FOR TRUMP, NO CLOSING THIS DEAL

Over 30 minutes into a meeting White House and House leadership officials wanted – needed – to be a breakthrough, it was time for everyone to put their cards on the table.

For White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the members of the House Freedom Caucus sitting beside and around them at the long table at the center of the conference room adjoining Ryan’s Capitol Hill office had spent enough time talking. A deal was on the table – one the White House and House leaders never planned to give in on – and this was the time to perceive how many of the conservative, and proudly intransigent, members it would bring aboard.

Mulvaney pointed to a member and asked where he stood, as indicated by multiple sources inside the room. His request was met with demurral. Confused, Ryan tried again. Then Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho spoke up: The Freedom Caucus is unified and Rep. Mark Meadows, the caucus chair, speaks for the group. Mulvaney and Ryan turned to Meadows. The group was indeed unified, Meadows told them. And they were still a no.

It was a gut punch moment for White House and leadership officials who’d knowingly risked the bill’s fate by offering a compromise to the group, but were convinced it would be enough to begin quickly picking off members, one-by-one.

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, was furious and confronted the group. There would be no more negotiating, he said.

But Thursday night, as the men who could make or break the Obamacare repeal effort stared back at one another across the table, the realization was hitting many involved: There would be no deal.

The GOP’s long-awaited Obamacare repeal bill, the first big push of the new Republican era, was doomed.

This story relies on accounts from more than two dozen administration officials, congressional staffers and Republicans close to the health care process. It recounts the chaotic period of brinkmanship, improvisation and dissatisfaction that unfolded as the Republican Party – yet again, but for the first time with its newly minted Republican President — turned against itself.

The debacle raises a very real question as Republicans pledge to move onto other equally ambitious Trump agenda items – like tax reform, an even heavier lift than Obamacare. Can Republicans actually govern?

At the White House, top Trump aides seemed stunned at the position they’d wound up in.

“Seven years and this is what we get,” one senior administration official said. “Really incredible.”

Privately, Trump’s team seethed. In their view, the President had ventured far out on a limb. He’d pushed to change the provision to force all health insurers to cover crucial services like maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs. He’d ensured other promises in writing.

In the West Wing, there was still determination to force a vote the following day. But optimism? That was in short supply.

Less than 24 hours later, the issue Trump pledged to take care of “on Day 1” imploded upon itself.

It was an epic failure for a young administration still feeling its way around through the byzantine bureaucratic maze that is Washington and a stunning defeat for a speaker who made his name as the wonk-prince of the GOP.

Talking from the Oval Office on Friday, the President was careful to lay the blame on Democrats, whom he had neither engaged with nor expected to support the GOP’s attempt to unspool their legacy legislation. Yet, Trump likewise seemed clear-eyed about the surprises the process served up, which likely weren’t news to anyone but him.

“We learned a lot about loyalty,” Trump said. “We learned a lot about some very arcane rules in obviously both the Senate and in the House. So, it’s been certainly, for me, it’s been a very interesting experience.”

Source: http://edition.cnn.com

ANDER HERRERA SAYS: ‘GENIUS’ ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC ‘ANNOYING’ AT TIMES

Ander Herrera has named Zlatan Ibrahimovic a “genius” but revealed the Manchester United striker’s competitiveness is “annoying” at times.

Ibrahimovic’s capacity to transfer his prolific goalscoring form from France – where he scored 44 goals in his last season at Paris Saint-Germain – to English football was questioned ahead of last summer’s switch to Old Trafford.

However, a sensational debut season for United – which has yielded 26 goals, two of which sealing Community Shield and EFL Cup glory – has silenced his doubters.

“He is a genius,” United team-mate Herrera told Marca. “He can say that he will score 30 goals and that he is the best because he can get away with it.”

“He is so good that he can do that.”

Ibrahimovic’s goalscoring exploits have been matched just by his unwavering confidence in his own capacity, with the Swede claiming to have foreseen the success he has brought to United.

The unrivalled willingness to satisfy his own prophecy and prove his doubters wrong continues to play a vital role for Jose Mourinho’s men, in spite of the fact that, as Herrera includes, this drive can become disappointing.

“Ibrahimovic can be very annoying,” the Spaniard said. “He can be very annoying because he wants to win it all, even at football-tennis.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

ARSENE WENGER REVEALS LUIS SUAREZ ‘AGREEMENT’ WITH ARSENAL IN 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that there was an “agreement” in place to sign Luis Suarez in 2013.

It was reported that the Gunners tried to sign Suarez by bidding £1 over his £40,000,000 release clause.

Liverpool owner John Henry later revealed that Suarez did in fact have a £40m release clause, yet the club opted not to sell the striker.

And Wenger has recommended Suarez almost joined the Gunners.

He told beINSports: “He was very close [to signing for Arsenal]. We had an agreement with the player. We had been wrongly advised that he had a clause, with a minimal clause, but we had an agreement with the player. You can ask him.”

“I’m convinced he wanted to join us, then they kept him one more year, improved his contract and promised to sell him the year later to a club abroad.”

Suarez stayed with Liverpool for another season before joining Barcelona in a deal worth £75m.

Source: http://www.skysports.com

GOP SOURCE: RYAN TELLING TRUMP THEY DO NOT HAVE VOTES ON HEALTH CARE

House Speaker Paul Ryan met Friday with President Donald Trump to tell him Republicans don’t have the votes to pass the GOP health care bill.

A key portion of the Trump-Ryan discussion was over the ownership of the health care bill and whether the President will take either full or partial responsibility over a decision to pull the bill, two people familiar with health care talks say.

Ryan showed Trump the numbers, and asked what the President wants the speaker to do.

The choice is largely in the hands of the White House, the sources say, and the speaker wants to make it “the President’s call.”

Efforts on Capitol Hill to sway members are ongoing, yet things aren’t heading in the correct direction.

“Not good. Not good at all,” the source said.

A risk to Republicans: if members are fully aware that the bill is going down, there’s a real risk that that undecideds, undeclared and even some yes votes would flee.

“The risk is it wouldn’t just be a loss, but a big loss,” a source said.

Republicans are still careening toward a House vote Friday afternoon on repealing and replacing Obamacare in a moment that has huge implications for Trump’s presidency and the GOP’s expectations of enacting an agenda that will change the face of American life.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday afternoon that Trump has “left everything on the field when it comes to this bill.”

However, Republicans have few firm commitments from conservatives and watched a continued exodus of moderates. This was exactly what House leadership was worried would happen when they changed the bill, the source said.

Friday afternoon, moderate Republicans and members of the conservative Freedom Caucus have indicated they won’t back the bill.

Source: http://edition.cnn.com

RAY WILKINS SAYS: CHELSEA WILL ONLY NEED ‘A FEW ADDITIONS’ IN THE SUMMER

Chelsea will only need “a few additions” in the summer as they prepare to return to the Champions League again next season, says Ray Wilkins.

Antonio Conte’s side are 10 points clear of Tottenham at the top of the Premier League, and stay on course to win a league and cup double in the Italian’s first season at the club.

Wilkins, a former player and coach at Stamford Bridge, told Premier League Daily that he expects the Blues to clinch the title, but does not trust they need to alter the squad drastically if they are to potentially defend the Premier League and compete in Europe again next season.

“They’ll be delighted to be in that Champions League, they would have missed it immensely this season,” Wilkins said.

“It really depends on Diego Costa, to a large degree, who they are going to get in to replace him if he decides to go to China, which has already been mooted this season.”

“It will be very interesting, I’m sure Antonio will have a few names up his sleeve that he would like to bring in. Defensively they have spoken about bringing added players in.”

“But at this moment in time they just need a few additions to keep themselves bubbling along – they are all young enough and they all look absolutely superb at the moment.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

LINARES VS CROLLA II: ANTHONY CROLLA SAYS THAT HE WILL RESPOND TO EVERYTHING JORGE LINARES THROWS AT HIM

Anthony Crolla has warned Jorge Linares that he will “have an answer” to everything thrown at him by the WBA champion in their rematch.

The Mancunian suffered a points defeat to Linares last September and will attempt to regain the WBA lightweight belt in their second fight at Manchester Arena on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

Linares has shown his searing hand speed in recent recordings on social media, yet Crolla is confident his game-plan can nullify the three-weight world champion.

“I’m not going to lie, I can’t compete with flashy padwork like that – I can’t do that,” Crolla told Sky Sports News HQ.

“There is other things to my game that I feel will go well against that, will have the answer to it.”

“I’ve got to be cutting off the ring quicker this time, I’ve got to respond myself in bunches a little bit more. There is so many obstacles that are going to be put in front of me from Jorge Linares, but I believe I will have an answer for every one of them.”

Following their exciting first fight, Crolla is bracing himself for another gruelling battle when he resumes hostilities with Linares.

“It might go early, it might go inside the distance, but I’m prepared for 12 very hard rounds,” he said.

“There are going to come times in the fight when it’s not going to go my way, when I’m going to have to weather a storm and I’ve got to bite down on that gumshield, but that is something I’m willing to do. I’m willing to dig deeper than ever before.”

“If it has to get into a dogfight, I don’t mind, whatever it might be. I think there is going to be a bit of everything in this fight, a bit of boxing, a bit of a chess match, but I definitely see a good fight.”

“It was one of the fights of the year last time. I can certainly see us both being even better this time.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

TRUMP DEFENDS WILD CLAIMS: ‘I AM PRESIDENT, AND YOU ARE NOT’

President Donald Trump defended some of the most controversial claims of his young political career in a wide-ranging interview with Time magazine published Thursday, in which he offered a simple and absolute defense of his method:

“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. Hey, look, in the meantime, I guess I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not,” he told Time’s Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer.

The discussion for the cover story – titled “Is Truth Dead?” – covered subjects that ranged from Trump’s wiretap accusations to the 2016 campaign trail conspiracy theory in the National Enquirer falsely connecting Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination.

Trump was unrepentant about his charge that former President Barack Obama “wiretapped” his phones at Trump Tower during the 2016 election – an allegation soundly refuted by FBI Director James Comey in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week. Trump defended the claim by shifting its focus.

“When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know, today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance,” Trump told Time.

Trump pointed to a stunning news conference Wednesday from Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in which the congressman unilaterally revealed that communications of Trump and associates may have been picked up after the election by intelligence agencies conducting surveillance of foreign targets. The President, however, dismissed the key distinction between his claim and the type of legal and incidental intercepts Nunes had recommended.

“Just today I heard, just a little while ago, that Devin Nunes had a news conference, did you hear about this, where they have a lot of information on tapping. Did you hear about that?” Trump said. “House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes told reporters, wow. Nunes said, so that means I’m right, Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been … incidental collection, that does not appear to have been related to concerns over Russia.”

Trump additionally defended his administration’s controversial assertion that the British spy agency GCHQ surveilled his campaign at the request of the Obama administration – an allegation the agency has fiercely denied, and which prompted a diplomatic incident that national security adviser H.R. McMaster was drawn in to defuse. Trump seemed to concede that the information might have been terrible, but wouldn’t admit fault for repeating it.

“I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano,” Trump told Time, referring to the Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, who reported the information on Fox News utilizing anonymous sources, on which Trump’s White House based the claim. “I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.”

Trump was additionally asked about his baseless claim during the 2016 campaign that the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, Rafael, could be linked to the JFK assassination – information he gleaned from a tabloid, the National Enquirer

“Well, that was in a newspaper,” Trump said. “No, no, I like Ted Cruz. He’s a friend of mine. But that was in a newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with – had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”

Presented with a litany of other falsehoods and mischaracterizations, Trump offered this nonchalant rebuttal to his critics: “What am I going to tell you? I tend to be right. I’m an instinctual person, I happen to be a person that knows how life works.”

As for evidence, Trump repeatedly returned – unprompted – his forecast that the Brexit vote would succeed, something many predicted wouldn’t occur.

“Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, ‘No, Brexit is going to happen,’ and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many many things. They turn out to be right,” he said.

Source: http://edition.cnn.com

FA TO PAY TRIBUTE TO VICTIMS OF LONDON ATTACK AT WEMBLEY ON SUNDAY

The Football Association have expressed their sympathies and say they will pay tribute to those included in Wednesday’s incident in central London at Wembley stadium this Sunday.

There have been various fatalities in what police have described as ‘a terrorist attack’ in Westminster with at least one police officer and three others having lost their lives.

FA chairman Greg Clarke is in Germany for the friendly match in Dortmund and says that there will be a tribute before the World Cup qualifier in the capital this end of the week.

He stated: “Our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by this terrible incident.”

“We will be recognising the bravery of the security services and all those involved at the England v Lithuania match on Sunday.”

Sky Germany sources have said there are no plans for a minute’s silence before Wednesday night’s match at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.

Source: http://www.skysports.com

DIEGO COSTA CONCEDES THAT HE WANTED TO LEAVE CHELSEA FOR ATLETICO MADRID

Diego Costa concedes that he tried to push through a move back to Atletico Madrid before eventually going to Chelsea boss Antonio Conte with his “tail between his legs”.

The striker was heavily connected with a move back to his former club last summer after enduring a frustrating 2015/16 season as Chelsea failed miserably to protect their Premier League crown.

The two clubs were reportedly in negotiations over the transfer yet talks broke down, which meant Costa had to build bridges with Conte.

Costa told El Larguero: “Atletico knows I have a special feeling for the team, I lived the best moment of my career there. El Cholo [Diego Simeone] knows it wasn’t impossible for me to come back to Atletico.”

“The relationship with Conte didn’t start well because when he arrived I told him I wanted to go to Atletico. Chelsea’s fans love me a lot, even more than in Atletico, figure that!”

“When Atletico had to wait for me they didn’t, there was still a month to go in the transfer market.”

“I’ve done everything to come back to Atletico Madrid but I wouldn’t fight the same to return. When Atletico didn’t wait for me, I had to go to Conte with the tail between my legs.”

Costa has been a key figure in Chelsea’s run to the top of the Premier League this season but a reported bust-up with his manager in January again saw his future put in doubt.

Sky sources comprehended Costa was the subject of a £30m-a-year offer from Chinese clubs, who were willing to pay Chelsea up to £80m to sign the striker. However, Chelsea rebuffed the offer and Costa has continued his impressive form in the Premier League.

His long-term future in west London is still unclear, though.

Costa stated: “In life, anything can happen and I do not close the door to anything. In football you are worth what you are worth when you are good. And why not? But right now I am good at Chelsea…I have two years left on my contract and I intend to fulfil them.”

“But you never know. It’s not impossible to reject it because there are things to assess. You have to think about it all. I do not rule out anything. If they come with something for Chelsea and the club tell me to go…I can go to China or elsewhere.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

KELL BROOK SAYS ERROL SPENCE JR HAS ‘BITTEN OFF MORE THAN HE CAN CHEW’

Kell Brook says that Errol Spence Jr has “bitten off more than he can chew” after the pair’s heated first press conference.

Brook is heading back down to welterweight to defend his IBF belt against unbeaten Spence Jr at Bramall Lane on May 27, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

The champion jumped two divisions to take on Gennady Golovkin last time out, a typically bold performance finishing when his corner pulled him out in the fifth.

Indeed, even Spence Jr acknowledged the merit of Brook’s display that night, yet that was about the only compliment offered by the American, who accused his rival of “living off two good rounds with GGG”.

Brook reacted on Sky Sports News HQ after the press conference, saying: “He sounds very confident.”

“He’s American and they’ve given him a lot of hype. He has been looking very good in fights, but he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he steps in with me.”

“He’s got some skills, a good amateur pedigree and he looks the part, but he’s come to the final hurdle and that’s me.”

“I’m champion of the world, and it’s a dream come true fighting at Bramall Lane. I’m going to get so much energy from the fans, and I’m on point with the weight.”

Brook was generally expected to move up to light-middleweight in the wake of the Golovkin fight and said getting back down to 147lbs will make him “grumpy”.

In any case, the pride in defending a world title it took 33 fights to achieve proved a bigger motivation than avoiding weeks of hard work in the gym.

“My team wanted me to move up 154,” he stated, “but it’s taken me so long to get a world title with my injuries and the politics in boxing.”

“I eventually got it, and just to give it up is not in my nature. It made me dig my heels in even more, and I’m determined to defend what’s rightfully mine.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com