The End of Week Circulars for July 16, 2017

The Great Investigation into Nothing Continues

It has been mentioned by other Trump friendly pundits that Don Jr.’s meeting with two Russians did not violate any laws.

This pundit for his part adds that not only were no laws broken but, based on the released emails, Don Jr. didn’t come into the meeting knowing what kind of information about Hillary would be on offer.

For all he knew their dirt could have been related to the old Whitewater investigation from the 1980s and 1990s, Hillary’s role in her husband’s intimidation of his former lovers, or any of the countless crimes and scandals Clinton Inc. has entangled itself with for decades.

The hacked DNC emails, on the other hand, are not specifically identified in the emails as the “dirt”.  It’s even debatable whether it would have been a crime if the hacked emails were handed out.  When the meeting was held it turns out no useful information was offered.

I also find it interesting that Trump campaign higher ups were willing to meet with these two Russians at all given how flimsy their basis for claiming deep connections to Putin’s government were.

The fact they were willing to listen to these characters suggests that the Trump campaign was still not satisfied with what was in their opposition research files.  If they were looking to bulk up their oppo research they probably did not have access to whatever emails Russian intelligence gathered; otherwise they would have brushed off the meeting invite.

McConnell Will Probably Get Health Care Over the Finish Line

After a modified version of the Conservative amendment proposed by Senators Lee and Cruz was added to the health care bill by McConnell, the task for the Majority Leader is now primarily about winning over moderate Senators such as Portman and Heller.

The idiots who make up Capitol Hill’s press pool have wrongly interpreted the moderate Senator’s hesitancy to endorse the bill as “no votes” which doom the bill.

To be sure, McConnell has no room for error given that Paul and Collins are almost certain to vote no.

But the actions of the remaining moderate holdouts are consistent with maximizing their bargaining power, not sinking the bill.

Should the bill fail, the Senate will have to revisit Obamacare anyway to correct the federal subsidies for the exchanges, subsidies which are being challenged in court and could be cancelled by the Trump administration at any time.

The Senate would then need 60 votes with the help of Democrats to get some sort of fix passed.  If Democrat votes become needed, the moderate Republicans would see their bargaining power diluted.

Promising ‘yes’ too early means wasting the considerable leverage they have over McConnell, who cannot afford to lose a single vote but who has about $100 billion to play with.  But ultimately voting ‘no’ means their states lose pork, special carve outs, and other perks.

By holding out until the end is within sight the moderates are extracting as much out of McConnell’s $100 billion goodie bag as they can.  Expect more posturing up to the vote in addition to wheeling and dealing by McConnell.

But when the vote is held don’t bet the moderates will kill concessions they’ve negotiated so hard to capture.

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