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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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Reports this week that the front office of the Civil Rights Division under Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be running a project to investigate universities whose affirmative action policies purportedly discriminate against white students brought a chill that was all too familiar for some former Justice Department officials.

These former officials warned that a direct line could be drawn from the politicized hirings that got the division in trouble during the George W. Bush administration to a reported internal job posting that requested division attorneys interested in working on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions” submit their resumes by Aug. 9.

John Dunne, assistant attorney general for civil rights under George H.W. Bush, told TPM that the situation was a “duplicate of what happened in the Bush II administration, when the front office, which was totally politically motivated, disregarded professionals’ opinion on issues when it came to initiating litigation.”

Former officials sounded the alarm that the Trump administration appeared to be taking the reins away from career civil servants who typically handle such investigations and refer cases. Political appointees often reside in what colloquially is known as the “front office” and come and go with administrations; the New York Times and Washington Post reported that the front office was handling the project on affirmative action programs.

So far, the DOJ has confirmed only that it is reviewing a 2015 complaint alleging that Harvard University discriminates against Asian-American students.

“If there is sufficient evidence that there is discrimination against Asians or other groups, the section should look into it,” Dunne said. “What I’m concerned about is that this investigation is really being initiated more by the Attorney General and the White House and political decisions, rather than something [else] that should have more attention.”

At least four other former officials in the civil rights division interviewed by TPM agreed that any discrimination against students based on race should be investigated, but that the decision to do should be based on strong evidence found by the career attorneys in the Education Opportunities Section who specialize in that work. They cautioned that admissions discrimination against white or Asian students by race is exceedingly rare, and that only career staffers should also be assigned to work on any relevant investigations that may crop up.

The Post reported that a number of career staffers specializing in education issues refused to work on the project, prompting the front office to take control of it themselves.

“The fact that the front office would be staffing this and doing it by looking at resumes is a big red flag,” Justin Levitt, deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division under Obama, told TPM. “When I was in the Justice Department, I staffed precisely zero cases by asking for resumes and I saw precisely zero cases staffed by looking at resumes.”

Explaining that case assignments typically come down to interest, time, experience, and the recommendations of section managers, Levitt said “you don’t need resumes for any of that.”

“You need resumes if what you really want is to check out where they might have worked before, or what clubs they were part of when they were in law school, all sorts of things that are not proper considerations for making case assignments,” he continued.

The DOJ did not address specific questions from TPM as to which staffers would oversee the review of the Harvard case, which was filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in 2015 and left unresolved by the Obama administration.

“The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed” by those associations, DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

“This Department of Justice has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general,” the statement continued. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”

During the George W. Bush years, political appointees assumed an expanded role in hiring staff and brought on conservative attorneys who often had little experience working in civil rights law; they were ultimately reprimanded in a report by the DOJ inspector general. Earlier this year, civil rights groups raised similar concerns after conservative legal activists sent Sessions a letter urging him not to leave hiring to “career bureaucrats who are reliably opposed to President Trump’s agenda.”

Affirmative action critics, several of whom signed that letter, said that they were unbothered by comparisons to the Bush era.

“It’s no surprise that this change in policy has to be done by the front office since these rather radical lawyers in the civil rights division would not move forward as the President and the Attorney General want to do,” said William Perry Pendley, president and CEO of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which has advocated against affirmative action policies since the 1980s.

“The DOJ, particularly the Civil Rights Division, has become intensely partisan,” said John Eastman, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Reagan administration. “I see this as a very salutary development, one designed to yield enforcement priorities in line with the results of the last election—as it should be.”

Former division staffers disputed that characterization, telling TPM that back-office employees span various administrations and tend to be law enforcement types who do the work they are assigned to carry out even if they disagree with it personally.

For now, Trump’s civil rights division seems to be looking at the Harvard case alone. But advocates on both sides of the aisle believe that’s just a first step.

Roger Clegg, a former top official in the civil rights division during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, expressed “hope” that this “long overdue” look at affirmative action policies “will not be limited to just one case, but will be undertaken in a more systematic matter.”

Given the views that Sessions, Trump, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have voiced on the subject, that seems to be a solid prediction.

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The House Oversight Committee wants to review any information that ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn’s former business partner may have about the retired lieutenant general’s foreign contacts.

In a Thursday letter, the top Democrat on the committee requested that Bijan Kian turn over “all documents and communications” related to Flynn’s work-related “foreign person contacts,” “professional work relationships with foreign businesses” and foreign travel.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wants all of that information by Aug. 16 as part of the committee’s probe into the lobbying work that Kian and Flynn’s intelligence consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, did for foreign clients. One major project carried out during the campaign was later determined to principally benefit the government of Turkey.

Both Flynn and Kian retroactively registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for that project, which Kian reportedly spearheaded.

As Cummings notes in his letter, Kian, who served as a personal reference for Flynn when he filed for a security clearance reinvestigation in early 2016, told FBI investigators at the time that Flynn “did not have foreign government connections.”

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), did not co-sign Cummings’ letter.

Federal investigators are also interested in the role Kian played in the lobbying work, Reuters reported in June. The Iranian-American businessman was responsible for securing and managing the day-to-day details of this project on behalf of Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman. Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 for this contract, which brought Flynn under the scrutiny of Justice Department officials concerned that he did not properly file under FARA.

Flynn was ultimately asked to resign from the Trump administration for his failure to properly disclose his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign, as well as payments he received from Russian companies and Alptekin.

Kian has not spoken out since the investigation into Flynn became public.

Read Cummings’ letter below:

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A former Justice Department official specializing in fraud and illegal foreign bribery cases has become the sixteenth lawyer on the special counsel team investigating into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Josh Stueve, a spokesperson for special counsel Robert Mueller, confirmed the hiring of attorney Greg Andres to Reuters.

During his two-year tenure at the DOJ, Andres served as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, overseeing the fraud unit and program that targeted illegal foreign bribery. Prior to joining to DOJ in 2010, he was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, where he prosecuted several members of the Bonanno organized crime family.

Andres will add his expertise to a team with years of experience in national security, money laundering, cybercrime, and public corruption cases.

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There has been plenty of criticism of President Donald Trump’s remarks encouraging rank-and-file officers to rough up suspects from big-city police departmentspolice reform groups and the Democratic National Committee.

But another harsh condemnation came from a particularly notable source: the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg.

In a memo to agency employees written the day after Trump’s speech and circulated widely on Tuesday, Rosenberg wrote that the President “condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement.”

Rosenberg’s matter-of-fact rebuke to Trump’s self-styled claim to be as the “law-and-order” President comes from a veteran of Republican and Democratic administrations who has worked on counterterrorism, drug enforcement and espionage cases during his decades-long tenure at the FBI and Justice Department.

The White House and its defenders have brushed off criticism of the remarks, insisting Trump was just making a “joke” that liberal detractors were taking too seriously. One of the country’s top law enforcement officials apparently did not interpret it that way.

“I write because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong,” Rosenberg wrote in the memo, referring to Trump’s remarks. “That’s what law enforcement officers do.  That’s what you do. We fix stuff. At least, we try.”

Former FBI Director James Comey has praised Rosenberg, who worked under him as chief of staff, as “one of the finest people and public servants I have ever known,” while former Attorney General Loretta Lynch called him “an exceptional leader, a skilled problem solver and a consummate public servant of unshakeable integrity.”

Rosenberg’s criticism also is notable given his past advocacy on issues important to the current administration. Appointed in 2015 as interim DEA director, Rosenberg drew criticism from the Obama administration for echoing concerns that the so-called “Ferguson effect” was having a chilling effect on police officers unable to properly carry out their jobs because they feared intensified public scrutiny. He also broke with the Obama DOJ in his vigorous enforcement of marijuana crimes, and was widely criticized by legalization advocates for calling medical marijuana a “joke.”

Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a priority of rolling out pro-policing policies, and Sessions has pushed for the strict prosecution of drug crimes. The Trump administration has not nominated to replace Rosenberg and CNN reported that the transition team explicitly made clear that he would be asked to stay in his position under the new president.

Rosenberg is a federal government lifer who first joined the DOJ as an assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia’s Eastern District in 1994. He rose through the ranks, working as U.S. attorney both for the Southern District of Texas and Eastern District of Virginia and in senior DOJ posts, including as chief of staff to Comey, counselor to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and counselor to Robert Mueller, who is now leading the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference.

Another close ally of Comey, LawFare editor Benjamin Wittes, wrote in a post Tuesday that Rosenberg and his former boss share a similar view of the paramount importance of “apolitical, ethical law enforcement.” According to Wittes, it was not a surprise that a high-ranking law enforcement officer with Rosenberg’s background would denounce Trump’s comments.

What was surprising, he said, is that “it is the acting head of the DEA, not either the attorney general or the deputy attorney general, who has had the guts to say semi-publicly what everyone knows to be true: that President’s Trump’s approach to law enforcement is dangerous.”

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Confirming reports that President Donald Trump fumes about the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference to any White House staffer or journalist on hand, his deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka told the BBC on Monday that they’ve chatted about the probe behind closed doors.

These private discussions, which Gorka also claimed to have had with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, make him a potential fact witness for special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation is reportedly looking into whether Trump has attempted to obstruct justice ; Trump and his associates’ business and real estate dealings; and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives to secure his electoral victory.

In the testy interview, BBC’s Stephen Sackur asked how Gorka could have the “arrogance” to insist that the Russia investigation is a so-called “nothing burger,” since he has “no idea what [special counsel] Robert Mueller is collecting.”

“You can insult me on television,” Gorka replied, “but I actually work for the President of the United States. And when he tells me there’s nothing there, privately, and when Jared [Kushner] tells me there’s nothing there, you know what? I’m going to actually trust my employer.”

Sackur reiterated that Gorka could have no idea what Mueller and his team of high-powered attorneys were digging up.

“I know what the President of the United States told me and that’s enough for me,” Gorka insisted. “Because I trust that man. I have no connection to Robert Mueller.”

Those comments add Gorka to a long list of known and potential fact witnesses that Mueller’s team may want to question regarding the President’s deliberations about the Russia probe.

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When federal investigators are determining whether an individual attempted to obstruct justice, they look for patterns of behavior and evidence of intent.

The Washington Post on Monday night added another piece to the obstruction puzzle that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is trying to put together, reporting that President Donald Trump had personally dictated a deeply misleading statement that went out to the press under his eldest son’s name and obscured the true purpose of Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.

As the Post noted, it’s unclear how much the President knew at the time of the statement’s release about the meeting Trump Jr. attended in order to receive dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin-directed effort to help his father’s campaign. But the President reportedly overruled the advice of his family members, senior aides and private legal team to personally craft a brief statement claiming that the meeting was focused only on a defunct program allowing U.S. citizens to adopt Russian children.

One of his attorneys, Jay Sekulow, has insisted that Trump “wasn’t involved” in any way in putting the statement together as the President and his aides flew back to the U.S. on Air Force One from the July G-20 summit in Germany.

Their initial inaccurate response proved to be incredibly damaging as the full, accurate details about the meeting and its participants trickled out.

It’s not a crime for the administration to provide false or misleading information to the press. But the statement Trump reportedly dictated marks his latest effort to obfuscate a subject of interest in the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, which he has consistently dismissed as a partisan “witch hunt.”

Mueller’s team reportedly demonstrated great interest in both the meeting and the White House’s role in covering it up. Mueller’s office asked the White House to preserve all documents related to “subjects discussed” in the meeting and “any decisions made regarding the recent disclosures about” it to the media, CNN reported.

Questions about whether Trump’s actions amounted to intervening to alter the course of federal investigations into his campaign and associates date back as far as February, when he reportedly asked then-FBI director James Comey to drop a probe into the foreign lobbying work of his ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn. That alleged request, as well as separate requests that Comey swear personal loyalty and help lift the “cloud” of the Russia investigation, came to light shortly after Trump abruptly dismissed his FBI chief in May.

It was Comey’s firing itself that reportedly prompted federal agents to open an inquiry into whether the President had attempted to obstruct justice. Trump made it explicitly clear that he got rid of Comey because of his oversight of the Russia investigation, both in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt and in an Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials in which Trump bragged about the “great pressure” taken off him by the departure of that “real nut job” Comey.

As Cornell Law School professor Jens Ohlin previously told TPM, those statements provided the “proof” of Trump’s desire to have the Russia investigation go away.

“Trump just flat-out said it on national television,” Ohlin said. “So what would normally be the most difficult part of the investigation is not difficult at all. The whole world has the evidence.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s team of personal lawyers is taking all manner of steps to discredit Mueller’s office and the work they are carrying out. They’ve pointed to Mueller’s acquaintance with Comey at the FBI and donations that lawyers working on the special counsel’s probe have made to Democrats to claim that the office cannot carry out a credible investigation.

Trump continues to tweet about the “phony” investigation, and his legal team also is reportedly digging through the backgrounds of Mueller’s staff and top reporters who have worked on the Russia story to procure damaging information about them. He spent almost two weeks smearing and toying with firing his longtime ally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation—a move Trump blames for the appointment of Mueller to oversee the probe.

The President is even preemptively weighing pardons for himself and his family members, as his recently fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci acknowledged last week.

It may be, as the President’s allies told the Post, that Trump simply doesn’t grasp the legal implications of his actions and sees the Russia probe as a family public relations problem that he alone can set right.

But his denials, obfuscations and personal interventions in matters of interest to the special counsel’s office aren’t helping him make his case.

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Mooch, we hardly knew you.

After less than two weeks, walking gaffe machine Anthony Scaramucci was removed from his role as White House communications director on Monday in what marks the shortest tenure yet for a Trump administration official.

Scaramucci’s ouster comes with trimmings fit for a soap opera. After promising to root out all the West Wing leakers in graphic terms and scrubbing his Twitter account of past messages disparaging his new boss in the Oval Office, Scaramucci went off-message in spectacular fashion during an expletive-filled rant against then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to the New Yorker. The next day, the New York Post reported that Scaramucci’s wife and the mother of his newborn, Deirdre Ball, had filed for divorce. The sale of his investment firm SkyBridge Capital, initiated in January in the hopes of securing a White House post, remains in the balance.

Scarmucci entered the Trump administration less with a wife, high-powered job and a company. He departs it with nothing.

The bombastic communications director’s departure was particularly abrupt, but there are many flavors of Trump administration flame-outs. Some, like Scaramucci’s predecessor Mike Dubke, simply resigned. Some, like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, were Obama administration holdovers forced out over ideological disagreements. And others, like the Mooch, were Trump loyalists felled by in-fighting.

To keep things simple, here is a rundown of the staffers explicitly forced out by the administration thus far.

Sally Yates departs over travel ban

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was dismissed in late January hours after ordering the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s immigration executive order barring immigrants and refugees from a handful of majority-Muslim countries. The swift decision was announced in a statement calling Yates “an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

Yates, a career federal prosecutor, later revealed to the New Yorker that she received no warning from the administration about the travel ban rollout and spent the chaotic weekend after it went into effect scrambling to craft an official DOJ response. She got a degree of revenge against the administration when she testified before the Senate about her repeated, unheeded warnings to the White House about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s inappropriate contacts with Russian officials.

Michael Flynn forced to resign by the White House

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was the next to go. Though the Trump administration reportedly had no qualms about bringing on a national security adviser who was under DOJ investigation for his foreign lobbying work, a steady stream of damaging stories about Flynn’s contacts with Russians ultimately prompted Trump to ask for his resignation just before Valentine’s Day.

Trump, who reportedly does not like confronting his subordinates with tough news, dispatched chief strategist Steve Bannon to ask Flynn to step down. Trump has defended Flynn to the press in the months since, and former FBI director James Comey even testified that the President asked him, during a one-on-one meeting, to let the federal Flynn investigation go. Flynn remains under federal investigation for his contacts with Russian officials and lobbying on behalf of Turkey.

Preet Bharara is fired for refusing to step down

The powerful U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York made the terms of his departure clear. In a tweet sent out after Trump announced in March that all Obama-era U.S. attorneys had to resign, Preet Bharara said he did not resign and was instead “fired.”

Trump had promised Bharara that he would keep him in his post during a November Trump Tower meeting. The outspoken former U.S. attorney has since become a sharp thorn in the President’s side, critiquing his policies on cable news and opining on the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.

James Comey gets ousted by Trump’s longtime bodyguard

Removing the FBI director is a consequential decision no President takes lightly. Which is why Trump dispatched his former bodyguard-turned-White House aide Keith Schiller to deliver a note to FBI headquarters letting James Comey know he’d been canned. Comey was visiting agents in Los Angeles at the time and learned of the news on TV in front of his staff; he initially thought it was a prank.

Chaos ensued in D.C., where an unprepared White House staff first said they had no remarks before defending the firing in late-night TV appearances. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer huddled in the bushes outside the White House, fielding off-camera questions from reporters.

Comey ultimately went public about several inappropriate requests the President made of him in private meetings by having a friend leak memos to the press and testifying before Congress. His revelations resulted in the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe.

Michael Short resigns after Scaramucci said he’d fire him

The media found out that senior assistant press secretary Michael Short was getting the boot before he did. In his early crusade against leakers, Scaramucci revealed to the press that he was planning to fire longtime RNC hands like Short. Asked about the rumors, Short said “the entire premise is false.”

Scaramucci then said the rumors of Short’s firing, which he started, were an unfortunate leak that upset him “as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”

Perhaps sensing he was not long for the West Wing, Short promptly resigned.

Reince Priebus praises Trump for letting him go

After defending Trump throughout the 2016 campaign and taking a senior post in his administration, the White House chief of staff’s tenure came to an inglorious end on Friday. Scaramucci successfully convinced Trump that Priebus’ inability to contain leaks and coordinate legislation with Congress rendered him a liability, and that a change needed to be made.

Though Priebus insisted he actually tendered his resignation on Thursday, the day after Scaramucci called him a “paranoid schizophrenic” and threatened to sic the FBI and DOJ against him for leaking, Priebus gamely attended an anti-gang violence event in Long Island on Friday without giving any public indication of his plans to depart. He was officially terminated by Trump via Twitter while still on the airpot tarmac returning from that trip, and drove away in a black SUV alone.

Priebus spent that night and much of the weekend praising the President’s wise decision to let him go.

“[Trump] has the best political instincts,” Priebus told CNN. “He knows, I think, intuitively, when things need to change. He intuitively determined that it was time to do something differently and I think it was right.”

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Nobody puts the President in the corner.

That is the message Donald Trump has sent to Senate Republicans non-stop since a vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed in the early hours of Friday morning.

In a barrage of tweets over the weekend, Trump said Senate Republicans “look like fools,” called on them to abolish the legislative filibuster, and laid the blame for the failure of Obamacare repeal legislation he did nothing to help along squarely at their feet. He even threatened to strip some health care benefits away from lawmakers if they failed to act.

But six months into the administration, Senate Republicans are equally fed up with the impulsive President and have started to signal pushback on issues from Russia to Cabinet staffing decisions. With both the White House and GOP-controlled Congress desperate to secure their first major legislative win, escalating this conflict could be devastating for both.

“I think they’ve got to get a tax bill through now,” Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia and former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told TPM. “Republicans have got to show that they’re capable of governing.”

“My experience has been threatening members has never been a good way to get votes,” he added. “I was a deputy whip, I’ve seen this stuff, and it generally just does not work. You get a lot more with sugar and honey than you get with vinegar.”

“The strategy employed is naive and intrinsically counterproductive,” Jim Leach, who served as a Republican congressman from Iowa for 30 years, told TPM. “Threats to members of Congress are not the type of things that are easy to accede to and they’re not the type of things that are easily forgotten.”

“You might ask John McCain about that,” Leach added with a chuckle, referring to the Arizona senator’s deciding “no” vote on Obamacare repeal.

An unnamed ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and recently ousted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told CNBC’s John Harwood that this was just the beginning of a “war w/GOP Congress.” Trump’s allies seemed to affirm that, with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi telling the New York Times that “Congress should beware, our president will not give up on doing what’s right for the American people.”

Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) cautioned on Twitter that such a war “might appease [Trump] & his base, but destroying GOP Congress will only lead to Dem control in 18.”

Last week appeared to mark something of a turning point in Congress-White House relations. Trump’s sustained attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions prompted a wellspring of outrage from his former Capitol Hill colleagues, including close Trump administration allies. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump removed him. The President’s impromptu decision, announced on Twitter, to ban transgender people from military service was met with a similar wave of opposition from usually friendly quarters.

Archconservative Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has said that Trump’s tweeted policy statements and attacks on his own Cabinet threaten “his presidency.”

Both Senate and House Republicans also offered a rebuke to Trump’s efforts to strengthen his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin by passing a massive sanctions package against Russia with veto-proof majorities.

All of this, combined with a steady stream of palace intrigue stories detailing the discord in the West Wing, puts Trump in a weak negotiating position as he tries to convince congressional Republicans to take up healthcare repeal yet again or make progress on tax reform.

Some Republicans hope that the relocation of retired Gen. John Kelly from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House chief-of-staff position will help impose some order and facilitate legislative discussions with Congress. But time is running out.

“There’s no time in a presidential administration in which the energy level is higher and typically there’s no greater time that the public is more receptive to a president’s lead than the beginning,” Russell Riley, an expert on the U.S. presidency at the University of Virginia’s non-partisan Miller Center, had told TPM in the lead-up to Trump’s 100th day in office.

As Jolly warned, a failure to act on the promises GOP senators campaigned on during eight years of Democratic control could have devastating consequences in the 2018 midterms. Cutting lawmakers down at every pass may alleviate the President’s frustration with the progress of his agenda, but it won’t help the party electorally.

“As long as they’re having these back and forths, that’s not helping Republicans accomplish and get something done,” said Chris Herrod, a Republican former member of the Utah House of Representatives who is running to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

“I truly do believe there will be a big backlash if they’re not able to come through on a number of things, be it tax reform or health care reform,” Herrod continued. “If nothing gets done, waiting out the clock doesn’t bode well for Republicans.”

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Still blistering over the latest defeat of Obamacare repeal, Trump on Saturday threatened to do away with health care subsidies that affect both the poorest Americans and Congress.

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly,” Trump tweeted. “BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

The first part of his tweet is a reference to cost sharing reduction payments, subsidies that allow insurers to offset health-care costs for low-income Americans. Trump has threatened to withhold those subsidies before—a move that insurers and health care providers warn would destabilize the individual health insurance market and cause premiums to soar.

The second half of the missive indicates that Trump is going to continue to target his own GOP-controlled Congress for their inability to undo former President Obama’s signature achievement. Trump’s comment suggests he’d consider ending the employer contribution for health insurance currently provided to lawmakers.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for clarification.

Earlier Saturday, he accused Senate Republicans of “looking like fools” and urged them to abolish procedural rules like the filibuster immediately in order to make progress on healthcare.

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In just a little over a year, Reince Priebus went from respected GOP statesman to a discarded refugee of the Trump administration.

The road along the way has been paved with unending humiliations for the former Republican National Committee chairman.

Priebus was publicly undermined by President Donald Trump; overridden on staffing decisions by staffers junior to his position as chief of staff; and blamed by Trump’s base and the media for his failure to control the chaos in the West Wing and help shepherd legislation through Congress.

Setting aside his years of work to rebrand the Republican Party as one embracing of religious and ethnic minorities, Priebus gamely defended Trump administration policies like the travel ban against several majority-Muslim countries. He backed Trump’s musings about suing the press, and insisted reports of West Wing discord were “fake news.”

Then his turn finally came. The Trump family punching bag’s tenure in the White House puttered out on Friday as he was driven away from Joint Base Andrews in the rain, having just been publicly replaced by the President on Twitter. That night, Priebus would go on Hannity to earnestly thank his former boss for letting him go.

These are some of the worst humiliations Priebus endured since planting himself in Trump’s orbit.

Insisting he was not drinking booze for breakfast

Priebus had the unenviable task of leading his party through a painful, packed primary campaign with Trump at its helm. While the frontrunner gleefully lobbed bombs about the “rigged” process against him, Priebus worked to convince “Never Trump” donors and wary Republicans to unite behind Trump as best as possible.

“People assume oh, are you – you must be miserable. You’ve got a horrible job. But I don’t see it that way,” Priebus said in an April 2016 interview with CNN. “I’m not pouring Bailey’s in my cereal, I’m not sitting here trying to find a Johnnie Walker.”

Exactly what someone considering pouring Bailey’s in his cereal might say.

Fighting a Fox News host about Trump’s inauguration size

Shortly after Trump’s swearing-in, Priebus went on Fox News to lie to dispute photographic evidence that the President’s inauguration crowd was not, as he insisted, the largest in history. Host Chris Wallace, who was also in attendance, wasn’t having it.

“I was there on the Mall!” Wallace said, speaking over Priebus.
“I mean let me say first of all I think this is a ridiculous conversation, but there were huge areas. He said there were crowds all the way to the Washington Monument.”

“There was,” Priebus said. “I was sitting there.”

“Reince, there weren’t,” Wallace said, baffled.

Constant rumors of his departure started early

Rumors that Priebus would soon be dismissed started circulating within weeks of Trump taking office. In February, Newsmax CEO and Trump pal Chris Ruddy blamed Priebus for the botched rollout of the travel ban, calling him “way over his head.”

These rumors and comments from Trump allies would resurface any time the White House got into trouble. Priebus drew blame for the House’s failed first effort to repeal Obamacare and the torrent of leaks that have flooded from the West Wing since January. An entire genre of stories emerged of the Trump family reportedly tearing Priebus down to the President behind closed doors.

Asked the DOJ and FBI to quash negative stories

In one of his most outrageous moves in office, Priebus reportedly asked a top FBI official to dispute press reports that Trump campaign associates were in frequent touch with Russian officials during the campaign. Such requests would violate policies strictly limiting DOJ and White House communications, particularly about issues related to ongoing investigations.

But Priebus openly bragged about the calls on cable news, saying he’d heard from “
the top levels of the intelligence community” that the stories were false.

Serving as the President’s personal exterminator

Trump would occasionally ask Priebus to carry out tasks that would be cruel to give to an intern, like serving as Oval Office exterminator. He once summoned his chief of staff to the room in the middle of a meeting to kill a fly that was distracting him from the business at hand, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Getting the full Scaramucci treatment in the press

Priebus reportedly lost what was a six-month battle to keep Anthony Scaramucci out of the White House with his appointment last week as communications director. Furthermore, the President made clear, Scaramucci would report directly to him.

Scaramucci spent his fist week on the job eagerly shredding Priebus in the press. This culminated with an astonishing New Yorker interview in which the communications director trashed the chief of staff as a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and threatened to sic the FBI and DOJ against him for leaking to the press.

Scaramucci also compared the two to Biblical brothers Cain and Abel, without mentioning that one ultimately killed the other. In the hours after Priebus was forced from the West Wing for good, Twitter was filled with cracks about Cain vanquishing his brother.

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LiveWire