling for more conservative changes to the health care plan. Poe was one of just a few members of the caucus who, after speaking with President Trump, agreed to back the bill. Catherine Garcia

March 26, 2017

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, responded Sunday to President Trump's tweeted attack on his group of legislators for their role in defeating the American Health Care Act, the insurance bill Republican leadership supported but the conservatives lawmakers opposed.

"Congressman," said ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos, "the president says he's going to move on, and he's blaming you for 'saving Planned Parenthood, saving ObamaCare.'" Meadows argued, contra Trump, that this "is not the end of the debate" and to end the health-care conversation now is "like saying Tom Brady lost at halftime" in the 2017 Super Bowl.

"We may be in overtime," Meadows conceded, "but I can tell you at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this because he will deliver." Meadows expressed hope that conservative and moderate wings of the GOP can work together to craft a new health-care bill soon.

House Freedom Caucus Vice Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) took a less conciliatory note while speaking on Fox News Sunday. "The fact that we opposed [the AHCA], we did the country a favor because this bill didn't repeal ObamaCare," he said. "Let's be responsible, get back to work and do what we told the American people what we were going to accomplish, which is repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a patient-centered health-care program." Bonnie Kristian

March 26, 2017

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went to bat on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, addressing the failure of the White House-supported American Health Care Act as well as its political aftermath.

Priebus denied President Trump intended to obliquely support calls for House Speaker Paul Ryan's resignation in his tweeted recommendation of a Justice with Judge Jeanine episode that demanded the Wisconsin Republican step down. Trump's tweet was "more coincidental" and did not involve any "pre-planning," Priebus insisted over Wallace's protest. The president does not blame Ryan or wish him to resign, Priebus continued.

As for the future of American health care, Priebus said, "everything's on the table." The Trump team is not "closing the door on anything," he told Wallace, adding that "it would be nice to get some Democrats on board."

However, he rebuffed Wallace's suggestion that it is unreasonable for Trump to blame Democrats for the AHCA's de facto failure when the White House did not solicit any Democratic support or input. Democrats "weren't going to give us a single vote," Priebus maintained, but "when ObamaCare does ultimately explode, which it will, we're going to be prepared to lead again, and if Democrats come on board with a plan down the road, we'll welcome that."

Watch a brief except of Priebus' comments below. Bonnie Kristian

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