June, 2017

Even Kobach Won’t Give Voter Data He Asked For

“Multiple states plan to buck Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s request for personal information on voters on behalf of a presidential commission,” the Kansas City Star reports.

“Kobach said Friday that Kansas also won’t be sharing Social Security information with the commission, for which he serves as vice chairman, at this time.”

“Kobach sent letters to every state requesting names, addresses, voting history and other personal information, such as the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, earlier this week.”

Trump Throws White House Wildly Off Message Again

Philip Bump: “Hmm? You didn’t know it was Energy Week? Well, surely you didn’t think that the White House would not declare a theme for the week of June 26 to 30 after naming Infrastructure Week, Workforce Development Week and Technology Week, right? Oh, you didn’t know about those either?”

“Well, I guess I can’t really blame you. After all, it’s not totally clear that President Trump knew that there were themes to each week, either.”

GOP Strategist Sees Slim Chance for Health Care Bill

“Senate Republican leaders know that chances of passing their health bill are slim, that they depend on preserving some Obamacare tax hikes, and that they probably require flipping the vote of vulnerable Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV),” according to John Harwood.

“Those assessments, from a GOP strategist familiar with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s thinking, show how narrow a path awaits Senate Republicans when they return July 10 after a holiday week off. McConnell hasn’t given up, the strategist said, but is unlikely to allow debate to extend past July 21.”

Said the strategist: “The odds for them getting 51 votes might be at best one in five. There are limits to what he can do. He is not turning water into wine.”

He added that the week of July 17 is the last one McConnell will devote to the health care debate: “You might lose badly. You might only get 20 or 30 votes.”

Kushner Delivered Threat to Scarborough

New York Magazine reports that Joe Scarborough’s main point of contact in the White House about a threatened National Enquirer story was Jared Kushner. It was Kushner who told Scarborough that he’d have to personally apologize to Trump in order to have the story spiked.

An NBC News spokesman told CNN that Scarborough kept several network executives apprised of the alleged threats “contemporaneously.”

Trump Idea Would Lead to 26 Million Uninsured

President Trump “wants Congress to repeal Obamacare now and worry about replacing it later. But that’s a non-starter for many congressional Republicans who don’t want to scrap a plan that’s covering millions of Americans without something to take its place,” Politico reports.

“Repealing the health law without a replacement would kick about 18 million Americans off of health coverage in the first year — and reach 26 million a few years later, according to a CBO analysis of a 2015 bill to repeal the health law without a replacement.”

Scarborough Claims Trump Tried to Blackmail Him

Joe Scarborough said that “three people at the very top of the administration” threatened him with a bad story in the National Enquirer unless he apologized to President Trump, CNN reports.

Said Scarborough: “We got a call that, ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys…’ And they said, ‘If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story.”

He added: “The calls kept coming and kept coming, and they were like ‘Call. You need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him.'”

When Trump denied it on Twitter, Scarborough responded: “Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”

Trump Voter Fraud Chair Wants Info on Every Voter

Washington Post: “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state.”

“While civil-liberties advocates are concerned with what Kobach might do with what would amount to a nationwide voter file, privacy advocates worry about the implications of making such data available to the public, as the commission says it intends to do.”

Freedom Caucus Demands Big Welfare Cuts

Vox: “Congressional conservatives see an opportunity to push for more than $200 billion in cuts to welfare programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps (SNAP), that serve as a safety net for the nation’s most vulnerable population — on top of cuts already being pursued in the health care bill.”

“This group of conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, recently emboldened by extracting key concessions from Trump in order to pass his health care bill through the House last month, is feeling the strength of its leverage over the party — it knows that without its members’ votes, the budget resolution is doomed, and with it, for the next year at least, any hope of passing tax reform through the Senate on a strictly party-line vote.”

A Packed Agenda Awaits Republicans

First Read: “It’s not just health care that Senate Republicans are hoping to get back on track after they return from their July 4 vacation. President Trump and Congress have a lot on their plate before their summer recess in August — raising the debt limit, passing a budget, moving on tax reform. It’s a daunting agenda during the best of times. And it’s much, much harder with a distracted president, a commander-in-chief whose approval rating is in the 30s and 40s, and a GOP Senate that remains divided over health care.”

Guess the Campaign Official

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzski: “During the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, Joe often listened to Trump staff members complain about their boss’s erratic behavior, including a top campaign official who was as close to the Republican candidate as anyone.”

As Playbook notes, “When the president reads that, he won’t be pleased.”

Leave your own guesses on who that might be in the comments.

Trump Calls for Immediate Repeal of Obamacare

President Trump tweets this morning:

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”

Jonathan Swan: “It’s literally the opposite of what then president-elect Trump told Paul Ryan after he won the election and shortly before Congress went into session. Part of the reason why the House GOP leadership didn’t run with a clean repeal vote, as they’d done many times under President Obama, was because Trump had made it clear to Ryan he wouldn’t sign the bill.”

Playbook: “This was the GOP leadership’s original plan! But now, many Republicans would be opposed to this. First, there are procedural issues. And second, ripping out the health care system without a replacement is not an option for most conservatives, who spent much of the winter calling for a simultaneous repeal and replace.”

Quote of the Day

“Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days. These are really dishonest people. Should I sue them? I mean, they’re phonies… I mean, these are horrible human beings… It’s a shame what they’ve done to the name CNN, that I can tell you. But as far as I’m concerned, I love it. If anybody’s a lawyer in the house and thinks I have a good lawsuit — I feel like we do. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

— President Trump, recorded on audio obtained by The Intercept from a fundraiser earlier this week.

Trump Plots a Global Trade War

Mike Allen: “In a plan pushed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and backed by chief strategist Steve Bannon (not present at the meeting), trade policy director Peter Navarro and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the United States would impose tariffs on China and other big exporters of steel. Neither Mike Pence nor Jared Kushner weighed in either way.”

“Everyone else in the room, more than 75% of those present, were adamantly opposed, arguing it was bad economics and bad global politics. At one point, Trump was told his almost entire cabinet thought this was a bad idea. But everyone left the room believing the country is headed toward a major trade confrontation.”

“The reason, we’re told: Trump’s base — which drives more and more decisions, as his popularity sinks — likes the idea, and will love the fight.”