Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Helsinki is turning point in Republican relations with Trump

July 21, 2018
The US president was attacked by politicians for seemingly siding with Vladimir Putin over election-meddling. But voters seem unmoved by his mis-steps
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© FT montage; Getty Images. John McCain and James Clapper have said they were horrified by Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Kathrin Hille in Moscow 

It was billed as one of the biggest geopolitical events of the year. From the balcony above reporters could be heard describing the scene as the world waited for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to hold a press conference in Helsinki’s presidential palace. The city had hosted summits before: George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, and Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in 1997.

But none quite like this.

“I don’t know which side is the bride and which side is the groom. It sort of feels like we’re at a wedding,” said Jim Acosta of CNN, explaining that the US and Russian reporters sat on opposite sides of the room.

But the atmosphere was more funereal when the US and Russian presidents walked in after their meeting, which included a two-hour private session. Expectations had been further heightened by the US decision to charge 12 alleged Russian spies with interfering in the 2016 election, just days before the Helsinki summit.

Journalists wondered if Mr Trump would publicly confront Mr Putin on the issue, while also speculating about how he would treat the Russian leader after having disparaged Nato allies in Brussels and London en route to Helsinki. Or would he cosy up to Mr Putin as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

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President Vladimir Putin hands President Donald Trump a 2018 World Cup football in Helsinki earlier this week © AFP

Mr Putin, a former KGB colonel, opened by announcing that the meeting had been “very fruitful”. Mr Trump congratulated his Russian counterpart on hosting the football World Cup finals, before adding that they had held a “deeply productive dialogue”.

In a rare light moment, Mr Putin sparked laughter by handing Mr Trump a football and saying, “the ball is in your court”. But the jocularity was soon punctured by comments from Mr Trump that ricocheted around the world. One former CIA director would describe his words as “ treasonous” while others asked if Republican leaders would continue to support the president, especially with the party desperate to maintain control of Congress in the November midterm elections.

After more than a year of speculation about his refusal to criticise Mr Putin for ordering — according to the president’s own intelligence agencies — cyber attacks on Democratic groups during the 2016 campaign, a reporter put Mr Trump on the spot: “Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did . . . who do you believe?”

The reply was stunning. “I have great confidence in my intelligence people but . . . President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial,” Mr Trump declared.

Richard Armitage, a deputy secretary of state in the George W Bush administration, says his “jaw hit the floor” when he heard his own president appear to back Mr Putin. “I thought I was seeing a nightmare of the Wizard of Oz, arriving in Oz, pulling back the curtain and finding Vladimir Putin pulling all the strings,” he says, adding that the Russian leader had been “masterful” in the way he outplayed Mr Trump.

An axiom of US foreign policy has long been that politicians do not criticise their president when he is overseas. But Mr Trump turned the rules on their head by giving credence to a denial from Mr Putin, after the Kremlin has been accused of everything from cyber attacks to the attempted murder of former spies.

James Clapper understood the gravity of what had happened better than most. As the director of national intelligence in January 2017, he led the team that briefed then president-elect Trump on Russian interference and told him about an unconfirmed dossier— compiled by a former British spy — that included unverified claims about Mr Trump that involved sexual acts in a Moscow hotel.

“I actually went to my old college thesaurus to search for an adjective that could capture what I was witnessing,” says Mr Clapper of the comments. “I have tried . . . to come up with alternative explanations for his inexplicable deference to Russia and specifically to Mr Putin, but I have come to a point where there is no explanation other than they have something on him.”

Back in Washington, the man who succeeded Mr Clapper in the intelligence role, Dan Coats, leapt to action. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” he said in a clear rebuke of the president.

Asked on Thursday about his extraordinary statement at a security forum in Aspen, Mr Coats, who was appointed by Mr Trump, said: “Obviously, I wished he had made a different statement.”

Others were less diplomatic. John Brennan, the CIA head under Barack Obama who had accused Mr Trump of treason, tweeted: “He is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

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Former CIA heads John Brennan, left, and Michael Hayden both condemned Mr Trump © Getty

Compared with previous controversies concerning Mr Trump’s presidency where Republicans have tended to keep their powder dry, there was a much louder chorus of criticism. John McCain, the Arizona senator and frequent Trump critic, said: “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant”. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who has also sparred with Mr Trump, then declared that “the dam has broken”.

Illustrating how Republicans worried that Mr Trump had gone too far, even Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and Trump supporter, said it was the “most serious mistake” of his presidency.

The cascade of criticism forced Mr Trump to backtrack on Tuesday, claiming he had misspoken in Helsinki. The rest of the week was marked with a series of flip-flops that undermined the effort to unwind his own goal. At one point, he seemed to entertain a request from Mr Putin to send Michael McFaul, an Obama-era ambassador to Russia, back to Moscow for questioning. Even before the White House rowed back on the idea, the suggestion prompted the US Senate to vote 98-0 to condemn it.

Yet, Mr Trump confounded critics again on Thursday by inviting Mr Putin — who did not help the US president by defending his Helsinki performance — to the White House later this year. Told of the invitation while on stage at Aspen, Mr Coats laughed, and said: “That’s going to be special.”

“I cannot remember another American president appearing in public to be so acquiescent and submissive to the dominance of another foreign leader,” says James Stavridis, a former commander of Nato. “Especially one leading a nation with whom we have such significant disagreements.”

Mr Trump insists that he has been tougher on Russia than his predecessors. Yet while his administration has imposed a series of measures against Moscow — from sanctions to expelling spies — he has undermined his case with his own rhetoric. The most common explanation for his behaviour is a reluctance to concede anything he believes delegitimises his election win over Hillary Clinton.

The Kremlin was originally ecstatic that Mr Trump seemed to have accepted Mr Putin’s denial. According to Russian politicians familiar with the summit planning, the White House had wanted a promise from the Kremlin that Moscow would not meddle in the US midterms.

“There was the idea that if Trump brought home such a guarantee, he would be seen as having scored a victory,” says one Russian lawmaker. “But the proposed text amounted to an admission of guilt.”

The deluge of criticism of Mr Trump has lowered expectations in Moscow. “We knew that they would criticise Trump, but such a tornado of criticism was not expected,” says Andrei Kortunov, director of the Russian International Affairs Council. “We will have to observe the consequences. Will there be additional moves against Trump, or additional sanctions against Russia?”

David Gergen, a former adviser to four US presidents, says Mr Trump has made his biggest mistake since he equated white nationalists in Charlottesville with anti-racist protesters. “I thought this [Helsinki] would really dramatically change things,” says Mr Gergen, before adding that he has since become less certain.

His optimism that Helsinki would serve as a brake on the president’s behaviour was punctured by the realisation that Mr Trump had created a “cult-like following” and a lack of authoritative figures in the Republican party, who could push back against it. It appears, says Mr Gergen, that America under Mr Trump was no longer a country where there were people such as Arthur Vandenberg, an isolationist Republican senator who later helped the US create the postwar international order. “We live in a world in which authority figures have been torn down to a considerable degree,” he adds.

Mr Trump himself has led the charge to undermine figures of authority, such as Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Moscow’s alleged role in the 2016 election, and institutions such as the FBI. His persistent attacks on law enforcement and intelligence agencies have swayed public opinion.

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Former Nato commander James Stavridis, right, said Mr Trump appeared ‘submissive’; Richard Armitage, a former Republican official, called the summit a ‘nightmare’ © FT montage; Getty Images

An Axios/SurveyMonkey poll conducted this week found that 85 per cent of Republicans believed the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were a “distraction” and that 79 per cent of members approved of the way Mr Trump handled himself in Helsinki.

“It is all about the politics,” says Mr Clapper. “When will you say ‘enough’. Apparently for many Republicans, that threshold hasn’t been reached yet.”

Michael Hayden, a former head of the CIA and National Security Agency who has been critical of Mr Trump, says his main concern is the US public reaction.

“There is a non-trivial chunk of the American population who think that Brennan is corrupt, Clapper is corrupt, that this is made up and that the Russians didn’t do any of this, and that even if they did it really doesn’t matter,” says Mr Hayden. “We cannot let this become normalised . . . This is not normal.”

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Moscow

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi



Pence, Pompeo urged Trump to ‘make clarifications’ on Russia meddling – report

July 18, 2018
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VP, secretary of state said to corner US president in the Oval Office and advise he address comments exonerating Moscow from election interference

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Commerce Department in Washington, July 16, 2018. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Commerce Department in Washington, July 16, 2018. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo together urged US President Donald Trump to make clear his position on Russian interference in the 2016 elections after Trump drew a storm of criticism for apparently clearing Moscow of wrongdoing.

Pence and Pompeo held a conversation with Trump on Tuesday in the Oval Office during which they advised Trump to “make clarifications” about his position on Russian election meddling, NBC News reported, citing a source familiar with the conversation.

Later that day, Trump declared he had misspoken when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the vote that put him in office.

Speaking at the White House ahead of a meeting with Republican lawmakers, Trump said, “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia’ instead of ‘why it would.’”

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said. But he added, as he usually does, “It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”

US President Donald Trump, right, listens to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during press conference after a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

His comments came — amid rising rebuke by his own party — about 27 hours after his original, widely reported statement, which he made at a summit Monday in Helsinki standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During that press conference, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said. That was the part he corrected on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump, left, listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

In Helsinki, Putin said he had indeed wanted Trump to win the election — a revelation that might have made more headlines if not for Trump’s performance — but had taken no action to make it happen.

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(Includes text from Vanity Fair)

For Republicans, ‘The Dam Has Broken.’ But for How Long?

July 18, 2018

After 17 months, three weeks and six days of Donald J. Trump’s tumultuous presidency, some of his fellow Republicans had finally had enough. “The dam has broken,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican critic from Tennessee, said on Tuesday.

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Senator Bob Corker

But has it really broken and if so for how long? As Mr. Trump scrambled to patch any holes on Tuesday by reimagining his extraordinary news conference with Russia’s president the day before in Helsinki, Finland, the question was whether he had reached a genuine turning point or simply endured another one of those episodes that seems decisive but ultimately fades into the next one.

For the moment, at least, this time did feel different. After seeming to take President Vladimir V. Putin’s word over that of America’s intelligence agencies on Russian election meddling, Mr. Trump was being accused not only of poor judgment but of treason — and not just by fringe elements and liberal talk show hosts, but by a former C.I.A. director.

By  Peter Baker
The New York Times

In a presidency without precedent, mark another moment for the history books. While the accusation of treason has been thrown around on the edges of the political debate from time to time, never in the modern era has it become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin on Monday at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the president’s defenders, this all sounds like another eruption of what they often call Trump Derangement Syndrome. That he drives his critics to such extremes, they argue, says more about them than it does about Mr. Trump. As the president backtracked on his deferential comments at Monday’s meeting with Mr. Putin and asserted that he really does accept that Russia intervened in the 2016 election, allies assumed that this, too, would blow over.

But the list of Republicans rebuking the president included not just the usual suspects like Mr. Corker, who has been a frequent critic and plans on retiring when his term is up in January, but friends of the president like the former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called his performance in Finland “the most serious mistake of his presidency,” and the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, which called it a “national embarrassment.”

Even some of the normally friendly folks at Fox News expressed astonishment, including Neil Cavuto and Abby Huntsman, whose father, Jon Huntsman, is Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Moscow.

While Republican leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin trod more carefully on Tuesday, focusing their fire on Russia rather than the president, they were seeking ways to demonstrate their distance, perhaps with new sanctions on Moscow or hearings to grill members of the Trump administration.

And Republicans were eager to latch onto Mr. Trump’s retreat to avoid a confrontation. “I wish he had said it in front of President Putin and the world yesterday, but yeah, I take him at his word if he said he misspoke, absolutely,” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said on Fox News.

John Brennan, a former C.I.A. director, accused Mr. Trump of treason after Monday’s meeting with Mr. Putin.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

That Russia would become the third rail for the party of Ronald Reagan is a sign of just how far politics have shifted under Mr. Trump. Republicans once denounced President Barack Obama for suggesting that he would have more “flexibility” to work with Mr. Putin after his re-election; now Mr. Trump treats Mr. Putin as a trusted friend.

And that was too much for John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director who had already emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics. He called the performance “nothing short of treasonous.” The late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also invoked treason on their shows. The front-page banner headline for The New York Daily News declared “OPEN TREASON.”

Max Boot, the former Republican who has become one of Mr. Trump’s sharpest critics, noted in a column on Monday in The Washington Post that accusing him of treason was once unthinkable. No longer. “If anyone is ‘the enemy of the people,’ it is Trump himself,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump returned to the White House on Monday night as protesters outside the gate shouted, “Welcome home, traitor.” Even trolled the president, tweeting out a definition: “Traitor: A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.”

It later said that searches for “treason” had increased by 2,943 percent. By Tuesday afternoon, the word “traitor” had been used on Twitter 800,000 times and the word “treason” about 1.2 million times.

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Republicans Rebuke Trump for Siding With Putin as Democrats Demand Action

July 17, 2018

For nearly two years, Republicans have watched uncomfortably, and often in silence, as President Trump has swatted away accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential race, attacked his own intelligence agencies and flattered President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

On Monday, even for members of his own party, Mr. Trump apparently went too far.

The president’s extraordinary news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, stunned Republicans across the ideological spectrum and the party’s political apparatus, leaving them struggling to respond after the president undermined his national intelligence director, blamed both the United States and Russia for poor relations between the two countries and seemingly agreed to Mr. Putin’s suggestion that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, cooperate with Russia.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, declared, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Trump adviser, declared the news conference “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and current Senate candidate from Utah, called it “disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said that “the Russians are not our friends,” after President Trump’s joint news conference on Monday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

The effect extended far beyond official Washington. One local official — Chris Gagin, the chairman of the Republican Party in Belmont County, Ohio — resigned his post, announcing on Twitter that he “did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.” Neil Cavuto, a Fox Business Network host, called Mr. Trump’s performance “disgusting,” adding, “I’m sorry, it’s the only way I feel. It’s not a right or left thing to me, it’s just wrong.”

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House Republicans launch effort to impeach Rod Rosenstein for ‘stalling probe into FBI bias against the President’

July 15, 2018

  • House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadow was on the floor with the impeachment documents as Rosenstein spoke with reporters on Friday
  • The move comes as GOP lawmakers in Congress have alleged that Rosenstein has stalled their probe into FBI agent bias against Donald Trump
  • Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have been rallying Republican support, a feat that is proving difficult
  • Sources familiar with the proceedings claim that impeachment documents could be filed as soon as Monday 

Conservative members of the House announced plans to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein mere moments after he announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadow was on the floor with the impeachment documents as Rosenstein spoke with reporters on Friday.

The move comes as GOP lawmakers in Congress have alleged that Rosenstein has stalled their probe into FBI agent bias against Donald TrumpPolitico reports.

Conservative members announced plans to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday

Conservative members announced plans to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday

But Democrats also claim that the move for impeachment is really an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller has to report directly to Rosenstein, his findings surrounding collusion between members of the Trump administration with Russians in the election.

Trump has blasted the investigation, calling it a ‘witch hunt.’

Sources familiar with the proceedings claim that impeachment documents could be filed as soon as Monday.

Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have been rallying Republican support, a feat that is proving difficult.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadow was on the floor with the impeachment documents as Rosenstein spoke with reporters on Friday

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadow was on the floor with the impeachment documents as Rosenstein spoke with reporters on Friday

Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have been rallying Republican support, a feat that is proving difficult

Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have been rallying Republican support, a feat that is proving difficult

‘It has not been filed today,’ said Meadows’s spokesman Ben Williamson.

Republicans may try to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress if not impeachment.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been said to be uncomfortable with the probe into Rosenstein and doesn’t appear to have wavered on that position.

Rosenstein has asserted that he is working to comply with the growing list of demands members of the GOP have made concerning the documents involving the Russia probe.

The move comes as GOP lawmakers in Congress have alleged that Rosenstein has stalled their probe into FBI agent bias against Donald Trump

The move comes as GOP lawmakers in Congress have alleged that Rosenstein has stalled their probe into FBI agent bias against Donald Trump

But the GOP and Trump feel that he has only dragged the process out and has undermined Congress’ oversight authority.

Democrats feel that Trump only hopes to gain insight as to what is happening with the probe as it relates to him.

Last month, the House pushed through a measure accusing Rosenstein and others of dodging Congress and demaning access to the documents by July 6.

On Friday, Rosenstein stressed the importance of being skeptical of leaks surrounding the Mueller probe.

'Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops,' House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said. 'Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty'

‘Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops,’ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said. ‘Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty’

‘We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from the government officials who are actually conducting these investigations,’ he said.

‘We follow the rule of law, which means that we follow procedures, and we reserve judgment,’ he added. ‘We complete our investigations, and we evaluate all of the relevant evidence before we reach any conclusion. That is how the American people expect their Department of Justice to operate, and that is how our department is going to operate.’

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) still doesn’t think Rosenstein should be given a free pass.

‘Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops,’ he said. ‘Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty.’

House Republicans take first steps to impeach Rod Rosenstein

July 15, 2018

House Republicans have drawn up impeachment documents against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein —and could file the papers as soon as Monday.

Conservative Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are furious at what they see as Rosenstein’s foot-dragging as they probe alleged anti-Trump bias at the FBI — and unconvinced by the Friday indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interference in the 2016 election.

Rep. Jim Jordan is being supported by his fellow members in the House Freedom Caucus. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

But Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been reluctant to join the conservatives’ blistering criticism of Rosenstein, could block the measure.

Only eight people in Congress’ 229-year history have been impeached, found guilty by the Senate, and removed from office.

See also:

Jim Jordan’s allies are questioning the premise of the Ohio State sexual abuse allegations


Trump Tests His Appeal in Nevada, a State Clinton Won

June 24, 2018

President headlines fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller, who is seeking re-election

Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.), left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a discussion on tax reform in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.), left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a discussion on tax reform in Las Vegas on Saturday.PHOTO: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

LAS VEGAS— Donald Trump took his economic nationalism and insult-driven politics to Nevada on Saturday, testing whether his campaign style can help Republicans in a state carried by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mr. Trump made the trek to Las Vegas to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller, the only Republican senator in the state seeking re-election this year.

“He was with me all the way—once we got elected,” Mr. Trump said, repeatedly recalling Mr. Heller’s delay in backing his bid for the White House. “A little bit shaky in the beginning.”

Mr. Heller “cut your taxes and nobody fought harder to cut your taxes than Dean Heller, let me tell you,” Mr. Trump said. The Democrats, he said, “want tax increases. They want open borders.”

Mr. Heller’s race is one of the most consequential Senate contests of the year, as Republicans seek to hold on to their 51-49 majority in November’s elections. Nevada, a swing state, will be critical come November, with a Senate seat, the governor’s office and two competitive House races on the ballot.

It’s an open question whether Mr. Trump’s trademark bare-knuckled campaigning will help or hurt Mr. Heller and the rest of the GOP Nevada ticket this fall. More registered voters in the state disapproved of the president than approved of him—49% to 47%—in a May poll conducted by Morning Consult.

In addition to trying to paint state Democrats as weak on border security and favoring higher taxes, Mr. Trump hurled personal insults at the opponents of the Republican candidate.

He called Mr. Heller’s challenger, Rep. Jacky Rosen, as “Wacky Jacky” at Saturday’s Nevada Republican Party Convention. Democrats were holding their own state convention in Reno, featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, can you believe it?” Mr. Trump said, reviving his derogatory nickname for Ms. Warren, a reference to the senator’s claims to have Native-American heritage. “A vote for her is a vote for increased taxes, weak, weak borders, it’s really a vote for crime, it’s a vote to get rid of police officers.”

Shortly after the president concluded his remarks, Ms. Rosen tweeted, “Is that the best you’ve got, @realDonaldTrump? Let’s fight back.” She used Mr. Trump’s appearance in the state to raise funds on her website, where she cites opposition to his presidency and policies as a driving force for her campaign.

“President Trump is trying to pull up the ladder behind him, leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves,” Ms. Rosen’s site says. “Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him.”

Ms. Warren has called the Pocahontas nickname a “racial slur.”

Despite the GOP’s majority in Congress, Mr. Trump has struggled to secure support for some of his top-priority campaign pledges, like his efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, to fund a wall along the Mexican border and to pass legislation curbing immigration.

“The fact is we need more Republicans because the Democrats are obstructionists,” the president said Saturday. He drew boos from the crowd when he mentioned Senate and House minority leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California.

Facing mounting political pressure, Mr. Trump signed an executive order last week to end the separation of families crossing the U.S. border illegally. Images of unaccompanied children at shelters near the border sparked outrage from members of his own party.

Still, he insisted he would pursue a policy of zero tolerance of illegal immigration and continued to hammer at the Democrats for failing to take a tougher stance. “We’re the only country that says ‘Please, would you like to register?’—other countries say ‘Get the hell out’,” Mr. Trump said. “I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border.”

That line may be a tough sell in Nevada, where more than a quarter of Nevada’s population is Latino. The percentage is higher in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. Mr. Trump touted his administration’s economic record, highlighting record-low levels of Hispanic unemployment.

Mr. Trump also noted his own property in Las Vegas, joking, “I don’t think about that anymore.”

As he concluded his speech, he said that he is committed to making sure Republican voters turn out come November. “It’s an incredible state,” he said. “I will be back a lot…”

Corrections & Amplifications 
Sen. Dean Heller is a Republican. An earlier version of the caption on this article incorrectly stated he was a Democrat. (June 23, 2018)

Write to Vivian Salama at

Republicans In Congress Plan To Vote On Immigration Next Week

June 23, 2018

For the second time in two days, President Trump told Republican House lawmakers on Friday that voting on an immigration bill was a waste of time — but the GOP leadership scheduled a vote for next week anyway.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave,” he tweeted, predicting Republican victories in the midterms.

On Thursday, he tweeted that the House bill was doomed because “you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms). Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!”

But two leading House Republicans promised to keep pushing a compromise immigration bill despite the defeat of a more conservative bill Thursday, when 41 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting it down.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said it was “important” his chamber addressed the issue. And House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (Va.) said he would “absolutely” keep pushing the bill.

The legislation would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, young people who were brought into the country illegally as children. It would also cut legal immigration and authorize $25 billion for Trump’s promised border wall, which he had repeatedly insisted Mexico would pay for.

Later Friday, Trump hosted so-called Angel Families, relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants, at the White House.

“These are the stories that Democrats and people that are [for] immigration, they don’t want to discuss, they don’t want to hear, they don’t want to see, they don’t want to talk about,” he said before letting the family members speak.

Image result for Laura Wilkerson, angel families, photos

Laura Wilkerson’s son Josh was killed in 2010 by an undocumented immigrant

Among them was Laura Wilkerson, whose 18-year-old son, Josh, was tortured and slain outside Houston in 2010 by classmate Hermilo Moralez, an illegal immigrant from Belize. Moralez has been convicted.

“He was brutally tortured strangled over and over. He was set on fire after death. His last hours were brutal,” the mom said, holding a photo of her son.

“We weren’t lucky enough to be separated for five days or 10 days. We were separated permanently,” she said, alluding to the outcry over the 2,300 migrant children separated from their families at the border by Trump’s since-reversed “zero tolerance” policy.

Another parent, Juan Piña, spoke of his 14-year-old daughter, Christy Sue, who was raped, stabbed and strangled in Central California in 1990, with her body dumped in an artichoke field. Her accused killer, Arsenio Pacheco Leyva, is a Mexican national and is facing trial after being extradited in May.

Image result for Juan Piña, angel families, photos

Juan Piña

“I’ve been fighting for 28 and a half years. On May 3, God answered my prayers. Mexico finally turned him loose to us, and he is now in the Monterey County jail, and we can start court procedures for my daughter’s death,” the father said.

See also:

Trump hosts victims of undocumented migrants amid family separations row

Conservatives Make New Push to Repeal Affordable Care Act

June 19, 2018

Group proposes a new system that lifts national consumer protections and gives control of health care to the states

Under the conservative plan, states would receive ACA money in the form of block grants to help low-income consumers buy coverage.
Under the conservative plan, states would receive ACA money in the form of block grants to help low-income consumers buy coverage. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The Affordable Care Act should be repealed in August and replaced with a new system that lifts national consumer protections and gives control of health care to the states, according to a proposal by a conservative group set to be released Tuesday.

The proposal risks irking centrist Republicans who want to focus on other subjects. Republican leaders have said they have no appetite for another push to repeal the ACA before the November midterm elections unless such a bill clearly has the votes to pass.

Republicans faced a series of obstacles—including internal division and unified Democratic opposition—as their effort to repeal the ACA collapsed last year. There is little evidence those dynamics in Congress have changed.

Still, the proposal’s release reflects the continuing eagerness of conservatives to topple the ACA, a longtime Republican promise whose window could close if Democrats make gains in the midterms as expected.

The conservatives’ proposal would drive control of health care almost entirely to the states, reversing the ACA’s federal mandates that seek to provide basic minimum benefits and consumer protections, which Republicans argue limit people’s choice.

Under the conservative plan, states would receive ACA money in the form of block grants to help low-income consumers buy coverage. Health savings accounts, which let people set aside tax-free money for medical expenses, would be expanded. Insurers could give discounts to people who are young or maintain continuous coverage.

The proposal, which echoes provisions of a bill offered last year by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.), comes from the Health Policy Consensus Group, which includes representatives from such conservative think tanks as the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Galen Institute and the Manhattan Institute. The group has been meeting weekly for nine months.

The Hoover Institution on Wednesday will host a coalition of think tanks and governors, including Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, in Washington to discuss the proposal.

Centrist Republicans, however, haven’t been pushing a new repeal effort as part of their campaigns, especially as polls suggest the health-care issue is favoring Democrats more than in recent elections.

“Moderate Republicans are like, ‘Can’t we just let this go?’” said Simon Haeder, assistant public policy professor at West Virginia University. “It puts them in a terrible spot. They’re in a situation where if they don’t go along with them, they have to worry about making it through a primary, because these groups are well-resourced.”

Democrats face their own divisions over health care, with some liberals pushing for a sweeping “single-payer” plan and others arguing for a more limited option, such as an expansion of Medicare, that may be more palatable to centrist voters.

The block grants would be the backbone of the conservative plan. Half of the grant funding would go toward supporting the purchase of private health coverage, and half toward helping low-income Americans get coverage, although the two categories would likely overlap. The grants would ban states from using the money to fund abortions, according to the draft proposal. Medicaid expansion would also be repealed, and people on Medicaid would be able to buy private insurance coverage.

“The solution to the problem is to put program direction to states, and the federal government provides resources in a defined way,” said Yuval Levin, vice president at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is part of the group making the health-care proposal.

Liberals say moves to reverse the ACA, also known as Obamacare, hurt consumers by weakening or removing health coverage from many people.

“It’s just the monstrosity of Trumpcare,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said recently. “What they’re doing continues to drive up premium costs with their senseless sabotage.”

The conservative groups argue that this could be Republicans’ last chance to deliver on the eight-year GOP promise to end the ACA. That is a better electoral strategy, conservatives say, than moving toward Democratic positions or changing the subject.

The latest plan is one front of a continuing assault on the ACA by Republicans and conservatives in the aftermath of the failed previous effort to repeal it. While the Justice Department has asked a court to toss out key provisions of the health law, the 20 GOP state attorneys general in the lawsuit want the court to end the law altogether.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), have voiced interest in a repeal, and others have talked about passing a health-care package in coming months. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in testimony last week, said he would work with Congress should lawmakers decide to modify or repeal the ACA.

Write to Stephanie Armour at

House GOP faces two immigration votes this week

June 18, 2018

The House plans to vote on two immigration bills this week: one written by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and favored by conservatives, and a compromise bill with buy-in from both conservatives and moderates.


Paul Ryan.  Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Between the lines: GOP moderates will get the votes they wanted, but that doesn’t mean anything’s going to pass. Leadership agreed to do this to avoid the worst-case scenario of moderates filing a discharge petition — a way of forcing votes on bills they don’t like — which could have resulted in passage of the Democrats’ preferred immigration bill.

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  • But at a minimum, moderates will get to say they forced votes on protection for Dreamers – something some have grown to see as key to making their case to voters back home.

Consider the Goodlatte bill dead — it’s never had the votes to pass. But conservatives are happy to get a vote on it.

  • The compromise bill is more moderate than the Goodlatte one and includes a provision to address the separation of immigrant children from their parents.
  • Even the optimists say that the compromise bill’s chance of passage is probably in Trump’s hands: He alone has the power to pressure reluctant House Republicans into voting for it. (Democrats are unlikely to support it.)
  • Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “I think if he leans in on it hard, he can make a huge difference.”

What we’re watching: Congressional Republicans acknowledge that if both bills fail, something will still have to be done sooner rather than later to address immigrant children being separated from their parents.