Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.
We should get the nomination/filibuster/nuclear option for Neil Gorsuch today. Won’t that be fun?
NEWS: So the House goes on recess today for Easter, but a bunch of the Republican representatives are trying to throw one last hurrah for Republicare. They’re gonna try and have an emergency meeting today to, presumably, yell at each other some more about an Obamacare repeal. (Politico)
- NEWS: “Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the chief deputy majority whip in the House, told reporters Wednesday that a new proposal that would weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions is ‘a bridge too far for our members.'” (TPM)
- UPDATE: I haven’t seen much in the news about what went on regarding Republicare today, but apparently Mike Pence crawled up the House GOP’s ass and died, and made them cough up a minor tweak of an amendment that would do something to help sicker people get coverage? I’m not finding a lot of details. From the article, “The proposal would allow the Health and Human Services secretary to define certain conditions or situations in which insurers could charge higher premium rates, and then the federal government would pay insurers the difference between the customary and elevated rate. To fund it, House Republicans have proposed providing the federal government $15 billion over nine years in addition to the $100 billion in state ‘stabilization’ funds, which can also be used to offset costs for mental-health treatment and out-of-pocket expenses.” (Washington Post)
NEWS: Apparently Steve Bannon’s getting frustrated with this whole “governing” thing. Turns out it’s not as easy or useful to burn a government to the ground as he thought it was. He was considering quitting, but one of the big campaign donors he brought to Trump’s table talked him out of it. Dammit. (Politico)
- NEWS: Mike Pence says Bannon’s removal from the NSC isn’t a demotion. 🙄 (TPM)
- OPINION/ANALYSIS: If you’re not reading TPM’s EdBlog on the regular, you should maybe think about adding that to your to-do list. Josh Marshall, historian, experienced journalist, and generally smart and sensible person, has been putting a considerable amount of time and effort into threading through the Trump-Russia snafu in a very non-conspiracy theorist way (a perspective which is a bit thin on the ground in some circles lately). His most recent bit, “Putting the Pieces Together,” digs into what Bannon’s removal from the NSC might mean. Read it here.
- RUMOR MILL: Steve Bannon doesn’t seem to be having a good few days, here. Seems there’s been a lot of infighting between him and the Kushner/Ivanka faction in the White House staff and it’s gotten kinda ugly. It sounds like Bannon’s role in the White House may be growing more diminished and/or maybe he’s being pushed out? (Washington Post, The Daily Beast)
NEWS: Pence says “all options are on the table” regarding Syria and Assad, which is funny because just, like, a week ago Tillerson was saying the Trump administration wasn’t looking to oust the Syrian leader. (Politico)
- UPDATE: I guess we’re getting rid of Assad now? That’s what Secretary of State Tillerson seems to be saying, anyway. (Politico, TPM)
- QUOTE: “He’s there and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen. I think what Assad did is terrible.” – Trump, when asked if he thought Syria’s Assad should stay in power. (TPM)
NEWS: The Obamacare situation is pretty complicated these days, but basically the House Republicans sued the Obama administration last year to stop funding on the subsidies in Obamacare, which are used to pay folks back for buying insurance. Things have been a bit up in the air on the subsidy funding since then, but everyone knows if they don’t fund those subsidies, things are going to get real bad real fast in the insurance markets. And since it’s looking at this point like Americans are going to blame Trump and the Republicans if Obamacare goes belly up, the House GOP are starting to sweat that lawsuit a little bit. So, all things considered, it seems like the House will probably work to preserve those subsidies. (Politico)
NEWS: The White House wants Congress to keep sending them bills that cut Obama-era regulations. The White House seems to feel like cutting regulations that keep everyone safe and healthy are some kind of win for them, and they’re getting a little salty that it’s not a bigger story. They’re also coming up on a deadline for repealing those regulations, too, so the White House is getting antsy about it. (Politico)
NEWS: Rep. Adam Schiff, Devin Nunes’ Democratic arch nemesis on the House Intelligence Committee, wants a word with Carter Page, Trump’s former flunky, frequent contacter of Russians, and almost Russian spy. (Politico)
NEWS: You probably don’t remember Kris Kobach, but you might remember that a guy who was meeting with Trump to talk about joining the administration back during the transition got photographed with Trump while holding some very important notes facing so the camera could see them. That was Kris Kobach and those notes were possibly a plan to repeal the National Voter Registration Act, which is the one that requires states to offer you the chance to register to vote when you go get a new ID card or driver’s license. Now a judge would like a word with Kobach about that, and wants him to produce the notes he was holding. (TPM)
- GORSUCH: The Senate has voted 48-52 to kill the filibuster. They they voted to advance Gorsuch to the confirmation vote, which will happen after no more than 30 hours of debate, so probably Friday. It’ll be a straight up-or-down vote with 51 votes need to confirm.
- Check the action live here and on CSPAN.
- ANALYSIS: Nate Silver doesn’t think nuking the filibuster will work out as well as the GOP hopes. He points out that although they gain some power short term by doing it, the GOP has historically made the best and most efficient use of the filibuster, and they may end up missing it. He also points out that the legislative filibuster may be next up on the chopping block. (FiveThirtyEight)
- NPR: Senate Invokes ‘Nuclear Option’ To Ease Gorsuch Nomination
- Politico: Senate GOP goes ‘nuclear’ on Supreme Court filibuster
- Washington Post: Senate Republicans go ‘nuclear,’ pave the way for Gorsuch confirmation to Supreme Court
NEWS: Trump has no idea what to do about foreign policy beyond talking big and agreeing with whomever is talking to him at the time. He talks about it a lot, but when he’s pushed for specifics, he clams right up. (Washington Post)
EXPLAINER: The Senate Republicans have said that in no uncertain terms they will have Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court by midnight Friday. The Washington Post goes over the details and steps. Read it here.
BACKGROUNDER: David Schenker of the Washington Institute details Jordan and King Abdullah II and explains why Jordan is important and why we should continue to work with them. It’s a bit dry and academic, but an interesting read. Check it out here.
ANALYSIS: Richard N. Haass, of the Council on Foreign Relations: “This week’s meeting in Mar-a-Lago between Chinese President Xi Jin-ping and President Donald Trump is arguably the most important foreign policy gathering of the still-young Trump administration. The trajectory of the next four years will hinge in no small part on whether the two countries can avoid a trade or any other kind of war; in the longer run, it will be one sort of 21st century if the United States and China collaborate on regional and global challenges — and a very different one if the two cannot work together or, worse, come to blows.” (Boston Globe)
NEWS: Trump would really, really like to blame Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, for this whole wiretapping mess he stirred up, but no one sensible seems to be buying it (on account of it being complete poppycock). (NPR)
- NEWS: “The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says he has seen ‘no evidence’ that former national security adviser Susan Rice may have improperly surveilled then-President-elect Donald Trump or his aides during the transition.” (NPR)
- FACT CHECK: Trump says – without evidence, as usual – that Susan Rice committed a crime. The Washington Post says – with evidence, as usual – that she probably didn’t. Read it here.
NEWS: Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know what a trade deficit is or what it’s for. He seems to think that the US having a trade deficit means that we’re weak somehow, when what it actually means is that our economy is growing faster and that our trade partners are basically investing us. (NPR)
- RELATED: Mike Conway, one of the guys taking over, has said, “Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth. Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada. You don’t hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that.” So that’s the caliber of what’s taking over the show for now. (Dallas News)
- ANALYSIS: Lawfare writer Jane Chong goes over what “recusal” is, when it’s used in the House, and why Nunes probably didn’t technically “recuse” himself. Read it here.
- NEWS: “The normally secretive House Ethics Committee made a rare public pronouncement on Thursday, announcing it has launched a high-profile investigation into allegations that the House intelligence committee chairman may have improperly disclosed classified information while leading a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.” (AP)
- NPR: Meet Mike Conaway, GOP Congressman Now Overseeing House’s Russia Probe
- Politico: How Trump’s perceived Russia allies keep dropping
- Politico: Meet Mike Conaway, the new sheriff on the Trump-Russia case
- TPM: Devin Nunes Steps Aside From House Intel Russia Probe—For Now
- Washington Post: Devin Nunes just fell on the White House’s sword in this wiretapping debacle
- Washington Post: House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes recuses himself from Russia probe
EXPLAINER: So what is all this business about “incidental collection,” “unmasking,” and whatnot? Is it legal, illegal, what does it mean, who does it, all that jazz? Lawfare has us covered with some pretty good explanations. Read ’em here.
NEWS: You know how there are all those “rogue” government accounts on Twitter? Probably they’re all fake, or mostly all fake, but the Homeland Security Department doesn’t seem to think so, because it slapped Twitter with a demand to reveal who’s behind the @ALT_uscis Twitter account. So Twitter sued Homeland Security to make them knock it off. (TechDirt, Politico, TPM)
- NEWS: “To date there has been little evidence suggesting that any of these alt-agency accounts — and there are many — are actually run by the agency employees they claim to be, but Homeland Security’s decision to unmask this particular account raises questions about its potential legitimacy.” (TechCrunch)
FACT CHECK: Trump is blaming the mess in Syria on Obama, saying Obama never did enough to stop it or end it. And you could make an argument that that’s actually a fair statement. But Trump himself was not so keen to get involved in Syria, either, and his recent attacks on Obama over Syria are ignoring that fact. (FactCheck.org)
NEWS: Sebastian Gorka, the racist Hungarian Guard guy who’s a top White House aide, says Susan Rice’s “crimes” are worse than Watergate. (TPM)
- NEWS: Speaking of Gorka, he’s supposedly a counterterrorism expert, but there are a whole lot of questions about his background, much of which seems to be exaggerated, fabricated by himself, or maybe even made up for interviews(?). Efforts to confirm his background have been at least partially unsuccessful. (TPM)
QUOTE: “I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency,” said Donald Trump today. With a straight face. Also, he’s only been in office for 11 weeks. (TPM)
NEWS: “Growing disagreements about Syria are just the latest obstacle to any plans Trump had to closer align the U.S. and Russia in the world stage. Trump and his associates are embroiled in mushrooming investigations into potential collusion between his presidential campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, accused by America’s spy agencies of interfering in the election to help elect Trump.” (AP)
NEWS: The State Department is understaffed, barely having meetings, and doesn’t have press conferences anymore. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson doesn’t seem to be running things very well, and he seems to making what staff remains pretty anxious. Vox interviewed a State Department employee to get a sense for how things are, and the answer seems to be “really weird” and “not good.” (Vox)
NEWS: Rep. Eric Swalwell tried to organize an informal meeting of the House Intelligence Committee yesterday to hear some testimony about general Russian tactics from an expert. He specifically invited Republican members of the committee, trying to mend fences, and was completely ignored. Republicans didn’t show for the testimony. (The Daily Beast)
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