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March 29, 2017

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that the Trump administration will revisit health care following the bruising failure of the Republican replacement bill last week.

Trump "talked about repealing and replacing," Spicer explained. "It's a commitment he made. He'd like to get it done."

Spicer dismissed Trump's comments about the ease of replacing Affordable Care Act as being "a lighthearted moment" and added that health care is an "ongoing discussion" for the White House. Either way, Republican health-care efforts will likely be temporarily abandoned as the party turns its attention to the budget and tax reforms. Jeva Lange

March 28, 2017
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Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has requested all DNC staffers submit their letters of resignation by April 15, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the organization. While turnover isn't unusual when a new chair takes over, Perez's complete house-cleaning signals how drastically he plans to reorganize the Democratic Party.

Perez was elected in late February to replace interim chair Donna Brazile, who filled the position after former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) stepped down just before the Democratic National Convention last summer. NBC News reported the "top-to-bottom review process" is intended to discern "how the party should be structured in the future," after it was pummeled in the 2016 elections.

One aide told NBC News to expect the announcements in "coming weeks." The DNC declined to comment. Becca Stanek

March 28, 2017
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The British government on Tuesday rejected Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's request for an independence referendum. The announcement came shortly after the Scottish Parliament voted 69-59 in favor of backing Sturgeon's bid for a vote on Scotland's independence.

In a statement, the British government said it would not engage in negotiations with Scotland because it would be "unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information" about the U.K.'s "future relationship with Europe," or about "what an independent Scotland would look like."

Sturgeon has argued that while the U.K. may have voted to leave the European Union last year, Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining, and thus Scottish citizens deserve an independence vote before the Brexit process begins. "The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit — possibly a very hard Brexit — or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands," Sturgeon said Tuesday ahead of Parliament's vote.

Britain is slated to exit the EU in 2019. Becca Stanek

March 28, 2017
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Shaken over President Trump's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street is now raising questions about his ability to keep financial promises like reforming the tax code and slashing regulations on banks.

The cooling "Trump bump" has left the Dow at risk of suffering a ninth-straight day of decline Tuesday, which would mark the longest losing streak for the Dow since Jimmy Carter was in the White House in 1978. While the index is still up 11 percent since the election and the Nasdaq has actually closed higher in three of the past four days, CNN Money observes "a notable shift in terms of sentiment." Jeva Lange

March 28, 2017

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that President Trump's administration apparently attempted to greatly limit the scope of former Attorney General Sally Yates' testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Letters obtained by The Washington Post revealed Yates, who Trump fired in January after she would not back his immigration executive order, "was notified earlier this month by the Justice Department that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege." Yates served as deputy attorney general under former President Barack Obama and was the acting attorney general at the start of Trump's term, playing a role in the investigation of ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's communications about sanctions with a Russian ambassador.

In response, Yates' lawyer David O'Neill acknowledged the restrictions on Yates' testimony and assured the Justice Department that Yates would not disclose information protected by "client confidences" unless she were granted explicit permission by the department. However, O'Neill took issue with how "overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the department's historical approach" its orders to Yates were. "In particular, we believe that Ms. Yates should not be obligated to refuse to provide non-classified facts about the department's notification to the White House of concerns about the conduct of a senior official," O'Neill wrote.

A Justice Department official responded, saying that Yates would need to consult with the White House before disclosing information covered by the presidential communications privilege, but that she did not need "separate consent from the department."

On Friday, Yates' lawyer sent a letter notifying White House Counsel Don McGahn that "any claim of privilege 'has been waived as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials describing the January 2017 communications,'" The Washington Post reported. "Nevertheless, I am advising the White House of Ms. Yates' intention to provide information," O'Neill wrote.

Later that day, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called off the hearing at which Yates was expected to testify. Read more on the story at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

Update 11:16 a.m. ET: The White House has since released a statement denying The Washington Post's report.

March 27, 2017
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The Associated Press tallied up the potential costs of North Carolina's bathroom bill, and the total isn't pretty. Because of the legislation passed last year rolling back LGBTQ protections and requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological sex, The Associated Press estimated North Carolina will "suffer more than $3.76 billion in lost business" by the end of 2028.

One of the biggest blows is the canceled construction of the PayPal facility, which The Associated Press reported would have "added an estimated $2.6 billion to the state's economy." Other costs include called-off concerts, the NCAA's refusal to host tournaments in North Carolina, and the NAACP's national economic boycott — to name just a few.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law last year, then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) assured North Carolinians the law would not impact the state's status as "one of the top states to do business in the country." Lt. Gov Dan Forest has maintained the bill's effect is "minimal to the state" and warned people not to be "fooled by the media" into thinking the issue is "about the economy."

But The Associated Press found North Carolina's economy "could be growing faster if not for the projects that have already [been] canceled," noting its cost estimate is "likely an underestimation." In total, North Carolina has lost out on "more than 2,900 direct jobs that went elsewhere," AP reported.

Because the estimate is based on projects and events the state has already lost out on, North Carolina won't be getting that money back even if the law gets repealed. Read the full story over at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017
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President Trump reportedly spoke to Paul Ryan around 3 p.m. ET on Friday and agreed the House speaker should pull the health-care bill, a leadership aide told Politico. The vote was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon before being pushed back to Friday.

Many organizations counting "no" votes found as many as 34 Republicans said they would oppose the bill ahead of the planned vote; if the legislation lost more than 22 Republican votes, the proposal would not have passed the lower chamber. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had indicated in his early afternoon news conference that the vote was going to go ahead anyway, despite apparently not having enough support to pass, but refused to reveal the president's "strategy."

Trump had issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Pass the American Health Care Act on Friday, or lose the opportunity to repeal ObamaCare once and for all. Despite two days of tense negotiations — mostly with the far-right House Freedom Caucus, members of which oppose the bill for retaining too much of ObamaCare — it appears Ryan failed to get enough votes. Jeva Lange

March 24, 2017
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 88, was freed Friday from imprisonment, six years after he was ousted from his three-decade reign by Arab Spring protesters, The New York Times reports.

Mubarak's fall had once been seen as a hopeful model of Arab citizens holding their leaders accountable for human rights abuses and corruption, only for Mubarak's example to eventually fizzle out in court, where he received just one conviction on a minor corruption charge. "At this point, I really don't care," said activist Ahmed Harara, who lost sight in both eyes after being shot by police in the 2011 Cairo protests. "I realized years ago that this is not just about Mubarak and his regime — it's an entire system that has now resurrected itself." Jeva Lange

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