Republicans Control Washington, Are Fractured As A Party… Can They Effectively Lead?

As the failed attempt to repeal and replace the ACA made clear to the nation the party controlling Washington DC is nearly as internally divided has as America itself. Something Trump can take at least partial credit for.

Time is short tonight as prior commitments are consuming our time. So, following is an excerpt from The Washington Post that makes the point well.

President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan made it a binary choice: You’re either for their health-care legislation or you’re for “Obamacare.”

From Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) to Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), spanning the party’s ideological spectrum, the answer came back Friday: No, it’s much more complex. It was filled with several different options and possible routes ahead, and dozens of Republicans agreed with their sentiment.

That left Republicans well short of the votes they needed to fulfill a seven-year promise to destroy the 2010 Affordable Care Act once they were fully in charge, delivering a stinging defeat to both Ryan and Trump.

It also suggested a new dynamic in which both the right and left flanks of the Republican conference are emboldened to challenge leadership. And that could make each future negotiation more difficult as the issue matrix gets more complicated and the pockets of internal GOP resistance continue to grow, not shrink, in the new era of Trump’s Republican-controlled Washington.

Some parts of these botched negotiations looked a lot like the recent past. Franks and his House Freedom Caucus cronies played the role of obstructionists who will buck party leaders no matter if it’s John A. Boehner, Ryan’s predecessor, or now Trump. These ideologues gobbled up tons of attention, resulting in much care from Trump, Vice President Pence and top West Wing advisers.

By lunchtime Friday, Franks still would not commit to publicly supporting the bill — even though he admitted it was far better than current law. “Of course it is, yeah, it’s a lot better than Obamacare, of course it is. There’s not even any comparison,” Franks said a few hours before the legislation went down in flames.

Franks remained upset that conservative proposals were left out of the bill because they would have violated Senate budget rules, meaning that the proposal to replace the ACA was nowhere near to his liking.

“That still is like putting dirt in ice cream,” he said.

Other parts of the negotiation, however, were new and quite different from the previous six years of Republican control of the House. Nothing capped this off more than the stunning announcement Friday morning from Frelinghuysen, just three months into his hold on the coveted Appropriations Committee gavel, that bucked leadership.

“Unfortunately, the legislation before the House today is currently unacceptable as it would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents,” he said in a statement.

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Democrats, who have been relied on in the past to backfill those lost conservative votes, have signaled they will not do so this time if the legislation includes funding for controversial measures such as Trump’s request for funding to build a border wall.

That messy task falls to Frelinghuysen’s committee — and it will become much more difficult for the new chairman to ask for loyalty votes on his legislation just a few weeks after he walked away from Ryan on the AHCA.

CONTINUE READING

UPDATE:

Below is a definite must read. With video,

Trump’s path forward only gets tougher after health-care fiasco

Trump and Ryan Fail To Pass Repeal and Replace…

The ACA remains the law for the foreseeable future. Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill did not have the votes to pass, primarily due to the curmudgeon conservatives that felt the bill did not go far enough to hurt the less fortunate.

In spite of Mr. Art of the Trump’s arm twisting and threats that members who failed to support the bill would lose their seats in 2018 Ryan couldn’t muster the votes. Realizing his failure Trump told the Speaker to pull the bill keeping in character blamed democrats for it failing.

Trump further said democrats would come to him when the ACA explodes. Presumably on their knees.

ABC – House Republican leaders decided to pull their Obamacare replacement bill at the last minute at the request of President Donald Trump — capping a rocky series of weeks since the controversial measure was introduced and an order from the president for legislators to put their cards on the table today.

A GOP aide tells ABC News that Trump called Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at 3 p.m. to tell him to pull the bill. The next House votes are scheduled for Monday, so no further votes are expected in the House for the day or the week.

“We’ve got to do better and we will,” Ryan said at a hastily arranged press conference this afternoon. “This is a setback no two ways about it,” but GOP leadership is emerging from the day “motivated to step up our game and deliver our promises.”

Ryan said they pulled the bill because they couldn’t get enough “yes” votes for the bill to succeed on the floor. He said “I’m really proud of the bill we produced,” but later in his speech called it a “fundamentally flawed” piece of legislation.

“Obamacare is the law of the land,” Ryan said. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced… And, so, yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, has been in effect since President Obama signed it in 2010. Republicans have vowed to get rid of the bill since then.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called today’s developments a “victory for the American people.”

Trump blamed the failure on the Democrats, and said in a press conference that they will come to him when Obamacare “explodes.”

“It’s imploding and soon will explode and it’s not going to be pretty,” Trump said.

This failure was a good thing for the American people, especially the 24 million that would have lost health coverage.

Trump failed to guide his party to finding a workable replacement for the ACA that would ensure everyone would have heath insurance coverage. His promise that everyone would be covered was a lie and he knew it at the time he said it.

Trump’s credibility just keeps sinking lower and lower. So does the respect people have for him. If they ever had any to begin with.

Continue reading BENEATG THE FOLD.

Trump Exonerated?…

Trump’s allegations that his phones were wiretapped on orders by Obama have been widely considered  bogus by knowledgeable intelligence officials as well as congressional Republicans. This afternoon Representative Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made public new information from an unnamed source that, on numerous occasions the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.

Nunes decision to immediately announce this new information publicly and then visit the White House, without first sharing this new revelation with Democrats, spreads the dark shadow of Republican politics over the issue.

With every knowledgeable source essentially saying Trump’s allegations are lies for a mysterious unnamed source to suddenly surface with new information which deals with legal collection of information is suspicious in the very least. Especially given the information was channeled to a Nunes, a Trump ally.

The Atlantic – Coming into Wednesday, the Trump administration faced a crisis: Every knowledgeable source, from congressional Republicans to intelligence officials, has said that President Trump’s claim that his predecessor “wiretapped” him was bogus. In the midst of this crisis, a mysterious and unnamed “source” apparently delivered new information to Nunes, a Trump ally, which deals with legal collection of information. Nunes, in turn, quickly went public with the information, despite offering no proof of wrongdoing, in an apparent effort to shift the story in a direction favorable to the administration.

For example, Nunes said that all of the information that was collected legally, as part of “incidental collection” that occurs when U.S. citizens are captured speaking with lawful non-U.S. targets of surveillance under FISA orders. Nunes also reiterated that there had been no “wiretap” on Trump Tower, as the president has alleged and continued to assert, despite disavowals by top Republicans in Congress and the intelligence community.Yet Nunes’s announcement offered Trump a lifeline, presenting him—intentionally or not—with a way to claim he really had been surveilled. Trump quickly seized it, saying he felt “somewhat” vindicated during a brief pool spray at the White House.Nunes charged that while the collection was entirely legal, the fact that Trump team staffers’ names were unmasked and information was shared is “inappropriate.”

“It looks like it was legal, incidental collection that then made its way into intelligence report,” Nunes said. “Nothing criminal at all involved.”

The problem is that there’s no way to assess the truth of Nunes’s claims. He says he has full faith in his source, suggesting it’s someone within the intelligence community, but it’s not clear that anyone besides Nunes has seen the “reports” to which he referred: Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member on the committee, has not, and while Nunes briefed both Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan, there’s no indication he showed them the report.

This is troubling because, as my colleague Conor Friedersdorf reported Wednesday morning, Nunes’s statements so far in the investigation make it difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt on truthfulness. The Washington Post also previously reported that the White House had asked Nunes to help tamp down stories about Trump team ties to Russia.

Moreover, Nunes repeatedly said he did not have all the information he needed, raising the question of why he felt it was worthwhile to go public immediately. As Republicans including Nunes complain about unauthorized leaks of classified information to the press, he has come forward to publicize anonymously obtained intelligence community materials.

His choice to take it to the White House is even more perplexing, especially without having discussed the matter with Schiff. Trump accused Obama of having surveilled him despite offering no evidence for the claim. No evidence has appeared since. Pressed to explain why it can’t simply provide the proof, the White House—rather than admit, as appears indisputable, that it has no evidence—has claimed that because of “separation of powers,” Congress should investigate without executive-branch interference. By taking his information to Trump on Wednesday, Nunes has driven a bulldozer through that wall of separation.

In leaving Schiff out of the process, meanwhile, he has blithely poisoned his cooperation with the Democratic member on the committee. Monday’s committee hearings with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers showed that there were already effectively two separate House intelligence committees, a Democratic one worried about Russian meddling in the election and a Republican one worried about leaks about Michael Flynn. Nunes’s sidestepping of Schiff, though, could doom any remaining prospects for cooperation on the committee.

Schiff angrily responded during a press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff said. “Unfortunately I think the actions of today throw great doubt in the ability of the both the chairman and the committee to conduct the investigation the way it ought to be conducted.”

The first hundred days of the Trump administration has not yet passed. Yet his administration is mired in questions about its legitimacy and possible scandal. Largely due to its problems with truth and ethical behavior. It’s only going to et more bizarre and unnerving.

Simply unbelievable is the only way Trump’s ineptitude and that of his administration can be described. As well as that of many republicans in congress.

Story continues HERE.

The Surreal State Of American Politics & Government In The Era Of Trump…

A lie by any other name or explanation remains a lie. Unless you are a Trump surrogate who willingly and without question accepts alternative facts as truth.

We know Trump is attempting to build an army of supporters and surrogates who will blindly accept his alternative facts simply because HE states them. No evidence or proof is necessary. Because he is The Donald anything he claims to be true must be true.

All hail The Donald who is making Make America Great “Again”. 

Perhaps it is just me, but I’ll ask anyway. Does anyone else sniff the oder of an American dystopia in the making?

The Washington Post – It was a rough night for Jeffrey Lord, CNN’s preeminent surrogate for President Trump.

During a panel discussion on “Anderson Cooper 360” Monday evening, Lord and seven other commentators discussed the president’s baseless claims that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. When the conversation turned to Trump’s credibility, Lord appeared to be the lone guest unwilling to call the president a liar.

On an average day, that might have been par for the course for Lord, who has established himself as a reliable Trump booster since joining CNN as a paid analyst in the summer of 2015.

But Lord’s interlocutors weren’t having it. Hours earlier, FBI Director James B. Comey had snuffed out Trump’s wiretapping allegations, testifying under oath that there was “no information” indicating Obama had spied on his campaign. Even Comey was calling Trump a liar, they argued.

Lord saw it differently, repeating the claim by some Trump backers that he didn’t mean what he said about wiretapping and therefore couldn’t be lying.

Trump, he said, was speaking “Americanese” when he tweeted that Obama had orchestrated a “Nixon/Watergate” plot against him. The president’s supporters knew what he meant, but Washington insiders didn’t and blew it out of proportion.

Cooper and other guests seemed baffled.“What you’re arguing then is the FBI and the Justice Department are mistaken for taking the president literally because they don’t speak Americanese?” Cooper asked.

Other guests continued to press the issue.

“The whole world had a chance to watch this unfold, and it was a direct test of his credibility. And the whole world now knows he lied about it,” former White House aide David Gergen said of Trump.

“We’ve seen it again and again,” Gergen continued. “When we have a president who is a congenital liar, it really matters.”

Lord tried to jump back in with an attack on Obama, but Cooper cut him off.

 

Comey Confirms Trump’s Allegations Obama Had His Phones Wiretapped Are False…

So, Trump was wrong. And, for folks like me we suspect he knew he was wrong all the while. He willfully spouted lies to mislead the American people and he should be held to account for it.

Most likely Trump will pass it off that he was given misinformation, pick a scapegoat, and fire him or her. Then, all will be forgone and forgiven.

I suppose there is an outside chance he’ll double down, turn on Comey, and,… you get the picture. He’s that much of a “narcissist”, and, he is crazy. Right?

The Washington PostOn the 60th day of his presidency came the hardest truth for Donald Trump.

He was wrong.

James B. Comey — the FBI director whom Trump celebrated on the campaign trail as a gutsy and honorable “Crooked Hillary” truth-teller — testified under oath Monday what many Americans had already assumed: Trump had falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping his headquarters during last year’s campaign.

Trump did not merely allege that former president Barack Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower, of course. He asserted it as fact, and then reasserted it, and then insisted that forthcoming evidence would prove him right.

But in Monday’s remarkable, marathon hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said there was no such evidence. Trump’s claim, first made in a series of tweets on March 4 at a moment when associates said he was feeling under siege and stewing over the struggles of his young presidency, remains unfounded

Comey did not stop there. He confirmed publicly that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and associates with Russia, part of an extraordinary effort by an adversary to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.

Questions about Russia have hung over Trump for months, but the president always has dismissed them as “fake news.” That became much harder Monday after the FBI director proclaimed the Russia probe to be anything but fake.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”

More BENEATH THE FOLD.