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1 big thing: Trump's retaliation

Comey is greeted by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) at the beginning of yesterday's hearing (AP's Andrew Harnik)

President Trump's advisers feared Jim Comey had held back some devastating cards, and would unfurl new facts that could speed Trump's legal or political troubles. Instead, they considered yesterday's mesmerizing testimony a damaging but not cataclysmic public spectacle.
  • "The threat level to the presidency is less than it was," a White House adviser said.

Mainly, they were relieved that POTUS didn't tweet yesterday.

  • Trump tweeted this morning: "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!"

Look for Trump and his allies to scream four things:

  • Comey's a liar: After the hearing, Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer, escalated the combat: "The president ... never told Mr. Comey, quote, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.'"
  • Comey's a leaker: Kasowitz also said: "Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president."
  • Clinton did it, too: Republicans instantly jumped on Comey's charge that Loretta Lynch, Obama's attorney general, had encouraged him to echo Clinton campaign lingo in discussing the email probe.
  • Comey agrees: Fake news! If Trump enjoyed any moment of the hearing, it was surely when Comey said a memorable New York Times story was untrue.

But don't lose sight: There is no way to spin away that this was a very dark and damning day for Trump. The head of the FBI testified he so distrusted his own president and White House that he took detailed notes of his conversations to prove he felt pressure to drop an investigation of collusion with the Russians. He then felt so strongly he leaked those notes to the press to force a special prosecutor. Imagine Act 2!

  • Be smart: This wasn't the end but the beginning of a long, agonizing process for the Trump White House. What they fear most is the probes into central figures around Trump, and what happens when investigators dig into the context for so many meetings with the Russians.
  • Up next: Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee becomes high drama. And the Senate Intelligence Committee expects Jared Kushner to meet with committee staffers.

Top Comey quote: "[T]here should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that."

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Comey: "The president surely knows if there are tapes. If there are, my feelings aren't hurt. Release the tapes."

  • The buzz: Is the flat denial by Trump's lawyer that he said something Comey attributed to him during the Green Room dinner ("I need loyalty") a clue that there aren't tapes?

2. New threats to Trump

Marc Kasowitz, Trump personal attorney, makes a post-Comey statement at the National Press Club (AP's Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Many of Trump's mounting perils are self-inflicted:

  • From a New York Times front-pager by Peter Baker, "For Trump, a Looming 'Cloud' Just Grew That Much Darker": "Comey ... revealed that he had turned over memos of his conversations with Mr. Trump to that newly appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, suggesting that investigators may now be looking into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by dismissing the F.B.I. director."
  • Comey testified that he arranged the leak of his private conversations with Trump after the president tweeted a threat at Comey.
  • CNN: "Comey told senators in a closed hearing [after his public testimony] that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have had a third interaction with Russia's ambassador to the US."

Sound smart: Imagine how much the public would never have known if Trump hadn't canned Comey.

3. Media hit, too

Comey declared that a New York Times front pager from Feb. 14 — "Trump Aides Had Contact With Russian Intelligence" — was "in the main ... not true. ... [W]e don't call the press to say, 'Hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic.' We just have to leave it there."

  • The article's lead: "Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials."

In today's paper, the same three authors write: "Comey did not say exactly what he believed was incorrect about the article ... The original sources could not immediately be reached after Mr. Comey's remarks, but in the months since the article was published, they have indicated that they believed the account was solid."

  • On the other hand, Comey said another Times scoop — reporting that Comey had written an in-the-moment memo saying Trump had asked him to shut down the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn — had been spoon-fed to the paper through a friend.

CNN had to backtrack from an article originally headlined "Comey expected to refute Trump," with this correction: "The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation in his prepared testimony released after this story was published."

  • Be smart: CNN's lapse, and the charge against The New York Times, provide ammunition for Trump partisans to shout "Fake news!" in an effort to discredit other reporting that is perfectly valid.

4. "Gut feel ... it's ... important ... that I make records"

Comey is sworn in (Reuters' Jim Bourg)

Two of the most memorable exchanges ... Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): "You're big. You're strong. I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn't you stop and say, 'Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you'?"

Comey: "Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just ... took it in. ... [L]ook, ... I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes." ...

"I remember saying, 'I agree [Flynn is] a good guy,' as a way of saying, 'I'm not agreeing with what you just asked me to do.' Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance ... I hope I'll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better." ...

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.): "Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president?"

Comey: "It never occurred to me until the president's tweet. ... I'm not being facetious, I hope there are, and I'll consent to the release of them."

5. Britons break the anti-elite fever

Breaking ...

Get smart fast ... Axios' Steve LeVine: "The U.K.'s repudiation of Theresa May marks a definitive break in the wave of anti-establishment politics that for more than a year have roiled Brazil to the Philippines, and the U.S. to Austria. European elections have now spurned the trend in three straight elections in the Netherlands, France and the U.K."

  • What's next: "Elections are scheduled in the fall in Germany and Austria, and Italy may hold one, too. But while extremist and anti-establishment politics are not dead, they no longer seem to threaten the major institutions created in the aftermath of World War II."
  • The takeaway: "Europeans remain restless — 'unhappy with the status quo and seeking change, but they don't know what that change should be.'"

"Softer Brexit" possibleReuters: With Brexit talks with Brussels set to begin June 19, the result increases chances of "a softer deal on Britain's planned departure from the European Union than the 'hard Brexit' that markets have worried May would deliver."

  • "[I]f we get more of a softer Brexit or more of a globalist stance from the UK ... it's good for Europe, the UK and U.S. assets."
  • Malcolm Barr, economist at JPMorgan, in a research note: "Perhaps the most obvious conclusion is that the likelihood of the UK needing to request a delay in the Brexit process has risen substantially, given the chance that political developments in the UK disturb what is already a time-compressed process," said Malcolm Barr, economist at JPMorgan, in a research note." (Via Reuters)

6. Expert voices: Death of bricks and mortar

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

With sales plunging, more than 8,000 U.S. brick-and-mortar stores could close this year — twice the number as 2016, per Axios' Steve LeVine.

  • Why it matters: Among the chief victims are retail workers. Amazon says it's adding 100,000 employees, but a multiple of that number have lost their jobs in recent years. One in 9 Americans work in bricks-and-mortar retail, almost 16 million people in all.
  • Five experts weigh in.

7. A debate that'll get louder

Economist cover leader (editorial) ... "Terror and the internet: Tech firms could do more to help stop the jihadists":

[T]he firms can act when they want to. Before Edward Snowden exposed them in a huge leak in 2013, they quietly helped American and British intelligence monitor jihadists. Whenever advertisers withdraw business after their brands ended up alongside pornographic, violent or extremist material, they respond remarkably quickly. ...

In the past, internet firms have tended to "build it first, figure out the rules later". However, the arguments about terrorism and extremist content are a stark reminder that the lawless, freewheeling era of the early internet is over. Technology firms may find that difficult to accept. But accept it they must, as part of the responsibility that comes with their new-found power and as part of the price of their success.

8. The talk of tech

Sheryl Sandberg speaks in Paris in January (Reuters' Philippe Wojazer)

"Facebook Is Determined to Build Ties With Automakers," by Bloomberg's Jamie Butters and Sarah Frier:

  • COO Sheryl Sandberg, in Detroit yesterday for an annual Facebook Automotive Summit, "shared a stage with [GM CEO] Mary Barra at a women's-only event ... before the two toured a factory and spoke with about 200 GM employees."
  • Sandberg: "Our industries are converging. Detroit's writing software and Silicon Valley is building hardware."
  • "Mark Zuckerberg visited Ford ... headquarters and an F-150 truck plant in April to rub elbows with Executive Chairman Bill Ford."
  • The plot: "Facebook is focused on boosting sales for video advertising, ... which should help take a cut of the $70 billion television ad market."
  • Key stat: "The U.S. automotive industry is the second-largest spender on digital advertising behind retail."
  • Why it matters: "Autos and real estate are among the last categories that aren't transacting online, and it's taken longer for Facebook to break into categories with expensive purchases like travel and cars."

9. Warming to Gore

Al Gore interview in Interview magazine, by editor-in-chief Nick Haramis, ahead of the July 28 nationwide release of the documentary "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power":

On not getting stale while traveling the world leading seminars for climate activists:

I update my slide show almost every day. I have a personal staff of ten in Nashville that helps me scour the internet and other media around the world for the latest scientific peer-reviewed findings, the latest examples of climate-related extreme weather events, and the latest examples of progress.

On maintaining a positive outlook:

I had the privilege of working with the late economist Rudi Dornbusch, who once said, "Things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could." Where solar energy is concerned — and wind energy and battery storage and electric vehicles and efficiency technologies — that is what we are now seeing.

On parallels between climate deniers and gay-rights opponents:

I think they're more similar than different. The gay rights movement of recent years has been an inspiring victory for humanity and it is in the tradition of the civil rights movement ...

God intends for us to take responsibility for how we treat God's creation, and if we choose to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer for 110-million tons of global-warming pollution every day, the consequences are attributable to us.

10. 1 fun thing

"Trevor Noah strikes a nerve — and ratings gold — as he steers 'The Daily Show' into the Trump era," by L.A. Times' Greg Braxton: "[A]lmost two years after his debut [as Jon Stewart successor], Noah ... notched his most-watched week ever in May, with more than 1 million viewers."

Is there any potential danger of "Trump fatigue"?

I definitely think so. But I believe people aren't often good with separating Trump from what is happening within the the world he inhabits. Donald Trump is the president of the United States. That is something that some people still refuse to acknowledge, nor do they wish to accept as a reality. That's the first mistake people make, in my opinion. And this president in particular has an impressive ability to create and sustain scandal and news like no one before.

I don't think of Donald Trump as the story. I see this as America's story, and Donald Trump is the antagonist. America is dealing with Donald Trump, not the other way around. That character offers up the opportunity to have conversations about things that people may not have otherwise been interested in. On the griddle of "The Daily Show's" barbecue, we cook different foods every day. But the fuel we use to cook that food is Donald Trump.

What are you reading these days?

  • "The Hip Hop Wars" by Tricia Rose.
  • I'm re-reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."
  • "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.

Featured

An onstage version of Trump 'screaming at the television'

Rick Scuteri / AP

Instant media reactions to Trump's Phoenix rally, which was followed by protests that police dispersed with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

  • CNN's Don Lemon: "He is clearly trying to ignite a civil war in this country. ... He certainly opened up the race wound from Charlottesville. ... A man backed into a corner, it seems, by circumstances beyond his control — and beyond his understanding."
  • NBC's Kristen Welker: "[T]his whole Charlottesville criticism ... has really been getting under his skin. This was his attempt to sort of revive the argument, to re-litigate it."
  • Fox News' John Roberts: "The president had ... a clear win last night with his speech about the new policy on Afghanistan ... But now he's completely changed the subject again."
  • Jon Favreau of Pod Save America, and co-founder of Crooked Media: "Trump's angry that the media reported exactly what he said so he held a speech to deliver a sanitized, redacted version on live television ... I believe Trump just called out the @crookedmedia! ... Trump's going to shut down a government that's controlled entirely by his own party. Very cool."
  • MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, on the omission of "many sides": "The president has lied to his audience tonight."
  • CNN's Brian Stelter began his late-night Reliable Sources newsletter with the single word: "Poison."
  • CNN's Brian Lowry: "[M]uch of this felt like an aging rock band playing the hits ... But he seemed to ratchet up the rhetoric on his enemies list, which has grown lengthier."
  • N.Y. Times Jeremy Peters, to Brian Williams on MSNBC: "In a lot of ways, what we heard from President Trump tonight was just an extended version of the shouting matches that he's been having behind closed doors at the White House, whether it's screaming at his aides, or screaming at the television. ... I see someone who just doesn't want to lose an argument."
  • WashPost's Bob Costa, to Brian Williams: "Steve Bannon, gone from the White House, but he might as well have been a ghost at this Phoenix event. He hovered over everything."
Featured

Read the original Uber pitch deck

To mark the ninth anniversary of the original Uber idea (then called "UberCabs"), co-founder Garrett Camp posted online the company's first pitch deck. Back then, Uber's business was all about providing private car rides to its members in a more efficient (thanks to smartphones and tech) and affordable way.

  • The deck claimed customers shouldn't have to wait for more than five minutes to get picked up, and predicted early on that passengers would want to share rides.
  • The original service was focused on premium rides, but the original deck mentioned eventually turning to less expensive cars like the Toyota Prius. Uber's first UberX cars, in 2012, were in fact Priuses.
  • Today, countless companies describe themselves as "the Uber of X." Back in 2008, Uber compared its concept to another existing company: NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets.
Featured

Phoenix police use tear gas at Trump rally protests

Matt York / AP

Police deployed tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades and rubber bullets on Tuesday night to break up protest crowds after President Trump's rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • "Officers responded with pepper spray to break up the crowd after people tossed rocks and bottles and dispersed gas, Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said," the AP's Jacques Billeaud and Clarice Silber reported from Phoenix.
  • "But some witnesses said that events unfolded differently," per NYT's Simon Romero, "with protesters throwing a water bottle or two in the direction of the police, before the police fired tear gas into the crowd."
  • "The handling by the police of this peaceful protest was reprehensible," Jordan Lauterbach, a 31-year-old bartender, told the NYT. "I was gassed tonight for exercising my right to express my views. I was disgusted by that."

Videos and tweets below:

Featured

The shift in Medicare spending

Medicare is the largest purchaser of health care services in the country, and over the past decade, there's been a gradual change in how those taxpayer dollars are spent, according to data from the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Since 2006, Medicare is shifting money from physician practices and inpatient hospitals (where a person needs an overnight stay), and toward private health insurers and other companies that run the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. Spending also has increased in outpatient settings.

Data: Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act contributed to some of this shift by cutting Medicare payments to hospitals. But what's happening in Medicare is representative of the health care system at large: the shift to defined benefits and narrow networks of hospitals and doctors, and avoiding hospitalizations whenever possible.

Where more Medicare funds are flowing:

  • Medicare Advantage: Roughly 20 million seniors and disabled people are now enrolled in the politically popular program, which represents 27% of all Medicare dollars. Seniors give those plans high marks, and it's a profitable business for insurers. But there are concerns that Medicare Advantage isn't saving money and that insurers are gaming the program.
  • Part D: The growth of drug prices has blown away the growth of pretty much every other economic good, and Medicare is barred from negotiating discounts with manufacturers. That inevitably has resulted in more money going into the Part D program (14% of all Medicare spending), and the benefits managers that run it.
  • Outpatient hospital departments and clinics: Technology has made it possible for Medicare enrollees to get some procedures and go home the same day, and it's cheaper than treating someone in the hospital. But hospitals also have been buying physician offices and controversially converting them into hospital outpatient departments, resulting in higher fees for the same services.
Featured

Trump details his agenda during Phoenix rally

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump opened his Phoenix rally tonight with a nod to the upcoming GOP agenda: "We are fully and totally committed to fighting for our agenda and we will not stop until the job is done." He spent the majority of his speech blaming the media for race relations in the U.S., particularly after Charlottesville, but here are some agenda items Trump talked about:

Border wall: "If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said in a message to "obstructionist Democrats."

Pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio: "Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? You know what, I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine. OK? But I won't do it tonight, because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good."

NAFTA: "And you know that one of the worst deals that anybody in history has ever entered into. We have begun formal renegotiation with Mexico and Canada on NAFTA. And I must be honest, and I've been talking about NAFTA for a long time and I'm sorry it's taken six months, but we have to give notice, and after the notice is given then you have to wait a long time, anyway. Personally, I don't think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such bad deals, both of the countries, but in particular Mexico, that I don't think we can make a deal. So I think we'll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point. Probably. But I told you from the first day that we'll either renegotiate NAFTA or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don't think we can make a deal without termination, but we'll see. You're in good hands."

Tax reform: Trump promised to pass the "first major tax reform in over 30 years." And he said if Congressional Democrats don't support him in this legislation, they'll be "stopping you from getting a massive tax cut."

Filibuster: "So I have a message for Congress tonight. Your job is to represent American families, American people, American workers. You need to represent them on the border, on taxes, on health care — one vote. And on every other issue that affects their lives. And for our friends in the Senate, oh boy."

  • To McConnell: "The Senate, remember this, look, the Senate, we have to get rid of what's called the filibuster rule. We have to. And if we don't the Republicans will never get anything passed; you're wasting your time. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule right now. We need 60 votes and we have 52 Republicans, that means that 8 Democrats are controlling all of this legislation. We have over 200 bills. And we have to speak to Mitch and we have to speak to everybody."
Featured

Brazil antitrust agency challenges AT&T-Time Warner deal

AP

Brazil's antitrust authority said the merger of AT&T and Time Warner should not be allowed to go through unless the companies agree to changes, such divesting certain assets, to prevent the combined company from hurting competition.

Why it matters: Brazil is one of the remaining countries (along with the U.S.) that needs to sign off on the $85 billion deal, which has gotten regulatory authority from 16 countries. While it's hard to know how the recommendation will impact the U.S. review, it will likely be noticed by the Department of Justice since critics of the deal have drawn parallels in the U.S. market.

"I think this will harden any existing concerns DOJ has about the deal," said Gene Kimmelman, former DOJ official who is now CEO of Public Knowledge, an opponent of the merger.

Specifics: "The new company would also have the capacity and incentives to take various forms of discrimination against its competitors in both markets, which could weaken the competitive environment." the Brazilian antitrust authority, known as CADE, said in a statement Tuesday, according to a translation by the FT.

  • CADE also said the proposed deal would allow Time Warner to gain access to sensitive information from all its competitors through Sky (one of Brazil's biggest operators, of which AT&T owns a 93% stake, according to Bloomberg).
  • And AT&T would have access to conditions negotiated by its rivals through Time Warner (one of Brazil's largest pay-TV programmers), "significantly harming businesses and consumers in the pay-TV segment."

In the U.S. A coalition of public interest and consumer groups made a similar argument in a letter to the DOJ last month:

"As both a major programmer and a major distributor, it would be able to use information from both sides of the negotiating table to give itself better deals than its rivals can obtain—it would necessarily know, for instance, what its programming rivals are charging for their content, and what its distribution rivals are paying."

AT&T disagrees: AT&T says the deal benefits consumers and will help provide competition to the likes of Google and Amazon. "AT&T and Time Warner will work with Cade to clarify any issues they may have to promptly reach a final resolution on the matter," the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

What's next: In Brazil, a decision is expected in November, although that deadline could slip up to 90 days. In the U.S., authorities are reportedly pretty far along in the review and are discussing conditions with the companies, according to WSJ, indicating that the deal is on the path to approval. AT&T still expects the deal to close by the end of the year.

Featured

Trump blames media for racial tensions in U.S.

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump gave his first campaign-style rally since the violent protest (and subsequent fallout) of Charlottesville. He spent the majority of his speech blaming the media for race relations and the growing divide among Americans:

"Not only does the media give a platform to hate groups, but the media turns a blind eye to the gang violence on our streets, the failures of our public school, the destruction of our wealth at the hands of our terrible terrible trade deals made by our politicians that should've never been politicians, and the hostility to our local police that work so hard and do an incredible job."

Why it matters: After last week refining his first comments on Charlottesville (where he blamed "many sides" for the violence), Trump returned to earlier form tonight, turning to go-to talking points like railing against the "fake" and "dishonest" media, instead of taking a more conciliatory approach as the nation's president. As Axios' Mike Allen has regularly written, "This is not normal."

Trump continued: "Truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up sources ... they don't report the facts, just like they don't want to report that I spoke out against hatred and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK."

On his Charlottesville comments: Trump blamed the "fake" media for mischaracterizing what he said about Charlottesville, but he misquoted himself and left out the most controversial part of his remarks, in which he said people "on many sides" were to blame.

  • Trump said during the rally: "'We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.' This is me speaking. 'We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.' That's me speaking on Saturday. Right after the event."
Trump was clearly playing to his staunchest supporters tonight at a campaign-style rally and they interrupted him with chants of "drain the swamp" and "CNN sucks."




Featured

Top Arizona Republicans won't attend Trump's rally

J. Scott Applewhite and Ross D. Franklin / AP

Top Arizona Republicans won't be attending Trump's first rally since Charlottesville tonight, VICE News reports. The expected absences: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (though he greeted Trump upon his arrival), Arizona's state Republican party Chair Jonathan Lines, Sen. Jeff Flake, who's been one of Trump's most vocal critics recently, and Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters:

  • Arizona swung for Trump in the presidential election, so presumably Republicans would be there for him.
  • But this comes at a time when Republicans aren't willing to back Trump in the fallout after Charlottesville.
  • Brian Stelter reports Shep Smith couldn't get a single Republican to defend Trump on Fox News, MSNBC's Chuck Todd tried all 52 Republican senators, and none would come on the show, and CNN's Kate Bolduan said only one out of 55 Republicans said yes.
Featured

Breitbart emails leaked, editor vows to do Bannon's "dirty work"

Breitbart EIC Alex Marlow, via YouTube / Real Time with Bill Maher

Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, as well as other top editors at Breitbart, told an email prankster acting as Steve Bannon that they "would do Bannon's 'dirty work' against White House aides," according to CNN.

Why it matters: This is the third high-profile prank in the past two months.

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry thought he was speaking with the Ukraine prime minister, discussing "geopolitically sensitive topics [like] cyberattacks, potential pipelines for Russian gas and the Paris climate accord," per Politico.
  • Then-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci got into an email altercation with who he believed to be Reince Priebus after he was fired.
  • Alex Marlow told the prankster over email he could have Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump "out by the end of the year." The same prankster contacted Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak, in which Pollak gave him his phone number to talk further about Jared and Ivanka.
Featured

Trump and McConnell reportedly haven't spoken in weeks

Evan Vucci / AP; Alex Brandon / AP

A new report in the New York Times revealed that President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell haven't spoken in weeks — and McConnell has been telling people behind the scenes that Trump is "unwilling to learn the basics of governing" as his administration approaches the point of no return.

  • The flash point: The Senate's failure to pass health care reform led to a "profane shouting match" of a phone call between McConnell and Trump. It also alienated other GOP senators, as West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was refused a seat on Air Force One after refusing to commit to a repeal vote.
  • Why it matters: The GOP's hope for achieving meaningful reform —involving health care, taxes, or infrastructure — rests on Trump keeping an open line of communication with congressional leaders. The more that he poisons that well, the more he risks kneecapping his own agenda.