Saturday, May 13, 2017

The mess Trump's made of "Comey-gate"

Head-spinningly dysfunctional, the Trump White House piles one self-inflicted disaster on top of another, each more damaging than the last.   Right now, the press is dealing with Comeygate, a subset of Russiagate.  Underlying the importance of all is the threat to our democracy, our balance of powers, and the very Constitution itself.    Here's what some pundits are saying:
A distinguished trio of legal and ethical scholars, Laurence Tribe, Richard Painter, and Norman Eisen, (USA Today).
". . . What the president did . . . . was a challenge to the very premises of our system of checks and balances precisely because it violated no mere letter of the law but its essential spirit. No one, not even a president, is above the law. . . . 

", , , [I]t is exceedingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that the president is seeking to cover up wrongdoing . . . ; that he is prepared to lie . . . to perpetrate just such a coverup;  and that the wrongdoing . . . is nothing minor or of merely tangential relevance to his office but, on the contrary, may involve collaboration with our Russian adversaries in attacking our democracy at its core."

From an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, President Trump gave his version of a dinner meeting with FBI Director James Comey shortly after the inauguration.  Trump told Holt that Comey requested the meeting to let him know of his wish to continue in his job.   Trump says he asked Comey during the dinner conversation whether he (Trump) was personally under investigation, and Comey told him he was not.  Trump also said this exchange occurred twice more, in two subsequent phone calls;  and both times he asked, Comey told him he was not the subject of investigation.  That's Trump's version.

From speaking with associates of Comey, who feel free to speak on his behalf now that he is no longer with the FBI, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reports Comey's version:  One week after Trump's inauguration, Comey was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new president.    During that dinner, which appears to be the same one Trump referenced, Comey told his close associates that Trump asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty to him.  Comey explained to the president that the country would be best served by an independent FBI and Justice Department.   He told Trump that he would pledge his honesty, but he would not pledge loyalty to him in the conventional political sense.  Trump was not happy with this answer and later pressed him further for a pledge of loyalty.  Comey would go no further than giving his "honest loyalty."

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, has identified himself as one that Comey confided in about that dinner invitation -- because Comey was uneasy about it.   He referred to it as "being summoned" to the White House and did not want to go but felt he had to.   Clapper said Comey did not want to create the appearance of compromising the integrity of the FBI.   Schmidt also quotes other sources Comey talked with as saying it would have been totally out of character for Comey, as well as FBI tradition, for Comey to talk with a president about whether he was being investigated.   None of them think the president's version is credible.

Oh, and by the way, this is the first I've heard this:   Schmidt reports that this dinner was held on January 27th, the night after Acting AG Sally Yates warned the White House Counsel about Michael Flynn's vulnerability to blackmail by the Russians.   What interesting timing for the president to request a pledge of loyalty from his FBI Director.


From Alex Ward at Vox News:  In the Lester Holt NBC interview, Trump essentially admitted that he had "fired Comey over the Russia investigation."   He also acknowledged asking Comey on three different occasions whether he was personally being investigated, and (according to Trump, although it's a dubious claim) that Comey had told him he was not.   Trump has retaliated by calling Comey a "showboat" and a "grandstander" on national television;  and he sent out a tweet that Comey had better hope that there is not a tape of their conversation, a not so thinly veiled threat.

Arguably, there are grounds here for charging that the president's firing Comey and threats constitute obstruction of justice and abuse of power -- which could be enough for impeachment.

Jim Hoagland at the Washington Post wrote that:  "The Trump presidency now poses an existential threat to many of American's most vital institutions.  He has tried to tear down to his own tawdry level the intelligence community, the FBI, the media and the federal judiciary"

Dean of American senior journalists, Dan Rather, who covered the Watergate scandal, wrote this:  "Future generations may mark today as one of the dark days in American history, a history that may soon take an even more ominous turn.   President Trump's sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey . . . should concern every American.  The independence of our law enforcement is at the bedrock of our democracy."

Friday, May 12, 2017

ACLU: Trump's order not worth a suit.

[Prepared last week, but urgent news crowded it out.]
 Copy of a twitter message from the ACLU.
ACLU National   @ACLU
"We thought we'd have to sue Trump today.  But it turned out the order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.
    5:42 PM - 4 May 2017"
Rumors said that Trump was going to sign an Executive Order on "religious freedom," which would allow religious-affiliated entities (like schools, hospitals) to refuse service based on religious objection (gay marriage, trans identity).

The ACLU was poised to file a lawsuit against Trump for government endorsement of discrimination.   But the actual order Trump signed turned out to be a big nothing.   All it does is ask that government agencies be a little more lenient in allowing churches to engage in politics without risking their tax-exempt status -- a rarely enforced law anyway.

An ACLU spokesman said what Trump signed "was, in essence, just a way to pander to religious conservatives."   But Trump is trying to make up for his lack of legislative success by padding his list with relatively meaningless and unobjectionable EOs.


Trump's EO discriminates against atheists

Last week, we were concerned about the prospect that Trump's Executive Order on "religious liberty" was going to allow discrimination against GLBTQ people.  What Trump finally signed had nothing to do with such issues;  it was about allowing churches to openly advocate for political candidates.

But now the EO has been challenged anyway.   The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin that argues that it would selectively benefit religious organizations in that it allows them to endorse political candidates without risking loss of their tax-exempt status.

They're right.   This is another sop to the religious right.  What the EO does is to weaken the 1954 Johnson amendment that restricts all tax-exempt organizations from campaigning for, or against, particular candidates for public office.

In his Rose Garden signing ceremony, President Trump said this:
   "This executive order directs the IRS not to unfairly target churches and religious organizations for political speech. . . .  No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.  We are giving our churches their voices back."

In its lawsuit, the Freedom From Religion Foundation goes further, claiming that the order not only directs the IRS to leave religious organizations alone, it applies "a more vigorous enforcement standard to secular nonprofits."

Trump did make a campaign promise to evangelical groups -- and it was even written into the GOP platform --  that they would "get rid of the Johnson Amendment."    Trump's comments make it very clear whom they were doing it for:  religious groups.    And it doesn't get rid of the Johnson amendment;  it simply tells them not to go after religious organizations.

Religious conservatives paint themselves as victims, when it fact the Johnson amendment is not about religion;  it's about tax exempt status.   You can't be a tax exempt organization -- including a secular school, an art museum, or a scientific assembly -- and be overtly political for a particular party or candidate.  In effect, Trump's Executive Order, gives religious organizations a political advantage that it does not also give to secular organizations.

Maybe the ACLU will need to reconsider its decision not to sue -- "for now" is what they said.  Because now the law would discriminte against secular, non-profit, tax-exempt groups.   And it does it even more blatantly -- because it violates an actually stated prohibition in the Constitution's Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment.

Stay tuned.    And thanks to Mary Papenfuss  of Huffpost for the reporting I relied on.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Late night updates on Comey firing

It's hard to keep up with this unfolding story.  There were updates all during the day yesterday, which I had already written in the longer post below.   Then last night more started coming out.   Here's what I've been able to grab hold of.  There are three posts for today -- and may be more to add come morning.

1.  In general, it's widely known now that the Trump/Russian investigation has been heating up in the last few weeks.  Updates that Comey had been getting from staff jumped from weekly to daily.   Comey asked for additional resources and personnel, just days before he was fired.  The Wall Street Journal reports that things are leading to potential evidence involving Trump's own business dealings.

2.  Reuter's News Service is reporting that Comey had told associates that Trump, Sessions, and Deputy AG Rosenstein had tried to get Comey to brief them on what he would testify to the Senate;  and he refused, which was quite proper for him to do to maintain his independence, especially given that Sessions had recused himself.

3.  The Washington Post reported that 30 different sources, many in the White House, had said that Trump was very angry with Comey, even yelling at the TV monitor, and that this is what led to firing him.

Now, take a bit of comic relief (but still a serious political story), then go on to the longer update post below that (if you can stand more).'

We need a little humor.

From Seth Meyers' late night tv show:  Referring to the Republican health care bill passed by the House, and to Rep. Raul Labrador's defensive comment about people losing their health insurance, if it becomes law:  "Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care."

Meyers' quick comeback was this:  "That's like saying that nobody dies from falling out of a window;  it's the pavement that gets you."

Some loose ends on the Comey firing

1.  Multiple reports from reliable sources confirm that the Trump team did not anticipate a negative reaction to the firing of FBI Director Comey.   They believed that, because Democrats have been so resentful and critical of Comey about his handling of Clinton's email investigation, they would only be happy about this.

Boy, did they misjudge, probably from projecting what their own reactions would be, if things were reversed.   Only the political implications would matter to them.  Here's how one Democrat put it in a tweet:  "We aren't defending Comey.   We're defending DEMOCRACY."  Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, said that he was sad and frustrated by the news of Comey firing, like everybody else;  but that it also terrified him.

I am proud to say that Democrats are more concerned about the foundations of our democracy, the balance of powers that allow us to keep that democracy, and the vital principle that no one is above the law.   Even Donald Trump.

2.  The Justice Department's Inspector General is already conducting an ongoing investigation of Comey's judgment and conduct in handling the Clinton email investigation.   Wouldn't it have made sense to complete that;  and then, if indicated, fire him based on that?  It would have avoided the inevitable inference that the real reason for his firing was the investigation of the Trumpsters' relationships with Russians.   The obvious answer to that is that the real reason actually was to remove Comey from that investigation and intimidate the other investigators.

3.  The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes division for any documents they have that connect any of Trump associates with Russia.   Sen. Mark Warner, senior Democrat on this committee, made the request, citing the investigative dictum:   follow the money.   This is considered a sign of heating up of that committee's work.  Warner has also recently hired a top investigative staff member.   In addition, CNN reported Tuesday night that documents that Michael Flynn refused to give to the Senate Intelligence Committee have now been subpoened.  Associates of Flynn were also getting subpoenas, looking for financial records linking them and Flynn to Russia.   This news broke just hours before the Comey firing.

4.  On Wednesday morning, Trump had a scheduled meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office (bad timing, following the Comey firing).   Lavrov had just met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  Accompanying Lavrov was the Russian ambassador Kislyak.  But, as the website RawStory pointed out, US media was not allowed in;  we have pictures of the meeting only because a Russian photographer was allowed in the Oval Office and published them on Russian propaganda TV.

Now how is that for optics?   One day after firing the FBI Director who is investigating him and his associates for improper connections with Russians, he hosts in the Oval Office the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador to the US -- and doesn't allow the US media to cover the meeting.

5.  Here's an idea that is circulating.   The Senate should refuse to confirm a nominee for a new FBI Director until the Justice Department appoints an independent prosecutor for the Trump-Russia investigation.

6.  And while we're on the subject:   My first choice for that prosecutor would be Sally Yates.  It won't happen, because in a situation like this, both sides should feel that the prosecutor is impartial.   But Yates' integrity and professionalism is exactly what we need.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Centrist wins big in French election

Emmanuel Macron, a political newcomer without a political party backing him, won the election for President of France with a vote of 66%, defeating the far-right Marine Le Pen who got 34%.

This feels like a defeat -- or at least a slowing -- of the global shift to the right that seemed to be sweeping across the West, beginning with Brexit, then Trump, and the growing power of nationalist far-right populism in France, with the backing of Vladimir Putin doing everything possible to undermine the European Union and NATO.

Going from a French Socialist President to a choice between a Centrist and a Far Right candidate was somewhat alarming.  And, in fact, Le Pen's party got twice the vote she did five years ago.  But this bigger-than-expected win by the middle at least appears to slow the momentum of the far-right movement.


News flash: Trump fires FBI's Comey

As of late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has fired the FBI Director James Comey.    He says it was on the recommendation of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the newly confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and that it was based on mistakes Comey made in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server and classified information.

The president's letter firing Comey included a letter of recommendation from the Justice Department, which was written by Rosenstein.  In addition to general comments about needing new leadership to restore trust in the department, it cited specific actions by Comey that have undermined trust in his leadership:

1.  Comey's announcement last July that the Clinton case was closed and that there would be no indictment.  It is not the FBI that decides whether charges will be brought.   That is the prerogative of the Justice Department prosecutors.  It is also against FBI procedure to hold a press conference to announce the status of an investigation.

2.  Comey's letter to Congress on October 28th, 2016 to inform that he was re-opening the case because new material (which had not yet been examined) had been found that might be relevant.   Of course, this was immediately leaked by Republicans just 11 days before the election -- and threw the campaign process into turmoil.  Then just a two days before the election, Comey made another announcement that investigation of the emails had not revealed anything new of consequence and that nothing had changed the decision not to seek an indictment of Clinton.    A group of former FBI directors and officials sent a letter of disapproval of these actions.   Clinton blamed Comey, in part, for her loss of the election.

3.  Comey's testimony to Congress last week included some errors of fact stated by Comey, again concerning those emails, that had to be corrected later.

All of this is sufficient reason to remove Comey as head of the FBI.  And yet, it may not be the real reason.   It is so typical of Trump's operating mode:   wave some shiny object in front of people to distract from your real motive.

Most recent example of this:   the firing of Sally Yates on Jan 30, 2017 (see ShrinkRap on 5/9/17), which Trump said was because she refused to defend his Muslim travel ban;  but in fact the firing came four days after Yates warned the White House about Michael Flynn's Russian compromise.

So what might be the real reason for firing James Comey?

He is overseeing the FBI's investigation of the ties and possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians.   That is what is chilling and a reminder of Nixon's "Saturday night massacre."

As Nicole Wallace just pointed out on MSNBC, it's the Democrats who should be happy about this, because it vindicates those who felt Comey's public revelations hurt Hillary Clinton's election chances.  And yet it is the Senate Democrats whose initial comments about this firing run along the line of "shocking" and "chilling."

They are obviously thinking about the implications of a president, whose administration is under investigation by the FBI, firing the Director who is overseeing that investigation.   And what are we to make of this sentence from the president's letter to Comey:

"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."

In one sentence, he links the question of himself being investigated and the decision to fire Comey.   Is that just Trump being Trump -- everything always has to be about him?   Or should we take this as subtle evidence of the link in reality?

I hear the mounting drumbeats for an independent special prosecutor.  So . . . stay tuned.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sally Yates' Senate committee testimony -- exemplary . . . and damaging to Trump

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified Monday before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham.   I got to watch a good bit of it live on CSPAN.  I have never seen a more impressive witness at a congressional hearing, nor for that matter a better conducted hearing.   If only our government would take this as a model for bipartisan, fact-based inquiry.

A career prosecutor, Yates became Acting AG after AG Loretta Lynch resigned with the end of the Obama administration.  Her testimony was primarily about her role in informing the Trump administration about National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's duplicity with regard to Russia.

She was the consummate professional, her answers were concise, factual, and crystal clear.   Yet she also came across as warmly personal, even when she demolished Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who chided her for refusing to defend the president's Executive Order on immigration bans.  And also when she out-lawyered Sen. Ted Cruz by citing a later statute that trumped the one he quoted.

Yates, calmly and politely reminded Sen. Cornyn of the exchange he and she had had in her confirmation hearings, when he had asked her what she would do if the president asked her to defend a bill that was illegal.   She reminded him that she had said, then, that she would say No.  And that's what she did on this.  Mercifully, for him, Cornyn's question time was up and he had nothing further to say.

She told the committee about learning from the FBI of Flynn's meetings with the Russian ambassador in which he discussed U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for interfering in our election.

Yates had realized that Flynn had lied, at least to the Vice President, who then misinformed the American people in assuring them that Flynn had not discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador.   Because the Russians would now know that Flynn had lied, it made him vulnerable to blackmail by them -- a severe liability to anyone in a highly sensitive national security position.  So Yates went to share this with the White House legal counsel, tried to impress on him the seriousness of this so that they could "take action," as she put it.   I'll let the timetable tell the rest of the story:

2014           Flynn dismissed by Obama as intelligence chief
2015           Flynn appears in Moscow sitting with Putin
11/10/16    Obama warns Trump not to hire Flynn for NSA
01/20/17   Trump's inauguration
01/20/17   Deputy AG Sally Yates became Acting Attorney
01/24/17   Flynn interviewed by FBI re Russian contacts.
                       Presumably they already had him on tape
                       with the Russian ambassador.  If he lied to
                       the FBI, that is a felony.
01/26/17   Yates informs McGahn that Flynn could be
                       vulnerable to blackmail by Russians because
                       they knew he lied about his connections
01/27/17    Second meeting with McGahn at his request.
                       He asked to see the evidence and had other
                       questions.  Yates would see to setting up a
                       way for him to view evidence.
01/30/17   Yates called McGahn to arrange for him to
                        view evidence.
01/30/17   That night, Yates fired by Trump, ostensibly
                       because she refused to defend his
                       immigration ban.  She has no knowledge
                       whether McGahn ever saw the evidence,
                       because she no longer worked there.
02/13/17    Washington Post reports story, based on leaks.
                        Trump team defends Flynn.
02/14/17     Flynn forced to resign (18 days after Yates
                        told WH that he was compromised and
                        thus subject to blackmail;  but only one day
                       after it became public.

Get the picture?   Trump was repeatedly warned about Flynn but did nothing until the story was leaked and reported in the press, 18 days after Yates' visit.   Public exposure forced action, finally.   But Trump, even then, insisted that Flynn had done nothing wrong -- except lie to the Vice President.

Meanwhile, Trump has acted like Flynn was the victim of leaks, although as the case has become more and more obvious -- and hazardous to him -- he has begun to blame Flynn -- and Obama, of course.   Why didn't Obama revoke his security clearance when he fired him in 2014?   Never mind that to be National Security Director, Flynn should have gone through another, far more rigorous security check by the Trump administration.   Apparently either they didn't do it, or failed to pay attention to Flynn's disturbing foreign connections.

I can think of two explanations to answer questions raised by this testimony:  (1)  Flynn was actually a Russian agent, or at least what they call "an asset," meaning that he was already compromised and was acting in Russia's interest and against the U.S.'s interests;  or (2)  Trump and his inner circle already knew what Flynn was doing and approved, i.e.,telling the Russians that Trump would lift the sanctions after he took office.   Either one is a very serious charge, one for Flynn, the other for Trump himself.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Breaking News: Obama warned Trump about Flynn

Both NBC and CNN are reporting that President Obama warned President-Elect Trump against hiring Gen. Flynn for his White House staff.   This reportedly occurred during their 90 minute Oval Office meeting just days after the election.

It's been known that Flynn had served as Director of National Intelligence under President Obama and that Flynn had been removed from that job because of his disruptive management style.  White Flyun had been considered a brilliant counter-intelligence officer, he did not adapt well to being in a management position.   It's possible that Flynn had undergone some sort of change, but Obama apparently felt he had to get rid of him -- and to warn his successor, for whom Flynn had served as a close adviser during the campaign.

Sean Spicer responded to the news by acknowledging that Obama had "made the President aware he was not a fan of Michael Flynn."   But Spicer quickly tried to change the subject to questioning why Obama allowed Flynn to keep his security clearance.   That really does not follow:   being a bad manager does not mean you are a security risk.

Meanwhile, we await Sally Yates' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which should focus specifically on her warning of the Trump administration about Flynn.


Trump says Australia has a better health carer system than ours.

President Trump went to New York on Thursday to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.   Yes, the one he got angry with and hung up on, when Turnbull asked him to honor our previous commitment to taking 1,500 Syrian refugees that Australia was holding for settlement.

They had an amicable meeting this time.   Trump went out of his way to praise Australia and Turnbull -- making mention of their health care system.  President Trump actually said:  "We have a failing health care -- [turning to Turnbull] . . . you have better health care than we do."

[Background facts:   Australia has a system -- actually called "Medicare" -- which covers everyone with a government provided insurance for basic services;  and anyone can add to it with a private supplementary policy that covers more services and quicker access.  It's sounds exactly like our Medicare system with supplemental private policies.    Sam Stein reported these comparative facts:   In latest stats:  Australia spent $4,115 per capita on health care, while the US spent $9,086.  This represents 9.4% of Australia's GDP and 17.1% of US's GDP.]

Watching "All in With Chris Hayes," we got to see Chris's guest, Bernie Sanders, in his initial reaction to hearing these words coming from Trump's mouth.   When Chris played the clip, which Sanders had not yet heard, he threw back his head in a big laugh.  "The president has just said it.   That's great!" he said, also noting that they'll make use of this quote in ads during the 2018 campaign.   Sanders, of course, favors a Medicare-for-all type of universal, taxpayer funded system.

We must remember, however, that you cannot believe anything that our president says.   This praise for Australia's system came just a few hours after Trump had been praising the House bill they had just passed and claiming that it is "going to be fantastic health care -- he said it would insure more people, lower premiums and lower deductibles -- all false.

On the other hand, in his 2000 book, "The America We Deserve," Trump's ghost writer had written for him:  "We must have universal health care."   Whether he knew that was in his book is debatable, since we know he does not read books, or briefing papers, or much of anything.

So, does it mean anything that he said Australia's health care is better than ours?   Aside from the fact that it's one of the rare, true things he has said?  Beyond that, the video clip will be useful in campaign ads for 2018, to confront him with the fact that he tries to help pass some version of the Republican "repeal/replace" plan -- which will move our healthcare much further away from Australia's plan.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Here we go -- town halls

The backlash to the Republicans' health care law -- and their craven celebration -- has been swift, and it promises to be prolonged and effective.  Now on spring recess, only seven House members have scheduled town halls.  One who did, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), was challenged with this:  "You are making a mandate that will kill people."

To which Labrador responded:  "Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care."   The crowd responded with loud jeers.  He was probably thinking of the distortion of last resort:   you can always go to the emergency room. They have to treat you whether you have insurance or not.

FACT:  According to a 2009 Harvard study, some 45,000 Americans died annually due to their lack of health insurance.   That was before Obamacare;  and the CBO estimates that the Republicans' first version would result in loss of insurance by some 24 million people that had it under Obamacare.  The revised version they just voted on would make that even worse.

It wasn't the content Republicans were celebrating. It was finally being able to say: "We repealed Obamacare."

Here is another perspective that explains many of the questions about why the content didn't matter even to those who voted for the House's health care bill that was carelessly tossed together and rushed to a vote before getting the Congressional Budget Office's analysis.

It also explains what the Republicans were celebrating in what seemed like a tone-deaf, crass self-congratulation for assigning millions of Americans to bad health and death.

They passed a bill just to be able to say (finally) they lived up to their seven year long slogan to:  "repeal Obamacare."   It would have destroyed them politically if they failed, after voting to do so about 60 times in seven years -- and, despite having control over all three houses (the House, the Senate, and the White one), they still couldn't contrive anything to take its place.

In addition, they didn't have to worry about having to face the consequences of a bad bill, because the Senate was going to construct a better bill that they expect to pass.

The House has the unique problem of being so divided even within its own partisan caucus, with the Freedom Caucus (aka Tea Party) and the Tuesday Group pulling in opposite directions, making it almost impossible to get a majority to agree on anything.

So the bottom line is:   Forget this bill they passed.   It was for political show, never expected to be implemented.  The celebration was about putting a period on their past claims.   Now they'll move forward, starting over with what the Senate comes up with after it throws the House bill straight into the trash -- and hoping everyone forgets what their own bill would actually have done.

There was another factor, as explained by Paul Kane in the Washington Post.  It was for the House GOP majority "to show it can actually govern."   Kane continues:

"President Trump’s advisers became increasingly concerned about how little they had to show in terms of early victories. . . .  Trump and Ryan needed a jointly-forged victory, almost any victory, so that they could figure out a way forward. Not just on health care but on other critical items, particularly the tax overhaul."

We'll see, in the 2018 midterm election, if not before, whether this was worth it.  Even if the Senate writes and passes a bill that can become law, the House will have initially passed a very bad law that would have hurt a lot of people.   Their constituents are deeply angry with them for that.   Will it last until 2018?  I think so.

As for us Democrats, there's no need for us to get so distressed over what damage the House bill would do.   Save it for when we get the Senate bill.    They have said the Senate will not vote on their version until after the CBO has scored it and we have an objective assessment of who it will help, who it will hurt, and how much it will cost.   That will undoubtedly force the Senate to produce something not quite as bad, but we'll have to wait to see just how bad.

So don't use up your distress over this now -- but for damn sure let's remember it when we vote in 2018 and replace these people.

And, for those of us who live in GA-06 District, let's defeat the Republican Karen Handel on June 20th and send Democrat Jon Ossoff to replace Tom Price in the House.   Handel wasn't part of this clown crowd, but she would have been a party loyalist and cast her vote for the monstrosity.  Trump just did a fund-raiser for her last weekend, so of course he would have claimed her loyalty.

So let's start the accountability backlash now.