Trump & Administration

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem As Capital Of Israel

Trump’s speech in a nutshell:

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

This is the actual presidential proclamation on Jerusalem.

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S PROCLAMATION ON JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

“My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” – President Donald J. Trump

RECOGNIZING JERUSALEM: President Donald J. Trump is following through on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and has instructed the State Department to begin to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

  • Today, December 6, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem, the ancient capital of the Jewish people, as the capital of the State of Israel.
    • In taking this action, President Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise of his and many previous Presidential candidates.
  • The Trump Administration is fully coordinated in supporting this historic action by the President, and has engaged broadly with both our Congressional and international partners on this issue.
    • President Trump’s action enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress, including as expressed in the Jerusalem Recognition Act of 1995.  This Act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
  • President Trump has instructed the State Department to develop a plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • Departments and Agencies have implemented a robust security plan to ensure the safety of our citizens and assets in the region.

STATUS OF JERUSALEM: President Trump recognizes that specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem is highly sensitive and subject to final status negotiations.

  • President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly-sensitive issue, but he does not think the peace process is aided by ignoring the simple truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, supreme court, President, and Prime Minister.
  • President Trump recognizes that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.
  • President Trump reaffirms United States support for the status quo at the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif.

COMMITTED TO THE PEACE PROCESS: President Trump is committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • President Trump remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and he is optimistic that peace can be achieved.
  • Delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has not helped achieve peace over the past two decades.
  • President Trump is prepared to support a two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians, if agreed to by the parties.

It’s hard to find anyone outside of the far right and Benjamin Netanyahu who thinks this will being peace to the Middle East. It’s throwing fuel on a dumpster fire. Secretary of Defense Mattis is against it. Secretary of State Tillerson is against it. The Pope, NATO and the EU are all against it. So are many of our Middle East allies, like Saudi Arabia.

The move hurts the administration’s stated goal of brokering a Middle East peace agreement with “an open and honest dialogue with both sides.” It also creates new international tension, and increases the risk of violent protests. Indeed, a day before Trump even made the announcement, there were already signs that the move was straining diplomatic relations and the world was bracing for unrest.

But… this was a campaign promise. Fortunately, the embassy isn’t actually moving anytime soon. Trump will still sign a waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv, which has come up every six months since Congress passed a law in 1995 saying the embassy should be in Jerusalem. Finding a site for the embassy and working out all the logistical and security details is expected to take three to four years.

Repercussions have started already:

It should be noted that to Trump’s evangelical base, religious strife in the Middle East is a feature, not a bug. Theologian Diana Butler Bass has written an informative twitter thread on this topic.

For decades, conservative evangelicals have been longing for this recognition. They believe it is necessary in order to regain control of the Temple mount. That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times…They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies. For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history. And Trump is taking them there. To the promised judgment, to their sure victory. The righteous will be ushered to heaven; the reprobate will be banished to hellfire.

This is why warnings from the rational world about Trump’s move raising tensions in the Middle East have the opposite effect on these people.

Repeal Trump Tax Cuts

Chait:

Probably nothing has done more to erode Trump’s public standing than the consistently plutocratic cast of his domestic policy. The tax cut is the second-most-unpopular major piece of legislation in recorded history, behind only Trump’s other major domestic initiative, the health-care-repeal bill:

Democrats have nothing to fear from making repeal of the Trump tax cuts for the rich a defining party plank. On the contrary, they have a great deal to gain. The bill is a cash grab by the wealthy, driven by the demands of the Republican donor base, and stuffed with targeted favors for insiders with lobbyists. Many more are sure to surface. The more they talk about it, the more Democrats can drive home the message that Trump’s economic populism was a fraud.

In the 2020 campaign, Democrats are inevitably going to propose new social spending. Reporters are inevitably going to ask them how they plan to pay for it. Republicans have given them an easy answer: Repeal the Trump tax cuts for the rich.

The architects of the Trump tax cuts have dreamed of reshaping the tax code in a permanent way. Permanence means more than the technical absence of an expiration date. It has stood for the party’s ambition to leverage the Trump administration and their control of government into something deeper. “Once in a generation or so, there is an opportunity to do something transformational — something that will have a truly lasting impact long after we are gone,” Paul Ryan declared earlier this year. “That moment is here and we are going to meet it. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to fix this nation’s tax code once and for all.”

Their “fix” is a cash grab. It is “permanent” only until Democrats regain control of government. And thanks to the Trump tax cuts, that day will come sooner.

The “Uranium One” Non-Scandal

Yawn:

In a news conference Tuesday, House Republicans announced that two panels — the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — would jointly probe the Obama administration’s October 2010 approval of a deal that gave a Russian company control of more than 20 percent of this country’s uranium production capacity.

“It’s important we find out why that deal went through,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) in the news conference.

Why was King so interested in a deal that closed seven years ago? Because of the Hill. “The renewed interest in the so-called Uranium One deal came after The Hill reported last week that the FBI had gathered solid evidence that Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks as part of an effort to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States,” noted an early version of a Hill report on Tuesday’s press conference. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) last week announced the beginning of a similar investigation.

What set it off? An Oct. 17 article by the Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann managed to thrust the Uranium One story back into the spotlight.

It shed light on a juxtaposition: A Russian energy concern, Rosatom, sought control of a Canadian mining firm that would later take on the name Uranium One. Given the company’s holdings in the United States, the transaction required the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multi-agency panel that included the State Department, which was headed by Hillary Clinton at the time. The New York Times pointed out in a complicated 2015 investigation: “As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.” The deal was approved by the CFIUS and Russia secured control of a fifth of U.S. uranium production capacity.

Overlapping with the CFIUS review, noted Solomon and Spann, was a criminal investigation. “Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show,” reads their piece. As early as 2009, they reported, authorities gathered evidence that Vadim Mikerin — an official with Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary — engaged in a series of illegal activities pertaining to the transportation of uranium in the United States. The alleged activity included extortion, bribery and kickbacks in dealings with transportation companies.

None of this was news. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, did extensivestories about the investigation into Mikerin. So the Hill performed an elaborate and creative repackaging exercise — marshaling already-known information into a newsy-sounding headline: “FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow.” It worked, at least as far as Fox News was concerned. The leading cable-news network lent a great deal of programming to the Hill piece, all rigged to engineer further suspicion of Clinton. In an interview with Hill Editor in Chief Bob Cusack last Thursday, Fox News host Jon Scott said, “Obviously your outlet has done some digging but it seems like a huge story that ought to be blared from the mountaintops and it has not gotten a lot of attention.”

Maybe that’s because mainstream outlets have smoked out the preposterous conspiracy-mongering in the Hill’s story. Over a few paragraphs, the story managed to suggest that the Justice Department, which successfully prosecuted Mikerin for his crimes, somehow sought to play down its achievements on this front — perhaps to suppress the news and prevent Clinton from suffering embarrassment over the Uranium One transaction (and it appears she was not personally involved).

Here is the astonishing passage from the Solomon-Spann story:

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

Oh really! Pause for a second and ponder the illogic in the text here. The Hill is writing that the issuance of a press release counts as evidence that the Justice Department was taking “little credit” for its work. Wouldn’t the act of not issuing a press release be better evidence thereof? Or how about just not pursuing the case at all?

There’s a further problem with this radical conspiracy: There were three press releases on the Mikerin case — one covering the charges in the caseone covering the plea dealand one covering the sentencing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland published them; they were hosted on the site of the FBI’s Washington field office; and, as the Hill noted, Justice Department headquarters issued a release on the plea deals.

Does that sound like a federal law-enforcement apparatus bent on hiding something? Contacted about the press releases, The Hill issued this statement: “Despite the international implications of the Russian scheme, the Justice Department press office in Washington, DC and the FBI headquarters press office that deal with national reporters did not call attention to the case in 2014. Instead it was treated like one of the many local run of the mill prosecutions that come out of field offices on a daily basis. FBI confirmed to us it did not do a national press roll out in 2014.”

The Hill apparently didn’t give much weight to the Maryland releases: “There is a difference between a national press release blasted to the national press corp and the local press releases that escape Washington’s press corps.”

Said Cusack on Fox News: “Interestingly … when they got the conviction and pressed charges, they didn’t make a big deal of it.”

The Hill should be excited at the prospect that its odd suggestions might just bear out. After all, the suppression of news via multiple press releases would require a fancy dance of bureaucratic corruption. The logistics of such a plot, too, would ensnare tens if not hundreds of career law-enforcement officials. This could be huge.

The Hill report’s author, John Solomon, is notorious for hyping Republican-friendly stories, presented with a patina of investigative rigor, that ultimately fall apart.

The only other thing “new” is that there is a supposed FBI informant who was “gagged” from discussing what he knows (or heard) about the investigation of Russia and the Uranium One deal. The “gag” (actually, confidentiality is required of all FBI agents) has been lifted (Trump reportedly personally intervened in this to make sure it was lifted), and now he is going to start talking. What will he say?  Who knows? But his attorney is Victoria Toensing, a right-wing player who was last on the scene representing someone who had Benghazi information which was subsequently debunked.

Today’s credulousness is so frustrating because it’s a case of fool-me-twice: This deal, and the deal House Republicans are now investigating, are the same deal. Warmed over, picked apart, digested, and, of course, completely sideways to the conduct of the current government. 

The purpose of the propaganda has changed from defaming Hillary Clinton to blurring the truth about Russia’s subversion of the election, but the underlying content is the same. The facts of the matter are all out in the open, as are the ways and reasons the right manipulated those facts and has now returned to them a year later. But the press, once bitten, hasn’t yet learned to be shy.

What Happened In Niger

The controversy has been Trump’s call to a bereaved family, which by all accounts bolluxed up.

But how did it come about? It came about because it took Trump twelves days to talk to this family, and a reporter asked about the delay. From there, Trump proceeded to bash Obama, saying (falsely) that Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers.  Then, when Trump DID call the family of Sgt. La Dave Johnson, he said “he knew what he was signing up for”, thus adding to a family’s pain.

But let’s go back even further.  Why did Johnson and three other soldiers die? Why were they even in Niger?

Here’s what we do know:

What were U.S. troops doing in Niger?

Niger, a landlocked country bordered by Libya, Nigeria and Algeria, is key to the fight against Islamic terrorists. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have both established transit routes that allow them to move money and people between the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. (Both groups have a training camp in Mali.)

U.S. troops arrived in 2013 to help the French military, which was running an operation against al-Qaeda in Mali. President Obama sent 150 service members to Niger’s capital, Niamey, to set up a surveillance drone operation over Mali. Today, there are about 800 soldiers assisting in the fight against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and Boko Haram, the Nigerian extremist militant group. Many have been tasked with setting up a drone base in the country’s northern desert or running surveillance missions out of Niamey. According to ABC News, less than 100 Green Berets are in Niger to help build the capacity of its military. Those troops can instruct their counterparts on skills from basic marksmanship to small-team maneuvering and calling in close air support. But clearly, the mission can turn dangerous and resemble something like combat.

What happened the day of  the attack?

It’s unclear, but we know that a group of eight to 12 U.S. soldiers were accompanying 30 to 40 Nigerien troops on some kind of mission near Tongo Tongo. (Other accounts suggest that only eight to 12 Nigerien and American soldiers actually entered the village and that the other Nigerien troops were stationed nearby.) The group met with leaders and collected supplies. As they were heading home, they were ambushed by about 50 militants.

There was a firefight. Witnesses said the assailants blew up their vehicles. The soldiers ran for cover and began returning fire. Apparently, a French military aircraft was on the scene within 30 minutes, but it didn’t fire on the attackers. (There are different accounts as to why. Reuters reported that the fighting was happening at close quarters, so the French aircraft couldn’t intervene. Others have said that Niger forbids air strikes on its soil.)

According to a CNN report based on military interviews with the survivors shared with the network by a U.S. defense official, some of the soldiers said it seemed like the local leaders were delaying the soldiers’ departure, which caused them “to suspect that the villagers may have been complicit in the ambush.”

But by the end of the fight, four Americans were dead. The remains of three — Staff Sgts. Bryan Black and Jeremiah Johnson, and Dustin Wright — were retrieved.  It took 48 hours to recover the body of Sgt. La David Johnson, who had been separated from the rest of the group.

There was also some initial disagreement about who flew the medevac helicopter to rescue the wounded and retrieve the dead. The Washington Post confirmed that contractor Berry Aviation conducted the casualty evacuation and transport.

Did the Army do enough to protect its soldiers?

According to the Pentagon, the answer is yes. Defense Department officials said that soldiers had carried out 29 similar operations in the last six months with no problems. By this time, they were considered routine.

But critics wonder if enough precautions were taken. The troops were armed only with rifles and traveled in unarmored pickup trucks. There was no U.S. drone flying overhead to track the soldiers. French officials told Reuters they felt the U.S. military acted without enough intelligence or contingency planning.

Who were the militants?

The Defense Intelligence Agency has said they believe the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was behind the attack. The group has been around at least since 2015, when its leader split from al-Qaeda. According to U.S. officials, this isn’t an “officially recognized” branch of the Islamic State — one American official called it a “wannabe.” In the past, the group has attacked French counterterrorism forces, but they’ve never before launched an attack on U.S. forces. (A rival group, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, kidnapped an American aid worker, Jeffery Woodkey, from his home in Abalak, Niger, in 2016. Woodkey is still being held with five other hostages.)

The men were carrying small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The Pentagon said they were “well-equipped and trained.”

How has the U.S. government handled the fallout from the attack? 

Investigations are underway. The Department of Defense is conducting a review of what went wrong, and the Pentagon’s Africa Command has sent a team of investigators to Niger. (“We need to collect some basic facts,” a Defense Department official told NBC News.) The French military is also looking into it. The Senate Armed Services Committee has called on the Trump administration to lay out a  fuller explanation of what went wrong.

“I think the administration has to be more clear about our role in Niger and our role in other areas in Africa and other parts of the globe,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told New York magazine. “They have to connect it to a strategy. They should do that. I think that the inattention to this issue is not acceptable.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been more blunt. When asked by a reporter whether he thought the Trump administration was being up front about what happened in Niger, he replied, simply: “No.”

What about Chad?

Here’s where things get even more interesting.

As we know, Trump has a list of countries that he wants to ban travel from. In his latest iteration, Chad was added to that list.

US officials say an office supply issue was a major reason the African country of Chad was hit with travel restrictions by the United States.

It turns out a seemingly pedestrian issue was to blame: Chad ran out of passport paper.

All countries had been given 50 days to take several steps that included providing a recent passport sample. Chad couldn’t comply, and its offer to provide a pre-existing sample wasn’t sufficient.

So they were added to the list.

In response, Chad then began to withdraw their troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. In fact, Chad’s troops were gone a week after Trump added Chad to the ban list. According to Reuters, once the soldiers left, Boko Haram moved back in and people began to flee for their lives again.

And so…. shortly after the “battle-hardened” Chad fighters left, four American soldiers were attacked and killed in an ambush by ISIS extremists in Niger.

Trump’s Benghazi?

Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, tweeted hyperbolically on Wednesday: “We had about 4000 Benghazi hearings. Why isn’t there a single one on the deaths of soldiers in Niger?”

Sounds like we should find out what happened.

Trump Gets The Healthcare Bill He’s Been Clamoring For, But Now He Doesn’t Want It

Truth is, Trump never wanted to fix Obamacare. He said it was dead, and now he’s going to kill it.

But the bill in question is a modest one. The compromise offered by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) yesterday gives a bit to both sides but does not fundamentally alter the Affordable Care Act. For Democrats, the bill would thwart some of Trump’s efforts to sabotage Obamacare—it would restore reimbursements to insurance companies that Trump has attempted to end and increase funding for outreach efforts designed to encourage people to sign people up for insurance. For Republicans, the bill offers more flexibility to states asking for waivers from some Obamacare rules, and it opens up catastrophic plans to everyone (currently those are just available to people who are younger than 30 or who qualify for specific exemptions).

Trump’s response?  All over the map. Yesterday, before the deal was announced, Trump seemed to offer support in a press conference. Trump followed that up during a speech last night, where he managed to both praise the deal and suggest he might oppose it, saying “I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray—and I do commend it—I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

But with his tweet this morning, Trump seemed to end chances of the bill passing.

Kind of an odd position to take for Trump — he’s AGAINST businesses doing well now?

Decertification Of Iran?

These tweets are two hours apart.

I guess (?????) it’s going to happen. Maybe?

The problem is that Iran is complying. He has no basis to withdraw other than the fact that it is (in his view) “a bad deal”. And that creates a huge problem in the long term. How can any country enter ANY kind of deal with the United States if some president comes along in four years and breaks the deal FOR NO REASON?

France, Germany and the UK respond:

Trump’s decision to decertify the deal by mid-October will start a 60-day clock for lawmakers to decide whether to reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran. Tillerson said that Trump would decertify it on the grounds that he does not believe the sanctions relief that Iran is getting is proportional to benefits that come from Iran’s efforts to curb its nuclear program.

In other words, Trump makes a mess (again) and then puts it on Congress to fix it.

UPDATE:  Joe Biden on Facebook writes:

Two years ago, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China reached an historic agreement with Iran to block its pathways to a nuclear weapon. That agreement is working. It is making the United States and our allies, including Israel, more secure.

And the truth of the matter is, Iran is holding up its end of the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said so. Our allies in Europe have said so. Even the Trump administration has twice certified Iran’s compliance.

So President Trump’s decision today to decertify the nuclear deal goes aganst reason and evidence. It constitutes an unfounded and unnecessary threat to America’s national security—one that inflicts lasting damage to American global leadership.

Unilaterally putting the deal at risk does not isolate Iran. It isolates us.

Just last week, Secretary of Defense Mattis testified to Congress that it is in the national security interests of the United States to remain in the deal. In announcing his decision, President Trump did not present a credible case to contradict that assessment—because he can’t. Instead, he is playing politics at the expense of the safety of every single American citizen.

The Iran deal does one thing: remove the immediate threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would present to the region, Israel, and the United States. It was never meant to be a catchall solution. Nor does it prevent us from taking steps to address Iran’s continued provocations and destabilizing actions in the region. Only now, President Trump has worsened our negotiating position. This decision will cost us leverage. It will weaken our unity with our allies. It will damage our credibility.

The detrimental effects of this step today will also ripple outward and cripple our ability to resolve other challenges. After today, what incentive would the leadership in North Korea have to sit down with the United States, China, and other partners to negotiate a diplomatic resolution to the escalating nuclear crisis? After today, why would the rest of the world join us in pushing for a diplomatic solution we might not uphold? After today, what is America’s word worth in the world?

Now, responsibility for America’s leadership and reputation rests with Congress. It is my hope that rational heads will prevail—that members will listen to the testimony of experts and our own national security establishment; that they will recognize the damage reimposing sanctions on Iran, in violation of our own obligations under the deal, will cause. And I hope Congress will do something the president is unwilling to do: ensure our actions contribute to the international consensus on how best to address the challenge posed by Iran instead of putting that consensus in jeopardy.

The United States has earned our position of respect in the world through generations of sacrifice and selfless leadership—we must not abandon that so casually.

Trump Doesn’t Know How The National Debt Works

During his latest interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, President Trump went on a confused rant about the economy, at one point falsely suggesting that stock market gains are helping pay down the national debt.

“I’m so proud of the $5.2 trillion dollars of increase in the stock market,” Trump said, referring to the bull market that began as the economy pulled out of the Great Recession during the months after President Obama took office.

“Now, if you look at the stock market, that’s one element, but then we have many other elements. The country — we took it over, it owed $20 trillion, as you know, the last eight years they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country, so they borrowed more than $10 trillion — and yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion in the stock market, possibly picked up the whole things in terms of the first nine months in terms of value.”

“So, you could say in one sense we are really increasing values, and maybe in a sense we are reducing debt,” Trump added, before Hannity quickly moved on to another topic.

But it just doesn’t work like that. As CNBC details, to see why this doesn’t make sense, consider the relationship (or lack thereof) between the stock market and debt during the Obama administration. Between 2009 and 2017, the S&P 500 returned 235 percent while the national debt soared.

Is Trump Becoming Unhinged With Anger?

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair has heard reports of Trump venting “I hate everyone in the White House!”:

In recent days, I spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.”

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.

One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.

The White House denies all this of course. But we’ve seen Trump venting much more — on Twitter of course, but also on Trump-friendly interviews (with Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity).

The gripes are strange (well, what isn’t strange where Trump is concerned) because it is HIS White House. He gets to put the people in there. He gets to set the tone and the style and the structure.

It’s not surprising, of course, that a man who can barely run a family business empire (with its several bankruptcies, etc) is having trouble running the largest business of all: the American government. He simply has no skills in that area.

It Happened Last Night

It was dramatic.  Even for 1 a.m. But….

…it appears that any chance of repealing (and replacing?) the Affordable Care Act died last night as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were joined by John McCain in opposing the Senate’s “skinny repeal” bill.

Here’s how it went down.

Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted against a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It was a floor vote Mitch McConnell had promised after the failure of a joint repeal-and-replace bill last week, when defections from both the conservative and the moderate wings of the GOP caucus killed it before it reached a vote.

With both repeal-and-replace and the full repeal bills dead in the water, it was time for Plan C (or D or E or X at this point): “Skinny Repeal.”

“Skinny Repeal” was a frankly terrible bill that would get rid of some of the more problematic aspects of Obamacare, but come nowhere close to a full repeal. The idea was that taking away the individual mandate and the employer mandate, but leaving everything else for the time being, would have been enough to make sure the conservatives and the moderates were all on board.

But, it did not happen. The CBO almost immediately announced 16 million more people would go uninsured (because they would not be forced to buy insurance, but semantics and all that) and insurance companies complained skinny repeal would be disastrous for the market.

As a result, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and John McCain voted against the skinny repeal deal. The final vote was 49-51. Mike Pence had been in attendance in order to break the tie, but McCain’s defection from the caucus threw the bill onto the path of defeat that not even Pence could save it from.

After the vote, McConnell’s statement was simple: “It’s time to move on.”

The GOP has now been given the signal to go ahead and skip on to the next big project: tax reform – a subject I am sure will be much easier to tackle for a body that couldn’t even pass something it had campaigned on for the last 7 years.

The failure of every GOP health care reform initiative is significant because it shows a real weakness within the party in power, and it shows Donald Trump’s weakness as a leader of his party. Both of these weaknesses could potentially play against the GOP in 2018, a year that is (as of now) expected to be particularly harsh on House GOP members.

What’s next for health care reform is anyone’s guess at this point. McConnell has seemingly conceded that it won’t happen, but there are a good many conservative lawmakers who still want to keep that promise. We just don’t know where or when the time to keep that promise will come up again.

This may the only time that an article at Redstate speaks well for my thoughts.

The only thing I would add is… this should be a lesson to Republican politicians and voters about being the anti-everything party. There will come a time when you have to a solution, rather than complain. And if you don’t have a better alternative, you look like an ass.

Trump’s Boorish Behavior

Everyone is talking about Trump’s horrible appearance before the Boy Scouts of America at their annual Jamboree yesterday. I agree with the criticism — I just am not very surprised or shocked.

In keeping with the Scouts’ traditions, all eight presidents and surrogates who have represented them have stayed far, far away from partisan politics.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the occasion to talk about good citizenship. Harry S. Truman extolled fellowship: “When you work and live together, and exchange ideas around the campfire, you get to know what the other fellow is like,” he said.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower invoked the “bonds of common purpose and common ideals.” And President George H.W. Bush spoke of “serving others.”

For a brief moment at this year’s jamboree in West Virgina, President Donald Trump indicated that he would follow that tradition — sort of.

This is how it started, with a lot of familiar elements.

It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today.
(APPLAUSE)
You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me.
Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. We’re going to put that…
(APPLAUSE)
We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams, what to think of, what I’ve been thinking about. You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?

“Hell” in front of Boy Scouts is not presidential (to say the least), but after that, he talked about politics — Obamacare (boooo!), “fake news” (boooo!), crowd size, etc. This may be the first speech ever delivered to a Boy Scout Jamboree that referenced the stock market, job numbers, and covered electoral results at the state level. That the speech was well received by a majority of the attendees–it was interrupted with chants of “We Love Trump” and “USA, USA”–doesn’t make it right or appropriate.

At one point, Trump told a rambling story about a conversation he had at a New York cocktail party with a once-successful home builder who “lost his momentum.” The lesson, apparently: “You have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have it, that’s okay.

The Boy Scouts are defending the invitation, but so far have not disavowed anything Trump said.  This is causing a big backlash everywhere, like on their Facebook page.


Can A Sitting President Be Indicted?

The conventional wisdom has always said that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Under current law, a President is immune from civil lawsuits in federal court, when it comes to his official acts as president.  This is because of Nixon v. Fitzgerald, a 1982 Supreme Court ruling.  There, the Supreme Court wrote: “The ‘singular importance of the President’s duties’ warrants a stay where civil actions, such as this one, ‘frequently could distract a President from his public duties to the detriment of not only the President and his office but also the Nation that the President was designed to serve.’”

From this case it was always thought that an indictment would similarly be barred.

However, nothing in the Constitution or federal law explicitly says presidents are immune from indictment while they remain in office.  So what’s the answer?

A legal memo unearthed by the New York Times and written for special prosecutor Kenneth Starr during the Clinton Administration concludes that the indictment of a President for acts done prior to taking office, is constitutional.  Here is that memo (after the NYT letters):

The Constitutional Crisis Cloud

It’s been an insane few days for me personally (with work) and insane in the world of Trump.  I wanted to write at some length about the bizarre Trump interview in the New York Times — and how he dissed his attorney general for recusing himself from the Russian collusion investigation and his veiled threats to Bob Mueller, the independent counsel investigating collusion… and how all that came after Ty Cobb was brought to head all the legal teams and apparently imposed message disciple the day before… and the Trump gave this interview.  I found the whole thing scary for what it says about Trump’s apparent disregard for, well, not only our political institutions, but the law in general.

But that is two days old now, and other things have intervened. So as for the Trump interview, I can only applaud the NYT editorial about it yesterday:

In less than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump found a way to impugn the integrity and threaten the livelihoods of nearly all of the country’s top law enforcement officials, including some he appointed, for one simple reason: They swore an oath to defend the Constitution, not him.

For a president who sees the rule of law as an annoyance rather than a feature of American democracy, the traitors are everywhere.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions endured the worst abuse, which came during Mr. Trump’s gobsmacking Oval Office interview with The Times. Mr. Sessions’s offense? Recusing himself in March from all investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, a decision that infuriated Mr. Trump. “If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” the president said. He called the recusal “extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Never mind that Mr. Sessions had no real choice but to step aside. Given his proximity to the campaign — Mr. Sessions was one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters — his ability to be impartial was reasonably in doubt. The “unfairness,” as Mr. Trump saw it, was that Mr. Sessions’s partiality was exactly what he hoped to exploit, mainly to help quash the F.B.I.’s inquiry into his campaign’s possible ties to the Russian government, whose meddling was aimed at tipping the election in Mr. Trump’s favor.

Mr. Sessions said on Thursday that he would continue as attorney general “as long as that is appropriate.” But propriety left the building long ago. It’s hard to imagine he will be there much longer, since the president has, in so many words, invited him to resign for failing to block the Russia investigation. That inquiry lives on for now, but all those associated with it would be justified in fearing that they could well end up like James Comey, the F.B.I. director Mr. Trump fired in May in the hope of shutting it down.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who took charge after Mr. Sessions’s recusal, and Robert Mueller, the special counsel Mr. Rosenstein appointed to run the investigation after Mr. Comey’s firing, were also in the president’s sights. Both men, he complained, were guilty of “conflicts of interest” — which Mr. Trump seems to define as anything that conflicts with his own interests.

For Mr. Mueller, who led the F.B.I. for more than a decade and who is one of the most respected law enforcement officials in the country, Mr. Trump had a clear message: Watch your back. Any investigation into the Trump family’s finances, unrelated to Russia, the president said, would constitute a “violation” of Mr. Mueller’s mandate, and possibly would be grounds for his dismissal. That’s simply wrong. The special counsel is authorized to investigate “any matters” that might arise during the course of the Russia investigation — in fact, he’s already doing so.

In the end, Mr. Trump is concerned with nothing so much as saving his own hide, which means getting rid of the Russia inquiry for good. He previously said this was why he fired Mr. Comey, and it may yet be the undoing of Mr. Sessions, Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Mueller.

The one person who avoided the president’s wrath was the only one who has not yet had the chance to defy him: Christopher Wray, Mr. Trump’s pick to replace Mr. Comey. “I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

Perhaps he forgot that Mr. Wray told senators during his confirmation hearing that he would not hesitate to prosecute the Trump Organization for foreign-corruption crimes if the evidence pointed that way. Or perhaps he thinks he can bend Mr. Wray to his will because, as he told The Times, “the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president.”

Wrong again: The F.B.I. director reports to the attorney general, precisely to protect the independence of which Mr. Trump is so openly contemptuous. It’s true that the president may fire the director, but that power is, or used to be, reserved for the most extraordinary circumstances.

Mr. Trump’s cavalier attitude toward this carefully designed system is an affront to the people who have spent their careers respecting and protecting it. It’s also the clearest sign yet that he values the rule of law only to the extent that it benefits him personally.

I am more taken with the story in last night’s Washington Post, and particularly this paragraph:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Although the story downplays Trump’s questions as “This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ”, the fact that this is even remotely on his mind is troubling. As is the suggestion that he might fire Mueller.

Theoretical or not, we could get to that point, which would be a constitutional crisis because there is no clear answer to the question “Can a president pardon himself?”

The constitutional language governing pardons reads, “The President … shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That vagueness is part of the reason the boundaries of the authority would need to be interpreted by the courts in unusual cases, like the one at hand.

Some note that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a president from pardoning himself. On the other side, experts say that by definition a pardon is something you can only give to someone else.  That’s what “grant” means.  I tend to agree with that.

There is also a common-law canon that prohibits individuals from serving as a judge in their own case. … ‘This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,’ said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question. … No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it.”

One thing is for sure — Impeachment itself is specifically carved out of the presidential pardon power within the Constitution, so if Trump were impeached, he’d have no counter to that action.

But like many, I worry if Republicans are so in the tank for Trump and so unprincipled, that they wouldn’t impeach him even if he pardoned himself.  They certainly are very quiet on the subject today.

On the Democatic side,  Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Mark Warner of Virginia reacted to the news that Trump’s legal team is exploring the possibility of pardons. Schiff called the reports “disturbing” and said it is something the president “should rule out categorically.” Warner said pardoning individuals “at this early stage in these ongoing investigations” would be “crossing a fundamental line.”

They are also taking stands against the firing of Mueller.

And personally, I believe that the oppo research being done on Mueller is very close to obstruction of justice.  I don’t think Mueller can be intimidated, and this is a very bad legal tactic in this situation.  Heck, Mueller was under consideration for Comey’s replacement as the head of the FBI.

To be continued….

UPDATE:  Well, this is reassuring.

Trumpcare Declared Dead But GOP Not Finished Screwing America

So this happened:

Republican senator from Kansas and his Republican colleague from Utah said “no” to the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. This comes even before the CBO had scored it, but it would have resulted in tens of millions losing healthcare and higher premiums. That doesn’t include all those who would get crappy healthcare that is useless when they actually have a catastrophic illness.

The Senate vote was supposed to be this week and it was right on the edge. Only one more Republican Senator (besides the two nay-sayers already) needed to step up and say “no” and the thing was dead. Senate Majority Leader McConnell put off voting until August while Senator McCain had some pretty nasty eye/brain surgery which apparently accounted for his odd behavior recently at the Comey hearing.

It was thought that key swing-votes were Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, or maybe Cory Gardner of Colorado.

But Lee and Moran stepped up and killed this. They joined Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in opposition, denying GOP leaders the support to even bring the bill to the floor and upending Republicans’ seven-year goal of repealing Obamacare.

But apparently McConnell had a backup plan: he announced that the chamber would vote to take up a House bill from 2015 that repeals the Affordable Care Act and then provides for a two-year delay while the Senate develops a plan to replace it.

“[I]n the coming days,” McConnell said in a statement Monday night, “the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama: A repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”

This is a terrible idea. Repealing Obamacare without implementing a replacement would have even more devastating consequences than Trumpcare. It would result in 18 million people losing their coverage the first full year after the bill’s enactment. That number would rise to 32 million by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which scored the repeal and delay plan when it was proposed in 2015.

Repeal and delay would also significantly increase premiums, the CBO said. In the first year following enactment of the law, premiums purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase 20 to 25 percent relative to projections under the current law.

In the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and subsidies provided by the ACA, that increase would reach about 50 percent, with premiums doubling by 2026.

The widespread confusion that repeal and delay would create would be detrimental even as the current law stays in place during the proposed two years the Senate would have to develop a replacement.

Insurers use projections to set prices, and knowing the industry is going to dramatically change but not knowing how is expected to cause insurers to pull out of the ACA marketplaces. This means higher premiums and, ultimately, a death spiral that would result in Americans losing their health insurance.

But the two defectors from last night are for repeal (right now), and so is this guy:

Trump clearly doesn’t care what the bill is.  He just wants to declare a “win”.  But this repeal-and-replace-later is a non-starter. I don’t think anybody thinks Congress will come up with a better idea in two years.  Plus, repeal will be hard since part so it require a 60-senator vote.

So the watch word on the left is: “Yay for us, but remain vigilant”.

UPDATE:  Yeah, it might be dead before this morning is out.

The Blackmail of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzski

The fallout from Trump’s Twitter attack yesterday on TV hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzski (mostly the latter) continues, and it doesn’t go well for Trump.  The couple wrote a devastating op-ed in WaPo, the title of which says it all:

They are quite right — Donald Trump is not well.  I question whether he ever was.  But it is what they said this morning on their show that caught my interest, and the interest of many others:

MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski claim President Trump and his White House used the possibility of a hit piece in the National Enquirer to threaten them.

But President Trump has a very different account of what happened. “FAKE NEWS,” he tweeted during “Morning Joe” Friday morning.
The editor in charge of the Enquirer, Dylan Howard, said “we have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”

Meanwhile, Scarborough says he has proof of the White House threats — “I have texts from your top aides and phone records.”
Scarborough and Brzezinski are essentially alleging a form of blackmail.

The accusation came during a wider discussion about the president’s offensive tweets targeting the co-hosts. It piqued the attention of journalists because it implies that the president is using a friendly media outlet to punish his opponents.

What’s definitely true is this: Trump and the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, are friends and allies. Jeffrey Toobin documented the mutually beneficial relationship in this week’s edition of The New Yorker.

The Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, frequently promotes the president’s agenda.

Here’s exactly what the co-hosts alleged on Friday’s “Morning Joe.”

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

Scarborough didn’t name names, but he said “three people at the very top of the administration” called him about this.

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

In other words, grovel to the president and he’ll make the mean story disappear.

Scarborough did not immediately respond to a request from CNN for more details.

But he and Brzezinski also described the alleged discussion in a Washington Post column on Friday.

“This year,” they wrote, “top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.”

Scarborough and Brzezinski are now engaged. The negative article was about their past marriages and the beginning of their relationship. It was published in early June.

Dylan Howard, the chief content officer for the Enquirer’s parent company American Media, said “we accurately reported” the story, but “at no time did we threaten either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story.”

Brzezinski suggested otherwise.

“Let me explain what they were threatening,” she said. “They were calling my children. They were calling close friends.”

She said “these calls persisted for quite some time, and then Joe had the conversations that he had with the White House where they said ‘Oh, this could go away.'”

In response, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that he is “not aware” of White House officials pressing Scarborough to call up Trump and make nice.

Here’s the video:

The president himself weighed in via Twitter a few minutes later.

Scarborough responded quickly to Trump’s tweet with one of his own:

It get worse.

For Trump.

Redstate talked to Scarborough and asked him about it. This is what Scarborough reportedly said:

“NBC execs knew in real time about the calls and who made them to me. That’s why Mark Kornblau wrote about contemporaneous texts. I showed him and executives as they were coming in to keep them advised.”

Scarborough also said the calls about the National Enquirer story started in late April and early May but that he never placed a call to President Trump, contra Trump’s tweet. “I never called the President about this,” he said. “I challenge him to reveal any phone records showing that I called him. He can’t because I didn’t.”

Blackmail is a very serious charge. The administration will likely face questions about in their latest press briefing and how they respond will be telling.

UPDATE: NY Magazine has news on this, with sources. This seems to be the story — it contradiction that Joe called him to discuss the Enquirer story.

According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. “This presidency is fake and failed,” Brzezinski said on March 6, for example. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together.

In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment). Scarborough says he refused, and the Enquirer published the story in print on June 5, headlined “Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!”

The Daily Beast (which apparently published just before NYMag) has basically the same story.

UPDATE:  A Vanity Fair story adds come color. This is Mika’s perspective…

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:

Terrible.

Chaitspeaks:

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: