What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
by @matt_kiser

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Day 110: Finger pointing.

1/ James Comey’s testimony regarding Huma Abedin forwarding thousands of emails was inaccurate. The FBI hasn’t decided how to correct the director’s false claim. Abedin forwarded a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. (ProPublica)

  • Comey overstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony to Congress last week. None of the forwarded emails were marked classified, but a small number contained information that was later judged to contain classified information. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump pointed the finger at Obama for failing to vet Flynn. At the time Flynn was fired, he had an interim clearance in order to allow him to do his job while he waited for his CIA clearance. The concerns about Flynn came after US intelligence realized he was discussing sanctions with the Russians and then misleading US officials about the nature of his conversations. He didn’t disclose his payment from RT to government officials until after he was fired by Trump. (Washington Post)

  • Sean Spicer weighed in, suggesting that Obama’s advice was taken with a grain of salt because Flynn “was an outspoken critic of President Obama’s shortcomings.” (Washington Post)
  • Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. (WTF Just Happened Today: Day 109)
  • How the White House explained waiting 18 days to fire Flynn. Here are the various explanations he and other administration officials have given in the past. (New York Times)

3/ The US is poised to expand military efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban. The plan would add at least 3,000 troops to the existing force of about 8,400. The US force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from NATO nations. (Washington Post)

  • The US weighs sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Trump, however, is still deciding on a variety of options being presented to him by military leaders. The current force in Afghanistan is about 8,400. (NBC News)

4/ White House advisers postponed their meeting to decide US participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump’s key advisers are divided over whether he should keep his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement, which won the backing of 195 nations in 2015. Trump is expected to make a final decision on whether to withdraw sometime this month. (Reuters / Politico)

5/ An Iowa congressman abruptly ended a TV interview and then walked into an angry town hall meeting. He was unhappy with questions about who would be allowed into the series of town hall events he is holding this week in his district. A few hours later, he showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him because of his vote on the House Obamacare repeal bill. (Politico / Washington Post)

6/ The Trump administration cited a segregation-era ruling to defend its travel ban. In 1971, the Supreme Court decided that courts shouldn’t investigate the motivations of officials who closed public pools in Jackson, Mississippi, rather than integrate them. (HuffPost)

7/ Trump Photoshopped a tweet denying collusion with Russia into his Twitter header. During Senate testimony yesterday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he was not aware of any evidence that proves there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has since changed his Twitter header to a picture without the Photoshopped tweet. (New York Magazine / The Guardian)

8/ Mitch McConnell stacks the Senate Republican working group on health care with 13 conservative men – but no women. The working group includes the party’s top leaders, as well as three committee chairmen and two of the most conservative senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. (New York Times / Los Angeles Times)

9/ Trump’s review of Dodd-Frank will not be completed by early June as originally targeted. Instead, officials will report findings piece-by-piece, with priority given to banking regulations. In February, Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to review the law and report back within 120 days, saying his administration expected to be cutting large parts of it. (Reuters

10/ Republicans are struggling to recruit Senate challengers in states where Trump won. In Wisconsin and Michigan, Republicans have passed on challenging Democrats due to Trump’s approval ratings. (ABC News

Day 109: Warned.

1/ Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Obama, who had fired Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Trump that he would have profound concerns about Flynn becoming a top national security aide. Trump hired Flynn anyway, only to fire him 24 days later when news broke that Flynn had lied to Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, amid an ongoing investigation into connections between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The warning, which has not been previously reported, came less than 48 hours after the November election when the two sat down for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

2/ Sally Yates said she warned the White House that Flynn could be “blackmailed” by Russia, and gave the White House a warning “so that they could take action.” The former acting attorney general’s testimony raises questions about how Trump responded to her concerns about Flynn, who wasn’t fired until two weeks later. Former director of national intelligence James Clapper also testified, saying Russia launched “cyber operations” against the Democratic and Republican parties during the 2016 presidential campaign. He said Putin sought to “advantage” Trump’s campaign and confirmed that British intelligence officials shared “very sensitive” information about Russian connections to Trump’s campaign. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Flynn was warned by the Trump transition team about the risks of his contacts with the Russian ambassador weeks before the December call that led to Flynn’s forced resignation. Officials were so concerned that Flynn did not fully understand the motives of the Russian ambassador that the head of Trump’s national security council transition team asked Obama administration officials for a classified CIA profile of Kislyak. The document was delivered within days, but it is not clear that Flynn ever read it. (Washington Post)
  • Flynn never told the Defense Intelligence Agency that Russians paid him. Flynn was paid nearly $34,000 by a Russian state media outlet when the DIA renewed his security clearance in April 2016. (NBC News)

  • Sally Yates testified today before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing was Yates’s first appearance on Capitol Hill since her firing in January and is expected to fill in details about what and when she told the Trump White House in regard to Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)
  • Hearing may shed light on what White House knew about Flynn. (New York Times)

3/ Trump’s revised travel ban goes before a federal appeals court today. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals will examine the ruling that blocks the administration from temporarily barring new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It’s the first time an appeals court will hear arguments on the revised travel ban, which is likely destined for the Supreme Court. If the court sides with Trump, the travel ban will remain blocked unless the president also wins in another appeals court: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will meet next Monday to hear arguments in that case. (Associated Press / CNN)

4/ Trump’s call for a Muslim ban was deleted from his campaign site shortly after Sean Spicer was pressed on why the plan was still there by a reporter. The site had a press release from then-candidate Trump’s call for the “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US until the government could “figure out what is going on.” A US district court judge in March said he found “the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the second executive order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.” The Trump administration has argued that the order is not a Muslim ban, but rather a travel ban. (CNN / Washington Post)

5/ The EPA dismissed half of its scientific advisers on a review board, which provides guidance on whether research has sufficient rigor and integrity. The move, which Scott Pruitt cited as his desire to make a “clean break” with the Obama administration, came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January and recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Trump expressed his “unwavering support” for historically black colleges after the White House announced that it would treat a program that helps HBCUs get low-cost loans “in a manner consistent with the (Constitutional) requirement to afford equal protection of the laws.” (Washington Post)

7/ Macron wins French presidency, bringing relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval would follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Trump’s election. Macron won 66% of the votes compared to just under 34% for Le Pen - a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested. (Reuters)

  • Macron faces many domestic challenges in translating his centrist promises into policy. He laid the groundwork Monday for his transition to power, announcing a visit to Germany and a name change for his political movement and appearing with his predecessor at a solemn World War II commemoration. (New York Times / Associated Press)
  • The French National Front will change its name after Le Pen’s defeat. The far-right leader said that her party would undergo a “profound transformation” after its heavy loss to Emmanuel Macron. (Politico)

8/ An Idaho congressman told his constituents “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” The republican representative drew criticism after a town hall where he responded to a question suggesting that the lack of health care was essentially asking people to die. (Idaho Statesman)

9/ The Texas governor signed a “sanctuary cities” ban into law while broadcasting on Facebook Live. The measure threatens law-enforcement officials with jail time if they don’t cooperate with federal agencies in cracking down on undocumented immigrants. Dubbed a “Show Me Your Papers” law, it allows police to inquire about a person’s immigration status, which has been condemned by Democrats and human-rights groups as legalized discrimination. (Texas Observer)

10/ Kushner’s sister is promising Chinese investors a path toward US residency in exchange for putting $500,000 into a New Jersey real-estate project. She cited the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program to make her pitch, though critics have accused organizers of the event of playing up their ties to the White House. (New York Times)

  • Jared Kushner’s family apologized for name dropping in its pitch to Chinese investors. Nicole Kushner Meyer mentioned the name of Trump’s son-in-law when seeking more than $150m from wealthy Chinese for New Jersey real estate project. (The Guardian)

11/ Obama called on members of Congress to exercise the “political courage” to save the Affordable Care Act. In his first public comments about the law since the House voted to repeal it, Obama urged Republicans to be guided by a personal standard of ethics and integrity. “It takes great courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm.” (NPR / Politico)

12/ Trump has privately expressed regret with his choice of national security adviser, complaining during intelligence briefings about General H.R. McMaster “undermining” of his policy and screaming at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share. On policy, Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick Trump into the kind of nation building that he campaigned against, while Reince Priebus is blocking McMaster on a key appointment. (Bloomberg)

13/ White House advisors asked Canadians to call Trump talk him down from scrapping NAFTA. Staff reached out to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office to get Justin Trudeau to call Trump and lobby for NAFTA in what the paper calls with some understatement an “unconventional diplomatic manoeuvre.” (National Post / Axios)

Day 106: An uncertain fate.

1/ Hospitals, doctors, and insurers are united in their criticism of the Republican health care bill and are urging significant changes to the legislation. The bill’s impact could potentially cause millions to lose coverage through a combination of deep cuts to Medicaid, scaled back employer-sponsored health care, lifetime limits on coverage, and rising costs for people with pre-existing conditions that could effectively price them out of the market. (New York Times)

  • Republicans claimed a major victory on the health care vote even as the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. Under pressure to make good on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans pushed the bill through after adopting a last-minute change that earned it just enough votes to pass. However, the House version fell significantly short of the GOP’s long-held goals of an outright repeal. (Washington Post)

2/ The Senate GOP rejects the House Obamacare bill. Senate Republicans say they’ll take the time they need to understand the bill’s ramifications and will insist on getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting, unlike the House. The Senate needs to end up with a bill that can win over 50 of the 52 GOP senators. And even if they accomplish that, the Senate bill could be unpalatable to House conservatives, which squeaked through on a 217-213 vote. (Politico)

  • The Senate moves the House Obamacare repeal to the slow lane as recent changes to the measure complicate its path in Senate. (Bloomberg)

3/ Health care looks to be the defining issue in the next election cycles. GOP members of Congress will be asked to defend their votes for a bill that could strip insurance from 24 million Americans and jack up premiums and deductibles for the country’s sickest and oldest citizens in the 2018 midterms. Meanwhile, governors, gubernatorial candidates, and state legislators will be asked whether they intend to “opt out” of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that are overwhelmingly popular with voters. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump praised Australia’s universal health care system hours after the Obamacare repeal, saying America’s new plan is “going to be fantastic health care.” Australia’s universal health care system gives citizens free access to doctors and public hospitals paid for by the government. (CNN)

  • Trump Tweets: “Everybody” has better healthcare than US. His latest comments appear to contradict his own spokeswoman, who said that Trump “was simply being complimentary of the prime minister and I don’t think it was much more than that” after saying Australians have better healthcare than we do. (The Hill)
  • Trump called his relationship with Australia’a prime minister “fantastic” following a meeting in New York. It was their first encounter since an acrimonious phone call in February where relations were strained due to Trump’s reluctance to honor a deal to accept up to 1,200 refugees from Australian detention camps. (BBC)
  • Trump admits to his “testy” phone call with the Australian prime minister, but still calls it “fake news.” (Washington Post)

5/ The US added 211,000 new jobs in April as the unemployment rate hits a 10-year low. The unemployment rate was 4.4%, the lowest in more than 10 years, however labor participation fell slightly to 62.9% – a signal that workers who had been sidelined are not being drawn back into the labor market. Outdated skills and the inability to move to a place where jobs are available may be preventing some people who would like to work from getting back into the labor market. (New York Times)

6/ North Korea accused the US and South Korea of an unsuccessful assassination attempt involving biochemical weapons. The alleged plan resembles the assassination earlier this year of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half brother. That attack, using the chemical war agent VX, was widely blamed on North Korea and led to calls in the United States to relist the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Associated Press)

7/ The White House fired its chief usher — the first woman and second African American to hold the position. The chief usher oversees all activities in the White House residence and works as general manager of the building. The job is one that typically involves a long tenure — there have been just nine since the beginning of the 20th century. (Washington Post)

8/ Refugee admissions plummet under Trump’s threats to bar their entry. The US accepted 2,070 refugees in March, the lowest monthly total since 2013, and 3,316 in April, the second-lowest total since 2013. (USA Today)

9/ A New York GOP congressman admits he didn’t read the health care bill and was unaware the bill would nix funding for a health care program in his state. The AHCA would eliminate the Essential Plan option, which provides New York with $3 billion annually for a program that offers benefits for low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid. (Talking Points Memo / The Buffalo News)

10/ The Senate asks Trump associates for records of communication with Russians in an effort to accelerate its broad investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. Roger Stone, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael T. Flynn were all sent requests. (New York Times)

11/ Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would cut about 95% of funding for the drug control office, effectively ending its mission as the lead agency in charge of combating opioid and drug epidemics. (Politico)

12/ Trump’s pick for Army Secretary has withdrawn his name from consideration after offending both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities with comments and policy positions seen as offensive and discriminatory – including comparing transgender people to ISIS militants. (NBC News)

Day 105: Health care?

1/ House Republicans narrowly passed the controversial health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The vote passed 217-213 six weeks after House leaders failed to get the votes needed to pass an earlier version of their bill. The bill included last-minute amendments designed to draw votes from the most conservative House Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus as well as from their more moderate counterparts. The vote occurred before the Congressional Budget Office had released a new analysis of the revised bill with its cost and impact. The measure moves to the Senate, where its fate is far from certain. Democrats are confident that some provisions of the House bill will not comply with special budget rules that Republicans must follow in order to skirt a Senate filibuster. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)


What’s actually in the GOP health care bill. (Politico)

Obstacles await the Republican health care bill in the Senate. Here’s what the Senate might do to change it. (Vox)

  • How every member voted on the House health care bill. (New York Times)
  • The Obamacare replacement bill would protect just 5% of people with pre-existing conditions. The Republican bill would potentially allow insurers to charge sick people higher premiums. To offset those costs, the bill also allocates funding for financial aid for sicker people. High-risk pools in states before Obamacare tended not to cover enough people. (CNBC)
  • Democrats troll House Republicans and sang “nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye” to their GOP colleagues after the American Health Care Act passed. (Washington Post)
  • House Republicans plan health care vote today with few votes to spare and no assessment of how much it will cost. Republicans insist they’ve secured the 216 votes needed to pass their bill. About 15 Republicans are still on record rejecting the proposal and several others are undecided. House leaders can afford only 22 defections, since Democrats will vote en masse against the proposal. The measure to repeal Obamacare is still opposed by health care providers, patient advocates, and retirees. (Politico / New York Times / Associated Press / Reuters)
  • Watch the House session. The House took up the Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act. (CSPAN)
  • What to know about today’s House health care vote. The House will vote on this version of the Affordable Care Act replacement without a Congressional Budget Office estimate, and therefore no idea what it costs, how many people it might help, or how many it might hurt. (Axios)

2/ A last-minute amendment to the health care bill will allow states to waive 10 essential benefits and potentially impact everyone not insured by Medicare or small-business plans. People who obtain health insurance through their employers could be at risk of losing protections that limit out-of-pocket costs for catastrophic illnesses, maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health treatment, and hospitalization. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Sexual assault could be considered a pre-existing condition under the new MacArthur-Meadows amendment, which allows states to discriminate based on medical history. In addition to rape, postpartum depression, cesarean sections, and surviving domestic violence are all considered preexisting conditions. Companies can also deny coverage for gynecological services and mammograms. (New York Magazine)
  • The GOP health bill will cut special education funding by 25%. The $880 billion in cuts over the next 10 years would effectively “convert Medicaid from an entitlement designed to cover any costs incurred to a more limited program.” Republicans say the cuts are necessary due to skyrocketing health care costs. (New York Times)

3/ Several Senate Republicans said they will set aside the House health-care bill and write their own version instead. Without changes, the House bill arrives in the Senate well short of the 50 votes it needs to pass (including a tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence). Republicans have hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, which means they can only afford to lose two votes. The bill is expected to undergo major changes that might leave it unrecognizable, including stripping away the provisions that earned the support of hard-right House members to secure its passage. Senate Republicans have opted to use a maneuver known as reconciliation to try to pass the bill with a simple majority, instead of having to clear the 60-vote threshold that is required for most legislation. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Health care bill will exempt members of Congress and their staffs from losing popular Obamacare provisions. The amendment would ensure that staffers continue to have access to Obamacare programs, like a ban on discriminating based on preexisting conditions, while other enrollees could lose those policies if their state applied for a waiver. A Republican legislator has vowed to close the loophole in separate legislation. (The Hill / Vox) [Editor’s note: This was amended by H.R. 2192, which eliminated the non-application of certain State waiver provisions to Members of Congress and congressional staff.]

5/ Tillerson is asking State Department employees to weigh in on the agency’s budget cuts. The Trump administration wants to cut State Department budget by 26% for “efficiency improvements.” (CNN / CBS News)

  • Tillerson said that the US had been too accommodating to emerging nations and longtime allies and that “things have gotten out of balance.” Fulfilling Trump’s promise to put “America first” will right those imbalances. (New York Times)

6/ Sean Spicer debates the press over the definition of a wall. Spicer got into a heated back-and-forth with a Breitbart correspondent after he asked whether the Trump administration had lied to the public when he promised to build a concrete wall along the southern border, only to downgrade his proposal to a series of fence-like boundaries. The issue is over the definition of whether a “levee wall” or a “bollard wall” is more of a fence than a wall. (The Guardian)

7/ Trump called out Susan Rice for refusing to testify before a Senate committee investigating both Russian meddling in the 2016 election and allegations of Obama-era spying on Team Trump. Rice’s lawyer said she was declining to appear because the ranking Democratic member on the subcommittee did not agree Rice should testify, thereby making the request “a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses.” (Fox News)

  • Susan Rice declined to testify before Senate subcommittee on Russian hacking. Republicans have raised concerns that Rice may have acted improperly, but GOP and Democratic lawmakers so far have found no evidence of wrongdoing. (CNN / Politico)

8/ Border agents are wrongly telling asylum-seekers that the US won’t take them. Customs and Border Protection said its policies haven’t changed and it’s adhering to the law, but more than 100 individuals and families seeking safety were turned away by border agents from November to April. (HuffPost)

9/ Trump signed an order aimed at allowing churches to engage in more political activity. The executive order would provide “regulatory relief” from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance cover birth control and other family planning services. The signing took place on the National Day of Prayer. (Politico / Washington Post)

10/ Trump attacks “fake news media” while congratulating Fox News for its high ratings. It’s not clear what provoked Trump’s criticism of the media on Twitter this morning. (Politico)

11/ The Senate passed the $1 trillion spending deal to avert a government shutdown. The spending bill funds the federal government through September. (Politico)

Day 104: Nauseous.

1/ James Comey said he’s “mildly nauseous” at the suggestions he swayed the election. The FBI director defended his “painful” decision on the Clinton email probe during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. “This was terrible,” Comey said. “But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision,” because failing to inform Congress would have required an “act of concealment” which would have been “catastrophic.” Comey added that Russia is actively involved in trying to influence US politics, emboldened after the outcome of last year’s election, because “this works.” (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / CBS News)

  • Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner. (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ A pair of Republican holdouts now back the health care bill. The latest proposal provides $8 billion over five years to help about 160,000 people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage by putting “downward pressure” on premium costs. The total individual market claims over those five years will probably be about $500 billion, mostly from people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans are still two or three votes away from being able to guarantee passage, but are pushing for a vote sometime this week. (Bloomberg / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post)


House Republicans plan to vote on their health care plan Thursday. They said they would hold a vote this week only if they felt certain it could pass — meaning they now believe they have the votes. If it passes, it will then face a challenge in the Senate, where widespread disagreement remains among Republicans about how to proceed on health care. (Washington Post)

  • The House doesn’t know how many people the health care plan will cover or how much it will cost. The bill to repeal and replace Obamacare hasn’t been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, yet. (Vox)

3/ Trump’s national security adviser described his foreign policy approach as “disruptive.” H.R. McMaster said Trump’s unpredictable and unconventional ways could stabilize the Middle East, because Trump “does not have time to debate over doctrine.” Instead, he seeks to challenge failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach. (Reuters)

4/ Trump weighs how to approach a Middle East conflict while hosting Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today. The conflict has eluded resolution for seven decades. Trump called it the “ultimate deal” and has tasked Jared Kushner with negotiating the peace agreement. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

  • Trump vowed to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace, but offers no new policies. (Reuters)

5/ Trump was “directly involved” in the post-inauguration hunt for the rogue National Park Service tweeter. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Trump was “concerned” about who used the National Park Service Twitter account to retweet a side-by-side comparisons of the crowds at the Trump and Obama inauguration ceremonies. The tweet was deleted. (CBS News)

6/ Trump is expected to sign a long-awaited and highly controversial executive order on religious liberties on Thursday – the National Day of Prayer. A draft of the order, which leaked in February, would establish broad exemptions and legal protections for people and groups to claim religious objections. Civil liberties groups claim it would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans. (Politico / Fox News / CNN / New York Times)

7/ The NSA collected more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year, despite Congress limiting its ability to collect bulk phone records. Under the old system, the NSA collected “billions of records per day.” (NBC News / New York Times)

8/ Ben Carson is not a fan of comfortable government housing projects for low-income Americans. Compassion, Carson explained, means not giving people “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’” As he toured facilities for the poor in Ohio last week, Carson nodded as officials explained how they had stacked dozens of bunk beds inside a homeless shelter and purposefully did not provide televisions. (New York Times)

9/ Spicer: It’s “somewhat sad” we’re still debating why Trump won. The press secretary hit back at Hillary Clinton’s assertion that she would have won if not for late-in-the-game interference from the FBI and WikiLeaks, saying “you don’t get to pick what day the election is on.” (Politico)

  • David Axelrod on Clinton: “It takes a lot of work to lose to Donald Trump.” The Democratic strategist add that “Jim Comey didn’t tell her not to campaign in Wisconsin after the convention. Jim Comey didn’t say don’t put any resources into Michigan until the final week of the campaign.” His advice to Clinton is to move on and stop talking about the election. (The Hill)
  • The Comey letter probably cost Clinton the election. The impact of Comey’s letter, at a maximum, might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point. Meaning, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College. (FiveThirtyEight)

10/ Susan Rice declined to testify before the Senate subcommittee on Russian hacking. Republicans have raised concerns that Rice may have acted improperly, but GOP and Democratic lawmakers so far have found no evidence of wrongdoing. (CNN / Politico)

Day 103: Floundering.

1/ House Republicans are floundering on the Obamacare repeal as 20 Republicans have now opposed the plan. Paul Ryan can only lose 22 votes and still pass the bill. With the 20 lawmakers against the bill, GOP leaders would have to persuade almost every undecided lawmaker to support the legislation in order to reach the 216-vote threshold needed for passage. Republicans insist they’re close. If only two more members come out as “No” votes, there will be no majority to pass the bill. (Politico / CNN)

  • An influential Republican attacked the party’s latest health care bill, saying the measure now “torpedoes” protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. (New York Times)

2/ Trump: The US “needs a good shutdown” in September to fix the Senate “mess.” He’s frustrated by Senate rules that require a 60 vote supermajority to approve most major legislation. Trump’s solution is to either elect more Republican senators in the 2018 midterms, “or change the rules now to 51%” and scrap the legislative filibuster althogether. Congress is poised to approve a budget to fund the government through September, but it doesn’t include several provisions sought by Trump, including funding for a border wall and language for stripping federal money from so-called sanctuary cities. (The Hill / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

  • McConnell shoots down Trump’s call to end the filibuster. (The Hill)

3/ Hillary Clinton – describing herself as “part of the resistance” – criticized Trump’s conduct in office, his foreign policy, and for posting on Twitter. She also said that Trump “should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote” than about urgent matters of policy confronting the country. While Clinton said she took “absolute personal responsibility” for her defeat, she said she believed she would have won if not for Russian meddling and Comey’s surprise announcement. (New York Times)

4/ Sally Yates is expected to contradict the administration’s version of events surrounding Michael Flynn. The former acting attorney general is prepared to testify before a Senate panel next week that she gave a forceful warning to the White House that Flynn’s was lying when he denied in public and private that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia in conversations with a Russian Ambassador, which made him potentially vulnerable to being compromised by Russia. (CNN)

5/ The South Korea THAAD missile defense system is now operational. The system is meant to protect South Korea from ballistic missiles fired by North Korea, but China and other critics say the move will only increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. (NPR)

6/ Trump’s attack on Syria was “in lieu of after-dinner entertainment” for the guests dining at Mar-a-Lago the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said. Trump interrupted dessert to tell Chinese President Xi about the cruise missile attack. The “entertainment didn’t cost the president anything.” (The Guardian / CNN)

7/ Trump puts antiabortion activist in charge of family planning funding for poor Americans and those without health insurance. About 4 million Americans receive family planning coverage through the Title X program, and the majority of them are low-income and people of color. (Washington Post)

8/ Putin said allegations that Russia had meddled in the US election were based on rumors and that Moscow did not want foreign powers to interfere in Russian politics. He blamed the allegations on the result of domestic US political battles. (Reuters)

  • South Korea’s likely next president warned the US not to meddle in its democracy. (Washington Post)

9/ A Republican congressman implied that people with pre-existing health conditions aren’t living their lives “the right way.” After catching himself, Brooks quickly conceded that people with pre-existing conditions may have them “through no fault of their own.” (The Daily Beast)

10/ Pro-Trump farmers now worry he was serious about the NAFTA repeal. Corn, soybean, and dairy farmers are worried that Trump’s rhetoric could directly impact their narrow margins. The same rural communities that animated Trump’s campaign, would feel the brunt of the changes to the trade deal. (CNN)

  • Here are the 23 environmental rules Trump has rolled back. Citing federal overreach and burdensome regulations, Trump has prioritized domestic fossil fuel interests and undone measures aimed at protecting the environment and limiting global warming. (New York Times)

11/ Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates. He praised the Egyptian president for doing “a fantastic job” on gunning down his opponents, invited Thailand’s prime minister to the White House who jailed dissidents after he took power in a coup, and congratulated Turkey’s president after eroding basic freedoms. (Washington Post)

12/ Jared Kushner didn’t disclose his stake in a company that makes him a business partner with Goldman Sachs, George Soros, and Peter Thiel. Kushner is currently a part-owner of a real-estate finance startup and has a number of loans from banks on properties he co-owns, but didn’t identify these on his government financial disclosure form. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 102: Bizarre.

1/ Congress reached a deal to keep the government open through September. The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security, but it doesn’t allow the money to be spent on building Trump’s wall. There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities. Votes in both chambers are expected by the end of the week. (CNN)

2/ North Korea said it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum.” The North called US sanctions and its show of force – sending an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula and joint drills with South Korea – aggression and hysteria. (Reuters)

3/ Trump said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong Un if the circumstances were right. “I would be honored to do it,” he said amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “a pretty smart cookie” for managing to hold on to power after taking over at a young age. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump doesn’t know what’s in his health care bill. The Republican health care plan Trump described on Face the Nation is at odds with his health care goals. He said that people with preexisting conditions will be protected, but the latest amendment says they won’t be. Trump also said deductibles will go down under the Republican plan, but a nonpartisan analysis expects deductibles to go up. (Vox)

  • GOP faces a make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal. This week may be the last, best chance to get it done in the House. (Politico)

5/ The administration ends Michelle Obama’s girls education program. The “Let Girls Learn” program comes to an end as Melania Trump begins to define her own platform as first lady. (CNN)

6/ The Department of Agriculture is relaxing Obama-era school lunch standards. The new rules suspend the sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements, as well as allow 1% fat chocolate milk back into school cafeterias nationwide because of “palatability issues.” (ABC News)

7/ Trump claims Andrew Jackson was upset about the Civil War and wonders why that the issues “could not have been worked out.” Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump suggested that if Jackson had been president “a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.” (Associated Press)

8/ Trump abruptly ended an interview after being pushed on his claims that Obama ordered surveillance of him. He said his allegation that he was illegally surveilled has “been proven very strongly” and that he is entitled to his own “opinions.” (Politico)

  • Trump’s interview with “Face the Nation.” (CBS News)

9/ Trump invited Duterte to visit him at the White House after their “very friendly conversation.” The authoritarian leader is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, which has drawn criticism from human rights groups. The State Department and the National Security Council were both caught off guard by the invitation and raised objections internally. (New York Times)

  • Rodrigo Duterte says he may be too busy for a White House visit. (New York Times)

10/ Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms. Trump has frequently slammed the press for its coverage of him and has suggested changing libel laws. Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech rights. (ABC News)

11/ Trump says his rally crowd broke records despite empty seats at his 100-day rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Journalists pointed out rows of empty seats at the expo center. (The Hill)