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pool report #3 - POTUS/GOP chairs/health care
John Bennett • CQ Roll Call
March 10, 2017: 12:35 PM


The pool was assembled in the briefing room around 11:30 a.m., then waited in a hallway outside the Roosevelt Room for about 10 minutes. Reporters chatted and press aides darted to and from their Friday tasks.

A few minutes before the pool entered, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus entered the hallway and took a sharp right into the Upper Press area, where Press Secretary Sean Spicer had headed shortly before.

At 11:44 a.m., the pool entered the Roosevelt Room. The House GOP chairmen and chairwomen stood on the opposite side of the table, chatting among themselves. Chairman Walden - who is from Oregon, not Washington - told a fellow-pooler that he is a distinguished Eagle Scout. At 11:49 a.m., POTUS entered, trailed by Vice President Mike Pence and Priebus. He shook hands with the chairs, and shared a laugh with Chairwoman Virginia Foxx. The meeting participants, including POTUS, then took their seats.

POTUS read from a sheet of paper, though he appeared to deviate a few times.

Trump thanked the chairs for their "devotion and leadership," which he said "has been amazing." He also applauded their "diligent work to advance the Obamacare repeal and replacement."

"That's what people want: they want repeal and replace," the president said.

POTUS did not seem certain that the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday had approved the House health overhaul plan, but he verified it with Rep. Walden. He was more informed about the Ways and Means panel. "It was a very good vote," Trump said, though it was not clear to which committee vote he was referring.

"We must act now to save Americans from the imploding Obamacare disaster," Trump said, adding that "premiums have skyrocketed by double digits and triple digits, in some cases." Notably, he suggested the 2010 law is going to collapse in 2017 specifically because Obama is out of office.

The president hailed the House bill for, as he described it "cutting taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars," ending "the Obamacare mandate that forces Americans to buy government-approved plans - we all know that one." He also trumpeted the measure because he said it "provides states with flexibility over how Medicaid dollars are spent, [taking] power from Washington and back to local governments." Trump said the measure "empowers individual Americans," and would implement a system that allows people to select their own coverage, "not a plan forced on them by government."

"We all remember, ‘You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.' I know Greg, you've never heard that, right?" the president asked, with a smile, of Rep. Walden. "It was said many, many times, and it turned out to be not true. This is the time we're going to get it done. ... You have tremendous spirit. I think it's just something that's going to happen very shortly."

The president thanked the pool, our sign to exit. ABC's Jonathan Karl asked POTUS whether he has any evidence to back up his claims that former President Obama tapped phone lines in Trump Tower. Trump did not respond. Another reporter asked if he knew former national security adviser Michael Flynn was technically a "foreign agent" due to work he was doing on behalf of the Turkish government. POTUS did not respond.

One of Trump's personal security men entered the Roosevelt Room from a door behind the pool and began yelling loudly for us to clear out. So your pooler could not make out the specifics of other questions behind shouted at the president. I am told Chairman Walden made a joke second before the pool exited, and POTUS responded with a smile - but his words were inaudible over the yelling of the security man and a bevy of final camera shutter sounds.



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