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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Where Things Stand This Morning on Republicans Killing Americans, Etc...

The likely most pivotal day for Trump and the Republicans' domestic agenda is here -- the vote on the Obamacare repeal is supposed to be sometime today, though the timetable isn't clear. So far, not good for the Republicans (though potentially good -- or at least not horrible -- for everyone else):

Well before midnight, this much was clear: Republicans still had no deal on their health care bill to repeal Obamacare, as a Thursday vote loomed around the corner.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and his top deputies huddled with a group of moderate Republicans in the Speaker's office Wednesday night, as members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus sounded increasingly optimistic that they were close to getting a major concession from the White House.
Hours later, Ryan and his top deputies never came out to speak to the cameras and dozens of reporters waiting outside, and it was clear that leadership had no good news to share. With the exception of a few members who rushed away without speaking to press, all leaders in the room, including Ryan, appeared to have ducked out using side exits.
While this gathering was wrapping up, House leaders had gotten more bad news: GOP Rep. Charlie Dent, the leader of the moderate Tuesday Group, released a statement opposing the current bill spearheaded by Ryan and President Trump.

Of course, what they refer to as "good news" is taking health insurance away from tens of millions of people, but they're doing it so compassionately, right?

Ryan can only afford to lose 21 votes... Lasts night, Matt Murphy listed off all of the members of the Freedom Caucus, the ultra-right-wing bloc that appears to oppose this bill the most, because it doesn't kick Americans hard enough.

This morning, the Freedom Caucus has millions of incentives to vote against the bill

In a last-minute effort to sink the Republican health care bill, a powerful network of conservative donors said Wednesday it would create a new fund for Republican 2018 reelection races -- but they'll only open it up to GOPers who vote against the bill.
The advocacy groups helmed by Charles and David Koch have unveiled a new pool of money for advertisements, field programs and mailings that would exclude those who vote for the health care bill they oppose on Thursday. The effort, which they described as worth millions of dollars, is an explicit warning to on-the-fence Republicans from one of the most influential players in electoral politics not to cross them. 

The world has been turned on its head so much over the last few months that liberals are now on the same side as the Koch Brothers, if only because we want to help people and because they want to hurt people (by destabilizing labor) more than even Paul-Granny-Statvin'-Ryan does! To that, I say, back up that Brinks truck, Charles and David.

More updates as the day goes on. The Gorsuch hearings continue today, and though as recently as yesterday morning, Charlie Pierce thought that his confirmation was a given, Pierce saw something that may have softened that prediction a bit:

But on Wednesday, Leahy, the feisty youngster from Vermont, got his teeth right down to the bone of an issue that everybody on the other side of the dais would rather give a good leaving alone. Quite simply, if the President* of the United States has been making money and/or receiving any benefits from foreigners, then the President* of the United States is in violation of Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States, which the president* swore to preserve and protect in January. By any reasonable standard, this would leave the president* liable to impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in the United States Senate.
Young Pat Leahy decided that Gorsuch ought to talk about that for a while. Leahy said:
LEAHY: Yesterday, we discussed the relevance of what the Framers meant in the Constitution, and many feel that what they wanted to do was to prevent a president from being corrupted by foreign governments and, obviously, I am referring to the emoluments clause. What is the purpose of the emoluments clause?
Gorsuch swung into his now-familiar routine:
GORSUCH: The Emoluments Clause, Senator, is not a clause that had attracted a lot of attention until recently. Among other things, it prohibits members of the government of this country from taking emoluments, gifts from foreign agent and the question is, what exactly does that mean? And that is a subject on which there is ongoing litigation right now, Senator, I believe, certainly threatened litigation and pending litigation and I have to be careful about expressing any views.
The president* already has been sued by a good-government watchdog group on the grounds that he is in violation of the Emoluments Clause, but Leahy wasn't going to let Gorsuch off that easily. Leahy kept the word "impeachment" hanging in the air without saying it out loud. Leahy said:
LEAHY: It was done in order to exclude corruption and foreign influence, to prohibit anyone in office from receiving or holding any emoluments in foreign states. You wouldn't be hesitant to discuss the Fourth Amendment or the Fifth Amendment, would you?

I think that this approach is a good way to keep picking at Gorsuch's scab until a wound opens. Making him have to choose between potentially incriminating Trimp or looking like he's part of the coverup will make him squirm, and if he can't walk that tightrope, he'll either face Trump's public ire (which clearly upsets him) or be widely mocked (from what I can tell, no one's played him on Saturday Night Live yet, but their costume designers may need to find a new wig and suit for Kate McKinnon...).

And speaking of the coverup, it becomes more apparent by the hour:

That's not going away by pinning it all on Manafort, which it seemed the Trump camp was trying to do 24 hours ago. But whatever, it's all Fake News:

UPDATE (3/23/2017, 9:34 AM):

Looks like all eyes on this 11:30 meeting.

UPDATE (3/23/2017, 10:09 AM):

And now we're looking at 3:30:

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