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News Wrap: White House struggles to shift gears amid Russia questions

March 27, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In our news wrap Monday, White House efforts to move beyond the failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act were overshadowed by mounting questions over House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes' revelation about intercepted Trump communications. Also, Turkish citizens overseas began voting on dramatically expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Friday’s failure to get a House vote on replacing Obamacare is still reverberating tonight.

But the president and his team are finding it difficult trying to shift to new topics.

John Yang has our report.

SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: We’re not saying its the end of health care, but I think that we’re looking to look for a way forward.

JOHN YANG: At the White House today, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was the public face of the effort to move beyond the humiliating collapse of President Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

SEAN SPICER: What this event on Friday did was frankly draw more people into the process to saying, OK, let’s figure out if we can actually come together with some consensus ideas to get to 218, whether or not they come from one side of the aisle or the other.

JOHN YANG: But much of the day was dominated by mounting questions about the House Intelligence Committee chairman’s revelation that Trump transition communications had been intercepted.

Today, Representative Devin Nunes acknowledged he got that information during a meeting with a source, not a White House official, in the Old Executive Office Building in the White House complex.

Today, Spicer said he couldn’t say with certainty that the White House wasn’t the source of Nunes’ information.

SEAN SPICER: What I can tell you through his public comments is that he has said that he had multiple sources that he came to a conclusion on. So, to the degree to which any of those sources weighed on the ultimate outcome of what he came to a decision on, I don’t know. And that’s something that, frankly, I don’t even know that he discussed with the president.

QUESTION: So it’s possible, as far as you know right now?

SPICER: Well, anything — anything is possible.

JOHN YANG: Meanwhile, White House officials said the president’s close adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has volunteered to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee to talk about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

The president sought to give the appearance of business as usual, signing four bills into law to roll back regulations put in place by the Obama administration. And he joined daughter Ivanka and Vice President Pence in a meeting with women entrepreneurs.

Aides said the president’s next major legislative initiative will be an ambitious overhaul of the tax code, and this time the White House will be in charge.

SEAN SPICER: Obviously, we’re driving the train on this. I don’t want to — I mean, we’re going to work with Congress on this.

JOHN YANG: For the PBS NewsHour I’m John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Later this afternoon, Senate Democratic Leader Schumer said Devin Nunes should be removed as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. But House Speaker Paul Ryan said through a spokesman that he has full confidence in Nunes.

In the day’s other news: Wall Street fought against fears that the health care bill’s collapse means trouble for the Trump economic agenda. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped nearly 200 points at the outset, before ending with a loss of 45 points to close near 20551. The Nasdaq rose 11 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

Turkey’s citizens who live abroad began voting today on dramatically expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers. More than 2.5 million Turks were eligible to vote across Europe. And political divisions were on display, as they turned out in France, Germany and other countries.

WOMAN (through interpreter): This is about Turkey’s future right now, because they are trying to change the republic or democracy into a dictatorship of one man. And I’m against that.

MAN (through interpreter): We are sticking together for Turkey and the future of the Turkish republic. We have a Turkish republic, and we will say yes all the way to the end. We are here to support the stability of our country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The referendum has strained relations between Turkey and several European states that barred Turkish officials from campaigning in their territory. Voting inside Turkey begins next month.

The major political parties in Northern Ireland will get several more weeks to reach a new power-sharing deal. The British government extended today’s deadline after negotiators failed to get an agreement over the weekend. Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant unity government collapsed in January. The alternative would be returning the province to direct rule by London.

In Australia, a cyclone began blasting its way onshore early Tuesday, with winds of 140 miles an hour. The target was the northeastern state of Queensland, where the eye of the storm was due to make landfall within hours. People packed sandbags ahead of the storm. And up to 30,000 people were urged to evacuate the coastal region.

And historian, journalist and civil rights activist Roger Wilkins died Sunday, after suffering dementia. Wilkins held a top civil rights post in the Lyndon Johnson administration during the 1960s. He went on to write editorials for The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal. And for years, he was a frequent “NewsHour” guest.

Roger Wilkins was 85 years old.

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