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Daily Reads: Will John McCain Fly Into DC to Strip Health Care from Millions?; Report: Russia Is Arming the Taliban

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Will McCain Fly Into DC to Strip Health Care from Millions?

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And here we go (maybe) –> Senate Republicans “are barreling toward a showdown vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing the health law, but senators have yet to be told precisely what legislation they will even be debating,” report The New York Times’ Thomas Kaplan and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. “None of that would happen if senators vote against the motion to proceed, and at the moment, Mr. McConnell still appears short of the votes. He can afford to lose only two Senate Republicans.”

Two is the number because Sen. John McCain, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last week, will come back to DC for the vote. The Atlantic’s James Fallows writes that he should look to Clair Engle for inspiration. Engle was another senator who, 53 years ago, “cemented his legacy” by returning to Washington suffering from an advanced brain cancer to cast a vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act.

Donald Trump has received criticism from pro-repeal conservatives for his hands-off approach to the legislation, but Madeline Conway reports for Politico that in recent days “he has been ratcheting up the pressure on Republicans, and spent the weekend warning GOP senators to not let the health care legislation fail…On Sunday, Trump [tweeted], ‘If Republicans don’t Repeal and Replace the disastrous ObamaCare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand!'”

And frustrations about the process appear to be rising on the hard-right. Abby Livingston reports for The Texas Tribune that Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), one of the more extreme members of the House, called “three female Republican senators who oppose a bill repealing Obamacare… ‘repugnant,’… and said that if they were men from South Texas, he might challenge them to a duel.”

I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector –> So wrote Jared Kushner, or his lawyers, in a statement sent to Senate investigators this week. And it may be technically correct — Wendy Dent and Ed Pilkington report for The Guardian that Kushner “secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being investigated by members of Congress.” Strictly speaking, that oligarch, Lev Leviev, is of Uzbek origin, not Russian, although he is reportedly very close to Vladimir Putin.

Speaking of Putin, The Hill’s Robin Eberhardt reported that he “told President Trump that Russian hackers wouldn’t have gotten caught if they did hack Democratic groups because they’re too skilled at spying,” and “Trump has since repeated the claim.”

Constitutional crisis –> Yascha Mounk, a lecturer at Harvard whose research suggests that democracies are not as stable as people tend to believe, writes at Slate that a crisis is inevitable as long as congressional Republicans refuse to offer a real check on the president.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall argues that we’re already there.

Speaking out –> “After learning that [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], ICE was making a push, beginning this week, to arrest young undocumented immigrants who were part of a large wave of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in recent years and who, until now, had been allowed to live in the US,” a veteran ICE agent who had been critical of the Obama administration unloaded his frustrations about the Trump era to The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer. “We’re not doing what we tell people we do,” the agent said. “If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it’s people who’ve been here for years. They’re supposed to be in high school.”

Signs of a wave? –> Democrats have a steep hill to climb if they’re going to retake the House of Representatives in 2018. Due to a combination of inefficiently distributed Democratic voters and partisan gerrymandering by the GOP, they probably need to win the popular vote by around 7-8 points to take control of the chamber. But there’s some encouraging news for Democratic partisans: Michael Malbin at Brookings says that Democrats have fielded an almost unprecedented number of candidates who have raised at least $5,000 at this very early stage of the cycle. Malbin says the numbers are “truly remarkable,” but warns that “winning the first inning is not the same as winning the ninth.”

A bit of schadenfreude may be appropriate –> Trump’s new comms director, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci, appears to be purging White House staffers in an effort to stop the endless stream of leaks coming from within, according to The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker.

Meanwhile, as Trump reportedly ponders a replacement for beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Lesley Clark reports for McClatchy that Senate Republicans are not happy with how the White House is treating someone who was long seen as a solid party loyalist in their caucus. Some are issuing “veiled threats” warning Trump to back off.

Also unhappy, according to Susan Glasser at Politico, are Trump’s “top national security advisers,” whose Afghanistan strategy Trump rejected during a contentious meeting where the White House says “words were exchanged” and which two anonymous sources called a “s*** show.”

Speaking of Afghanistan –> “The Taliban have received improved weaponry in Afghanistan that appears to have been supplied by the Russian government,” report Nick Paton Walsh and Masoud Popalzai for CNN. They caution that their report is based on unconfirmed video, but add that it lends “weight to accusations by Afghan and American officials that Moscow is arming their one-time foe in the war-torn country.”

The GOP’s favorite Russian conspiracy –> At The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson asks, “did you know that the right-wing has its own Russia conspiracy, alleging that Moscow is secretly funding environmental organizations — and that two congressmen have now requested a formal investigation by the Treasury Department?” We did not!

Trump’s War on Science –> Jimmy Tobias at Pacific Standard looks at a new report by The Union of Concerned Scientists detailing the Trump regime’s assault on science. “The report contains, among other things, a timeline of all the actions the administration has undertaken since inauguration day to ignore or intimidate scientists and undermine their important work.”

He’s going to give us space to destroy –> We mentioned in May that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has shifted funds away from programs that combat violent right-wing extremist groups. On Monday, Salon’s Matthew Sheffield reported that “while the neo-fascist “alt-right” is not entirely happy with President Donald Trump’s first few months in office, one thing for which they are grateful is that the new administration is giving them free reign to engage in building their movement, completely unencumbered by any law enforcement scrutiny of their activities. ‘He’s going to give us space to destroy,’ Michael Peinovich, the creator of The Right Stuff, an alt-right podcast network said during a Sunday guest appearance on ‘Fash the Nation,’ the movement’s most popular web radio show.”

This isn’t at all creepy –>  “A Wisconsin company called Three Square Market is going to offer employees implantable chips to open doors, buy snacks, log in to computers and use office equipment like copy machines,” according to Adi Robertson at The Verge. “Participating employees will have the chips, which use near field communication (NFC) technology, implanted between their thumb and forefinger.” It’s all voluntary so far.

Is there a badge for tolerating inappropriate partisan invective? –> Donald Trump attended a Boy Scout Jamboree last night, and current and former scouts, as well as some parents, are upset that Trump gave what the BBC calls “a rambling 35-minute speech” in which he “railed against” Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, “fake news” and the “‘cesspool’ of politics.”

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

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