I’ve learned – we’ve all learned – that Obamacare repeal is actually never over. But that was some pretty high drama.
We’ve been slogging through the evening toward what was seeming like an inevitable passage of a godforsaken Obamacare repeal bill that not even most Senate Republicans liked or wanted to see become law. But in the last several minutes things have ground to a halt on the Senate floor, and it is increasingly looking plausibly like Mitch McConnell lacks the votes to pass the so-called skinny repeal bill. TPM’s Tierney Sneed is in the Senate chamber and from her vantage point things look amiss. It’s easy to read way too much into minor things, but at the moment Senate business has stalled. McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence and other key Republicans are all on the Senate floor, and the presumed no votes are being worked hard, Tierney reports. Among the possible no votes is John McCain. Pence has been talking to McCain for 20 minutes, Tierney reports. Stay tuned …
Late Update: As of 1:25 a.m. ET, voting has begun on the skinny repeal bill.
It’s been quite a day. And it’s ending with White House Communications Director/Majordomo Anthony Scaramucci’s maybe literally insane interview with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza. But this morning he gave what was no doubt a less profanity-laced but in its own way no less wild and crazy live interview on CNN. Here’s my annotated edition of that interview. Pay particular note to the “buddies of mine” Scaramucci’s calling at the FBI to put the scare on his “knee-knocker” enemies in the White House.
Four GOP senators demand some kind of assurance from the House that if the Senate passes “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, the bill will go to conference – and not simply be passed by the House.
The problem, one of many, actually, is there’s no formal mechanism for the House to assure the Senate that it won’t pass a bill the Senate just passed! This isn’t how it works!
Three senators with the capacity and perhaps the propensity to blow up the Senate GOP’s march toward passing a so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare are about to hold a hastily arranged press conference on the Hill. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson. Stay tuned …
Over recent months I’ve been telling you about various changes we’re making at TPM, expanding our team with the changes made possible with our membership program, setting up our new Investigations Desk and a bunch more. What I wanted with the Investigations Desk was to add a stable of new reporters who could dramatically increase our ability to break news on investigative stories like the Trump/Russia probe in addition to the critical reporting we already do on legislative and policy stories on Capitol Hill. A good example of the latter is what we’re doing right now on the on-going Trumpcare trainwreck. So I was excited on several levels when I saw this new story just out from iDesk reporter Sam Thielman and Editor Catherine Thompson. I was pumped to see this particular story but also to see our larger plans coming to fruition.
You know that for some time I’ve been focused on this ‘peace plan’ meeting from back in February where Trump business partner Felix Sater and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with a Ukrainian parliamentarian who had a ‘peace plan’ which would essentially give Russia everything it wanted in the Ukraine and also had a dossier of paper documents which he needed hand delivered to Mike Flynn. Cohen did hand deliver that dossier to Flynn at the White House. But we’ve never learned what was in it or what happened to it. Sam found there’s a significant additional backstory that had heretofore gone unreported. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker pitched his peace plan and dossier while he and Sater were already working on putting together a business deal to refurbish all Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear power plants and begin exporting energy to neighboring countries in Eastern Europe. Said Sater: “We were working on a business deal for about five months, and he kept telling me about the peace deal, and as the Trump administration won, that’s when I delivered it [the peace deal] to them.” Check out our full story.
This morning there is news that there will – for now – be no change in the US military’s policy toward transgender service members. The news comes in the form of a letter shared with members of the press from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.
You can see the letter here.
If the facts of the situation are as they appear this morning, in his first days on the job, Anthony Scaramucci has managed to become a compressed, crystallized version of all the ridiculousness of Trumpism. He has gone to the unprecedented and almost unimaginable extremity of publicly accusing the White House Chief of Staff of a felony and demanding the FBI investigate him for that crime. While Scaramucci does not report to Reince Priebus (itself highly unusual), Priebus still at least nominally outranks him in the White House’s organizational hierarchy.
We’ve discussed at some length how President Trump destroys everything he touches. Trump’s own damaged, malignant personality is no great mystery. The world has no shortage of malicious predators or others who are so damaged that they sow chaos and hurt wherever they go. It’s our national misfortune that Trump has attained such power. But the existence of such a person is no mystery. There’s no shortage of them. What is difficult to understand, what requires some explanation is the way Trump is able to destroy those around him. Not once or twice but again and again, repeatedly, in a pattern so consistent that it becomes more inexplicable over time as new victims appear insensible to the unmistakeable pattern they have seen unfold along with us.
At one level this is obvious. But the bizarre behavior and sheer awkwardness of the situation can obscure a simple fact: the entirety of President Trump’s battle with Jeff Sessions is about obstructing the Russia probe. The anger began over his recusal (and grew as the consequences of that recusal became more apparent) and continues with the President’s desire to replace him with another Attorney General who will help him end the investigation or at least remove Robert Mueller from leading it. That is the only thing this is about.
We’ve got a swarm of news today. But I need to remind you that we are trying to sign up 304 new subscribers by the end of July. To do that, we need a couple big days before the end of the month. I’m trying to focus on reporting rather than pushes for more subscribers. Help me do more of the former than the latter. If you’re thinking about joining up, if you’ve been putting it off, please take a moment to do it today.