Associated Press - 7/384 - SaintPetersBlog

Associated Press

Florida Senate says yes to more help for college students

College students in Florida could soon get extra help under an ambitious proposal passed by the Florida Senate.

The Florida Senate voted 35-1 Thursday for an overhaul of the state’s higher education system that is a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron. It boosts financial aid and calls for new programs to help universities attract and keep faculty members.

The bill (SB 2) would require the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a state university or college.

Florida used to pay 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the top Bright Futures scholarship, but it was scaled back during the Great Recession.

It’s not clear, however, if the Florida House will pass the bill. House leaders have started questioning university spending.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Florida tries again to fix death-penalty law

Florida lawmakers are trying for the second year in a row to fix the state’s death penalty law.

The Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to require a unanimous jury decision to impose the death penalty. The House is also prepared for a vote on the issue. It could be the first major bill sent to Gov. Rick Scott this year.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016 declared the state’s death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges.

Last year, a bill requiring a 10-2 jury vote was enacted. The state Supreme Court struck it down in October, saying a unanimous decision was needed.

The Republican-dominated Legislature isn’t happy about having to make the fix, but lawmakers say their hands are tied by the court.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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House faults universities over salaries and spending

A top Florida House Republican says that state universities are spending way too much money inappropriately and that they don’t need more help from taxpayers.

State Rep. Carlos Trujillo also suggested Wednesday that legislators may need to look at how much university presidents are paid, as well as even how much football and basketball coaches are paid. The Miami Republican and House budget chief said too many people work for universities or university foundations who earn more than $200,000 a year.

The House is scrutinizing university spending at the same time that the Florida Senate is poised to approve a major overhaul of colleges and universities that includes spending more. Senate President Joe Negron is pushing the proposal to put Florida schools on par with other well-known universities.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Hey, Rookie! Mets’ Tim Tebow takes practice swings on wrong side

Tim Tebow made his first rookie mistake even before stepping into the batter’s box.

The New York Mets newcomer walked behind home plate and took his practice swings near Boston’s on-deck circle.

“I didn’t know who that was back there. I thought it was the ball boy,” AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello said.

Tebow’s debut as a big leaguer didn’t go much better Wednesday.

The former NFL quarterback went 0 for 3, twice looking at strike three and also grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in a spring training exhibition against the Red Sox.

Tebow did safely reach when he was hit by a pitch in the right shoulder. But his stay on base was brief — he got doubled off first on a line drive.

“It was a first day for me getting to compete. I’ll learn a lot from it. It’s kind of what I expected from a competition level,” he said.

The 29-year-old Tebow batted eighth as the designated hitter. Signed last fall, he’s in camp on a minor league contract, hoping to make it as an outfielder. He’s next scheduled to play for the Mets in a split-squad game Friday against Houston, and manager Terry Collins said Tebow would be in the field.

Tebow’s day started out with a fun-filled morning stretch. He was loudly welcomed by slugger Yoenis Cespedes and kidded by Pittsburgh native Neil Walker — the second baseman barbed Tebow for once leading the Denver Broncos over the Steelers in the playoffs. Tebow warmed up by swatting a few home runs in batting practice.

To say Tebow’s first game was a success, however, would be a stretch. He did, at least, get to slap high-fives on the field after an 8-7 win in front of 6,538 fans.

“With almost anything I do, I get a little nervous because I care about it, the outcome and my teammates,” Tebow said. “But I’d also get nervous if I was going to talk to a high school football team before a game.”

Tebow was set to lead off the third inning for his first at-bat. The lefty hitter emerged from the Mets’ dugout on the third base side and crossed over to the Boston side, drifting toward the Red Sox on-deck circle and inching his way into Porcello’s view.

“I thought you walked around because you’re a left-hander. I found out you don’t do that,” he said.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner then faced Porcello, prompting some to figure out another matchup between Heisman and Cy Young winners — Bo Jackson versus Frank Viola, for example.

Tebow drew a nice cheer when he stepped in wearing a No. 97 jersey with no name on the back. He swung late on a fastball to fall behind and was caught looking at a 92-mph heater on a 1-2 count. He had a friendly word and smile for plate umpire Ryan Additon after being called out.

Tebow came up next with the bases loaded and bounced into a double play against Noe Ramirez. A run scored on the grounder, but Tebow didn’t get credit for an RBI.

The third time up, Tebow was plunked in the right shoulder by a pitch by fellow University of Florida alum Brian Johnson.

“Come on, where’s the love?” Tebow kidded. “No, it’s fine.”

“I’ve been good at taking hits most of my career. That might come easier than anything else,” he said.

L.J. Mazzilli followed with a line drive to second baseman Deven Marrero, whose throw to first beat Tebow. Righty reliever Brandon Workman fanned Tebow on three pitches in the eighth, getting him looking with a curveball.

Before the game, Boston manager John Farrell watched from the top step of the visitors’ dugout as Tebow hit some long drives, the majority the opposite way at First Data Field.

Farrell said Tebow’s attempt to make it in baseball, which he last played as a junior in high school before joining the Mets last August, is a bold ambition but reveals plenty about his character.

“It says he’s not afraid of failure, and that’s great for any athlete,” Farrell said. “Athletes are all going to become vulnerable in their performance at some point, and for who’s been such a high profile in another sport come in and say, ‘Hey, I’m willing to take a run at this,’ I think it’s a pretty cool thing.”

“When you look at the raw power in BP, it’s pretty evident. It says you’ve got some pretty good hand-eye coordination. (Baseball’s) hard for a guy who plays every year,” he said. “When you have that kind of gap, I think it’s a window into the mindset that anything is possible. Why not take a run with it?”

NOTES: Mets starter Noah Syndergaard said he’s trying to work on a softer landing in his delivery and wasn’t happy with his outing. He gave up three hits and a walk in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. “I’m not pleased how erratic I was and how nitpicky I am around the zone right now with my pitches.” OF Jay Bruce connected off Porcello for his first homer of the spring in the fourth inning, a shot that caromed off a light pole. The Mets held a moment of silence for longtime team broadcast director Bill Webb, who died Tuesday at 65 after a bout with cancer.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Fort Lauderdale woman seeks right to trial in Trump University case

A Fort Lauderdale woman asked this week to be excluded from a proposed settlement with President Donald Trump over fraud allegations at his now-defunct Trump University, setting the stage for a possible trial if a federal judge agrees.

Attorneys for Sherri Simpson said in a court filing that lawyers for former students in class-action lawsuits promised in 2015 that they could ask to be excluded from any future settlement. A settlement announced less than two weeks after Trump’s election allows class members to object to the terms, but they can no longer drop out, preventing them from suing on the own.

She described herself as a single mother hoping to improve life for her child — until she was victimized by what she describes as shady practices at Trump University.

“All of it was just a fake,” Simpson said in the ad. “America, do not make the same mistake that I did with Donald Trump. I got hurt badly and I’d hate to see this country get hurt by Donald Trump.”

Monday was the last day for former students to object to the $25 million settlement, which U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel will consider for final approval at a hearing March 30 in San Diego.

Curiel, a target of Trump’s repeated criticism during the presidential campaign, granted preliminary approval to the agreement in December and has said he hoped it would be part of a healing process that the country sorely needed. It settles two class-action lawsuits before Curiel on behalf of about 7,000 former students and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The former students would get at least 50 percent of their money back, according to plaintiff attorneys, who waived their fees to allow for larger payouts.

Simpson’s attorneys said many may be satisfied with the payment and acknowledged it is high under standards for class-action lawsuits but that their client wasn’t prepared to take it.

“What Ms. Simpson seeks is her day in court, at which she will press for the complete vindication of all her rights, including her full damages plus punitive damages and injunctive relief. Due process guarantees her the autonomy to pursue these goals,” her attorneys said.

According to the proposed settlement, former students had until Nov. 16, 2015, to opt out of a future settlement and cannot sue Trump on the same grounds. Thirteen people opted out, but not Simpson.

Jason Forge, an attorney for plaintiffs, said Monday that the former students had been repeatedly informed of the opt-out deadline. “Anyone who chose to give up their individual claim and remain in the class will be rewarded for doing so under the terms of what is (a) historically beneficial settlement,” he said in an email.

The lawsuits allege that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver on its promises. They contend that Trump misled students by calling the business a university and by saying that he had hand-picked the instructors.

After attending two seminars in Florida in 2010, Simpson enrolled in the “Gold Elite” mentorship program for $35,000.

Attorneys for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump admits no wrongdoing under the proposed settlement.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Florida State begins replacement search for RB Dalvin Cook

For the third straight year, the battle to fill one of Florida State’s major offensive positions will once begin be the Seminole’s main focus during spring practices.

This time though, it isn’t quarterback. It’s running back.

With Dalvin Cook leaving early for the NFL draft, coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff began spring practices on Monday seeing who can replace the school’s career rushing leader.

Cook is still a big fixture around the school’s football facilities, and not just from the 20-foot mural of him that adorns the player’s lounge. Fisher said that he saw Cook working out in the weight room after he returned from the NFL scouting combine.

Fisher believes it may take more than one player to replace Cook’s contributions.

“You would always love to have that one guy, but you also know at that position that you are going to need to have a stable of guys,” Fisher said. “That’s just something we will constantly be continuing to grow in.”

Jacques Patrick, who will be a junior, is the most experienced and averaged 5.4 yards his first two seasons. He also has two 100-yard games, including 124 yards last season in a win at South Florida.

At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Patrick is more of a bruising back who doesn’t have the initial burst of quickness that Cook possessed.

Freshman Cam Akers has generated the most interest among the coaching staff. The five-star recruit, considered the nation’s top running back by many recruiting services in the Class of 2017, is an early enrollee and has already impressed Fisher with how well he has adapted on and off the field.

Senior Ryan Green and sophomore Amir Rasul also should see their share of opportunities. Rasul will not participate in contact drills the first two weeks while he rehabs from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Seminoles’ other significant position battle is at left tackle, where Roderick Johnson started 31 straight games before also opting to leave a year early. Fisher said that Ethan Firth has emerged as one of the early favorites along with redshirt freshmen Josh Ball and Jauan Williams. Firth was Johnson’s backup last season, but did not see much playing time.

An opening that won’t be that hard to fill is at defensive end, where DeMarcus Walker had 26.5 sacks the past two seasons. The Seminoles have a lot of youth and depth on the defensive line, including junior Josh Sweat, who had 4.5 sacks in last season’s final three games.

One thing Fisher will not be spending most of the spring on is preparing his team for the Sept. 2 opener in Atlanta against Alabama. He said there may be some blitz concepts that he will install but that isn’t different from other seasons.

What Fisher is more concerned about is making sure his team knows the high expectations that will exist immediately. He wasn’t happy with how his team came out the first week of spring drills last season, and the lethargic performance seemed to carry over to the first month of the regular season when the Seminoles got off to a disappointing 3-2 start before winning seven of their final eight games.

Fisher is putting an increased effort on accountability. During conditioning drills prior to spring practices, players wore garnet jerseys for giving what Fisher calls “championship effort.” They will continue to do so during spring workouts: garnet for championship effort, white for average performances and orange for underperforming.

As of last week, 90 percent of the players were wearing garnet jerseys.

“We’ve got a long way to go but we’re farther along now than we were then by far,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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About that unusually tense interview between Stephanopoulos, Trump aide

George Stephanopoulos‘ “Good Morning America” interview with White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday is an instant milestone in the hostile relationship between the Trump administration and the media.

In the discussion about President Donald Trump‘s weekend accusations — offered without proof — that former President Obama ordered Trump’s New York home wiretapped, Stephanopoulos repeatedly interrupted and stopped Sanders when he felt she veered from the truth. It was a crackling exchange unusual for the generally happy terrain of network morning television, and made Stephanopoulos a hero or villain depending on whose social media feed is followed.

It was also the second time in a month that the ABC anchor had a notably sharp interview with a Trump administration official. On “This Week” last month, he repeatedly pressed Trump aide Stephen Miller for evidence to back up the claim that there was massive voter fraud in the election.

Sanders was also interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday, while “CBS This Morning” turned down the White House’s offer to have her on. Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” brought presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway on to speak about Trump’s allegations, less than a day after White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there would be no further comment on the issue. It wasn’t clear what changed the administration’s strategy.

Stephanopoulos began his interview by asking Sanders whether Trump accepted reports that FBI director James Comey had denied there was any wiretapping of Trump. Sanders said she didn’t believe he did, and started talking about wiretapping reports in other media outlets.

“Sarah, I have got to stop you right there,” Stephanopoulos said. The stories she cited did not back up the president’s claims, he said. “What is the president’s evidence?” he asked.

Sanders said there was “wide reporting” suggesting that the administration could have ordered wiretapping. Stephanopoulos stopped her to note there was a report of a court-ordered wiretapping, although James Clapper, former director of national intelligence under Obama, had denied that.

Stephanopoulos stopped Sanders again when she noted that the unsubstantiated report of a wiretapping order came under the Obama administration and that “all we’re asking is that Congress be allowed to do its job.”

“Hold on a second,” he said. “There is a world of difference between a wiretap ordered by a president and a court-ordered wiretap by a federal judge.”

Noting that Obama’s representatives, Comey and Clapper had all said there was no wiretapping, Stephanopoulos asked, “is the president calling all three of these people liars?”

Sanders said that he wasn’t, but that it was a matter for congressional investigators to look into. She said she considered it a double standard that the media does not believe Trump when he says nothing untoward had happened between him and Russia, while reporters accept denials by the Obama administration on the wiretap accusation.

“If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would be reporting that he could not swim,” she said.

The interview illustrated the difficulties the media faces in trying to report on the president’s unsubstantiated tweets. There was a furious debate on the “Good Morning America” Facebook page on Monday afternoon between people who cheered the host, a one-time adviser to President Bill Clinton, for calling out untruths, and others who believed he was rude — even suggesting they would boycott ABC’s morning show because they were disgusted by the interview.

Many of Trump’s supporters are angered by aggressive questioning because they believe the media did not ask similar tough questions of the Obama administration, said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog.

“You have no right to tell us what the truth is,” Graham said.

At the same time, reporters face pressure from Trump opponents who give no quarter, as witnessed by last week’s backlash against television analysts who suggested Trump gave an effective speech before Congress. There are also some who believe the wiretap accusation itself is a way to distract people from the story about Russia, and the media effectively supports the strategy by reporting it.

Stephanopoulos said after the interview that his job is to elicit as much clarity as possible, and he believed his interview was an important opportunity to get the Trump administration on the record on these issues.

“If I hear something that I know to be untrue, then I think it’s my responsibility to point that out,” he said.

Sanders’ interview on “Today” was more peaceful, but still had some tense moments. Savannah Guthrie interrupted Sanders to ask a second time when she wouldn’t answer her question about whether the president had made his accusations solely after seeing media reports. She said she didn’t know.

Sanders later repeated the same line about the Potomac River.

Conway was given more time to talk on “Fox & Friends,” although she did face pushback on whether Trump associates who had conversations with Russian officials had hurt the president. She drew laughs when she said she wished she had $50 for every time Russia was mentioned in the news.

“A drinking game,” one of the Fox anchors joked off-screen.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Florida Supreme Court considers voting rights amendment

The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to approve the wording of a proposed amendment that could allow convicted criminals to vote.

Backers of the amendment went before the high court on Monday. Justices must decide whether the amendment is misleading.

Florida’s constitution bars people convicted of felonies from being able to vote after they have left prison. Convicted felons must ask to have their voting rights restored.

The amendment would allow most convicts to have their rights automatically restored after they have completed their prison sentence. Felons convicted of murder or a sexual offense would not be eligible.

Amendment supporters still must gather more than 700,000 signatures to place the amendment on the 2018 ballot.

An attorney for Attorney General Pam Bondi said she is not taking a stance on the amendment wording.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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House GOP releases bill replacing Barack Obama health care overhaul

House Republicans on Monday released their long-awaited plan for unraveling former President Barack Obama‘s health care law, a package that would scale back the government’s role in health care and likely leave more Americans uninsured.

House committees planned to begin voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday, launching what could be the year’s defining battle in Congress and capping a seven-year Republican effort to repeal the 2010 law. Though GOP leaders expect their measure to win the backing of the Trump administration, divisions remain and GOP success is by no means ensured.

The plan would repeal the statute’s unpopular fines on people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace income-based subsidies the law provides to help millions of Americans pay premiums with age-based tax credits that may be less generous to people with low incomes. Those payments would phase out for higher-earning people.

The bill would continue Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to additional low-earning Americans until 2020. After that, states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds the statute has provided.

More significantly, Republicans would overhaul the federal-state Medicaid program, changing its open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state.

In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November’s election.

Republicans said they don’t have official estimates on those figures yet. But aides from both parties and nonpartisan analysts have said they expect coverage numbers to be lower.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill would “drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance.” He added, “This unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare.”

But besides solid opposition from Democrats, there were signals galore that Republican leaders faced problems within their own party, including from conservatives complaining that the measure isn’t aggressive enough in repealing parts of Obama’s law.

“It still looks like Obamacare-lite to me,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., among three Senate conservatives who have criticized the emerging GOP bill. “It’s going to have to be better.”

The Republican tax credits — ranging from $2,000 to $14,000 for families — would be refundable, meaning even people with no tax liability would receive the payments. Conservatives have objected that that feature creates a new entitlement program the government cannot afford.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wouldn’t rule out changes in the measure by his chamber, where significant numbers of moderate Republicans have expressed concerns that the measure could leave too many voters without coverage.

“The House has the right to come up with what it wants to and present it to the Senate by passing it. And we have a right to look it over and see if we like it or don’t,” Hatch told reporters.

Underscoring those worries, four GOP senators released a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shortly before the bill was unveiled.

They complained that an earlier, similar draft of the measure “does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.” Signing the letter were Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia opted to expand Medicaid coverage under the law and accept beefed-up federal spending for the program. Around half those states have GOP governors, who are largely reluctant to see that spending curtailed.

In another feature that could alienate moderate Republicans, the measure would block for one year federal payments to Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization long opposed by many in the party because it provides abortions. It also forbids people receiving tax credits to help pay premiums to buy coverage under a plan that provides abortions.

Republicans said they’d not yet received official cost estimates on the overall bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That office’s projections on the bill’s price tag and the number of people the measure would cover could be key in winning over recalcitrant Republicans, or making them even harder to win over.

A series of tax increases on higher-earning people, the insurance industry and others used to finance the Obama overhaul’s coverage expansion would be repealed as of 2018.

In a last-minute change to satisfy conservative lawmakers, business and unions, Republicans dropped a plan pushed by Ryan to impose a first-ever tax on the most generous employer-provided health plans.

Popular consumer protections in the Obama law would be retained, such as insurance safeguards for people with pre-existing medical problems, and parents’ ability to keep young adult children on their insurance until age 26.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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An angry weekend follows on heels of frustrations for Donald Trump

President Donald Trump started his weekend in Florida in a fit of anger over his young administration getting sidetracked just days after his most successful moment in office. He returned to the White House late Sunday derailed — again.

Trump’s frustration appeared to be both the symptom and the cause of his recent woes. Angry about leaks, errant messaging and his attorney general landing in hot water, he fired off a series of tweets that only ensured more distractions.

His staff had hoped to build on the momentum generated by his speech to Congress by rolling out his revamped travel ban and, potentially, unveiling his health care plan. Those efforts rapidly unraveled, sparking more staff infighting and enraging a president loath to publicly admit a mistake and eager to shift the blame onto others.

And now, as Trump begins one of the most pivotal weeks yet for his presidency, his staff is facing the fallout from another allegation of close ties to Russia and the president’s unsubstantiated claims that his predecessor ordered him wiretapped during the campaign.

Trump simmered all weekend in Florida before returning to Washington ahead of signing new immigration restrictions, according to associates who spoke to the president and, like others interviewed, requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. Those close to Trump said it was the angriest he’s been as president, his rage bursting to the surface at his senior staff Friday afternoon in the Oval Office.

Trump was furious about the negative impact of the flap over Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He told one person he personally felt let down that his senior staff were unable to fight back against the story. He also suggested he felt that Sessions’ move to recuse himself from any investigation into administration links to Russia felt like an admission of defeat, said the person who spoke to the president over the weekend but declined to be named discussing private conversations.

Sessions’ decision particularly infuriated a president who promised repeatedly during the campaign that he’d “win so much the American people would be tired of winning” and he felt that it was a sign of weakness, the person said.

White House chief of staff Reince Preibus, scheduled to travel with Trump to his coastal Palm Beach estate, was told to stay behind. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon also remained in Washington but later flew to Mar-a-Lago.

Those close to Trump have said he has had his happiest days as president at Mar-a-Lago. He didn’t cool off there this weekend.

Many West Wing staffers who stayed behind in Washington awoke Saturday morning to the chiming of their cell phones. The president was tweeting just after dawn to hurl the extraordinary accusation that President Barack Obama had ordered Trump Tower to be wiretapped, a charge for which Trump provided no evidence.

Trump had stayed disciplined on Twitter for days surrounding his congressional speech, but no more. Staffers planning to spend the weekend preparing for the president’s new executive orders were instead sent scrambling to deal with the incendiary tweetstorm, their carefully laid plans again wrecked 140 characters at a time.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, an honored guest at Saturday night’s annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner, a night of witticisms delivered by reporters and politicos alike, spent most of the night with his head buried in his phone, missing many of the jokes, several at his expense. Sessions had been slated to attend the event but canceled after the revelations about his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The first travel ban, which was hastily written with little outside consultation, was struck down by a federal court. Weeks of planning and delays have gone into the second order, one that is also sure to face legal challenges and, were it to suffer a second legal defeat, could have a devastating political impact.

Some Trump allies have been frustrated by his conspiracy-mongering about the inauguration crowd size and claims of widespread voter fraud, believing those accusations had become distractions to their agenda. Afraid to upset the mercurial president, they scrambled to fulfill his request to probe the alleged wiretapping.

On Sunday, the White House asked Republicans in Congress to search for evidence. Obama’s intelligence chief would soon say no such action was ever carried out, and a U.S. official would confirm that the FBI had asked the Justice Department to dispute the allegation.

“I think the bigger thing is, let’s find out. Let’s have an investigation,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on ABC. “If they’re going to investigate Russia ties, let’s include this as part of it. And so that’s what we’re asking.”

Other Republicans seemed baffled by the charges, which could prove a distraction in the week ahead.

“The president put that out there, and now the White House will have to answer as to exactly what he was referring to,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on CNN.

But Trump told friends that he was certain he’d be vindicated.

“I spoke with the president twice yesterday about the wiretap story. I haven’t seen him this pissed off in a long time,” wrote Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend and head of NewsMax. “When I mentioned Obama ‘denials’ about the wiretaps, he shot back: ‘This will be investigated, it will all come out. I will be proven right.'”

The president, accustomed to a culture of corporate loyalty enforced by iron-clad nondisclosure agreements, also continued to rage about the leaks that have plagued his White House. He blames the leaks, rather than any of his own decisions, for his administration’s shaky start and is threatening to make changes if they continue, according to one person who spoke to him. That could include making the administration’s public case for policies, as he did in a lengthy news conference and his congressional speech, both performances praised by his backers.

Trump has been particularly incensed over the leaks about Russia ties, which have dogged him since his election. During the transition, he ripped the intelligence community for being behind the leaks and even compared them to Nazi propaganda. Lately, he has blamed Democrats, suggesting that they were using them as an excuse for Hillary Clinton‘s defeat.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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