Tuesday Reads: The Death of Trumpcare, Don Jr.’s Meeting, and “Devil’s Bargain.”Posted: July 18, 2017
Trumpcare is dead after two more GOP Senators said they won’t support the bill to “repeal and replace Obamacare. The Washington Post reports:
Two more Senate Republicans have declared their opposition to the latest plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, potentially ending a months-long effort to make good on a GOP promise that has defined the party for nearly a decade and been a top priority for President Trump.
Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) issued statements declaring that they would not vote for the revamped measure. The sudden breaks by Lee, a staunch conservative, and Moran, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), rocked the GOP leadership and effectively closed what already had been an increasingly narrow path to passage for the bill.
They joined Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine), who also oppose it. With just 52 seats, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes to pass their proposed rewrite of the Affordable Care Act. All 46 Democrats and two independents are expected to vote against it.
In a pair of tweets Tuesday morning, Trump decried the defections, called for letting the Affordable Care Act “fail” and vowed to keep pushing for a GOP plan.
“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” he wrote in the first tweet.
Remember when our joke of a “president” said repealing Obamacare would be “so easy?” Mother Jones in March:
“Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first,” Trump said at an October rally in Florida. “That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy.”
Trump also argued on the campaign trail that electing a Republican-controlled Congress would allow him to quickly dismantle the health care law and pass other pieces of legislation. “With a Republican House and Senate, we will immediately repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said at another event. “A Republican House and Senate can swiftly enact the other items in my contract immediately, including massive tax reduction.”
“We will [repeal and replace Obamacare], and we will do it very, very quickly,” Trump said during the final week of the campaign. “It is a catastrophe.”
Trump’s confidence in his ability to win the health care fight continued through the first few weeks of his presidency. On February 9, he bragged that when it came to repealing Obamacare, “Nobody can do that like me.” ….
By the end of February, Trump had changed his tune somewhat. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” the president said. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
He still has no idea what’s in the bill he was so eager to sign.
Mitch McConnell pulled the second draft of his health-care bill last night after two more Republican senators came out against even bringing it up for debate on the floor: Utah’s Mike Lee and Kansas’s Jerry Moran.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” the Senate majority leader said in a statement sent at 10:47 p.m.
He announced that he’ll bring the bill that already passed the House up for consideration “in the coming days,” and the first amendment the Senate would take up would be for the full repeal of Obamacare (with a two-year delay for implementation). But to get that vote on repeal, conservative critics must vote to allow debate on the broader bill.
If the clean vote for full repeal failed, as it almost certainly would, senators could continue making additional amendments that may make the measure even more unpalatable to conservatives.
The latest Trump Russia news:
CNN is trying to find out who the eighth person in the Don Jr. meeting was.
CNN reported July 14 that there was also an eighth person in the room, according to two sources familiar with the circumstances, although the name has not been disclosed. The person was described to CNN by a source as a representative of the Russian family, the Agalarovs, who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. While it isn’t clear who the person is, a second source said he was an employee of the Agalarovs who was in the US before the meeting.
Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, has told CNN he has spoken by phone to the eighth person in the room during the meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016.
CNN reported last week that the Awas there on behalf of a Russian family, the Agalarovs, who had asked for the meeting to be set up, according to two sources….
Futerfas says the person, who he declined to name, was a US citizen and said he was not employed by the Russian government. But Futerfas acknowledged he didn’t know his entire history. The Agalarovs and their attorney have not publicly explained who the employee was who attended.
Finally, Dan Diamond of CNN has pulled together “the ever-changing story about Trump Jr.’s meeting — what we know.”
The New York Times has a piece on “The Master of ‘Kompromat’ Believed to Be Behind Trump Jr.’s Meeting.”
The salacious video, of a naked man in bed with two women, was one of the most prominent examples of “kompromat,” the Russian art of spreading damaging information to discredit a rival or an enemy, in recent Russian history.
It was made available to Russian state television in the late 1990s and authenticated in public by Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, who at 66 has a long and storied background in kompromat. Mr. Chaika benefited from the video, as it destroyed a predecessor as prosecutor general, Yuri I. Skuratov, who had been looking into suspicions of corruption by President Boris N. Yeltsin and his associates.
Mr. Chaika (pronounced CHIKE-uh) is also the man who is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was promised at a meeting last June in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American lobbyist. And yet, oddly, the accusations brought to New York fell flat, by the accounts of those present, despite their having originated from such a seasoned master of kompromat.
We’ll see. I’m not prepared to believe anything that comes from the Trump family or their attorneys.
This morning I downloaded the new book on Steve Bannon and the Trump campaign by Joshua Green. Here’s the intro from the New York Times review: How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the Honey Badger Into the White House.
Mellivora capensis — better known as the honey badger — is a thick-skinned and sharp-toothed little creature that in 2011 became a YouTube sensation thanks to a short video called “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger.” In the clip, a honey badger chases off jackals, raids a beehive, survives a cobra bite and eats venomous snakes head first. Meanwhile, an unseen narrator extols the animal’s core virtue: “Honey badger don’t give a . . .” — well, a darn.
The video has been viewed more than 83 million times.
Most people who watch it probably find it fairly amusing — and plenty gross. But for Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist and leading impresario of the alt-right, the video and its furry hero were something else: inspiration. The animal is the mascot of Breitbart News, the truth-optional publication Bannon took over following Andrew Breitbart’s sudden death in 2012 and with which he can maintain communication thanks to a White House waiver. After Trump made allegations about Bill Clinton’s sexual history in a debate last year with Hillary Clinton, Bannon exulted over his boss’s brazen but effective performance: “Classic honey badger,” he called it.
If there’s a lesson to draw from “Devil’s Bargain,” Joshua Green’s deeply reported and compulsively readable account of Bannon’s fateful political partnership with Trump, it is not to underestimate the honey badger. “If I didn’t come along, the Republican Party had zero chance of winning the presidency,” Trump told Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, in May 2016, and he was probably right. Only someone with his and Bannon’s transgressive instincts, along with their seeming incapacity for moral and intellectual embarrassment, could have defeated the well-oiled if soulless machine that was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
You’ve probably already heard about or read excerpts from the book. A couple of examples:
The Daily Beast: Trump’s Campaign Conceded in a Memo That Comey Was Having Major Impact.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign acknowledged in an internal memo that former FBI Director James Comey’s 11th hour decision to reopen an inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email helped shift the results.
Reported in Joshua Green’s new book Devil’s Bargain, the memo gives credence to an argument long espoused by Clinton world that Comey’s announcement propelled Trump to victory.
The memo was authored by some of Trump’s pollsters and data gurus just five days before the vote. Days earlier, Comey had reopened his investigation after FBI agents found additional emails on a laptop belonged Anthony Weiner, the now estranged husband of Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin. While polling began to swing towards Trump, virtually all prognosticators still had Clinton heading for a comfortable win on November 8. On the Trump campaign, however, Green writes that “it was suddenly clear” that the investigation “was roiling the electorate.”
“The last few days have proven to be pivotal in the minds of voters with the recent revelations in reopening the investigation of Secretary Clinton,” the memo read, according to Green. “Early polling numbers show declining support for Clinton, shifting in favor of Mr. Trump.”
It added: “This may have a fundamental impact on the results.”
Author Joshua Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, writes that Christie had run against Trump for the Republican Presidential candidacy but quit in February last year after the New Hampshire primary.
The next month he shocked the Republican establishment by endorsing Trump and began leading his White House transition team.
According to ‘Devil’s Bargain’, Trump was in his War Room on election night when it started to look like he would pull of his shock victory.
The book says that ‘although he was surrounded by friends, aides and family members, there seemed to be a force field around him that discouraged a direct approach’.
Friends started congratulating Mike Pence instead and saluting him as ‘Mr Vice President’.
Trump sat down to ‘absorb the gravity of what was happening’ and a moment later Christie ‘burst through the force field and sat next to him’.
Christie said: ‘Hey Donald. The President talked to me earlier’ – the two had gotten to know each other after Superstorm Sandy. Christie said: ‘If you win he’s going to call my phone, and I’ll pass it over to you’.
Trump ‘flashed a look of annoyance, clearly resenting the intrusion’ and was repulsed by the idea of having somebody else’s phone next to his face.
Trump told Christie: ‘Hey Chris, you know my f***ing phone number. Just give it to the President. I don’t want your f***ing phone’.
Aides said that Christie’s move was the ‘ultimate mistake’ and one from which he ‘wouldn’t recover’.
If anyone is looking for me, I’ll be reading this book up until I have to go to the Sam Delahunty Dentist later this afternoon.
What stories are you following today?