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July 1, 2014
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French police have detained former President Nicolas Sarkozy near Paris for questioning in an influence-peddling case. Authorities want to know if Sarkozy used his authority to get information on an inquiry into allegations that his successful 2007 presidential campaign had been bankrolled by former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Reuters reports.

This is thought to be the first time a former head of state was held for questioning in modern French history, the BBC reports, and is one of six legal inquiries involving Sarkozy. His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, was questioned Monday, and this investigation is said to have started in February.

Investigators believe that Sarkozy and his lawyer used informants with connections to keep abreast of the Gadhafi case. Gilbert Azibert and Patrick Sassoust, two senior judges, are being questioned as well; authorities suspect that Sarkozy attempted to get Azibert a promotion to Monaco in exchange for details. Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017

Considering the grief and political attacks congressional Democrats have weathered over ObamaCare from their Republican colleagues for seven years, perhaps a little schadenfreude is to be expected now that Republicans are rushing headlong into the health-care buzzsaw. The Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee seem to have taken the lead in rubbing it in on Thursday.

They started with a dig at the GOP disarray, using the old throwback Thursday hashtag to remind Republicans of the "UNITY" they had all the way back in November:

Then there was the alternative acrostic for American Health Care Act:

And what internet trolling session would be complete without animated GIFs?

The House Republicans wanted to repeal ObamaCare on the seventh anniversary of it being signed into law, and failed, even after trying to borrow tactics they ascribed to the Democrats. They may push through the latest version of the ACHA on Friday. But on Thursday, a little mockery seems fair. Peter Weber

March 23, 2017
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In public, President Trump is having a great time pretending to drive big rigs and wearing pins that read "I Heart Trucks," but behind the scenes, he is seriously regretting throwing his support behind House Speaker Paul Ryan's health-care plan, The New York Times reports.

Four people close to the president told The Times he now wishes he had pushed through tax cuts first, which would have pleased Republicans, rather than focus on the deeply unpopular health-care overhaul. Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, are both in agreement with him, and Trump gave his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, a message that he delivered Thursday night to GOP leaders: Hold a vote on the health-care bill Friday, and if it fails, Trump is moving on.

The Times' Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman spoke with more than a dozen aides and allies of Trump, and they said he's spent the last week jittery and impatient. He's someone who cares more about winning than dealing with policy details, the people close to him explained, and he prides himself on making deals, sometimes at the last minute, which is why he's struggling with negotiating with moderate Republicans who think the health-care bill is too harsh and conservatives who think it doesn't go far enough. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has said for days he thinks it was a mistake for Trump to support the bill, and senior Republicans told The Times that Vice President Mike Pence suggested Trump keep his distance from the proposal, making sure to remind people that it was all Ryan's idea. Read more about Trump's self-doubt at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017
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There will not be a score from the Congressional Budget Office released before Friday's vote on the latest version of the Republicans' health-care bill, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters Thursday night.

Some of the changes to the original bill include the removal of items listed as essential health benefits under ObamaCare, like prescription drug coverage, doctors' services, pregnancy and childbirth, mental health services, and inpatient and outpatient hospital care. The CBO's original report estimated that the American Health Care Act would leave 52 million Americans uninsured by 2026 and reduce deficits by $337 billion over 10 years; on Thursday, an updated report was released, stating that the number of uninsured would remain the same, but the deficit would only be reduced by $150 billion. The vote was postponed on Thursday just hours before it was set to take place, as GOP leadership struggled to get more conservative and moderate Republicans to vote yes on the bill. Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017
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The General Services Administration has decided there is no conflict in President Trump's hotel lease from the government, the federal agency announced in a letter released Thursday.

The GSA signed off on the deal after Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and lawyers changed the lease so revenue from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., will stay with the hotel and not go to the president's personal trust company. While Trump turned over operation of the business to his adult sons, he still owns more than three-quarters of the project and his share of the revenues will be moved to a corporation set up for his ownership stake, the Los Angeles Times reports. "This doesn't make any sense to me, and it seems like GSA has leaned over backwards to accommodate the president here," Fred Wertheimer, president of the Democracy21 advocacy group, told the Times. "This is one more example of why President Trump should have divested his assets into a blind trust." Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017
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Hours after Thursday's scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act was postponed, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said President Trump is demanding a vote on Friday. Mulvaney also said that should the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fail, Trump is ready to move forward and leave ObamaCare in place.

In order for the Republicans' plan to pass, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can only lose 22 votes on the floor, and more than two dozen members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, as well as some moderate Republicans, have already said they will vote no. Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017
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The Toronto District School Board, the largest in Canada, announced Thursday it has made the "difficult decision" to indefinitely cancel all future trips to the United States, due to President Trump's temporarily blocked travel bans that keep people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

"It's about inclusion, equity, and fairness," school board spokesman Ryan Bird told BuzzFeed News. "We don't want some of our students stopped and not being let in at the border for no legitimate reason." The board serves 245,000 kids at 584 schools, and every year, students takes dozens of trips to performances, sporting events, and conferences all over the United States. Bird said 25 planned trips will move forward, but should one of the 900 students participating be detained at the border, they "will turn back." The school system is one of the most diverse in the world, Bird added, "and we're committed to promoting that." Catherine Garcia

March 23, 2017
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In South Sudan, about 5.5 million people — almost half the population — face food shortages, and the U.S. is casting blame on the government.

"The famine is not a result of drought, it is the result of leaders more interested in political power and personal gain than in stopping violence and allowing humanitarian access," Deputy U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. "The government's continued unconscionable impediments to humanitarians seeking access to famine-stricken populations may amount to deliberate starvation tactics." Recently, South Sudan increased the price of work permit fees for foreign aid workers to $10,000.

Joseph Mourn Majak Ngor Malok, South Sudan's deputy ambassador, said his government is not to blame for the famine and called on the "international community to assist in addressing this urgent matter." In 2013, two years after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, civil ware broke out, following the firing of President Salva Kiir's deputy, Riek Machar; Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and Machar a Nuer. Over the past four years, the U.N. says at least one-quarter of the population has been displaced. Catherine Garcia

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