Posted by: maboulette | September 24, 2017

Update On New GOP Health Care Bill

health insurance

Who’s right — President Donald Trump and Sen. Bill Cassidy, or late-night host Jimmy Kimmel?


None has really captured the complexity of the debate over who might lose insurance protections in the latest Republican health care bill. But of the three, the TV guy is the hardest to refute.


Trump insists in a tweet that the bill covers pre-existing conditions, a point also made by Cassidy, a sponsor of the legislation. But there’s a catch. It allows states to get a waiver from “Obamacare” requirements that insurers charge the same to people with health problems as they do to healthy people.


The potential result: unaffordable premiums for people in poor health.

Here’s a look at Trump’s assertion, the facts and the Kimmel-Cassidy feud:

TRUMP: “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace.”


The health care law enacted by President Barack Obama in 2010 offers two levels of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. The GOP bill would allow states to undermine one of them. That loophole could lead to policies priced out of reach.


To start with, “Obamacare” requires insurers to take all customers, regardless of health problems. On top of that, it prohibits insurers from charging more on account of medical conditions.


States could seek waivers that allow insurers to charge people more on account of health problems. That would allow insurers to offer lower-premium plans to healthier customers.

And states could also get waivers that allow insurers to tailor benefits so that people with costly conditions are discouraged from signing up. For example: plans that don’t cover treatment for substance abuse problems.

“If I was a person with a pre-existing condition, I would say I don’t have any guarantee of getting health insurance if the bill passes,” said Gary Claxton of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on the private health insurance system.

“Insurers can charge people with pre-existing conditions much higher rates, making it essentially a denial,” added Claxton.

Dr. Michael Munger of Kansas City, Kansas, estimates that 4 in 10 of the patients in his family medicine practice have some sort of condition that could result in higher premiums.

“Individuals that I care for have had a previous cancer diagnosis, underlying diabetes complications, previous heart attacks and heart surgeries,” he said. “I am very worried about affordable coverage. We have had a lot of gains and this is certainly something I don’t want us to go backward on.”

Munger is president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is among the major doctors’ groups opposing the GOP legislation.

Supporters of the bill, named for its chief sponsors Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana’s Cassidy, point out that the legislative text says states seeking federal waivers must explain how they will “maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

But Claxton says there’s nothing in the text to define what “adequate and affordable” means and, as he reads it, it’s unclear if the federal government would even have authority to deny a state waiver application. The bill also reduces federal money, adding to the pressures on states.


The health insurance industry is on record saying the bill would create problems by “pulling back on protections for pre-existing conditions,” according to a letter to lawmakers from the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Cassidy is in a public battle with TV host Kimmel about whether the bill meets the “Jimmy Kimmel test.” That’s a phrase coined by the senator this year after Kimmel gave a heartfelt account of how his infant son got surgery to correct a birth defect, and declared that all American families should have access to high-level care.

Kimmel says the senator should stop using his name. “This new bill actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test, but a different Jimmy Kimmel test,” said Kimmel. “Your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel.”

Cassidy says Kimmel doesn’t understand the legislation.

Kimmel’s critique goes to the core of the issue. But it’s more nuanced than either he or Cassidy acknowledge, says insurance industry consultant and blogger Robert Laszewski. He points out that governors and legislatures would have to take action to weaken insurance protections guaranteed in federal law under Obama. Those state lawmakers would face pushback from consumers and medical groups, so it’s not a given that such protections would be lost.

Nonetheless, Laszewski says Republicans have created a problem for their legislation.

“I think they made a huge mistake by leaving a crack open,” said Laszewski. “And Jimmy Kimmel and the Democrats are going to try to drive a truck through it.”

7 years the GOP has been campaigning on Repeal and Replace and they still don’t have a health insurance plan to replace Obamacare with.  The reason is they put party over country and should not have a chair in Congress.  Every Republican should be ‘booted out”, beginning with the man who is pretending to be the President.






 Sean Spicer was willing to make fun of himself in public during the Emmys over the weekend, but behind the scenes it’s a very different story. It’s been revealed that he took copious notes during his entire time in the Donald Trump administration, as per his career long habit, and that his notes are coming front and center in the Trump-Russia scandal. Amid that revelation, Spicer flipped out on one of his longtime acquaintances.


Axios reporter Mike Allen learned that Sean Spicer had filled “notebook after notebook” with his own daily notes while on the job. Apparently he’s been doing this since his RNC days so he can keep track of what’s going on (it’s obvious from his briefings that he doesn’t have the greatest memory), and he wasn’t taking the notes out of any specific desire to document the Trump-Russia scandal. That bit of naivete may have just become a problem for him, because Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going to want those notes. Here’s where it gets weird.


Allen says he texted Spicer for comment, expecting a friendly response, as he’s known Spicer and his wife for more than a decade. But instead, Spicer fired back with “Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities”. Spicer then sent him a follow-up email which said “Please refrain from sending me unsolicited texts and emails. Should you not do so I will contact the appropriate legal authorities to address your harassment.” Such a response might have been expected if the reporter were a stranger texting him out of nowhere, but this was an oddly overboard response to a longtime acquaintance.


There is no known evidence to suggest that Sean Spicer was involved in Trump-Russia collusion in any way. However, he is believed to have participated in numerous meetings and conversations in which Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to impede the Trump-Russia investigation, making him a key witness. Spicer, who still seems loyal to Trump, may be flipping out because he just realized his own notes could end up helping to take Trump down.


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Posted by: maboulette | September 22, 2017

What We Don’t Know About New HealthCare Bill


Like a reanimated corpse in the final frames of a horror film, the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act came back to life this week, giving the American public one last jump scare. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised the Senate will hold a vote on the new Graham-Cassidy bill before his window to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority closes next Friday.


If that seems fast, well, that’s because it is – so fast the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t had time to evaluate the impact this legislation would have on the federal budget, the health care industry (about one-sixth of the U.S. economy), or premiums and coverage. It’s so fast, McConnell hasn’t had time to make sure he even has the votes to pass it. And it’s so fast, some Republican senators who are supporting it can’t even say what it does.


Because it won’t get a CBO score before it’s voted on, we don’t know how many people would lose health care coverage under the new bill. What we do know is that Graham-Cassidy, like previous versions of repeal legislation, revokes subsidies for the marketplace as well as federal funding for Medicaid expansion. If that past, the CBO has estimated that those actions would result in 32 million Americans losing their health care coverage over ten years. Some analysts, like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, USC’s Schaeffer School for Health Policy and Economics and Brookings Institute, say coverage losses could be even higher under this bill because of its other changes to Medicaid.


Trump says it will, but the bill itself offers states waivers that would allow them to charge sick people higher rates than healthy ones – a practice outlawed by Obamacare – as long as a state “intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.” That means coverage for people with pre-existing conditions would vary from state to state, and coverage could easily (and legally) cost a lot more than a patient can afford, effectively nullifying the promised coverage.


As with past Republican repeal efforts in the Senate, Mitch McConnell must scrape together 50 votes to pass the legislation, with a tie-break vote from Vice President Mike Pence. And, as with past efforts, those last few votes will be crucial. Rand Paul, who voted in favor of Senate Republicans’ last health care bill – so-called “skinny repeal” – has come out strongly against Graham-Cassidy, characterizing it as “ObamaCare Lite” and vowing to vote against it.


John McCain, who famously tanked skinny repeal when the process that produced it didn’t qualify as “regular order,” has said Graham-Cassidy fails that same test. (A single hearing on the bill is scheduled for next week.) “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement Friday.


Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, both of whom voted against previous reiterations of repeal legislation, haven’t announced their positions. The bill’s co-sponsors are making an aggressive play for Murkowski’s support, though – reports surfaced Thursday afternoon that Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy were offering a special deal that would, among other deal-sweeteners, preserve Obamacare’s premium tax credits for Alaska and Hawaii while still repealing for other states.


This is so irresponsible that none of these Senators who are voting for this bill should ever be re-elected because they do not care about the American people.  It should be country before party.



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Posted by: maboulette | September 22, 2017

Last Major Alt-Right Figure in Trump’s White House

Stephen Miller

After torch-bearing white nationalists marched in Charlottesville last month and a peaceful counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was murdered by a neo-Nazi, the leaders of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses in Congress sent a letter to President Trump. They asked that he fire White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.

They wrote:

Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy.


It’s hard to believe it somehow became necessary to write such a thing to the president of the United States about his high-level White House advisers, but it did. All three of those men have affiliations with or connections to white supremacists, “alt-right” groups and neofascist organizations. In the wake of those horrifying events in Charlottesville, and the president’s insistence that the neo-Nazi marchers included “very fine people” and that anti-fascist protesters had created many of the problems, it seemed important to go on the record with this request.


As it happens, Bannon was exiled from the White House shortly afterward and Gorka followed a couple of weeks later. The press reported that they were both let go as part of a staff reorganization by John Kelly, the retired general who had come in to replace the hapless Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and put an end to the chaos that had characterized the Trump administration from the beginning. For their part, Bannon and Gorka insisted that they had made the decision to leave because they believed they could better serve Trump from the outside. Let’s just say that didn’t sound convincing.


Most political observers, even many conservatives, were relieved. Gorka was an embarrassment, a man who literally wore medals associated with Nazi collaborators to the inauguration. The Daily Beast reported this week that he had landed a new job working for a pro-Trump super PAC called the MAGA Coalition, which is best known for its promotion of conspiracy theories, notably “Pizzagate,” the imaginary child-rape ring allegedly run by Hillary Clinton out of a Washington pizza parlor. Gorka told Laura Ingraham on her radio show on Tuesday that the group plans to run primaries against “fake conservatives.”


We know where Steve Bannon went. He’s back at Breitbart making Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell miserable and plotting the apocalypse. Most observers saw Bannon as the most sinister presence in the White House, a white nationalist Rasputin with special access to Donald Trump’s id. It was assumed that getting rid of Bannon meant that Kelly had removed the main influence that stoked Trump’s darker impulses.


It turns out that Stephen Miller, the remaining member of the “alt-right” trio those House members demanded be fired, was the savviest political player among them. Rather than jockey for power with the president’s powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as Bannon did, Miller was smart enough to see that family would be the last people Trump would abandon. So, he moved into Kushner’s orbit.


After all the palace intrigue of the first eight months of Trump’s administration, Miller is the one left standing. Judging from the president’s “global carnage” speech this week to the United Nations — an obvious sequel to the “American carnage” inaugural address — Miller remains a highly influential adviser and a pernicious influence on our government.


Miller is a true white nationalist, going all the way back to his teenage years at Santa Monica High School, where he was known for his anti-Latino views. In college at Duke University he befriended Richard Spencer, future co-founder of the “alt-right” and the man who led a meeting of fellow fascists in a “Heil Trump” chant shortly after the election. Miller worked for the most anti-immigrant senator of the modern era, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, before joining the Trump campaign and the administration, where his first assignment was to put together the new president’s first botched Muslim ban.


Miller hasn’t had his face on the cover of Time and nobody is parodying him (yet) on “Saturday Night Live,” so Trump hasn’t had reason to be jealous. His rare public performances have been the kind that the boss appreciates: combative, rude and extremely loyal to the president. Back in February he was dispatched to defend the president’s assertion that fraudulent voters had stolen the popular vote, and he delivered an epic performance on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos:

George, it is a fact, and you will not deny it, that there are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote. That is a scandal, we should stop the presses and as a country we should be aghast about the fact that you have people that have no right to vote in this country registered to vote canceling out the franchise of lawful citizens of this country. That’s the story we should be talking about and I am prepared to go on any show, anywhere, anytime and repeat it and say the president of the United States is correct 100 percent.


More recently, Miller took over the podium in the White House briefing room to defend the president’s immigration policy. Most people thought his performance was creepy, but it likely made the president happy because Miller got into a spat with CNN’s Jim Acosta, the reporter Trump just calls “fake news” and whose questions he refuses to take.


Miller’s even caught up in the Russia investigation now, having been revealed to have helped Trump draft a scorching version of his letter firing FBI Director James Comey, which was rejected by White House counsel Don McGahn as inappropriate. Considering Miller’s temperament, combined with Trump’s, one can only imagine what it must have said.


Miller isn’t just giving Trump the words to express his dystopian vision, he is exerting a toxic influence on policy. The New York Times reported that the White House rejected a study prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in revenue than they cost the government over the past decade. According to the Times, Miller “personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered.” Evidently, taxes paid by refugees don’t count.


Stephen Miller is proving much more adept at seeing into Trump’s psyche and stroking his racist id than Steve Bannon ever was. He’s a smarter political player, he takes on the press, he’s more focused on the details. He’s getting the job done.


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With new evidence surfacing each day that Donald Trump and his campaign conspired with the Russian government to rig the election in Trump’s favor, one of the keys to understanding that collusion is that two of Trump’s top campaign advisers seemed to know in advance precisely which swing states would see Trump pulling off shocking upsets – and in particular, Michigan. The source for these revelations: their own words.

Michael Wolff of the Hollywood Reporter has revealed that during the summer of 2016, he spoke with Steve Bannon, who was in the process of taking over the Donald Trump campaign. At that time, Bannon told Wolff that Trump was going to win the states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. It’s not shocking that the head of the Trump campaign was confident his candidate was going to win, even when things were looking bleak. But for him to have known months in advance that Trump would win these specific states, including the impossible-to-win Michigan? That’s stunning. He’s not the only Trump adviser who “knew” Trump would win Michigan.


Bloomberg has revealed that long after Donald Trump had officially chased Paul Manafort away from his campaign, the two were still in contact throughout the election. In fact Manafort knew enough to call up Trump just before election day and tell him to head to Michigan. Again, this was a state that Trump had no chance of winning, and campaigning there, when other swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania were still in play for Trump, was a very stupid idea. This is, of course, unless there was a reason Manafort (and Bannon) knew Michigan was rigged in Trump’s favor. In such case, it would have made sense for Trump to campaign a bit there, just so he’d have some explanation for how he magically “won” it.


You don’t have to look far to figure out why these two advisers in particular might have known that Donald Trump was going to “win” Michigan. Paul Manafort took millions of dollars in Kremlin money when he was getting Putin’s puppet elected in Ukraine. Steve Bannon ran the statically company Cambridge Analytic, which is suspected of having plotted Trump’s strategy by using voter data that had been stolen by Russian hackers. Sure enough, it was Manafort and Bannon who somehow knew for certain that Trump would win Michigan, even at a time when there was no evidence whatsoever that this was remotely possible.


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Hope Hicks

Last week we learned that Trump White House adviser Hope Hicks is about to become a star witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction investigation, whether she wants to be or not. Among the six current and former Trump advisers Mueller is targeting, Hicks is the most senior adviser who still has a job. Speaking of seniority, Donald Trump recently gave Hicks a strange interim promotion, right around the time he figured out that she was going to be a key witness.


Once it became clear in mid-August that Donald Trump Jr was going to have to testify in the Russia scandal, it also became clear to all involved that he would have to come clean about the real intent of the meeting, thus implicating his father for obstruction of justice. Donald Trump had discussed with Hicks the plan to have Junior lie, which means he knew that as soon as Junior was on a path to imminently testifying, Hicks would soon have to testify as well.


Hope Hicks has long held the title of White House Director of Strategic Communications. But on August 16th, right around the time that it became clear Junior was headed for the witness chair, Trump promoted Hicks to White House Communications Director. She merely holds that title on an “interim” basis for now, but it’s nonetheless a promotion, even if it does end up being a temporary one. So perhaps she was good at her job and she earned a promotion. After all, someone had to take Anthony Scaramucci’s place as Communications Director after he was forced to resign, right? Actually, no.


Donald Trump has been through a few different short-lived White House Communications Directors since taking office. In between them, he’s allowed the job to sit empty for long stretches of a couple months at a time. It’s clear that Trump’s White House structure doesn’t rely on the position. So, after Scaramucci’s departure on August 1st, there was no practical need for Trump to promote Hope Hicks (or anyone else) to that job title on an interim basis two weeks later. In fact, his decision to leave it vacant for two weeks only serves to underline that he doesn’t rely on the position for anything. Besides, if Hicks had legitimately earned the promotion, he would have given it to her on a permanent basis. The interim promotion just doesn’t jive, and the timing is a red flag.


This leads to the question of whether Donald Trump gave Hope Hicks the White House Communications Director job on an “interim” basis as a way of trying to entice her to remain loyal to him during her upcoming testimony to the Special Counsel. The scenario would be this: if she protects him, she gets to keep the job. And if she gives him up, she gets demoted accordingly. It’ll be up to Robert Mueller to determine whether Trump really did promote Hicks for this reason, and whether this represented a further attempt at obstruction on his part.



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Posted by: maboulette | September 17, 2017

Bannon Admits Donald Trump Is Totally Screwed in The Mueller Probe

Steve Bannon

It’s still unclear what made the good folks at 60 Minutes think that it was appropriate to give national airtime to Steve Bannon, a white supremacist who is suspected of having treasonously conspired with the Russian government to rig the election in Donald Trump’s favor. Now that Trump has fired Bannon, he should simply be ignored. But because he was trotted out on national TV tonight, one of the things he said turns out to carry great weight.


We’ll spare you the full recap of the Steve Bannon interview, because by now you’ve either watched it, or you’ve made the conscious decision that you don’t care to know the full extent of what he said. So we’ll get right to the point. Charlie Rose asked Bannon about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Bannon was initially evasive, but as Rose went on to allege the various things that Bannon had allegedly said about the firing, Bannon ultimately acknowledged them as being his own words.


The upshot: Steve Bannon thinks that Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey is the biggest mistake in “modern political history.” As he goes on to ultimately admit when pressed, Bannon agrees that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation only exists because Comey was fired – and that the “breadth” of the Mueller investigation is much greater than what it might have otherwise been under Comey. Bannon may only be acknowledging this in an attempt at making his counterparts (including Jared Kushner) look bad who advised Trump to go ahead with the firing – but in the process he’s giving away a lot here.


In short, Steve Bannon is admitting that Donald Trump is totally screwed as a result of firing Comey. Further, by referring to the “breadth” of the Mueller probe, Bannon is rather thinly alluding to the investigation into Trump’s finances and business dealings. Bannon surely has more intimate knowledge of Trump’s various financial crimes and just how deeply they run than just about anyone – and he’s acknowledging that those crimes are what will take Trump down.


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Trump closseup

There has never been a good time to be a Donald Trump loyalist; he’s consistently demonstrated that he’s willing to throw anyone and anything under the bus in order to further his own personal greater glory. But it’s now a particularly bad time to be one of the advisers who loyally carried out his agenda during the 2016 election – and some of them are now complaining openly that he’s flat out screwing them when it comes to his Russia scandal.


Even as federal investigators continue to try to determine which of Trump’s campaign advisers may have been co-conspirators or witnesses in his election collusion with Russia, many of those advisers have had to hire specialized attorneys to represent them. That’s running up huge legal bills for them, according to a Washington Examiner report. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how these things work. But what is shocking is that some of Trump’s advisers appear to have honestly believed that he would bail them out financially – and now they’re bitterly complaining.


Among those complaining to the Examiner are former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, who says “It’s very expensive and nobody’s called me and offered to help,” in a seeming shot at Donald Trump. Another adviser who has gone nameless is saying that Trump has “hung us out to dry”. Some of the campaign advisers in question have been caught having met with the Russian government during the election and then lying about those meetings.


Others may have conspired with Donald Trump to cover up or obstruct the Russia scandal. Still other advisers may simply be material witnesses. But at this point, everyone currently or formerly in Trump’s inner political circle is now facing the prospect of having to pay a hefty price for it. Trump, ever the scheming penny-stealing con artist, was never going to lift a finger to help any of them out with their bills.


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adam schiff

Donald Trump Jr finally testified before a Congressional committee last week about his role in meeting with the Russian government during the election to try to obtain this testimony. Although Congressman Adam Schiff is the ranking member of a different committee and wasn’t present during the testimony, he was able to quickly catch Junior changing his story in his statement, in a manner which may help incriminate Donald Trump.


Here’s the key portion of the statement which Adam Schiff posted to his own social media pages today: “The new statement is significant both in what is included, and what is excluded, when compared to earlier explanations. Although the new statement appears to track almost every line of Trump Jr’s prior comments on Twitter, this statement contains a notable omission, in that it no longer mentions that President Trump ‘knew nothing of the meetings or these events,’ raising questions about whether then-candidate Trump was in fact knowledgeable about the meeting in advance, and whether it formed the basis of his contemporaneous public promise of derogatory information about Secretary Clinton.”


Schiff is referring to the fact that just before the meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russia, Donald Trump publicly claimed that he was days away from holding an event in which he would revealing damaging information about Hillary Clinton. After the meeting, Trump never did hold any such event or reveal any such information. This has given the strong impression that Trump was aware in advance that his son was planning to meet with Russia to try to get dirt on Clinton.


Now Donald Trump Jr is changing his story by no longer asserting that his father didn’t know about the meeting. As Schiff has pointed out, this further suggests that Donald Trump knew what was going on all along, which would be proof that he was personally guilty of election collusion with Russia.

Trump new

The biggest myth in politics in 2017 is that Donald Trump’s supporters won’t abandon him no matter what he’s does. Approval ratings polls show that he’s lost more than one-fifth of his supporters since January. But when it comes to Trump’s true inner core base, the 15% to 20% of the country who truly believe in his hateful garbage, their support has been unwavering – until Trump just went and blew it all up with one move.


Trump had dinner with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday evening, and afterward the Democrats announced that they’d reached a deal with Trump: yes on DACA, yes on increased border security, no on the border wall. This immediately set Trump’s racist base on fire. We know this because one of the political leaders of Trump’s racist base said so, in even more inflammatory words.


The Associated Press tweeted “BREAKING: Schumer, Pelosi announce deal with Trump to protect young immigrants; will include border security, but no wall.” This prompted Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who might be the most xenophobically racist white supremacist in Congress, to tweet “If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” The backlash was apparently much larger than Trump had been expecting, because he swiftly launched into panic mode.


Twenty minutes later, Donald Trump had White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweet a denial, insisting that he hadn’t agreed to cave on the wall. But based on Trump’s track record of consistently lying, there is no reason to believe him on this. In any case, even Trump’s own base is taking Pelosi and Schumer at their word. Breitbart is slamming Trump for flip flopping, while Steve King has gone all-out apoplectic. Is this the moment his core base indeed shatters?


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