The Pronk Pops Show 934, July 24, 2017, Breaking — Breaking — Story 1: Pence Breaks Tie — Senate Will Debate How To Proceed With Obamacare Repeal and Replace — Videos — Story 2: Congress Overwhelming Passes New Sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea — Long Overdue — Videos — Story 3: Trump Again Critical Of Attorney General Sessions Apparently For Not Prosecuting Leakers and Going After Clinton Foundation Crimes — What about Obama Administration’s Spying On Trump — An Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes — Will Trump Dump Sessions? If He Does Trump Will Start To Lose His Supporters in Talk Radio and Voter Base — Direct Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein To Fire Mueller — If He Won’t Fire Him — Fire Both Mueller and Rosenstein —  Punish Your Enemies and Reward Your Friends President Trump! — “In Your Guts You Know He is Nuts” — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

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Breaking — Story 1: Pence Breaks Tie — Senate Will Debate How To Proceed With Obamacare Repeal and Replace — Videos —

Senate votes to start debate on health care bill

Senate Dems Stage Strange Protest During ObamaCare Vote

Protesters Chant “Kill The Bill! Don’t Kill Us!” At Senate Debate Vote To Repeal Obamacare | TIME

Senate to vote on Obamacare repeal today

Senate Vote On Health Care Debate In Yet Another Effort To Repeal And Replace Obamacare | TIME

 

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, at the Capitol on Tuesday.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted narrowly on Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed.

The Tuesday night tally needed to reach 60 votes to overcome a parliamentary objection. Instead, it fell 43-57. The fact that the comprehensive replacement plan came up well short of even 50 votes was an ominous sign for Republican leaders still seeking a formula to pass final health care legislation this week.

For Republicans, the failure ended the day on a sour note, hours after a more triumphant scene on the Senate floor. Lawmakers from both parties had risen to their feet in the afternoon and applauded when Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, showed up in the chamber despite his diagnosis of brain cancer. He cast a crucial vote in favor of opening what promises to be a freewheeling, hard-fought debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The 51-50 vote to start debate, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie, came only a week after the Republican effort to dismantle a pillar of former President Barack Obama’s legacy appeared all but doomed. It provided an initial win for President Trump, who pushed, cajoled and threatened senators in recent days to at least begin debating the repeal of the health care law.

But the victory could be fleeting: Senate Republicans still have no agreement on a repeal bill that they can ultimately pass to uproot the law that has provided health insurance to millions of Americans.

How Each Senator
Voted on Full Obamacare
Repeal-and-Replace

Republican leaders brought the first of several expected amendments to a vote Tuesday night.

The Senate is now moving ahead with debate, amendments and ultimately a final vote in the coming days on legislation that would have a profound effect on the American health care system — roughly one-sixth of the United States’ economy. But it is entirely possible that by week’s end, they will have passed nothing.

“Now we move forward towards truly great health care for the American people,” Mr. Trump said from the White House Rose Garden, where he was holding a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Lebanon. “This was a big step.”

Only two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the procedural motion, though at least several other Republicans had been seen as possible holdouts. No Democrats voted in favor of the motion.

The Tuesday night vote was on a comprehensive amendment that included disparate proposals calculated to appeal to conservatives and moderates in the Republican caucus.

One proposal, offered by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, would have allowed insurers to sell stripped-down health plans, without maternity care or other benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, if they also sold plans that included such benefits.

“You shouldn’t have to buy what the federal government mandates you must buy,” Mr. Cruz said. “You should choose what meets the needs for you and your family.”

Three major proposals are being discussed.

The amendment also included money to help pay out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income people, including those who buy private insurance after losing Medicaid coverage as a result of the Senate bill. This proposal was devised by Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and other senators from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

But nine Republicans, spanning the party’s ideological spectrum, voted against the package.

The debate to come will have broad implications for health care and households in every state, and emotions are high.

Before senators voted to start the debate in midafternoon, protesters in the Senate gallery chanted, “Kill the bill, don’t kill us!” and “Shame, shame, shame!”

Despite his vote to move ahead, Mr. McCain offered harsh words for the secretive process by which Senate Republican leaders came up with their bill to repeal and replace the health law, and he delivered a pessimistic take on its chances.

“Asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition — I don’t think that’s going to work in the end, and probably shouldn’t,” Mr. McCain said, adding that it “seems likely” that the current repeal effort would end in failure. Still, Mr. McCain voted with Republican leaders in favor of the comprehensive replacement plan on Tuesday night.

Arizona is one of the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Mr. McCain’s remarks could reflect concerns of other senators from states that expanded Medicaid, including the junior Republican senator from his state, Jeff Flake.

 

Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, spoke to the Senate after casting his vote to begin debating legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »“We are ground zero for the failure of the exchanges, but we are also an expansion state,” Mr. Flake said. “I think all of us are concerned that we don’t pull the rug out from people.”

Just before the Senate vote, the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, made an impassioned plea to Republicans.

“We know that A.C.A. is not perfect,” Mr. Schumer said. “But we also know what you’ve proposed is much worse. We can work together to improve health care in this country. Turn back now before it’s too late and millions and millions and millions of Americans are hurt so badly in ways from which they will never, ever recover.”

Given the divisions within their caucus, Senate Republican leaders were considering a new approach to keeping their repeal quest alive: They could try to reach agreement on a slimmed-down bill that would repeal a few major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, like the penalties imposed on people who go without insurance and businesses that do not offer insurance to their employees. Republican leaders would not intend for such a bill to become law, but they believe that it could win approval in the Senate.

That “skinny” bill could then be a basis for negotiations with the House.

Republican leaders in Congress have struggled all year to fulfill their promise of repealing the 2010 health care law. By a vote of 217 to 213, the House approved a repeal bill in early May, but only after Republicans overcame their own difficulties in that chamber.

Mr. Trump kept up pressure on the Senate on Tuesday with Twitter posts. After the procedural vote, he applauded the Senate, but was cutting toward Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski: “We had two Republicans that went against us, which is very sad, I think. It’s very, very sad for them.”

Majority needed to pass YES NO
Republicans 51 2
Democrats 0 48
Total 51 50

The successful procedural vote was also a moment of redemption, at least temporarily, for Mr. McConnell, who just last week appeared to have failed in his effort to put together a health bill that could squeak through the narrowly divided Senate.

That said, it remained far from certain whether Republicans would be able to agree on a bill in the days to come — and what exactly the contents of that bill would be. Mr. McConnell promised an “open amendment process” in which members of both parties could propose changes.

“This is just the beginning,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’re not out here to spike the football.”

For weeks, Mr. McConnell has been promoting and revising a comprehensive bill that would repeal the health law while also replacing it, but he has struggled to nail down the support needed to pass that measure. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to assess the most complete version of that legislation, which includes the proposals by Mr. Cruz and Mr. Portman.

Without that assessment, the measure needed 60 Senate votes, and it failed that test on Tuesday night.

The Senate is also expected to vote on a measure that would repeal the health law without putting in place any replacement, but that approach does not appear to have enough support to pass, either.

That proposal resembles a bill passed by the Senate in 2015 and vetoed by Mr. Obama in early 2016. But it would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 32 million in 2026, the budget office said.

Mr. Portman had anguished for weeks over provisions of Mr. McConnell’s repeal bill that would make deep cuts in projected Medicaid spending and roll back the expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Portman voted to move ahead with the debate on Tuesday after being assured that the Senate would vote on his plan to provide financial assistance to people moving from an expanded state Medicaid program to private health insurance.

States could have used the money, totaling $100 billion, to help low-income people pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs when they receive medical care.

Mr. Portman worked on the plan with the Trump administration and with several other Republican senators from states that have expanded Medicaid, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dean Heller of Nevada.

Mr. Heller voted Tuesday to open the debate, but he made no commitment to vote for the repeal bill itself.

“If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it,” Mr. Heller said. “If it is improved, I will support it.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/us/politics/senate-health-care.html

 

Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

Image: Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

By Todd Beamon   |   Tuesday, 25 Jul 2017 03:06 PM

The Senate voted Tuesday to begin debate on the plan to repeal Obamacare outright and replace it within two years — after Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and an ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain returned to slam the chamber’s secretive process.

“On this vote, the yeas are 50 and the nays are 50,” Pence said. “The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to.”

Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the motion, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky proposed after two previous versions of a healthcare bill failed to attract enough votes.

Several senators switched their positions after saying as recently as last week that they would not support a complete Obamacare repeal without replacement.

They were Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada – considered the party’s most vulnerable incumbent going into next year’s congressional elections.

McCain, 80, who was diagnosed with brain cancer after undergoing surgery 11 days ago, returned to the Senate to vote for the procedural motion.

He was the first to speak on the floor during debate.

“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for this bill as it is today.

“It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”

He called for both parties to work together to bring forth legislation that would improve healthcare for all Americans.

“We keep trying to win without help from the other side of the aisle,” McCain said. “We are getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.

“All we’ve managed to do was make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular,” he said, referring to Obamacare.

“The administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition a program that brought forth social and economic change as massive as Obamacare.

“And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.

“If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let’s return to regular order,” McCain said.

“What a great honor, an extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body,” he concluded. “It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it.

“I hope to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.”

McCain’s comments were greeted with a standing ovation.

President Donald Trump afterward thanked McCain for coming from Arizona to cast his vote to move the healthcare motion forward, calling him a “very brave man.”

“He made a tough trip to get here and vote,” Trump said at the start of a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the White House Rose Garden. “We want to thank Sen. McCain and all of the Republicans.

“We passed it without one Democrat vote,” the president added. “And that’s a shame, but that’s the way it is. And it’s very unfortunate.

“But I want to congratulate the American people, because we’re going give you great healthcare.”

The Senate last voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015, but it was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. The House has voted more than 50 times to end the healthcare program.

President Trump has vowed to sign any bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Before the procedural vote, McConnell encouraged Republicans to take action to end Obamacare after promising to do so for seven years.

“We have a duty to act,” he said. “The president’s ready with his pen.

“The House has passed legislation. Today, it’s the Senate’s turn.

“That starts with a vote we’ll take momentarily. The critical first step in that process, the motion to proceed.

“It’s the vote that determines whether this debate can proceed at all,” McConnell said. “Whether we’ll even take it up.”

But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pleaded with Republicans to reject the procedural vote and work with his party – saying that beginning debate on the repeal motion would eventually lead to the end of Obamacare.

“The best the majority leader’s been able to cook up is a vague plan to do whatever it takes to pass something — anything — to get the bill to a House and Senate conference on healthcare,” the New York Democrat said before McConnell spoke.

“My colleagues, plain and simple, it’s a ruse,” Schumer continued. “The likeliest result of a conference between the House and Senate is full repeal of the Affordable Care Act or something very close to it.”

He slammed Republicans for crafting the healthcare plan under “much cloak-and-dagger legislating” and for locking Democrats out of the process.

“Their plan all along was to keep their bill hidden for as long as possible, evade scrutiny, hide the truth from the American people, and then jam the bill through in the dead of night on a party line,” Schumer said.

McConnell emphasized that the motion opens the debate on repealing Obamacare – and that any legislation could be amended during the debate process.

“President Obama vetoed what we passed before,” he said. “President Trump will sign what Congress passes this time.

“All we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate with an open amendment process and let the voting take us where it will.”

http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/senate-passes-healthcare-vote/2017/07/25/id/803717/

Story 2: Bipartisan Congress Overwhelming Passes New Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea — Long Overdue — Trump Will Sign Bill in Near Future or Face Congressional Override of Veto — Videos

 

House overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions bill

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer 07/25: NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS PASS HOUSE WITH VETO-PROOF MARGIN

Bipartisan Russia sanctions clear tough hurdle MSNBC

Congress to vote on sanctions against Russia, 

Senators confident they could override a Trump veto on bill upping Russian sanctions for el

Story 3: Trump Again Critical Of Attorney General Sessions Apparently For Not Prosecuting Leakers and Going After Clinton Foundation Crimes — What about Obama Administration’s Spying On Trump — An Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes — Will Trump Dump Sessions? If He Does Trump Will Start To Lose His Supporters in Talk Radio and Voter Base — Direct Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein To Fire Mueller — If He Won’t Fire Him — Fire Both Mueller and Rosenstein —  Punish Your Enemies and Reward Your Friends President Trump! — “In Your Guts You Know He is Nuts” —  Videos

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Shapiro Nails It

Ben Shapiro Show 347 | Begun The Sessions War Has

Tucker Carlson criticized Trump for ‘Nuts’ Attacks on ‘Humiliated’ Ally Jeff Sessions

Hume: Trump has peculiar concept of attorney general’s job

Trump continues attack on AG Jeff Sessions in new tweets

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI REACTS TO TRUMP CALLING OUT AG SESSIONS | ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI FULL INTERVIEW

‘AG’s job isn’t to ‘have your back’:CNN’s Jake Tapper Dismantles Trump’s frustration with Sessions

CNN’s Don Lemon laughs out loud at Trump’s claim he’s more presidential than anyone except Lincoln

Under attack from the president, Attorney General Sessions still advancing conservative agenda

Mark Levin: If Trump pushes AG Jeff Sessions out, it will be a terrible mistake (July 24 2017)

Mark Levin: Jeff Sessions recuses himself from investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged Russian ties

Trump Says He Will Appoint Special Prosecutor To Investigate Clinton

Trump: “[The Clintons] are good people. I don’t want to hurt them” vs. Marx

Trump vs Sessions: How POTUS turned on his AG

Sessions to stay on the job despite Trump’s criticism

News Wrap: Trump tweets new criticism of Sessions

President Trump: “I Am Disappointed In The Attorney General” 7/25/17

Trump Calls Sessions ‘Weak’ as Criticism Continues

Shep Smith Rips President Trump Over Jeff Sessions “I can’t find a time Situation like this upon us”

Rush Limbaugh: How Donald Trump can shut down the Mueller probe (audio from 07-21-2017)

Roger Stone: Trump Should Fire Mueller And Rosenstein

Exclusive: Roger Stone Reveals Sessions On Way Out – Here’s The Short List For Next AG

 

Trump trashes his attorney general yet again: Sessions just wanted to be a part of my big crowds

BOB BRIGHAM

President Donald Trump has once again openly bashed his Attorney General.

Jeff Sessions was the only Senator to endorse Trump in the primary, but President Trump is no longer giving him credit for his political support, claiming Sessions only endorsed him because of Trump’s crowd sizes.

“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I had 40,000 people.”

“But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me,” Trump explained. “So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”

“I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions,” Trump added.

President Trump is also now openly talking of firing Attorney General Sessions, but won’t reveal if he plans to oust him.

“I’m just looking at it,” Trump said when asked why he has criticized Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”

Trump “was joined by his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/trump-trashes-his-attorney-general-yet-again-sessions-just-wanted-to-be-a-part-of-my-big-crowds/

 

GOP backlash to Trump attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions signals political danger

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey set in motion a chain of events that’s proven politically devastating to his White House. The same could happen if he fires or forces out U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“It’s stunning to me that he looks at what happened over the firing of Comey and his idea is to fire Sessions,” said Rob Jesmer, a longtime Republican strategist who is also a former executive director of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“That firing’s been a disaster” that led to the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, said Jesmer. It also raised questions about potential obstruction of justice, since Trump later acknowledged he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. “It’s made his life worse,” said Jesmer.

Signaling the potential political danger ahead, the diversity of conservatives rallying behind Sessions is significant. It ranges from the alt-right Breitbart News and conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh to family values and anti-immigration groups.

On the Hill, the “reverberations would be that this is a White House that thinks it’s above the law,” said Heye.

“What I don’t understand is what he thinks the end game is,” said Jesmer. “Russia is not going away.”

Latest Trumpian tweet storm

In a series of tweets, Trump has taken aim at Sessions for failing to pursue more investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email server and called Sessions “beleaguered.” In an interview with the New York Times, he also berated Sessions for recusing himself from the FBI investigation in to Trump’s ties to Russia.

Outside conservative groups and media figures who are emissaries to critical voting blocs, including religious and constitutional conservatives, are speaking out on behalf of Sessions. That raises the specter that Trump’s actions could hurt his support among some of his most loyal supporters and voters.

Jim DeMint, chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute and a former senator, said he hopes Trump “sees Jeff Sessions is a great leader that will defend Constitution and rule of law.”

Trump right about media’s Russia obsession. Hope he sees Jeff Sessions is a great leader that will defend Constitution & rule of law.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement saying Sessions “understands the importance of all of our God-given rights, respects the law, and is making tremendous progress to restore our nation to greatness.”

Rush Limbaugh, the firebrand conservative talk host, called Trump’s continued attackson Sessions “unseemly.”

The Federation for American Immigration Reform said Sessions “deserves your support, not criticism.”

.@RealDonaldTrump AG Sessions has restored confidence & integrity to U.S. immigration policy. He deserves your support, not criticism.

Even Breitbart, the news organization formerly headed by Trump’s senior adviser Steve Bannon, fired a shot across the bow on Tuesday. It said Trump’s attacks on Sessions are showing his own “weak” stance.

The attacks are “likely to fuel concerns from his base who see Sessions as the best hope to fulfill Trump’s immigration policies,” the article said.

“The question is what does a republican senator or member of the House do” if Trump follows through by firing or forcing Sessions to resign, said Heye.

Whether there will be any official reaction from congressional Republicans if Trump fires Sessions remains to be seen. It might take Trump going further, including pardoning himself or others or angling to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, for Congress to step in as many lawmakers worry the president is abusing his powers as president by targeting institutions and officials investigating him and his family.

Yet the consequences in Congress could nevertheless be manifold.

In addition to angering many lawmakers, making it harder to work with them, Sessions is a favorite of the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group that has proven Trump’s most formidable negotiating challenge on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The faction of House conservatives will also pose a big challenge in reaching a deal to keep the government funded this fall.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/07/25/gop-backlash-trump-attacks-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-signals-political-danger/509182001/

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will recuse himself from any probe related to 2016 presidential campaign

Amid demands, Sessions recuses himself from all campaign probes
Attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself from all investigations involving the presidential campaign after officials from both parties called for it. The outcry came after news broke that then-Sen. Sessions failed to disclose that he met with a Russian envoy during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general. (Gillian Brockell, Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
 March 2
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that he will recuse himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process.Speaking at a hastily called news conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he was following the recommendation of department ethics officials after an evaluation of the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict.“They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said. He added that he concurred with their assessment and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.

The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian brings us up to speed on Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from all investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

It also represents a departure from Sessions’s previous statements, including one on Monday, when he declined to say whether he would recuse himself. “I would recuse myself on anything I should recuse myself on,” Sessions said then. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Democrats have been calling for him to do so for weeks; on Thursday, after publication of The Post’s article, some high-level Republicans joined them. At his news conference, Sessions offered a new explanation: that discussions about his recusal had begun before the revelation of his meetings with Kislyak, that he and ethics officials had agreed on Monday to meet for a final time Thursday, and that at that final meeting he had accepted their recommendation.

The responsibility to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation will now be handled by Sessions’s deputy attorney general, the department’s second-highest-ranking official. The acting deputy attorney general is Dana Boente, a longtime federal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who stepped in when Trump fired Sally Yates in January.

Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing on March 7. Rosenstein, the former U.S. attorney in Baltimore and the longest-serving U.S. attorney, was the sole holdover from the George W. Bush administration.

The revelations about Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak brought new scrutiny to the attorney general’s confirmation hearing in January, when he was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign. He replied: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

On Thursday, Sessions defended those remarks as “honest and correct as I understood it at the time,” though he also said he would “write the Judiciary Committee soon — today or tomorrow — to explain this testimony for the record.” His explanation, he said, was that he was “taken aback” by Franken’s question, which referred to a breaking news story at the time about contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians.

“It struck me very hard, and that’s what I focused my answer on,” he said. “In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said I did meet one Russian official a couple times, and that would be the ambassador.”

Here’s what you need to know about Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Sergey Kislyak’s contacts with Trump advisers roiled the new administration and led to one resignation and calls for another. Among D.C. insiders, Russia’s long-serving ambassador to the United States is known for trying to develop relationships with top U.S. officials. (The Washington Post)

Later, in an interview on Fox News, Sessions notably declined to say that he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government favored Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential campaign. A declassified report from U.S. intelligence agencies released in January concluded just that, saying, “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

“Did the campaign believe that the Russian government, the Putin government, favored Trump over Clinton in this race?” Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked.

“I have never been told that,” Sessions responded.

“Do you think they did?” Carlson said.

“I don’t have any idea, Tucker, you’d have to ask them,” Sessions said.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.” A spokeswoman confirmed his meetings with Kislyak but said there was nothing misleading about what Sessions said to Congress.

The spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, said Sessions did not meet with Kislyak as a Trump supporter but, rather, in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee. One meeting was in September; the other in July, when Sessions was approached after an event on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday of the September meeting: “There’s just not strong recollection of what was said.”

On Thursday, though, Sessions outlined fairly extensive details of the encounter, which included two senior Sessions staffers. He said he talked with the ambassador about a trip he made to Russia in 1991, terrorism and Ukraine — a major policy issue, given Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the imposition of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia for its actions.

At one point, Sessions said, “it got to be a little bit of a testy conversation.” He said the ambassador invited him to lunch, but he did not accept.

“Most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy, and they like to — this was in the campaign season, but I don’t recall any specific political discussions,” Sessions said.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said that he had “total” confidence in Sessions. Speaking aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Va., Trump told reporters that he was not aware of Sessions’s contact with the Russian ambassador. Trump also said that Sessions “probably” testified truthfully during his confirmation hearing in January before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Asked whether Sessions should recuse himself, Trump added: “I don’t think so.”

Trump issued a statement later Thursday as well: “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional.” Trump added that Democrats are “overplaying their hand” by criticizing Sessions, and he called their attacks a “total witch hunt!”

Several Republican lawmakers had already called on Sessions to recuse himself — and some of them applauded him after he did so. Sen. Ben. Sasse (R-Neb.) called it the “right decision.”

Democrats, however, were less complimentary. Several of them had begun the day demanding Sessions’s resignation and accusing him of lying under oath during the confirmation hearing. After his announcement that he would recuse himself, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared the decision “totally inadequate.” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said: “Attorney General Sessions is right to recuse himself, but the fact is that he should have done so the moment he was sworn in.”

The episode marks the second time in Trump’s nascent administration when the truthfulness of one of its top officials has come under scrutiny. In February, Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after The Post reported he had not fully disclosed his contacts with Russian officials.

Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak occurred during the height of concerns about Russian interference in the U.S. election and at a time when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as a top Trump surrogate and adviser.

The swift response among some Republicans, although more muted than Democrats, signaled increasing concern about the potential political fallout.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted early Thursday that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

Chaffetz later told reporters: “Let’s let him clarify his statement, and I do think he should recuse himself.” Asked whether his committee would investigate the matter, he said, “There are things we are looking at.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) defended Sessions, noting that ongoing investigations have found no evidence that “an American or a person in the Trump campaign was involved or working with the Russians.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shared conflicting views on Sessions during back-to-back television interviews Thursday. Asked whether Sessions should recuse himself, he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” “I think the trust of the American people — you recuse yourself in these situations, yes.”

But McCarthy later told Fox News: “I’m not calling on him to recuse himself. I was asked on ‘Morning Joe’ if he needs to recuse himself as going forward. As you just heard, Attorney General Sessions said he would recuse himself going forward — appropriate, and that’s all my answer was.”

Sessions has focused his response to the allegations on the substance of his conversations with Kislyak, which he said did not include talk about the campaign.

Many Democrats considered that a direct contradiction of Sessions’s testimony in January, when he told Franken that he had not spoken to Russian officials.

But Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who considers Sessions a close friend, said, “I don’t think Jeff Sessions is a liar” and argued that Sessions had not misled the Judiciary Committee “because all of the questions were about campaign contacts.”

But Sessions “does owe it, quite frankly, to all of us to tell us what he talked about” with Kislyak, Graham said.

Fallout from Sessions’s statements came as FBI Director James B. Comey made a previously scheduled visit to Capitol Hill to meet with the House Intelligence Committee. But Comey was once again unwilling to confirm whether the FBI is exploring ties between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government, according to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat.

“We can’t do a complete job unless the director is willing to discuss anything that they are investigating,” Schiff said. “At this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.”

But Rep. Devin Nunes ­(R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said Comey was “very upfront” with lawmakers.

“There’s a lot more information . . . the FBI and intelligence agencies need to provide to our committees” to aid ongoing congressional investigations, Nunes said. He added that he had “no reason to believe that any information” would be withheld from his committee.

Senators who deal regularly with defense, foreign affairs or intelligence matters often meet with foreign officials. But as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sessions was less likely to meet with foreign ambassadors than foreign military leaders. The Post has spoken to all senators who served on the armed services panel in 2016. None of them other than Sessions met with Kislyak one-on-one last year, they said.

Schumer said that the Justice Department’s inspector general should investigate whether Sessions made any attempts to thwart any ongoing Russia-
related investigations.

Some Democratic senators called on Sessions to appear again before the Judiciary Committee to explain his relationship and conversations with Russian officials under oath. Others are encouraging congressional tax-writing committees to use their authority to review Trump’s tax returns for any sign of Russian connections.

Abby Phillip, Mike DeBonis, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/top-gop-lawmaker-calls-on-sessions-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/2017/03/02/148c07ac-ff46-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html?utm_term=.ad5603343d98

 

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