We Catch You Up On Huge Political Developments You May Have Missed Because They Have Nothing To Do With White House Infighting

Major Developments On Health Care, Just As Trump Is Deciding Whether To Try To Crash Obamacare On His Own

A Bipartisan effort underway in the Senate Health Committee, where Chairman Lamar Alexander has reached out to his Democratic counterpart, Washington’s Patty Murray, to hold hearings aimed at “stabilizing and strengthening” Obamacare markets. “We need to put out the fire“, he said.

Remember however, this has nothing to do with “Repeal and Replace” which Republicans say they still intend to do, just not right away. These would be stopgap measures to make sure people don’t get hurt through no fault of their own. And it is pretty much the opposite of the “implosion” the President is advocating.

While the gesture did kind of knock our socks off, it isn’t entirely magnanimous. If moderate Republicans want to help out, they know they’ll need at least a few Democrats, since radical Conservatives almost surely won’t.

Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Democrats also proactively tried to get themselves into Senate tax reform negotiations, expected to start soon. That was met by a pre-emptive “no thanks” from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But McConnell was an equal-opportunity rebuffer. Speaking out about Trump’s exhaustive (and nasty!) exhortations that the Senate kill the filibuster once and for all, he said “There are not the votes in the Senate as I’ve said repeatedly to the President…to change the rules of the Senate.”

Court Rules Attorneys General Can Take Up Obama Mantle In Obamacare Suit

One other very important health care development: a federal appeals court in DC ruled that Democratic State Attorneys General do have standing to defend payments of cost sharing subsidies to insurance companies, because they proved their states would be harmed if the payments are not made.

This means if President Trump moves to block the payments they can now sue.

Trump’s Civil Rights Division May Shift Resources To Pursue Discrimination Against Whites

The New York Times and Washington Post report the Trump Administration is getting ready to reshuffle the civil rights division of the Justice Department, to make cases involving affirmative action it believes turned away white students from universities. The reports are based on internal documents and sources, so it could already be official policy, or it could be a ploy to gauge how lawyers within the division, and the general public will react. It is completely consistent with everything the administration has stood for thus far. So we repeat: stop feeling sorry for Jeff Sessions!

Happier days…

White House Admits Trump Did Have A Role In Authoring Trump Jr’s Response To Russia Lawyer Meeting, Denies Trump Had Advance Knowledge About Fabricated Fox News Story

Very surprising (to us at least): the White House did not deny this Washington Post report, nor did they immediately go to their usual fall back: “the real story here is leaks!” (Are we already seeing the steadying hand of new Chief of Staff Kelly?)

White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t fully confirm the story, saying Trump didn’t actually dictate the response, he just weighed in on it “as any father would”. One pesky detail: Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow has repeatedly denied Trump had anything at all to do with his son’s statement.

Separately, according to a lawsuit filed by a Fox News contributor against Fox News, the White House also played a role in “concocting” a story involving a murdered DNC staffer named Seth Rich. NPR first reported this.

At its core, an email where one of the key players says “the president (sic) just read the article”. But now he says he was “kidding”. Sean Spicer confirms he was briefed by that same guy. But the President denies knowing anything about it. It’s a strange and complicated story: the Washington Post’s invaluable Philip Bump does the best job we’ve seen breaking it down.

If this story has any legs, it’ll get real huge, real fast. Otherwise, it’ll end up being a bunch of unprovable accusations by a very sketchy individual.

New FBI Director Confirmed Overwhelmingly

Christopher Wray, Trump’s hand-picked new FBI director, approved for a 10 year term by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support. The final vote: 92-5. He replaces fired FBI Director James Comey. As Vox reminds us, Trump’s apparent lack of hesitancy intervening with the FBI makes Wray’s job doubly hard.

Christopher Wray

Mueller Adds To His Team

New person on Mueller team is former Justice Department Official Greg Andres, who specialized in identifying and tracking down “illegal foreign bribery.” Of course, since Trump’s “done nothing wrong”, this shouldn’t shake him at all.

Trump And Tillerson Go Full Bad Cop-Good Cop On North Korea, China

After Trump blasted “do NOTHING” China, and vowed to “handle North Korea“, in walks good cop Rex Tillerson. The Secretary of State says North Korea can tell him all its problems if they’ll just back off their nuclear program. Tillerson also promising North Korea “We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime.”

A lot of what Tillerson’s proposing sounds a lot like the deal the Obama administration did with Iran. The one Trump called the “worst deal ever” and may be about to dump.

Trump Has A Point When It Comes To China

Tillerson also had a kind word, saying “we don’t blame China” (compare and contrast to Trump’s Tweet.)

At the same time, the Chinese government has become fixated on the recent installation of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, (which of course could also be used to better track Chinese military). And China’s making it very clear it’s not going to lift a finger to help, unless the U.S. is willing to discuss pulling that system out. It’s even blocked the U.N. from issuing further sanctions against North Korea, which should be a slam dunk right now.