5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • 5th Republican senator comes out against GOP health-care bill

  • Trump blasts Mueller over 'bothersome' friendship with Comey

  • Damning Washington Post report details Obama's inaction on Russia hacking

  • Arab neighbors give Qatar list of demands

  • SpaceX plans rocket launch 'doubleheader' over the weekend

On Friday, a fifth Republican came out against the Senate's version of the GOP health-care bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said that "in this form," he would "not support" the Senate plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Four other Republicans — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) — announced they would not support the bill shortly after it was unveiled Thursday. The bill, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," proposes slashing Medicaid, eliminates ObamaCare's individual mandate, and allows states to waive some previously required benefits. The GOP can only withstand two defections and still pass the bill. A vote is expected next week.

Source: The Washington Post, The Week

On Friday, Fox & Friends aired the first televised, in-person interview President Trump has given in six weeks. In it, Trump praised progress on health care, claiming that "I've done in five months what other people haven't done in years," and blamed the Obama administration's "unmasking and surveillance" for his threat to former FBI Director James Comey about tapes of their conversations. "My story didn't change," said Trump, who confessed Thursday he had no tapes. Trump also blasted Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation of Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump team, for being "very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome." Trump added: "We're going to have to see ... but [there has] been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that."

Source: Fox & Friends, Politico Playbook

On Friday, The Washington Post published an extraordinary, comprehensive report of the Obama administration's action and inaction in the face of mounting evidence that Russia had severely affected the U.S. presidential election last year. "It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend," one senior Obama administration official confessed. "I feel like we sort of choked." The administration's response is depicted as frustratingly hesitant, even as the severity of Russia's actions became impossible to ignore. "Obama's approach often seemed reducible to a single imperative: Don't make things worse," the Post writes. Additionally, "the assumption that [Hillary] Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency." While Obama eventually took steps to ready an attack against Russia's cyber-infrastructure, it falls on "President Trump to decide whether to use the capability."

Source: The Washington Post

Qatar's neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, gave the Persian Gulf country a list of 13 demands it must meet before they will restore diplomatic relations. A key point is curbing diplomatic relations with Iran and severing all ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah. The list, relayed to Qatar by Kuwait, also calls for Qatar to shutter broadcaster Al Jazeera, which Saudi Arabia and the other countries claim supports the Muslim Brotherhood and incites unrest in the Middle East. The countries gave Qatar 10 days to comply and pay undisclosed compensation. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke with Qatar this month, accusing it of funding terrorism, a charge Qatar vehemently denies.

Source: The Associated Press

Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launched a refurbished Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Kennedy Space Center's launch pad Friday afternoon, marking its first of two planned rocket launches over just three days. On Sunday, SpaceX plans to launch a new Falcon 9 rocket, this one from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The rocket launched Friday delivered a communications satellite into orbit for Bulgarian TV service provider Bulsatcom; the rocket Sunday will carry 10 satellites for the American company Iridium Communications Inc. If SpaceX pulls off what they're calling a "weekend doubleheader," Bloomberg reported it would be "the first time the company launched two rockets the same weekend."

Source: Bloomberg, The Verge
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