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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team defended his nominee for health and human services (HHS) secretary, Tom Price, from charges that he bought shares in a company days before introducing legislation that would have benefited the firm.

A Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Wednesday for Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia who, if confirmed, would be a lead agent in carrying out Trump’s plans to overhaul President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

CNN reported on Sunday that Price bought between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc, a medical device manufacturer.

Days later, he introduced legislation to the House of Representatives that would have delayed a regulation that could have ultimately damaged the company, CNN said.

The Trump transition team said late on Monday that the stock purchase was directed not by Price but by a broker and that Price himself did not become aware of the stock buy until well after the legislation was introduced.

“Any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false,” said transition spokesman Phil Blando.

“The only pattern we see emerging is that Senate Democrats and their liberal media allies cannot abide by the notion that Dr. Tom Price is uniquely qualified to lead HHS and will stop at nothing to smear his reputation,” he said.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, called on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Price had violated the 2012 Stock Act, a law designed to combat insider trading.

“The President-elect claims he wants to drain the swamp, but Congressman Price has spent his career filling it up,” Schumer said in a statement.

Price is one of eight Trump Cabinet nominees who will face Senate confirmation hearings this week, starting on Tuesday with Ryan Zinke, a Republican Montana congressman pegged as interior secretary, and Republican philanthropist Betsy DeVos who is the education nominee.

Trump’s presidential inauguration is on Friday and his team is hoping to have as many of his nominees as possible, perhaps as many as seven, confirmed by then.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Randy Fabi)

IMAGE: markn3tel via Flickr.com

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)