News Round-Up: August 2, 2017

Some news items you might have missed:

• I’m half-way through my week, Instahunk Steve Raider (above) is half-way through his day at the beach. Switch places?

• Donald Trump has (finally) signed legislation that imposes further sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. The measure also limits his own authority to lift those sanctions. I’m surprised he would do that to the Motherland.

• Former White House photographer Pete Souza responds to reports that Donald Trump told golf club members that the White House is “a real dump:”

The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah on Los Angeles booking the 2028 Olympics: “Because this is Hollywood, there will be big changes … For example, the entire Chinese Olympic team will be played by white actors.”

• Facing 24 counts of prosecutorial misconduct, former Congressman Aaron Schock is shocked federal investigators have dug into personal aspects of his life, including whether rumors that he is gay are true or not. Maybe it was the Downton Abbey-styled office that gave it away? Or perhaps the turquoise belt paired with a plum checkered shirt?

• Announcing “It’s time for The Wall,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gets all butch riding a horse in dad jeans with hip EDM music in the background of this 30-second clip of his trip to the Mexican border. Wearing a headset and Ray Bans, Ryan goes full #MAGA for “The Wall.” Watch below.

Paul Ryan Defends Donald Trump: “He’s Just New To This”

Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan suggested during comments to the press today that President Trump’s request to James Comey to drop FBI investigations into Michael Flynn could stem from his lack of experience in government.

From The Hill:

“Of course there needs to be a degree of independence between [the Department of Justice], FBI, and the White House and a line of communication’s established,” Ryan told reporters.

“The president’s new at this. He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, the FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

Another reporter later pressed Ryan on why inexperience is an “acceptable excuse” for Trump’s behavior.

“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan replied. “He’s new at government and so therefore I think that he’s learning as he goes.”

The night before, Ryan told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that it was “obviously” inappropriate for Trump to ask for Comey’s loyalty.

Trump Chokes As First Legislative Effort Fails With No Vote On Healthcare

After much posturing and drama right down to the wire, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act from a floor vote to avoid an embarrassing, lop-sided defeat.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll, the legislation only had 17% support from the American people.

President Trump, the man who campaigned on his reputation as “master negotiator,” and “the closer,” couldn’t close this deal. Although White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters over and over today that Trump “left everything on the field” to get the bill approved, not only did he not get the ball into the end zone, he whiffed on the kickoff.

Via The Hill:

“We were very close, it was a very tight margin. We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats,” Trump said, flanked by Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the Oval Office.

“I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own ObamaCare,” the president added, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders.

But he said he would be “open” to working with Democrats on healthcare again if ObamaCare “explodes.” “When it explodes, which it will soon, if they got together with us and we got a real healthcare bill, I would be totally open to it, ” Trump said.

In truth, the effort failed because far-right Freedom Caucus House members didn’t like the bill, even though concessions were made to pull in their votes.

I think Trump mentioned being “open” to working with the Democrats in the future as a way to let the Freedom Caucus know he could potentially go around them and instead work with more moderate Dems and Repubs.

Ultimately, I don’t think the actual details of legislation is that important to Trump. I think he just wants to win and be popular. Perhaps this thumping might encourage him to work with the Democrats a bit.

But make no mistake, this was a loss; a loss for the guy who said folks were going to be “tired of winning, winning, winning.”

Speaker Ryan took the loss in more manly manner, admitting the difficulties of being a “governing” party now.

From CBS News:

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the U.S. is “going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future” after he abruptly canceled a scheduled vote on the contentious Republican health care bill Friday. “Obamacare is the law of the land, and it will remain the law of the land until it’s replaced,” Ryan said.

“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan told reporters Friday afternoon. “We’re feeling those growing pains today.” The failure to bring the bill to a vote is a major embarrassment for President Trump, Ryan and congressional Republicans, who had vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act since its passage in 2010. “We came really close today, but we came up short,” Ryan said.

So, let’s look at the scoreboard:

• Muslim ban failed twice
• National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigned
• Mexico won’t pay for the wall
• FBI investigating Trump & Russia
• No evidence of wire tap at Trump Tower
• Trumpcare failed


Today’s House Trumpcare Vote Cancelled

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Lacking the necessary votes to pass the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, today’s vote on the American Health Care Act has been cancelled by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Earlier today, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declared with confidence there was no need for a “Plan B” because the legislation would pass tonight.

House Speaker Paul Ryan Seeks To Fine Lawmakers Who Live-Stream From House Chamber

When Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says to turn off cameras in the House chamber, he means ALL cameras.

And so, he has come up with a rules package that would fine Congressional lawmakers who live-stream from the chamber.

Via Politico:

The move comes in response to Democratic lawmakers, who in June live-streamed a sit-in on the House floor over gun control legislation. Democrats organized the sit-in to protest Republican lawmakers’ decision not to bring to the floor a gun-control bill, which if passed would have broadened background checks and prevented people on no-fly lists from buying guns.

When the House turned off the cameras inside the chambers during the sit-in, the participating lawmakers turned to live-streaming services such as Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast the sit-in, which spanned for 25 hours. The live-streams, which attracted considerable publicity and millions of views, were in turn broadcast live on C-SPAN and other TV networks, which had lost access to live video when the House cameras were shut down.

Ryan, who at the time called the protest a “publicity stunt,” faced criticism for not penalizing the lawmakers for using their mobile phones and for taking photographs during the protest. Through a spokesperson, Ryan said the proposed rules package “will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people’s work.”

The proposal, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, would fine House members for using a device to record audio or video from the House chamber floor. Lawmakers would be fined $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent violation. The fines would be deducted from members’ paychecks.

Paul Ryan: I Hate That People Feel Afraid Of Our President-Elect

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on CNN’s State of the Nation today, addressing the fears of millions of Americans who have felt attacked and marginalized throughout the president-elect’s campaign.

“First of all, I hate that people feel this way, and second of all, they should not. America is a pluralistic, inclusive country. I really think that people should put their minds at ease.”

Regarding the reports of hate crimes and harassment against minorities since the election Ryan denounced the acts saying, “We are the party of Lincoln. People who espouse those views, we don’t want them in our party.”

Now if only Donald Trump would be as direct and forthcoming with a statement like that…

Paul Ryan Tells Congressional Republicans He Will Not Defend Donald Trump For Remainder Of Election

On a Republican party conference call of Congress members, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan informed his fellow GOPers that he will not spend the next 29 days defending Donald Trump, nor will he campaign with the Republican presidential candidate.

From Huffington Post:

Ryan told members of Congress on a conference call Monday that they “all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” according to someone on the call. Ryan said he wouldn’t campaign with Trump for the rest of the election, but added that he wouldn’t withdraw his endorsement of the GOP nominee.

“He made clear to members that his decisions are being driven by what is best for his members, not himself,” the source on the call said. “He is willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority.”

Ryan seems to be suggesting that he would unendorse Trump if he were on his own. But he’s also signaling that he sees a negative down-ballot impact for Republicans if he were to pull his support.

The conference call was held after a leaked video revealed that Trump had, in 2005, bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent. Amid a steady stream of Republicans unendorsing Trump, many party members are questioning whether they, too, should withdraw their support from the nominee and risk angering Trump’s base and depressing GOP turnout even more. Not unendorsing means forever associating yourself with Trump and telling voters that Trump’s behavior is still acceptable.

Predictably, the Donald struck back via Twitter:

Paul Ryan Weighs In On Donald Trump Insults To Family Of Fallen U.S. Soldier

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R) issued this statement regarding the current insults by Donald Trump on the family of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan

“America’s greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and woman who wear the uniform to defend it. As I have siad on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it. Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice – and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan – should be honored. Period.”

House Republicans Will Allow Vote On Gun Control

Perhaps the sit-in did accomplish something on the issue of common sense gun control.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has apparently agreed to allow a vote in the House on legislation designed to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Now, that sounds like it makes sense, no?

Via ThinkProgress:

According to The Hill, Ryan told Republicans on a conference call “that the House will take up a terrorism package that will include measures to disrupt radicalization and recruitment, as well as a provision to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns.”

Exactly which bill the House would take up was unclear from the conference call, The Hill reported. Because it’s unclear which bill will be brought to the floor, The New York Daily News noted that Ryan could “select a bill considered too weak by most Democrats.”

If the bill is too weak, there is a possibility that House Democrats will continue to protest in one way or another until a better bill is brought to a vote.