Parties Prep for Battle Against Hackers

“The political world is officially obsessed with cybersecurity in 2017 — especially the Democrats burned by the hacking of their committees and operatives during the 2016 election,” Politico reports.

“Much of the Democratic Party’s permanent apparatus has already changed its day-to-day operations as a result, while beginning the slow process of persuading its decentralized, startup-like campaign ecosystem to follow suit.”

“House Democrats’ top strategists have urged consultants working on their campaigns to start using Wickr, the end-to-end encrypted messaging app used inside the DCCC — but the consulting community has been slow to give up email and embrace the program… Security measures vary widely from race to race, leaving many still vulnerable to hacking, and members of both parties say they are seeking centralized clearinghouses of anti-hacking information and services.”

Trump Privately Tries to Mend Fences with GOP Senators

CNN: “The private outreach is part of a more concerted White House effort to repair relations Trump damaged with his own party over a tumultuous August, following the failure of the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare and a slew of White House controversies, including the President’s controversial handling of a deadly protest in Charlottesville.”

“And it now comes at a critical time: The White House is desperately trying to revive its health care push before a September 30 deadline — and needs senators like Murkowski to salvage the President’s agenda. But of course, it hasn’t always been smooth — especially as Trump has tried to circumvent Republicans and cut deals with Democratic leaders — over the GOP leadership’s objections.”

Republicans Considering $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut

Senate Republicans are considering writing a budget that would allow for up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Axios: “Writing a budget is the first step in working on tax legislation and adhering to its guidelines would let a tax bill pass the Senate with a simple majority. Details on the GOP tax plan are due next week. Putting a tax cut in the budget would put off decisions on how to pay for the cuts.”

Tillerson’s State Department Is Adrift

“As President Trump faces a collection of world leaders at his first United Nations General Assembly this week, U.S. officials are working behind the scenes to allay fears among foreign delegations that America’s foreign policy decisions have become too dominated by the West Wing, and that the U.S. State Department, where many crucial positions remain unfilled, is adrift,” NBC News reports.

“At the center of this concern is Tillerson, whose diminishing role in the administration is being blamed for the State Department’s lagging clout… Three senior State Department officials told NBC News that there a number of meetings with foreign delegations at this week’s UNGA that Tillerson either ignored or refused to attend.”

Federal Investigators Wiretapped Manafort

“U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.”

“The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him when they raided his home in July.

“Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.”

McCain Blasts Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “ripped his party’s process for trying to repeal and replace Obamacare but stopped short of saying he would oppose their latest bill,” The Hill reports.

Said McCain: “I have talked and talked and talked about the need to do regular order. I have amendments that I would like to have votes on … Am I going to be able to have those, or is it going to be an up or down vote? That’s not why I came to the Senate just to give up or down votes.”

Senate Nearing Another Vote to Repeal Obamacare

“Just when the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act appeared to be dead, a last-ditch push to dismantle the law could be nearing a showdown vote in the Senate, and a handful of Republicans insist they are closing in on the votes,” the New York Times reports.

“The effort received a jolt of energy on Monday when Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, a Republican, strongly endorsed the latest repeal bill. That put pressure on Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who cast the deciding vote in July that seemed to stop the repeal movement, but who has said he would seriously consider the views of his governor.”

Washington Post: “The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns. What’s different now is the sense of urgency senators are bringing to their effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act, with only a dozen days remaining before the legislative vehicle they’re using expires.”

Meadows Says House Would Pass Obamacare Repeal Plan

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) predicted that the House “would pass a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare if it clears the Senate, with conservatives getting on board,” Politico reports.

Said Meadows: “It’s fundamentally our last chance to make a legislative fix to Obamacare, and if it doesn’t happen, then the chances of it happening in the future are slim to none. And so, I fully expect that if it makes it out of the Senate, the pressure will be so great — from moderates to conservatives — to get it passed.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

— Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), quoted by The Hill.

Trump Wants Military Parade on July 4th

President Trump said France’s Bastille Day celebration that he attended in July with French President Emmanuel Macron was such a “beautiful thing to see” that he’s thinking of holding a similar parade in Washington as a salute to the US military, the New York Post reports.

Said Trump: “Because of what I witnessed we may do something like that on July Fourth in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue… We’re actually thinking about that … having a really great parade to show our military strength.”

Clinton May Still Challenge 2016 Election Results

In an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, Hillary Clinton floated the possibility of challenging the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election if Russian collusion is proven by special counsel Bob Mueller.

GROSS: I want to get back to the question, would you completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?

CLINTON: No. I would not. I would say —

GROSS: You’re not going to rule it out?

CLINTON: No, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Spicer Regrets Berating Reporters Over Crowd Size

Sean Spicer told the New York Times that he “now regrets one of his most infamous moments as press secretary: his decision to charge into the White House briefing room in January and criticize accurate news reports that Barack Obama’s inauguration crowd was bigger than President Donald Trump’s.”

Said Spicer: “Of course I do, absolutely.”

“Since leaving the White House last month, Mr. Spicer has been on a speaking and television circuit — trying to rehabilitate his image.”