The News Sips Tipsheet July 20: Trump Talks with the Times as Congress Limps

Here’s for what you need to know before your iced coffee gets warm, the July 20, 2017 edition of the tipsheet.

Praying for John McCain

Late yesterday, news broke that Arizona Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee John McCain has been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer. The diagnosis comes days after McCain underwent surgery to remove what’s been described as a blot clot above his left eye. Tests of that clot were positive for glioblastoma. Partisanship stops at the hospital door and there has been an outpouring of prayers and support, among them Governor Larry Hogan who, himself, is a cancer survivor, to Senator McCain. We certainly join with those wishing the Senator a speedy and complete recovery.

What DC’s Talking About: Trump and the NYT

President Trump gave a particularly candid interview to the New York Times the other day in which he directly took on some of the biggest current criticisms of his Administration. The article is, by any objective stretch, a pretty fair portrayal of the President and his opinions. Trump, too, is open about where he’s stumbled and the goals of the Administration going forward.

Jeff Sessions Issues: The headline that Matt Drudge drew from the interview is “Sessions Shade.” The President did not have kind words for his first senatorial supporter in the interview. Rather, the President expressed concern that former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who is the Attorney General, had a rocky confirmation hearing in which he had problems answering easy questions. Further, the President expressed that he would likely not have appointed Sessions to be Attorney General had Mr. Trump known that Sessions would recuse himself on the “Russia investigation.”

No Republicans in Baltimore: The President’s shots at the Justice Department didn’t just stop at its head. Rather, the President expressed some concern about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, formerly the United States Attorney for Maryland (based out of Baltimore City). As the New York Times reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

“When Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from. ‘There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,’ he said of the predominantly Democratic city.”

Your humble author, who ran as a Republican in Baltimore City last year, would like to remind the President that, while Republicans are a minority in the City, we do exist here and are looking for positive change.

Russia Stuff: The President threw cold water on talk about a second private meeting he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany. Mr. Trump related that this was merely a social conversation with Mrs. Trump present. Coincidentally, Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin did discuss the issue of Russian adoptions (which have been on hold since the United States put certain sanctions on Russia), the same issue that has been alleged as a topic of conversation when Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with Russian nationals during the campaign.

Trump’s Humor and Human Side: The New York Times piece does a good job of showing the human side of the President. The article relates a point in the interview when Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump brought her own daughter into the Oval Office to see the President. Mr. Trump, a beaming grandfather, looked on with pride as his granddaughter recited some Chinese for the New York Times reporter. It’s these sort of human moments that can break through the fog of politics and make the presidency relatable to average folks.

Congressional Concerns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to be hoping that the third time’s the charm for the Senate to take up changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He’s looking to wrangle up 50 votes to start debate (the Motion to Proceed) on the previous version (before they tried straight repeal) of the Senate plan. Insiders say that is McConnell can at least start debate on the bill, there’s a better chance that they will be able to twist enough arms (or grease enough palms, let’s be honest) in the amendment process to get a bill passed. It’s still shaping up to be a herculean task.

Given the muggy July heat in the Nation’s Capitol, October 1 may not seem like it’s right around the corner. However, legislatively speaking, Congress only has a few weeks to get a budget passed before we’re back to “the government is shutting down!” The urgency to pass a budget is compounded by the fact that healthcare reform is languishing in the Senate and, it appears, tax reform won’t move forward until the budget situation gets resolved (if tax reform can even move at all given the failure of healthcare reform).

Republicans in the House are Fuming: Controlling both houses of Congress and the White House was supposed to kick open the door to reform, but infighting and an inability to steer the ship of state has left some Republicans scratching their heads as to why the Party can’t seem to govern.

What We’re Reading

The Baltimore Sun: With primary less than a year away, Maryland politicians make trip to Tawes (This was a really fun event. Went down to the Eastern Shore, hung out with the Governor and Comptroller Peter Franchot and ate crabs. What’s not to love?)

Bloomberg: Trump’s Honeymoon With China Ends as Dialogue Turns Frosty


Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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