After receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal on Monday, Sen. John McCain took aim at Donald Trump and Steve Bannon’s ‘white nationalistic’ ideology that they are infecting the country with. McCain said, “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) October 17, 2017
President Trump issued a warning shot after McCain’s speech, saying “I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” McCain’s answer a short time later was simply: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”
Jonathan Chait says McCain’s final act is war against Trump: “Perhaps even more telling than his speech denouncing Trumpism was a McCain tweet endorsing a William Kristol column in The Weekly Standardthat all but calls for the breakup of the Republican Party. (“It would be foolish to dismiss the case for independent candidacies or new parties. We are, after all, citizens first, not partisans.”) It would be unrealistic to expect McCain to leave his party. But there is almost no doubt now that his final act will be as a leader of the Republican rebellion.”
“Hours before it was to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order on Tuesday blocking, for now, President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban. It would have indefinitely stopped almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the Muslim-majority nations included in his original travel ban,” the New York Times reports. “Tuesday’s ruling was yet another legal setback for one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most controversial efforts. The judge, Derrick Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu, had previously blocked Mr. Trump’s second travel ban from taking effect in March.”
During the Obama era, Republicans got leverage by sabotaging the governance of the country. Trump is trying the same thing now — but now he's responsible for the governance of the country, and so he is sabotaging himself: https://t.co/C2NBFerekP
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 16, 2017
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that he and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, the New York Times reports. The deal would extend key Obamacare payments to insurers for two years, the payments that evil feckless racist of President just ended last week, and give states more flexibility to change Obamacare rules.
A Democratic aide tells Greg Sargent that it includes $106 million in restored outreach funding for open enrollment, in addition to that two years of CSR funding. Meanwhile, Alexander has told reporters that there is “meaningful flexibility.” What that “flexibility” is, or what Murray agreed to in terms of loosening Obamacare regulations, is as of yet unclear. Axios is reporting that it includes a “’copper plan’ for people older than 30, which would be less comprehensive than other ACA plans but would have a lower premium,” and “shorter review time for states seeking waivers from some of the ACA’s coverage requirements.” More details should be forthcoming.
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) October 16, 2017
“The Senate took an important step toward enacting Republican tax cuts Tuesday, voting to start debate on a budget resolution that would allow the chamber to approve a GOP tax proposal with a simple majority of votes,” the Washington Post reports. “The chamber voted 50 to 47 along party lines midday to proceed to debate on the budget resolution, a victory for Republican leaders who had faced the threat of several defections.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is prepared to vote “no” on the Senate Republican budget if leaders do not agree to cut billions in spending from the plan, Politico reports. “With Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) out indefinitely, Republicans may be able to lose only one vote and still pass the budget, which is needed to pave the way for the GOP’s tax push.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) predicted in an interview with a Milwaukee radio station that tax overhaul legislation would pass in the House by “early November” and make it through the Senate to President Trump’s desk by the end of December, The Hill reports. “Ryan expressed optimism that Republicans would have more success with tax reform than with their failed efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health-care law.”
Axios: “Republicans haven’t introduced an actual bill yet, and Congress has a fairly full plate right now, from immigration to Iran to government funding for the rest of the year. There are 28 legislative days left in 2017.”
Donald Trump’s presidency is taking a toll on his business https://t.co/cpTrWBOrMC
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) October 16, 2017
Washington Post: “Most days bring another round, often at dawn, like plot points in a 24-7 miniseries. In just the past few weeks, Trump has started, without any clear provocation, fights with football players who kneel during the national anthem, departments stores that declare ‘happy holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’ and late-night television hosts for their ‘unfunny and repetitive material.’”
“Then there are the individual targets: Clinton, of course, but also ‘Liddle’ Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, North Korea’s ‘Little Rocketman’ Kim Jong Un, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and a shifting array of reporters, newspapers and networks he labels as the ‘fake news.’”
“Although the targets often appear tangential, if not contradictory, to his governing priorities, both the president and his senior aides see them as central to his political strategy. In each instance, the combat allows Trump to underline for his core supporters the populist promise of his election: to challenge the power of political elites and those who have unfairly benefited from their ‘politically correct’ vision.”
Mike Allen: Trump’s alternative reality.
Politico: “The debate hasn’t even started on the GOP’s plan, yet some senators are pushing their own tax proposals, while others are increasingly emboldened to defy the Republican president. It’s a dangerous mix considering that McConnell can only lose two votes assuming Democrats band together in opposition.” Said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney: “We look at the Senate and go: ‘What the hell is going on?’”
He added: “The House passed health care, the House has already passed its budget, which is the first step of tax reform. The Senate hasn’t done any of that. Hell, the Senate can’t pass any of our confirmations. You ask me if the Republican-controlled Senate is an impediment to the administration’s agenda: All I can tell you is so far, the answer’s yes.”
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 17, 2017
Josh Marshall: “Donald Trump poisons everything. It’s like an abuser with a captive family; he poisons everything, inflames everything, destroys and degrades anything in his path for his own ends. No one gets out in one piece. He’s poison. He’s just poison. There’s no other way to put it. He hurts the country every moment he’s in office.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told President Trump that Steve Bannon’s midterm insurgency was detrimental to tax reform and other key elements of the administration’s agenda, the Washington Examiner reports.
“McConnell emphasized that Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, was undermining the president’s agenda with plans to recruit and finance primary challenges against Republicans who are some of his most reliable supporters in the Senate.”
Ron Brownstein: “Across an array of domestic and foreign challenges, Trump’s go-to move has become to create what amounts to a political hostage situation. He’s either terminating, or threatening to terminate, a series of domestic and international policies adopted by earlier administrations — and insisting that others grant him concessions to change his mind.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) October 17, 2017
Playbook: “Chris McDaniel (R), the GOP state senator who challenged Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in 2014, told us that he has had several conversations with Steve Bannon about his political future over the last month, including meetings at Breitbart’s headquarters on Capitol Hill… McDaniel has been toying with primarying Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).” McDaniel said Bannon told him he would “love to see me enter the U.S. Senate race, and that he’ll support me in whatever race I would run.”
Kevin Drum reports: “The War Against ISIS Is All But Over. Thanks, Obama.”
“[Obama] did the right thing: he kept the US footprint light; he avoided rules of engagement that would inflame the very people we were trying to liberate; and he understood that the only route to victory lay in a slow but steady campaign. It wasn’t sexy, but it worked. In a few weeks or months, Donald Trump will announce that we’ve won the war against ISIS. Will he give Obama any recognition for this? Of course not. So that means the rest of us will have to do it for him.”
— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) October 17, 2017
Sean Spicer met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Monday for an interview that lasted much of the day, Politico reports. “During his sitdown, Spicer was grilled about the firing of former FBI director James Comey and his statements regarding the firing, as well as about Trump’s meetings with Russians officials including one with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office.”
Barbara Radnofsky: “Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — ‘Mad’ King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about.”
“The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”
“Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.”
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) October 17, 2017
There is an easy solution to this litmus test: say that of course I will vote to impeach Trump if Mueller returns a report showing that either Trump or his associates obstructed justice or engaged in any collusion with the Russians or engaged in any illegal or unethical activities at any time. Yes, its a punt. But there is no need to have a litmus test on this issue when we have so many other litmus tests to fight over.