ARTICLE OF IMPEACHMENT NO. 12: “On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany last month, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril,” the Washington Post reports.
“The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.”
“But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed. Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had ‘primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children’ when they met in June 2016… The claims were later shown to be misleading.
SCARAMUCCI? I HARDLY KNEW YE. President Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, Relieving him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.
Damnit. I was looking forward to SNL’s take on Scaramucci. Alas. And yes, Donald, constant personnel changes surely mean there is no chaos in your White House.
KELLY ALMOST QUIT OVER COMEY. “New White House chief of staff John Kelly was so upset with how President Donald Trump handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey that Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning,” CNN reports.
“Comey, who took Kelly’s call while traveling back from Los Angeles to Washington, responded to Kelly by telling him not to resign… The sources said Comey and Kelly are not close friends but that they had a professional relationship and a deep mutual respect for each other.”
Apparently Kelly is not afraid to stand up to Trump. We shall see. Associated Press: “Raised voices could be heard through the thick door to the Oval Office as John Kelly — then secretary of Homeland Security — offered some tough talk to President Donald Trump. Kelly, a whip-cracking retired general who was sworn in as White House chief of staff on Monday, had demanded to speak to the president alone after Trump complained loudly that the U.S. was admitting travelers from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Haiti.”
“Kelly first tried to explain to Trump that the admissions were standard — some people had legitimate reasons to visit the country — but the president insisted that it was making him look bad, according to an administration official familiar with the exchange about a month ago. Kelly then demanded that other advisers leave the room so he could speak to the president frankly. Trump refused at first, but agreed when Kelly insisted. It was an early indication that Kelly, a decorated retired Marine general who served three tours in Iraq, is not afraid to stand up to his commander-in-chief.”
— Bloomberg View (@BV) July 31, 2017
NO MATTER TRUMP’S TWEET THREATS, TRUMPCARE IS DEAD. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Reuters “that senators for now are too divided to keep working on healthcare overhaul legislation and that he and other senior Republicans will take that message to the White House.”
President Donald Trump has been urging lawmakers not to drop the matter, despite a series of failed votes last week. Said Hatch: “There’s just too much animosity and we’re too divided on healthcare.”
“Senate Republicans have no plans to revive their party-line attempts to repeal Obamacare this summer, despite President Trump’s increasing frustration over the chamber’s failed attempts last week to gut the law,” Politico reports.
Said Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “Until somebody shows us a way to get that elusive 50th vote, I think it’s over. Maybe lightning will strike and something will come together but I’m not holding my breath.”
Both Republican And Democratic Groups In Talks With Encrypted Messaging Company https://t.co/byfkQp3cSv
— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) July 31, 2017
TAX “REFORM” IS GOING TO TAKE A WHILE. Playbook: “When the White House tells us — as they did yesterday — that tax reform is going to be done by September or October, remember that neither chamber has passed a budget resolution. Tax reform is very hard without reconciliation instructions… And, if you’ve watched the squirming on, well, everything on the Hill, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that passing a budget isn’t easy. This seems to be a bit lost on the White House. Oh, and by the way, in September and October, Congress also has to fund the government and lift the debt ceiling. This won’t be quick and painless.”
WHY TRUMP THINKS HE COULD GET AWAY WITH IT. Al Hunt: “He thinks House Speaker Paul Ryan, whom he views as weak, will voice disapproval if Mueller is removed, but then say, ‘Let’s move on to the business of the nation and tax reform.’ Trump regards Senator Lindsey Graham as a showboat who will go on a Sunday talk show and decry a ‘lawless presidency,’ then turn his attention to the need for stronger action on Syria. As for the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Charles Grassley, who has a reputation as a curmudgeonly but straight-shooting conservative, Trump sees him as holding hearings on a constitutional crisis — and then pivoting to focus on an overview of antitrust laws.”
“Let’s hope Trump is wrong. If he takes the radical step of using an executive order to remove Mueller, there is a compelling case for an independent counsel, one who does not report to the Justice Department. Currently Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Restoring the independent-counsel statute would relieve the special prosecutor from the risk of political interference.”
— Joan McCarter (@joanmccarter) July 31, 2017
A MUELLER FIRING WOULD BE WORSE THAN NIXON. Jeffrey Toobin: “Trump now seems set on terminating Mueller’s investigation, which he could attempt to do by directing the head of the Justice Department (whoever that winds up being) to fire him. This, of course, would be reminiscent of President Nixon’s determination, in October, 1973, to fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor. But a dismissal of Mueller would be worse. Nixon clashed with Cox over what was at least an arguable matter of principle—specifically, whether the prosecutor had the right to subpoena the White House tapes. Trump wants Mueller gone simply because he doesn’t want to be investigated.”
“An order to fire Mueller would be an abuse of power, but one in keeping with the way that Trump has conducted his Presidency. On the Saturday night that Cox was fired, he said, ‘Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people’ to decide. So it remains today.”
How the Trump Administration Broke the State Department https://t.co/JXUJhaT15v
— Bruce Stokes (@bruceestokes) July 31, 2017
NBC News: “As Republicans learned last week, making grand promises to the base on health care is easy — following through on them is not. For now, single-payer is little more than a slogan. Despite that, one thing is for sure, the issue is moving in only one direction for Democrats and it’s gaining steam quickly, including with recent converts in billionaires Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban.”
“Support for single-payer has jumped 19 percentage points among Democrats since 2014 — and nine points since January alone — to 52%, according to a Pew survey in June. With 85% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now saying the federal government has a responsibility to make sure every American has health care, two-thirds of liberals favor single-payer as the means.”
“A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll,” the New York Times reports.
“President Vladimir V. Putin bet that Donald J. Trump, who had spoken fondly of Russia and its authoritarian leader for years, would treat his nation as Mr. Putin has longed to have it treated by the West. That is, as the superpower it once was, or at least a major force to be reckoned with, from Syria to Europe, and boasting a military revived after two decades of neglect. That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come.”
“It is unclear how much the announcement will affect day-to-day relations. While the Russian news media said 755 diplomats would be barred from working, and presumably expelled, there do not appear to be anything close to 755 American diplomats working in Russia.”
Meanwhile, it’s been four days since Putin announced his retaliation, and not a single word from the White House or Trump.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 31, 2017
“Baby Boomers and other older Americans are no longer the majority of voters in U.S. presidential elections,” according to Pew Research.
“Millennials and Generation Xers cast 69.6 million votes in the 2016 general election, a slight majority of the 137.5 million total votes cast, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, Boomers and older voters represented fewer than half of all votes for the first time in decades.”
Good. One of the worst generations ever.
Molly Ball: “Everyone who works for Trump has to know that their turn in the barrel can come at any time, that the slavish loyalty he demands will be repaid only in abuse. Still, Priebus’s defenestration was particularly savage: a detested interloper brought in over his protestations, his best ally pushed out, Trump deafeningly silent as the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, publicly derided him as ‘a fucking paranoid schizophrenic.’ After his dismissal was announced, he suddenly found himself alone in a black Suburban as the rest of the motorcade left for the White House without him.”
“Like Priebus, the Republican Party made a Faustian bargain when it capitulated to Trump’s takeover—it would sell its soul in order to win. But as chaos continues to swirl, Priebus is surely not the only Republican asking himself: What was that victory good for?”
When asked, Priebus said: “We have a Republican president, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House. I have no regrets at all.”
The best people will not work for the worst bosses: https://t.co/QrtU7phEM0
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 31, 2017