June, 2017

Repealing Obamacare No Longer a GOP Unifier

Washington Post: “Replacing Obamacare has become the party’s albatross, a sprawling objective still in search of a solution. The effort to make good on a seven-year promise has cost the Trump administration precious months of its first year in office, with tax restructuring backed up somewhere in the legislative pipeline, infrastructure idling somewhere no one can see it and budget deadlines looming.”

Politico: “It will be fraught with danger while trying to balance out the demands of senators from Medicaid expansion states and hard-line conservatives looking to gut Obamacare as much as possible. And his decision to delay the bill also carries great political risk because it draws out the Obamacare fight at least a couple more weeks. But he’s decided it’s a risk worth taking.”

“The episode was a stunning twist in the GOP’s long-running saga to roll back Obamacare.”

Republicans Now Say Trump Threatening Senate Majority

“Top GOP officials and senators say White House chaos and impulsiveness are crippling efforts to expand the Republican Senate majority in 2018, unraveling long-laid plans and needlessly jeopardizing incumbents,” Politico reports.

“There’s a widespread sense of exasperation with the president, interviews with nearly two dozen senior Republicans reveal, and deep frustration with an administration they believe doesn’t fully grasp what it will take to preserve the narrow majority or add to it.”

McConnell Said Attacks on Heller Were ‘Beyond Stupid’

New York Times: “The majority leader — already rankled by Mr. Trump’s tweets goading him to change Senate rules to scuttle Democratic filibusters — called the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to complain that the attacks were ‘beyond stupid,’ according to two Republicans with knowledge of the tense exchange.”

“Mr. McConnell, who has been toiling for weeks, mostly in private, to put together a measure that would satisfy hard-liners and moderates, told Mr. Priebus in his call that the assault by the group, America First, not only jeopardized the bill’s prospects but also imperiled Mr. Heller’s already difficult path to re-election.”

Manafort Paid $17 Million by Pro-Russian Party

“Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin,” the New York Times reports.

“The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Mr. Manafort performed work in the United States on behalf of a foreign power — Ukraine’s Party of Regions — without disclosing it at the time, as required by law.”

Republicans Just Aren’t Afraid of Trump

Washington Post: “Trump had hoped for a swift and easy win on health care this week. Instead he got a delay and a return to the negotiating table — the latest reminder of the limits of his power to shape outcomes at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“History suggests that presidents who have governed successfully have been both revered and feared. But Republican fixtures in Washington are beginning to conclude that Trump may be neither, despite his mix of bravado, threats and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers.”

“The president is the leader of his party, yet Trump has struggled to get Republican lawmakers moving in lockstep on health care and other major issues, leaving no signature legislation in his first five months in office.”

Sarah Palin Sues the New York Times

Sarah Palin is suing the New York Times for defamation over a recent editorial tying one of her political action committee ads to a 2011 mass shooting that severely wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and killed six people, the New York Post reports.

The paper said Palin incited th​​e shooting, which left Gifford​s​ with a severe brain injury, through an ad from her PAC that put “Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

The Times later issued a correction.

Trump’s Clubs Display Fake Time Magazine Cover

Washington Post: “This cover — dated March 1, 2009 — looks like an impressive memento from Trump’s pre-presidential career. To club members eating lunch, or golfers waiting for a pro-shop purchase, it seemed to be a signal that Trump had always been a man who mattered. Even when he was just a reality-TV star, Trump was the kind of star who got a cover story in Time.”

“But that wasn’t true. The Time cover is a fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time Magazine. And there was no issue at all in 2009 that had Trump on the cover.”

McConnell Delays Health Vote Until After Recess

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will delay the vote to take up the health care bill until after the July 4 recess, Politico reports.

Axios: “Majority Whip John Cornyn had said earlier that the vote was going ahead. But ultimately, the decision is McConnell’s — and he was getting too much pushback from Senate Republican holdouts who said they weren’t ready to vote this quickly, without changes to the bill.”

Chris Cillizza: “The longer a bill sits out without a vote, the bigger pinata it becomes to its detractors, who find new and different things to object to it. That’s especially true for a recess week, which Republicans are headed into this weekend. And while the idea of more time allowing wavering members to be convinced sounds like capital “D” democracy, usually the members wavering have mostly made up their minds.”

Trump Lawyer’s Firm Steered Millions to Family Members

Documents obtained by The Guardian show that President Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, “approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.”

“Telemarketers for the nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, were instructed in contracts signed by Sekulow to urge people who pleaded poverty or said they were out of work to dig deep for a ‘sacrificial gift.'”

McConnell Warns of Health Bill Failure

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “is delivering an urgent warning to staffers, Republican senators and even the president himself: If Obamacare repeal fails this week, the GOP will lose all leverage and be forced to work with Chuck Schumer,” Politico reports.

“McConnell delivered a similar warning Monday to Republican senators at his leadership meeting and to top GOP staffers, warning that Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible in a bipartisan negotiation, according to Republican aides.”

Cornyn Insists Health Bill Vote Will Proceed

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) says a key vote to advance the GOP health care bill will likely occur on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

“Leaders currently do not have the support to win that procedural vote, known as a motion to proceed, to take up the bill for consideration.”

Axios: “That wouldn’t necessarily be the worst outcome for McConnell. As much as Republicans want to get rid of the health care law, McConnell’s allies have been saying for weeks that he’s ready to just put senators on the record and move on to tax reform. He doesn’t think a delay in the vote will make it more likely to pass.”