THE CRAZY INTERVIEW AFTERMATH: Politico: “President Donald Trump impressed senators Wednesday with a cogent, engaged pitch on health care that didn’t veer wildly from the script. Within an hour, without seeking advice from his lawyers or his senior aides, Trump was in the Oval Office telling reporters from the New York Times that he regretted hiring Jeff Sessions as his attorney general and discussing a sensitive investigation his lawyers have told him to keep quiet about – a performance that once again left his most senior aides startled and scrambling to respond.”
“Because only one staffer, Hope Hicks, was in Trump’s interview, others were left to hurriedly transcribe a tape recording of the meeting after the fact – just so they could know what the president had said. Others rushed to talk to Hicks in the West Wing.”
Said one White House official: “Only Hope really knew. Everyone else was in the dark.”
Associated Press: “The White House notably made no effort to walk back Trump’s comments or display confidence in the attorney general. Instead, the two Trump advisers acknowledged that the president’s public comments largely reflected what they have heard him say about Sessions privately.”
First Read: “The reason why so many were aghast at Bill Clinton’s meeting with Lynch was because it appeared that a person of influence (a former president) was butting into an investigation that Lynch’s Justice Department was leading (into Hillary Clinton’s emails), even if they never discussed the matter.”
“But in this New York Times interview, you have the current president criticizing his own attorney general for recusing himself; questioning the political motivations of the deputy attorney general; and warning the special counsel what he may or may not investigate — all while there is a federal investigation into his campaign’s ties/contacts/interactions with Russian entities. And it raises this question: If Trump has nothing to hide in this Russia investigation, why is he so concerned about it?”
A group of Republican senators criticized President Trump after he rebuked top law enforcement officials in an interview with The New York Times, CNN reports.
Said one GOP senator: “One gets the impression that the President doesn’t understand or he willfully disregards the fact that the attorney general and law enforcement in general — they are not his personal lawyers to defend and protect him.”
Said another: “Any thought of firing the special counsel is chilling. It’s chilling. That’s all you can say.”
BREAKING: Trump lawyers seek to limit Russia probe, discuss pardon optionshttps://t.co/lHOVbGsjdX
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 21, 2017
NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ON HEALTHCARE: “A key group of Senate Republicans met late into the night Wednesday to try to salvage their health care bill, but emerged without any breakthroughs and still appeared far from finding the votes to repeal Obamacare. Still, as GOP senators left the nearly three-hour meeting, they professed optimism,” Politico reports.
Said one former aide to Caitlin Owens: “They can’t accept they’ve been promising something that is undeliverable and a bad idea for seven years.”
HuffPost: “A day after just about everyone on Capitol Hill declared the Senate health care bill dead, the legislation once again seemed to have the tiniest bit of life, with Republicans staying late into the night Wednesday to discuss whether there was a path forward.”
“If Collins is a no vote on any form of the legislation and Paul won’t support a replacement, and Capito and Murkowski won’t support the repeal-only approach, and Lee and Moran won’t support the replacement, and it’s unclear if McCain will be back next week … Republicans simply don’t have the votes throughout all the confusing scenarios. And that’s to say nothing of Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who has been cagey all along on any form of the legislation.”
Politico: “A harsh reality is setting in among Senate Republicans: they’re extremely unlikely to repeal Obamacare in the coming days.”
A new CBO report says that about 22 million people would lose health insurance coverage over the next decade under the most recent revision of the Senate’s Obamacare replacement bill, The Hill reports.
“The number is slightly less than what was predicted in the original draft of the legislation released last month, but still far more than the number of uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.”
“However, the CBO did not score an amendment added to the bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which would let insurers opt out of ObamaCare regulations as long as they also sell ObamaCare-compliant plans.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible money laundering by Paul Manafort https://t.co/VYwsnxerGF
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 20, 2017
MUELLER IS INVESTIGATING TRUMP’S FINANCES: “The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates,” Bloomberg reports.
“The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-month-old probe.”
“FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.”
THE GOP BUDGET IS GOING TO FAIL TOO: “Speaker Paul Ryan and his top lieutenants have a serious math problem when it comes to their budget. After weeks of delays and false starts, House Republicans are expected to advance their fiscal blueprint through committee on Wednesday night. But they’re far from the 218 votes needed to pass it on the floor,” Politico reports.
“With only one more week until the House leaves for the August recess, it looks increasingly likely that Republicans will punt once again on the most fundamental task of governing: passing a budget. Missing that deadline will leave the GOP exposed to criticism at home and undermines their chances of moving on to another key agenda item.”
AND THEIR TAX CUTS ARE GETTING SMALLER: Jonathan Swan: “Sources familiar with the Republican tax negotiations say there’s an acknowledgment within the working group that setting the corporate rate at less than 25 percent may be unworkable if the tax reform is going to be revenue neutral.”
“This is far from the number the administration wants, but a source familiar with the discussions said it’s a simple numerical cash problem. They’ve done away with the border adjustment tax, health care repeal is failing, and there are no politically-palatable alternatives to fill more than $1 trillion in missing revenue.”
Al Franken was moved to tears explaining how much years of Democratic policies helped his wife and her family pic.twitter.com/Hcc8O3HmLw
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 18, 2017
And they say we have no message.
MORE ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO POLITICS NOW: Pew Research: “Nearly six-in-ten women (58%) say they are paying increased attention to politics since Trump’s election, compared with 46% of men. Overall, more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents than Republicans and Republican leaners say they have become more attentive to politics. But there are similarly wide gender gaps in heightened interest to politics among members of both parties.”
Also interesting: “Most people (59%) say it is ‘stressful and frustrating’ to talk about politics with people who have a different opinion of Trump than they do; just 35% find such conversations ‘interesting and informative.’”
If you were outraged by Bill Clinton's tarmac meeting, your jaw must be on the floor after reading Trump's NYT intvw https://t.co/vr8dxFYtFa
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) July 20, 2017
DAMN. Billionaire and GOP megadonor Mike Fernandez says he can’t give to Republicans who don’t stand up to President Trump, Politico reports.
Said Fernandez: “All the Republicans who hide behind the flag and hide the church, they don’t have the fucking balls to do what it takes… It is demoralizing to me to see adults worshipping a false idol. I can’t continue to write checks for anyone.”
He also called Trump an “abortion of a human being,” while adding, “If I was the doctor and knew what that baby would do, I’d have made sure it never would have seen the light of day.”
— Bloomberg (@business) July 20, 2017
BUYER’S REMORSE: “About one in eight people who voted for President Donald Trump said they would not do so again after witnessing Trump’s tumultuous first six months in office,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of 2016 voters.
“While most of the people who voted for Trump on Nov. 8 said they would back him again, the erosion of support within his winning coalition of older, disaffected, mostly white voters poses a potential challenge for the president. Trump, who won the White House with the slimmest of margins, needs every last supporter behind him to push his agenda through a divided Congress and potentially win a second term in 2020.”
THE RISE OF A NEW CONSERVATIVE NEWS CHANNEL: Yeah, because that is exactly what we need. Bloomberg Businessweek: “Whatever a particular station’s network affiliation—ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, or NBC—Sinclair viewers get a steady dose of conservative political commentary. Lately, Executive Chairman David Smith has begun assembling a kind of junior varsity squad of commentators and making unspecific murmurings about competing head-to-head with the senior lettermen and women at Fox News. To left-leaning viewers only just becoming aware of the company’s reach, Sinclair is positioned to flip a switch and turn those 173 stations’ newscasts—currently delivering bulletins on weather, school closings, and local affairs—into a cohesive network that pushes a Fox News-esque worldview of outrage and conflict into individual cities, counties, and towns.”
KUSHNER GOES UNDER OATH: “White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling on Monday, July 24,” ABC News has learned.
“The closed-door session sets up what could be one of the most highly anticipated interviews for lawmakers to date.”
Politico reports that on Wednesday, July 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to call Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to testify on a panel about foreign influence in elections.
Axios: “Expect wall-to-wall coverage for the open Trump Jr./Manafort hearing.”
A TRUMP GIFT TO RUSSIA: “President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia,” the Washington Post reports.
“Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.”
NO WAY THIS IS CONSTITUTIONAL: The Intercept: “A group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.”
“Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”