Monthly Archives: May 2017

And Then The Laughter Stopped

Yeah, we all had fun last night….

But then came the sobering news this morning….

President Trump will pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, according to several reports Wednesday.

Axios first reported that Trump is working with a group led by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt on the exact mechanism of pulling out before announcing his final decision. CBS News also reported that Trump is telling allies about his decision.

The move marks a dramatic departure from the Obama administration, which was instrumental in crafting the deal. It also makes the U.S. an outlier among the world’s nations, nearly all of whom support the climate change accord.

Outlier indeed.  We now join Nicaragua and Syria (and Nicaragua rejected it because it didn’t go far enough!)

The pact was reached by nearly 200 countries in 2015, the first global climate accord to include that many nations. Each country made its own non-binding pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Obama administration, which helped negotiate the pact, had promised a 26 to 28 percent cut in the country’s emissions, a pledge that Republicans had slammed as necessitating expensive, job-killing regulations.

The good news is that technically, the U.S. cannot withdraw from the Paris Agreement for four years.  And it is unclear whether or not the US is withdrawing from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which has been around since 1992.  If so, the US can withdraw in a year.

Either way, there are implications.  China will likely take over global leadership on the issue of climate change. This would mean, in part, that China’s faulty and unreliable energy statistics would define whether it was complying with the agreement. The American strategy (up until now) has been to seek outside validation for other countries’ climate goals.

This could prove supremely unpopular: An overwhelming majority of Americans, more than 80 percent, favor expanding wind and solar energy. And it would cut into American competitiveness at a vital time for the industry.  Even Exxon Mobile supports the Paris Accords.

China is investing $360 billion in renewable energy over the next few years, which will create 13 million new jobs. Other countries may decide to penalize the U.S. if it fails on the Paris agreement. “They could do that by lowering tariffs, for example, from other countries that would be trying to sell clean energy technologies,” says Andrew Light, a distinguished senior fellow in the climate program at the World Resources Institute, who was also part of the climate team in the State Department leading up to the agreement.

Beyond the Paris agreement, the government also plays a big role in helping the renewable energy sector succeed in selling to the rest of the world and creating more U.S. jobs, though instruments like the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Without that investment, “we’re effectively taking ourselves out of the clean energy economy,” Light says.

Before the inauguration, 530 companies and 100 investors wrote an open letter to the new administration asking for support of low-carbon policies, investment in the low-carbon economy, and continued participation in the Paris agreement.

“Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk,” they wrote. “But the right action now will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness.”

Withdrawing from the Paris agreement also affects the U.S. relationship with other countries. “To create the first climate agreement we were really pushing lots of leaders to really get on board and get this thing done,” says Light. “I think if the U.S. completely pulls away from this, we’re going to see a diplomatic blowback. It’s going to be significant, and it will impact a lot of areas that this administration will care about a lot more than climate change, especially on trade and national security issues.”

In the longer term, failing to reduce emissions now will lead to spending trillions of dollars dealing with the damage caused by climate change. It will also lead to greater security threats as climate impacts create new political instability.

This is a willing abdication of US world leadership.  Not to mention an embarrassment that we have a president who doesn’t believe in science. This is Bannon’s doing, as he is the main one who has been pushing for us to leave. (Ivanka supports the Paris Accords, but clearly has no moderating sway on Trump anymore, if she ever had it at all.)

All hope is not lost: Even if the federal government rejects the Paris agreement, cities, states, and businesses can potentially make enough progress to come close to the Paris target of 26% to 28% reductions. By 2050, the longer-term goal of the U.S. was to reduce emissions 80%, in line with some recommendations to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Expect a lot of blowback from the left and right.

UPDATE: With Elon Musk and others giving pretty strong feedback, it looks like the White House might be giving itself an out.

Jared And The Russian Backchannel – It Happened, Didn’t Happen, But He Didn’t Do It, But So What If He Did?

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Jared Kushner sought to create a secret line of communication between Donald Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin during a meeting with Russian diplomats in December.

On Saturday, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said at a news conference that he “would not be concerned” about such an arrangement and added that “we have back-channel communications with a number of countries.”

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly told ABC News that “any channel of communications, back or otherwise, is a good thing.”

On Monday, Fox News published an online article with no byline and a single unnamed source that claimed that Kushner, a senior White House adviser, did not try to set up a back channel after all. (Make no mistake: It is not normal to publish a supposed scoop without a byline. The only clue Fox News offered about the reporting was a note at the bottom of the story that said Catherine Herridge “contributed.”)

On Tuesday morning, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade posed a question to counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway: “Do you back up the Fox News report?” Conway refused. “I’m not going to get into any of that,” she said. Conway echoed McMaster and Kelly, saying “they’re not concerned” and that “back channels like this are the regular course of business.”

A short time later, Trump tweeted a link to the Fox News report that Conway had just declined to support, seemingly endorsing an alternative defense of Kushner that his own administration spent three days not making.

What the heck is going on here?

Option 1: He did it, but that’s okay.

Option 2: He didn’t do it.

Never mind that both things cannot be true. The bottom line is Kushner did nothing bad. Believe me.

UPDATE:   Sean Spicer is giving the first press briefing since Trump’s overseas trip.  He’s basically saying that the White House cannot confirm if there was a backchannel and takes no position on it (even though Trump tweeted about it and referred to the Fox News article and even though, as Spicer says, “there is nothing wrong with establishing a backchannel”).  Makes no sense

Congressional Investigation Committees Go for Trump’s Personal Lawyer, Michael Cohen

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has received requests for information from the Senate and House intelligence committees as part of their probes into Russian interference in the U.S. election. The request ;letters were the same ones sent to former Trump aides Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn and others. Those letters sought information about Russian contacts, and asked the recipients to turn over any communications with the Trump campaign about Russia.

Cohen is a long-time lawyer for both Trump and his business organization. He has served as executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump.

In the dossier on Trump prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, Cohen was alleged to have attended a secret meeting in Prague to discuss Russia’s hacking of Democratic targets. In February, Cohen told NBC News he was in Los Angeles when the Prague meeting was supposed to have occurred, taking his son to a meeting with the baseball coach at the University of Southern California.

But still, he isn’t cooperating. “I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told CNN Tuesday, adding that he considered it a “total fishing expedition.”

“They have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative,” Cohen said. He called the investigation a “rush to judgment.”

In case we’ve forgotten, Cohen was part of one of the more cringeworthy parts of the campaign (jump to 1:50):

The Smoking Gun?

Another bombshell from the New York Times.  If this is true, Trump not only revealed classified information to Russians, but he also admitted to firing Comey because of the investigation:

WASHINGTON — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.

In a statement, he said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.

“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

The day after firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump hosted Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in the Oval Office, along with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. The meeting ignited controversy this week when it was revealed that Mr. Trump had disclosed intelligence from an Israeli counterterrorism operation.

A third government official briefed on the meeting defended the president, saying Mr. Trump was using a negotiating tactic when he told Mr. Lavrov about the “pressure” he was under. The idea, the official suggested, was to create a sense of obligation with Russian officials and to coax concessions out of Mr. Lavrov — on Syria, Ukraine and other issues — by saying that Russian meddling in last year’s election had created enormous political problems for Mr. Trump.

The president has been adamant that the meddling did not alter the outcome of the race, but it has become a political cudgel for his opponents.

Many Democrats and some Republicans have raised alarms that the president may have tried to obstruct justice by firing Mr. Comey. The Justice Department’s newly appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was given the authority to investigate not only potential collusion, but also related allegations, which would include obstruction of justice.

The F.B.I.’s investigation has bedeviled the Trump administration, and the president personally. Mr. Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March, telling Congress that his agents were investigating Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the presidential election and whether anyone in the Trump campaign had been involved. Mr. Trump has denied any collusion and called the case a waste of money and time.

At first, the White House said Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Mr. Comey’s handling of the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton last year. Officials said it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

But the president undercut that argument a day later, telling NBC News, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”

I hope people won’t focus on Trump calling Comey a “nut job”.  The takeaway quote is Trump thinking that by getting rid of Comey, he was taking the pressure off.  That is a problem for Trump, legally.  It goes to obstruction.

This story dropped just as Trump was wheels up on his trip abroad.  Washington Post dropped one as well, at the same time: a story saying that a close adviser to Trump in the White House is the a “person of interest” in the FBI investigation. Jared Kushner or Stephen Miller, I’d guess

Hmmmmmm… RED FLAG!


President Donald Trump’s attorneys originally wanted him to submit an updated financial disclosure without certifying the information as true.

In correspondence with the Office of Government Ethics, attorney Sheri Dillon said she saw no need for Trump to sign his 2016 personal financial disclosure because he is filing voluntarily this year. But OGE director Walter Shaub said his office would only work with Dillon if she agreed to follow the typical process of having him certify the information as true. Such certifications are standard for the thousands of financial disclosure forms OGE processes each year.

The Associated Press obtained the letters under a Freedom of Information Act request.

In her letter to Shaub, Dillon says the president will “sign and file” documents shedding light on his 2016 financials by mid-June.

Trump Is Delusional About How He Got Here

Boy, does WaPo get this right or what? This comes from The Plum Line about how Trump has no idea what just hit him:

Trump unleashed two tweets Thursday morning responding to the news of the appointment, which was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after days of deafening criticism. Trump claimed: “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic, or perhaps more appropriately, sick] appointed!” He then added: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Separately, The Post reports that Trump is raging at his staff for failing to mitigate his “stumbles.” Why? Because “Trump largely thinks that his recent mishaps are not substantive but simply errors of branding and public relations, according to people close to him and the White House.”

But, despite Trump’s suggestion that he is being victimized by a witch hunt, and that a more adept PR strategy could minimize the damage, this is a situation entirely of Trump’s own making. And each of Trump’s actions leading up to this moment are rooted deep in Trump’s autocratic and authoritarian impulses; his total contempt for basic institutional processes; and his tendency, when his sense of grievance strikes, to slip into a delusional belief that he can overwhelm the institutional independence of his persecutors the way he might steamroll someone in a business deal.


Trump has created a problem for himself in yet another way, too: He denied asking Comey for a loyalty pledge by vaguely threatening to release alleged tapes of their conversation. Now, if Comey publicly attests to that pledge, the White House will be forced to produce these tapes or admit they don’t exist, and it’s very likely that neither of those outcomes would turn out well for Trump.

The point is not just that Trump’s actions are entirely to blame for the appointment of the special counsel. It’s also that there are no indications that Trump even understands this. And on top of that, these actions themselves — which simply did not have to happen — will now likely be probed by the special counsel, too.

Here’s A Good Place For Mueller To Start

Reuters is reporting that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers “were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race.”

That news stands in contrast to what Trump transition team chair-turned-Vice President Mike Pence said in January, when he repeatedly denied during TV interviews that there was any communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

In late February, CNN reported that the FBI “rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.” According to CNN, FBI Director James Comey denied White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ request because “the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.” Comey publicly confirmed that investigation in March.

Comey was fired by Trump last week amid an investigation into the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia. Trump later admitted he fired Comey in part because of frustrations about the ongoing investigation. That apparent obstruction of justice has led to calls for Trump’s impeachment and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the matter.

Six of the communications involved calls between Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Trump advisers, including Flynn. Flynn lost his job as Trump’s national security adviser after officials leaked news that Flynn lied to administration officials about his pre-inauguration communications with Kislyak — including discussions of sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s meddling in the election on behalf of Trump.

Flynn wasn’t the only one who lied about his communications with Kislyak — so did Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who promised to recuse himself from any Russia-Trump campaign-related investigations after Justice Department officials leaked news that Sessions didn’t tell the truth during his confirmation hearing. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, didn’t disclose his December meeting with Kislyak on his security clearance form.

According to Reuters, during the transition period, Flynn and Kislyak discussed “establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and [Putin] that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations.”

The White House didn’t comment, but Reuters said the Russian embassy in D.C. issued a statement saying, “We do not comment on our daily contacts with the local interlocutors.”

From the time of the campaign through early March, Trump officials issued at least 20 separate denials of communications with Russia. On January 16, Trump told reporters, “I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.” A month later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said despite Flynn’s transition-period contacts with Kislyak, he wasn’t aware of any Trump associates being in contact with Russian officials during the campaign. On February 20, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump-Russia “is a non-story because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”

Meanwhile, Time Magazine reports this:

As they dig into the viralizing of such stories, congressional investigations are probing not just Russia’s role but whether Moscow had help from the Trump campaign. Sources familiar with the investigations say they are probing two Trump-linked organizations: Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics company hired by the campaign that is partly owned by deep-pocketed Trump backer Robert Mercer; and Breitbart News, the right-wing website formerly run by Trump’s top political adviser Stephen Bannon.

The congressional investigators are looking at ties between those companies and right-wing web personalities based in Eastern Europe who the U.S. believes are Russian fronts, a source familiar with the investigations tells TIME. “Nobody can prove it yet,” the source says. In March, McClatchy newspapers reported that FBI counterintelligence investigators were probing whether far-right sites like Breitbart News and Infowars had coordinated with Russian botnets to blitz social media with anti-Clinton stories, mixing fact and fiction when Trump was doing poorly in the campaign.

Does not look like this is going away.

Day 118. Hot Mess

1/ Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in election. Mueller will take command of the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the far reaching Russia investigation. Trump said that he expects the probe will find no collusion between his 2016 White House campaign and foreign countries, calling the Russia inquiry a “taxpayer-funded charade.” (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI’s investigation into Russian campaign interference. Multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men. (NBC News)
  • Federal investigators have subpoenaed records for Manafort’s $3.5 million mortgage that he took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign. (NBC News)

2/ The House majority leader told colleagues last year: “I think Putin pays” Trump. Paul Ryan told them not to leak the remarks and swore them to secrecy. (Washington Post)

3/ Jason Chaffetz asked the FBI to turn all documents it has on Trump and Comey’s conversations. The FBI has until May 24 to produce the records before the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee subpoenas them. Chaffetz said that if the memo exists and accurately reflects the conversation, “that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI.” (NBC News / CNN)

  • Comey’s memos were a product of a culture of note-taking. It is standard for people who work in law enforcement to keep detailed phone and meeting logs. (New York Times)

4/ Senate and House Republicans and Democrats want Comey to testify about his interactions with Trump, including whether Trump tried to obstruct the criminal probe into Michael Flynn. The collective political fallout from the past week “will make it difficult” for Republicans to resist a change in approach, Representative Charlie Dent said. “I think we need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days,” Mitch McConnell said. (Politico / Washington Post / (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee requested that James Comey testify publicly in the wake of his firing by Trump. Sentors Richard Burr and Mark Warner sent a letter asking Comey to testify before their panel in both open and closed sessions. The senators had previously asked Comey to testify in a closed session, but he declined. (Politico)
  • The House Oversight Committee invited Comey to testify next Wednesday. Jason Chaffetz has officially scheduled the hearing and is in the process of trying to connect with Comey. The hearing will be the day the FBI is due to send documents to the oversight panel. (Politico)

5/ Democratic congressman Al Green called for “the impeachment of the President of the United States of America for obstruction of justice.” Green said it was the House of Representative’s “duty” to take up impeachment. More Republicans and Democrats are starting to talk of the possibility that Trump could face impeachment after reports that he pressed James Comey to end an investigation of Michael Flynn. Representative Justin Amash said if the reports about Trump’s pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both raised concerns about Trump’s action, but avoided the topic of impeachment in their statements responding to the news of Comey’s memo. “At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power,” Pelosi said. “At worst, he has obstructed justice.” Democrats can’t impeach Trump without significant Republican support. (CNN / The Hill / BuzzFeed News)

6/ Republicans blocked the Democrats attempt to force a vote on creating a bipartisan congressional commission to investigate Russian interference, how the intelligence community handled the matter, and the Trump’s involvement. “You’re watching an obstruction of justice investigation developing in real time,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “If there were ever any question about the need for an independent special prosecutor, this report is the nail on the argument.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Calls grow for an independent investigation. The deputy Republican whip Adam Kinzinger switched his position for an independent commission or special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying the recent news reports had marked a turning point for him. (NBC News / Washington Post)

7/ Paul Ryan tried to contain the political fallout from the Comey memo by urging members to avoid “rushing to judgment.” He called himself “a person who wants to get the facts” and said that “there are some people out there who want to harm the president.” (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

8/ McCain compares Comey memo about his meeting with Trump to Watergate. “The only thing I can say is I think we’ve seen this movie before. I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale,” McCain said. His advice to Trump is “the same thing that you advised Richard Nixon, which he didn’t do… get it all out… it’s not going to be over until every aspect of it is thoroughly examined and the American people make a judgment. And the longer you delay, the longer it’s going to last.” (ABC News / The Daily Beast)

9/ Putin offers to provide Congress with the transcript to prove Trump didn’t pass Russia secrets, turning up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. Putin said Russia could hand over a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Lavrov, if the Trump administration deemed it appropriate. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Adam Schiff: “Last thing” Trump needs “is Putin vouching for him.” Schiff called Putin’s offer “yet another twist in the road” and said, “all of this gets more baffling every day.” (CNN)
  • Senator Susan Collins says Trump needs to “right the ship” and get his “house in order” because “we cannot have this constant chaos” every single day from him. (CNN)

10/ Trump provided Russia with secrets so sensitive that news organizations are being asked not to report it. Trump told the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador that the Islamic State had used stolen airport security equipment to test a bomb that could be hidden in electronic devices. US intelligence officials have asked media organizations not to report on the type of equipment, where it was stolen, and the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered. The intelligence has led to the new rules banning electronic devices in the cabins of certain flights. (NBC News)

11/ Trump: No politician “has been treated worse or more unfairly,” warning graduating Coast Guard cadets that life is unfair. (Politico)

12/ Sally Yates disputed Sean Spicer’s characterization of her warnings that Flynn could be open to blackmail by Russia as a “heads up.” Yates said she expected the White House to act urgently on the information that Flynn had been compromised by his contact with Russian officials prior to Trump’s inauguration. (CNN / NBC News)

13/ Members of the Turkish president’s security team breached police lines and attacked protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in the US. About two dozen demonstrators showed up outside of embassy hours after Erdogan met with Trump and a brawl erupted when Erdogan’s security detail attacked protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party. (CNN / The Guardian / New York Times)

14/ The Iran nuclear deal will remain as Trump imposes new penalties over its ballistic missile program. The new sanctions is the latest attempt by the administration to signal its displeasure with Iran while not jettisoning the 2015 nuclear deal. (Politico / New York Times)

15/ Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke accepted a job at the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke has made a name himself for supporting Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration and for patrolling of Muslim neighborhoods. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel / Los Angeles Times)

16/ Trump has turned to Corey Lewandowski, Jason Miller, and David Bossie as scandals pile up. The former campaign aides have slid back into his group of advisers as a steady stream of damaging leaks and critical blind quotes that have flowed out of the West Wing. (Politico)

17/ Trump’s education budget calls for deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice. Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end, and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health and other services would vanish under the plan, which cuts $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump’s approval rating hits a new low: 42% – and that’s before claims that he disclosed sensitive information to Russian officials and tried to shut down an FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. (Politico)

How We Got Here

I have been out of town and/or recuperating from being out of town, so the events of earlier this week caught me off guard.  Nothing to say, and yet so much to say, and yet so much has already been said.  Clearly though, this appears to be the beginning of the end for Trump. We are in impeachment territory, and the only open questions now are how long before his base erodes to the point where Republican Congressmen HAVE to step up to the plate?

Anyway, for future reference, this is how the crisis has unfolded.

July 5 2016

Comey recommends that the DOJ not bring charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State, but says she and her staff were “extremely careless”.

October 28

The FBI announces it is opening a new probe into Mrs Clinton’s emails, following an unrelated criminal investigation into Anthony Weiner, a former congressman and estranged husband of a Clinton aide.

November 6

Days before the election, Comey reaffirms his previous decision that no charges be brought against Mrs Clinton. Trump complains that Clinton is protected by a “rigged system”.

December 11

Trump attacks a Central Intelligence Agency report that Russia hacked Democratic party servers to help secure his election.

February 14 2017

Flynn “resigns” (is fired) as national security adviser after admitting he misled vice-president Michael Pence over his Russian contacts. The FBI had been investigating the conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

February 17

Trump slams leaked reports that his campaign team was in contact with Russia during the campaign.

March 20

Comey tells the House intelligence committee that the FBI is investigating Russian connections with Trump associates.

May 3

Comey testifies before a Senate committee and says he feels “mildly nauseous” at the thought that he could have influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

May 9

Comey is fired. A letter from the president says he was dismissed on the advice of the justice department over his handling of the Clinton case.

May 11

Trump says he would have fired Comey “regardless” of the justice department’s advice, and adds that he was unsatisfied with Comey because of the Russia investigation.

May 13

Trump appears to threaten Comey with the release of tapes of their private conversations.

May 15

The Washington Post reports that Mr Trump shared classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting.

May 16

Trump tweets that he has “absolute right” as president to give Russians information for counterterrorism purposes. The New York Times reports that Trump asked Comey in February to halt the investigation into Mr Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Comey, according to a memo the FBI head wrote at the time.

Day 116. Jeopardized.

1/ Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Trump’s decision to disclose information risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. A US official said Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” Trump’s disclosures are not illegal as he has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represents a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Trump is considering a “huge reboot” that could take out everyone from Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and Sean Spicer. Trump is irritated with several Cabinet members and “frustrated, and angry at everyone.” (Axios)

3/ Senate Republicans are looking at steep cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and reduce programs for the poor. Under pressure to balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending on food stamps, welfare, and even veterans’ benefits through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate. If the Medicaid cutbacks get passed by both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

4/ James Clapper said that US institutions are under assault from Trump and warned that federal checks and balances are eroding. Former Director of National Intelligence called on the other branches of the federal government to step up in their roles as a check on the executive. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • Republicans and Democrats agree that if Trump has tapes, he’ll need to turn them over to Congress. Lawmakers from both parties said any White House recordings must be preserved for congressional review and that “it’s probably inevitable” that they would be subpoenaed. (Washington Post)

5/ North Korea successfully test-fired a new type of ballistic missile, signaling an advance in their development of an intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea said the new “medium long-range” missile is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, warning that the United States’ military bases in the Pacific were within its range. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Putin warns against “intimidating” North Korea after its latest missile launch. Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and said that Russia is “categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states.” (CNN)

6/ The 9th Circuit Court will hear the travel ban appeal, again. A three-judge panel will hear a challenge to a Hawaii judge’s decision to halt travel ban 2.0. Lawyers at the Justice Department must convince at least two of the judges to ignore Trump’s record of campaign calls to ban Muslims from entering the US. (CNN)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will brief the full Senate on Thursday about the firing of James Comey. The briefing is classified and will take place in the regular secure room in the Capitol Visitors Center. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ The Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification law, which a lower court said targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a statement noting that there was a dispute about who represented the state in the case and that nothing should be read into the court’s decision to decline to hear it. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

9/ The Dakota Access pipeline has its first leak. The $3.8bn oil pipeline is not yet fully operational, but managed to spill 84 gallons of crude oil. (The Guardian)

10/ White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a torch-bearing group protesting the sale of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia. The group chanted “You will not replace us.” Spencer added: “What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced.” (NPR / Washington Post)

11/ Trump thinks that exercising too much uses up the body’s “finite” energy. Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.” (Washington Post)

12/ Comey said he’d be willing to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but wants it to be in public. Comey originally declined an invitation from the committee to be interviewed in a closed-door hearing. (New York Times)

13/ Syria is using a crematorium to hide executions, the State Department said. The US believes Syria’s “building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.” A State Department official said the regime could be killing as many as 50 detainees a day. (CNN / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)

14/ Senate Republicans are breaking away from Trump as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes. Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input and pushing back on Trump’s impending budget request. Many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. (New York Times)

poll/ 29% approve of Trump’s firing of James Comey. Trump’s job-approval rating stands at 39%. (NBC News)

Day 117. Wow.

1/ Trump asked James Comey to shut down the Michael Flynn investigation in a February memo he wrote shortly after meeting with Trump. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey. The request is the clearest evidence that he tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigations. Comey kept detailed notes of his meetings with Trump, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An FBI agent’s notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations. (New York Times)

2/ Trump defended his decision to share ISIS intelligence with Russia, tweeting that he had an “absolute right” to do so in the interest of fighting terrorism. Trump’s tweets undercut his administration’s effort to contain the report, where Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, and the deputy national security adviser for strategy all called the report that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russia false. The information was considered so sensitive that US officials had not shared it widely within the government or among allies. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)


Three administration officials conceded that Trump simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods that would do harm to United States allies. (New York Times)

  • Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats during their Oval Office meeting last week, which has jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. (WTF Just Happened Today)
  • “This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community,” a former CIA officer said, and as a result Trump could have hampered the US response to ISIS. (Politico)
  • Initial thoughts on the Washington Post’s game-changing story: It matters who we have running the most powerful institution in the world. (Lawfare)

3/ McMaster backs Trump’s sharing of sensitive intelligence with Russians: “It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary.” He added that Trump “wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.” McMaster refused to confirm whether the information the president shared with the Russians was highly classified. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Israel was the source of ISIS-related intelligence that Trump shared with Russia last week. Two Israeli officials said that the intelligence shared by Trump “syncs up” with intelligence that shared with its US counterparts. The revelation is Israel’s “worst fears confirmed” as it raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo will brief the members of the House intelligence committee today on what Trump discussed with Russian officials last week, following claims that Trump apparently revealed classified information. (CNN)

6/ Republican and Democratic lawmakers to Trump: hand over the transcript of the meeting with the Russians. Members of Congress have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested that he records his conversations. Those calls intensified after Trump acknowledged on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians. White House aides have neither confirmed nor denied the possibility that Trump records his conversations at the White House. (Washington Post)

  • Lawmakers express shock and concern about Trump disclosure of classified information. “They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said of the Trump administration. “The chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment.” (Washington Post)

7/ Mitch McConnell called for “less drama” from Trump. “I think it would be helpful if the president spent more time on things we’re trying to accomplish and less time on other things,” McConnell said. (Bloomberg)

8/ Trump will disclose some of his personal finances this year, which will likely indicate his personal income, assets, and liabilities. They won’t contain details like his tax rate or any charitable donations. (Associated Press)

9/ Paul Manafort took out a $3.5 million mortgage and never paid taxes on it. The former Trump campaign manager took out the mortgage through a shell company just after leaving the campaign and never paid the $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan. (NBC News)

10/ Trump to meet with Turkey’s president amid differences over the Trump administration’s plan to directly arm Kurdish rebels in Syria for the fight against ISIS. Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization, because it maintains ties with a Kurdish revolutionary group inside Turkey. (ABC News)

11/ Gingrich urged Trump to shut down White House press room in order to send a message to the country “that the media is a corrupt institution and [Trump] is tired of being harassed by people whose only interest is making him look bad.” (Politico)

poll/ 48% of voters support impeaching Trump compared to 41% that are opposed to the idea. 43% of voters think Trump is actually going to end up serving his full term, while 45% think he won’t. 12% aren’t sure one way or the other. (Public Policy Polling)

Trump Fires Comey

It’s been an amazing 16 hours.

The comparisons to Watergate’s “Saturday Night Massacre” can’t be helped.

Let’s be clear about this: Trump has fired the head of the investigation into his campaign’s contacts with the Russians.

The reason? Because of the way Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.  Almost nobody is buying that rationale, or the timing.

Many Democrats, myself included, agree with the rationale.  And if this had happened during the Obama-Trump transition, then it would make sense.  But happening now?  Nope.

Especially when Trump PROFUSELY PRAISED Comey during the campaign for his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Comey was delivering a speech in Los Angeles when he learned he had been fired.  He thought it was a prank at first.

The D,C, backlash was immediate.

White House sources say off-the-record that the White House was taken aback by the surprise outrage.  I find that almost as bizarre as the underlying story itself.  How could they NOT KNOW this would be a bombshell?

But that’s only one of the mysteries surrounding this.  Also on the list…

  • What did Trump mean in his second paragraph above that Comey had told him three times that he was not the subject of an investigation?  (The inclusion of that statement in the letter is obviously self-serving, and one wonders what those conversations — if they took place at all — were actually about and what was actually said).Trump’s letter firing Comey claims Comey told him three times that he (Trump) isn’t under investigation. But, pressed by Politico, the White House can’t back this up:

    In his letter dismissing Comey, Trump said the FBI director had given him three private assurances that he wasn’t under investigation. The White House declined to say when those conversations happened — or why Comey would volunteer such information.

    Now that’s a real shocker, isn’t it?

  • Why was Jeff Sessions involved in this decision?  He recused himself from the Russia investigation altogether. And then he weighs in on Comey’s firing?
  • Who will replace Comey?  Will it be a pro-Trump person willing to slow down or end the Russia investigation?
  • The calls for a special independent prosecutor are deafening.  Will this happen?

Over at the conservative RedState website, Jay Caruso speaks for most everyone:

Here are five reasons why it was an awful decision:

1. The timing – Of course this is bad. The FBI is currently investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election, and whether or not Trump campaign staff were colluding with Russian agents. The mere appearance of impropriety makes the decision come off as political.

2. The GOP can’t play ball – If Trump believes he is going to get the FBI Director of his choice, he’s got another thing coming. Republican Senators are not going to allow anybody to take over. Trump will have to appoint a person that could very well be more dogmatic when he/she takes over the investigations.

3. It gives Democrats secure use of the ‘C’ word – That word is corruption or corrupt. Many people think the GOP lost control of Congress in 2006 because of the Iraq War. The reality is Republicans lost because of the “culture of corruption” surrounding the GOP with scandals such as those involving Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay (who was later exonerated) and Mark Foley all contributing to a depressed GOP turnout. The same thing could happen again in 2018.

4. It’s a sign of weakness – Trumpers can blather about Trump “draining the swamp” all they want, but somebody in a position of strength doesn’t pull a move like this. Someone in a position of strength lets the chips fall where they may and deals with whatever consequences result. Trump’s termination of Comey makes him look afraid of what Comey was going to do.

5. The media onslaught is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time – Donald Trump will attempt to defend this action via Twitter. Bank on it. He’ll scream “Fake news!” at every opportunity because the media is not going to let up, nor should they. The fact this took place hours before the media reported the Justice Department issued subpoenas to private business associates of Michael Flynn stinks to high heaven.

From the left, Kevin Drum on what the Comey firing shows us about Donald Trump and his White House on Mother Jones.

The Comey firing had nothing to do with the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It was all because Trump was outraged over Comey’s public acknowledgement that the FBI was investigating his Russia ties. He wanted the investigation to disappear, and he began obsessing about firing Comey—presumably in hopes that this was all it would take to kill the case. And apparently Trump was shocked when Democrats didn’t line up behind him. They hate Comey too, don’t they?

Trump’s astronomical ignorance has finally caught up with him. He seems to have had no idea that firing Comey wouldn’t stop the investigation—nor that a new FBI director wouldn’t dare quash it. In fact, all the firing does is make the investigation untouchable. And Trump’s astronomical narcissism has caught up with him too. He has so little insight into other humans that he simply couldn’t conceive of anyone hating Comey but still defending his right to serve out his term. In Trump’s world, you reward your friends and punish your enemies and that’s that.

This is hardly unexpected from Trump, whose ignorance and narcissism are legendary. But does he really have nobody on his staff to warn him about this stuff? Reince Priebus surely knew how this would play out. Ditto for Mike Pence.

And one final thing: once again, we learn that many of Trump’s advisors are perfectly willing to portray him as an idiot.

The Politico story is based on conversations with insiders who were happy to confirm that the Comey firing was all about Russia. This directly contradicts the White House narrative that it was about the fact that everyone had lost confidence in Comey because of the way he mistreated poor Hillary Clinton. Who are these people who work for Trump (?) but are happy to undermine him to the press on a regular basis?

It’s true.  The Politico story is all about Trump’s frustration with the Russia probe:

President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.

He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.

Somehow, I don’t think this makes the story go away.

And finally, the NYT editorial board concludes with this:

This is a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history. The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the F.B.I.’s ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates. There is no guarantee that Mr. Comey’s replacement, who will be chosen by Mr. Trump, will continue that investigation; in fact, there are already hints to the contrary.

The obvious historical parallel to Mr. Trump’s action was the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in October 1973, when President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, prompting the principled resignations of the attorney general and his deputy. But now, there is no special prosecutor in place to determine whether the public trust has been violated, and whether the presidency was effectively stolen by a hostile foreign power. For that reason, the country has reached an even more perilous moment.

And this picture from this morning — Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (on the left) and Russian Ambassador Kisylak.

…. and THEN, as if the Nixonian optics aren’t bad enough, he meets with Kissenger!

As one friend quipped, “interesting times we’re living in”

UPDATE: Well, this explains a lot….

This is more than bad optics or bad judgment.

UPDATE #2 —  Then again

UPDATE #3…. From McClatchy Newspapers:

And WH spokesman Sarah Sanders at press conference now: “The president over the last several months lost confidence in Dir. Comey. The DOJ lost confidence in Dir. Comey.”

Flashback —

I call BS on that.

Sarah saying that candidate Trump is not president Trump so he can do complete 180s.

She’s very tightlipped on the issue of Comey telling Trump that he was not a subject of investigation.

Sarah just said two different things in the span of 30 seconds: (1) She’s not surprised that Democrats opposed the firing because that’s what Democrats do; (2) She’s surprised that Democrats opposed the firing because they called for him to be fired.


I have a funny feeling that many Republicans are merely giving lip service to the “outrage”

Yikes! Yates!

Sally Yates is a career civil servant in the Justice Department. She was hired under the first Bush administration, promoted during the Clinton administration, promoted again during the second Bush administration, and yet again under the Obama administration. Two years ago she was named deputy attorney general, the second ranking position in the department, and then became acting attorney general when Loretta Lynch left. President Trump asked her to stay on until Jeff Sessions was confirmed, and she agreed. A few days later, after declining to defend Trump’s immigration order in court, she was fired.

Today she’s scheduled to testify about what she told the White House regarding National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s connections to Russia.

And the President seems concerned.

Also, he doesn’t know how to spell “council”.

It is odd that Trump is inserting himself into this hearing.  It shows he is concerned.

There are two things big about this hearing this afternoon in which Sally Yates will give public testimony.

The first is… this is the Senate.  The responsible house of Congress.  Hopefully, we will see less show-boating and more seriousness.

The second is… Flynn.  The stories are pouring out today. According to NBC, former President Obama informed Trump personally not to hire Flynn.

That piece of news late this morning made Trump’s earlier tweet today come off badly:

The Trump team has confirmed this but responds that they thought Obama said it in “jest” (Obama being the prankster that he is — not!)

Trump, is seems, has a blind spot for Flynn. According to Axios, the White House staff wants to throw Flynn under a bus but Trump will not have any of it.

Which brings us back to Sally Yates. Her testimony could raise new questions about how President Trump responded to concerns that Flynn had lied. And one hopes she can shed light on the links between Trump’s campaign and Russia (although I suspect not).

To be updated….

UPDATE 1:30 pm – Hmmmmmm….

They really seem worried.

UPDATE 2:35 pm – Yates hearing starts. Her and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Senator Graham steers the conversation with Yates back to unmasking topic.

In answer to Trump’s tweet, both Yates and Clapper, under oath, said they do not know who or how the info was leaked.

OH MY GOD….. This:

Yates reminds us that her last day at the DOJ was the day she told the White House they can come review damning evidence about Flynn’s compromised position. Boom you are fired

We’re coming up on one hour and I am embarrassed at the Republicans like Graham and Grassley who seen non-plussed by the fact that the national Security Adviser was a security risk because the Russians knew he was lying.  They only care about leaks/unmasking.

And they’re lying about it.

Cornyn joins other GOP senators to ask about unmasking. There doesn’t seem to be any criminal wrongdoing, just a general “concern”. Seems to me that the top national security adviser being compromised by Russia and the White House doing nothing about it, is the bigger fish here.

Fascinating exchange: Cornyn goes after Yates for her failure to support Trump’s Muslim ban. She humiliates him by saying that the ban was unlawful, so she couldn’t.  In follow-up, she acknowledges that three courts have agreed with her.

All this is timely because at this exact moment, the 4th Circuit is hearing arguments on Muslim ban.

Ted Cruz is up now.

And she beats him with the same stick.

Aaaaaand they are back to the Muslim/travel ban with Sen. Kennedy (R-La) mansplaining to Yates.

As Republicans senators question why Yates refused to defend Trump’s executive order, Senator Leahy reminds them that many of those same Republicans, at her confirmation hearing, wanted to know is she could act independent of the President, and she said yes (to their pleasure)


The Plum Line, this morning:

I won’t mince words. The health-care bill that the House of Representatives passed this afternoon, in an incredibly narrow 217-to-213 vote, is not just wrong, or misguided, or problematic or foolish. It is an abomination. If there has been a piece of legislation in our lifetimes that boiled over with as much malice and indifference to human suffering, I can’t recall what it might have been. And every member of the House who voted for it must be held accountable.

There’s certainly a process critique one can make about this bill. We might focus on the fact that Republicans are rushing to pass it without having held a single hearing on it, without a score from the Congressional Budget Office that would tell us exactly what the effects would be, and before nearly anyone has had a chance to even look at the bill’s actual text — all this despite the fact that they are remaking one-sixth of the American economy and affecting all of our lives (and despite their long and ridiculous claims that the Affordable Care Act was “rammed through” Congress, when in fact it was debated for an entire year and was the subject of dozens of hearings and endless public discussion). We might talk about how every major stakeholder group — the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the AARP, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, and on and on — all oppose the bill.

All that matters. But the real problem is what’s in the bill itself. Here are some of the things it does:

  • Takes health insurance away from at least 24 million Americans; that was the number the CBO estimated for a previous version of the bill, and the number for this one is probably higher.
  • Revokes the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which provided no-cost health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.
  • Turns Medicaid into a block grant, enabling states to kick otherwise-eligible people off their coverage and cut benefits if they so choose.
  • Slashes Medicaid overall by $880 billion over 10 years.
  • Removes the subsidies that the ACA provided to help middle-income people afford health insurance, replacing them with far more meager tax credits pegged not to people’s income but to their age. Poorer people would get less than they do now, while richer people would get more; even Bill Gates would get a tax credit.
  • Allows insurers to charge dramatically higher premiums to older patients.
  • Allows insurers to impose yearly and lifetime caps on coverage, which were outlawed by the ACA. This also, it was revealed today, may threaten the coverage of the majority of non-elderly Americans who get insurance through their employers.
  • Allows states to seek waivers from the ACA’s requirement that insurance plans include essential benefits for things such as emergency services, hospitalization, mental health care, preventive care, maternity care, and substance abuse treatment.
  • Provides hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year.
  • Produces higher deductibles for patients.
  • Allows states to try to waive the ACA’s requirement that insurers must charge people the same rates regardless of their medical history. This effectively eviscerates the ban on denials for preexisting conditions, since insurers could charge you exorbitant premiums if you have a preexisting condition, effectively denying you coverage.
  • Shunts those with preexisting conditions into high-risk pools, which are absolutely the worst way to cover those patients; experience with them on the state level proves that they wind up underfunded, charge enormous premiums, provide inadequate benefits and can’t cover the population they’re meant for. Multiple analyses have shown that the money the bill provides for high-risk pools is laughably inadequate, which will inevitably leave huge numbers of the most vulnerable Americans without the ability to get insurance.
  • Brings back medical underwriting, meaning that just like in the bad old days, when you apply for insurance you’ll have to document every condition or ailment you’ve ever had.

It is no exaggeration to say that if it were to become law, this bill would kill significant numbers of Americans.

Trump’s Executive Order On “Religious Liberty”

I was dreading this. Trump signed it about half an hour ago.

But the final version of the order addresses two issues. First, it instructs the Internal Revenue Service to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” in cases of pastors and other religious leaders speaking about political candidates from the pulpit, which is currently outlawed by a provision typically referred to as the Johnson Amendment. ““We are giving churches their voices back,” Trump said. Second, it provides “regulatory relief” to religious organizations that object to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in employee insurance plans.

This is good news.

Trump could not overturn the Johnson Amendment — that would require an act of Congress.  All he could to was instruct the IRS not to enforce it much, which it wasn’t doing anyway.  As for the regulatory relief, well, the Hobby Lobby case took care of that issue before he came into office.

So this doesn’t change things much (although it appeases his fundie base and Trump gets to do a victory lap).

There was no LGBTQ provision, which was in an earlier draft.

Maybe that’s why many fundamentalist people are not happy. On Twitter, the National Review columnist David French called the order “total weaksauce” and a “sop to the gullible.” Russell Moore, the head of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said “I am hoping that the draft we are seeing this morning is not the entire project, and that more will be forthcoming.” And on Ryan Anderson, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation who works on religious issues, called the new order “woefully inadequate.”

Praise the Lord — Trump fools people again.

Crucial Vote on Healthcare Today

The ACHA, once thought dead, got revived yesterday.  The big change? 8 billion for states that choose to create high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions.  Of course, the fact that this 8 billion boondoggle (which goes to insurance companies) exists only highlights the lie that “no changes are being made with respect to pre-existing conditions”.  And 8 billion, by the way, is nowhere near enough.

Here’s a table of key differences:



The heart of the bill is the same one that was polling at under 20 percent and failed two months ago: a near-trillion dollar tax cut for wealthy investors, financed by cuts to insurance subsidies for the poor and middle class. They have added a series of hazily defined changes: waivers for states to allow insurers to charge higher rates to people with preexisting conditions and to avoid covering essential health benefits, and a pitifully small amount of money to finance high-risk pools for sick patients.

The implications of these changes are vast. The Brookings Institution notes that if a single state eliminated the cap on lifetime benefits for a single employee, then employers in every state could actually follow suit, thus bringing back a horrid feature of the pre-Obamacare system, in which people who get hit with expensive treatment suddenly discover that their insurer will no longer pay for their care. This would affect not only those getting insurance through Medicaid or the state exchanges, but also through their job.

The ambiguity of the details is the strategy. Republican leaders have been “assuring centrists that the Senate would make changes to allay their concerns and insisting that few states would actually use the waivers allowing higher premiums for pre-existing conditions,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Sean Spicer says it would be “literally impossible … to do an analysis of any level of factual basis.” Representative Fred Upton told reporters that if the Congressional Budget Office says the bill is underfunded he will push for more money — after it passes his chamber.

They are rushing through a chamber of Congress a bill reorganizing one-fifth of the economy, without even cursory attempts to gauge its impact. Its budgetary impact is as yet unknown. The same is true of its social impact, though the broad strokes are clear enough: Millions of Americans will lose access to medical care, and tens of thousands of them will die, and Congress is eager to hasten these results without knowing them more precisely. Their haste and secrecy are a way of distancing the House Republicans from the immorality of their actions.

There’s simply no way that this can be considered “better”.  The White House argument is that it is necessary to keep Obamacare from imploding.

It would be nice to have CBO scoring on this, but that is not going to happen.  That is very telling.

Two things not mentioned above:

(1)  Congress and its staff are exempt from these changes.  Some GOP congresscritters have suggested that the issue of their exemption be taken up in a separate piece of legislation, but I’m not holding my breath.  (Why not do it now?)

(2)  People like me who get insurance through their employer are not necessarily protected.  If your employer is a multi-state employer, it can pick the state which has the crappiest (cheapest) benefits and provide that to ALL employers.

The vote is scheduled for 1:00 pm today.  I will update as the day goes on.

23 “No” Republicans will kill the bill in the House.  Right now, it doesn’t seem like we are there.

UPDATE 11:40am –

Going the wrong direction (wonder why CNN dropped off the list)

UPDATE 1:14pm –

Voting should start in a half hour or so…

Not sure why WaPo went down…

UPDATE 2:00pm –

They are voting to exempt themselves from Obamacare or whatever else comes up.  Democrats AND Republicans.

….and it passes with zero Nays.

UPDATE 2:13pm –  Voting started on Health Care passage.  Five minutes.

And The House PASSED H.R. 1628 – American Health Care Act 217 to 213

Singing “Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye” — Is it Democrats or Republicans?

I wouldn’t want to be a House Republican in a district Clinton won.  Here they are:

Day 104: Nauseous.

1/ James Comey said he’s “mildly nauseous” at the suggestions he swayed the election. The FBI director defended his “painful” decision on the Clinton email probe during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. “This was terrible,” Comey said. “But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision,” because failing to inform Congress would have required an “act of concealment” which would have been “catastrophic.” Comey added that Russia is actively involved in trying to influence US politics, emboldened after the outcome of last year’s election, because “this works.” (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / CBS News)

  • Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner. (Washington Post)

2/ A pair of Republican holdouts now back the health care bill. The latest proposal provides $8 billion over five years to help about 160,000 people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage by putting “downward pressure” on premium costs. The total individual market claims over those five years will probably be about $500 billion, mostly from people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans are still two or three votes away from being able to guarantee passage, but are pushing for a vote sometime this week. (Bloomberg / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s national security adviser described his foreign policy approach as “disruptive.” H.R. McMaster said Trump’s unpredictable and unconventional ways could stabilize the Middle East, because Trump “does not have time to debate over doctrine.” Instead, he seeks to challenge failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach. (Reuters)

4/ Trump weighs how to approach a Middle East conflict while hosting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today. The conflict has eluded resolution for seven decades. Trump called it the “ultimate deal” and has tasked Jared Kushner with negotiating the peace agreement. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

5/ Trump was “directly involved” in the post-inauguration hunt for the rogue National Park Service tweeter. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Trump was “concerned” about who used the National Park Service Twitter account to retweet a side-by-side comparisons of the crowds at the Trump and Obama inauguration ceremonies. The tweet was deleted. (CBS News)

6/ Trump is expected to sign a long-awaited and highly controversial executive order on religious liberties on Thursday – the National Day of Prayer. A draft of the order, which leaked in February, would establish broad exemptions and legal protections for people and groups to claim religious objections. Civil liberties groups claim it would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans. (Politico / Fox News / CNN)

7/ The NSA collected more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year, despite Congress limiting its ability to collect bulk phone records. Under the old system, the NSA collected “billions of records per day.” (NBC News / New York Times)

via What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Trump Has More Civil War Issues

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!

Like many of Mr. Trump’s claims, the inscription was evidently not fact-checked.

“No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” said Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, a historical preservation and education group devoted to an 1,800-square-mile section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont, including the Lowes Island site.

“The only thing that was remotely close to that,” Mr. Gillespie said, was 11 miles up the river at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861, a rout of Union forces in which several hundred were killed. “The River of Blood?” he added. “Nope, not there.”

Mr. Gillespie’s contradiction of the plaque’s account was seconded by Alana Blumenthal, the curator of the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg. (A third local expert, who said he had written to Mr. Trump’s company about the inscription’s falsehoods and offered to provide historically valid replacement text, insisted on anonymity because he did not want to cross the Trump Organization by disclosing a private exchange.)

Day 103: Floundering.

1/ House Republicans are floundering on the Obamacare repeal as 20 Republicans have now opposed the plan. Paul Ryan can only lose 22 votes and still pass the bill. With the 20 lawmakers against the bill, GOP leaders would have to persuade almost every undecided lawmaker to support the legislation in order to reach the 216-vote threshold needed for passage. Republicans insist they’re close. If only two more members come out as “No” votes, there will be no majority to pass the bill. (Politico / CNN)

  • An influential Republican attacked the party’s latest health care bill, saying the measure now “torpedoes” protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. (New York Times)

2/ Trump: The US “needs a good shutdown” in September to fix the Senate “mess.” He’s frustrated by Senate rules that require a 60 vote supermajority to approve most major legislation. Trump’s solution is to either elect more Republican senators in the 2018 midterms, “or change the rules now to 51%” and scrap the legislative filibuster althogether. Congress is poised to approve a budget to fund the government through September, but it doesn’t include several provisions sought by Trump, including funding for a border wall and language for stripping federal money from so-called sanctuary cities. (The Hill / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

3/ The South Korea THAAD missile defense system is now operational. The system is meant to protect South Korea from ballistic missiles fired by North Korea, but China and other critics say the move will only increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. (NPR)

4/ Trump’s attack on Syria was “in lieu of after-dinner entertainment” for the guests dining at Mar-a-Lago the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said. Trump interrupted dessert to tell Chinese President Xi about the cruise missile attack. The “entertainment didn’t cost the president anything.” (The Guardian / CNN)

5/ Trump puts antiabortion activist in charge of family planning funding for poor Americans and those without health insurance. About 4 million Americans receive family planning coverage through the Title X program, and the majority of them are low-income and people of color. (Washington Post)

6/ Putin said allegations that Russia had meddled in the US election were based on rumors and that Moscow did not want foreign powers to interfere in Russian politics. He blamed the allegations on the result of domestic US political battles. (Reuters)

  • South Korea’s likely next president warned the US not to meddle in its democracy. (Washington Post)

7/ A Republican congressman implied that people with pre-existing health conditions aren’t living their lives “the right way.” After catching himself, Brooks quickly conceded that people with pre-existing conditions may have them “through no fault of their own.” (The Daily Beast)

8/ Pro-Trump farmers now worry he was serious about the NAFTA repeal. Corn, soybean, and dairy farmers are worried that Trump’s rhetoric could directly impact their narrow margins. The same rural communities that animated Trump’s campaign, would feel the brunt of the changes to the trade deal. (CNN)

9/ Here’s the 23 environmental rules Trump has rolled back. Citing federal overreach and burdensome regulations, Trump has prioritized domestic fossil fuel interests and undone measures aimed at protecting the environment and limiting global warming. (New York Times)

TK/ Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates. He praised the Egyptian president for doing “a fantastic job” on gunning down his opponents, invited Thailand’s prime minister to the White House who jailed dissidents after he took power in a coup, and congratulated Turkey’s president after eroding basic freedoms. (Washington Post)

10/ Jared Kushner didn’t disclose his stake in a company that makes him a business partner with Goldman Sachs, George Soros, and Peter Thiel. Kushner is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, but didn’t identify these on his government financial disclosure form. (Wall Street Journal)

via What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

And It Was Only Monday


President Donald Trump questioned why the Civil War— which erupted 150 years ago over slavery — needed to happen. He said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-Un, the violent North Korean dictator who is developing nuclear missiles and oppresses his people, under the “right circumstances.”

The president floated, and backed away from, a tax on gasoline. Trump said he was “looking at” breaking up the big banks, sending the stock market sliding. He seemed to praise Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte for his high approval ratings. He promised changes to the Republican health care bill, though he has seemed unsure what was in the legislation, even as his advisers whipped votes for it.

And Monday still had nine hours to go.

It was a bewildering day of bizarre interviews.  (Note: Yesterday was the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month)

This morning, on Morning Joe, Mika and Joe admitted that Trump’s behavior is pathological, saying the President is literally unfit to serve. “Beyond bizarre.” “Erratic.” “A confused mental state.”  Interesting assessment, since Mika and Joe have done a lot over the past year to normalize Trump. Also on Morning Joe, Jon Meacham said Trump told him last year that he could’ve done a deal to stop the Civil War.

If it was a White House plan to flummox the press and the country, it is hard to see the purpose.  On one hand, it was more of the same. On the other hand, it was just too much, especially as he embarked on his post-100 presidency.

Let’s sum up yesterday:

1/ Congress reached a deal to keep the government open through September. The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but it doesn’t allow the money to be spent on building Trump’s wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. (CNN)

2/ North Korea said it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum.” The North called US sanctions and its show of force – sending an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula and joint drills with South Korea – aggression and hysteria. (Reuters)

3/ Trump said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong Un if the circumstances were right. “I would be honored to do it,” he said amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “a pretty smart cookie” for managing to hold on to power after taking over at a young age. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump doesn’t know what’s in his health care bill. The Republican health care plan Trump described on Face the Nation is at odds with his health care goals. He said that people with preexisting conditions will be protected, but the latest amendment says they won’t be. Trump also said deductibles will go down under the Republican plan, but a nonpartisan analysis expects deductibles to go up. (Vox)

  • GOP faces a make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal. This week may be the last, best chance to get it done in the House. (Politico)

5/ The administration ends Michelle Obama’s girls education program. The “Let Girls Learn” program comes to an end as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. (CNN)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is relaxing Obama-era school lunch standards. The new rules suspend the sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements, as well as allow 1% fat chocolate milk back into school cafeterias nationwide because of “palatability issues.” (ABC News)

7/ Trump claims Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War and wonders why that the issues “could not have been worked out.” Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump suggested that if Jackson had been president “a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.” (Associated Press)

8/ Trump abruptly ended an interview after being pushed on his claims that Obama ordered surveillance of him. He said his allegation that he was illegally surveilled has “been proven very strongly” and that he is entitled to his own “opinions.” (Politico)

  • Trump’s interview with “Face the Nation.” (CBS News)

9/ Trump invited Duterte to visit him at the White House after their “very friendly conversation.” The authoritarian leader is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The State Department and the National Security Council were both caught off guard by the invitation and raised objections internally. (New York Times)

  • Rodrigo Duterte says he may be too busy for a White House visit. (New York Times)

10/ Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms. Trump has frequently slammed the press for its coverage of him and has suggested changing libel laws. Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech rights. (ABC News)

11/ Trump says his rally crowd broke records despite empty seats at his 100-day rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Journalists pointed out rows of empty seats at the expo center. (The Hill)

Just insane.  Most of the focus was on Trump’s comments regarding Andrew Jackson, which he tried to clean up in a tweet saying that Jackson was dead 16 years before the Civil War (see everyone, I knew that!) but he saw it coming and was angry about it.

No, he didn’t see it coming, and he wasn’t angry about it. Trump just made that up.


Anyway….. Seth Meyers puts it together

This morning, we get two more tweets.  Clearly he was tweeting in response to the show he was watching, but we don’t know what that is:

Uh…. he WANTS a government shutdown?  Interesting, seeing as he blamed Democrats four days ago for almost bringing on a government shutdown. Remember this?

Government shutdowns are bad, Mr. President. Here’s what happened in 2013 when we did that:

  • $2.5 billion in compensation costs for furloughed workers (whose lack of pay for two weeks hampered consumer spending);
  • 120,000 fewer private-sector jobs created in the first half of October;
  • $500 million lost in visitor spending because of closed National Parks ;
  • $11 million in lost National Parks and Smithsonian Institution revenue;
  • Interest accrued on billions of dollars of payments owed to third parties that the government was unable to pay during the shutdown;
  • Resources spent on putting activities in standby or maintaining them in an idle mode;
  • 1.2 million Internal Revenue Service identity verification requests that couldn’t be processed, causing a delay in private-sector lending and other activities;
  • Stalled approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delayed moving products to market.

Yyyyeah. Of course, as President, he COULD just veto what he doesn’t like. Does he know that yet?

Look, when Trump was a businessman and failed, he simply declared bankruptcy. I think, in Trump’s mind, “shutdown” is the political equivalent of bankruptcy.  I think he saw the morning shows and saw that his Trumpcare was failing (again).  He wants a “shutdown”, a clean slate (in his mind).

2017 Tony Nominees

Best Musical

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Best Play

A Doll’s House, Part 2





Hello, Dolly!

Miss Saigon

Best Revival of a Play


The Little Foxes

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Best Book of a Musical

Come From Away,” Irene Sankoff and David Hein

“Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Levenson

“Groundhog Day,” Danny Rubin

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” Dave Malloy

Best Original Score

“Come From Away,” Music and Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein

“Dear Evan Hansen,” Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

“Groundhog Day,” Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” Music and Lyrics: Dave Malloy

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Denis Arndt, “Heisenberg”

Chris Cooper, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Corey Hawkins, “Six Degrees of Separation”

Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter”

Jefferson Mays, “Oslo”

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Cate Blanchett, “The Present”

Jennifer Ehle, “Oslo”

Sally Field, “The Glass Menagerie”

Laura Linney, “The Little Foxes”

Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Christian Borle, “Falsettos”

Josh Groban, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Andy Karl, “Groundhog Day”

David Hyde Pierce, “Hello, Dolly!”

Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best Leading Actress in a Musical

Denée Benton, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Christine Ebersole, “War Paint”

Patti LuPone, “War Paint”

Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!”

Eva Noblezada, “Miss Saigon”

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Michael Aronov, “Oslo”

Danny DeVito, “The Price”

Nathan Lane, “The Front Page”

Richard Thomas, “The Little Foxes”

John Douglas Thompson, “Jitney”

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Johanna Day, “Sweat”

Jayne Houdyshell, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Cynthia Nixon, “The Little Foxes”

Condola Rashad, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Michelle Wilson, “Sweat”

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!”

Mike Faist, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Andrew Rannells, “Falsettos”

Lucas Steele, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Brandon Uranowitz, “Falsettos”

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, “Hello, Dolly!”

Stephanie J. Block, “Falsettos”

Jenn Colella, “Come From Away”

Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Mary Beth Peil, “Anastasia”

Best Scenic Design of a Play

David Gallo, “Jitney”

Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Douglas W. Schmidt, “The Front Page”

Michael Yeargan, “Oslo”

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Rob Howell, “Groundhog Day”

David Korins, “War Paint”

Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, “The Little Foxes”

Susan Hilferty, “Present Laughter”

Toni-Leslie James, “Jitney”

David Zinn, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, “Anastasia”

Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Paloma Young, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Catherine Zuber, “War Paint”

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent”

Jane Cox, “Jitney”

Donald Holder, “Oslo”

Jennifer Tipton, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Howell Binkley, “Come From Away”

Natasha Katz, “Hello, Dolly!”

Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Japhy Weideman, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best Direction of a Play

Sam Gold, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “Jitney”

Bartlett Sher, “Oslo”

Daniel Sullivan, “The Little Foxes”

Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent”

Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”

Rachel Chavkin, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Michael Greif, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Matthew Warchus, “Groundhog Day”

Jerry Zaks, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand”

Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, “Groundhog Day”

Kelly Devine, “Come From Away”

Denis Jones, “Holiday Inn”

Sam Pinkleton, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best Orchestrations

Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, “Bandstand”

Larry Hochman, “Hello, Dolly!”

Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Dave Malloy, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater

James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award

Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, Sound Designers for “The Encounter”

Regional Theater Tony Award

Dallas Theater Center, Dallas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Baayork Lee

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater

Nina Lannan

Alan Wasser

Statistically, Trump Lies Almost Five Times A Day

This information from the Washington Post is astounding. This is Trump’s factual tally for his first 100 days in office:

488: The number of false or misleading claims made by the president. That’s an average of 4.9 claims a day.

10: Number of days without a single false claim. (On six of those days, the president golfed at a Trump property.)

Number of days with 20 or more false claims. (Feb. 16, Feb. 28, March 20 and April 21.) He made 19 false claims on April 29, his 100th day, though we did not include his interview with “Face the Nation,” since that aired April 30.

Many of Trump’s false claims are repeats:

This makes Trump somewhat unique among politicians. Many will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false. But Trump just repeats the same claim over and over.

One of those assertions (spoken 17 times) is that Obamacare is on the edge of disaster.  The CBO says that while Obamacare has issues, it is not imploding and is expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future.

I tell you something — it makes blogging almost obsolete.  In the old days, I could write a lengthy post or two about ONE lie in the Bush era.  Now I’m lucky if I get a tweet out about it.

TrumpCare 3.0 (4.0?) Is Dead Pretty Much

The Hill reports:

House Republicans have an updated bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and The Hill has a new whip list.

The updated bill includes an amendment that would allow states to opt out of key ObamaCare rules, including on minimum coverage requirements and allowing insurers to charge more based on individuals’ health.

Those changes are designed to win over conservatives, and the new legislation has been backed by the House Freedom Caucus and outside groups including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

The question is whether GOP centrists can back it.

A mix of centrists and conservatives objected to the earlier ObamaCare bill, forcing GOP leaders to call off a planned vote.

No Democrats are expected to vote for the measure, meaning Republicans can only afford 22 defections.

And they kept an updated list of “No’s”, which just hit the 22 mark.

NO (22)

Rep. Mark Amodei (Nev.) — Amodei told ABC on Thursday he is still a no.

Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) — “The MacArthur amendment is an effort to make the AHCA better, but it does not meet my constituents’ threshold for repeal,” the Freedom Caucus member said. Biggs was a no on the first bill.

Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.) — Coffman told Politico he is currently a no.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.) — The centrist Republican told The Hill she is still a no. Comstock is one of Democrats’ top targets in 2018.

Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) — Costello told reporters Thursday he was a no.

Rep. Jeff Denham (Calif.) — Denham told The Hill he was a no on Wednesday.

Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.) — The co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group is still a no.

Rep. Dan Donovan (N.Y.) — The freshman lawmaker told The Hill on Wednesday he still plans to vote no.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) — A centrist, Fitzpatrick is still a no.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) — Herrera Beutler, a member of the Tuesday Group, is a no, CNN reported.

Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) — Jones, who has bucked GOP leaders on a number of occasions, is still a no.

Rep. John Katko (N.Y.) — Katko is still a no. “To me, it doesn’t move the needle enough,” he told Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Katko’s district in November.

Rep. Leonard Lance (N.J.) — Lance is still a no.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) — LoBiondo is still voting no despite potential changes.

Rep. Billy Long (Mo.) — Long told The Hill he is a no on the revised bill.

Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) — Massie, a conservative who is not in the Freedom Caucus, said he is still a no.

Rep. Patrick Meehan (Pa.) — Meehan said the revised bill would raise premiums for those with pre-existing conditions and older Americans.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) — The centrist Republican from south Florida said she is still a no even with the amendment. Clinton won Ros-Lehtinen’s district by nearly 20 points in 2016, but the longtime GOP lawmaker said she will not seek reelection in 2018.

Rep. Chris Smith (N.J.) — Smith told ABC he is still a no. The New Jersey lawmaker is meeting with leaders Thursday.

Rep. Michael Turner (Ohio) — Turner on Thursday told CNN he is still a no.

Rep. Daniel Webster (Fla.) — Webster is still a no. The Florida lawmaker wants changes that provide more Medicaid funding for nursing homes.

Rep. David Young (Iowa) — Young told reporters he is still a no. A Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC pulled their support for him after his decision not to back the initial bill in March.

It should be noted that NBC’s whip count shows 20 Republicans firmly against the bill. Another dozen are undecided.

Bizarre Things Trump Has Said And Done In The Past Two Days

  • Suggested that Andrew Jackson was alive for the Civil War
  • Praised Andrew “Trail of Tears” Jackson
  • Praised Philippine despot Rodrigo Dutert
  • Praised North Korean despot Kim Jung Il (and confirmed)
  • Stated that nobody ever asks why the Civil War had to be fought (which is literally a question in the test given to immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship
  • Said “I don’t stand by anything” re: the things he says
  • Complained about the “archaic” separation of powers which prevents him from doing things
  • Seemed completely unaware of what was in the health care bill he advocates

Day 100. Perspective.

1/ How Trump reshaped the presidency and how it’s changed him.|

In his first 100 days, Trump has transformed the highest office in ways both profound and mundane, pushing traditional boundaries, ignoring longstanding protocol and discarding historical precedents as he reshapes the White House in his own image. (New York Times)

2/ At 100 days, Trump’s big talk on the economy lacks substance. Trump has tweeted a great game, but other than reversing some of Obama’s executive orders, he hasn’t really done much on the employment and economic fronts. Consumer confidence has risen, but it’s not clear what impact it will have on the economy. Or how long that optimism will last. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s first 100 days ranked by the best, the worst, and everything in between. Sizing up the milestone than with a ranking from best to worst, smooth to chaotic, squeaky-clean to scandalous, of all the president’s days in the White House so far. (Politico)

  • What mattered and what didn’t. Trump has done more—and less—to change America than you think. (Politico)

4/ In its first 100 days, the GOP scrambles to learn how to govern. As Republicans reach the end of their first hundred days of controlling all the levers of power in Washington, they now acknowledge that being put in charge of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue has brought out the long-standing divisions within the party and tensions between the two houses of Congress. (Washington Post)

  • Congress at 100 Days: Frenetic action but few accomplishments. The broad policy agenda that Republicans bragged that they would deliver if they won control in Washington has eluded them thus far, disenfranchise the minority party, and created one of the least productive opening acts by Congress in recent memory. (New York Times)

5/ How the world sees Trump. The number of campaign promises that have morphed into presidential U-turns is staggering. Allies and adversaries alike are trying to figure out whether a Trump Doctrine is emerging, or whether one even exists. (CNN)

6/ White House reporters recall their most vivid moments of Trump’s first 100 days. Covering the Trump White House can be exhilarating, maddening, exhausting – but never boring. (New York Times)

7/ Inside Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days. Trump wraps up his first 100 days with the lowest approval rating of any president at this juncture since Dwight Eisenhower. That vulnerability is underscored by the willingness of even Trump’s closest GOP allies to critique his shortcomings. (CNN)

8/ Trump’s presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. (The New Yorker)

9/ Trump has given progressives so many causes for fear and outrage, it can be difficult — both practically and psychologically — to keep on top of them all as they happen. (New York Magazine)

  • Trump has galvanized activists on the left, but can they stay energized? Thousands of groups have sprouted across the country, aimed at resisting the Trump’s agenda. (Washington Post)
  • The Women’s March still inspires, but can the enthusiasm hold? (NPR)

10/ A president’s very public education. Over the course of his 100 days in office, Trump has been startlingly candid about health care being complicated, China as an ally, NATO obsolescence, and that being president is hard. (Associated Press)

WTF Happened Today:

1/ Trump is talking about consolidating his power. In an interview with Fox News, he dismissed the “archaic” rules of the House and Senate — using that word four times — and suggested they needed to be streamlined for the good of the country. Also, he doesn’t like the filibuster. (Washington Post)

2/ In defiance of international pressure, North Korea tests another ballistic missile. The missile blew up over land in North Korean territory. It was the second consecutive failure in the past two weeks. (CNN)

3/ The People’s Climate March draws thousands in DC. Rather than pushing for stronger climate action, organizers this year say they are fighting to preserve the gains that have already been made. (Washington Post)

4/ The EPA removed its climate science site the day before march on Washington. The website previously housed data on greenhouse gas emissions and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health. (The Guardian)

5/ Patagonia threatens to sue Trump over national monuments order. Earlier in the week Trump ordered federal officials to review two decades of national monument designations, calling them “another egregious abuse of federal power.” (The Hill)

6/ Trump, again, derides Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” – a jab at her Native American ancestry. During the 2016, Trump suggested Warren was exaggerating or even lying about her background. (NBC News)

7/ Trump proclaims May 1 is “Loyalty Day” as a way to “recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles” upon which America was built and express pride in those ideals. (Fox News)