Does Trump own Trumpism?

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On the roster: Does Trump own Trumpism? - McCain thumbs down again - Nork showdown lets Hayley shine, what about t-Rex? - Health secretary stuck tax payers with private jet fees - Bipartisan, bicuspid

Who owns Trumpism? No less a question than that is on the ballot Tuesday in Alabama. 

Some of the president’s most ardent supporters have been increasingly bold of late in suggestions that the president is not really in charge.  

One claimed the president was being drugged, others say the president has been hemmed in by the “deep state” and others still maintain that the president is just getting snookered.

And the Alabama Senate race has proven to be a blank canvas on which some of the president’s concerned supporters can paint their anxieties. 

Part of the narrative for supporters of Senate candidate Roy Moore is that the only reason President Trump has been so enthusiastic in his support for incumbent “Big Luther Strange is because the swamp is winning. In this thinking, opposing the president is something like a rescue mission. 

“A vote for Judge Moore isn’t a vote against the president,” said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally for Moore. “It is a vote for the people’s agenda that elected the president.” In her telling, Trump is no longer in a position to determine what constitutes his own agenda.

Moore embraced the idea of a captive president in the candidates’ hostile debate Thursday declaring, “The problem is President Trump’s being cut off in his office. He’s being redirected by people like [Mitch McConnell] who do not support his agenda.”

All past presidents dealt with this kind of infantilizing by supporters. “If only he knew the real truth…” 

It’s neither surprising nor unusual that a sitting president trying desperately to save his legislative agenda late in his first year would not have an appetite for upheaval in his Senate conference. An ideological hardliner like Moore would be hard to predict and almost impossible to control, especially on compromise votes. Strange, conversely, promises to be all but a hollow vessel for the will of Trump to flow through. 

Republicans in general seem unconcerned about the president’s recent moves away from his grassroots on both policy and personnel. But for many of the activists who helped launch Trump into the political stratosphere, his recent moves toward moderation and normalcy have been frightening.

Moore started the race with a substantial advantage in name recognition and activist support. Strange, a conventional-seeming political figure, had little to match the headline-grabbing “Ayatollah of Alabama,” who has been a loud voice in state politics for decades. But Strange, exceeded by none in Washington in his utter deference to the president, is counting on Trump to see him through. 

Looked at one way, if Alabama Republicans reject Trump and his candidate next week after Trump’s visit tonight and Vice President Mike Pence’s trip south on the eve of the vote, it will be a victory for the same wing of the party who helped muscle Trump into contention last year. 

Seen another way, though, it would be a damaging blow to a president who has finally had a much-needed good run of a few weeks. If Trump does not even have the clout to deliver for a candidate in a state where he won the primary last year by 22 points and went on to cruise to a 28 point general-election win, where can he deliver? 

As Trump grows more adept at the politics of governance, he will be looking for ways to keep Republicans in line on hard votes. If Trump’s not a threat in Alabama, do you think he would be to Republican senators in Ohio or Pennsylvania? 

Maybe think of it this way: Do you think a defeat for Trump’s candidate on Tuesday would make passage next week of the ObamaCare repeal bill he supports more or less likely? 

“The industrious habits of the people of the present day, absorbed in the pursuits of gain, and devoted to the improvements of agriculture and commerce, are incompatible with the condition of a nation of soldiers, which was the true condition of the people of those republics.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 8

Bloomberg: “On East 83rd Street there’s a squat brick walk-up that’s a viable contender for the least fancy apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. But for the past 25 years, Wall Street machers and captains of industry have marched up to its gray-carpeted third floor to learn the secrets of attack and defense from Lev Alburt, a three-time U.S. chess champion and one of the most prominent Soviet defectors of the 1970s. Alburt has long been giving ­patter-filled private lessons to New Yorkers from all walks of life, encouraging, cajoling, and reprimanding men and women as they attempt to learn the so-called game of kings. Wall Street has a fairly well-trodden history with games: During off-hours and downtime, games of chance and risk mitigation such as ­backgammon and bridge offer the opportunity for high-level betting, and chess, with its ­corollaries with game theory, occupies a prime position.”

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Trump net job-approval rating: -10.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 8.2 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

Fox News: “Sen. John McCain announced his opposition Friday to his Republican colleagues’ last-ditch ObamaCare overhaul bill, in a major blow to GOP leaders’ scramble to pass the legislation in the Senate next week. The Arizona Republican senator was considered a key vote, as one of just three wavering GOP senators. His opposition could help doom the bill, though the position of two other Republican senators is not yet clear. McCain announced his decision in a lengthy written statement, effectively saying that the bill from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was being rushed. ‘I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process,’ he said.”

Winners and losers - 
Axios: “A new estimate obtained by Axios from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projects that Alaska, home to key swing vote Sen. Lisa Murkowski, would lose 38% of federal funding for premium subsidies and Medicaid by 2026 under the Graham-Cassidy proposal. John McCain’s home state of Arizona would also lose funding (-9% in 2026). … Ohio (-18% by 2026), West Virginia (-23%) and Colorado (-24%), all home to senators who are under pressure over health care, would also lose funding.”

Klondike gold rush? - IRJ: “According to the aide, here is a summary of what the new draft of the bill entails: ‘This draft includes 3 separate provisions benefitting Alaska. 1. Alaska (along with Hawaii) will continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits while they are repealed for all other states. It appears this exemption will not affect Alaska receiving its state allotment under the new block grant in addition to the premium tax credits. 2. Delays implementation of the Medicaid per capita caps for Alaska and Hawaii for years in which the policy would reduce their funding below what they would have received in 2020 plus CPI-M [Consumer Price Index for Medical Care]. 3. Provides for an increased federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) for both Alaska and Hawaii.’ The changes aren’t final, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll be enough to win Murkowski’s vote.”

Trump to host conservative groups for tax talks Monday - Politico: “President Donald Trump will host leaders from six or seven conservative grass-roots groups for dinner at the White House on Monday to lay out his pitch for tax reform, even though the details are still in flux, according to a senior administration official and another person who plans to attend. Two days later, the House Republican Conference will host a half-day retreat in Washington to iron out how to sell tax reform to voters.”

Poll finds public prioritizes health insurance fix - Kaiser Family Foundation: “Specifically, three-fourths of the public (75 percent) say it is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important for Congress to work on reauthorizing funding for CHIP, the program which provides health care coverage for uninsured children.”

WaPo: “President Trump’s two most high-profile diplomats, Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley, were with him at a meeting with African leaders here this week when the president took the lectern to offer a big reveal. He had decided to dispatch one of them to a new on-the-ground peace mission in violence-plagued South Sudan and Congo. ‘I’m sending Ambassador Nikki Haley,’ Trump declared. That the president gave the nod to Haley, his United Nations envoy, and not Tillerson, the secretary of state, who outranks her as a member of the Cabinet, was not necessarily evidence, in and of itself, that she was upstaging him. But Haley’s prominence at Trump’s side through four days of meetings at the annual U.N. General Assembly this week continued a rapid and remarkable rise for the former South Carolina governor, and highlighted her growing influence and ambition within an administration struggling to project a coherent foreign policy.”

Tillerson still urging certification of Iran nuke deal - The Hill: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is urging President Trump to certify to Congress that Iran is complying with the Iran nuclear accord, following reports that Trump may make major amendments to the deal, The Wall Street Journal reports. Tillerson and other officials are urging Trump to certify Iran’s compliance but make changes to address U.S. concerns, current and former U.S. officials told the Journal. The secretary of State’s advice to the president comes after Trump called the deal ‘an embarrassment to the U.S.’ in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.”

Trump’s travel ban expires Sunday, considers broadening the ban - Bloomberg: “The president hinted he might broaden the initial ban, which is set to expire on Sunday, in his response to a terrorist attack in London last week. Even mere renewal of the prohibition on entry into the U.S. by most citizens of those nations would reopen controversy over an action that provoked sharp criticism from prominent corporate leaders, multiple court challenges and internal strife within the White House.”

Team Trump to end Obama limits on drone strikes - NYT: “The Trump administration is preparing to dismantle key Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. The changes would lay the groundwork for possible counterterrorism missions in countries where Islamic militants are active but the United States has not previously tried to kill or capture them.”

Politico: “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents. The frequency of the trips underscores how private travel has become the norm … for the Georgia Republican… The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries. … HHS officials have said Price uses private jets only when commercial travel is not feasible. … For example, Price took a Learjet-60 from San Diego to the Aspen Ideas Festival — a glamorous conference at the Colorado resort town — that arrived at 3:33 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, June 24, nearly 19 hours before his scheduled panel. That flight likely cost more than $7,100, according to one charter jet agency estimate.”

Inspector calls foul on status-symbol security for officials - Politico: “The Department of Homeland Security has rejected a call from its internal watchdog office to suspend or end security details for the heads of two of its most significant components: Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a report released Thursday, DHS Inspector General John Roth said there’s no clear legal authority for the executive protection arrangements and a perception they may have little to do with mitigating any real threat. ‘Because these security details incur substantial monetary and personnel costs … these details give the appearance to some observers of being more related to executive convenience and status than protection,’ Roth wrote.”

NYT: “Under growing pressure from Congress and the public to reveal more about the spread of covert Russian propaganda on Facebook, the company said on Thursday that it was turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees investigating the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 presidential campaign. ‘I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity,’ Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said during an appearance on Facebook Live, the company’s video service. He added that he did not want anyone ‘to use our tools to undermine democracy.’ … The announcement that Facebook would share the ads with the Senate and House intelligence committees came after the social network spent two weeks on the defensive. The company faced calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts — in which fictional people posed as American activists — which were taken down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues.”

Trump calls concerns ‘a hoax’ - Time: “President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to dismiss reports that Russia had bought ads on Facebook during the 2016 election as simply another part of the ‘Russia hoax.’ … ‘The Russia hoax continues, now its ads on Facebook,’ Trump said. ‘What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary? ‘The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media ‘screaming’ for Crooked Hillary Clinton,’ he added. ‘Next, she was a bad candidate!’ A wide range of American intelligence officials have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an attempt to tip the race in Trump’s favor.”

Some Trump aides looking for the exits already - Politico

California judge fast-tracks DREAMer lawsuits Reuters

This weekend Chris Wallace sits down with White House Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short to discuss health care reform and North Korea’s nuclear threat. Need a break from politics? Bill Gates will also join Mr. Sunday to discuss The Gates Foundation’s “Goalkeepers” Report. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.


“He was deplorable before being deplorable was cool.” – Sarah Palin said about Sen. Roy Moore while campaigning for him in Alabama.

“I just wanted to address the new push for the Obamacare replacement bill. I don’t disagree with the idea in which the new plan is based, but I am worried about how efficient the use of the grants will be by the states. Living in Oklahoma I have come to discover that as bad as the federal government can be at allocating and budgeting, this state is worse. I also understand that the money used on a local level would bring more attention to the use of it from us local constituents, thus applying pressure where it should hopefully be applied. I know that not all states are like this, but there are many in similar situations that are pretty close to bankrupt over years of failed local fiscal policy.” – Jeff CoxBroken Arrow, Okla.

[Ed. note: I don’t disagree with you, Mr. Cox. The upside of having a federal system is that states are able to innovate and meet the demands of their citizens in the manner best suited to their regions and populations. The downside is that with 50 contemporaneous experiments, some will fail. And when you are talking about health care, a life-or-death consideration, negative consequences of federalism become very stark. I would point out, however, that on issues as serious as the death penalty and abortion we have huge differences in approach across the states. I take no position as to whether this is a good bill or a bad bill, but I do know that we have brought harder questions to bear through federalism.]

“I would only add one item to the many great suggestions [for Constitutional amendments] you received and quoted in your Report. The House should adopt a two-year budget to coincide with the election cycle. In that way, newly elected members could concentrate on the issues they campaigned on in their first year. In their second year, when they are familiar with the budget process, they would be more informed to understand the revenue and spending needs of the country. Obviously, unexpected events such as the floods in Texas and Florida would require special appropriations. Continuing Resolutions have simply been passed with little or no change to the previous year’s Agency budgets. It seems to work!” – Jerome F. KeverMundelein, Ill.

[Ed. note: Texas has done something similar to this to some considerable success. The key, though, is enforcing limits on non-budget items in budget years. Theoretically Congress can achieve most of its larger aims through its power to tax and power to spend. But, yes, I think you are on to something when you talk about dividing the duties of the legislative branch.]

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AP: “A Minneapolis City Council member has given one of her opponents something to chew over — a piece of chewed gum. Twenty-year incumbent Lisa Goodman took the gum out of her mouth and handed it to challenger Teqen Zea-Aida before the start of a candidate forum Tuesday. Goodman asked Zea-Aida: ‘Would you take my gum, please?’ Goodman tells the Star Tribune she couldn't find any paper to get rid of her gum and was just making a lighthearted comment. Zea-Aida wondered if Goodman was hinting he had bad breath and thought she was offering him gum. Goodman says the challenger ‘looked at me like I was crazy,’ and she took the gum back out of his hand. The council member says it was ‘a simple attempt at humor’ and apologized.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.