HUFFPOST HILL - D.C. Bars Ruined As CPAC Kicks Into Full Swing

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Donald Trump, a guy who frequently pretended to be a fake Donald Trump spokesman, thinks anonymous quotes shouldn’t exist. Sean Spicer graciously spared the New York Times, Politico and CNN from having to publish his lies today. And Marco Rubio called town hall protesters “rude and stupid,” and thanks to that whole hands thing during the campaign, it isn’t actually the dumbest insult he’s ever levied against someone. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 24th, 2017:

FIRST THIS: CNN REPORTS PRIEBUS TRIED TO STRONG-ARM FBI - CNN: “The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate. White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14. The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.” [CNN]

THEN THIS: WHITE HOUSE LOCKS OUT CNN - Michael Calderone: “The White House blocked several news outlets from attending a closed-door briefing Friday afternoon with press secretary Sean Spicer, a decision that drew strong rebukes from news organizations and may only heighten tensions between the press corps and the administration. The New York Times and CNN, both of which have reported critically on the administration and are frequent targets of President Donald Trump, were prohibited from attending. The Huffington Post was also denied entry. Both the Associated Press and Time magazine, which were allowed to enter, boycotted out of solidarity with those news organizations kept out. Spicer said prior to the start of the administration that the White House may skip televised daily briefings in favor of an off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. But Spicer has continued doing televised daily briefings except when traveling, making Friday’s decision an unusual one that led to frustration among journalists kept out.” [HuffPost]  

For those of you wondering what a White House staffed entirely by lobotomized clones of Philippe Reines would look like, you’ve finally got your wish: “It’s not clear if the Trump White House has maintained, revoked or replaced the rules. Aides to former President Barack Obama handed off copies of the policy as a model for the Trump White House during the transition, two people with knowledge of the situation said…. Asked about whether Priebus broke any rules, White House spokesman Michael Short said, ‘Your questions lack any basic knowledge about the issues at hand.’ ... Under Obama, White House staff were forbidden from contacting any agency or department about the merits of specific matters involving specific parties, including investigations, litigation and enforcement actions, according to a person familiar with the policy. All communications with the Justice Department, whether about a specific matter or not, were routed through the attorney general or his or her deputy.” [Politico’s Isaac Arnsdorf]

TRUMP KEEPS UP ATTACKS ON PRESS DURING CPAC SPEECH - Paige Lavender: “President Donald Trump criticized the media again on Friday while speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Trump claimed it was wrongly reported that he called the media the ‘enemy of the people’ last week, saying he’d actually called ‘fake news’ the enemy. But he has branded such reputable media outlets as the The New York Times, CNN, NBC and others ‘fake news.’ The president argued that the First Amendment gives him ‘the right to criticize fake news and criticize it strongly.’ ‘[The media] say that we can’t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the First Amendment,’ Trump said. ‘I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me,’ he added. Trump also said he thinks news outlets should not use anonymous sources, despite using them himself to make claims that have been proven false.” [HuffPost]

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HERE COMES RYANCARE - If you like your plan, go &$@# yourself. Paul Demko: “A draft House Republican repeal bill would dismantle the Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion…. The legislation 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.” [Politico]

*Insert the most “Uber, for this” joke ever here*: “Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, claimed Friday that left-wing protesters are being paid $1,500 a week and deliberately inciting violence in response to Donald Trump’s presidency. Speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre argued that those protesters are ‘willing to use violence against us’ and that ‘they want revenge.’ ‘They’re angry, they’re militant, and they’re willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want,’ LaPierre said.” [HuffPost’s Paige Lavender]

REPUBLICAN PRIORITIES - Lee Fang and Nick Surgey: “Many of the same congressional Republicans who are ducking their constituents by refusing to hold town hall events during this week’s recess are actively offering to meet with donors ― for a fee…. Speaker Paul Ryan’s constituents in Wisconsin asked him for a town hall meeting during recess, but Ryan’s staff remained cagey about his whereabouts…. Ryan began the recess with a “Winter PAC Retreat” last weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami, an event that welcomed donors who have given ‘a minimum contribution of $10,000’ to the Team Ryan joint fundraising committee. That’s Ryan’s special PAC that can raise as much as $244,200 per person. Since the event in Miami, the speaker has toured Texas and California hosting events for the PAC in Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Menlo Park.” [The Intercept]

RYAN SCREWING OVER HIS OWN DISTRICT - But he’s just a normal guy who likes hunting and getting things done. Laura Bassett: “Ryan and Republicans in Congress are aiming to pass legislation that blocks Medicaid recipients from choosing Planned Parenthood for health care and family planning services, including birth control, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing, because some of the provider’s clinics offer abortion. For many low-income women in rural areas, including Ryan’s district, Planned Parenthood is currently their only option for family planning or women’s health. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood runs 21 health centers. It serves about 60,000 patients a year, roughly 50,000 of whom are Medicaid eligible. Taking away the clinics’ ability to serve those on Medicaid ‘would significantly reduce our ability to provide care to a huge chunk of our patients, which could lead to clinic closures,’ said Nicole Safar, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin’s director of government relations.” [HuffPost]

AMERICAN CARNAGE UPDATE - And what has Bowling Green’s mayor done to stop the carnage there? Hayley Miller: “Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of Chicago’s rising homicide rate, the city’s police department says multiple requests for federal assistance have gone unanswered so far. The city’s superintendent of police, Eddie Johnson, called out the White House and Department of Justice on Thursday after Trump tweeted ‘Chicago needs help’ in light of several fatal shootings. Johnson said violence in some Chicago neighborhoods was ‘unacceptable’ but Trump’s administration had yet to provide support. ‘We’ve made requests to the White House and the Justice Department for them to support our work — from increasing federal gun prosecution to more FBI, DEA and ATF agents to more funding for mentoring, job training and more,’ Johnson said in a statement. ‘We are still waiting for the administration’s response to our request.’” [HuffPost] 

THE WORST KIND OF VOTER-SUPPRESSION OWN GOAL - If you’re going to deny a bunch of people the franchise, at least have some chill. Samuel Levine: “The head of the Montana Republican Party wrote an emergency plea this week warning that legislation allowing residents to cast mail-in ballots would benefit Democrats and make it more difficult for the GOP to maintain control of state politics. At issue is legislation introduced by Montana state Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R) that would allow Montanans to cast mail-in ballots in a special election later this year to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), whom President Donald Trump tapped to lead the Interior Department. Fitzpatrick introduced the bill to save the state $500,000 by not requiring election judges and other officials to be hired on short notice, he told The Associated Press.” [HuffPost]

LITTLE MARCO WON’T BE THE BIGGER MAN - This sort of thing could blow his lead in the establishment lane. Arthur Delaney: “When a constituent confronted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Thursday about why he wasn’t holding a town hall event during this week’s congressional recess, Rubio gave what seemed an honest answer. ‘I don’t know man, because town halls, people get rude and stupid ― on both sides,’ the senator told the man. A community organizer for the Florida chapter of the Service Employees International Union tweeted a video of the encounter, which happened in a lecture hall at Florida International University, where Rubio teaches a class. The questioner appears to be Rafael Velasquez, a member of the Florida Democratic party’s board of trustees.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a small child being a little too literal about cooking.

*Scratch chin emoji, but wearing a fedora with a press bill* “Executives at The Washington Post say they began considering the newspaper’s eye-grabbing new motto long before President Donald Trump was elected. The newspaper began running the phrase ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’ beneath its online masthead this week. The slogan will begin appearing in the Post’s print edition next week.” [AP]


- A very literal interpretation of “Uptown Funk.”

- While we’re on the subject of funk, here’s what bass strings on an electric guitar sound like.

- Five-year-old is very woke.


@HCheadle: *hires senior staff of rivals who hate each other*

“Who is behind these treasonous leaks?!”

@FanSince09: I would finance a group of black twitter’s finest roasters to go to town halls and just mercilessly lay into representatives

@hunterw: The year 2035. Ex-President Trump sits by a fireplace at Mar a Lago. He leans towards his great grandson: “We had 17 people running ...”

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