I know I’m harping on this point. But again, the fallacy of policy literalism. It has always been crystal clear for numerous reasons that the Senate health care repeal bill would be the like the House bill, both versions, just as it will be like the final bill that emerges from a conference committee. McConnell and Ryan knew that ball hiding about scores and legislative language would prevent reporters from saying this: Around 24 million Americans will lose their coverage, everyone will go back to the era of pre-existing conditions restrictions and lifetime limits. The freed up money will go to a big tax cut for the very wealthy. You didn’t need to see the legislative language to know this. It’s been a failure of journalism to pretend otherwise.

The best analog to President Trump’s stance toward the Russia probe and his refusal to accept that Russian interference even happened is a husband who is suspected in his wife’s disappearance and repeatedly insists that she’s probably on a beach in Aruba having a good laugh at his expense.

In any normal circumstance, by any conventional standard, Trump’s attitude and actions are ones that are only consistent with guilt. He has not only repeatedly insisted on his innocence, which the innocent and guilty do in equal measure, but insisted that the crime itself never actually happened. On top of this, using his unique powers as President, he has repeatedly taken actions to end the investigation into his campaign. The most blatant example was firing the FBI Director with the stated goal of relieving the pressure of the Russia probe. But that’s just the most glaring example.
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Over the last two days I’ve seen several mentions of one argument about what happened in the Georgia 6 special election. Simply, it goes like this: Democrats were stupid because it was obvious they wouldn’t win as long as so many potential voters were disenfranchised either by felony disenfranchisement, onerous voter ID laws, permissive voter roll purges or other laws that limit voting. Nothing will change until that changes.

This is profoundly misguided and demoralizing when it comes to the effort to actually bring about change.
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This morning former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House committee investigating Russia’s 2016 election subversion campaign. In the course of the hearing we heard the jarring information that Johnson only heard about the initial hacking into the DNC network sometime in 2016, months after the FBI first learned of the intrusion in the summer of 2015. Johnson said he was told that the FBI had contacted the DNC about the intrusion but was told “they don’t want our help.”

This sounds hard to fathom on a number of levels. There is no question that it delayed any more aggressive law enforcement posture as the hacking campaign continued and escalated over the course of 2016. Indeed, during the hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) jumped in to press the point that the DNC was significantly responsible for what happened since it refused any involvement from federal law enforcement.

This also sounds bewildering. But remember: this isn’t the first we’ve heard about this story. It is a highly misleading rendition of what happened and absolves the FBI of its own pretty clear responsibility for what happened.
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We’re now down to 408 membership sign ups we need to get to our June goal! A tall order in 9 days but just barely doable. If you’re considering signing up for Prime, make it today. Just click right here. A strong, independent journalism organization is built on its relationship with its audience, a community of committed readers. 21,591 TPM Readers have become subscribers so far. We need more of you to come on board. Make it today: click right here.

Update: Now just 374!

Update: Now just 343!

Update: Now just 328!

President Donald Trump meets with Russian Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, in the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. At right is Russian Ambassador to USA Sergei Kislyak. President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed Vladimir Putin's top diplomat to the White House for Trump’s highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January. (Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP)

This morning I had the chance to read David Brooks column pooh-poohing the Russia probe and the scandal engulfing the Trump administration. There are many things I could say about it. But I’ve resolved to be nicer and less cutting in my writing, or to do the contrary only when it is inextricably tied to explaining and conveying points of substance. Certainly this is a resolution that won’t last long.
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We currently have 459 Prime membership sign ups to go before the end of the month to reach our goal for June – 22,000 total subscribers. That’s just barely doable. If you thought of signing up earlier, if you’re planning to, take a moment right now and become a member. It’s easy, just 14 cents a day, gives you an awesomer version of TPM and keeps us a vital, growing organization. Click here.

Update: Now down to 448!

Update: Now down to 418!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters as Republicans prepare to use their majority to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, despite calls from Democrats to delay until requested emails are released, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Republicans are driving at a breakneck speed to abolish Obamacare and throw more than twenty million people off their health insurance coverage. The damage will be far greater when you figure in the loss of protections for people with pre-existing conditions and those who’ve benefited from various other Obamacare regulations. Senate Republicans’ main weapon in this effort has been total secrecy, which has had the effect of killing debate and discussion since there’s actually nothing concrete – no specific CBO score or legislative text or even outline – to discuss.

This, frankly, is silly.
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We’ve had a great response in the last few days for our on-going, annual membership drive. We are trying to sign up 500 members by the of the month – actually we need 514 to get to a total of 22,000 subscribers. That’s a lot by June 30th. But it’s just barely doable. If you’ve been waiting for the right moment. THIS IS THE RIGHT MOMENT. Why is it important? I explain here and here.  Seriously, if you’re a regular TPM Reader, take this moment to become a member. Just click here. And thanks.

Mike Flynn has been out at the White House for more than four months. He is, we are told, in the most serious kind of legal trouble. Yet the political ghost of Mike Flynn still seems to be a hidden hand driving outcomes in the Trump White House. Maybe it’s even Flynn himself.

Allow me to explain.
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I got an email from a TPM Reader and Prime member on Friday evening who said we shouldn’t put our longform articles behind a paywall. This is a minority opinion among subscribers, at least as far as I can tell. But TPM Reader JG isn’t the only one. And it’s an issue we’ve given a lot of thought to ourselves. So I wanted to answer the question for everyone because I want readers and subscribers to understand our goals, thought process, reasons, etc.
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President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Today we are apparently having a discussion about whether the President is in fact under investigation. Or perhaps it’s better to say, Trump’s lawyers (or his TV lawyer, legal activist Jay Sekulow) are having this discussion since no one else seems to have any question that he is. What makes this discussion so weird is that not only does the President appear to be the subject of an investigation but as a factual matter there’s almost no question that he’s guilty. As far as I can see, the real question isn’t factual but rather constitutional.

Here’s what I mean.
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As the director of National Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) Renewable Energy Policy Initiative, Nathanael Greene specializes in researching, analyzing, and influencing policies related to utility regulation, energy tax, and energy efficiency. Greene has written about the benefits of renewable energy policies on a state level, a topic especially relevant now that several states have formed a state climate coalition after Trump pulled the U.S out of the Paris agreement. Nathanael will be in The Hive on Thursday, June 22nd at 2 PM EST for a chat about renewable energy, climate change, and policies to combat climate change. Submit your questions at any time or join us on Thursday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

Early this week, Time Inc. laid off 300 employees across its properties. On Wednesday, Huffpost laid off 39 employees. Then later that day Vocativ, another digital media site, laid off its entire editorial staff. Huffpost’s layoffs were part of a much larger retrenchment (2,100 layoffs) at Oath, the new company which combines what used to be Yahoo and AOL. Both are now owned by Verizon. Yet, while this is happening, TPM is expanding.

I’ve been doing this for almost 17 years. In that time I’ve seen all the challenges of this very challenging business, digital news publishing. So I want to be crystal clear that this is anything but gloating or taking the remotest pleasure in the challenging transitions that others are having. I’ve been there. My point in raising this is that the difference – why we’re here and they’re there – is no coincidence. And the reason is you.

Allow me to explain.
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“God, this is going to make me sound pathetic, but it feels a little bit like getting dumped by your girlfriend. It feels a little like that.” That’s “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer describing the experience of getting jilted by Trump when he went all Goldman Sachs and went low energy on mass deportation. It’s our latest Prime longform. Definitely check it out. You’ll love it.

It is very difficult to get my head around the question of whether President Trump will fire Robert Mueller. Trump’s personal attack on Mueller yesterday followed by a personal attack on Rod Rosenstein this morning portends a trajectory that ends with the firing of both men. We don’t know that will happen. The consequences of it happening are so dire that it is hard to imagine it will happen. Yet that appears to be more or less precisely what happened with James Comey. Trump is a man of anger and predictable habits. It would be naive in the extreme to assume Trump won’t eventually fire both men.
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President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Below, I wrote about yesterday’s WaPo blockbuster which confirmed what seemed likely: that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey and taking other actions with the aim of ending or diverting the Russia probe. Two other articles came out yesterday evening – one in the Times and another in the Journal – which added a few more details.

The pieces mainly follow and rehash the WaPo piece. But let me focus on a couple points.
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This seemed pretty clear based on circumstantial evidence and James Comey’s testimony last week. But The Washington Post is reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice. That’s zero to obstruction in under 5 months, amazing and genuinely impressive in the sense of achievement in corrupt behavior and malicious intent.

Donald Trump. He’s doing great work. And people are noticing.

Earlier I noted that events like this remind us that America is a uniquely violent society when judged against societies and states which have had relative political stability over the last two centuries. As I noted, four of 45 US Presidents have been murdered in office and more than that number again have survived serious assassination attempts. No other countries which have comparable histories over the same period come even close.

But I got an interesting email from TPM Reader VB in Germany.
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Police and emergency personnel are seen near the scene where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. was shot during a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017.  (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Authorities in DC and Virginia have yet to make a formal ID of the alleged shooter taken into custody in Alexandria this morning. But NBC, The Washington Post and other news outlets are identifying the alleged shooter as James T. Hodgkinson, 66 of Belleville, Illinois.

A Facebook page of a man with the same name, hometown and a college graduation which would make him approximately 66 years of age identifies the man as an ardent opponent of President Trump and supporter of Bernie Sanders. The Washington Post separately interviewed a St Louis restauranteur who says he became friends with Hodgkinson when they volunteered for the Sanders campaign in Iowa.

One of the many bad repercussions of this incident is that it will certainly intensify the already wildly high security around the Congress and basically all government buildings around Washington, DC. We talk a lot about excessive security, security theater and so forth. All of those things are true. It’s one of the most unfortunate things about American public life. And yet this incident is an example that America is a deeply violent country, not least of which a country in which political violence is a persistent theme of public life.
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Eyewitness accounts now identify the gunman as a heavy-set white male in his 40s or 50s. The Alexandria Police say the single suspect is in custody. He has not as yet been identified by name.

Earlier reports that the gunman asked the partisan identification of the people practicing before opening fire appears to have been in error, a good faith confusion of another person with the shooter. I’m not sure we can definitively rule that report out. But it now appears that report is at best unconfirmed and likely erroneous.

As you can see, we have a very serious breaking news story out of Washington, DC.

In Alexandria, Virginia, immediately across the Potomac River from DC, a gunman (so far unidentified) opened fire on a GOP baseball practice. (This is prep for an annual congressional baseball game that goes back more than a century.) There were apparently a large number of shots. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip and others were apparently injured. The Alexandria Police Department tweeted that the suspect is in custody.

We will be bringing you information as it becomes available.