• Obamacare Replacement v2.0 May Be Dead on Arrival
• Military Buildup Unlikely
• Trump Claims He's a Nationalist and a Globalist
• So Much for Russian Hacking Report
• Democrats Not Backing Down on Wall
It's been a bad week for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. On Tuesday, it was revealed that he took payments from the Russian and Turkish governments and did not disclose them. On Thursday, things took a turn for the worse when it came out that Flynn was specifically warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency not to take money from foreign governments. Consequently, the Pentagon has now begun its own investigation, independent from the Congressional investigation that revealed the wrongdoing in the first place.
The reason that Flynn's behavior is a major problem is that, while he was retired from the military, he could have been recalled to active duty at any time. Consequently, he cannot have any connection or loyalty to a foreign government—he is subject to the emoluments clause of the Constitution, just as the President is. Now, thanks to Flynn's handling of his business, he may be guilty of four separate crimes: (1) lying to the Pentagon about his status as a foreign agent, (2) taking office while serving as a foreign agent, (3) filing inaccurate paperwork when being vetted for his security clearance last year, and (4) taking foreign money as a retired U.S. army officer.
Meanwhile, Flynn's troubles present a real headache for the Trump administration, in at least three ways. The first is that Flynn and Trump are, in many ways, joined at the hip. Even after Flynn was fired, Trump continued to praise him, and to suggest he was being unfairly maligned. While the President may now try to put some distance between himself and his former NSA, it's still the case that Flynn's humiliations will be—to an extent—Trump's humiliations.
The second problem for the administration is that, if this goes south—as appears likely—then it will be necessary for the Department of Justice to decide whether to file charges. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is not going to enjoy indicting a former colleague, particularly when doing so will be a black eye for the administration. And let's not forget that, while he may not have taken money, Sessions also had dealings with the Russians. If Sessions decides to sweep Flynngate under the rug, the resultant publicity could lead to unpredictable results.
Yet another issue for Trump & Co., depending on how far this goes, is that Flynn may start to get desperate. The general has information about the Trump campaign, which may be very juicy indeed. If he thinks he needs to save himself from a prison term, he may throw his ex-boss under the bus and spill his guts.
The administration knows they've got a serious problem here, and they are already spinning like madmen. On Thursday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said it was "appropriate" that the Pentagon should investigate Flynn. He then blamed Barack Obama for the whole situation, since Flynn's security clearance was granted under his administration. It would seem that the former president and his lieutenants are just supposed to know, perhaps via ESP, when a highly decorated former general is lying through his teeth. (Z)
Tomorrow is the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency, which means that if he's going to get an Obamacare replacement through the House before the deadline, it's got to be approved today. That's not going to happen, of course, as GOP leaders confirmed on Thursday. They hope to schedule a vote next week.
The strategy being employed here by Paul Ryan & Co. is clear: They have to get this rammed through as fast as they possibly can. The longer it lingers, the more time there is for anyone and everyone to weigh in and share how much they hate the new plan. In particular, if the think tanks and the CBO have time to prepare their analyses, revealing the downsides to the new plan, that will likely be the death knell. The problem that the GOP leadership has—which is why they made their announcement on Thursday—is that the votes for the new plan aren't there, and are not likely to ever be. According to The Hill's whip count, 21 House Republicans are already a 'no' on the new plan. Ryan can only afford 22 defections, which means that if just one of the 56 Republican "undecideds" jumps ship, it's over. And even if that obstacle is overcome, Senate Republicans are already making it clear they don't like the new plan. It's not just the handful of moderates, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), either. It's also conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). The Republicans' margin of error in the Senate, of course, is even narrower than in the House: just three votes. Add it all up, and it looks like it's time to get to work on Obamacare replacement v3.0. (Z)
The first two major legislative pushes of the Trump administration—changing the tax code, and getting rid of Obamacare—don't appear to be going anywhere. Considering this, the folks at the Department of Defense, who were excited at the prospect of billions in new funding, are seeing their enthusiasm wane.
At the moment, Trump is asking for an $84 billion dollar increase in military expenditures. That seems unlikely to happen, since it would be difficult to come up with that kind of money without wrecking the budget (and that's before any possible tax cuts). Further, $84 billion is actually just a drop in the bucket when it comes to Trump's original promises. For example, he wanted a 355-ship navy. That alone would cost $102 billion a year every year until 2047 to achieve, and that money would only cover the cost of the new ships. There would also need to be additional money for staffing those ships, of course, and this is all before we talk about Trump's proposals for the other branches of the military. So, it seems another promise will bite the dust. (Z)
President Donald Trump was chatting with the Wall Street Journal about NAFTA, and he shared an interesting thought, telling them: "Hey, I'm a nationalist and a globalist. I'm both." This doesn't make a lot of sense, and it certainly doesn't line up with his rhetoric during the campaign. At the RNC, for example, Trump said: "Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo." That said, the fact that Trump has flip-flopped here is not really the interesting part, since he does that all the time. The interesting part is that, yet again, Trump appears to be wholly rejecting Steve Bannon's worldview. It's another defeat for the (soon to be former?) White House Senior Adviser. (Z)
Now that we are nearly 100 days into the Trump presidency, it means we are well past the 90-day mark. That means we are now past the deadline by which Trump promised that his administration—with Rudy Giuliani taking the lead—would release a report on Russia's hacking of the 2016 election, along with a plan to "aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks."
The report is not done, of course, so Politico decided to look into its status. It turns out that there's not even a draft, as yet. Nor has any information been collected, or agencies contacted, or much of anything else. In fact, the only thing that seems to have been done is that Giuliani gave a talk, using a white board and a pen, at a March 7 cybersecurity event. The White House insists that a report is coming eventually, and that it's now being overseen by, naturally enough, Jared Kushner. He'll have to squeeze it in between bringing peace to the Middle East, solving the opioid crisis, making the government more efficient, and improving veterans' healthcare. (Z)
The problem with losing a game of chicken is that, once the opposition knows you'll back down, it becomes that much harder to win the next round. Now that the Democrats have stared Donald Trump down on border wall funding, they are confident that they can do it again, and again, as needed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for example, says that Trump rarely even mentions the wall in their conversations, much less trying to twist his arm, or strike some sort of deal.
At the same time, the Democrats' colleagues on the state level are taking no chances. In California, New York, Rhode Island, and several municipalities, bills are moving forward that would punish any firm that works on the wall, denying them the right to bid on contracts, and potentially even canceling existing contracts. Who knew wall building could be so complicated? (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr27 GOP Unveils Obamacare Replacement v2.0
Apr27 Trump to Pull out of NAFTA...or Not
Apr27 Net Neutrality Getting Closer to Being a Memory
Apr27 Trump 100-Day Mark Approval Rating Will Be Lowest Recorded
Apr27 Trump Unveils Anti-Immigrant Phone Line, Gets Trolled
Apr26 Michael Flynn Is in Hot Water
Apr26 Judge: No Defunding "Sanctuary Cities"
Apr26 Trump Eager to Appoint a Second SCOTUS Justice
Apr26 Trade Wars: Win Some, Lose Some
Apr26 Bannon Loses Again
Apr26 Sessions: Hawaii Slam Was Just a Joke
Apr26 Clinton Trolls Trump
Apr25 Michael Flynn in Hot Water
Apr25 Judge: No Defunding "Sanctuary Cities"
Apr25 Trump Eager to Appoint a Second SCOTUS Justice
Apr25 Trade Wars: Win Some, Lose Some
Apr25 Bannon Loses Again
Apr25 Sessions: Hawaii Slam Was Just a Joke
Apr25 Clinton Trolls Trump
Apr24 White House Tax Proposal Coming Wednesday
Apr24 North Korea, U.S. Continue War of Words
Apr24 What Trump Is Actually Good At
Apr24 Sessions Says Reversing Erroneous Tax Credits Could Pay for Wall
Apr24 Ben Carson Disappoints at HUD
Apr24 Trump Says He Won't Fire Spicer
Apr24 France: It's Le Pen and Macron
Apr23 Scientists March
Apr23 Retail Decline Presages Trouble for Trump
Apr23 Why Did Trump Win? Racism
Apr23 Surgeon General Asked to Resign
Apr23 Trump Will Hold 100th Day Rally
Apr23 Democrats' Eyes Turn to Montana
Apr23 Trumps' Marriage in Trouble?
Apr22 Russians Tried to Infiltrate Trump Campaign
Apr22 Trump Shifts Gears on North Korea
Apr22 Trump Slams "100 Days"
Apr22 Chaffetz Wants Answers
Apr22 Schiff Is on the Rise
Apr22 Conservative Media Think They Can Dictate Staffing; White House Apparently Agrees
Apr22 French Head to the Polls Tomorrow
Apr21 Russians Tried to Infiltrate Trump Campaign
Apr21 Trump Shifts Gears on North Korea
Apr21 Trump Slams "100 Days"
Apr21 Chaffetz Wants Answers
Apr21 Schiff Is on the Rise
Apr21 Conservative Media Think They Can Dictate Staffing; White House Apparently Agrees
Apr21 French Head to the Polls Tomorrow
Apr20 Russian Smoke Getting Closer to Being a Smoking Gun
Apr20 Trump Administration Deports First DREAMer