Developments in Washington, D.C., on Thursday include President Donald Trump saying he did not tape discussions with fired FBI Director James Comey, questioning why former President Barack Obama didn't stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Senate Republicans releasing their version of a health care bill for the country, as well as drone and technology experts at the White House.
Trump Tweets He Has No Comey Tapes -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he did not record his conversations with former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey. Comey has said the president urged him to curb the agency's investigation into Russia's meddling of the 2016 presidential election, which Trump denies. Trump wrote on Twitter: "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are 'tapes' or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."
Trump Questions Why Obama Administration Didn't Thwart Russian Election Meddling -- Trump is questioning why his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and his administration didn't block Russia from meddling in last year's presidential election. In a Twitter comment Thursday, Trump posed a question: "By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn't they stop them?"
Senate Republican Health Care Plan Draws Criticism -- After weeks of closed-door negotiations, Senate Republicans unveiled a draft bill to overhaul America's health care system and replace “Obamacare,” drawing criticism from Democrats and expressions of concern from some moderates as well as conservatives in their own party. In what is seen as an attempt to make good on a longstanding Republican pledge to voters, the legislation would end the health care law's requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, phase out federal subsidies for purchasing a plan, and scale back funding for Medicaid, which covers health care costs for the poor and disabled.
Drones, 5G Internet Dominate Talks as Tech Execs Visit White House -- Ubiquitous drones and a faster Internet are coming sooner than you might think, and governments are staring into the unknown as they face the prospect of regulating the coming technological revolution in a way that fosters innovation, while at the same time protecting the often conflicting interests of consumers, entrepreneurs and the general public. It’s Technology Week at the White House, and top industry executives huddled together Thursday with Trump to show off their wares and talk about what government’s role should be in regulating, and at the same time encouraging the pace of change. The discussion was all about “next generation” lightning-fast 5G wireless services and the exponential growth of drone-related technologies.
New Trump Executive Order May Increase US Visa Wait Times -- The wait for visitor visas to the United States could get a little longer. White House and State Department officials said Thursday that a new executive order revoking an Obama-era guideline on processing times at consulates was made in the interest of "vetting" and national security. It was not immediately clear how much much longer the process will take for the millions of tourist, student, and business visa seekers who apply to travel to the country every year.
Trump Basks in Cheers of Iowa Supporters -- Trump Wednesday basked in the cheers of his supporters in the rural heartland of America. At a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump told the crowd of admirers, "It’s always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp and be able to spend time with the truly hardworking people. We call them American patriots.”
Minnesota to Still Engage With Cuba Despite Trump Setback -- Minnesota's government and businesses will continue to engage with Cuba in the areas they can, like agricultural trade, despite Trump's partial rollback of the detente, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith said on Thursday. The first U.S. state representative to make an official visit to Communist-run Cuba since Trump's announcement on Friday, Smith said authorities there were worried about the setback to bilateral relations.
US, EU Urge China to Limit Food Import Control -- Food exporters including the United States and European Union are stepping up pressure on China to scale back plans for intensive inspections of imports that they say would hamper access to its fast-growing market. The group, which also includes Japan and Australia, sent a joint letter to Chinese regulators asking them to suspend a proposed requirement, due to take effect Oct. 1, for each food shipment to have an inspection certificate from a foreign government. They say that would disrupt trade and ask Beijing to follow global practice by applying the requirement only to higher-risk foods.