Quinnipiac poll: President Trump’s job approval sinks to 33%

USA Today

Quinnipiac poll: President Trump’s job approval sinks to 33%

Jessica Estepa, USA TODAY       Aug. 2, 2017

President Trump’s approval rating hits new low

A growing majority of American aren’t fans of how President Trump is doing his job, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

Per the Quinnipiac Poll, only 33% approve of how Trump is doing his job, compared to 61% who disapprove. That’s down from June 29, when the poll found Trump had a 40% job approval rating, with 55% saying they disapproved.

These newest numbers are the lowest approval and highest disapproval numbers from this particular poll that Trump has received since his inauguration.

The poll also found that several negative views of the president

  • 54% said they were embarrassed to have him as president
  • 57% said they he was abusing the powers of his office
  • 60% said they believed he was above the law
  • 71% said Trump was not levelheaded
  • 62% said Trump was not honest
  • 63% said Trump did not have good leadership skills
  • 59% said he did not care about average Americans
  • 63% said he did not share their values

“It’s hard to pick what is the most alarming number in the troubling trail of new lows for President Donald Trump,” poll assistant director Tim Malloy said in a statement. “Profound embarrassment over his performance in office and deepening concerns over his level-headedness have to raise the biggest heads.”

The poll did find two positive views of the president’s traits: 58% said the president was strong and 55% said he was intelligent.

The poll surveyed 1,125 voters around the country from July 27 to Aug. 1. It has a margin of error of 3.4 points.

Read the full poll results here.

These are the greatest fears that people have in the world

Business Insider-World

These are the greatest fears that people have in the world

Rebecca Harrington, Skye Gould, Business Insider, August 3, 2017  

Around the world, ISIS and climate change are neck-and-neck for the leading threats people perceive today.

In the 2017 Pew Research Center security threats survey released this week, nearly 42,000 people in 38 countries ranked eight threats, with the militant group and environmental shift topping the list:

BI Graphics_Greatest fears chart

(Skye Gould/Business Insider)

When you look at the results country by country, however, some interesting nuances emerge.

First, the US, most European countries, and Russia see ISIS as the foremost security concern. This was the case last year, as well.

But a growing number of people, particularly those in Africa and the Americas, are now saying that climate change is a bigger threat to them than terrorism, cyber attacks, the refugee crisis, or the economy.

In countries that are hurting economically, like Venezuela and Greece, survey respondents predictably said the condition of the global economy was their biggest concern.

While many Middle Eastern and European countries are still grappling with the worst refugee crisis since World War II, only Hungary listed it as the top threat.

People in South Korea and Vietnam both listed China’s power and influence as the main security issue facing their nations.

BI Graphics_Greatest fears map

(Skye Gould/Business Insider)

And while it didn’t rank as the top threat for any nation, more people now say they worry about the United States’ power and influence than in previous years before President Donald Trump took office.

Worldwide, only 22% of people said in a separate Pew survey that they have confidence in Trump, compared to 64% when former President Barack Obama was in office. Similarly, 49% now have a favorable view of the US, vs. 64% at the end of Obama’s presidency.



The United States Power Scares These Seven Countries, Which See It as a National Threat


The United States Power Scares These Seven Countries, Which See It as a National Threat

By Greg Price, Newsweek       August 1, 2017 


The United States is viewed as a major national threat—taking a place alongside the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), global climate change and cyberattacks—by majority of citizens from seven countries, including some long-standing American military allies, according to a 38-country Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday.

Though 18 of the countries pegged ISIS as the biggest threat, strong majorities in countries including South Korea (70 percent), Japan (62 percent) and Turkey (72 percent) see U.S. power and influence as significant threats to their respective nations.

Sixty-two percent of people in Mexico, the U.S.’s immediate neighbor to the south and often a punching bag for President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, register the U.S. as a threat, and it is seen that way by 59 percent in Spain, 55 percent in Indonesia and 57 percent in Chile.

The survey also asked respondents about potential fears regarding Russia’s and China’s power and influence. South Korea listed China at 83 percent, perhaps a result of its being viewed as enabling the rival North, and Russia at 46 percent. The Japanese also expressed more concern with China than the U.S., but only slightly at 64 percent. Just 43 percent listed Russia as a threat.

Turkey’s numbers dropped significantly when respondents were asked about Russia and China, coming in at 54 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Historically, the U.S. has had a deep and strong military presence in Turkey, Japan and South Korea, particularly Japan following the end of World War II and South Korea after the Korean War in the early 1950s. As of the end of last year, almost 39,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Japan, and nearly another 23,500 were in South Korea.

But of late, conflicts in the Middle East and the potential for another major conflagration in East Asia may have upset the balance in the three countries, which have been pivotal in the U.S.’s military operations for decades.

Both Japan and South Korea stand at the forefront of opposition to North Korea and leader Kim Jong Un’s missile and nuclear tests. The most recent launch, on July 28, involved an intercontinental ballistic missile that traveled 2,300 miles in the air and covered a distance of 621 miles before splashing down near Japan. One expert told CNN that if the missile was set up to fly on a flat or standard trajectory, it was capable of reaching such major U.S. cities as Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.

South Koreans were particularly angered that the U.S. deployed the THADD anti-missile system in their country, viewing it as an escalation and a potential provocation to Kim. And the relocation of a Marine Corps air base in Okinawa has raised tensions among Japanese residents.

Turkey has helped the U.S. in its fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but its government was angered by the Americans’ arming of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to oppose ISIS. The Turks consider the YPG to be a security threat and an arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has led an insurgency against the Turkish government for decades, according to Reuters.

In May, a top Turkish newspaper published an editorial that called for U.S. troops and warplanes to be kicked off the Incirlik Air Base because of the YPG arming.

Union, feds at odds on countering surge in coal mine deaths

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, Joe Main, third from left, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Patricia Silvey, center, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations with MSHA, speak with workers at the Gibson North mine, in Princeton, Ind. Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say the inexperience of those new to a mine could share the blame. But the nation’s coal miner’s union says the mine safety agency isn’t taking the right approach to fixing the problem. Silvey said eight of the coal miners who died this year had less than a year’s experience at the mine where they worked. "We found from the stats that category of miners were more prone to have an accident,” Silvey said in an interview with The Associated Press before the 10th death occurred at a mine in Pennsylvania on July 25.

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, Joe Main, third from left, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Patricia Silvey, center, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations with MSHA, speak with workers at the Gibson North mine, in Princeton, Ind. Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say the inexperience of those new to a mine could share the blame. But the nation’s coal miner’s union says the mine safety agency isn’t taking the right approach to fixing the problem. Silvey said eight of the coal miners who died this year had less than a year’s experience at the mine where they worked. “We found from the stats that category of miners were more prone to have an accident,” Silvey said in an interview with The Associated Press before the 10th death occurred at a mine in Pennsylvania on July 25. Timothy D. Easley, File AP Photo


Louisville, Ky. Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say workers who are new to a mine have been especially vulnerable to fatal accidents.

But the nation’s coal miner’s union says the mine safety agency isn’t taking the right approach to fixing the problem.

Ten coal miners have died on the job so far this year, compared to a record low of eight deaths last year.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is responding to the uptick in deaths with a summer initiative, sending officials to observe and train miners new to a particular mine on safer working habits. The push comes during a transition for the agency, amid signals from President Donald Trump that he intends to ease the industry’s regulatory burden.

The miner’s union, the United Mine Workers of America, says the agency initiative falls short. It notes federal inspectors who conduct such training visits are barred from punishing the mine if they spot any safety violations.

“To take away the inspector’s right to issue a violation takes away the one and only enforcement power the inspector and the agency has,” union president Cecil Roberts wrote in a recent letter to the federal agency.

Patricia Silvey, a deputy assistant secretary at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, said eight of the coal miners who died this year had less than a year’s experience at the mine where they worked.

“We found from the stats that category of miners were more prone to have an accident,” Silvey said in an interview with The Associated Press before the 10th death occurred at mine in Pennsylvania on July 25.

Silvey pointed to a death last May at West Virginia’s Pinnacle Mine where a miner riding a trolley rose up and struck his head on the mine roof. She said the fatality could have been due to the miner’s unfamiliarity with the mine. The miner had worked there nine weeks, according to an accident report. And in the most recent death, a miner less than two weeks into the job at a mine in eastern Pennsylvania was run over by a bulldozer July 25.

Five of the 10 coal mining deaths this year have occurred in West Virginia, and two more in Kentucky. Alabama, Montana and Pennsylvania each had one coal mining death. Nine of the miners killed this year had several years’ experience working at other mines.

The mine safety agency’s injury numbers show that workers who were new to a mine had more than double the injuries. Going back to October 2015, miners who worked at a specific mine less than a year suffered 903 injuries, compared to 418 for miners working at a mine one to two years.

The mine safety agency says it will visit mines and “offer suggestions” on training miners who have been at a mine less than a year. Silvey said the union is correct that inspectors won’t be writing safety violations, but that the initiative “has in no way undermined our regular inspection program.”

The miner’s union said the federal agency should not expect safety suggestions to carry the same weight as citations and fines.

“To believe that an operator will comply with the law on their own free will is contrary to historical experience and naive on MSHA’s part,” the letter said.

A former MSHA official said the agency would be “tying the hands” of inspectors if they don’t allow them to write citations on the training visits.

“The record low fatal injury rate among coal miners in recent years is because of strong enforcement of the law,” said Celeste Monforton, who served on a governor-appointed panel that investigated West Virginia’s 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 miners. There were 12 coal mining deaths in 2015 and 16 in 2014.

“It would be a disgrace to see that trend reversed,” she said.

Phil Smith, a spokesman for the miner’s union, said the union’s safety department met recently with MSHA on the dispute, but MSHA maintained it has the authority to conduct observation visits without enforcement.

The mine safety agency’s top position has been vacant since former Assistant Secretary of Labor Joe Main left in January. Main, a former miner’s union official, focused on eliminating hazards at troubled mines by increasing aggressive inspections after West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch explosion. Main declined to comment.

Silvey said a vacancy at the mine safety agency’s top position hasn’t hindered their efforts. She said she knew of no timetable for hiring a new assistant secretary of Labor to oversee the mine safety agency.

“I know one thing, it’s a presidential appointment,” she said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article165133337.html#storylink=cpy

Why drilling for oil in the Arctic is pointless


Why drilling for oil in the Arctic is pointless

Whitfield Bailey Published     July 31, 2017

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

(Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

Story Highlights

  • Opinion: Trump’s proposal suggests Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could be opened for oil drilling.
  • Whitfield Bailey resides in Knoxville.

As both a fiscal conservative and someone who cares deeply about protecting our nation’s natural resources, I was appalled to see a certain provision tucked away in President Trump’s budget proposal: an unwarranted sneak attack on one of our nation’s most prized units of public land, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Arctic Refuge in northern Alaska is the crown jewel of America’s National Wildlife Refuge System and is an internationally recognized wildlife haven renowned for its biodiversity. Fifty species of mammals and more than 200 species of migratory birds from all 50 states, like the yellow-rumped warbler, call this refuge home. The refuge remains one of the largest pristine ecosystems in the world.

From a fiscal point of view, the proposal to desecrate the Coastal Plain of the refuge with a web of destructive pipelines and drills makes little sense. Alaska politicians have been pushing this misguided attack on the refuge because they believe that drilling would lead to a windfall for Alaska. But this supposed revenue is highly theoretical, if not downright dubious.

In 1985, Chevron spent $40 million to drill three miles below the refuge to see if there was oil there. The results of this test have been kept secret ever since, suggesting nothing too exciting was found.

In the 1980s, oil prices were skyrocketing and Americans were eager to drill.  But we are in a different position now. Oil and gas prices have been falling for years as the United States moves towards energy independence. New drilling technologies have fueled the Shale Revolution and allowed us to tap into previously inaccessible oil and natural gas fields. Additionally, the renewable energy industry is experiencing a boom in production, intense job growth, and rapid decreases in costs. President Trump’s own budget acknowledges this new state of affairs, since it proposes selling off half of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, further underscoring the fact that the United States is not as reliant on foreign oil today.

If we are willing to sell off half of the SPR, then surely we do not need to drill in the Arctic Refuge.

The environmental value of the refuge is immeasurable, and drilling there would be incompatible with the mission of the refuge to protect wildlife. Proponents of drilling argue that oil companies would only drill in a few square miles of the Coastal Plain.  But this argument is specious, because a drill site that only takes up a few square miles depends on a spider web of pipelines, pads, roads, and other infrastructure – and an oil leak from even a small pipeline can have devastating effects on the fragile ecosystem of the pristine Coastal Plain.

The Coastal Plain is home to grizzlies, muskoxen, wolverines, and arctic foxes, and is an important denning site for polar bears.  It is home to the 180,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd, one of the largest herds in North America.  This herd is especially important for the native Gwich’in people who live in the area.

The Gwich’in rely on the caribou to maintain their centuries-old subsistence way of life and cultural identity. This is the reason the Gwich’in refer to the Coastal Plain as “the sacred place where life begins.” It is not just an economic and environmental issue – it is also a human rights issue.

Congress should reject President Trump’s dangerous budget proposal – for the sake of wildlife, for the Gwich’in people, and for basic economic sense.

Whitfield Bailey resides in Knoxville.

Keystone XL Pipeline in Limbo: Developer May Not Build as Landowners Put Solar Array on Proposed Route


Keystone XL Pipeline in Limbo: Developer May Not Build as Landowners Put Solar Array on Proposed Route

Climate Nexus      July 31, 2017

First “Solar XL” installation of USA-made solar panels in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline. Bold Nebraska / Faceboo


Keystone XL owner TransCanada told investors Friday that the company was still assessing demand for the project with oil companies, increasing speculation that the controversial pipeline may not see the light of day.

On an investor call, a TransCanada executive called for an “open season” on the Keystone project to attract investor bids, and said the company would assess interest and make a decision on the pipeline by November.

As reported by Politico:

“It was the strongest acknowledgment from TransCanada to date that the nearly decade-long Keystone saga may end in failure—despite President Donald Trump’s overwhelming support for the project, which he green-lit as one of his first acts in office.”

TransCanada is also still awaiting approval from Nebraskan regulators to finalize the pipeline’s proposed route through the state. A final Nebraska Public Service Commission hearing on Keystone last week showcased the depth of opposition to the pipeline in the state, while a local farmer has attracted attention for installing American-made solar panels on his land to protest the project.

Jim Carlson said he rejected offers as high as $307,000 from TransCanada Corporation to lay pipe across his land.

“They’ll have to go under it, around it or tear it down to get their dirty oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico,” Carlson told NBC Nebraska.

Carlson is a pipeline fighter with Bold Nebraska, a grassroots organization opposing Keystone XL. Jane Kleeb, the group’s founder, told NTV that they’ve raised more than $40,000 to install solar projects in the path of the proposed pipeline.

“We’re not just out in the streets protesting with signs, but we’re actually building the type of energy we want to see,” Kleeb said.

“With the threat of Keystone XL destroying our water and taking away property rights from farmers, we decided to build solar, directly inside the route where the Keystone XL is proposed to go because the contract says you can’t have anything permanent in the route, so we are building permanent clean energy.”

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Robert Reich: Introducing Donald Trump, The Biggest Loser


Robert Reich: Introducing Donald Trump, The Biggest Loser

Robert Reich, Newsweek      July 31, 2017 

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

The demise of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is hardly the end of the story. Donald Trump will not let this loss stand.

Since its inception in 2010, Republicans made the Affordable Care Act into a symbol of Obama-Clinton overreach – part of a supposed plot by liberal elites to expand government, burden the white working class, and transfer benefits to poor blacks and Latinos.

Ever the political opportunist, Trump poured his own poisonous salt into this festering wound. Although he never really understood the Affordable Care Act, he used it to prey upon resentments of class, race, ethnicity, and religiosity that propelled him into the White House.

Repealing “Obamacare” has remained one of Trump’s central rallying cries to his increasingly angry base. “The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects, which have been so destructive to our country, or with its forgotten victims,” Trump said last Monday, adding that any senator who failed to vote against it “is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare.”

Now, having lost that fight, Trump will try to subvert the Act by delaying subsidies so some insurance companies won’t be able to participate, failing to enforce the individual mandate so funding won’t be adequate, not informing those who are eligible about when to sign up and how to do so, and looking the other way when states don’t comply.

But that’s not all. Trump doesn’t want his base to perceive him as a loser.

So be prepared for scorched-earth politics from the Oval Office, including more savage verbal attacks on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, more baseless charges of voter fraud in the 2016 election, and further escalation of the culture wars.

Most Americans won’t be swayed by these pyrotechnics because they’ve become inured to our unhinged president.

But that’s not the point. They’ll be intended to shore up Trump’s “base” – the third of the country that supports him, who still believe they’re “victims” of Obamacare, who continue to believe Trump himself is the victim of a liberal conspiracy to unseat him.

Trump wants his base to become increasingly angry and politically mobilized, so they’ll continue to exert an outsized influence on the Republican Party.

There is a deeper danger here. As Harvard political scientist Archon Fung has argued, stable democracies require that citizens be committed to the rule of law even if they fail to achieve their preferred policies.

Settling our differences through ballots and agreed-upon processes rather than through force is what separates democracy from authoritarianism.

But Donald Trump has never been committed to the rule of law. For him, it’s all about winning. If he can’t win through established democratic processes, he’ll mobilize his base to change them.

Trump is already demanding that Mitch McConnell and senate Republicans obliterate the filibuster, thereby allowing anything to be passed with a bare majority.

Last Saturday he tweeted “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!” adding the filibuster “allows 8 Dems to control country,” and “Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time.”

What’s particularly worrisome about Trump’s attack on the long established processes of our democracy is that his assault comes at a time when the percentage of Americans who regard the other party as a fundamental threat is growing.

In 2014 – even before acrimony of 2016 presidential campaign – 35 percent of Republicans saw the Democratic Party as a “threat to the nation’s well being” and 27 percent of Democrats regarded Republicans the same way, according to the Pew Research Center.

Those percentages are undoubtedly higher today. If Trump succeeds, they’ll be higher still.

Anyone who regards the other party as a threat to the nation’s well being is less apt to accept outcomes in which the other party prevails – whether it’s a decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or even the outcome of a presidential election.

As a practical matter, when large numbers of citizens aren’t willing to accept such outcomes, we’re no longer part of the same democracy.

I fear this is where Trump intends to take his followers, along with much of the Republican Party: Toward a rejection of political outcomes they regard as illegitimate, and therefore a rejection of democracy as we know it.

That way, Trump will always win.

Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.

More from Newsweek

Trump aims at insurers in battle over healthcare subsidies

Reuters Politics

Trump aims at insurers in battle over healthcare subsidies

Susan Heavey and Caroline Humer     July 31, 2017

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump took aim at insurers on Monday in an escalating threat to cut the healthcare subsidy payments that make Obamacare plans affordable, after repeatedly urging Republican senators to keep working to undo his Democratic predecessor’s healthcare law.

“If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?” Trump, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Trump, frustrated that he and Republicans have not been able to keep campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, has threatened to let it implode. So far, the administration has continued to make the monthly subsidy payments, but withholding them would be one way to make good on Trump’s threat.

Republican Senator Rand Paul told reporters on Monday he spoke to Trump by phone and the president was considering taking executive action to address problems with the healthcare system.

Paul said he told Trump he thought he had the authority to create associations that would allow organizations – such as the AARP that represents retirees, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – to offer group health insurance plans.

The White House declined to comment on matter.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said senators were too divided to keep working on healthcare overhaul legislation, and that he and other senior Republicans would take that message to the White House.

“There’s just too much animosity and we’re too divided on healthcare,” Hatch said in an interview. He said lawmakers could return to a healthcare overhaul later but for now should pivot to tax reform.

Some senators were not ready to drop healthcare, however.

Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, met with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and several Republican state governors at the White House on Monday to discuss a proposal Cassidy and others have made to send federal healthcare funds to the states in grants, Cassidy told reporters.

But Cassidy said he had not discussed bringing his proposal to the Senate floor with Senate leaders. And the third-ranking Republican senator, John Thune, told reporters Monday evening that until there is a proposal that can win a majority of senators’ support, “I think we’ve had our vote and we’re moving onto tax reform.”

Hatch, in the interview with Reuters, also said he thought Congress would have to approve new funds for the government’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers that Trump had been threatening to end. These subsidies lower the price of health coverage for the poor under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Insurers have asked the government to commit to making the $8 billion in payments for 2018, saying they may raise rates or leave the individual insurance marketplace if there is too much uncertainty.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Caroline Humer, Susan Cornwell and Amanda Becker; Editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown


Reuters  Politics

Exclusive: Senate too divided to keep up healthcare push – Senator Hatch

Susan Cornwell      July 31, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said on Monday that senators for now are too divided to keep working on healthcare overhaul legislation and that he and other senior Republicans will take that message to the White House.

President Donald Trump has been urging lawmakers not to drop the matter, despite a series of failed votes last week. “There’s just too much animosity and we’re too divided on healthcare,” Hatch said in an interview with Reuters.

He said he would prefer Congress not appropriate cost-sharing subsidies that help make Obamacare plans affordable but added, “I think we’re going to have to do that.”

Trump over the weekend urged Republican senators to stick with trying to pass an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, former President Obama’s signature domestic initiative known as Obamacare.

Trump made replacing Obamacare a key part of his presidential campaign and Republicans have promised for years to repeal or replace the law. The House of Representatives has passed an overhaul but the Senate has been unable to do so despite having worked on it for months. Three Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting against repealing even part of the law at the end of last week.

“Don’t give up Republican senators, the world is watching: Repeal & Replace …,” Trump tweeted on Sunday while White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the Senate should stay in session to get something done on healthcare, even if it means postponing votes on other issues.

Hatch said although he understood Mulvaney’s position, he did not think he was right. The senator said he saw no real desire on the part of Democrats to work together on the healthcare issue “and I have to say some Republicans are at fault there, too.”

Hatch said he had not given up on healthcare. “I think we ought to acknowledge that we can come back to healthcare afterwards but we need to move ahead on tax reform,” Hatch said.

Asked who would relay the message to the Trump administration, Hatch laughed and said, “I’m going to be one who does that,” adding that he expected Republican leaders of the House and Senate, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, would do so, too.

Hatch said lawmakers would need to appropriate the cost-sharing subsidy payments that the administration has been making. Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies, which help insurers keep deductibles down for low-income people who get health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.

“I’m for helping the poor, always have been. And I don’t think they should be bereft of healthcare,” Hatch said.

Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Trott

Donald Trump to Meet Rex Tillerson After Reports of ‘Chaos’ and Resignation at the State Department


Donald Trump to Meet Rex Tillerson After Reports of ‘Chaos’ and Resignation at the State Department

Harriet Sinclair, Newsweek     July 31, 2017

Donald Trump to Meet Rex Tillerson After Reports of 'Chaos' and Resignation at the State Department

Donald Trump to Meet Rex Tillerson After Reports of ‘Chaos’ and Resignation at the State Department

President Donald Trump is set to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Monday after a week of resignation rumors and reports of chaos in the State Department.

The pair are set to meet at 1:30 p.m., according to White House schedules, their meeting coming a week after Tillerson opted to take a few days off while attempting to downplay reports about his frustration with the administration and the president’s open criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The State Department did not state what the politicians would discuss during the meeting at the White House, though they are likely to talk about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for hundreds of U.S. diplomatic staff to be cut, a move the State Department called a “regrettable and uncalled-for act.”

Several reports suggested last week that Tillerson was unhappy in his role and growing increasingly frustrated with the “unprofessional” attitude of the president, particularly toward Sessions, whom Trump has called “very weak” and “beleaguered” in several disparaging tweets.

Trump also has undertaken a major shakeup of his core team in the past week, with Anthony Scaramucci’s entry as director of communications precipitating the resignation of former press secretary Sean Spicer, plus the exit of Reince Priebus and replacement with John Kelly as Trump’s chief of staff.

Despite reports about a prospective resignation from the State Department, Tillerson last week denied he was considering quitting, telling CNN his relationship with the president was “good” and claiming “I’m not going anywhere,” adding he was planning to remain in his role “as long as the president lets me.”

But several people close to Tillerson have told Politico that Trump’s top diplomat has become irritated by issues such as the president’s intervention in staffing his department, and waning eagerness to make the huge budget cuts Trump requires by reorganizing the entire department.

The department itself is not free from criticism, with one former employee, Max Bergmann, stating in an op-ed for Politico last month that ex-colleagues described the situation in the department as “chaos” and a “disaster.” He also said that despite the initial feeling Tillerson would carry out some much-needed reorganization in the department, this had not been the case.

“Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing,” Bergmann wrote, prompting questions not as to whether Tillerson will choose to stay, but whether the president will want him to.

Meet John Kelly, Donald Trump’s New Enabler in Chief

The Nation

Meet John Kelly, Donald Trump’s New Enabler in Chief

Kelly has a record of coddling Trump—and no good will come of that.

By John Nichols    July 28, 2017


Donald Trump and John Kelly attend the Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremonies, May 17, 2017. (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

Reince Priebus was a miserable White House chief of staff. A political hack who was lousy on television, ineffectual on Capitol Hill, and disrespected by the president who hired him, Priebus devolved into such a sad case that the highlight of his six-month tenure came when he was allowed to share the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference with someone who actually enjoyed the respect of Donald Trump: Steve Bannon.

But at least Priebus had a measure of self respect. There was evidence to suggest there were some things he would not do and some people (starting with Anthony Scaramucci) to whom he would not bend. That was part of what prevented Trump—who, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has learned, demands absolute loyalty—from bonding with the man who on most White House organization charts should have been the president’s right-hand man.

There will be no such “problem” with the man who on Monday will replace Priebus. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the retired United States Marine Corps general who will become the second White House chief of staff in the first year of Trump’s presidency, is an absolute apologist for this president.

Kelly is an outspoken and over-the-top Trump loyalist who announced to a February House Homeland Security Committee oversight session that “I work for one man. His name is Donald Trump.”

Translation: Even if Kelly disagrees with a policy, even if he has doubts about whether Trump is doing the right thing, he was not going to share those anxieties with the members of Congress who are charged with overseeing the executive branch. The question is whether he will share those anxieties with Trump himself; and Kelly’s record does not inspire confidence.

Kelly likes to present himself as a bold truth teller. He got good marks when he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, “I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.” But once he joined the cabinet, however, Kelly made himself over as a cheerleader for Trump and Trumpism.

What attracted Trump to Kelly was not the retired general’s candor. It was, as usual with Trump, an area of agreement. Kelly’s linking of border-security issues with the “War of Terror” reportedly got Trump and his transition team excited about hiring the general. While serving as head of the US Southern Command, the general told a 2015 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes (in Central American and Mexico) to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.

That was bold language—“a little over the top,” in the view of Frank Sharry, the executive director of the immigration-reform group America’s Voice. But members of the Senate comforted themselves with the expectation that Kelly’s experience with national-security issues would lead him to speak truth to Trump’s power on the issues of immigration policy, deportations, border walls, Muslim bans, and domestic policing that are within the purview of the Department of Homeland Security. But after the Senate approved Kelly’s nomination, the general lost his voice. He did not speak truth to power. Rather, he reinforced power that would have been better served by blunt questioning and open objection.

In late January 2017, after the rollout of the president’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries went horribly awry—with mass protests, immediate legal challenges, judicial orders blocking its implementation, and an international outcry—Kelly was called before Congress to explain the whys and wherefores of the chaos. “This is all on me,” the secretary announced, taking full blame for the failed attempt to impose a religious-test restriction on refugees and visitors that critics correctly labeled as a “Muslim ban.”

That may have sounded like an honorable acceptance of responsibility when no one else in the administration was acting responsibly. But when a member of the cabinet speaks to Congress they are supposed to give a clear and accurate assessment of what has transpired. And no clear or accurate assessment of what transpired with the Muslim ban would place responsibility on John Kelly.

Despite his public apologias for the administration, the fact is that the Muslim ban was never “all on” Kelly. Quite the opposite. The travel ban was, by virtually all accounts, the work of White House strategists Bannon and Stephen Miller. Indeed, a Wall Street Journal report based on leaks from inside the administration suggested that: “Mr. Kelly was also frustrated at not knowing the details of the travel ban earlier, so he could prepare his agency to respond, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump signed the executive order that created the ban late Friday afternoon. Mr. Kelly was only informed of the details that day as he was traveling to Washington, even though he had pressed the White House for days to share with him the final language, the people said.”

“The tensions between DHS and the White House have led to uncertainty at the top of an agency charged with keeping Americans safe within US borders. The agency struggled to respond to demonstrations and scenes of confusion at various airports after the immigration order,” explained the Journal article, which noted that, “Even though he was not involved in the order’s preparation, Mr. Kelly was peppered with questions about it. Democrat Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer spoke with Mr Kelly twice at the time to press for details.”

The newspaper suggested that “The problems at DHS reflect a growing unease among government workers with a series of abrupt policy changes dictated by a close-knit group inside the West Wing of the White House.”

Kelly did not acknowledge those tensions when he appeared before the House committee. Indeed, he downplayed press reports about clashes with Bannon and tried to paint a picture of smooth relations that strained credulity. His “I work for one man” response to questions from the committee was another way of saying that frankness was not on the agenda. He is so loyal to Trump that he will not even acknowledge reality.

When Kelly asked in early March about Trump’s allegation that President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower phones during the 2016 campaign. Trump’s charge was explicit and exceptionally serious. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” the president tweeted on March 4. He even outlined legal remedies, tweeting: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” and “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Obama, Trump asserted, had undermined “the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

There was one problem with the charge, which the president apparently picked up from right-wing Internet chatter. There was no credible evidence to back it up. None. By all accounts, the alleged wiretapping had not occurred.

Kelly admitted, when he appeared on CNN on the following Monday, that he had nothing to add to the discussion. “I don’t know anything about it,” the top national-security figure told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. But then Kelly went off the rails.

“If the President of the United States said that, he’s got his reasons to say it,” the secretary of homeland security announced. “He must have some convincing evidence that took place… I don’t pretend to even guess as to what the motivation may have been for the previous administration to do something like that.”

When Kelly used the term “for the previous administration to do something like that,” he was effectively asserting that the wiretapping had either occurred or, at the least, was likely to have occurred. Yet former director of national intelligence James Clapper was already saying, “There was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the National Intelligence Community.” Former CIA and NSA director General Michael Hayden was saying that there was “no body of evidence” for Trump’s claim that Obama ordered those election-season wiretaps.

What was John Kelly thinking?

The answer is that he was not thinking. He was simply covering for the president—doing his “work for one man”: Donald Trump. Everyone knows that one man needs to be challenged and confronted with reality. Unfortunately, John Kelly does not have a record of challenging or confronting the president’s absurd assertions. Kelly has a record of coddling Trump, and no good will come of that.

John Nichols is The Nation’s national-affairs correspondent. He is the author of Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America, forthcoming from Nation Books this fall, and co-author, with Robert W. McChesney, of People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy.