Pence: Reports of plans to replace Trump are “disgraceful and offensive”

Developments on Day 199 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Trump on the Golf Course, Chaos in the White House

VP Declares Loyalty to Embattled Trump

Vice President Mike Pence has rejected a New York Times report that he is preparing to run for President in 2020 if Trump does not seek a second term.

Pence said in a statement:

Today’s article in The New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.

Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.

The Times reported that several Republicans are positioning themselves for a 2020 run, as Trump faces the Trump-Russia investigation, failure to pass a single major piece of legislation in his first 6 1/2 months in office, and declining support in opinion polls. Among those meeting possible supporters are Ohio Governor John Kasich, who stood in 2016, and Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN and former South Carolina Government, has put her long-time pollster on the payroll and met New York financiers.

According to sources cited by the Times, “multiple advisors” to Pence — including the Vice President’s new Chief of Staff Nick Ayers — have told party donors that the Vice President will stand if Trump does not pursue re-election. In one discussion in June, the Vice President’s aide Marty Obst said the Pence team wants to be prepared for an opening, according to “a Republican briefed on the meeting”.

Obst denied the reports and said the suggestion of Pence’s maneuver for 2020 is “beyond ridiculous”.

Pence has set up a political fund-raising organization, Great America Committee, and hosted donors at the Vice President’s mansion. They include Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, representatives of the billionaire financiers Charles and David Koch, and coal tycoons Kelly and Joe Craft from Kentucky.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that there is no reason for Pence to make preparations for a Presidential campaign because Trump “says privately and publicly often, George, that he’ll be there for seven and a half more years. So he plans on being a two-term President”.

She asserted, “It is absolutely true that the Vice President is getting ready for 2020, for re-election as Vice President.” There was “zero concern”, Conway maintained, because the New York Times report is “complete fiction” and “complete fabrication”.

“Trump TV” Propaganda Channel Launches

The Trump TV propaganda channel makes its debut, with proclamation of the “real news” of Donald Trump’s great success with the economy and veterans affairs.

Kayleigh McEnany, a conservative commentator who has been a pro-Trump talking head on CNN, is fronting the good-news show from Trump Tower:

Some observers, including conservative 2016 Presidential candidate Evan McMullin, were not impressed and saw echoes of State media in other countries.

Effort to Block Trump Administration Removing Right to Sue Nursing Homes Over Abuse

Activists are making a last-ditch effort to stop the Trump Administration from stripping nursing home residents and their families of the right to take facilities to court over alleged abuse, neglect, or sexual assault.

In June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services announced plans to abolish an Obama-era rule that prohibited any nursing homes which accept Medicare or Medicaid funds from requiring that disputes be settled by a third party rather than a court.

More than 75 consumer, health, and advocacy groups have formed the Fair Arbitration Now Coalition to stop the abolition of the rule.

Remington Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights at Public Citizen, said the imposition of pre-dispute arbitration agreements creates an unequal balance of power between the nursing home and its elderly patients or the family members caring for them.

But nursing homes, the American Health Care Association, and the US Chamber of Commerce are backing the change. In November, a federal judge in Mississippi temporarily blocked the rule from taking effect, leading to the CMS response that it would make revisions.