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wash­ing­ton» The Repub­li­can health-care over­haul spear­headed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and backed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump suf­fered a sig­nif­i­cant set­back Wed­nes­day, as per­sonal ap­peals by the pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent failed to sway con­ser­va­tives to back the bill.

In a last-ditch ef­fort to per­suade key GOP op­po­nents of the bill to stand down, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence hud­dled with mem­bers of the House Free­dom Cau­cus in his of­fice Wed­nes­day morn­ing, while Trump met with 18 House Repub­li­cans at the White House.

While Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who met with Trump, came out in fa­vor of the bill Wed­nes­day, that sin­gle switch was not enough to put the mea­sure over the top. GOP lead­ers can af­ford only 22 de­fec­tions, given that one Demo­crat is ex­pected to be ab­sent Thurs­day. A Free­dom Cau­cus spokes­woman said Wed­nes­day that “more than 25” mem­bers of the group op­pose the bill.

The cau­cus’s mes­sage, spokes­woman Alyssa Farah tweeted, is “start over.”

Trump feels “some­what” vin­di­cated af­ter Nunes in­tel brief­ing

B wash­ing­ton» Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Don­ald Trump’s tran­si­tion of­fi­cials — pos­si­bly in­clud­ing the in­com­ing pres­i­dent him­self — may have been scooped up in legal sur­veil­lance but im­prop­erly dis­trib­uted through­out the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, the chair­man of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee said Wed­nes­day.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary set of state­ments to re­porters, Repub­li­can Rep. Devin Nunes said the in­ter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tions do not ap­pear to be re­lated to the on­go­ing FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Trump as­so­ciates’ con­tacts with Rus­sia or any crim­i­nal war­rants.

Nunes, who served on Trump’s tran­si­tion team, said he be­lieves the in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tions were done legally but that iden­ti­ties of Trump of­fi­cials and the con­tent of their com­mu­ni­ca­tions may have been in­ap­pro­pri­ately dis­sem­i­nated in in­tel­li­gence re­ports.

Be­fore Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin B

wash­ing­ton» Be­fore sign­ing up with Don­ald Trump, for­mer cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort se­cretly worked for a Rus­sian bil­lion­aire with a plan to “greatly ben­e­fit the Putin Gov­ern­ment,” The As­so­ci­ated Press has learned. The White House at­tempted to brush the re­port aside Wed­nes­day, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Con­gress about Rus­sian links to Trump as­so­ciates.

Manafort pro­posed in a con­fi­den­tial strat­egy plan as early as June 2005 that he would in­flu­ence pol­i­tics, busi­ness deal­ings and news cov­er­age inside the United States, Europe and for­mer Soviet re­publics to ben­e­fit Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s gov­ern­ment, even as U.S.-Rus­sia re­la­tions un­der Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to alu­minum mag­nate Oleg Deri­paska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort even­tu­ally signed a $10 mil­lion an­nual con­tract be­gin­ning in 2006, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views with sev­eral peo­ple fa­mil­iar with pay­ments to Manafort and busi­ness records ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Manafort and Deri­paska main­tained a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship un­til at least 2009, ac­cord­ing to one per­son fa­mil­iar with the work.

U.S., Seoul vow to pun­ish Kim Jong Un af­ter failed mis­sile test.

South Korean and U.S. of­fi­cials vowed “strong puni­tive steps” against Kim Jong Un’s regime if it con­tin­ues provo­ca­tions af­ter North Korea ap­peared to con­duct a failed mis­sile test Wed­nes­day.

Meet­ing in Seoul, Kim Hongkyun, South Korea’s spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Korean Penin­sula peace and se­cu­rity affairs, and his U.S. coun­ter­part Joseph Yun reaf­firmed a com­mit­ment to push Kim harder to drop North Korea’s push for nu­clear weapons.

The South Korean de­fense min­istry ear­lier said that North Korea ap­peared to have fired an uniden­ti­fied mis­sile from its Won­san air base in the east. If con­firmed, it would be the third round of mis­sile tests by North Korea this year, as it seeks to de­velop the ca­pa­bil­ity to de­liver a nu­clear weapon to the U.S. in de­fi­ance of United Na­tions sanc­tions.

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