The Week on Planet Trump: Trump Jr. Reveals the Smoking Gun and Shoots His Dad in the Foot

Monday: President of Red America

Trump has not organized a single public event specifically around the cruel and detested health-care reform designed by his congressional allies since a lone rally in Kentucky on March 12. He spent July 4, our most important national holiday, at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. Had he been forced to work that day, he surely would have griped about it like his U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. This crew is less protestant work ethic and more protesting having to work at all.

These are the actions of a man who either does not believe his own noxious rhetoric about the dire problems facing the country or who has concluded that he is simply not up to the task of working hard to address them. His total aversion to facing down skeptical audiences full of people who maybe didn't vote for him suggests that he does not possess the requisite confidence or the underlying knowledge needed to sell his proposals to fence-sitters. And his relentless weekend jet-setting, which should be deeply offensive to the struggling white working class that put him in office, suggests that the gloomy oratory of his inauguration speech and the endless paranoid delusions of his Twitter feed are all talk, designed to stoke the outrage of the far right rather than do anything meaningful to solve America's problems.

David Faris, The Week

Tuesday: Best Option on Healthcare is Failure

The Republican plan to undo the Affordable Care Act has spun out of control. GOP senators are frustrated by a process that excluded many of them and violates their promise to make health care more affordable. The abysmally unpopular plan is favored by only 12% in the latest USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll. In the face of this, the Republican Senate and president are abandoning their posts, and it’s now every man or woman for himself. Unless the bill dies, the result will reflect every bit of this chaos.

For many Senate Republicans, not passing a bill reflexively feels like failure, and bipartisanship feels too unfamiliar. But those who focus on it may conclude that passing the bill is the worst of all options.

Andy Slavit, USA Today

Wednesday: Trump is Toxic for the GOP

Here’s the di­lemma that Re­pub­lic­ans face, es­pe­cially those on a bal­lot next year. If con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans break from Trump pub­licly, they risk los­ing sup­port from a base that they need to win reelec­tion. Even in more mod­er­ate dis­tricts, los­ing a large num­ber of Trump diehards could fore­close their path to vic­tory. It’s no co­in­cid­ence that the three Sen­ate GOP can­did­ates who lost last year (Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Joe Heck) had pub­licly dis­tanced them­selves from Trump. Re­pub­lic­ans took that les­son to heart, and even those who can’t stand Trump keep their mouths shut pub­licly so as not to need­lessly ali­en­ate his core sup­port­ers. So far, it’s been a savvy short-term strategy.

But if the Trump team’s en­tire de­fense on Rus­sia falls apart in the face of in­con­tro­vert­ible evid­ence, GOP can­did­ates will be hung out to dry if they dodge the is­sue. The early spin from Trump de­fend­ers so far is that at­temp­ted col­lu­sion with the Rus­si­ans isn’t il­leg­al. That’s not a ten­able de­fense for any­one else rep­res­ent­ing the Re­pub­lic­an Party. And if evid­ence emerges that the pres­id­ent was aware that his cam­paign op­er­at­ives sought polit­ic­al as­sist­ance from Rus­si­ans, it could even­tu­ally punc­ture the Trump bubble.

Josh Kraushaar, National Journal

Thursday: Trump’s Risk to National Security

The Trump team’s habit of lying in public about its contacts with various official and unofficial emissaries of the Russian government is problematic on its own terms, but especially troubling because it raises the possibility that American foreign policy could be influenced by the fear of blackmail.

That, you’ll recall, was the basis for the original bombshell Trump/Russia leak story in which it came out that US government surveillance of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak revealed that he and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had discussions about sanctions during the Obama-Trump transition period. For an incoming administration staffer to discuss sanctions with an ambassador is not a crime or necessarily scandalous. But Flynn, seemingly aware of the political sensitivities around the Trump/Russia nexus, lied about the conversation both externally and internally to the administration.

Sally Yates, the acting attorney general at the time, saw the problem. She warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that “the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

The theory here is simple. If you lie to the public about meetings with the Russian government, the Russian government will know that you lied and could threaten to release embarrassing and personally damaging information unless you take positions they like.

Matthew Ygelias, Vox

Friday: Trump’s Defence Collapses

There is no statute against helping a foreign hostile power meddle in an American election. What Donald Jr. — and Kushner and Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor.

I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.

Charles Krauthammer, New York Daily News

Saturday:  Republican Allowing ObamaCare to Collapse

When he talks about his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump almost always asserts that Obamacare is “exploding.” Republican members of Congress make similar claims, insisting that Obamacare is unsustainable—and that they therefore have no choice but to “repeal and replace” it.

There is some basis for this argument. More than 1,300 counties only have one insurer in their exchanges, meaning there is no competition. But there is a nuance that Republicans willfully ignore: This is a problem of their own creation that is largely confined to red states.

Where Republican governors have sought to sabotage the program, they have largely succeeded. Where Democratic governors have tried to make the ACA work, they too have largely succeeded.

Dean Baker, The Los Angeles Times

Sunday: Six Long Months

What happens to a democracy whose citizens not only lose common ground but also take a match to the idea of a common reality? Thanks in part to Trump, we may find out. He doesn’t care about civility or basic decency, and even if he did, he lacks the discipline to yoke his actions to any ideals. The Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik expressed it perfectly, telling me, “His presidency is what happens when you have road rage in the Oval Office.”

I was just 9 when Richard Nixon resigned and a teenager during the Jimmy Carter years. I began paying close attention only with Ronald Reagan. He and every one of his successors bent the truth, to varying degrees. He and every successor had a vanity that sometimes ran contrary to the public good. But none came close to Trump in those regards.

Frank Bruni, The New York Times

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