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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Perhaps the White House had planned all along for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make an appearance at today's press briefing to rail against sanctuary cities. But the timing is consistent with what I've long feared will be the impulse for the Trump administration: When the going gets rough (failed Obamacare repeal, low poll numbers, etc), it will fall back on appeals to racism and xenophobia to regain political footing.

With so much incompetence taking root, it's not difficult to envision a scenario where those base appeals must become more amped up, extreme, and scurrilous to be "effective." It threatens to turn into a vicious cycle the likes of which we've never seen in this country.

The adventures of Devin Nunes keep getting more bizarre and hard to figure. To be clear, the same can be said for the entire l'affaire russe, but the sideshow that Nunes has become really has no recent parallels. Now we've got the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee confirming that he met with an anonymous source at the White House complex last week so that he could review the source's information in a secure location. This meeting came the day before Nunes' bizarre announcements to the press and briefing of President Trump that the communications of some members of the transition team had been picked up incidentally by American intelligence surveilling foreign nationals.

I mentioned the two likely possibilities today are that the Obamacare repeal bill barely passes or fails by a lot. The third possibility, not to be ruled out, is that in the face of an overwhelming defeat, Ryan might pull the bill. That's contrary to the big talk from the White House that the negotiating is over and it's time to vote. But letting a major bill go down to stunning defeat is not in the normal Speaker playbook. With the votes apparently not there, Ryan is heading to the White House to talk to President Trump.

Stay tuned.

It's been very difficult for a number of days to see how Paul Ryan cobbles together enough votes to pass this mess of a bill. But my touchstone has been, logic and math aside, that the GOP simply cannot afford to let Obamacare repeal die. That scale of a political flop on such an important issue this early in the new era of GOP-unified government would be a catastrophe that no party would willingly endure. But the numbers are the numbers. You have to have the votes. And right now it's not at all clear that they do.

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