The Latest: Spicer Defends US Attorney Purge as Routine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is defending President Donald Trump’s mass dismissal of top federal prosecutors as standard practice.

The Justice Department on Friday asked for all remaining 46 U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations.

Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara had said after the election that Trump had asked him to stay on.

But he, too, was dismissed on Friday. Bharara was fired after refusing to turn in his resignation.

Trump had tried to call Bharara last week but the two men did not speak. Spicer said Monday “the president was calling to thank him for his service.”

It is routine for a new administration to ask for those resignations, though it usually happens at the start of the president’s term.

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12:45 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is asking a government ethics office to assess whether President Donald Trump’s business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

In a letter to the Office of Government Ethics, the Pennsylvania lawmaker says Trump’s refusal to divest from his companies has exposed the administration to conflicts of interest on an “unprecedented scale.”

Casey asks whether any of Trump’s foreign deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The clause prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.

The director of the ethics office, Walter Shaub, strongly criticized Trump for not divesting earlier this year. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is comparing Barack Obama’s health care law to the former president’s popularity.

Trump says of Obama, “when he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much.” He says that’s “human nature.”

Trump was speaking at a White House listening session with people affected by the health law.

He says the media is making the current law look wonderful.

While Trump claims Obama is less popular now, Gallup shows Obama’s ratings actually rose at the end of his presidency — from below 50 percent in 2015 to near 60 percent at the close of his term. Trump’s approval ratings have fluctuated between 40 percent to 45 percent at the start of his administration.

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11:46 a.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting that rates for health insurance will go “down, down, down” if Congress passes the House GOP health care bill.

Trump says the number of plans available to consumers will go up with changes to the law.

The president is meeting with about a dozen people affected by the Obama health care law at the White House. House Republicans are trying to dismantle Obama’s law, but their plan to replace it has opposition within the GOP.

Trump says even if Republicans don’t do anything, “It’s going to blow itself off the map.”

The meeting comes ahead of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that is expected to find that fewer Americans would be covered under the Republican plan.

The post The Latest: Spicer defends US attorney purge as routine appeared first on WTOP.

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