TrumpWatch, Day 52: McCain on Trump-Russia Links — “A Lot More Shoes to Drop”
Senator indicates US agencies holding more unrevealed information about Trump connections with Russia
Developments on Day 52 of the Trump Administration:
McCain: More Info to Come on Trump-Russia
Senator John McCain says there are “a lot more shoes to drop” about the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russian officials.
McCain was asked about last week’s revelations that Michael Flynn worked as a registered foreign agent for the Turkish Government while he was in the Trump transition at National Security Advisor-designate. He responded, “There’s a lot of things in our relations with Russia that trouble me a lot,” including the removal of a provision in the Republican platform calling for defensive arms to Ukraine — reportedly after pressure from Trump advisor J.D. Gordon, who was in contact with Russian officials.
Saying much more over relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin needs “scrutiny”, McCain summarized, “I think there are a lot more shoes to drop from this centipede.”
McCain also called on Donald Trump to either retract or substantiate his claim that President Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower during the 2016 Presidential campaign.
The Arizona Senator said he had “no reason to believe” Trump’s allegation, set out in four tweets on March 8 after the President saw claims by a conservative radio talk show host, recycled by Breitbart.
The House Intelligence Committee has set a Monday deadline for the White House to produce evidence.
Kremlin Defends Trump: “Our Officials Met With Hillary”
The Kremlin has tried to defend Donald Trump over the investigation of Trump-Russia links, saying Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak also met with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s staff in 2016.
Spokesman Dmitri Peskov told CNN on Sunday:
Well, if you look at some people connected with Hillary Clinton during her campaign, you would probably see that he had lots of meetings of that kind. There are lots of specialists in politology, people working in think tanks advising Hillary or advising people working for Hillary.
The spokesman did not explain whether, as with the Trump meetings, the discussions were private and withheld from scrutiny until they were uncovered.
Peskov insisted that, with regard to Trump’s associates, “There were no meetings about elections — electoral process … So if you look at it with intention to demonize Russia, you would probably say that, yes, he was trying to interfere in Hillary’s activities. But it would be nonsense, because this is not true.”
Health Secretary: “No One Worse Off Financially” Under ObamaCare Replacement
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price leaves a hostage to fortune by declaring that “nobody will be worse off financially” under the Republican replacement for ObamaCare.
I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through. They’ll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forces them to buy.
There’s cost that needs to come down, and we believe we’re going to be able to do that through this system. There’s coverage that’s going to go up.
Price’s belief defies the assessment of many economists and health service providers that some Americans will face a rise in cost or be unable to afford coverage under the GOP plan. Meanwhile, a study last week assessed that the wealthiest in the US will reap $157 billion over 10 years from tax cuts in the new system.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius responded to Price on Meet the Press:
There is no estimate looking at this bill that with less money going to subsidies, with older Americans being able to be charged five times what younger Americans are being charged, and with no variation based on income that more people will have coverage.
Trump Officials Try to Discredit Budget Agency Ahead of Health Care Report
Ahead of a Congressional Budget Office assessment of the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the White House casts doubt on the agency’s credibility.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney argued that the CBO cannot assess a large piece of legislation:
If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are.
So, I love the folks at the CBO, they work really hard. They do. Sometimes we ask them to do stuff that they’re not capable of doing.
Last Wednesday, Press Spokesman Sean Spicer asserted, “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place.”
A fact-check of Mulvaney’s derogation of the CBO indicates that it is off the mark. While the agency overestimated the number of those enrolled of ObamaCare, “the differences between CBO’s estimates and actual experience are well within the range that I would expect given the scope of the change CBO was being asked to analyze,” according to Matthew Fiedler, a fellow with the Center for Health Policy in Brookings’ Economic Studies Program.
Fiedler said the “big picture” assessment was on point, including the estimate that ObamaCare would leave the uninsured rate at a historic low.
The CBO also could not anticipate the Supreme Court decision about Medicaid expansion allowing each state to decide participation. Nineteen states have refused to widen eligibility.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the driving force behind the GOP bill, also fired a shot on Sunday:
CBO will say that, gosh, not as many people will get coverage. You know why? Because this is not a Government mandate.
But asked how many will lose coverage under the GOP’s plan, he said, “I can’t answer that question. It’s up to people….You get it if you want it. That’s freedom.”
Q: How many will lose coverage under GOP health plan?
Paul Ryan: “I can't answer that question. It's up to people.”pic.twitter.com/hqgWoSfDIE
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 12, 2017
GOP Senator Cotton: House Healthcare Bill Won’t Pass Without Major Changes
GOP Senator Tom Cotton warns House Republicans that their plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare will not pass the upper chamber without major changes.
“The bill probably can be fixed, but it’s going to take a lot of carpentry on that framework,” Cotton said on ABC’s This Week. He added that the current version would have “adverse consequences for millions of Americans.”
The Arkansas Senator advised House colleagues to “pause”:
Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote….
I’m afraid that if [you] vote for this bill, [you’re] going to put the House majority at risk next year.
Four GOP Senators besides Cotton have already said they will not support the current bill, wiping out the Republicans’ 52-48 majority in the Senate for any vote.
EPA Head Deluged With Calls After He Questions Climate Change
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is swamped with calls after he questions the link between human activity and climate change.
The demand on Pruitt’s main line was so high by Friday that EPA officials created an impromptu call center, with interns answering phones or calls going straight to voicemail.
The EPA head — who, as Oklahoma Attorney General, supported dozens of lawsuits against the agency — said in a televised interview:
we need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis” over climate change….
I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that it is “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”, a position still posted on the EPA website.
On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record pace for the second straight year, reaching 401.5 parts per million. The surge has no precedent in the 59 years in which the agency has been tracking CO2.