TRUMP HAD A SECOND SECRET MEETING WITH PUTIN… ALONE! Ian Bremmer says that President Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin held “a second, informal meeting” on the sidelines of the G20 summit that was not disclosed and not reported. Only people present were Trump, Putin, and Putin’s translator. No other Americans there. The President met with a foreign enemy without any other Americans present so we wouldn’t know what was said. And he kept it secret as long as he could.
REPEAL AND GO F*CK YOURSELF IS DEAD: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she will oppose any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. She joins two other Republican senators, Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who said they also oppose the effort being pushed by President Trump and GOP leaders. If these positions hold, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not have the votes to bring the measure to the Senate floor.
Dan Balz: “By any measure, the collapse of the Senate health-care bill represents an epic failure for the Republican Party and a major embarrassment for President Trump. The crusade that animated — and bound — conservatives for seven years proved to be a mirage, an objective without a solution. Power comes with consequences.”
“There is no way to spin to those who were promised that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced once Republicans held full power in Washington that what has happened is the fault of forces outside the party. This has been a Republican undertaking from start to finish. It is as if Republicans unknowingly set a trap and then walked into it without having prepared escape routes.”
“What price, if any, Republicans will pay for this setback will be revealed over the coming months.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate will vote on a procedural motion to take up a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act “early next week,” The Hill reports.
David Nather: “Unless something changes between now and then, Senate Republicans won’t get the 50 votes they need to begin debate on any health care bill, including McConnell’s fallback plan of a repeal bill without an ACA replacement. But McConnell is determined to hold the vote even if it fails. GOP leaders will be increasing the pressure on the Republican holdouts to change their minds.”
Politico: “The president has invited all 52 GOP senators to the White House for lunch on Wednesday to see if he can revive the GOP’s moribund plans to repeal and replace the 2010 health law… He believes he can get an agreement to move forward by twisting arms and negotiating himself, those sources said. But Senate Republicans are not optimistic.”
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) July 18, 2017
Jonathan Chait: “In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.”
“Every attempt to resolve the contradiction between public demands and conservative ideology has led the party to finesse it instead. That is why Republicans spent years promising their own health-care plan would come out very soon. It is why their first and best option was repeal and delay. And it is why they are returning to that option now.”
IT’S HARD TO TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM THE AMERICAN VOTER: “In the end, Republicans relearned a lesson that has bedeviled them since the New Deal: An American entitlement, once established, can almost never be retracted,” the New York Times reports.
“Since the day the Affordable Care Act passed Congress, Republicans have vowed to overturn it…. But in the intervening years, as millions of Americans have become insured under the law that was derisively tagged with President Barack Obama’s name, the health care program has become more and more popular, even with Republican governors.”
THE EIGHTH MAN: “The California businessman who took part in a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was the focus of a congressional inquiry into possible Russian money laundering in November 2000,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Irakly Kaveladze, who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the early 1990s, set up 2,000 corporations in Delaware for Russian brokers… Some of the corporations operated as shell companies and were used to move about $1.4 billion through more than 100 accounts at Citibank of New York and the Commercial Bank of San Francisco.”
Washington Post: “Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.”
Also interesting: Special counsel Robert Mueller requested Kaveladze’s identity from his attorney over the weekend. It’s the first confirmation that Mueller is investigating the Trump Tower meeting.
Fighting's broken out in Taiwan's parliament – again.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 18, 2017
At least it has not come to this in America… yet.
“I alone can fix it.” — Donald Trump, speaking at the Republican national convention in July 2016.
“I’m not going to own it.” — President Trump, quoted by the AP, after the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare collapsed.
Molly Ball: “The House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders. Republican lawmakers have yet to turn on President Trump in any meaningful way. But they’re starting to turn on each other.”
“On Monday, the Republicans’ tortured health-care effort hit a seemingly permanent snag. But that was only the latest blow; after half a year of consolidated GOP control, not a single major piece of legislation has been enacted. With other priorities similarly stalled, legislators’ frustration is mounting.”
Every time Republicans offer up an actual replacement, it dramatically, embarrassingly underperforms ObamacareL https://t.co/wVwzBqLseI
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 18, 2017
TRUMP WANTED TO KILL THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL THIS WEEK. Eli Lake: “Trump’s State Department in the spring certified Iran was in compliance. On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was supposed to certify Iranian compliance again. Talking points were sent to columnists. Senior administration officials briefed analysts on a conference call. The Treasury Department was set to announce new sanctions against a number of Iranians to soften the blow for the Republican base. Allies in Congress were given a heads up.”
“There was just one problem: Donald Trump. In meetings with his national security cabinet, the president has never been keen on Obama’s nuclear deal. What’s more, Iran’s regional behavior has only been getting worse since his inauguration.”
“So just as Tillerson was preparing to inform Congress on Monday that Iran remained in compliance… Trump called it off, according to administration officials. He wanted to know his options and what would happen if Tillerson didn’t make the announcement.”
Jonathan Swan: “The vast majority of the principals — led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — were in favor of the U.S. staying in the deal. But Trump hates the deal, and the decision goes against Trump’s gut instincts.”
MAR-A-LAGO VISITOR LOGS TO BE RELEASED. President Trump “made seven trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida earlier this year, and the public might soon get a look at who else was there with him,” the AP reports.
“The Department of Homeland Security has agreed to hand over records related to the property’s visitors in September. The move comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.”
It may simply be that no health care plan exists, in this world, that Susan Collins and Rand Paul can both support:https://t.co/uMFxbJ4twB
— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) July 18, 2017
KAMALA HARRIS 2020?: “The Democratic donor class is abuzz about Kamala Harris after the freshman California senator was feted this weekend at an event in the Hamptons surrounded by top fundraisers,” The Hill reports.
“The Bridgehampton event, where Harris mingled with top donors and supporters of Hillary Clinton, was the ultimate signal that Harris is ‘thinking much bigger’ than the Senate, one top bundler said.”
Said one fundraiser: “She’s running for president. Take it to the bank. She’s absolutely going to run.”
Stan Collender: “The biggest lesson from the Republicans’ failure to develop and pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act is that having 52 out of 100 votes in the U.S. Senate does not guarantee a victory. The GOP’s numerical majority is not an ideological majority, and the collapse of the health care debate shows definitively that Senate (and probably House) Republicans are anything but ideologically aligned on major issues.”
“Congressional Republicans are so divided that the White House’s and leadership’s original promise of quick, definitive action was the height of political hubris. The GOP’s divisions on at least the major issues are much larger than the size of their majorities in both houses of Congress.”
“The Trump administration’s arrogance is somewhat understandable given its political inexperience and unsophistication, but it’s absolutely unforgivable from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).”
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) July 18, 2017
STEVE BULLOCK 2020?: “Many elected Democrats have drifted left since the party’s shattering defeat last November, turning to a brand of progressive politics that is closer to Senator Bernie Sanders’s democratic socialism than the more market-friendly liberalism that characterized the Obama era,” the New York Times reports.
“But when the nation’s governors gathered here over the weekend for their annual summer meeting, a group of pragmatic Democrats took center stage. And now one of them is taking the first steps toward seeking the presidency in 2020.”
Said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D): “I believe the time is right to lend my voice, the voice of someone that after getting elected has been able to govern in what’s viewed as a red state. Some of the things that I’ve been able to do in Montana can also translate beyond just the state’s border.”
Josh Marshall: It is one of the most basic rules of political life that no one has much of any control of what they ‘own’. It follows a mix of logic, public opinion and just fate. But you don’t decide. Did President Obama and the Democrats choose to own the still flagging economy of 2010? Of course not. But they did and they were decimated in the 2010 election. To date, every poll has suggested that fair or not (and I’d say it’s largely is) Trump and the Republicans are own health care now. It doesn’t matter what Trump says. That’s just not how it works.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s “struggles to win support in Congress or the White House for his strategy to raise the federal debt ceiling are casting doubt on whether the political neophyte has the Washington clout to win approval of a measure that could be necessary to avoid a historic, market-rattling default on U.S. government debt,” the Washington Post reports.
“Unlike other issues facing the Trump administration — such as passing a health-care bill and overhauling the tax code — raising the debt limit comes with a hard deadline of late September, according to Mnuchin. Failure to do so could lead the U.S. government to miss paying its obligations, causing what analysts would consider a historic, market-rattling default on U.S. government debt.”
Politico: “Republicans are divided over whether to raise the debt ceiling before the August recess, with senators preferring to act soon and members of the more conservative House reluctant to take the contentious vote before the break.”