Just When You Thought Heartless Republican Health Care Bill Was Dead, It May Not Be…

Following Dressing-Down From Trump, Republicans Are Back At Work On It. The Short Term Strategy: Get To An Agreement To Open Floor Debate on “Repeal and Replace”

That’s what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing right now, saying the bill is “wide open to amendment”. Just one day earlier, McConnell was promoting “repeal only”, but that seemed to die almost as soon as he and Trump introduced the idea. The New York Times accurately characterizes the revised approach as crafting health care policy “on the fly.”

Politico reports a meeting of Republican Senators last evening on revived efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare broke for the night, with no discernible progress to report…yet. When asked if they were any closer, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey replied “hard to say.” But the Senators did speak positively about the inclusiveness of their new discussions, as opposed to the secrecy under which McConnell drafted the original Senate health care bill. So who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Earlier in the day, at a lunchtime meeting, President Trump exhorted Republicans not to leave for summer recess until they pass “repeal and replace.” He also threatened the political future of potential “no”-voters.

But stunningly (and this really hasn’t been covered much) Trump largely turned the meeting into a tutorial on marketing and publicity. Trump told the Senators the bill’s failure was largely due to their failure selling it. And he even engaged in a little management exercise with Majority Whip John Cornyn on how to hone messaging. Must watch (click on the photo): really gives you an insight into Trump.

Chances Of A Re-do Still Slim (We Hope)

If you look at your scorecard, passage of “repeal and replace” or “repeal” still doesn’t seem likely: Senators Paul and Collins are still definite no votes. (Paul would probably vote for repeal without replace. But then Murkowski and Capito would join Collins to kill that.) Ted Cruz has a reputation for never saying yes unless he totally gets exactly what he wants. Mike Lee is being courted by two former Trump team superstars (neither of whom are currently with the administration, but were sent by the President anyway, according to CNN.) And finally, due to a potentially heartbreaking turn of events (see below) it doesn’t look like John McCain will return soon.

Also probably not helping, new CBO estimates showing 32-million Americans would lose health insurance over the next 10 years if Republicans pass “repeal” alone.

And a Fox News Poll showing (and we quote) “74 percent want GOP lawmakers to reach out to Democrats and try to find a compromise. That includes 86 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans.” President Trump has been suggesting Democrats will compromise only after Obamacare “explodes” and they come crawling back, begging. But the Fox poll surprisingly suggests even a majority of Republicans favor a more bipartisan approach. Let’s hope the President is watching his Fox.

John McCain Is Very Sick

The Arizona Senator and former Presidential candidate has brain cancer, discovered after an operation last week to remove a blot clot from behind his eye. A statement from the Senator’s office says McCain is recovering “amazingly well”, but also suggests he will have to undergo more treatment which may involve chemotherapy and radiation.

CNN has a more comprehensive report on the type of cancer, called glioblastoma, and McCain’s prognosis.

Trump Skewers Attorney General Sessions, Raises Doubts About Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein: “There Are Very Few Republicans In Baltimore, If Any”

In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Trump says Attorney General Jeff Sessions should never have been hired, because his recusal on the Russia investigation was “very unfair to the President.” Sessions was one of Trump’s first and most steadfast supporters.

More insidiously, Trump muses that the FBI reporting to the Justice Department was a development that came out of the Nixon years. Prior to that the FBI director reported directly to the President.

The quote in the headline above refers to his assessment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who’s now in charge of Russia. Trump seems to think he’s sneaky. He goes so far as to offer a conspiracy theory as to how Robert Mueller became Special Counsel, saying Mueller was up at Trump’s office interviewing for the FBI Director job (which he wanted!) and then: “he leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed Special Counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about?”

More excerpts from the Times’ interview are here. Audio by clicking on the photo below:

Trump Balances Out An Almost Comically Sober First Meeting Of His Election Fraud Commission With A Dose Of Crazy…

Look at the agenda (below) for the first meeting of the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity”. The most interesting thing is the “Short Break.”

In his “Welcome Remarks”, Mike Pence chooses his words carefully: “this bipartisan group will perform a truly nonpartisan service to the American people.” Enter Trump, tossing around conspiracy theories like hotcakes. However, it is clear Trump is not ad-libbing much, but reading from prepared remarks. Click here or on the photo to watch.

Philip Bump, in the Washington Post, has a hilarious account, that at the same time is super-sad.

Justice Gorsuch, Trump’s New Guy On The Supreme Court, Again Shows His True Colors Brilliantly

Remember when even some Democratic pundits were saying Neil Gorsuch might turn out to be a thoughtful, fair-minded force for good? Well, as much as we hate to say we told you so, he’s not.

Gorsuch would’ve blocked the grandparents of people legally in the U.S. from being exempt from Trump’s travel ban. The court earlier ruled people who could prove a close family relationship with someone in the U.S. legally would be exempt. (Gorsuch was against that too.) The Justices were asked to clarify exactly what they meant, after the Trump administration decided not to consider grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and grandchildren and nephews and nieces to be “close family.” Now they’ll all be included. Over Gorsuch’s objection (and also those of Alito and Thomas.) No reason given. They just indicated their displeasure.

Poland’s Attempted Death Blow To Independent Judiciary Meets Stiff Opposition, May Force Showdown With The EU

The ruling Law and Justice Party’s moves are very simple: they’d require all judges they did not appoint to resign, and they’d decide on all future judges.

That didn’t go over well with many Poles, thousands of whom took to the streets.

Poland also risks alienating the EU. If the EU determines the latest move takes Poland outside its definition of a democracy, it may invoke a set of sanctions it’s never used before.

Of course, Poland’s leadership counts Trump as a big fan.