The Latest: Ethics office disagrees with White House

AP News
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Posted: Mar 10, 2017 3:01 PM
The Latest: Ethics office disagrees with White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

3:00 p.m.

The Office of Government Ethics disagrees with a White House belief that government ethics rules don't apply to executive branch employees.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic House Oversight leaders, OGE Director Walter Shaub writes that the White House ignored his recommendation to discipline counselor Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion line in a TV appearance. Conway has been counseled on the matter and meant no harm by it, the White House has said.

In Thursday's letter, Shaub writes: "Of greater concern, the White House's response includes assertions challenging the applicability of ethics rules and OGE's authority to oversee the ethics program for the entire executive branch."

Shaub has publicly tussled with Trump, saying the president should have fully divested his businesses before taking office.

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2:20 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer opened his daily press briefing with his American flag lapel pin upside down — and the internet noticed.

Spicer took the podium in the White House briefing room Friday and launched into a recap of President Donald Trump's first 50 days in office.

Twitter lit up with jokes about the pin. Some posters noted that, traditionally, an upside-down American flag is a sign of distress or an act of political protest.

Others tweeted that it was the logo for the television political series "House of Cards" and wondered if it was subtle advertising.

The situation was rectified when Spicer called on Fox News reporter John Roberts for the first question of the briefing. Roberts pointed out the pin, and Spicer fixed it.

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12:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with the House chairmen and women whose committees are aiding the drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump thanked the leaders for their devotion, leadership and diligent work in shepherding Republican health care legislation through their panels.

Both the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee cleared the legislation earlier this week.

Trump reiterated at the White House meeting that action is needed "now" to save consumers from what he says is the coming "Obamacare disaster."

Vice President Mike Pence attended the meeting, along with Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the Ways and Means Committee chairman, and Rep. Greg Walden of Washington, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is pushing the embattled House GOP health care plan in his weekly address.

Trump says he wants every American to know that action on the Obama health care law is an "urgent necessity."

He says, "The law is collapsing around us," and that millions of Americans will be "hurt and badly hurt" if nothing is done.

Trump says the plan put forward by House Republicans satisfies the goals he laid out in his recent speech to Congress.

Medical groups have criticized the plan, and conservatives deride it as "Obamacare lite."

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10:05 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is mocking the Trump administration and Republicans over their bowling outings at the White House.

The California Democrat tells reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that, "I really do think he's making fools of his own people quite frankly. You don't agree philosophically in what the legislation is? Let's go bowling at the White House. Come on."

A group of Republicans went bowling Thursday evening at the small alley in the White House basement, and a group of Freedom Caucus members have been invited for next week. It's part of the administration effort to woo lawmakers to support the GOP health care bill.

Pelosi adds that "I find the charm offensive offensive."

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9:55 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is suggesting the FBI director should come forward to dispute President Donald Trump's baseless claim that he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama.

Asked Friday about James Comey's responsibility in the matter, Pelosi responded: "Theoretically do I think that a director of the FBI who knows for a fact that something is mythology but misleading to the American people, and he should set the record straight? Yes, I do think he should say that publicly."

Trump's claim, Pelosi added, "couldn't possibly be true."

Trump made the claim over Twitter about Obama wiretapping him, without evidence. Comey has privately urged the Justice Department to dispute the claim but has not come forward to do so himself.

Pelosi spoke at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.