January 22, 2016

As the nation's capital and the rest of the East Coast buckles down for blizzard conditions this weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is livestreaming the action from his Capitol balcony — complete with some upbeat music:

D.C. anticipates as much as 20 to 30 inches of snow over the weekend, and Ryan says he plans to keep his livestream up and running for the storm's duration. Becca Stanek

5:25 p.m. ET

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's cost estimate of the American Health Care Act released Wednesday predicted some steep costs for the elderly. Vox's Sarah Kliff reported that low-income Americans over the age of 64 would see premiums increase by a whopping 800 percent under the GOP-backed plan:

Under ObamaCare, Americans over the age of 64 with an annual income of $26,500 pay a net premium of $1,700. If the AHCA were to become law, that same population would pay a net premium of $13,600.

The score the CBO released Wednesday updates its previous evaluation of the bill, released in March, to reflect changes that Republicans made to the bill before passing it in the House earlier this month. Overall, the updated score predicted an additional 23 million Americans would be uninsured by 2026 if the AHCA were to replace ObamaCare. The bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion. Becca Stanek

5:08 p.m. ET

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its score of the American Health Care Act on Wednesday, updating its projections to accommodate the version of the bill that passed the House earlier this month. The CBO offered an initial score of the GOP health-care bill in March, after it was first drafted but before it was amended to amass enough Republican votes to pass the lower chamber.

The two major amendments made to the bill during negotiations sought to make the bill more amenable to the far-right Freedom Caucus members, who felt the first draft did not go far enough to repeal ObamaCare, while retaining the support of more moderate Republicans, who worried about constituents reliant on ObamaCare policies.

As a result, the second iteration of the bill included two key changes, delegating certain coverage mandates to states: They would have the option to waive the ObamaCare mandate that insurers cover certain essential health benefits, including maternity care and mental health treatment; and they would have the option to waive the requirement that insurers charge people of the same age the same premiums regardless of health status, also known as "community rating."

In its updated score Wednesday, the CBO predicted these two waivers would destabilize the insurance market, due to "market responses to decisions by some states to waive [the aforementioned] two provisions of federal law":

The CBO predicted that in states that exercise their waiver right in both cases, young, healthier individuals would opt for insurance plans with lower premiums rather than purchasing plans from insurers that have retained the community-rating provision. When healthier individuals are not required to purchase insurance, or when they can purchase cheaper plans from alternate providers, those insurers providing more comprehensive coverage to sicker or older individuals are forced to charge higher premiums to those individuals to balance their costs.

Overall, the updated CBO score predicted the American Health Care Act would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 than ObamaCare, while reducing the federal deficit by $119 billion. Senate Republicans have already set to work overhauling the bill. Read the CBO's full report here. Kimberly Alters

5:02 p.m. ET

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released its complete updated cost estimate of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act, three weeks after the House narrowly passed the health-care bill. The new CBO score revealed that by 2026, an additional 23 million Americans would be uninsured under the American Health Care Act, as opposed to if ObamaCare were to remain law. In March, the CBO estimated 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026; Wednesday's score takes into account amendments made to the bill by Republicans to pass it through the House.

The CBO also estimated the American Health Care Act would reduce the federal deficit over the next decade by $119 billion. When the CBO scored the GOP's first iteration of the bill in March, it estimated that the federal deficit would be reduced by $150 billion.

Premiums are projected to go up by about 20 percent in 2018 and then increase by another 5 percent in 2019, before beginning to drop, Time reported. The CBO warned that "less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding" that the bill has added to reduce premiums. A last-minute amendment to the bill before the House vote allotted $8 billion in federal funding, vaguely intended to offset premium increases caused by the bill's waiver options that allow states to make certain coverage decisions.

The AHCA is currently up for debate in the Senate. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted he doesn't know how to get the simple-majority vote needed to pass the bill. Becca Stanek

4:23 p.m. ET
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New York Magazine

If you aren't reading The New York Times' Maggie Haberman, you should be. "Many of the juiciest Trump pieces have been broken by her," explains Elle. "That story about him spending his evenings alone in a bathrobe, watching cable news? Haberman reported and wrote it with her frequent collaborator, Glenn Thrush. The time Trump called the Times to blame the collapse of the ObamaCare repeal on the Democrats? It was Haberman he dialed. When he accused former National Security Adviser Susan Rice of committing crimes, and defended Fox News' Bill O'Reilly against the sexual harassment claims that would soon end his career at the network?"

Well, you get the picture. But not just anyone can do the job: "What you're seeing with Maggie Haberman is, you're watching one of the greatest people to ever do this job, giving a maximum effort," Thrush said.

Elle offers a glimpse of what exactly that looks like:

The first time I met Haberman, we were in the airy, modern cafeteria of the New York Times building in Manhattan. She was on her phone. She was also on her laptop. She was texting, taking calls, emailing, and Gchatting with colleagues and sources. Her daughter was home sick from school with a fever. She had a story that was about to go live on […] One colleague says she didn't realize there was a limit to how many Gchats you could have going at one time until she saw Haberman hit the maximum.

[… Haberman] says she does most of her work from her car, shuttling her kids around, dashing between the office in Times Square and her apartment. She's called me as she was driving — swearing and running late — between an errand at the American Girl doll store and a dinner party. She's emailed me from the NYPD tow pound — a place she said she'd already visited twice that month. She almost never turns her phone off. "She's got it with her at all times," says her husband, Dareh Gregorian. She'll wake up in the middle of the night and, instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, pick up her phone and start working. [Elle]

Read more about how Haberman does it at Elle, and about Trump's soft spot for The New York Times here at The Week. Jeva Lange

4:10 p.m. ET

A Russian intelligence document written off by many in the FBI as untrustworthy might have spurred then-Director James Comey to make his infamous public announcement about the Hillary Clinton email investigation last summer, The Washington Post reports. Last July, Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton related to the probe into her use of a private email server, without first notifying the Justice Department.

The Russian document "mentioned a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter — a conversation that if made public would cast doubt on the inquiry's integrity," the Post writes. Officials say Comey felt he had "little choice … because he feared that if Lynch announced no charges against Clinton, and then the secret document leaked, the legitimacy of the entire case would be questioned."

On July 5, without talking to Lynch, Comey publicly closed the Clinton case while recommending no charges.

The people named in the Russian intelligence document, including Lynch, then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Leonard Benardo of the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations, said they did not know each other and had never met. "I've never in my lifetime received any correspondence of any variety — correspondence, fax, telephone — from Debbie Wasserman Schultz," Benardo said. "If such documentation exists, it's of course made up."

Russia expert Matt Rojansky has a theory: "The idea that Russians would tell a story in which the Clinton campaign, Soros, and even an Obama administration official are connected ... is not at all surprising," he said. "That is part of the Kremlin worldview."

Several officials told the Post that they were "concerned that revealing details now about the document could be perceived as an effort to justify Trump's decision to fire Comey, but they argued that the document and Comey's firing are distinct issues." Read the entire scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

4:06 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic, couldn't wait to meet Pope Francis alongside President Trump on Wednesday, a source "close to the White House" told CNN. "That's all he wanted," the insider said.

But when the big day finally arrived, Spicer wasn't invited. Trump had everyone from his wife Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, his communications adviser Hope Hicks, his former bodyguard Keith Schiller, and his social media director Dan Scavino by his side — but Spicer was apparently told "there wasn't room for him on the roster."

The White House insider told CNN this should "'very much' be seen as a slight." The two times that former President Barack Obama visited the Vatican, his press secretaries were in attendance. Spicer additionally hasn't been seen at some top-level meetings, amid reports that Trump is considering nixing his daily on-camera White House briefings.

A White House official insisted the Vatican was just "strict" about how many people could attend and insisted a "very small delegation" joined Trump. Becca Stanek

3:06 p.m. ET

Another day, another startling poll about how Americans view President Trump. Today's major revelation: Voters' optimism in Trump's remaining tenure has dramatically dropped in three months' time.

In a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, 45 percent of voters said they were optimistic about Trump's "next few years" as president while 52 percent said they were pessimistic. Compare that with how voters felt in March: When asked the same question then, 52 percent said they were optimistic and 46 percent said they were pessimistic.

Trump's overall job approval rating, however, hasn't fluctuated dramatically. In the survey released Wednesday, he was approved of by 37 percent of voters and disapproved of by 55 percent. In the March survey, he was approved of by 36 percent of voters and disapproved of by 58 percent.

The poll additionally found that a majority of voters (54 percent to 43 percent) believe Trump "is abusing the powers of his office." "President Donald Trump remains mired in dreadful mid-30s approval numbers and the red flags that are popping up tell an even darker story," said the assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, Tim Malloy. "Retirement age voters are leaving in big numbers. But by far the most alarming determination is that President Trump is abusing his office."

A total of 1,404 respondents were reached by Quinnipiac between May 17 and 23; the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. See the full results here. Jeva Lange

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