Trump: “This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history!”
Developments on Day 181 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Shouts “Witch Hunt” Over Trump Jr.’s Admission of Possible Russia Collusion
Breaking his Twitter silence over his son’s admission of possible collusion with the Kremlin, Donald Trump returns to his proclamation that he and his family are suffering the “greatest witch hunt” in US history:
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
White House staff had kept Trump from Twitter commentary since The New York Times initially broke the story of the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. — as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. However, after subsequent Times stories pushed Trump Jr. into release of e-mails undermining his first responses and confirming that he welcomed the discussion of Moscow-provided material against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump Sr. unleashed a series of tweets on Tuesday morning.
After proclaiming the “witch hunt”, Trump assaulted the coverage as “Fake Media” whose sources are often “made up and do not exist”. He tried to turn the blame on “Democrats [who] have willfully used Moscow disinformation to influence the presidential election against Donald Trump”. Then the President — renowned for his consumption of television, often heading to Twitter after watching morning news and commentary programs — insisted:
The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
While Trump’s tweets showed his distinct personal touches, possibly defying staff attempts to restrain him on social media, they fit the White House strategy of trying to tarnish the press while throwing up diversions, such as exaggeration of a Democratic consultant’s visit to the Ukrainian Embassy to discuss Trump into a Clinton “collusion” with a foreign state. A White House team is trying to discredit the reporters on the Trump Jr. story by going back years into their work to mistakes or alleged biases: the “research” will lead to demands for corrections, social media campaign, and feeding of attack lines to conservative outlets such as Fox News.
Trump combined his defensive anger and frustration on Tuesday with an optimism that the corner has been turned on the Trump Jr. story, even as four days of explosive revelations are being absorbed amid the multiple investigations of Trump-Russia links.
“He was great”, Trump said of his son’s performance on the Fox show of Trump-friendly presenter Sean Hannity on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, hours before flying to France, he told aides, “I think this is getting better.”
But some of those White House advisors did not share the hope. “The White House is paralyzed,” a “top Republican close to the West Wing” said. Another official commented, “Another week lost” as the GOP leadership scrambles to get some form of a healthcare bill passed in the Senate after six months under the Trump Administration without a single major piece of legislation.
Republican Senators agreed. “It’s sucking the oxygen out of the room, everybody knows that,” said John McCain of Arizona. “I think it’s very difficult when you have this overwhelming barrage of new information that unfolds every few days. I think it’s obvious.”
Tom Cole of Oklahoma summarized:
So a lot of important legislation, and we need to be working and thinking about that. I’m not in the business of advising the White House, but I would say, as much as you can focus on the things that need to get done, message on these sorts of things, and try to avoid the distractions, I think that would help us a lot.
And Mike McCaul of Texas expressed concern, “”It doesn’t help. I mean, these things always take us…off message when the message should be a unified Congress stands up to Russia and Putin.”
Trump: “Very Angry” If Senate Doesn’t Pass Healthcare Bill
Donald Trump says he “will be very angry” if the Senate does not repeal ObamaCare in what may be a last-ditch effort this summer.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has “got to pull it off”. Asked what would happen if the GOP leadership — who failed to get a vote before the July 4 recess because of the opposition of Senators from both the moderate and conservative wings — did not succeed, Trump replied:
Well, I don’t even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad. I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset. But I’m sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. They’ve been promising it for years.
Meanwhile, the White House put out a confusing attack on the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which has evaluated that 22 million Americans will lose coverage under the GOP replacement of ObamaCare, that provisions for those who still have coverage will be reduced, and that premiums will rise.
The Congressional Budget Office's math doesn't add up.
Faulty Numbers = Faulty Results pic.twitter.com/zdf4bZ01ma
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 12, 2017
Vox summarizes how the Executive played fast and loose with figures to attack the CBO:
In the end, the CBO prediction was largely on target in terms of how people would be covered by the Affordable Care Act; it just miscalculated where that coverage would come from. Today, between the exchanges and Medicaid, roughly 20 million people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.