Trump may widen split with GOP leadership as budget deadline looms

Developments on Day 216 of the Trump Administration:

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“Trump Is a Dangerous Figurehead President”

Trump Widens Split with Republicans Over Budget

Donald Trump has sent Republican leaders scrambling to ensure a budget agreement by the end of September, after threatening to shut the Federal Government if he does not get funding for a US-Mexican border wall.

At his Arizona rally on Tuesday night, Trump blared, “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall. Build that wall!”

The threat may be bluff as Trump plays to his hard-right base: just after his inauguration in January, the President told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that his high-profile assurance of Mexican payment for the $25 billion wall is just for show. But — with Trump now effectively acknowledging that the Mexicans will never make a contribution — his pose on Tuesday could complicate both efforts in Congress to get a budget resolution and his fraying relationships with the GOP’s leadership.

Trump has been criticizing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter. Hours before the Phoenix speech, The New York Times described how the two men are no longer speaking, with Trump blaming McConnell not only for the failure to repeal ObamaCare but also for the Trump-Russia investigations and Congress’s adoption of new sanctions on Moscow.

The White House is already lobbying to defeat GOP Senators whom they blame over healthcare and opposition to Trump. On Tuesday night, Trump denounced both Arizona senators: John McCain and Jeff Flake, who will face a Trump-backed opponent in his 2018 campaign for re-election.

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan rejected Trump’s threat, “I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included.”

Ryan noted that the House of Representatives has already endorsed more funding for border security although the Senate, where the GOP has only a 52-48, needs time to ensure confirmation.

Supplemental funding for the Federal Government, adopted in March, ends on October 1. Ryan said a short-term continuing resolution will probably be needed to maintain government operations such as the provision of Social Security and payment for Medicare and Medicaid.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer warned:

If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything.

McConnell tried to play down any division with Trump in a Wednesday statement:

The President and I, and our teams, have been and continue to be in regular contact about our shared goals. We are working together to develop tax reform and infrastructure legislation so we can grow the economy and create jobs; to prevent a government default; to fund the government so we can advance our priorities in the short and long terms; to pass the defense authorization and defense appropriations bills so we can support our troops and help implement an effective strategy against ISIL; to provide relief from Obamacare; and to continue our progress for our nation’s veterans.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and McConnell “will hold previously scheduled meetings following the August recess to discuss these critical items with members of the congressional leadership and the president’s cabinet”.

Trump’s Pre-Speech Meeting About Removing GOP Senator Flake

Before taking the stage in Phoenix, Donald Trump met potential challengers to GOP Senator Flake.

Having denounced Flake as “toxic” on Twitter, Trump huddled with Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham, both of whom are said to be considering a run. Representative Trent Franks, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, was also present.

Trump continued his rhetorical assault on the Arizona senator during the brief meeting, calling him “the flake”. Then, during his speech, Trump — albeit without naming Flake — whipped up the crowd to boo the “very weak” legislator: “Nobody knows who the hell he is.”


President Trump’s 1,057 — and Counting — False or Misleading Claims

The Washington Post has now tallied 1,057 false or misleading statements by Donald Trump since he took office.

The statements include “I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, and then do it” (50 times); “We have many companies, I say, pouring back into the country” (42); and “The stock market is setting records” (25).

The tally is only up to August 21, before the numerous falsehoods and distortions in Trump’s Arizona speech on subjects such as his statements after the white supremacist violence in Virginia; his economic record; and even his lie that he has a home in Charlottesville.

Rabbis Cancel Call with Trump After Charlottesville Remarks

Major groups of rabbis have cancelled their annual call with the President, in the wake of Donald Trump’s ongoing blame of “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville:

President Trump’s statements during and after the tragic events in Charlottesville are so lacking in moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred that we cannot organize such a call this year.

The rabbis said Trump had “given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia”.

During the Obama Administration, Jewish groups began hosting the call in the lead-up to the Jewish High Holidays. Last year, more than 600 rabbis joined the conversation with Barack Obama.

Singatories to Wednesday’s letter include the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Essential Reading: Protecting ObamaCare as Trump Tries to Destroy It

The New York Times profiles the work of a Tennessee healthcare counselor, Sharon Barker, and her colleagues trying to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act even as Donald Trump tries to tear down the system:

“Despite surviving Republican efforts to repeal it, the law known as Obamacare remains vulnerable. President Trump has repeatedly threatened to end billions of dollars in payments to insurance companies, but his administration decided this week to continue them for another month.

An even more crucial question is whether administration officials who openly detest the law will lead a vigorous nationwide push to persuade the uninsured to buy policies sold under its banner, and existing customers to keep their coverage, when open enrollment for next year starts on Nov. 1.

The evidence so far suggests they won’t. The administration recently ended $23 million worth of contracts with two companies that helped people sign up for coverage. It also is cutting the enrollment period in half in most states, to 45 days. A number of advocacy groups that worked closely with the Obama administration to get the word out about open enrollment have heard nothing from the Trump administration about re-upping the partnerships this year.

All of this has Ms. Barker and other Obamacare enrollment counselors around the nation, many of whom rely on federal grants to carry out their work and to keep their jobs, revving up earlier than usual, and bracing for the strange new challenge of promoting coverage that the president is attacking at the same time. They are not even certain the law’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a tax penalty will be enforced.”

State Department’s Science Envoy Resigns with “Impeach” Message

The State Department’s science envoy, Daniel Kammen, resigns following Donald Trump’s response to the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville.

In a further message, Kammen spelled out “IMPEACH” in the initial letter of each of the seven paragraphs.

In their resignation statement last week, the membership of the Presidential Committee on Arts and Humanities set out “RESIST” through the letters beginning their six paragraphs.