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Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

A Trump tweet this morning confirms last night's Axios scoop: "I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!"

Be smart: Trump wants to be the deal guy, and he's going to keep playing the "Chuck and Nancy" card. To him, Republicans consternation is a feature, not a bug.

Shortly after Trump's tweet, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer gave his version of the Friday phone call: "The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that's off the table. If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs."

A Democratic aide added, in an email: "Particularly after the birth control decision yesterday, the administration has to stop sabotaging the law before anything real can happen."

The initial reaction among some Republicans was consternation:

  • A well-wired Republican told us: "It codifies the Rs' failure on repeal/replace and shows the President can move without hesitation or ideological impediment to make a deal with the Dems. It depresses R base turnout in the midterms, as Trump voters are further disconnected from the Congressional wing."

Between the lines ... Axios health care editor Sam Baker emails me:

  • "All of the things Trump and his administration have done on health care — not just pushing for repeal-replace, but independently cutting off enrollment outreach, keeping insurers in limbo about their payments, reportedly putting the kibosh even on Republican governors' efforts to stabilize their markets, all of it — cuts in the exact opposite direction of anything Schumer would want or could abide."
  • "If there's any hope for something bipartisan, I would have thought the most likely vehicle for that would have been [Sens.] Lamar Alexander [R-Tenn.] and Patty Murray [D-Wash.], since they're both already working and not nearly as far apart as Trump and Schumer would have to be. Yet that effort is far from a lock."

Go deeper: Read Axios' scoop from last night on the call.

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Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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