“U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.”
“The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him when they raided his home in July. “Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.”
“Just when the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act appeared to be dead, a last-ditch push to dismantle the law could be nearing a showdown vote in the Senate, and a handful of Republicans insist they are closing in on the votes,” the New York Times reports.
“The effort received a jolt of energy on Monday when Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, a Republican, strongly endorsed the latest repeal bill. That put pressure on Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who cast the deciding vote in July that seemed to stop the repeal movement, but who has said he would seriously consider the views of his governor.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “ripped his party’s process for trying to repeal and replace Obamacare but stopped short of saying he would oppose their latest bill,” The Hill reports. Said McCain: “I have talked and talked and talked about the need to do regular order. I have amendments that I would like to have votes on … Am I going to be able to have those, or is it going to be an up or down vote? That’s not why I came to the Senate just to give up or down votes.”
Washington Post: “The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns. What’s different now is the sense of urgency senators are bringing to their effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act, with only a dozen days remaining before the legislative vehicle they’re using expires.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) predicted that the House “would pass a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare if it clears the Senate, with conservatives getting on board,” Politico reports.
Said Meadows: “It’s fundamentally our last chance to make a legislative fix to Obamacare, and if it doesn’t happen, then the chances of it happening in the future are slim to none. And so, I fully expect that if it makes it out of the Senate, the pressure will be so great — from moderates to conservatives — to get it passed.”
“Democratic congressional leaders are demanding a full budget analysis of the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, a move that threatens to stall the legislation ahead of a critical Sept. 30 deadline,” Politico reports.
“Democratic leaders say they fear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), given the truncated timeline to consider the bill, is requesting only the bare-minimum analysis from budget scorekeepers required by reconciliation rules.”
How Cassidy-Graham brings back preexisting conditions: https://t.co/2nJAWIgFNs
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) September 18, 2017
“As President Trump faces a collection of world leaders at his first United Nations General Assembly this week, U.S. officials are working behind the scenes to allay fears among foreign delegations that America’s foreign policy decisions have become too dominated by the West Wing, and that the U.S. State Department, where many crucial positions remain unfilled, is adrift,” NBC News reports.
“At the center of this concern is Tillerson, whose diminishing role in the administration is being blamed for the State Department’s lagging clout… Three senior State Department officials told NBC News that there a number of meetings with foreign delegations at this week’s UNGA that Tillerson either ignored or refused to attend.”
The slow but inexorable collapse of the Trump Administration begins. https://t.co/JGLRKVXtYW
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) September 18, 2017
“President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, emphasized to foreign climate and energy officials on Monday that the U.S. still intends to withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Bloomberg reports.
“Speculation that Trump would reverse course and remain in the Paris deal was heightened after the European Union’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete, said Saturday in an interview that the U.S. had signaled it wants to seek new terms from within the agreement, rather than withdraw outright and then re-negotiate. But White House officials have forcefully pushed back against the idea.”
Interesting read for sure. Trump's Popularity Has Dipped Most In Red States https://t.co/5eC49MgRI7
— Erik Raser-Schramm (@eraserschramm) September 18, 2017
President Trump said France’s Bastille Day celebration that he attended in July with French President Emmanuel Macron was such a “beautiful thing to see” that he’s thinking of holding a similar parade in Washington as a salute to the US military, the New York Post reports.
Said Trump: “Because of what I witnessed we may do something like that on July Fourth in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue… We’re actually thinking about that … having a really great parade to show our military strength.”
— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) September 18, 2017
Mike Allen: “Members of Congress in both parties have begun exploring possible legislative action against Facebook and other tech giants, setting the stage for a potentially massive battle in the midterm election year of 2018.”
“Following revelations about fake news and paid Russian propaganda on Facebook during last year’s election, big tech has become a big target, with politicians across the spectrum declaring on Sunday shows that more scrutiny, transparency and restrictions are needed.”
“The shift against the companies has been sudden, and is one of the biggest stories of the year.”
I spent a few days in NC, where many conservative voters consider themselves Trump supporters, not Republicans. https://t.co/q5pqM7Mey1
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) September 18, 2017
Washington Post: “These churchgoers are at the heart of the dilemma nagging Republican leaders as they struggle to forge a path between the Grand Old Party and the Party of Trump. These voters don’t consider themselves Republicans. They are first and foremost supporters of the president.”
“They are quick to explain away the compromises the former real-estate developer and reality TV star has made and the inconsistencies in many of his positions. They describe Washington as a swamp and speak of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders with the same levels of frustration and disappointment — while describing Trump as if he were a longtime neighbor. They have high hopes for his presidency, but they also fear he might be held back by his party. And they don’t expect their devotion to the president to waver, even a tiny bit, any time soon.”
Associated Press: “There, in the windowless meeting room known as ‘The Tank’, Trump was to be briefed on the state of America’s longest-running war as he and his top aides plotted ways ahead. But, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting, it was, in reality, about much more.”
“Trump’s national security team had become alarmed by the president’s frequent questioning about the value of a robust American presence around the world. When briefed on the diplomatic, military and intelligence posts, the new president would often cast doubt on the need for all the resources. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson organized the July 20 session to lay out the case for maintaining far-flung outposts — and to present it, using charts and maps, in a way the businessman-turned-politician would appreciate. The session was, in effect, American Power 101 and the student was the man working the levers.”
“The campaign arm of House Democrats has posted its highest off-year August fundraising haul ever,” the group told NBC News.
“While their Republican counterparts haven’t yet released their August results, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has outraised Republicans each of the three previous months — a result Democrats say bodes well for their prospects of winning the House in the 2018 midterm elections.”
“President Trump’s legal team is wrestling with how much to cooperate with the special counsel looking into Russian election interference, an internal debate that led to an angry confrontation last week between two White House lawyers and that could shape the course of the investigation,” the New York Times reports.
“At the heart of the clash is an issue that has challenged multiple presidents during high-stakes Washington investigations: how to handle the demands of investigators without surrendering the institutional prerogatives of the office of the presidency. Similar conflicts during the Watergate and Monica S. Lewinsky scandals resulted in court rulings that limited a president’s right to confidentiality.”