Trump: “I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

Developments on Day 154 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Admits He Didn’t Tape Conversations With Comey

Donald Trump steps back from his Twitter threat that he might have tapes of his one-on-one conversations with James Comey, the FBI director whom he fired in early May over the expanding Trump-Russia investigation.

Trump also used Twitter for his admission on Thursday:

Three days after he fired Comey — and two days after he bragged to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the FBI Director was “crazy” and a “nut job” — Trump warned:

But the attempted intimidation backfired: worried that Trump would try to quash the FBI’s inquiry, Comey authorized a friend to disseminate memos of his three meetings and six phone calls with the President since January 6.

Among the meetings was Trump’s request on February 14 that Comey drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, dismissed a day earlier because of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

The revelation of a possible obstruction of justice by Trump spurred the appointment of a Special Counsel — Comey’s predecessor as FBI Director, Robert Mueller.

In contrast to almost all of Trump’s tweets, the denial of any tapes was the product of discussions among White House staff, according to officials. The decision was made last weekend, the White House counsel’s office reviewed the language in the tweet, and Trump’s personal legal team was aware of it.

Intelligence Heads: Trump Repeatedly Asked US to Say “No Collusion with Russia”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and and National Security Agency head Mike Rogers have confirmed that Donald Trump repeatedly asked them to say that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s associates and Russian officials.

US officials said Coats and Rogers spoke with both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators in separate meetings last week.

Coats said Trump appeared “obsessed” with the investigation. However, the two men said that, while interactions with Trump were odd and uncomfortable, they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere.

Earlier this month, Coats had refused to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of Trump’s pressure. However, the next day former FBI director Comey gave a full description of the requests to limit investigations and publicly declare no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. It then quickly emerged that Trump had asked both Coats and Rogers to curb inquiries and declare the President was not under scrutiny.

Senate GOP Leaders Unveil Bill to Replace ObamaCare

Ending weeks of secret deliberations and drafting, Senate Republicans unveil their bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

As expected, the draft legislation makes deep cuts in Medicaid, ends the mandate that most Americans have health insurance, and gives sweeping tax cuts to the wealthy.

See TrumpWatch, Day 153: Senate GOP’s Healthcare Bill — Medicaid Cut, Taxes Repealed on Wealthy, No Funding for Planning Parenthood

However, the 142-page bill faced an immediate challenge as four conservatives — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson — said they will oppose the measure if it is not altered: “It does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

Other GOP senators, such as Dean Heller and Rob Portman, also raised concerns, as did AARP, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Republicans have a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate.

The Senate version of the American Health Care Act remains the structure of the bill passed by the House of Representatives in early May at the third attempt, but has modifications — some moderating the cuts in coverage but others imposing tougher measures on lower-income people.

Despite the lack of any hearings on the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a vote by the end of next week, before the July 4 recess.

More than 40 disabled people were arrested on Thursday after participating in a “die-in” protest outside McConnell’s office at the Capitol.


Another Dent to Trump’s Jobs Boast: Carrier Cutting 600+ Personnel Despite “No Move to Mexico”

In another dent to Donald Trump’s “Keeping Jobs in the US” claims, Carrier is cutting personnel at its Indiana plant.

Trump boasted soon after his election that Carrier had cancelled plans to move its plant to Mexico, but the manufacturer is laying off more than 600 employees from July.

Only a few hundred manufacturing jobs swill remain by Christmas.

Carrier, part of United Technologies, did pledge to employ at least 1,069 people in Indianapolis for 10 years in exchange for up to $7 million in incentives. But only 730 of the positions are in manufacturing — the rest are engineering and technical jobs that were never scheduled to be cut.

Carrier has also punctured Trump’s claim that $16 million in investment will produce more jobs, saying that the money is going towards toward more automation.

Earlier this week, Ford deflated Trump’s declaration that the car manufacturer will not move to Mexico by announcing that some production of its Focus model will be relocated in China.