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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

President Donald Trump on Monday said he thinks Democratic lawmakers will be scapegoated for turmoil in the insurance market kicked off by Trump’s announcement last week that he would end cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers.

“I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess. This is an Obamacare mess,” Trump said at a cabinet meeting.

The President said Congress is working on a “short-term fix” for the turmoil caused by his own move to sabotage Obamacare.

“Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. It’s no longer — don’t — you shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” Trump said. “When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor health care delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats.”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in August, however, that ending CSR payments would drive up premiums for those who benefit from the subsidies.

The White House on Thursday night claimed it was ending the payments because former President Barack Obama’s administration “overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution” by making them.

But Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon on Saturday said the White House ended CSR payments to “blow up” Obamacare.

Bannon also said that his priority in the near future is “a season of war against the GOP establishment.”

Asked about his former top adviser’s remarks, Trump on Monday told reporters that Bannon “is very committed” and that he “can understand how Steve Bannon feels.”

“He’s a friend of mine and he’s very committed to getting things passed,” Trump said. “I mean, look. Despite what the press writes, I have great relationships with actually many senators, but in particular with most Republican senators. But we’re not getting the job done.”

“And I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest,” he added. “They are not getting the job done.”

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday insisted that the United States will remain in the Iran nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would likely pull the U.S. out of the deal unless Congress and the other nations in the seven-country accord made a handful of adjustments he demanded.

“Let’s see if we cannot address the flaws in the agreement by staying within the agreement, working with the other signatories, working with our European friends and allies within the agreement,” Tillerson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He said “that may come in a secondary agreement as well.”

“So we want to take the agreement as it exists today, as I said, fully enforce that agreement, be very demanding of Iran’s compliance under the agreement, and then begin the process of addressing these flaws that we see,” Tillerson said.

“Before the Senate not long ago, your counterpart at the Pentagon, Secretary Mattis, was asked if he thought staying in the agreement was in the best interests of the United States,” Jake Tapper said, referring to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “It sounds like you agree with that as well.”

“I do agree with that,” Tillerson said. “And I think the President does as well.”

“I think what you’re going to see is the President’s going to work very closely with Congress to try and come up with something that is more proportionate,” Haley said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“I think right now, you’re going to see us stay in the deal. Because what we hope is that we can improve the situation,” she said. “We’re in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of the deal.”

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Lawyers for former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, who alleged in October 2016 that Donald Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her years earlier, served a subpoena on Trump’s campaign asking that it preserve all documents about Zervos and the other women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

BuzzFeed News first reported on the subpoena, which was issued in March but entered into the file of Zervos’ defamation lawsuit against Trump in September.

Zervos’ lawyers asked Trump’s campaign to preserve and produce “all documents concerning any accusations that were made during Donald J. Trump’s election campaign for president, that he subjected any woman to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexually inappropriate behavior.”

Trump’s lawyers have sought to dismiss Zervos’ lawsuit. In July, they claimed the subpoena was “far reaching” and “intended solely to harass” Trump.

Gloria Allred, Zervos’ attorney, provided the subpoena in September as evidence against that claim.

“We are hopeful that the court will deny President Trump’s motion to dismiss, so that we may move forward with discovery,” Allred told BuzzFeed News.

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United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday insisted that President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “work very well together.”

“I’ve been in the room with them many times. They continue to work strongly together,” Haley said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“To your understanding, does the President have full confidence in Secretary Tillerson?” Chuck Todd asked Haley.

“Yes he does,” Haley said. “Yes he does.”

She said Trump and Tillerson “work very well together.”

“There’s a mutual respect,” Haley said. “And if there’s a problem, that’s really a question for Secretary Tillerson.”

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday said that “diplomatic efforts” with North Korea will “continue until the first bomb drops,” regardless of President Donald Trump’s remarks appearing to indicate otherwise.

“He wants this solved diplomatically. He is not seeking to go to war,” Tillerson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts, which we are,” he added. “As I’ve told others, those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Earlier in October, Trump advised Tillerson via Twitter that he was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Save your energy Rex,” he tweeted. “We’ll do what has to be done!”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a key moderate Republican, on Sunday said she was “very disappointed” in President Donald Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, his latest move to sabotage Obamacare.

“I’m very disappointed in the President’s actions of this past week,” Collins said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

She said “the debate in Washington has been whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the future.”

“What the President is doing is affecting people’s access and the cost of health care right now, and I don’t agree with his decision on the subsidies,” Collins said. “Congress needs to step in, and I hope that the President will take a look at what we’re doing.”

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President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked a New York Times reporter by name for not mentioning enough of what Trump cited as his own accomplishments in an article evaluating whether the President is working to fulfill his campaign promises.

Trump on Sunday criticized the New York Times, which he claimed is “failing,” for a “story by Peter Baker” that he said failed to mention his “rapid terminations” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Paris climate accord, his approval of two different pipelines or the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice.

Baker on Saturday wrote in a New York Times piece headlined “Promise the Moon? Easy for Trump. But Now Comes the Reckoning” that Trump’s “expansive language has not been matched by his actions during this opening phase of his presidency.”

“A question for the president is whether partial actions will satisfy supporters demanding a full repudiation of the Obama era,” Baker wrote. “Mr. Trump often gives the impression with his public comments that he has gone further than he actually has.”

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday again declined to deny that he called President Donald Trump a “moron.”

“Is it true? Did you call him a moron?” Jake Tapper asked Tillerson on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’m just not going to dignify the question,” Tillerson replied.  “I call the President ‘Mr. President.’ He and I have a very, very open, frank and candid relationship.”

Responding to reports that Tillerson openly characterized him as a “moron” earlier in the year, Trump said, “If he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

“He made a joke,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday of Trump’s remark. “The President certainly never implied that the secretary of state was not incredibly intelligent.”

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President Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon on Saturday said Trump ended cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which subsidize insurers for keeping out-of-pocket costs down for low-income individuals, to “blow up” Obamacare.

“Gonna blow that thing up,” he said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit. “Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?”

The White House on Thursday night claimed it was ending the payments, a blatant move to sabotage Obamacare, because former President Barack Obama’s administration “overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution” by making the payments.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in August that ending CSR payments would drive up premiums for those who benefit from the subsidies by 20 percent by 2018 and 25 percent by 2020.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday called Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) a “particularly important part of the budget debate” and declined to comment on Corker’s remarkably critical remarks about President Donald Trump.

“Sen. Corker is a valuable member of the Senate Republican caucus,” McConnell said, according to Associated Press reporter Adam Beam. “He’s also on the budget committee and a particularly important player as we move to the floor on the budget next week and he’s an important part of our team.”

Asked to respond to Corker’s criticisms of the President, McConnell said, “He’s an important part of our team and he’s a particularly important part of the budget debate which will be on the floor next week.”

Corker announced in September that he will retire in 2018, but until then, he remains in the Senate, and suggested last week that he would be willing to vote against a Republican tax plan if it increases the deficit.

Trump on Sunday claimed Corker “begged” him for an endorsement and “didn’t have the guts” to run without one.

Corker responded by calling the White House “an adult day care center.”

His chief of staff Todd Womack said Trump called Corker “early last week and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election and reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times.”

On top of that, Corker told the New York Times that he worried Trump could set the United States “on the path to World War III” and has undermined “negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out.”

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker said, suggesting that other Republican senators share his concerns. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”

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